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.

How To Know When You’re Ready To Stop Therapy — And How To Do It

I like how this encourages the “discussion” around the topic.

Rory

_________________________________________

There are some do’s and don’ts of taking a break from or leaving your therapist.

Source: How To Know When You’re Ready To Stop Therapy — And How To Do It

Finding the right therapist is often likened to the dating process: It can be daunting, requires serious effort and is very fulfilling once you find the one.

And — just like in dating — knowing if, when and how to end or put that relationship on hold can be equally stressful. It’s nerve-wracking, confusing and can leave you wondering if you’re making the right decision.

The good news is: Therapists are trained to want you to stop.

“I think people get nervous their therapists are going to feel hurt that they’re leaving,” Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and author of “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone,” explained to HuffPost. “Ours is the worst possible business model, because from day one our goal is how we can get you to be independent of us. We want you to be able to function without us.”

“Ours is the worst possible business model, because from day one our goal is how we can get you to be independent of us. We want you to be able to function without us.”

Growing out of your therapist can look many different ways, but there are concrete signs, and some of them exist outside the room, according to Meg Gitlin, psychotherapist and creator of the Instagram account City Therapist.

“I think it’s when the person starts internalizing your voice or is able to readily access the tools you have given them, when they come in and they say ‘oh, I was at my sister-in-law’s and I got into a tizzy about X,Y and Z but I was able to talk myself down and self-soothe,’” she said. “The things you practice and learn in therapy have no value unless you can take them outside of the room.”

Repeatedly struggling to come up with things to talk about in a session could also be a sign you’re ready to take a break, but Josephson warns against jumping the gun on that one.

“If you’re having a good week, it’s not a reason to cancel your therapy session,” she said. “Therapy is not a quick fix … But if you find yourself constantly coming up short of issues you really want to discuss I think it might be time to consider taking a pause.”

Taking a break or stopping altogether can feel scary, especially if you’ve been working with someone for a long time, but it can also be an opportunity to reflect on that work and see how it manifests in your daily life.

“There are many benefits of stopping or taking a break,” said Mark Aoyogi, director of sport and performance psychology at the University of Denver. “Reconnecting with your independence, practicing the skills you have developed, engaging in life with your deeper sense of self-awareness. It’s also a great opportunity for continued self-introspection on what has been learned, how to apply it and what works best” for you.

“If you are having apprehension about raising the topic of stopping with your therapist, that is probably an indication your therapist is not a good fit.”

As with anything, there are right and wrong ways to go about broaching the topic. The main one is: Don’t ghost someone who has committed time, care and effort into helping you. As Gottlieb puts it, it’s “a conversation.”

“We’re not going to keep you somewhere you don’t want to be,” she said. “At the same time, we’ll talk to you about where you think you’re at and what progress you’ve made and how you’re feeling. You can always leave and if something comes up you can come back ― our door is open. I think people need to feel really comfortable talking to their therapists about what they’re doing there and how long they’re going to be there.”

Importantly, Aoyogi said that if you’re seeing the right person, they will be supportive and understanding of your wishes.

“If you are having apprehension about raising the topic of stopping with your therapist, that is probably an indication your therapist is not a good fit,” he said. “I’m not sure therapy can be effective if you are feeling pressured to continue.”

Investigating the ‘kayak method’ of negotiating at work

Thought I’d pass this along
. . .  An interesting way to frame negotiations, communication, and planning.

I just like the metaphor here.
Reminds me of summer . . . and the pond waterfall here is bubbling :-).
Best,
Rory

Columbia University professor Alexandra Carter finds kayaking to be a good metaphor for navigating your career.

When Columbia University law professor Alexandra Carter teaches people to negotiate, she shows them a picture of a kayak navigating a series of sea caves. It seems an unlikely metaphor, but the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of negotiate is “to successfully travel along or over.”

She loves the metaphor because to get anywhere in a kayak, you need the right information and must steer, which comes by paddling with a steady rhythm. Outside forces can also carry you away. “Everything you see, hear and feel helps you to steer with accuracy toward your goal,” she writes in her recent book Ask for More.

