Emotional manipulation-emotional blackmail II.

I wrote about how emotional blackmail works and described typical types of blackmailers in my previous post. No, they are not monsters, of course what they do, especially how they do it is wrong but there is always a reason why and how they developed this strategy to get what they want. How is the internal world of an emotional blackmailer? How do they think and feel?

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We all have learnt that we cannot get everything what we want and whenever we want. Faced with several bitter disappointments but we accepted them with feeling sad or angry for a while.

Autocrats cannot bear frustration because to them frustration means more than a temporary hindrance. When an autocrat is becoming frustrated it activates a deep fear of loss and privation. Autocratic people seem like everyone else, often are very effective in one part of life. Completely apart from which type of autocrat they are or which means they use, they suffer from a privation, and they do everything to avoid this feeling.

They sense and feel even small tensions as catastrophe and attach great importance to resistance. Often they feel, if they don’t get what they want, they got refused as a person and not what they wanted or asked. They believe if they don’t react aggressively their partner privates them from something which is vitally important. These are the basic believes of an autocrat who is an emotional blackmailer.

These believes can develop by long term anxiety and suspense but also often we can find relation between childhood determinant happenings and the fear of privation in adulthood. Unfortunately sometimes we can’t find any relation.

Autocrats focus their attention on their own needs and wishes and often seems like they don’t care about other’s feelings and how they make others feel when they use pressure or threats. Autocrats are self-centred and it can come from a belief that the attention and love what they have now is limited and can be gone. Often they react like small problems or arguments will end the whole relationship. They experience very intensive emotional disappointment and frustrations when they face with even small resistance and try to make small problems appear as if they are unsolvable.

We must understand that, the autocrat mainly doesn’t respond to the actual situation, responding to a situation which symbolizes something from past happenings. Typical in autocrats’ exaggerated responses that comes with so much noise and emotions but usually the internal deep primary feelings don’t come up to the surface . If they could have known and expressed those primary emotions they wouldn’t need to use emotional manipulation or blackmail to get what they want or they would be able to make a difference between them as person being refused or their request got refused which is a big difference indeed.

Autocrats can’t see the long term outcomes of their behaviour because their urgent compulsion to satisfy their needs or wishes befogs their logical consideration. Often seems like autocrats want to make the victim feel bad. Often they demand and humiliate while trying to make their intention looks if it’s good. They completely see their intention differently as they are in real.

Like the punishers see, they don’t punish their victims, just keep order or control the family’s life properly. The end justifies the means. However there are autocrats who feel or see themselves like victims.  Punishment also helps autocrats to get into an active and aggressive position, in this case they feel strong and invulnerable. With this method they are able to calm down the believed fear of privation. Basic truth is, what we don’t word that appears in our actions. If the autocrats could have been able to look into themselves for a while, probably they would be horrified at their own fears and weaknesses. Unfortunately they just rarely do it, or face with their own fears, they hurt and attack others instead. The harshest punishers mainly those autocrats who lost someone who was important. Lost because that person became emotionally unavailable, left physically or a distance developed in the relationship. Angry punishers often disparage others because it eases the pain of coping and the pain of possible loss. Punishers also often can believe, actually they just help the victim. Instead of feeling guilty after hurting someone, they are proud of their acts because they just make a man of the victim, like teaching.

The most important thing is, it’s not about the victim and there is nothing to do with him/her. It’s all about correction and strengthening those huge suspense what the autocrat has deep inside. Emotional blackmail more often has something to do with the past than with the present and even more often it’s all about the satisfaction of the autocrat’s needs and not about what the victim did or did not do.

Picture: http://www.pro.psychcentral.com

Prejudice – locked into box

“Blond women are stupid, politicians are corrupt and psychologists are lunatic.” Where do our prejudices come from? Why it is so difficult to quit on this method? What can we do about it?

Who are those people being more susceptible to use prejudice so often?

Prejudice is a kind of an opinion which is not based on expreiences but has a very strong emotional charge. Prejudicial people don’t consider facts. If they heard something which is the opposite of their opinion, they would disregard or using creative argument method. In this case they try to include the information into their world concept by creating absurd explanations.

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Where does our prejudice come from?

Most of us believe in the power of righteous world, so we blame victims for bad things which happened to them. Like when we hear about a raped woman, immediately prejudicial people think, probably that woman were dressed and behaving too provocatively. This kind of mindset leads to being unrighteous to the subject of prejudice. In our case we truly believe never can happen with us. When we are watching the news and hear terrifying things we believe those things are so far from us even tough according to statistic data it could have happened to us as well. This is an optimistic bias.

