Tag Archives: Psychology

12 Pitfalls and Blocks to Personal Growth and Improvements

mousetrap

Why do so many self-improvement projects fizzle away? The best of our intentions sometimes seem to dwindle away within weeks. Why do we start only to quit? What is it that stops us from improving? Below we will explore a few of the many blocks and pitfalls.

Fear or Uncertainty
Fear is can be a subtle culprit. It could be a fear of failure, “If I don’t try then I can’t fail.” It could also be a fear of success, “If I lose all that weight, then have to keep it off.” Another fear may be, “What will people think if I fail?” The fear could also be the uneasiness of doing something new or going into unexplored territory.

Thinking it will be Easy – Unrealistic Expectations
Sometimes an idea sounds great, but the reality is that it takes work. Say you go to a jam session and get inspired to start practicing that old saxophone or guitar in your closet. It will be great. Maybe you decide to start painting again. You daydream about how great it will be, but the daily repetition of practice soon puts the dream to rest. Things often look easier when some else is doing it.

Getting Caught Up In the Euphoria – a Common Pitfall
Maybe it’s a book. Maybe it was a video. Sometimes people make rash decisions then do something foolish. An example is Mike wants to lose some weight so he spends $375 on a one-year health club membership that he only uses for 2 months. Maybe Jan decides to write more on her blog and after a free webinar, she spends $550 on a writing course that she only one-quarter way completes. Generally, it is not wise to purchase anything until you are already in motion with a track record. Otherwise, it often leads to waste.

Seminar Addiction
Rather than getting started, some people just keep going to every class and seminar they can find on a given subject. They love the seminar highs but never get to the real work. Lodging for out of town weekends can also be costly. If you purchase any materials they are selling the cost increases even more. The seminars become a substitute for doing what needs to be done.

Preparation and the Leaning Addiction
A person may buy some used books and start reading. Next, he finds free videos on the internet. The reading and videos continue as the learning becomes more interesting than the original goal. He becomes an expert on the subject but never takes action, much like an expert in gardening who has no garden. Preparation and learning are important, but often they can be tools of procrastination.

Stuck at a Phase
May people reach a plateau and stop. It is easy to find a new discovery or make a certain accomplishment then stop. Often in therapy, for example, a person becomes mesmerized by some new discovery and never goes beyond the point. They become experts on their condition but do little to get past it.

Not prioritizing
You need to decide what is important and what is not. You may need to cut down on some comfortable but non-productive activities such as television, watching sports, drinking, or even socializing. You need to look for things of lesser importance and cut them out.

Not scheduling – Not Pacing
Scheduling solves many of the problems listed in this article. “What gets scheduled, gets done.” If you schedule it and stick to it, you will eventually make progress. Don’t try to do it all at once. Always start out slow then build on that foundation once it is solid. Start with smaller increments of time than increase gradually.

Not Getting Back up After a Setback or Fall
Sometimes we just fail. No matter how good a try we give some things, we will at times fall flat on our faces. That is just how life is. There can be any number of reasons for a failure, but that does not mean you need to just give up and quit. That leads us to the next pitfall, giving up.

Giving up
Maybe its discouragement, maybe it is difficult, but don’t quit. A setback or a fall is not a failure until you quit. In other words, you have not failed until you have given up.

Not Enough Time
The not enough time trap is one of the most common. It is an excuse. The truth of the matter is you have no less time than anyone else. We all get 168 hours in a week. Do you want to do it or not?

Excuses
Speaking of excuses, there are more than a million reasons not to start or to just give up – the job, the family, your mother, the kids, your age, headaches, or any other number or things. You can use almost anything on this list as an excuse. The question is – Do you want an excuse, or do you want results? The choice is yours.

In closing, you need to think things through, make a plan, and have a schedule. Think before spending any money. Always give things a couple days to cool down so you don’t make emotional decisions that will cost you. Dream a little but do the work. If the cause is good, don’t let anything defeat you. Winners rarely quit.

Article by Paul Nieto – Old Dirt Road
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Thoughts on Healing the Adult Wounded Inner Child

shame child workd cloud

As young growing children, we were all wounded to some degree. It is impossible not to be. The wounded inner child carried into adulthood received its wounds from many places. It was not only the parents who hurt and wounded us. The list can include grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and any other caretakers. As a child ages, the list gets bigger, including the school system, religion, friends, and peer groups for starters.

