Grow up! – Being emotionally adult

Being emotionally adult doesn’t depend on the age, we can see people with the age of 35 or 50 acting like a small child or a child with the age of 11 acting like a responsible adult. What are exactly the key capacities of an adult behaviour and mature relationships?

When we are talking about being an adult the first thing which pops up in people’s mind is responsibility.

Responsibility for actions: often we can’t control our thoughts and emotions in a certain moment but when we act deliberately we control that, indeed.

Responsibility for fate: an adult is an active participant of what is happening with or around him/her. His/her own belief is being the one who is able to shape own life. If something is going wrong, knowing that he/she has part in it and not looking herself/himself as a victim who is submitted to life or others. So, if she/he doesn’t like something willing to change.

Responsibility for own words: doesn’t feed anyone with promises or make them rashly.

Responsibility for making decisions: deliberately setting up goals and go for them. An emotionally adult person can decide what is important in her/his life and makes a sacrifices for it.

 

Exist independently – independency

Independency is connected to reach the responsibility level. An adult is able to make decisions without waiting for others’ guiding. Able to create security and asks help just if she/he is stuck or doesn’t know something. Establishing financial independency is important for creating security.

Own reality – stable identity

Finding own personality is one of the objective of adolescence, so having a fully developed and mature identity is one of the most important part of being an adult. Knowing that who I’m and what I’m capable of. Emotionally mature people are able to see themselves from outside and make efforts to create own image by everyday experiences. They have a clear view about their negative and positive characteristics and able to see their relationships real. They make efforts to know their driving forces which are under the surface and difficult to detect them. Emotionally mature people let themselves to feel own emotions but when it’s time to act they make rational decisions. They are able to handle separately the emotional and intellectual-conceptual processes and choose by which they are going to decide. They live by their own values and guiding principles, in unity with themselves. Part of being emotionally mature also is not reacting defensively for feedbacks. They don’t deny negative critics obviously, they are happy when they get constructive critics and opened to explore new things for expanding their knowledge.

The presence of us – mature relationships

Emotionally mature people strive for equality in their relationships not like emotionally immatures. Emotionally childish people react for old, often unsolved conflicts and easily assume a character a parent or a child. Who is emotionally mature doesn’t want to see just the security provider parent in her/his partner since she/he is able to provide that without others. Wants a person who is equal and learns to give and get love.

Sometimes we don’t work in “adult mode” and completely normal to feel hurt when we get a negative critic. However we can have a fruitful and happy life if we have established the “adult mode” as a basic condition.

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How can we become emotionally mature?

According to Eric Berne (transaction analyses) we work in different modes in social interactions. He separated three modes, like child mode, adult and parent mode. The child mode is the source of emotions, intuitions, needs, creativity and life energy and works mainly based on personal experiences. In adult mode a person works like a computer, based on facts and information instead of intuitions.

In adult mode a person solves problems logically and doesn’t let taking possession of the child or the parent mode. The adult mode calls out equality in relationships.

What kind of skills we need to learn to become emotionally mature if it hasn’t happened yet?

  1. Be present!

Emotionally mature people’s relationships are built on presence needs instead of the past. Here and now philosophy is very important because that’s how we learn to decide responsively. When we are present we become more aware of happenings and our own reactions and helps to avoid acting on a usual, negative old way. Being present gives us the awareness and the control. Think of an important happening! What did cause your reaction? What did you think when you experienced it? What kind of feeling did you feel? What was the outcome of the situation? If we asked this questions from ourselves we would be able to find the answer in which situations we feel good or bad. We are able to see patterns and figure out when we actually have a choice. With this kind of “outside” view we are able to get know ourselves which is the basic stone of a stable identity.

  1. Accept the reality!

A lot of people think that reality is actually subjective. However there are parts which exist independently from an opinion. Some real elements are chosen by us, like who with we get married for instance, other elements we owes or can’t be influenced, like our figure. Often is difficult to see what we can change and what we can’t. In the development of emotional maturity we are able to explore what we are able to change. If we accepted and respected our reality we would have a better chance for having happiness and effectiveness than to fight against. With denial, complaining or the refusal of thinking about uncomfortable reality elements we just run away from the reality what actually we live in. For instance if you worry about your relationship, sit down and think what is exactly bothering you. How did it become a love-less relationship? When did it start? What is your part in this change? Nobody said that these things are good to think of, but the opposite because this way of thinking is a kind of stepping out from the comfort zone. But if we became aware of this part that would give us back the control and after the supporting to find the solution how to change it.

  1. Take responsibility!

Responsibility is one of the key element of adulthood. The quality of our life depends mainly on what kind of decisions we have made or if we have set up the right goals. We believe some situations didn’t depend on us, we didn’t have a choice or it was not our fault. Are you sure? We all know things don’t happen just like that, we have influence on them. Try to break your negative patterns, see and understand them before react, we always have a choice how we act. Keep in mind your long-term goals and try to eliminate those behaviours which can hinder your achievements. We always have a choice how we act in a situation!

  1. Make our perceptions clear!

We become happier when we are able to set up a satisfying and mature goal and when we have the internal motivation to reach it. We must know what we would like/want to reach. If we knew what the most important or significant thing in our life it would be easier to think and act in important situations. With keeping in mind our goal we are able to see the optimal outcome. Without clear goals we might get easily disturbed by circumstances and impulses. Define what your desires are! Often our desires are out of our comfort zone but that doesn’t mean they are bad.

