Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Has anyone in your family ever revealed something about themselves that you couldn't ever have imagined to be true? An illegitimate child, an illicit affair or perhaps even a crime or misdemeanor?
There's no doubt that a revelation about a relative can, at times, be enough to tear a family apart. According to psychotherapist Carol Martin-Sperry, there are very few families that don't have secrets. However, she believes that because of the bonds involved, secrets in families are harder to deal with than secrets between friends. 'This is because people assume that they know everything about their family, or that they have a right to know everything,' she says. 'And when they find out they don't, they find it very difficult to deal with. But in fact, people have lives outside of the family. Being related to someone doesn't give you an automatic right to know everything about them.'
'All secrets lie along a scale of how big an effect they'll have, and how shocking they are,' says Martin-Sperry. 'Small secrets usually involve something an individual family member has done, such as taking drugs, being caught shoplifting or getting involved in fraud. Even though other family members can feel very let down and humiliated when they find out these secrets, they are not usually directly affected.'
Bigger secrets are those that have a greater impact on family members - such as affairs, or one person announcing that they are gay. But the secrets that affect an individual member's identity - and which everyone else in the family may know about apart from the person concerned - have the greatest impact of all. Says Martin-Sperry: 'such examples include finding out that your mother had an affair and your father isn't really your father, or finding out you're adopted
How a family copes with a revelation depends on their 'coping strategy'. Families with positive coping strategies are those that can talk calmly together, ask questions and accept that while it may take time for things to go back to normal, they're prepared to work hard at being understanding and supportive until they do. 'Families with negative coping strategies can't move past their anger,' says Martin-Sperry. 'They scream, shout and cry until eventually it becomes impossible to talk properly and their relationships are often damaged for good.'
However, even if you've got brilliant coping strategies, it can be very difficult to deal with revelations about a person's identity. 'This is because finding out that your parents aren't who you think they are brings in to question everything about you and can cause a total identity crisis,' says Martin-Sperry. 'It stirs up emotions including shock, denial, anger, sadness and the feeling of being abandoned by your real parents.' For example, in the case of discovering you were adopted, even if you manage to accept and deal with these emotions, in the long term it will be impossible not to feel curious about your real parents, which can cause further damage. Resolving these issues can be a very long and hard process.
Although some families find themselves not speaking after a secret has been let out, it's not a completely bleak picture. 'When I found out I was adopted, I was 19 and all I could think about was finding my own parents. I felt hurt and humiliated that everyone had known about it apart from me,' says Rachel, 30. She adds, 'After a couple of month's hard work, I managed to track down my real family. I discovered that my birth mother was dead, and the family was living in Nottingham. I now see my birth grandparents from time to time, but nothing can replace the bond that all the years with my adoptive parents have given me.' Revelations concerning identity take time to resolve, but that doesn't mean they're not resolvable. Rachel's family understood that. 'I wanted to get to know my genetic relatives, but I still consider my adopted family to be my true family. In fact, I appreciate them more than ever, now that I know just how much they've done for me,' she says.
If you're faced with a family shocker, '…it's essential you stay calm, keep communicating, don't thrown blame around and don't allow yourself to be swept along by emotion,' says Martin-Sperry. She recommends explaining that you feel hurt, angry and betrayed, but don't scream and shout. Sit down and calmly explain the way you're feeling - don't slam doors or throw punches. Above all, try to look past what is happening around you and remember that if you make an effort, there's a good chance things can get back to normal in time.
I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words.–
Edgar Watson Howe once joked, "No man would listen to you talk if he didn't know it was his turn next." Unfortunately, that accurately describes the way too many people approach communication—they're too busy waiting for their turn to talk to really listen to others. But people of influence understand the incredible value of becoming a good listener. For example, when Lyndon B. Johnson was a junior senator from Texas, he kept a sign on his office wall that read, "You ain't learnin' nothin' when you're doin' all the talking.'" And Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eighth American president, once said, "The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people."
The ability to skillfully listen is one key to gaining influence with others. Consider these benefits to listening that we've found:
• Listening shows respect.
• Listening builds relationships.
• Listening increases knowledge.
• Listening generates ideas.
• Listening builds loyalty.
Roger G. Imhoff urged, "Let others confide in you. It may not help you, but it surely will help them." At first glance, listening to others may appear to benefit only them. But when you become a good listener, you put yourself in a position to help yourself, too. You have the ability to develop strong relationships, gather valuable information, and increase your understanding of yourself and others.
Focus on listening to others today.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
“The Loser” is a type of partner that creates much social, emotional and psychological damage in a relationship. “The Loser” has permanent personality characteristics that create this damage. These are characteristics that they accept simply as the way they are and not a problem or psychological difficulty. In one sense, they have always lived with this personality and behavior, and it is often something they learned from their relatives/family. Psychologists usually treat the victims of “The Loser”, women or men who arrive at the office severely depressed with their self-confidence and self-esteem totally destroyed.
The following list is an attempt to outline the characteristics of “The Loser” and provide a manner in which women and men can identify potentially damaging relationships before they are themselves severely damaged emotionally or even physically. If your partner possesses even one of these features, there is risk in the relationship. More than three of these indicators and you are involved with “The Loser” in a very high risk relationship that will eventually create damage to you. When a high number of these features are present — it’s not a ‘probably’ or a ‘possibly’. You will be hurt and damaged by “The Loser” if you stay in the relationship.
- Rough Treatment: “The Loser” will hurt you on purpose. If he or she hits you, twists your arm, pulls your hair, kicks you, shoves you, or breaks your personal property EVEN ONCE, drop them. Male losers often begin with behaviors that move you physically or hit the wall. Female losers often slap, kick and even punch their male partners when upset.
- Quick Attachment and Expression: “The Loser” has very shallow emotions and connections with others. One of the things that might attract you to “The Loser” is how quickly he or she says “I Love You” or wants to marry or commit to you. Typically, in less than a few weeks of dating you’ll hear that you’re the love of their life, they want to be with you forever, and they want to marry you. You’ll receive gifts, a variety of promises, and be showered with their attention and nice gestures. This is the “honeymoon phase” — where they catch you and convince you that they are the best thing that ever happened to you. Remember the business saying “If it’s too good to be true it probably is (too good to be true)!” You may be so overwhelmed by this display of instant attraction, instant commitment, and instant planning for the future that you’ll miss the major point — it doesn’t make sense!! Normal, healthy individuals require a long process to develop a relationship because there is so much at stake. Healthy individuals will wait for a long time and a lot of information before offering a commitment — not three weeks. It’s true that we can become infatuated with others quickly — but not make such unrealistic promises and have the future planned after three dates. The rapid warm-up is always a sign of shallow emotions which later cause “The Loser” to detach from you as quickly as they committed. “The Loser” typically wants to move in with you or marry you in less than four weeks or very early in the relationship.
- Frightening Temper: “The Loser” has a scary temper. If your boyfriend or girlfriend blows up and does dangerous things, like driving too fast because they’re mad, breaking/throwing things, getting into fights, or threatening others — that temper will soon be turned in your direction. In the beginning of the relationship, you will be exposed to “witnessed violence” — fights with others, threats toward others, angry outbursts at others, etc. You will also hear of violence in their life. You will see and witness this temper — throwing things, yelling, cursing, driving fast, hitting the walls, and kicking things. That quickly serves to intimidate you and cause you to fear their potential for violence, although “The Loser” quickly assures you that they are angry at others or situations, not at you. At first, you will be assured that they will never direct the hostility and violence at you. But they are clearly letting you know that they have that ability and capability — and that it might come your way. Later, you fear challenging or confronting them — fearing that same temper and violence will be turned in your direction.
- Killing Your Self-Confidence: “The Loser” repeatedly puts you down. They constantly correct your slight mistakes, making you feel “on guard”, unintelligent, and leaving you with the feeling that you are always doing something wrong. They tell you that you’re too fat, too unattractive, or don’t talk correctly or look good. This gradual chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem allows them to treat you badly later — as though you deserved it. In public, you will be “walking on eggshells” — always fearing you are doing or saying something that will later create a temper outburst or verbal argument.
- Cutting Off Your Support: In order to control someone completely, you must cut off their supportive friends — sometimes even their family. “The Loser” feels your friends and family might influence you or offer negative opinions about their behavior. “The Loser” begins by telling you these friends treat you badly, take advantage of you, and don’t understand the special nature of the love you share with them. In some cases, if they can’t get rid of your best same-sex friend, “The Loser” will claim he or she made a pass at them. If you talk to your friends or family, “The Loser” will punish you by asking multiple questions or making nasty accusations. Eventually, rather than face the verbal punishment, interrogation, and abuse, you’ll develop the feeling that it’s better not to talk to family and friends. You will withdraw from friends and family, prompting them to become upset with you. “The Loser” then tells you they are treating you badly again and you’d be better to keep your distance from them. Once you are isolated and alone, without support, their control over you can increase.
- The Mean and Sweet Cycle: “The Loser” cycles from mean to sweet and back again. The cycle starts when they are intentionally hurtful and mean. You may be verbally abused, cursed, and threatened over something minor. Suddenly, the next day they become sweet, doing all those little things they did when you started dating. You hang on, hoping each mean-then-sweet cycle is the last one. The other purpose of the mean cycle is to allow “The Loser” to say very nasty things about you or those you care about, again chipping away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. “The Loser” often apologizes, but the damage to your self-esteem is already done — exactly as planned.
- It’s Always Your Fault: “The Loser” blames you for their anger as well as any other behavior that is incorrect. When they cheat on you, yell at you, treat you badly, damage your property, or embarrass you publicly — it’s somehow your fault. If you are ten minutes late for a date, it’s your fault that the male loser drives 80 miles per hour, runs people off the road, and pouts the rest of the evening. “The Loser” tells you their anger and misbehavior would not have happened if you had not made some simple mistake, had loved them more, or had not questioned their behavior. “The Loser” never, repeat never, takes personal responsibility for their behavior — it’s always the fault of someone else. If they drive like a maniac and try to pull an innocent driver off the highway to assault them — it’s actually the fault of the other driver (not his), as they didn’t use a turn signal when they changed lanes. They give you the impression that you had it (anger, yelling, assault) coming and deserved the anger, violence, pouting, or physical display of aggression.
