Mark Smith

*Do you ever notice that what others think of you influences your life?
*Do find yourself seeking the approval of others or feeling judged or like you are never good enough?
*Do you find yourself going from partner to partner or you always need a friend around otherwise you get anxious or uncomfortable?
*Do you stay away from people because it makes you too anxious or uncomfortable?
*Do you feel your children's behaviour is a reflection on you?
*Are you often at odds with family members or, the opposite, trying hard, but never good enough?
*When friends don't call do you wonder what they are thinking about you?

These are all examples of how we are part of an "emotional system." We are individuals, but we are also part of a family emotional systems and friendship systems among others. Over time, you have influenced and shaped your family and your family has shaped you. Your ability to know who you are and what you think within the emotional systems around you (familiy, friends, school or community) will result in being confident and self assured. When you are less sure of yourself problems like anxiety, depression, relationship issues and other problems creep in.

Think of our Solar System. It's true that all the planets are individual entities. However, they are significantly influenced by the Sun and the other planetary bodies around them. Each planet seems to function independently, and in a way they do, but they also function as part of a greater whole. All the planets operate in a dynamic tension with the others as they go about their orbits. However as they do so they interact in dynamic ways with the other planets they encounter. So, for example, when the planets "line up" in a particular fashion we can see the symptoms of that here on earth in terms of floods or earthquakes or high tides. Unless we understand and appreciate the solar system we will never fully understand events on earth, the seasons, the tides etc. The behaviour of planets is predictable and if change could happen in one planet's orbit, the other planets would naturally change their orbits in response.

Families and relationships are like this. In an "emotional system," like the solar system, each person influences the other, it's just a natural outcome of relationships or being in a family. However some people influence more than others and some people are influenced more than others.

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