Shadow Self and Carl Jung: The Ultimate Guide to the Human Dark Side | HighExistence

I really like the Jungian way of looking at things. I loved going to the Jungian groups in Halifax every Tuesday evening and watching films and then discussing the concepts.  The compiled works of Carl Jung were the first psychology books I ever read I believe.

Rory

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Source: Shadow Self and Carl Jung: The Ultimate Guide to the Human Dark Side | HighExistence

How well do you know yourself?

If you’re like most people, you probably have a decent idea about your own desires, values, beliefs, and opinions.

You have a personal code that you choose to follow that dictates whether you are being a “good” person.

If there is any one thing you can know in this universe, surely it is who you are.

But what if you’re wrong?

carl jung shadow projection unconscious enlightenment cg jung shadow unconscious psychology psychotherapy

What if much of what you have come to believe about yourself, your morality, and what drives you is not an accurate reflection of who you truly are?

Now, before you launch into a, “Hey, you don’t know me, you don’t know my life, you don’t know what I’ve been through!”-style defense, ponder this for a second:

Have you ever said or done something really shitty, mostly on an impulse, that you later regretted?

After the damage was done and the other person involved was hurt, you couldn’t bury your shame fast enough. “Why did I say that?” you might have asked yourself in frustration.

It’s that “Why?” question that indicates the presence of a blind spot. And though the reason for your reaction may have been obvious (perhaps even “justified”), the lack of control you had over yourself betrays the existence of a different person lurking beneath your carefully constructed idea of who you are.

If this person is coming into focus for you, congratulations—you’ve just met your shadow self.

The Shadow: A Formal Introduction

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”

— Carl Jung, Aion (1951)

The “shadow” is a concept first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describes those aspects of the personality that we choose to reject and repress. For one reason or another, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like—or that we think society won’t like—so we push those parts down into our unconscious psyches. It is this collection of repressed aspects of our identity that Jung referred to as our shadow self.

If you’re one of those people who generally loves who they are, you might be wondering whether this is true of you. “I don’t reject myself,” you might be thinking. “I love everything about me.”

carl jung shadow who created god unconscious

Carl Gustav Jung

However, the problem is that you’re not necessarily aware of those parts of your personality that you reject. According to Jung’s theory, we distance ourselves psychologically from those behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that we find dangerous.

Rather than confront something that we don’t like, our mind pretends it does not exist. Aggressive impulses, taboo mental images, shameful experiences, immoral urges, fears, irrational wishes, unacceptable sexual desires—these are a few examples of shadow aspects, things people contain but do not admit to themselves that they contain. Here are a few examples of common shadow behaviors:

1. A tendency to harshly judge others, especially if that judgment comes on an impulse.

You may have caught yourself doing this once or twice when you pointed out to a friend how “ridiculous” someone else’s outfit looked. Deep down, you would hate to be singled out this way, so doing it to another reassures you that you’re smart enough not to take the same risks as the other person.

2. Pointing out one’s own insecurities as flaws in another.

The internet is notorious for hosting this. Scan any comments section and you’ll find an abundance of trolls calling the author and other commenters “stupid,” “moron,” “idiot,” “untalented,” “brainwashed,” and so on. Ironically, internet trolls are some of the most insecure people of all.

3. A quick temper with people in subordinate positions of power.

I caught this one all the time when I worked as a cashier, and it is the bane of all customer service employees. People are quick to cop an attitude with people who don’t have the power to fight back. Exercising power over another is the shadow’s way of compensating for one’s own feelings of helplessness in the face of greater force.

4. Frequently playing the “victim” of every situation.

Rather than admit wrongdoing, people go to amazing lengths to paint themselves as the poor, innocent bystander who never has to take responsibility.

5. A willingness to step on others to achieve one’s own ends.

People often celebrate their own greatness without acknowledging times that they may have cheated others to get to their success. You can see this happen on the micro level as people vie for position in checkout lines and cut each other off in traffic. On the macro level, corporations rig policy in their favor to gain tax cuts at the expense of the lower classes.

6. Unacknowledged biases and prejudices.

People form assumptions about others based on their appearance all the time—in fact, it’s a pretty natural (and often useful—e.g. noticing signs of a dangerous person) thing to do. However, we can easily take this too far, veering into toxic prejudice. But with so much social pressure to eradicate prejudice, people often find it easier to “pretend” that they’re not racist/homophobic/xenophobic/sexist, etc., than to do the deep work it would take to override or offset particularly destructive stereotypes they may be harboring.

7. A messiah complex.

Some people think they’re so “enlightened” that they can do no wrong. They construe everything they do as an effort to “save” others—to help them “see the light,” so to speak. This is actually an example of spiritual bypassing, yet another manifestation of the shadow self.

Projection: Seeing Our Darkness in Others

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Seeing the shadow within ourselves is extremely difficult, so it’s rarely done—but we’re really good at seeing undesirable shadow traits in others. Truth be told, we revel in it. We love calling out unsightly qualities in others—in fact, the entire celebrity gossip industry is built on this fundamental human tendency.

Seeing in others what we won’t admit also lies within is what Jung calls “projection.” Although our conscious minds are avoiding our own flaws, they still want to deal with them on a deeper level, so we magnify those flaws in others. First we reject, then we project. 

carl jung shadow projection unconscious enlightenment cg jung shadow unconscious psychology psychotherapy

One way that we all experience this dichotomy of rejection and projection, for example, is when we have a hard time admitting that we’re wrong.

When I was seven, I had the grand idea that my younger brother and I would run away. Nothing was particularly unpleasant in our home lives at the time; when my brother asked why we were running away, I simply shrugged and said, “Because all the kids do it.”

We packed our blue Sesame Street suitcase with all the essentials: cookies, toys, and juice boxes. After taking the screen down from our first-story bedroom window, we tossed the suitcase onto the ground below. I urged my brother to jump out first and, with complete trust in me, he did. As he crouched behind the thorny hedge just beneath the window, I swung my leg outside and sat poised between the safety of my bedroom and the open air of the outside world.

I looked at the cars driving by, suddenly aware of the boundary I was about to cross. On one side of the window I was safe; my mom knew where I was and I was doing everything she expected me to. On the other side of the window, however, rules were being broken. If she knew that we were going outside without her knowledge, our mom would surely kill us.

This moment of panic inspired in me a sudden need to retreat into the safety zone. I called down to my brother, telling him that I had forgotten something and would be right back—instead I hurried to tell my mom that he was running away. She scrambled outside, where she found him in the bushes, still waiting for me. The look of betrayal contorted his features as he gaped at me, and I parried with a self-righteous stare. He was grounded, while I became his “savior.”

While it’s easy to see my behavior as simply that of a shitty, mean sister (which, trust me, I have assured myself repeatedly that I was being), there was actually an entire invisible psychological process happening beneath the surface. As soon as I realized that my brother and I were doing something that wasn’t the fun and brazen endeavor I imagined and would actually land us in a massive heap of trouble, I had to devise a way to protect myself from the consequences.

My seven-year-old “big sister” ego identity wouldn’t permit me to admit that I was wrong—such an act would put my social status into question for me (and more importantly, my subservient little brother). Instead, I projected the wrongness onto my brother and ran to tell my mom. I suspect that my unconscious mind wanted to see the consequences of that wrongness played out in order to learn the lesson of how to avoid the trouble in the future… I just maybe didn’t want to experience those consequences for myself.

By projecting the deviant behavior onto my poor little brother (whom, I assure you, I spoil to death in our older age as penance), I avoided having to confront the dangerous behavior in myself. And this is something that, in our own ways, we all do.

In this case, being in the wrong was the thing I rejected in myself. Most people hate admitting when they’re wrong because doing so is accompanied by the uncomfortable emotions of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. Rather than confront the possibility of being wrong, therefore, people often go to extreme lengths to prove to themselves and others that they are right—even if it means hurting someone else.

Unfortunately, our impulse to avoid the unpleasant confrontation with the truth is so strong that we remain completely unaware of what’s happening. The mind ignores and buries all evidence of our shortcomings to protect itself—i.e. to prevent the experience of pain—storing it deep within our unconscious minds. This doesn’t make those thoughts, memories, and emotions go away, but it does put them somewhere we don’t have to “see” them.

Our conscious minds are where our ego personality dwells—the “I” that walks around every day talking to other people. When you think of who “you” are, this is the part of yourself you usually identify with.

However, that “you” is only the part of your identity that is visible to you. Your conscious awareness is like a light enabling you to observe what is happening inside your mind.

Beneath that conscious “light” is a whole world of “darkness” containing those very aspects of ourselves that we have strived to ignore. The ego is only the tip of the iceberg floating above the sea, but the unconscious mind is the vast mountain of ice lurking beneath the surface.

jung shadow iceberg unconscious carl jung https://highexistence.com/carl-jung-on-why-we-must-never-pass-judgment-when-we-desire-to-help/

(Source)

Much of that bulk consists of our repressed thoughts, memories, emotions, impulses, traits, and actions. Jung envisioned those rejected pieces coming together to form a large, unseen piece of our personality beneath our awareness, secretly controlling much of what we say, believe, and do.

This secret piece of the personality is the shadow self.

Origins of the Shadow Self

Our society teaches us that certain behaviors, emotional patterns, sexual desires, lifestyle choices, etc. are inappropriate. These “inappropriate” qualities are usually those that disrupt the flow of a functioning society—even if that disruption means challenging people to accept things that make them uncomfortable. Anyone who is too challenging becomes outcast, and everyone else moves on.

Now, we humans are highly social creatures, and the last thing we want is to be excommunicated from the rest of our tribe. So, in order to avoid being cast out, we do whatever it takes to fit in. Early in our childhood development, we find where the line between what is socially “acceptable” and “unacceptable” is, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to toe it.

When we cross that line, as we all frequently do, we suffer the pain of society’s backlash. People judge us, condemn us, gossip about us, and the unpleasant emotions that come with this experience can quickly become overwhelming. However, we don’t actually need people to observe our deviances to suffer for them. Eventually, we internalize society’s backlash so deeply that we inflict it on ourselves.

The only way to escape from this perpetual recurring pain is to mask it. Enter the ego. We tell ourselves stories about who we are, who we are not, and what we would never do to protect ourselves from suffering the consequences of being an outcast. Ultimately, we believe these stories, and once we develop a firm belief about something, we unconsciously discard any information that contradicts that belief. In the world of psychology, this is known as confirmation bias: humans tend to interpret and ignore information in ways that confirm what they already believe.

The problem is that literally everyone possesses qualities that society has deemed undesirable. People fall short of others’ expectations, have a temper flare-up, are excessively gassy, etc. The ideal individual in any society is one who lives up to impossible standards.

What no one wants to admit to others is that we are all secretly failing to meet those standards. Women wear makeup, men use Axe deodorant, advertisers Photoshop celebrities, people filter their personalities with photos and status updates on social media—all to mask perceived flaws and project an image of “perfection.” Jung called these social masks we all wear our “personas.”

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.”

— Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion (1938)

Uncommon thoughts and emotions put us at an even higher risk of being alienated from society. Ideas that are challenging or contrary to social norms are considered dangerous and are best left unexpressed if one wishes to “fit in.”

Emotionally, any mood other than happy, or at least neutral, is considered undesirable. Rather than admit we are going through a difficult experience, thus making others uncomfortable with the knowledge that we are uncomfortable, we say that we’re fine when we’re really not.

Ironically, this need to avoid things that make us and others uncomfortable undermines our ability to confront and either heal or integrate them. And if this failure to heal is bad for us as individuals, the effects of that failure on a mass scale are catastrophic.

When our cultures were in their infancies, past humans beheld their more animalistic tendencies (murder, rape, war, etc.) with revulsion and fear. They developed a moral code, most often based on religious beliefs, about how the ideal, or “enlightened,” human should behave.

While these ideals were intended to be inspiring, giving humans a model for spiritual growth, they were challenging in their tendencies to go against fundamental aspects of human nature. In many ways this is a good thing, since a society that allows rape, murder, and rampant violence does not tend to be a very good one to live in.

However, our collective moral codes fall short because they only offer ideals. Religious and secular morals only tell us who to be, not how to become that person. When solutions are offered, they are bogged down in esoteric practice that the average person has a hard time understanding—at least not without years of mentoring and study, something that not all of us have the luxury to undergo. We can’t all be monks, after all.

carl jung shadow unconscious cg jung shadow psychology repressed projection psychotherapy enlightenment

We can’t all be this guy.

The result is that we struggle to change in ways that require us to suppress our base animal instincts without giving them safe outlets through which to manifest. In other words, we push our failures into the unconscious, where we can ignore them and go on pretending to be the people society wants us to be. We get to pretend to be enlightened without actually doing the deep inner work that it takes to move through the developmental process.

Enlightenment: The Shadow Formula

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

— Carl Jung

Jung’s proposed solution to this schism is for the individual to undergo “shadow work.” What we repress never stays repressed, it lives on in the unconscious—and, despite what our egos would have us believe, the unconscious mind is the one really running the show.

“Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow self and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

— Carl Jung, “The Philosophical Tree,” Alchemical Studies (1945)

Shadow work, then, is the process of making the unconscious conscious. In doing so, we gain awareness of our unconscious impulses and can then choose whether and how to act on them. We begin this process when we take a step back from our normal patterns of behavior and observe what is happening within us. Meditation is a great way to develop this ability to step back from ourselves, with the goal being to gain the ability to do this as we go about our daily lives.

The next step is to question. When we observe ourselves reacting to psychological triggers, or events that prompt an instant and uncontrolled reaction from us, we must learn to pause and ask ourselves, “Why am I reacting this way?” This teaches us to backtrack through our emotions to our memories, which hold the origins of our emotional programming.

Identifying triggers can be a difficult process due to our natural desire to avoid acknowledging the shadow self. Our tendency is to justify our actions after the fact, when really the best thing we can do is avoid acting reactively or unconsciously in the first place. Cultivating an awareness of the shadow is the first step to identifying our triggers—but before we can do that, we must first overcome our instinctive fear of our shadows.

Perhaps the biggest issue people face when confronted with the shadow is the question, “Am I a bad person?” Acknowledging the shadow means acknowledging that we contain darkness, a capacity for malevolence. As Jung wrote in Psychology of the Unconscious

“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature.”

Jung indicates that under certain circumstances, all human beings have the capacity to do horrible, brutal things. And somewhat paradoxically, familiarizing ourselves with these dark potentialities and accepting them as part of us is perhaps the best way to ensure that they are never actualized. But again, it’s profoundly difficult to do this, particularly because we desperately don’t want to think of ourselves as “bad” people.

So, do taboo thoughts, hurtful actions, and the capacity to commit atrocities make you a bad person? No, not necessarily. Of course, everyone has a different definition of how “good” and “bad” people act—and those moral definitions are to some extent irreducibly subjective and arbitrary—but when it comes to the general consensus of “goodness,” you can make mistakes and hurt others without having an awareness of what you’re doing and still be a good person. Beyond that, once you acknowledge the massive potential for both light and darkness within each human being, the dichotomy of “good” people vs “bad” people begins to seem reductive and misleading. Above all, you’re human, and as such, too complex to be neatly categorized.

Nonetheless, the idea of being a good person is not without merit, and most of us intuitively understand that it’s a fine idea to move in the direction of greater self-awareness, self-mastery, and compassion. Doing difficult shadow work—recognizing and correcting our unconscious destructive patterns—is a crucial aspect of becoming a better person.

Once we identify the original sources of our psychological triggers (e.g. repressed fear, pain, aggression, etc.), only then can we begin to heal and integrate those wounded parts of ourselves. Integration, in Jung’s definition, means that we cease rejecting parts of our personalities and find ways to bring them forward into our everyday lives. We accept our shadows and seek to unlock the wisdom they contain. Fear becomes an opportunity for courage. Pain is a catalyst for strength and resilience. Aggression is transmuted into warrior-like passion. This wisdom informs our actions, our decisions, and our interactions with others. We understand how others feel and respond to them with compassion, knowing that they are being triggered themselves.

One aspect of integrating the shadow self is healing our psychological wounds from early childhood and beyond. As we embark on this work, we begin to understand that much of our shadow is the result of being hurt and trying to protect ourselves from re-experiencing that hurt. We can accept what happened to us, acknowledge that we did not deserve the hurt and that these things were not our fault, and reclaim those lost pieces to move back into wholeness. (For especially deep traumas, it is advised to work with a trained psychologist on these issues.) This is a very intensive and involved process and merits another separate article to cover, but those who wish to know more can find a myriad of information on the subject in books, videos, articles, and self-improvement groups.

Unfortunately, many philosophies insist that people can become enlightened without doing this deep inner work. The proposed solution within these philosophies seems to be to actively ignore unconscious impulses rather than to dig in and understand them.

Not trying to point fingers, but many of these philosophies come from Newer (*cough, cough*, Age) ideas, which often misinterpret ancient teachings to fit into the modern desire for convenience and comfort. I’d love to rip these teachings a new one in another article, but for now, it is good to be wary of anyone who insists that you can reach enlightenment without working on those parts of yourself that are messy and painful. Ultimately, you’ll have to use your own discretion to decide what resonates most with you—but don’t be surprised to find yourself facing a crisis if you opt to take the path of avoidance.

As Jung points out, we can’t correct undesirable behaviors until we deal with them head on. The shadow self acts out like a disobedient child until all aspects of the personality are acknowledged and integrated. Whereas many spiritual philosophies often denounce the shadow as something to be overcome and transcended, Jung insists that the true aim is not to defeat the shadow self, but to incorporate it with the rest of the personality. It is only through this merging that true wholeness can be attained, and when it is, that is enlightenment. 

carl jung shadow unconscious cg jung shadow enlightenment projection repression psychoanalysis psychology

The Jungian model of the psyche. Here the shadow self is referred to as the “shade.” Click image for more info. (Source)

If You Want to Save the World, Tend to Your Shadow Self

“If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against… Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.”

— Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion (1938)

While shadow work is a rewarding way to cultivate a deep and intimate understanding of ourselves, and thus evolve as individuals, the truth is that the world needs us to embark on this journey sooner rather than later. The collective shadow houses society’s basest impulses: those of greed, hatred, and violence. If one person acting on these impulses can do a lot of harm to others, what happens when we act on them as a collective?

We can see the answer manifest in our world today. Unfettered greed leads to a stop-at-nothing drive to boost profits, which takes its toll on the Earth as we alter ecosystems and climate patterns to exhaust natural resources. Regional violence escalates in the areas affected by famine, drought, and climate disasters that irresponsible consumer practices, overpopulation, and industrialization create. The poor become poorer as corporate interests sway public opinion to form policies that benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else—especially those who are most disadvantaged.

We hate and fear what we don’t understand, prompting us to pursue violence against people rather than seek diplomatic solutions with one another. We project our own worst qualities onto our enemies to justify the violence against them. We hoard resources, ignore the suffering of others, and continue the patterns of behavior that pollute the world we all call home.

These behaviors are not exclusive to the Western world, or to the Middle East, or South America, Africa, or any one region or people. We all do it, either by participating in the entities directly involved in the conflicts, or by allowing them to continue through our own inaction.

While these large-scale problems may seem impossible for any one person to influence, we each have more power in this game than we may think. For all our discussion of the abstract power of societies, they are still made up of individual people. When two people connect, they form a relationship. A group of relationships forms a community, and the place where communities intersect is what we come to know as society.

Each of us is responsible for forming the social codes of our communities. Racism, for example, is a huge issue in the United States in the present moment and Americans are struggling to find a way to correct this prejudice and the inequality it creates. Whereas previously racism was a way to structure American society, modern Americans have decided this racial hierarchy is no longer appropriate. So, now, when people call out and denounce racism in their communities, they establish that racism is not an acceptable part of the social code. On the other hand, people who practice racism establish that it is appropriate, and people who ignore racism enable it.

Every day, you are building the culture of your community. When you smile at strangers, you promote a culture of kindness and connection. If you avoid making eye contact or speak to others coldly, you build a community based on distrust and animosity.

Our actions extend far beyond ourselves—they have a ripple effect on society as a whole. Consider cities like New York that have a reputation for being “rude.” Can a city really be rude? No, of course not—but all the individual people living there can.

Unfriendly communities are not hostile because of just one or two people, but because the majority of people act that way. When you have a large group of people living in close proximity all projecting and acting out their unconscious impulses on one another, the result is a toxic culture. People who hurt each other stop trusting one another, and without trust, communities fall apart and individuals become isolated.

However, this wave can be countered with a conscious effort to breed trust, connection, and kindness.

These connections rebuild fragmented communities, helping us to overcome our isolation and tap into a collective or community mentality. When this happens we stop thinking selfishly and start thinking empathetically and cooperatively. As loving, healthy communities connect with one another, they work together to create public policies that benefit more people, extend help to those who need it, and work to preserve the natural world they inhabit.

And this all begins with you.

When you work to heal and integrate your shadow, you find that you stop living so reactively and unconsciously, thereby hurting others less. You build trust in your relationships, and the people whose lives you touch open themselves to others, building even more healthy relationships. Even random acts of kindness to strangers will increase the likelihood that they will be kind to strangers in turn, which will lighten the mood of a community overall.

You hold within you the power to catalyze a ripple that will vibrate through the lives of the people around you. The world desperately needs more kindness, more trust, and more cooperation to heal divisions, address pressing global issues, and avoid catastrophes that could lead to the extinction of humanity and many other species. Doing deep inner work may seem like a self-absorbed process, but you’ll come to find that, at its core, it truly becomes about so much more than just you.

Save your shadow self, save the world.

Read Part Two of this series by Jack E. Othon.

Detachment From a Family Member With Alcoholism

For the family of a person with alcoholism or any addiction, detachment allows you to finally let go of their problem. Discover how and why it helps.

Source: Detachment From a Family Member With Alcoholism

Support group session
FatCamera / Getty Images

For friends and family of a person dealing with alcohol or drug addiction, detachment can be a difficult concept to grasp. In the context of the Al-Anon program, “detach with love” is the idea that the family has to let go of their loved one’s problem.

It gives you permission to let them experience any consequences associated with their drinking or drug use and focus on your own health and well-being.

The Importance of Detachment

If you’ve dealt with someone’s progressive alcoholism (severe alcohol use disorder) or drug use, it might be hard to imagine finding happiness while the substance misuse continues. This is especially true when you have tried everything possible to keep the situation from growing worse.

The stress and exhaustion associated with caring for someone with an addiction can be overwhelming. It may lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy behaviors or unsafe living conditions for your family.

The reality of living with alcoholism or any other addiction usually often means dealing with one crisis after another. While you may feel like you’re constantly in rescue mode, learning to detach relieves you of the responsibility to protect them.

Those who take part in Al-Anon long enough come to realize that detachment is important for the family’s emotional well-being. It also helps you understand that there is no way for you to control the addiction.

Kind Nor Unkind

As the Al-Anon literature says,

“Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person’s alcoholism can have upon our lives.”

Detachment does not mean you stop loving the person and it doesn’t mean physically leaving (unless you feel the need).

Instead, it demonstrates that you don’t like or approve of their behavior. It is stepping back from all the problems associated with addiction and stopping any attempts to solve them. You still care, but it is best for everyone involved if you take care of yourself first.

Many times, family members find that they have become too involved with the addictive behavior. The Al-Anon program teaches people to “put the focus on ourselves” and not on the person with alcoholism or on anyone else. This is done through a number of key points that members pick up in meetings:

  • Avoid the suffering caused by someone else’s actions.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be abused or misused during recovery.
  • Avoid doing things for them that they can do.
  • Don’t use manipulation to change their behaviors.
  • Don’t cover up their mistakes.
  • Avoid creating or preventing a crisis, especially if it’s inevitable and may be the wake-up call they need.

For example, if your family member shows up for work late or missing it entirely becomes a habit, detachment teaches you that it’s not your responsibility to cover for them. It also applies to making excuses and trying to fix situations, as well as avoiding arguments.

By putting the focus back on yourself, you protect yourself from the abusive behavior and stop enabling it. It’s a way of taking some of the power away from them so they’re not able to manipulate you.

Ideally, detaching from this person will help them see how their negative behavior affects everyone around them. As Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous teach, it’s important to have the wisdom to know the difference between the things you can and can’t change.

Does It Really Help?

When you’re considering detachment, you might be concerned about what happens to your loved one after you detach yourself from them. Maybe you think all of the things you did over these years to “help” that will be wasted. Or, you might have fears about what crisis—jail, hospitalization, death, etc.—may be next.

Your concerns are valid and show your love and dedication to a person dealing with addiction. However, you have to put yourself and your family—especially if that family includes children—first.

As Al-Anon teaches, “Detachment helps families look at their situations realistically and objectively, thereby making intelligent decisions possible.” Al-Anon members also learn that no individual is responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it.

This is very difficult and, on the clearheaded side of addiction, you probably know what should or should not happen, but this logic may be lost to the person with the disease. They need to want to change themselves and find the help needed to do that.

Your goal is to be there when they do need you and to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong when they’re ready for recovery. When you learn to detach, you can find relief from much of the pain, stress, and anxiety, and realize that you deserve to treat yourself right.

This will not happen overnight. It requires time, a lot of patience and love, and support to help you along the way. As they say in the program, “It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.” You don’t have to do it alone.

A Word From Verywell

There is probably an Al-Anon Family Group meeting nearby where you will find people who understand what you’re going through. It’s by no means an easy process to detach from a loved one with an addiction, so don’t try to go it alone. By sharing your experience with others who have been there, you can find strength and hope to help you better deal with the situation.

Financial Abuse in Marriage – 7 Tell-Tale Signs and Ways to Deal with It

Source: Financial Abuse in Marriage – 7 Tell-Tale Signs and Ways to Deal with It

By Rachael Pace, Expert Blogger Verified Marriage & Family Therapist Approved By Angela Welch, LMFT
 

Financial Abuse in a Marriage

The scenario of financial abuse in marriage is all too common and all too chilling. But, what is financial abuse in a marriage?

According to financial abuse definition, it translates into one partner exercising control over the other partner’s access to financial resources, which diminishes the abused partner’s capacity to be financially self-sufficient and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.

A partner in an unhealthy marriage attempts to assert control by taking overall assets. The underlying intent of the financially abusive partner is clear: keep the spouse from having the means to leave the union.

When one spouse creates a situation in which the other spouse does not have access to liquid assets, financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, is in play.

Financial abuse is a very sick dynamic in a marriage.

Every expenditure is aggressively accounted for. Purchases at grocery stores and other venues are vigorously tracked, with the “buyer” given just enough money to complete the task.

Other expenditures like health care expenses, clothing, and the like are discouraged. If a partner does not comply with these rigid demands, there is a “price” to pay.

Let’s be clear as we begin to talk about spousal financial abuse and delve deep into the dynamics of a financially abusive relationship.

Financial bullying in marriage is a subset of emotional abuse and can be just as corrosive as physical abuse.

Any time the need for absolute financial control in marriage undergirds the actions of our intimate partners, there is a reason for concern.

Financial abuse by a spouse is a silent weapon in a relationship and comes with serious consequences for the marriage.

By taking stock of the early warning signs of financial abuse in the marriage, you can find ways to escape the trap of money abuse in marriage.

Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of financial abuse in relationships, and consider some ways to counter economic abuse in marriage.

The obvious signs of financial abuse in marriage by husband or wife

1. Denial of access

If your partner does not provide you with free access to your money, this is a cause for concern.

While marital assets come from a variety of streams, they are marital assets. Not being able to access these funds when the need arises is a significant red flag.

2. Intense monitoring of spending

A spouse that requires a detailed expense report of marital finances, receipts, and anecdotal descriptions of your spending is a spouse with pronounced control issues. This hawk-eyed approach is one of the key financial abuse signs.

Further, requiring that you remit every penny of change after expenditure is an area of concern. Monitoring is compounded by the advent of digital accounts.

Because digital interfaces afford consumers “Real-Time” monitoring of financial transactions and balances, the scrutiny from the one perpetrating financial abuse in marriage can be even more pronounced.

These are just some of the glaring financial abuse in marriage facts.

3. Anger with spending that benefits the abused one

Anger with spending that benefits the abused one

If you spend money on yourself for clothing, entertainment, food and the like and your partner goes nuclear, you have a problem.

There is nothing wrong with engaging in self-care and spending a little bit of money to make it possible.

Gauge the reaction of your partner when you report an expenditure. Is he furious? Run!

Also watch:

4. Your partner gives you an allowance

You are not a child “earning your keep” or attempting to curry some favor with your intimate partner.

It’s not okay for your spouse to give you an allowance.

Again, marital assets are marital assets. You are entitled to spend the marital money so long as you are doing it in a healthy and communicative way.

If you’ve been restricted to the predetermined, inflexible amount of financial support, something’s not right.

Further, if the “allowance” is taken from you, something truly unsavory and concerning is afoot. Don’t stand for it!

When your Partner Gives You an Allowance

5. The significant other demands repayment

Your spouse/partner is not a savings and loan account.

When you make household purchases out of marital funds, it is quite inappropriate for the partner to ask for repayment of the funds. Unfortunately, this happens too often.

Further, some extremely nasty spouses demand interest on marital funds that are to be repaid.

Yes, it’s ridiculous and yes, you do not have to live with it.

6. The partner will not let you work

Often the financial abuse individuals endure morphs into something far more nefarious.

If your partner will not let you work outside of the home, the issue runs far deeper than finances. A dangerous situation exists if you are unable to leave home.

No one should ever feel restricted in this way. Even if you are made to feel guilty about working, be on your guard. You should never be made to feel shame about wanting to work outside the home. It would also be helpful to become aware of some key dynamics of abuse in a relationship and seek help.

7. The double standard

Sometimes an abusive partner will make a whopper of purchase with your joint money after you’ve bought something small for yourself.

A massive, unexpected purchase after a rough fight is an indicator of financial abuse. This is, of course, all about control.

Your abusive partner cannot stand the thought of you doing something good for yourself that reaches beyond them. They need to get over it.

What to do?

Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the like should not be tolerated under any circumstances

If you have experienced any of these tell-tale signs of financial abuse in marriage, you are probably dealing with other types of abuse in your marriage. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the like should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

If your situation resonates with any of these financial abuse examples, perhaps the most important thing to do is to create an escape plan for yourself and your dependents.

By nature, an escape plan will require a lot of behind the scenes, clandestine work. Store some money with a trusted friend or family member. Identify an emergency place of residence.

Let police officials know about the predicament of financial abuse in the marriage so that a file and response will be ready when you need it.

Gather your important documents, prescriptions, and the like and have them ready for quick retrieval should the moment of escape present itself.

First and foremost, do not hesitate to ask for help. Do not put yourself in a situation that provides few avenues for escape.

If financial abuse in marriage is your reality and your partner exhibits the red-flag characteristics of an abuser, then choosing to leave the abuser and establishing a financial plan for survival is a must-have.

How to cope with my father who is eating himself to death – Quora

I read about five or six articles about a parent’s addiction and how it affects the kids. there are many articles about alcoholism and how it affects the kids and there is even a group for children-adult children of alcoholics. But when it is food it is really difficult to find much. The article I have linked below is pretty good. It is pretty heavy-hitting emotionally as well.

Rory

******

Source: How to cope with my father who is eating himself to death – Quora

100 Questions You Should Ask Before Marriage

What a great list!Rory

https://dating.lovetoknow.com/dating-conversation-topics/100-questions-before-marriage

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Couple talking at dinner

Marriage is a big step in a relationship. It signifies the commitment and love you have for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. But love isn’t always enough. There are questions to ask before marriage that go beyond love like children, dealing with conflicts, beliefs, finances and extended family. Explore 100 questions to ask before marriage.

Questions About Marriage and Children

Questions to ask your fiance about children before marriage include:

  • How many kids do you want?
  • What values do you want to install in your children?
  • How do you want to discipline your kids?
  • What would you do if one of your children said he was homosexual?
  • What if our children didn’t want to go to college?
  • How much say do children have in a family?
  • How comfortable are you around children?
  • Would you be opposed to having our parents watch the children so we can spend time alone together?
  • Would you put your children in private or public school?
  • What are your thoughts on home schooling?
  • Would you be willing to adopt if we couldn’t have kids?
  • Would you be willing to seek medical treatment if we couldn’t have kids naturally?
  • Do you believe it’s OK to discipline your child in public?
  • How do you feel about paying for your kid’s college education?
  • How far apart do you want kids?
  • Would you want someone to stay home with the kids or use day care?
  • How would you feel if our kids wanted to join the military rather than go to college?
  • How involved do you want grandparents to be in our parenting?
  • How will we handle parental decisions?
Work or familyDealing With Conflict

 pre-marriage questions.

