ACoAs – Set GOALS to MEET NEEDS (Part 2a)

implemeting goalsPREVIOUS: Meeting our NEEDS (Part 1b)

SITE: Develop Self-Efficacy Beliefs

QUOTEs: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation” ~ David Thoreau




DEF: “Carrying a plan forward and making it work”
Once we’ve picked a goal & written it down, we can start figuring out how to accomplish it. Breaking it down into small chunks is vital, & will tell us if the goal is actually do-able, if we already can do it, or if we need to learn something. The next steps include finding the right kind of help, being flexible in our thinking for making adjustments, & having contingency plans for the unexpected.

• How do we ACoAs try to ‘provide’ for our own needs? Not very well. Most of the ways are in the form of being controlling, isolation, lying, manipulation, over-work, people-pleasing, self-sacrifice, using others…. and most of us find it very hard to do actual PMES self-care.
We’re afraid to go all out to be happy & fulfilled, because we:
— can’t afford to risk going all out for our core ‘love’ or talent, in case we fail. Then we’d have nothing – the loss would be crushing.
— Besides, the PP’s message is that we’re too stupid, unlovable, unworthy to get anything right, so why try. Implementing goals? “Who do you think you are – anyway? / So you think you’re better than us???”

• Therefore, some of us :
— don’t know what we want, what to pursue, what to try out, drifting without any goals, just taking whoever or whatever comes our waypassive
— don’t even try to get our need met, eeking out a survival based in scarcity mentality – barely enough money, companionship, sex, attention, accomplishment, minimum shelter /clothing / food…. even tho we actually have the ability to find & provide some or all of these things
— don’t take risks, sticking to the ‘safest’ route possible, living lives of boredom or ‘quiet desperation’, like working in a post office for 35 yrs, marrying someone who will take care of us, being an active addict….

Others of us who are ambition / driven:
— are high achievers, either based on what our family pushed us into – which we hate, or from some natural gift we were born with, but which we continue to feel insecure about
ambitious— will succeed early in life (get a lead on Broadway, work on Wall Street, write a great first novel…. & then do something to ruin it so it slowly disintegrates – over the next 20-30 yrs
— will make the effort in some arena, & may even succeed to some degree – BUT either can’t get beyond a certain level
— have to keep messing it up / failing / causing drama & problems / losing everything….
— work our butt off trying to be ‘the best’ so we can finally get the approval we’ve always longed for, but not ever to validate ourselves

WHY don’t we live in the power of our True Self?
➼ Because of the Double Bind: we’re not allowed to actually have our needs met BUT we can’t NOT have them. (ACoA Double Messages)
So, many of us try & fail, try & fail – over & over….. ending up hopeless, depressed & wanting to give up. Because of our childhood training, the brain becomes wired to only see ourselves & the world thru the eyes of dysfunction. We sabotage any goal which doesn’t conform to that training, which Freud called the “repetition compulsion”.

Our WIC thoroughly believes our only option is to stay attached to the family because they say they love us – of course – & the WIC is desperate to believe it, even tho we have years & years of proof to the contrary. To deny what we know, we keep obeying the PP voice & it’s toxic rules, (“If you don’t like it you have to stay”), since we assume that:
— the world isn’t safe AND we are sure that we are basically bad!
— if only we could be ‘perfect’ they’d finally, truly approve & love us

self-argumentSO – what are our deepest, most pervasive beliefs (Part 1)? What drives our goals & our actions?
Most of the time it’s the WIC’s cognitive distortions. Even if ACoAs can identify appropriate goals, we either sabotage out progress or can’t implement them at all, because it would mean disobeying the PP in our head & being disloyal to still-living family members. So instead, we’ve been using all sorts of dysfunctional PPT as a reason to act – anything but our own need, dreams, desires & feelings! (motivators)

NEXT: Goals to meet needs #3


overwhelmed I’M OVERWHELMED
so I don’t do anything

SITE: “Fight Procrastination” – P. vs Payoff / P vs. Pain. charts

QUOTE: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ Marthe Troly-Curtin


1. PAST Causes of Procrastination (cont.)
Double Messages, leaving us feeling crazy – who constantly gave us confusing or conflicting messages about what was expected of us, or how to do things, so now we don’t trust our judgement

• Expected &/or forced to take care of them, never allowed to focus on ourselves, so now we refuse to use all that experience & creativity for ourselves, wanting someone else to do it for us. Been there, done that!

