ACoAs & CONFUSION (Part 1)

state of CONFUSED


I just can’t get it right!

PREVIOUS: Gifted Children #4

SITE: Sometimes Confusion Is A Good Thing

DEF of Confusion (Cf) 
– Mentally disoriented. The inability to make decisions clearly & quickly
Cf occurs when another person’s Boundaries are vague, not easily understood, or in conflict with themselves

NOTE: These posts refer to Cf which is NOT caused by long-term severe mental illness or physical changes in the brain due to accident, aging, chemicals/ medication, drug use or illness.

Important distinction – confusion is always a cognitive (mental) NOT an emotional issue. It’s about whether or not we can think clearly, based on what’s going on in our head or how someone else is presenting information.

For ACoAs – overcoming life-long confusion is mainly about coming out of denial about our traumatic past. It includes identifying & correcting cognitive distortions (CDs) and toxic family beliefs, which lead to procrastination, self-doubt, perfectionism & self-hate!

To do that we need to know enough about ourselves AND how the world really functions – to not blindly follow what our unhealthy family taught us, or what the WIC has come to believe because of it.SCARF model

The opposite of confusion is Certainty, which is not the same as being rigid, dogmatic or opinionated.
Based on NLP, David Rock explains that there are 5 major goals of the human brain geared towards ‘maintaining’, ie. increasing positives & reducing negatives (the SCARF model): Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness & Fairness.  (MORE….)

• Executive Coach Ed Batista commented that certainty is a result of the brain’s effort to conserve energy, which comes from the limited capacity of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of executive function….

Human beings resist putting great mental effort into decision-making & impulse control because the body is preserving resources for a possible emergency in the next moment, & the same dynamic contributes to resisting uncertainty.” (CHART & info….)

Some causes of Mental / Psychological confusion
• Complex lifestyles – too much to do & not enough time, constant stress
confusion/stress• Denial – not wanting to admit & accept the way things really are (re. people, places, things), & so create a variety of defenses to mask the truth
• Dysfunctional interactions with others
• deliberately Distorted info – from media, politicians, advertising, cults, corporations …..

• Ignorance – trying to figure out something without enough or the correct info
• Grandiosity – trying to DO something without actually knowing how

• Major changes (Recovery process, new work, moving, divorce…..) without research, mentoring or other info, therefore being unprepared
• Misunderstanding & differences between countries, boss & workers, men & women, people speaking different languages….

• Overwhelming amounts of info from too many different sources (especially for Introverts)
• Transitions : those in-between times, from one inner state or outer situation to another, because we don’t know what to expect

Again, here we’re mainly concerned with the kind of confusion which comes from distorted ways people communicate with themselves or others, with words & body language, either unconsciously or deliberately.

When someone says “I feel confused”, they’re combining emotions & thoughts without expressing either one!
🔺What DO you feel – angry, happy…. ?  It sounds like they’re speaking about an emotion (I feel), but this ‘feel’ only refers to thinking . (See also “Feelings aren’t facts).

🔑 What are you confused ABOUT?  The phrase actually means they doesn’t know what to think about something (the jumble in my head, conflicting opposite needs or desires…. ) – often because of CDs, obsessions & Toxic Rules

• Someone can also be (mentally) confused when we have several or opposite emotions re. the same situation at the same time – happy/sad, lonely/excited…
🟢 Instead of either/or, think in terms of layers, coming from different levels of desire, experience, need or maturity…..

No one taught us (info = mental) that having ➕ / ➖ emotions together is not unusual, & will come from the same or different ego states.
EXP: Parent – loving someone while being angry with them
Adult – relieved someone’s gone away / Inner Child: (yet) missing them…..

🧩 Without knowing this, it may seem like a dilemma. However, feeling many differing emotions at once doesn’t need to be confusing, which only comes from negative beliefs, or having a limited awareness of human complexity.

NEXT: ACoAs & Confusion #2

Double BINDS – Escaping (Part 9)

escape DBs 

of finding a way out of this tangle

PREVIOUS: DBs – Part 8b



ESCAPING DBs – requires:

• flexible thinking – giving up either/or (B & W) limitations
• a capacity to see beyond the obvious
• being curious & creative, willing to take risks
• having the courage to let go of the past & it’s ‘training’

🌱Find your own ways to “leave the field of the DB”. Be creative.
Use multiple visible & meta perspectives, which can make a difficult situation manageable. Distinguish between :
• ongoing life events (career – upper level meaning)
• a specific events (‘fight’ with boss – lower level) and
• the difference between them (the ‘fight’ isn’t going to end your career) you
Pick out positive parts of the DMs you can focus on & ignore the others: “Take what you like & leave the rest”, Al-Anon

🌱 Intense Emotional Attachment – The R’s anxiety of stepping outside the DB is the Fear of Abandonment – losing the symbiotic S&I from Sdependence on the S.

