I DON’T HAVE TO
stay in this trap!
PREVIOUS: DMs – ACoAs (Part 8b)
OUTCOME of Double Messages which cause Double Binds
HINT that we’re in a DB: When we compulsively over-react to a communication in the DM form, & are surprised by our behavior – like being in a trance – “I just wasn’t myself.” AND then the sender (S) blames us for the conflict that often results, but we can’t see how or why we caused it. We become frustrated, distrusting the sender, (“What DO you really mean / want?”), but distrust ourselves more (“What did I do wrong?”).
We don’t realize our reactions are normal & fit the situation, because – while we are in fact a temporary prisoner – we’re not the creator or cause of that prison, which is the very thing the S wants the receiver (R) to believe.
BASIC RESULTS of DMs – we believe THAT:
1. I’m crazy – what’s really going on here?
>Can’t decide what’s real – leading to ‘pathologies’
2. I’m at fault – I’m always causing problems in this relationship.
>Can’t step out of the attachment to the significant other (S)
3. I’m stupid – can’t figure this out, no matter how hard I try.
>Can’t understand or use META-communication (subtext & cues to get meaning)
4. I’m stuck – whichever way I turn, I can’t move.
>Can’t withdraw from the situation or see a way out
IMP: To sum up, DMs generate the excruciating feeling of SHAME.
DMs inevitably lead us to believe that we are doing something wrong, which for children (and ACoAs) translates into ‘I AM fundamentally flawed’! Brené Brown reminds us that shame comes from the belief that our essence is bad, and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. The problem is that we still believe this as adults (Part 8b).
To get out of the trap we’ve been put in, we need to have emotional resilience. While various kinds of therapy are vital to healing, being able to bounce back is also encouraged by the support of friends, family & a spiritual community. They can help us bounce back from any form of trauma & the resulting grief it causes. Shame separates us from those rich sources of resilience. It makes us distrust & judge ourselves, disconnecting us from our intuitive wisdom. Doubting our sanity & basic value, we hide parts or all of ourselves by withdrawing emotionally &/or physically from the very relationships that would nourish us.
• No matter what the situation, anyone caught in a DB suffers damage to their ego – i.e one’s self esteem. Review posts: ‘Ego States’ / ‘S & I’
EXP: when a command is given by a Sender (S), the ‘commandee’ (Receiver - R) will naturally want to resist, because:
– If they DO comply they’re arbitrarily & unwillingly giving in to the other person – which damages the ego, BUT
– If they do NOT comply they risk loss & punishment – which also damages the ego. YET a cornered R will choose to give in, which weakens them even more.
• “Learned Helplessness” : In a classic study (U. of Penn, 1960s) animals were repeatedly hurt by an electric shock when trying to get out of a locked cage. After many attempts, the animals stopped making the effort – to avoid the pain. Eventually the experimenters opened the cage door, left it open & turned off the shock grid, giving the animals a change to get out. BUT, even seeing the door open did not induce them to make a dash for freedom – they’d ‘learned their lesson’ too well – unwilling to take the risk of being hurt again.
• Not Feeling: D.Binded children grow up learning they have no choice but to submit. But being naturally in touch with their emotions & intuition, they are more likely to resist & react – at first. The emotional pull of the unspoken message (META-language) is stronger than the overt verbal request. They can ‘feel’ something is wrong, but don’t know what, or why they keep getting into so much trouble with the controller.
> Eventually, to survive the emotional & mental torture of the D.Bind, children slowly learn to ignore their feelings/ emotions. They unconsciously train their mind to only focus on the S’s words, in an attempt to avoid punishment – which sadly is impossible. By compartmentalizing, they can hide the painful reality from their conscious mind, the part in charge of daily functioning. This is then carried over into adulthood as a deeply ingrained pattern of denial.
• Having Feelings: Yet in spite of this defense, Rs do have strong emotions about being D.Binded, especially long-term, even when they can’t figure out what’s actually going on. Lack of understanding and suppressed emotions turn into depression & anxiety – with ‘no seeming cause’, because perpetrators (S) almost always portrays themselves as blameless – to everyone!
• Rs are stuck in a self-imposed DB of both loving & hating one’s captor/beloved. For adults, the confusion created by DMs leaves victims assuming they have no options, causing great anguish.
– Turned outward: it’s anger/ rage – at the S. This is usually pushed down & smolders under the surface, becoming resentment & bitterness.
– Turned inward: it’s S-H & despair – at oneself. Being in a no-win environment saps the will, & leaves us disconnected from self & others.
Interestingly, when D.Bindss are successfully overcome & then transcended, they can be turned into great creativity. Robert Dilts writes: “Genius comes from a passionate commitment to the integration of multiple perspectives”
NOTE: There are 10 more post in this arc, which will be about Double BINDS, the result of DMs. But to break it up, the series will be continued next month
NEXT: Being CONFIDENT (Part 1)