ACoAs : OVER-Controlling Ourselves (Part 1)

bad voice
doesn’t want me to outgrow it

PREVIOUS: Self-Care around Controllers #3

SEE:  Toxic Family Roles

❖ S-C = self-control


Normal / Healthy: since children are not born with boundaries it’s a parent’s job to help them learn self-control (S-C), which is about setting limits for oneself & with others, but forming then is a long process. S-C is closely linked to:
• how children feels about themselves, which comes from guidance, stability & unconditional love
• being taught how to deal with everyday frustrations & practicing those skills by making their own age-appropriate choices & decisions

To DEVELOP healthy S-C people need 2 mental ABILITIES :
a. To estimate time, in order to make reasonable decisions, based on immediate as well as future outcomes.
❖ Young children cannot do this because they live completely ‘in the present’, so it’s not rational to expect them to have the same S-C as older kids & adults (post: ACoAs & TIME)

b. To direct one’s attention away from a current event. This is needed in order to have the time to evaluate situations, make better choices & weigh possible consequences.
Since young children’s attention can be easily distracted, they aren’t able to -stop – to consider alternatives or potential outcomes, so it’s inappropriate to demand it of them

• Children do best when guidance & boundary setting are given with consistent, age-appropriate expectations & realistic consequences, AND without constant punishment or power-conflicts with parents.
Children do need the security of knowing the rules & limits of behavior – otherwise they feel uncared for & at a loss. The healthy goal for parents is to guide & nurture them so they feel supported & valued, rather than judged or rejected

Alcoholic PARENTING extremes
In most cases, ACoAs had to be totally obedient to survive & later to fit in – first with parents, then in school, a religious community & then work. (Posts: Parenting styles & Results)

OVER: Many of us were given too many rules, assumed to be ‘little adults’, demanded that we be competent & self-sufficient way beyond our years.
We were bullied & manipulated into being compliant on pain of suffering & death. There was no fairness, or any leeway for our individuality. We submitted – or else.

This created great anxiety, knowing we couldn’t fulfill their spoken & implied expectations, but desperately trying to please.
✏︎ For some of us the rules kept changing, arbitrarily.
✏︎ For others they were rigid & unrealistic.
✏︎ For all of us, no matter what we did, it was never good enough!
Eventually we either rebelled or caved.

UNDER: Others of us received little or no guidance – left too much on our own, so that we basically raised ourselves, which also created great anxiety. It left us:
• without knowing how to pay attention to other people
• with no respect for, willingness or need to obey legitimate authority
• with no sense of boundaries, limits, discipline or self-trust
• not knowing what is expected of us or how to function in the world.

This may seem heavenly – to a teen, but a neglectchild without rules or expectations not only is being severely neglected – but will likely suffer from lack of motivation & direction for years to come!

EITHER WAY – we were deprived of the opportunity to learn healthy self-control – which requires a SELF to implement!
Since having a Self was not allowed much mess encouraged, the only thing we could do was to over-control ourselves. We had to hide our true emotions, needs, as well as our intelligence, competence & talents – except as those gifts were needed to take care of sick, abusive, depressed & crazy parents &/or siblings – but never for ourselves!

▶︎ Since over-controlled adults are generally responsible & reserved, they don’t get much attention, suffering loneliness & chronic depression in silence, which may include anorexia, or being obsessive-compulsive.
An an evidence-based therapy Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT), was developed to help “over-controllers” activate the brain’s neurological systems which help regulate smoother ways of interacting with others. SKILLS include:
social spontaneity, taking it easy, make true friendships, correcting rigid thinking & minimizing perfectionism. (MORE….)

NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 2

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