ProcrastinationMANANA, MANANA
 – I want to but just can’t get myself going!

PREVIOUS: Procrastination – past (#1)

ARTICLES: ‘Overcoming Procrastination’
“15 Ways to Productively Procrastinate” (Humor)

QUOTE: “If it weren’t for the last-minute, nothing would get done.” R M Brown

The HARD Stuff (cont.)
1. PAST causes (previous post)

2. PRESENT Causes of Procrastination
a. Internal –  FEAR of :
• not doing everything Perfectly (a form of S-H)
• not knowing how to do something (even tho we’re actually very
smart, clever, creative, knowledgeable)
• not knowing what to say when challenged or attacked
• looking weak, needy, incompetent, lazy, stupid…..
• having to stand up for ourselves
• making the ‘wrong’ choice, when having several options, or many demands on us at the same time
• having to feel the loneliness & pain of our original abandonment

b. External – FEAR of:
• disappointing, hurting or angering someone
• being judged harshly (the way we do to ourselves)
• asking for help when we really need it
• being interrupted & lose our train of thought or activity
• having to deal with difficult people
• having to make everyone else happy (not be in pain) but resenting it

The GOOD Stuff (must sabotage when things get too good!)
a. fear of success, as that would disobey basic Toxic Rules, and we’d have a lot of responsibility which the WIC believes it can not handle – even tho our adult can/could

b. not allowed to be happy, based on the belief that life is hard, exclusively, AND that we aren’t worthy of having good things anyway

c. stay loyal to the family by not out-doing them – we must also be a failure, don’t show them up, stay in the family mobile, don’t rock the boat….

d. we really didn’t want to go somewhere, don’t feel well, want to do something else, or nothing at all…. even if it’s potentially pleasurable or valuable. But since we aren’t allowed to say NO to the inner Pressure-er, (“what will they think if I don’t show up? / what if I miss out on something / Maybe this will have the perfect answer to all my problems?….”), instead of firmly deciding a Yes or No, we dither & obsess, do nothing & then hate ourselves

e. are never supposed to say NO to what someone else suggests, offers, wants – especially if it’s good for us. Besides “Why do they want to be with me? Why are they being so nice?” So for those times we don’t rush to people-please, we make promises we eventually flake out on, make excuses or just lie, until people get angry &/or give up on us.
— That comes both as a relief – of pressure, and a big pain – of yet again feeling ‘abandoned’! Trapped in our own no-win game, we blame others

BOTTOM LINE: “WHY BOTHER?” underlies all our indecision & procrastination. We don’t take true care of ourselves, no matter how busy or cocky we seem to others. On a deep level we’re paralyzed by:
a. Not knowing or having access to our healthy True Self, so we believe we don’t know what we want or like, nor what our rights are!

b. Not allowed to be our own internal motivator – so our only reason to take actions has to come from outside.  We have to use family, a boss, teacher, a cause, religion, a career, friends & lover relationships, AND ultimately our terror of abandonment & punishment to push ourselves. Left to our own devices, we just collapse inward

c. Our Internal Conflicts, between:
• losing someone, being hurt or punished vs. feeling ‘safe’ (even it that safety is an illusion or self-destructive)
• WIC & PP vs. the Healthy UNIT
• obeying vs. disobeying the Toxic Rules
• what we want vs. what we’re ‘supposed’ to be, do, think, feel
• old patterns vs. new ways of doing things

d. Double messages, originally forced on us by one or more adults, we had no choice but to internalize the resulting Double Binds* (simultaneous but opposing demands, with a penalty for whichever one we can’t fulfill). EXP:
• As kids they expected us to do for them (which may still be going on with an elderly parent), taking advantage of us to be their parent substitute – using hints, guilt, shaming, manipulation, demands, threats…. AND were angry / abusive if we did nothing (the penalty)
• BUT THEN were totally dissatisfied with & critical of (the penalty) whatever we did do for them, no matter how much effort we put in, what it cost us, what we had to sacrifice, how clever we were at it….

*EITHER WAY we were/are punished. If they’re still live we compulsively keep trying – to please them, over & over. If they’re not around anymore we often find some other needy, critical person to satisfy – always with the same impossible, painful results! YES, we’re addicted to the rejection, while maintaining the illusion that we have the power to change them, if only we try hard enough, long enough!

Ultimately, we stopped trying – but only for ourselves, because:
• we’re still waiting for them to approve of us
• to give us permission to have a life of our own life
• we’re convinced that if we failed with them (the family, also school, religion), then it’s inevitably that we’ll fail with everything & everyone else, so there’s no point in trying
• we’re waiting for someone – anyone – to come & rescue us so we don’t ever have to be our own parent!