  • Would you be willing to go to marriage counseling if we were having marital problems?
  • If there is a disagreement between me and your family, whose side do you choose?
  • How do you handle disagreements?
  • Would you ever consider divorce?
  • Would you rather discuss issues as they arise or wait until you have a few problems?
  • How would you communicate you aren’t satisfied sexually?
  • What is the best way to handle disagreements in a marriage?
  • How can I be better at communicating with you?
Couple hanging out at playgroundMoral, Political, Religious, Family Values, and Beliefs

Just a few questions to ask a fiance before you get serious about marriage include:

  • What are your views on infidelity?
  • What are your religious views on marriage?
  • What’s more important, work or family?
  • What are your political views?
  • What are your views on birth control?
  • Would you rather be rich and miserable or poor and happy?
  • Who will make the biggest decisions of the household?
  • What would you do if someone said something bad about me?
  • Would you follow the advice of your family before your spouse?
  • What do you believe the role of a wife is?
  • Who should do household chores?
  • What do you believe the role of a husband is?
Happy couple at voter polling place

Handling Finances

Money, debt, and finances are important things to talk about before marriage.

  • How do you feel about debt?
  • Would you share all money with your spouse or split the money into different accounts?
  • What are your views on saving money?
  • What are your views on spending money?
  • What if we both want something but can’t afford both?
  • How well do you budget?
  • Do you feel it is important to save for retirement?
  • Would you be willing to get a second job if we had financial problems?
  • Do you have any debt?
  • What if a family member wants to borrow a large sum of money?
  • Who will take care of the financial matters of the household?
TripEntertainment

Don’t forget to have fun. Find out what your future spouse thinks by including some entertainment and lifestyle points in your list of 100 questions for couples.

  • Do you enjoy traveling?
  • How often would you like to travel?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • How important is spending time alone to you?
  • How would you feel about me going on a trip with the girls (boys) for a couple of weeks?
  • How important is spending time with friends to you?
  • What would be the perfect weekday evening to you?
  • What would we do if we both had a break from work, but each of us had different ideas on how to spend it?
Happy couple in Paris, France
Extended Family

Include some family and relation inquiries among the 100 questions to ask your partner.

  • How often would you want to visit your family?
  • How often will your family visit us?
  • How often would you want my family to visit?
  • How often would you want to visit my family?
  • Do you have a family history of diseases or genetic abnormalities?
  • What if one of your family members said he disliked me?
  • How would you handle holiday family visits?
  • If your parents became ill, would you take them in?
  • If my parents became ill, would you mind taking them in?
Family and personal medical information are questions you should ask your future husband or wife.
  • Does anyone in your family suffer from alcoholism?
  • What is your medical family history?
  • Would you be opposed to mental health treatment?
  • If I had to change my diet because of medical concerns, would you be willing to change yours?
  • Are you willing to exercise with me to improve our health?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Would you mind moving if I had to relocate with my job?
Marriage

About the Relationship and Marriage

100 topics to talk about might be a lot, but you can learn a lot from 100 questions — including what your future partner thinks about marriage and relationships.

  • What would you do if we fell out of love?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • What would you like to be doing five or ten years from now?
  • What do you think is the best way to keep the love alive in a marriage?
  • How do you think life will change if we got married?
  • What is the best thing about marriage?
  • What is the worst thing about marriage?
  • What is your idea of the best weekend?
  • How important are wedding anniversaries to you?
  • How would you like to spend special days?
  • What kind of grandparent do you want to be someday?
  • What type of house do you want to live in?
  • What is your biggest fear about marriage?
  • What excites you about getting married?
  • What do wedding rings mean to you?
  • Are you afraid to talk to me about anything?
  • What do you think would improve our relationship?
  • What would be one thing you would change about our relationship?
  • Do you have any doubts about the future of our relationship?
  • Do you believe love can pull you through anything?
  • Is there anything you don’t trust about me?

Miscellaneous Things to Discuss Before Marriage

While you might have 1,001 questions to ask before you get married, consider throwing in some random questions like:

  • Which would you choose – dishes or laundry?
  • Do you like pets?
  • How many pets do you want?
  • What to do you want to do during retirement?
  • At what age would you like to retire?
Happy couple on couch with dog

Getting to Know Your Partner

Before getting married, be sure that you and your partner are comfortable with your individual and shared goals. Get to know what your partner thinks by checking out:

Don’t Ask Your Questions All at Once

Thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful replies which aren’t necessarily going to come instantly. If you and your partner are seriously considering marriage, set aside some time to have these conversations before marriage so you can be sure of what you both think and feel. Even if you have 101 questions to ask before you get engaged, this will give you plenty of opportunities to gauge whether marriage should be the next step in your relationship.

 

When Depression Is a Symptom of Buried Anger | Psychology Today

This is a great technique for depresssion through releasing the energy of anger to free the vital self!

Rory

*****

Source: When Depression Is a Symptom of Buried Anger | Psychology Today

Trauma was always a word I associated with a catastrophic event: a car accident, a war experience, child abuse, or being a victim of crime. So, it was an “aha” moment to learn that symptoms of trauma, like depression, could be caused by repeated instances of emotional disregard. Childhood emotional neglect comes in many forms and is more common than one would hope.

Below are a few examples of emotional disregard:

  • Rachel, 8 years old, was scared to go to school. Her father repeatedly told her there was nothing to be afraid of and that she shouldn’t be a “scaredy cat.” Dad didn’t ask what she feared or spend any time trying to understand Rachel’s fear from her point of view.
  • Johnny told his mother he hated his little brother and was sorry he was born. The next moment, a hard slap across the face stunned him. Johnny was told never to speak in such a hateful way again.
  • Barb, age 12, kicked the winning goal in soccer. She got in the car riding high with emotions like excitement, joy, and pride in herself for playing a great game. Her mother, instead of matching her enthusiasm with a big proud smile, immediately pointed out the “ugly” red juice stain on her shirt. She was devastated.

When our emotions are invalidated, we experience a crushing insult. And, it evokes anger and even rage, depending on how young we were when the emotional neglect began plus how often it occurred.

David, a former client of mine, grew up with parents who bristled at emotional displays. As a child, when David cried, he was told he had nothing to be sad about or to “chin up!” When David was scared, he was told to stop being such a baby. When he was excited, he was told to cool it. When he was angry at his parents, they got insulted and left him alone. They never asked What’s the matter? How do you feel? or, Are you ok?

David, now 30, showed up in therapy with depression. Blaming himself for his anguish, he described a privileged upbringing with parents who provided well for him. Attending private schools and being given a generous allowance, he was truly grateful to his parents for their gifts.

We soon discovered that part of what led to his depression was the conflict between positive and negative feelings for his parents. He found it hard to validate his emotions. Guilt, an inhibitory emotion on the Change Triangle, left his anger, a core emotion, buried and festering. Most people don’t realize that we can be grateful to our parents for giving us life, financial security, and for making sacrifices, and, at the exact same time, feel angry at them for not meeting our emotional needs. This understanding helps us embrace our complex and conflicting emotional worlds.

As David grew from a teenager to a young adult, his depression got worse. This makes sense because his anger was still suppressed. To squash anger down, the mind enlists inhibitory emotions like anxiety, guilt, and shame, which are effective at keeping anger out of conscious awareness. But they also feel awful and undermine confidence and well-being. Furthermore, the cost of chronically suppressing anger is depression. The energy needed for vital living and outside engagement gets diverted to keeping rage pushed down so that we don’t lose control or lash out.

Healing Depression by Releasing Rage

One effective way to ease and even heal depression is by releasing the enormous burden of our visceral rage. How is this done?

Anger portrayals, a technique common in accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP), are extremely therapeutic. In a nutshell, anger portrayals guide a person in identifying anger in their body. Anger typically is felt as heat, energy, and tension. Then, by noticing and staying with the physical sensations inherent in the core emotion of anger, impulses and images emerge, like a movie. Allowing the movie to unfold in real time, the person gives themself permission to envision exactly what the anger wants to do to those who hurt them. In this way, anger comes up and out, and symptoms of depression remit.

Sometimes guilty feelings make it hard to validate and fully experience anger. In the beginning, when David first started to connect with his inner rage, another guilty part of him would leap up and stop the anger from coming up: “But they did so much for me. I’m so grateful for all the good things they did.”

There’s so much emphasis on gratitude these days that it is important to know that we can hold opposite and conflicting truths at the same time. “David,” I said during one session, “let’s fully validate the gratitude and love you have for your parents, and, for just right now, can we ask for the gratitude, love, and any other feelings you have to step back while we tend to the anger inside?”

Rage portrayals work because, as research shows, when it comes to processing emotions, the brain doesn’t really know the difference between fantasy and reality. Imagining what our rage wants to do and then carrying that out in fantasy allows the energy of the rage to come up and out. No longer are forces required to hold down that anger, so energy becomes available again for vital living. The best part about anger portrayals is that no one gets hurt because it’s all happening in imagination.

Depression is the beginning of a story, not the end. It is a symptom that tells us that something deep inside needs tending, be it anger, fear, sadness, or more. And when we tend to ourselves and our deepest truths, we recover stronger and wiser. We no longer need to fear our emotions but can use them along with our logic and reason to meet life’s challenges in the direction of our deepest wants and needs.

Patient details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

The Epidemic of Covert Male Depression | Psychology Today Canada

Source: The Epidemic of Covert Male Depression | Psychology Today Canada

Show me a mad guy, and I’ll show you a sad guy…

For the most part, men have two speeds — neutral and pissed. Experience demonstrates that the state of rage that plagues the majority of the male population is driven less by genuine anger and more by what might be characterize as covert depression manifesting as anger.

Covert depression doesn’t look like the depression with which we are generally familiar, especially to the people around a man who is in the throes of this particular emotional upheaval. Instead, what the people around us tend to witness is subtle irritation, road rage, explosive arguments, passive-aggression, slovenliness, self-sabotage supported by a failure to follow through and/or a faint sense of insecurity that leads to all kinds of shortcomings in performance — at work, at home, within society at large or even in the bedroom.

“Why anger”, you ask? I like to call anger the First Feeling because it goes straight to the root of the aggression that drives our instinct for survival. Because men are not great at filtering and expressing emotions or feelings, we typically express, or more properly act out, our experience of emotion as anger. The whole male dynamic of emotional experience–feeling, reaction and anger–occurs at a very primal and instinctual level. Men are, in some ways, hardwired for rage – it keeps us sharp. Problem …there are no more saber-toothed tigers with which to contend; the mechanism is obsolete.

For men, the key to deflecting this circumstance is recognizing and acknowledging our emotions. We do this by dissecting rage. Here’s an example: when you get cut off on the highway, you become angry. The reason that you become angry is because someone, in your mind (read: feelings), has compromised your safety, or crossed your boundaries. On the other hand, when your boss chews you out you become angry because you may feel his accusations are unfounded, or you feel disrespected or unappreciated, or you’re anxious about losing your job.

In both situations detailed above you experience anger, but the motivation for that anger is different in each situation. Learning to look at the experience of anger and recognize the underlying feelings and emotions, then expressing those emotions and feelings in a productive manner, diffuses the anger.

As this diffusion begins to happen, the covert depression that ultimately drives our general sense of anger and annoyance starts to take shape as a lack of fulfillment, or disappointment over broken dreams, or anxiety about being able to provide for our family, or performance at work or being a good husband or partner.

It’s not really necessary to understand the why or the how of our human condition or our social circumstances. It’s more important, once we’ve recognized what that circumstance is, to ask the question, “What next?”. I was in an airport a few months ago and saw an advertisement for what I believe was an investment firm. It was a picture of Tiger Woods standing in the rough and tall grass up to his knees. Hand drawn into the picture was a vertical arrow with a break in the line; the small piece at the bottom had a label that said, “10% what you did” — at the top, the label said, “90% what you do”.

In the case of covert depression, emotional success does not rely on the why and how, but more upon what we do next. Tiger Woods lifting the ball out of the rough and onto the green is a metaphor for men lifting ourselves out of our covert depression by both finding and feeling our feelings.

Deconstructing our state of rage leads us to a place where we can drill down into that underlying covert depression that is driven by the subtle sense of “less than” that is visited upon us. This leads to a deconstruction of the depression, and that provides a context for working through the issues that are driving the depression in the first place.

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

This can be helpful for the partner, to see a mirad of reasons that their partner strayed.

Rory


Source: Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

When you think about the reasons why people cheat, what immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s sex. If a person is going to go behind their partner’s back and hook up with someone else, it stands to reason that there’s some form of physical attraction, or thrill of doing the deed with somebody new.

But experts say that’s not really why people have affairs. In fact, according to Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, cheating is almost always more about emotions than sex. “What drives the person to engage in the betrayal is the real reason for cheating,” he tells Bustle.

For example, someone might have an affair if they aren’t feeling connected to, or getting validation from their partner. Should a friend or coworker come along who is willing to listen, it makes sense why that extra attention would seem appealing — and why the attraction could quickly escalate into an affair.

While that isn’t necessarily a comfort for folks who have been cheated on, it is important to look at situations like these from all angles, in order to create a stronger relationship. Here, women share why they cheated, and what the experience taught them — and experts delve into the multiple reasons why people cheat.

1
They’re Avoiding Conflict

Sometimes, when a relationship is riddled with conflict — or even when things aren’t 100% easy for a short period of time — it can cause a person to panic and run into the arms of another.

The affair isn’t so much about sex at that point, as much as it is a way of avoiding problems. “Cheating allows them to escape,” Klapow says. “They can be with a person where problems and conflicts don’t exist, where they get respite, support, and validation.”

This was the case for Deonne, 40, who saw red flags in her relationship, but wasn’t ready to face them. She says it felt like the best and easiest option, and that being with someone else “filled a void.”

2
They Have Weak Boundaries

As Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a marriage counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle, if someone has “weak boundaries,” the chances of cheating go way up. He gives the example of a person getting too close to coworker, and how an affair could quickly unfold from there.

“It is natural for us to want to connect with those around us, and it’s natural to want to take that to the next level — a romantic one — when emotional intimacy is growing,” Bilek says. And yet, while friendships are obviously always OK, people with weak boundaries can’t help but go overboard.

It’s why it’s so important for couples to discuss the “rules” of their relationship, including what is and isn’t OK, as well as what counts as cheating. “Keeping firm boundaries at work and in social situations is critical for maintaining fidelity in a relationship,” he says.

3
They Want To Save The Relationship

While it sounds weird, some people use cheating as “a cry for help to save the relationship before they give up on it entirely,” Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expertf tells Bustle.

Yes, the cheater may go out and have sex. But that wasn’t technically their main goal or interest, she says. Instead, the affair may be the cheating partner’s (unhealthy) way of telling their significant other that they’ve been unhappy, and want to get a conversation started.

Again, this isn’t the best way to approach a partner about where a relationship is headed, or what it needs to succeed. And yet it often works: Some couples do find that they’re stronger after cheating, because the betrayal inspired them to communicate more, and work out their issues.

4
They Want To End The Relationship

On the flip side, some folks turn to cheating as a way of breaking up with their partner. “Rather than come out and say that they want to end the relationship, the person cheats hoping that their partner will find out and break up with them,” Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health expert, tells Bustle.

They may secretly hope their partner sees illicit texts popping up on their phone, or starts to wonder why they’re staying out so late at night and eventually asks what’s up. It’s obviously so much healthier (and kinder) to end things outright. But for those who struggle with direct communication, they might find themselves taking the cheating route, instead.

5
They Had An Abusive Past

Raina, 44, says the reason she cheated stemmed from an abusive childhood, which landed her in an abusive first marriage, and then in an unloving second marriage. Both times she cheated on her husband, first as a way of getting out of a toxic situation, and second as a way to continue on a path of self improvement.

“I had spent two years in therapy trying to get over past abuse,” she tells Bustle. But her second husband wasn’t listening to her needs, or helping her along the way. In fact, he was even encouraging her to stop taking helpful medication.

Frustrated, when another man came along, she couldn’t help but start an affair with him. “He gave me space, but also support,” she says, which helped her feel confident enough to continue working through what she’d been through in her past, and to seek out what she wanted for her future.

“Today, I am independent and strong. I don’t feel the need to depend on a man. While I do regret hurting people, I can’t regret either of my affairs. One gave me my children and the other gave me myself.”

6
They Want To Boost Their Self-Esteem

Not everyone who lacks confidence will have an affair in order to feel better. But experts say this is yet another reason why someone might sneak around behind their partner’s back.

“When someone is feeling down about [themselves] the thrill of sex with a new/forbidden person provides a temporary feeling of self-worth,” Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist, tells Bustle. “For example if things aren’t going well at work and [they] feel uncertain about [their] value, an outside lover can temporarily address that feeling.”

Nothing’s better than positive attention, flirty texts, and the excitement of being wanted. So when someone is feeling bad about themselves, cheating becomes all the more tempting.

7
They’re Lonely

“The majority of people who cheat are not fulfilled emotionally,” Ellen Bolin, a certified professional relationship coach, tells Bustle, which explains why so many people turn to emotional affairs — which often lead to physical affairs — as a way of curing a sense of loneliness within a relationship.

This is, of course, not the best way to solve the issue. Painful affairs can be avoided if couples speak up and let one another know when/if they’ve feeling neglected, unheard, or lonely.

8
They’re Bored

If someone is bored with their relationship, it makes sense why they might turn to cheating as a way of spicing things up for themselves. But experts say, more often than not, cheating is a choice made by those who are bored with their own life in general, and that has little to do with their partner.

“It’s a way to feel alive, special, seen by someone else,” Ross says. “[And] the sneaking around is often more exciting than the sex itself.” In other words, having something to hide, and something that adds a bit of danger to their life, can give them the exciting story they’re looking for.

These reasons all make sense. But, as Deonne says, it’s important to remember that “cheating is a temporary fix to a deeper issue.”

9
They’re Seeking Revenge

Cheating may also be an act of revenge, which can stem from anger — for any number of reasons. “The person may be frustrated in their relationship, or feel like their partner doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, doesn’t support them,” Klapow says. “In an act of defiance — but also avoidance of the problem at hand — the person cheats. So instead of directly confronting the problem, they avoid it and act out by cheating.” And that’s not cool.

Knowing an affair isn’t always all about sex won’t make it any less painful for the person being cheated on, but it may help both members of a relationship understand why it happened in the first place. By talking about problems before they get out of hand — and making sure you’re both fulfilled — an affair doesn’t have to happen.

Experts:

Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, marriage counselor

Bethany Ricciardi, sex and relationship expert

Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, mental health expert

Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, couples therapist

Ellen Bolin, certified professional relationship coach

What Is a Schema in Psychology? Definition and Examples

I like this intro to Schemas/Lifetraps:

Rory

*****

https://www.thoughtco.com/schema-definition-4691768
Human Head with Computer Folders

A schema is a cognitive structure that serves as a framework for one’s knowledge about people, places, objects, and events. Schemas help people organize their knowledge of the world and understand new information. While these mental shortcuts are useful in helping us make sense of the large amount of information we encounter on a daily basis, they can also narrow our thinking and result in stereotypes.

Key Takeaways: Schema

  • A schema is a mental representation that enables us to organize our knowledge into categories.
  • Our schemas help us simplify our interactions with the world. They are mental shortcuts that can both help us and hurt us.
  • We use our schemas to learn and think more quickly. However, some of our schemas may also be stereotypes that cause us to misinterpret or incorrectly recall information.
  • There are many types of schemas, including object, person, social, event, role, and self schemas.
  • Schemas are modified as we gain more information. This process can occur through assimilation or accommodation.

Schema: Definition and Origins

The term schema was first introduced in 1923 by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget proposed a stage theory of cognitive development that utilized schemas as one of its key components. Piaget defined schemas as basic units of knowledge that related to all aspects of the world. He suggested that different schemas are mentally applied in appropriate situations to help people both comprehend and interpret information. To Piaget, cognitive development hinges on an individual acquiring more schemas and increasing the nuance and complexity of existing schemas.

The concept of schema was later described by psychologist Frederic Bartlett in 1932. Bartlett conducted experiments that tested how schemas factored into people’s memory of events. He said that people organize concepts into mental constructs he dubbed schemas. He suggested that schemas help people process and remember information. So when an individual is confronted with information that fits their existing schema, they will interpret it based on that cognitive framework. However, information that doesn’t fit into an existing schema will be forgotten.

Examples of Schemas

For example, when a child is young, they may develop a schema for a dog. They know a dog walks on four legs, is hairy, and has a tail. When the child goes to the zoo for the first time and sees a tiger, they may initially think the tiger is a dog as well. From the child’s perspective, the tiger fits their schema for a dog.

The child’s parents may explain that this is a tiger, a wild animal. It is not a dog because it doesn’t bark, it doesn’t live in people’s houses, and it hunts for its food. After learning the differences between a tiger and a dog, the child will modify their existing dog schema and create a new tiger schema.

As the child grows older and learns more about animals, they will develop more animal schemas. At the same time, their existing schemas for animals like dogs, birds, and cats will be modified to accommodate any new information they learn about animals. This is a process that continues into adulthood for all kinds of knowledge.

Types of Schemas

There are many kinds of schemas that assist us in understanding the world around us, the people we interact with, and even ourselves. Types of schemas include:

    • Object schemas, which help us understand and interpret inanimate objects, including what different objects are and how they work. For example, we have a schema for what a door is and how to use it. Our door schema may also include subcategories like sliding doors, screen doors, and revolving doors.
    • Person schemas, which are created to help us understand specific people. For instance, one’s schema for their significant other will include the way the individual looks, the way they act, what they like and don’t like, and their personality traits.
    • Social schemas, which help us understand how to behave in different social situations. For example, if an individual plans to see a movie, their movie schema provides them with a general understanding of the type of social situation to expect when they go to the movie theater.
    • Event schemas, also called scripts, which encompass the sequence of actions and behaviors one expects during a given event. For example, when an individual goes to see a movie, they anticipate going to the theater, buying their ticket, selecting a seat, silencing their mobile phone, watching the movie, and then exiting the theater.
  • Self-schemas, which help us understand ourselves. They focus on what we know about who we are now, who we were in the past, and who we could be in the future.
  • Role schemas, which encompass our expectations of how a person in a specific social role will behave. For example, we expect a waiter to be warm and welcoming. While not all waiters will act that way, our schema sets our expectations of each waiter we interact with.

Modification of Schema

As our example of the child changing their dog schema after encountering a tiger illustrates, schemas can be modified. Piaget suggested that we grow intellectually by adjusting our schemas when new information comes from the world around us. Schemas can be adjusted through:

  • Assimilation, the process of applying the schemas we already possess to understand something new.
  • Accommodation, the process of changing an existing schema or creating a new one because new information doesn’t fit the schemas one already has.

Impact on Learning and Memory

Schemas help us interact with the world efficiently. They help us categorize incoming information so we can learn and think more quickly. As a result, if we encounter new information that fits an existing schema, we can efficiently understand and interpret it with minimal cognitive effort.

However, schemas can also impact what we pay attention to and how we interpret new information. New information that fits an existing schema is more likely to attract an individual’s attention. In fact, people will occasionally change or distort new information so it will more comfortably fit into their existing schemas.

In addition, our schemas impact what we remember. Scholars William F. Brewer and James C. Treyens demonstrated this in a 1981 study. They individually brought 30 participants into a room and told them that the space was the office of the principal investigator. They waited in the office and after 35 seconds were taken to a different room. There, they were instructed to list everything they remembered about the room they had just been waiting in. Participants’ recall of the room was much better for objects that fit into their schema of an office, but they were less successful at remembering objects that didn’t fit their schema. For example, most participants remembered that the office had a desk and a chair, but only eight recalled the skull or bulletin board in the room. In addition, nine participants claimed that they saw books in the office when in reality there weren’t any there.

How Our Schemas Get Us Into Trouble

The study by Brewer and Trevens demonstrates that we notice and remember things that fit into our schemas but overlook and forget things that don’t. In addition, when we recall a memory that activates a certain schema, we may adjust that memory to better fit that schema.

So while schemas can help us efficiently learn and understand new information, at times they may also derail that process. For instance, schemas can lead to prejudice. Some of our schemas will be stereotypes, generalized ideas about whole groups of people. Whenever we encounter an individual from a certain group that we have a stereotype about, we will expect their behavior to fit into our schema. This can cause us to misinterpret the actions and intentions of others.

For example, we may believe anyone who is elderly is mentally compromised. If we meet an older individual who is sharp and perceptive and engage in an intellectually stimulating conversation with them, that would challenge our stereotype. However, instead of changing our schema, we might simply believe the individual was having a good day. Or we might recall the one time during our conversation that the individual seemed to have trouble remembering a fact and forget about the rest of the discussion when they were able to recall information perfectly. Our dependence on our schemas to simplify our interactions with the world may cause us to maintain incorrect and damaging stereotypes.

EMDR Therapy: What You Need to Know

here is a great article to start with.It explains some of the basics.

Rory

******

https://www.healthline.com/health/emdr-therapy

What to know before you try EMDR therapy

EMDR therapy is considered to be safe, with many fewer side effects than those of prescription medications. That said, there are some side effects that you may experience.

EMDR therapy causes a heightened awareness of thinking which does not end immediately when a session does. This can cause light-headedness. It can also cause vivid, realistic dreams.

It often takes several sessions to treat PTSD with EMDR therapy. This means that it doesn’t work overnight.

The beginning of therapy may be exceptionally triggering to people starting to deal with traumatic events, specifically because of the heightened focus. While the therapy will likely be effective in the long run, it may be emotionally stressful to move through the course of treatment.

Talk to your therapist about this when you start treatment so you’ll know how to cope if you experience these symptoms.

The bottom line

EMDR therapy has proven to be effective in treating trauma and PTSD. It may also be able to help treat other mental conditions like anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

Some people may prefer this treatment to prescription medications, which can have unexpected side effects. Others may find that EMDR therapy strengthens the effectiveness of their medications.

If you think EMDR therapy is right for you, make an appointment with a licensed therapist.

Resources: Addiction


Alcoholics Anonymous 

https://www.aa.org

Ottawa Area Meeting List

https://ottawaaa.org/meetings/

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcohol addiction.
Ottawa area (613) 267-6000

Al-Anon Family Groups

https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/

Al-Anon Ottawa
https://www.al-anon-ottawa.ca

​Al-Anon offers strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers.
(613) 860-3431
(819) 669-0543

Badge of Life Canada

https://badgeoflifecanada.org

Badge of Life Canada enables individuals to have a safe place to go for direct support through making positive connections with volunteer peers, trauma and PTSD survivors/or front line professionals.

​Bellwood Health Services

https://www.edgewoodhealthnetwork.com/locations/inpatient-centres/

Bellwood Health Services is a Canadian addiction treatment centre located in Toronto.  Bellwood offers treatment for individuals and families experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, sex, gambling and eating disorders.
Toronto, ON

Tel: 1-866-349-3869

​Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation 

https://caccf.ca

The Canadian Addiction Counsellors Federation was formed in 1985 and strives to offer the most effective and credible certifications to all specific counsellors in Canada.
1-866-624-1911

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 

https://www.camh.ca

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as the world’s leading research centre in the area of addiction and mental health.
1-800-463-6273

Ottawa Area Crisis Line 

https://www.dcottawa.on.ca/24-7-crisis-line/

The Crisis Line is available anywhere in the City of Ottawa, Renfrew County, Storemont, Dundas & Glengary Counties, Akwesasne & Prescott and Russell Counties.  If you are outside the area, similar services may be available in the community were you live.
Within Ottawa call: 

Distress (613) 238-3311  

Crisis (613) 722-6914 

Outside Ottawa 1-866-996-0991

Gamblers Anonymous Canada

https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en/canada-gamblers-anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous Eastern Ontario and Ottawa

http://www.gamblersanonymousottawa.org

​Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.
Ottawa Help Line (613) 567-3271

Homewood Health Centre  

https://homewoodhealth.com/health-centre

Homewood Health Centre is Canada’s medical leader in addiction and mental health treatment, providing highly specialized psychiatric and addiction services.
Guelph, ON
(519) 824-1010

Narcotics Anonymous World Services

Narcotics Anonymous Ottawa Area 

http://ottawana.org

Ottawa Meetings

http://ottawana.org/meet.html

Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit international community-based organization for recovering addicts.
​1-888-811-3887

Newgate 180  

https://newgate180.com

Newgate 180 has been Ontario’s premier non-profit drug and alcohol rehab treatment centre for more than 40 years.  Located in Merrickville, Negate 180 is situated approximately 75 Kms south of Ottawa.

The Royal Ottawa Hospital Mental Health Care Centre 

https://www.theroyal.ca/media-releases/rapid-access-alcohol-withdrawal

(Rapid Access to Alcohol Withdrawal)
The Clinic provides fast medically supported withdrawal for people who have been referred by The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department. family counselling addiction counselling

The Right Way to Negotiate with Your Partner | Psychology Today Canada

Source: The Right Way to Negotiate with Your Partner | Psychology Today Canada

Collaborative negotiation can help your marriage be fair and equal.

Let’s change fundamentally the way we think about being married so that you and your partner can create the kind of life you want together—and in the process help change our society. I propose that marriage be conceived as the collaborative negotiation of partners around their individual and joint life plans—plans that are not dictated by gender roles or gender traits—which can replace the old model of marriage driven by the motif of gender. Negotiating collaboratively begins with both husband and wife being able to identify his/her wants in any given situation. These wishes are stated and the reasons for them are provided.  It is as if each of you put these wishes on a virtual kitchen table where agreement, differences, and disagreements become apparent.  From this perspective, differences and disagreements are on the table between you not exclusively within either of you.

The schematic below depicts the idea that wants are openly stated, looked at side-by-side, and negotiated so that a win-win outcome can occur.  The schematic depicts clearly the idea that disagreements and/or differences are between the two of you not within either of you.

Catherine E. Aponte, Psy.D.
Virtual Kitchen Table
Source: Catherine E. Aponte, Psy.D.

The negotiation that takes place in marriage is not the kind that one sees in business where each party is trying to maximize his/her own gain at the expense of the other.  Nor is it a quid pro quo (tit for tat, you do this for me, and I will do that for you) kind of negotiation.  Negotiating collaboratively has the following characteristics:  (1) each partner understands that his/her spouse is a valuable person in the same way that he/she is, (2) each partner is able to identify wants and desires, (3) each partner is willing to negotiate his/her wants and desires, (4) each partner can explain (not justify) what is important about the stated wants and desires,  (5) neither partner seeks to “privilege” his or her wants and desires over the other’s because of one’s status such as gender or wage earner, (6) each partner is willing to take action based on the negotiation of wants and desires, and (7)  each partner is willing to learn and change based on the outcomes of actions taken.

Taking Collaboration Seriously

A committed marriage is a life-long partnership, which links two people around their most fundamental desires to flourish as individuals and as a couple.  This requires great attention to the maintenance of a collaborative environment of negotiation.  Here are some thoughts about what collaboration means.[1]

  • Collaborators are equal.  True collaborators are always equals and each partner accepts full responsibility for his/her part in the process of negotiation.  Collaboration requires the sharing of authority and an acceptance of personal responsibility to negotiate in good faith.
  • Collaboration is not capitulation.   Collaboration protects individual autonomy.  Most of us have a (possibly subconscious) fear of being overwhelmed by someone and are reluctant to surrender any part of our autonomy in a relationship.
  • Collaboration is not cooperation.   Collaboration is about the process of working together, while cooperation is about the result of working together.  For example, I can cooperate with you by stepping aside while you do what you want to do.

Sociologists believe that gender remains a central motif in heterosexual marriage because the idea of masculinity and femininity are acted out in marriage. Sociologist Sara Berk has described marriage as a “gender factory”—i.e., husbands and wives demonstrate their masculinity/femininity in the way they interact around everyday household activities, childcare, and displays of affection for one another.[2] When we carry out these gender roles in marriage, we subconsciously assume it is because of innate gender differences in masculinity and femininity. This reinforces the idea that marriage should be organized by gender. Collaborative negotiation is a new vision of how we can understand marriage.  Collaboration derives from the unique qualities and contribution of the collaborators; it is not determined by gender. If either of you does not participate as fully engaged and equal partners, it might as well be one person making the decisions.

Negotiating Collaboratively is About Commitment

Most people think the idea of commitment between husband and wife is about staying together through thick and thin.  This is what is called an “aspirational” statement, what you believe should occur, and hope will occur, in your marriage.  The commitment to negotiate collaboratively around the issues that you will face during your marriage is the hard work needed to achieve this aspiration.  The willingness to negotiate issues in good faith with your spouse is so important that I believe it rises to the level of a vow you are willing to make and remake throughout your marriage.