Punished (insulyelled atts, being hit, yelled at, sent to our room, made fun of, threatened….) – for having need, wants & emotions, as well as for not doing everything the ‘right’ way, ie. their way, or just not knowing how to do something – even tho we were too young, untrained & inexperienced, but they expected us to be mind-readers, & act like adults anyway!

• Absorbing & taking on our parent’s fear – who repeatedly warned us about the dangers of people, places & things, so we became fearful of everything too

Neglected, ignored – having to fend for ourselves – left alone to figure things out, when too young – not getting encouragement, guidance, ‘how to’ or just safe & loving company, which made us feel insecure & too alone.

ACoA “LOGIC”: I keep putting it off because –
• IF I ignore it long enough maybe it’ll magically go away
• I feel comforted – because not being fully functional keeps me from having to feel the abandonment pain of no one being there to teach, help or encourage me thru things when growing up

• It’s not fair that I have to do things by myself, for myself
• Since I hate doing it, I’ll wait until the very last hour or two, then cram in whatever I can manage. That way I’ll have an excuse for not doing it better (no time)

ALSO: maybe there’ll be a hail-mary save (rescued),
OR someone usually does show up to help at the last minute (luck), so I’ll just wait

NOW we put things off because of:
• it reminds us of how we didn’t get helped as kids. All those ‘little’ abandonments add up to one big pain!Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.59.01 AM
• automatically assume we’ll be abused, or left (A.) if we act on our own behalf

• haven’t learned how to deal with the PP voice that controls the WIC (Introject)
• we are deeply conflicted – to do or not do, to obey or disobey, to do it our way or theirs, to be separate or stay symbiotic…. and intense inner conflicts leave us paralyzed!
• afraid of ‘hurting’ others’ feelings OR having them be angry at us, which means getting emotionally abandoned (cut off)

• we don’t know what’s actually stopping us (denial)
• we never actually learned process how to get reach a goal by going thru a series of necessary steps. We look fcan't swimor instant grat, or we make a half-hearted attempt, or we take the least effective steps. When these don’t work we give up, rather than learn what actually works!

• we believe in our deepest being that anything we do has to be perfect, & not being able to that – we end up doing nothing
• anything we’ve figure out for ourselves is either wrong or not of any value (crap)
• don’t know how to do something AND can’t ask for help, OR feel like we have no one to ask
• afraid of what we’ll find out (outcome of a job interview, medical tests, how much is -or isn’t- in the bank…)

NEXT: “Procrastination” Part 3

ACoAs & CONFUSION – as Kids (Part 2d)

confusion #5 

& of course I believe her!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#2c)

SITEs:”Gender Identity – Prenatal Factors
“Gender Identity & Gender Confusion in Children”



Childhood CONFUSION : OTHER sources (cont.)
2. Gender confusion – here this only refers to parents causing a distortion in the child’s identity, rather than being born gay, bi or trans-gendered. Children want to be acceptable & loved by parents, so look to them for information & validation. When parents hate themselves & the opposite sex, they do a great deal of harm. There are a number of possible permutations to this twisting.

gender cinfusion – a ‘sick’ /alcoholic father raises a daughter by himself, & continually expresses hatred for women (mother, ex-wife….), THEN this daughter will not learn how to be feminine, & may try to be ‘invisible’ or to act like a boy

IF – a cruel mother systematically negates a daughter’s gender, THEN the girl may take on the characteristics of a boy, OR just hates her own, hiding behind promiscuity, overweight, isolation….

IF – a narcissistic mother has a son but wanted a daughter, & so from infancy treats him as a girl
THEN he may take that on as his identity, or express his rage by rape, addictions, macho fighting….

IF – a controlling father wanted a son but only got a daughter
THEN he may try to turn her into a boy to be an extension of himself, & she’ll try to be the best baseball player or company ‘man’ – if she has the ability. If not, she’ll only get disapproval & disdain….

3. COMMUNICATION Styles – review
Passives truly believe their needs don’t count. They’re sort of like mice – small & timid – doing just about anything to avoid confrontations or being ‘seen’. They like to please others, usually at their own expense, which eventually builds into resentment

Aggressives act as if only their needs matter. They accuse, insult, yell, threaten & dominate. Not surprisingly, they’re often in relationships with passivescomm styles

Passive-aggressives don’t think their needs matter, but also angry about not getting them met. They use manipulation, guilt & subtle ‘games’ to get what they want because they’re not allowed to ask outright.
They hide their aggression by staying quiet, ‘forgetting’ things, refusing to listen, changing plans at the last minute…. & never admitting their anger & outrage

❇ Assertives recognize that everyone’s needs are important, so they use honest, neutral language to ask. This requires a level of emotional vulnerability, which comes with some emotional/mental maturity. Rewards : getting their own needs met, expressing emotions freely but appropriately, with healthier relationships, so everyone feels heard & connected, most of the time

Communication DISTORTIONS
a. Conflicting information: Damaging adults insist you see the world in their same slanted way, even with much evidence to the contrary. We heard:
• “Purple is Green, you don’t really see that, I’m not an alcoholic, your brother isn’t really dangerous, no one is to be trusted, no one will ever like / love you ….”