The reason of using prejudice can be a self-justification as well. Like when we want to believe that member of a group is more inferior to us. In this case we easily can associate negative characteristics to them and easier to discriminate. If we see a person or a group negatively it’s easier to reject them as well. Like if we think people with glasses are ruthlessly ambitious people, we can think that we have the right to behave with them badly because they deserve it, they are the favorites of teachers anyway.

Using prejudice is very common if we are in the low social class because in this case it’s important to know that there are people, groups even lower than us. Also common if we are not “okay” with ourselves, like having a fragile and low self-confidence or being emotionally immature.

The base of using prejudice also can be in a situation of competition. For example if in a country there are no enough jobs, people often start to blame minorities for it. This’s used so often by politicians in their campaigns.

Also common that we are looking for a scapegoat. In this case we are not able to release our frustration on that person or people who we are really upset with and we are looking for a “weaker opponent”. We are not able to wreak our anger on that person because that person is too powerful or the consequences might be so serious. For instance, if someone gets offended by a boss, this person high likely is going to release his/her anger on a waiter or on a child. Unfortunately releasing anger on a child is very common even if that child is not a direct causing of the anger. Releasing anger in a family and on its members is kind of a safe movement for parents. No visible consequences as they see. Innocent children are the perfect victims for it, perfect punching bags, first because they are not able to defend themselves, second easily can take a role of being the scapegoat because they don’t have the ability to see what the real problem is behind the abuse.

There are people who are more susceptible to use prejudice and stereotypes than others. They like to find the answer first for everything, but very often they don’t collect enough information to have an objective view and wrongly pigeonhole others. If they got an information which doesn’t support their previous conjectures, they would ignore those information. If they became a boss (not leaders), they would most likely behave autocratically and using a very typical sentence – Because I said so!

How can we resolve prejudice?

We must see that very prejudicial people have one thing in common, it’s that they have a little information about that specific group or people and not having connection with them. When they get more information or get in touch with them personally that prejudice can be slowly dissolve. It requires an opened mindset, which can be learnt.

Don’t hide behind your prejudice because most of the times you just cover your fears and ignorance with it and becoming blind for being objective and not being able to see the reality.

Picture: http://www.bbc.co.uk.com

Stress management

Fragmentation, defense and coping – Important how we cope with difficulties

Coping with stress has become one of the most basic competency in our world. Someone who is incapable to re-balance oneself again and again becoming seriously ill after a while. But also very important how re-balancing is done as a protection from stress. With some strategies we can make our situation even worse. To avoid more serious problems let’s see the 3 main levels of stress management.

Coping style in difficult situations has is a significant role, because the level of stress and its destruction depends on the success of coping style and not on the intensity of the trauma. So if our coping style’s toolbox is more mature, we are able to stay healthier in crises. Norma Haan identified and differentiated three levels regarding to effectiveness: Coping, Defense and Fragmentation.

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According to Hann the coping strategy like facing with the problem is the most mature and healthiest in conflicts. Defense is less favorable because using it in a long term can cause neurotic conditions. The fragmentation technique has a pathological nature, using it exaggeratedly in a long term can cause psychotic episodes. That’s why it’s useful to know how those levels work and how to change them and make them more effective, protecting our mental and physical health.

Fragmentation is on the most primitive coping mechanism level. Its point is contradicting the reality (re-writing) as a reaction for stress. Fragmentation is specially ritual and emotional character following individual rules, and works irrationally. This coping style destructs the objective system of the reality and that’s why just in extreme situation mentally healthy people use it and just for moments. People with psychotic disorders can be trapped in fragmentation for a longer time period. Fragmentation anaesthetizes just temporarily. Like hebefrenia, when someone reacts to stress very unnaturally.

Defense, or parrying is on a bit higher ego function, which essence is using self-defense mechanisms (projection, rationalization etc.). Using defense mechanisms are still forced, denial and rigid, not just distort the reality and logic but also release expression of hidden impulses. This parrying embodies a desire which is to get rid out of anxiety but without solving the problem in real and detailed. But unfortunately it’s a lie. One of the possible form is slipping back into earlier developmental stage (infantile mainly). It’s a kind of regression. For instance when an adult makes a tantrum because of an outcome of stress, behaving like a child who believes with flapping, shouting or swearing can avoid the uncomfortable situation what facing with. Regression can conform for a while but doesn’t solve the problem.

