Effect Of Family Origin On Self Differentiation English Literature Essay





Self reflection entails exercising introspection to a certain level. It is also how willing a person is to know about nature, essence and purpose fundamentally. This was commonly practiced in the past. It generally deals with consciousness and the mind’s philosophy. Self differentiation can be used in this exercise.

Self differentiation describes persons who entirely depend on themselves in relation to any emotional processes. Such persons are considered self-sufficient, and can live/function solely without overly depending on others or undue anxiety. They do not depend on any external relationships, occurrences or circumstances to feel worthy or for their self esteem. These individuals can stay focused even during stressful periods, do not easily succumb to pressure or influence to absorb/share their anxiety. They do not ‘bear symptoms’ for other peoples’ failures, problems or anxieties, rather they clearly understand that participating in addictive processes of emotions, results in entrapment in a certain system that aims to weaken, devalue, demoralize and destroy you (Fischer, 2004;Victor, 1998).

Effect of Family Origin on Self Differentiation

Differentiation can be molded by either nature or can be nurtured. The effects of nature can be observed more readily. This is because self differentiation relates to the degree to which one is differentiated emotionally separated in their respective family (Bowen, & Kerr, 1988).

Families with low expectations as well as bonding pressures and fused affection, tend to have its members forming healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are instrumental in allowing an individual to think, act and feel independent with no anxiety or unhealthy pressure (Kerr, & Bowen, 1988).

According to Bowen and Kerr, these individual’s self image does not form in response to emotional needs and anxieties from others. The individual is not defined by others’ perceptions influenced by emotions (p. 96). A self differentiated person does not feel the need to act in certain ways so as to gain love, approval or acceptance. The person acts in accordance to his own beliefs, convictions and values.

Families with poor differentiation usually have anxious senses of needy closeness. The members are fused to each other by an illusion of ‘love’, which is unhealthy. This is because it pushes members of the fused family who are not differentiated to act with respect to the feelings, anxieties, pain and approval of the other members. Bowen and Kerr (1988) assert that such people who are emotionally needy have a high reaction to others. This makes it hard for them to invest in long lasting relationships. They mostly spend their time trying to ‘be loved’, ‘find love’, or rescue and/or reclaim lost love, and hence there is little energy left to focus on pursuing other goals.

Levels of differentiation

High levels of self differentiation in families encourage cooperation and looking out for each other’s welfare. They also stay in contact adequately both in good times and in bad times. Low levels of self differentiation in a family cause aggressive and selfish behaviors during tough times. Members will tend to avoid each other, cooperation is minimal, and there is altruism (Fischer, 2004).

My current level of differentiation is only moderate. This has been due to the fact that my parents have always dictated my actions, being the only child. My parents have always expected me to act according to what they thought was right. They made all the decisions for me regarding most crucial events in my life, like where to study, and what to study. They have even influenced my choice of friends. I could not be seen with anyone my parents did not like for one reason or another. The fact that I always did as I was told has made submissive and conservative in nature.

When it comes to my relationships (both romantic and close interpersonal relations), I usually tend to accept or agree with most of what the other person want. I rarely voice my opinion on the subject. This has made it hard for me to be completely happy in relationships, since I always sacrifice my happiness for the sake of the other person. I would; therefore, want to be more confident with myself, so that I can also get what I want from relationships. Sharing my ideas would help in creating a common ground on some important aspects, so that I derive some level of satisfaction from the relationship. Communication is after all the key to a healthy relationship (Kerr, & Bowen, 1988).

Cultural context

I am from China and my family is very traditional. In China, ethnicity plays an important role in marriages. It is widely disapproved to marry from a different ethnic group. Studies have even shown than many Chinese groups would rather marry a foreigner than marry from a different group (Wang, 2006 & Yang 2005). However, it is just as bad to marry a foreigner. I therefore chose to be in a relationship with someone from my own ethnic group and nationality.

