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Dysfunction Means What, Now?

When you hear the word “dysfunctional,” what pops into your mind?

It’s easy in our society to feel that, when our lives slip toward chaos, the word “dysfunction” stands as a judgment against us. Please don’t misunderstand me, there are dysfunctional aspects of the world that are wrong, such as poverty, abuse, cruelty, and war. That’s a whole different conversation. I’m talking about something a little more personal.

How would you define “dysfunction?” Not the academic definition from the dictionary. I mean that personal, experiential definition when something doesn’t feel quite right. It may occur when something seems to be running counter to a value held dear. Or an unexpected disconnect opens a gap between your own personal experience of living and imposed expectations of how you may be expected to live.

These collisions of experience, feeling, and thought seem to grind the gears of our life. We might even feel our motivation and energy stutter, stall, and sometimes drift in neutral. Often, when tremendous change sweeps through our lives, our experience of what functions well in our lives turns upside down. Which makes sense, doesn’t it? Because when our behaviors, actions, and ways of discourse, which always worked before begin to fail us in the present, it feels dysfunctional. When everything we’ve counted on has now shifted, our points of reference shift, too. That’s a lot to take in. A lot to suddenly adjust to.

It could be an intrapersonal change within yourself. Perhaps an interpersonal shift between yourself and another person. Maybe it’s a change within your local community. Or it might be a global shift, such as a worldwide pandemic.

Regardless of the origin, changes that fundamentally alter the landscape of our life create a tectonic shift in our experience. What no longer helps us function smoothly, what works well, and what feels unmoored in our life all rise in high relief.

But just because something doesn’t work well for you right now or function most optimally for you at this point in time does not necessarily lay a judgment on You. It may just mean that a change is taking place, and you must now make yourself familiar with a completely new landscape.

In the end, how your world has changed or where you find yourself right now, does not determine where you will be in the future. When the storms pass over and through our lives, it can be unnerving. It can feel scary. It can feel like things are dysfunctional. Yet no matter how strong the winds may blow, the wind is not the entirety of the weather.

I encourage you to have a moment of patience for what’s happening right now. You have a superpower, the gift of noticing what’s happening in your life, who is present in your life, what you’re feeling right now.

Where you are in your life right now will not be where you will always be. You’re going to get through this. You’re gonna make it.

I believe in you.

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