NEXT: Decision Making STYLES – #1



don’t know why I don’t do anything!

PREVIOUS: Education Inventory (part 2)

ARTICLES: ‘Beating Procrastination
Fight Procrastination” – P. vs Payoff / P vs. Pain. charts

QUOTE: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”  Marthe Troly-Curtin

NOTE: Since this topic keeps coming up as a familiar problem for ACoAs here is an addition to the posts “Putting things off”. See Part 3 for ways to work on changing the pattern.

WHY DO ACoAs PUT THINGS OFF? This debilitating pattern, based on the same early experiences, can show up in several ways:
• Not being able to decide what to do first, when we have several options, or what to do at all (like with free time)
• Starting things (refinishing a pc. of furniture, art work, a book, even relationships…) but never / rarely finishing anything – if it’s for ourselves

• Putting off tasks. Many of us find that our whole life is permeated with the ‘habit’ of waiting to the last-minute to do things. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the ‘thing’ is something we would like to do or something we dread.  We just put it off & off & off.
— Then comes crunch time – the deadline has caught up to us. We’re in a panic, scrambling to do the task, but now it’s going to be half-baked. We don’t have enough time to do a thorough job, don’t read the instruction correctly (or at all), leave out or miss something. And by leaving it to the last minute it can never be done right
— OR the deadline has past & we don’t get the benefit of a discount, miss a class or a needed product, a reunion, a party….

• Of course we’re painfully aware of all this, but as long as we’re stuck:
— we’re full of anxiety & S-H for not doing it Perfectly
— we scare ourselves with dire projections & predictions about how we’re going to get judged, punished, fired….
— hate ourselves for letting a desired or favorable opportunity pass by

• But, like any good addict, we’ll do it the same way all over again, & again! WHAT? How can this be an addiction? WELL…. in this case it’s the addiction to: Fear + Adrenalin + S-H = Drama. This formula has become so much a part of our lives since childhood that we keep doing things (or not) to re-enforce the chemical surges it creates. Yet under this self-inflicted ‘excitement’, the WIC is just trying to protect itself the only way it knows how – by NOT doing anything. Yet it’s not enough to just label it as part of our ACoA damage, which it is. We need to know how it all got started (Past) & how we perpetuate it (Present).

The HARD Stuff
1. PAST Causes of Procrastination
For many of us these situations happened from the very beginning of our lives:
• Endless family chaos. No matter what we started (studying, playing, chores, going to bed….) or how hard we worked to put something together (a project), some drama or another would take precedence.  Our life kept getting sidetracked by someone else’s mess or bigger needs. We’d have to start all over again, or never get back to it at all

• Expected &/or forced to take care of them AND having to fend for ourselves way too early, so now we refuse. Been there, done that!
• Taking on our parent’s fear – constantly warned about the dangers of people, places & things, so we became fearful of everything too
Neglected, ignored – not getting encouragement, guidance, ‘how to’ or just safe & loving company, which made us feel insecure & too alone

Forced to do, learn or study something we hated, sometimes for years (sports, camping, an instrument, a particular profession… spending time with hated family members, sent away to school, put to work …), so now we do as little as possible or as poorly as we can get away with

• Lack of positive Mirroring: not having someone clearly reflect back to us how we do things, what our personal style is, how our mind works, what our specific abilities are…. SO we always end up saying “I don’t know who I am, what I like, what I want to do when I grow up…”, even tho since then we’ve had a lifetime of experiences, learning, accomplishments…. which give us lots of definite hints & signs

• Being constantly discouraged / undermined by the adults when we talked about our opinions, plans, dreams (“There’s no future/ money / jobs… in X / That’s dumb… / Don’t waste your time on Y…..”)
— OR not allowed to help them with anything – chores, working on the car, cooking, painting the house, decorating…. as if we were too slow or too dumb, so we think we can’t do things

• Being put down when we actual did something – just trying to figure out how to do a new task, taking longer to learn something than they had patience for (none), not ‘getting’ something (like math)
— Also, put down, attacked, made fun of…. for things we naturally did really well (games, sewing, sports, art, languages…), especially if they could NOT do it as well or at all, pushing their insecurity or envy buttons

Nothing was ever good enough:
— parents constantly criticized everyone & everything, arbitrarily
— we were never acceptable (much less appreciated) – they found fault with our taste & choices (our taste in clothes, music, friends… )
— even whatever good we tried to do was dismissed or devalued – wanting to help, showing concern, being on our best behavior, suppressing ourselves to please them…. even the gifts we made or bought for them were ignored, given away or returned!