The images the wounded child receives from these figures often stays and hinders the inner child for life. One look at the number of pills prescribed for depression and anxiety alone starts to shed light on how many people are still in pain and have unresolved issues. Coupled with all those victims are those who are still suffering, but not yet diagnosed, just simply living dysfunctional or co-dependent lives.

This is an important topic for many reasons. For starters, you cannot love another person if you do not love yourself. Since most wounded inner children have been shamed into a subtle form of thinking “I am bad,” or “I am not good enough,” they do not love themselves.

Another issue that a wounded inner child may face is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to succeed long term in most any endeavor if you do not find yourself worthy. Until you are freed, you will continue in mediocrity. As for relationships, you will simply pass on the inherited poisons you accumulated to other people, including your mate, children, and grandchildren. You will keep repeating the same cycles in the same or in some other varied form. In a sense, you become frozen in time. Many psychologists agree on these points and for the purposes of this short article, I will be primarily referencing from John Bradshaw’s book Creating Love. This material is also included in a more expanded form in his book Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child.

The wounded inner adult child has a tendency to either a) idealize his parents or b) degrade his parents. The danger in a damaged inner child idolizing the parents is quite clear. The young growing child, not knowing any better, believed out of necessity, “They are good, and I must, therefore, be bad.” The young child formed a new self to do whatever was necessary to avoid pain, feel love, and get attention, to please the parent and adapt to or endure the soundings. Several defense mechanisms were put in place that both served the child and also fractured the personality. These defenses are always carried into adulthood and form the wounded adult inner child.

In adulthood, however, the defenses are seldom valid and often no longer needed and have no real value. Rather than serve us, they are generally counterproductive and even harmful. Yet the defenses and habitual thoughts still remain. The damage continues and the adult inner child is still in pain hearing the long distant voices of the painful past.

As for the degraded image of the primary source, one might think that would aid to liberate the child. However, that is not true. The hold on the adult inner child is just as strong. The resentment stays with the wounded inner child and, in a sense, the resentment bonds him to the source figure and never allows the child to leave home, no matter how far the geographical distance may be. We have all met those adults who hate one or more of their parents and we can’t help but notice they often have some serious issues.

Whether the source image is idealized or degraded, it is still not reality. The internalized parent, not the real parent, remains either saint-like or monster-like. Per Bradshaw’s book, it appears that either is just as deadly. These fantasy figures will remain magical and all powerful. Their reach will continue from even beyond the grave. The effects on relationships, happiness, and even success can be devastating to the adult. They will also have a negative effect on your ability or raise children. It is typical to think one can outmaneuver these forces in raising children but seldom is it true. The voices of these images are experienced is though they are our own voice. A fantasy bond is maintained with the internalized source figure image or images.

Most people will say, “Well, that is all fine but I had a normal childhood with good parents. I was lucky I guess.” At this point, we can refer to the landmark Book Love is a Choice. In this book, the authors point out that that almost ALL victims say this. Ironically, the fact that you believe your childhood was normal indicates there is strong possibility it is not true. We all tend to think what happened to us as normal. The subtle forms of abuse children receive are well covered in the book in very easy to understand terminology. You may be quite surprised at what you discover.

Bradshaw suggests, that with the help of a therapist or in a support group with the therapist’s permission that you go through certain exercises which I decided to do on my own.

One exercise, among the several, that he recommends in the process, is to make three columns on a piece of paper for each primary source in your life; one for the idealized image, one for the real person, and one for the degraded image. Draw lines to make separate the columns – Idealized, Real, and Degraded.

Bradshaw suggests first you do a list of the idealized image or the mythological person that was attempting to be projected to the outside world. See all the good that other people believed on the outside. Naturally, there will often be some good points that are true.

Angry person Next Bradshaw suggests you move on to the degraded opposite, the pain you felt as a child, the horrors you saw that contradict the idealized person. Here is where you can vent your anger to some degree if you have been abused in some way. It is where you cover all the injustices committed against you. Here is where you list the traits you saw that contradicted what other people may have believed about that person.

Finally, you are ready to make a list of the real person, which is somewhere between the too.

Even if you believe you are quite mentally and emotionally well, this process is quite revealing. You will also find his order of process quite logical once you have completed it.

Continuing onward, he goes into a death and burial exercise. The death and burial exercises are not intended as a way to “forget” you real parents or turn your back on them. It is an exercise to put way the mythological parent or voices that have been haunting you and that are having an adverse effect on you all these years later. Finally one must go on to become one’s own parent and fill the adult inner child’s vacuum that s left by left by the dismal of the previous source images.

