All of us have a template embedded in our consciousness. It primarily originates in our upbringing, although experiences certainly play a role in shaping this template. So, here’s a definition of template: “Something that seems as a model for others to copy, a preset formula does not have to be recreated each time it is used.” Some key words in this definition for the purpose of this article a model, a preset formula does not have to be recreated. These words/phrases capture some of the essence of what I mean when I say a family of origin template. 

Family of originIn every home, how life was lined was instrumental in forming this template. For example, what was the emotional atmosphere in your home? Loving and kind, or tense and chaotic? How did your parents’ marriage look to you? Were they affectionate with me? With you? Or distant and detached? I think a good way to flesh out our template is to conceptualize the unspoken rules of your family. Those rules pertain to how decisions were made in the home, the value of money, where God fits into life, sexuality, the roles of men and women, etc. By no means is this list exhaustive. How we live our lives often originate in our unconscious template about how life ‘should be’.

Especially in times of stress and fear, we resort to our default priorities shaped by this template.

How do you react when life throws you a ‘curveball’? Are you panicked? Fearful? Mostly conflict? Your reactions to life and our significant relationships are partially created by our family of origin template. I often suggest clients write out their unspoken rules coming from their family; to assist in knowing this template. For example, in my family of origin, we kids knew mornings were not the ideal time to talk with mom; especially before she had coffee. We also knew Dad was the “soft touch’ in terms of our requests.

Family of origin Jim Klock

So, perhaps it would be useful for you to spend some time processing your own template. As adults, we can choose to discard old dysfunctional unspoken rules and create new guidelines for a fuller life.