Facing with the problem as a coping style is on the highest level on stress management strategy. On this level we have a psyche consciousness and flexible change, so we can stay in the objective reality and able to express proper emotions as well. The coping style can be cognitive and affective. Affective “emotional” coping doesn’t solve the problem by itself but energizing and provides the feeling of controlling the situation. The cognitive (intellectual) coping essence is to examine the stressful situation, evaluate and systematically processing it. It’s not so comfortable but necessary sometimes.

Interesting the fact that humor is the most mature form of coping with conflicts. The essence of humor is that under emotional pressure we don’t take ourselves seriously. It seems childish but it’s not. Even if we make fun of the difficulty that doesn’t mean we deny it or underestimate it. We have a clear view of the problem but we don’t let the stress to disable us. We are able to stay calm and solve it.

Make yourself more resilient!

Not easy to recognize when and which coping style we are using. The truth is all of them are in the repertory of our mind and they are kind of automatic and can remain unknowing. Also known there are people who are more susceptible to defense than cope. But this doesn’t mean we can’t change! Some forms of coping style can be learnt and changed by raising awareness and practicing.

Picture: http://www.cognitivebehaviourtherapycenter.com

Positive psychology – repression

„Keep eye just on the positive things!” „Close out negative things in your life!” Catch-phrases nowadays, we repeat them almost daily. Positive psychological confirmations are very fashionable to reach a “good life”. Very often I experience how people would love to wipe out every negative emotions from their daily life. Even though they are part of us since we are humans. They want to wipe out anger, sadness and stress which is almost impossible. The key is to learn and being able to handle them on a healthy level.

Really is it a good/happy life without negative emotions?

Positive psychology – like tendency – appeared around 20 years ago. Its principia is being focused on positive things and our best attributes and with this view/mindset we are able to live a much better life. Definitely it’s a better approach than the old illness focus.

Our world is fast, there are solutions for everything, analgesia instantly as well. Immediately when we experience a grain of negative feeling, we find something what with it can be relieved. However there are eternal human basic emotions which are not going to disappear just because we have a faster internet and they will not stop existing just because we drive a more comfortable car. My personal and professional experience is the main problem of people nowadays is to tolerate trouble. Their tolerance level of taking negative things or emotions is decreasing. They can’t do anything with something which can’t be changed just accepted and taken.

Taking? Come on! That takes so much time, energy and patience! – Most of the people say. They are frightened of it.

So the solution is to run away from it or rephrasing, thinking of other things or don’t acknowledge it. Besides lying to ourselves one of the most popular solution (Number 1) is to push away and trying to forget it. There is just only one problem with forgetting and repressing, nobody never could have done it successfully 100%. The human psyche always remembers and wants to heal, even if it has to push through the ego protection mechanisms.

The price of repression

Being focus just on positive things (elimination of negative) for a long time has a huge price. Generally this is the time when unexplainable illnesses appear, when the body hurts but the psyche is sending messages – most of the time with screaming symbols in the symptoms. For instance a panic attack on a bus, which mostly not caused by public traffic. Appears generalized anxiety and depression just to remind us for our previous losses what from we are keep running away. Some people dig deeper and deeper daily to deepen their own mines just having more and more space for upcoming repressed things.

This is the “right” time when the concerned person is left alone, even if he/she acknowledge that having a problem, how can she/he share it with someone, in a time when it’s not fashionable to have negative feelings and sadness? The fear of not being a good member of a group is evolutionary coded in us. To belong to somewhere or to someone is the key of survive. Our life, emotions and self-esteem is strongly influenced by social media where thousands of pictures, posts and positive life coaching messages (they are my favorite-empty words) show how others are (seem) so happy. In this “society” it’s very difficult to undertake that Yes, I’m not okay and I might not being well for a while. It doesn’t fit the superficial picture perfect. So many people ask help when they are already broken down completely.

The beginning of solution

Still there is a delusion if someone goes to a therapist few times, that person will fill him/her up with happiness again and being able to hold on again for a while. The good and bad news are the same: it’s not happening in therapy which is successful in a long-term. The therapist doesn’t solve our problem, but coming down into its depth, can take our pain and hold us. In the real process first the clients must find those words what with can talk about those things which hurt most. If she/he has found the words, then those negative happening can be put into timeline.

