ACoAs & CONFUSION – Growth (Part 5b)

PREVIOUS: Recovery Confusion (#5a)

SITE: 🔺 “Overcoming Anxiety & Confusion
🔺 Uncertainty and Cognitive Control

🔺 8 Ways to Eliminate Brain Fog Once & For All

QUOTE:”Good communication is the bridge between confusion & clarity” ∼ Nat Turner (slave rebel leader)

A Zen Buddhism story
Two monks were walking along the banks of a river. They saw a young woman who was afraid to cross. Although the monks had taken vows never to touch a woman, the older monk picked her up and carried her to the other side of the river. The younger monk was angry about it all day.
The two didn’t speak until sunset, when they were allowed to break their vow of silence.
Then the angry younger monk accused the older monk of polluting not only himself but also the whole order. The older monk simply answered, “I put the woman down on the other side of the river early this morning. It is only you who have been carrying her around throughout the day.”

REVERSING life-long Confusion (cont)
1. Learn to apply Logic // 2. Get more info

Because our parents provided no mirroring or very distorted feedback about who we are, we think we’re invisible – both internally toconflicted ourselves (“I don’t know who I am”), & externally to others (“No one gets me”).
As adults we can reverse this training by risking what we fear the most – any form of abandonment.

4. Grow the ADULT/PARENT ego states
Since our internal confusion comes mainly from the PP & WIC, we need to form & strengthen the UNIT so that it can be the decision-making voice.

Posts: Book-ending // Problem-solving // My rights // Why are you stuck?
USE: relevant books, YouTube, 12-step Programs, spiritual groups, therapy …. to learn what’s normal & healthy.

‘Being stuck’ always includes intense internal conflicts we don’t know how to resolve, or are unwilling to do the Recovery work it would take. They are mainly in the form of frustrating disagreements – between the WIC (obeying the PP) & the UNIT, or the Unit fighting against the PP’s injunctions – between old damage & new Mental Health

The goal of Recovery is to get the PP completely separated from the WIC, so that both Healthy & Wounded parts of the Inner Child can align themselves with our healthy Adult/Parent.
a. List real Needs (Parts 1 & 2) of each ego state – not the WIC’s outrageous demands (Part 3). ‘Normal’ childhood needs: acceptance, approval, attention, emotional comfort, physical contact, security & stimulation

b. Write down conflicts between the various opposing ego states
c. Inner Selves must agree to help each other get those needs met, brainstorming as many ideas as possible

• When Loving Parent & Inner Child are on the same page about any given subject (shutting out the PP) – the conflict melts away & useful choices seem self-evident. Whatever actions we’ve been dragging our feet about suddenly are easy to do, & usually don’t take much time. But when we’re deep in our damage, all our time is spent obsessing, worrying, planning, complaining… but NOT acting

6. Take SOME Action
Once we’re ready to focus on taking some kind of appropriate action, we can consider the next part of the process.
It may be something we’ve been thinking about for a long time but couldn’t move on, or something shifted in us so we formed a new way of thinking about the problem, which quickly translates into a new way of functioning.
*️⃣You don’t have to know if the action will lead you where you want to end up. But it can tell you if you’re on the right track or not

• Break down potential tasks into bite-size pieces – called process
• Identify the ones you know how to do, & the ones you don’t – & get the missing info
• Choose the simplest action you can & take it – one phone call, one evening class, one hour of internet searches….
• Don’t give up. It’s OK to take breaks but then start again & keep trying new things. It can eliminate some confusion & you’ve possibly learned something along the way (More….)

NEXT: Confusion – Growth #5c

ACoAs: BOOKENDING with the WIC (Part 2)

bookends 2
by being kind but realistic

 Book-ending, Part 1

POSTS: ✦ Self-Hate
Abandonment Pain, Now

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.

TRYING to PROTECT ourselves (cont)

b. CDs – Another strategy evolved into using Cognitive Distortions (CDs), B & W thinking being the most common – trying to have some predictive ability amid alcoholic chaos. We pickup them up from family, school & religion – as well as our own immature thinking. Ad now they’re entrenched in the WIC.

CDs were a way to project what we assumed would happen in any given situation, so we could either be prepared or avoid it altogether.  In terms of T.E.A., they’re forms of incorrect Thinking. But they’re too limited in scope to deal with most of reality, deep-rooted beliefs that leave out important info & lead to incorrect conclusions.

✶ Unfortunately this strategy also backfired, just like many others the WIC (understandably) absorbed. This is mainly because we were / are still trying to do the impossible: getting unhealthy people to love us & stop being abusive.