Translate the kayak to your career, and she says the first lesson is that you don’t wait for a contract to come due with a client or the end of the year to negotiate salary with your boss. Instead, you are continuously piloting those relationships in every conversation you have. Also, you need the right information to steer you toward your goal, which comes by asking questions.

The core of her approach are 10 questions, the first five to ask of yourself and the next five of the other party. Those first five, which she calls “the mirror,” are:

  • What’s the problem I want to solve? Negotiations, after all, are about steering. Most people figure the fun part of negotiations is figuring out the answer, but the juicy part is defining your problem.
  • What do I need? People often prepare for negotiations by thinking about their worst case, bottom line for a deal. But she says research shows those who instead focus on identifying their goals get more from negotiations, especially if their aspirations are optimistic, specific and justifiable.
  • What do I feel? Feelings are facts. They are real and must be dealt with in any negotiation.
  • How have I handled this successfully in the past? Considering a past success boosts confidence and helps you to return to the successful mindset from that previous time, allowing you to access your inner wisdom and generate helpful ideas.
  • What’s the first step? There may be many issues on the table in the negotiation. Which one should you start with? Make sure you are likely to have success with it, so you can build momentum.

Now shift your eyes from the mirror to “the window” and ask these five questions to work with the other party:

  • Tell me … ? Cast a wide net by asking that person to share their view of the goal or problem that brought you together, any important details relating to it, their feelings and concerns, and anything else they feel like adding. “No question unlocks trust, creativity, understanding and mind-blowing solutions like ‘Tell me,’” she says. Sometimes the issue is not what you thought.
  • What do you need? This can be a game-changer, helping to dig underneath the other person’s demands and figure out what is driving them.
  • What are your concerns? This not only gives you information that you can use in the discussions but also makes the other person feel heard. If concerns are left unsaid, the negotiation will likely end unresolved.
  • How have you handled this successfully in the past? Again you travel back in time, but this time encouraging the other person to remember ways in which they have handled similar challenges successfully. “It triggers our memory bank of experiences to allow us to expand our pie of potential options for our current situation,” she says.
  • What’s the first step? You don’t have to accept what they say, but by asking you increase the chance some option they offer fits with your needs.

So get in your figurative kayak, armed with questions rather than paddles, and move ahead.

Quick hits

  • If you unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? It’s unlikely your reaction was the same as renowned fashion designer Phillip Lim: “I just sit still and do nothing. … This is the ultimate luxury.”
  • With the future so uncertain, London Business School professor Herminia Ibarra recommends in Harvard Business Review conjuring up a diverse portfolio of options rather than sticking single-mindedly to one: “Today, more than ever, the path to your next career will be circuitous.”
  • The hardest thing of getting things done is doing one thing at a time, says career coach Dan Rockwell. The second hardest part of getting things done is choosing the right task.
  • Consultant John Linkner says you can sell better if you fill in the blanks on these three statements: After working with me, customers will have no more _____. After working with me, customers will have a good deal more _____. After working with me customers will have less _____.
  • To quickly open the Explorer window in Windows 10 hit Win+E on the keyboard.

2 career coaches reveal tips for pivoting to a job you love

Source: 2 career coaches reveal tips for pivoting to a job you love

Finding a new job in the field you’ve worked in for years can be a challenge. Switching to a new career track can be plenty daunting, but there’s hope so long as you properly prepare to impress potential employers.

“It is entirely possible to pivot and move into a job or career that you love,” Katie Fogarty, a communications and career coach and founder of The Reboot Group, tells Inverse. “I see people do it all the time. If you’re lit up about moving into a new arena, you should go for it.”

If you’re thinking of entering a new field, here’s what you should do, according to Fogarty and Sean Koppelman, a career coach and president at The Talent Magnet.

1. Do a career audit

The first step in any job search is to conduct an audit on yourself.