But to be able to face with our problems and difficulties, one thing is definitely necessary: accepting life as it is – doesn’t matter how it is. Don’t rephrase it, not using rationalization and justification, just accept it. Releasing our faith in justice which says bad things happen just with bad people. Accepting that loss is part of life, which will happen with all of us and it doesn’t matter if we think of it or not. Inevitable. Loss is one of our mutual experience but how we react and handle it depends on us. We actively can do for our own well-being and this is our personal responsibility.

Overeating

It’s Christmas and this is a perennial topic. Feast, the table groans under the rich food. We are just eating and eating, stuffing ourselves till we are ready to burst. Stress? Anger? Why does some people eat that amount of food which are unhealthy and limit quality and time of life?

Most of the people know the relation between overeating and gaining weight. Obesity is one of the major national health problem in Western countries.

Several researches showed that the main reason of overeating is a neurological malfunction which works similarly like addiction. It can be cause by psychosocial factors, stress, depression or environmental elements. Lee and his colleagues published in Science & Society scientific review that there is a similarity between drug addiction and several types of overeating. In both addictions’ background there is a mechanism which is after an expedient behaviour (like eating chocolate) dopamine (happiness hormone) production follows which has a kind of behaviour reward nature. Sugar, fat and salt have a significant effect on our brain. For instance sweet foods have a kind of nice and painkiller effect so the taste of food often gets connected with our internal reward system. With frequent ingestion of sweets its taste links up with the emotion of settling. The reward center in our brain also gets activated by effects like external stressors, depression or the feeling of helplessness. When we get affected by them immediately we want to ease our internal tense. Most of the times we don’t even have time to recognize our appeared emotions, we suddenly discovered that we are standing in the kitchen and having already chocolate or cake in our hand. If our brain has already learnt that food/sweet provided comfort before in similar situations then it’s going to be one of the main coping mechanism (maladaptive) for dealing with negative emotions, like being angry, stressed or sad. (Emotional eating).

Environmental factors

Our environmental factors subconsciously stimulate us to overeat. We eat more when more people are around a table and we are willing to eat till we are ready to burst. (Cohen, D. A. 2008)

What can we do to avoid overeating?

We are all the time in a hurry in this fast word and multitasking which means very often we eat while doing other things, like working, watching TV or travelling. If we split our attention we are not able to pay attention to our internal conditions and what we eat and how much. We don’t even chew our meal properly. Try to focus to the taste of your meal, its texture like a kind of mindfulness exercise. Eat slower and chew properly (min. 30 times) your meal and you are going to feel step by step how much food is enough for your body.

Use smaller plates and glasses to avoid environmental factors. Put smaller amount of food onto your plate.

Pay attention to your emotional condition, be more aware how you feel. Most of the times we eat because of our emotional internal condition. Recognize when you are sad, angry or stressed because recognition is the first step to handle overeating. Look for another relaxation technique, like sport, meditation, taking a walk or talking with a friend. If you feel that it’s too challenging for you, look for professional help.

Eating to ease internal tenses is a maladaptive coping mechanism to handle negative emotions.

“We eat to live, not living to eat”

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a lots of love and joy for the holidays!

 

Co-dependency

What else does a relationship need besides connecting love? Essential is a mutual respect, common view of life, harmonic sexual life, same attitude to financial management and a stable empirical emotional intelligence. These are the basic pillars, without them the relationship is going to collapse, since they are pillars. Most of the people think the relationship collapses when a pair gets separated. However get separated is just the closing. The relationship already has started to collapse when our partner hasn’t been feeling good since a while, desires other things. Desires other partner, different or separated programs, other topics of talk, other rules or other atmosphere.

Why is it so difficult to find a right partner?

To choose the right partner is one of the most difficult life task because our needs change within years and our personality continuously changes as well. Our childhood examples, patterns, traumas and experiences are crucial in a partner choosing process because they determine considerable our behaviour in a relationships. For instance if we “learnt” – saw – in our family as child that “I must take everything” or “I must stay in silence” obviously we are going to follow (not always but most of the times) the same pattern in our relationship as well, like choosing subconsciously an abusive partner following the “learnt” subjugation.

The reason of emotional collapsing in a relationship is mainly that the partners don’t even know themselves and don’t improve their own personality. Therefore they don’t know each other as well and don’t know how to get the partner’s respect, appreciation and love.