  1. Do for your goals and be authentic!

Being responsible for our own words is also an important part of being an adult, what we want is in tune with what we say. Our precepts and actions are correlated. Choosing commitment and discipline instead of easy solutions and comfort. For instance our business partner (who with we have a great relationship) is setting up a database but we don’t like its structure and we know using it is going to bring some annoyance to us. When it’s coming to talk about it we can decide not mentioning our problem with it. We are able to maintain our relationship with him/her but we become annoyed every time when we use it. Or we can decide that standing up for our opinion, even if it brings some arguments. At the first choice we don’t even give a chance to change. (Typical in very conformist or co-dependent people) but at the second after few uncomfortable minutes we may be able to set up a database system for our future success. In this example you can see that we must pay prices to reach long-term goals. We might get into an uncomfortable situation or we might don’t feel secured for a while. This is the price of our precepts and desires become real.

Becoming emotionally mature is a long term process and it doesn’t work by itself. What we can do is awaking, paying attention and taking responsibility. Paying attention to ourselves is the first step because without it all the others are impossible to be done.

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Innocent chit-chat or poisoning psychological terror?

Backbiting, intriguing, gossips. Whom already has started to work can remember one of these situations. In a working environment but also in family gossiping or even backbiting is almost inevitable. Often just a remark seems innocent but without proper tools, strategies or awareness the ambiance can become a stress source which is able to embitter our daily life.

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Organizational gossip

Gossip is able to shape the hierarchy inside a group. Often is observable that workers trust more in those information which come through informal channels than coming through a formal one. Those people who have extensive networks have more information. The greatest value of gossip is it reaches faster people than a formal information. Sometimes its aim is releasing tension and this is when we talk about curative gossiping.

Mobbing

Gossiping can have useful role in an organization however very important to make a difference and setting up a border between informal information exchange and mobbing. Mobbing is an often repeated (few times or more per week), permanent psychological terror. Mobbing has several forms, can appear in lack of communication opportunities, in making social relations impossible, in hindering professional work but also in undermining reputation and/or respect. The continuous tension causes anxiety, the worker’s psychological capacity worsen which produces more stress situations. Long-lasting stress has several negative outcome, like worsen physical well-being, can cause depression and worsen capacity. It’s able to make even deep changes in behaviour.

How can we cope with stress?

We have several options to cope with stress caused by organizational gossiping. We can use problem centered coping style when we focus onto the situation, trying to change it. In this case we also can work on our personality, important not to blame ourselves and develop a proper self-esteem. Improving our communication technique is always essential, we might need a confident and determined manner and effective assertive tool for self-assurance. We might need to learn and practice efficient conflict management techniques. We also can involve the higher level of leadership into the solution. If more people turn against us, we can try to talk with every each of them, we can look for alliances or a support group.

We also can choose the emotional centered coping strategy as well. If the situation seems like unchangeable we can change its understanding and decreasing our emotional reactions. In these cases often help using humour.  The most important is to intend time for us, for recreation, like dong sport, listening music or reading.

“Pay attention to who talks badly about you behind your back and not what he or she is saying”

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Do you want to change?

Sometimes we want to change and sometimes we must because of others. However we are not so successful all the time. In the beginning we are motivated and persistent but around at half of the way suddenly we break down and withdraw. Why do we often fail when we want to change even if we really want it?

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In the beginning we see all of the challenges are easy, we feel if we finally were able to persuade to start our development sweep would rise. There will be unexpected surprises but we are able to solve them with some extra effort. However we forgot one thing, change has its own course. We can easily fail if we are not prepared for it.

The process of changing has five phases: the “old order”, “resistance”, “chaos”, “integration” and finally the “new order”. These phases are observable in families, couples, teams and in the society as well. The Satir model calls our attention to understand that the process of changing unfortunately is not a flight of stairs and we should just walk up on it straightly. It’s more like a ledge where we must descend to be able to climb up to higher peaks. Who wants to change must be prepared for significant bad patch or patches.

The reality of changing

At first everything is fine, we are okay and this is the “old order” phase. All of a sudden a strange element appears which turns everything on end in our life. Step by step we adopt it but we resist mostly – we defy it. This is the “resistance” phase. Soon this new element triumphs over us and we fall apart. This is the “chaos” phase. This uncomfortable irregularity remains until the “transformative idea” arises. As an effect of this “transformative idea” slowly we start to pull ourselves together. This phase is the “integration”.  The change itself becoming ripe just if those early foreign attitudes become firmer known habits. This is when we start live the “new order” phase.

The best example for instance is training. If we are satisfied with our physique, we don’t want to change – “old order”. Suddenly because of something or someone puts a suspicion in our mind that we are out of shape we should train a bit. We go to run or go to the gym – “foreign element”. We like this change, we enjoy it and we try to exclude it into our daily life – “resistance”. However few problems appear after a while, like the training is very tiring than we believed before, we can spend less and less time with working out because being busy and we already feel very tired after work even before going to the gym. The weather is bad, we have an injury or just another program occurred – “chaos”. Because all this after a while often we give up and return to the “old order”.

