ACoAs: OVER-Controlling Ourselves (Part 4)


to keep my in line

PREVIOUS: Emotional Over-Control #2

SITEs:  Self-Control (Wikipedia)
▪︎ Over-Controlled Primary Aggressor

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

AS ADULTS (cont)
• ACoAs
were not raised on the ‘Handbook of how to be a Healthy, Happy Human Being’, which left our Child-part being impulsive, anxiety-ridden, only able see itself & the world thru distorted alcoholic / narcissistic lenses. Then, one way to deal with our trauma is to do what they wanted – to die!

Being Over-Controlled is NOT related to being Introvert or Extrovert, which are inborn, but rather about ignoring qualities (intuitive, intelligent, perceptive, outspoken…) we all share – that were unacceptable in our family. It would have made our lives even more miserable if we hadn’t suppressed them – although some of us couldn’t hide them well enough to escape being attacked

Unhealthy BELIEFS of Over-Controllers:  
• Everyone is out to rape me emotionally
• If I lose control, there will be no sanity in my house (or on the job)
• No one’s ever going to get under my skin again, & I’ll never let myself be hurt again

• No matter what happens to me, I’ll never cry or need anything again
• Don’t trust anyone with your feelings, thoughts or dreams
• Getting angry or losing your cool is unsafe, so avoid conflict at all costs

• It’s important to keep control over your feelings so you don’t go insane
• Never let others know how their behavior or actions effect you
• There’s only one way to survive a crazy environment – to climb into your shell, & stay there!
► Do you hear the voices of the Toxic ROLES?)

HOW we Over-Control ourselves
a. DEFENSES – Rigidly held defense mechanisms are used to hide from emotions we’re afraid to experience, but the ‘protection’ ends up running our lives:
Addictions – as a way to numb out the cruel PP voice & to ignore our WIC the same way our parents did, but only adds to our suffering

Counter-Phobia – being attracted to things that are scary while not fully aware of the fear. Dangerous relationships & activities are seen as fun, in reaction to how deeply terrified we really are.  We’ve stuffed all the fear into the unconscious, but it needs an outlet, so we rush towards unhealthy ‘excitement’.  This can include torturing ourselves with ‘what if’ thoughts & endless obsessions of S-H & FoA

Fear of Engulfment, which was originally caused by being over-controlled as a kid. Not having developed inner boundaries, we put up a wall against intimacy to keep everyone at a distance, while longing for connection. The wall gets activated whenever anyone wants something from us, even if it’s what we would like to do & would make us happyguilty of??

Guilt (review post What is guilt?’) – an emotion that controls us to:
— ensure we obey our family’s Negative Rules
— keep from learning healthy rules & using them to improve our lives
— prevent us from developing our True Self, as that would take us away from the toxic family system

Over-activity, controlling how much & what kinds of emotions we allow ourselves to have by staying so busy that we don’t have to feel anything ’real’, using it to cover up S-H & powerlessness

Paralysis, stopping ourselves from saying & doing things that would be good for us, because of fear of punishment, fear of abandonment & fear of visibility….. those good things that would help us grow, stop others from hurting us, enhance our self-esteem & move us toward our dreams

Vagueness – staying in ‘lala land’ so we don’t have to face any reality info we don’t want to deal with, starting with how badly we’ve been treated & that we now have to care for ourselves. We don’t notice how much we spend, how others treat us, how we feel, how we treat others….

NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 4

ACoA CONCLUSIONS re. Painful Events (Part 2b)


as long as I’m defended

PREVIOUS: Conclusions (Part 2a)



THEY are crazy, mean, unfair, stupid, stupid, stupid!

Alternative negative approach (Ts)
🦠 Combine emotions of Fear & Anger

ii. PARANOIA: many ACoAs have at least some tendency to be paranoid. Just as we have a PP camera over our shoulder always judging ourselves, we also constantly scan the world for danger (mostly unconscious), assuming everyone’s a potential monster – ie. everyone will definitely abandon / harm us sooner or later!

We apply this ‘rule’ even to situations that are neutral or not about us. True paranoids (PPD) see danger everywhere, where there’s none at all, whereas most ACoAs with a touch of it can still correctly identify reality – it’s just that our CONCLUSIONS are likely to be off – but not always

• Paranoia, even in relatively mild form, comes from legitimately being traumatized (in danger) much of the time growing up. That’s not being crazy or just our ‘perception’, because unfortunately most of the danger came from our own family!  It has left us constantly terrified, but it’s hard to admit how deeply vulnerable we still feel

• If our family was unsafe, how much more so are strangers?  With such a background & our symbiotic attachment to our parents, we project that original danger onto the whole world, regardless of present reality.

The awful irony is that while we believe we’re trying to sidestep all the hidden landmines we assume are in our world, paranoia mainly draws us to those people, places & things (PPT) —-> which actually are harmful,
— those we experience as harmful, or
— those we projedrunk angerct danger onto that are safe or irrelevant.
This compulsion reproduces & adds to, the original abandonment we so desperately want to avoid!

• ALSO – we automatically reject genuinely neutral or beneficial people & opportunities! Yes – deliberately, because we’re not only repeating what’s familiar, we’re also looking to validate the ‘rightness’ of our family, so we don’t have to face the pain of who they really were, & still are.