Takeaways

  • A new approach is needed to achieve an equitable, sustainable marriage
  • This approach is to organize marriage around negotiating wishes and wants collaboratively
  • Marriage can no longer be organized around the gender of the partners
  • Collaboration between equal partners is neither capitulation no cooperation
  • There is not a managing partner in an equal partnership
  • Negotiating collaboratively with one another is about commitment to the marriage

References

1. Coulson, Christopher.    “What is Collaboration?” DynamicLivingTM.  http://www.santafecoach.com/dl/oct03.htm#parting.

2. Berk, Sarah Fenstermaker. The Gender Factor: The Apportionment of Work in American Households. New York: Plenum, 1985.

5 Things Couples Do That Lead to Divorce | Psychology Today

Source: 5 Things Couples Do That Lead to Divorce | Psychology Today

Dissecting the unraveling of a relationship can help you get back on track.

My parents divorced when I was 19, but years before their marriage ended, I watched their decline. I didn’t understand what I witnessed with my parents then, but after years of working with couples, I see that there can be a similar downward spiral in partnerships.

The seeds of divide often come following hurt feelings or dashed expectations. When they are not exposed or acknowledged, these problems fester and grow to lead to many relationships falling apart.

Here’s what my parents’ path looked like. Of course, this isn’t the only path to destruction, but it’s common enough that you may see yourself on this trajectory.

1. They worked against each other.

I believe my parents didn’t like each other for the last 10 years of their marriage. When a partner demonizes the other or holds resentments for years, it creates a very unstable marriage.

There is also an unconscious polarization that happens when each spouse thinks the other needs to change to be more like them. Classic examples are the spender and the saver, or the emotional and the intellectual.

There are couples who can never find a comfortable middle ground. Most couples have one or two such issues, but with those who end up divorcing, there are usually too many differences that don’t get bridged.

You’re doing this if:

a. You say things like, “he always…” or “she never…”  and demonize your partner seeing them as the opposition.

b. You have the same fight repeatedly without resolution or compromise, you are probably polarizing.

c. You loop on a story of how your partner is harming you.

Solution:

If you are polarizing, work harder to understand your spouse’s perspective and meet them halfway. My aunt always said, “a good relationship is one where each person gives 150 percent.” Expecting to only ever be comfortable in relationships means you’ve got some emotional work to do.

2. They didn’t communicate with each other about their needs and feelings.

My mother spoke to her friends and others about her marriage woes, but not directly to my father. My father didn’t speak to anyone about his. My guess: They didn’t know what they needed or felt.

Underneath every criticism of a partner are feelings and needs. “Why don’t you ever help around the house?” has feelings of being unappreciated or disrespected, and the need to have support and help.

If speaking to your spouse from your feelings and needs isn’t a tool in your toolbox, it needs to be. Simply saying, “I need more support. Can you help with ____?” Or “I am feeling unsupported when you watch TV while I’m cooking dinner and the baby is crying.”

I’ve yet to meet a spouse who can read minds, but I’ve met many people who expect their partner to just know what they need. I’ve also seen many people push away their own needs as a way to feel invulnerable. Having needs (and yes, we all have them) isn’t the problem. How we handle having needs is usually where the challenges show up.

Couples need to communicate about what they like and don’t like as well as how they feel about things. Partners also need to ask a lot more questions of their mate and not assume they know more than they do.

Finally, couples do best when they express their feelings and needs in a way that is more “hearable.” Starting a sentence with a criticism will undoubtedly create defensiveness in whomever you are speaking to. Likewise, leading with a request will have most people wanting to meet your need.

You’re doing this if:

a. You often start sentences with: “You should…”, “Why can’t you…”, “I can’t believe you just said/did that.” (anything critical or attacking)

b. You feel resentful toward your spouse much of the time.

c. You often think, “S/he should know that bothers me.” Or, “Can’t s/he see what I need?”

Solution:

Learn new phrases to say and start sentences with requests or invitations. “Can you help me ________?” Or,“How about if we _________?” Anytime you say “we” instead of “you,” it feels inclusive.

Also, let your spouse know early, and in a kind way, that something they are doing isn’t working for you. If you keep your feelings to yourself and allow the emotion to build, you’re more likely to have a fight.

3. They stopped spending time together.

I observed my parents’ annual adult-only vacations cease. Conversations about golf and gardening dried up, and they stopped socializing.

When married couples become like the proverbial two ships passing in the night, or it becomes apparent that they don’t like each other, the hill to climb toward reconnection becomes much steeper.

Often, as was the case with my mother and father, unresolved hurts and resentments cause the divide. Understandably, most people would rather avoid the pain that going back into unpleasant exchanges entails. Yet, I’ve seen miraculous changes when couples are brave enough to revisit and recover.

You’re doing this if:

a. You don’t want to spend as much time with your spouse anymore.

b. You believe it’s easier to avoid a difficult discussion.

c. You’d agree that you’re like two ships in the night.

Solution:

When you feel the divide starting (or even after it has taken root) intervene. Let your spouse know that you want to reconnect and take steps to do that. This is where therapists and relationship coaches can be helpful. Remember that you don’t have to—and, in fact, may not be able to—figure this out on your own.

4. They began to see the solution to their problems outside of the marriage.

This misstep naturally follows in the continuum of drifting apart.

For some, the solution to an unhappy marriage was to get out of it and move on with someone else.

Yet, people can also “leave without leaving” by checking out emotionally.

Some get focused on other things like their kids, going out more with friends, or building their career. I’ve even seen people have kids at this point in their relationship as a way to escape the problems.

Others turn to a substance or behavior to escape. Addictions to a substance (alcohol, drugs, food), or to activities (online porn, shopping, gambling) can develop.

You’re doing this if:

a. You daydream about how great life would be if you were single or in a new/different relationship.

b. You get overly busy at work, you find a new hobby that takes you away from home more, or worse, you develop an addiction to food, alcohol, pain killers, spending money, TV, etc.

c. You start an emotional affair with someone and become what I call, “affair-ready.”

123rf
Source: 123rf

Solution:

Running from or avoiding your pain doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it can make things worse. Commit to dealing with your relationship head on. If there’s something that can be done to make things better, commit to doing that. If you need to move on from the partnership, be honest with yourself and your partner and take steps to move on.

5. They do not seek help.

My parents were good people. I have no idea if therapy would have kept them together, but it might have helped them air grievances, learn basic relationship and communication skills, and prevent some of the wreckage that ensued.

Many couples who end up divorcing either don’t get professional guidance at all, or they don’t seek it out soon enough. Letting time pass, hoping things will get better is not a good strategy.

Don’t wait until there’s a crisis or things are unbearable to get help. Therapy, relationship coaching, or meetings with clergy, if you are religious, can make a tremendous difference in healing relationships and helping couples have a deeper connection.

You’re doing this if:

a. You’d rather divorce than go to therapy.

b. You tell yourself, “Things will get better when ___________ happens,” and you keep doing the same old same old.

c. Your relationship is in a crisis.

Solution:

Get help and professional support as soon as you can. If finances are keeping you from reaching out, investigate the numerous 12-step or self-help resources that are out there. Many of these programs are held remotely so there’s no reason to not take advantage.

At the Crossroads

If you’re at a crossroads with your marriage, ask yourself if your spouse is on your team, if you are honest with each other, if you spend quality time together, if you turn toward your marriage for solutions, and if you have asked for help.

Intervening on any one of these spots can make the difference between whether or not your marriage will survive.

Service Access to Recovery (SAR) – Montfort Renaissance

Source: Service Access to Recovery (SAR) – Montfort Renaissance

Service Access to Recovery (SAR)

Also known as Ottawa Addictions Access and Referral Services (OAARS)

Service Access to Recovery (SAR) is a starting point for people 16 years and older who are concerned about their substance use and want to understand and discuss treatment options. People under 16 years will have access to SAR if they consume opioids. Our main goal is to help people navigate the addictions treatment system so they can find the solutions they need and the treatment option that is right for them or their loved ones. We conduct screening and assessments, offer referrals and provide information, support and guidance.

Triage

Clients first call to speak to our triage navigator. During that phone conversation the navigator will ask screening questions and may triage certain clients toward immediate support, within 2 to 3 business days (people with very high risk usage – individuals using opioids for instance, people in withdrawal withdrawal, pregnant women etc.). Depending on your unique circumstances, the triage navigator may refer you to:

  • a nurse practitioner who has an expertise in addictions and mental health
  • a Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic
  • the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre
  • your family doctor
  • a community agency or an addictions centre
  • outpatient counselling

The triage navigator will also schedule an assessment appointment to be conducted either at our main offices or one of our other locations, depending where you live or if you require a bed at the Residential Withdrawal Management Centre.

Evaluation and Referral

At your assessment visit, we will use questionnaires as assessment tools to gather information about your substance use, your mental health and other subjects related to your general health. We use this information to help decide what services you may need. The main purposes of the assessment conducted are to:

  • Determine problem areas
  • Investigate your past and present use of all substances and level of dependence to them
  • Prepare a treatment referral plan

Appointments usually take 90 minutes. They include intake information, assessment and referral planning. When appropriate, we will work with other significant people in your life to develop your treatment plan, and with your consent, we may share the plan with other professionals or agencies we may refer you to. A referral to treatment is usually a significant part of your recovery plan. However, we will not make a referral unless you willingly give us your consent and approval. You can choose to act on your referral plan and recommendations as soon as your assessment is completed, at which point the navigator will immediately submit your referral to the treatment programs that best suit you, or you may choose to wait until you are ready to start on your recovery journey.

Confidentiality

We treat all of your information in a strictly confidential manner. Our counsellors will explain clearly to you the rules around sharing your information with other partner agencies. No one will have access to your information without your consent. (Any exception to this rule will be explained to you in advance.)

Your Treatment Plan

Treatment referral planning is an activity you will do with your navigator. It means the plan is created with your input. Your counsellor will explain all of the options available and give you the information you need to make a good decision. You can determine not only the order you want to do things in, but whether or not you want to move forward at all. Nothing happens without your consent. Treatment goals can include both abstinence and/or harm reduction. Abstinence means you stop using a substance completely. Harm reduction involves planning to progressively stop the usage of substances that create the most harmful consequences for you. It can involve a variety of strategies, depending on your personal circumstances.

I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

After 100+ days of dealing with COVID-19 symptoms, it occurred to me that this just might be my new norm.

Source: I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

Rachel Baum

July 16, 2020
By Rachel Baum, as told to Jennifer Clopton

I might never get better.

I don’t know the exact day I had this realization. It came at some point after I crossed the 100-day mark of still dealing with COVID-19 symptoms.

I contracted the virus around March 10th, and the symptoms still hang on. A debilitating headache. A stabbing pain between my shoulders that feels like I’m getting jabbed by a hot poker, and never goes away. I have tightness in my chest and coughing that still requires an inhaler to clear. The brain fog, clumsiness, and confusion are so bad that I’m astonished by how much I’ve intellectually regressed. Overwhelming fatigue and nausea come and go, and my voice often sounds like a whisper because I can’t get a strong enough breath to speak louder.

After 100+ days of dealing with these symptoms that come – off and on like waves, lasting and leaving with no pattern – it finally dawned on me that maybe this is my life now. At this point I’m really not sure this is ever going to go away. It just might be my new normal.

This is a far cry from my old normal. I have fibromyalgia, but pre-COVID-19, I was very active. I’m a retired dog trainer, so I’ve always been on the go. I live near a lake and was kayaking sometimes twice a day, going for a 3-mile walk every day, and I took up tap dancing, practicing 45 minutes to an hour a day.

During my illness and now whenever I relapse, all I can do is look at the lake out the window. I haven’t even attempted tap dancing. I know I don’t have the energy for that. Still, I do have days where I feel pretty good. I can go for a walk, cook meals, and do laundry. But then the relapse comes. It always comes. Sometimes it lasts for 1 day or 2, but sometimes as many as 10. When this happens, I’m knocked down, back in bed, needing to sleep, feeling anxious, reaching for my inhaler to help me breathe.

This is better than it was when I first got sick with COVID-19. For that first month, I was sick with all the symptoms you hear about – nausea, chills, headache, loss of taste and smell. For a few days, I couldn’t walk because my whole left side – my leg and arm – were stiff and in terrible pain. I had debilitating fatigue, and at my worst, I couldn’t eat or take deep breaths. Once, I had to call 9-1-1 for oxygen. In time, I did see some improvement, but for me it’s been far from a full recovery.

It hasn’t been a linear journey, either. I have some good days that make me hopeful that I’ve finally kicked this, but then I backslide. There’s no medical explanation for this that we’ve been able to find. Chest x-rays show my lungs are fine. Follow-up COVID tests have been negative, and my oxygen saturation levels continue to register as normal. Doctors are frankly mystified about what’s happening and what to do about it. The only thing it seems I can do is take Tylenol when the headache comes, keep my maintenance and rescue inhalers within reach, and try to mentally adjust to this new reality.

I get very discouraged sometimes thinking – what did I do wrong, why me? But then I think I should just be grateful that I’m still alive. It helps to know I’m not alone (even though that is heartbreaking, too). When I joined a COVID-19 Long Haulers group on Facebook, I was amazed to read post after post that sounded like me. There are currently more than 7,000 people from around the world in this group, and they too are still struggling with a seemingly never-ending list of debilitating symptoms that come and go in waves. Some people are hospitalized during their relapses and have had far more extreme symptoms than me, so I guess I’m lucky, although it doesn’t always feel that way.

For now, I’m trying to focus on what I can control. I signed up to be part of two clinical trials where I log my symptoms every day so researchers can learn from people like me who haven’t gotten better. I try to help others in my Facebook group when they’re struggling with the symptoms they’re still dealing with. For my own mental health, at this point I’ve just decided I have to give up the idea that I’m ever going to fully recover. I’ve got to stop treating it as if I’m going to be back to where I was before because I really don’t know if that will ever happen.

A lot of people get better and that’s wonderful for them. But for some reason, there are thousands of us out there that the virus has grabbed onto and it’s not letting go.

If anyone else out there is dealing with this, I’d say – find yourself a support group because you’ll need it, and it helps – a lot. You need people who understand what you are going through and you may not find that in your family or social circle.

At this point, after experiencing symptoms for nearly 4 months, I’m trying to find the positive life lessons in this for me. I’ve always been a person who likes to go, go, go, and this is forcing me to learn to slow down, take things down a notch, and relax a bit more. I’m learning to really appreciate the good days when they come and pace myself on those days and then rest when the difficult times come.

Kayaking every day may not be in the cards for me anymore, but I can still enjoy the beauty of the lake. The other day I did fish a little bit, and that made me feel better. I’m finding new sources of Zen in quieter activities that bring me joy. I also think I’ll keep telling my story because sadly, I do believe there will continue to be many others like me. And realistically, I’m just not sure that everybody fully recovers from this virus.

Rachel Baum lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is currently participating in 2 studies tracking long-term symptoms in patients who had COVID-19. She says she finds great support from a Long Haul COVID-19 Fighters support group on Facebook and is happy that a book she authored in her first career as a librarian – Funeral and Memorial Readings, Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999) – is now helping many people who sadly have to bury loved ones from this virus.

 

25 Tips on How to be Proactive at Work – ThriveYard

Source: 25 Tips on How to be Proactive at Work – ThriveYard

by Duncan MugukuThis article discusses 25 tips on how to be proactive at work. Being proactive is a desirable trait.

Bosses, colleagues and customers all like and appreciate employees who are proactive.

Your level of self-confidence, happiness and satisfaction at work increases when you are on top of things and are handling your tasks in a timely, deliberate and efficient manner.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines proactive as “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.” It is further defined as “controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems.”

Being proactive means anticipating what might happen, planning ahead, preparing in advance and acting ahead instead of simply reacting to circumstances.

Being proactive builds your personal brand and reputation at work. People can count on you for your reliability.

A proactive employee thinks ahead, acts ahead and gets ahead.

You can quickly skim all the 25 tips on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Responding to emails promptly
  2. Responding to phone calls quickly
  3. Addressing requests and complaints swiftly
  4. Having a to-do list
  5. Prioritizing tasks
  6. Developing your efficiency methods
  7. Managing your calendar
  8. Honoring your commitments
  9. Anticipating problems and problem solving
  10. Having a routine for how you work
  11. Working well with others
  12. Following up
  13. Not over committing yourself
  14. Adapting to change
  15. Using auto-responders
  16. Providing timely updates
  17. Acting on feedback
  18. Managing time and meeting deadlines
  19. Planning ahead
  20. Improving work processes
  21. Participating actively at work
  22. Learning from mistakes
  23. Building-up your skills
  24. Communicating well
  25. Handling interruptions at work

 

1. Responding to emails promptly

When you receive an email you can quickly determine if the email is just for your attention and no action is needed, or if it is for your attention and action is needed either immediately or later.

If it is something you can quickly answer, provide your response straightaway.

If it’s something you will work on or research on before answering later then send a brief email confirming you will send feedback by a certain time or date.

Acknowledging receipt enables the recipient to know that you received their email and when they can expect feedback.

People appreciate prompt responses to their emails. You could win new business by being first or fast in responding to a customer request.

Do not ignore replying. If you happen to forget an email, apologize and reply as soon as you can.

Always include a clear email subject and begin by thanking the sender for reaching out.

For external emails make it a practice when replying to include your email signature with your name, title, company and contact details.

Also respond to everything that has been asked on the email rather than answering just a few parts.

At all times verify if you have included an attachment. Go an extra step and open up the attachment to double check it is the right one.

Additionally, take a moment to double check whose email address is on the ‘reply to’ line. Sometimes the autocomplete can populate the wrong email address.

Block specific times during the day for when you respond to emails.

Routinely check your spam or junk folder to verify that legitimate emails did not end up there. Also use great judgement before selecting the “reply all” button.

It is a good idea to know your company’s policy for response time for emails. Strive for relevant and brief responses to emails and proofread your emails.

At a minimum respond to emails within one day, for urgent emails respond sooner.

 

2. Responding to phone calls quickly

Critical aspects in responding well to a telephone call include:

  • how soon you answer when the phone rings,
  • your tone of voice,
  • how you introduce yourself,
  • referring to the caller by name sparingly,
  • having empathy and
  • repeating back critical information such as names, numbers and addresses.

A challenging part for callers is when they are transferred from one person to another.

Manage this process well by letting the caller know you are transferring them to a specific person and explain why you are transferring them for example that person is a specialist who can assist them further.

Master the operations of the phone system and use its various functions seamlessly.

It is also helpful to know the roles of different people in the company and keep an internal phone book nearby.

When responding to calls from colleagues, bosses or customers, speak in a clear and upbeat voice, and be ready to offer help and resources e.g. links to websites.

Make a mental note of the key points during a phone call or you can write them down.

If you have kept someone on hold while you verify something or do quick research, reassure them from time to time that you are still on the line and working on their request.

If you tell someone that you will call them back, make it a point to do so.

 

3. Addressing requests and complaints swiftly

Requests and complaints can come from multiple internal and external sources such as colleagues, supervisors, vendors, suppliers, customers, shareholders etc.

Handling requests and complaints in a timely manner is vital for good customer satisfaction.

Begin by understanding what the request is, what is needed and by when. Then assess how to handle the request and what resources, if any, are needed to comply with the request.

The keys to addressing requests properly include:

  • being available to handle the request,
  • doing your homework,
  • following instructions well,
  • knowing when to refer up,
  • personalizing feedback,
  • providing clear well thought out answers and
  • providing additional tips that might be helpful.

On the other hand, complaints are an ever present aspect of work. One of the most important things to note is the use of tone when responding to complaints, whether it is a response via email, phone or snail mail.

Responsiveness to customer complaints breeds loyalty.

Some tips to keep in mind when handling complaints include: handle everyone with respect at all times, being firm but friendly when rules cannot be broken, not over promising, being sincere and polite, being patient and controlled, listening well, being perceptive or understanding, having a positive outlook and don’t take it personally.

Other tips when responding to complaints include: owning up and apologizing when something goes wrong, providing clear instructions, checking in, offering high quality customer care and negotiating and persuading.

 

4. Having a to-do list

Get into the habit of writing a to-do list for the things you want to focus on each day. This is an efficient system of planning your workday.

The ideal time to write a to-do list is at the end of a workday when you review what you have done versus what you had planned to do.

Also assess additional new tasks that that have been added to your plate. Then develop a draft to-do list for the following day.

You will leave work knowing what your priorities are for the next day and when you arrive in the morning you simply review your tasks and begin working.

The best part of having a to-do list is checking off an item after you have completed it.

A to-do list gives you a big picture overview of what you are supposed to be working on.

It helps to keep you on track and reduces the risk of forgetting to do something that you were supposed to work on.

 

5. Prioritizing tasks

Prioritizing begins by writing a list of all the tasks which you need to do then ranking them according to importance.

Mark items as urgent vs. non urgent and work immediately on the most pressing items first.

Estimate how much time it would take to complete tasks to have an idea of how your day would look like and stay focused as you complete the tasks at hand.

Give yourself a cushion to cope with unexpected situations, surprises and last minute requests.

Communicate key priorities with your boss or team so that they know when to support you or steer clear to give you room to work.

Use deadlines to plan and manage priorities.

Break down big projects into small tasks and assign mini deadlines for each task.

 

6. Developing your efficiency methods

To be more proactive at work, develop simple methods that can aid in doing your work faster and more efficiently.

Simple efficiency methods to adopt include: documenting your major duties and operations for others to have during your absences; knowing your company’s policies and procedures; knowing what other units are working on to avoid duplication and waste of time and resources and collaborating with others.

Other methods consist of: developing flowcharts for critical procedures and operations; developing work plans and Gantt charts to track projects; preparing standard operating procedures; writing manuals, guidelines and handbooks and creating FAQs for commonly asked questions.

Developing how to videos and explainer videos; preparing step by step screenshot explanations to make it visually faster for others to understand processes and developing indexes, executive summaries and table of contents for documents to make them scannable or skimmable.

Properly filed and well labelled documents; factoring review periods or quality control for work done; scheduling regular status update meetings and having standardized scripts for repeatable processes such as sales calls.

Outsourcing labor intensive activities e.g. events management and using customer friendly systems such as online chats on websites to help customers and provide them with a transcript of the online chat session.

Additional efficiency methods include regularly reviewing existing processes to make changes as appropriate and identifying what is working and what is not working; designing a map of the office layout showing where different staff are located; providing good training for new staff and interns and maintaining good posture and comfortable seating.

Maintaining an organized work space, desk, email, computer folders and hard copy files to enable easy document retrieval. Being organized is good for your well-being.

Having a tidy work area and knowing where everything is, is liberating and helps boost your productivity and responsiveness.

Make an effort to regularly declutter your desk.

 

7. Managing your calendar

How do you keep your calendar under control?

If you don’t keep an eye on it, your calendar could get out of control leaving you running around in circles.

Utilize your calendar as a deliberate scheduling tool.

It is a good idea to have all your meetings and appointments in one calendar and look at it every day.

If you have the luxury, you can start off by booking work blocks when you intend to fully focus on projects.

Schedule times during the day for when you will look at emails and provide feedback be it simple responses or in depth answers.

Book recurring meetings and leave open slots on your calendar where others can book meetings with you.

Take into account time zone factors which can affect meeting times especially when international meetings are planned, the time differences can be significant.

Schedule time off and vacations on your calendar because burnout and fatigue affect your responsiveness. Being well rested and alert helps improve your response time.

 

8. Honoring your commitments

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines commitment as “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future.”

Keeping promises you have made strengthens your credibility.

One reason why commitments are missed is simply because they were forgotten.

Make it a point to note down the major commitments that you have promised others. What was the commitment specifically? When is it due?

Assess your capacity to enter into new commitments.

Estimate how long it would take, identify the steps needed to fulfill the commitment and remind yourself what the commitments are.

Work your commitments into your daily routine.

Plug your commitments into your calendar and monitor your progress as you work towards meeting the pledges.

Give an early heads up over any anticipated setbacks or delays.

 

9. Anticipating problems and problem solving

Think ahead and address problems before they arise to the greatest extent possible.

Ways of anticipating problems include conducting surveys to find out undercurrents, analyzing recurring or cyclical events that have been problematic in the past and zooming in on those areas prone to breakdown before they do so.

Additional methods are staying ahead of what needs to be done, envisioning the project in your mind and asking others how they have handled similar problems in the past.

Other ways of anticipating problems include reading online reviews about your company – what are the complaints and how can they be handled?

On the personal side of things, review your to-do list regularly to see if there tasks or items that you are avoiding or procrastinating.

Typically a task that is being avoided has the potential to be problematic when the deadline is looming closer and the work has not yet been done or even started. These have potential of causing problems down the road.

Waiting to do things at the last minute can become an ingrained behavior that is self-defeating.

Be proactive in finding solutions to problems. Troubleshoot problems and identify when they started, diagnose and find the underlying cause quickly.

Develop solutions, back-up plans and be comfortable making decisions.

Develop steps for either preventing problems from reoccurring or steps for handling problems when they occur again.

 

10. Having a routine for how you work

Having a standardized routine for your workday is beneficial. It helps to boost your productivity.

By having a routine, you will have charted a familiar path which you can keep on repeating and improving each day, while at the same time being aware of the typical turbulence that can throw you off course and what corrective action you need to engage in to get back on course.

Develop a routine for doing tasks and then keep improving your routine and performance.

A sample routine for a work day could be as follows:

  • Tidy up your work area in the morning.
  • Write your to-do list.
  • Prioritize your tasks.
  • Do hard tasks first then easy tasks.
  • Or do easy tasks first to build momentum then do the hard tasks.
  • Do one task steadily until you complete it.
  • Check off items done.
  • Respond to email requests, telephone calls, colleagues, meetings etc.
  • Take short breaks.
  • Have lunch.
  • Review the work done at the end of the day.
  • Add new tasks and draft a plan for the next day’s work.

 

11. Working well with others

Having a friendly attitude goes a long way in strengthening relationships at work and how people respond to you.

Support others in their projects especially when they ask for your help and you are in a position to assist.

Endeavor to participate in brainstorming meetings to help come up with ideas to improve the company and support customers better.

Be known for submitting work on time and even for submitting work earlier than anticipated. Develop the capacity to work efficiently under pressure.

Be flexible and open minded. Listen to other people’s opinions, suggestions and viewpoints.

Practice being consistent and build the capacity to think on your feet especially when dealing with surprises.

Get along well with colleagues by being collaborative, setting a good example and sharing the credit with others.

Be compassionate, polite and kind. Have energy and enthusiasm. People will respond to your enthusiasm.

Have passion about what you are doing. Give your best efforts at all times and take pride in doing a good job.

Also have a winning mentality and think of possibilities.

Carve out time for socializing with coworkers during company events and have a sense of humor.

Look neat and presentable at all times. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their rank or titles.

Take time to deliberately and sincerely praise others for doing things well.

 

12. Following up

The art of following up is part of the arsenal of a proactive person. Following up and being persistent are ingredients for success in one’s career.

It takes will power to constantly follow-up especially when you don’t receive any response.

Follow up is needed in instances such as scheduling meetings or invitations, after meetings, after events, job applications and generally when you have sent someone an important email and they have not responded.

You can also follow-up when sending reminders ahead of important deadlines, events or meetings.

Additionally when thanking your customers and also when sending reminders for subscription renewals.

When following up, personalize your email and refer to any email or communication you had previously sent.

Following-up can be done through different avenues such as email, telephone, text, snail mail, meetings or social media.

One way of going the extra mile is checking in on clients a few weeks or months after you have delivered a project just to see how things are going. It is granted to make the clients or customer pleasantly surprised.

 

13. Not over committing yourself

Spreading yourself too thin is a recipe for dropping the ball. Being over committed affects one’s ability to be proactive.

It is necessary to have a good idea of what your current commitments are at all times to enable you assess whether you can take on additional work.

If you are unable to honor a commitment, it is best to say no and offer a polite explanation that your plate is currently full.

You can also have negotiation discussions to agree on later deadlines, revised or reduced scope of work.

 

14. Adapting to change

There are constant changes in the world of business. The ability to adapt to change easily affects one’s capacity to be proactive.

When confronted with change take time to analyze and understand the reason for the change, the impact of the change and how you need to adjust seamlessly moving forward.

If you are the one initiating the change, it is critical to communicate the change well to others.

Ideally involve them in every step of the change and let people understand the reason why the change is being introduced and the potential benefits.

 

15. Using auto-responders

Be proactive by using auto-responders appropriately.

Auto-responders that you can use to increase your efficiency include out of office email notifications and voice mail greetings and notifications.

When you are away from the office for a meeting, training, vacation etc. it is a good practice to activate your out of office email.

This should have a brief message mentioning the dates when you are unavailable, when you will be available, who is to be contacted in your absence as well as their contact details or alternatively specify when you expect to read emails.

Set up the auto responder with a specific start and end date and time. When you are back in the office double check to ensure that your auto responder is not sending emails, it can make you look disorganized.

Similarly out of office voicemail can serve the same function as out of office email notifications. Remember to deactivate this once you return to the office.

Additionally setup a standard voicemail greeting. The tone of your voicemail greeting should be friendly.

State your name, title, company, department and a brief message for callers to leave their name, contact details and a message mention you will get back to them as soon as you can.

You could also state what your normal business hours are to give callers an idea of when they can expect to reach you or hear from you.

Check your voicemail on a regular basis and respond to voicemail as soon as you can.

 

16. Providing timely updates

When working on a project, update your boss, your team, client and other relevant stakeholders on the progress at regular intervals and also once the activity is completed.

Complete the project on time.

If you are not able to provide updates as earlier envisioned, let your boss know in advance.

In addition let your boss hear your mistakes from you first or any potential holdups.

 

17. Acting on feedback

It is important to receive feedback because it measures how you are performing.

Demonstrate a willingness to learn and desire to be corrected when you are wrong. Ask feedback from colleagues, supervisors and customers.

Feedback can come from multiple sources such as performance reviews, suggestions, complaints, listening to ideas and asking good questions.

The next step after receiving feedback is to reflect on it and put it to use.

What are you doing well? What should you continue doing? What areas and skills should you improve on? What behaviors or actions should you stop doing? What new things should you start doing?

Good feedback is timely, actionable and specific. You should also welcome constructive feedback that is aimed at making you better, more efficient and proactive.

Remember to thank those who take time to give you feedback.

Just as it is important to receive feedback, it is equally important to give others feedback.

Give others feedback in a specific and respectful way. Think of what information and suggestions you can share to help others improve their behavior and succeed at work.

One more form of feedback is letting employees know or see the results of their work i.e. who benefits from what they do and how they benefit.

 

18. Managing time and meeting deadlines

Since time is a non-renewable resource, we should utilize good methods to maximize the time available. Time is limited.

Time management entails doing the most amount of productive and efficient work within the shortest time possible.

The emphasis is on efficiency and not jumping from task to task or never ending busyness.

The foundation of time management is in knowing what you want to do, why you should do it, planning how to do it and doing it in the best way possible.

A broad formula for time management is to map out the daily tasks to do, begin each day by doing the most important tasks, have a time-frame for how long to work on a task and review it after you have completed it.

Deadlines are important too.

Stay on top of deadlines by writing down the deadlines, breaking projects into small tasks, setting-up reminders, staying focused, eliminating distractions, monitoring progress and wherever possible completing tasks ahead of the deadline.

 

19. Planning ahead

Plan what you want to accomplish then take action.

Planning ahead entails knowing what you want to achieve and then structuring your activities in a systematic or sequential way around the time available.

At the end of the activity, examine what you did against your initial objectives.

Understand the big picture of your company and how your work supports the overall organizational vision. Know how the moving pieces are connected.

Know what others are working on and how you can support.

Get into a good rhythm at the beginning of the day.

Part of planning involves knowing your most productive periods during the day.

Periods when you are really energetic, focused and your engines are revving and endeavor to do your most creative and productive work around those times.

 

20. Improving work processes

On a regular basis iterate, improve, refine, reduce, modify, redesign and recalibrate your work processes.

Always be on the lookout for a better way of performing your work.

Some easy steps of improving work processes include: reducing steps for accomplishing daily projects without compromising the quality of the output, delegating certain tasks to others, automating tasks, using checklists, developing standard operating procedures and designing forms and templates for everyday use.

Others include preparing manuals, templates, responses to frequently asked questions, setting up reminders, avoiding scheduling back to back meetings and scheduling short meetings.

Preparing agendas for meetings and following the agenda, unsubscribing from email lists to control your inbox, checking emails at specific periods during the day rather than continuously working on email all day long and crafting standard email responses for questions you respond to over and over again.

 

21. Participating actively at work

Ways to participate actively at work include contributing and speaking up during meetings and giving your suggestions, opinions or recommendations, participating in brainstorming sessions, volunteering, helping out the team and going the extra mile.

Other ways include teaching others, having initiative, participating in external activities and events, conducting and reviewing customer surveys, listening to customer feedback and complaints then identify any trends and visiting customers on their premises.

 

22. Learning from mistakes

Even with our best intentions to work as best as we can and be highly proactive, inevitably mistakes do happen.

