LIKE THE BIRTH OF NEW STARS
I can give birth to new thinking
PREVIOUS: CDs & the Unconscious (#1)
AA saying: “Alcoholics dig themselves into a rut, & then decorate it!”
1. THINKING (2. Emotions in Part 4)
a. The UNCONSCIOUS mind is ‘just’ the result of patterning, conditioning & habit – therefore it’s basic – very B & W, not thinking, intelligent or creative, totally literal with no sense of humor! From our birth it absorbs info & experience without insight or good judgment. So our early years provide the basis for all future learning, as the mind filters out inconsistencies.
NOTE: ‘Unconscious’ is the part of mind holding information we’ve gathered – which isn’t available just by wanting to access it, & can only be retrieved by special techniques or triggering events.
‘Subconscious’ is the level where unconscious memories drive our emotional reactions & behavior, without realizing it, like:
— seeing food suddenly making us hungry
— a deep-seated but untreated childhood trauma distorting our ability to make safe, rational decisions…..
• In the Cognitive Therapy model, distorted information-processing results in anxiety symptoms, such as catastrophizing, the excessive focus on negative outcomes leading to false alarms, hyper-vigilance, loss of objectivity, no tolerance for uncertainty, & ‘lack of habituation’ (not desensitized to a stressor -air travel- even with repeated exposure).
• This is familiar to ACoAs, who grew up in emotionally tense & physically dangerous environments, at home & outside, & now react with “fight, flight, freeze or appeasing“. Originally —
— Fight would have been with siblings, neighborhood kids, school peers, hurting animals or possessions, & sometimes self-harm
— Flight was more common. As long as we were too young to leave home we escaped into books, friends, school work, sports & of course fantasy. And for some – attempted suicide.
— Freeze was & still can be when our mind blanks out from fear, & we can’t think at all, called dissociation
— Appease was / is people-pleasing, agreeing with anyone who scared us, being over-solicitous, over-giving….. anything to ‘placate the monster’
MODIFYING the Unconscious
• While there are people & situations we DO need to get away from – it’s always good to check our point of view first. This is not a blame or a judgement. There’s a big difference between what the WIC ‘feels’ or that the PP is telling us about ourselves & others – vs – how the Healthy Adult / Loving Parent sees things.
• So in terms of CDs, if we assume our pain is ONLY caused by something outside of ourselves, we waste a lot of energy trying to change the wrong things – another person, a job, a location…. rather than our frame of reference & inner beliefs. This endless wild-goose-chase leaves us feeling frustrated, out of control & hopeless. It reinforces our Victim role, keeping us convinced we can’t take care of ourselves
• A major purpose of some therapy styles is to bring up from the unconscious as much accumulated pain & distorted thinking as possible, so we can actively process emotions (Es) & correct False beliefs (Ts), which then gradually changes our behavior! (As) When we consistently, deliberately think in new ways, we add a 10-fold power to our conscious mind
FYI: Counseling, Coaching & some Therapies focus on current actions & thinking, NOT on the past & childhood programming – when most of our ACoA damage was formed!
• Psychiatry & Psychoanalysis is deliberately structured so there’s almost NO feedback from the therapist. This has proven harmful for many ACoAs, because:
i. it’s a repeat of – no one responding to us as kids – leaving us yet again terribly alone with someone who’s supposed to be helpful!
ii. it doesn’t interfere with or correct our S-H & other distorted thinking, which we desperately need
iii. it ignores positive mirroring, also desperately needed – a healthy voice feeding back to us what we’re denying AND all of our wonderful native characteristics & accomplishments
iv. it doesn’t provide good role-model to emulate – caring, sensitivity & kindness, good boundaries, sane thinking….
✶ The most useful one-to-one therapy for most ACoAs is ‘family of origin’ work (FoO), based on a good understanding of family systems & addiction. It works best when it includes lots of well-boundaried interaction – and humor!
NEXT: CDs & The Unconscious (Part 3) Making changes
5 thoughts on “CDs & the Unconscious (Part 1)”
Hi Donna! I got a lot out of this. Thank you so much.
It is consistent with much of what I have been learning through all avenues.
I really connect with the notion that our brains want to maintain the status quo. This to me is one of the anchors that make change cumbersome and why many people give up.
I also relate to and find hope in, “We can choose to think a different way until it becomes habit and then it will ‘feel’ valid”. Practicing over and over these the new patterns eventually makes them the new defaults. And just as importantly, they over-shadow the old beliefs that hurt us so badly.