- Breakup Panic: “The Loser” panics at the idea of breaking up — unless it’s totally their idea, and then you’re dropped like a hot rock. Abusive boyfriends often break down and cry, they plead, they promise to change, and they offer marriage/trips/gifts when you threaten to end the relationship. Both male and female losers may threaten suicide, threaten to return to old sweethearts (who feel lucky they’re gone!), or threaten to quit their job and leave the area — as though you will be responsible for those decisions. “The Loser” offers a multitude of “deals” and halfway measures, like “Let’s just date one more month!” They shower you with phone calls, often every five minutes, hoping that you will make an agreement or see them just to stop the telephone harassment. Some call your relatives, your friends, their friends, and anyone else they can think of — telling those people to call you and tell you how much they love you. Creative losers often create so much social pressure that the victim agrees to go back to the bad relationship rather than continue under the social pressure. Imagine trying to end a relationship and receiving tearful calls from all his or her relatives (they secretly hope you’ll keep them so they don’t have to), seeing a plea for your return in the newspaper or even on a local billboard, receiving flowers at work each day, or having them arrive at your place of work and offer you a wedding ring (male loser technique) or inform you that they might be pregnant (female loser technique) in front of your coworkers! Their reaction is emotionally intense, a behavior they use to keep you an emotional prisoner. If you go back to them, you actually fear a worse reaction if you threaten to leave again (making you a prisoner) and they later frequently recall the incident to you as further evidence of what a bad person you are. Remember, if your prize dog jumps the fence and escapes, when you get him back you build a higher fence. Once back in the grasp of “The Loser” — escape will be three times as difficult the next time.
- No Outside Interests: “The Loser” will encourage you to drop your hobbies, interests, and involvement with others. If you have an individual activity, they demand that they accompany you, making you feel miserable during the entire activity. The idea behind this is to prevent you from having fun or interests other than those which they totally control.
- Paranoid Control: “The Loser” will check up on you and keep track of where you are and who you are with. If you speak to a member of the opposite sex, you receive twenty questions about how you know them. If you don’t answer their phone call, you are asked where you were, what were you doing, who you were talking to, etc. They will notice the type of mud on your car, question why you shop certain places, and question why you called a friend, why the friend called you, and so forth. Some losers follow you to the grocery, then later ask if you’ve been there in an attempt to catch you in a lie. In severe cases, they go through your mail, look through your purse/wallet, hit your redial on the phone when they arrive, or search through your garbage for evidence. High-tech losers may encourage you to make “private” calls to friends from their residence, calls that are being secretly taped for later reference. They may begin to tell you what to wear, what to listen to in music, and how to behave in public. Eventually, they tell you that you cannot talk to certain friends or acquaintances, go certain places, or talk about certain issues in public. If no date is planned on Friday night, “The Loser” will inform you that they will call you that night — sometime. That effectively keeps you home, awaiting the call, fearing the verbal abuse and questions you might receive if you weren’t home for the call. This technique allows “The Loser” to do what they want socially, at the same time controlling your behavior from a distance or a local bar.
- Public Embarrassment: In an effort to keep you under control while in public, “The Loser” will lash out at you, call you names, or say cruel or embarrassing things about you in private or in front of people. When in public, you quickly learn that any opinion you express may cause them to verbally attack you, either at the time or later. If you stay with “The Loser” too long, you’ll soon find yourself politely smiling, saying nothing, and holding on to their arm when in public. You’ll also find yourself walking with your head down, fearful of seeing a friend who might speak to you and create an angry reaction in “The Loser”.
- It’s Never Enough: “The Loser” convinces you that you are never quite good enough. You don’t say “I love you” enough, you don’t stand close enough, you don’t do enough for them after all their sacrifices, and your behavior always falls short of what is expected. This is another method of destroying your self-esteem and confidence. After months of this technique, they begin telling you how lucky you are to have them — somebody who tolerates someone so inadequate and worthless as you.
- Entitlement: “The Loser” has a tremendous sense of entitlement, the attitude that they have a perfectly logical right to do whatever they desire. If cut off in traffic, “The Loser” feels they have the right to run the other driver off the road, assault them, and endanger the lives of other drivers with their temper tantrum. Keep in mind, this same sense of entitlement will be used against you. If you disobey their desires or demands, or violate one of their rules, they feel they are entitled to punish you in any manner they see fit.
- Your Friends and Family Dislike Him: As the relationship continues, your friends and family will see what “The Loser” is doing to you. They will notice a change in your personality or your withdrawal. They will protest. “The Loser” will tell you they are jealous of the “special love” you have and then use their protest and opinion as further evidence that they are against you — not him. The mention of your family members or friends will spark an angry response from them — eventually placing you in the situation where you stop talking about those you care about, even your own family members. “The Loser” will be jealous and threatened by anyone you are close to — even your children. In some cases, your parents or brothers/sisters will not be allowed to visit your home.
- Bad Stories: People often let you know about their personality by the stories they tell about themselves. It’s the old story about giving a person enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. The stories a person tells inform us of how they see themselves, what they think is interesting, and what they think will impress you. A humorous individual will tell funny stories of himself. “The Loser” tells stories of violence, aggression, being insensitive to others, rejecting others, etc. They may tell you about past relationships and in every case, they assure you that they were treated horribly despite how wonderful they were to that person. They brag about their temper and outbursts because they don’t see anything wrong with violence and actually take pride in the “I don’t take nothing from nobody” attitude. People define themselves with their stories, much like a culture is described by it’s folklore and legends. Listen to these stories — they tell you how you will eventually be treated and what’s coming your way.
- The Waitress Test: It’s been said that when dating, the way an individual treats a waitress or other neutral person of the opposite sex is the way they will treat you in six months. During the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, you will be treated like a king or queen. However, during that time “The Loser” has not forgotten how he or she basically feels about the opposite sex. Waitresses, clerks, or other neutral individuals will be treated badly. If they are cheap — you’ll never receive anything once the honeymoon is over. If they whine, complain, criticize, and torment — that’s how they’ll treat you in six months. A mentally healthy person is consistent — they treat almost all people the same way all the time. If you find yourself dating a man who treats you like a queen and other females like dirt, hit the road.
- The Reputation: As mentioned, mentally healthy individuals are consistent in their personality and their behavior. “The Loser” may have two distinct reputations — a group of individuals who will give you glowing reports and a group that will warn you that they are serious trouble. If you ask ten people about a new restaurant — five say it’s wonderful and five say it’s a hog pit — you clearly understand that there’s some risk involved in eating there. “The Loser” may actually brag about their reputation as a “butt kicker”, “womanizer”, “hot temper” or “being crazy”. They may tell you stories where others have called them crazy or suggested that they receive professional help. Pay attention to the reputation. Reputation is the public perception of an individual’s behavior. If the reputation has two sides, good and bad, your risk is high. You will be dealing with the bad side once the honeymoon is over in the relationship. With severe behavior problems, “The Loser” will be found to have almost no friends, just acquaintances. Emotionally healthy and moral individuals will not tolerate friendships with losers that treat others so badly. If you find yourself disliking the friends of “The Loser”, it’s because they operate the same way he or she does and you can see it in them.
- Walking on Eggshells: As a relationship with “The Loser” continues, you will gradually be exposed to verbal intimidation, temper tantrums, lengthy interrogations about trivial matters, violence/threats directed at others but witnessed by you, paranoid preoccupation with your activities, and a variety of put-downs on your character. You will quickly find yourself “walking on eggshells” in their presence — fearful to bring up topics, fearful to mention that you spoke to or saw a friend, and fearful to question or criticize the behavior of “The Loser”. Instead of experiencing the warmth and comfort of love, you will be constantly on edge, tense when talking to others (they might say something that you’ll have to explain later), and fearful that you’ll see someone you’ll have to greet in public. Dates and times together will be more comfortable and less threatening when totally alone — exactly what “The Loser” wants, no interference with their control or dominance.
- Discounted Feelings/Opinions: “The Loser” is so self-involved and self-worshipping that the feelings and opinions of others are considered worthless. As the relationship continues and you begin to question what you are feeling or seeing in their behavior, you will be told that your feelings and opinions don’t make sense, they’re silly, and that you are emotionally disturbed to even think of such things. “The Loser” has no interest in your opinion or your feelings — but they will be disturbed and upset that you dare question their behavior. “The Loser” is extremely hostile toward criticism and often reacts with anger or rage when their behavior is questioned.
- They Make You “Crazy”: “The Loser” operates in such a damaging way that you find yourself doing “crazy” things in self-defense. If “The Loser” is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 pm — you call Time & Temperature to cover the redial, check your garbage for anything that might get you in trouble, and call your family and friends to tell them not to call you that night. You warn family/friends not to bring up certain topics, avoid locations in the community where you might see co-workers or friends, and not speak to others for fear of the 20 questions. You become paranoid as well — being careful what you wear and say. Nonviolent males find themselves in physical fights with female losers. Nonviolent females find themselves yelling and screaming when they can no longer take the verbal abuse or intimidation. In emotional and physical self-defense, we behave differently and oddly. While we think we are “going crazy,” it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as “normal behavior” in a combat situation. Rest assured that your behavior will return to normal if you detach from “The Loser” before permanent psychological damage is done.
- Physical Abuser
Physical abusers begin the relationship with physical moving — shoving, pushing, forcing, etc. That quickly moves into verbal threats with physical gestures — the finger in the face, clenched fist in the face, and voiced physical threats such as “You make me want to break your face!” Eventually, these combine to form actual physical abuse — hitting, slapping, and kicking. “The Loser” is always sorry the next day and begins the mean-then-sweet cycle all over again. Getting away from physical abusers often requires the assistance of family, law enforcement agencies, or local abuse agencies. Female losers often physically attack their partner, break car windows, or behave with such violence that the male partner is forced to physically protect himself from the assault. If the female loser is bruised in the process of self-protection, as when physically restraining her from hitting, those bruises are then “displayed” to others as evidence of what a bad person the partner is and how abusive they have been in the relationship.
- Psychotic Losers
There are losers that are severely ill in a psychiatric sense — the movie description of the “Fatal Attraction”. Some may tell you wild stories and try to convince you that they are connected to The Mob or a government agency (CIA, FBI, etc.). They may fake terminal illness, pregnancy, or disease. They intimidate and frighten you with comments such as “I can have anyone killed…” or “No one leaves a relationship with me…”. If you try to end the relationship, they react violently and give you the impression that you, your friends, or your family are in serious danger. People often then remain in the abusive and controlling relationship due to fear of harm to their family or their reputation. While such fears are unrealistic as “The Loser” is only interested in controlling you, those fears feel very real when combined with the other characteristics of “The Loser”.
