Compare yourself to others.
Think and evaluate in absolutes.
Make every misfortune or mistake a catastrophe.
Worry about problems you don’t have.
Refuse to face reality and instead live in fantasy.
Say and think bad things about yourself.
Think that you are an awful, unlovable person if you make a mistake.
Believe you are worthless unless you are perfect.
The trouble with always hiding, suppressing, and dismissing one’s feelings is that they become much like disgruntled employees in preparation for a rebellion. In one way or another, their voices will be heard.
Let’s say you’re the boss and had a bunch of employees working for you. If you chose to work as a dominating micro-manager forcing all of your workers into submission and punishing them at any sign of potency, it will not be long before your team becomes less and less productive as their will is squelched from all of the harsh treatment they receive. Or they will begin to plan a covert rebellion. Before long, your worst fear will come into fruition and your employees will turn up one night and burn your house down, often with you inside. Thus begins the establishment of certain forms of overwhelming neurosis – aka feeling angry, anxious, stressed, sad, worthless etc… pretty much most of the time.
However, when your employees (aka feelings) are properly nurtured, offered opportunities for growth, given a voice, feel encouraged, offered regular acknowledgment, redirected when necessary, and given healthy boundaries and limits they will no doubt know who’s boss and more often than not feel respected, valued, and rarely get out of control or become unmanageable. Heck, they might even start to feel really good!
Adapted from M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled.
Is this really what I want to be doing or saying? Am I willing to deal with and face the consequences? If I do or say this will things turn out well for me or the ones I love? These are VERY good questions to ask when putting oneself in a potentially detrimental, destructive, or compromising situation.
So the goal is to play it out to the end.
Let’s say I am in recovery from my alcohol problem. BUT I am craving a drink. “If I have that drink it will taste and feel good”… And that’s often where the thought stops. But if we play it out a little further… “If I have one drink, I won’t feel much of a buzz, so I’ll probably have 2 or 3 or 4, and then, well, my judgement will be compromised so I’ll likely just keep going and maybe even drink till I pass out. That will make it VERY hard to get up for work in the morning, and if I don’t show up for work I’ll likely get fired because chances are this is not the first time this has happened”… we can keep going, and things could, and often do, get much worse from there, but you get the idea.
So, again, bringing this way of thinking into our consciousness is not just reserved for keeping urges and cravings in check when in addiction recovery, this applies to ALL of us. [insert pain and regret inducing circumstance here]. SO for example if I let my temper get away from me and yell at my partner, I might think I’ll feel better by getting a load off my chest, but the reality is that I’ll probably end up calling him down, calling her names, saying things I’ll regret, and then feel VERY guilty and end up spending the rest of the evening feeling like a pretty awful person for treating someone I love so awfully. Not to mention, I’ve damaged our relationship and hurt someone I love.
Play it out to the end.
And this time, it’s true – At least according to Carl Jung (one of the grandfathers of modern psychotherapy). His theory suggests that we project the disowned (read: unappealing) aspects of ourselves onto others. Jung referred to this as our shadow archetype… don’t worry I’m not going to go all psycho babble on you now. Basically, though, what he said is that the unfavourable qualities we react negatively to in others are really just our own issues that we do not identify with or recognize, but possess nonetheless.
In other words: The things that bother, irritate, get under our skin, and drive us crazy about other people are more often than not, our own disowned, unacknowledged, or rejected issues. This is a tough one to swallow and might even sound a little hooey.
Before you reject his theory of trait rejection all together, have you ever wondered why something will drive you absolutely nuts about someone, but your friends may not even notice it, let alone be even mildly irritated by it? Why are we irritated or put off by some things other people do or say, and not others? And why isn’t everyone put off by the same things? Something to think about…
I’m not sure if this theory applies to every situation and I was pretty sceptical when I learned about this concept, but once I started paying attention to it in myself, good goodness, it was true more often than I am comfortable admitting.
The up side in all of this though, is that we can use our reactions toward other people to indirectly (or maybe quite directly) show us what we might be struggling with and need to address and work through.
Free insight? I’ll take that.