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Identify your Personal Paradigms during the Holidays

Some of the year’s most loved holidays come with expectations, obligations, responsibilities, and challenges. As you gather to celebrate business, social, religious, or family events, remember we are all individuals with diverse constructs, often born from long-held paradigms. In short, how one sees the world is based on the life one lives. One’s response to holiday expectations, obligations, and responsibilities might be totally different from those with whom they share DNA. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ Family Counseling sessions bring insight, understanding, and cohesion to family / social dynamics.  


“There are two types of paradigms: Paradigms that help us interpret the way things should be and paradigms that help us shape our realities.”

In 1996, semantic scholar PC Honebin wrote: “A constructive paradigm is an approach that asserts that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on experiences.”  One’s construct or paradigm can be as simple as turning down a favorite aunt’s famous fruit cake because they had a bad (physical) reaction in the past or as complicated as a grandparent uncomfortable with gay marriage blurting something out, void of consideration.

Despite bestowing more love than anyone could imagine, it can be hurtful when a family member, unaware of your current situation or lifestyle, says, “you’ve gained so much weight,” “you’re headed in the wrong direction,” “you’re better than that,” “time is running out for you,” “you need to get married,” “you need to leave home,” “you’re way too liberal,” “you need to open your eyes,” or “it’s about time you started a family.” Regardless of how close you live to family and extended family, or how far from them you’ve escaped, no one has a working knowledge of another’s psychological construct – how they define what they want and what they believe. Children don’t always grow up to think or believe like their parents, and adults, as they experience life shift their paradigms.

People use developed construct (about how the world works) to make sense of how they see the world. Two people might have different constructs after hearing the same political speech, watching the same movie, or reading the same book. Members within the immediate family unit might display this difference void emotional harm – they know and understand one another. Disagreeing with someone you [choose to] love and trust can be very different from being disparaged by parents, siblings, or extended family.  


Can words harm? Yes! With the introduction of technology, hurtful words take on a life of their own. There is no walking away from or avoiding cruel threats and insults repeated and spread across multiple online platforms. Neel Burton, M.D. writes in Psychology Today “Insults and put-downs can damage our prospects and happiness by undermining our self-confidence and self-esteem. Even casual denigration (so called microaggressions) can, over time, lead to feelings of isolation, alienation, anger, anxiety, and depression.” Imagine the pain when cruel, unkind, and inappropriate words come from those you love and care about the most. It hurts when family, co-workers, or friends say, “your feelings are wrong” or “your thoughts don’t matter.”


“If you don’t create your own self-paradigm, you’re left to piece together a self-image based on the opinions and feedback you get from others.”

The counselors, therapists, and clinicians of Improving Lives Counseling Services can prepare you for family, work, or social gatherings. Most family, co-workers, extended family, and friends who mocked, ridiculed, or gave unwanted advice in the past have not changed. Avoiding them is not the answer – having tools in your toolbox is. Our team of licensed professionals will help you cultivate your constructs and clearly identify your personal paradigms. They’ll provide the tools needed to establish emotional boundaries, identify what influences you’ll allow, and cope with anyone challenging your construct, or how you see the world. Time to avoid the stressors, anxiety, anguish, and distorted thoughts you experienced in the past. Show up this holiday season as the best “YOU” you can be. Live the life you were meant to live. Call us.