• “We’ll help you any way we can / you can tell us anything / we’ll always be there for you” BUT when do you go to them …. they negate what you say, make excuses, make it your fault, make it all about them….
They don’t actually want to deal wdouble talkith your emotional needs, nor will they tell the truth about what’s really going on in the family

• “Of course I love you”. BUT that’s not how it feels – as they alternately neglect & hurt you
• “Do as I say, not as I do”. Kids are master imitators – that’s how they learn. When adults’ rules & actions are diametrically opposed to their words, kids get thoroughly confused.

As kids, if we recognize their ‘game’, we feel betrayed, their hypocrisy leaving us with no one to trust. AND – which version do we follow? If we disobey the rules we get punished, but if we obey them we betray ourselves!
THEY SAY : • “Don’t lie” & then they lie in blatant or subtle ways
• “Never use drugs” as they smoke all day & drink like fish….
• “You’ll be the death of me yet”.  So I wonder “Am I a potential murderer?” What if they die young-ish? And if they’re still alive many years later, what does that mean??

NEXT: ACoAs & Confusion (Part 2e)

ACoAs – Dealing with CRITICISM (Part 1)

being judged 

PREVIOUS: Helpful/clever responses

SITE: ”7 Realizations to Help You Deal with Feeling Judged




Being Judged – (Usually) being told / have implied there is something terribly wrong with your fundamental identity (Mother to daughter: “You’re not smart enough to become a doctor” / “You’ll be the death of me yet” …)

Having Good Judgement – deciding between an objective positive or negative alternative (that fruit is spoiled, I’ll take the fresh one / the left trail is safer than the right one….)
OR between something that personally suits you – or not (I’m allergic to sugar, so I avoid it / I regularly watch comedy shows but never horror flicks)

Being criticized – when a mistake in our behavior is pointed out – OR when our behavior or communication is not liked by the criticizer.
The critic may or may not add telling you how to do/say it correctly. But it is often done with anger, disdain, superiority – in order to control & manipulate.
In rare cases it’s done with caring & good will, if the person is healthy & you’ve agreed to learn from themcriticism styles

Given a suggestion
– When we’re told of a better way of doing something – to make it easier or better for us, or our environment (“If you added an aspirin to the water, the flowers would last longer / When you travel, why not take less luggage?…”).
This is done with kindness, respect & from a genuine desire to make your life better

‘Negative’ Opinions: When someone says what they think or feel about something or someone – having nothing to do with the object of their criticism (I hate that hairdo / You’re doing that backwards / That’s no way to….. / they’re just stupid)

Being judged vs. legitimate criticism
The main difference is that judgmental comments are about the essence (being) of something or someone, & is generalized to the whole category (Blue is ugly, all men are pigs….) —
— while legitimate criticism is aimed at someone’s behavior (doing)(hitting your little sister is not OK & not allowed) or the state of something (that building is a mess, & needs a lot of repairs)

Children & wounded adults do not make the distinction between BE-ing & DO-ing. So – it’s imperative for ACoAs to ‘hear’ whether we’re being told something about our behavior (speech or actions) vs. our identity. Attacks on the latter is absolutely not acceptable, & healthy adults don’t stoop to this low blow (usabuse vs criticismually), nor will they tolerate it from others

ACoAs confuse criticism with abuse
Legitimate criticism is an ‘evaluation of the merits or weaknesses of an action, choice, decision, thought process….’ & at best used as a method of correction. It is NOT a de-valuation of our whole being or identity! as ACoAs believe.

We confuse or blend the two because:
a. In the past – our family almost always judged & misjudged, attacked & humiliated us. There was little or no balance provided: no praise, encouragement or patience – when we couldn’t do something – the first time, or perfectly – without guidance or when we were too young

b. Now, having absorbed the original abuse into our PP, it’s become the essence of our S-H. So any ‘disapproval’, slight or even a correction from others is taken as a personal indictment

OUR confusion, because of a Double Bind: (see ACoAs’ D.Message)
— on the one hand we agree with them: any time others are not positive & supportive, S-H flares up because it mirrors what our PP has been saying/ implying all along, AND what the WIC believes as absolute truth.