Punishment (insults, being hit, yelled at, sent to our room, made fun of, threatened….) – for having need, wants & emotions, as well as for not doing everything the ‘right’ way, ie. their way, or just not knowing how to do something – even tho we were too young, untrained  & inexperienced, but they expected us to be mind-readers, & act like adults anyway!

NEXT: Procrastination (Part 2) – in the Present



I’m not weak or wounded!


REVIEW:Rescuing: False Helping”, “Process

DISTORTED  COPING  (P = Perp / V = Victim)
As long as ACoAs have trouble facing the trauma of being childhood Victims, we can’t outgrow that state because it lives in our WIC & keeps getting acted out all over our lives.  Another ‘backwards’ ACoA pattern: while we do many destructive victim-y things to ourselves and let others do them to us, we also are masters at trying to cover up the inner wounds, the same way battered people try to hide broken bones & external bruising.

What’s NORMAL?
a. Normal can mean what is average for any location or situation, but may be positive or negative & is never absolute : It’s the norm for people in a bar to drink a lot. It’s the norm for men in prison to be raped. It’s the norm for children of addicts to be scarred. OR It’s the norm for great teachers to produce some excellent students. It’s the norm for country air to be healthier than city air. It’s the norm for money to make life easier
b. Normal can also mean anything that is the opposite of unhealthy, & is only positive: Normal is to be a whole human being. Normal is being happy & productive, with satisfying relationships. Normal is to care for ourselves. Normal is being part of a community & helping others. Normal is for love to heal …..

ACoAs desperately want to be ‘normal’, as in ‘b’, while not wanting to admit being damaged (NOT defective) with all it’s weaknesses, or having to do the hard work of Recovery to become healthy.  This ‘normal’ is a facade to cover up our lack of self-esteem & to quiet the bad voice, rather than being genuinely OK at our core. Many of us don’t want to ask for any kind of help, or be in groups that focus on healing, because “They’re all crazy & I’m not like them!”  But Al-anon teaches us: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”  It’s one thing to feel empowered & be able to face life’s difficulties with equanimity & guts. It’s another to over-compensate for our un-acknowledged & unhealed history with grandiosity.

EXP: Trish was never taken care of as a child, even in basic ways, & was eventually left by her weak father to take care of her violent, mentally ill mother. In spite of not having any self-esteem or knowledge about self-care, in her early 20’s her talent as a performer got her periodic jobs in small venues. One day she found out she was pregnant, but wasn’t ready for motherhood & scheduled an abortion – for the same day that she had a gig in the Catskills. She went to the doctor in the am – alone, & that afternoon drove up to the mountains to sing – alone & in pain! It never occurred to her to have the operation on a different day, to have someone go with her, or that there was anything amiss about combining the 2 events – until pointed out to her by a therapist 20 yrs later!

KIDS: This is a normal characteristic of small children, all the way thru the teens – thinking they can do much more than they actually can (fly – with their arms, keep playing without having to eat or sleep, get away with misbehaving, doing something big – live driving or having sex – without guidance or training, not needing help “I can do it my-self!”….) It’s a self-focused survival mechanism – preventing children from being crushed by fully realizing the extent of their vulnerability.
The formal definition of grandiosity refers to anyone having a sense of uniqueness, superiority – ‘the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people’. Sound familiar? This is a form of narcissism which is normal in children but should be outgrown by adulthood. For ACoAs it’s a continuation of that early psychological defense, from not having yet developed a healthy Adult Ego State. As long as our WIC runs the show we use that same protection to hide our sense of vulnerability – which NOW comes from being stuck in our frightening past.  Some EXAMPLES:

Self-Hate : All of S-H is a form of grandiosity – in negative terms: I are the ‘worst’, the most hopeless, I don’t have the capacity to love, I’ll never get better, I have to give up the hope of finding someone right for me….
— Always feeling separate – “I never fit anywhere”, different – but in a bad way, or superior – “I don’t have any problems”, while staying in the Victim role “You just don’t understand!”

No Limits : Not having boundaries – “I’m the same as you, you are me, we feel & think alike…” the state of an infant that we need to outgrow.
One form: Pushing ourselves until we collapse or go beyond normal limits – especially when in a weakened condition. (Run on an injured leg, overuse our hands, over-do exercise, go to work when very sick, try to rescue our Perps or other Victims, mind other peoples’ business ….)

Finished with an Issue : The opposite side of “I’ll never get better”. Most common in early Recovery – we think we’re DONE with a character defect or childhood pattern that we worked on for a little while. When that issue surfaces again (inevitably), we feel defeated, full of S-H & fall back into : I’m hopeless at this recovery stuff. I might as well not even try! REALITY: Repetition & Process lead to improvement – NOT perfection!