What should you do during these instances?

Instances where someone drops the ball include missing a deadline, forgetting to do an important task, making a major mistake, being late for an important meeting or forgetting the meeting altogether, or when you don’t have an answer during a telephone call.

Options for when you fall behind in your work: working remotely, working earlier, staying late, asking for help, renegotiating deadlines, putting up a do not disturb sign, seeking cooperation of colleagues, working weekends, temporarily saying no to new tasks and compressing time by forcing yourself to work faster.

Fight procrastination by forcing yourself to do those tasks you have been avoiding or postponing.

Also become better at estimating the time needed to complete tasks.

Take ownership when you make a mistake.

Be a student of innovation, not all strategies will work out but keep innovating and improving.

 

23. Building-up your skills

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you excel in doing? Which tasks do you enjoy doing the most? Which ones do you least enjoy?

Be on the lookout for potential slip ups in tasks that you don’t enjoy but still have to do. Focus more energy and be vigilant on these areas.

Aim to stay up to date on skills necessary to succeed and advance in your line of work or career. Observe trends in your industry. Read articles, news reports and industry publications.

Sharpen your technology and other skills through avenues such as watching “how to” videos, free online courses, paid courses, research, following trendsetters in your industry on social media, learning from peers and investing in continuing education.

 

24. Communicating well

Taking time to listen attentively and taking good notes helps in how you respond to others.

Ask good questions to gain deeper understanding or to clarify instructions and assumptions.

When writing, use simple and easy to understand sentences. Avoid jargons.

Choose the correct medium to communicate depending on the situation – email, phone call, face to face, fax, snail mail, chat, text, video, social media etc.

When involved in a critical telephone call, it is a good practice to write a summary of the phone call and share it with the parties involved as reference notes for what was discussed.

Similarly during meetings it is helpful to take down the key points and circulate your meeting notes with the participants to ensure that you are all on the same page.

A challenging scenario that arises from time to time is the ability to know when to switch from endless back and forth emails to resolving an issue via a phone call or face to face meeting.

It pays off to know at what point you need to simply pick up the phone and discuss further.

 

25. Handling interruptions at work

Interruptions are unavoidable parts of the work processes.

Think through a typical week, what kind of interruptions do you get at work? It could be a flurry of emails, telephone calls, colleagues chatting with you or an emergency deadline or project.

It could also be distractions such email or text message notifications, cell phone, browsing the Internet or social media and checking email constantly.

How you respond to interruptions when you are busy has an impact on your work output. The impact could be negative or positive depending on the situation.

For example if the issue arising is a sudden deadline that needs your attention or assistance, your swift response is paramount.

If a colleague needs your input you can let them know you are pressed for time but can spare a few minutes to listen to and address their issue.

If they need a more comprehensive response you could request them to either send you an email or you can have a meeting later on.

If it is colleagues passing by your desk just to chit chat then this can eat up your time and cause you to fall back on your work schedule.

At the same time it is important to nurture work relationships with colleagues and not brush them off when they want to talk to you.

Work place friendships are important in boosting job satisfaction, morale and productivity.

You could try one of two approaches, firstly let your colleague know that you can’t chat now because you are working on a project but you will pass by their desk later or secondly you can later on mutually plan a group lunch together at convenient times just to catch up.

 

Conclusion

What is the next step after being proactive? Taking initiative is the next logical step after being proactive.

Being proactive means thinking ahead, planning ahead and acting ahead.

Whereas taking initiative means going the extra mile or going above and beyond your normal responsibilities to make things happen.

Learn more about taking initiative by reading our in-depth article on 17 Tips on How to Take Initiative at Work.

 

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Additional Articles on How to Be Proactive At Work

  1. 5 Tips for Being More Proactive at Work
  2. 8 Ways to Become the Most Proactive Person You Know
  3. 10 Ways Employees Can Be More Proactive At Work
  4. How to Be Proactive in the Workplace
  5. 5 ways to help employees be more proactive at work
  6. How to Be Proactive
  7. 7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively
  8. How to Be a Proactive Employee
  9. 6 Tips to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Service

 

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A journey of self healing: Reinventing your Life

Source: A journey of self healing: Reinventing your Life

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 17. APhilosophy of Change

Seven Basic Assumptions

  1. We all have a part of ourselves that wants to be happy and fulfilled. (aka self actualization)
  2. There are several basic “needs” or desires that will lead most of us to be happier if they are satisfied: The need to relate and feel connected to other people; the need for independence, for autonomy; the need to feel desirable, competent, successful, attractive, worthwhile; the need to express what we want and feel to others; the need for pleasure, fun, creativity – to pursue interests and activities that gratify us; the need to help others, to show concern and love.
  3. People can change in very basic ways. Changing core patterns is extremely difficult. Our inherited temperament, along with our early family and peer experiences, create very powerful forces that act against change, they do not make change impossible. The more destructive these early forces, the harder we will have to work to change life traps.
  4. We have strong tendencies to resist core change. It is highly unlikely that we will change basic life traps without making a conscious decision to do so.
  5. Most of us have strong inclinations to avoid pain. We avoid facing situations and feelings that cause us pain, even when confronting them might lead to growth. In order to modify core life traps, we must be willing to face painful memories that stir up emotions like sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, and embarrassment. We must be willing to face situations we have avoided much of our lives because we fear they will result in failure, rejection, or humiliation. Unless we face these painful memories and situations, we are doomed to repeat patterns that hurt us. We must commit ourselves to facing pain in order to change.
  6. We do not believe that any one technique or approach to change will be successful for all people.
Creating a personal vision
Change is not just the absence of life traps. We must each discover who we want to be and what we want from life. It is vital to have this direction before going too far along the change process. Look beyond the elimination of your individual life traps to an image of what will lead you final to feel fulfilled, happy, and self-actualized.
Many of us go through life with only a fuzzy sense of where we are going. This explains why many of us reach middle-age or retirement feeling disappointed and disillusioned. We need a broad set of overriding goals to guide us. The eleven life traps are obstacles to reaching our goals, they do not tell us what each of us uniquely needs to be happy. Once you develop a set of life goals, you can begin to plan specific steps to get there. Approach change in a strategic way, not haphazardly.
You must discover your natural inclination, which includes those interests, relationships, and activities that inherently lead us to feel fulfilled. Each person has an innate set of personal preferences. Our best clues to recognizing natural inclinations are our emotions and our bodily sensations. When we engage in activities or relationships that fulfill our natural inclinations, we feel good. Our body is content and we experience pleasure or joy.
We must find out what makes us happy, without relying solely on what makes the people around us happy.
One
What is your vision of relationships that you want in your life? Clarify the ways you want to connect to other people. Consider intimate relationships. What kind of intimate relationship do you want? What is most important to you – passion and romance, a companion, a family? What are your goals in finding a partner? How important is emotional closeness to you compared to sexual excitement?
Relationships are almost a trade-off. What is most important to you in choosing a partner? What are the less important qualities that would be nice, but you would do without if you had to.
What kind of social relationships do you want? What kind of friends? How involved do you want to be in a social “scene?” How committed do you want to be to groups in the community? Do you want to participate in church? Do you want to be involved in the running of schools or in local government? Do you want to participate in support groups? How much do you want to socialize with people at work?
Emotional Deprivation, Mistrust and Abuse, Abandonment and Social Exclusion life traps are the biggest blocks to developing the kind of relationships you want in your life. Conquering these life traps will allow you to connect to people on a deeper and more satisfying level. Your relationship vision will guide you in fighting these life traps.
Two
What is the optimal level of independence for you? Autonomy gives you the freedom to seek out healthy relationships, and to avoid or leave unhealthy ones. You are free to stay in a relationship because you want to stay, not because you need to. Dependence or Vulnerability are the greatest blocks to developing a healthy level of autonomy.
Autonomy involves developing a sense of identity. You are free to be who you uniquely are. You will not lose yourself in relationships, living your partner’s life instead of your own.
Three
Self esteem provides a context of freedom. The defectiveness and failure life traps are blocks to attaining self esteem. Choose a life that enhances your self-esteem. How can you strive to feel good about yourself, to accept yourself without being overly self-punitive or insecure? What are your strengths and how can you develop them? What are the weaknesses that you can correct?
Four
Self assertion and self expression involves asking to have your own needs met and expressing your feelings. Asserting yourself enables you to follow your natural inclinations and get pleasure out of life. In what ways can you express who you are? Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards are blocks to self assertion. Passion, creativity, playfulness and fun can help make life worth living. It is important to be able to let go sometimes, to include excitement and pleasure in your life. Life feels heavy if you ignore self assertion and self expression. Change involves allowing yourself to fulfill your own basic needs and inclinations, without unnecessarily hurting those around you.
Five
Concern for others is one of the most gratifying aspects of life. Learn to give to other people and to empathize with them. Entitlement may keep you from showing concern for the people around you. It feels good to make a contribution. Social involvement, charity, having children and giving to children, helping your friends, these involve connection to something greater than yourself and your individual life. How can you contribute ego the world at large? Many religious experience provide this added dimension and fulfillment.
Goals of life are probably universal: love, self-expression, pleasure, freedom, spirituality, giving to others – this is what most of us want. However these goals often collide. For example, passion may conflict with stability, autonomy with intimacy, self-expression with concern for others. Set priorities and choose the balance that feels right for you.
Empathic self confrontation
Show compassion for yourself, while continually pushing yourself to change. Be understanding of your limitations and flaws. Remember the origins of your life traps and try to empathize with yourself when you were a child.
No matter how damaged you were as a child, this does not excuse you from taking responsibility for change. Childhood pain explains why change is so difficult and takes so long; it does not explain why someone allows destructive patterns to continue without working hard to alter them.
Have faith. Be patient. Some changes cannot be accomplished in small steps. They require a leap of faith, a high level of risk. Sometimes we met make major changes in order to grow. These include leaving a relationship switching careers, or moving to another city. You may have to surrender the of childhood patterns in order to grow into the adult you want to be.
Enlisting the help of others
It is going to be difficult for you to change without the help of some person who can see you clearly and realistically, because you will have trouble seeing your own distortions.
Unfortunately, turning to family and friends may not be an option for you. You may not have close family and friends or they may be too disturbed themselves to be of much help to you. Often family members reinforce your life traps, rather than help you change. If this is the case, consider seeking professional help.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 16. “I can have whatever I want”, the entitlement life trap

Entitlement Questionnaire

  1. I have trouble accepting “no” for an answer.
  2. I get angry when I cannot get what I want.
  3. I am special and should not have to accept normal constraints.
  4. I put my needs first
  5. I have a lot of difficulty getting myself to stop drinking, smoking, overeating, or other problem behaviors.
  6. I cannot discipline myself to complete boring or routine tasks.
  7. I act on impulses and emotions that get me into trouble later.
  8. If I cannot reach a goal, I become easily frustrated and give up
  9. I insist that people do things my way
  10. I have trouble giving up immediate gratification to reach a long-range goal.
Three types of Entitlement
  1. Spoiled Entitlement – You are indifferent to normal social expectations and consider yourself above the law. You believe other people should be punished when they violate social norms, but you should not be punished.
  2. Dependent Entitlement – When someone fails to take care of you, you feel like a victim. You feel weak and vulnerable. You need help, and people must give it to you.
  3. Impulsive – You act on your desires and feelings without regard for the consequences.
Origins of Entitlement

Weak Limits: Parents fail to exercise sufficient discipline and control over their children. Children are given whatever they want, whenever they want it. They are not forced to take responsibility and complete assigned tasks. Parents allow cildren to act out impulses such as anger, without imposing sufficient negative consequences.

Dependent Overindulgence: overindulge their children in ways that make the children dependent on them. The environment is so safe and protected and so little is expected of the child that the child comes to demand this level of care.

Counterattack for other life traps: overcompensation for other core life traps: Defectiveness, Emotional Deprivation, Social Exclusion.

Danger Signals in Partners

Spoiled Entitlement: attracted to partners who

  1. Sacrifice their own needs for yours.
  2. Allow you to control them
  3. Are afraid to express their own needs and feelings
  4. Are willing to tolerate abuse, criticism, etc
  5. Allow you to take advantage of them
  6. Do not have a strong sense of self, and allow themselves to live through you.
  7. Are dependent on you, and accept domination as the price of being dependent.
Dependent Entitlement: You are drawn to strong partners who are competent and willing to take care of you.
Impulsivity: Drawn to partners who are organized, disciplined, compulsive, etc, and who thus offset your own tendency toward chaos and disorganization.
Spoiled Entitlement Life trap
  1. You do not care about the needs of the people around you You get your needs met at their expense. You hurt them.
  2. You may abuse, humiliate, or demean the people around you.
  3. You have difficulty empathizing with the feelings of those around you. They feel you do not understand or care about their feelings.
  4. You may take more from society than you give. This results in an inequity and is unfair to other people.
  5. At work, you may be fired, demoted, etc for failing to follow rules.
  6. Your partner, family, friends, or children may leave you, resent you, or cut off contact with you because you treat them abusively, unfairly, or selfishly.
  7. You may get into legal or criminal trouble if you cheat or break laws, such as tax evasion or business fraud.
  8. You never have a chance to experience the joy of giving to other people unselfishly – or of having a truly equal, reciprocal relationship.
  9. If your Entitlement is a form of counterattack, you never allow yourself to face and solve your underlying life traps. Your real needs are never addressed. You may continue to feel emotionally deprived, defective, or socially undesirable.
Dependent Entitlement Lifetraps
  1. You never learn to take care of yourself, because you insist that others take care of you.
  2. You unfairly impinge on the rights of people close to you to use their own time for themselves. Your demands become a drain on the people around you.
  3. People you depend on may eventually become fed up or angry with your dependence and demands, and will leave you, fire you, or refuse to continue helping you.
  4. The people you depend on may die or leave, and you will be unable to take care of yourself.
Impulsivity Lifetraps
  1. You never complete tasks necessary to make progress in your career. You are a chronic underachiever, and eventually feel inadequate as a result of your failures.
  2. The people around you may eventually get fed up with you.
  3. Your life is in chaos. You cannot discipline yourself sufficiently well to have direction and organization. You are therefore stuck.
  4. You may have difficulty with addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, or overeating.
  5. In almost every area of your life you lack of discipline prevents you from achieving your goals
  6. You may not have enough money to get what you want in life.
  7. You may have gotten into trouble with authorities at school, with police, or at work because you cannot control your impulses.
  8. You may have alienated your friends, spouse, children, or bosses, through your anger and explosiveness.
The issue of motivation to change being low is a big one with the Entitlement life trap. Unlike the other life traps, this does not feel painful. Rather, it seems to feel good. It is the people around you who are in pain.
Helping yourself overcome entitlement problems
  1. List the advantages and disadvantages of not accepting limits. This is crucial to motivate yourself to change.
  2. Confront the excuses you use to avoid accepting limits.
  3. List the various ways that your limits problem manifests itself in everyday life.
  4. Make flashcards to help you fight your Entitlement and self-discipline problems in each situation.
  5. Ask for feedback as you try to change.
  6. Try to empathize with the people around you. Work on empathizing without getting defensive.
  7. If your life trap is a form of counterattack, try to understand the core life traps underlying it. Follow the relevant change techniques. Your Entitlement is all or nothing. Either you get everything you want or you are deprived; either you are perfect or you are defective; either you are adored or you are rejected. You need to learn that there is a middle ground, that you can get your needs met in a normal way.
  8. If you have self-discipline problems, make a hierarchy of tasks, graded in terms of boredom or frustration level. Gradually work your way up the hierarchy.
  9. If you have difficulty controlling your emotions, develop a “time-out” technique. Do not attack the person. State what the person has done that upsets you.
  10. If you have Dependent Entitlement, make a hierarchy of tasks, graded in terms of difficulty. Gradually start doing the things you allow other people to do for you. Start proving to yourself that you are competent.
Writing an entitlement flashcard
  1. Tune into the needs of the people around you. Try to understand how they are feeling. Empathize.
  2. Aim towards reciprocity, fairness, and equity as principles to guide your actions with others.
  3. Ask yourself if your immediate need is important enough to risk the negative consequences (e.g. alienating friends, losing your job)
  4. Learn to tolerate frustration as a means to achieving your long range goals. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain”
Find appropriate ways of getting your ore needs met – ways that respect the rights and needs of others. You do not have to be so demanding, controlling, and entitled to get what you want. Give up your counterattacks. Start placing emphasis on intimate relationships, on trying to get your needs met through closeness with other people. Learn to ask for what you want without demanding it. Try being more honest with yourself. Be more open about who you are. Learn to say who you are, without trying to cover up, conceal, or impress.

Helping someone you know overcome limits problems

  1. Identify your sources of leverage. What do you have that he/she values? your respect? money? job? love?
  2. How far you are willing to go to get change? Would you be willing to leave your partner? Fire an employee?
  3. Approach the entitled person and express your complaints in a non-attacking way. Ask if he/she is aware of how you feel. Is he/she willing to work on changing?
  4. If he/she is willing, go through the other steps in this chapter together.
  5. If he/she is unreceptive, tell him/her the consequences if he/she will not try to change. Try to setup a hierarchy of negative consequences. Begin to implement them one at a time, until the entitled person is willing to work with you. Try to empathize with how hard it is for I’m/her o change, but remain firm.
  6. Remember that it is often impossible to get someone with this life trap to change. If you do not have enough leverage, you will probably be unsuccessful. Be prepared to accept the price of carrying through on your decision to push for change. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages of pushing for change by risking conflict and possibly ending your relationship. Make an informed choice.
Demonstrations of hurt are almost useless with an entitled person.
Studies have shown that the more distressed patients display when they come to therapy, the more likely they are to change. Until you overcome your entitlement, you will never fulfill your potential for love and work.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 15. “It’s never quite good enough”, the unrelenting standards life trap

unrelenting standards questionnaire

  1. I cannot accept second best. I have to be the best at most of what I do.
  2. Nothing I do is quite good enough.
  3. I strive to keep everything in perfect order.
  4. I must look my best at all times.
  5. I have so much to accomplish that I have no time to relax.
  6. My personal relationships suffer because I push myself so hard.
  7. My health suffers because I put myself under so much pressure.
  8. I deserve strong criticism when I make a mistake.
  9. I am very competitive.
  10. Wealth and status are very important to me.
The primary feeling is pressure. You can never relax and enjoy life. You are always pushing to get ahead.
Physical stress such as IBS and headaches are common. You might have high blood pressure, ulcers, colitis, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, heart arrhythmias, obesity, back pain, skin problems, arthritis, asthma, etc.
For you, life is only doing. Life is having to work or achieve all the time. You feel constantly frustrated and irritated with yourself for not meeting your standards. You may feel chronically angry, with high levels of anxiety. A major anxiety is time.

Three types of unrelenting standards

  1. Compulsive. Everything has to be perfect. Your surroundings are disappointing or you may blame yourself for your surroundings. Need to feel in control.
  2. Achievement Orientated. Workaholic. Any form of activity that you turn into work and enslaves you.
  3. Status Oriented. Excessive emphasis on gaining recognition, status, wealth, beauty – a false self.
The origins of unrelenting standards
  1. Your parent’s love for you was conditional on your meeting high standards.
  2. One or both parents were models of high, unbalanced standards.
  3. Your unrelenting standards developed as a way to compensate for feelings of defectiveness, social exclusion, deprivation, or failure.
  4. One or both parents used shame or criticism when you failed to meet high expectations.
Unrelenting Standard Life traps
  1. Your health is suffering because of daily stresses, such as over work – not only because of unavoidable life events.
  2. The balance between work and pleasure feels lopsided. Life feels like constant pressure and work without fun.
  3. Your whole life seems to revolve around success, status, and material things. You seem to have lost touch with your basic self and no longer know what really makes you happy.
  4. Too much of your energy goes into keeping your life in order. You spend too much time keeping lists, organizing your life, planning, cleaning, and repairing, and not enough time being creative or letting go.
  5. Your relationships with other people are suffering because so much time goes into meeting your own standards – working, being successful, etc.
  6. You make other people feel inadequate or nervous around you because they worry about not being able to meet your high expectations of them.
  7. You rarely stop and enjoy successes. You rarely savor a sense of accomplishment. Rather, you simply go on to the next task waiting for you.
  8. You feel overwhelmed because you are trying to accomplish so much; there never seems to be enough time to complete what you have started.
  9. Your standards are so high that you view many activities as obligations or ordeals to get through, instead of enjoying the process itself.
  10. You procrastinate a lot. Because your standards make many tasks feel overwhelming, you avoid them.
  11. You feel irritated or frustrated a lot because things and people around you do not meet your high standards.
You lose touch with your natural self. You are so focused on order, achievement, or status that you do not attend to your basic physical, emotional, and social needs.
You may want the perfect partner and be unable to settle for less. Once you are in a relationship, you can be extremely critical and demanding. You expect others (especially those closest to you) to live up to your standards. Without realizing it, you probably devalue them for not meeting the standards you set. These standards do not seem high to you, you feel your expectations are normal and justified.
You may be attracted to perfectionist partners or partners who are the opposite, relaxed and easygoing.
Changing Unrelenting Standards
  1. List the areas in which your standards may be unbalanced or unrelenting. (keeping things in order, cleanliness, work, money, creature comforts, beauty, athletic performance, popularity, status, fame, etc)
  2. List the advantages of trying to meet these standards on a daily basis.
  3. List the disadvantages of pushing so hard in these areas.
  4. Try to conjure an image of what your life would be like without these pressures.
  5. Understand the origins of your lifetrap.
  6. Consider what the effects would be if you lowered your standards about 25 percent. You have to learn that it is possible to do something 80% or 70% and still do a very good job. Between perfection and failure there is a whole gray area.
  7. Try to quantify the time you devote to maintaining your standards. Consider how important the goal is to your overall happiness, then allocate the most time to the areas of your life that are most important. Allot a reasonable amount of time to complete each task; then accept whatever level of achievement you have attained at the end of that time period.
  8. Try to determine what reasonable standards are by getting a consensus or objective opinion from people who seem more balanced.
  9. Gradually try to change your schedule or alter your behavior in order to get your deeper needs met. Learn to delegate.
Sample Advantages of unrelenting standards

  1. I can buy what I want.
  2. I feel special.
  3. People are jealous of me and want what I have.
  4. I can have almost any woman I want.
  5. I move in desirable social circles
  6. I make a lot of money
  7. I am almost at the top of my field
  8. I have won awards and prizes
  9. My house looks almost perfect most of the time.
  10. My house runs in an orderly way.
  11. My performance level is high.
what good is a spotless house when you are running yourself ragged to keep it that way and resenting everyone who gets in your way? What good is a top-level job when it leaves no time in your life for pleasure and love? what good are your creature comforts when you are too exhausted to enjoy them?
Sample disadvantages of unrelenting standards
  1. I am physically exhausted.
  2. I don’t have any fun
  3. My marriage is suffering
  4. I put too much pressure on my children. I don’t enjoy being with my children. They seem afraid of me.
  5. I’ve let a lot of close friendships go
  6. I don’t have any time for myself
  7. My health is suffering
  8. I am not happy.
Sample flashcard
I can lower my standards without having to feel like a failure. I can do things moderately well, feel good about them, and not have to keep trying to perfect them.”
Let go of your need for perfect order, achievement, or status in exchange for a higher quality of life and more fulfilling emotional relationships with the people you love.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 14. “I always do it your way!”, the Subjugation life trap

Subjugation questionnaire

  1. I let other people control me.
  2. I am afraid that if I do not give in to other people’s wishes they will retaliate, get angry, or reject me.
  3. I feel the major decisions in my life were not really my own.
  4. I have a lot of trouble demanding that other people respect my rights.
  5. I worry a lot about pleasing people and getting their approval.
  6. I go to great lengths to avoid confrontations.
  7. I give more to other people than I get back in return.
  8. I feel the pain of other people deeply, so I usually end up taking care of the people I’m close to.
  9. I feel guilty when I put myself first.
  10. I am a good person because I think of others more than of myself.
You experience the world in terms of control issues. Other people in your life always seem to be in control – you feel controlled by the people around you. At the core of your subjugation is the conviction that you must please others, that you must please parents, brothers, sisters, friends, teachers, lovers, spouses, bosses, coworkers, children, and even strangers. The only person you do not feel obliged to please – is yourself.
You feel trapped in your life. It is constantly meeting the needs of others with so much responsibility. Life loses its joy and freedom. You are passive. Life happens to you.
Two types of subjugation
  1. Self-sacrifice (subjugation out of guilt, want to relieve the pains of others)
  2. Submissiveness (subjugation out of fear, anticipate rejection, retaliation, or abandonment)
At one time, your subjugation really was involuntary: as a child. A child cannot withstand the threat of punishment or abandonment. But as an adult, you are no longer dependent and helpless. As an adult, you have a choice.
When your needs constantly are frustrated, anger is inevitable. You might feel you are used or controlled, or people are taking advantage of you, or you might feel your needs do not count.
Anger is a vital part of healthy relationships. It is a signal that something is wrong – that the other person may be doing something unfair. Ideally, anger motivates us to become more assertive and correct the situation. When anger produces this effect, it is adaptive and helpful.
Although there may be times when you display your anger directly, it is more common for you to express it indirectly, in a disguised fashion – passive-aggressively. You get back at people in subtle ways, like procrastinating, being late, or talking about them behind their backs.
passive-aggressive behaviors – procrastinating, talking behind other people’s backs, agreeing to do something and not following through, making excuses – all share the feature that they irritate other people, but it is difficult for other people to know whether the passive-aggressive person intends the irritation. Until you become more assertive, anger will continue to be a significant problem for you, even if you are not always aware of its harmful consequences.
Some people with subjugation learn to cope through counterattack. They become aggressive and domineering. By rebelling, they overcompensate for their feelings of subjugation. Rebels are not actually any more free than other subjugated people. They do not freely choose their interests or relationships; choices are made for them by the people they are rebelling against. “Why did the teenagers cross the road?” – “Because somebody told them not to”
You may have suppressed your own needs so often that you are no longer aware of what they are. You may have great difficulty identifying your own feelings and finds many of your inner states confusing.
Origins of the subjugation lifetrap
  1. Your parents tried to dominate or control almost every aspect of your life.
  2. Your parent(s) punished, threatened, or got angry at you when you would not do things their way.
  3. Your parent(s) withdrew emotionally or cut off contact with you if you disagreed with them about how to do things.
  4. Your parent(s) did not allow you to make your own choices as a child.
  5. Because your mother/father was not around enough, or was not capable enough, you ended up taking care of the rest of the family.
  6. Your parent(s) always talked to you about their personal problems, so that you were always in the role of listener.
  7. Your parent(s) made you feel guilty or selfish if you would not do what they wanted.
  8. Your parent(s) were like martyrs or saints – they selfessly took care of everyone else and denied their own needs.
  9. You did not feel that your rights, needs, or opinions were respected when you were a child.
  10. You had to be very careful about what you did or said as a child, because you worried about your mother’s/father’s tendency to become worried or depressed.
  11. You often felt angry at your parent(s) for not giving you the freedom that other children had.
Danger signals in potential partners
  1. Your partner is domineering and expects to have things his/her way.
  2. Your partner has a very strong sense of self and knows exactly what he/she wants in most situations.
  3. Your partner becomes irritated or angry when you disagree or attend to your own needs.
  4. Your partner does not respect your opinions, needs, or rights.
  5. Your partner pouts or pulls away from you when you do things your way.
  6. Your partner is easily hurt or upset, so you feel you have to take care of him/her.
  7. You have to watch what you do or say carefully because your partner drinks a lot or has a bad temper.
  8. Your partner is not very competent or together, so you end up having to do a lot of the work.
  9. Your partner is irresponsible or unreliable, so you have to be overly responsible and reliable.
  10. You let your partner make most of the choices because most of the time you do not feel strongly one way or the other.
  11. Your partner makes you feel guilty or accuses you of being selfish when you ask to do something your way.
  12. Your partner becomes sad, worried, or depressed easily, so you end up doing most of the listening.
  13. Your partner is very needy and dependent on you.
Subjugation lifetrap
  1. You let other people have their own way most of the time.
  2. You are too eager to please – you will do almost anything to be liked or accepted.
  3. You do not like to disagree openly with other people’s opinions.
  4. You are more comfortable when other people are in position of control.
  5. You will do almost anything to  avoid confrontation or anger. You always accommodate.
  6. You do not know aht you want or prefer in many situations.
  7. You are not clear about your career decisions.
  8. You always end up taking care of everyone else – almost no one listens to or takes care of you.
  9. You are rebellious  – you automatically say “no” when other people tell you what to do.
  10. You cannot stand to say or do anything that hurts other people’s feelings.
  11. You often stay in situations where you feel trapped or where your needs are not met.
  12. You do not want other people to see you as selfish so you go to the other extreme.
  13. You often sacrifice yourself for the sake of other people.
  14. You often take on more than your share of responsibilities at home and/or at work.
  15. When other people are troubled or in pain, you try very hard to make them feel better, even at your own expense.
  16. You often feel angry at other people for telling you what to do.
  17. You often feel cheated – that you are giving more than you are getting back.
  18. You feel guilty when you ask for what you want.
  19. You do not stand up for your rights.
  20. You resist doing what other people want you to do in an indirect way. You procrastinate, make mistakes, and make excuses.
  21. You cannot get along with authority figures.
  22. You cannot ask for promotions or raises at work.
  23. You feel that you lack integrity – you accommodate too much.
  24. People tell you that you are not aggressive or ambitious enough.
  25. You play down your accomplishments.
  26. You have trouble being strong in negotiations.
If you become more assertive and no longer willing to stay in a subjugated relationship, your relationship must either change to adapt to your greater maturity or it must end.
Subjugated people often work in one of the helping professions, particularly if they are self-sacrificing. You may be a doctor, nurse, homemaker, teacher, minister, therapist, or other kind of healer. one of the gifts of subjugation is acute sensitivity to the needs and pain of others.
Changing your subjugation lifetrap

  1. Understand your childhood subjugation. Feel the subjugated child inside of you.
  2. List everyday situations at home and at work in which you subjugate or sacrifice your own needs to others.
  3. Start forming your own preferences and opinions in many aspects of your life: movies, foods, leisure time, politics, current controversial issues, time usage, etc. Learn about yourself and your needs. Make yourself the source of your opinions, not the people around you.
  4. Make a list of what you do or give to others, and what they do or give to you. How much of the time do you listen to others? How much of the time do they listen to you?
  5. Stop behaving passive-aggressively. Push yourself systematically to assert yourself – express what you need or want. Start with easy requests first.
  6. Practice asking other people to take care of you. Ask for help. Discuss your problems. Try to achieve a balance between what you give and get.
  7. Pull back from relationships with people who are too self-centered or selfish to take your needs into account. Avoid one-sided relationships. Change or get out of relationships where you feel trapped.
  8. Practice confronting people instead of accommodating so much. Express your anger appropriately, as soon as you feel it. Learn to feel more comfortable when someone is upset, hurt or angry at you.
  9. Do not rationalize your tendency to please others so much. Stop telling yourself that it doesn’t really matter. Weigh the positives and negatives to decide which you prefer. Make a choice and communicate that choice.
  10. Review past relationships and clarify your pattern of choosing controlling or needy partners. List the danger signals for you to avoid. If possible, avoid selfish, irresponsible, or dependent partners who generate very high chemistry for you.
  11. When you find a partner who cares about your needs, ask your opinions and values them, and who is strong enough to do 50% of the work, give the relationship a chance.
  12. Be more aggressive at work. Take credit for what you do. Do not let other people take advantage of you. Ask for any promotions or raises you might be entitled to get. Delegate responsibilities to other people.
  13. (To the Rebel) Try to resist doing the opposite of what others tell you to do. Try to figure out what you want, and do it even if it is consistent with what authority figures tell you. Be more assertive instead of more aggressive.
  14. Make flashcards. Use them to keep you on track.
The best way to feel the subjugated child is through imagery. Start with an instance in your current life, and try to remember far back into childhood. Do not force the image to come. Who were you with? Was it your mother or father? Was it your brother, sister, or a friend? Your anger is part of your healthy side. It serves a useful purpose. It may be your only clue that there is something else that you want.
Examples on steps to “un-subjugate”
  1. Tell the paper boy to bring the paper to the door when it’s raining.
  2. Tell a salesperson I don’t want help.
  3. Don’t give my children any more money than their allowance.
  4. Ask Dennis to drive the children to school on mornings of my class.
  5. Tell Dad he can’t criticize the kids anymore in my presence.
  6. Take a full day for myself. Do things I enjoy, like shopping, reading in the park, seeing my friends, etc.
  7. Tell friend I am angry she is not pulling her share of the kids’ carpool.
  8. Tell Dennis how I feel when he criticizes me in front of other people.
  9. Tell Dennis it is not acceptable for him to criticize me in front of other people when I haven’t done anything wrong.
  10. State my preferences instead of just giving in to others.
Work on each item on your list starting from the easier ones. Your goal is to complete each item. Do not get defensive when the other person attacks you. Do not get lost in defending yourself. Stick to your point. Be direct. Do not make a speech. No one can argue with your feelings. State how you feel.
Changing the way you behave with someone changes the way you feel about them. It is hard to remain intimidated after you have dealt with someone assertively. Changing your behavior changes the way you think and feel about yourself. Positive behavior change creates self-confidence and self-esteem. It builds a sense of mastery.
Whatever the other person does, keep calmly restating your position. Do not let the other person trick you into becoming defensive. Stick to your point. Stay calm. Do not yell and scream. You are more powerful when you are clam than when you are screaming. Screaming is a sign of psychological defeat. Try not to attack the person. Simply state what they have done that has upset you.
Start by saying something positive and true. People can only listen when they are in a receptive state. Direct your criticism not at the person, but at the person’s behavior. Be assertive in your words, body language and tone of voice. Look the person directly in the eye.
Subjugated people frequently give up too soon on good relationships, claiming they are just not interested, the relationship does not feel right, something is missing, or there is not enough chemistry. As long as you feel some chemistry – even a moderate amount – give the relationship a chance. As you become more accustomed to your new role, the chemistry might increase.
Sample self-sacrifice Flashcard
I have the right to say “no” when people ask me to do unreasonable things. If I say “yes”, I will only get angry at the other person and at myself. I can live with the guilt of saying “no”. Even if I cause the other person a little pain, it will only be temporary. People will respect me if I say “no” to them. And I will respect myself.
Sample Submission Flashcard
What I want is important. I deserve to be treated with respect. I don’t have to let Dennis treat me badly. I deserve better than that. I can stand up for myself. I can calmly demand that he treat me with respect or the discussion is over. If he can’t grow enough to give me my equal rights in this relationship, then I can leave the relationship and find one that better suits my needs.
Give yourself credit when it is due. Change is much harder when you forget to reward yourself for the steps along the way. Try to keep looking back at how far you have come, rather than looking forward to how you have to go. When you make any change, no matter how small, take a moment to feel good about it.
Subjugation feels right to you. Your lifetrap is central to your entire self-image and view of the world. It is going to fight very hard for survival. You find comfort and reassurance in holding onto your lifetrap, regardless of its negative consequences for your life. You should not be discouraged because change is slow.
Reinventing your Life: 13. “I feel like such a failure”, the Failure life trap

The Failure Questionnaire

  1. I feel I am less competent than other people in areas of achievement.
  2. I feel that I am a failure when it comes to achievement.
  3. Most people my age are more successful in their work than I am.
  4. I was a failure as a student.
  5. I feel I am not as intelligent as most of the people I associate with.
  6. I feel humiliated by my failures in the work sphere.
  7. I feel embarrassed around other people because I do not measure up in terms of my accomplishments.
  8. I often feel that people believe I am more competent than I really am.
  9. I feel that I do not have any special talents that really count in life.
  10. I am working below my potential.
With the Failure lifetrap, the degree to which you use Escape as a coping style is often massive. People avoid developing skills, tackling new tasks, taking on responsibility – all the challenges that might enable them to succeed. Often the attitude is, “What’s the use?” You feel there is no point in making the effort when you are doomed to fail anyway. You procrastinate, you get distracted, you do the work improperly, or you mishandle the tasks you take on. These are all forms of self-sabotage.