When someone points out what they consider to be our imperfections – even when it’s only their opinion or projection – we feel exposed & worthless, endlessly obsessing about what we did wrong

— on the other hand we’re resentful:  we hate the person who hurt our feelings, or makes us feel disrespected…. We’re depressed or rageful, BUT on our high-horse, thinking “Who do they think they are saying that to me, judging me, ignoring me?” ….
We ruminate about what we should have said, what we will say or do to get back at them, that we’ll get them to see how wrong they were, wanting to justify ourselves to them….. we go round-&-round, digging our hole even deeper, getting nowhere.

NEXT: Criticism (Part 2)

ACoAs & PROJECTING (not Projection) (#1)


or it will any minute now!

PREVIOUS: Book Suggestions

SITEs: “Mistakes of projecting your future” (
• “Negative Risk (threat) & Positive Risk (opportunity)”
“You should Visualize Positive & Negative Outcomes More”

DEF: PROJECTING (a CD=cognitive distortion) – Imagining one or more bad / painful / disastrous things will always & inevitably happen in the future, in general or re. a specific person or situation (victim mentality / ‘learned helplessness’ / scapegoat)

NOTE: This is not the same as correctly knowing who someone or some situation actually is, & what to expect of them.
EXP: “My whole life my mom has said mean or insensitive to me or about me. She’s never changed, so I know any time I talk to her in the future it will be the same.”

Projecting is NOT the same as Projection – a defense mechanism (via Freud), in which a person:
a. Re. US – When we unconsciously reject one or more unacceptable qualities we have – or believe we have – AND attribute / assign those same qualities to another person, animal or situation.
Often the ‘others’ do not have those characteristics. So it’s
inevitable that in some cases projection will result in false accusations.
Everyone Else’s Fault?…..” //  Don’t Project Your … Inadequacy Onto Others

EXP: “I can’t trust anyone because everyone lies” (deny being a liar oneself)
“I know she hates me” (deny our own self-hate OR that we hate that person)
• Complementary = assume others think or feel the same way we do about things
• Complimentary = assume others can do the same thing  – as well as OR in the same way – as we can
📌These are both expressions of narcissistic thinking (you & I are “one” – the WIC’s desperate desire for a symbiotic connection) (MORE…..)

b. Re. FAMILY – To attribute actual negative characteristics of our dysfunctional family members on to others, who may be like them, only a little, or not at all.
EXP: My father was a mean abusive drunk, therefore all men are bad / dangerous // “All authorities are evil, out to get me”

In BIZ: Positive OR Negative scenarios

In business it’s called forecasting, looking at all possible outcomes based on previous performance.
Projections are not budgets, rather “big picture, what if” exercises, done at a higher level of abstraction, ie context (See “D.Binds #3a“), with a ‘what is hoped for’ & “what could be” perspective.
NOTICE – a savvy business plan always includes 3 major possibilities. CHART

For ACoAs – However, most of us almost never project that things will work out, that we’ll be happy, that we’ll get what we asked for, that our relationships will be beneficial, that we’ll get the job we want…. No-o-o-o!
We assume the worst – only projecting negative outcomes – pain, disappointment, suffering, disaster.

▶️ The exceptions are the severe narcissists (& active addicts) who only project ‘positive’ possibilities, which often are simply pie-in-the-sky schemes which never come true, because either they don’t have the skill & inner motivation to make it happen, it’s a stupid idea, or not actually do-able.

WHY assume negatively? BECAUSE :
a. our childhood was filled with endless suffering & deprivation, so that’s our template for rdisaster forecasteality, becoming our world view  (POSTS: “Information & the Brain – How we learn“)

SCIENCE –Brain’s Negative Bias  : “The brain reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative, with a greater surge in electrical activity….. historically. our very survival depended on dodging danger. The brain developed systems that make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger & thus, hopefully, respond to it…..

b. we have unconsciously, but consistently been reproducing that original chaos & abandonment in our adult life. (Repetition Compulsion).
Unfortunately, it’s the WIC’s way of staying loyal to the family system, even though it was harmful to our parents & continues to harm us

PSYCH – Bad is stronger than good ….Many kinds of trauma produce severe & lasting effects on behavior, but there is no corresponding concept of a positive event that can have similarly strong, lasting effects……”

NEXT: Projecting #2

Double BINDS – Options (Part 5a)

wash the brain 

until I’m free of this poison

PREVIOUS: DB – Frames (Part 4b)

SITE: 4 Double-Binds psychiatrists use on mental patients


OPTIONS in dealing with DBs
Once you – the R – have gotten caught in a Double Bind (DB) you’re going to have to accept that ‘getting away’ may be painful & slow, especially if the S is important to you & you’re afraid of loosing them.