Everything could have been different if we had known that this just a phase of chaos. If we can overcome our frustration and confusion, in a short term we can redeem ourselves. We just need a bit of flexibility and creativity – “transformative idea”. For instance, changing the branch of sport, we go to gym before going to work or insert few days of rest without giving up. The phase of integration will be easier after those difficulties. Day by day/week by week we get use to work out and deal with all of its uncomfortable concomitants. If we became prepared to the coming ledge, we would have a better chance to develop and reach the desired peak.

This is it?

The first and might be the best step is to think if we need an outside help to reach our goal. There are a lot of personal and social myths and negative (automatic) thoughts which try to dissuade us immediately from changing. We also experience intense emotional reaction as well defending us from difficulties or challenges which are coming from out of our comfort zone. To change with help is easier especially with a professional one.

We must understand that feel uncomfortable or tense feelings are normal in the process of change, we just have to accept them. If you don’t feel like to go to the gym all the time it’s okay but that doesn’t mean you are not going. You can go there like doesn’t feel like to do it. To try something new, leaving the comfort zone most of the times is not a good feeling but that shouldn’t prevent us doing it anyway. We must learn to deal with negative emotions as well because first they are part of our daily life and second if we don’t have the capacity to deal with them they can prevent us experiencing new and joyful things.

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The Five Levels of Intimacy

In my previous post you could read about intimacy and today I’m sharing more about it with you. Psychologists have identified 5 levels of emotional intimacy we all move through as we get to know someone. It shows how intimacy develops over time.

Level One: Safe Communication – Cliché-Conversation

Level one is the lowest level of communication. We call it safe because it involves the exchange of facts and information. There are no feelings, opinions or personal vulnerability involved, and therefore no risk of rejection. This is the kind of interaction we have with people we don’t know well. It’s the chitchat we share with the clerk at the market or a stranger at a party. People communicating at this level share minimal intimacy.

When couples remain at this level, it leaves a frustrating, unrewarding, and meaningless marriage.

Level Two: Others’ Opinions and Beliefs – Factual Communication

At level two we start sharing other people’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions. We are beginning to reveal more of ourselves through our associations. We say things like, “My father always says…” or “One of my favourite authors said…” Such statements test the other person’s reaction to what we’re sharing without offering our own opinions. This is slightly more vulnerable than level one, but because we’re not sharing our own opinions we can distance ourselves from the opinion if we feel threatened by criticism or rejection.

Factual communication are necessary to make our relationship and family life run like exchanging information about your family members or planning up on weekend. But when communication get stuck at this level, just like with cliché-conversation, it leaves a marriage unrewarding and meaningless.

Level Three: Personal Opinions and Beliefs

We start taking small risks at this level because we begin to share our own thoughts, opinions and beliefs. But like the previous level, if we begin feeling too vulnerable, we can say we’ve switched our opinions or changed our mind in order to avoid conflict or pain. Here the importance of self-esteem appears.

Level Four: My Feelings and Experiences-Sharing of Emotions and Feelings

At this level, a spouse begins to show not only what’s in his head but also what’s in his heart. Sharing feelings and experiences is the next level of vulnerability and intimacy. Verbalizing feelings of happiness, disappointment, hurts and anger. At this level we talk about our joys, pain, and failures; our mistakes in the past, our dreams, and our goals. What we like or don’t like. What makes us who we are. This level is more vulnerable because we can’t change how we feel about something, the details of our past or current experiences. If we sense we may be rejected or criticized all we can do is try to convince others that we’re no longer impacted by our past. We’re no longer that person. We’re different now but also important highlighting that, this is who we are.

It is when we share our emotions with our spouse that we feel loved, valued, seen, and cared for. Alternating between sharing of opinions and emotions is a good combination in marriage communication. Here we have a deeper understanding of our spouse, how he/she thinks and how he/she feels.

Level Five: My Needs, Emotions and Desires

Level five is the highest level of intimacy. It is the level where we are known at the deepest core of who we are. Because of that, it is the level that requires the greatest amount of trust. If I can’t trust that you won’t reject me, I’ll never be able to share my deepest self with you. Unlike the other levels, there is no escape at this level. Once I let someone see who I really am, I can no longer convince them otherwise. Communicating at this level means we offer someone the most vulnerable part of ourselves. And the greatest fear is that they could use it against us later. When we share things like, “I’m hurt when you don’t call,” I need to feel respected by you,” or “I want to spend my life with you,” we’re sharing not only our hurts but our desires and needs as well. It’s also the level where we let others see our emotional reaction to things, which if you’re like me, isn’t always a pretty sight. Maybe that’s why we save those for the ones closest to us, like our families.

Real Intimacy

It’s important to understand that true intimacy in a relationship happens over time…not in a day, week or even a month. But another important element is needed for true intimacy…both people in the relationship need to move through the levels together. If I’m sharing at level four with someone (feelings and experiences) but my partner is sharing at level three (opinions and beliefs) we’re not experiencing true intimacy. I may feel closer because I’m sharing at a higher level, but in reality what we have is a false sense of intimacy.  Intimacy is measured by the person with the lower level of vulnerability.

