Saturday, March 1, 2008

Childhood Coping Skills Cause Adult Problems

In the comments on yesterday's post, The Pendulum of Feelings Kalhless made it clear that I had not really addressed the point that she had been trying to make in her post, Hurt It wasn't that she was thinking about not having feelings (although she's thinking that might be ok), she was thinking what is the point of trying with people if people are just going to hurt you.

Everybody will put the knife in at some point....Truly human beings in general are not nice I think....... Everybody has there own agenda.

The biggest problem I see with this is that it's based pretty much on All or Nothing Thinking What is that, you say. It's a pattern of thinking that exaggerates reality. I know that sounds harsh but read first and then think about it.

Johnny doesn't like me, so nobody likes me.
Billy said I'm stupid so the whole world thinks I'm stupid.
My neighbor is a pain in the *ss, so the whole world is a pain in the *ss.
Johnny fell down so Johnny is clumsy.
Suzy made a mistake on her paper so she's stupid.
My husband is a batterer so all men cannot be trusted
I bent a nail driving it in so I'll never make a carpenter.
My hair looks bad today so I am ugly
The neighbor had an car accident so he should never be allowed to drive.
The kids laughed when I sang so I must never try that again.
The old man in the gas station tries to grab me so no one can be trusted.
These are examples of all or nothing thinking.

It is quite common for victims of childhood abuse to get into this pattern. Our perception of the world was limited. We had no way to know that outside our realm of abuse there were safe people out there. We believe what our experience has told us.

In some ways that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. We isolate to avoid being hurt. The limited people we allow ourselves contact with are within our comfort zone. That comfort zone is based on the coping skills we learned as children.

Those coping skills, while they might have been effective in an abusive family, will not serve us well in the real world. We find ourselves drawn to those individuals using the same skills. Because the coping skills are not adequate for surviving in the adult world, we find ourselves plagued with problems.

Our childhood coping skills tell us the problem is the world. We don't see that it is them (the coping skills) that are the problem. So instead, we believe we need to protect ourselves from the world. The more we cut ourselves off, the less likely we are to learn that there is a better way to deal with our problems. It is a vicious circle.

To be continued...........


Kahless said...

I see that it is all or nothing thinking. But it helps to have some positive examples to point too.

Rising Rainbow said...

kahless, first off I want to say you are such a good sport. You just take this in stride trying to figure it out. You're the best!

But I need clarification here. I'm not sure what you're meaning with positive examples.

Kahless said...

I dont know RR; I think I was being sarky to myself when I wrote it. One of those days. Just ignore me. Depression pendulum.

Kahless said...

What I was saying to myself was
"it would be good to have a positive experience to model the rest on"
that was the sarky line to myself!

Rising Rainbow said...

kahless, I think depression is a symptom of stuffing one's feelings instead of dealing with them. In order for there to be pendulum motion, the feelings must be expressed and resolved instead of stuffed.

Well, I think it would be good to have a positive experience to model the rest on. That would make it easier, I think.

Kahless said...

RR, sorry to come back again to debate in comments, but this takes me back to a question of a time ago - so what is doing feelings?

I feel rubbish because of say last weeks hurt.

I admitted it.
Wrote about it.
Felt it for a few days.
So what more is there to doing the feeling?
I cant say I stuffed it down. Didnt I do it?
What else is there?

Rising Rainbow said...

First off this isn't an easy question, guess you can tell that by now.

The feelings need to be resolved. That means you go through a process (the feelings change along the way) and you end up where the feelings are resolved over the issue. Resolved means that you have come to a point they don't "upset" you anymore.

Either you have worked things out with the parties involved and feel better that way. Or you have worked things out internally so you feel better about it because of that.

I'm pretty good a the stuff like your people from work, at just talking them out with people. Ranting or whatever you might want to call it until I understand why I got hooked in the first place.

Once I know that, then I can figure out what I'm going to do to deal with that issue (the why I got hooked). That seems to take the power out of the situation.

See, for me, I think that if you take care of your employees well and they can't see it, that is there problem. Yes it affects how they work, but it's not a reflection on you as a boss. Unless, they don't know that you do what you do, and you just assume they should understand that you are on their side. If they don't actually see it or you don't explain to them you are taking their side, then communication is part of the issue.

So for me, figuring out how it happened in the first place would help me resolve my feelings around the situation.

Does that make any sense?

lovelee said...

right on RR!

Cheesemeister said...

Yeah, I do this. A lot. My big ones are "I'm fat so I'm ugly," "I'm fat so nobody likes me," "I'm broke so I'm worthless," "I'm fat and broke so I'm a loser," and the list goes on.

Cheesemeister said...

I also stuff my feelings. They reappear as physical problems.