Perfectionism : This is an impossible goal, regardless of some spiritual teachings, yet we try to compensate for our ongoing inner & outer sense of danger by knowing everything & never making a mistake – instead of healing the wounds that cause our fear. We’re convinced that anything about us or in our actions that’s not 100% ideal (our distorted, inhuman standards) IS:
• proof of our inherent & permanently flawed identity, making us unworthy of anything good, since being defective means we can easily be thrown away. Our imperfect-ness is felt as a fatal weakness because the WIC says “Now no one will love or take care of me & then I’ll die”!
PS: This is not being dramatic – to a small child.
• our failure to sufficiently compensate for the above false assumptions which we then use to beat ourselves up – & try again to be inhuman
• the reason why we don’t even bother trying many things that we are actually capable of doing, lest we ‘fail’ (to be perfect). What an illusion. What a waste of possibilities!
(Read list of Characteristics)

GIVING UP Grandiosity?
To let go of this defense we need to know all our needs & rights, as well as our limitations.  It’s finding a healthy balance between realistic optimism based on acknowledging all examples of our progress – with a realistic understanding of the depth of our wounds & the ongoing nature of process, that will take the rest of our life – no matter how successful we become. That’s what it means to be human.  Al-anon slogan: “Progress, not perfection”!

NEXT: Negative Introject – #1

Emotional MATURITY – General


while still working on the ‘old stuff’

PREVIOUS: Emotional Immaturity (Part 3)

SITE: Emotional Maturity Questionnaire

Emotional Maturity (EM) ….means having a healthy self-concept: not thinking too highly or too lowly of ourselves …… is when we’re in the  world but realize that we’re not the center of it.

“Maturity consists of no longer being taken in by oneself” Anon.
“Maturity is the ability to think, speak & act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.”  Samuel Ullman (American businessman, poet & humanitarian)

Characteristics of maturity can be identified in relation to:
a. Social age – ability to relate well socially for our physical age
b. Emotional age – ability to handle emotions appropriate for our age
c. Spiritual age – ability to handle ourselves in a spiritually mature way

In ACoA language, EM develops slowly by minimizing the damage in our WIC & eliminating the PP voice – as much as possible. Ultimately it’s about no longer having S-H & living from our True Self.
Maturity comes from growing the ‘Unit’ of the healthy Adult & Loving Parent, who are regularly (but not always) in charge of the WIC, can deflect the bad parent voice away from the IC, encourage the Natural Child to blossom, & keep us in touch with our Higher Power.

• Maturity does NOT mean having lost all our damage, but instead means lessening the grip of the Introject, diminish the accumulated old pain & have the ability the deal with our core wounds whenever they do surface, so they don’t take over, & we can get over them faster.
ACoAs are quite capable of developing mental, emotional & spiritual maturity – as long as we don’t strive for perfection*.  As we internalize the “Principles of the Program” we outgrow the worst of our damage & can live comfortably in the present, instead of our tortured past.  When we internalize psychological health we carry it with us even under stress, & express it in ‘all our affairs’

Perfectionism is a sign of immaturity. This is a belief (a CD) rather than an event or action.  It is based in FoA & S-H, rather than self-esteem. To be human is to be IMperfect, & to be mature is to be OK with that! Yes, there are times when everything works out well, we are successful in a task or reaching a goal, we feel empowered. None of these are about perfection. At its simplest, they are events with no mistakes. Those moments are the result of help from H.P., our own faith, knowledge, effort, practice & persistence, & perhaps some ‘luck’.

1. Emotional
• Emotional Responsibility : know what our emotions are, AND that they come from inside of us, rather than being caused by external people, places or things
• Self-control: accept and control our passions, emotions & desires. Can handle stress well, can ‘let go’ & detach, knowing when we’re powerless over a situation
• Self-esteem: have inner fulfillment, enjoy life, experience ourselves as one source of love.  Have understanding, insight

2. Psychological / Mental
• Cognitive Responsibility: be accountable for our thoughts – beliefs, opinions & prejudices. Handle finances, have good work habits and are reliable
• Mental Clarity: able to think clearly & rationally. Can process information based on current reality, know how to gather & communicate info
• Independence: make appropriate decisions and observe consequences, in order to make better decisions. Learn & grow from experience

3. Practical
• Action Responsibility: know what we want & the ability to make it happen
• Function: make the effort to learn what we need to know in order to accomplish our goals
• Participation: join group and community activities that foster creativity, collaboration, and empowerment, perhaps volunteer in a relevant cause

4. Relational
• Interpersonal Responsibility: treat people as separate entities with the right to their own needs, wishes & dreams (not using people)
• Respect: understand and tolerate different views, cooperate with peers and teams, caring about others & representing their concern
• Connections: make connections easily, sustain intimate relationship, take in friendship & love, share decisions & resources

