Overfunctioning? Can you spot the underfunctioning? It’s there, for sure!

  • Fact: Overfunctioning is to think, feel or act for another in a way that erodes another’s capacity for ownership or thoughtful action. The way an emotional system works guarantees that overfunctioning is always a reciprocal phenomenon. This means that whenever there is overfunctioning somewhere in an emotional system, there is inevitably a re-balancing (underfunctioning) that is taking place somewhere else in the system—perhaps in another dimension of the overfunctioner’s life, perhaps in how another person is functioning, or perhaps in an entirely separate part of the organization. It can be very difficult to spot exactly where/how the reciprocal dynamic is playing out; but even if it is impossible to recognize, you can be certain that it is taking place!
  • Action: Pick a situation in your home or work system that is clearly a form of overfunctioning. (It’s usually easier to see in others than in oneself.) Get up on the balcony to observe the larger system, and try to recognize where some reciprocal underfunctioning may be happening. It’s often not easy to spot the reciprocal pattern, so make a list of the places/ways that you suspect might be evidence of underfunctioning. Use this exercise as a way to practice the important RL skill of “thinking systems”.