Twisted thinking about anything POSITIVE says :
• it was just a fluke, an accident, a coincidence
• people don’t really mean the nice thing they say – they’re being polite
• they’re only saying that because they wants something
• it can’t possibly last, so why bother believing it
• it’ll be taken away, anyway, & then I’ll feel even worse than before
• good things don’t even register: “What compliment? I didn’t notice” …

Distorted THINKING cancels out the very things around us that would nurture & heal us, if we were to let them in!   Some (CDs) paranoids use: ‘Awful-izing, Jumping to Conclusions, Maximizing, Mind Reading, Unrealistic Comparisons

Another negative approach (Ts)
iii. COUNTER-PHOBIA (“against fear”):  At the other extreme, sScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.44.53 AMome ACoAs have hidden our childhood terror behind a defensive wall of brains & bravado. It’s become so dense that we don’t know there’s a WIC hiding back there, who’s still afraid for its life.
This group of ACoAs were subjected to the same chaos, cruelty & neglect in childhood as Paranoids & Victims, but our native personality found a different way to survive.  Even though we don’t stop to think about what we’re doing – that would be too painful – underneath are all the same core issues

✶ Counter-phobia is driven by so much terror & rage which never found an outlet that we became insured to danger. We thumb our noses at everything in the world that might ‘get us’.  We couldn’t protect ourselves as kids but now we’re determined to slay & triumph, not just passively accept

• We pushed the anxiety so far down that we’ve become the complete opposite. NOW nothing scares us!  We joyfully chase all that’s unpredictable & treacherous, calling it exciting.  We’ve become addicted to the adrenalin.  When something does bother a counter-phobic – we stuff it, laugh it off, stay very busy – & find new ways to keep the drama going. ACoA Laundry List : “We’re addicted to excitement” .

NEXT: COUNTER-PHOBIA cont. (Part 2c)


Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 5.24.34 PM 

life is full of pain

PREVIOUS: What just happened – 30 Qs



1. EVENT – the Stimulus (Green Oval)
Growing up with emotional & physical stress, we became hyper-alert to our environment, developing big antennae to catch even a whiff of dangerdoor slam

Early sources:  Being awake late, even on school nights, waiting anxiously to hear what state dad was in coming home – how did the car sound, how hard was the front door slammed, how heavy were the footsteps, which room was he going into…?

Was there going to be a fight – yelling, hitting – or worse, a ‘visit’ to your bed…?  trying to sleep with one foot on the floor, hating mornings, knowing you’d be a mess at school the next day, as usual being constantly worried…..

This constant pressure has left many of us with only 2 options:
⚠️ Vagueness: the ACoAs who seem to be so out-to-lunch that you wouldn’t think they are actually over-attentive. It’s why they need to be flaky, because internally they’re under overwhelming tension, but it’s split off from their own awareness –  (dissociation)
♨️ Hyper-vigilance: other ACoAs are noticeably anxious, worried, controlling, touchy, always looking around, easily taking offense (sitting with their back to any available wall!) – waiting to be attacked by others
🌀 Some of the paranoia comes from having a BadParent camera over one shoulder, constantly judging everything we say, do, think & feel

We’re still so focused on the possibility of being abused &/or abandoned – again – that we either isolate too much, are belligerent & difficult, or super people-pleaCause & Effectsers.
So every Event that upsets, hurts, disappoints & scares us becomes a cause for emotional drama

Approaches to EVENTS
CO-DEPENDENCE: disturbing situations are a challenge for the Rescuer to throw all their energy into fixing – the other person or event
COUNTER-PHOBIA: at the other extreme, we look for the most dangerous, drama-filled events to get involved with, ignoring/ denying / swallowing the pain it causes us

ISOLATION / Victim: having been hurt by so many people & events, we starve ourselves of potential benefits in the world, instead of ‘healing & dealing’

 the assumption is that the ‘universe’ (everyone & everything) is deliberately targeting us, to cause our suffering. We ignore all the good things in our life, OR explain them away as an accident, a fake / scam or “they’re just being polite”
/ Victim:  we feel blamed for everything that goes wrong, which we agree with. It causes great anxiety & constant anger, but we don’t try to correct it

EXP of ‘Events’ = YOU are :
• having lunch with a group of casual friends & new acquaintances.  Everyone seems easily engaged in conversation with their neighbors, & almost no-one has talked to you the whole time
•  walking down the hall at work, & yet again Georgia doesn’t acknowledge you
• trying to cross a busy street & just then a cab turns the corner, almost hitting you
• going for an interview & do your best, but you’re not called back
• a new members of a long-standing group, out for coffee with them after a meeting. On the way, they all pair up, talking to each other, but no one walks with you – you’re all alone at the back of the ‘line’

➼ Any of these may create a painful reaction in us. Our observation of the occurrence is accurate – they really did happen.  However – they triggering familiar cognitive distortions, which make the event more disturbing. That’s where we go off the rails.

‘EVENTS’ can be:
a. Neutral / mild: everyday situations that are not really bad, like – someone in the subway bumping into you, not getting that text you’re waiting for, a delivery being late….
b. Mild / bothersome: occasional annoyances that may or may not be aimed at you, like a rude salesman, your boss angry at you, getting a ticket, your child having trouble with a neighbor……
c. Severe: really painful encounters, like – a parent ignoring you or being cruel, a big fight with a BFF or spouse, your child getting arrested because of drugs….

• Each category will test our ‘mental health quotient’ – how realistic or distorted our thinking is, which will then govern how we act.

NEXT: Noticing painful events (Part 2)