“Systems theory focuses on what man does
on his verbal explanations about why he does it.”
Murray Bowen in Family Therapy in Clinical Practice
I love Murray Bowen and systems theory. I remember first formally encountering Bowen’s work in my Marriage and Family class at Covenant and thinking, “Not only does this make complete sense in explaining the dynamics of human relationships, it also appeals to how systematic/systemic thinkers (like me) think.” From that point forward, I was hooked.
Having grown up on a farm, I was raised and led to believe that the world was basically secure rather than basically threatening, and that as long as I did my homework, finished my chores, and got to (and out of) bed at a decent hour, things would generally work out for the best. Mine was a fairly consistent existence with little drama involved.
As a result of my background, I sometimes struggle with others whose commotion tends to trump logic. In the past, I have resorted to more emotional outbursts myself in order to "out-emote the over-emotional," beating them at their own game, and (foolishly) trying to illustrate how ridiculous the drama can be. This, of course, is rarely effective (though somewhat disturbingly enjoyable), and I recognize that I assume this position when I fail to consider the systems (family, organizational, etc.) at play in the various situations.
Thankfully, after years of learning things the hard way, I'm finally on the brink of a major break-through by being able to give up my attempts to "out-emote the over-emotional"; indeed, my days of "trying to illustrate how ridiculous the drama can be" may be at an end.
What's my secret? I'm the father of four daughters. Here's my team of therapists:
It's good to be on the road to recovery…
(Photo by Kelly Park Photography)