What can we do if we realize that, there is no intimacy in our life or having a block at one of the level and we can’t move on?

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First thing what we can do is to identify at which level our relationship is blocked. The second step is to see from whose side this block is made. It’s possible we feel that we are opened but our partner doesn’t. If we can see the block is set up by us without causing by our partner, self-knowledge is our best tool to recognize, understand and change it. However to change it often requires professional help. Also numerous times people don’t have a picture about how an intimate relationship is and how it works because they have never seen or experienced it.

One of the typical intimacy blocks is fear.

Here are some common ways people distance themselves emotionally as a result of a fear of intimacy:

  • Holding back affection
  • Reacting indifferently or adversely to affection or positive acknowledgement
  • Becoming paranoid or suspicious of a partner
  • Losing interest in sexuality
  • Being overly critical of a partner
  • Feeling guarded or resistant to being close

Fear of intimacy begins to develop in our early childhood. As children, when we experience rejection and/or emotional pain, we often shut down or believe in those negative feedbacks/reactions which mean we are not worthy to be loved, we are bad or deffective. We learn not to rely on others as a coping mechanism. After being hurt in our earliest relationships, we fear being hurt again, it’s a circle where we can get trapped. We are reluctant to take another chance on being loved. Intimacy requieres bravery as I wrote in my previous post but we should not minimize the power of fear as well.

If we felt unseen, misunderstood, unloved or deffective as children, we may have difficulties believing that someone could really love and value us. The negative feelings we developed toward ourselves in our early years, became a deeply embedded part of who we think we are, as part of our self. (This embedded part of our self most of the times is deep and difficult to change.) Therefore, when someone is loving and reacts positively toward us, we experience a conflict within ourselves. We don’t know whether to believe this new person’s kind and loving point of view of us or our old, familiar sense of our identity. So, we often react with suspicion and distrust when someone loves us, because our fear of intimacy has been aroused. Also can appear here that we start to set up a mask, acting accordingly to our belief which is how our partner wants to see us. We don’t show our real self, just a development of a created perfect self which is suitable to our partner’s need and image (Co-dependency).

Even though the fear of intimacy is a largely unconscious process, we can still observe how it effects our behavior. Acting on our fears preserves our negative self-image, keeps us in an unhappy circle.

However, we can overcome fear of intimacy. We can develop ourselves to stop being afraid of love and let someone in. We can recognize the behaviors that are driven by our fear of intimacy and challenge these defensive reactions that preclude love. By taking the actions necessary to challenge our fear of intimacy we can expand our capacity for both giving and accepting love.

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No trust without fallibility – Why are we afraid of intimacy while pinning for it?

Romantic novels and films usually ends when lovers finally find each other, complications are closed and the leading characters find their perfect pair like they have reached their life goals and wave good-bye to problems. However in real life the biggest part of the story comes after finding each other. To build intimacy requires longer time. Why do a lot of people afraid of intimacy while pinning for it?

If we find our partner we run-in is a popular misconception. Love requires care and work after the early stage and intimacy is not a static condition. It’s not enough to get that love/partner and just to sit and believe it will last the life out. The intimacy of relationships changes continuously depending on how we maintain a relation to each other. We often talk about intimacy – especially insufficiency of it – but to define what intimacy exactly means is difficult. Where does it start and what is not?

Intimacy is not the same as sexuality which is a very common misconception. Intimate relationship includes not just physical but also emotional closeness as well. Even if we spend a lot of time together with someone that doesn’t mean necessarily we have intimacy. The balance between closeness and intimacy is very fragile and closeness even can be the obstacle to intimacy. We push closer and closer to the other person believing that that’s how our relationship is becoming more intimate, whilst we reach the opposite effect. Without trust there is no intimacy, we let someone to get close if we feel safe beside him/her.

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Fear destroys intimacy

To trust someone also means I can show myself, who and how I’m in real, without masks. To belong to someone is a very human motive and basic need and that’s why we are afraid of losing it. Often we are not dare to show our real self because we are afraid of refusal and feeling of loss. The base of intimacy is when we let the other person to see us as we are, like we see ourselves. Without masks and “make-up” and without pretending. There is always a chance even if we revealed ourselves, we wouldn’t have been “enough good” to our partner. There is another side of a coin, which is revealing ourselves is essential to build and have intimate relationship, without that there is no intimacy. When we let someone to get close we take a risk as well, she/he can leave us.

Intimacy requires bravery

In a certain level we all are afraid of intimacy. Can be scary to show that part of ourselves what believe is shameful and not nice but also we can be afraid of defenceless as well. Behind this feeling can be the fear of losing ourselves and/or the fear of dissolving in other person. At the same time having a faith in somebody also means we are able to be happy alone and we give the chance to another person to make us happy as well. Intimacy comes from the Latin, intima word and it means being inside, being in closeness.

Intimacy is a substance in which we can born to ourselves. With accepting ourselves in a relationship with another person we are able to develop a deep understanding of ourselves. In an intimate substance we are able to feel compassion and affection.

A relationship can provide us just what we are ready for!

If somebody’s self-esteem is dubious or hating or not accepting herself/himself will be not able to experience the feeling of being loved and valuable with somebody else as well. If somebody is not able feel intimacy with herself/himself won’t be able to experience with someone else too. In intimacy we also find ourselves not just the other person.

