Edwin Friedman on differentiation
From Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve:
Differentiation refers to a direction in life rather than a state of being.
- Differentiation is the capacity to take a stand in an intense emotional system.
- Differentiation is saying “I” when others are demanding “we.”
- Differentiation is containing one’s reactivity to the reactivity of others, which includes the ability to avoid being polarized.
- Differentiation is maintaining a non-anxious presence in the face of anxious others.
- Differentiation is knowing where one ends and another begins.
- Differentiation is being able to cease automatically being one of the system’s emotional dominoes.
- Differentiation is being clear about one’s own personal values and goals.
- Differentiation is taking maximum responsibility for one’s own emotional being and destiny rather than blaming others or the context.
Differentiation is not to be equated with similar-sounding ideas such as individuation, autonomy, or independence. First of all, it has less to do with a person’s behavior than with his or her emotional being. Second, there is a sense of connectedness to the concept that prevents the mere gaining of distance, leaving, or cutting-off as ways to achieve it. Third, as stated above, it has to do with the fabric of one’s existence, one’s integrity.