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

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

Rory

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

How well do you know yourself?

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

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

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

But what if you’re wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shadow: A Formal Introduction

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

— Carl Jung, Aion (1951)

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

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

carl jung shadow who created god unconscious

Carl Gustav Jung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Unacknowledged biases and prejudices.

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

7. A messiah complex.

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

Projection: Seeing Our Darkness in Others

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

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

This secret piece of the personality is the shadow self.

Origins of the Shadow Self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion (1938)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We can’t all be this guy.

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

Enlightenment: The Shadow Formula

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

— Carl Jung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion (1938)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this all begins with you.

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

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

Save your shadow self, save the world.

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

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.

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

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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.”

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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Five rules for approaching our feelings with greater wisdom and effectiveness.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201911/building-emotional-intelligence-isnt-hard-you-think

David B. Feldman Ph.D.

Building Emotional Intelligence Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Dozens of times a week, we ask friends, family, and even strangers, “How are you?” Given this fact alone, you’d think our society was very interested in how people feel.

But all of us know that this question generally doesn’t get an honest answer. Instead, most people reply with, “good,” “fine,” or at least, “okay.” If we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us would be a bit uncomfortable if we got a more genuine answer.

For many of us, it can feel risky to get in touch with our feelings, let alone to express them to others. I was recently speaking with a close friend who was genuinely hurt by something his father posted in a family chat room. He had been ruminating about it for days. And yet, when I suggested that he bring it up with his dad, his answer was straightforward: “No,” he told me. “We don’t talk about feelings in our family.”

Psychologist Marc Brackett, the founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, argues that this tendency to avoid feelings, though understandable, can be a real disadvantage.

In one experiment, Brackett and his colleagues divided middle-school teachers into two groups. One group was placed in a good mood by recalling positive classroom experiences, while the other group was placed in a bad mood by recalling negative classroom experiences.

Then, they all were asked to grade the same essay. The teachers who were in a worse mood scored the essay a full letter grade lower than those in a better mood. But here’s the real kicker: Most of the teachers said they thought their mood had no influence on their grading, even though it clearly had.

Whether we like it or not, our feelings affect our thinking and behavior. Being out of touch with these feelings just means we’re at the mercy of them. So, it behooves us to get to know them better.

Our ability to understand and regulate our feelings is what psychologists often call “emotional intelligence.” Luckily, emotional intelligence isn’t a fixed commodity, but rather something we can build by learning what Brackett calls “emotion skills.”

He has developed a system, organized around the acronym R.U.L.E.R., which has been used in nearly 2,000 schools across the world to teach such skills to children and teenagers. But it can be equally applicable for helping all of us develop greater wisdom about our feelings and use them to our advantage.

Here are the five skills you can start practicing now:

R: Recognize

The first step toward productively managing any feeling is to recognize that we’re having it. Although this may sound easy, it’s equally easy to ignore our feelings. Have you ever said, “I don’t care,” about a situation when you really did? Have you ever gotten a head or neck ache, only to later realize you were actually feeling emotionally stressed?

To better recognize our feelings, Bracket suggests using a technique known as the “Mood Meter.” At its heart, this technique involves asking yourself two simple questions:

  1. How much energy does this emotion have?
  2. How pleasant is this emotion?

Emotions can be high in both, low in both, high in energy and low in pleasantness, or low in energy and high in pleasantness. Emotions high in both energy and pleasantness include joy, excitement, and optimism, while emotions low in both include sadness and depression. Anxiety, anger, and frustration are examples of feelings high in energy but low in pleasantness, whereas calmness and contentedness are examples of feelings low in energy but high in pleasantness. By at least identifying in which of these categories our feelings fall, we lay a foundation for wisely dealing with them.

U: Understand

The next emotion skill involves understanding our feelings. In short, this involves asking the question, “Why am I feeling this way?” Because this wide-open question is notoriously difficult to answer, in his book Permission to Feel, Brackett suggests some more specific questions we can ask ourselves to figure out the reasons behind our feelings. Here are a few of them:

  • What just happened? What was I doing before this happened?
  • What happened this morning, or last night, that might be involved in this?
  • What has happened before with this person that might be connected?
  • What memories do I have about the situation or place in which this emotion occurred?

Understanding the causes of our feelings can help provide clues about how to address them. If I’m feeling anxious because my new boss reminds me of a person from my past who was cruel to me, I’ll want to deal with the situation very differently than if my anxiety results from a particular managerial decision my boss just made. Of course, it could be both—so it can take serious time and introspection to really sort out what we’re experiencing and why. Be patient and keep at it.

L: Label

It’s not enough simply to recognize and understand an emotion; we also can benefit from finding the right word to describe it.

Many of us have a relatively limited emotion vocabulary. Some of us stick with two words: bad and good. Others might have three or four: happy, sad, mad, and scared. Still others may not use emotion words at all, but prefer figures of speech like, “on top of the world” or “burning up.”

But in actuality, there are thousands of words to describe emotions in the English language alone. We certainly don’t have to memorize all of them, but Brackett suggests that more accurate labels are usually better for us. In his words, “We know from neuroscience and brain imaging research that there is real, tangible truth to the proposition that ‘if you can name it, you can tame it.’”

For a start, knowing precisely what feelings we’re experiencing can give us clues about how to manage them. Although you may recognize that you’re experiencing a negative, high-energy emotion, both “stressed” and “overwhelmed” might fit that general description. But which of these labels most accurately describes our feeling really matters, because they mean different things.

“Stress” generally means we feel that what we’re trying to do or handle exceeds our capabilities, whereas “overwhelmed” means there’s just too much of it, regardless of our capabilities. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, the best approach may be to reduce our workload the best we can, whereas if we’re feeling stressed, the best approach may be to upgrade our capabilities by learning new skills or reorganizing the way we do things.

E: Express

If the R, U, and L of R.U.L.E.R. are about getting into touch with our emotions, the E and R are about what to do with them.

There are lots of reasons we hesitate to express our feelings. Especially when emotions fall on the negative end of the spectrum, we may be afraid they’re inappropriate, will embarrass us, or will somehow injure the person we express them to.

According to Brackett, however, “Hurt feelings don’t vanish on their own. They don’t heal themselves. If we don’t express our emotions, they pile up like a debt that will eventually come due.” So it’s important to express them in some way.

But this doesn’t mean we should let our emotions run wild, saying everything that’s on our minds to everyone we wish. According to Brackett, the skill of expressing our feelings “means knowing how and when to display our emotions, depending on the setting, the people we’re with, and the larger context.”

If we’re feeling hurt by something our boss said, for instance, it’s in our best interest to express this differently than if a close friend said something similar to us. Depending on the level of trust, we may make ourselves more vulnerable to our friend than our boss, expressing our feelings in greater depth or detail. If there’s a good chance we could lose our job, we may even choose not to express our hurt at all to our boss, instead confiding in and seeking support from someone else.

R: Regulate

The final emotion skill involves determining how to cope with our feelings.

Whether or not we choose to express them, feelings impact us. Regulating our emotions involves dealing with them in a way that allows us to best meet our personal and professional goals—or at least prevent our feelings from interfering with them. This certainly doesn’t mean ignoring our emotions; as already discussed, this doesn’t work well. Instead, it involves learning to accept and deal with them wisely.

Techniques for helping us cope with our feelings run the gamut, and we should strive to use ones that work for us. Relaxation videos abound on YouTube and can help us soothe strong emotions. Meditation phone apps can be used to facilitate mindfulness, which may help us accept our feelings. Physical exercise can help us to “work out” our feelings and feel more grounded in our bodies.

But emotion regulation can also be very simple. “You can’t stand your neighbor? Avoid her,” writes Brackett. “Your parents are coming to visit and you don’t want them to see some of your more outré artwork? Hide it until they leave. You’re tired? Splash some water on your face.” The important thing is to acknowledge our feelings—not avoid them—and then take productive steps toward dealing with them.

Learning to be more emotionally skilled isn’t a panacea. It won’t eliminate all our negative feelings or bring about a constant state of bliss. Such goals are probably impossible. But part of emotional intelligence is realizing that our feelings aren’t our enemies. In fact, if we approach them wisely, they can be some of our best friends. Let’s all get to know these friends a little better.

About the Author

What Is Toxic Shame?

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-toxic-shame

What is Toxic Shame?When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful.

Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction. We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves. We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.

We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.

Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image. It’s shame that has become “toxic,” a term first coined by Sylvan Tomkins in the early 1960s in his scholarly examination of human affect. For some people, toxic shame can monopolize their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.

