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Distinguish - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Distinguish. Tell apart. Separate. Tell the Difference. “I can tell you who I am, what I think, feel, believe, want to do, and have done, without getting anxious or worrying about what you may think about what I have told you, even if I believe you disagree with me and disapprove .”.

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  • Tell apart


Tell the Difference


“I can tell you who I am, what I think, feel, believe, want to do, and have done, without getting anxious or worrying about what you may think about what I have told you, even if I believe you disagree with me and disapprove.”

i can listen to you and not feel the need to change you to be more like how i want you to be
“I can listen to you and not feel the need to change you to be more like how I want you to be.”

Differentiation means not needing to change the other person to meet our expectations, or change ourselves to meet the other’s, in order to be close.


Differentiation deals with the effort to define oneself, to control oneself, to become a more responsible person, and to permit others to be themselves as well.”


There is a difference between telling people what I think and telling them what they should think. Defining self means that we consistently and calmly tell others what we think and feel, without demanding that they think and feel the same way.

lower levels of differentiation
Lower Levels of Differentiation
  • Impulsive behavior – their behavior is not well thought through
  • An excessive amount of worry about what other people think
  • High expectations of others
  • More demands of others
  • More anxiety
  • Relationship problems
lower levels of differentiation1
Lower Levels of Differentiation
  • Taking things personally and focusing on what other people are doing rather than taking responsibility for self
  • Some people do not say what they think, they give in too easily when conflict arises, and they discount their own feelings & beliefs.
lower levels of differentiation2
Lower Levels of Differentiation
  • View disagreement as disloyalty, get angry when others express a divergent view, and persistently argue to persuade others to change their mind. They demand that others comply to their expectations.
  • “The more anxious, frustrated, judgmental, angry, overly sympathetic, or omnipotent one feels about the problems of others, the more it says about unresolved problems in self.” Omnipotence in this case means, “I know what your problem is and what you need to do about it.” Michael Kerr in Family Evaluations
two seemingly opposing life forces
Two Seemingly Opposing Life Forces

A search for individuality – autonomy – self-expression

two seemingly opposing life forces1
Two Seemingly Opposing Life Forces

A search for community – relationships - togetherness

two extremes of low differentiation
Two Extremes of Low Differentiation
  • At one extreme there is a pressure to conform in order to stay together: I give up some of myself in order to keep the peace. I discount my own feelings and beliefs, I give in too easily, & I give up leadership and ultimately choose peace over progress. I’m emotionally needy and demanding.
two extremes of low differentiation1
Two Extremes of Low Differentiation
  • At the other extreme, in order to feel secure and maintain my individuality – I demand compliance, I bully. I’m willing to give up community in order to get my way. Disagreement is seen as disloyalty. I end up arguing and debating.

Highly differentiated people show, above all else, two prominent attributes: Well-defined self boundaries and a well-developed thinking inner guidance system. People at higher levels of differentiation are comfortable with their own well-thought-out beliefs, standards, values, and priorities.


Clear self-boundaries.

This is who I am – this is where I stand – this is what I will do and this is what I won’t do. I take responsibility for my own ideas and decisions. I can say no and set limits. I don’t demand that others conform to my way of thinking. Don’t take responsibility for the feelings or decisions of others. Don’t try to control others.


Clear thinking, inner guidance system.

Beliefs, values, life goals, purpose & priorities. Well thought through principles. My beliefs & values are examined & in my awareness. Who do you want to be in this relationship or in life? What are your core values?


Interpersonal Fusion

When a person can’t separate themselves from another person. They take responsibility for how another person feels or they expect the other to take responsibility for how they feel.


When anxiety rises, we become rather predictable. Our thinking becomes less clear and more reactive. We begin to see ourselves as the victim of other’s actions. We assign motives to others’ behavior, or we take it personally. Demand for conformity in thinking and behavior increases. We look for a quick fix to the symptoms that develop. The least mature members among us begin to attract most of our attention.”



Fused individuals “have a deep-seated need to be loved, accepted, approved of, and guided by others; or conversely, to provide this for others.”

interpersonal fusion
Interpersonal Fusion
  • I give up being myself in order to keep the peace and make others happy. I give up being who I am so that I can get rid of my own anxiety and to ease the anxiety in others.
  • I take on self from others by demanding that they comply with my wishes and give in to me.
fuses individuals
Fuses Individuals
  • Are on guard for any sign of interpersonal threat, always watching for any minor slight as well as overt attacks.
  • Tend to think others are responsible for their experience or they are responsible for others. They blame a lot.
  • Have a sensitivity to criticism – so they live their lives to avoid criticism. They also resent or fear those who are critical.
fused individuals
Fused Individuals
  • Seek approval & praise.
  • Work hard to please others.
  • Seek peace over progress.
  • Dissent is discouraged.
  • Feelings are more important than ideas.

A Well Differentiated Person

  • I am autonomous, I am my own person, and I have clear boundaries & a clear thinking, inner guidance system.
  • I take responsibility for myself and only for myself. I don’t take on the anxiety of others. I am not responsible for someone else’s emotional well-being. I am only responsible to them to love them.
  • I express love through sacrifice, giving, and compromise out of my own freedom to choose. I don’t do these things out of a reaction to my own anxiety or a need to keep the other person happy.

A Well Differentiated Person

  • I am able to rely less on the other person for support or to “complete” something that is lacking in me.
  • I have the ability to be less emotionally reactive. I have the ability to remain calm in the face of others anxiety. I am aware of my typical defensive routines.
  • I can distinguish and choose between feelings and thinking.
  • Each person makes thoughtful & constructive contributions to the relationship.