“Conduct a personal SWOT analysis — take inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats,” Koppelman said. “Understand clearly your core competencies and what you really enjoy doing. Find what skills you have — communication, analysis, etc. — and identify the ones that are transferable to the new role.”

A way to do this is list out your accomplishments, then brainstorm a second column to figure out a prospective employers’ needs, Fogarty said. Then compare these lists and see how your existing skill set can satisfy those needs.

It may end up being that to get the job you really want, you have to go back to school or obtain a certification, Fogarty said. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a career 180.

2. Find meaningful work

Some people may know exactly where they want to end up, but if you only have a foggy idea of the career you want, the audit process should make it clearer.

“Through the inventory process, look at what this move will do to provide opportunities that you’re not getting in your current role,” Koppelman said. “Find the responsibilities and tasks that provide more personal and professional enjoyment. Find those things that you really enjoy that you don’t have the opportunity to do. That’s how to find a good fit.”

3. Check for side doors

One of Fogarty’s clients was a news anchor with 20 years of experience who found herself wanting to move into corporate communications. Along with auditing her career and finding her transferable skills, she had also been conducting communication workshops with businesses to develop connections.

“If you’re looking to open a door, you can look for a small way in,” Fogarty said.

One way to do that is to do work for free to build a portfolio. Fogarty had pivoted from communications to career coaching by initially offering her services gratis.

Koppelman suggested another way to get closer toward your ideal job: “Look for a job that gets you closer to the job you want.”

4. Become an expert

When you’re entering a new field, much of your current resume becomes moot. This is why it’s important to learn everything you can about your industry of choice.

“Read, watch, and listen to content specific to that industry. Become a subject matter expert and explain how what you’ve done in your career can help them,” Koppelman said. “Being a storyteller is important. If you have passion and enthusiasm, it can overcome a lack of experience during an in-person interview.”

5. Make the pitch

Your resume, cover letter, and online profiles should tell the story of why you’re the best person for the job.

“People hire to solve challenges, such as winning more customers or growing their business,” Fogarty said. “Anyone trying to convince someone to hire them should understand what their challenges are and through language show they’re the right person to solve them. With a LinkedIn profile, don’t talk about your past history, show how your work will make a difference to that company. ‘Why you’ gets you hired.”

Also, remember that networking remains important.

“Especially during these times, your network is your net worth,” Koppelman said. “Platforms such as LinkedIn don’t get used the proper way until people are in a desperate need. This is the time to leverage your network.”

Lifetraptest.com – lifetraps – Schemas

Source: Lifetraptest.com – lifetraps – life traps – schemas

Lifetrap descriptions (life traps / schemas)

18 LIFETRAPS

Abandonment Abuse
Approval seeking Defectiveness
Dependence Emotional depriviation
Emotional inhibation Enmeshment
Entitlement Failure
Insufficient self-control Pessimism
Punitiveness Self-sacrifice
Social isolation Subjugation
Unrelenting standards Vulnerability

SUBJUGATION

You feel that you need to please your loved ones, friends, colleagues and even strangers. You do not want to be tricky, but nice and comfortable, so you easily agree to things that do not seem to be particularly important to you. You may find it difficult to stand for yourself in both small and large matters. You let others control you more or less, because you want to avoid unpleasant consequences. You do not openly express your needs, because you do not see them important enough. You hide your anger to evade a conflict. However, the suppression of anger leads to accumulation of anger inside of you, which is usually dissolved either in a passive expression of anger as a small-scale revenge, gossip, slowing down, whining; or surprising aggressive temper tantrums. Anger can give rise to the desire to rebel and defy those who you consider as authorities (e.g. managers, spouse). You may attract people who are dominant and bossy, who will decide for you on how to act, behave or feel.

