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Old 03-26-2013, 08:14 PM #11
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Default Re: PLEASE HELP me with ideas!

First, in response to something that was mentioned, I don't think your desire to talk about/deal with your past indicates a kind of psychoanalytic bent. I read here all the time about people in all kinds of different therapies often talking about/dealing with their pasts in therapy.

As for trying to dig up repressed memories. I think this can be a slippery slope. Not that this will necessarily happen with you, but I think that if you're hugely invested in and often ruminating on the original causes of your distress (in childhood) it's possible to become convinced of causes that may have never happened -just because of such a strong need to find them. I understand the need to know the why, I do, but I would concentrate on what you already do remember, what meanings these memories have for you, how you think they (experiences) may be affecting you now.

I personally don't think there's anything wrong with trying to work through one's past, but maybe it would be helpful to think in terms of weaving back and forth, in therapy, between the past and the present, so as not to get stuck in the past.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:41 PM #12
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Default Re: PLEASE HELP me with ideas!

GENERAL UPDATE/FOLLOWUP TO ORIGINAL POST:
I didn't get to do much of the work today I had planned on, but took a step closer nonetheless. We started about 15 minutes late so it was already time crunched.
I had to answer some questions she had from last week. Then I switched topics and talked about some writings I had found from the past 1.5 years. I found some very interesting things in these writings that I thought highlighted the fact my "self-investigation" could be validated: 1) I'm a person of 2 halves; I innately believe one thing and then "inexplicably" do something different. 2) I'm sometimes afraid of my emotions. ....There are more but those 2 really stood out to me.

I mentioned 2 articles I happened to stumble on. She has mentioned before, the problem-solving model and CBT exercises to improve self-esteem/self-defeating thoughts. I've done this a couple times but I've had a problem of using it enough to make some real progress. I've mentioned in the past that once I know "not" to do something or whatever, I can't help but do it. Like when trying to meditate and "clear my mind," I immediately start thinking of everything - not on purpose but just simply because you're so aware of what you're not supposed to be doing. It's like it highlights/magnifies it already. -- Kind of like telling a kid you can't have the fresh baked cookies until after dinner and then putting them on the top shelf. The kid may have really not cared about the cookies at all... that is until they were just told they can't have them. So, naturally, you want them just because you're so aware of it now. It's not defiance.

Anyway, the point of that is that with the basic models (situation, self-critical thoughts, consequences, rational response), when people like me are aware of the irrational responses you become that much more aware of them. Also, when not making much headway or the change your expecting, your self-defeating thoughts increase 2 fold. Not productive. This article address the specifics of that if anyone's interested: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...tter-about-you

The answer to that problem (or at least an approach with more potential to work by addressing that cyclic problem) is [b]compassionate self-awareness. It takes the previous CBT model a bit further: situation, self-critical thoughts, emotions, source of thoughts/emotions, new compassionate response. This, of course is basically what I'm trying to achieve, and what some of you have replied with... just giving it an actual name and professional steps.

For every situation this is not necessary. The simple CBT model will address some of my issues as is. But for a lot of them the compassionate model is ideal, in my opinion. She agreed with me in that a lot of times I've already identified that I won't be able to change such deep rooted beliefs by the basic model. Knowing this, I kind of wonder why she never brought up such a thing as compassionate self-awareness. Oh well.

I've also employed a technique called the hunger illusion. She'd never heard of this (and I'll admit I haven't either and wouldn't expect most to either since it's relatively unknown). The best thing about it is that you can do it all on your own, without the need of a professional or supervision. Some of its processes are used in parts of other therapies and techniques - just not aware that it's actually from something else. Basically it's like not giving in to eating when you're hungry and thus inducing the hunger. But of course this actually has nothing to do with food haha!