Psychotic or psychiatrically ill losers may also stalk, follow, or harass you. They may threaten physical violence, show weapons, or threaten to kill you or themselves if you leave them. If you try to date others, they may follow you or threaten your new date. Your new date may be subjected to phone harassment, vandalism, threats, and even physical assaults. If you are recently divorced, separated, or have recently ended another relationship, “The Loser” may be intimidating toward your ex-partner, fearing you might return if the other partner is not “scared off”. Just remember — everything “The Loser” has ever done to anyone will be coming your way. “The Loser” may send you pictures of you, your children, or your family — pictures they have taken secretly — hinting that they can “reach out and touch” those you love. You may need help and legal action to separate from these individuals.
Guidelines for Detachment
Separating from “The Loser” often involves three stages:
The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection.
Observe the way you are treated. Watch for the methods listed above and see how “The Loser” works.
Gradually become more boring, talk less, share fewer feelings and opinions. The goal is almost to bore “The Loser” into lessening the emotional attachment, while at the same time not creating a situation which would make you a target.
Quietly contact your family and supportive others. Determine what help they might be — a place to stay, protection, financial help, etc.
If you fear violence or abuse, check local legal or law enforcement options such as a restraining order.
If “The Loser” is destructive, slowly move your valuables from the home if together, or try to recover valuables if in their possession. In many cases, you may lose some personal items during your detachment — a small price to pay to get rid of “The Loser”.
Stop arguing, debating or discussing issues. Stop defending and explaining yourself — responding with comments such as “I’ve been so confused lately” or “I’m under so much stress I don’t know why I do anything anymore”.
Begin dropping hints that you are depressed, burned out, or confused about life in general. Remember — “The Loser” never takes responsibility for what happens in any relationship. “The Loser” will feel better about leaving the relationship if they can blame it on you. Many individuals are forced to “play confused” and dull, allowing “The Loser” to tell others “My girlfriend (or boyfriend) is about half nuts!” They may tell others you’re crazy or confused but you’ll be safer. Allow them to think anything they want about you as long as you’re in the process of detaching.
Don’t start another relationship. That will only complicate your situation and increase the anger. Your best bet is to “lay low” for several months. Remember, “The Loser” will quickly locate another victim and become instantly attached as long as the focus on you is allowed to die down.
As “The Loser” starts to question changes in your behavior, admit confusion, depression, emotional numbness, and a host of other boring reactions. This sets the foundation for the ending of the relationship.
Ending the Relationship
Remembering that “The Loser” doesn’t accept responsibility, responds with anger to criticism, and is prone to panic detachment reactions — ending the relationship continues the same theme as the detachment.
Explain that you are emotionally numb, confused, and burned out. You can’t feel anything for anybody and you want to end the relationship almost for his or her benefit. Remind them that they’ve probably noticed something is wrong and that you need time to sort out your feelings and fix whatever is wrong with you. As disgusting as it may seem, you may have to use a theme of “I’m not right for anyone at this point in my life.” If “The Loser” can blame the end on you, as they would if they ended the relationship anyway, they will depart faster.
If “The Loser” panics, you’ll receive a shower of phone calls, letters, notes on your car, etc. React to each in the same manner — a boring thanks. If you overreact or give in, you’ve lost control again.
Focus on your need for time away from the situation. Don’t agree to the many negotiations that will be offered — dating less frequently, dating only once a week, taking a break for only a week, going to counseling together, etc. As long as “The Loser” has contact with you they will feel there is a chance to manipulate you.
“The Loser” will focus on making you feel guilty. In each phone contact you’ll hear how much you are loved, how much was done for you, and how much they have sacrificed for you. At the same time, you’ll hear about what a bum you are for leading them on, not giving them an opportunity to fix things, and embarrassing them by ending the relationship.
Don’t try to make them understand how you feel — it won’t happen. “The Loser” is only concerned with how they feel — your feelings are irrelevant. You will be wasting your time trying to make them understand and they will see the discussions as an opportunity to make you feel more guilty and manipulate you.
Don’t fall for sudden changes in behavior or promises of marriage, trips, gifts, etc. By this time you have already seen how “The Loser” is normally and naturally. While anyone can change for a short period of time, they always return to their normal behavior once the crisis is over.
Seek professional counseling for yourself or the support of others during this time. You will need encouragement and guidance. Keep in mind, if “The Loser” finds out you are seeking help they will criticize the counseling, the therapist, or the effort.
Don’t use terms like “someday”, “maybe”, or “in the future”. When “The Loser” hears such possibilities, they think you are weakening and will increase their pressure.
Imagine a dead slot machine. If we are in Las Vegas at a slot machine and pull the handle ten times and nothing happens — we move on to another machine. However, if on the tenth time the slot machine pays us even a little, we keep pulling the handle — thinking the jackpot is on the way. If we are very stern and stable about the decision to end the relationship over many days, then suddenly offer a possibility or hope for reconciliation — we’ve given a little pay and the pressure will continue. Never change your position — always say the same thing. “The Loser” will stop playing a machine that doesn’t pay off and quickly move to another.
“The Loser” never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, “The Loser” has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don’t see themselves as at fault or as an individual with a problem, “The Loser” tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase — their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. “The Loser” rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:
Never change your original position. It’s over permanently! Don’t talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm “The Loser” but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.
Don’t agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For “The Loser”, discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.
Don’t offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.
If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls from a little distance, as though you were taping them, you’ll find “The Loser” spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.
In any contact with the ex “Loser”, provide only a status report, much like you’d provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: “I’m still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That’s about it.”
When “The Loser” tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While “The Loser” wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers — “Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I’m sure we’ll eventually find someone that’s right for both of us.” Remember — nothing personal!
Keep all contact short and sweet — the shorter the better. As far as “The Loser” is concerned, you’re always on your way somewhere, there’s something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish “The Loser” well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronics companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds — a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone — the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short — and not personal.
In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health, the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems — before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of “The Loser”, patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in “The Loser” that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with “The Loser” will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.
If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with “The Loser”, after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with “The Loser”.
- Put away your violin. People who go around saying that life sucks are really just attention grabbers looking for pity. Yes, life can be difficult and cruel and unfair, but every time you're about to start whining again, consider how fortunate you really are and what you DO have. As I write in my book, "Escape Life Sucks Syndrome" show me the person who complains about not having name brand sneakers or designer shoes and I'll show you the person with no feet! Every day above ground really is a good day. So stop feeling sorry for yourself, and take one step forward. Then another. Then another. Then another.
- Ground Yourself. The most common reason for people thinking their lives suck is because they aren't living their own lives. Look deeply into how you are acting to please others- to please family, friends, and society. Realize, that you need to get to know who you are, what your needs are, and make the choices to follow your path. To know these things, a path of meditation and inner exploration is invaluable. What sucks is that you are not taking care of yourself.
- Look on the inside. What are some qualities you have that you like about yourself? Are you funny? Are you intelligent? Are you sincere? Are you generous? What do you have pride in? Try focusing on the positive things in your life. You may be making huge influences to others even when you think you're useless.
- Prove those negative thoughts wrong. When you find yourself in a bad mood, you could think of the negative things such as, "I'm dumb and annoying", "I'm better off dead", "I'm ugly, I wish I looked different", etc. Even though it's not true. Change your mind. Look for your good features, think about the ones that you know love you, look on your greater side. Realize that nobody's life is easy and that there will always be ups and downs, and moments of low self esteem. Don't automatically assume that nobody cares. Every person matters to someone. You're alive for a reason.
- Appreciate what you see. Look in the mirror. Find some beautiful things about yourself.... Do you have nice skin? nice nails? beautiful eyes? full lips? Find stuff that appeals to you. When you can't change something, change your attitude towards it!
- It's all how you look at it. Jealous of the people with 'amazing' lives? They chose to be that way! Everyone has the same opportunities, remember, there are people living in mansions who are miserable and people living on the street who are perfectly happy. It's all on how you look at it.
- Determine why your life sucks. What can you do to make your life better? What do you desire to do? How do you want to feel? Make a few reachable goals and your own strategies. The first step is usually the hardest - getting help or admitting you need it.
- Getting motivated. What motivates you? What gives you energy to go on everyday? Music? Love? Family? A 1km run? Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha? Your attitude? Your pet? Friends? School? Boost your confidence and determination by encouraging yourself into thinking positive.
- Remember that some things can pass with time. There will be a tomorrow. There will be a next week. There will be a next month and perhaps by then, things will change. Everything is going to be okay when you think it's going to be all right. You are in control of your life and though it might get worse, it'll get better eventually. It's temporary and it will change much sooner than you think.
- Think about happy memories. Whenever you feel like the future is 'hopeless', think about vivid memories. It will help make you feel better and that in the future, there will be good things, too. Happiness would not exist without sadness - it's like the yin and yang. They just don't exist without each other. Think about all the things you want to experience, feel, achieve. There will be many great moments in your life - don't let a few obstacles get in the way.
- Don't stop yourself from feeling the joy. It's okay to step back once in awhile and just enjoy the moment. Even in tough situations - it's important to smile and laugh here and there. Don't restrict yourself from doing things you love just because you think you'll be criticized to do. Don't just leave memories behind, but don't try to live in the past, either. Let yourself enjoy life even if you're not at the best place you could be. You only live once - make the best of it.
- Develop a gratitude journal. It's pretty simple. At the end of every day, write down five things that have made you happy or appreciative that day -- not necessarily big things, even small ones count. For example: nice weather, being praised by my boss for getting an urgent errand done, my playful dog, kids and hubby kissing me goodbye before they went to school/work, a hilarious joke a mate shared, etc.
- If you feel persistently sad, unmotivated, anxious, hopeless or fearful, seek professional help. You may be suffering from a mood disorder or nutritional deficit which could be contributing to your situation. Remember there is always somebody there who wants to help you. You are valuable!
- To "go for it," simply get up and do it. There is a small voice inside saying "Get up!", and you need to do what it says; just dive in! Turn off the computer, turn off the TV, and get going!
- When you think positively, your whole views change about the world and you tend to look on the better, clearer side. It may sound stupid but being resentful is what really renders positive thinking useless. When you let down your walls (or hold out until they collapse...) really trying to "focus on the positive", highlight whatever minuscule scraps of good you can find among the sharp shades of black that (may or may not) populate your mental landscape, you can start to accumulate enough bright to start to balance it out.
- Talk to others about how you are feeling. This will help you to feel less alone. Be selective, however, in those you choose to talk to. If you expect empathy from someone simply unequipped to dole it out, you will always be disappointed. Realize this isn't necessarily a weakness on their side or a defect on yours, but that people's capacities are variously shaped by life experience. Try to think of someone who's been through the same sort of things you have, or that are just more emotionally aware.