In our culture, according to the Confucian school of thought, the males are allowed to be polygamous. The females were however supposed to only have one husband, and be loyal to them (Xinzhong, 2000). Women were not to flaunt their intelligence, cleverness or skills and were not to sharpen their speech or language and were expected to be industrious. The male figure was the dominant member in the relationship. Weakness in a wife was seen as an asset. Confucianism promotes social stability, strong families, order as well as practical living. I have thus learnt to be faithful to my husband throughout our marriage, much as we have had lots of problems. Obedience and respect have also been a priority in my relationships, which has meant sacrificing my personal opinions on issues (Zhao, 1932). In the event that we have to discuss any issues, I have to be very polite and respectful and I have to watch my choice of words. This has minimized unpleasant exchanges in my relationship, which has made things a little more bearable. I have also opted to go back to school to further my studies, so that I can get a better job to support my family.

Having been born in Beijing, I have strong Chinese social and cultural values. Currently I reside in the US, a place where the culture is totally different. The women here are more assertive in their relationships. They do not feel obliged to serve their husbands; or rather they consider themselves equal to their husbands. They make their own decisions and voice their opinions on every issue of their relationships. They also have no hesitation in opting to file for a divorce in the event that things are not working out well in their marriages. Being exposed to this kind of culture has changed my approach to my relationship to some extent. I have been speaking up more to my husband, and trying to come to certain understandings on our problems. Understandings where we would both be comfortable. This is not usually how a traditional Chinese woman would handle situations. Back in China I would have just let some things slide, and kept some or most of my opinions to myself for purposes of obeying and respecting my husband, which is a requirement. However, I still have some values that were instilled in me. For instance, much as there are lots of problems in my family, I have no intention of opting for a divorce. Like most Chinese women, I want to stay in my marriage, and try to make it work for my daughter’s sake. Migrating from China to the US has contributed to a number of problems in our marriage due to the new surroundings (Zhao, 1932).

The women were to bear the burden of holding the family together, even during the toughest of times. This is a responsibility that comes with gender in the Chinese families. It was my duty not to let the family disintegrate, much as I was not happy with my marriage. I had to bear with my husband, even if I was unhappy. My culture dictates so. This is why I want to try and make things work, and not opt for a divorce (Lee, 2000).

My family originated from a good socio-economic background. They both worked hard to earn a good leaving for themselves and their children’s sake. They struggled to make sure they provided everything we needed without holding back. This has motivated me to also further my studies so that I may earn more after I get a better job. This is important to me because I would like to provide for my family and make sure that I fulfill their needs sufficiently, especially for my daughter’s sake (Zhao, 1932).

Emotional Expression and Intimacy

In the Chinese culture, a woman shows affection to her husband by fulfilling her wifely duties without complaint. According to the Confucian philosophy, a woman should serve her husband. She should keep the home clean, be obedient and respectable to the husband, maintain high moral values and fulfill her conjugal rights to her husband. By so doing, the husband feels well taken care of and feels appreciated and respected at his home. He will in turn be loyal and more affectionate to wife and family (Zhao, 1932).

Self Narrative

A self narrative helps individuals to share their life experiences. It is a story used by people to give meaning to their life’s events. In telling this story, certain events are given special significance to show personal meanings. This tool is majorly used in psychotherapy and counseling (Hermans J.M. & Hermans J.E., 1995).

Some of the key aspects of my own narrative are that I am stuck in a highly dysfunctional relationship. I am too scared to voice my concern for fear of offending the man and ending up in a separation which would totally upset my parents. This separation or divorce will also cause great instability for my daughter. A child needs a complete home with both parents to grow up healthily. Since my marriage is not going so well, I have plunged myself into work so that I can support the family. The reason why my husband has left to go back to China is because of his stressful job, among other issues. My parents have now come to live with me, so lend a helping hand.

The child signifies my source of strength, and the reason why am struggling to earn a better living. The child reminds me that I have responsibilities to fulfill, whatever my emotional state might be. My parents are my guidance. With them around, they can point me to the right direction on the very many things that are currently wrong in my life. Their advice is wise, and they deserve obedience. It will thus be easier for me to handle some problems by adhering to their instructions. I should thus stop trying to fix what I can’t fix, and tolerate with my husband if it means keeping the home together.


Due to self-reflection, I now know that I need not question everything my husband does, be it good or bad. Sometimes letting it go is the best way for a greater good. In the event that I should discuss the matter, I have learnt of ways to approach him without offending him. On the positive side, am now more industrious now that am struggling to better my earnings. Am also more dependent on myself to make decisions pertaining to my life, like choosing to go back to school and choosing to try and make marriage work rather than opting for a divorce. (Fischer, 2004).