Hiding our real self from other people – schemas

Sometimes we act on the way with other people like after a while we don’t even recognize ourselves. We put other people onto our focus and in the meantime overshadowing our own emotions, desires and needs. Old schemas are behind of it mainly.

Automatic behaviour patterns influence our daily life what we carry from our young ages. They are schemas and when those patterns have a harmful effect on our life, they are maladaptive ones. Causes of maladaptive schemas are subconscious behaviour modes-styles which deprive us being successful in private or business life and prevents feeling satisfied and living in harmony with other and with ourselves. They make us suffer. Since they are mainly subconscious requires professional help and time to recognize and correct them. Most of the time the main roots of those maladaptive schemas are invisible. They might be connected unsatisfied basic needs, like the need of belonging, need of acceptance and care, need of competency, autonomy and free expression of emotions. Dysfunctional schemas are traps, made by us and we fall into them again and again.


These schemas are self-destructive cognitive and emotional patterns, our certain behaviour motives repeat themselves by those patterns. Usually those schemas come into being by childhood or teenager experiences. They can come into being fast by a trauma for example but also progressively. Just like being an eye witness of a dysfunctional behaviour pattern for a long time. Also being overprotected can cause self-destructive behaviour patterns later, not always traumatic experiences are responsible for developing maladaptive schemas. To recognize and understand those schemas can help us to step out from negative thought and behaviour circles.

There are 18 maladaptive schemas officially and now I’m sharing those with you which are connected to pathological orientation towards other people.

We might have those schemas which distract our attention destructively from ourselves. We don’t keep in mind our own needs, emotions but continuously we pay attention to someone else. The reason and the mode of focusing on others pathologically can be different.

  1. “Be as you want or wish” – Subjugation

One of the typical pattern is called Subjugation. Who makes this work, exaggeratedly monitoring others’ and try to change his/her own behaviour according to other people’s demands and expectations. Does what others expect him/her to do because being afraid of others’ anger and be a disappointment to them, afraid of losing others’ love if she/he isn’t adaptable completely. Whatever happens tries to avoid conflicts (even small ones), quarrels, disagreements and punishments. Never contradicts anyone (especially in family) to avoid quarrels or resentments. Doesn’t express what she/he wants or would like because afraid of consequences. Knows what she/he wants but doesn’t express them.

These kind of people behave like slaves, take everything from everyone, humiliating themselves. Usually people who have this pattern on, most likely will choose a partner who keeps this pattern working. Partner who is narcissistic or have a very dominant character (mainly pathological dominancy). The ruler and the surrender.

This pattern also can turn to the opposite. In this case the person rebels against everything, refusing and going against everything. Forever teenager, living a life which is full with exhausting rebelling and competing.

  1. I sacrifice everything for you – Self-sacrifice

Someone who has the self-sacrifice schema also keeps in mind other people’s needs but from another point of view. This person overshadowing herself/himself because she/he feels “this is the right way to do”. Builds a well-structured ideology for exaggerated altruism and in the meantime forgets she/he is able to help or support other people if she/he doesn’t neglect his/her own needs completely. Wants to be everybody’s saviour. Feels offended when his/her environment reminds him/her for that. Behind the exaggerated altruism there is a big amount of anger as well usually because after a while can be frustrated just to give and support all the time but not getting anything back to return for these efforts.

It might be very useful to remind this person of that, if she/he feels or believes that other people needs his/her help all the time, this also means that she/he doesn’t believe those people are capable to solve their problems. This belief means includes a kind of underestimation of others as well.

  1. Please, listen to me! – Approval and recognition seeking

Feedbacks from others are important in our life, but there are people who feels good just if he/she gets all of the attentions. This person always wants to be on the spotlight, have got stuck in a schema of approval and recognition seeking. To get attention and recognition this person overshadows his/her own needs, emotions and even his/her own self. Thirsty for compliments and doesn’t matter how to get them, conforms to demands. For instance if other people appreciate she/he dresses modishly this person chases the latest fashion tendencies, if they appreciate his/her intelligence she/he will do everything to conform that demand.


The basic belief of these schemas (pathological orientation towards other people) is, do what the other people want us to do because this is the condition of own prosperity. Or to avoid problems, quarrels or to get expected positive feedbacks. After the recognition and acknowledgement of our schemas we can try to act like being authentic to ourselves and gaining experiences about being acceptable and valued even if we show our real-self.

To act and behave as we are, is a very liberating feeling, releasing a bit other people’s presumed or real demands and expectations. It gives us the feeling of harmony and peace.

Maladaptive schemas really can make our life miserable and we don’t even think that, something is working wrong in ourselves. They are hidden and seem completely logical to us, we can even prove them and their necessity. To successfully recognize and release self-destructive behaviour patterns requires professional help. The outcome of a professional schema releasing therapy is a life changing step on a way of having a prosperous life. If you have the same and repetitive problems in your relationships or in your carrier can be the case that you carry your own package, which are maladaptive schemas.

Source: Jeffrey E. Young, Janet S. Klosko, Marjorie E. Weishaar: Schema therapy

Picture source: http://www.psychologytoday.com

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