10 Core Systems
Do you have a small constellation of systems theory favorites. Those organizing parts that the other parts relate to and don't make quite as much sense without their connection to this core?
Favorite #1: Non-anxious presence. This is a spiritual discipline, requiring practice and great peace of mind.
Favorite #2: (stated clearly, publicly and often): "You pick you to do it and I'll pick me to help you. Please don't ask me to do anything you are not willing to do yourself."
Favorite #3: The theory of overlapping family systems.
Favorite #4: The "identified patient" is usually the stronger entity in the system, it has taken on the stress of the system and borne it, but to its own detriment. However, sometimes the identified patient is also really sick: people get to be identified patients by either over-functioning or under-functioning.
Favorite #5: Do not under any circumstances take responsibility for something that is not your responsibility (and we're not talking keeping a child from getting run over by a car here).
Favorite #6: The Karpman drama triangle: in unhealthy systems these roles will be more pronounced and destructive and need to be named out loud.
Favorite #7: Questions designed to get others to self-define and take a stand are excellent. They are best asked in the manner of Columbo (Peter Falk's character).
Favorite #8: A low level of grumbling is healthy in any family system. Splits and alliances are not. Perfect harmony is dysfunctional and dishonest.
Favorite #9: In general it is unhelpful to get triangled (caught between the unresolved issues of two other parties who are not talking to each other but each using you). You need to get the two parties talking to each other. However, sometimes it is a brilliant strategic move to make a critical injection that can only be made from a position of being triangled. This takes wisdom and balls of steel and an extreme and practiced level of non-anxious presence, or in my case, lacking wisdom or balls of steel and often non-anxious presence, a reckless "damn the torpedoes full steam ahead" mindset aided by a full suit of teflon and asbestos.
Favorite #10: Breathe.
May these guiding lights serve you as well as they have served me. They were learned under enormous pressure and pain in the two-year crucible of experience in a local congregation. Saved my life, my ministry and maybe even my family.