GOAL: become the center of our Adult universe (‘first position’):
• accept & love our Inner Child just as he/she is
• work to uncover our True Self
• practice emotional honesty
• own your strengths & accumulated knowledge

🌱 Doing vs Being – Separate your actions from your identity – they are not the same. We know this because there’s a big difference between how we act from damaged vs how we act from our Healthy Adult / Natural Self

🌱 Look for the Payoff – Our dilemma: while DBs really do trap us & we may complain bitterly about not ‘getting anywhere’, many ACoAs are so used to being stuck & uncomfortable they won’t do anything to change it. What’s familiar FEELS ‘comforting’ – & we hate feeling uncomfortable. SO – which is it? Are we comfortable or miserable in our DB world? Pick a side.

EXPWIC / ACoA ‘logic’ =: If I’m damned either way, that gets me off the hook. “I’m crazy & irresponsible because my hormones are out of whack OR I’m manic-depressive, OR just plain lazy….”
SO – I don’t have to do hard / painful emotions work, I don’t have to take care of myself & still get to be loyal to the family. Yipeee! – NOT

COMPROMISE – There are always options, & not all compromise is bad! AND not a sign of weakness. It shows you care about someone or something beyond yourself.
• We don’t have to like some that can make the needed shift, but if they help us get un-stuck, they’re worth it. If we stop seeing every situation as all-or-nothing, we often find at least the start of a solution.

Aristotle noted that doing ‘virtuous’ things isn’t fun at first, but can become fun once you get in the habit. And to create the habit we may have to push ourselves. Since many of us are not allowed to be self-motivating, outside help to get past the inertia can be the incentive to get our engine turning over

EXP: we might be given the DB: “Don’t be childish – do what you’re told!” MEANING:
1. act like an adult, AND at the same time
2. be a child & obey, sometimes sweetened with “Besides it’ll be fun / feel good / work out, once you get going”…..
Pick a side – or a 3rd option – & stick to it!

PARADOX – A positive use of paradox can also be an escape from a DB. The Inner Child loves to do the opposite of what it’s told. Right?
• Can’t sleep, but desperately want to?
Decide to stay awake all night, to remove the pressure. You may stay up as long as you want, OR —> just not having to will do the trick, & soon your eyes will close on their own
• Afraid to go to a party?
Decide to only stay for 15 min & then leave. Removing the pressure of having to be on & being acceptable allows you to go, & maybe even enjoy it enough to stay a little longer. Or not. (From “No way out? 3 ways to help….” )

NEXT:  DBs # 10

Double BINDS – Re-Framing (Part 7)

sharng food
in a whole new light! 

PREVIOUS: Double Binds (Part 8)



• A frame is the focus of attention we give to something (DBs #4a & b).
❖ Re-Framing (R-F) assigns another meaning to any upsetting situation, which helps us identify, interpret & respond to it in new ways.
It’s a powerful tool for solving problems based on assumptions that insure stuck-ness. (See ‘AGREEMENT Frame’)

• Dealing with DBs requires making cognitive leaps by using a broader perspective, by putting toxic communications into a larger context. While re-framing by itself seldom resolves a problem, it offers a way to “softening it” so a solution can be uncovered that’s acceptable, if not always always liked.

Re-framing asks “How can I think about or respond to this differently?”
This shift leads to self-empowerment, which leads to higher functioning & satisfaction, taking us from no-win to no-lose. (MORE…)

ACoAs are used to feeling trapped (‘Learned Helplessness’), but eventually in Recovery we can come to value the inherent freedom of dealing with OR resolving DBs. (also: Seligman – slideshare ). While we originally experienced DBs as a horrible trap, we can now see them as opportunities to choose what works for us.

As adults we have access to many different feelings (Es) & perspectives (Ts) to life’s events – like how each of us grieves a death differently, or how we show love. This means we can’t be “wrong” when expressing our True Self.
★ Damage is the same for everyone, but our essence is specific to us, so we can learn about & pursue our own style! (Grieving & DBs)

TYPES of Re-Framing
🧩 Context
Figuring out where a ‘problem situation’ or reaction would fit better – the context most appropriate for it, that would make it useful, an asset or skill
EXP: Dancing in the isles in a conservative church / synagogue / mosque would be severely frowned on, but not at a Pentecostal or African-American Baptist church!
Shifting the focus, either to a different part of the problem, & asking: “What else could this mean?”
OR seeing that the same situation can have a variety of meanings – good, bad or different

EXP: Someone was frowning ‘at me’. Were they annoyed with me? OR maybe they were :
• worried about a loved one
• thinking about a problem to solve
• looking at someone/ thing past my shoulder that upset them….—> none of which had anything to do with me!

Changing the meaning of a word or term, often done in marketing, where the same product is given a totally new purpose, a different use &/or presented to new markets.
It can also be the way a phrase is accented, as in the picture
EXP: Many pre-Christmas retailers will say they’ll help you “Pay less” with special deals, but the Berlin lingerie store Blush recommends a ‘smaller’ holiday gift: “Make your loved ones happy with less!”

Sooner or later we may run into someone who loves to ask unfair or impossible DB Qs – the kind that try to force the answer the (S) wants, no matter which way you answer.
Unless we can step outside the Bind, we’ll be in a catch-22 – angry & possibly humiliated. These Qs are usually made up of 2 parts: Reference to a ‘bad’ thing or an assumed action PLUS the issue of frequency (★ MORE…. ⬇️)

The S starts with an accusation OR assumption about you, then asks if you’re ‘still at it’ or ‘will be doing it’.
By framing the Q as closed, you’re expected to only give a Yes/No or other one-word answer, without a chance to address the actual topic
EXP: “Are still lying? / Have you stopped beating your wife? / When do you want to help us? / How much money can you contribute?”….

RE-FRAMING: The only sane & self-respecting way to handle this kind of verbal trickery is to treat it as if you heard an open question, so that you respond to the underlying assumption rather than the closed question.
EXP: “What makes you think I’m a liar? / I’ve never beaten my wife & never will / I don’t have time in my schedule to help / I’ve already contribute all I can”…. (Open vs Closed Qs)

NEXT: DBs – Part 10

Satir’s COMPUTER Role


so you can’t touch me




(Twisted form of Intellect)
STYLE: About 15% of the population uses this defense
✶ At first glance they may seem poised & self-assured, but do not mistake them for someone who is centered, grounded & calm. If they were, they would radiate presence, warmth, & compassion. Instead, Computers make others feel cold & alone – put off, not understood

• always very correct, very reasonable, very logical & in control – called Mr Cool or Star Trek’s Mr Spock by NPL-ers.
• focus on & prefer context, removing the human element
• don’t show emotions, like machines, are detached, talk in a monotone or with a dry delivery
• never let anyone know what they think or are up to, never commit to a definite position, afraid to make a mistake or not know something

• often make value judgments without indicating whose opinion it is, implying that = naturally everyone would agree
• always thinking or evaluating, holding back, reserved, self-protectivecomputr type
• deflect any responsibility, always dissociated from what’s  going on around them, deny the value of everything except ‘facts’ & logical decisions

• continually in teaching  mode OR withdrawn in contemplation
• can sound like a dictionary, need to use the ‘right’ words as buffers to hide inner feelings:
generalize, omit/ delete parts of a thought, use long abstract words, speak in the 3rd person (“Someone needs to do it”)….. especially when questioned or confronted

• unfortunately considered an ideal for men, who are discouraged to experience & express emotions, so Computers work hard to appear super-cool on the outside, even if they’re churning like mad on the inside.
Good for accountants & bureaucrats

Energetic Description (from Dr.MJ Bulbrook)
• block out others & the context they’re in by creating rigid boundaries.  Spiritually unavailable, or undeveloped with holes
Potential harm to receiver: the shielding energy of the Computer is so strong it likely impossible to have an even exchange of energy. Another’s opinion is not heard or over- ridden without considering their input

Statements: “I am ultra-reasonable, calm, cool & collected. I have all the answers ,  Rational thinking is superior to emotion , Say the right words, with no feeling, don’t react , Perhaps we should take a moment to step back & review the situation”

Stance: They use auditory digital cues (‘analytical disconnected language’)
• talk to themselves, learn things by making sense of them, experience tension in neck and shoulders, can take on characteristics of other Roles
computer brain • body square on or maybe tilted back a little, resting on rear leg
• head level, eyebrows slightly pulled in, arms crossed under chin to prop head up (like the‘Thinker’)
• sit rigidly, not moving a muscle – pushing away feelings & people
• physically isolating themselves from any issue

Gain Power: by pretending to know it all & making the audience seem dumb.  Similar to Blamers, since they both stress their superiority over others
Aim: to provoke envy so others will ally with them, and to be seen as strong (hide feeling weak)

Reacting to a Computer: (via NLP) if you use a Blamer or Placating stance, they will switch to Blamer or Placater. Then you can recalibrate. The Distracter stance usually makes them worse

Reality: Computers feel exposed when showing emotions, maybe because they have  a hard time controlling them. They were probably shamed, blamed or emotionally overwhelmed as kids for having feelings
• When stressed, Computers desperately try to feel secure by intellectualizing everything, to stop from falling apart in case a real emotion ever broke through

Negative: • bore people to numbness by pontificating know-it-all
& using abstract language
• assumed to be cold-hearted & insensitive
• in close relationships, can’t connect emotionally, can’t give love or provide other personal needs – causing many problems & ending up isolated
• male Computers frustrate any attempt women make to communication emotionally, & just can’t understand why “she’s getting so upset when I’m being so reasonable!”

Positive: A good person to go to when needing specific, detailed info on an topic (research, medical, school work, travel…), anything not emotion-related

NEXT: ‘Controlling’ & Abandonment



so nobody can be upset with me!


SITE: Communication Styles & Roles




4. DISTRACTERS (Twisted form of Spontaneity)
STYLE: 0.5% of people will typically use this defense
• at first they seem like a lot of fun, but gradually one notices that everything they do is not quite relevant, not quite to the point
• can come across with a ‘who cares’ attitude, are hungry for attention & deflect responsibility from themselves, other people & situations
• can be silly to talk to, funny or confusing, the way young kids act or when people flirt, so are not taken seriously

• distract themselves & others from painful emotions & events by getting attention, being amusing &/or a pain in the butt (EXP: pick fluff off a jacket, make ‘deep’ statements, throw objects, tap pencils….)
• use a range of emotions from anger to guilt to avoid an issue OR manipulate how others feel
• when talking they use generalizations, leave out important facts, shift focus unpredictably from present to past, reality to fantasy, physical to mental issues

• become easily confused when stressed, don’t know what to do, so grasp at straws instead of doing something positive
• react to any kind of threat by going off on a tangent, investing all their energy in side-tracking, hoping it’ll go away if they tap-dance long enough
• under pressure, they cycle thru the other 3 Roles to look for some relief – one minute Blaming someone for being rude, next Placate, then to Computer mode & shut offconfused

• often unfocused, what they say or do is un-related to what’s actually going on, they ignore Qs, respond by changing the subject or ask a Q that’s off-topic
— Others may react by saying: “What has that got to do with what I’ve just said?”.

Energetic Description (by Dr. Bulbrook)
• not grounded, block out Self, others & current context, so the flow of energy is irrational & the circuitry can’t get wired up properly. Not connect spiritually
Potential harm to receiver: they give up trying to relate, unable to have a stable or a positive exchange of energy in the relationship.
OR get tapped into trying to make it ‘all better’

Statements: “If I break up their concentration, I’ll be safe , If I ignore it, it’ll go away , Why don’t we just put that aside now and look at something else , Du-du, du-du, du-du….. the Martians are coming!” (Earth to Mary?!)

Stance: They use kinchange directionesthetic cues
• asymmetrical position, one hand up, one down, head cocked, maybe standing on one leg or leaning against the wall
• body in motion, tilting a little at various angles, uneven ‘balance’
• smiling wryly, one eyebrow raised, implying “see if you can top this!”
★ takes on body posture of the other 3 Roles when switching modes

Gain Power: by successfully diverting everyone’s attention from unpleasantness
Aim: to evoke a longing for fun, so theyll be tolerated

Reacting to a Distracter: (via NLP) You can use the Computer stance until they switch, then recalibrate to Placater or Blamer. Be careful: the super reasonable attitude can also trigger a stronger Distracter response in them

Reality: • they just want to evade any confrontation
• role may seem to be a relief from stress, but actually leaves them feeling lonely & without meaning or purpose (useless)
• are convinced that nobody really wants them
• don’t believe they would be heard or respected if they said what they really thought & felt

Negative:  • the pattern actually serves to create conflict
• their behaviors are inappropriate to serious situations
• makes people change their focus, so confuses & annoys others who can’t understand what the Distracter is getting at, & therefore don’t know how to respondfun

Positive: • great for flirting and having fun
• can be a powerful strategy in negotiations, if the other party is playing hardball, because of unpredictability in the stance, as if ready to grab the desired ‘object’