What is co-dependency?

We do a lot of things to make a relationship or a marriage work but wise to know that there are boundaries. Someone with healthy personality never let anyone to pass those boundaries. There are things what we can forgive or condone but there are thing what we can’t or don’t want. Those people who always forgive for everything and over-indulge all the time just to keep their partner next to, they are co-dependent.

To be co-dependent can’t exist alone, always requires another person and this is pa(i)rlour game which makes both sides become disordered.

Co-dependency is a process, starting from its development and its upholding both part’s personality declines and can end in different personality disorders. Co-dependency is part of the group of anxieties. Its traits are need of solicitude, sticking to the partner and the fear of loneliness. The co-dependent person is always in a constant mental unsatisfied condition, when his/her own needs are just but doesn’t use or doesn’t even know those methods what with would be able to easy the fear of loneliness and gain some courage to withdraw a bit from the partner onto a healthy level. Both of them would be able to breath and the suffocating ambiance of the relationship would be stopped. This person never makes any decision alone, he/she always needs a kind of a parent who does.

The most common example: Julie has a just expectation that Joe doesn’t cheat on her. If he did, Julie would lost trust in Joe and her feeling of being safe. But to cope with (facing with what this relationship is missing) moves to the direction of forgiveness without reparation. Why? Because Julie is so terrified of something (terrified of being alone, losing status, other people’s opinion or being a single mother) and that’s why she keeps Joe next to her doesn’t matter what it costs. Cognitive dissonancy appears in her, but to release the internal tension of dissonancy Julie uses self-justification to explain to herself what she did and why.

Like:

1. I love so much Joe, I can forgive everything to him.

2. I must keep the family together because this is the best for our children.

3. What’s going to happen with our properties, summer vacations or social status?

So Julie forgives to Joe, that’s how she calls it. Actually she compromises without reparation, exchanging her self-esteem for status or properties and this happens usually without even saying a word. The marital infidelity remains a secret most of the time. They don’t face with the existing serious problems in their relationship and they don’t work on to repair it.

Development of co-dependency

The co-dependent person is mostly from a dysfunctional family. If the parent dominated over the child (misinterpretation – bringing up strictly) most likely the child wouldn’t have been able to develop an independent personality (self) and in adulthood also will need the state of subordination. Will depend on his/her partner or if there is no partner will depend on other people because to solve everything alone is so difficult.

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Often becomes co-dependent a child whose parents set up strict, inflexible and austere codes of morals and forced the child to keep them even with using abuse. The basic pattern of co-dependency after all is the child-mother relationship. Those mothers’ children become co-dependent whose attitude is all about to please other people. Those who are self-sacrificing, serving others without expectations and whom deny their own needs and must serve other people’s well-being. Kind of a mental obligation to sacrifice own needs for the family members and serve them physically and mentally as well.

A child who grows up with a self-sacrificing mother is going to develop a low frustration tolerance, incapacity of waiting and unstable self-esteem. Usually this child estimates himself/herself very low, has the incapacity of recognizing and expressing own needs and doesn’t go for his/her own ideas or needs. Becoming a passive, receptive adult who waits for care and help. That help usually comes but mainly from a partner who is abusive. This is the pattern which repeats itself subconsciously, the need of being subjugated.

A child who grows up in this kind of malfunctioning mother-child relationship is going to choose a partner whom takes care of him/her, whom with doesn’t need to take so much responsibility, asks more and more and becoming demanding and then becoming frustrated and angry till the partner is becoming more and more active and taking more and more responsibility. Co-dependent person plays games in his/her relationship or marriage. He/she is the one who is too accommodating, who needs help, mainly a defenceless person who tries to set up his/her life on the way not taking too much responsibility. Often uses his/her children to get more help or support because in this way it’s guaranteed to get it. In these kind of relationships don’t exist real intimacy and equality which are essential.