Characteristics of Toxic Shame

Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:

  • It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
  • When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
  • The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
  • An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
  • It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
  • It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
  • We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
  • It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.

Shame-Based Beliefs

The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of connection.” Usually, internalized shame manifests as one of the following beliefs or a variation thereof:

  • I’m stupid.
  • I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner).
  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I’m a fraud or a phony.
  • I’m selfish.
  • I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas).
  • I hate myself.
  • I don’t matter.
  • I’m defective or inadequate.
  • I shouldn’t have been born.
  • I’m unlovable.

The Cause of Toxic Shame

In most cases, shame becomes internalized or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood. Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behavior. For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior. Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents. When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly, children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired. However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.

If not healed, toxic shame can lead to aggression, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction. It generates low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism, and codependency, and it limits our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships and professional success.

We can heal from toxic shame and build our self-esteem. To learn more about how to do so and the eight steps to heal, read Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.

©Darlene Lancer 2015

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s the author of Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and six ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits, Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People, and Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness, available on her website and Amazon. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 28 years and coaches internationally. She’s a sought-after speaker in media and at professional conferences. Her articles appear in professional journals and Internet mental health websites, including on her own, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on Youtube.com, Soundcloud, Twitter @darlenelancer, and at www.Facebook.com/codependencyrecovery.

7 Ways Psychotherapists Can Get in the Way of Psychotherapy

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/progress-notes/201910/7-ways-psychotherapists-can-get-in-the-way-psychotherapy

Verified by Psychology Today

Trained curiosity and assessment are not the soul of psychological change.

Posted Oct 13, 2019

StartupStockPhotos/Pixabay
Source: StartupStockPhotos/Pixabay

There is a vast gulf between diagnosable issues as seen through the lens of psychological expertise and the essence, identity, strengths, and hopes of a person before me. Psychotherapists mean well, but at times we all stray outside of the bounds of helpfulness. Here are seven ways psychotherapists get in the way of psychotherapy:

1. Interrogating

When people come into session in the midst of an emotional storm, the last thing they need is to be inundated with endless questions on the basis of an agenda that is likely intended more to fulfill organizational protocols than to promote a foundation of therapeutic empathy and rapport.

Questioning always runs the risk of interrogation. The details learned about people’s lives ever tempt helping professionals toward distraction. There is a distinct difference between a personality and a person, a diagnosis and a destiny. It is our responsibility to stir hope and catalyze strengths rather than to stew history and analyze at length.

2. Pathologizing

The concept of “mental disorder” is rigid and misleading. In short, diagnosis is description, and by and large, mental health diagnosis provides description of “software” issues rather than “hardware,” so to speak. It’s a language of understanding what type of struggle a person is experiencing. When therapists refer to people by these diagnostic labels, we may overgeneralize a person’s experience and distance ourselves from a critical resource: the powerful, complex, and fluid process of therapeutic understanding, the power center of effective therapy.

3. Shaming

We ever risk a false sense of expertise about people’s lives against the backdrop of anxiety about our own. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves reinforcing the tyranny of the perceived should. Should is shame‘s accomplice, and therapists must take care not to aid and abet them.

4. Sympathizing

Researcher Brené Brown (2010) rightfully proclaimed, “Empathy fuels connection, while sympathy drives disconnection.” Saying you understand is unhelpful and probably not true. And let’s be honest: It’s usually a ploy to rush people out of their emotional state, which sends the message, “I really don’t care enough to walk with you through your suffering.”

Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
Source: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

5. Lecturing

Psychologist and psychotherapy researcher Les Greenberg (2002) wrote, “Darwin, on jumping back from the strike of a glassed-in snake, having approached it with determination not to start back, noted that his will and reason were powerless against even the imagination of a danger that he had never even experienced. Reason is seldom sufficient to change automatic emergency-based emotional responses.”

With a surge in cognitive therapies, there has been a surge in their wrongful implementation, with many therapists engaging in power struggles to convince people of faulty beliefs in order for new, more positive truths to simply work some magic ripple effect into their lives.

As an emotion-focused therapist, I have been prone to, for instance, encourage couples to engage in safer, softer, and more emotionally responsive interactions, yet when I have stood on my own soapbox, encouraging them to do so out of pace with their own readiness, I have violated my own guidance. Miller (1986) observed that people will “persist in an action when they perceive that they have personally chosen to do so.”

6. Babbling

Silence can provoke anxiety, even for therapists, who think they should surely be redirecting, conjecturing, advising. I find myself observing people in therapy watch me watch them watching me watch them. And I have found a power in it. Like a Rorschach ink blot, presence has power in and of itself to nudge a person’s anxiety so it presents and speaks up for itself.

My former colleague, Blanche Douglas (2015), wrote: “There was a method in Freud‘s madness when he prescribed the analyst be as undefined as possible, not disclosing details about his life and sitting behind the patient out of sight, saying little. This forced the patient to make meaning out of an ambiguous situation, and the only way he could do this was by recourse to his own experiences.”

7. Methodologizing

If a psychotherapist is lifeless or their technique too technical, their efforts to help may be worthless. Therapy, in this case, is not a relationship but a poor excuse for scientific experimentation. The mechanisms of some psychotherapies undermine their therapeutic value. When we fixate on therapeutic modality, we run great risk of missing prime opportunities to interject the most valuable therapeutic tool we have to offer—ourselves.

Cristofer Jeschke/Unsplash
Source: Cristofer Jeschke/Unsplash

Conclusion

As a new therapist, I remember trying hard to demonstrate my own capacity for psychological insight—even though, I must confess for my wise professors’ sake, I was certainly not trained to be an egotistical show-off. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I started to better understand and experience the disparity between knowing and being. All these years, I am still learning each day how to lean into the latter. There is something powerful in it, not just in the experience of the therapist but in the experience of the therapy.

The family therapy pioneer Lynn Hoffman, who sadly died in 2017, gave a language of values for sitting with clients—the non-expert position, relational responsibility, generous listening, one perspective is never enough.

If a therapist is not fully present as a warm, accepting, genuine, caring, and appropriately vulnerable person, the power center of therapy remains turned off. Whatever insight may come along the way, meaningful, sustainable change requires transformative experiencing. Analysis without encounter is nihilistic, all the apparatus of thought busily working in a vacuum. Only in the context of authentic relationship and therapeutic alliance can I grasp and catalyze the breadth and depth of formidable resources already existing within my clients.

This article originally appeared at Psychotherapy.net.

8 Types of Internal Conflict and How to Find Peace of Mind ⋆ LonerWolf

I really like the process described in this article for dealing with internal Conflicts. It describes them and  a detailed process for combatting/making peace.

Rory


8 Types of Internal Conflict and How to Find Peace of Mind ⋆ LonerWolf

Your mind and heart feel like they’re split in two.

You want to do something, but another part of you is screaming “NO WAY!”

You believe in something, but you just cannot condone an action that belief teaches.

You feel like something is right, but then you also feel like it’s wrong.

How can you make any sense of all this mess, all this internal conflict? You feel like your brain is melting and you’re starting to get desperate.

If you feel like you’re going a little bit crazy, or the confusion is getting too much to handle, stop right now. Pause what you’re doing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. For the next minute, focus on your breathing coming in and out. In this article, I hope to help you get to the root of your internal conflict and how to find peace of mind.

What is Internal Conflict?

Internal conflict is the experience of having opposing psychological beliefs, desires, impulses or feelings. In the field of psychology, internal conflict is often referred to as “cognitive dissonance,” which is a term that refers to holding conflicting and inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. This mental struggle can occur at any point in life over any topic such as relationships, work commitments, religious beliefs, moral standpoints, and social ideologies.

An example of internal conflict would be a person who believes in women’s rights but does not condone abortion. Internal conflict can often be seen in relationships where one person loves their partner, but they don’t feel emotionally available. In the religious world, internal conflict often occurs when one is faced with a doctrine or teaching they are uncomfortable propagating.

Why Does Internal Conflict Occur?

Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel. – Anonymous

When we experience any kind of internal conflict, what is really happening is that there is a disagreement between our heart and head.

As shown by research conducted by places such as the HeartMath Institute, our hearts carry their own special kind of intuitive intelligence. As we were raised in societies that were (and still are) dominated by the mind, we become very confused and disconcerted when our hearts get involved in everyday matters. It is very easy to listen to the mind, mindlessly obey what others teach us, and logically plan our lives. But our hearts carry their own special kind of intelligence, an intelligence that is nonlinear, subtle, and often very abstract. There is no formula or set of rules that are attached to the heart’s intelligence: it is up to us to tune into the voice within, which is often what confuses us so much.