Unfortunately not being alone as a motivation is often stronger than the motivation of building intimacy.

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New life proceeds from traumas

Life is a cycle of ups and downs also once in a while something happens which can push us very very deep. We lose a relative, we get diagnosed with a serious illness or get lethargic after a break up with our partner. These happenings can get fixed in our memory as traumas and followed by emotions like fear, desperation, sadness and hopelessness. However traumas are not just the source of suffering, also a source of development according to psychological researches. Several cases have been documented when from a heavy burden situation a positive scripts grew, as an internal psychological reality and experience. This is called post-traumatic development.

There have been several documented cases about development even after abuse, rape, accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack. But also researchers have documented about those people as well who live under a high and continuous stress, like a parent who takes care of physically or mentally disabled child for example or working in ER and have been raped or kidnapped.

Quaking and rebuilding

It’s like a seismic procedure, quaking our life, destroying our view of life which makes us believe that life and our world generally is predictable and just. Nevertheless after the quake re-arrangement is starting and we set up a new world of concept which already includes the experience and observation of the trauma.

Traumas are actually a kind of watershed in our life: events are sharply divided to a before and after the trauma. When we recover from a trauma the relationships with others can become more important, internal values and the affection of life can become conspicuous, we can feel that became stronger and built more internal strength, we can start a new path or became more opened to spiritual experiments. The changes in these aspects are the psychic development.

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Finding meaning under remains

It’s a long and difficult process indeed. It requires internal commitment and work to understand what exactly happened with us and to find those handholds for moving on. The susceptibility to looking for meaning and understanding is necessary for recovering instead of degradation. This means that we are willing to think what happened over and to search for deeper meaning and inherency. This absorbed procedure of thinking furnishes a basis for reconstruction and drawing a lesson which become our new life’s establishment of principles, a new mindset, a new attitude.

Be careful! “Why me?” or “What if?” types of questions doesn’t serve the purpose. Important to experience the suffering and not running away from it and when it’s time we can ask right and constructive questions like “What if I’m doing this and this now?”

The good things proceed from difficult situation don’t grow from the traumatic event or from the experience of strong stress, they grow from ourselves. From those strengths which have been revived by bad things and from that natural human capability what with we can transform suffer into mean. To familiarization with stress means, we must trust in this capability even if the sorrow is still new and the future is doubtful.

Since the procedure can be long and very painful, we always can look for professional help and use the trauma for development.

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Stable instability – Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Personality disorder as an expression is often used in our daily life mainly in pejorative sense but actually they are difficult to be diagnosed even for professionals. One of the well-known personality disorder is the Borderline but in common knowledge sometimes it has a different meaning. How does Borderline Personality Disorder work? Facts. What are the most typical symptoms and what is known about its development?

First we need to make clear what Borderline Personality Disorder means and we can find that in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Personality Disorder is when the person’s internal experiences and behaviour form a pattern which is very different from the cultural expectations. Its negative effects appear in emotional well-being, relationships and on the area of impulse control. The same characteristic in almost every personality disorder is that the person doesn’t feel ill just perceive that the problem is in the surroundings, like partner, boss, parents, other people etc. Because there is a problem, well the deviation from social norms cause adaption problems and make the person and the environment suffer.

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Once it’s black, once it’s white

The expressions of a person with BPD are immoderate and unpredictable. Emotional control is a problem and that’s why sometimes they are nice and attractive and other times impulsive, arbitrary and can be aggressive. Often appears self-destructive behaviour or attempted suicide. The typical symptom is the splitting, which appears in the person’s view on self, in the judgement of environment and people around and in the own change of mood. What does it mean in daily life? Splitting is a primitive defense mechanism. Both harmful and helpful impulses are split off and unintegrated, frequently projected onto someone else. The defended individual segregates experiences into all-good and all-bad categories, with no room for ambiguity and ambivalence. There is no mixture of positive and negative characteristics to them. Someone – including him/her – is God or the Devil to him/her. Often person with BPD gets into self-contradiction in change of mood which can be seen uninteresting or clear denial by the person. In relationship just two category is used as a judgement, perfectly good or perfectly bad but also these categories can be shifted often relating to one person. If the person with BPD sees someone nice and kind for the moment, she/he can idealize this person but also on the same easy way she/he can undervalue if has got a small critic or negative feedback. The own view of self also shifts time by time, day by day or hour by hour, and it goes a great way to the feeling of chronic emptiness. Has a relationship emotionally intense but very unstable. A person with BPD experiences continuous internal anxiety, tense for instance strong fear of abandonment which often can be expressed  in a desperate, intens and impulsive form. Often we can see easily developed offendedness, using physical or mental abuse (emotional blackmail, threat etc.) which are desperate efforts to minimize or refuse own emotional intensity, conflict, responsibility in a situation.

More symptoms:

– Emotional lability, extreme and intensive change of mood: the mood may change in seconds, without any identified reason, like being very happy but in the next moment very lethargic. The basic mood often is depression, irritability and anxiety which can remain from minutes till days.

– Unstable and intense relationships: shifting between idealization or undervaluing someone. The background of this attitude the fear of abandonment and the missing object permanence, which means she/he is not able to see the other person as a complex totality (can be just good or bad and not able to deal with contradictory behaviour).