Origins of the failure lifetrap

  1. You had a parent (often your father) who was very critical of your performance in school, sports, etc. He/She often called you stupid, dumb, inept, a failure, etc. He/She may have been abusive. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Defectiveness or Abuse.
  2. One or both parents were successful, and you came to believe you could never liver up to their high standards. So you stopped trying. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Defectiveness or Abuse)
  3. You sensed that one or both of your parents either did not care about whether you were successful, or, worse, felt threatened when you did well. Your parent may have been competitive with you – or afraid of losing your companionship if you were too successful in the world. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Emotional Deprivation or Dependence.)
  4. You were not as good as other children either in school or at sports, and felt inferior. You may have had a learning disability, poor attention span, or been very uncoordinated. After that, you stopped trying in order to avoid humiliation by them. (This may be linked to Social Exclusion.)
  5. You had brothers or sisters to whom you were often compared unfavorably. You came to believe you could never measure up, so you stopped trying.
  6. You came from a foreign country, your parents were immigrants, or your family was poorer or less educated than your school mates. You felt inferior to your peers and never felt you could measure up.
  7. Your parents did not set enough limits for you. You did not learn self-discipline or responsibility. Therefore you failed to do homework regularly or learn study skills. This led to failure eventually. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Entitlement).
Failure Lifetrap
  1. You do not take the steps necessary to develop solid skills in your career (eg. finishing schooling, read latest developments, apprentice to an expert). You coast or try to fool people.
  2. You choose a career below your potential (eg. you finished college and have excellent mathematical ability, but are currently driving a taxicab).
  3. You avoid taking the steps necessary to get promotions in your chosen career; your advancement has been unnecessarily halted (eg. You fail to accept promotions or to ask for them; you do not promote yourself or make your abilities widely known to the people who count; you stay in a safe, dead-end job).
  4. You do not want to tolerate working for other people, or working at entry-level jobs, so you end up on the periphery of your field, failing to work your way up the ladder. (Note the overlap with Entitlement and Subjugation)
  5. You take jobs but repeatedly get fired because of lateness, procrastination, poor job performance, bad attitude, etc.
  6. You cannot commit to one career, so you float from job to job, never developing expertise in one area. You are a generalist in a job world that rewards specialists. You therefore never progress very far in any one career.
  7. You selected a career in which it is extraordinarily hard to succeed, and you do not know when to give up (eg. acting, professional sports, music).
  8. You have been afraid to take initiative or make decisions independently at work, so you were never promoted to more responsible positions.
  9. You feel that you are basically stupid or untalented, and therefore feel fraudulent, even though objectively you have been quite successful.
  10. You minimize your abilities and accomplishments, and exaggerate your weaknesses and mistakes. You end up feeling like a failure, even though you have been as successful as your peers.
  11. You have chosen successful men/women as partners in relationships. You live vicariously through their success while not accomplishing much yourself.
  12. You try to compensate for your lack of achievement or work skills by focusing on other assets (eg. Your looks, charm, youthfulness, sacrificing for others). But underneath you still feel like a failure.
Excelling in other roles is a way of compensating for the lifetrap. Men might excel in sports or seducing women; women might excel in their looks or ability to give to others.
Changing your failure lifetrap
  1. Assess whether your feeling of failure is accurate or distorted.
  2. Get in touch with the child inside of you who felt, and still feels, like a failure.
  3. Help your inner child see taht you were treated unfairly.
  4. Become aware of your talents, skills, abilities, and accomplishments in the area of achievement.
If you have, in fact, failed relative to your peers:
  1. Try to see the pattern in your failures.
  2. Once you see your pattern, make a plan to change it. Acknowledge your real talents, accept your limitations, and pursue areas that play on your strengths. Starting is the hardest part. After that it will become easier.
  3. Make a flashcard to overcome your blueprint for failure. Follow your plan, step-by-step.
  4. Involve your loved ones in the process.
Sample Failure Flashcard

Right now I am filled with feelings of failure. This is a familiar feeling. I have felt it all my life. All my life I have avoided taking chances to become a success. All my life I have ignored my design potential even though teachers pointed it out and I did well in these kinds of classes and enjoyed them. Instead I kept setting myself up to fail by going after things I wasn’t good at.

My avoidance developed when I was sick and lonely as a child. When I fell behind, no one helped me to catch up. No one noticed. Running away helped me cope as a child, but it isn’t helping me now.

But now I’m on track. I’m trying to become a set designer. I have a good chance to succeed. I just have to keep myself focused on my path and on the fact that I’m making progress.

Don’t start avoiding again. That leads only back to failure. What is my next step? This is what I should be doing. Working on taking my next step.

The Failure lifetrap is one of the most rewarding to overcome. A whole area of life that is now fraught with shame and tension can become a source of self-esteem. But you have to be willing to fight. You have to be willing to close off your escapes and capitalize on your strengths.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 12. “I’m worthless”, the Defectiveness life trap ***

The Defectiveness Questionnaire

  1. No man or woman could love me if he/she really knew me.
  2. I am inherently flawed and defective. I am unworthy of love.
  3. I have secrets that I do not want to share, even with the people closest to me.
  4. It was my fault that my parents could not love me.
  5. I hide the real me. The real me is unacceptable. The self I show is a false self.
  6. I am often drawn to people – parents, friends, and lovers – who are critical and reject me.
  7. I am often critical and rejecting myself, especially of people who seem to love me.
  8. I devalue my positive qualities.
  9. I live with a great deal of shame about myself.
  10. One of my greatest fears is that my faults will be exposed.
The emotion that is most connected to the Defectiveness lifetrap is shame. Shame is what you feel when your defects are exposed. You will do almost anything to avoid this feeling of shame. Consequently you go to great lengths to keep your defectiveness hidden.
You feel that your defectiveness is inside you and not immediately observable. You feel completely unworthy of love. Feeling unworthy and angry at yourself is a large part of depression. You may feel that you have been depressed your whole life – a kind of low-level depression lurking in the background.
If your primary coping style is Escape, you may have addictions or compulsions. Drinking, drugs, overworking, and overeating are all ways of numbing yourself to avoid the pain of feeling worthless.
The origins of the defectiveness lifetrap
  1. Someone in your family was extremely critical, demeaning, or punitive toward you. You were repeatedly criticized or punished for how you looked, how you behaved, or what you said.
  2. You were made to feel like a disappointment by a parent.
  3. You were rejected or unloved by one or both of your parents.
  4. You were sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by a family member.
  5. You were blamed all the time for things that went wrong in your family.
  6. Your parent told you repeatedly that you were bad, worthless, or good-for-nothing.
  7. You were repeatedly compared in an unfavorable way with your brothers or sisters, or they were preferred over you.
  8. One of your parents left home, and you blamed yourself.
The Defectiveness lifetrap comes from feeling unlovable or not respected as a child. You were repeatedly rejected or criticized by one or both of your parents.
Defectiveness lifetrap is not usually based on a real defect. Even people who have serious physical or mental handicaps do not necessarily develop this lifetrap. The crucial factor is not the presence of a defect, but rather how you are made to feel about yourself by your parents and other members of your family. If you are loved, valued, and respected by your family members – regardless of your actual strengths and weaknesses- you will almost certainly not feel worthless, ashamed or defective.
Danger signals while dating
  1. You avoid dating altogether.
  2. You tend to have a series of short, intense affairs, or several affairs simultaneously.
  3. You are drawn to partners who are critical of you and put you down all the time.
  4. You are drawn to partners who are physically or emotionally abusive toward you.
  5. You are most attracted to partners who are not that interested in you, hoping you can win their love.
  6. You are only drawn to the most attractive and desirable partners, even when it is obvious that you will not be able to attain them.
  7. You are most comfortable with partners who do not want to know you very deeply.
  8. You only date people you feel are below you, whom you do not really love.
  9. You are drawn to partners who are unable to commit to you or to spend time with you on a regular basis. They may be married, insist on simultaneously dating other people, travel regularly, or live in another city.
  10. You get into relationships in which you put down, abuse, or neglect your partners.
You might avoid dating people who really interest you. You only date people you know you could never love. If you have the defectiveness lifetrap, be careful when there is very strong chemistry. You probably have the most powerful attraction to partners who criticize and reject you. They reinforce your feelings of defectiveness. Critical partners will feel familiar because they echo your childhood environment. Stop dating partners who do not treat you well rather than try to win them over and gain their love.
Defectiveness Lifetraps
  1. You become very critical of your partner once you feel accepted, and your romantic feelings disappear. You then act in a demeaning or critical manner.
  2. You hide your true self so you never really feel that your partner knows you.
  3. You are jealous and possessive of your partner.
  4. You constantly compare yourself unfavorably with other people and feel envious and inadequate.
  5. You constantly need or demand reassurance that your partner still values you.
  6. You put yourself down around your partner.
  7. You allow your partner to criticize you, put you down, or mistreat you.
  8. You have difficulty accepting valid criticism; you become defensive or hostile.
  9. You are extremely critical of your children.
  10. You feel like an impostor when you are successful. You feel extremely anxious that you cannot maintain your success.
  11. You become despondent or deeply depressed over career setbacks or rejections in relationships.
  12. You feel extremely nervous when speaking in public.
If you do form a relationship with a partner who loves you and whom you could love, there are many ways you can reinforce your defectiveness lifetrap within the relationship. Your criticalness can be a major problem.
You may try to devalue your partners. You believe a truly desirable partner will see your flaws and ultimately reject you.
At what point do you win her? I guess it’s when she starts to care about me.
 
You may find it difficult to tolerate criticism. You are probably hypersensitive to it. Even a slight criticism can lead you to feel enormous shame. You may vehemently deny that you have done anything wrong, or put down the person who is criticizing you. This is because to acknowledge any flaw is to let in a flood of painful feelings related to Defectiveness. Thus, you protect yourself by denying any flaw, mistake, or error. Your defensiveness and inability to take criticism can be a serious problem.
You tend to get bored with people who treat you well. This is your paradox: you want love so much, but the more your partner gives you love, the less attracted you feel. It feels alien to have someone you value value you.
One way to try to allay feelings of shame is by being critical. Putting down others make you feel better about yourself, at least temporarily.
Many people who attain quick success then become self destructive. Success is so discrepant from what they really feel that they are unable to maintain it. The pressure to maintain the success when they feel so bad about themselves become overwhelming and many fall apart. If you use success in your career to make up or compensate for feelings of defectiveness, then your sense of well-being may be quite fragile. Your whole sense of worth becomes built on your success. Any small deflation or failure may be enough to make you nervous.
Changing your Defectiveness Lifetrap

  1. Understand your childhood feelings of defectiveness and shame. Feel the wounded child within you.
  2. List signs that you might be coping with Defectiveness through Escape or Counterattack (ie. avoiding or compensating)
  3. Try to stop these behaviors designed to escape or counterattack.
  4. Monitor your feelings of defectiveness and shame.
  5. List the men/women who have attracted you most and the ones who have attracted you least.
  6. List your defects and assets as a child and teenager. Then list your current defects and assets. Play down qualities of the false self. Do not minimize your good qualities.
  7. Evaluate the seriousness of your current defects.
  8. Start a program to change the defects that are changeable.
  9. Write a letter to your critical parents. In this letter, try to stop defending them and just focus on being honest about what happened and how it made you feel.
  10. Write a flashcard for yourself. Remember to give yourself love and list qualities in you that are good.
  11. Try to be more genuine in close relationships. If you are too vulnerable try to protect yourself better. If you are not vulnerable enough, try to reveal more of who you are.
  12. Accept love from people close to you. You are very uncomfortable being treated well. It is so alien. You are much more comfortable being mistreated or ignored. It is hard for you to tolerate situations where people take care of you, praise you, and support you.
  13. Stop allowing people to treat you badly. Some continue to live or work with critical or unloving parents. It is strongly advised you do not continue close contact with a critical parent.
  14. If you are in a relationship where you are the critical partner, try to stop putting your partner down. Do the same in other close relationships. Face what you have done, forgive yourself, and change starting right now. Praise the ones you love, they have qualities that are valuable and deserve credit.
Success and status often become addictions. You try to get more and more, but you can never get enough to make you feel good. Success is a pale substitute for finding one person who really knows and loves you.
If you are always running away from your feelings of defectiveness – if you are always drinking, avoiding close relationships, or hiding your real thoughts and feelings – your lifetrap cannot change. Your feelings of defectiveness remain frozen.
Sample Flashcard
Right now I feel humiliated and inadequate. I feel surrounded by people, especially women, who seem superior to me in every way – looks, brains, personality. I feel their presence diminishes me totally.
But this is not true. What is really going on is that my lifetrap is being triggered. The truth is that I am worthy too. I am sensitive, intelligent, loving, and good. The truth is that many people have found me to be worthy of love. Generally I have not given people a chance to get close enough to really know and appreciate me. But believing what I say on this card will help me move in this direction.

Changing your lifetrap involves gradually improving how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you allow others to treat you. Patients gradually feel better about themselves. Become less defensive and more able to take in love. Feel closer to people. Feel more valued and more loved.

Gradually you will come to accept that your defectiveness was something that was taught to you, and not something inherently true about you. Once you can open yourself up to the idea what your defectiveness is not a fact, the healing process can begin to work

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 11. “Catastrophe is about to strike”, the vulnerability life trap

The vulnerability questionnaire

  1. I cannot escape the feeling that something bad is about to happen.
  2. I feel that catastrophe can strike at any moment.
  3. I worry about becoming a street person or vagrant.
  4. I worry a lot about being attacked by a criminal, mugger, thief, etc.
  5. I worry about getting a serious illness, even though nothing has been diagnosed by a physician.
  6. I am too anxious to travel alone on planes, trains, etc.
  7. I have anxiety attacks.
  8. I am very aware of physical sensations in my body, and I worry about what they mean.
  9. I worry I will lose control of myself in public or go crazy.
  10. I worry a lot about losing all my money or going broke.
The primary feeling associated with the vulnerability lifetrap is anxiety. Catastrophe is about to strike, and you lack the resources to deal with it. This lifetrap is two-pronged: You both exaggerate the risk of danger and minimize your own capacity to cope.
Types of vulnerability
  1. Health and illness
  2. Danger
  3. Poverty
  4. Losing control
Origins of Vulnerability
  1. You learned your sense of vulnerability from observing and living with parents with the same lifetrap. Your parents was phobic or frightened about specific areas of vulnerability (such as losing control, getting sick, going broke, etc)
  2. Your parents was overprotective of you, particularly around issues of danger or illness. Your parent continuously warned you of specific dangers. You were made to feel that you were too fragile or incompetent to handle these everyday issues. (This is usually combined with Dependence)
  3. Your parent did not adequately protect you. Your childhood environment did not seem safe physically, emotionally, or financially. (This is usually combine with emotional deprivation or with Mistrust and abuse.)
  4. You were sick as a child or experienced a serious traumatic event (eg. a car crash) that led you to feel vulnerable.
  5. One of your parents experienced a serious traumatic event and perhaps died. You came to view the world as dangerous.
Danger signals in relationships
  1. You tend to select partners who are willing and eager to protect you from danger or illness. Your partner is strong, and you are weak and needy.
  2. Your prime concern is that your partner is fearless, physically strong, very successful financially, a doctor or otherwise specifically equipped to protect you from your fears.
  3. You seek people who are willing to listen to your fears and reassure you.
What is wrong with someone who will pamper and overprotect you. What is wrong with someone who will make you feel safe.
Vulnerability lifetraps
  1. You feel anxious much of the time as you go about daily life because of your exaggerated fears. You may have generalized anxiety.
  2. You worry so much about your health and possible illnesses that you: (a) get unnecessary medical evaluations, (b) become a burden to your family with your constant need for reassurance, and (c) cannot enjoy other aspects of life.
  3. You experience panic attacks as a result of your preoccupation with bodily sensation and possible illness.
  4. You are unrealistically worried about going broke. This leads you to be unnecessarily tight with money and unwilling to make any financial or career changes. You are preoccupied with keeping what you have at the expense of new investments or projects. You cannot take risks.
  5. You go to exorbitant lengths to avoid criminal danger. For example, you avoid going out at night, visiting large cities, traveling on public transportation. Therefore, your life is very restricted.
  6. You avoid everyday situations that entail even a slight degree of risk. For example, you avoid elevators, subways, or living in a city where there could be an earthquake.
  7. You allow your partner to protect you from your fears. You need a lot of reassurance. Your partner helps you avoid feared situations. You become overly dependent on your partner. You may even resent this dependence.
  8. Your chronic anxiety may, in fact, make you more prone to some kinds of psychosomatic illnesses (eg. eczema, asthma, colitis, ulcers, flu)
  9. You limit your social life because, as a result of your fears, you cannot do many of the things other people do.
  10. You restrict the lives of your partner and family, who have to adapt to your fears.
  11. You are likely to pass on your fears to your own children.
  12. You may use a variety of coping mechanisms to an exaggerated degree to ward off danger. You may have obsessive compulsive symptoms or superstitious thinking.
  13. You may rely excessively on medication, alcohol, food, etc., to reduce your chronic anxiety.
The section above has some flaws. I really don’t agree with number 8. And am not enjoying this chapter.

When you weigh the costs and benefits of taking a risk, the overwhelming factors you consider are safety and security. They are more important than any possible gain. Life for you is not a process of seeking fulfillment and joy. Rather, life is a process of trying to contain danger.

  1. psychosomatic disorder is a disease which involves both mind and body. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. Your current mental state can affect how bad a physical disease is at any given time.

Curing the body is easy. Fixing the mind is hard.

Changing your vulnerability life trap

  1. Try to understand the origins of your lifetrap.
  2. Make a list of your specific fears.
  3. Develop a hierarchy of feared situations.
  4. Meet with the people you love – your spouse, lover, family, friends – and enlist their support in helping you face your fears.
  5. Examine the probability of your feared events occurring.
  6. Write a flashcard for each fear.
  7. Talk to your inner child. Be a strong, brave parent to your child.
  8. Practice techniques for relaxation.
  9. Begin to tackle each of your fears in imagery.
  10. Tackle each fear in real life.
  11. Reward yourself for each step you take.
The real reward to overcoming your Vulnerability lifetrap is the expansion of your life. There is so much that you miss because of your fears. The journey out of the Vulnerability lifetrap is a journey back to life.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 10. “I can’t make it on my own”, the dependence life trap

Dependence questionnaire:

  1. I feel more like a child than an adult when it comes to handling the responsibilities of daily life.
  2. I am not capable of getting by on my own.
  3. I cannot cope well by myself.
  4. Other people can take care of me better than I can take care of myself.
  5. I have trouble tackling new tasks unless I have someone to guide me.
  6. I can’t do anything right.
  7. I am inept.
  8. I lack common sense.
  9. I cannot trust my own judgment.
  10. I find everyday life overwhelming.
When you have a decision to make, you solicit the opinions of others. You probably rush from person to person seeking advice. You change your mind a hundred times. The whole process just leaves you confused and exhausted. If you manage to make a decision, you have to keep asking for reassurance that your decision was right.
Alternately, you might seek the advice of one person in whom you have great confidence, and rely solely on that. That person is often a therapist. Dependent people do not like change. They like everything to stay the same.
You are either surrendering to your life trap or you escape to reinforce your life trap. You avoid the tasks you believe are too difficult. Dependence exacts a high price in terms of freedom and self-expression. But some dependent people feel entitled to have their dependence needs met.
Counter-dependence
This is hidden dependence. Overly compensates by fighting against core feelings of incompetence. Your fears pressure you to ever higher levels of competence, and you drive yourself to master every task. But you never give yourself credit and believes you are fooling people. You always discount your accomplishments and magnifies your errors or deficiencies. You overcompensate your feeling of dependence by behaving as though you do not need help from anybody. you are too independent. You force yourself to face things alone. This tendency to go the other extreme – to act as though you do not need anybody for anything is called counterdependence, and is a strong indication of the presence of the dependence lifetrap. counterdependent people refuse to turn to others for help, even when it is reasonable to do so. You refuse to ask for advice, assistance, or guidance. They cannot allow themselves to get a normal amount of help from other people, because it makes them feel too vulnerable.
If you are counterdependent, even though you do not acknowledge your feelings of dependence, at your core you feel the same as other dependent people. You may appear to be functioning well, but you do so at a high level of anxiety. It is the feeling underneath that gives you away.
The steps toward independence
  1. Establishing a safe base.
  2. Moving away from this base to become autonomous.
If either these two steps is missing, the person may develop a dependence lifetrap. If you never had a safe base, if you never allowed to rest securely in that dependent state, then it is hard for you to move toward independence. You always long for that dependent state. “feel like a child who is acting as if I am an adult”. Your competence and independence do not feel real to you – you are waiting for the base to collapse.
Origins of Dependence in over protectiveness
  1. The parents are overprotective and treat you as if you are younger than you are.
  2. Your parents make your decisions for you.
  3. Your parents take care of all the details of your life so you never learn how to take care of them yourself.
  4. You parents do your schoolwork for you.
  5. You are given little or no responsibility.
  6. You are rarely apart from your parents and have little sense of yourself as a separate person.
  7. Your parents criticize your opinions and competence in everyday tasks.
  8. When you undertake new tasks, your parents interfere by giving excessive advice and instructions.
  9. Your parents make you feel so safe that you never have a serious rejection or failure until you leave home.
  10. Your parents have many fears and always warn you of danger.
Origins of Dependence in under protectiveness
  1. You do not get enough practical guidance or direction from your parents.
  2. You have to make decisions alone beyond your years.
  3. You have to be like an adult in your family, even when underneath you still feel like a child.
  4. You are expected to do things and know things that are over your head.
You may be a “parentified child”. But underneath you did not feel secure and wished for the normal dependence of a child. Your normal is not everyone else’s normal. Wrong gauge.
Danger signals in potential partners
  1. Your partner is like a father/mother figure, who seems strong and protective.
  2. He/She seems to enjoy taking care of you and treats you like a child.
  3. You trust his/her judgment much more than your own. He/She maskes most of the decisions.
  4. You find that you lose your sense of self around him/her – and that your life goes on hold when he/she is not around.
  5. He/She criticizes your opinions, taste, and competence in everyday tasks.
  6. When you have a new task to undertake, you almsot always ask his/her advice, even if he/she has no special expertise in that realm.
  7. He/She does almost everything for you – you have almost no responsibility.
  8. He/She almost never seems frightened, insecure, or vulnerable about him/herself.
Dependence lifetraps
  1. You turn to wiser or stronger people all the time for advice and guidance.
  2. You minimize your successses and magnify your shortcomings.
  3. You avoid new challenges on your own.
  4. You do not make your own decisions.
  5. You do not take care of your own financial records or decisions.
  6. You live through your parents/partner.
  7. You are much more dependent on your parents than most people your age.
  8. You avoid being alone or traveling alone.
  9. You have fears and phobias taht you do not confront.
  10. You are quite ignorant when it comes to many areas of paractical functioning and daily survival skills.
  11. You have not lived on your own for any significant period of time.
The signs of counterdependence
  1. You never seem to be able to turn to anyone for guidance or advice. You have to do everythnig on your own.
  2. You are always taking on new challenges and confronting your fears, but you feel under constant pressure while doing it.
  3. Your partner is very dependent on you, and you end up doing everything and making all the decisions.
You avoid the part of you that wants a little healthy dependence, that just wants to stop coping for a while and rest.
Changing your dependence life trap
  1. Understand your childhood dependence. Feel the incompetent/dependent child inside of you.
  2. List everyday situations, tasks, responsibilities, and decision for which you depend on other people.
  3. List challenges, changes, or phobias that you have avoided because you are afraid of them.
  4. Systematically force yourself to tackle everyday tasks and decisions without asking for help. Take on challenges or make changes you have been avoiding. Start with the easy tasks first.
  5. When you succeed at a task on your own, take credit for it. Do not minimize it. When you fail, do not give up. Keep trying until you master the task.
  6. Review past relationships and clarify the patterns of dependence that recur. List the lifetraps to avoid.
  7. Avoid strong, overprotective partners who generate high chemistry.
  8. When you find a partner who will treat you as an equal, give the relationship a chance to work. Take on your share of responsibilities and decision-making.
  9. Do not complain when your partner/boss refuses to help you enough. Do not turn to him/her for constant advice and reassurance.
  10. Take on new challenges and responsibilities at work, but do it gradually.
  11. If you are counterdependent, acknowledge your need for guidance. Ask others for help. Do not take on more challenges than you can handle. Use your anxiety level as a gauge of how much you are comfortable taking on.
There is a saying in psychotherapy “It is the relationship that heals.” Find people to accept help from. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Trust and take risks. If there is someone in your life that you would like to trust, make sure it is a person who is worthy of your trust. Do not pick your partners foolishly. Do not pick people unless you are confident they will be there for you when you need them.

The journey out of the dependence lifetrap is a movement from childhood to adulthood. It is a trading of fear and avoidance for a sense of mastery – for the sense you can function independently in the world. Give up the exhausting struggle to get people to take care of you. Learn to take care of yourself. Learn to believe in your own ability to cope by mastering the tasks of life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 9. “I don’t fit in”, the social exclusion life trap

The social exclusion questionnaire

  1. I feel very self conscious in social situations.
  2. I feel dull and boring at parties and other gatherings. I never know what to say.
  3. The people I want as friends are above me in some way (eg. looks, popularity, wealth, status, education, career)
  4. I would rather avoid than attend most social functions
  5. I feel unattractive – too fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, etc
  6. I feel fundamentally different from other people
  7. I do not belong anywhere. I am a loner.
  8. I always feel on the outside of groups
  9. My family was different from the families around us
  10. I feel disconnected from the community at large
The primary feeling is loneliness. You feel excluded from the rest of the world because you feel either undesirable or different.