When wanting to understand automatic behaviors - why you do something or what you can't not do something - I starting to believe the Hunger Illusion is amazing. If you didn't read the article here's the gist with an example: identify when you act automatically (a man always frantically waves his hands around when making a point, DON'T do it (the man tries to explain his point without his actions), what thoughts and feelings that come up (the man is anxious he will not be heard), trace it back (the man realizes he wasn't heard over his siblings when he was little and developed this behavior). The key to this is tracing it back; finding the connection. Once the man has realizes the root of his subconscious behavior (and understands), he can work to on overcoming this irrational belief and un-needed behavior in his adult life. The kid needed this behavior to thrive, the adult does not.

Get where its name comes from? ("The person stopping any habitual behavior becomes subject to an illusion, which becomes pronounced as the impulse mounts to resume the habit." Deny yourself "food" and you'll realize/feel your "hunger.") Do you see the connections between this and other introspective or analytical practices? Seem oddly similar to the CBT models I just talked about? How about any models you've used to help overcome some of your GAD problems? It's pretty useful across the board. I challenge you to try it! Even if you're not trying to change something. It's interesting in how it increases your self-awareness. But there are pros and cons and hey, different strokes - ya know?

There's also a bit I'd like to mention about primal therapy. If you haven't heard of it it's kind of like specific Freudian ideals on steroids. Take all of this with a grain of salt. There is a whole branch of psychology related to this and is quite respected its community. Here's some info on it from the man himself: What is Primal Therapy?

I don't find myself giving much merit to Freud's theories except for the consequences of suppression and ways we might repress. So the aspect of primal therapy that intrigues me is the part about neuroses. It's always been hard for me to believe a lot Freud's theories (apart from how absolutely whack a lot of them are) because I've never suffered any severe trauma and I've always believed my parents did the best they could. But, in my recent evaluations, I believe there is something more to be said about unmet childhood needs and neuroses.

If you didn't read the primal therapy link I'll just mention the part that's not so kooky, in my opinion. We all have "primal needs" (i.e. to be held, soothed, fed, etc.) and when these are not met in childhood problems begin to develop. A "primal pain" can develop as a result which can start neurotic thoughts (not necessarily behaviors yet). An event or chronic whatever can cause the neurotic behavior(s) to start. In the end, you'll reach a point of conflict in your life - most likely in adulthood - due to the chasm created. This was created as a result of what you had to due as a child to meet your primal needs. You develop a "new" self, or what you need to be, in order for this to happen. You have no expression of your "real" or inner self because there's no benefit to it. Eventually, hopefully, you realize that your neuroses later in life are a direct result of your created life as a child. There may not be a need for any of your behaviors anymore, but they are what you've learned. Basically, there are hundreds of ways for conflict to occur later on and **** can really hit the fan.

Reading that, and taking other things into account... it all came full circle when I thought about the things I had written. 2 selves. Conflict of thoughts and actions. Not sure who I am anymore. Afraid of my emotions. Never learned a healthy way to express them. So yeah... I've giving the "primal" aspect a good amount of credit.

Here I am at 25 not sure of who I am anymore. I do a whole bunch of things I have no idea why I do. A lot of these are definitely no longer needed. I've opened the door to a lot of ways in which my thoughts, self-esteem, behaviors, etc. have carried over hurt and undue symptoms into my adult life. From what I'm gathering, there's a giant conflict between my [/i]created self[/i] (the one I developed as a child as a means of "survival" - to get approval, love, attention, etc.) and my actual, developing, adult self. I suffer the symptoms of this conflict as a result of my created self no longer being needed. I'm constantly being reminded in situations that I face as an adult, of what to do, what I should do, need to do, think, behave, say, etc. by my created self. My created self is, essentially, no longer needed since there are no longer any developmental primal needs. I've already learned how to cope with them. But because it's no longer needed, it's freaking the F*** out. It's like it's telling you that you're walking straight into war without a weapon. ...Basically, reading into that was like expressing the things I've tried to say the past 2 years, just in actual coherent, professional terms.

***

Each of these things have kind of opened my mind to get a clearer picture of what I'd like to look into. I read an interesting quote about understanding how to move on from these types of things in your life. -- It's like being a battle worn old man. You're exhausted, fed up, maybe injured, etc. and the thought of waging another war is inconceivable. Laying your weapon down and walking away is moving on. It's not giving up; it's not admitting defeat or weakness. It's knowing you're doing what's best - that you're pushed to the end from physical and mental pain of war. You can't change any of your past battles. It's definitely a part of you. But walking away with that understanding enables you to live the rest of your life in a positive manner - to not be tortured or traumatized. ....Obviously the "weapon" here is coping mechanisms, with the "war" being constant struggles (for whatever), and the "battles" being the explicit events of trauma and pain. It's easier to suppress/repress specific battles than the entire war. Walking away involves clearly seeing, understanding, and then deciding based on the entire picture.

^^ That's what I've been trying to get at. Once again, it's just put into clear and concise ways I haven't managed.

***

On an interesting note about my session today, I ended with explaining the bit about my childhood developed vs. the developing adult self. Then I told her that I appreciate how she's been helping me with problem solving models and distress tolerance techniques, but I want to be a bit more aggressive in our sessions. I brought up how I've said before that I tend to be positively motivated due to negative stimuli (i.e. push harder in practice the more the coach yells at you). Of course that can be unhealthy and I said I'm not asking her to be negative, but I am asking her remember those types of things about me.

I compared therapy sessions to massages. When I get a massage I always pick the giant, scary Russian who is going to send my body through the meat grinder. I don't pick the dainty, coy Swedish lady whose idea of a massage is little finger pats. Now, everyone likes different types of massages and one is no better than the other. The Swede will help me feel refreshed, relaxed, and focused. The Russian is going to hit all the tension spots and hit on them till they release. Pain during, yes. Pain after, no. Eventually you feel brand spanking new.

She liked that comparison but told me she can't be aggressive. She started to say if I wanted something aggressive.... I don't know how she was going to finish that because I cut her off. I reminded her I didn't want her to be aggressive, per se. But just to remember sometimes I need a little extra push. I said I know she can't make me do things I don't want to do and I need to come to things on my own terms and she's not going to spoon feed me even the simplest morsel - that's just her style. But I told her she can certainly admit that I retreat or take a step back in certain situations when I don't know what to say, want to avoid it, don't know how to say it, etc. She said yes. I told her that's the type of thing I want to get beyond. So just when that happens, maybe point it out. Maybe letting me know that I'm doing it will help me try not to, if I'm unaware I am. And maybe if I am aware I am doing it, it will help knowing that I'm not fooling anyone. That progress won't be made as long as I continue to retreat in certain areas. Or sometimes I don't know what's the most important thing to focus on... so saying something like "I think we should focus on this and only this today," as a way of "trapping" or "forcing" me to address those things. If I really don't want to do it, I'm sure I would straight up say it or change the course on my own. She was still giving me some weird looks about it, but kind of said ok I'll keep that in mind.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:47 PM #13
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It is my worst nightmare to know a situation is scary but to face it anyway, yet I do it all the time I just switch myself off so I don't learn anything from it so the next time around it is exactly the same!
I think you would like something I mentioned in what I just posted. Read up on compassionate self-awareness and especially the hunger illusion. Let me know what you think.

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...but I do think that having your questions takes you halfway to the solution. I would be interested in hearing your answers as you gather them. Take care.
Thanks! Having a game plan is definitely key to trying to win the game LOL. It sounds like you do too. How about we both make a pact to push ourselves to understand a little bit more about why we do something repeatedly and what lesson we need to learn (or why we're not learning it even if we know what the lesson is itself), and maybe help clear out a few cobwebs in our (un)consciousness?
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:07 AM #14
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...I don't think your desire to talk about/deal with your past indicates a kind of psychoanalytic bent. I read here all the time about people in all kinds of different therapies often talking about/dealing with their pasts in therapy.
Dealing with the past always seems to be a touchy subject. Almost as if even a middle ground is something that's iffy. Like, embrace it or trash it.