– Impulsive, self-destructive behaviour: at least in two areas – for instance over-indulgence in alcohol or other psychedelic drugs, irresponsible extravagance, dangerous driving, impulsive sexual attitude etc.

– Repeated threatening of suicide, attempted suicide and self-abuse: maladaptive efforts releasing a desperate internal tense, refusing food, bingeing, over-indulgence of alcohol or drugs. There can be several reasons in the background: self-punishment, call for help, expressing and releasing intense mental pain, manipulating the environment, reducing anger, fear, and sadness.

– Disproportionate intense, inadequate anger: often can have uncontrolled anger bursts where the intensity of the anger is not proportional to the cause. The intensified fear of abandonment and disappointment is in the background.

– Identity disorder, long-lasting self-image disorder, defective self-perception capacity: uncertainty relating to the own self, who she/he is, what she/he wants, where her/his place in this world. It covers mainly all of the aspects of the person’s life. Often can have difficulties with decision making. Often feels worthless and not being able to be loved. Not able to accept his/her real characteristics as permanent, continuously depends on confirmations and feedbacks from others, values him or herself comparing to others. That’s where the effort of perfection comes from which also causes several failures after a while and because of this often changes partners or/and jobs.

– Desperate effort to avoid presumed or real abandonment: person with BPD needs relationships mainly to feel existence. The fact of existence may get questioned when she/he is alone because there is no feedback from the environment what to compare himself/herself. To avoid being alone and feel abandoned again, does everything, sometimes extremely, to keep the partner. She/he gets into a grave emotional crises after the partner left. The self-destructive behaviour become stronger. This is often the reason why people with BPD stay in abusive relationships.

– Chronic feeling of emptiness and boredom: intensive and often comes with physical symptoms. To ease that, often used maladaptive attempts, like self-destructive behaviour modes and unsuccessful relationships.

– Temporary paranoid thoughts and grave dissociative symptoms by stress: if the person is getting into an emotionally unbearable situation, can happen experiencing dissociative psychotic episode, so withdrawing from the reality. Experiencing this situation as depersonalization and also can appear with hallucinations, illusions.

Notice that these symptoms can be different individually. Not a requirement at a person with BPD to have all these symptoms and in intensive form.

How does it develop?

The reason as usually is complex like our personality and still under research. Several element can play an important part in development. Like, genetic background, childhood experiences, family patterns or early traumatization forms (physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse). However often there is a deficit condition behind. Haven’t expressed unsatisfied needs which by phrasing already can help.

The symptoms of personality disorders actually are the extreme expressions of normal personality traits. Mentally stable and healthy people also can show extreme personality traits but just temporarily, like experiencing a trauma or being under strong pressure. Before starting diagnose someone, must be highlighted that those extreme expressions of personality traits exist in long time period in BPD and must be diagnosed and treated by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

In this and also in other personality disorders is very important to get professional help. Psychotherapy can improve the quality of daily life as well. Around 2% of the population has BPD and it shows a rising tendency but most of them don’t know about it, never have been diagnosed or treated. People with personality disorder usually don’t feel ill, they believe their problem is in the environment or in the people around. BPD can cause several difficult emotions to the person and puts a very heavy “weight” onto the people’s shoulder around, they suffer as well.

What can we do if someone in our family or environment suffers from BPD?

Communication: the internal and external communication of people with BPD is very confused. In conflicts usually they decline to accept responsibility and their partners don’t set up proper borders towards them. “No further than this!” Not setting up borders after a while cause a feeling of avoiding honest communication, feelings like sense of guilt and shame. The dominant feelings of people with BPD (anger, helplessness) get shifted on to the partner. If any small critic, defense or setting up borders appears, that would cause immediately a fear of abandonment in people with BPD so they try even harder to shift the responsibility upon the other. “The aim of the people with BPD is to get back the control and the own position, also leaving the dangerous conflicting area without feeling guilty.” (Rösel) They use like, fleeing, offending, rake over previous injuries, disparagement, causing consciousness of guilt, physical abuse and threatening etc. The partner is not able to get out a conflict without losing dignity. Non-violent model of communication can help, it requires just a bit of practice and patience.

Non-violent model of communication

It has four steps:

  1. Observation – notification of facts about the current situation without value judgement and generalization.
  2. Emotions – Identifying and expressing current emotions caused by situation without using value judgement and without attaching those emotions to the partner like cause and effect.
  3. Needs – Identifying and expressing needs.
  4. Ask – Phrasing a positive, real but also refusable ask.

SET (support, empathy, truth) is a technique made for people who live with somebody who has BPD. The aim of the SET is stability, consistency and beaming security, helping to identify fears and reacting honestly and acceptably to them. In this way they can get connected to the person with BPD and the critical situation also can be eased. The key of this technique is to to give support by showing care and worries. But also showing sympathy on the way to perceive their emotions properly, identifying them and reflecting back. Like, “I see how desperate you are……” “It’s very hard for you now because….”But also make them understand that she/he is the only one who is responsible for her/his own life and must take this responsibility. This must be expressed without causing consciousness of guilt or threat. Support him/her to express next concrete steps according to the current problem.