Our head intelligence is what helps to give our lives structure, direction, and practical application. But our heart intelligence is what breathes life and truth into this framework of our life journeys. Without listening to our hearts, we live soulless, unfulfilling, and inauthentic lives. But without listening to our heads, we live in absolute chaos.

As we can see, balance is needed. We need to listen to both the heart and head, but often, we tend to value one over the other which is what causes us to experience internal conflict.

So why does internal conflict occur? It occurs because we lack equanimity and balance between the heart and head. Our heart says one thing, but our mind says another: and both shout at the same intensity. When our actions don’t match our values, the inevitable result is a feeling of discomfort, even shame. So which do we listen to, when, and why? We’ll explore the answer to this question soon, but first, we need to understand what creates internal conflict in the first place.

What Creates Internal Conflict?

We experience internal conflict for a number of reasons. Often, there is no one “single cause” or origin, but there are a number of factors which include:

  • The beliefs and rules we inherited from our parents
  • The religious beliefs, dogmas or creeds we were indoctrinated to believe
  • The societal values and ideals we adopted growing up

Quite simply, the more mental beliefs, ideals, expectations, and desires we have, the more likely we are to suffer from internal conflict.

8 Types of Internal Conflict

There are many different types of internal conflict, and I will attempt to cover as many as I can below. Pay close attention to which ones you resonate with.

1. Moral Conflict

Moral conflict arises when we hold conflicting beliefs about something to do with our personal ethics. For example, moral conflict could occur when a person believes in human rights but doesn’t believe in euthanasia. Or a person could value telling the truth, but lie to save another person’s life.

2. Sexual Conflict

Sexual conflict often overlaps with other types of internal conflict such as religious or moral conflict. For example, a person might be a faithful Christian but they discover they’re homosexual. Or a person might value monogamous relationships when sexually they are better suited to polygamous relationships.

3. Religious Conflict

Religious conflict is quite common because it revolves around belief and beliefs are very mind-orientated, making them particularly fragile. Examples of religious conflict could be believing in a loving God, but finding it hard to accept that this “loving” being sends people to hell for eternity. Or a person who is religiously faithful, but also believes in the use of medical marijuana (which is still classified as a drug). When faced with scientific facts, religious conflict may arise within a person who values both truth and their religious belief.

4. Political Conflict

Political conflict arises when a person feels split between their own beliefs and their political party’s beliefs. For example, a person may believe in America but doesn’t believe in paying taxes. A person may align with one party but disagree with their treatment of the healthcare system. Or a person may believe in the political philosophy but struggle to support the politician propagating it.

5. Love Conflict

Love conflict is what happens when we love someone, yet we want to do something that hurts them. For example, we may love our children, but believe we have to smack them to make them obedient, which causes us to feel guilty. Or we may love our partners, but find their habits to be intolerable which causes us to act out. We may also love a person and wish to keep them, but realize we have to let them go.

6. Self-Image Conflict

Your self-image is the mental idea you have about yourself, e.g. “My name is Karen. I’m a patient, loving, and compassionate person. I’m a disorganized artist who supports the rights of animals … etc.” Internal conflict arises when we are met with evidence that contradicts our beliefs about ourselves. For example, a person who believes they’re honest might lie on their resume to get their dream job. Someone who takes pride in eating healthy might not want to give up smoking. A person who identifies as an empath may feel constant resentment towards another person. Or a person may believe they’re ethical but might enjoy buying clothing that contributes to sweatshops.

7. Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict overlaps with other types of internal conflict such as self-image and love conflict. This type of conflict occurs in social situations when you want to be one way, but find yourself acting in another way. For example, Sally hates talking about sports, but she finds herself faking interest in what her coworkers talk about. An introvert doesn’t have much energy but creates a high-energy facade to fit in with others. Or someone is offended by a friend but says nothing even though they want to.

8. Existential Conflict

Existential conflict involves feelings of discomfort and confusion about life, particularly when two opposing beliefs or desires arise. For instance, hating life but loving life at the same time. Or wanting to live life to the fullest, but not wanting to make any changes or get out of your comfort zone. Existential conflict can also be directed towards the world, for example, wanting to save our planet, but at the same time believing that it’s doomed.

Please note that all of these examples of internal conflict frequently overlap with each other. This list is also not definitive, so feel free to leave a comment if you believe I’ve left any types of internal conflict out.

How to Find Peace of Mind

All war originates within as internal conflict. And what is the root cause of internal conflict? Attachment to beliefs, desires, and expectations.

Quite simply, all our suffering occurs when we believe our thoughts, instead of seeing them for what they truly are: passing fluctuations of energy within the brain. Do we control our thoughts? No. Otherwise, we would always choose to think happy and harmonious thoughts. We don’t even know what our next thought will be, or what our next ten thoughts will be because they all spontaneously arise and fall within the mind. If we don’t control these thoughts, then how can they possibly mean anything about us unless we give them meaning?


If you can truly understand what I’ve just written, you’ll find that a lot of your internal conflict dissipates very quickly. Simply sit down for however long you want, and try to notice where your thoughts come from. Do you control them? Or … are they controlling you?

Aside from that, here are some other tips which I hope can help you find more peace of mind and clarity:

  • Distinguish between intuition and fear. The intuitive voice within your heart is very clear, strong, and unemotional. However, the fearful voice is vague and emotionally-charged. Learn how to distinguish between these two voices because they are often confused. Read more about following your intuition.
  • In the long-term, what would be the wisest choice? When our heart dominates, we tend to make rash, poorly thought-out decisions. This is where the head comes in: foresight. Foresight is wisdom. With the limited knowledge you have right now, what would appear to be the wisest decision in the long-term?
  • Weigh up the pros and cons. If you’re struggling to find clarity, divide a page into two sides. List all the pros of your decision on one side and the cons on the other.
  • Figure out your number one priority. Internal conflict often appears when we have no clear priority. What is your biggest priority at the moment? What do you value the most?
  • What mistaken beliefs are fuelling your confusion? What false, misleading, limiting or second-hand beliefs are causing the conflict within you? Write down your problem on a page and next to it ask “Why?” For example, you might want to keep your job but also crave to stay at home with your kids. Asking why relentlessly, you might discover that you believe that staying at home with your kids makes you a failure, and you’ve adopted this belief from society.
  • Be ruthlessly honest: what are you scared of? Fear always underlies internal conflict. What is inflaming your cognitive dissonance? What are you truly scared of? Sometimes discovering your underlying fear helps you to gain more clarity and direction.
  • What is the “lesser of two evils”? If you had to choose – gun to your head – what decision would you make?
  • Adopt a future perspective. From the perspective of you resting on your deathbed, what would you regret the most?
  • What is resisting the flow? One easy way to examine what is “not meant to be” is to examine what is causing the most resistance in your life. Remember, life flows effortlessly. It is our thoughts and desires that cut the flow. So, explore what is creating the most resistance in your life. Are you clinging to a ship that sailed long ago?
  • What is a more loving approach? Are you honoring your authenticity or honoring what you “think” you should do/be? What approach or choice is more aligned with the truth, with love?
  • Is there a more important underlying issue? Sometimes internal conflict actually hides deeper issues that need to be explored to find a resolution, such as negative self-beliefs, unresolved shame or childhood wounds.
  • Relax your mind. Relaxing your mind is a great way to develop new perspectives. Try meditating, listening to soothing music or practicing mindfulness. Often the best answers come when we aren’t looking for them.
  • Choose to stop participating. Do you need an answer right this very moment? Sometimes allowing life to move in the direction it wants is a better option than forcefully blazing a path. As teacher Wayne Dyer once wrote, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”

I hope these tips can help you find more peace of mind. Remember that it’s completely normal to experience internal conflict – there is nothing weird about you. Also, when it comes to internal conflict people tend to romanticize the heart and believe that we should only listen to whatever the heart wants. But this is an imbalanced approach: we need to use the heart as well as the brain so that internal harmony is created.

Bounce Back Today – CMHA BC

Source: Bounce Back Today – CMHA BC

  • It’s not always easy to know when our mental health is at risk. We have ups and downs and get used to having a few bad days here and there. Sometimes we’re the last ones to notice there are more bad days than good.

    Taking this quiz can help you start living life more fully and point you towards steps you can take to start feeling better.

 

Tapping Away Distress with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Great article by  Ester Eckhaus

Original article here:    https://fractalenlightenment.com/36485/life/tapping-away-distress-with-emotional-freedom-technique-eft

I highly recommend!