5. Spiritual
• Moral Responsibility:  have a healthy value system (code of ethics) & choose what’s right for ourselves first & then in relation to others
• Congruent: Act honestly, live by our principles & listen to our intuition
• Altruism: concern for all humanity, do what we can to help others – realistically

NEXT: Emotional Maturity (Part 2)

ACoAs & TIME (Part 2)

fast time
take so much longer than I think??!!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Time (Part 1)

ARTICLE: Kids, ADHD & Time

2. REQUIRED TIME (cont.)
b. Much less time than is realistic. There are the ACoAs who:
• always over-book, plan things too close together, don’t allow enough time to get places or time for possible delays – and don’t allow for process… Like: how long it takes for – a renovation, a doctor visit, to taking a trip, developing a friendship, wait for a delivery, a check, an email or the return of a phone call! (it pushes our Abandonment button)

• try to do several things at one time. This does not refer to multi-tasking, but rather expecting, magically, to be able to be in more than one place at a time, like 2 conflicting events – without planning to do things consecutively, OR just pick one & let the other go.  Like: making plans to go shopping alone and have lunch with a friend – at about the same time!  It’s one of the reason some ACoAs are habitually late.

SOURCE: Psychologically, our WIC is stuck at a very young age (pre-clock-reading) as a result of trauma.
NORMAL: Small children are very much in the moment, living from event to event, so time is unrelated to behavior. Motion-in-time (action) seems to be a succession of unplanned situations that just happen. There are no boundaries. Children flow through consecutive activities, none of which are measured by clock-time. They live in infinite space, with no responsibility for the past or the future. Time has no real duration, events have no beginning or end. Before developing structured thought, there can be no “time” for a child…..

DAMAGE: Adults who act that way are in a temporary or constant state of regression – not living in present time-reality & not being run by a Healthy Adult ego state. Difficulty in accurately assessing & using time is another way ACoAs are ‘out of control’*.
* BTW – being ‘out of control’ means only one thing: Not having a choice, in a particular moment, in a given situation. This can be either compulsively (without a conscious decision) DO-ing something – like verbally attacking a person, or NOT doing something – like not leaving a place where you’re being hurt in some way.

Suggestion for Correction
If you identify with this issue, then no matter what the activity – always add 2x or 3x the amount of time you’re sure it will take. If it’s less, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If the extra time was needed, you won’t feel as frustrated, disappointed & angry.

For a while, each evening you can write down:
• a simple outline of activities you’re planning for the next day, including daily routines, like getting ready, eating, chores… Don’t forget transportation times.  If you look on GoogleMaps, it tells you times allotted to get from point A to point B.  IT’S NEVER ENOUGH!
• decide how much total time you want to allot, in chunks (2 hrs in the am, or 4 hrs in the pm, or 3 hrs before bedtime…) to each segment

• Next to each action – write how long you think it will or should take. Then add 15-30 min. to each item.
• If you don’t know, pick an easy action you can repeat once a day, for a week, & time how long it took.
OR set a timer to go off every half hr, do an activity & see how far you get in that time. KEEP A LOG! If you get stuck, write down what you were feeling and thinking at the point where you stopped your activity.

• Adding up the actual time amounts something lasted will give you an idea of how many things you can get done in your personal time-frame. What are you thinking and FEELING?
• Choose the activities you most have to do first, & then balance it with some healthy soothing or fun treat for your kid. If you do have to put off play time, AND you promise to make it up later, be sure to do at least one of them on the next  ‘free day’, or else your IC:
— will be angry, sulky, disappointed, despondent…
— will experience You (the Adult) as being as bad as the PP (abusive, unfair, uncaring, untruthful…)
— won’t be able to depend on you, trust you in future, be willing to turn its ‘power’ over to you – in order to be taken care of.

Having chunks of free time – but don’t know what to do with it:
— too much anxiety – from perfectionism, toxic rules, fear of commitment & decision-making, avoiding disappointment, fear of risk…
— not self-motivated (Autonomy & Attachment, Part 2)
— wanting to do too many things at once, so don’t choose anything, puttering around, not accomplishing much
— too tired from all the daily stress we put ourselves under so need to veg out but then feel gypped, frustrated, angry at ourselves…

✶ REQUIREMENTs: To work on this problem, we need the willingness to break some Toxic Rules, like the ones listed in “Part 1, 2a”
• Plan ahead, write on a monthly or weekly calendar things you can schedule ahead. Stick to your plans, whenever possible, & notice how it feels afterwards. When things don’t work out try something new.
• Make a list of the activities you would like to do during ‘free time’, & keep it handy, to look at, when you can’t think of what to do
• Fun time is NOT about priorities. You don’t have to know what to do FIRST! Just pick something you know you like & focus on enjoying it.

