This continues a new series of posts excerpted from Monkeytraps in Everyday Life: A Guide for Control Addicts (in press). It’s about psychological monkeytraps: what they are, how they work, and how recovering control addicts can learn to notice when they’ve trapped themselves by trying to control what cannot or should not be controlled. Read the introduction to the series here.
Trap 10: Child, anxious
Step 1: I experience discomfort.
I am frustrated and embarrassed that my child is scared of X.
Step 2: I misread the discomfort.
“I must push my child to get over this fear.”
Step 3: I try to control the discomfort.
I tell my child
Don’t be silly
or Don’t be a baby
or You’re not really scared of X
or That’s nothing to be scared of
or Look at your sister, she’s not scared of X
or You can’t go through life being scared of things,
Step 4: My attempt fails.
My child’s anxiety increases, and now includes me and my “help.”
Step 5: I misread the failure.
“I need to push harder.”