Picture: http://www.resiliencetreatment.com

What we are running from that catch up – meeting with our shadow part of self

I’m asking you to spend 5 minutes thinking about one question: Is there anything in your life which upsets you, very uncomfortable and time by time comes back, appears in your life? Think of it! It can be a dream, a situation, or a type of person, behaviour which triggers those feelings. Also think about why this thing or this person is so irritating to you. According to C.G. Jung psychologist, if we feel that something or somebody (recurring pattern) irritates us, worthy to pay attention to ourselves because we might able to see that part of our selves, which is in shade. “Most of the people are not completely aware of their personality traits” – Marie-Louise Franz. What we don’t know or rather don’t want to know about ourselves, get into the shadow part of our personality. However they are there, they still appear in our relationships or dreams.

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Why don’t I want to see myself as I’m really? Why does this part of our personality needs to be hidden?

We like to believe that we are intelligent, kind, have a nice disposition and decent. That’s all very well but we have personality traits, kind of inferior ones what we don’t know. For instance: we are precise and very well organized. We make a lot of effort to have everything set up and going well otherwise we would lose our internal balance. But what is behind actually? Maybe if we didn’t make so much effort to have everything set up, solved and elucidated we would get into a surprising and unpredictable situations and at the end we might make mistakes – which is, we also have tendency to chaos but we don’t want to admit it, not even to ourselves. “Most of the people identify themselves with those characteristics which make them acceptable to other people, that’s why most of the time the shadow part of self is awkward, subordinated and sometimes a bit malignant or socially clumsy as well.

Everybody cast a shadow!

For instance if we think a lot, our emotional sensory part become inferior or underdeveloped because we don’t pay enough attention to it. If somebody works mainly with technical things, with machines, susceptible to neglect the importance of fantasy or creative part of the self. Though if we suppress our shadow part we are just half. When we get angry, tired or under pressure often that shadow part appears. For instance nice and helpful people can become very egoist and merciless. Our shadow side also can appear when we get sick and the people around are wondering who this person is really. They change because their shadow is breaking through and reveals itself which was hidden. It’s actually just a matter of time. We can get a colleague or even our child who is sporadic or always being late. (I often see that how children act like mirrow to the parents-showing exactly the real problem) We all have our favorite “enemies” whom symbolize actually our shadow side. If there is someone who didn’t hurt us but we really feel this person irritates us, well we can be sure, she/he personalizes our shadow. That’s why we can’t push them out from our life, because they are in us, being part of our personality and if we try to get rid out of them after a while another “symbol” appears.

Instead of whip them, better to take a look at this shadow part and integrate it consciously. We might have to give up some illusions about ourselves (like my life is well set up, controlled and organized) but if we accept that we have this is aspect of our personality, those traits won’t bother us anymore.

How can we do it?

Good to sit down and think (or writing down) which traits actually bothers us in that person, or in that situation or thing. Using a healthy critical self-reflection we should try to find and identify those traits in us. After we found we can say that, “yes, this is me”!

Of course it’s not a comfortable feeling and easier to attribute those negative traits to somebody else. However, it’s very beneficial to do. We get known that part and we are able to start working on it. Pretending like this shadow side doesn’t exist, lying to ourselves is the biggest mistake and the worst living strategy what we can do and go on with. It’s just a matter of time when it comes to the surface or another “symbol” appears.

Picture: http://www.psychologytoday.com

The destroying power of refusal

When someone is breaking up with us or we can’t successfully fit into our working environment or when our family doesn’t care about us or when our friend doesn’t call, with different intensity but we all experience almost a paralyzing pain. Refusal is one of the most frequent emotional wound what can be caused by others. Why is it so painful being refused and how we can protect ourselves from it?

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People live connected, having several different kind of connections, like family, friendship and working relationship. There are just few people who want to live alone without any connection with others. In some civilization social exclusion had been or is the heaviest punishment.

There is a kind of connection need which is a basic human motivation. Human is a social animal.

People feel a strong need to have a minimal long standing and positive connection with others around. Theoretically trend anybody it doesn’t focus just one certain person. However it’s not completely independent from the subject of the connection, because interactions with unknown or disliked people doesn’t satisfy this need of connection.

If we have a basic need of connection, how do we react if it doesn’t happen or being jeopardized?

It causes a similar reaction in the activity of the brain like pain. (Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., Williams, K. D. (2003) Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Sutdy of Soical Exclusion. Science, 302, 290-292)

The research results suggested that the neuroanatomy base of social and physical pain is the same. Mental pain is just one of elements which influences or well-being when we experience refusal. Our mood worsen, our self-esteem decreasing, we feel anger and aggression and after all these emotions physically our body is reacting as well. Like decreasing appetite, less good quality of sleep, stomachache, headache etc.

Paradoxically when we are down we are susceptible make our mental situation worse with destructive thoughts. When we experience a physical hurt immediately know and act to treat that injury. But when it comes to mental pain we are susceptible to accept the situation without doing anything constructive (Dr. Guy Winch).

There are methods which can work as a mental first aid, supporting development of our self-esteem, reducing pain and helping us to move on.

  1. Stop self-scourge

It’s not useless to go through and examine what we did wrong in those situations, what we can learn and do differently next time. It’s important how we see and do it! The punitive and critical view is more unbeneficial than constructive.

