"Occasionally, actually quite often, someone will refer to a family or person as dysfunctional. Which, I believe, is a sign of ignorance, for the obvious reason that 70 or 80 percent of all the people who have ever lived were dysfunctional. The other 20 or 30 percent tried to be, or had sense enough to be, a little wiser. Among them, the greatest were disliked, hated, killed, or crucified. And they weren’t even perfect, except one."
— Opening sentence of “Life Is Short But Wide” by J. California Cooper
"Dysfunctional" is a term that is, indeed, used a lot. My take is that if we're raised by humans, we're going to have issues (which is really just another way of saying dysfunction)--because nobody's perfect. So when we accept that we are likely to have some burrs in our psyches, I contend that life gets easier.
Because if we accept the imperfection of the human experience, we stop expecting to achieve TV love, an immaculate home, flawless performances, cookie cutter lives, or a personal status in which we have all the answers. We will also cut ourselves some slack, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, get beyond "Woe is me," and realize that life is tough all over. Sometimes it's a challenge to accept this mindset because the media bombards us with images of the perfection journey on which we should all be embarked!
Once we get the "It's never going to be perfect mindset," we can finally develop realistic visions for authentic relationships; homes filled with real people; bodies that have grown and birthed people in them; jobs that are satisfying but are still a lot of work; or bank accounts that can't support a BMW, but that put food on the table. That's what grounds us. That's what actually diminishes the level of dysfunction or the impact of issues.
Because the bottom line when it comes to dysfunction or having issues is that we, as individuals, elected to stick to a script that wasn't of our making. We chose to proceed blindly down a path designed by others instead of using our power to hack away the vines and stumps until we made our own.
Simply put, we can choose to live on purpose and commit to live examined lives. Not a life that requires a PhD in psychology, but one in which we take time to check ourselves when we:
- try to control everything and everybody,
- nitpick about normal human behavior
- blame others for imagined infractions
- develop tendencies and habits that make life worse
- become a doormat for anybody
- use others as doormats
- get so busy there's no time to think
- let the external world destroy peace of mind
- scare ourselves from fully participating in the myriad options that life presents
I have to check myself when I become critical, grumpy and hard-to-please. It's usually a sign that (internally) I'm not living up to some real or imagined standard I've placed on myself. The important message I usually get is that it rarely has much to do with the other person/people. It has to do with me. Because people are going to be who they are. And if (according to Cooper's character's assessment) 70-80% are dysfunctional, it's on me to get my own mind right so I can live a peaceful and satisfying life.
Peace and love!