Traits of co-dependency:

  1. The co-dependent person is persuaded of being responsible for the partner’s and children’s emotions, thoughts, actions, choice, decisions, well-being and destiny. Feels tense, regret or sense of guilt if the other has a problem. Believes that relationship is an interfusion where she/he must take over other’s burden of choices and obsessively believes he/she must help to solve problems and give advices.
  2. Low self-esteem: often blames and scourges him/herself but becoming indignant at getting criticized or judged. Refuses compliments and appreciations (but this is just a mask because he/she really yearns for them) becoming depressed and feeling bad and useless if doesn’t get positive feedbacks. Feels guilty when he/she spends money for himself/herself. So much afraid of making mistakes, wants to do everything perfectly. His/her communication and mindset is mainly about “should” and “must” schemas.
  3. Repression (suppression, retorsion): co-dependent person is so much afraid of knowing who he/she really is. The reason of this fear is mainly in his/her childhood was blamed very often (also in adulthood can happen) and established a fear of a self like “I’m bad” or “I’m stupid” The often felt “I’m bad” – sense of guilt elbows out of the positive emotions of the self-image from the mind. Repressing positive emotions because he/she is afraid of retorsion which can come from anywhere.
  4. Compulsive: feels strong worry about other’s problem. Small things can keep him/her disturbed. Continuously controls/verifies others and feels emotional satisfaction when able to catch someone making a mistake. Compulsively (he/she calls: very diligently) works, strictly penny-pinching or spend lavishly not finding the happy medium.
  5. Control: doesn’t let things happen or go on the natural way. Believes he/she knows better than others that how to behave or act. Using several different kind of tools to get control, like make others feeling guilty, forcing, threat, advising, dominancy, manipulation or gaining pity. Cen tell exactly how others should behave (husband, wife, children, grandparents) but incapable to tolerate other kind of behaviors because his/her tolerance threshold is so low. While controlling everybody she/he feels that being controlled by others and circumstances.
  6. Denial: doesn’t recognize problems or pretends that those problems don’t exist. Typical that she/he would like to make it look everything is great and fine rather than showing or communicating the reality. Without any real plan he/she comforts herself/himself like; “It’s not that bad as it seems like”, “There are other worse marriages!” so everything is fine. Closes the eyes to not see, or not perceive others’ need because he/she feels being incapable to satisfy them. Main belief is, if things are not told that means they don’t exist.
  7. Dependency: terrified of refusal, abandonment and being alone that’s why takes also very serious abuses (verbal, physical) as well from those he/she is attached to. Not able to feel self-love, self-acceptance and feels nobody loves her/him being on the way he/she is in real. Doesn’t believe that he/she would be able to stay or live alone, so bears even embarrassing situations till he/she is left or abandoned. Holds on to that person whom he/she depends, doesn’t matter the cost.
  8. Communication disorders: doesn’t say what he/she thinks and doesn’t think what he/she says. Often lies but they are white-lies so this behaviour is not condemnable according to her. Has difficulties to get to the point in talks and often gets confused what exactly he/she wanted to say. Not able to say no and just after others’ stated opinions he/she is able to tell his/hers.
  9. Weak boundaries: often claims that not being able to tolerate the partner’s or child’s expressions anymore but let others offend him/her, takes every insults and in the end at one point explodes and becoming completely intolerant. Can calm down after but it’s a circle, so starts all over again.
  10. Lack of trust: Doesn’t trust himself/herself, own decisions, own emotions, friends or other people if they make him/her to face with some things which are not desirable. Wants to trust those whom are unworthy of trust.
  11. Anger: often feels anger, fright and offense but afraid of own anger because he/she believe if he/she shows it, going to be left or abandoned. Repressed anger.
  12. Sexual problems: having the ward role in bed. Tries to ease own anger and offense in sexuality. Afraid of losing control and tries to keep distance emotionally. Has difficulties to express own needs in sex, often forces himself/herself to have it.
  13. Loyalty problems: coming from a dysfunctional family makes an ambivalent relation to his/her own family. He/she would like to maintain a good relationship with the parents, getting separated from them, accepting what they give but in the same time feels anger about they try to interfere with his/her own life.
  14. Progression: after a while becoming depressed and experiencing isolation in the family. The repressed anger turns into self-aggression. Like over-eating, using drugs or alcohol, looking for new addiction.

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Co-dependency is a personality disorder, mainly develops in women because they are more susceptible to falling into the background by their social education, often their independency also influenced by external circumstances. Co-dependency becomes a personality trait, a role and even an identity in the frame of socialization of the family. Its development starts in the origin family and continues with choosing a partner. Our society is success and achievement orientated. Our dual-earner model requires a minimum capacity which is an autonomously working and living man and women, doesn’t support co-dependent relationships. The co-dependent person after not a long time becoming a burden to the partner, whom after in something else or in someone else will look for joyful and energetic recover possibilities.