EMOTIONAL ENHIBATION

You have difficulty expressing your feelings and emotions spontaneously. You are embarrassed to express positive feelings of affection or caring to other people. You believe that emotions are better to be withheld and it is better to control yourself, especially in the company of others. You probably have a lot of accumulated anger and resentment, which has not been openly expressed. You may feel that you are like a pressure boiler that could erupt at any time, therefore you are trying control your feelings. In generally, you trust more your reasoning and logic than your emotions.
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FAILURE

You think you are doomed to failure, as if you are lacking some essential skills or abilities. You may have learned to avoid challenges or difficult tasks in the fear of failure. You might believe that you do not know enough or you are not able to do something, and that is why you are not taking tasks seriously. You might compare yourself to others and consider yourself a failure, inferior, or less talented than others. You think that the others have been more successful, and you do not appreciate your own achievements – there is always someone who has succeeded or done better. The effect of this lifetrap can be seen especially at the workplace. You might avoid career progress, taking challenges, promotion, committing or taking initiative. You may be trying to compensate for the feeling of failure with perfect performance and accuracy. The belief of being a failure will increase with each experience of failure.
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ABANDONMENT

Fear of loss of controls your life – you are worried about being left alone. You believe that your loved ones will die or leave you one way or another. You fear being left alone and will probably stick to your close people, but at the same time expel them from you – your worst fear is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Loss of fear induces a lack of confidence that comes out as control, possessiveness and jealousy. Addictions can be a coping mechanism for solitude making the anxiety seem more bearable. You will experience the the normal severance situations of relationships distressing and you do not feel confident that the relationship would last any breaks. You easily make wrong interpretations of other people’s intentions, based on which you may overreact, like when someone is not answering your call or text. Although the relationship is stable, it feels only temporary – as if it were constantly at stake. When you get desperate you might threaten with separation, as if to test your expectations – will the relationship come to an end this time. Losses you experience strengthen your beliefs that you can’t find any lasting relationship.
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APPROVAL SEEKING

It is important for you that all people like you, even strangers. You strive to please other people. Even if you would not like some person, you want that he or she likes you. You may make decisions thinking how your parents, your partner or your friends accept them. You may be afraid to do things on your own way, because you are afraid that might be accused or criticized. In a group you are trying hard to belong and you might transform yourself, depending on what you think others want from you. You hope that you would be liked, and therefore you aim to avoid conflict or hurting other people. You do not put forward your own opinions in fear of rejection, or you present strong opinions to test how others accept you. You may dress in a very conservative or acceptable way not to feel yourself different from others and to avoid becoming an outsider. You make a lot of effort in ensuring the people would appreciate you. You might acquire success, achievements, status, wealth or beauty, so that others could appreciate you. It is difficult for you to appreciate yourself for who you are, rather other people are a mirror of your dignity.
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ABUSE

You fear that other people will hurt, cheat, be violent, abuse or take advantage of you in some way. You probably don’t feel confident and safe but rather you see threats in in your relationships. It is usually hard for you to trust other people. You might have doubts about the intentions of others and you believe they will deceive you one way or another, sooner or later. You will not let anyone get close to you and you do not dare open up to in your relationships. You are careful and you may test whether other people are worthy of trusting. However, you may be attracted by people who are abusers and you let others treat you badly. Repeated emotional experiences of exploitation tend to confirm the lifetrap. This eats out your self-esteem, and you find it hard to get out of a relationship where you are mistreated.
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ENMESHMENT

You feel that you are so enmeshed with your parents or partner, that you no longer know who you are. It is hard for you to disagree with the parents’ or partner’s opinion, so generally you agree with them. You may feel that your parents or your partner live through you, as if you do not have your own life at all. You do not know what you want, what you need or what you feel yourself, everything is enmeshed with the other. If there is something you don’t tell your parent or your partner, you will feel guilty because it can offend or hurt the other. You have not been able to become independent enough of your parents.
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ENTITLEMENT

You view yourself as special and therefore legitimate for non-standard operating procedures. Your needs are more important to you than the needs of others. You are demanding and controlling toward others, and you want to do things the way you want. You have difficulty accepting resistance when you want something. You want to make sure that you get what you want, how you want and whenever you want. You get bored easily; the routine tasks are just not for you – you should not have to do them. You may break the law or the rules – for example, speeding in the traffic, by cheating in commercial transactions or taxation – because you believe that you entitled to do so. You like how you feel with this lifetrap, therefore, you may not see your own behavior as problematic, but people close to you see and feel it. Before long, however, may get you into trouble because of your selfish behavior. You may get into a relationship with a partner that you can dominate and mistreat. This lifetrap offers in many cases compensation for another lifetrap – usually defectiveness, emotional deprivation, social alienation or subjugation.
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PESSIMISM