NEXT: ACoAs & Time (Part 3)

RECOVERY – What it IS & IS NOT (Part 1)


Dismantling the old patterns

PREVIOUS: Deserving vs. Rights – #3


IS NOT.…❖…eliminating ALL pain from our life
IS...❧…a combination of gains & losses, fulfillment and disappointment, joy & pain – part of being human, not superhuman.  Only addicts want ‘no pain’ & think that’s an appropriate goal

IS NOT…❖…being free of emotions (Es) that were unacceptable to our family… controlling our Es or trying to have ‘appropriate’ Es. Those are both signs of damaged thinking (Controlling them is NOT the same as being in control of them)!

IS…❧…accepting all emotions as legitimate. Humans are built with the capacity AND the need to feel. Es are the natural indicators of our reaction to any experience – to let us know whether something is good or bad for us.
Actions may, or may not, be good, & can be corrected, over time
• Unhealthy thoughts can be reframed & replaced, when they’re harmful or incorrect
Es just are. They can go from very joyful –to– very painful, but are never good or bad! We need to have access to a wide range of Es, with many shades. It gives us a sense of vibrancy & allows us to connect with others.  Only looking at B & W tv, paintings or wall colors can become quit boring. Suppressing or narrowing down Es (to 1 or 2, like rage or fear) will make us cold, hard, distant & ultimately limited, one-dimensional.
The intensity & depth of our emotional reservoir (old childhood pain) is so great that it will never be completely empty.  We need to accept this & learn how to manage our Es rather than trying to spiritualize them away!
(see pg 54 of & “Feelings Aren’t Facts” post)

IS NOT…❖…‘letting go’ of all behavior & thought patterns quickly, or so
completely that we are permanently free of them.  ALL expectation & demands for perfection or for any extreme (B & W thinking) – comes from damage & a sure fire setup for self-hate! (pg. 7)

IS...❧…accepting we’ll always have stuff to work on, ‘til our end – never be completely free of early patterns, ideas & wounds.  Great improvements – YES! Completely cleaned out? NO.   Under stress it’s normal to regress to our earliest default settings. Even when our actions come mostly from the Healthy Adult,  our emotions & thoughts can sometimes be from that old place of being a victim, from self-hate, fear, envy, impatience, greed…  BUT – they don’t last as long, we know where they come from, can get support, & help the I.C. with love & logic.

IS NOT…❖…trying to fix our childhood damage, to eliminate all character defects & do is easily and quickly.  Any effort to fix ourselves means we think we’re bad, that our badness is our own fault & SO we’re responsible for doing anything we can to eradicate it. (BTW, this is one of the reasons why many ACoAs want to be dead)

IS…❧…accepting that alcoholism & co-dependence have left scars & emotional hangovers. (pgs. 3 – 6) These will take our life-time to gradually heal. Being human means we’ll never be perfect – but Recovery IS truly possible!
Many have proven it.
Humility (not humiliation) is acknowledging our human limitations & a consistent willingness to evaluate ourselves with compassion, in honesty & reality, modifying our thoughts & action so we can reach our own goals

IS NOT…❖…being ‘serene’ all the time.
• To always be pleasant, kind, honest, thoughtful…is a disguise for a wide range of emotions we don’t find acceptable
• To still be the good boy / girl, in the present, is the symbiotic need for our family’s approval, rather than becoming our own person.
• Forever trying to be ‘so good’ is a negation of our legitimate rage & pain of childhood abandonment

IS...❧…gaining genuine serenity, based on a solid emotional, mental & spiritual foundation – from the inside.  This creates the unshakable knowledge that we are ok even when we’re in pain, under pressure, not understood or supported.  We can have upheaval, express intense pain / anger… and still be at peace, deep down.  Serenity is the by-product of knowing & accepting ourselves in the moment, trusting our gut, having a great support system & a loving H. P.

IS NOT…❖…trying to get from our family what we never got as kids, or
assuming we can have a ‘great’ relationship with them – if only we were well enough

IS…❧…accepting there’s no ‘if only’ about our family & our childhood
• It was their damage which prevented them from being all that we needed.  It was never because of who we were! (It was done to us, at us, with us – but it was never ABOUT us)
and, unless family members have been growing, or changing – enough, we may have to cut them off, for our own survival.
We can choose how to deal with them – by having:
a. rare or no contact, to protect ourselves from abuse & mind games
b. no contact for a long time, until we are more healed, so our buttons (which they installed) get much smaller :)! Then re-connect & see….
c. limited contact, to see who they really are, for clarification & validation of how they treated us – which will diminish self-hate, & allow us to gain some emotional distance from the family drama
d. regular contact, spaced out AND only as friendly Adults.  Don’t expect them to be parental, if they can’t. Interact superficially or only in ways that suites everyone. Don’t push for the impossible.