- If you feel something is lacking in your life, listen to your instincts and make the best out of it that you can. If you feel that you're not generous enough and that there's not enough harmony in your life, give something to your enemy that you think they would like or so. Giving anonymously is the best. Sniff a flower. Dance a little. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air, if and when you can.
- Find someone who has it worse than you .... or even just someone who is having a really tough time and try to make their life better. Solving problems for others will help you find ways to solve your own. Doing something nice for someone else without needing recognition helps.
- Get a pet, preferably a dog/cat. You'll be giving love to another soul and getting it in return.
- Give love, smile more often.
- Remember to be completely honest with yourself. The rest will follow.
- Whenever you hear yourself thinking a negative comment about yourself instantly replace it with a positive one.
If someone says something negative about you, say to yourself "I refuse to accept that" and forget about it, don't give it a second thought. Replace it with something positive about yourself. Look at them for a moment and realize that they may be going through a rough time themselves and that these things come from insecurity. Show them love and move on. They probably don't mean it to direct at you but themselves. It's called self criticism, some people don't even realize they do such things.
- Don't blame yourself when you clearly haven't done anything wrong.
- Nobody is perfect, so don't go over the edge by setting unreachable goals.
- If your life really does suck, move away from the place and people that make your life that way. Some times it's not your fault.
- Don't make the mistake of standing still rather than giving it a try.
- Don't get lost in self-pity. Remember you have the ability to change your outlook and your situation.
- Resist the urge to act out moods on those around you. Instead, write, confide in a friend, draw, take a walk, etc. Do something creative or physically active, something you feel comfortable doing and that others don't have the right to criticize.
- Consult someone if you start having suicidal thoughts. Don't keep it inside and remember that you can get out of this.
- Don't set too high of expectations for yourself. When you fail, you are likely going to blame it all on yourself even when it's not necessary. Be a friend of your own.
The initial excitement of an exotic new posting can turn to culture shock, loneliness, identity loss and depression, and it is often the employee's spouse and children — without the familiar routine of work — who are most affected.
"I thought it would be an adventure, and it was," said Francesca Kelly, an American who moved 10 times in the first nine years as a Foreign Service spouse, living in places like Belgrade and the former Soviet Union during the cold war. But it "was much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be."
Brenda Fender, director of global initiatives for Worldwide ERC, a not-for-profit association concerned with work force mobility, said a family's happiness was crucial. "If the family cannot adapt, the employee will likely not succeed," she said.
And not succeeding can be expensive.
Scott Sullivan, senior vice president at GMAC Global Relocation Services, told the story of a man from Cleveland with an important role in building a large manufacturing plant in rural China. He left the project midway through and returned home when his wife and child became desperately unhappy. This disrupted the project, a joint venture with a Chinese company, which then backed out — a loss for the American company of hundreds of millions of dollars, Sullivan said, and it could have been avoided with a better assessment before the man left home.
Employees are often chosen based on their ability to do the job, not their families' ability to adapt to a foreign country. Cross-cultural training helps families know what to expect, Sullivan said, but only 23 percent of companies make it mandatory.
A GMAC Trends survey released in May found that despite a slowing economy, 68 percent of multinational corporations continued to relocate employees at record levels. Experts say it is too early to tell how the current crisis will affect global work force mobility.
But preliminary data from companies participating in the current GMAC Relocation Trends survey, which will not be completed until the end of this year, indicate that fewer companies are reporting an increase in expatriate population growth over last year and expect significantly lower growth in 2009 than they have in recent years, Sullivan said. Others predicted that even in a tough economy, companies would continue to move crucial staff overseas as a way to remain competitive and keep talent.
Jeanne Branthover, head of the global financial services practice for Boyden Global Executive Search, a recruiting firm with more than 70 offices in 40 countries, said that financial services recruiting in emerging markets remained constant. "Candidates are much more willing to relocate compared to a year ago," she said, as international experience is seen as crucial to remaining marketable.
Yvonne McNulty, a Singapore-based consultant and a doctoral candidate at Monash University in Australia who studies mobility issues, said the biggest issue for spouses was loss of identity. "What I found in my research is that almost all spouses face an identity crisis but only about 10 to 15 percent of spouses did something about it, by becoming authors, getting an MBA or starting businesses," she said, adding that most "felt they were victims, with no control."
Diagnosing the problem doesn't cure it, however. "It's a very hard thing to address for an organization," she said.
Even when a company offers generous support, which may include help finding housing, language training and even funds for personal development for the spouse, that is often not enough.
In the early 1990s, an in-house study conducted by Royal Dutch Shell found that an increasing number of two-career families were turning down overseas assignments. In the past, "a cadre of highly mobile employees would go anywhere at any time they were told," said Simon Armstrong, who until recently was manager of Global Outpost Services, a support network for Shell employees and their families that was created in response to the study.
Armstrong, who was an expatriate spouse in Oman and is now in the Netherlands, said the network, which currently operates in 60 locations around the world, typically starts advising spouses six months ahead of departure. A contractual package might include an education allowance, for example, and the outpost network will advise the spouse what the best schools are. "We've been on the ground and done it. We know what to expect."
Kelly, the Foreign Service spouse, and another spouse founded The Sun (The Spouses' Underground Newsletter) as a way to create their own support community. Initially, it was an irreverent mix of poetry, opinions and the continuing tales of a fictional "highly flawed, complete disaster of a diplomatic wife," said Kelly, who now lives in Bethesda, Maryland.
Soon contributions took on a more serious cast, and it became clear that readers wanted information about where they were planning to live. By 2000, The Sun became Tales From a Small Planet, a nonprofit Web site where members can read reports on some 350 cities around the world written by expatriates.
Patricia Linderman — living in Guayaquil, Ecuador — edits Tales and is co-author of "The Expert Expat: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad" (Nicholas Brealey, 2007). She said there had been an explosion of resources in recent years that support expatriates and offer the opportunity to swap survival stories and networking tips. In addition, many now also "focus on the personal and emotional aspects of cross-cultural living," she said.
Because companies may not provide sufficient relocation services, because of lack of experience or not investing in professional relocation services, "don't necessarily expect the company or organization that sent you abroad to take care of your needs," Linderman said.
That was Meg Sondey's experience when she moved to Torreón, Mexico, four years ago when her husband was sent by the Lincoln Electric Company to run a factory there. The company, based in Cleveland, had only one other person in Torreón at the time.. "The person ahead of us was a single guy. He didn't need to think about schools," Sondey said. She handled most of the details — housing, immigration issues, getting a driver's license — on her own. It was "like jumping into a cold lake," she said. "It's uncomfortable, frightening, everything is on hyper alert because it is so different."
She added: "There are times you are fed up and depressed. Sometimes you are in shock and the only person who understands is another expat."
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The impact of dysfunctional relationships and behaviors is almost always negative. When an organization is dysfunctional, such as when one part of it has inordinate power, it will be challenged to meet its goals. Quality, timing, and cost will all usually be less favorable than planned. Projects will be routinely delayed, costs will routinely be revised upward, quality will be at risk of being forgotten in the quest for profitability and timeliness, products will be at risk of many and/or severe defects, and customer satisfaction will lag behind more capable and less dysfunctional competitors. Similarly, a dysfunctional family will have parallel problems with achieving its goals.
An imbalance of power is a frequent cause of dysfunction in families. Imagine: a family with several children embarks on a big project, a trip to Ocracoke Island, for example. If one child is more demanding, needy, or otherwise exceptional, and the family has developed a dysfunctional behavior pattern centered on that child, things will be disrupted and plans will not work out. The child may have to stop at every rest stop, and take a long time getting back into the car, delaying progress on the trip. The father may know the ferry schedule for getting to the island, and know when the family needs to be at the dock, but he may not be able to change the child’s behavior, nor the behavior of the mother who caters too much to the demanding child. Random and unanticipated delays caused by the child, who has no understanding of the constraints the father faces, make them late and they miss the ferry, incurring additional cost of a night’s stay on the mainland.
An imbalance of power is also a problem for large companies. I have worked for companies in which one top manager or one function, product styling, for example, can cause a nearly-perfect parallel to the dysfunctional family. The product styling group knows when they need to finish the design, but their job is to make the product look attractive, and they have so many people involved, from multiple levels of the organization, that they can’t get it done on time. Top managers come through the studio to look at the new design, but, many having been engineers and designers in the past, they each see something they feel needs to be changed. Since they don’t come through the studio until the design is supposed to be nearly complete, their suggestions set back the design process, and the design is late. The engineers who have to integrate the design with functional parts are left to play “catch-up” with their designs, involving late changes, overtime, and a huge amount of rework to recast financial figures, get revised quotes from suppliers, re-time the plans, etc., etc. The suppliers, too, have to change their plans and designs and renegotiate with their suppliers in turn, and are delayed as well. Packaging, marketing materials, sales and service training classes, and many other efforts are all set back. Even if top management is understanding and “lets well enough alone” from then on, the project is doomed to be over budget and late.
It takes savvy management at the top, executives or parents, to limit dysfunctional behavior and keep things on track. In my five different careers I have seen this same basic pattern repeated over and over, becoming nothing more than the standard way of doing business for some organizations. The only mitigating force I know of is having really savvy upper management who understand how such things happen and are willing to actively work to avoid them. A smart top manager can rein in the overzealous designers, for example, and understand the principles of diminishing returns and the need to understand when “roughly right” is good enough. Similarly, the skilled parent can understand the problems caused by favoring one child over another, and carefully manage the behavior of the individuals in the family so that the family’s overarching goals are met. Maybe it’s just my experience, but I have seen that such skill and savvy are all too rare.
Ethnic or national culture can be a significant factor in instances of dysfunction. Interestingly, management savvy and parenting skill are heavily influenced by cultural factors. In Western cultures where there is a strong value placed on individuality, managers can acquire the “gunslinger” mentality, which makes them think they have to do everything themselves and be the best at everything. With such managers collaboration and communication can suffer and, while they may be stars in their own right, the organization can suffer from the conflicts and snafus that will result. Similarly, in a strongly patriarchic culture, the father, feeling like he must be the all-knowing authority, may ignore the small child who hears the tire rumbling as it starts to go flat, and as a result miss the ferry due to a shredded tire and the time required to fix it.