One of the family members’ strongly controlling behaviour is a stress source for the whole family which “forces” the others to escape or counter-attack (coping styles). That’s why there are so much tense in a family which has a co-dependent member. Another family member revolt but they can’t break out from the “I am here for you!” trap. “How can you leave me? I’m sacrificing everything for you?”

After these typical co-dependent sentences the members struggle and get stick in the relationship. They learn how to adapt the controller and his/her behaviour. “Family is the most non-dangerous place to release repressed anger by controlling others for adults.”

Therapy: self-knowledge and personal development is essential technique for changing a co-dependent relationship. The learnt helplessness which is from the childhood can be changed just if the co-dependent person can believe that being able to change to be true and willing to learn new coping mechanisms.

Picture: centroapi.com.mx

Self-esteem and relationship

Often we hear an approach whereas we should set up a strong, stable and permanent self-esteem because (if we can!), and from that moment it doesn’t matter what people say or how they act with us, it won’t affect our personality negatively. The other approach is the opposite, that is when someone completely surrenders him-or herself to his/her surroundings and his/her mood wavers according to other’s opinion or appreciation (or lack of appreciation). This behaviour is called co-dependency which makes an equality based relationship impossible. Sometimes these kind of people use their partner as a self-definition which is very adverse if their partner doesn’t have a stable and healthy personality. Noticeable that people with damaged self-esteem or being co-dependent usually don’t have a partner with healthy self-esteem or healthy personality. They have a partner with the same problem or the opposite.

We can find the truth somewhere between those two extremes behaviour. The happy medium as always!

I think that person who states that; we can have a stable self-esteem in a relationship where she/he (or his/her opinion, emotions, decisions) is neglected, abused or reviled, or kept in suspense where she/he must be anxious about if the other wants or doesn’t want him/her; is wrong.

Namely to respect my own feelings, my values, my time and my body is also part of building and keeping a healthy self-esteem. If our partner cancel a program in the last moment using petty excuses and expect us to conform to him/her all the time; or after months still doesn’t undertake our relationship in public; or perhaps threatens us to leave when we express our needs which are out of his/her comfort zone and after all how can we state that all these things don’t influence our self-esteem? Usually we are reacting like “this is our problem” after undertaking our negative feelings relating to the relationship which is a kind of denial. More painful to see the reality than to wop it under carpet using self-justifications.

Clients with seriously damaged self-esteem often ask themselves that “What if I give the reason for him/her to behave with me like that?” or “What if I provoke him/her?”  “What if I’m really a difficult person to live with?” “What if I should feel grateful because she/he is with me?” – when they experience unacceptable behaviour from their partner.

(If seriously self-esteem damaged people have a self-centered partner (very often, more than we think), usually the answer is – “Yes, you are, I’m treating you like this because you give me reason to do it.”- self-centered people always find a reason to do it.)

They continuously think about how could they understand their partner’s behaviour (which is necessary to handle it) at the same time the most important question is missing (maybe because already existing trauma from childhood): Do I let him/her to treat me like this?

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Typical symptom of damaged self-esteem in relationship that clients very often experience helplessness. “I would like to have more or better – but do I deserve another?” “I would like to express my needs but are they just?” These people struggle on this duality, sometimes for a long time, like years.

There are two choices; one is to admit that I’m not treated well, it hurts so I must do something for myself (change); or claiming that I’m bad and it’s understandable I’m treated like that (doesn’t require change). You can guess which one what people choose statistically more often.

First step of healing damaged self-esteem is to resolve our denials and other own lies what with we protect our relationship and excuse our partner from treating us badly. Which means “Yes, what is happening with me is destructive!”

After that we have several options, but this first one can’t be skipped. The whole status quo remains as long as we use several different kind of self-justifications, excuses and lies. We can lie but the fact is not changed; we are in a destructive relationship and it’s undermining our self-esteem.

To recognize having a destructive relationship is very difficult for people who are co-dependent for instance. They just can’t imagine that they can exist without their partner even if they are treated badly now. They rather crucify their own well being than change.

To recognize damaged self-esteem and its roots is not so easy, usually requires professional help. Sometimes those roots are buried so deep and very difficult to identify and change them.

Good news is self-esteem is improvable after finding the destructive effects’ origin. If you feel that your self-esteem is vanished, please don’t hesitate to ask an appointment and start your mental training with me.

“That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act – and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.”

― Jim Morrison

Picture: Kate Swaffer