The only thing that’s truly successful is to stop chasing the WIC’s delusion that we are responsible for the original abandonment, & the fantasy that we can somehow make ‘them’ see & accept uimpossibles!

CDs are so harmful because:
• they’re the twisted ‘logic’ behind much of our un-healed habitual actions & emotional reactions, which are inevitably self-defeating & painful – even torturous!
• it makes us think we’re crazy when other people use them on us – unless we’re familiar with the distortions & can counter them accurately.
However, once you know the various CDs & Logical Fallacies well, you’ll never again think you’re nuts. Never again! Hurray!

Negative USES of Bookending
a. overblown unrealistichopeful’ expectations
• Both types of expectations (over & under-realistic) are based on  the WIC’s narcissism – ‘everything that others do (to me) is about me’, but this one comes from the aspect of ACoAs that is grandiose, symbiotic & unrealistic about people & events

Again, this is the WIC who desperately needs & want something, but is not using real-world criteria to evaluate what’s actually possible is any particular situation. Because the imagined outcomes are not possible, we are inevitably disappointed.
This reinforces our original CD – that we don’t deserve anything good & that the universe is against us/
Some of these CDs are:  • over-estimating  • mind-reading  • wishful thinking  • externalizing self-worth  • always being right ….. Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 3.33.35 PM

b. totally negative beliefs about how , hopelessly things will always turn out.
Some of these CDs are: • all or nothing  • only noticing the negative  • making everything about oneself   • jumping to conclusions  • under-estimating …..

ALSO, we use idealization / fantasy to mask how scared we really are
• because we’re not actually allowed to get our needs met, AND
• when we already know the person or situation is unsuitable, even damaging, but don’t want to leave & have to start over – after all, if it’s hopeless anyway, why bother!

✶ This defensive way of thinking is NOT the same as being Appropriately Positive and Realistically Hopeful – about what we are actually capable of accomplishing or ways we can be nourished by healthy environments. ACoAs are so steeped in the fantasy, we have trouble imagining wonderful, happy circumstances – for ourselves!

However, as we heal and DO get good things in our life – we will know & feel the contrast with our upbringing : THIS is the way it should have / could have been, but never was. We need to mourn that loss but stop looking back for something that was not possible.

NOW it’s time we give ourselves the happiness we never had as kids!

NEXT: Bookending- #3

ACoAs: BOOKENDING with the WIC (Part 1)

for how my beliefs hamper me

PREVIOUS: Why resist – #7

FoO – Family of Origin


BOOKENDING with the Inner Child
This is a MENTAL tool borrowed from the practical D.A. version (Debtor’s Anonymous), used to Cognitively Restructure our thinking (T) – to free ourselves of suffering & confusion! Once we learn the technique & get used to it, we’ll find it comes in handy not only for ourselves, but helps us hear when others are using CDs on us!

The NEED for Bookending: to correct CDs
Communicating with our precious Inner Child is something we need to be doing 24/7 – at least while we’re awake! 🙂 This included both our Wounded Child & the Healthy Child ego states. However, book-ending is a specific tool to deal with the distorted beliefs we grew up with.

For many ACoAs, no matter how smart, talented & even accomplished, our WIC is still living in the past, mentally & emotionally – still using our childhood experiences (based on the PP voice) as a model for how things functions & what we to expect.
This is in spite of the many other experiences & information we’ve gathered throughout our life that give us different viewpoints, and disagree with our family’s messages

✶ It’s truly amazing how good we are at ignoring or negating all the positive people & situations we’ve come across, which could be incorporated into & greatly enhance our world view – if only we would!

PRE-FoO Recovery: Growing up constantly disappointed, not allowed to have our thoughts & emotions, never comforted, and ignored, made fun of, put in double binds, tortured, scapegoated, neglected, controlled ….

…. we became thoroughly convinced these things will continue – they’ll always happen with everyone else, in every situation – for the rest of our lives, no matter how hard we try to change our ‘fate’.  Toxic Rule : “Life is suffering”

✶ Naturally, if we spend most of our time in relationships, locations & jobs that are UNhealthy, then we will indeed keep re-traumatizing ourselves. Compulsively following our earliest training always leaves us frustrated & hopeless.
So – It’s important to know that we can change these patterns!

GOAL of Bookending
The fundamental purpose is to bring the WIC into the present (sometimes kicking & screaming) via the ÚNIT”. That way we’ll consistently be able to see the world correctly – that there are other kinds of people & options which are not like our family!

