ACoAs & PROCRASTINATION (Part 5)

make notes I CAN GET THINGS DONE #5
& feel good about it!

PREVIOUS: Putting things off #4


SITE: Overcoming Procrastination

BOOK: “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by John Tierney, New York Times science writer, & psychologist Roy F. Baumeister.
An unconventional “self-help” book that, much like Timothy Wilson’s ‘Redirect’, grounds its insights & advice in 30 yrs of serious academic research into willfulness & self-control. While the book is fascinating in general, its 3rd chapter “A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey,” is particularly interesting.

BOTTOM LINE
“WHY BOTHER?” underlies all our indecision & procrastination. We don’t take genuine care of ourselves, no matter how busy or cocky we seem to others. On a deep level we’re paralyzed by:
a. Not knowing or having access to our healthy True Self, so we believe we don’t know what we want or like, nor what our rights are!

b. Not being allowed to be our own internal motivator – so our only reason to take actions has to come from outside. We have to use family, a boss, teacher, a cause, religion, a career, friends & lover relationships, AND ultimately our terror of abandonment & punishment to push ourselves. Left to our own devices, we just collapse inward

c.
Our Internal Conflicts:conflict
• losing someone, being hurt or punished vs. feeling ‘safe’ (even if that safety is an illusion or self-destructive)
• WIC & PP vs. the Healthy UNIT
• obeying vs. disobeying the Toxic Rules
• old patterns vs. new ways of doing things
• what we want vs. what we’re ‘supposed’ to be, do, think, feel

d. Double messages, originally forced on us by one or more adults, we had no choice but to internalize the resulting Double Binds* (simultaneous but opposing demands, with a penalty for whichever one we can’t fulfill).
EXP:
• As kids they expected us to do for them (which may still be going on with an elderly parent), taking advantage of us to be their parent substitute – using hints, guilt, shaming, manipulation, demands, threats…. AND were angry / abusive if we did nothing (the penalty)

• BUT THEN were totally dissatisfied with & critical of (the penalty) whatever we did do for them, no matter how much effort we put in, what it cost us, what we had to sacrifice, how clever we were at it….

*EITHER WAY we were/are punished. If they’re still live we compulsively keep trying – to please them,chained to rules over & over. If they’re not around anymore we often find some other needy, critical person to satisfy – always with the same impossible, painful results!
YES, we’re addicted to the rejection, while maintaining the illusion that we have the power to change them, if only we try hard enough, long enough!

Ultimately, we stopped trying – but only for ourselves, because:
• we’re still waiting for them to approve of us, & give us permission to have a life of our own life (free us of their bondage because we don’t believe we can do it ourselves!)
• we’re convinced that if we failed with them (the family, also school, religion), it’s inevitably that we’ll fail with everything & everyone else, so there’s no point in trying
• we’re waiting for someone – anyone – to come & rescue us so we don’t ever have to be our own parent!

FACING our INNER REACTIONS
• Unfortunately, delaying inevitable responsibilities (as well as ones we’ve taken on voluntarily) creates endless obsession & self-recrimination. “”I’m just lazy by nature”, “I can’t do anything right” , “I’ll just mess it up – again” ….procratination

So why would we rather worry ourselves sick than ‘just do it’?
• we SAY it’s just a habit – but it’s really our self-hate
• we’re used to longing for things, rather than having them
• we’re waiting to be taken care of
• we think we don’t know how, even tho we actually do
• staying loyal to the family by copying how those adults ‘handled’ daily actions & problems
• we’re not allowed to do things easily because suffering is the norm (if it’s too easy it doesn’t count)

NEXT: Procrastination #6

ACoAs & PLAYING (Part 2)

rain on meI DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY –
only to be compulsive, never relaxed

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Playing (#1)

ARTICLE: “Outcasts, Scapegoats  & Black Sheep of the Dysfunctional Family

 

NOTE:
The purpose and spirit of Play does not require any practical, concrete outcome. It’s not supposed to generate something you can ‘show for it’. It’s a state of being rather than doing.

However, we can have a hobby that we really love – something creative or a sport, which does includes making or winning something. We may or may not be good at it. The value is not mainly the end product, but the process, which is supposed to be pleasurable & satisfying – suited to our True Self & feeding a part of our soul

Also, many of us have heard or read about people who say they love their work so much it feels more like playing. In this case there is a tangible product & a financial benefit, but the point they’re making is that it makes them happy! They feel blessed because they get to do it all the time instead of relegating it to their spare time – or not having time for it at all

ACoA LAUNDRY LIST’s False Self characteristics related to PLAY
a. ACoAs guess at what normal is
Here ‘Normal’ means healthy, as opposed to ‘average’. We don’t realize that playing, relaxing & having fun are a legitimate & important part of being healthy, happy & well-balanced. “All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

There’s a tribe in Papua New Guinea that frowns on sex & bans play. For years anthropologists have considered this tribe too dull to study, but finally had some success. Scholars still don’t know why the tribe developed this philosophy, but it’s certainly not one we should emulate! MORE…)

b. ACoAs feel ‘different’, creating a wall that isolates us
This prevents many of us from making the effort to reach out to others, search for appropriate venues that can provide relaxation, or for opportunities to play & have fun, whether recreational or educational

c. ACoAs have difficulty with intimate relationships
Everyone needs a certain amount of connection with other people, but the amount depends on one’s developmental stage, personality & on what’s going on in one’s life at the moment.
And while it’s perfectly normal & acceptable to play alone, playing with others requires a certain capacity for intimacy** to be ‘successful’ – since being in authentic play-mode means being able to express the True Self without shame or reservation.

This is not easy because our True Self got shrouded in shame & self-hate, making it hard for us to ‘let loose’ & to let others get emotionally close to us.  ACoAs are more likely to put others in double binds: “I hate you – Don’t leave me!” OR “I need you – Don’t touch me!”

**INTIMACY: (IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE) “Relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature, marked by informality & familiarity. Something deeply personal, private, or secret”.
In our relation to others, it’s the ability to connect our ‘deepest nature’ with safe & appropriate others, because we know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Real Me, so we’re not afraid of letting it be seen

d. ACoAs take themselves very (too) seriouslytoo serious
While other children were busy learning to relate, compete, play & develop social skills, we were learning the tough lessons of survival. Many of us never heard our parents laughing, joking or fooling around.
The air was heavy, filled with the invisible energy of suffering. Life was hard business & the tone in our house put a damper on anyone enjoying themselves.
So if we did try to play or have fun we were guilted for wasting time OR punished for being frivolous & attacked for being ridiculous, making it stressful & terrifying.

NEXT: ACoAs & PLAY #3

Toxic Family Roles (Part 4)

Scahnge ME?? 

I’VE ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY,
& now you’re saying it’s not the real me??

PREVIOUS: Part 3 – ACoAs – as children

SITE: The Dynamics of a Dysfunctional Relationship

 

 

2b. ACoAs – AS ADULTS

a. the Hero (usually but not always an Extrovert by nature) may herohold on to the role with all their might & become a professional, a healer, an executive…. anyone with authority, responsibility & clout – but only on behalf of others,  OR
• at some point turn their back on the Role so completely that they become the Scapegoat – the perennial ‘fuck-up’ – in order to have NO responsibilities at all – even to themselves.  If that gets to be too much, eventually they can switch into Lost Child & be ‘invisible’

placaterb. the Placater is the overly cheerful & helpful one in class or in the office, always agrees, doesn’t have strong opinions & doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. They are made fun of for being a–kissers & door mats

c. The Scapegoat** – always getting into trouble, often gets fired, doesn’t follow thru & may land in jail, but can also get a lot of street cred as being cool, the bad-boy/girl scapegoator rebel.  They are very envious of the positive attention given the Hero. They sometimes take up the Hero role if the older child is missing & there is a desperate need in the family, but it rarely gets them the praise & love given to the ‘favorite’.
** IMPORTANT: Don’t confuse these 2, altho they may overlap:
— Scapegoat Role: child takes on the suffering of the family to ease their pain
— Being scapegoated: when one child is chosen by the family to be continually picked, blamed for all their problems (because it’s ‘different’ in some way OR too strong, too honest – or both)

d. The Lost Child (as a primary position) tends to be an Introvert by nature, so they are more likely to lost childstay in the background throughout life. Even if isolated in their personal life, they can make great contributions to humanity in literature, science, acting, any form of writing….
• If they form any attachment, it will often be with a Hero type who will take care of them & run their life, or a Scapegoat (perpetrator) who will control & bully them. They are very loyal & usually passive-aggressive since they don’t ‘do’ confrontation.  They may have one close friend for life or none at all

e. The Mascot is usually an Extrovert by nature (but not always) & will find mascotways to get noticed – any kind of performer, teacher, salesperson….. the life of the party, naturally entertaining, but have to work hard to be taken seriously, because of their facade of silliness & ignorance. However, if they have the Hero as a sub-role, they can draw on it for competence & reliability when needed.