You are a pessimist, and you pay more attention to negative than positive things in life. You tend to worry a lot about future events or situations. If things seem to go well, it seems only temporary. If something good happens you’ll expect that something bad is going to happen next. You fear that you may make wrong decisions that can lead to a crisis or a disaster. You worry about mistakes and therefore you aim to be as careful as possible.
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PUNITIVENESS

You are very hard on yourself and punish yourself if you act incorrectly. You are often angry at yourself and criticize yourself for your mistakes. You might think feel guilty or ashamed of how you’ve acted. You may be angry at yourself because you are sometimes weak, sentimental, or needy. If something bad happens to you, you might think that it was deserved, and you do not need sympathy or compassion. You may also be punitive to those around you. Your children may get an earful if things do not go as you please. You find it hard to forgive yourself and others you do not accept excuses too easily.
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DEPENDENCE

You feel that you are somehow unable to take care of yourself. You do not trust your own judgment. You need, therefore, other people to support you and to take care of you. You are dependent on friends and family – you are not an independent adult coping on your own. Probably you are still in close contact with your parents, who affect your life dramatically. Making decisions is difficult for you, you might be asking for advice and confirmation from others; you would change your mind many times, and still be unsure of your decision. You might avoid responsibility, initiative and challenging situations. You feel anxiety and despair if you have to take more responsibility than what you feel capable of having. Perhaps the only chance for you to survive is to team up with a strong partner, which will eventually make you even more dependent on others.
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INSUFFICIENT SELF-CONTROL

You are impulsive, you give your impulses the control of your life. You find it hard to concentrate for any length of time, because your mind creates impulses and would like to do something else. You have difficult time trying to control your emotions and your mind. You do not always think about the consequences of your actions, which will put you in to problems. You may run into problems with the authorities. Your life is more or less in chaos. You may find it difficult to express your anger constructively, which results in raging and other inappropriate behavior. Self-discipline and lack of boundaries can easily lead to addictions: drinking, smoking, excessive eating, sex addiction, internet addiction or other problematic behaviors. You start projects on a whim, but they are often left half-finished, and you have a number of them going on at the same time. In working life, your impulsiveness can lead you to repeated failures when you do not reach your goals. In relationships you may alienate people close to you with your behavior. You might feel drawn to demanding, systematic, and discipline people who bring a counterbalance to your lack of discipline.
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VULNERABILITY

You are often scared and feel insecure. You worry excessively about your health, accidents or financials. You might choose a partner who is strong enough to protect you from the risks. You suffer from anxiety or panic attacks; you are constantly more or less anxious, which makes it difficult to enjoy everyday life. You might rely on addictions in order to facilitate anxiety. You strive to ascertain that you are safe. Therefore, you have learned to evade risks: elevators, cars, travelling in the city or abroad, investments, or career opportunities; you would rather stick to the old which is familiar and safe. Fears are limiting your life and your loved ones who have to adapt to your fears. Constant worry and risk avoidance further enhance the feeling of vulnerability.
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EMOTIONAL DEPRIVIATION

You feel that no one will or can satisfy your need for love and care, and probably you feel often that no one really listens and understands you. You might avoid love relationships, relationships tend to be short or you protect yourself with falling in love with a person who is not available. You might fall in love with cold, rejecting and inhibited persons. Something in them attracts you strongly. Relationships often end after the high expectations with bitter disappointment. Perhaps the great desire that your partner will change and someday be able to fulfill your needs keeps you in relation with an unsatisfying partner. You might expect that the loved one should be able to read your mind and automatically satisfy your needs for affection and intimacy. You may not have ever considered expressing your needs, on the other hand you may withdraw from or be hurt if one is unable to meet your need for feeling loved. Repeated deprivation confirms the beliefs that you will never find a life partner and you will never get the love you need.
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SELF-SACRIFICE