Organizations can become dysfunctional by promoting those who do extremely well. Some businesses promote engineers and designers who create great products to high level management positions, and then some wonder why the organization does poorly. I have often noted that many engineers take this career direction because they don’t like dealing with people, and would rather “stick their head in a machine” and make it work as nearly perfectly as possible than negotiate with other people. To take someone who, by their nature, hews to jobs that avoid interaction with people and put them in a job that requires excellent people skills is asking for trouble. They will not only be uncomfortable and unhappy, but they may not understand interpersonal and organizational behavior well, struggle, and not do a very good job. At the same time, to go back to engineering would be a terrible demotion and pay cut, so they are stuck, often for decades, in a position for which they are only marginally suited.
Many parents, like many executives, were never suited or well prepared for their roles. Similarly, many parents become that by accident, perhaps through lack of proper attention to contraception, or through social imperatives - older family members who lobby hard for grandchildren, for example. Some parents had tough childhoods, for example, and never had the chance to witness good parenting as children, yet they often find themselves responsible for a family with children and (perhaps) a spouse, and even elderly parents that need their care. In a society with little focus on or cultural knowledge around good parenting, they will be severely challenged to run a family effectively or avoid the mistakes that were perpetrated on them as children.
Dysfunction tends to stick around and follow organizations and families. Thus, in both organizations and families, dysfunctional factors will exist from the start or creep in over time, and propagate forward from one generation or regime to the next. It is for this reason that sometimes a board of directors of a corporation will dismiss not only a CEO but many of his reports as well, and bring in fresh management talent from outside the company to try to instill a new culture. While this is drastic and difficult in a business organization, it is even more difficult and disruptive to a family, and usually involves social service organizations and courts intervening in ways that may or may not produce better long term results for the family members. In both cases the situation must be extremely bad before such changes can be justified, and a majority of such situations probably are never very well addressed.
If you can’t help getting involved in other people’s business, you may need to take a look at your own life
When a friend talks to me about a problem, I have to come up with a solution,’ says Natasha, 42, a personnel manager. ‘And I feel annoyed if they don’t take my advice. I often think I know what’s best for people and see that it can be irritating for others – I even annoy myself – but I can’t seem to stop.’ It’s natural to want to help the people we care about, and to react to their problems – but the compulsive ‘fixer’ takes this a step further. Whether it’s offering unsolicited advice, or opinion as fact; feeling compelled to solve others’ problems, or rejected when advice isn’t acted upon, this person’s concern for those around them is all-consuming.
Esther, 34, a mother of two, has found herself on the receiving end of this with sister-in-law Annabel. ‘I’ve started to dread family occasions,’ she admits. ‘Annabel has barely said hello before launching in with “tips” on how I should be conducting my life – from what I should be cooking to how I should potty-train my children. It’s so intrusive.’
If you are a ‘fixer’, your motivations are likely to be benevolent, but where does this desire to step in come from? One explanation is that focusing so intensely on others may be a way of avoiding sorting out your own issues. Or perhaps your self-worth may be based on what you do for others; you want people to depend on you as it makes you feel important.
Amelia, 37, a nurse says, ‘I am the one everyone comes to for help,’ admitting that, ‘the feeling of being useful reassures me.’ Psychologist Gérard Poussin sees this as a sign of low self-esteem: ‘In wanting to make themselves indispensable to others, these people are trying to compensate for a lack of self-love. It can be a risky strategy as the “beneficiaries” of their help can be irritated by their intrusiveness.’
In some cases, the desire to control others can indicate codependency, a learned behaviour that often comes from growing up in a family where a parent was ill, an alcoholic or a drug addict. As children, they tried to ‘fix’ the dysfunctional parent and they take that habit into adulthood and often form relationships with needy, troubled or dependent people. Author Melody Beattie defines the warning signs: ‘If compassion has turned into caretaking; if you are taking care of other people and not taking care of yourself.’
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tramples Privacy/Boundaries as a Control-Freak
Yet another red flag is a universal disrespect for other people's privacy, boundaries. This is a result of the narcissist viewing people as mere objects there for her sake to serve her needs and desires.I gave an example in the previous section, in the boyfriend who disrespects your right to decide how to wear your hair. It's your body, not his. You're the one who lives with the consequences of the decision, not him. You aren't his car, something he owns and therefore can paint a different color if he wishes. You own you.But he is treating your body as HIS property by presuming the rights of its owner over it.Here's another, more literal, example. Your property line affects him like waving a red flag affects a bull. He must violate it and make what's your territory his territory. So, he parks on your lawn, ties his big mean dog out at the edge of his property to use yours (and menace you with Rover). He reacts to your claim of ownership as though you are stealing from him. Nothing short of a big fence will stop him from making your property his. And then he'll probably ram it with his truck if he thinks you'll be intimidated by that. In other words, he is incapable of "distinguishing between mine and thine." Again, he is treating your property as his by asserting the rights of its owner over it.Even your mind is not your own in his eyes.Which is why a narcissist sticks his nose into everything, for he considers your business his business. He feels it incumbent on him to bestow judgment on every single thing people think, say, do, wear, or even feel. His disapproval (or the threat of it) is a stick this control freak with a God Complex herds people with.He is possessing you.
Individuals with NPD are likely to attempt to get their needs met in relationships without acknowledging the independent existence of those from which they "expect to feed."-- Sharon C. Ekleberry, Dual Diagnosis and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder [link now dead]So, he presumptuously makes other people's choices for them. Often to ridiculous extremes, such as telling people how to wear their hair, what clothes to wear, where to buy things and what brands to buy, what chair to sit in, what end to start on, which route to take, and so on. You can tell he's doing it just to do it, because he makes people change their choice to comply with his wishes. In fact, if the same person is doing what he said to do the last time, the narcissist tells her to do it differently this time. In short, a narcissist views others as objects on a chessboard, or tools, robots, the executioners of his will. One I know of, a private school principal, demonstrates the desperate compulsion narcissist have to control people. He is said to have nearly driven almost a thousand people to justifiable homicide by blasting over an hour's worth of nonstop orders over a blaring squawk box about what to do in an annual Christmas celebration that everybody had carried off without instructions for decades. Nobody can walk into a room and sit down without this clown telling them to sit somewhere else.I dealt in some length with this red flag of being controlling a couple of months ago in this post so I won't be reinventing the wheel for this post. Controlling Others Vs. Self-Control.
When you grow up in a dysfunctional family, you experience trauma and pain from your parents' actions, words, and attitudes. Because of this trauma you experienced, you grew up changed, different from other children, missing important parts of necessary parenting that prepare you for adulthood, missing parts of your childhood when you were forced into unnatural roles within your family. For some of you, it has led you to attempt to flee the pain of your past by alcohol or drug use. Others of you feel inexplicably compelled to repeat the abuses that were done to you on your own children or with your own spouse. Others of you have felt inner anxiety or rage, and don't know why you feel as you do.
You were innocent, and your life was changed dramatically by forces in your family you had no control over, and now you are an adult survivor of that trauma. This article will discuss what these families are like, what is the impact of growing up in these families, and what you can do to begin the process of healing.
Roles Within Dysfunctional Families
A dysfunctional family is one in which the relationships between the parents and children are strained and unnatural. This is usually because one of the family members has a serious problem that impacts every other member of the family, and each member of the family feels constrained to adapt atypical roles within the family to allow the family as a whole to survive.
The spouse in this family may enable the problem spouse to maintain employment by lying for him or her, for example. He or she may become obsessive about the problem spouse's abnormal behavior, such that he or she loses perspective in his or her own life, a pattern that is called codependency. Sharon Wegscheider referred to this family role in alcoholic families as that of the Enabler. The children also assume roles within the family to make up for the deficiencies of parenting. Sharon Wegscheider referred to these roles within the alcoholic family as the Hero, the Scapegoat, the Lost Child, and the Mascot.
Enabler protects and takes care of the problem spouse, whom Sharon Wegscheider refers to as the Dependent, so that the Dependent is never allowed to experience the negative consequences of his or her actions. While the Enabler feels angry and resentful about the extra burden that is placed upon him or her by the Dependent's unhealthy, irresponsible and antisocial behavior, he or she may feel powerless to do anything about it. The Enabler feels he or she must act this way, because otherwise, the family might not survive. While the family is afforded survival by the Enabler's responsibility, the Enabler may pay the cost of stress-related illness, and never have his or her own needs met, in effect, being a martyr for the family. The paradoxical thing about the Enabler's behavior is that by preventing the Dependent's crisis, he or she also prevents the painful, corrective experience that crisis brings, which may be the only thing that makes the Dependent stop the downward spiral of addiction.
Hero, who is usually the oldest child, is characteristically over-responsible and an over-achiever. The Hero allows the family to be reassured it is doing well, as it can always look to the achievements of the oldest son or daughter as a source of pride and esteem. While the Hero may excel in school, be a leader on the football team or a cheerleader, or obtain well-paying employment, inwardly he or she is suffering from painful feelings of inadequacy and guilt, as nothing he or she does is good enough to heal his family's pain. The Hero's compulsive drive to succeed may in turn lead to stress-related illness, and compulsive over-working. The Hero's qualities of appeasement, helpfulness and nurturing of his or her parents may cause others outside the family to remark upon the child's good character, and obtains him or her much positive attention. But inwardly, the Hero feels isolated, unable to express his or her true feelings or to experience intimate relationship, and is often out of touch with his or her own sources of spirituality.
Scapegoat, who is often the second born, characteristically acts out in anger and defiance, often behaving in delinquent ways, but inwardly he or she feels hurt in that the family's attention has gone to the Dependent or the Hero, and he or she has been ignored. The Scapegoat's poor performance in school, experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sexuality, flaunting of the conventions of society, or involvement in adolescent gangs or criminal activity may lead him or her to be labeled the family's problem, drawing attention away from the Dependent's addiction. This behavior can also be seen as a cry for help, and it is often the delinquency of the Scapegoat that leads the entire family into treatment. The acting out behavior of the Scapegoat may bring with it substance abuse or addiction to alcohol or drugs, early pregnancy for which he or she is not prepared, or incarceration. The hostile and irresponsible attitude of the Scapegoat may lead him or her into accidents, or acts of violence against others or self. The attitude of defiance may lead him or her to do poorly in school, effecting future employment and the opportunity to earn an adequate income. The Scapegoat's cleverness and manipulation may be used to engage in leadership of peer groups, or in the invention of schemes of dubious legality, or outright criminality, to earn a livelihood. Though the Scapegoat may develop social skills within his or her circle of peers, the relationships he or she experiences tend to be shallow and inauthentic. The Scapegoat, cast in the role of a rebel, may have lost touch with his spiritual potentials and morality, as well.
