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WISE UP: Step One


We all need to start at the beginning. The beginning is when we lift the blanket of denial and take a look underneath to see the things we don't want to look at. By going back to the beginning, we allow an unfolding of the difficulties we face and, finally, a chance to shine light on the darkness that haunts us. For if we deny our grassroots, we deny our truth.


We've tried for a long time, maybe even our entire lives, to control our uncomfortable inner turmoil. We've relied on self-will and self-control to change ourselves in spite of our beginnings. But inner reasoning mixed with gritted determination hasn't worked, and we’ve found ourselves no further along the path than we were as a teenager.



We begin with a look at our family structure by filling in a family tree.

Fill in the boxes by listing yourself. If you have siblings, write them alongside you. Work your way up through each of your parents, your grandparents and your great-grandparents until you have the full tree.


If this image doesn’t fit all your family members in, write underneath or to the side of the boxes. You may want to start with a clean sheet of paper and draw your own ‘tree’ to accommodate more of your family.


Next, write in labels next to each adult. Choose from this list:


  • Rage-aholic

  • Alcoholic/heavy drinker

  • Religious fanatic

  • Drama Queen

  • Philanderer

  • Violent

  • Drug user (including prescribed drugs)

  • Hyper-critical

  • The Joker

  • Obese/anorexic

  • Sexual predator

  • Pedophile

  • Workaholic

  • Exercise addict

  • Martyr

  • Victim

  • Codependent people-pleaser

  • Family fixer

  • Emotionally unavailable

  • Criminal (thief, fraudster etc.)

  • Mental illness


Here's some more information which further explains these labels: 

This exercise is to help you lift the family denial. It served us well to deny there were any family problems when we were growing up, but now that we are suffering the consequences as adults, we need to get some clarity about the reality of our family members. This labeling is not for us to judge but simply to gain awareness of the problems that were steeped in our childhood.


Our childhoods were steeped in problems, since the problems were pre-existing. However, our childhoods began clear and clean (like a cup of water) and then the problems of others eventually stained that pure water as they continued to steep through the years until the issues of others muddied the very fabric of our own being.


Look for a pattern. For example, there may be a history of food abuse or alcohol abuse. It might be that inappropriate anger was passed down through the generations. It could be that mental illness was prevalent.


This exercise will serve its full purpose as we undertake other exercises and come to understand how the dysfunction has been passed down for generations; this helps relieve us of the burden of thinking it was our fault.

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