➼Others will often disappoint, which can make us sad & angry. That’s normal. It just doesn’t have to devastate.
NOW it’s truly up to us to become Kind Parent & Wise Adult for ourselves, with the help of therapy, H.P., Program & other support systems.

NEXT: Recovery – IS & is NOT  (#2)

ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 2)

why am I being jerked around?

PREVIOUS: Being Controlled (Part 1)

READING: Dealing with Manipulative people – from “In Sheep’s Clothing”

The PROGRAMMING to be controlled is MAINTAINED BY
1. Toxic Family RULES
• “Don’t think for yourself” , “You’re stupid & will never amount to anything”…. which taught us to believe that others are more qualified to tell us what to do & how to be
• “If you don’t like it you have to stay”, “You’re always supposed to suffer”….  insures that we do not have permission to object or leave

• “You can never be comforted when in pain” , “Joy, contentment & peace are not an option for you”… keeps us from finding & staying in comfortable, nourishing relationships or environments
• “Other people’s needs & feelings are always more important than yours” , “I have no rights” …. makes us afraid to say what we do or don’t want / will tolerate – lest we hurt someone’s feelings or make them angry at us

• “Do as I say, not as I do” , “Children should be seen & not heard”… trained us to obey authority, no matter how stupid or cruel
• “Be loyal to the family, even if they’re crazy, hurtful, neglectful or sadistic” , “Never, ever hold anyone else accountable for their bad behavior” (especially ‘authority’)… insures that we cling to anyone who treats us as badly as our family, because no one else would want us

• “You deserve to be punished severely for bad things that others do to you (because it’s your fault)” allows the controller to reinforce our victim status & keeps us from questioning the validity of their behavior
• And of course – our Self-Hate (our WIC’s extension of the PP) tells us we’re not worthy of consideration in any way, even when we don’t like how we’re being treated – SO “Don’t Talk, Don’t Feel, Don’t Think” about the abusive nature of being controlled!

We let others control us as long as we do not develop a strong Healthy Adult /Parent UNIT to be responsible for leading our Inner Tribe, leaving the job to the WIC & PP. We give in to others because of:
Abandonment (FoA) – afraid someone is going to leave us (a lover) or take something important away (a job), we act the Victim, trying to twist ourselves into whatever is demanded of us
Blanking out – ‘leaving our body‘, which shuts our mind off temporarily & makes us not present at all, so we can’t think or talk – allowing others to push their way into our thoughts & actions, & take over

Co-Dependence – we’re looking for others to tell us who we are, to know how to earn their love by trying to be what we think they want
Hopelessness – ‘learned helplessness’ is the outcome of trauma, so we learned to not even try, even when circumstances are more in our favor
Ignorance: not knowing what words to actually say to protect & defend ourselves, or push someone away when appropriate
Immaturity – we think when others control us it’s an expression of their love, & we don’t want to be in charge of our own life

Loneliness – that desperate inner emptiness which is actually a left-over from childhood, and in the present is the result of not having a Loving Parent to be nurturing, which would heal the WIC
Naiveté – not realizing (or not wanting to know) how selfish, narcissistic & unscrupulous some people are, wanting to believe everyone has good intentions or is just doing their best!
Narcissism (ours) – whereby we thoroughly believe that everything others do, say, think or feel – is about us. Very little is!

Perfectionism – we try to be all things to all people to make up for feeling unloved as a child, and to guarantee everyone’s approval
Sensitivity – we are highly attuned to other people’s emotional distress, which we not only absorb (when we don’t have good Bs) but then try to fix, instead of healing our own
S-H – a sense of unworthiness so deep that we’ll let anyone do anything they want to us
Unable – thinking we don’t know how or can’t do anything, so let others tells us what to do

a. Experiencing Bondage / losing independence
Accept unwanted situations, be tied down against our will, addicted & enslaves, submit to another, be obsess, be controlled

b. Focusing on the Material / only aware of the physical
Caught up in appearances, getting & spending, over-indulge the senses, forget the spiritual

c. Staying in Ignorance / being unaware
Operate within a narrow range, choose to stay in the dark, be taken in by appearances, experience limitations, fear the unknown

d. Feeling Hopeless / lacking faith
Believe the worst, see the ‘cold world’, think negatively, despair, doubt, foresee a bleak future  (More…..)

NEXT: Getting Controlled (Part 3)

ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 1)


just so you won’t leave me!

Previous: “Controlling” & Abandonment (Part 2)

Article: “Recognizing…..Control” – extensive list of tactics used by Controllers

REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.

GETTING controlled by others
People who are easily controlled don’t know there’s a difference between -
a. Natural, appropriate authority (& mental/emotional coercion). Being IN control is using our power in a positive way – to be in charge of oneself or to be a good leader. The person in control is the main decision-maker, in charge of communication & makes things happen. People choose to listen & follow Cs because they want to learn, connect &/or be taken care of –
— VS.
b. Un-natural, abusive control. Controllers (Cs) misuse power – they force us to obey them, against our will. They have no regard for our rights, needs or individuality. They use their position to suppress our identity so only their personality is visible. Their main weapon is their anger, aimed at making us afraid, so we’ll be more compliant.

ACoAs letting ourselves get controlled:
• Most ACoAs were negatively controlled as kids, and without Recovery we continue playing out the victim role we were originally forced into. Allowing others to control us, as adults, copies our earliest experiences. It keeps us symbiotically attached to the ‘source’ of our wounds & therefore emotionally immature, AND ‘protects’ us from having to face our own fear of intimacy (“ACoAs & Boundaries, Part 1 & 2”)

• Allowing ourselves to BE CONTROLLED as adults is a dual experience:
First: We have to be around someone who is a controller – who belittles us, embarrasses us in front of others, treats us like a child, tells us what to do or how to be….who is manipulative & intimidating, however subtly.
Second: We have to be available.  While dealing with such a person is unpleasant for anyone, for ACoAs it is emotionally debilitating – but also emotionally addictive!  We fall into a black hole, regressed to an old familiar space of being a powerless child with no options. We’re trapped & become mute! We’ve been programmed to instantly surrender – we have no rights or identity of our own. And then we stay, & make excuses for the controller!

T.E.A. (thoughts, emotions, actions)
Many teachers & groups teach us that we choose to feel the way we do, often with a subtle judgment attached. Of course the word feel is being used to mean thoughts rather than emotions, (see post: “Feelings Aren’t Facts”, Sept ‘10) which is confusing & harmful, as it leads to believing we should ‘control’ our Es! This is not fair or realistic. No one chooses their Es, only what we Think & how we Act! Yes, sometimes changing Ts & As can shift our Es, but not always, especially not when the pain we’re feeling is old & therefore cumulative. That takes time to vent & process out of the body.

• Being controlled is an outward manifestation of beliefs internalized from childhood. And when we consider those Toxic Family Rules (‘beliefs’ being a sub-category of Thinking) we find them very hard to change, indeed.
As adults, allowing ourselves to be controlled in not a conscious choice! It’s a knee jerk reaction to specific people or events that are carbon copies of our family experience.  It’s a clear indication that in those moments of capitulation to the will of another – our WIC is in charge. To flatly ‘accuse’ us of choosing to be manipulated (Action) or be miserable (Emotions)…. only adds to our S-H & is in fact a subtle form of abuse & abandonment.

YES – we are responsible for changing our training. We do need to learn new ways of thinking & acting so we can take back the power we give to others.  BUT we can only do this if -first- we:
— understand what’s actually going on inside of us
— have compassion for ourselves (we didn’t cause this originally)
— remember that changing deeply-etched brain patterns takes time
— learn what our needs are & use them to practice having boundaries
— ask for help whenever we need it, especially when we’re regressed (in that child ego-state of being a victim, lost child, scapegoat…)
— develop & continually strengthen the Loving Parent voice in us

The more we try to please others (and the more people we try to please), we become:
— MORE frantic, disorganized, overwhelmed, angry, unhappy, exhausted
— LESS focused, rested, peaceful, satisfied, pleasant to be with
AND the fewer people we actually please!

Letting ourselves be controlled (by our fear and/or by another person) is giving our power away. Yet we think it will actually:
— GAIN us acceptance, love, continual attention, protection
— PREVENT being ignored, made fun of, punished or left
Unfortunately, this is an illusion!

• We CAN find these things – but only with SOME people, SOME of the time. It depends on who THEY are – such as people:
— who are already capable of offering positive qualities
— with whom we are genuinely compatible (not just matching our damage)

• We can be absolutely wonderful, healthy, charming, appropriate… & still be abused or negated by someone who is wounded, angry, prejudiced, drunk, crazy…. The measure of our recovery is how quickly we get ourselves away from such people. Think: how sometimes good people in the public eye are vilified, even killed, over controversial topics!
What matters is:
a. To be as sane & responsible as we can be, a day at a time
b. To choose wisely who we spend our time with!

NEXT: ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 2)


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