I’VE BEEN DOING THE OPPOSITE!
why isn’t it working?
PREVIOUS: Healthy Opposites #1
“REVERSING self-defeating Behavior IMPROVES our Life” (cont.)
A. UNHEALTHY Patterns (cont.)
ACoAs have a tendency to:
• do everything based on B & W thinking (‘always, never, no one, all’…)
• be afraid to do anything that’s against the Toxic Family Rules
• only do what we think others want us to, or what others expect of us
• behave in much the same way that our dysfunctional parents did
• use the same type of actions in every situation (no nuance, no variations, no risks, no innovations or what actually works …)
• not learn from our mistakes, just repeat bad patterns & then complain
• blame others for our mistakes, emotional distress or lack of action
• react from a wounded, anxious or angry emotional place (the co-dependent triangle = victim / perpetrator / rescuer)
Here the focus is on the way to choose what category of actions to take. It’s not a guide to what we should do, but rather correcting what seems to us a quite logical – yet misguided – way to solve our problems, which has been to:
➡️ periodically reverse our usual way of handling things – but only knowing how to choose its Unhealthy Opposite!
B. UNHEALTHY Opposites
• From the very beginning of life we’ve been trying to figure out how to survive, fix our family & get our needs met – mostly with corrupted info (G-I / G-O = “garbage in – garbage out”).
ACoAs are very smart, creative & determined – even though we don’t realize or own it. As kids all out talents went into a valiant effort to save our parents & siblings – maybe even friends.
Now we find other dysfunctional people to ‘rescue’ – desperate to make them well enough to be there for us!
EXP: The 4yr old trying to help her drunk father up the stairs that he’s passed out on, the teenager hopelessly trying to convince her mother to go to Al-anon or leave dad, OR as adults – trying to get a heavily addicted lover /spouse sober, or to keep them from killing themselves – with little or no success.
• As unrecovered adults we stumble around without mental or emotional clarity – in spite of our high intelligence, because of convoluted & warped info we were fed in childhood.
The ACoA Laundry List says: “We guess at what normal is”, so we obsessively watch normals to figure out what to do (how do they talk, how do they eat sushi, what makes them happy, how do they make friends?…).
Even so, we can only copy them but so far, because we’re still in the grip of our childhood / family templates – used as the foundation for new actions. It doesn’t work. This is to be expected – it’s how every brain is programmed from birth.
So we always end up in the same old place, defeated & hopeless, thinking that it’s: a) somehow all our fault, & that b) the universe is against us!
Either way, it hurts!
EXP: Afraid to be in social situation because we don’t know how to make small talk, convinced we’ll be boring or sound stupid…..
• And how do we use all our native cleverness & determination for ourselves?
There are many convoluted ways UNhealth can manifest itself. From that mess we choose a set of patterns that most suits our specific personality & our background. We keep trying them out in complex variations & with lots of different people. (Chart in Part 4)
When we get too frustrated by not getting what we need or want, we unconsciously pick through the mental rolodex of distorted options that were forced on us, looking for a better way to handle things, hoping another ‘opposite’ way of behaving will solve our problems.
So we try obvious reversals, BUT all our action-choices are taken from the ‘disease’ end of the spectrum. From a. to b. & back again! (in above chart)
EXP: “I always say the wrong thing, so now I’m not going to talk at all! OR
// My last 3 girlfriends were nightmares, so I’ll never trust another woman….”
NEXT: Healthy opposites #3