Rory

Our emotions and our physical body seem to be paradoxical partners. Though we know they live alongside each other, we are not always aware of their intrinsic connection.

But, while watching our emotions we will notice bodily behaviours, such as change in breath, tensing of muscles, rushing of blood, etc, that prove the interconnectedness of the body and emotional world. So what would happen if they worked together? What if we could heal one by healing the other?emotional-freedom-technique-healing

The body and emotions are sometimes connected to their own detriment; when a person holds anger, guilt, or sadness inside for too long it causes many health problems. So what if, instead of going to a doctor or taking pills, we worked from the inside out and healed our emotions?

The Chinese discovered long ago that the body contains complex circuits of energy that move through the body. These energy circuits, called the meridians, are the founding blocks of acupuncture, acupressure, and many other healing techniques used today.

What the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping technique does is focuses and stimulates certain meridian points on the body by tapping on them with our fingertips. The result is a miraculous shift in emotions, and consequently in body and spirit.

EFT works on both the emotional and physical plane, being a highly constructive technique for both physical ailments such as soreness, chronic pains, high blood pressure, etc; or emotional state such as depression, guilt, or anxiety.

study examining the effects of EFT therapy in veterans with PTSD symptoms as compared to a group receiving standard mental health care, showed improvement in veterans receiving the EFT treatment after 6 sessions, resulting in 90% of the group no longer meeting PTSD clinical criteria; compared to the 4% in the standardized group.

These results are consistent with other studies that tested the effectiveness (along with the long-term effectiveness) of EFT treatment.

Other studies demonstrate how EFT can improve the health of people with a history of trauma in a very short amount of time –

How to do EFT?

This technique can be done by anyone, anywhere, and has therapeutic results for many. The technique is specific but can be done at any time, and for however long you want or need.

While traditional therapy can cost a lot, and works over a longer amount of time, EFT tapping can lead to peace of mind and improved health, in a shorter span of time. And as opposed to traditional therapy, what EFT does is empowers the patient to heal themselves.

A patient once lamented to her EFT coach that she regrets not being able to be there for herself at an earlier time, as she was learning to do at that present time. She wished she had these healing tools back when she was in a fragile or anxious state.

The coach responded that there is no time and space; as you heal in the present, you are healing your past, present, and future.

Step one:

Focus on the emotion or issue that you wish to work with; this can also be a goal you wish to achieve. Set one goal at a time as not to combine issues. Set your aim such as: the shame my mother made me feel, reaching my full potential in a (specific) activity, the fear I have of snakes, the anger I feel toward…etc.

You can also specify a physical ache or pain you wish to diminish, such as a sore body part or a chronic pain.

Step two:

Test the emotion. Set a number from 1-10 on how intense the issue stands before working on it. This allows you to compare the before and after effects. If a problem is marked with an 8 before hand and goes down to a 4 later on, then you know you have improved by 50%, and still have 50% left to work on.

  • For emotional work, bring up the emotion or memory in order to assess its intensity and discomfort.
  • For physical pains, merely focus on the discomfort in the body.
  • For goals in performance, set a specific goal which you’d like to achieve. For example: Hitting a difficult note.

Step three:

Acknowledge and accept. This step consists of a phrase that both acknowledges your issue, and accepts yourself in spite of it. This phrase is to be said as you are tapping, to keep the aim in continuous motion and attention.

The phrase is as such:
“Even though I have this _______, I deeply and completely (love and) accept myself.”

For example:
“Even though I have this fear of spiders, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I have this shame, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Etc.

Feel free to change the structure to fit your experience, such as instead of saying, “Even though I have this humiliation from my mother…” you can just as well say, “Even though I was/felt humiliated by my mother…” etc.

Step four:

Tapping is generally done with tips of your fingers (index and middle finger). For wider areas, like the top of the head, the collarbone and under the arm, four fingers are used. On sensitive areas, like around the eyes, you can use just two.

Tapping starts at the top of the body and works its way down, balancing and stimulating the body’s energy pathways. Below see the diagram of the energy points. Now tap away, using a firm but gentle pressure.
tapping-points-emotional-freedom-technique

Order of tapping points, from top to bottom:

Karate Chop (KC)
Top of the Head (TOH)
Beginning of the Eyebrow (EB)
Side of the Eye (SE)
Under the Eye (UE)
Under the Nose (UN)
Chin Point (CH)
Beginning of the Collarbone (CB)
Under the Arm (UA)

When through with the tapping cycle, sit within yourself and assess your symptom again. The tapping does not have to completely eradicate the problem, but lessen it bit by bit until resolved within yourself.

EFT tapping has an amazing effect on many people, both emotionally and physically, and works to move the stuck energy throughout us. A few minutes can diminish the effects of emotional trauma and add replenished movement to a person’s journey.

How Journaling Your Thoughts can Transform Your Life

This is a great little article on Journalling – the way I like to suggest people journal.

— Rory —

Source: How Journaling Your Thoughts can Transform Your Life

Life moves in cycles, a constant dance between beginning and end, birth and death. Our days mirror this dynamic, the mornings ushering in the new day’s sun, along with a host of new possibilities and adventures.

Night brings darkness, and ending, and a space of contemplation and reflection before we pass to the other side—in most cases only temporarily—before being born once again the next morning.

In modern culture, we have lost many of the rites and rituals that mark the progression of time and honor the cycles of growing, dying, and starting anew.

As a result, we so often find solace in habits, which appeal to our need for ritual. I think its important to provide structure to one’s life without falling into the often stifling space that routine manifests. Instead, try to approach your mornings — and your evenings — with a sense of sacredness.

These simple practices will help you greet the day with a clear head, welcome the night with a sense of completion and transform your life ~

Morning Pages: Empty out the clutter

“It is impossible to write Morning Pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power.” ~ Julia Cameron

The concept of morning pages was popularized by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. This magical book provides the reader with a number of powerful practices and shifts in perspective to help cultivate more creativity and freedom in writing. Morning Pages are, in my opinion, perhaps the most energy-shifting exercise in the whole book.

You start with a notebook, preferably something cheap so you don’t run into the problem of wanting to fill a fancy journal only with deep and eloquent thoughts.

Your morning pages may at times be deep and eloquent, but they will undoubtedly be silly, perhaps peevish, and occasionally shallow at other times.

Then, notebook in hand, sit down and write whatever is tumbling around in your head. Complain about your neighbor. Offer a prayer of thanks to God. Write a poem. Just get it out, onto the page. Write until you fill three pages, or about fifteen minutes.

Putting it down in ink gives all those bouncy thoughts a place to live, giving you more space to face your day with a clear head.

Morning Meditation: Swim to the middle of the lake

“The best way to meditate is through meditation itself.” ~ Ramana Maharshi

David Pond, author of Chakras for Beginners, offered this simple but effective meditation to help bring about a sense of clarity in the morning.
Find a comfortable seat, where you won’t be disturbed for at least fifteen minutes. Gently close your eyes and take a few calming breaths. Give yourself the opportunity to fully come into your body, noticing any sensations either physical or emotional that appear.

Now, envision yourself standing on the edge of a large lake. At your feet you see algae clinging to tree branches and murky water filled with silt and mud. Further out, sun glints off the clear center of the lake. Begin to wade in, stepping through the detritus, feeling the slimy rocks under foot.

Keep going, getting further into the water. As you make progress, you begin to see the water clearing. Soon, your feet lose contact with the bottom and you swim, all the way to the center of the lake, where the water is cool, clear, and beautiful.

The lake is your mind. Every morning when we wake up it’s filled an accumulation of stuff that bogs us down. Swim out to the center, the place that shines with pure, clean water, and begin your day from that perspective.

Evening Pages: Review so you can rest easy

“Control what you can control. Don’t lose sleep worrying about things you don’t have control over, because at the end of the day, you still won’t have any control over them.” ~ Cam Newton

Evening Pages have the same general concept as Morning Pages, with a slightly different perspective. As Cameron says, “With Morning Pages, you are prioritizing the day ahead of you (whenever that day begins for you). With Evening Pages, you are reviewing a day that has already happened–and that you are powerless to change.”

Evening Pages gives you the opportunity to get out all of the things you wanted to say, but couldn’t. Whether you had to keep silent in front of your boss, you thought of the perfect reply too late, or you found yourself too scared to express your truest thoughts and feelings, this is your chance to say it, so you don’t lie in bed having conversations with yourself that disrupt your sleep.