You’ve learned to pay attention to the needs of others and your own needs can easily be left aside. If you put your own needs first, is likely that you feel guilt. You sacrifice your own needs so that you don’t have to feel guilty about the fact that you have not noticed enough the needs of others. You sacrifice your needs voluntarily, simply because the needs of others are above your own. You are empathetic by nature, and do not want others to feel any discomfort, you’d rather feel it yourself. You are strong and take a lot of responsibility and support the well-being of others. It easy for you to be compassionate and understanding towards others. You are usually listening to other people’s problems and you tell about yours just a bit.
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SOCIAL ISOLATION

You often feel anxiety in social situations and it makes you avoid them. You feel different and therefore not fitting in. With new people you feel uncomfortable and nervous and you do not really know what to say. You might be nervous about the situation and afraid of getting into the spotlight. Feeling anxious you are wondering what others might think of you. When you are upset you are unable to use your social skills, so you will feel insecure and withdraw. You may be accustomed to avoid social situations to the extent that it seems quite natural – but at the same time you need inside a closer contact with fellow human beings. In a group you may pretend you’re more like the others and you want to give a good impression of yourself. You might get into working positions, which does not require a lot of interaction. In Close relationships you’ll feel more confident and calm – you can be more truly yourself. The repeated experience of being an outsider makes you avoid more and more unpleasant social situations.
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UNRELENTING STANDARDS

You are highly demanding on yourself, although you will probably see your standards quite reasonable. You feel that you have to do something all the time, to get results, be efficient and keep things in order. You can’t be happy with yourself if you do not meet your requirements. Nothing ever seems to be sufficient; there is always something worth pursuing. The feelings of inadequacy, failure, inferiority and shame lurk nearby and strike hard if you can’t reach your requirements. You strive to avoid these unpleasant feelings, and it causes you anxiety and stress. Stress may arise in various physical symptoms – insomnia, fatigue, high blood pressure, ulcer or panic attacks. You find it hard to relax and just enjoy life. You may be mostly frustrated and irritated with yourself and others. To you, life is performing, and you believe that at the end it will bring to you a prize – freedom or perfection. The achievements, however, feel empty after all and you need to look for the following tasks and challenges. If you choose to succeed at something, you will probably succeed – however, you can’t stop to enjoy the success. Maybe you neglect your friends or loved ones – because you do not have the time to relax and give your time to the others.
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DEFECTIVENESS

Your existence is characterized by worthlessness which is based on the belief of defectiveness. You might talk about yourself with a degrading tone; you are critical, harsh and angry at yourself. As if you would have within you something shameful and disgusting, which needs to be kept hidden. Probably you hide your problems and mistakes, and avoid talking about them not to fell shame. You have to keep the real feelings and thoughts in secret, you do not want to others to see you as a sentimental or a needy human being. You present to people other than you really are and at the same time you are afraid of the disclosure. You are sensitive to criticism and critique, which may make you angry. Maybe you attack against your feelings of inferiority by being critical and dismissive of others – including your partner or your children. You may feel attracted to critical people who further increase you feeling of worthlessness.
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Parents, this burnout is real. Give yourself grace (opinion) – CNN

Many parents are being asked to do the impossible, says Lynn Smith – raising kids in a crisis while continuing to work. There is no end in sight and we are not okay, says Smith, who urges all parents and caregivers to children to give themselves grace .

Source: Parents, this burnout is real. Give yourself grace (opinion) – CNN

Parents, this burnout is real. Give yourself grace (opinion) – CNN

Many parents are being asked to do the impossible, says Lynn Smith – raising kids in a crisis while continuing to work. There is no end in sight and we are not okay, says Smith, who urges all parents and caregivers to children to give themselves grace.

Source: Parents, this burnout is real. Give yourself grace (opinion) – CNN