I can do to get going

PREVIOUS: Putting things off, #3

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

SITE: ‘Beating Procrastination


2. NOW we put things off because of…. (in Part 3)
3. WHAT makes it HARD to act
a. Internal FEAR of // b. External FEAR of….

Internal & external fears can show up as: (cont.)
Putting off tasks. Many of us find that our whole life is permeated with the ‘habit’ of waiting to the last-minute to do things. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the ‘thing’ is something we would like to do or something we dread. We just put it off & off & off.

— Then comes crunch time – the deadline has caught up to us. We’re in a panic, scrambling to do the task, but now it’s going to be half-baked. We don’t have enough time to do a thorough job, don’t read the instruction correctly (or at all), leave out or miss something. And by leaving it tot he lat minute it can never be done right
— OR the deadline has past & we don’t get the benefit of a discount, miss a class or a needed product, a reunion, a party….

▶ Of course we’re painfully aware of all this, but as long as we’re stuck: worried
— we’re full of anxiety & S-H for not doing it Perfectly
— we scare ourselves with dire projections & predictions about how we’re going to get judged, punished, fired….
— hate ourselves for letting a desired or favorable opportunity pass by

But, like any good addict, we’ll do it the same way all over again, & again! WHAT? How can this be an addiction? WELL…. in this case it’s the addiction to: Fear + Adrenalin + S-H = Drama. This formula has become so much a part of our lives since childhood that we keep doing things (or not) to re-enforce the chemical surges it creates.

Yet under this self-inflicted ‘excitement’, the WIC is just trying to protect itself the only way it knows how – by NOT doing anything. Yet it’s not enough to just label it as part of our ACoA damage, which it is. We need to know how it all got started (Past) & how we perpetuate it (Present).

4. GOOD Stuff can deter us too – we often sabotage when things get too good!
• fear of success, as that would disobey basic Toxic Rules, and we’d have a lot of responsibility which the WIC believes it can not handle – even tho our adult can/could

• not allowed to be happy, based on the belief that life is hard, exclusively, AND that we aren’t worthy of having good things anyway
• stay loyal to the family by not out-doing them – we must also be a failure, don’t show them up, stay in the family mobile, don’t rock the boat…

• can’t be decisive: sometimes there are places we thinks we should go to, but really didn’t like, or we don’t feel well, or want to do something else, or do nothing at all…. even when it’s potentially pleasurable or valuable.

But we aren’t allowed to say NO to the inner Pressure-er (“what will they think if I don’t show up? / what if I miss out on something / maybe this will have the perfect answer to all my problems?….”). So instead of firmly deciding Yes or No, we dither & obsess, do nothing & then hate ourselvesindecisive

• are never supposed to say NO to what someone else suggests, offers, wants – especially if it’s good for us. Besides “Why do they want to be with me? Why are they being so nice?” So for those times we don’t rush to people-please, we make promises we eventually flake out on, make excuses or just lie, until people get angry &/or give up on us.
— That comes both as a relief – of pressure, and a big pain – of yet again feeling ‘abandoned’! Trapped in our own no-win game, we blame others AND are filled with self-abuse

NEXT: ACoAs & Procrastination #5

REBELLION vs Compliance (Part 1)

I’ll do whatever you want, so you won’t leave me

PREVIOUS: Wanting Revenge #2



• This is normal for the teen years, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do ‘when you grow up’, so you’re not a carbon copy of your parents (yuck), wanting to be part of your peer group….

• In a reasonably healthy family you’re given a certain amount of leeway in this, to grow & stretch. Healthy parents are not threatened by this stage – even if it makes them uncomfortable & a little nuts. They know you’re a separate person & will find out for yourself
• It does not mean they neglect you, ignore what you’re doing or just can’t be bothered. It means they’re watching & waiting, and caring, not overly imposing themselves – but also not OK letting you get into trouble!Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.58 AM

• When you’re allowed to be different from your folks, can disagree with their politics, religion, philosophy of life, or just plain – what to wear – eventually you get to find out what you really like & don’t like, who the real you is!

• Kids with this kind of freedom eventually (usually by their 20’s) find they do in fact agree with much of what they grew up with – the values, tastes, lifestyle… even if expressed in their own personal way.
AND ways they are different from family is accepted & maybe even admired – or at least respected.

However – if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t grow up in that kind of family!  As ACoAs:
a. Neglected : if we were ignored, unguided, un-nurtured – we would, of course, be left with a lot of anger, sadness, loneliness & a deep sense of hopelessness. As kids, we would Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.16 AMconclude that we didn’t matter, were invisible, had no reason to do anything for ourselves, & are incompetent anyway.

