Trap 7: Changing me

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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.

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Trap 7: Changing me

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Step 1: I experience discomfort

I see myself as stuck, flawed or inadequate.

Step 2: I misread the discomfort.

“There must be something wrong with me.”

Step 3: I try to control the discomfort.

I try to change myself.

Step 4: My attempt fails.

When I try to change myself, another part of me rises up to resist the changing.

Step 5: I misread the failure.

“This inability to change means I’m worse than I thought.” 

Step 6: I experience discomfort.

I see myself as stuck, flawed or inadequate.

 

Footnote: Self-improvement & control

[W]e cannot deliberately bring about changes in ourselves or in others. This is a very decisive point.  Many people dedicate their lives to actualize a concept of what they should be like, rather than to actualize themselves.  This difference between self-actualizing and self-image is very important. Most people only live for their image.  Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that.  This is the curse of the ideal.  The curse that you should not be what you are.

~ Frederick S. Perls, Gestalt therapy verbatim (Real People Press, 1969)

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Next:

Changing you

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Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop
is available here.

Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop by [Steve Hauptman]

 


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