by Rod Smith

In my series entitled “A is for Autonomy,” I have already published A, B and C. Here is D, perhaps the most challenging of all:

“D” is for Differentiation of Self, a concept named by a pioneer in the discipline of Family Therapy, Murray Bowen. The concept is much easier to define than it is to put into practice. Without being too dramatic, it really is a matter of “differentiate or die”– at least on the inside!

Self-differentiation is your capacity to get the best out of your internal battle to be both autonomous and intimate, while achieving your personal and career goals — all at the same time. In other words, can you walk the tight-rope of being fully yourself, while being fully open with, and committed to your family, while also doing all you can to achieve your goals?

Less differentiated (reactive or fused) persons (there are degrees here!) are many. We have all heard about the man who went to the top of his career – at the cost of his marriage and his relationship with his children. Stories are plentiful of the woman who lost herself within her marriage, or became so much a mother that she forgot she and her children were separate people!

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