• Maybe a relative, a neighbor or teacher took an interest in us & helped some – but it’s not the same as having our parents explain things, show us by example & help us try out things. Everything from personal hygiene, cooking, house repairs, arts & recreation, social skills – to homework, relationships, spiritual practice….

Our Reaction
: We spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming, hiding out, reading, studying, maybe hanging out in the library, with a friend – but not likely.
NOW: ACoAs in this group don’t accomplish as much as they could, have trouble pursue dreams, goals, talents, interests … in spite of being just as talented, intelligent & capable as any other human being.
After all, if our parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how to do all the things kids need to know, so how can we possibly manage anything ourself ? !

• This may not seem like rebellion – but it is.  It’s passive resistance: “If they didn’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of me!”.  True, there’s fear, a deep sense of not knowing how, but the refusal to try comes from rage, which underpins the passivity.

Even so, some of us were told that they love us – even though they rarely or never acted like it. In stead, WE are the ones who love them – desperately, no matter how cruel & neglectful. We’re the ones who don’t want to let go!

b. Over-Coerced : At the other extreme, many of us were bullied, over-controlled, Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.15.41 AMmanipulated – forced to do & be whatever one or both parents (& other caretakers) wanted, with little or no regard to our individual personality.

• As kids we were considered ‘tabula raza’ – that’s Latin for blank slate. Parents of the baby boomer generation (& before) were taught that children come into this world with no identity or personality OR that they’re born bad, & it’s up to the parents to form them according the what’s ‘right’ – to write on the slate as they wished.

• Alcoholic & other narcissistic parents, who by definition had low self-esteem & fear of abandonment (FoA) themselves, could not tolerate any sign of individuality in their children, ⚡️which they stubbornly assumed to be disobedience, deliberate disrespect, even perversion!
☀️Such parents / family ruthlessly suppressed the reality that every child is born with their own specific personality type, & genetic makeup (even twins) which needs to be acknowledged & nurtured.

NEXT: Rebellion vs COMPLIANCE (Part 2)

RESPONDING to Controllers (Part 3)

 Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 7.55.09 AM 

PREVIOUS : Responding to Controllers (#2)

SITE: “21 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Responding to Conflict


WHY ‘Control’ Responses to Controllers (Cs)?
Because it’s Empowering, to not be or stay a victim.
THE GOAL is to heal enough so we can speak up from the Adult ego state right away, but only if it’s safe & appropriate to insure not hurting ourselves. That way our frustration, hurt & anger won’t build up – providing short & long-term benefits.
✳️ This ability comes with lowered WIC anxiety (Es) & practicing things to say (Ts)

Being KIND to ourselves
When we react impulsively or fight back we may temporarily feel powerful, but it doesn’t help self-esteem & personal growth. Even so, sometimes it’s the only way to get thru to a C. & stop them from seeing us as weak & vulnerable. Many Cs only understand ‘tit-for-tabe coolt’! even tough it doesn’t usually resolve conflict or protect us from further attacks

• It’s best when we can mentally take a step back (T), to breathe, process how we feel (Es) & check which of our buttons got pushed. If we can address the problem in a positive way in the moment, great. If not, consider what’s best for yourself & maybe deal with the offender later. In any case, the less we RE-act the more self-empowering & peaceful we’ll feel

Freedom of Speech
Other people seem to think it’s OK to say whatever they want, but we are afraid to do the same. We need to give ourselves permission to know & express our point of view as well. But over-reacting to volatile or oppositional opinions has to do with our childhood wounds, & not just to what’s being said in the present. Be truthful, but don’t get into a pissing match. Al-Anon : “Say what you mean but don’t say it mean.”

Minimize Negativity
Nurturing all-consuming anger at someone for their comments or actions only hurts us, carrying painful energy into other parts of our life.  Malachy McCourt (actor, writer & participant in Occupy Wall Street, 10/2011) once quipped: “Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

For ACoAs, obsessions come from our damaged past. We can privately do rage-work, & process our wounds in Program & therapy, so we don’t keep reacting in ways that make us feel bad apurposebout ourselves afterwards.

What’s our Purpose?
To get the most our of life we have to be clear about our goal in each situation & act accordingly.  What our Adult self wants to accomplish & what the WIC wants are often 2 very different things. Any time we get riled up about something, remember it’s the WIC or PP, but how we respond will depend on whether the ‘Unit’ is in charge or not.