Remember, people who use DBs need to control others & are NOT safe, most likely a severe narcissist, & therefore not truly loving. That’s an illusion they create & you buy into.
Feeling angry, frustrated & ‘crazy’ – about yourself & toward someone else – are your HINTS that they’re pulling a fast one on you, whether deliberate to not. It might be necessary to move out of their range, which is not easy, but it’s also not the only option.

• Getting relief from a DB situation comes from recognizing & addressing the Conditions which are required to produce it (see “How It Works”= DMs #3 and DBs, #2). But FIRST – know that you have to ‘chose your poison’ & that there will be some repercussions for the side of the DB you reject.

You will need the ego-strength (self-esteem) to bear whatever reaction you’ll get from the Sender you’ve known a long time, which can include raging, insults, threats, silence, shaming…. Since Ss are control freaks, they’re more likely to hang on & keep trying to keep you hooked rather than dump you. If you stick to not playing along, they’ll either adjust, withdraw or separate  / leave

1. DO LESS: At first, if the pattern of interaction with a special person is so deeply ingrained & your connection to this S is like your childhood & probably symbiotic – you’re likely to be too mentally confused (T) & emotionally scared (E) to make radical changes (A).

The best thing is to DO LESS of whatever they’ve trained you to do/be, & see what happens. Naturally it will be uncomfortable – not just because of their reaction, but from your own feelings of guilt & fear of abandonment. Remember that guilt is the E. that comes from breaking a rule or law.

EXP: No matter how much effort Anna puts into cleaning & prepping for Mother-in-Law’s visits, the older woman will always find some kind of fault!
IMPLIED MESSAGES: “I disapprove of you when you haven’t cleaned your house ‘perfectly’” (you’re such pig) and “I disapprove of you when you think you’ve cleaned everything thoroughly (I can always find something you missed)

So, finally Anna decides to only do the most needed cleaning & storage, & let the chips fall where they may. (Maybe – give mom something ‘legit’ to criticize?)

– If you’re young enough to not care what your parents say,
– OR know yourself well enough to have sense of what works for you, you can alternate between the ‘options’ presented in the D.Messages, with the understanding & acceptance that you’re going to get flack either way, BUT YOU’RE OK

EXP a : SO – between “I disapprove of you for not socializing (dating)” and “I disapprove of your choice of boyfriends when you finally do”
– YOU can choose BOTH – when you want to go out & with whom, & when you’d rather stay in to read (or secretly text with friends)

EXP b : MASH’s Klinger tried to get out of the war on medical grounds, SO –
X: he pretended to be crazy – BUT was told that –
Y: only crazy people would want to be at war
Result – he was never allowed to be discharged for medical reasons.
NOTE: This is a DM – the word “crazy” being used on two different logic levels. However, Klinger did not fall into the trap. In an impossible situation he chose the ‘crazy’ that suited him & went merrily on his way.

NEXT: DBs – Facing ourselves (#5)

Double BINDS – Frames (Part 4a)

but I’m innocent!

PREVIOUS: BDs (Part 3b) – Logical types

SITE: Framing:…Least recognized daily Mental Activity

FOR the DATING Man : “Rock-Solid Frame Control with the Women You Like

Frames are systems of pre-conceived ideas that allow people to quickly organize & interpret new & complex information. They function as cognitive shortcuts or “rules of thumb,” & in psychology, are known as scripts or schemata. Framing is a feature of our brain’s architecture. Our minds react to the context in which something is embedded, not just to the thing itself.
EXP: The cover influences our judgment of the book, a line appears longer when vertical than when horizontal……

Goffman, in Frame Analysis wrote that people interpret what’s going on around them in their world through their primary framework – which is taken for granted by the user. He identified 2 distinctions within primary frameworks:
❖ natural = physical events, separate from any social forces
❖ social
= socially driven events, from the whims, goals & manipulations of other social players, but built on natural frameworks

EXP: If you look out of 2 different windows from the same room at a landscape outside – you’ll see 2 (maybe very) different aspects of that world. It hasn’t changed – only your perspective.