= = = = = = =
ANOTHER way to describe the ROLES is to consider how internal PARTS of a person extend out to family member in a dysfunctional system (Internal Family Systems)

SELF : CORE identity of a person. When in our True Self, this is an active, compassionate force, internally & in the family
Qualities : calm, confident, courageous, creative

MANAGER : the system’s protector, trying to be in control of every situation & relationship, to protect them from feeling hurt or rejected
Aspects: caretaker, controller, judge, passive pessimist, self-critical, striver

EXILE : holds the painful emotions isolated from the conscious Self, to protect oneself & the system. These can become progressively extreme, trying to be heard & to share their story
Emotions : despondence, fear / terror, grief / lost, loneliness, rage, shame

FIREFIGHTER : also protects the system, but only acts after the exile is upset, to soothe to distract oneself away from the exile
Activities : driven to or immersed in – computer, diet, exercise, sex, sleep, shopping…
Also: Addictions, dissociation, fantasy, self-harm, suicidality, violence

= = = = = =

PROFILE of a Dysfunctional Family
John Bradshaw, Bradshaw on the Family: a Revolutionary Way of Self-Discovery, Health Communications, Inc., 1988

NEXT: HERO role

Toxic Family ROLES (Part 3)

all roles 

I KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED – my Role tells me!

PREVIOUS: TFR (Part 2)

SITEsDifferent Toxic Roles
▪︎  Dysfunctional Family Rules & Roles

Virginia Satir divided the functions into: Blamer, Computer, Distracter, Placater & Leveler roles, sometimes used in Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) training.
They’re broader than the familiar ones – Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child & Mascot  (Originally in “IF ONLY MY FAMILY UNDERSTOOD ME” – Don Wegscheider 1979

⬇️ VARIATION
:

1. ADULT Roles (Part 2)
2a. ACoAs – AS CHILDREN
• the eldest boy or eldest girl is usually the Hero or Placater, who is aligned with the non-drinking parent (if there is one)
• the next child becomes the Scapegoat, identifying with the active addict
• The Lost Child 3rd or middle one, & is mostly ignored (3rd wheel)
• the Mascot is last, who tries to keeps things light

Just as there are shifts in any living system, the way roles are assigned, clumped together or reassigned changes over the years of a family’s life.  Toxic Family Roles (TFRs) themselves stay the same no matter who they’re stuck onto, but can overlap or be passed on, like a deadly virus! These severely limiting, false personae are taken on by each child, in one of several ways. If there are fewer or more children, roles double up:

a. For an only child, all 5 roles✶ weigh on them, with one often being dominant, so one person may become mainly Lost Child while another may be mainly Mascot, etc. Not having siblings to share the roles, this child (& later as adult) can experience rapid cycling of moods which can be scary, confusing & sometimes mistaken for manic-depression.
cycling roles
✶ What may seem like ‘being crazy’ – especially under stress – is actually an automatic shift from one Role to another in quick succession – Hero / Placater to Mascot to Scapegoat to Lost Child & back again – with the mental & emotional perspective of each suddenly coming to the foreground & then being replaced.
If there is no obvious medical condition, this switching can be understood rather than feared, & can even be used as a temporary coping skill until Recovery brings out the True Self

b. If there are only 2 kids, each takes on more than one role, depending on gender, birth order & personality.  In this case each child can still have one dominant Role, but can switch into another when dealing with different types of people.  So a child with a primary Role of Hero (the elder), with Scapegoat & Lost Child as sub-roles, can act out the Scapegoat when someone pushes them too far, or the Lost Child when being mistreated in some way.

•  The Hero (usually the eldest) is required to be perfect at all times – to know everything, never make mistakes, always look good….. This is an enormous burden.  When the ‘job’ gets to be too much this child may say or do something inappropriate, outrageous or illegal to relieve the stress of perfectionism. It is both a rebellion & a cry for help, but only garners punishment & a demand for a return to Hero status.toxic roles

The other child may be Mascot & Lost Child, & sometimes will take on the Hero / Placater when the older sibling has left home or is incapacitated – OR when running their own household as an adult.

d. With 3 or more – there are still some overlaps. When an older child leaves home (usually the Hero going off to school, work or war) someone else takes over, which means someone having to double up, with even more pressure

NEXT: Part 4 – ACoAs as Adults