Anxiety and Family Patterns

Have you ever noticed where you keep tension in your body? Is it in your neck, shoulders, jaw or stomach? Based upon questioning and observations, there actually is a correlation between the family role and anxiety that gets stored in your body as tension. Roles we play in the family include the “Hero”, “Scapegoat”, “Lost Child” and the “Family Mascot”.

The hero tends to be the first born and is the responsible child. They are known for carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They typically are the family organizers and caretakers. When asked, they typically indicate that it feels as though they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They hold much stress in their shoulders and many times their neck as well. Many seek medical help for their neck problems and are told nothing is wrong.

The scapegoat is the child that is picked on or blamed for many issues in the family. They tend to be the truth teller and receive resistance for it. The scapegoat tends to hold some of their anxiety in their stomach. When asked they talk about feeling alone, rejected, not wanted and some have indicated if feels as though they are being punched in the stomach emotionally. In describing the tension, they typically talk about having a knot or a hole in their stomach. Many seek medical attention and can get diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The lost child tends to be the quietest family member. They are typically seen as good and do not require the attention the scapegoat gets. Because they are seen in this fashion, they tend to get ignored. The lost child tends to hold their anxiety in their jaw. They are known to clinch their jaw, grind their teeth and even develop TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). The tension can sometimes go down the throat or even in the chest.

The family mascot is the one that has learned the importance of entertaining the rest of the family. Since there is a lot of responsibility to entertain, the family mascot tends to hold much anxiety in their shoulders, again because they feel they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They also tend to hold much anxiety in their stomach.

While the family roles are typically created by birth order, situations in the family can cause the order to change. Sometimes people can also present more than one family role, once again due to family circumstance.

Each family role is created to have a unique way of getting attention in the family. When a person continues to play out that role, they tend to feel inadequate and not good enough, which creates the anxiety. When we do not work through the anxiety, it gets stored as energy in the body to create the symptoms discussed.

To get relief for the physical symptoms the medical community has a number of recommendations. To get relief from the anxiety requires the exploration of the anxiety, and working through it to let it go. Part of that process may include journaling about feelings, scribbling and meditation. Recognizing what is being stuffed and where it originated is important in the letting go process to reduce the anxiety. When we recognize what is being stuffed, honoring our self by actually feeling those stuffed feelings creates the necessary relief to reduce the tension.

Which role do you identify with?

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