Artifact: giving objects intrinsic symbolic value
Contrast: describe an object in terms of what it is not
Euphemism : serves to soothe, distract or reduce conflict (put my dog ‘to sleep’)
Metaphor: express an idea through comparison to something else
Slogans, jargon, catchphrase: use catchy phrase to make an object more memorable & relate-able
Spin: present a concept with a value judgement (positive or negative) not  immediately obvious, or create an inherent bias
Stories (myths, legends): narrative presented in a vivid & memorable way
Tradition (rituals, ceremonies): cultural values that give great meaning to the mundane, closely tied to artifacts.

🤓 Each kind of frame has several parts, making up the whole. EXPs:
• Commercial Transaction has: seller, goods, buyer, money
• Communication: message, messenger, audience, medium, images & context
• Group Therapy: therapist, clients, personal problems, suitable location ……

Re. DM & DBs
Framing Theory can help make sense of how DMs lead to DBs, because it explains that “how something is presented influences the choices people make”. ★ If you don’t ‘set the frame’ – for yourself & with others – someone else will, & whoever does – controls the situation by creating the context for everything that happens in the interactionFRAME Cartoon

• Controlling our frame is not necessarily bad. In fact we all do it every day – parent to child, teacher to class, boss to employee…. It’s only bad when the frame is designed to ensnare / control another person or group.

Our personal reality is constantly changing & always includes our active participation. It’s made up of the events, experiences, objects, processes & facts we encounter, & can only be fully understood in context.

In almost any situation, we have the choice to either frame it in a positive light, or plunge it into the dark clutches of negativityFraming things in a positive way will improve our mood & help to develop compassion for others

5 WAYS information can be framed
> Gain F – wanting certainty & positive gains, being risk-averse
> Loss F – choosing a desired goal with a significant loss rather THAN an unwanted goal with no loss at all = risk-seeking
>Temporal F – choose immediate smaller rewards over long term large ones
Value F – respond better if info is framed as affecting what you care about
Goal F – respond to info based on whether it helps or hinders you trying to improve your circumstances

EXP of a GAIN F. – DB communication = Mother to her child : “Be spontaneous.”
If the child then seems to do something unexpected (spontaneous), he can’t actually be acting spontaneously, because he’s following her direction.
Mother wants total control, so the child has to be put in a no-win situation, to prevent autonomy.
Subjected to this kind of communication over a long period of time, it’s easy to see how this boy could become thoroughly confused – & paralyzed.

NEXT: DBs & Frames (#4b)

Double BINDS / Basics (Part 1)

I’m all knotted up!

PREVIOUS: Being Confident  (Part 5)

QUOTE: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Einstein

This set of posts is a continuation of the Double Messages series. Please read or review those.

In the D.Messages posts, we looked at one side of this harmful transaction – mainly that of the Sender. All the basic components are the same for DBs, except for the crucial difference – the perspective of the Receiver (DMs, #2).

Eric Berne’s student Claude Steiner, in “Scripts People Live” showed how Senders & Receivers play an interactive game, each gaining Negative Benefits (points) – the S to always be in charge, while the R is to always be a victim & stay dependent (no S & I).

• The other side of the transaction is the Double Bind. One way this happens TO the R is when someone hears words said to them in such a way that the accompanying actions or non-verbal communications directly contradict the spoken words.
EXP: a mother screams at her child “I love you, and you better believe it or I’ll whip you!”

• DBs are created by DMs as logic fails, Boolean questions** (in 3 parts) being asked in binary terms (in 2 parts). That doesn’t work.  A person is presenting with a 3-way, no-win situation: You’re damned if you do / Damned if you don’t, and / Damned if you notice that you’re damned both ways

• Accepting or trying to deal with DMs leads to a great deal of angst, causing the R to think:
Re. Actions: “I must do them both, but I can’t, but I must, but I…. If I don’t I’m really bad!” OR, in other cases
Re. Emotions: “I have to make sense of the 2 sides, but they don’t make sense, but I have to, but I can’t … I must be crazy!”
Since DMs are inherently irrational, they must NOT be honored, which then  eliminates the D.Bind

**Boolean Logic: the main operations are the conjunction ‘and’, shown as , the disjunction ‘or’, shown as , and the negation ‘not’, denoted ¬ (MORE…) corresponding to the 3 major components of the DM. (DMs #3)

CONFLICT : A struggle between equal but opposing forces (intentions). 
”Part of me wants to and part of me doesn’t.”
DILEMMA: A situation requiring a choice between 2 equally (un)desirable alternatives.  “I’m damned if I do & damned if I don’t.”