Lost Child role is characterized by shyness, solitariness, and isolation. Inwardly, he or she feels like an outsider in the family, ignored by parents and siblings, and feels lonely. The Lost Child seeks the privacy of his or her own company to be away from the family chaos, and may have a rich fantasy life, into which he or she withdraws. The Lost Child often has poor communication skills, difficulties with intimacy and in forming relationships, and may have confusion or conflicts about his or her sexual identity and functioning. These children may be seen to seek attention by getting sick, asthma, allergies, or by bed-wetting. Lost Children may attempt to self-nurture by overeating, leading to problems with obesity, or to drown their sorrows in alcohol or drug use. The solitude of a Lost Child may be conducive to the development of his or her spirituality and creative mental pursuits, if the low self-esteem and low does not shut down all efforts at achievement. The Lost Child often has few friendships, and commonly has difficulty finding a marriage partner. Instead, he or she may attempt to find comfort in his or her material possessions, or a pet. This pattern of escape may also lead him or her to avoid seeking professional help, and so may remain stuck in his or her social isolation.
Mascot role is manifested by clowning and hyperactivity. The Mascot, often the youngest child, seeks to be the center of attention in the family, often entertaining the family and making everyone feel better through his or her comedy and zaniness. The Mascot, in turn, may be overprotected and shielded from the problems of life. Inwardly, the Mascot experiences intense anxiety and fear, and may persist in immature patterns of behavior well into adulthood. Instead of dealing with problems, the Mascot may run away from them by changing the subject or clowning. The Mascot uses fun to evoke laughter in his or her circle of friends, but is often not taken seriously or is subjected to rejection and criticism. The Mascot commonly has difficulty concentrating and focusing in a sustained way on learning, and may develop learning deficits as a result. The Mascot also may fear turning within or looking honestly at his or her feelings or behavior, so he or she may be out of touch with his or her inner feelings, and his or her spirituality. The frenetic social activity that the Mascot expresses is in fact often a defense against his or her intense inner anxiety and tension. The inability to cope with the inner fear and tension leads many Mascots to believe they are going crazy. If this inner anxiety and desperation not addressed, it is not uncommon that a Mascot may slip deeper into mental illness, become chemically dependent, or even commit suicide.
A special case is the only child. An only child in an alcoholic family may take on parts of all of these roles, playing them simultaneously or alternately, experiencing overwhelming pain and confusion as a result.
Sharon Wegscheider notes that the longer a person plays a role, the more rigidly fixed he or she becomes in it. Eventually, family members "become addicted to their roles, seeing them as essential to their survival and playing them with the same compulsion, delusion and denial as the Dependent plays his [or her] role as drinker."
Types of Dysfunctional Families
Dr. Janet Kizziar characterizes four types of "troubled family systems", which are "breeding grounds for codependency:"
(1) The Alcoholic or Chemically Dependent Family System
(2) The Emotionally or Psychologically Disturbed Family System
(3) The Physically or Sexually Abusing Family System
(4) The Religious Fundamentalist or Rigidly Dogmatic Family System
Codependency expresses in these dysfunctional families through the typical strategies of minimizing, projection, intellectualizing and denial. Minimizing acknowledges there may be a problem, but makes light of it. Projection blames the problem on others, and may appoint a scapegoat to bear the family's shame. Intellectualizing tries to explain the problem away, believing that by offering a convenient excuse or explanation, the problem will be resolved. Denial demands that other people and self believe there is no problem.
The patterns of codependency can emerge from any family system where the overt and covert rules close its members off from the outside world. These family systems discourage healthy communication of issues and feelings between themselves, destroy the family members' ability to trust themselves and to trust another in an intimate relationship, and freeze family members into unnatural roles, making constructive change difficult. Rules that encourage the unnatural patterns of relating in these codependent family systems include:
• Don't talk about problems
• Don't express feelings openly or honestly
• Communicate indirectly, through acting out or sulking, or via another family member
• Have unrealistic expectations about what the Dependent will do for you
• Don't be selfish, think of the other person first
• Don't take your parents as an example, "do as I say, not as I do"
• Don't have fun
• Don't rock the boat, keep the status quo
• Don't talk about sex
• Don't challenge your parent's religious beliefs or these family rules
The dysfunctional family dynamics engendered by these unrealistic and restrictive rules leads to unfulfilling relationships as adults. This leads, Dr. Kizziar believes, to the symptomatic characteristics of codependency in adult relationship styles, marked by:
difficulty in accurately identifying and expressing feelings
problems in forming and maintaining close, intimate relationships
higher than normal prevalence of marrying a person from another dysfunctional family or a person with active alcoholism or addiction perfectionism
having unrealistic expectation of self and others
being too hard on oneself rigidity in behavior and attitudes
having an unwillingness to change
having a resistance to adapting to change
fearful of taking risks
feeling over-identified or responsible for others' feelings or behavior
having a constant need for approval or attention from others to feel good about themselves awkwardness in making decisions, feel terrified of making mistakes, and may defer decision-making to others
feeling powerless and ineffective, like whatever they do does not make a difference
exaggerated feelings of shame and worthlessness, and low self-esteem
avoiding conflict at any price
often repress their own feelings and opinions to keep the peace
apprehension over bandonment by others acting belligerently and aggressively to keep others at a distance
tendencies to be impatient and over-controlling failure to properly take care of themselves because of their absorption in the needs and concerns of other people, and acting like martyrs, living for others instead of for oneself
dread of the expression of their own anger, and will do anything to avoid provoking another person.
The particular expression of these codependent traits by each individual is often a function of the type of family in which a child grows up.
For example, Dr. Janet G. Woititz recognizes the following 13 traits that are characteristic of adults who grew up in a family where alcoholism was present.
Adult children of alcoholics
guess at what normal behavior is
have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end
lie, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
judge themselves without mercy
have difficulty having fun
take themselves very seriously
have difficulty with intimate relationships
overreact to changes over which they have no control
constantly seek approval and affirmation
usually feel they are different than other people
are super responsible or super irresponsible
are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence the loyalty is undeserved
are impulsive, and tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences.
Authoritarian families, whose members may be subjected to inflexible religious values or a black-and-white, one-dimensional view of the universe by a dominant parent, Dr. Janet Kizziar believes may be subject to the following problems.
They suffer from a frozen identity state, dominated by oppressively strict moral values.
Their feelings become cut off from beliefs, and they no longer are certain what they really feel. The members experience great difficulty in thinking and deciding for themselves, as dogma or parental authority overshadows free choice and independent thinking.
They have discomfort sharing honestly about their past, as they believe they must continually pretend they are living up to the ideal held up to them by their authoritarian parents.
Children who grew up in families where they were victims of incest show a variety of psychological, behavioral and interpersonal issues. Psychologically, they suffer from sleep and eating disorders, fears and phobias, recurring nightmares, dissociative reactions, depression, anxiety and hysterical reactions, have low self esteem, believe they are polluted or inferior, and feel intense guilt, fear, shame, and anger. Behavioral consequences include school problems, truancy, delinquency, running away from their families, prostitution, promiscuity, and higher rates of suicide attempts and completed suicides. Interpersonally, they have difficulty trusting others, and they are more likely to physically and sexually abuse their own children, and are more likely to be sexually victimized.8 Some adults experience difficulties with adult sexual adjustment, and nearly half show decreased sexual drive after childhood sexual abuse.
So intense are some of the reactions to growing up in these families, that Dr. Timmen L. Cermak believes they are similar to "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" experienced by survivors of disasters or wars, such as VietNam Veterans. These happen to people who chronically live through or with events "outside of range of what is considered normal human experience." War veterans and adults growing up in dysfunctional families may, without warning, re-experience feelings, thoughts and behaviors that were present during the original traumatic event. These re-immerging painful feelings are newly triggered by environmental stimuli. Dr. Cermak notes, "for children from chemically dependent families, the trigger can be almost anything...the sound of ice clinking in a glass, an expression of anger or criticism, arguing, the sensation of losing control.
Another symptom of stress disorder is psychic numbing, which Dr. Cermak describes as suspending feelings in favor of taking steps to ensure personal safety, or splitting between one's self and experience—disconnecting from feelings in order to survive.
Survivors of trauma also experience hyper-vigilance, an inability to feel comfortable unless they are continually monitoring their environment. Cermak relates they "remained on edge, always expecting the worst, unable to trust or feel safe again."
Finally, survivors of trauma, veterans of a war or children from chemically dependent families, feel survivor guilt. "Whenever they experience the fullness that life has to offer, they immediately feel as if they are betraying those who never had the chance. It seems somehow wrong to go away and be healthy when those that are left behind are still suffering."
Healthy Families, Unhealthy Families
Codependency is transmitted through family learning, and family members come to believe that these distorted patterns of relating are normal. As the family is the primary arena of socialization, children growing up in these families are ill equipped to deal with the demands of the larger world outside the family home. They are often saddled with inadequate coping skills, distorted perceptions of what is appropriate behavior, and unrealistic expectations of the behavior of other people.
To heal these dysfunctional patterns of relating, the codependent adult must get into touch with the "inner child", the real self within. This part of us is alive, energetic, creative, and capable of seeing things as they really are. The inner child can love others unconditionally, and can tell the truth.
In contrast, the codependent, "false self" feels uncomfortable, strained and inauthentic in relating to other people. It acts to cover up, deny and withhold genuine feelings, and inhibits spontaneous, "natural" or playful behavior. It may develop a negative attitude toward self or others that is envious, critical, blaming, shaming and perfectionistic. It tends to be other-oriented, focused on what it believes others think it should be or others want it to be. It is capable of only conditional love, rewarding others only if they conform to its inner values of what is right and wrong.
Codependency is generated in emotionally disturbed family systems by inconsistent, unpredictable, and crazy parenting styles. In physically and sexually abusive family systems, codependency is related to the violation of personal boundaries. Victims of abuse fear that the violation may reoccur at any time, and also experience an invasion of their self respect--they cannot control their own bodies, and their choices and desires are not respected. In alcoholic and drug using family systems, codependency arises as a result of the unpredictable behavior of the substance abuser, and the stresses it places on the other members of the family. In fundamentalist, dogmatic families, codependency is created by over-control and excessive regimentation.
In a healthy family system, family members openly acknowledge their problems, discuss them openly, and work toward change. They believe change is acceptable, and actively solicit workable solutions from other family members. Children in these families are free to express their needs and wants. Family members can talk about feelings and traits in themselves that they feel should be changed: shame and embarrassment do not immobilize them. There is permission to express appropriate anger. The adults of the family model healthy, congruent behavior for their children: what they tell their children to do and what they themselves do, match.
