A schema, or life trap, is an unconditional assumption about ourselves and others that develop in childhood and become self perpetuating over time and remain throughout our life. It affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how we interact with others and the world. When these are triggered by an event, a situation, a memory, a person, a thought etc. we respond in ineffective and unhealthy ways. Schemas have a significant influence on how our identities are formed and are more resistant to change than even our ‘core beliefs’ are.
When I was inpatient, I had to take a test to determine what my top 3 schemas were. I had 6 that were very close in number, so I use my top 6. My top six schemas are
- Social Isolation/Alienation
- Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness
- Insufficient Self-Control.Self-Discipline
So what do these all mean, now that I’ve just thrown a bunch of random words at you?
Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness refers to the belief that whatever you do is not good enough, that you must always strive harder. The motivation for this belief is the desire to meet extremely high internal demands for competence, usually to avoid internal criticism. People with this schema show impairments in important life areas, such as health, pleasure or self esteem. Usually these people’s parent were never satisfied and gave their children love that was conditional on outstanding achievement.
The Insufficient Self Control/Self-Discipline refers to the inability to tolerate any frustration in reaching one’s goals, as well as an inability to restrain expression of one’s impulses or feelings. When lack of self-control is extreme, criminal or addictive behavior may rule your life. Parents who did not model self control, or who did not adequately discipline their children, may predispose them to have this schema as adults.
- Approval Seeking/Recognition-Seeking,
- Emotional Inhibition,
- Enmeshment/ Undeveloped Self,
- Vulnerability to Harm and Illness,
- Abandonment/Instability, and
- Emotional Deprivation.
So now what? I’ve told you what my deepest, most secret issues are, and even explained them a bit. Now we’re going to delve in them more as this week goes on. I plan on taking each one of the six, and going into deeper detail for every day this week. This has been a therapy assignment that my therapist has been ragging on me to do, so I’m killing two birds with one stone here. If there is interest, as my final piece in schemas, I’ll do a post about those other schemas that don’t affect me.
I hope I’ve not bored you too much through this post, but I’m excited to delve deeper into the various sschemas I have here, and I hope you’ll join me as I do a little self therapy 🙂
Based on these definitions I’ve provided, and the titles of the other schemas, do you have any guess on what yours may be? Let me know in the comments below!