IMPASSE: A situation where the intention to progress is stopped by a difficulty which can’t be overcome.  “I keep banging my head against a brick wall.”
PARADOX: A self-contradictory statement (or statements). 
”My head aches from trying to stop you giving me a headache.” (MORE….)  Also see chart in DBs – Part 2

EMOTIONAL BIND patterns focus on giving you the illusory choice of how to feel. It’s less obviously harmful but still manipulative:
a. Which chair would feel better, the soft one or the hard one?
b. Would you feel better if I ignored you or talked to you?
c. Which restaurant would you enjoy eating at, Olive Garden or Red Lobster?…..
>> The manipulation is limiting your physical & emotional choices.

Qs presented in binary form (either-or) eliminate the larger truth – that in reality you have several other possibilities, like – MAYBE YOU :
a = would rather stand rather than sit, OR perhaps leave
b = are not interested in me either way, OR maybe prefer to talk later
c = don’t like Italian food OR chain restaurants, OR not hungry

NOTE: You’re not in a bind if you’re ‘allowed’ to speak up, object or offer a 3rd choice. However, if you don’t go along with the other person’s suggestions, and they get angry, act hurt, plead, whine, make you feel guilty, threaten to leave…. you’re being offered a DB. Stick to your guns AND don’t feel bad!

NEXT: Double Binds (Part 2)

Double MESSAGES – ACoAs (Part 7b)



If I let go, I’ll be all alone! Wa-a-a-a

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & DM (#8a)



1. DM from Family

2. OUR inner D. Bind as a result
Once we have a working knowledge of this ‘game’ we can take a serious look at the D. Messages we give ourselves & how the repercussions permeate our whole life.

★ We rarely realize what we’re ‘saying’ to ourselves, or that it comes from the WIC (R = receiver) via the PP (S = sender). EXP:
Belief A – I’m good when I flirt (sexy, desirable, successful…) – AND
Belief B – I’m bad when I flirt (slutty, superficial, manipulative…)
If I DO flirt I’m inundated with Self-hate (ACoAs’ main form of self-punishment, courtesy of the PP).  Flirting expresses my natural sexuality, but I can’t enjoy being seen as sexual because it shows that I’m ‘dirty’.

If I DON’T flirt, I may: > ‘put off’ potentially positive relatiflirt or notonships
> miss out on -safe- attention, compliments, sex…
(my right to have)
> be considered frigid, unfriendly, a snob….
(even tho’ I’m just scared!)
> miss opportunities to get legitimate favors, help & considerations by being charming….

★ Another way we trap ourselves & frustrate others is being stuck in the ‘Complain —> Help offered —> Reject —> Complain’ syndrome.
• we go on & on about a problem to anyone who’ll listen, implying that we need help. (Of course we would never ask for it outright!) BUT
• when people offer possible solutions, we reject them all & continue complaining!

WHY: The suggestions may not fit our specific need, which is legitimate, but most often – we’re addicted to being unhappy (Victim), don’t feel worthy of being helped, or think there is no solution – for us.
Eric Berne calls it the Why don’t you – Yes, But….” psychological Game
ALSO – See post: People should treat me better, but I won’t let them

★ Most common Double Message we give OURSELVES
The 3-part hamster-wheel-thinking, even ACoAs in Recovery:
A: I’m stuacoa DB wheelck & in a lot of pain. I’m trying really hard to heal from my childhood, which I -sort of- know wasn’t so great. I read books, go to Meetings & therapy, Couple’s Counseling, seek alternative & spiritual healing …..
B. No matter how hard I try I’ll just never get any better. I’m always going to mess up, & get abandoned. I’ll never get the relationship I want, I don’t know how to love, I wouldn’t know a healthy person if they bit me!…..
It’s my fault because I’m just too slow, too dense, too stubborn, too damaged.
C. I can’t notice or object or escape my self-imposed trap (WIC obeying the PP) !

Can you hear the D.Message, creating the D.Bind? 
• Position A. implies that you’ve been wounded AND can heal from it. You believe it’s actually possible to Recover because you did not start out defective – you were damaged by your early environment, so you’re willing to do the work at healing – as unfair as that is!.
At the same time:
• Position B. blatantly asserts that your ‘f—ed-up-ness’ was not caused by anyone other than yourself. Didn’t your family love you, mean well & do the best they could? It was you who were born defective & therefore it’s hopeless to improve or outgrow your flaws & weaknesses. It’s just the way it is – everything is your own fault & it’s never going to change. You cause your own misery, but it’s what you deserve, so “why bother”.

