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Family of Origin Filters

Choose to discuss with your partner just one of the following about how your family of origin dealt with emotions, relationships, values, roles, and beliefs.

Select one of the emotions, beliefs, values, roles, or relationships below. We encourage you to continue to use this tool to discuss beliefs, values, and roles that may be changing for you as your recovery progresses.

Part A Understanding Our Filters

Speaker, keep the focus on the family of origin, not on the relationship with your partner. Tell the story of this history and how you feel about it.
1. “This is what I learned about anger (love, sadness, etc.) .”
2. “What I like about what I learned is (if anything) because .”
3. “What I do not like about what I learned is (if anything) because .”
4. “Here is how I see this now (anything change?) .”

Listener, remember to take Time Outs and use Self Soothing Strategies as needed.  Just focus on understanding. Try to find the story of how this feeling, belief, or behavior was learned and experienced in your partner’s family of origin, or with the primary caretakers. “Tell me the story of how you learned…”

Managing Emotions, Beliefs, Values, Roles, Relationships
In my family I learned to deal with (substitute different feelings/roles/situations) in the following way(s)….

(*Very important to discuss)


  • *Affection / Love
  • *Anger
  • *Sadness
  • Fear
  • *Grief
  • Anxiety / Stress
  • Joy / Happiness

Beliefs, Values, and Roles

  • Conflict
  • Joy
  • Happiness
  • Spirituality
  • Caring
  • Creating closeness
  • Communicating love
  • What it means to be a man / woman / mother / father
  • Parenting
  • Working
  • Leisure
  • Sex
  • Perfectionism
  • Telling the truth
  • Other:

Part B Shedding What Does Not Work

When you are ready, discuss possibly changing something specific about this thought, feeling, behavior, or belief.

Speaker, tell your partner what you want or hope to change about what you think, believe or behave related to this issue, and why?

Listener, Work on listening and understanding your partner’s desire to change and why. Ask if there is anything you could do to help support this change. Be mindful of your own boundaries, core needs, and recovery needs.

Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to reach out to me here.