Continuing choices

This is a continuing journey through the Maladaptave Schema and what I can do about each one.  All of them are part of my life but none of them are permanent.  Raising my own awareness of what there are and counteracting with skills taught by my counselors.

15. NEGATIVITY  /  PESSIMISM  –      A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation– in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations — that things will eventually go seriously wrong, or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart 

When bad things are happening, ignoring their existence serves no real good purpose.Crap happens but inviting all the world’s crap into my home by watching the news and reading the newspaper didn’t help.  I stopped taking the paper.  I still keep up on general news from several sources but I remind myself that misery sells.  Developing an attitude of gratitude goes a long way to balancing things up a bit.  I love Corrie TenBooms book The Hiding Place.  Her sister Betsy tells her they need to be grateful for all things.  Corrie objected over feeling grateful for the fleas.  Later on they learn that the guards allowed them to do what they wanted in the barracks because they refused to come in with the fleas.  The little biters were the blessing of peace from the guards.  To me gratitude is more than finding silver linings around dark clouds.  For me it is recognizing the trials in my life as something positive.  The black threads in the rugs are as needed as the light ones in creating a design.

This rug shows the value of having dark times and light times.  When we refuse to acknowledge the dark times we loose part of the picture as much as if we don’t see the good times.  Every life is made up of a mixture of good and bad, light and dark, happy and sad.  I learned to appreciate the wide variety and richness of life.  Daily prayers of thanksgiving help me see the good things in my life.

16.  EMOTIONAL INHIBITION  –      The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication — usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses.

Wow this one was a biggy for me.  My mother felt she was very emotional and didn’t feel she could control it so she controlled my sister and I.  If we were ‘excessively’ happy, she would immediately tell us of some tragedy.  Then after we were sufficiently subdued she would then ‘cheer’ us up and chastise for our lack of gratitude.  I controlled all my emotions so carefully I could no longer feel them.  I lost the ability to connect between the emotion and the event.  Reconnecting my emotions was a long painful process but it was like moving from a black and white TV to one in color.  Emotions are what give life color.  I unfortunately passed on this over controlling emotions to my children.  Fortunately, most of them rebelled and decided for them selves that emotions were the richness of life.  I am still working on reducing feelings of shame but it is easier and easier for me to embrace the emotions of the moment.  I appreciate all three of my counselors reminding me to sit with my emotions.  Giving myself permission to feel what I feel then deciding what I do about the emotion.  On occasion someone has tried to convince me that some emotions are good and others are bad.  I rejected this idea because I lived without them for a good portion of my life.  Anger is sometimes the motivation I need to change a situation.  Grieving is appropriate when I recognize a loss in my life.  Guilt is appropriate I did something to hurt someone else.  It is a gentle self rebuke to remind me to apologize and work on a healthier relationship.  Allowing emotions to run the show…..yea not such a good idea.  I am a big believer of emotions being part of things considered but not the only consideration.

17.  UNRELENTING STANDARDS /  HYPERCRITICALNESS   –     The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others.  Unrelenting standards typically present as:  (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm;  (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.

This is when my first counselor recommended I fire my mean boss. I was puzzled at first what he was talking about. He said you know the one….the one that expects you to arrive 15 minutes early. Stay a half hour late. Expecting me to work even when I am sick.  The unrelenting pressure to do things better than the best.  Took me a few seconds to realize that he was talking about me.  I am my own worse boss.  I learned well from the worse.  I am recognizing that this constant belittling of my own efforts only discourages me and leaves me feeling more tired than ever.  Being sick this summer has really slowed me down.  All the stuff I planned to do isn’t happening.  I am taking a step back to look at where I am and what are the most important things to do.  I would rather be playing with grandkids but if this is actually contagious I don’t want to expose them to my misery.  Slow down, enjoy life, get well are my circling mantra this summer.

18.  PUNITIVENESS   –    The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes.  Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant,  punitive, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards.  Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others, because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.

I learned a lot about crime and punishment.  What was crazy though I would be severely punished for the slightest infraction but big screw ups were totally overlooked.  This one is an ongoing process.  I was able to have compassion for others more than I had for myself.  On more than one occasion my counselor recommended I write a letter as if I was giving advice to my children and then said, “Apply it to yourself.”  Empathy, kindness, compassion all counter balance the punitive desire to punish for wrong doings.  I do believe that their should be an accounting of behavior.  I don’t think shop lifters should be allowed to take whatever they like.  But this to me is not having the punishment fit the crime.  Zero tolerance at schools is a good example of what can go wrong.  Kindergartener kicked out of school for kissing a girl as sexual harassment has everyone scratching their head over the insanity.  Compassion, understanding, empathy, all go a long way to putting things back in perspective.

I struggle with all 18 of the maladaptive schema.  However, I learned through counseling that there isn’t one of them I can’t change.  I can take steps of setting boundaries, learning gratitude, feeling compassion and many other adaptions that help me to change my life for the better.  I am thankful to my counselors that taught me a new way to live.  None of this is possible without effort on my part.  I needed to recognize how I thought, how I responded to others, and how I treat myself.  I needed to be willing to take the steps to make the changes in my life.  It is possible to totally change my world.

Find the rainbows

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