Evening Meditation: Drift off to dreamland

“May you fall asleep in the arms of a dream, So beautiful, You cry when you awake.” ~ Michael Faudet

In order to let yourself drift gracefully to sleep, try this modified version of Yoga Nidra. Lie on your back, in a comfortable position on your bed. Make sure you’re warm and your head is supported. Place your hands with your palms facing up a few inches away from your hips, and let your feet rest about a foot or so apart.

Gently close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Sense the air as it enters through your nostrils, dives into your lower lungs, then cycles back out. Don’t force deep breathing, just let it come naturally. After a little while, shift your attention to your body. Sense the different points of contact with your bed and your blankets, moving from your head to your feet, and back again.

Now, begin a gentle body scan, not forcing anything, but slowly and easily moving your consciousness through each part of your body. Traditional Yoga Nidra begins with the right thumb, but you can start wherever feels most natural. Pause for a few seconds on each point in your body, from your thumb, to each of your fingers, to your wrists and forearm, and so on. Chances are good you’ll be deep in sleep well before you finish.

Start and end your day with intention

With these practices, you can set up a powerful beginning and a relaxing end to every day. Move through your days with clarity, and let sleep come unimpeded by the stress and often frantic thoughts that move through us over the course of a normal day. Try it for a week, and see what changes you can bring about!

 

 

Book Review: “When The Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress”

I love this book and using many of the concepts with clients. Very thought provoking and not the average read. But an eyeopener and with words to live by.

Here is a link to a great review of the book. https://neuronovacentre.com/book-review-when-the-body-says-no-the-cost-of-hidden-stress/

Rory

_________________

 

Petition to Exempt Psychotherapy from HST

There is a new petition hosted on the Canadian House of Commons website, to exempt psychotherapy services from HST:

“We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to remove the HST on psychotherapy as a piece of the overall effort to make mental health care as accessible as possible to the citizens of Canada.”

This is the link to the petition, and to more information about it:

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1541

Consider signing, and sharing the link with others – every signature makes a difference!

Healing Your Shame and Guilt Through Self-Forgiveness | Psychology Today

Source: Healing Your Shame and Guilt Through Self-Forgiveness | Psychology Today

“True confession consists of telling our deed in such a way that our soul is changed in the telling it.”     -Maude Petre

We hear a lot about the importance of forgiving those who have harmed us, but what about forgiving ourselves? Is that important as well? I believe that it is.

When we harm someone it is normal and healthy to feel bad about it, to experience regret and to wish we could take it back or do something to make the person feel better. What isn’t healthy is to continually beat ourselves up for our offense and to determine we are a bad person because of it. The first experience is generally thought of as guilt, while the second is considered to be shame.

(There is little agreement, even among professional therapists, as to the exact difference between guilt and shame so I don’t want to get sidetracked into discussing this controversy. For our purposes I will present to you what I consider to be the most helpful information about the issue).

Shame and guilt can feel very similar—with both experiences we feel bad about ourselves. But guilt can be understood as feeling disappointed in oneself for violating an important internal value or code of behavior. Feeling guilty can be a healthy thing: it can open doors leading to positive behavior change. With shame one can also feel a disappointment in one self but no value has been violated. As Gershen Kaufman explained in Shame: The Power of Caring, “The meaning of the two experiences is as different as feeling inadequate is from feeling immoral.”

Shame is incredibly unhealthy, causing lowered self-esteem (feelings of unworthiness) and behavior that reinforces that self-image. As we are learning more and more, shame can be an extremely debilitating emotion. Shame is responsible for a myriad of problems, including but not limited to:

* Self-criticism and self-blame;

* Self-neglect;

* Self-destructive behaviors (abusing your body with food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, self-mutilation, being accident-prone);

* Self-sabotaging behavior (starting fights with loved ones, sabotaging jobs);

* Perfectionism;

* The belief that you do not deserve good things;

*  Intense rage (frequent physical fights, road rage);

* Acting out against society (breaking the rules, breaking the law);

* Continuing to repeat the cycle of abuse through either victim behavior or abusive behavior.

Some have explained the difference between shame and guilt as follows: When we feel guilt we feel badly about something we did or neglected to do. When we feel shame we feel badly about who we are. When we feel guilty we need to learn that it is okay to make mistakes. When we feel shame we need to learn that it is okay to be who we are.

I believe that self-forgiveness is the most powerful step you can take to rid yourself of  debilitating shame. This is particularly true for those who have been abused, but it applies to everyone.  Self-forgiveness is not only recommended but absolutely essential if we wish to become emotionally healthy and have peace of mind. It goes like this: the more shame you heal, the more you will be able to see yourself more clearly—the good and the bad. You will be able to recognize and admit how you have harmed yourself and others. Your relationships with others will change and deepen. More importantly, your relationship with yourself will improve.

In my book, It Wasn’t Your Fault: Healing the Shame of Childhood Sexual Abuse through Self-Compassion I wrote about how compassion is the antidote to shame. Self-compassion acts to neutralize the poison of shame, to remove the toxins created by shame. Self-forgiveness is an important aspect of self-compassion. It acts to soothe our body, mind and soul of the pain caused by shame and facilitates the overall healing process

The Obstacles to Self-Forgiveness

Many people experience a lot of resistance to the idea of self-forgiveness. You may view self-forgiveness as “letting yourself off the hook,” as if self-judgment is the only way to improve. But negative self-judgment and self-blaming can actually act as an obstacle to self-improvement. The more shame you feel about your past actions and behaviors, the more your self-esteem is lowered and the less likely it is you will feel motivated to change. And without self-forgiveness your level of shame will cause you to defend yourself from taking on more shame by refusing to see your faults and not being open to criticism or correction.

The good news is: You can resolve to change your behavior and forgive yourself at the same time. In fact, the more you forgive yourself, the more you will be motivated to change. Self-forgiveness opens the door to change by releasing resistance and deepening your connection to yourself.

Still another reason you may have difficulty forgiving yourself is that you may have a powerful need to “be good” and to be seen as “all good” in the eyes of others, as well as yourself. This need to be “all good” may have started because your parents or other caretakers may have had this unreasonable expectation of you and may have severely punished or abandoned you when you made a mistake. Now you may find that you are equally critical of yourself and equally unforgiving.

If you have harmed others and resist forgiving yourself you may ask, “Why should I forgive myself? It won’t help those I’ve harmed.” The most powerful reason: If you do not forgive yourself, the shame you carry will compel you to continue to act in harmful ways toward others and yourself. And forgiving yourself will help you to heal another layer of shame and free you to continue becoming a better human being. Without the burden of self-hatred you have been carrying around you can literally transform your life.

How to Forgive Yourself for the Harm You Caused Others

Forgiving yourself for the ways you have hurt or harmed others will probably be the hardest thing that you will ever have to do in order to heal your shame. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your life. This is especially true if you have repeated the cycle of abuse by harming another person in the same ways you were abused.

For example, it may seem impossible to forgive yourself for abusing a child. After all, you know first-hand how much child abuse damages a child. And you know first-hand how much the shame that accompanies abuse can devastate a person’s life. Here are some examples of what clients have shared with me regarding the shame they felt:

“How could I possibly abuse my own child the way I was abused? I knew how much it devastated me to be beaten by my father. And yet I turned right around and did it to my own children. It’s unforgivable.”
“I promised myself I would not treat my children the way I was treated. And yet to my horror the very same words my mother said to me came out of my mouth. Those horrible, shaming, devastating words, “I hate you. I wish you had never been born.’ How can I forgive myself for saying those horrible words to the people I love most in the world?”
“I feel like a monster. The shame I feel for molesting my daughter is so intense I can’t even describe it. I couldn’t have done anything worse to her. I’ve affected her life is such a horrible way. She must feel so betrayed. She must hate me and I don’t blame her.”

Four Avenues Toward Self-Forgiveness

As difficult as it may seem to be able to forgive yourself for the harm you have caused others, the good news is that there are several effective ways to go about it:

1.Self-understanding

2. Common humanity

3. Earning Your Forgiveness: Taking responsibility, apologizing and making amends

4. Asking for forgiveness from your higher power.

As you read the following suggestions, choose the ways that you relate to the most, the avenues that resonate the most with you and your situation.

Self-Understanding Can Lead to Self-Forgiveness

If you were abused as a child and then repeated the cycle of abuse with your own children it is vital that you gain some self-understanding. Understanding that the trauma(s) you experienced created problems within you that were out of your control can go a long way toward forgiving yourself for the ways that you have hurt others. For example, understanding that your addiction—whether it be to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, shopping, or gambling —has been a way to self-medicate and to cope with anxiety and fear, can help you to stop beating yourself up for the harm your addiction caused those close to you. Understanding that the reason you have become abusive toward your children or your partner or have developed a pattern of allowing others to abuse you comes directly from your abuse experiences will hopefully help you to stop chastising yourself for these behaviors.

Research shows that the long-term effects of trauma (such as abuse in childhood) tend to be most obvious and prominent when people are stressed, in new situations, or in situations that remind them of the circumstances of their trauma. Unfortunately, becoming a parent creates all three of these circumstances for someone who was abused in childhood. First time parenthood, in particular, is stressful and almost always triggers memories of our own childhood traumas. This sets the stage for child abuse.

In addition, the sad truth is that those who were abused or neglected in childhood are more likely to become abusive or neglectful of their own children than someone who didn’t have these experiences. There are certain traits that you may have that predisposed you to treat your children in abusive or neglectful ways. These include: an inability to have compassion toward your child; a tendency to take things too personally (this may have caused you to overreact to your children’s behavior by yelling, calling them names or hitting them); being overly invested in your children looking good (and you looking good as their parent) because of your lack of self-confidence; and an insistence on your children “minding” you or respecting you to compensate for your shame or lack of confidence.

And there is still another reason that is not often discussed that can cause a parent to become abusive: seeing your own weakness or vulnerability in your child. Those with a history of having been victimized often develop a tendency to hate or despise weakness. If you saw weakness in your child you may have been reminded of your own vulnerability and victimization and this may have ignited your own self-hatred, thus causing you to lash out at your child.

Your own experiences of abuse and/or neglect may have prevented you from developing the qualities necessary to be a good parent.  For example, if your mother did not emotionally bond with you, you may have found it difficult, if not impossible to bond with your own children; if your parents looked to you to meet needs that should have been met by other adults in their life, you may have repeated this pattern; and if your mother did not protect you from the abusers in your life, you may not have protected your own children from the abusers in your life.

Forgive yourself. You didn’t know any better.

Common Humanity and Gaining Compassion for Yourself

Kristin Neff, Ph.D is an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin and is a pioneer who first established self-compassion as a field of study. In her construct of self-compassion, she names recognition of the common human experience—or what she calls, “Common Humanity,” as the second fundamental element of self-compassion. In her book, Self-Compassion (2011) she states that “self-compassion honors the fact that all human beings are fallible, that wrong choices and feelings of regret are inevitable…”

The truth is, we have all harmed others. In fact, every single person on this planet has harmed at least one other person in ways that have shaped that person’s life. Knowing this and knowing that you are not alone, can help you to have compassion for yourself and to forgive yourself. Feeling compassion for yourself does not release you from taking responsibility for your actions (we’ll discuss this later on in this blog). But it can release you from the self-hatred that prevents you from forgiving yourself and free you to respond to the situation with clarity. Rather than tormenting yourself with guilt and shame, having compassion for your own suffering and for the suffering of those you have harmed can help you achieve the clarity necessary for you to think of ways you can help those you have harmed (we will also discuss making amends and repairing the harm later in the blog ).

Acknowledging the interconnected nature of our lives is another aspect of Common Humanity. The truth is, who we are, how we think and how we behave is inextricably interwoven with other people and events. (Neff, 2011). In other words, you didn’t get to where you are today all by yourself. Your tendency to be a victim or your tendency to be abusive did not just happen. You must continue to look for the causes and conditions that lead you to these unhealthy behavior patterns.

When you examine your mistakes and failures it becomes clear that you did not consciously choose to make them and even in those rare cases when you did make a conscious choice, the motivation for your actions was colored by your abuse (or other) experiences. Because of the shame you have carried you closed your heart to others, you became blind to how your actions were harming others. In addition, outside circumstances also contributed to you forming your particular patterns. These outside circumstances can be any of the following: genetics, family experiences—including the way your parents interacted with each other and the way they interacted with you—and life circumstances such as poverty, family history and your cultural background.

As Kristin Neff wrote in Self-Compassion: “When we begin to recognize that we are a product of countless factors, we don’t need to take our ‘personal failings’ so personally. When we acknowledge the intricate web of causes and conditions in which we are all imbedded, we can be less judgmental of ourselves and others. A deep understanding of interconnectedness allows us to have compassion for the fact that we’re doing the best we can given the hand life has dealt us.”

Exercise: Your Sins and Omissions

Write a list of the people you have harmed and the ways you have harmed them.
One by one, go through your list and write down the various causes and conditions that led you to this action or inaction. You’ve already made the connection between your harmful actions and the fact that you were abused or neglected. Now think of other precipitating factors such as a family history of violence and a family history of addiction, as well as more subtle factors such as: stress due to financial problems or marital problems.
Now ask yourself consider why you didn’t stop yourself from harming this person.. For example, were you so full of rage that you couldn’t control yourself? Did you hate yourself so much that you didn’t care how much you hurt someone else? Had you built up such a defensive wall that you couldn’t have empathy or compassion for the person you harmed?
Now that you have a (you have a) better understanding of the causes and conditions that lead you to act as you did, see if you can apply the concept of Common Humanity (Neff, 2011) toward yourself: You were an imperfect, fallible human being and like all humans sometimes do, you acted in ways that hurt someone else. Honor the limitations of your human imperfection. Have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself.

Earning Your Forgiveness

If you continue to find yourself resisting forgiving yourself, ask yourself this question. “Why wouldn’t I want to forgive myself?” If your answer is “I don’t deserve it,” that is your shame talking. If you are still feeling like you don’t deserve forgiveness, perhaps you believe you need to earn it.

How do you earn forgiveness? First of all, you need to admit to yourself and others the wrongs you have committed. Unless you tell the complete truth about how you have harmed others, first to yourself and then to the person or people you have hurt (if at all possible), you may not believe you deserve to be forgiven. (And incidentally, unless you admit what you did to harm the person or people you have harmed, they may not be willing to forgive you).

Dwelling on your mistakes does no one any good, including the person you harmed.

When you take responsibility for your actions you may feel more shame at the moment, but before long that feeling of shame will be replaced with a feeling of self-respect and of genuine pride (as opposed to false pride).

To prepare yourself for this process:

Spend some time thinking seriously about how your actions or inaction have harmed the person.

Completing the following sentence may help in this process:

“I harmed ________by___________________.”

Write down all the ways your action or inaction harmed this person.

“I caused______________to suffer in the following ways______________.”

The next step is to go to those you have harmed and admit what you have done to hurt them. It is important that you tell those you have harmed that they have a right to their anger and that you encourage them to voice their anger directly to you. Make certain, however, that you do not allow anyone to verbally abuse you or to shame you.  Taking responsibility may also include admitting to others, such as other family members, how you abused or neglected your victim.

Apologizing

Your admittance of what you did to harm others is doubly powerful if it is accompanied by a heartfelt, sincere apology. One of the most frequent comments that I hear from those who were abused in childhood is that they wish the offender would admit what he or she did and apologize to them for it.  Think of an incident when you felt wronged by another person. What did you want from that person in order to forgive him or her? Most people say they want an apology. But why is this the case? It isn’t just the words, “I’m sorry,” that we need to hear. We need the wrongdoer to take responsibility for his or her action and we need to know that the wrongdoer feels regret or remorse for having harmed us.

Apology can remove the cloak of shame that even the most remorseful person carries around. On the other hand, if you don’t experience enough shame when you wrong someone else, apology can help remind you of the harm you caused. The act of having to apologize to someone usually causes us to feel humiliated. Remembering that humiliation the next time you are tempted to repeat the same act can discourage you from acting on your impulse.

When we are able to develop the courage to admit when we are wrong and to work past our fears and resistance to apologizing we develop a deep sense of respect in ourselves. This self-respect can, in turn affect our self-esteem, our self-confidence and our overall outlook on life. When I apologize to you I show you that I respect you and care about your feelings. I let you know that I did not intend to hurt you and that it is my intention to treat you fairly in the future.  If you apologize for abusing or neglecting a child, even though that person is now grown, you will not only validate his or her experience but help the person to stop blaming himself or herself  for the abuse.

How to Give A Meaningful Apology

A meaningful apology is one that communicates what I call the three R’s–regret, responsibility, and remedy.

1. A statement of regret for having caused the inconvenience, hurt or damage. This includes an expression of empathy toward the other person showing that you understand how your action or inaction harmed him or her.

2. An acceptance of responsibility for your actions. For an apology to be effective it must be clear that you are accepting total responsibility for your actions or inaction. This means not blaming anyone else for what you did and not making excuses for your actions.

3. A statement of your willingness to take some action to remedy the situation. While you can’t go back and undo or redo the past, you can do everything within your power to repair the harm you caused. Therefore, a meaningful apology needs to include a statement in which you offer restitution in some way, an offer to help the other person, or a promise to take action so that you will not repeat the behavior. In the case of emotional or physical abuse, you can enter therapy or a support group to make sure you do not abuse anyone again. You can offer to pay for your victim’s therapy or you can donate your time or money to organizations that work to help victims of abuse.

For more information on how to give a meaningful apology refer to my book, The Power of Apology, John Wiley and Sons, 2000.

Ask Your Creator or Higher Power for Forgiveness

When we face the truth about how we have hurt others, sometimes severely, the feelings of guilt and shame can be overwhelming. Often, the only way we can find compassion for ourselves or self-forgiveness is to reach out to something bigger than our individual selves.

Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, asking your higher power for comfort, compassion and forgiveness can be a powerful step in forgiving yourself. This may be as simple as praying to God to forgive you for your sins, or it may involve a more structured gesture. For example, the act of confession within the Catholic church is essentially an apology to God. It has all the important components of apology–a statement of regret, an acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions, a promise to not repeat the offense, and the request for forgiveness. In the Jewish tradition it has long been the custom to seek forgiveness from family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues during the time of the High Holy Days.

You may also wish to pray to your higher power for help in your process of self-forgiveness. Many of my clients have reported that by doing this they believe they received help in this endeavor.

If you have learned from your mistake, and do not wish to repeat it, then you no longer need to feel guilt or shame about it. Forgive yourself and let it go.

If you find you are still overwhelmed with guilt or shame about how your past behavior has affected someone, it will be important to realize and remember this truth: The most effective method of self-forgiveness is for you to vow that you will not continue the same behavior and not hurt someone in the same way again.

 

Chart of James Fowler’s Stages of Faith | psychologycharts.com

See a chart explaining James Fowler’s stages of faith development

Source: Chart of James Fowler’s Stages of Faith | psychologycharts.com

In his book 1981 book Stages of Faith , James W. Fowler developed a theory of six stages that people go through as their faith matures based on the Piaget stages and Kohlberg stages. The basic theory can be applied, not only to those in traditional faiths, but those who follow alternative spiritualities or secular worldviews as well. In his 1987 book A Different Drum, M. Scott Peck offered a simplified version focusing only on the four most common stages. See also: Erikson stages

Stage

Description

Simplified version by M. Scott Peck

Stage 1

Intuitive-Projective This is the stage of preschool children in which fantasy and reality often get mixed together. However, during this stage, our most basic ideas about God are usually picked up from our parents and/or society. I. Chaotic-Antisocial People stuck at this stage are usually self-centered and often find themselves in trouble due to their unprincipled living. If they do end up converting to the next stage, it often occurs in a very dramatic way.

Stage 2

Mythic-Literal When children become school-age, they start understanding the world in more logical ways. They generally accept the stories told to them by their faith community but tend to understand them in very literal ways. [A few people remain in this stage through adulthood.]

Stage 3

Synthetic-Conventional Most people move on to this stage as teenagers. At this point, their life has grown to include several different social circles and there is a need to pull it all together. When this happens, a person usually adopts some sort of all-encompassing belief system. However, at this stage, people tend to have a hard time seeing outside their box and don’t recognize that they are “inside” a belief system. At this stage, authority is usually placed in individuals or groups that represent one’s beliefs. [This is the stage in which many people remain.] II. Formal-Institutional At this stage people rely on some sort of institution (such as a church) to give them stability. They become attached to the forms of their religion and get extremely upset when these are called into question.

Stage 4

Individuative-Reflective This is the tough stage, often begun in young adulthood, when people start seeing outside the box and realizing that there are other “boxes”. They begin to critically examine their beliefs on their own and often become disillusioned with their former faith. Ironically, the Stage 3 people usually think that Stage 4 people have become “backsliders” when in reality they have actually moved forward. III. Skeptic-Individual Those who break out of the previous stage usually do so when they start seriously questioning things on their own. A lot of the time, this stage ends up being very non-religious and some people stay in it permanently

Stage 5

Conjunctive Faith It is rare for people to reach this stage before mid-life. This is the point when people begin to realize the limits of logic and start to accept the paradoxes in life. They begin to see life as a mystery and often return to sacred stories and symbols but this time without being stuck in a theological box. IV. Mystical-Communal People who reach this stage start to realize that there is truth to be found in both the previous two stages and that life can be paradoxical and full of mystery. Emphasis is placed more on community than on individual concerns.

Stage 6

Universalizing Faith Few people reach this stage. Those who do live their lives to the full in service of others without any real worries or doubts.
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Conflict and the Thinker/Feeler Struggle in Relationships

The thinking/feeling dichotomy was first connected to individual differences in psychological types (personalities) by Carl Jung. It is used in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator’s personality typology and addresses natural differences in how individuals make decisions and experience emotions.

It is also the cause of a great deal of tension and conflict for couples that naturally differ on this dichotomy.

The terms used for descriptive purposes here can be misleading. For instance, someone with a feeling response orientation is not inherently more able to feel or less able to think than someone with a thinking response orientation; and someone with a thinking orientation is not inherently more able to think or less able to feel than someone with a feeling orientation (Reinhold, 2007).

These terms are used to address fundamental differences in the perceptual and experiential processes automatically triggered when thinking- and feeling-response-oriented individuals are sorting out and expressing what they are thinking and feeling. (Please note that this interpretation differs significantly from those of Carl Jung and the authors of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.)

Although human beings are aware that people differ in how they come to conclusions and experience and express emotions, few understand that these differences in self-expression are driven by innately different perceptual and experiential frames of reference. Of particular note is a fundamental difference in the experience of emotions when conflicts arise—a difference of such magnitude that role-reversal comprehension is not possible. These differences are a constant in interactions between thinking and feeling individuals, easily confirmed by observation of one’s personal and professional relationships.

Those with thinking response orientation:
  • Process thoughts and experience emotions with an objective, fact-based frame of reference.
  • Base decisions on objective criteria of cause and effect.
  • Automatically seek a logical explanation for what is happening when conflicts arise.
  • Have a self-grounded sense of logical consistency in thought, action, and emotion.
  • Interpret anything expressed or done that does not make logical sense as automatically invalid.

Those with feeling response orientation:

  • Are wired to facilitate harmony in human relationships.
  • Have a natural sensitivity to issues of fairness and inclusion.
  • Are tuned in to the tone of communication. If it is not said nicely, it is not nice.
  • Are susceptible to feeling guilty or bad out of proportion to objective reality when conflicts arise.
  • Have a susceptibility to feeling hurt and rejected when responded to in an emotionally neutral or blunt manner.

Thinking/Feeling Couples

The usual cause of difficulty for couples that differ on this dichotomy comes from a fundamental difference in how they experience and express emotions. The moment harmony is disrupted, most feeling-response-oriented individuals feel bad, as if they have done something wrong. Knowing they have not, in fact, done something wrong does not usually help. They feel bad anyway.

When these feelings are triggered, they may immediately apologize, hoping to restore harmony and neutralize the guilt they are experiencing, or they may get upset with their partner for doing something that caused them to feel that way. Neither of these responses makes much sense to a thinking-response-oriented individual.

Why would a person feel guilty and bad simply because someone disagreed with them; much less suggest that the other is at fault for causing them to feel that way? From the thinking-oriented perspective these responses do not make logical sense and are therefore invalid.

Choice is not an option here. Very much like the degree to which someone is left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous, the manner in which feeling- and thinking-oriented individuals experience and express thoughts and feelings is natural and normal—just different.

The Challenge in Communication

In essence, two naturally disparate perceptual frames of reference for making sense out of the same reality have been activated. The feeling partner seeks validation for how they are feeling about the situation, while the thinking partner seeks validation for why they think their partner’s feelings do not make logical sense. Neither can provide a response that meets the other’s criterion for being heard.

Without intention or awareness, the explanations that each provide for justifying their own natural and normal responses de facto invalidate the natural and normal responses of their partner. Issues of little import can trigger emotionally charged exchanges that leave both parties psychologically battered, blaming each other for the damage done, while the issues themselves remain unresolved. The conflict resolution challenge is significantly magnified when the couple also differs on the extroversion-introversion dichotomy.

Conflict Resolution Approach

I have been using a natural differences questionnaire based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with all couples and families since 2000. Information on natural differences has proven to be consistently accurate.

In fact, the accuracy of the information above is such that most thinking-response-oriented partners have been able to accept its validity. Feeling-response-oriented partners have usually been more ambivalent. Although the information provides concrete validation regarding their emotional sensitivity and reactivity, it does not provide them with much relief from the feelings that get triggered when conflicts arise.

If they accept the premise that natural and normal differences in response orientations are at play, they have to acknowledge that their partner

  1. cannot experientially relate to how they are feeling when conflicts arise and, therefore,
  2. is not at fault for the feelings their comments can trigger.

The inequity inherent to this difference in experiencing emotion is such that some feeling-response-oriented partners have great difficulty accepting it. Fortunately, once most thinking-oriented partners have a logical explanation for their partner’s feel-based responses, they have been able to soften their responses in general and become more considerate and accommodating when conflicts arise. This change has helped many feeling partners contain the resentment they automatically experience during conflict.

The intensity of the explosive exchanges that some thinking/feeling couples are dealing with is such that adherence to a timeout rule is an absolute necessity if they hope to replace their destructive conflict resolution process with a healthier one. It is understandable why some feeling-response-oriented partners have a hard time adhering to this time out rule. After all, extroverted/feeling-oriented individuals have a particularly difficult time letting go before their partner has acknowledged the validity of how they are feeling.

The fact remains that once an issue has become emotionally charged and abusive, the possibility of a meaningful resolution no longer exists. Partners with strong extroversion, intuition, and feeling-response orientations may have a particularly difficult time accommodating this timeout rule.

The level of psychic distress (disruption of self) that some experience is so extreme that efforts by their partner to withdraw may trigger desperate, even violent behaviors to prevent their partner’s exit before a resettling response has been provided. However, a way must be found to contain these emotions if they hope to replace their destructive process with a healthier one.

Consequently, depending on the perceived volatility of the conflicted exchange, the person calling for a timeout may:

  1. Agree to a future time to reconvene and try again, before their next counseling appointment.
  2. Wait until their next counseling session to address the issue.
  3. Contact the counselor to see if an earlier date can be scheduled to meet.

The timeout is almost always called for by the thinking partner and resented by the feeling partner.

Tip for thinkers: Seek to understand and accommodate your partner’s areas of sensitivity rather than attempt to help them understand why they should not feel that way.

Tip for feelers: Use logic-based constructs when explaining why they are upset. Example: “Even though you do not understand why I get upset when you say that, the fact remains that every time you say that I get upset. Given the predictability of my response, why do you keep saying that?”

Once most couples realize that natural differences are at play, and that neither is intentionally responding the way they do in order to get his or her own way, they are able to accommodate and compromise in areas that had not been possible before.

Reference:
Reinold, Ross. (21 March, 2007). E-mail correspondence.

 

Mental Health Services, Help and Support: Ottawa-Carleton

Source: Ottawa-Carleton, ON : Mental Health Services, Help and Support : eMentalHealth.ca

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Finances and Money

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South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre works with the diverse community of South-East Ottawa and with partners throughout the region to provide and advocate more
1355 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8K7 Map
613-737-5115
All ages

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Offers a variety of programs including * Counselling and Referral * Early Years Centre for children ages 0-6 * Children and Youth Services * Services for more
2 MacNeil Court, Ottawa (kanata), ON, K2L 4H7 Map
613-591-3686
All ages

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Transportation, adult day programs, support programs, social recreation for rural seniors more
1128 Mill Street, Manotick, ON, K4M 1H2 Map
613-692-4697
65 years and up

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General Community Mental Health Services

Non-profit organization dedicated to promoting good mental health, developing and implementing support systems and services and encouraging public action to more
1355 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8K7 Map
613-737-7791
All ages

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Trained and experienced counsellors at The Counselling Group (TCG) provide a full range of counselling and support services for children, adolescents, and more
2255 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON, K2B 7Z5 Map
613-722-2225 x352
All ages

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Offers a variety of programs including * Counselling and Referral * Early Years Centre for children ages 0-6 * Children and Youth Services * Services for more
2 MacNeil Court, Ottawa (kanata), ON, K2L 4H7 Map
613-591-3686
All ages

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Hospital that specializes in wide range of mental health services including: * inpatient and outpatient services for youth and adults * specialized mental more
1145 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1Z 7K4 Map
613-722-6521
16 years and up

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Private Practice Professionals and Commercial Businesses

Other

Bytowne Homecare Services is a community-based service that provides important assistance to supplement the efforts of family caregivers, friends, neighbors, more
1 Thorncliffe Place, Ottawa, ON, K2H 9N9 Map
613-790-9355
18 years and up

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Programme de jour pour adulte offre une multitude d’activités sociales, récréatives et éducative dans l’objectif de: -Maintenir la more
159 rue Murray, Ottawa, ON, K1N 5M7 Map
613-241-1266
All ages

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1 in 5 people will have some sort of mental health problem in their life. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis yourself, or you know someone who is, more
Physical address not provided
613-722-6914
All ages

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Services for francophones who are living with mental health problems. Court Outreach: a program that helps francophones who are experiencing mental health more
338 chemin Montréal, Ottawa, ON, K1L 6B3 Map
613-742-0988 x610
16 years and up

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Pari Home Care offers a full range of non-medical in-home services for seniors and persons who are physically challenged or recovering from illness or surgery. more
2638 Innes Road, Ottawa, ON, K1B 5B0 Map
613-266-6765
All ages

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Lawyer referral organization that helps people with all disabilities including people who are deaf, hard of hearing, people with physical disabilities, mental more
400 Coventry Road, Ottawa, ON, K1K 2C7 Map
613-236-6636
All ages

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Individualized home and non-medical care services to seniors and their families who need assistance with daily living needs Quality services provided to more
352 Hamilton Ave S, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 1C5 Map
613-422-7676
All ages

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Providing residential treatment services, foster care services and community based respite programs for over 15 years. Services are provided in the Ottawa more
47 Landsdowne Ave., Carleton Place, ON, K7C 4K3 Map
613-831-1105
All ages

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Services provided include: Occupational Therapy Speech Language Therapy Social Work Child and family services Mental Health and Addictions Services more
4200 Labelle, Ottawa, ON, K1J 1J8 Map
613-745-5525
All ages

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Primary Care to Mental health and addictions resource map for Champlain Sub-regions more
ON,CA
All ages

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Francophone community health organization that offers integrated mental health and addiction services as well as housing services to vulnerable individuals, more
162 Murray Street, Ottawa, ON, K1N 5M8 Map
613-789-5144
16 years and up

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Facilitates community reintegration for people living with mental illness or concurrent disorders by offering housing supports in order to prevent more
162 rue Murray Street, Ottawa, ON, K1N 5M8 Map
613-789-5144 x226
16 – 65 years

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The Support Within Housing program facilitates community reintegration for people living with mental illness or concurrent disorders by offering housing more
162 rue Murray Street, Ottawa, ON, K1N 5M8 Map
613-789-5144 x226
16 – 65 years

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Residential treatment services for children aged 8 years old and older. Services for youth with acting out behaviours, mental health / abuse issues, and more
34 Mayo Ave, Ottawa, ON, K2E 6X5 Map
613-371-3804
8 years and up

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MHH provides free, anonymous, confidential information and referral services and supports for people experiencing mental health issues or to their families, more
ON,CA
1-866-531-2600
All ages

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The professional association for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) and Audiologists in Ontario. Their website has a Private Practice Referral Line for finding more
410 Jarvis Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 2G6 Map
416-920-3676
All ages

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Founded in 1977 to unite and promote the emerging profession of art therapy in Canada. Art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, more
Parksville, BC, V9P 2G7 Map
All ages

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Looking for a psychologist? The Canadian Register of Health Service Providers (CRHSPP) has a national directory of qualified psychology providers. more
368 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, ON, K1N 7G3 Map
613-562-0900
All ages

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Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only bilingual phone and on-line counselling service for youth. It’s free, anonymous and confidential. Professional more
439 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1Y8 Map
416-586-5437
5 – 20 years

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Parkinson Society Canada (PSC) is a national, not-for-profit, organization with more than 240 chapters and support groups working nationwide.   As the more
4211 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M2P 2A9 Map
416-227-9700
All ages

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Non-profit association that seeks to transform the mental health sector to be an inclusive society where people achieve full social inclusion. Promotes more
140 Holland Street West, Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5 Map
1-866-655-8548
All ages

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Therapy Dog services are provided across Canada by St. John’s Ambulance in a wide range of community settings such as: hospitals, seniors residences and care more
ON,CA
All ages

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Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of people with physical, emotional, and social challenges through partnerships with companion and service animals. more
1010 Polytek St, Ottawa, ON, K1J 9H9 Map
1-888-473-7027
All ages

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