Day 13: So how do these schema things operate?

We’ve discussed all 18 schemas, well, all except two, which I promise I will eventually write about, but today I want to talk about the most important thing of all…once you know what your schemas are…how do you go about changing them?

First off, you need to know that there are two primary schema operations: schema healing, and schema perpetuation. I bet you can guess which one is the more valuable one, right? All thoughts, behaviors, and feelings may be seen as being part of one of these operations.

Schema perpetuation is the routine processes in which schemas function and perpetuate themselves. This is accomplished by cognitive distortions, self defeating patterns, and schema coping styles. Cognitive distortions are a central part of cognitive therapy and consist of negative interpretations and predictions of life events. The schema will highlight or exaggerate information that confirms the validity of that schema and will minimize of even deny information that contradicts it. Unhealthy behavior patterns will perpetuate the schemas existence. Just as an example, a person with the Mistrust/Abuse schema may seek out abusive relationships in adulthood and remain in them, providing constant evidence that this schema is true. I can attest to this, I seemed to subconsciously pick out douche-bag after douche-bag to date during my twenties. Even Josh wasn’t the sweetheart he is now when we first met. I just thought I deserved to be treated with disrespect and no appreciation because I was a worthless person. Now that I’ve grown and worked through my insecurities, I can see that I deserve so much better, and I have higher standards for my relationships nowadays. This goes for all my relationships with people, seeing as I’m involved in only one romantic relationship, lol.

So, in order to fully understand how schemas work, we need to recognize that there are three schema coping styles that are out there. These styles are schema surrender, schema avoidance, and schema overcompensation. It is through these three styles that schemas exert their influence on our behavior and work to ensure their own survival. We’ll go into deeper detail about these types of coping skills in future blog posts.

So now. Schema therapy. When treating people with schema therapy, one of the most important innovations is the concept of mode. I’ll define a mode as the set of schemas or schema operations that are currently active for an individual Or you could think of it as simply a mindset or state that you might be temporarily in. I’m sure you can relate to the idea that we all have different parts of ourselves that we go in and out of all the time. Just as an example, if someone tells she is having a bad day because her toddler is in his raging bull mode, you’d probably know exactly what she meant.

The exact pattern of work with modes will vary from session to session in therapy. Nut some of the more common activities in mode work can be described. The history of the mode is often discussed; the person will speak about when the mode started and what was going on at the time. Connections are made between modes and current problems. Dialogues can be conducted between different modes when there is a conflict. Just as an example, a miser mode and a playboy mode might have it out over what type of car to buy. There is always an effort to link the mode work with other aspects of the therapy.

So what do you think of all this? Does it sound like it’s just mumbo-jumbo new age hippy therapy, or does it have the ring of truth in it? Are you more or less interested in discovering what your modes are, and how you can work through them in therapy? Do you have family members or friends who you recognize some of these schemas in, and does it make you more or less empathetic towards them? Feel free to let me know below in the comments! Also, please, give me your opinion on this topic of how schemas work and how modes tie into schema therapy.

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