For instance: after an unsuccessful date to think that “Next time might be better not to talk about my ex-boyfriend on the first date” – This way of examining the situation and taking conclusions is constructive. “I’m a hopeless looser!” – This way is very subjective and destructive. People who take this conclusion, they miss to see the difference between doing a mistake and being someone. Often they forget not all of the refusals are personal. Most of the times circumstances and self-adjustment play the same important role in the situation and the refusal is not personal. (There are some personality disorders when the feeling of being refused is pathological).

  1. Strengthen your self-esteem

The main problem of refusal is we take it personal and it influences our self-esteem. With stable self-esteem we are able to do a more objective examination and evaluation of the situation. Being more realistic and not forgetting our strengths as well, not focusing just on our deficiencies. If we have got refused in specific roles (like a partner, friend or colleague) spending time with collecting positive characteristics (five with examples) in that role help us to see we might have made a mistake but that doesn’t define us as a person. Also important to think why those characteristics are important to others.

  1. Connect

Very important to make ourselves understand that even if somebody refused us that doesn’t mean we are worthless. We must remember there are other people who love and respect us. Through this we are able to experience the security of connection which supports the feeling of being able to connect. Look for those people who care about you. Refusal doesn’t influence our personality being able to be loved.

Being refused is never simple. At the same time alleviation of the pain and the recovery of self-esteem can help to overtake it and move on.

Also important that every each difficulty has its own treasure which comes in knowing ourselves better and deeper. Often to change perspective or getting known ourselves better is difficult just doing by ourselves. With professional help it’s easier in a consultation where you become the center.

Picture: http://www.stockfresh.com

 

Anxiety in children caused by parental attitudes

Symptoms of anxiety is very frequent in childhood and adulthood as well. Often the reasons are connected to childhood and to understand them can help to increase anxiety but also not repeating the same mistakes as a parent.

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Source of anxiety can be when a child “learns” that she/he can get love from the parents just by accomplishment. If the child got compliments and kindness just when she/he has got good grades or could have filled up the parents expectations, can develop accomplishment compulsion and the sense of insecurity. This kind of parental behaviour makes the child believe, she/he must do things for being loved and just by being herself/himself is not able to be loved. The same happens also if the child experiences love deprivation as a reaction of the parent for doing mistakes or having defects.

Secrets in the family also cause anxiety in children and often can be instrumental in a development of personality disorders. When a family or one of the parent keeps a secret (can be the child involved-worse) even if the child doesn’t know about it gives a feeling, something is wrong. Children and their negatively changed behaviour or their changed accomplishment in school is the first and most accurate sign of something is going wrong in the family. They are able to sense it. I often ask my clients to see objectively, what kind of changes they can see on their children, because they act like a mirror, showing exactly what the problem is. Like keeping secrets, parents lose being authentic and trustful and that can influence their children’s feeling of security or they become arrogant, showing that parents have lost their position being honest and authentic, so they are weak. Keeping secrets also can make children feel shame as well. So unlogical how so many parents teach their children for the importance of being honest but they don’t act according to their own lessons.

Rigid hard and fast rules and belief system. Consistent parental behaviour provides security for the child but too rigid and strict rules can mean very strong restrictions which can hinder the development of internal control and scale of values of the child. Children can develop a mindset which is connected to external control, compulsion of conformity and a rigid way of thinking where there is an internal insecurity behind. These children can see things and people just in black or white, their mind is not opened for another “category”.

Interchange of roles happens mainly after a trauma or crises, like divorce, absence of one of the parents, serious sickness or death. But also can happen if one or both of the parents are emotionally immature. In this interchange the child takes more responsibility physically and emotionally, more than supposed to do. Learns to repress or overshadow own emotions and needs, develops a very strong and rigid self-control which also can be a source of anxiety.

Repressing emotions. If expressing emotions is prohibited for a child, he/she learns to hide them. That doesn’t mean they disappear but after a while just to experience that having or feel those negative emotions can cause sense of guilt, shame or discomfort in the child. There are families where to express anger or sadness is prohibited. Which doesn’t make any sense, because we are human and have negative emotions as well. But those parents instead of teaching their children how to handle those negative emotions, ordering them to repress it. Repressed anger works under the surface, doesn’t matter how deep it’s delved.

Over-protecting, over attentive attitude. None of the parents think they might be over-protective or having over-attentive attitude because they are the pledge of being a good parent, normal acting like that. Of course protecting our children is one of the main obligations as a parent till a certain level. If parents are over-protective they prevent their children to develop a well-functioning physical and mental immune system by experiences. If they don’t let the child to climb a tree or having adventures, skills won’t develop or if they protect him/her from every conflict, this child in adulthood will be without useful knowledge or experience in conflict situations. Over-protecting attitude also transmits another message, which is the world is a dangerous place.

Before you get angry for your own parents or starting panicking how you are a “bad” parent you need to know that serious damages caused by more causes in the same time or one or two for a long time period. What to do? The solution like almost all the time is getting a proper and detailed self-knowledge. When we understand ourselves, we understand our actions and understand others.

Delphi oracle: Know thyself!

Picture: http://www.gozen.com