It is important that everyone deal with these internalized images. Of course, there are some who are lesser impacted and can continue to slug it out on their own. But why endure unnecessary pain? A very large number of people in our society are actually affected or in need of some help. I have read estimates as high as 25% for the negative effects of codependency alone, but I personally believe it is much higher.

Once you have dismissed the disabling source images, there is often a gap that needs to be filled. With the new gap or emptiness comes the danger of attaching to something else just a deadly, possibly even worse. Finding a support group is the best route to go and it may often be essential. There are many self-help groups available for free that can assist a person depending on the need. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Depressed Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, and groups for survivors are among the many. You may not like a particular group, but you would be wise to continue shopping around. This may take some time and work.

Pick your group carefully. There can be pitfalls in some groups. A good book by another author to read is The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. He will take you into the pitfalls of how religion can be used negatively or only as a mere mask. Bradshaw covers this as well. This is not to say all religious groups are bad or harmful, far from it, but there are some things to be weary of in some groups.

Any group with a one size fits all needs philosophy or doctrine needs to be looked at with scrutiny. Any group that tells you how to think or what to value may end up only putting a new veneer over your original issues. This some goes for secular groups as well as there can be some pitfalls in those too. In general, however, a non-religious group is a good place to start. Most all 12 step groups recognize a higher power but leave what that power is up to you. Politics and religion are generally forbidden topics. You owe no allegiance to the group except keeping things confidential. You can quit anytime you want. You can come and go as you please and in general, you are always welcome. I’d suggest avoiding any groups that demand loyalty unless it is headed by a qualified therapist that you have personally evaluated.

If you are truly serious and want a better life you should also read. I may be a good idea to do any suggested exercises in the books you read also. I am amazed at how many people simply want to sit somewhere and simply talk hoping for the issues to be magically be fixed without doing any work. Even worse are persons who do nothing but daydream of a person or event to magically materialize and save them.

Bradshaw writes quite a series of books that anyone having repeat relationship issues, or perhaps even repeat job issues, or in a sense, any repeating life issues should read and perhaps take into therapy or a small group at the very least. I will end by listing a few of the books that have helped me personally and also helped me to understand others much better.

What I like about Bradshaw is his ability to simplify and yet not dilute any of the power of the message. It will also stand on its own without having previously studied other works.

I personally recommend reading several books per year at the very least. I would be wise to start attending a group and have some therapy before making any large decisions. Don’t let any type of wishful euphoria of a book sweep you away into anything just as bad or worse either.

Healing books by John Bradshaw:
Healing the Same that Binds You
Creating Love
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child

Another great book on this subject:
The Mastery of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz

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Thoughts on the Ego, Discontent, and Ambivalence

Blue face and purple face overlapped and looking in opposite directions

When the ego through the means of guilt steers you into repeatedly doing something that you do not really want to do, in order to relieve the guilt for example; it often creates resentment. In summary, the ego and its perception (often miss-perception) creates the issue and offers one a solution, only to either repeat a similar situation or manufacture a new one. By similar egoic processes, even the good things in life must eventually, in the least, turn to a state of some sort of ambivalence. Things such as love, hope, and joy must either end, become boring, turn fearful, or turn bittersweet with problems.

The ego’s favorite pastime is to analyze, rationalize, judge, attack or criticize things, people, ideas, and circumstances. So even if things are good, all good things must eventually become bad or not quite so good at the best. Peace and harmony, in general, cannot continue for too very long before someone’s ego needs to start a conflict or at least make some sort of negative judgment.

The affected egos are often quick to enter the new state of turmoil, worry, discontentment, or conflict and deny any responsibility for their new found fear, anger or discontent. Why? Because it fulfills the ego’s primary goal which is to focus on itself and its perceptions. It accomplishes this by either elevating itself against the differences in others, or aligning itself with the similarities in others, all within its imaginary magical kingdom where it rules relatively supreme. The ego distracts its host into thinking all of life is the ego’s little kingdom, be it good or bad, peace or conflict, contentment or despondency.

On and on the egoic processes continue with most everything in life, using smoke and mirrors promising some sort of pleasure, relief, justification, purpose, or satisfaction, but giving nothing at all. The most it will offer is a short-term fix at best.

The Ego can primarily only offer distractions and perpetuates its expansion and existence primarily at the expense of the host and secondarily at the expense of others. It cares for itself, more than its host. It will even use the wildest or rationalizations to support its position. In essence, the ego offers nothing of much or of lasting value. Yet why do we submit to it and obey its impulses so?

Article by Paul Nieto
The Old Dirt Road

Related: The Ego and the Tyranny of the Superego

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