My therapist seems pretty reluctant to walk down that path. I'm not taking her hand and pulling her that way, but I'm definitely trying to suggest we take that fork in the road LOL.

In the end, I don't think it quite matters in what way it's done. I've looked up a lot of therapy treatments for Borderline, PTSD, GAD, specific anxieties and phobias, ADHD, Bipolar, Delusional, etc. and there's pretty much something in every single one of those that can help.

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As for trying to dig up repressed memories. I think this can be a slippery slope. Not that this will necessarily happen with you, but I think that if you're hugely invested in and often ruminating on the original causes of your distress (in childhood) it's possible to become convinced of causes that may have never happened -just because of such a strong need to find them.
I agree. Some of them I know were there because it affected me so strongly. Others, I'm not quite so sure. I tried to think today about some things when I was little, but I've always had such a piece-y memory of anything before like 10. From what I've heard people say about me as a little, little kid I really wonder how things changed so much because I can't imagine myself being like that. So I'm sort of honestly inclined to believe there was so major event to cause such a gap in memory and behavior.

I've already thought about some of the issues you've brought up. Mainly 2 things. 1) I'll quite literally obsess over this new "project" 2) What will happen if I discover something utterly horrible 2.5) Is it possible this will actually cause more damage? -- I'll take the risk and cross that bridge if I come to it. I've chalked it up to the fact I have neuroses regardless so why not try and help myself out.

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...but maybe it would be helpful to think in terms of weaving back and forth, in therapy, between the past and the present, so as not to get stuck in the past.
Yeah I definitely weave back and forth. Therapy naturally takes that route as it seems every single time there's always some other issue or topic that derails wherever we left off last time, or whatever I originally planned on addressing during the week leading up to it.

Balance in my every day life is a bit more the issue. I do a lot of current problem solving based work to help get through my anxieties and natural life changes in terms of jobs, moving, school, finances, etc. The past events just naturally work their way in. I've always pushed them back out. It's the fact that they always resurface that's brought me to this point of the desire to explore it. It's not enough to truly learn and move on and free myself in the present by saying something like my parents were overbearing and it messed me up.
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Old 03-27-2013, 02:20 AM #15
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She liked that comparison but told me she can't be aggressive. She started to say if I wanted something aggressive.... I don't know how she was going to finish that because I cut her off. I reminded her I didn't want her to be aggressive, per se.
You cannot have it both ways, cut people off when they are giving you information about themselves and how they perceive you relating to them and yourself and then plug in what you want or do not want in that space instead. It causes a disconnect and an unnatural hybrid.

In this example it looks to me as if you are defining "aggressive" all by yourself and then changing your (only) definition, without benefit of knowing how the person you are relating with is thinking of "aggressive" or the role you have asked them to play for you. You gave the good massage comparison but then assumed its meaning for you was the same as its meaning for your therapist or did not like what you thought your therapist was going to say and then backed out of it so, in the end your therapist has no clue anymore where she is in the conversation because you have been working wholly from your head, not from your interaction with the other person.

I spent a year or more where my therapist had me repeat back what I had heard her say before I was allowed to move on to the next thought. I hated it, it felt rote and artificial but I had not been aware I was in my head and not listening to the other person and not aware the other person could not follow me because I was in my head. After all, I "heard" my thought and understood the progression, didn't everyone?

Yes, your therapy is all about you and your life stories but you are supposed to be letting another person into that loop to help you influence it and get new information. Instead, you are just picking and choosing what you want to take of the other person and incorporating it into what is already there, keeping the loop sealed, just adding to it, making it bigger.
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:51 AM #16
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In this example it looks to me as if you are defining "aggressive" all by yourself and then changing your (only) definition, without benefit of knowing how the person you are relating with is thinking of "aggressive" or the role you have asked them to play for you.
Well, the cutting her off situation wasn't all that ideal. I had mainly done it because we were already out of time, outside of her office, and walking through the hall. But yes, those other points you mentioned have merit.