You can’t have it both ways! Either you’re wounded & can repairingheal, or you’re defective & therefore intrinsically, irrevocably worthless.
a. If you were truly defective you’d be un-repairable. So why would you even try to work on yourself? Why go into Recovery? It would be futile – a waste of time & money
b. However –  If you are in fact wounded – by your upbringing – which you did cause! – then you can slowly outgrow / repair the damage.

BUT to do that you must give up the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with your personality. It cannot be both A & B! With this conflict UNresolved, is it any wonder why we’re stuck?

BTW – some ACoAs try to cover up this dilemma by always being angry, distant & blaming everyone else for their problems, but the original DM  (Form #3) is always running in the background, like a computer virus.

NEXT: DMs – Results (Part 9)

Double MESSAGES – ACoAs (Part 7a)

acoa DBs

I’ve been so duped!

PREVIOUS: Double Messages, Part 7 


1. Many of us grew up drowning in Double Messages (DMs). Being raised in this kind of atmosphere we know no other way to connect with others, & use this style of communicating in all our relationships, especially the intimate ones. So if we’re serious about Personal Growth & taking responsibility for our patterns, it’s important to see how this all plays out

Childhood EXP: In many alcoholic families, where the addict (& most everyone else) is/are in total denial – if one of the kids has the nerve to complain about or object to the harmful effects of the drinking, the alcoholic (& others) will label them as THE problem, rather than the addiction, because that kid is disrupting the family’s fragile mobile (Post: B. Distortions, #1).
Then they’re forced into either being an enabler OR withdraw & eventually leave the family. Either way – everyone loses.

Adult EXP: 2 clients who both attended 12-Step meetings were going to the same psychologist – separately. At some point they started dating.
> Sarah didn’t tell the therapist right away, but instead asked his opinion about seeing someone in the Program. The reply was that it waDM angry clients not a great idea, especially in the first year of attendance. Sarah finally came out with the whole story but concluded: “I get it, you just don’t want me to date Chuck!”

> After a few weeks Sarah was complaining in session about all the problems with Chuck. She said in angry accusation: “So why didn’t you warn be against seeing him? Aren’t you supposed to be helping me?”

>> AND there was the DM: The therapist was bad for “preventing” and bad for “not preventing”.
However, he didn’t get caught, but pointed out the Double Bind she had created so she wouldn’t have to own her decision or deal with the stress of two WICs trying to have an adult relationship!
PS: the 2 clients did marry AND eventually divorced.

PARENTAL DM – forced on the Hero, or the Introvert / Sensitive child
THEY SAY (or imply):
A. IncompetenceBe dysfunctional, like us (so we don’t feel so alone)
• parents (& later our PP) want us to be exactly like THEM: fearful, self-hating, stuck, not risking, depressed, powerless, OR controlling, angry, limited, paranoid ….
• and they spend a lot of time putting us down, pounding into us all the things we can NOT do, & how lazy, weak, wrong, selfish & over-sensitive we are
. Competence : Be confusuion cornerfunctional, like we wish we were (so you can take care of us)
•  we must make them feel safe, not feel abandoned, fix them, be their parent
and, have to be: > competent, able to take risks, be perfect!
> have backbone, fight for them, save them from themselves
> be really smart & use all our knowledge (but only for THEM)
C. Be in Denial. You’ve heard: “I never said that! ,  How dare you speak to me that way?!  , Stop complaining, after all I’ve sacrificed for you!…. ”
They won’t tolerate questioning or objections to how they’re treating us, insisting that we’re ungrateful, making things up, being defiant, ‘difficult’, spoiled…. (DENY, deny, deny what we’re doing to you)
➼ This DM forms the basis of our own DB – next post

OUR PAIN: They were our first role models. What kind of example did they set for us ? Kids absorb & imitate their parents, regardless. We imprint on them like ducklings! Yet all they left for us is fear & confusion.

• If they were capable of truly loving us, they would have wanted us to be happy, free & successful – for ourselves.  So obviously they didn’t / couldn’t love us – not really! No matter how much we don’t want to hear that, the WIC knows!
Just because they say/said “I love you” doesn’t mean they do – except in some narcissistic way. Remember, if you had been truly loved, you could have ‘normal’ human insecurities, but NO self-hate!

HINT: *Healthy parental love is expressed in many ways, but most of all by being Nurturing. Children can only develop self-esteem if they feel truly loved by their parents. And that can only happen if parents have the capacity to be loving, kind, supportive, rational, available, sober….  not just give lip service.

NEXT: ACoAs & Self DBs, Part 8b