So I think I’ve given up writing about schemas for the time being. MY schemas anyway. I have two more I haven’t talked about, and I don’t think I’m ready to approach them just yet. I’ll get there, but not tonight.
Tonight I’m going to talk about all the schemas I don’t have, just for those of you who may relate to them.
These schemas include:
- Emotional Deprivation
- Vulnerability to Harm and Illness
- Emotional Inhibition
So what do all these mean?
Emotional Deprivation is the belief that one’s primary emotional needs will never be met by others. These needs can be described in three categories: Nurture-or needs for affection, closeness, and love; Empathy-needs to be listened to and understood; Protection-needs for advice, guidance and direction. Generally parents are cold or removed and don’t adequately care for the child in ways that would adequately meet the above needs.
Abandonment/Instability refers to the expectation that one will soon lose anyone with whom an emotional attachment is formed. The person believes that, one way or another, close relationships will imminently end. As children, these people may have experienced the divorce or death of parents. This schema can also arise when parents have been inconsistent in attending to the child’s needs; for instance, there may have been frequent occasions on which the child was left alone of unattended to for extended periods.
Dependence/Incompetence refers to the belief that one is not capable of handling day-to-day responsibilities competently and independently. People with this schema often rely on others excessively for help in areas such as decision making and initiating new tasks. Generally, parents did not encourage these children to act independently and develop confidence in their ability to take care of themselves.
Vulnerability to Harm and Illness is the belief that one is always on the verge of experiencing a major catastrophe (financial, natural, medical,criminal, etc.). It may lead to taking excessive precautions to protect oneself. Usually there was an extremely fearful parent who passed on the idea that the world is a dangerous place.
Enmeshment/Undeveloped-Self is a pattern in which you experience too much emotional involvement with others-usually parents or romantic partners. It may also include the sense that one has too little individual identity or inner direction, causing a feeling of emptiness or of floundering. This schema is often brought on by parents who are so controlling, abusive, or overprotective that the child is discouraged from developing a separate sense of self.
Failure is the belief that one is incapable of performing as well as one’s peers in areas such as career, school, or sports. These people may feel stupid, inept, or untalented. People with this schema often do not try to achieve because they believe that they will fail. This schema may develop if children are put down and treated as if they are a failure in school and other spheres of accomplishment. Usually the parents did not give enough support, discipline, and encouragement for the child to persist and succeed in areas of achievement, such as schoolwork or sports.
Subjugation refers to the belief that one must submit to the control of others in order to avoid negative consequences. Often these people fear that unless they submit, others will get angry or reject them. People who subjugate ignore their own desires and feelings. In childhood there generally was a very controlling parent.
Emotional Inhibition is the belief that you must suppress spontaneous emotions and impulses, especially anger, because any expression of feelings would harm others or lead to loss of self-esteem, embarrassment, retaliation or abandonment. You may lack spontaneity, or be viewed as uptight, This schema is often brought on by parents who discouraged the expression of feelings.
Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking is the placing of too much emphasis on gaining the approval and recognition of others at the expense of one’s genuine needs and sense of self. It can also include excessive emphasis on status and appearance as a means of gaining recognition and approval. People with this schema are generally extremely sensitive to rejections by others and try hard to fit in. Usually they did not have their needs for unconditional love and acceptance met by their parents during their early years.
Entitlement/Grandiosity is the belief that you should be able to do, say, or have whatever you want immediately regardless of whether that hurts others or seems reasonable to them. You are not interested in what other people need, nor are you aware of the long term cost to you of alienating others. Parents who over-indulge their children and who do not set limits about what is socially appropriate may foster the development of this schema. Alternatively, some children develop this schema to compensate for feelings of emotional deprivation or defectiveness.
Negativity/Pessimism is a pervasive pattern of focusing on the negative aspects of life while minimizing the positive aspects. People with this schema are unable to enjoy things that are going well in their lives because they are so concerned with negative details or potential future problems. They worry about possible failures no matter how well things are going for them. Usually these people had a parent who worried excessively.
Punitiveness is the belief that people deserve to be harshly punished for making mistakes. People with this schema are critical and unforgiving of both themselves and others. They tend to be angry about imperfect behaviors much of the time. In childhood, these people usually had at least one parent who put too much emphasis on performance and had a punitive style of controlling behavior.
What is interesting to me is that as I was typing this out tonight, I realized that I have some of the traits of quite a few of these schemas as well. Emotional Inhibition is a big one I related to because I suppress my emotions so much because I’m afraid of the consequences of showing them. Hell, the last time I got really desperate and felt hopeless, it led to such intense feelings of anger that I ended up with 2 felony charges and 4 misdemeanor charges. They were all dismissed, thank God, but that was only because my attorney managed to get me a plea in abeyance. Can you blame me for being a little scared of letting my feelings out after that?
Negativity/Pessimism is another one that I strongly related to. I struggle with seeing the bright side of things, even when there is no downside! I mean, take Josh getting this new job for example. There are so many positives that are coming along with this, yet I’m still petrified and worrying about all the completely hypothetical ‘what-ifs’. I think this is also closely tied to the Vulnerability to Harm and Illness schema, because I constantly worry that we are on the verge of financial ruin, or that a natural disaster could strike us at any given moment.
The Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self schema was another one that I saw myself in. I’ve lost so much of who I used to be, it’s like I’m an extension of Josh, which I don’t want. Yes, I’m his better half, but even better halves need to be able to identify who they truly are. I’ve started doing that, if you recall one of my previous posts, I discuss who I am, and what I am, deep down inside.
I also related to some the Dependence/Incompetence traits because when I’m cycling into a downward spiral, I truly can not handle the day-today responsibilities of normal life and do need help with many activities that are typically handled individually.
And then there’s Failure. Oh, Failure. I’m surprised this isn’t actually one of my schemas to begin with. I feel so stupid and untalented all the time. I compare myself endlessly to others, even though I shouldn’t. I’m petrified of failure, so much so that I avoid even trying. I’m working on overcoming this trait, slowly but surely. And I think I’m making progress too.
I also related to the Abandonment/Instability schema as well as the Emotional Deprivation schema. I am terrified of losing anyone I’ve formed an emotional attachment to, to the point that if I’ve befriended you, I will probably soon try and push you away because I know the relationship is going to end anyway, and I don’t want to be hurt by you ending it first. This ties in to the Emotional Deprivation because I truly think that no one can ever meet my primary emotional needs. At least, I did feel this way at one point, but thanks to the unwavering support I’ve received from my husband, this thought process has changed.
I wonder if I were to retake the schema test, if I would have any of these schemas now, especially since I’ve spent so much time working through the schemas I actually do have, trying to resolve them. So what about you? Which of these schemas do you think fit you to a T? What do you think you could do to start changing these life traps that you’re stuck in? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear!