If you read yesterday’s post of Maladaptive Schema http://weareone-ruth.blogspot.com/2015/05/maladaptive-schemas.html and find yourself saying, “That is so me.” By the end of the list, I felt very discouraged. I felt like some research wrinkled gnome just wrote out the worst part of my life for the whole world to see. But that is just it, I can paint on a face and most people don’t see anything else. I felt like I was dying inside and people described me as a happy person. I groused in counseling as we looked at different cases with this is bad, this is worse and this is about as bad as it gets. I kept landing in the realm of this is about as bad as it gets. It just sucks. I wanted to be special some other way. My counselor let me grouse and then told me I had options……..REALLY? Can I say I was doubtful? Huge understatement. I looked at him like he was the one living in LALA land. He first asked me who I could change? Simple answer, myself. Can you change your past? Another simple answer, no. Can you change tomorrow? It isn’t here yet. He left a long pause…. Then what are you going to do today? I don’t know. He then took several years to teach me the options and possibilities open to me. I figured out they are open to anybody….I thought I would give a few things I learned about each one. I’ll probably stress this over a few days.
From the blog http://www.schematherapy.com/id73.htm
1. ABANDONMENT / INSTABILITY – The perceived instability or unreliability of those available for support and connection.
I can’t change my past….my mother did neglect me and my father did leave me to her less than tender mercies. I first had to stop looking at these two rotting beams for support. If they didn’t support me in the past they are certainly not help me in my future. I cleared out the foundation in my life and allowed myself to look for more reliable support. I found it in my counselor, my husband, new friends, my sister once we cleared out a lot of misunderstandings, I rebuilt my life on a different support system. I have a job that is supportive. I also found out that when I am in the darkest of holes hitting rock bottom, I found Christ is the rock at the bottom. I do have a more stable foundation. I have family and friends that are supportive. I changed who I was looking for support. After 10 years of counseling, I am still seeing a counselor. Making this choice for me is a stabilizing influence. Do I still expect I am going to be abandoned? Yes, then I mentally review all those that are supportive of me and remind myself that I have a new perception. Do I still feel unstable? Sometimes but I know what I need to do, if I can’t stand it, try my knees. God is just a prayer away. I can also contact my counselor. Now that I am stronger I am more likely call my husband or sister. I have a more stable foundation than ever before. I remind myself, I am a work in progress.
2. MISTRUST / ABUSE – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage.
Change my foundation, change my support people and remove my abusers out of my life. My counselor also spent many sessions helping me sort out when people are being intentionally abusive and those that are just human and do dumb stuff that hurt my feeling….all one of them….naw I have more than one feeling….I still encounter people that are hurtfully, abusive, enjoy humiliating others, will cheat, lie, manipulate or take advantage of me. I am learning to recognize these people and remind myself that I can protect myself from their behavior. I have a whole tool box of choices on how to respond to these people. I still remember the day I was in a session fretting about how I “had” to do something. I put had in quotes for a reason. My counselor started looking all around the room, what was he looking for? He finally had my 100% attention then he stated, “I don’t see anyone holding a gun to your head?” Wow. Took a bit of thinking to sink in. Even my nasty boss that was making my life miserable hadn’t resorted to holding a gun to my head. I had death threats as a child. I am not a child any more. I am learning a number of skills to protect myself from unpleasant people.
3. EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION – Expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others
I was emotionally starved as a child. I was in the habit of emotionally starving myself. I am no longer a child. My counselors all worked at teaching me how to nurture and emotionally feed myself. I learned to clearly state what I needed emotionally. I learned to ask someone from my new support system. I learned that many of my emotional needs I can meet myself. I learned to reach out to others without expecting them to fix me. I learned to recognize the feelings behind the feelings. (That is probably a blog post all by itself.) I am no longer emotionally deprived. In fact, many days I feel awesome. I feel so awesome that feeling can flow out to others. I am no longer and emotionally starved child. I grew up into an emotional adult that is learning to meet my emotional needs.
I’ll continue these thoughts tomorrow. Maladaptive Schema sucks but it is not the end of my story.
Continuing to review the list of Early Maladaptive Schemas. I am exploring and learning how to take back my power, believe in myself, and embrace the future.
Change your thinking; Change your life is a popular meme. I add more parts….
Change your thinking.
Change your attitude.
Change your actions.
Change your life.
If I think differently but don’t do differently I will remain the same place.
4. DEFECTIVENESS / SHAME – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed.
For this one, my counselor encouraged me to do random acts of kindness with the 5/50 rule. The kindness can’t take more than 5 minutes or cost more than 50 cents. I was to write down each one I did and the feeling I had afterwards. Adding one kind action daily started a shift in my thinking. It took more than a week….but now I try to do that everyday for several years. Kindness to others does wonders for me. I also use reframing. For a more detailed explanation follow the link below:
Change my perspective and my whole outlook has changed.
5. SOCIAL ISOLATION / ALIENATION – The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community.
This required a different approach. I changed my job and my friends. I also changed my level of contact with certain people. I was looking for my ‘tribe’ in all the wrong places. I worked hard to feel some level of comfort with other people. I learned to reach out to others with the guidance of my counselor. He worked to get me to see that my isolation was my choosing. I changed. I learned that I could share my burdens. I learned that I didn’t have to protect the whole world from my past. During the summer months when I am off work, I choose times to visit family and friends. I also enjoy my friends online. I thought at one time that the only way I could function was being a hermit. I’ve since learned that I can interact with people by maintaining healthy boundaries. It is a cool slow process.
6. DEPENDENCE / INCOMPETENCE – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others.
I was told as a child often how incompetent and stupid I was. In high school I set out to prove them wrong. My mother told me after I graduated in the top 5% of my class that I wasn’t as smart I just worked harder. The worked harder sounded like some sort of dirty trick. Then in my 30’s I passed out everyday. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. It was before PTSD was a diagnosis. Since I didn’t pass out in their office, most doctors didn’t believe me. It is hard to feel competent when you spend most your life on a couch. I still pass out but not nearly as often. It reminds me that I have a certain amount of dependency exists but I am not incompetent. I can do things. I am really good at some things. I appreciate this quote:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I took my life back one moment at a time. It is possible.