Difference b/w Social Exclusion and Defectiveness. (One is external, other is internal)

The origins of social exclusion

  1. You felt inferior to other children, because of some observable quality (eg. looks, height, stuttering). You were teased, rejected, or humiliated by other children.
  2. Your family was different from neighbours and people around you.
  3. You felt different from other children, even within your own family.
  4. You were passive as a child; you did what was expected, but you never developed strong interests or preferences of your own. Now you feel you have nothing to offer in a conversation.
Sources of childhood and adolescent undesirability
Physical: Fat, thin, short, tall, weak, ugly, acne, physical handicap, small breasts, big breasts, late puberty, poor at sports, uncoordinated, not sexy.
Mental: Slow at school, learning disabilities, bookworm, stuttering, emotional problems.
Social: Awkward, socially inappropriate, immature, unable to carry on conversations, weird, dull, uncool
Social Exclusion Lifetraps
  1. You feel different or inferior to the people around you. You exaggerate differences and minimize similarities. You feel lonely, even when you are with people.
  2. At work you are on the periphery. You keep to yourself. You do not get promoted or included in projects because you do not fit in.
  3. You are nervous and self-conscious around groups of people. You cannot just relax and be yourself. You worry about doing or saying the wrong thing. You try to plan what to say next. You are very uncomfortable talking to strangers. You feel you have nothing unique to offer other people.
  4. Socially, you avoid joining groups or being part of the community. You only spend time with your immediate family or with one or two close friends.
  5. You feel embarrassed if people meet your family or know a lot about them. You keep secrets about your family from other people.
  6. You pretend to be like other people just to fit in. You do not let most people see the unconcentional parts of yourself. You have a secret life or feelings that you believe would lead other people to humiliate you or reject you.
  7. You put a lot of emphasis on overcoming your own family’s deficiencies: to gain status, have material possessions, sound highly educated, obscure ethnic differences, etc
  8. You have never accepted certain parts of your nature because you believe other people would think less of you for them (eg. You are shy, intellectual, emotional, too feminine, weak, dependent)
  9. You are very self-conscious about your physical appearance. You feel less attractive than other people say you are. You may work inordinately hard to be physically attractive and are especially sensitive to your physical flaws (eg. weight, physique, figure, height, complexion, features)
  10. You avoid situations where you might seem dumb, slow, or awkward (eg. going to college, public speaking)
  11. You compare yourself a lot to other people who have the hallmarks of popularity that you lack (eg. looks, money, athletic ability, success, clothing)
  12. You put too much emphasis on compensating for what you feel are your social inadequacies: trying to prove your popularity or social skills, win people over, be part of the right social group, have success in your career, or raise children who are popular.
Changing social exclusion
  1. Understand your childhood social exclusion. Feel the isolated or inferior child inside of you.
  2. List everyday social situations in which you feel anxious or uncomfortable.
  3. List group situations that you avoid. What makes you feel inferior? What is the worst that can happen?
  4. List ways that you counterattack, or overcompensate, for feeling different or inferior.
  5. Drawing on step 1-4, list the qualities in yourself that make you feel alienated, vulnerable or inferior. ex. drawing on differences instead of similarities is a problem.
  6. If you are convinced that a flaw is real, write down steps you could take to overcome it. Follow through gradually with your plans of change. Use imagery as dress rehearsals of successful social situations.
  7. Reevaluate the importance of flaws that you cannot change. Flaws pale compare to the person as a whole. Difference is appreciated. Find a balance between fitting in and expressing our unique natures.
  8. Make a flashcard for each flaw.
  9. Make a hierarchy of social and work groups you have been avoiding. Gradually move up the hierarchy. Stop escaping. Use positive imagery to practice performing well.
  10. When you are in groups, make a concerted effort to initiate conversations.
  11. Be yourself in groups. Having a secret is isolating.
  12. Stop trying so hard to compensate for your perceived areas of undesirability. If you are ashamed of a certain situation, you may counterattack and try to prove people otherwise. Showing off is false. Don’t try so hard to impress other people.
Sample flashcard
I know that right now I feel anxious, as if everyone is looking at me. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone. But it is just my lifetrap being triggered. If I look around, I will see that people are not looking at me. And even if someone is, it is probably a friendly look. If I start talking to people, in a little while my anxiety will grow less. People can’t really tell I’m anxious. Besides, other people are anxious too. Everyone is a little anxious in social situations. I can start by relaxing my body, looking around the room, and finding one person to talk to.
I’m starting to feel different from the people I’m with. I’m feeling like an outsider, alone in the crowd. I am holding myself back, becoming aloof. But this is my lifetrap kicking in. In fact I’m exaggerating how different I am. If I become friendlier, I will find that we have things in common. I jut have to give myself a chance to connect.
The journey out of social exclusion is a journey from loneliness to connection. Try to see it in this positive light. If you are willing to apply these change strategies, you will find that there are many rewards. The ultimate reward is a satisfying social life. You can feel part of a group or the community. This is a vital part of life, of which you are now deprived. Why miss out in this way?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 8. “I’ll never get the love I need”, the emotional deprivation life trap

Emotional Deprivation Questionnaire

  1. I need more love than I get.
  2. No one really understands me
  3. I am often attracted to cold partners who can’t meet my needs
  4. I feel disconnected, even from the people who are closest to me.
  5. I have not had one special person I love who wants to share him/herself with me and cares deeply about what happens to me.
  6. No one is there to give me warmth, holding, and affection.
  7. I do not have someone who really listens and is tuned into my true needs and feelings.
  8. It is hard for me to let people guide or protect me, even though it is what I want inside.
  9. It is hard for me to let people love me.
  10. I am lonely a lot of the time.
Emotional deprivation is what a neglected child feels. It is a feeling of aloneness, of nobody there. It is a sad and heavy sense of knowledge that you are destined to be alone. Emotional deprivation is a feeling of chronically disappointed in other people. People let you down. We are not speaking about a single case of disappointment, but rather a pattern of experiences over a long period of time. If your conclusion as a result of all your relationships is that you cannot count on people to be there for you emotionally – that is a sign that you have the lifetrap.
The origins of emotional deprivation
  1. Mother is cold and unaffectionate. She does not hold and rock the child enough.
  2. The child does not have a sense of being loved and valued – of being someone who is precious and special.
  3. Mother does not give the child enough time and attention.
  4. The mother is not really tuned into the child’s needs. She has difficulty empathizing with the child’s world. She does not really connect with the child.
  5. Mother does not soothe the child adequately. The child, then, may not learn to soothe him/herself or to accept soothing from others.
  6. The parents do not adequately guide the child or provide a sense of direction. There is no one solid for the child to rely upon.
Emotional deprivation is difficult to recognize unless you experienced extreme neglect. You might recognize the life trap in yourself only after you have asked yourself specific questions: “Did I feel close to my mother, did I feel she understood me, did I feel loved, did I love her, was she warm and affectionate, could I tell her what I felt, could she give me what I needed?” Emotional Deprivation is one of the most common lifetraps, it is often one of the hardest to detect.
Some people who have the emotional deprivation lifetrap avoid romantic relationships altogether, or only get into them for a short time. This is typical of the Escape coping style. It is probably in these relationships that your lifetrap is most visible. Perhaps you have a history of breaking off relationships when the person starts to get too close. Or you protect yourself from closeness by choosing partners who are unavailable. Or you choose someone who is there, but is cold and ungiving.
Danger signals in the early stages of dating
  1. he/she doesn’t listen to me.
  2. he/she does all the talking.
  3. he/she is not comfortable touching or kissing me.
  4. he/she is only sporadically available.
  5. he/she is cold and aloof (signs starting from high school)
  6. you are much more intersted in getting close than he/she is
  7. the person is not there for you when you feel vulnerable
  8. the less available he/she is, the more obsessed you become
  9. he/she does not understand your feelings
  10. you are giving much more than you are getting
When several of these signals are occurring at once, run – particularly if the chemistry is very strong. Your lifetrap has been triggered full force.
Emotional Deprivation Lifetraps in a relationship

  1. you don’t tell your partner what you need, then feel disappointed when your needs are not met.
  2. you don’t tell your partner how you feel, and then feel disappointed when you are not understood.
  3. you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, so that your partner can protect or guide you.
  4. you feel deprived, but don’t say anything. You harbor resentment.
  5. you become angry and demanding
  6. you constantly accuse your partner of not caring enough about you
  7. you become distant and unreachable
You might reinforce your deprivation by sabotaging the relationship. You might become hypersensitive to signs of neglect. You might expect your lover to read your mind and almost magically to fill your needs.
Some people with emotional deprivation lifetrap counterattack. they compensate for their feelings of deprivation by becoming hostile and demanding. These people are narcissistic. They act as if they are entitled to get all their needs met. They demand a lot, and often get a lot, from the people who become their lovers. You might be very demanding about material things. You might be demanding about anything except the true object of your craving, which is emotional nurturance.
Some children are neglected in both domains, emotionally and materially. No matter where they turn, they encounter deprivation. These children usually just give up and learn to expect nothing. (the surrender coping style)
Changing emotional deprivation
  1. Understand your childhood deprivation. Feel the deprived child inside you.
  2. Monitor your feelings of deprivation in your current relationships. Get in touch with your needs for nurturance, empathy, and guidance.
  3. review pas relationships and clarify the patterns that recur. List the pitfalls to avoid from now on.
  4. avoid cold partners who generate high chemistry
  5. when you find a partner who is emotionally generous, give the relationship a chance to work. Ask for what you want. Share your vulnerability with your partner.
  6. Stop blaming your partner and demanding that your needs be met.
Three kinds of emotional deprivation
  1. Deprivation of Nurturance
  2. Deprivation of Empathy
  3. Deprivation of Protection
You keep what you want a secret, then get angry when you do not get it. Keeping your needs secret is a way of surrendering to your lifetrap. You make sure that even though your partner is a warm person, your needs still will not get met. If you are with a loving partner, tell the person what you need.  Allow your partner to take care of you, protect you, and understand you. This can be frightening. It means making yourself vulnerable to your partner. You have become very invested in doing the opposite, keeping yourself invulnerable to protect yourself from disappointment. As a chid you had a good reason for this. You have probably had good reason to keep up this wall in many relationships since childhood. But ask yourself, “This time, is it different? Can I trust this person?” If the answer is “yes,” perhaps you should take a chance.
Your emotional deprivation lifetrap will not fall away suddenly. It is a matter of slowly chipping away at the lifetrap – of countering the lifetrap each time it is triggered. You must throw your whole being against the lifetrap – your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It is sad that the more you were damaged as a child, the harder you will have to work. This is one more unfairness in the string of unfairness against you. If you were seriously damaged as a child, you may need professional help.
You could easily access anger about the past, but it was very difficult  to feel the pain. You never saw yourself as responsible for creating relationships, always focused on how the other person was disappointing you, how the other person was letting you down.
Sometimes you are attracted to narcissistic men but now you must resist them. You must learn not only to give love but to receive love in return. It may seem funny that you will have to learn how to take love.

Reinventing your Life: 7. “I can’t trust you”, the mistrust and abuse life trap

Questionnaire

  1. I expect people to hurt or use me.
  2. Throughout my life people close to me have abused me.
  3. It is only a matter of time before the people I love will betray me.
  4. I have to protect myself and stay on my guard.
  5. If I am not careful, people will take advantage of me.
  6. I set up tests for people to see if they are really on my side.
  7. I try to hurt people before they hurt me.
  8. I am afraid to let people get close to me because I expect them to hurt me.
  9. I am angry about what people have done to me.
  10. I have been physically, verbally, or sexually abused by people I should have been able to trust.
Abuse is a complex mixture of feelings – pain, fear, rage, and grief. The feelings are intense, and they simmer near the surface. You may have volatile moods. You suddenly become very upset – either crying or enraged. You may space out and disassociate. Your emotions are numb.
Your experience of relationship is a painful one. Relationships are not places to relax and become vulnerable. Rather they are dangerous and unpredictable. People hurt you, betray you, and use you. It is hard to trust people, particularly the ones closest to you. Anxiety and depression are common. You may have a deep sense of despair about your life. Certainly you have low self-esteem and feelings of defectiveness.
Origins of the Mistrust and Abuse Life trap
  1. Someone in your family physically abused you as a child.
  2. Someone in your family sexually abused you as a child, or repeatedly touched you in a sexually provocative way.
  3. Someone in your family repeatedly humiliated you, teased you, or put you down (verbal abuse).
  4. People in your family could not be trusted. (They betrayed confidences, exploited your weaknesses to their advantage, manipulated you, made promises they had no intention of keeping, or lied to you.)
  5. Someone in your family seemed to get pleasure from seeing you suffer.
  6. You were made to do things as a child by the threat of severe punishment or retaliation.
  7. One of your parents repeatedly warned you not to trust people outside of the family.
  8. The people in your family were against you.
  9. One of your parents turned to you for physical affection as a child, in a way that was inappropraite or made you uncomfortable.
  10. People used to call you names that really hurt.
All forms of abuse are violations of your boundaries. Your physical, sexual, or psychological boundaries were not respected.
Abuse stirred sexual feelings and can make you feel confused and ashamed. You are not expected to protect yourself. Rather, your family was supposed to be protecting you. The feeling of not being protected is part of most forms of abuse. One parent abused you, and the other failed to prevent or stop it. They both let you down.
We all know what we should do when a stranger attempts to abuse us. We should fight back, we should get help, we should escape. All of these options become problematic when you are a child and the abuser is someone you love. At bottom, you tolerated the abuse because you needed the connection with the person. It was your parent or brother or sister. Indeed, it may have been the only connection you were able to get. Without it you would have been alone. To most children, some connection, even an abusive one, is better than no connection at all.
The abuser makes the child feel worthless. The abuser blames the child, and the child accepts that blame.
Abuse creates powerful feelings of defectiveness. It makes you ashamed of who you are. You are unworthy. You are not entitled to have any rights or to stand up for yourself. You have to let the person use you and take advantage of you. It feels to you as if abuse is all you deserve.
Dissociating may have been a way for you to remove yourself from the situation emotionally and just get through it. Dissociating also gives an air of separateness to an event – it seems to be happening separately from the rest of your life.
One of the most common Counterattacks for the Mistrust and Abuse lifetrap is to abuse somebody else. The abuse sometimes becomes the abuser. Many victims of abuse who do not actually behave abusively do have fantasies of abusing or hurting people. You may lash out at other people sporadically. You may enjoy seeing other people hurt. You may be manipulative or insulting.
Danger signals in relationships
  1. he/she has an explosive temper that scares you.
  2. he/she loses control when he/she drinks too much.
  3. he/she puts you down in front of your friends and family.
  4. he/she repeatedly demeans you, criticizes you, and makes you feel worthless.
  5. he/she has no respect for your needs
  6. he/she will do anything – lie or manipulate – to get his/her way
  7. he/she is somewhat of a con artist in business dealings
  8. he/she is sadistic or cruel – seems to get pleasure when you or other people suffer
  9. he/she hits you or threatens you when you do not do as he/she wants
  10. he/she forces you to have sex, even when you do not want to
  11. he/she exploits your weaknesses to his/her advantage
  12. he/she cheats on you
  13. he/she is very unreliable, and takes advantage of your generosity
You may find that you are most attracted to abusive partners. People who use, hit, rape, or insult and demean you – are the lovers who generate the most chemistry.
Life traps in relationships
  1. You often feel people are taking advantage of you, even when there is little concrete proof.
  2. You allow other people to mistreat you because you are afraid of them or because you feel it is all you deserve.
  3. You are quick to attack other people because you expect them to hurt you or put you down.
  4. You have a very hard time enjoying sex – it feels like an obligation or you cannot derive pleasure.
  5. You are reluctant to reveal personal information because you worry that people will use it against you.
  6. You are reluctant to show your weaknesses because you expect people to take advantage of them
  7. You feel nervous around people because ou worry that they will humiliate you
  8. You give in too easily to other people because you are afraid of them.
  9. You feel that other people seem to enjoy your suffering.
  10. You have a definite sadistic or cruel side, even though you may not show it.
  11. You allow other people to take advantage of you because “it is better than being alone.”
  12. You feel that men/women cannot be trusted.
  13. You do not remember large portions of your childhood.
  14. When you are frightened of someone, you “tune out”, as if part of you is not really there.
  15. You often feel people have hidden motives or bad intentions, even when you have little proof.
  16. You often have sado-masochistic fantasies.
  17. You avoid getting close to men/women because you cannot turst them.
  18. You feel frightened around men/women and you do not understand why.
  19. You have sometimes been abusive or cruel to other people, especially the ones to whom you are closest.
  20. You often feel helpless in relation to other people.
It hurts too much as a child to hope and be disappointed. You may do things to encourage partners to treat you badly and send out messages you are not worth treating well. You may swing to the opposite end and have a problem with aggressiveness. “The best defense is a good offense.” Since you expect the other person to attack, you make sure you attack first. You do not notice that time passes and you are the only one attacking.
Changing your mistrust and abuse life trap
  1. If at all possible, see a therapist to help you with this lifetrap, particularly if you have been sexually or physically abused.
  2. Find a friend you trust (or your therapist). Do imagery. Try to recall memories of abuse. Relive each incident in detail.
  3. While doing imagery, vent your anger at your abuser(s). Stop feeling helpless in the image.
  4. Stop blaming yourself. You did not deserve the abuse.
  5. Consider reducing or stopping contact with your abuser(s) while you work on this lifetrap.
  6. If it is possible, when you are ready, confront your abuser face-to-face, or send a letter.
  7. Stop tolerating abuse in your current relationships.
  8. Try to trust and get closer to people who deserve it.
  9. Try to become involved with a partner who respects your rights and does not want to hurt you.
  10. Do not abuse the people close to you.
You did not deserve the abuse. Stop making excuses for your abuser. You were not at fault. You were a helpless child. You did the best you could under the circumstances. It is important to be crystal-clear on this issue. No child deserves to be abused.
No matter what you were made to feel, the abuse did not happen because you were bad. That was a convenient excuse. Victimizers always devalue their victims. Awake from your feelings of defectiveness. Find the good child within you. Feel sympathy for this wounded child.
Get angry at the parent who did no protect you. Direct the anger away from yourself. Stop dealing with your anger in self-destructive ways. Use your anger to make you stronger.
You should have no shame about needing help. Reclaim the things that are rightfully yours – all the joys that are possible in supportive human relationships. The road out is long and difficult, but for that reason it can be one of the most rewarding. The road can bring you to what you have always wanted – to love and be loved.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 17. A Philosophy of Change

Seven Basic Assumptions

  1. We all have a part of ourselves that wants to be happy and fulfilled. (aka self actualization)
  2. There are several basic “needs” or desires that will lead most of us to be happier if they are satisfied: The need to relate and feel connected to other people; the need for independence, for autonomy; the need to feel desirable, competent, successful, attractive, worthwhile; the need to express what we want and feel to others; the need for pleasure, fun, creativity – to pursue interests and activities that gratify us; the need to help others, to show concern and love.
  3. People can change in very basic ways. Changing core patterns is extremely difficult. Our inherited temperament, along with our early family and peer experiences, create very powerful forces that act against change, they do not make change impossible. The more destructive these early forces, the harder we will have to work to change life traps.
  4. We have strong tendencies to resist core change. It is highly unlikely that we will change basic life traps without making a conscious decision to do so.
  5. Most of us have strong inclinations to avoid pain. We avoid facing situations and feelings that cause us pain, even when confronting them might lead to growth. In order to modify core life traps, we must be willing to face painful memories that stir up emotions like sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, and embarrassment. We must be willing to face situations we have avoided much of our lives because we fear they will result in failure, rejection, or humiliation. Unless we face these painful memories and situations, we are doomed to repeat patterns that hurt us. We must commit ourselves to facing pain in order to change.
  6. We do not believe that any one technique or approach to change will be successful for all people.
Creating a personal vision
Change is not just the absence of life traps. We must each discover who we want to be and what we want from life. It is vital to have this direction before going too far along the change process. Look beyond the elimination of your individual life traps to an image of what will lead you final to feel fulfilled, happy, and self-actualized.
Many of us go through life with only a fuzzy sense of where we are going. This explains why many of us reach middle-age or retirement feeling disappointed and disillusioned. We need a broad set of overriding goals to guide us. The eleven life traps are obstacles to reaching our goals, they do not tell us what each of us uniquely needs to be happy. Once you develop a set of life goals, you can begin to plan specific steps to get there. Approach change in a strategic way, not haphazardly.
You must discover your natural inclination, which includes those interests, relationships, and activities that inherently lead us to feel fulfilled. Each person has an innate set of personal preferences. Our best clues to recognizing natural inclinations are our emotions and our bodily sensations. When we engage in activities or relationships that fulfill our natural inclinations, we feel good. Our body is content and we experience pleasure or joy.
We must find out what makes us happy, without relying solely on what makes the people around us happy.
One
What is your vision of relationships that you want in your life? Clarify the ways you want to connect to other people. Consider intimate relationships. What kind of intimate relationship do you want? What is most important to you – passion and romance, a companion, a family? What are your goals in finding a partner? How important is emotional closeness to you compared to sexual excitement?
Relationships are almost a trade-off. What is most important to you in choosing a partner? What are the less important qualities that would be nice, but you would do without if you had to.
What kind of social relationships do you want? What kind of friends? How involved do you want to be in a social “scene?” How committed do you want to be to groups in the community? Do you want to participate in church? Do you want to be involved in the running of schools or in local government? Do you want to participate in support groups? How much do you want to socialize with people at work?
Emotional Deprivation, Mistrust and Abuse, Abandonment and Social Exclusion life traps are the biggest blocks to developing the kind of relationships you want in your life. Conquering these life traps will allow you to connect to people on a deeper and more satisfying level. Your relationship vision will guide you in fighting these life traps.
Two
What is the optimal level of independence for you? Autonomy gives you the freedom to seek out healthy relationships, and to avoid or leave unhealthy ones. You are free to stay in a relationship because you want to stay, not because you need to. Dependence or Vulnerability are the greatest blocks to developing a healthy level of autonomy.
Autonomy involves developing a sense of identity. You are free to be who you uniquely are. You will not lose yourself in relationships, living your partner’s life instead of your own.
Three
Self esteem provides a context of freedom. The defectiveness and failure life traps are blocks to attaining self esteem. Choose a life that enhances your self-esteem. How can you strive to feel good about yourself, to accept yourself without being overly self-punitive or insecure? What are your strengths and how can you develop them? What are the weaknesses that you can correct?
Four
Self assertion and self expression involves asking to have your own needs met and expressing your feelings. Asserting yourself enables you to follow your natural inclinations and get pleasure out of life. In what ways can you express who you are? Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards are blocks to self assertion. Passion, creativity, playfulness and fun can help make life worth living. It is important to be able to let go sometimes, to include excitement and pleasure in your life. Life feels heavy if you ignore self assertion and self expression. Change involves allowing yourself to fulfill your own basic needs and inclinations, without unnecessarily hurting those around you.
Five
Concern for others is one of the most gratifying aspects of life. Learn to give to other people and to empathize with them. Entitlement may keep you from showing concern for the people around you. It feels good to make a contribution. Social involvement, charity, having children and giving to children, helping your friends, these involve connection to something greater than yourself and your individual life. How can you contribute ego the world at large? Many religious experience provide this added dimension and fulfillment.
Goals of life are probably universal: love, self-expression, pleasure, freedom, spirituality, giving to others – this is what most of us want. However these goals often collide. For example, passion may conflict with stability, autonomy with intimacy, self-expression with concern for others. Set priorities and choose the balance that feels right for you.
Empathic self confrontation
Show compassion for yourself, while continually pushing yourself to change. Be understanding of your limitations and flaws. Remember the origins of your life traps and try to empathize with yourself when you were a child.
No matter how damaged you were as a child, this does not excuse you from taking responsibility for change. Childhood pain explains why change is so difficult and takes so long; it does not explain why someone allows destructive patterns to continue without working hard to alter them.
Have faith. Be patient. Some changes cannot be accomplished in small steps. They require a leap of faith, a high level of risk. Sometimes we met make major changes in order to grow. These include leaving a relationship switching careers, or moving to another city. You may have to surrender the of childhood patterns in order to grow into the adult you want to be.
Enlisting the help of others
It is going to be difficult for you to change without the help of some person who can see you clearly and realistically, because you will have trouble seeing your own distortions.
Unfortunately, turning to family and friends may not be an option for you. You may not have close family and friends or they may be too disturbed themselves to be of much help to you. Often family members reinforce your life traps, rather than help you change. If this is the case, consider seeking professional help.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 16. “I can have whatever I want”, the entitlement life trap

Entitlement Questionnaire

  1. I have trouble accepting “no” for an answer.
  2. I get angry when I cannot get what I want.
  3. I am special and should not have to accept normal constraints.
  4. I put my needs first
  5. I have a lot of difficulty getting myself to stop drinking, smoking, overeating, or other problem behaviors.
  6. I cannot discipline myself to complete boring or routine tasks.
  7. I act on impulses and emotions that get me into trouble later.
  8. If I cannot reach a goal, I become easily frustrated and give up
  9. I insist that people do things my way
  10. I have trouble giving up immediate gratification to reach a long-range goal.
Three types of Entitlement
  1. Spoiled Entitlement – You are indifferent to normal social expectations and consider yourself above the law. You believe other people should be punished when they violate social norms, but you should not be punished.
  2. Dependent Entitlement – When someone fails to take care of you, you feel like a victim. You feel weak and vulnerable. You need help, and people must give it to you.
  3. Impulsive – You act on your desires and feelings without regard for the consequences.
Origins of Entitlement

Weak Limits: Parents fail to exercise sufficient discipline and control over their children. Children are given whatever they want, whenever they want it. They are not forced to take responsibility and complete assigned tasks. Parents allow children to act out impulses such as anger, without imposing sufficient negative consequences.

Dependent Overindulgence: overindulge their children in ways that make the children dependent on them. The environment is so safe and protected and so little is expected of the child that the child comes to demand this level of care.

Counterattack for other life traps: overcompensation for other core life traps: Defectiveness, Emotional Deprivation, Social Exclusion.

Danger Signals in Partners

Spoiled Entitlement: attracted to partners who

  1. Sacrifice their own needs for yours.
  2. Allow you to control them
  3. Are afraid to express their own needs and feelings
  4. Are willing to tolerate abuse, criticism, etc
  5. Allow you to take advantage of them
  6. Do not have a strong sense of self, and allow themselves to live through you.
  7. Are dependent on you, and accept domination as the price of being dependent.
Dependent Entitlement: You are drawn to strong partners who are competent and willing to take care of you.
Impulsivity: Drawn to partners who are organized, disciplined, compulsive, etc, and who thus offset your own tendency toward chaos and disorganization.
Spoiled Entitlement Life trap
  1. You do not care about the needs of the people around you You get your needs met at their expense. You hurt them.
  2. You may abuse, humiliate, or demean the people around you.
  3. You have difficulty empathizing with the feelings of those around you. They feel you do not understand or care about their feelings.
  4. You may take more from society than you give. This results in an inequity and is unfair to other people.
  5. At work, you may be fired, demoted, etc for failing to follow rules.
  6. Your partner, family, friends, or children may leave you, resent you, or cut off contact with you because you treat them abusively, unfairly, or selfishly.
  7. You may get into legal or criminal trouble if you cheat or break laws, such as tax evasion or business fraud.
  8. You never have a chance to experience the joy of giving to other people unselfishly – or of having a truly equal, reciprocal relationship.
  9. If your Entitlement is a form of counterattack, you never allow yourself to face and solve your underlying life traps. Your real needs are never addressed. You may continue to feel emotionally deprived, defective, or socially undesirable.
Dependent Entitlement Lifetraps
  1. You never learn to take care of yourself, because you insist that others take care of you.
  2. You unfairly impinge on the rights of people close to you to use their own time for themselves. Your demands become a drain on the people around you.
  3. People you depend on may eventually become fed up or angry with your dependence and demands, and will leave you, fire you, or refuse to continue helping you.
  4. The people you depend on may die or leave, and you will be unable to take care of yourself.
Impulsivity Lifetraps
  1. You never complete tasks necessary to make progress in your career. You are a chronic underachiever, and eventually feel inadequate as a result of your failures.
  2. The people around you may eventually get fed up with you.
  3. Your life is in chaos. You cannot discipline yourself sufficiently well to have direction and organization. You are therefore stuck.
  4. You may have difficulty with addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, or overeating.
  5. In almost every area of your life you lack of discipline prevents you from achieving your goals
  6. You may not have enough money to get what you want in life.
  7. You may have gotten into trouble with authorities at school, with police, or at work because you cannot control your impulses.
  8. You may have alienated your friends, spouse, children, or bosses, through your anger and explosiveness.
The issue of motivation to change being low is a big one with the Entitlement life trap. Unlike the other life traps, this does not feel painful. Rather, it seems to feel good. It is the people around you who are in pain.
Helping yourself overcome entitlement problems
  1. List the advantages and disadvantages of not accepting limits. This is crucial to motivate yourself to change.
  2. Confront the excuses you use to avoid accepting limits.
  3. List the various ways that your limits problem manifests itself in everyday life.
  4. Make flashcards to help you fight your Entitlement and self-discipline problems in each situation.
  5. Ask for feedback as you try to change.
  6. Try to empathize with the people around you. Work on empathizing without getting defensive.
  7. If your life trap is a form of counterattack, try to understand the core life traps underlying it. Follow the relevant change techniques. Your Entitlement is all or nothing. Either you get everything you want or you are deprived; either you are perfect or you are defective; either you are adored or you are rejected. You need to learn that there is a middle ground, that you can get your needs met in a normal way.
  8. If you have self-discipline problems, make a hierarchy of tasks, graded in terms of boredom or frustration level. Gradually work your way up the hierarchy.
  9. If you have difficulty controlling your emotions, develop a “time-out” technique. Do not attack the person. State what the person has done that upsets you.
  10. If you have Dependent Entitlement, make a hierarchy of tasks, graded in terms of difficulty. Gradually start doing the things you allow other people to do for you. Start proving to yourself that you are competent.
Writing an entitlement flashcard
  1. Tune into the needs of the people around you. Try to understand how they are feeling. Empathize.
  2. Aim towards reciprocity, fairness, and equity as principles to guide your actions with others.
  3. Ask yourself if your immediate need is important enough to risk the negative consequences (e.g. alienating friends, losing your job)
  4. Learn to tolerate frustration as a means to achieving your long range goals. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain”
Find appropriate ways of getting your ore needs met – ways that respect the rights and needs of others. You do not have to be so demanding, controlling, and entitled to get what you want. Give up your counterattacks. Start placing emphasis on intimate relationships, on trying to get your needs met through closeness with other people. Learn to ask for what you want without demanding it. Try being more honest with yourself. Be more open about who you are. Learn to say who you are, without trying to cover up, conceal, or impress.

Helping someone you know overcome limits problems

  1. Identify your sources of leverage. What do you have that he/she values? your respect? money? job? love?
  2. How far you are willing to go to get change? Would you be willing to leave your partner? Fire an employee?
  3. Approach the entitled person and express your complaints in a non-attacking way. Ask if he/she is aware of how you feel. Is he/she willing to work on changing?
  4. If he/she is willing, go through the other steps in this chapter together.
  5. If he/she is unreceptive, tell him/her the consequences if he/she will not try to change. Try to setup a hierarchy of negative consequences. Begin to implement them one at a time, until the entitled person is willing to work with you. Try to empathize with how hard it is for I’m/her o change, but remain firm.
  6. Remember that it is often impossible to get someone with this life trap to change. If you do not have enough leverage, you will probably be unsuccessful. Be prepared to accept the price of carrying through on your decision to push for change. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages of pushing for change by risking conflict and possibly ending your relationship. Make an informed choice.
Demonstrations of hurt are almost useless with an entitled person.
Studies have shown that the more distressed patients display when they come to therapy, the more likely they are to change. Until you overcome your entitlement, you will never fulfill your potential for love and work.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 15. “It’s never quite good enough”, the unrelenting standards life trap

unrelenting standards questionnaire

  1. I cannot accept second best. I have to be the best at most of what I do.
  2. Nothing I do is quite good enough.
  3. I strive to keep everything in perfect order.
  4. I must look my best at all times.
  5. I have so much to accomplish that I have no time to relax.
  6. My personal relationships suffer because I push myself so hard.
  7. My health suffers because I put myself under so much pressure.
  8. I deserve strong criticism when I make a mistake.
  9. I am very competitive.
  10. Wealth and status are very important to me.
The primary feeling is pressure. You can never relax and enjoy life. You are always pushing to get ahead.
Physical stress such as IBS and headaches are common. You might have high blood pressure, ulcers, colitis, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, heart arrhythmias, obesity, back pain, skin problems, arthritis, asthma, etc.
For you, life is only doing. Life is having to work or achieve all the time. You feel constantly frustrated and irritated with yourself for not meeting your standards. You may feel chronically angry, with high levels of anxiety. A major anxiety is time.