Families function to provide the following needs for their members:
Maintenance, the provision of food, clothes, shelter, and health care
Nurturance, the granting of safety, security, warmth, and a sense of "home"
Inclusion, the fulfilling of love and belongingness needs
Privacy, respect for each member's autonomy and separateness
Esteem, the bestowing of a sense of worth and personal value on its members,
Understanding, the agreed upon right of members to make mistakes and learn from them
Recreation, the opportunity to have fun together
Spirituality, the permission to develop a relationship with a Higher Power, to have meaning and purpose in life.
To the degree that these functions of the family are eclipsed by dysfunction of one or more of its members and by the codependency that derives from this, to that degree will the ability of its members to successfully cope with life in the world outside the family be diminished.
Dr. Janet Kizziar sees that the family roles embody these functions of family, albeit in a distorted way. The Enabler provides for Nurturance needs, and may ensure Maintenance needs as well, if the Dependent is incapacitated. The Hero brings Esteem to the family; the Scapegoat, mistakes, so that the individual and family derive Understanding and learn from them; the Lost Child, Privacy; and the Mascot, Recreation, the spirit of fun and comic relief.
She also points out three other roles that appear in some dysfunctional families, that of the "Princess" or "Little Man", the "Doer" and that of the "Family Priest".
Princess or Little Man is the child that is cast in the role of the family favorite. This family member is often subject to emotional, or covert incest, becoming a substitute spouse for the opposite sex parent. As a result, this family member never gets his or her needs met. The Princess or Little Man is not allowed to be a child, as he or she must always be available to service the needs of mother and father. Children who are pressed into this role often attract sexually and physically abusive partners in their adult relationship as they never form proper boundaries. This child often embodies the Inclusion, or love and belongingness needs of the family.
Doer is often cast as the breadwinner, the caretaker for the family, furnishing its Maintenance needs. He or she tends to be over-responsible, yet is saddled with guilt, feeling that he or she never does enough. The result of this labor of love on behalf of the family that takes up all of the Doer's time and strength is that he or she often feels fatigued, tired, lonely, unappreciated and empty. The family does not acknowledge the Doer for what he or she accomplishes. The Doer may become workaholic, deriving his or her personal satisfaction and self respect from employment. Doers may attempt to meet their needs for love and belongingness, esteem and actualization outside the family, which is perceived as a place of tension and misery.
Family Priest is cast in the role of embodying the family's spirituality. This family member is denied sexuality, and is expected to abide by the strictest codes of morality or virtue. The family expectation for this member is that he or she will take vows, and become a monk or nun, a priest, rabbi, minister, or sannyasin, renouncing the world, and living for God and service to humanity. If this family member refuses to assume this role, he or she may be treated as if they are worthless, a family pariah or scapegoat.
In a healthy family, members are not cast into rigid roles. Instead of pressing each member to embody a role to fulfill only one family function, each member is giving the opportunity to experience each of the family roles. As a result, they incorporate positive adult and parental modes of functioning. They are able to maintain themselves and their own families. They are able to give and receive nurturing. They are able to establish a network of intimate and friendship relationships in which they can experience love and belongingness. They have the capacity to function autonomously and to take initiative, they have self respect and can respect the values and boundaries of others. They can accept their own mistakes and learn from them. They have the capacity to laugh and have fun. They have a relationship with their Higher Power, a source of inner meaning, strength, and hope.
A Question of Boundaries
In dysfunctional families, parents violate the boundaries of their children. Parents from these families do not respect their children's personal freedom and privacy, they discount their children's feelings, do not honor their attempts at independent thinking and decision-making, and do not allow them to experience their impulses toward creativity, spirituality and self actualization. These deficits in the children's development are revisited by problems in their adult relationships and careers, and with raising their own families.
When parents disrespect a child's boundaries, the child's sense of self—his or her autonomy, self-respect, feelings of effectiveness and of making a difference—are compromised. In place of a healthy sense of self, children may come to feel they are "damaged goods": unworthy, inferior, inherently bad, incompetent, stupid, or ugly. This negative conditioning limits what they believe they are capable of doing, being, and having throughout their lives. One of the central priorities of the recovery process must be to reconstruct this damaged self-esteem.
Boundaries are broached in different ways.
In the physical or sexual abusing family, the child's physical boundaries are violated.
In families where there is insanity or serious illness of a parent, the child's emotional boundaries are infringed upon, and the child may be forced into the role of surrogate spouse for the other parent, or required to act as the ill parent's caretaker.
In the substance abusing family, the volatile and immature behavior of an intoxicated parent creates confusion about appropriate boundaries in interpersonal roles. As there are no models of rational or predictable behavior, there is breakdown of honest communication, a lack of emotional stability and nurturing by the parents, and a lack of safety that would permit trust, self disclosure and intimacy to develop.
In the fundamentalist, dogmatic or authoritarian family, parents trespass on children's right to think for themselves (mental boundaries). They also violate children's rights to make their own decisions (volitional boundaries), to interpret and act upon their own conscience (moral boundaries), and to experience and express their innate spirituality, creativity, and quest for meaning and value (spiritual boundaries).
Another priority for recovering adult children from these dysfunctional families must be to rebuild appropriate boundaries. They must relearn
- what is appropriate sexuality
- what are legitimate ways to express displeasure or anger without injuring others or themselves
- say no to relationships they do not want and that are not good for them, no to demands that they are not able to handle.
- rehabilitate their ability to trust, to feel and share their feelings, to self disclose and establish intimate relations.
- think for themselves, and to make their own decisions, confusing and scary as that might be.
- They must re-own a coherent and meaningful set of moral values by which to govern their lives, and to take responsibility for their behavior.
- they must renew their connection and relationship with a Higher Power, that provides for them a sense of guidance, a roadmap, a set of principles from which they may confidently and courageously live their lives.
None of this is easy. But the experience of numerous people who have survived growing up in these families, and have embarked upon a program of recovery, let us know that it is possible to regain their sanity and peace of mind, despite their painful and abusive past.
We also know that if a adult who grew up in these types of families does not address these powerful and poignant issues, it is likely that he or she will unwittingly continue these patterns of abuse into a new generation. The child who is a victim of incest or molestation may go on to molest his or her own children. The victim of physical violence may beat or neglect his or her own children. The child of an alcoholic or drug addict may become chemically addicted him or herself, at a rate up to four times that of the population who did not grow up in these families. The child of an authoritarian parent may perpetuate the cycle of tyranny, passing on intolerant and repressive values to his or her children. This familial transmission does not stop unless we break the pattern, and find a way to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon us, and resolve that we will not repeat the past: not in our lives, not in our children's lives.
setting your personal boundaries
You define your personal boundaries by zones of emotional space around you. They vary with the degree of personal intimacy with which you relate to other people.
- Acquaintances are those individuals that you let into your public space.
- Friends are those whom you let into your private space.
- Close friends are those whom you let into your intimate space.
- Only those individuals who come closest of all, a spouse, the dearest and most trusted of friends or relatives, or your life companion, are ever allowed to enter into your most intimate space.
With each progressive layer of intimacy, you apply different standards to what is required of an individual to earn the right to know you in a more intimate way. To protect your privacy, to ensure your safety, you erect barriers to those who would come close to you: only those that earn your trust and pass your tests are ever granted the right to move to deeper layers of intimacy.
Through betrayal or disillusionment, people can be exiled from a more intimate layer to a less intimate layer: thus close friends of one day may become friends or acquaintances of another.
In this exercise, first, list on separate sheet of paper those individuals in your life who fall into each of these intimacy categories in figure one above. In other words, list the names of the people in your life who are acquaintances, friends, close friends, and those you allow into your most intimate space, your nearest and dearest.
Next, observe what your standards and rules are for allowing a person to be an acquaintance, a friend, a close friend, or your nearest and dearest. Write these down on a second sheet of paper. Notice if your current relationships adhere to these rules or guidelines for getting close to you. If you are experiencing discomfort or feelings of mistrust in a relationship, notice if that you may have allowed that person to get closer to you than is appropriate.
By controlling your standards, you insure that only those individuals who meet your needs for integrity, safety and trustworthiness will come close to you. You control intimacy in relationships by what you are willing to disclose about yourself, and you can distance yourself if it is appropriate. This way you will prevent many unfortunate relationships and the attending heartache that goes along with them.
Changing Negative Conditioning of the Past
Though you may now be an adult, you carry with you the memories of the past. The past has shaped you and molded you in ways you may not even be aware of, ways that remain deeply buried in your subconscious mind. The trauma of growing up in a dysfunctional family has left scars, wounds that still hurt, emotional pain and confusion that won't go away, crazy patterns of acting and relating that don't make sense, but you feel compelled to do them anyway.
To change the negative programming in the biocomputer that is your Subconscious mind, you must correct the statements that are replaying like endless answering machine tapes. These statements tell you that you are not good enough, that you can't succeed, that you are just another drunk like your father (and you are painfully aware that like him, you do have a problem with alcohol)—statements you have come to believe and act upon. If you want your behavior to change and to alter the negative consequences that your behavior has brought to you, you can begin to change this negative programming.
The overt functioning of the Conscious mind includes behavior and sensation. The functioning of the Conscious mind of which you may become readily aware comprises eight levels:
gross motor behavior, such as turning your body or moving your arms and legs.
fine motor behavior, as when you move your fingers, or perform coordinated movements like dancing or playing hockey.
orientation toward stimuli, like when you move your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, or the touch or 4)temperature receptors on your skin to become aware of some object in the environment, or something on or next to your body.
movement of internal organs, as in the case of when you become aware of your heart racing after a chase, or butterflies in your stomach when you feel anxiety.
speech, when you vocalize your thoughts and feelings and communicate to other people.
voluntary control of breath, as when you hold your breath when diving underwater or taking deep breaths when you are feeling angry or upset.
self direction, the inaudible speech you use to tell yourself the next thing to do, as in "sit down, reach down, grab your shoelaces with both hands, tie your shoe".
self-monitoring, the I AM statements you use to describe what you are doing, for example, "I am now eating ice cream."
Your functional Subconscious mind also has eight levels. It is comprised of your basic conditioning that determines what you think, feel and believe.
Fear or aversive conditioning, which includes your feelings of wanting to escape, thoughts that a situation or a person is dangerous, or beliefs that you might be harmed if you hang around any longer.
Sexual or attractive conditioning, that elicits your feelings and sensations of sexual arousal, your fantasies about sexual behavior, your beliefs about your sexual attractiveness, worthiness, and competence.