• To do that we have to be aware of our negative & distorted beliefs, and then work on correcting them. It’s the only way we can truly be safe! Book-ending is a valuable tool in changing our Cognitive Distortions (CDs)

This is a tool to prove to the WIC that the way things were in our family is not how it is everywhere else in the world. Some place Yes, but Not everywhere! We need to create new pathways in the brain to counter the old deep grooves, & the main way to do that is repetition. You know: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice!

TRYING to PROTECT ourselves
a. RULES & ROLES – Because our childhood was chaotic & frightening, as children we tried to find any possible way to protect ourselves. This included incorporating a series of Toxic Rules to live by & fitting ourselves into the Toxic Roles forced on us

In dealing with our parents, we tried to :
• figure out what they wanted from us & then twist ourselves into that
• help them, cajole, protect, educate, rescue…to fix them
• identify what we did wrong & try to be as good as possible
• hide anything about ourselves that would upset the family ‘mobile’

NEXT: Bookending, Part 2

ACoAs & RISK – Intro


That is the question

PREVIOUS: Unrealistic Expect.-UNDER

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW posts on (not) TRUSTING


a. taking a chance on something, most often referring to the possibility of harm, misfortune or loss
can also be about a positive outcome, resulting in pleasure, accomplishment & success
OR a neutral / acceptable result – with no danger but no gain

STYLE “a” characteristics
• dealing with something or someone known as a source of danger
• a venture chosen without regard to possible loss or injury
• being exposed to the chance of damage or injury, not by choice

• a situation which may cause suffering — being accused wrongly, manipulated & used, humiliated, misunderstood or shamed
• an element or course of action involving uncertain, unpredictable discomfort or distress
• the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome might happen beyond ones control

FOR ACoAsmany outcomes
Although the definitions indicate more than one possible outcome, only the a. meaning is an option for ACoAs – because of the Toxic family rules , such as: “Life is endless suffering,  You must always struggle but can never get ‘there’,  Don’t expect anything good, ever”…..

In a ‘sane’ world, Risk is minimized or no longer a factor IF the outcome of a situation in known ahead of time based on experience, or is predictable based on dependable information
Then a person can take an action OR avoid a situation – with confidence. This is not wishful thinking, projecting or unrealistic expectations. It comes from realistic knowledge, using present-day Adult ego-state evaluation

• But that’s not how ACoAs operate. We persistently ignore info we do have from years of experience, only using the WIC’s distorted ‘glasses’.
We compulsively pursue unsafe actions, when we  —
— choose to return to dangerous situations, stay connected to harmful people…..
— & avoid beneficial opportunities, often refusing to take relatively safe actions.
Because of our very deep denial system we keep getting burned – then wonder why we don’t trust!

ANXIETY – ACoA issues around risk-taking are always about internal anxiety. One scared kidscharacteristics on the Laundry List is:
“We have become addicted to (negative) excitement after years of living in the midst of a traumatic & often dangerous family ‘soap opera’.”

ACoAs get things backwards. We keep trying to do the impossible & have trouble doing what is possible!
We’re not sufficiently afraid of some very dangerous ‘people, places & things’ while being overly scared of things that are not actually harmful (like having emotions)!

ALL ACoAs are fear-based*, the Inner Child terror of feeling out of control that we bring with us into adulthood, underscoring every aspect of our life. Anxiety is what drives all our character defects, our acting out, our addictions . It’s why the Serenity Prayer is so important for ACoAs!

 Fortunately, long-term recovery – if we’ve been doing emotion-release work – diminishes the intensity of our fear, so it’s not on the surface all the time.  But since our terror-base is very deep, it never dissipates completely.
So we should not be surprised when it occasionally grabs us in the gut – if or when some current event sets it off again. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”.

The difference is, or should be – that we’ve built a Loving Parent voice, with years of acting in healthier ways & using our tools, so we can soothe & comfort the WIC whenever we’re triggered (Use Book-ending)

The counter-action defense against anxiety is to be controlling (as opposed to Being in Self-Control).
It avoids any type of risk-taking – which inherently implies unpredictability.
The greater the inner fear, the greater the need to control – in a futile attempt to keep anything or anyone from abandoning us – yet again.

This is the reason ACoAs try so hard to be mind-readers. If we can figure out what someone feels, thinks or needs – before they say anything – we think we’ll be able to be ‘prepared’ – for the worst, of course – to prevent being hurt, & stay connected by twisting ourselves into what we hope others will find acceptable.

NEXT: ACoAs & RISK – #2