Three types of unrelenting standards

  1. Compulsive. Everything has to be perfect. Your surroundings are disappointing or you may blame yourself for your surroundings. Need to feel in control.
  2. Achievement Orientated. Workaholic. Any form of activity that you turn into work and enslaves you.
  3. Status Oriented. Excessive emphasis on gaining recognition, status, wealth, beauty – a false self.
The origins of unrelenting standards
  1. Your parent’s love for you was conditional on your meeting high standards.
  2. One or both parents were models of high, unbalanced standards.
  3. Your unrelenting standards developed as a way to compensate for feelings of defectiveness, social exclusion, deprivation, or failure.
  4. One or both parents used shame or criticism when you failed to meet high expectations.
Unrelenting Standard Life traps
  1. Your health is suffering because of daily stresses, such as over work – not only because of unavoidable life events.
  2. The balance between work and pleasure feels lopsided. Life feels like constant pressure and work without fun.
  3. Your whole life seems to revolve around success, status, and material things. You seem to have lost touch with your basic self and no longer know what really makes you happy.
  4. Too much of your energy goes into keeping your life in order. You spend too much time keeping lists, organizing your life, planning, cleaning, and repairing, and not enough time being creative or letting go.
  5. Your relationships with other people are suffering because so much time goes into meeting your own standards – working, being successful, etc.
  6. You make other people feel inadequate or nervous around you because they worry about not being able to meet your high expectations of them.
  7. You rarely stop and enjoy successes. You rarely savor a sense of accomplishment. Rather, you simply go on to the next task waiting for you.
  8. You feel overwhelmed because you are trying to accomplish so much; there never seems to be enough time to complete what you have started.
  9. Your standards are so high that you view many activities as obligations or ordeals to get through, instead of enjoying the process itself.
  10. You procrastinate a lot. Because your standards make many tasks feel overwhelming, you avoid them.
  11. You feel irritated or frustrated a lot because things and people around you do not meet your high standards.
You lose touch with your natural self. You are so focused on order, achievement, or status that you do not attend to your basic physical, emotional, and social needs.
You may want the perfect partner and be unable to settle for less. Once you are in a relationship, you can be extremely critical and demanding. You expect others (especially those closest to you) to live up to your standards. Without realizing it, you probably devalue them for not meeting the standards you set. These standards do not seem high to you, you feel your expectations are normal and justified.
You may be attracted to perfectionist partners or partners who are the opposite, relaxed and easygoing.
Changing Unrelenting Standards
  1. List the areas in which your standards may be unbalanced or unrelenting. (keeping things in order, cleanliness, work, money, creature comforts, beauty, athletic performance, popularity, status, fame, etc)
  2. List the advantages of trying to meet these standards on a daily basis.
  3. List the disadvantages of pushing so hard in these areas.
  4. Try to conjure an image of what your life would be like without these pressures.
  5. Understand the origins of your lifetrap.
  6. Consider what the effects would be if you lowered your standards about 25 percent. You have to learn that it is possible to do something 80% or 70% and still do a very good job. Between perfection and failure there is a whole gray area.
  7. Try to quantify the time you devote to maintaining your standards. Consider how important the goal is to your overall happiness, then allocate the most time to the areas of your life that are most important. Allot a reasonable amount of time to complete each task; then accept whatever level of achievement you have attained at the end of that time period.
  8. Try to determine what reasonable standards are by getting a consensus or objective opinion from people who seem more balanced.
  9. Gradually try to change your schedule or alter your behavior in order to get your deeper needs met. Learn to delegate.
Sample Advantages of unrelenting standards

  1. I can buy what I want.
  2. I feel special.
  3. People are jealous of me and want what I have.
  4. I can have almost any woman I want.
  5. I move in desirable social circles
  6. I make a lot of money
  7. I am almost at the top of my field
  8. I have won awards and prizes
  9. My house looks almost perfect most of the time.
  10. My house runs in an orderly way.
  11. My performance level is high.
what good is a spotless house when you are running yourself ragged to keep it that way and resenting everyone who gets in your way? What good is a top-level job when it leaves no time in your life for pleasure and love? what good are your creature comforts when you are too exhausted to enjoy them?
Sample disadvantages of unrelenting standards
  1. I am physically exhausted.
  2. I don’t have any fun
  3. My marriage is suffering
  4. I put too much pressure on my children. I don’t enjoy being with my children. They seem afraid of me.
  5. I’ve let a lot of close friendships go
  6. I don’t have any time for myself
  7. My health is suffering
  8. I am not happy.
Sample flashcard
I can lower my standards without having to feel like a failure. I can do things moderately well, feel good about them, and not have to keep trying to perfect them.”
Let go of your need for perfect order, achievement, or status in exchange for a higher quality of life and more fulfilling emotional relationships with the people you love.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 14. “I always do it your way!”, the Subjugation life trap

Subjugation questionnaire

  1. I let other people control me.
  2. I am afraid that if I do not give in to other people’s wishes they will retaliate, get angry, or reject me.
  3. I feel the major decisions in my life were not really my own.
  4. I have a lot of trouble demanding that other people respect my rights.
  5. I worry a lot about pleasing people and getting their approval.
  6. I go to great lengths to avoid confrontations.
  7. I give more to other people than I get back in return.
  8. I feel the pain of other people deeply, so I usually end up taking care of the people I’m close to.
  9. I feel guilty when I put myself first.
  10. I am a good person because I think of others more than of myself.
You experience the world in terms of control issues. Other people in your life always seem to be in control – you feel controlled by the people around you. At the core of your subjugation is the conviction that you must please others, that you must please parents, brothers, sisters, friends, teachers, lovers, spouses, bosses, coworkers, children, and even strangers. The only person you do not feel obliged to please – is yourself.
You feel trapped in your life. It is constantly meeting the needs of others with so much responsibility. Life loses its joy and freedom. You are passive. Life happens to you.
Two types of subjugation
  1. Self-sacrifice (subjugation out of guilt, want to relieve the pains of others)
  2. Submissiveness (subjugation out of fear, anticipate rejection, retaliation, or abandonment)
At one time, your subjugation really was involuntary: as a child. A child cannot withstand the threat of punishment or abandonment. But as an adult, you are no longer dependent and helpless. As an adult, you have a choice.
When your needs constantly are frustrated, anger is inevitable. You might feel you are used or controlled, or people are taking advantage of you, or you might feel your needs do not count.
Anger is a vital part of healthy relationships. It is a signal that something is wrong – that the other person may be doing something unfair. Ideally, anger motivates us to become more assertive and correct the situation. When anger produces this effect, it is adaptive and helpful.
Although there may be times when you display your anger directly, it is more common for you to express it indirectly, in a disguised fashion – passive-aggressively. You get back at people in subtle ways, like procrastinating, being late, or talking about them behind their backs.
passive-aggressive behaviors – procrastinating, talking behind other people’s backs, agreeing to do something and not following through, making excuses – all share the feature that they irritate other people, but it is difficult for other people to know whether the passive-aggressive person intends the irritation. Until you become more assertive, anger will continue to be a significant problem for you, even if you are not always aware of its harmful consequences.
Some people with subjugation learn to cope through counterattack. They become aggressive and domineering. By rebelling, they overcompensate for their feelings of subjugation. Rebels are not actually any more free than other subjugated people. They do not freely choose their interests or relationships; choices are made for them by the people they are rebelling against. “Why did the teenagers cross the road?” – “Because somebody told them not to”
You may have suppressed your own needs so often that you are no longer aware of what they are. You may have great difficulty identifying your own feelings and finds many of your inner states confusing.
Origins of the subjugation lifetrap
  1. Your parents tried to dominate or control almost every aspect of your life.
  2. Your parent(s) punished, threatened, or got angry at you when you would not do things their way.
  3. Your parent(s) withdrew emotionally or cut off contact with you if you disagreed with them about how to do things.
  4. Your parent(s) did not allow you to make your own choices as a child.
  5. Because your mother/father was not around enough, or was not capable enough, you ended up taking care of the rest of the family.
  6. Your parent(s) always talked to you about their personal problems, so that you were always in the role of listener.
  7. Your parent(s) made you feel guilty or selfish if you would not do what they wanted.
  8. Your parent(s) were like martyrs or saints – they selfessly took care of everyone else and denied their own needs.
  9. You did not feel that your rights, needs, or opinions were respected when you were a child.
  10. You had to be very careful about what you did or said as a child, because you worried about your mother’s/father’s tendency to become worried or depressed.
  11. You often felt angry at your parent(s) for not giving you the freedom that other children had.
Danger signals in potential partners
  1. Your partner is domineering and expects to have things his/her way.
  2. Your partner has a very strong sense of self and knows exactly what he/she wants in most situations.
  3. Your partner becomes irritated or angry when you disagree or attend to your own needs.
  4. Your partner does not respect your opinions, needs, or rights.
  5. Your partner pouts or pulls away from you when you do things your way.
  6. Your partner is easily hurt or upset, so you feel you have to take care of him/her.
  7. You have to watch what you do or say carefully because your partner drinks a lot or has a bad temper.
  8. Your partner is not very competent or together, so you end up having to do a lot of the work.
  9. Your partner is irresponsible or unreliable, so you have to be overly responsible and reliable.
  10. You let your partner make most of the choices because most of the time you do not feel strongly one way or the other.
  11. Your partner makes you feel guilty or accuses you of being selfish when you ask to do something your way.
  12. Your partner becomes sad, worried, or depressed easily, so you end up doing most of the listening.
  13. Your partner is very needy and dependent on you.
Subjugation lifetrap
  1. You let other people have their own way most of the time.
  2. You are too eager to please – you will do almost anything to be liked or accepted.
  3. You do not like to disagree openly with other people’s opinions.
  4. You are more comfortable when other people are in position of control.
  5. You will do almost anything to  avoid confrontation or anger. You always accommodate.
  6. You do not know aht you want or prefer in many situations.
  7. You are not clear about your career decisions.
  8. You always end up taking care of everyone else – almost no one listens to or takes care of you.
  9. You are rebellious  – you automatically say “no” when other people tell you what to do.
  10. You cannot stand to say or do anything that hurts other people’s feelings.
  11. You often stay in situations where you feel trapped or where your needs are not met.
  12. You do not want other people to see you as selfish so you go to the other extreme.
  13. You often sacrifice yourself for the sake of other people.
  14. You often take on more than your share of responsibilities at home and/or at work.
  15. When other people are troubled or in pain, you try very hard to make them feel better, even at your own expense.
  16. You often feel angry at other people for telling you what to do.
  17. You often feel cheated – that you are giving more than you are getting back.
  18. You feel guilty when you ask for what you want.
  19. You do not stand up for your rights.
  20. You resist doing what other people want you to do in an indirect way. You procrastinate, make mistakes, and make excuses.
  21. You cannot get along with authority figures.
  22. You cannot ask for promotions or raises at work.
  23. You feel that you lack integrity – you accommodate too much.
  24. People tell you that you are not aggressive or ambitious enough.
  25. You play down your accomplishments.
  26. You have trouble being strong in negotiations.
If you become more assertive and no longer willing to stay in a subjugated relationship, your relationship must either change to adapt to your greater maturity or it must end.
Subjugated people often work in one of the helping professions, particularly if they are self-sacrificing. You may be a doctor, nurse, homemaker, teacher, minister, therapist, or other kind of healer. one of the gifts of subjugation is acute sensitivity to the needs and pain of others.
Changing your subjugation lifetrap

  1. Understand your childhood subjugation. Feel the subjugated child inside of you.
  2. List everyday situations at home and at work in which you subjugate or sacrifice your own needs to others.
  3. Start forming your own preferences and opinions in many aspects of your life: movies, foods, leisure time, politics, current controversial issues, time usage, etc. Learn about yourself and your needs. Make yourself the source of your opinions, not the people around you.
  4. Make a list of what you do or give to others, and what they do or give to you. How much of the time do you listen to others? How much of the time do they listen to you?
  5. Stop behaving passive-aggressively. Push yourself systematically to assert yourself – express what you need or want. Start with easy requests first.
  6. Practice asking other people to take care of you. Ask for help. Discuss your problems. Try to achieve a balance between what you give and get.
  7. Pull back from relationships with people who are too self-centered or selfish to take your needs into account. Avoid one-sided relationships. Change or get out of relationships where you feel trapped.
  8. Practice confronting people instead of accommodating so much. Express your anger appropriately, as soon as you feel it. Learn to feel more comfortable when someone is upset, hurt or angry at you.
  9. Do not rationalize your tendency to please others so much. Stop telling yourself that it doesn’t really matter. Weigh the positives and negatives to decide which you prefer. Make a choice and communicate that choice.
  10. Review past relationships and clarify your pattern of choosing controlling or needy partners. List the danger signals for you to avoid. If possible, avoid selfish, irresponsible, or dependent partners who generate very high chemistry for you.
  11. When you find a partner who cares about your needs, ask your opinions and values them, and who is strong enough to do 50% of the work, give the relationship a chance.
  12. Be more aggressive at work. Take credit for what you do. Do not let other people take advantage of you. Ask for any promotions or raises you might be entitled to get. Delegate responsibilities to other people.
  13. (To the Rebel) Try to resist doing the opposite of what others tell you to do. Try to figure out what you want, and do it even if it is consistent with what authority figures tell you. Be more assertive instead of more aggressive.
  14. Make flashcards. Use them to keep you on track.
The best way to feel the subjugated child is through imagery. Start with an instance in your current life, and try to remember far back into childhood. Do not force the image to come. Who were you with? Was it your mother or father? Was it your brother, sister, or a friend? Your anger is part of your healthy side. It serves a useful purpose. It may be your only clue that there is something else that you want.
Examples on steps to “un-subjugate”
  1. Tell the paper boy to bring the paper to the door when it’s raining.
  2. Tell a salesperson I don’t want help.
  3. Don’t give my children any more money than their allowance.
  4. Ask Dennis to drive the children to school on mornings of my class.
  5. Tell Dad he can’t criticize the kids anymore in my presence.
  6. Take a full day for myself. Do things I enjoy, like shopping, reading in the park, seeing my friends, etc.
  7. Tell friend I am angry she is not pulling her share of the kids’ carpool.
  8. Tell Dennis how I feel when he criticizes me in front of other people.
  9. Tell Dennis it is not acceptable for him to criticize me in front of other people when I haven’t done anything wrong.
  10. State my preferences instead of just giving in to others.
Work on each item on your list starting from the easier ones. Your goal is to complete each item. Do not get defensive when the other person attacks you. Do not get lost in defending yourself. Stick to your point. Be direct. Do not make a speech. No one can argue with your feelings. State how you feel.
Changing the way you behave with someone changes the way you feel about them. It is hard to remain intimidated after you have dealt with someone assertively. Changing your behavior changes the way you think and feel about yourself. Positive behavior change creates self-confidence and self-esteem. It builds a sense of mastery.
Whatever the other person does, keep calmly restating your position. Do not let the other person trick you into becoming defensive. Stick to your point. Stay calm. Do not yell and scream. You are more powerful when you are clam than when you are screaming. Screaming is a sign of psychological defeat. Try not to attack the person. Simply state what they have done that has upset you.
Start by saying something positive and true. People can only listen when they are in a receptive state. Direct your criticism not at the person, but at the person’s behavior. Be assertive in your words, body language and tone of voice. Look the person directly in the eye.
Subjugated people frequently give up too soon on good relationships, claiming they are just not interested, the relationship does not feel right, something is missing, or there is not enough chemistry. As long as you feel some chemistry – even a moderate amount – give the relationship a chance. As you become more accustomed to your new role, the chemistry might increase.
Sample self-sacrifice Flashcard
I have the right to say “no” when people ask me to do unreasonable things. If I say “yes”, I will only get angry at the other person and at myself. I can live with the guilt of saying “no”. Even if I cause the other person a little pain, it will only be temporary. People will respect me if I say “no” to them. And I will respect myself.
Sample Submission Flashcard
What I want is important. I deserve to be treated with respect. I don’t have to let Dennis treat me badly. I deserve better than that. I can stand up for myself. I can calmly demand that he treat me with respect or the discussion is over. If he can’t grow enough to give me my equal rights in this relationship, then I can leave the relationship and find one that better suits my needs.
Give yourself credit when it is due. Change is much harder when you forget to reward yourself for the steps along the way. Try to keep looking back at how far you have come, rather than looking forward to how you have to go. When you make any change, no matter how small, take a moment to feel good about it.
Subjugation feels right to you. Your lifetrap is central to your entire self-image and view of the world. It is going to fight very hard for survival. You find comfort and reassurance in holding onto your lifetrap, regardless of its negative consequences for your life. You should not be discouraged because change is slow. 

Reinventing your Life: 13. “I feel like such a failure”, the Failure life trap

The Failure Questionnaire

  1. I feel I am less competent than other people in areas of achievement.
  2. I feel that I am a failure when it comes to achievement.
  3. Most people my age are more successful in their work than I am.
  4. I was a failure as a student.
  5. I feel I am not as intelligent as most of the people I associate with.
  6. I feel humiliated by my failures in the work sphere.
  7. I feel embarrassed around other people because I do not measure up in terms of my accomplishments.
  8. I often feel that people believe I am more competent than I really am.
  9. I feel that I do not have any special talents that really count in life.
  10. I am working below my potential.
With the Failure lifetrap, the degree to which you use Escape as a coping style is often massive. People avoid developing skills, tackling new tasks, taking on responsibility – all the challenges that might enable them to succeed. Often the attitude is, “What’s the use?” You feel there is no point in making the effort when you are doomed to fail anyway. You procrastinate, you get distracted, you do the work improperly, or you mishandle the tasks you take on. These are all forms of self-sabotage.

Origins of the failure lifetrap

  1. You had a parent (often your father) who was very critical of your performance in school, sports, etc. He/She often called you stupid, dumb, inept, a failure, etc. He/She may have been abusive. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Defectiveness or Abuse.
  2. One or both parents were successful, and you came to believe you could never liver up to their high standards. So you stopped trying. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Defectiveness or Abuse)
  3. You sensed that one or both of your parents either did not care about whether you were successful, or, worse, felt threatened when you did well. Your parent may have been competitive with you – or afraid of losing your companionship if you were too successful in the world. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Emotional Deprivation or Dependence.)
  4. You were not as good as other children either in school or at sports, and felt inferior. You may have had a learning disability, poor attention span, or been very uncoordinated. After that, you stopped trying in order to avoid humiliation by them. (This may be linked to Social Exclusion.)
  5. You had brothers or sisters to whom you were often compared unfavorably. You came to believe you could never measure up, so you stopped trying.
  6. You came from a foreign country, your parents were immigrants, or your family was poorer or less educated than your school mates. You felt inferior to your peers and never felt you could measure up.
  7. Your parents did not set enough limits for you. You did not learn self-discipline or responsibility. Therefore you failed to do homework regularly or learn study skills. This led to failure eventually. (Your lifetrap may be linked to Entitlement).
Failure Lifetrap
  1. You do not take the steps necessary to develop solid skills in your career (eg. finishing schooling, read latest developments, apprentice to an expert). You coast or try to fool people.
  2. You choose a career below your potential (eg. you finished college and have excellent mathematical ability, but are currently driving a taxicab).
  3. You avoid taking the steps necessary to get promotions in your chosen career; your advancement has been unnecessarily halted (eg. You fail to accept promotions or to ask for them; you do not promote yourself or make your abilities widely known to the people who count; you stay in a safe, dead-end job).
  4. You do not want to tolerate working for other people, or working at entry-level jobs, so you end up on the periphery of your field, failing to work your way up the ladder. (Note the overlap with Entitlement and Subjugation)
  5. You take jobs but repeatedly get fired because of lateness, procrastination, poor job performance, bad attitude, etc.
  6. You cannot commit to one career, so you float from job to job, never developing expertise in one area. You are a generalist in a job world that rewards specialists. You therefore never progress very far in any one career.
  7. You selected a career in which it is extraordinarily hard to succeed, and you do not know when to give up (eg. acting, professional sports, music).
  8. You have been afraid to take initiative or make decisions independently at work, so you were never promoted to more responsible positions.
  9. You feel that you are basically stupid or untalented, and therefore feel fraudulent, even though objectively you have been quite successful.
  10. You minimize your abilities and accomplishments, and exaggerate your weaknesses and mistakes. You end up feeling like a failure, even though you have been as successful as your peers.
  11. You have chosen successful men/women as partners in relationships. You live vicariously through their success while not accomplishing much yourself.
  12. You try to compensate for your lack of achievement or work skills by focusing on other assets (eg. Your looks, charm, youthfulness, sacrificing for others). But underneath you still feel like a failure.
Excelling in other roles is a way of compensating for the lifetrap. Men might excel in sports or seducing women; women might excel in their looks or ability to give to others.
Changing your failure lifetrap
  1. Assess whether your feeling of failure is accurate or distorted.
  2. Get in touch with the child inside of you who felt, and still feels, like a failure.
  3. Help your inner child see taht you were treated unfairly.
  4. Become aware of your talents, skills, abilities, and accomplishments in the area of achievement.
If you have, in fact, failed relative to your peers:
  1. Try to see the pattern in your failures.
  2. Once you see your pattern, make a plan to change it. Acknowledge your real talents, accept your limitations, and pursue areas that play on your strengths. Starting is the hardest part. After that it will become easier.
  3. Make a flashcard to overcome your blueprint for failure. Follow your plan, step-by-step.
  4. Involve your loved ones in the process.
Sample Failure Flashcard

Right now I am filled with feelings of failure. This is a familiar feeling. I have felt it all my life. All my life I have avoided taking chances to become a success. All my life I have ignored my design potential even though teachers pointed it out and I did well in these kinds of classes and enjoyed them. Instead I kept setting myself up to fail by going after things I wasn’t good at.

My avoidance developed when I was sick and lonely as a child. When I fell behind, no one helped me to catch up. No one noticed. Running away helped me cope as a child, but it isn’t helping me now.

But now I’m on track. I’m trying to become a set designer. I have a good chance to succeed. I just have to keep myself focused on my path and on the fact that I’m making progress.

Don’t start avoiding again. That leads only back to failure. What is my next step? This is what I should be doing. Working on taking my next step.

The Failure lifetrap is one of the most rewarding to overcome. A whole area of life that is now fraught with shame and tension can become a source of self-esteem. But you have to be willing to fight. You have to be willing to close off your escapes and capitalize on your strengths.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 12. “I’m worthless”, the Defectiveness life trap ***

The Defectiveness Questionnaire

  1. No man or woman could love me if he/she really knew me.
  2. I am inherently flawed and defective. I am unworthy of love.
  3. I have secrets that I do not want to share, even with the people closest to me.
  4. It was my fault that my parents could not love me.
  5. I hide the real me. The real me is unacceptable. The self I show is a false self.
  6. I am often drawn to people – parents, friends, and lovers – who are critical and reject me.
  7. I am often critical and rejecting myself, especially of people who seem to love me.
  8. I devalue my positive qualities.
  9. I live with a great deal of shame about myself.
  10. One of my greatest fears is that my faults will be exposed.
The emotion that is most connected to the Defectiveness lifetrap is shame. Shame is what you feel when your defects are exposed. You will do almost anything to avoid this feeling of shame. Consequently you go to great lengths to keep your defectiveness hidden.
You feel that your defectiveness is inside you and not immediately observable. You feel completely unworthy of love. Feeling unworthy and angry at yourself is a large part of depression. You may feel that you have been depressed your whole life – a kind of low-level depression lurking in the background.
If your primary coping style is Escape, you may have addictions or compulsions. Drinking, drugs, overworking, and overeating are all ways of numbing yourself to avoid the pain of feeling worthless.
The origins of the defectiveness lifetrap
  1. Someone in your family was extremely critical, demeaning, or punitive toward you. You were repeatedly criticized or punished for how you looked, how you behaved, or what you said.
  2. You were made to feel like a disappointment by a parent.
  3. You were rejected or unloved by one or both of your parents.
  4. You were sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by a family member.
  5. You were blamed all the time for things that went wrong in your family.
  6. Your parent told you repeatedly that you were bad, worthless, or good-for-nothing.
  7. You were repeatedly compared in an unfavorable way with your brothers or sisters, or they were preferred over you.
  8. One of your parents left home, and you blamed yourself.
The Defectiveness lifetrap comes from feeling unlovable or not respected as a child. You were repeatedly rejected or criticized by one or both of your parents.
Defectiveness lifetrap is not usually based on a real defect. Even people who have serious physical or mental handicaps do not necessarily develop this lifetrap. The crucial factor is not the presence of a defect, but rather how you are made to feel about yourself by your parents and other members of your family. If you are loved, valued, and respected by your family members – regardless of your actual strengths and weaknesses- you will almost certainly not feel worthless, ashamed or defective.
Danger signals while dating
  1. You avoid dating altogether.
  2. You tend to have a series of short, intense affairs, or several affairs simultaneously.
  3. You are drawn to partners who are critical of you and put you down all the time.
  4. You are drawn to partners who are physically or emotionally abusive toward you.
  5. You are most attracted to partners who are not that interested in you, hoping you can win their love.
  6. You are only drawn to the most attractive and desirable partners, even when it is obvious that you will not be able to attain them.
  7. You are most comfortable with partners who do not want to know you very deeply.
  8. You only date people you feel are below you, whom you do not really love.
  9. You are drawn to partners who are unable to commit to you or to spend time with you on a regular basis. They may be married, insist on simultaneously dating other people, travel regularly, or live in another city.
  10. You get into relationships in which you put down, abuse, or neglect your partners.
You might avoid dating people who really interest you. You only date people you know you could never love. If you have the defectiveness lifetrap, be careful when there is very strong chemistry. You probably have the most powerful attraction to partners who criticize and reject you. They reinforce your feelings of defectiveness. Critical partners will feel familiar because they echo your childhood environment. Stop dating partners who do not treat you well rather than try to win them over and gain their love.
Defectiveness Lifetraps
  1. You become very critical of your partner once you feel accepted, and your romantic feelings disappear. You then act in a demeaning or critical manner.
  2. You hide your true self so you never really feel that your partner knows you.
  3. You are jealous and possessive of your partner.
  4. You constantly compare yourself unfavorably with other people and feel envious and inadequate.
  5. You constantly need or demand reassurance that your partner still values you.
  6. You put yourself down around your partner.
  7. You allow your partner to criticize you, put you down, or mistreat you.
  8. You have difficulty accepting valid criticism; you become defensive or hostile.
  9. You are extremely critical of your children.
  10. You feel like an impostor when you are successful. You feel extremely anxious that you cannot maintain your success.
  11. You become despondent or deeply depressed over career setbacks or rejections in relationships.
  12. You feel extremely nervous when speaking in public.
If you do form a relationship with a partner who loves you and whom you could love, there are many ways you can reinforce your defectiveness lifetrap within the relationship. Your criticalness can be a major problem.
You may try to devalue your partners. You believe a truly desirable partner will see your flaws and ultimately reject you.
At what point do you win her? I guess it’s when she starts to care about me.
 
You may find it difficult to tolerate criticism. You are probably hypersensitive to it. Even a slight criticism can lead you to feel enormous shame. You may vehemently deny that you have done anything wrong, or put down the person who is criticizing you. This is because to acknowledge any flaw is to let in a flood of painful feelings related to Defectiveness. Thus, you protect yourself by denying any flaw, mistake, or error. Your defensiveness and inability to take criticism can be a serious problem.
You tend to get bored with people who treat you well. This is your paradox: you want love so much, but the more your partner gives you love, the less attracted you feel. It feels alien to have someone you value value you.
One way to try to allay feelings of shame is by being critical. Putting down others make you feel better about yourself, at least temporarily.
Many people who attain quick success then become self destructive. Success is so discrepant from what they really feel that they are unable to maintain it. The pressure to maintain the success when they feel so bad about themselves become overwhelming and many fall apart. If you use success in your career to make up or compensate for feelings of defectiveness, then your sense of well-being may be quite fragile. Your whole sense of worth becomes built on your success. Any small deflation or failure may be enough to make you nervous.
Changing your Defectiveness Lifetrap

  1. Understand your childhood feelings of defectiveness and shame. Feel the wounded child within you.
  2. List signs that you might be coping with Defectiveness through Escape or Counterattack (ie. avoiding or compensating)
  3. Try to stop these behaviors designed to escape or counterattack.
  4. Monitor your feelings of defectiveness and shame.
  5. List the men/women who have attracted you most and the ones who have attracted you least.
  6. List your defects and assets as a child and teenager. Then list your current defects and assets. Play down qualities of the false self. Do not minimize your good qualities.
  7. Evaluate the seriousness of your current defects.
  8. Start a program to change the defects that are changeable.
  9. Write a letter to your critical parents. In this letter, try to stop defending them and just focus on being honest about what happened and how it made you feel.
  10. Write a flashcard for yourself. Remember to give yourself love and list qualities in you that are good.
  11. Try to be more genuine in close relationships. If you are too vulnerable try to protect yourself better. If you are not vulnerable enough, try to reveal more of who you are.
  12. Accept love from people close to you. You are very uncomfortable being treated well. It is so alien. You are much more comfortable being mistreated or ignored. It is hard for you to tolerate situations where people take care of you, praise you, and support you.
  13. Stop allowing people to treat you badly. Some continue to live or work with critical or unloving parents. It is strongly advised you do not continue close contact with a critical parent.
  14. If you are in a relationship where you are the critical partner, try to stop putting your partner down. Do the same in other close relationships. Face what you have done, forgive yourself, and change starting right now. Praise the ones you love, they have qualities that are valuable and deserve credit.
Success and status often become addictions. You try to get more and more, but you can never get enough to make you feel good. Success is a pale substitute for finding one person who really knows and loves you.
If you are always running away from your feelings of defectiveness – if you are always drinking, avoiding close relationships, or hiding your real thoughts and feelings – your lifetrap cannot change. Your feelings of defectiveness remain frozen.
Sample Flashcard
Right now I feel humiliated and inadequate. I feel surrounded by people, especially women, who seem superior to me in every way – looks, brains, personality. I feel their presence diminishes me totally.
But this is not true. What is really going on is that my lifetrap is being triggered. The truth is that I am worthy too. I am sensitive, intelligent, loving, and good. The truth is that many people have found me to be worthy of love. Generally I have not given people a chance to get close enough to really know and appreciate me. But believing what I say on this card will help me move in this direction.

Changing your lifetrap involves gradually improving how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you allow others to treat you. Patients gradually feel better about themselves. Become less defensive and more able to take in love. Feel closer to people. Feel more valued and more loved.

Gradually you will come to accept that your defectiveness was something that was taught to you, and not something inherently true about you. Once you can open yourself up to the idea what your defectiveness is not a fact, the healing process can begin to work.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 11. “Catastrophe is about to strike”, the vulnerability life trap

The vulnerability questionnaire

  1. I cannot escape the feeling that something bad is about to happen.
  2. I feel that catastrophe can strike at any moment.
  3. I worry about becoming a street person or vagrant.
  4. I worry a lot about being attacked by a criminal, mugger, thief, etc.
  5. I worry about getting a serious illness, even though nothing has been diagnosed by a physician.
  6. I am too anxious to travel alone on planes, trains, etc.
  7. I have anxiety attacks.
  8. I am very aware of physical sensations in my body, and I worry about what they mean.
  9. I worry I will lose control of myself in public or go crazy.
  10. I worry a lot about losing all my money or going broke.
The primary feeling associated with the vulnerability lifetrap is anxiety. Catastrophe is about to strike, and you lack the resources to deal with it. This lifetrap is two-pronged: You both exaggerate the risk of danger and minimize your own capacity to cope.
Types of vulnerability
  1. Health and illness
  2. Danger
  3. Poverty
  4. Losing control
Origins of Vulnerability
  1. You learned your sense of vulnerability from observing and living with parents with the same lifetrap. Your parents was phobic or frightened about specific areas of vulnerability (such as losing control, getting sick, going broke, etc)
  2. Your parents was overprotective of you, particularly around issues of danger or illness. Your parent continuously warned you of specific dangers. You were made to feel that you were too fragile or incompetent to handle these everyday issues. (This is usually combined with Dependence)
  3. Your parent did not adequately protect you. Your childhood environment did not seem safe physically, emotionally, or financially. (This is usually combine with emotional deprivation or with Mistrust and abuse.)
  4. You were sick as a child or experienced a serious traumatic event (eg. a car crash) that led you to feel vulnerable.
  5. One of your parents experienced a serious traumatic event and perhaps died. You came to view the world as dangerous.
Danger signals in relationships
  1. You tend to select partners who are willing and eager to protect you from danger or illness. Your partner is strong, and you are weak and needy.
  2. Your prime concern is that your partner is fearless, physically strong, very successful financially, a doctor or otherwise specifically equipped to protect you from your fears.
  3. You seek people who are willing to listen to your fears and reassure you.
What is wrong with someone who will pamper and overprotect you. What is wrong with someone who will make you feel safe.
Vulnerability lifetraps
  1. You feel anxious much of the time as you go about daily life because of your exaggerated fears. You may have generalized anxiety.
  2. You worry so much about your health and possible illnesses that you: (a) get unnecessary medical evaluations, (b) become a burden to your family with your constant need for reassurance, and (c) cannot enjoy other aspects of life.
  3. You experience panic attacks as a result of your preoccupation with bodily sensation and possible illness.
  4. You are unrealistically worried about going broke. This leads you to be unnecessarily tight with money and unwilling to make any financial or career changes. You are preoccupied with keeping what you have at the expense of new investments or projects. You cannot take risks.
  5. You go to exorbitant lengths to avoid criminal danger. For example, you avoid going out at night, visiting large cities, traveling on public transportation. Therefore, your life is very restricted.
  6. You avoid everyday situations that entail even a slight degree of risk. For example, you avoid elevators, subways, or living in a city where there could be an earthquake.
  7. You allow your partner to protect you from your fears. You need a lot of reassurance. Your partner helps you avoid feared situations. You become overly dependent on your partner. You may even resent this dependence.
  8. Your chronic anxiety may, in fact, make you more prone to some kinds of psychosomatic illnesses (eg. eczema, asthma, colitis, ulcers, flu)
  9. You limit your social life because, as a result of your fears, you cannot do many of the things other people do.
  10. You restrict the lives of your partner and family, who have to adapt to your fears.
  11. You are likely to pass on your fears to your own children.
  12. You may use a variety of coping mechanisms to an exaggerated degree to ward off danger. You may have obsessive compulsive symptoms or superstitious thinking.
  13. You may rely excessively on medication, alcohol, food, etc., to reduce your chronic anxiety.
The section above has some flaws. I really don’t agree with number 8. And am not enjoying this chapter.

When you weigh the costs and benefits of taking a risk, the overwhelming factors you consider are safety and security. They are more important than any possible gain. Life for you is not a process of seeking fulfillment and joy. Rather, life is a process of trying to contain danger.

  1. psychosomatic disorder is a disease which involves both mind and body. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. Your current mental state can affect how bad a physical disease is at any given time.

Curing the body is easy. Fixing the mind is hard.