EXP: One week-day evening Ally was in a church auditorium waiting to hear a concert. In the back vestibule a maintenance man was polishing the floor, & the machine was very noisy!
Ally went over to the man, asking him to close the door adjoining the sanctuary, but he refused, so she went back & sat down. Soon a man in the audience also went to the worker, & lo-and-behold — the door was closed! Ally smiled.
She knew that many years ago she would have taken offense & been very angry that the worker ignored her (a woman) yet ‘listened’ to a man. BUT now she was not upset at all – her only GOAL was to shut out some of the irritating noise – rather than being respected or validated, which was not the workers job !

Where’s the Focus?
The hardest thing for ACoAs is to not take things personally. Whether someone is mean or just tactless – they’re telling us about themselves – NOT US!
It’s most useful to mirror back to them what we’ve heard: ‘Why did you say that?”, or ‘What did you mean by that?”…. Where attention goes, energy flows. We can only focus fully on one things at a time. The sooner we clear up an obsession, the faster we get our life back. Often speaking up for ourselves will put our energy into balance again.

NEXT: Self-Care around Controllers – #1

‘Controlling’ & Abandonment (Part 2)


give me acid-reflux!

Previous: Controlling & A. (Part 1)

Review Posts: My Rights – Qs
 ACoAs & Having Rights


LONG-TERM Abandonment (A.)
experiences, especially in childhood, inevitably creates intense fear & shame in children. Total dependence on caretakers make them very vulnerable, so too much deprivation will feel life-threatening, & in some cases it is!  As terror grows, so does the compulsion grow to control oneself & the environment – to feel a little less unsafe by not being at the mercy of others.

EMOTIONAL A.  Children have to hide the parts of themselves not considered acceptable by the family (see the “Laundry List”) – to not get rejected. We were told what we felt was not true or legitimate, and DON’T make mistakes, have needs, be successful, show emotions …
We heard:  “You don’t have anything to cry about so stop being such a baby , Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about , That really didn’t hurt , You have no right to be angry”…

• Ignored or punished childhood PMES needs cause developmental damage, the same as nutritional deficiencies, like sailors in the past who developed scurvy (internal bleeding, connective tissues weakness & sudden death) from lack of vitamin C in their diets during long trips.

For ACoAs, this will eventually show up as fear of taking appropriate risks, lack of trust, & fear of intimacy, not having a personal dream to follow, lack of healthy communication skills (how to talk to oneself kindly, how to make small talk, how to stand up for oneself), a weak sense of self…..

• Think of accumulated old A. pain (terror & rage) as acid, filling a deep well buried in our unconscious. We may not taste it all the time, but when it bubbles up it’s emotional heart-burn!  When someone or something bumps up against an unhealed wound in our psyche, the lid get blown off the reservoir, releasing a spurt of that old paScS-Hin (like when – not getting a text back, a broken promise, being left out, accused wrongly or having to wait too long….)

Main hidden emotion is SELF-HATE
Not allowed to ‘be all you can be’ in our family, the very essence of our being was punished & rejected! Slowly we became controlling toward ourselves, thinking this would please them

Main visible Emotion is FEAR
Not ‘being in our power’ makes us terribly vulnerable to everyone & everything outside of ourself, so it’s easy to let ourself be controlled, thinking we’ll be taken care of. All it gets us is more repression & damage

Main visible Emotion is ANGER
Not being internally ‘allowed’ to meet our needs pushes us to insist that others do it for us – any way they can. We desperately try to arrange our world to fit an ideal so we’ll feel safer.  We become the ‘control freak we hate so much in others!

In the present ACoAs often accuse other adults of abandoning us when we feel hurt by some interaction or loss.  What we’re actually experiencing is the WIC’s unresolved old A. pain.
The intensity of our reaction is usually out of proportion to what’s actually happening – now.

Naturally there are real-life situations that make us sad, frustrated, angry… but unless an event is extreme (death of a loved one, a life-threatening attack or illness, a fire…), most situations don’t warrant our level of reaction. Remember “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”

When others “A.” us: When someone we’re hungry to be with doesn’t respond right back – we feel S-H but also get very angry. We’re as devastated as if they had threatened to take away our livelihood or our home, which are NOT = to being ignored or put off. Yet we get just as scared & blame ourselves, wanting to control them to stop the pain.

When we Abandon others: We also have great FoA when we aren’t perfect. Talking too much, asking questions, expressing strong emotions – or standing up for ourselves! – are NOT = to punching them, yet ACoAs can feel the same anxiety & self-hate as if we had!  So we over-explain, withdraw or grovel – to stave off being abused &/or left like we originally were at home!

NEXT: Controlling & Abandonment (Part 3)