A Family Psychologist and EMDR Therapist’s advice on Healthy Rebellion

Apr 8, 2015 | Mood

What is Healthy Rebellion?

Sometimes I need a good dose of change. A certain restlessness comes over me and I must rearrange the furniture (I think I’ve told you this part before) or chop off my hair or paint my shoes yellow (yes, I’ve done this).

And sometimes the need for change runs even deeper and triggers more shocking behaviors. When I quit my tenured academic job, people looked at me like I had lost my mind. Why would anyone give up a hard-won position with a retirement account and a curriculum vitae full of fancy accomplishments?



Because I had to. That’s why. Like when I had to leave my first marriage. I couldn’t explain it to my family’s satisfaction (or his) but I knew I had to. Or wither and die.

Healthy Rebellion is anything that takes you out of your accustomed role and forces you to experiment and scramble and be a little unsure. Anything that deepens your connection with your true self and your higher power. Anything that saves your life or makes it worth living again.

…Even if others are shocked and disagree and tell you you’re being selfish.

…Even if you’re confused and unsettled for a while.

…Even if it’s scary.

…Even if your parents would NEVER do what you’re doing.

…Even if you think you might be going to hell.

[It should go without saying that I’m not talking about any kind of illegal or unethical activity – stealing, doing drugs, cheating, etc. Those won’t help you in your path toward wholeness.]

Healthy Rebellion equals…

Thinking forbidden thoughts.

Giving money away.

Quitting your job.

Being disloyal to an idea or a person who holds you back.

Diving head-first into a new passion.

Skipping the family Christmas and creating your own kind of holiday.

Becoming a Buddhist, a Baptist, or a Nudist.

Getting a blue streak in your hair.

Changing your political affiliations (in any direction).

Shedding a dead marriage.

Wearing comfortable shoes.

Making an unlikely friend.

Reading banned books.

Going vegan.

The whole point of healthy rebellion is that we need change in order to grow. Differentiation of self is the process of becoming more of who we were meant to be, as fully-functioning adults, in spite of criticisms and objections coming from others (real or imagined). We differentiate when we make deliberate, uncomfortable, or naughty changes that put us closer to where we want to be.

Exercise: Make a list of ten things you would never do because they would shatter people’s expectations of you.

The following are similar blog posts I’ve written that, as a Family Psychologist and EMDR therapist in Springfield, MO, address topics that help people become more of who they were meant to be.

How Friendships Improve your Love Life

Write Your Way Out of Depression



Like to Subscribe?

Like to Subscribe?

Get notified when Deborah shares new ideas, art, and creative health information for you.

You have Successfully Subscribed!