Changing your vulnerability life trap

  1. Try to understand the origins of your lifetrap.
  2. Make a list of your specific fears.
  3. Develop a hierarchy of feared situations.
  4. Meet with the people you love – your spouse, lover, family, friends – and enlist their support in helping you face your fears.
  5. Examine the probability of your feared events occurring.
  6. Write a flashcard for each fear.
  7. Talk to your inner child. Be a strong, brave parent to your child.
  8. Practice techniques for relaxation.
  9. Begin to tackle each of your fears in imagery.
  10. Tackle each fear in real life.
  11. Reward yourself for each step you take.
The real reward to overcoming your Vulnerability lifetrap is the expansion of your life. There is so much that you miss because of your fears. The journey out of the Vulnerability lifetrap is a journey back to life.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 10. “I can’t make it on my own”, the dependence life trap

Dependence questionnaire:

  1. I feel more like a child than an adult when it comes to handling the responsibilities of daily life.
  2. I am not capable of getting by on my own.
  3. I cannot cope well by myself.
  4. Other people can take care of me better than I can take care of myself.
  5. I have trouble tackling new tasks unless I have someone to guide me.
  6. I can’t do anything right.
  7. I am inept.
  8. I lack common sense.
  9. I cannot trust my own judgment.
  10. I find everyday life overwhelming.
When you have a decision to make, you solicit the opinions of others. You probably rush from person to person seeking advice. You change your mind a hundred times. The whole process just leaves you confused and exhausted. If you manage to make a decision, you have to keep asking for reassurance that your decision was right.
Alternately, you might seek the advice of one person in whom you have great confidence, and rely solely on that. That person is often a therapist. Dependent people do not like change. They like everything to stay the same.
You are either surrendering to your life trap or you escape to reinforce your life trap. You avoid the tasks you believe are too difficult. Dependence exacts a high price in terms of freedom and self-expression. But some dependent people feel entitled to have their dependence needs met.
Counter-dependence
This is hidden dependence. Overly compensates by fighting against core feelings of incompetence. Your fears pressure you to ever higher levels of competence, and you drive yourself to master every task. But you never give yourself credit and believes you are fooling people. You always discount your accomplishments and magnifies your errors or deficiencies. You overcompensate your feeling of dependence by behaving as though you do not need help from anybody. you are too independent. You force yourself to face things alone. This tendency to go the other extreme – to act as though you do not need anybody for anything is called counterdependence, and is a strong indication of the presence of the dependence lifetrap. counterdependent people refuse to turn to others for help, even when it is reasonable to do so. You refuse to ask for advice, assistance, or guidance. They cannot allow themselves to get a normal amount of help from other people, because it makes them feel too vulnerable.
If you are counterdependent, even though you do not acknowledge your feelings of dependence, at your core you feel the same as other dependent people. You may appear to be functioning well, but you do so at a high level of anxiety. It is the feeling underneath that gives you away.
The steps toward independence
  1. Establishing a safe base.
  2. Moving away from this base to become autonomous.
If either these two steps is missing, the person may develop a dependence lifetrap. If you never had a safe base, if you never allowed to rest securely in that dependent state, then it is hard for you to move toward independence. You always long for that dependent state. “feel like a child who is acting as if I am an adult”. Your competence and independence do not feel real to you – you are waiting for the base to collapse.
Origins of Dependence in over protectiveness
  1. The parents are overprotective and treat you as if you are younger than you are.
  2. Your parents make your decisions for you.
  3. Your parents take care of all the details of your life so you never learn how to take care of them yourself.
  4. You parents do your schoolwork for you.
  5. You are given little or no responsibility.
  6. You are rarely apart from your parents and have little sense of yourself as a separate person.
  7. Your parents criticize your opinions and competence in everyday tasks.
  8. When you undertake new tasks, your parents interfere by giving excessive advice and instructions.
  9. Your parents make you feel so safe that you never have a serious rejection or failure until you leave home.
  10. Your parents have many fears and always warn you of danger.
Origins of Dependence in under protectiveness
  1. You do not get enough practical guidance or direction from your parents.
  2. You have to make decisions alone beyond your years.
  3. You have to be like an adult in your family, even when underneath you still feel like a child.
  4. You are expected to do things and know things that are over your head.
You may be a “parentified child”. But underneath you did not feel secure and wished for the normal dependence of a child. Your normal is not everyone else’s normal. Wrong gauge.
Danger signals in potential partners
  1. Your partner is like a father/mother figure, who seems strong and protective.
  2. He/She seems to enjoy taking care of you and treats you like a child.
  3. You trust his/her judgment much more than your own. He/She maskes most of the decisions.
  4. You find that you lose your sense of self around him/her – and that your life goes on hold when he/she is not around.
  5. He/She criticizes your opinions, taste, and competence in everyday tasks.
  6. When you have a new task to undertake, you almsot always ask his/her advice, even if he/she has no special expertise in that realm.
  7. He/She does almost everything for you – you have almost no responsibility.
  8. He/She almost never seems frightened, insecure, or vulnerable about him/herself.
Dependence lifetraps
  1. You turn to wiser or stronger people all the time for advice and guidance.
  2. You minimize your successses and magnify your shortcomings.
  3. You avoid new challenges on your own.
  4. You do not make your own decisions.
  5. You do not take care of your own financial records or decisions.
  6. You live through your parents/partner.
  7. You are much more dependent on your parents than most people your age.
  8. You avoid being alone or traveling alone.
  9. You have fears and phobias taht you do not confront.
  10. You are quite ignorant when it comes to many areas of paractical functioning and daily survival skills.
  11. You have not lived on your own for any significant period of time.
The signs of counterdependence
  1. You never seem to be able to turn to anyone for guidance or advice. You have to do everythnig on your own.
  2. You are always taking on new challenges and confronting your fears, but you feel under constant pressure while doing it.
  3. Your partner is very dependent on you, and you end up doing everything and making all the decisions.
You avoid the part of you that wants a little healthy dependence, that just wants to stop coping for a while and rest.
Changing your dependence life trap
  1. Understand your childhood dependence. Feel the incompetent/dependent child inside of you.
  2. List everyday situations, tasks, responsibilities, and decision for which you depend on other people.
  3. List challenges, changes, or phobias that you have avoided because you are afraid of them.
  4. Systematically force yourself to tackle everyday tasks and decisions without asking for help. Take on challenges or make changes you have been avoiding. Start with the easy tasks first.
  5. When you succeed at a task on your own, take credit for it. Do not minimize it. When you fail, do not give up. Keep trying until you master the task.
  6. Review past relationships and clarify the patterns of dependence that recur. List the lifetraps to avoid.
  7. Avoid strong, overprotective partners who generate high chemistry.
  8. When you find a partner who will treat you as an equal, give the relationship a chance to work. Take on your share of responsibilities and decision-making.
  9. Do not complain when your partner/boss refuses to help you enough. Do not turn to him/her for constant advice and reassurance.
  10. Take on new challenges and responsibilities at work, but do it gradually.
  11. If you are counterdependent, acknowledge your need for guidance. Ask others for help. Do not take on more challenges than you can handle. Use your anxiety level as a gauge of how much you are comfortable taking on.
There is a saying in psychotherapy “It is the relationship that heals.” Find people to accept help from. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Trust and take risks. If there is someone in your life that you would like to trust, make sure it is a person who is worthy of your trust. Do not pick your partners foolishly. Do not pick people unless you are confident they will be there for you when you need them.

The journey out of the dependence lifetrap is a movement from childhood to adulthood. It is a trading of fear and avoidance for a sense of mastery – for the sense you can function independently in the world. Give up the exhausting struggle to get people to take care of you. Learn to take care of yourself. Learn to believe in your own ability to cope by mastering the tasks of life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 9. “I don’t fit in”, the social exclusion life trap

The social exclusion questionnaire

  1. I feel very self conscious in social situations.
  2. I feel dull and boring at parties and other gatherings. I never know what to say.
  3. The people I want as friends are above me in some way (eg. looks, popularity, wealth, status, education, career)
  4. I would rather avoid than attend most social functions
  5. I feel unattractive – too fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, etc
  6. I feel fundamentally different from other people
  7. I do not belong anywhere. I am a loner.
  8. I always feel on the outside of groups
  9. My family was different from the families around us
  10. I feel disconnected from the community at large
The primary feeling is loneliness. You feel excluded from the rest of the world because you feel either undesirable or different.

Difference b/w Social Exclusion and Defectiveness. (One is external, other is internal)

The origins of social exclusion

  1. You felt inferior to other children, because of some observable quality (eg. looks, height, stuttering). You were teased, rejected, or humiliated by other children.
  2. Your family was different from neighbours and people around you.
  3. You felt different from other children, even within your own family.
  4. You were passive as a child; you did what was expected, but you never developed strong interests or preferences of your own. Now you feel you have nothing to offer in a conversation.
Sources of childhood and adolescent undesirability
Physical: Fat, thin, short, tall, weak, ugly, acne, physical handicap, small breasts, big breasts, late puberty, poor at sports, uncoordinated, not sexy.
Mental: Slow at school, learning disabilities, bookworm, stuttering, emotional problems.
Social: Awkward, socially inappropriate, immature, unable to carry on conversations, weird, dull, uncool
Social Exclusion Lifetraps
  1. You feel different or inferior to the people around you. You exaggerate differences and minimize similarities. You feel lonely, even when you are with people.
  2. At work you are on the periphery. You keep to yourself. You do not get promoted or included in projects because you do not fit in.
  3. You are nervous and self-conscious around groups of people. You cannot just relax and be yourself. You worry about doing or saying the wrong thing. You try to plan what to say next. You are very uncomfortable talking to strangers. You feel you have nothing unique to offer other people.
  4. Socially, you avoid joining groups or being part of the community. You only spend time with your immediate family or with one or two close friends.
  5. You feel embarrassed if people meet your family or know a lot about them. You keep secrets about your family from other people.
  6. You pretend to be like other people just to fit in. You do not let most people see the unconcentional parts of yourself. You have a secret life or feelings that you believe would lead other people to humiliate you or reject you.
  7. You put a lot of emphasis on overcoming your own family’s deficiencies: to gain status, have material possessions, sound highly educated, obscure ethnic differences, etc
  8. You have never accepted certain parts of your nature because you believe other people would think less of you for them (eg. You are shy, intellectual, emotional, too feminine, weak, dependent)
  9. You are very self-conscious about your physical appearance. You feel less attractive than other people say you are. You may work inordinately hard to be physically attractive and are especially sensitive to your physical flaws (eg. weight, physique, figure, height, complexion, features)
  10. You avoid situations where you might seem dumb, slow, or awkward (eg. going to college, public speaking)
  11. You compare yourself a lot to other people who have the hallmarks of popularity that you lack (eg. looks, money, athletic ability, success, clothing)
  12. You put too much emphasis on compensating for what you feel are your social inadequacies: trying to prove your popularity or social skills, win people over, be part of the right social group, have success in your career, or raise children who are popular.
Changing social exclusion
  1. Understand your childhood social exclusion. Feel the isolated or inferior child inside of you.
  2. List everyday social situations in which you feel anxious or uncomfortable.
  3. List group situations that you avoid. What makes you feel inferior? What is the worst that can happen?
  4. List ways that you counterattack, or overcompensate, for feeling different or inferior.
  5. Drawing on step 1-4, list the qualities in yourself that make you feel alienated, vulnerable or inferior. ex. drawing on differences instead of similarities is a problem.
  6. If you are convinced that a flaw is real, write down steps you could take to overcome it. Follow through gradually with your plans of change. Use imagery as dress rehearsals of successful social situations.
  7. Reevaluate the importance of flaws that you cannot change. Flaws pale compare to the person as a whole. Difference is appreciated. Find a balance between fitting in and expressing our unique natures.
  8. Make a flashcard for each flaw.
  9. Make a hierarchy of social and work groups you have been avoiding. Gradually move up the hierarchy. Stop escaping. Use positive imagery to practice performing well.
  10. When you are in groups, make a concerted effort to initiate conversations.
  11. Be yourself in groups. Having a secret is isolating.
  12. Stop trying so hard to compensate for your perceived areas of undesirability. If you are ashamed of a certain situation, you may counterattack and try to prove people otherwise. Showing off is false. Don’t try so hard to impress other people.
Sample flashcard
I know that right now I feel anxious, as if everyone is looking at me. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone. But it is just my lifetrap being triggered. If I look around, I will see that people are not looking at me. And even if someone is, it is probably a friendly look. If I start talking to people, in a little while my anxiety will grow less. People can’t really tell I’m anxious. Besides, other people are anxious too. Everyone is a little anxious in social situations. I can start by relaxing my body, looking around the room, and finding one person to talk to.
I’m starting to feel different from the people I’m with. I’m feeling like an outsider, alone in the crowd. I am holding myself back, becoming aloof. But this is my lifetrap kicking in. In fact I’m exaggerating how different I am. If I become friendlier, I will find that we have things in common. I jut have to give myself a chance to connect.
The journey out of social exclusion is a journey from loneliness to connection. Try to see it in this positive light. If you are willing to apply these change strategies, you will find that there are many rewards. The ultimate reward is a satisfying social life. You can feel part of a group or the community. This is a vital part of life, of which you are now deprived. Why miss out in this way?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Reinventing your Life: 8. “I’ll never get the love I need”, the emotional deprivation life trap

Emotional Deprivation Questionnaire

  1. I need more love than I get.
  2. No one really understands me
  3. I am often attracted to cold partners who can’t meet my needs
  4. I feel disconnected, even from the people who are closest to me.
  5. I have not had one special person I love who wants to share him/herself with me and cares deeply about what happens to me.
  6. No one is there to give me warmth, holding, and affection.
  7. I do not have someone who really listens and is tuned into my true needs and feelings.
  8. It is hard for me to let people guide or protect me, even though it is what I want inside.
  9. It is hard for me to let people love me.
  10. I am lonely a lot of the time.
Emotional deprivation is what a neglected child feels. It is a feeling of aloneness, of nobody there. It is a sad and heavy sense of knowledge that you are destined to be alone. Emotional deprivation is a feeling of chronically disappointed in other people. People let you down. We are not speaking about a single case of disappointment, but rather a pattern of experiences over a long period of time. If your conclusion as a result of all your relationships is that you cannot count on people to be there for you emotionally – that is a sign that you have the lifetrap.
The origins of emotional deprivation
  1. Mother is cold and unaffectionate. She does not hold and rock the child enough.
  2. The child does not have a sense of being loved and valued – of being someone who is precious and special.
  3. Mother does not give the child enough time and attention.
  4. The mother is not really tuned into the child’s needs. She has difficulty empathizing with the child’s world. She does not really connect with the child.
  5. Mother does not soothe the child adequately. The child, then, may not learn to soothe him/herself or to accept soothing from others.
  6. The parents do not adequately guide the child or provide a sense of direction. There is no one solid for the child to rely upon.
Emotional deprivation is difficult to recognize unless you experienced extreme neglect. You might recognize the life trap in yourself only after you have asked yourself specific questions: “Did I feel close to my mother, did I feel she understood me, did I feel loved, did I love her, was she warm and affectionate, could I tell her what I felt, could she give me what I needed?” Emotional Deprivation is one of the most common lifetraps, it is often one of the hardest to detect.
Some people who have the emotional deprivation lifetrap avoid romantic relationships altogether, or only get into them for a short time. This is typical of the Escape coping style. It is probably in these relationships that your lifetrap is most visible. Perhaps you have a history of breaking off relationships when the person starts to get too close. Or you protect yourself from closeness by choosing partners who are unavailable. Or you choose someone who is there, but is cold and ungiving.
Danger signals in the early stages of dating
  1. he/she doesn’t listen to me.
  2. he/she does all the talking.
  3. he/she is not comfortable touching or kissing me.
  4. he/she is only sporadically available.
  5. he/she is cold and aloof (signs starting from high school)
  6. you are much more intersted in getting close than he/she is
  7. the person is not there for you when you feel vulnerable
  8. the less available he/she is, the more obsessed you become
  9. he/she does not understand your feelings
  10. you are giving much more than you are getting
When several of these signals are occurring at once, run – particularly if the chemistry is very strong. Your lifetrap has been triggered full force.
Emotional Deprivation Lifetraps in a relationship

  1. you don’t tell your partner what you need, then feel disappointed when your needs are not met.
  2. you don’t tell your partner how you feel, and then feel disappointed when you are not understood.
  3. you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, so that your partner can protect or guide you.
  4. you feel deprived, but don’t say anything. You harbor resentment.
  5. you become angry and demanding
  6. you constantly accuse your partner of not caring enough about you
  7. you become distant and unreachable
You might reinforce your deprivation by sabotaging the relationship. You might become hypersensitive to signs of neglect. You might expect your lover to read your mind and almost magically to fill your needs.
Some people with emotional deprivation lifetrap counterattack. they compensate for their feelings of deprivation by becoming hostile and demanding. These people are narcissistic. They act as if they are entitled to get all their needs met. They demand a lot, and often get a lot, from the people who become their lovers. You might be very demanding about material things. You might be demanding about anything except the true object of your craving, which is emotional nurturance.
Some children are neglected in both domains, emotionally and materially. No matter where they turn, they encounter deprivation. These children usually just give up and learn to expect nothing. (the surrender coping style)
Changing emotional deprivation
  1. Understand your childhood deprivation. Feel the deprived child inside you.
  2. Monitor your feelings of deprivation in your current relationships. Get in touch with your needs for nurturance, empathy, and guidance.
  3. review pas relationships and clarify the patterns that recur. List the pitfalls to avoid from now on.
  4. avoid cold partners who generate high chemistry
  5. when you find a partner who is emotionally generous, give the relationship a chance to work. Ask for what you want. Share your vulnerability with your partner.
  6. Stop blaming your partner and demanding that your needs be met.
Three kinds of emotional deprivation
  1. Deprivation of Nurturance
  2. Deprivation of Empathy
  3. Deprivation of Protection
You keep what you want a secret, then get angry when you do not get it. Keeping your needs secret is a way of surrendering to your lifetrap. You make sure that even though your partner is a warm person, your needs still will not get met. If you are with a loving partner, tell the person what you need.  Allow your partner to take care of you, protect you, and understand you. This can be frightening. It means making yourself vulnerable to your partner. You have become very invested in doing the opposite, keeping yourself invulnerable to protect yourself from disappointment. As a chid you had a good reason for this. You have probably had good reason to keep up this wall in many relationships since childhood. But ask yourself, “This time, is it different? Can I trust this person?” If the answer is “yes,” perhaps you should take a chance.
Your emotional deprivation lifetrap will not fall away suddenly. It is a matter of slowly chipping away at the lifetrap – of countering the lifetrap each time it is triggered. You must throw your whole being against the lifetrap – your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It is sad that the more you were damaged as a child, the harder you will have to work. This is one more unfairness in the string of unfairness against you. If you were seriously damaged as a child, you may need professional help.
You could easily access anger about the past, but it was very difficult  to feel the pain. You never saw yourself as responsible for creating relationships, always focused on how the other person was disappointing you, how the other person was letting you down.
Sometimes you are attracted to narcissistic men but now you must resist them. You must learn not only to give love but to receive love in return. It may seem funny that you will have to learn how to take love.
Reinventing your Life: 7. “I can’t trust you”, the mistrust and abuse life trap

Questionnaire

  1. I expect people to hurt or use me.
  2. Throughout my life people close to me have abused me.
  3. It is only a matter of time before the people I love will betray me.
  4. I have to protect myself and stay on my guard.
  5. If I am not careful, people will take advantage of me.
  6. I set up tests for people to see if they are really on my side.
  7. I try to hurt people before they hurt me.
  8. I am afraid to let people get close to me because I expect them to hurt me.
  9. I am angry about what people have done to me.
  10. I have been physically, verbally, or sexually abused by people I should have been able to trust.
Abuse is a complex mixture of feelings – pain, fear, rage, and grief. The feelings are intense, and they simmer near the surface. You may have volatile moods. You suddenly become very upset – either crying or enraged. You may space out and disassociate. Your emotions are numb.
Your experience of relationship is a painful one. Relationships are not places to relax and become vulnerable. Rather they are dangerous and unpredictable. People hurt you, betray you, and use you. It is hard to trust people, particularly the ones closest to you. Anxiety and depression are common. You may have a deep sense of despair about your life. Certainly you have low self-esteem and feelings of defectiveness.
Origins of the Mistrust and Abuse Life trap
  1. Someone in your family physically abused you as a child.
  2. Someone in your family sexually abused you as a child, or repeatedly touched you in a sexually provocative way.
  3. Someone in your family repeatedly humiliated you, teased you, or put you down (verbal abuse).
  4. People in your family could not be trusted. (They betrayed confidences, exploited your weaknesses to their advantage, manipulated you, made promises they had no intention of keeping, or lied to you.)
  5. Someone in your family seemed to get pleasure from seeing you suffer.
  6. You were made to do things as a child by the threat of severe punishment or retaliation.
  7. One of your parents repeatedly warned you not to trust people outside of the family.
  8. The people in your family were against you.
  9. One of your parents turned to you for physical affection as a child, in a way that was inappropraite or made you uncomfortable.
  10. People used to call you names that really hurt.
All forms of abuse are violations of your boundaries. Your physical, sexual, or psychological boundaries were not respected.
Abuse stirred sexual feelings and can make you feel confused and ashamed. You are not expected to protect yourself. Rather, your family was supposed to be protecting you. The feeling of not being protected is part of most forms of abuse. One parent abused you, and the other failed to prevent or stop it. They both let you down.
We all know what we should do when a stranger attempts to abuse us. We should fight back, we should get help, we should escape. All of these options become problematic when you are a child and the abuser is someone you love. At bottom, you tolerated the abuse because you needed the connection with the person. It was your parent or brother or sister. Indeed, it may have been the only connection you were able to get. Without it you would have been alone. To most children, some connection, even an abusive one, is better than no connection at all.
The abuser makes the child feel worthless. The abuser blames the child, and the child accepts that blame.
Abuse creates powerful feelings of defectiveness. It makes you ashamed of who you are. You are unworthy. You are not entitled to have any rights or to stand up for yourself. You have to let the person use you and take advantage of you. It feels to you as if abuse is all you deserve.
Dissociating may have been a way for you to remove yourself from the situation emotionally and just get through it. Dissociating also gives an air of separateness to an event – it seems to be happening separately from the rest of your life.
One of the most common Counterattacks for the Mistrust and Abuse lifetrap is to abuse somebody else. The abuse sometimes becomes the abuser. Many victims of abuse who do not actually behave abusively do have fantasies of abusing or hurting people. You may lash out at other people sporadically. You may enjoy seeing other people hurt. You may be manipulative or insulting.
Danger signals in relationships
  1. he/she has an explosive temper that scares you.
  2. he/she loses control when he/she drinks too much.
  3. he/she puts you down in front of your friends and family.
  4. he/she repeatedly demeans you, criticizes you, and makes you feel worthless.
  5. he/she has no respect for your needs
  6. he/she will do anything – lie or manipulate – to get his/her way
  7. he/she is somewhat of a con artist in business dealings
  8. he/she is sadistic or cruel – seems to get pleasure when you or other people suffer
  9. he/she hits you or threatens you when you do not do as he/she wants
  10. he/she forces you to have sex, even when you do not want to
  11. he/she exploits your weaknesses to his/her advantage
  12. he/she cheats on you
  13. he/she is very unreliable, and takes advantage of your generosity
You may find that you are most attracted to abusive partners. People who use, hit, rape, or insult and demean you – are the lovers who generate the most chemistry.
Life traps in relationships
  1. You often feel people are taking advantage of you, even when there is little concrete proof.
  2. You allow other people to mistreat you because you are afraid of them or because you feel it is all you deserve.
  3. You are quick to attack other people because you expect them to hurt you or put you down.
  4. You have a very hard time enjoying sex – it feels like an obligation or you cannot derive pleasure.
  5. You are reluctant to reveal personal information because you worry that people will use it against you.
  6. You are reluctant to show your weaknesses because you expect people to take advantage of them
  7. You feel nervous around people because ou worry that they will humiliate you
  8. You give in too easily to other people because you are afraid of them.
  9. You feel that other people seem to enjoy your suffering.
  10. You have a definite sadistic or cruel side, even though you may not show it.
  11. You allow other people to take advantage of you because “it is better than being alone.”
  12. You feel that men/women cannot be trusted.
  13. You do not remember large portions of your childhood.
  14. When you are frightened of someone, you “tune out”, as if part of you is not really there.
  15. You often feel people have hidden motives or bad intentions, even when you have little proof.
  16. You often have sado-masochistic fantasies.
  17. You avoid getting close to men/women because you cannot turst them.
  18. You feel frightened around men/women and you do not understand why.
  19. You have sometimes been abusive or cruel to other people, especially the ones to whom you are closest.
  20. You often feel helpless in relation to other people.
It hurts too much as a child to hope and be disappointed. You may do things to encourage partners to treat you badly and send out messages you are not worth treating well. You may swing to the opposite end and have a problem with aggressiveness. “The best defense is a good offense.” Since you expect the other person to attack, you make sure you attack first. You do not notice that time passes and you are the only one attacking.
Changing your mistrust and abuse life trap
  1. If at all possible, see a therapist to help you with this lifetrap, particularly if you have been sexually or physically abused.
  2. Find a friend you trust (or your therapist). Do imagery. Try to recall memories of abuse. Relive each incident in detail.
  3. While doing imagery, vent your anger at your abuser(s). Stop feeling helpless in the image.
  4. Stop blaming yourself. You did not deserve the abuse.
  5. Consider reducing or stopping contact with your abuser(s) while you work on this lifetrap.
  6. If it is possible, when you are ready, confront your abuser face-to-face, or send a letter.
  7. Stop tolerating abuse in your current relationships.
  8. Try to trust and get closer to people who deserve it.
  9. Try to become involved with a partner who respects your rights and does not want to hurt you.
  10. Do not abuse the people close to you.
You did not deserve the abuse. Stop making excuses for your abuser. You were not at fault. You were a helpless child. You did the best you could under the circumstances. It is important to be crystal-clear on this issue. No child deserves to be abused.
No matter what you were made to feel, the abuse did not happen because you were bad. That was a convenient excuse. Victimizers always devalue their victims. Awake from your feelings of defectiveness. Find the good child within you. Feel sympathy for this wounded child.
Get angry at the parent who did no protect you. Direct the anger away from yourself. Stop dealing with your anger in self-destructive ways. Use your anger to make you stronger.
You should have no shame about needing help. Reclaim the things that are rightfully yours – all the joys that are possible in supportive human relationships. The road out is long and difficult, but for that reason it can be one of the most rewarding. The road can bring you to what you have always wanted – to love and be loved.

The Daily Temperature Reading – A Skill for Committed Relationships

Relationship Expert Dr. Rita DeMaria shares a quick exercise, the Daily Temperature Reading, that couples can use to strengthen their communication habits. I really like this method and I suggest it it to all my couples and those in relationship.

Rory


Source: Council for Relationships – Helping people understand, respect, and improve the quality of their relationships – The Daily Temperature Reading – A Skill for Committed Relationships

Dr. Rita DeMaria, LMFT, CST is a Staff Therapist and Director of Healthy Relationships and Wellness Programs at Council for Relationships.

Yes, you can love someone for a lifetime–but you need the knowledge and skills to maintain and grow the relationship.

It’s not how much you love each other that strengthens a long-term relationship; it’s how you resolve differences and preserve fun and sensuality. Luckily, everyone can learn, practice, and improve their relationship skills. Later in this blog, I will share a quick exercise, the Daily Temperature Reading, that helps couples improve their regular communication skills and builds closeness.

Over many years as a therapist, I have identified the seven reasons people want to develop healthy relationships skills:

  1. Communicating – listening and self expression

  2. Resolving conflict

  3. Managing anger and resentment

  4. Dealing with individual differences

  5. Wanting more out of the relationship

  6. Rebuilding trust when it has been broken

  7. Being single–wanting to find the ‘one’ and develop a healthy relationship

If you’re looking for any of these things, then you’re in luck: I designed my programs around these key facets. I teach people how to communicate effectively, manage conflicts without damaging closeness, and how to preserve and enhance commitment, friendship and intimacy. If you’ve never been to a program like this before, you may be wondering what kinds of skills you could learn. In this blog, I’m going to share one of my favorite exercises, the Daily Temperature Reading, with you.

The Daily Temperature Reading was developed by Virginia Satir – a pioneer of family therapy. It is a skill-based activity that you and your partner can do together on a regular basis to build a connection and learn to communicate on important topics. It was used in the PAIRS Program and by the Smart Marriages- Healthy Families Conference.

As you’ll learn in the video below, the Daily Temperature Reading is made up of five parts:

  1. Appreciation – something you each appreciate that the other person did

  2. New Information – big or small, something you haven’t shared with your partner

  3. Puzzle – what’s on your mind, what issues are you struggling with

  4. Complaint with request for change – ask your partner what you need

  5. Wish, hope, or dream – something you’re looking forward to

Watch the video below for a walk through of the exercise:

You can find my Daily Temperature Reading worksheet here. You may find it helpful to print this out and refer to it until you and your partner have the steps memorized.

About Dr. DeMaria

Early in my career, I became interested in a number of relationship skills programs, including Prepare-Enrich and PAIRS – Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills. For over 20 years I taught the PAIRS program to hundreds of participants. I also conducted research on helping distressed couples, published several professional books, and a bestselling health and wellness book with Reader’s Digest, The 7 Stages of Marriage.

I have trained and collaborated with my colleagues at Council for Relationships to develop the Relationship Check Up and Healthy Relationships and Wellness Programs, for which I currently serve as the Director. The experiences of helping people with their most important relationships has transformed me as a person, as a wife, and as a clinician.

 

10 Signs of Walking Depression

 

This is Part 1 in a series on depression in creatives.

Part 2: 10 Ways to Walk Away from Depression
Part 3: When Medication Isn’t Enough: Rethinking Depression with Eric Maisel

Note: I wrote this article to raise awareness of low-grade depression, which many people don’t recognize in themselves. I am an author and creativity coach, so I wrote it particularly for writers and artists, but these signs could apply to anyone ~ I believe we are all creative in one way or another.

There are many causes of depression; in my work I focus on people’s needs to create art and to make meaning, and on how to deal with the depression that arises when those needs go unmet for whatever reason.


Let’s play a little word association.

When I say someone is DEPRESSED, what comes to mind?

You might think of someone who:

  • Looks or acts sad most of the time
  • Cries often
  • Can’t feel any emotions (positive or negative)
  • Can’t get out of bed or leave the house
  • Can’t work
  • Can’t take care of themselves or others
  • Thinks or talks about suicide

That’s what severe depression can look like, and it’s a terrible and potentially deadly illness. Most people would notice those signs, realize something was wrong, and hopefully get some help.

But depression has many different faces and manifestations.

I was one of the walking depressed. Some of my clients are too.

We have many of the symptoms of clinical depression, but we are still functioning.

On the surface, people might not know anything is wrong. We keep working, keep going to school, keep looking after our families.

But we’re doing it all while profoundly unhappy. Depression is negatively impacting our lives and relationships and impairing our abilities.

Our depression may not be completely disabling, but it’s real.

10 Signs of Walking Depression

“I once read that succumbing to depression doesn’t mean you are weak, but that you have been trying to be strong for too long, which is maybe a form of denial. So much of life happens somewhere in between being okay and complete breakdown—that’s where many of us live, and doing so requires strength.” ~ novelist Matthew Quick

Walking depression can be hard to recognize because it doesn’t fit the more common picture of severe depression. But it can be just as dangerous to our well-being when left unacknowledged.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive or to diagnose anyone. But these are some of the signs I’ve observed in myself and those I’ve coached:

Nothing is fun. You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.

You can’t find flow. Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away. There is research that shows that neuroticism (the tendency toward negative moods) is associated with lower rates of flow.

Your energy is low. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you are effin’ tired.

You feel worse in the morning and better at night. I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.

You have simmering resentment toward others. Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time. You are jealous of and bitter toward people who look happier than you feel.

Your self-talk gets caustic. You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.

You feel distanced from people around you. It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.

You deprive yourself of creative work time (the artist as sadomasochist). This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.

Jen Lee has coined the term Dutiful Creatives to describe those who are inclined to take care of their responsibilities before anything else.

“If life were a meal, you’d consider your creativity as the dessert, and always strive to eat your vegetables first. Pacing and knowing how to say No are your strengths, but your creativity is more essential to your well-being than you realize.” from Jen Lee’s Quiz: What Kind of Creative Are You

You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol. A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even ~ gasp! ~ happy. (That’s how I finally realized that I was depressed.)

You feel like you’re wasting your life. Some people have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do. Creativity coach Eric Maisel calls this our “existential intelligence.” If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves, “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”

(Eric Maisel has published a book called Rethinking Depression, which I talk to him about in this post, When Medication Isn’t Enough.)

Why is it hard to admit that you have walking depression?

You may recognize many of these signs in your life but still be slow to admit that you are depressed. Why is that?

Because it feels presumptuous to put yourself in that category when you’re still getting by. You feel like it would be insulting to those who are much worse off than you. You may feel like you have no real reason to be depressed.

Because your pride and your identity take a hit. You have to admit vulnerability and allow that you are not the all-conquering superhero you thought you were.

Because you realize that you and your life need to change, which feels like more work piled on your plate.

Because you are admitting your own responsibility for your unhappiness and that can trigger self-judgment.

Because you might uncover grief or anger at those around you for not seeing and taking better care of you.

What to do, what to do?

I’ve posted another entry about how creatives heal from walking depression, and here are the highlights:

  • Rest.
  • Make use of medication and other physical treatments.
  • Do therapy.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Make connections.
  • Reduce your responsibilities.
  • Spend time creating.
  • Change your thoughts.
  • Develop a meaning practice.
  • Change your life.

These steps are simple to say, not easy to do, so make sure you get as much support as you can.

Important: If you are in dire straits, please contact your doctor or visit the International Suicide Prevention Wiki to find a hotline near you.