Anger or aggressive conditioning evokes your feelings of being wronged, your fantasies of harming another or taking revenge, or beliefs that you are justified in hurting another person, acting out violence, or causing injury, pain or misery.
Moral or inhibitory conditioning, that bring up feelings of guilt or unworthiness, fantasies of being punished by another person or by a Supernatural Agency like God or the devil, and the beliefs that define for you what is good or evil.
Learning or experiential conditioning produces feelings of confidence or certainty, gives rise to associative thinking and memories from your past, and your beliefs that identify an event, person, or thing as being similar or dissimilar to what you have experienced before.
Habit or motor conditioning, prompts feelings of ease and confidence in making a movement you have previously practiced repeatedly, thoughts about the effectiveness of your actions, and beliefs about what is possible and impossible for you to do and achieve by your actions.
Desire or attachment conditioning, which motivates feelings of craving or need, fantasies of doing, being, having, and enjoying the object of desire, and beliefs about what is possible for you to do, be, and have in your life.
Subliminal awareness, marked by your I AM or identity statements about your thoughts and fantasies, feelings and beliefs, and your perception of your desires, habits, and conditioning.
The simplest kind of self-programming is called affirmation. Affirmation is having the self-direction portion of your Conscious mind give suggestions to your Subconscious mind. You may suggest to your Subconscious mind, for example:
There is nothing to fear when you stand up in front of an audience to give a talk.
You are beautiful and desirable and are attractive to the opposite sex.
You can control your anger.
You will act in accordance with your morals.
You will remember the information you just learned so you will do well on the upcoming test.
You will shoot baskets easily when you aim the basketball.
You can achieve what you set out to do in your life.
Another kind of self-programming is called processing. In this method, you have the self direction portion of your mind ask your Subconscious mind a series of questions. You may ask, for example, what makes you afraid of heights? What is it that makes you attracted to men or women who abuse you? What is it that makes you so angry about that? Why do you feel this behavior is wrong? What was it like when you were five, growing up? What is keeping you from running the 100-yard dash just a little bit faster? What is it you really want in your career? Surprisingly enough, your Subconscious likely has an answer to whatever you may ask it. It will give you direct answers and will often reveal the hidden truth about whatever is troubling you. All you have to do is ask, and then listen for the answer. You may wish to write it down, as well, so you can refer to it later.
Affirmation and processing will allow you to get in touch with your basic feelings, thoughts, and beliefs, and to change them to a certain degree. For the stubborn, recalcitrant, and deeply engrained patterns and attitudes, however, affirmation and processing may not necessarily work—for these you need to bring out the heavy guns of Metaprogramming.
Metaprogramming means directing or changing your behavior and conditioning from an even deeper portion of you, called the Metaconscious mind. Metaconscious mind brings the following functions to bear on your basic conditioning:
Resolution getting mad at, fed up with, and tired of old behavior or habit patterns, and deciding emotionally to do something about it.
Rehearsal role playing new verbal behavior, mentally practicing new movements, visualizing yourself acting in a new way, having new things and people in your life, and being a different person.
Argument setting new limits or standards for your behavior, specifying how your behavior, words, or life shall be changed, and undermining and exposing your negative beliefs and behavior.
Planning scheduling, designing, and setting up new goal-oriented patterns of behavior. Defining projects and goals, and specifying deadlines for accomplishment of objectives.
Reflection thinking about the consequences of your behavior, getting ideas for alternative ways of acting, feeling, believing or thinking.
Insight looking at yourself objectively with the "eye of the mind". This allows you witness your behavior, conditioning, and defenses against change.
Self Awareness the awareness of your total personality from the vantage point of the Self. This center is the nucleus of the personality, and is experienced as a center of awareness, will, and joy, director and controller of your life.
Will is the internal controlling and ordering principle that operates through the human personality and gives expression to impulses from yet higher aspects of the mind, the Superconscious Mind, the human spirit, and the Soul. For either programming or metaprogramming to operate effectively, they must be empowered and given permission by the Will. Will is the connection with the deepest principles within a human being and is the manifestation of his or her Essential Self.
Behavior is largely the end result of the internal conditioning imbedded in the subconscious mind. Affirmation and Metaprogramming allow you to alter this programming in the Subconscious mind. This helps you to begin to take charge of your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions, and ultimately, your life. By rediscovering your Will, you are reunited with your core, your Essential Being. This gives you the power to regain control over your life and affairs, and to take it back from those to whom you have given it away by your codependent styles of relating. In learning to take charge of your conditioning, you give yourself back the keys to determining your own destiny, instead of being controlled by the traumatic experiences of your past and the people who have learned to manipulate you.
Whole Self / Damaged Self
The impact of growing up in a dysfunctional family takes its toll on individuals growing up in these families. Adults who grew up in these dysfunctional families may experience problems with addiction: overeating, chemical dependency, sexual compulsions, workaholism, or destructive gambling behavior. They may suffer from low self-esteem, not believing they deserve the good things in life. They may feel depressed or anxious, and be uncertain why. They may self-sabotage their goals and dreams, fail to actualize their potentials, unwitting acting out a life script written by early negative programming. They may have problems with making money, managing money, or settling down into a satisfactory career. They have difficulties with intimacy, forming close relationships, and dread letting go of a relationship, even when is destructive. They report sexual dysfunction, sexual obsession or lack of sexual desire. They may be troubled with health problems that derive from too much stress, failure to properly care for their nutrition or get proper exercise or sleep, and being overly driven in their lives, not knowing when to let go or relax. Their acting out as adolescents may have interfered with their education, and their emotional tension may have interfered with their ability to concentrate and to study, limiting their job prospects; and confusion, which effected their school performance. Their rebellion may have led to legal entanglements. They may be out of touch with their feelings and their spirituality, and lack a sense of meaning in their lives. In sum, they emerge from their stormy childhood with a damaged self.
The healing process is assisted by an inventory of the damage, and then developing a personal "treatment plan" to address the aspects of the self that can be rehabilitated. In some cases, the damage can no longer be remedied, which means that you will have to grieve for your loss, and in time, come to an inner acceptance, and forgive yourself for your mistake.
The next steps are reflecting on each important aspect of your life, setting realistic goals, then determining a way to reach these goals. By writing down these goals you will be on your way to dealing with a painful past and creating a brighter present and future for yourself.
First inventory the following aspects of your life, asking where I am now for each area:
My physical health and appearance
My home and living environment
My emotional life
My recovery from addiction and dysfunctional patterns
My mental life and education
My career and work life
My involvement in the community
My hobbies, interests in other cultures, my desires for travel
My ethics and principles I live by
My spiritual life
AREA OF MY LIFE
WHERE I AM NOW
Write as fully on each subject as possible. Be honest! You may also wish to elicit feedback from supportive friends or co-workers who aren't too timid to level with you about how you are doing in your career or in your relationships, in case you may be laboring under any delusions that you are doing fine, when you really aren't.
Next, you want to set some clear goals in each of these areas of your life, both the ones you are not having problems in and the ones you are having problems in. You can get out a new sheet of paper, and make three columns, like this:
AREA OF MY LIFE
WHEN I WILL COMPLETE THIS
You need to be realistic about when you can accomplish these goals, and not be too hard on yourself you fail to meet a deadline. Just figure out went wrong, revise your deadline, and try a new and better approach. Your goal statements should be concrete, not "I want to be happy ", but "I want to better cope with the situations and people that frustrate me," or "I want to be earning 125% of my current income by December of next year."
Next you need to determine what will help you achieve each of your goals.
Get out a third sheet of blank paper, and make three columns, like this:
WHAT WILL HELP ME COMPLETE THIS?
You want to briefly restate your goal, and think of what will help you reach your goal. The comment section is for a brief comment like, "Completed on 3/15/92", or "Decided against this on advice of my sponsor or therapist." You may wish to do this one in pencil, so you can add or revise items on it. I call it a "Success Spreadsheet", but you can call it whatever you like.
I've done a sample one below to give you some ideas.
SAMPLE SUCCESS SPREADSHEET
WHAT WILL HELP ME COMPLETE THIS
Get therapy or counseling. Read good books about building self-esteem. Complete some goals so I feel better about myself.
Be less of a doormat
Take an assertiveness training class. Read a book on assertiveness training.
Set better limits
Decide what are appropriate limits on C.W.'s behavior. Say no when I mean no. Practice my assertiveness skills. Talk over with my therapist why I'm in this relationship.
Need more discipline
Take up a commitment I can't get out of so I'll be sure to do it. Get someone to do it with me so it won't seem like a burden. Read The Act of Willby Roberto Assagioli
A great book!
Improve my relationship with my boss
Discuss relationships with authority figures with my therapist. Work in my journal about resentments toward mom and dad.
To disclose myself
Work on trusting with my therapist more fully so I can feel safer in intimate relationships. Journal on my fears of talking to my parents. Make a list of what I am afraid to tell about myself and tell them to B.J. Tell B.J. what I like sexually.
Learn to negotiate by reading a book about this subject. Take a public speaking class.
Enroll in a class at the university next semester. Get an accounting package for my computer and use it.
Stop Using Alcohol
Get into a recovery program today. Read Hazelden recovery books. Attend Alcoholics Anonymous and work the steps of the program.
Do whatever it takes to stop drinking!
Deal with pain of growing up in an alcoholic family
Attend ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings. Get therapy and counseling. Work on my codependency by working the steps. Read books on codependency and ACA issues.
Enhance my relationship with my Higher Power
Learn to meditate and practice meditation daily. Pray daily and attend Church on Sundays. Read books about spirituality and metaphysical topics. Read the entire Bible. Keep a spiritual journal.
Reduce my stress
Practice relaxation daily. Practice time management. Say no more and don't take on any more projects.
Once you know how you can work on reaching your goals and what you are willing to do to reach them, there is only one step remaining. DO IT! MAKE YOUR DREAMS HAPPEN!
It is possible for you to overcome a painful past, to rediscover your unique individuality, and to become more effective in your personal life. Getting in touch with your Soul, your real Self, through a spiritual awakening, is a healing experience, and will help you recognize your potential and find inner strength and wisdom to cope with life's challenges. Setting clear goals for yourself and finding out how to accomplish them will actualize your dreams, and you will experience greater personal satisfaction. By finding others who will support you in your recovery, by love, by understanding, by forgiveness, by empowering yourself, it is possible to release the burdens of the past and live more fully in the Actuality of the living present.
This is not an easy task, but no task is more urgent or worthwhile.