I KEEP TRYING TO CONNECT
but I seem to always get it wrong!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (Part 6)
QUOTE: “I pretty much stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.” ~ Johnny Depp
ADULT Confusion (cont)
6. Confuse CRITICISM with ABUSE (See “Criticism” post)
Def of Criticism: an evaluation or opinion of the merits or weaknesses of an action, choice, decision, thought process….
— a careful discussion of something in order to judge its quality or explain its meaning
— saying that someone or something is bad
It is NOT supposed to be a de-valuation of a person’s whole being or identity, although it’s often used that way. Children & dysfunctional adults do not make the distinction between BE-ing & DO-ing. Criticism should only be aimed at behavior (or of content, as in books, film….), as a method of evaluation & correction. In our families, however, it was used to attack our very essence. (More in ‘ACoAs & Confusion’)
● Confuse Alternative Suggestions with Criticism – ACoAs usually think in B & W, most often knowing only one way of dealing with a variety of situations. We use the same tool for every job, like using a ‘hammer’ equally for pounding in a nail, changing a lightbulb or petting a cat. We don’t even realize that there are potentially several other – positive – ways of thinking about & then responding to any given person or event. Most often we’ll need to use different tools to handle different categories of situations ( humor in one place, stern boundaries in another….), although sometimes the same tool can be used but in modified form.
EXP: in dealing with difficult people, when you can’t get away, don’t try to reason with them or talk about your feelings. They’re not interested. Instead – Keep it LIGHT!.
SO: Being given such alternatives by a helpful person is not criticism but rather offers of information, to simplify & improve our lives.
7. Using OLD PATTERNS
In the real world we can be misunderstood & our actions severely misinterpreted when we respond to others from what we think is a sincere place, but what we say or do doesn’t work because it comes from the WIC’s dysfunctional repertoire. People’s negative reactions hurt us, even make us angry – but mainly leaves us confused. “What just happened? Why did they react so badly / ignore me? I was just trying to help / be friendly….”
— being pushy & overly-inquisitive with new people or groups, because we so much want to connect & figure out what’s safe, but are considered intrusive, uncouth & tactless
— being distant, aloof, non-communicative, because we don’t want to be intrusive or disrespectful, but are considered stuck up or a cold fish
— being augmentative, over-questioning, even a bit belligerent, because we’re desperate to understand something, but are considered disrespectful, stubborn, ‘difficult’
— making a joke of very painful or abusive events (about ourselves OR to ‘help’ someone in distress), but get frowns, withdrawal or told we’re being insensitive (we are), when we think we’re just trying to lighten the mood!
We also STAY confused when we:
● believe that ignoring something unpleasant makes it not real or will make it disappear. Then when it comes back to bite us, we’re shocked & confused
● don’t recognize conflicting emotions & beliefs @ self & world
● refuse to see & deal with the reality of what others tell us @ themselves (deny available info)
● repeat old family patterns & expect a different outcome
● resist other people’s attempts to tell us the truth/reality @ something
● try to get people to take care of us. Most people won’t, & either avoid us or show anger at our neediness
● try to do too many things at one time, not planning things out & then fail or never finish
● try to please everyone else, but never ourselves, & then wonder why we’re exhausted AND not appreciated
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Some ACoAs suffer from ADD &/or dyslexia – so many of these distortions can come from ‘disabilities’ which can be corrected with meds, proper nutrition / vitamins, brain re-patterning….
BUT most often our limited/distorted ways of communicating are mental habits developed as kids, & still used now. (See posts “How ACoAs abandon others”).
They help us to not own what we think & feel, AND to keep others at arm’s length, BY:
● always shifting the focus on to yourself when someone tells you anything about themselves or just makes a comment about something
A: “I did really well on that test today”
B: “I never do well on tests” (INSTEAD of acknowledging or praising)
● always asking what someone else wants, never stating a preference (what are you having for dinner / what should I wear today / where do you want to go?)
● answering a question with a question
● assuming the other person knows what you’re talking about, when they don’t know the bigger picture, or you didn’t provide enough details
● assuming you’ve actually told a person -out loud- something you’ve been thinking or obsessing about, but never did (often a plan or desire)
● compulsive talking, so no one else has room to participate
● cutting communication for a long time instead of talking things thru with “I’ statements
● giving too much info at one time, & don’t check to see if others follow
● jumping from thought to thought, with no logical sequence
● jumping in to a topic mid-thought, leaving out the ‘first half’, OR not bridging into a subject, so there’s no context
● mainly talking in cliches, to avoid directly saying what you think or feel
● never asking directly for what you want or need, drop hints & expect others to read your mind
● never making declarative statements – as in: “I don’t feel I can trust them (which is a thought, not an emotion), instead of “I know they’re not trustworthy”
● only talking about facts or action, or what everyone else is doing (acquaintances, politics, sports, work….), but never anything personal
● pretending you’re not upset about something but then it comes out sideways (P-A)
● rarely if ever finishing sentences, so you can’t be held accountable
● ranting at someone (verbal attacks) without being honest about the real issue
● repeating the same opinion, information, or story over & over, even using the same words every time
● responding to a comment in a way that has nothing to do with what was said, as a diversion
NEXT: ACoAs & Confusion (Part 8)