I have gone through some serious bouts of depression lately. Gladly they have been short term and I have applied a lot of deliberate redirected thinking toward new chosen patterns of thought, while letting go of the old erroneous ones.
Maybe you have a perspective on this…. one trigger for me lately has been seeing my step kids be lazy and not fulfilling their personal responsibilities. Not doing chores, creating mess and not cleaning up, not lifting a finger to help overworked Mom, etc.
This makes me inordinately upset and I sense it has a link to my childhood. Maybe I resent that they don’t appreciate the parenting, guidance and trainging in taking personal responsibility that I wish I would have had by a loving, present, and effective parent when I was growing up. I don’t know but it is a real trigger for me and I am doing all I can to find a way out.
My doctor is even considering meds again for me because of the severe downdraft that ensued this last time.
I am not eager to do so, but I do put myself under his care and guidance. He has been a fabulous doctor for over 20 years.
Anyway… retraining the distorted pathways will continue to be part of my journey regardless to any other approach.
I continue to be amazed and how consistent certain traits of ACOAs can be among us all.
I’m sorry that you’ve been in pain lately & it makes sense that the step-kids are pushing a button in you. Have you done the 2 handed writing with the IC? (via L. Capacchione’s book) – once you’ve established trust with the IC, he can tell you specifically what’s bothering him & then you’ll know how to respond.
I don’t know enough about you & the family dynamics to be on target, but here are some thoughts:
Depression is often about loss, old or current, so definitely your loss of not being parented well. But ACoAs are HOT on fairness – & anything not fair really riles us big time. So if these kids are getting away with….. your IC may be jealous & in a rage, as well. However, the step-kids may be expressing symptoms of depression or rage too – about the things they feel they have no control over!
Since you’re not their bio-dad, isn’t your wife more responsible for correcting their behavior? Is she needing counseling in knowing how to deal with teens — & any resistance she has in setting guidelines & boundaries?
Are you also feeling overly responsible for her burdens? Powerless, like as a kid, re your mom?
Let me know if I’m way off.
Hi Donna…. I read up on the two-handed writing suggestion. Interesting. Nothing I would have dreamed up, but nor would I have dreamed up 90 meetings in 90 days which was life-transforming for me. So I do my best not to edit down suggestions that I don’t immediately comprehend.
On the web page I read by the author you mentioned there was a short exercise suggested. I will go through this and then look further after that.
I think a big part of what I am going through is the inordinate reaction to unfairness you mention is typical for us ACOAs. This seems to be consistent throughout my life. I get very bothered at bad manners and inconsiderate behaviour. There is a personal trainer who bring clients to the gym I go to. I quietly refer to her as, “The Wrecking Ball”, because she creates disaster around the gym by leaving items where they clearly don’t belong and are frankly dangerous. Now granted, that there is a thread of practicality in this perception given that she has left small dumbells in the middle of the floor that anyone could easily trip on as they roll quite easily. And the fait de complet of her “Wrecking Ball” behaviour was when she left dumbells, her clip board, and a water bottle on a particular bench and a little old lady comes up to use it and was affraid to move them for fear of offending someone. I promptly assisted her then gave “The Wrecking Ball” shit when she returned from the far side of the gym where she was working with her clients and undoubtedly leaving more of her clutter around.
My point? I really get riled at such things. More than other gym members. So maybe this is a mirror into my inordinate expectation for fairness like it is with my step kids. Who knows.
Another thread making up the overall weave of what this is is my wife, their bio-mom, would rather do things for them than put up with the flack they fire at her. She had been a single-mom a number of years and unfortunately during that time, the default became her avoiding the conflict as she was exhausted a lot of the time. They got to realize this so they would whine and resist knowing Mom would give in. We still have a residual of this old default.
My wife and I do work with a counselor and these kinds of things come up. So we are working through them. I just find I really react. We have a weekend coming up which usually means kids sitting on their asses while Mom and I go about our responsibilities. So I am preparing myself for not getting upset. I think I will focus on other things other than the house this weekend to avoid getting upset. In the mean time, continue to work on the internal struggle I feel. Go to lots of meetings, talk to sponsor, blog, work out, surrender. All of these help a lot.
These are the cards I have to play so I will just play them and let the game unfold.
Thanks for the insights.
I’m glad it helped validate some of the things you’ve observed. The 2 handed writing is very powerful. Congrats on your new blog & your forward momentum!
🙂 Love this post. So Helpful.