I TRY SO HARD TO BE INVISIBLE –
but all it gets me is more trouble!
Previous: Price for Over-C Ourselves
REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
Obedience vs Self-Control
• Obedience is the willingness to follow commands, orders & instructions without question, because they come from a legitimate authority. It is most often seen as ‘necessary for the common good’ – usually to uphold social order. It requires that the individual give up control to another, supposedly for their own benefit, such as protecting children from the dangers of painful, tricky, or damaging situations.
— The rationale for promoting obedience, especially in the young, is that at some point, with maturity, the training is transformed into self-control – being inner-motivated. This can happen if children grow up in a relatively benign atmosphere with a fair & respectful authority figure. But when subjected to a coercive (controlling) environment, as most ACoAs were, we learn to obey the Toxic Rules by denying /discarding the very parts of ourselves that would be needed to become autonomous. So as adults we’re still functioning as symbiotic extensions of the family instead of motivating ourselves based on our True Self.
• Appropriate Self-Control is the opposite of obedience – because of where our motivation is located – inside vs. outside of the Self
— It represents having internalized the rules of our family & society, (hopefully positive, beneficial ones), but only to the degree that they fit our personality & our ethics
— It requires enough S & I from our family of origin that we can actually think for ourselves, deciding daily what works for us & what doesn’t.
From the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: “In recent years, the term ‘self-management’ has replaced ‘self-control’ because self-control implies changing behavior through sheer willpower. Self-management, on the other hand, involves becoming aware of the natural processes that effect a particular behavior and consciously altering those processes, resulting in the desired behavior change.” (ie: making autonomous choices)
Some RESULTS of Emotional Over-Control (EOC)
The following list is specifically related to ACoAs who are very shut down – O-C that they are visibly repressed & withdrawn. Their need to still protect themselves from the abusive adults they grew up with is ongoing, even when they’re no longer in that kind of physical or emotional danger. The Lost Child Role is the most obvious version, who is mute & feels invisible. But since this coping mechanism has to do with negating our True Self, even those of us in the Hero Role can find it hiding under all our accomplishments – if we dig deep enough.
• We don’t trust our own thoughts & intuition, so we keep making the same mistakes, over & over, like picking the wrong people to trust
• Without internal balance, we don’t know when something is too much for us, so we can end up exhausted, burned out & sometimes develop a chronic illness
• We only notice & focus on the negative or rejecting things in our environment, reinforcing the paranoia & depression we carry from the past
• We keep our feelings hidden & are so self-protective that we become social isolates, incapable of genuinely connecting with others
• We’re so defensive that it’s very hard to have mature adult relationships. We stay in the one-down victim role, giving others too much power over ourselves
• We assume that all future outcomes in our life will be as disappointing & hurtful as they always have been. SO – we can never relax & have fun!
• We can’t understand other people’s responses to our persona (how we present ourselves) or why they treat us so ‘badly’. We react to being scorned or ignored by being over-sensitive & avoiding or rejecting others
• We’re attacked by others for our seeming lack of: caring, openness, sharing, communication, emotional awareness, responsiveness, support or signs of warmth. This reinforces our conviction that we are right to be withdrawn, making us go deeper into our shell. It’s not that we are incapable of these qualities, but that we’re afraid of caring too much & being taken advantage of.
• We’re always looking to others to validate us, give us permission, solve our problems, tell us what to think or do
• People become so frustrated with our verbal & emotional unavailability that they complain or nag at us, verbally attack, are angry at, fight with or reject us
• Our passivity & withdrawal makes ‘present’ people uncomfortable (those who are more active, talkative & emotionally open), which can: subject us to their disdain, cause us to be blamed for all kinds of problems not our fault, have our intentions be misjudged & misunderstood, even be seen as the ‘sick’ or crazy one
• We are too anxious to work for anyone else, finding it hard to take direction or be under someone’s thumb – because we grew up with chaos & abuse we have an intense need to control everything, at all times
• Our lack of social competence & problem-solving skills makes us ignore or deny inter-personal or task difficulties. These accumulate & end up overwhelming us – so we can’t deal with anything
• Our need to avoid conflict, disapproval & taking risks, when faced with problems, actually makes others angry at us, sometimes even aggressive – the very thing we were trying to prevent
• Our silence in uncomfortable situations can aggravate others who want to talk about or fight things out, magnifying the original problem
BOOK: We can find this personality type in “BARGAINS with FATE”, taken from Shakespeare’s plays. Dr. Bernard I. Paris describes the Detached / Resigned character, whose only goal is safety via total ‘freedom’. Their Bargain is: “If I ask nothing of others, try for nothing, expect nothing …. then no one will bother me & I won’t fail or get disappointed” – which is their Reward. What is suppressed is their aggressive side. (SEE all 5 on the ACoA website)
NEXT: Backlash of O-C – #1