Organization Strategies for the New Year

Organization in the New Year: Understanding Family of Origin Patterns

Part Two of our Series on Getting Organized

In our previous post, we explored how awareness of the need to change is fundamental to manifesting change. In relation to behaviors that promote disorganization, chaotic thinking and low self-worth, you cannot change until you recognize the pros and cons. At the same time, it can help to understand why you behave the way you do. For most people, behavioral tendencies trace back to their families of origin. Unlike the people with whom you currently live, your family of origin includes your mother, father and siblings. It is from these people a person learns how to process emotion, communicate and get needs met. It is also how people learn many of their values. If you were raised in an environment where organizational skills were never taught, you are likely to struggle with disorganization in your adult life. Likewise, if you grew up in an abusive environment, you are apt to experience low self-worth, especially if genetic tendencies were paired with negative environmental factors. Examples of problematic instances occurring early in life include:

  • Childhood trauma (sexual, physical or emotional abuse)
  • Harsh or critical parenting styles
  • Dismissing or rejecting parenting styles
  • Living in a chaotic, chronically disorganized or fear-based environment
  • Witnessing a high-conflict, volatile relationship between parents

Getting help

In many instances, people struggle to adopt healthier behaviors without addressing underlying childhood issues. In simple terms, they cannot move forward in the present without healing from the past. Family of origin therapy can help by uncovering links between emotional, behavioral and relational issues and family of origin experiences with primary caregivers, parents and/or families in general. While it's not always easy to address painful memories from the past, it can be an effective way for a person to move past old wounds and successfully re-adjust his or her lens on life to one of clarity and hope.

Moving forward

If you suspect that family of origin issues might be behind your disorganization, chaotic thinking or low self-worth, consider talking to a therapist. Once you raise your level of consciousness, you can start taking steps toward getting more organized. In our next post, we'll explore how you can move further along in the transtheoretical model and ultimately sustain positive behaviors without experiencing temptation toward returning to problematic habits.