I TRY & TRY –
but I still don’t get anywhere!
PREVIOUS: Self-Esteem – IS
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“REVERSING our Behavior IMPROVES our Life”
A. UNHEALTHY Patterns
• Many of us know how we would like our life to be:
HAVE a fulfilling career, loving relationships, less pressure, a little fun… and we’ve been trying, struggling, obsessing – year in & year out – but not much has changed. We feel stuck, frustrated & depressed – still run by our false beliefs (CDs) & un-processed emotions. We grew up around chaos, addictions, criticism, rage, depression, neglect, illness & years of abuse. We learned to survive by adapting to what ‘they’ seemed to need & want, so we cobbled together a set of behaviors as best we could, with very little guidance, which allowed us to survive – but not thrive. We became a ‘human doing’ instead of a Human Being.
• We often hear advice like – “Just do it!”, “Just start somewhere”, “do the opposite of what you normally do”, even “Take the action & let go of the result”…. America was built on hard work, perseverance, risk taking & chutzpah. All of these qualities are action-based. Anthony Robbins, famous athletes, business moguls & business coaches focus us on taking the next action & the next – no matter what. This has value, up to a point, but ACoAs know it’s not that simple, because depression gets in the way & besides – we didn’t have early role models for what right actions actually are
ACoAs have a tendency to:
• do everything based on B & W thinking (‘always, never, no one, all’…)
• are afraid to do anything that’s against the Toxic Family Rules
• only do what we think others want us to, or what others expect of us
• behave in much the same way that our dysfunctional parents did
• use the same type of actions in every situation (no nuance, no variations, no risks, no innovations or what actually works …)
• not learn from our mistakes, just repeat bad patterns & then complain
• blame others for our mistakes, emotional distress or lack of action
• react from a wounded, anxious or angry emotional place (the co-dependent triangle = victim / perpetrator / rescuer)
a. Some ACoAs have a daily struggle to function at all – maybe from being chemically challenged, not having the vitamins & nutrition needed to be ‘level’ & / or being so devastated by damage we have little or no will to act
b. Some waste years of our life just drifting along, not knowing what we want to be ‘when we grow up’! We’re unhappy & unfulfilled, but don’t have a direction to focus on. Or we fall into whatever jobs that allow us to earn a living. This is not blame – only identifying the result of being wounded, not from personal defect! Various forms of Recovery can help us find our True Self, which includes our dreams, goal, talents & abilities
c. Others of us have a strong sense of what we’d like to do – if only we had the support, the education, the opportunity, the connections….. But we don’t go for it because it would require going against every message we picked up at home, such as – “Don’t out-do us, Don’t be successful, Don’t be the real you….” all of which feel like life & death if we disobey! ✶ This is not an exaggeration to the WIC, so don’t let anyone tell you you’re being dramatic!
d. An alternative to not doing anything is to either take up a profession that was dictated by our family or a secondary interest of ours (doing makeup instead of acting, being a nurse instead of a doctor…) – sometimes even becoming very skilled at it, but without enough satisfaction. ➺ It’s not unusual for ACoAs to do quite well at what we like to do the least!
e. Many ACoAs fail to take the beneficial actions we absolute need to have a decent life – at the very least, always choosing the worst relationships, the most unsatisfying jobs, isolating ourselves, refusing to take advantage of growth opportunities (personal or material), not caring for our health – not to mention continuing with any number of addictions
f. And then there are the Hero ACoAs, who over-DO all the time. Action is their god, their escape, their addiction. Keeping busy is the only thing keeping their emotions at bay. Heroes are so good at everything they DO, but are hard on themselves & hard on everyone else. They may or may not be working at a job they love, but have to be the best – even if it kills them!
• Moving forward in life includes taking healthy productive actions, altho doing things is not the only aspect, & sometimes taking no action is wiser & more effective. In terms of T.E.A., all our actions are motivated BY our thoughts & feelings, whether healthy or not, whether people acknowledged this or not
However, this set of 3 posts is about the way we decide what category of actions to take. It’s not a guide to what we should do, but rather correcting what seems to us a quite logical – yet misguided – way to fix our lack of success at work & in other relationships: ➼ We periodically reverse our usual way of handling things – but always choosing its Unhealthy Opposite!
NEXT: Healthy Opposites – the PROBLEM