Differentiation of Self

by Rod Smith

Not to differentiate is to fuse or to be enmeshed (the failure to become a fully separate person) and is evidenced by the propensity to place responsibility on others (or on situations, predicaments, and hurdles) for the way in which our lives develop. To differentiate is to provide a platform for maximum growth and personal development for everyone in your circle of influence.

Differentiation is described in many ways in the following points:

  • Growing in the ability to see where and how I fit into my family, the position I hold and the power that is, and is not, given to that position.
  • Growing in the ability to be fully responsible for my own life, while, at one and the same time, also being actively growing closer to those whom I love.
  • Intentionally, and simultaneously, developing increased autonomy and deeper intimacy. Autonomy: I move toward achieving my dreams and ambitions. Intimacy: I authentically and appropriately reveal who I am to those whom I love.
  • Clearly defining who I am and who I want to be while understanding the natural tendency that exists for others to try and tell me who I am and who and what I should be.
  • Staying in touch with others while, and even though, there is tension and disagreement.
  • Being able to declare clearly what I need and being able to request help from others without foisting or imposing my needs upon them.
  • Being able to understand what personal needs can and cannot be met both in my own life and in the lives of others.
  • Understanding that I am called to be distinct (separate) from others, without being distant or cut off from others.
  • Understanding that I am responsible to others but that I am not responsible for others.

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