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Evil Stepmom


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Articles & Interviews
Stepfamily Leadership
Why is it that our families (and stepfamilies) bring out our best and worst selves? It’s because family members trigger our most deeply wired emotional reactions. Without thinking, we will courageously throw ourselves into harms way to protect a spouse, child, stepchild, parent, or sibling. But in the same way, we thoughtlessly say and do harsh things to family members that we’d never dream of doing to someone at work or in the community. And while these automatic reactions may save a life, they can render a family helpless and unhappy when calm, creative thinking is needed to deal with day-to-day problems.

The problem for humans is this: the more we care about what others think about us and do to us, the greater the risk that our emotions will take over and trump our IQ. Since our family installed our hard wiring (our genes) and the software (our childhood experiences) of our emotional systems, they are better than anyone else at triggering an avalanche of feelings that can swamp our ability to think clearly and act responsibly.

So how does one go about understanding and getting a grip on the emotions that can undermine your efforts to be your best self in your family? One way is to follow a process developed by family systems specialists at the Oceanside Institute’s Center for Family Leadership.

This process helps people understand how families work, and helps them see themselves and their families in new and more flexible ways. It’s called C4 Leadership, and it has four steps:

STEP 1: Compose Your Self First

STEP 2: Clarify Your Convictions

STEP 3: Strengthen Your Connections

STEP 4: Act with Courage

Following is a series of short articles about how each step of the process works, and how they all work together, along with some real-life examples of how emotions can take over the way family members deal with each other. 
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