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You gave the good massage comparison but then assumed its meaning for you was the same as its meaning for your therapist or did not like what you thought your therapist was going to say and then backed out of it...
I'm also going to address part of the first response I quoted here as well.
The massage comparison was mainly used as an illustration showing the two varying styles of massage and how they are both beneficial to the recipient in the end. This was a metaphor (since that's how I naturally do a lot of my relaying messages and things to her) for how I want sessions to be. More like the Russian and less like the Swede.

That's why I made sure to thank her and show that anything I've learned up until now has been valid. But that I'm arriving at a new place mentally and I would like to consider a different means of addressing this since I've been feeling lately the normal talk therapy or problem solving model isn't cutting it.

It was actually her who brought of "aggressive" first. I knew where she was going with it because we've talked about how she doesn't do "invasive" types of work. There are other people that do, but not her, and she's all my insurance will cover lol.

I agree I shouldn't have cut her off. I'll apologize for that next time and maybe she can finish what she was going to say. I cut her off sometimes because I already know she misunderstood me so I try to explain again so she doesn't have to waste time. If it's something else, she'll usually tell me that's not what she was going to say or point out some sort of incongruency.

I know I can't change her, or her techniques, or even my approach in some instances. I just wanted to help her understand the type of change I wanted to try. I did probably 90% of the talking this session and she took a lot of notes - a lot more than normal. Maybe we can find something to go on. Just something. Anything. It's just been frustrating to me that I want to break some ground but the current structure leaves me feeling frustrated and frazzled with the whole outcome. And I've mentioned this.

The last part of what you said, about assuming I wasn't going to like what she said and then backing out of it... It's EXACTLY THAT type of behavior I'm talking about when I told her that if she sees something like that, address it. I asked, and she admitted she knows sometimes when I'm intentionally avoiding, changing the subject, transferring, or for lack of a better term p***y-footing around certain things. It's this stuff she just lets go. It's this stuff I want to be aware of I'm doing. So my correction to her being "aggressive" was that to just give it one more sentence. Say, "hey, I noticed you ____." Or maybe just repeat it again at some point. Don't let me brush it off easily. If I don't want to address it, I'll just say it.

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After all, I "heard" my thought and understood the progression, didn't everyone?
Boy oh boy, how that is true. It's it even better though when you hear your thoughts and you're like oh yeah this is great. And then you translate it into words and then you don't even understand yourself?? LOL

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Yes, your therapy is all about you and your life stories but you are supposed to be letting another person into that loop to help you influence it and get new information. Instead, you are just picking and choosing what you want to take of the other person and incorporating it into what is already there, keeping the loop sealed, just adding to it, making it bigger.
I think I understand what you're saying. Maybe we're both misunderstanding (I wouldn't be surprised given my track record hah!). What do you mean by keeping the loop sealed and then making it bigger?
Can you give me an example of what you think the scenario you just described would sound/be like in the "correct" manner? (I guess that would be opening the loop and making is smaller? )
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:50 PM #17
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This was created as a result of what you had to due as a child to meet your primal needs. You develop a "new" self, or what you need to be, in order for this to happen. You have no expression of your "real" or inner self because there's no benefit to it.

This sounds like Winnicott's theories on the 'false self.'

Here's a link to an interesting article on this: Authentic Self vs. False Self | Mindfulness Muse
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:01 PM #18
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I didn't like when people said this to me, but I'm going to say it to you anyway. Slow down.

My family didn't have time for me. I'm still learning to take time for myself. That might be the first thing you need to learn.

your thread title here asks for ideas. You have a million of them. You just need the time and space to let yourself explore ONE. But it's impossible to choose one, because then you'll have to let go of all the rest. Who or what are all the rest?
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:46 AM #19
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Hi wills, I got better by understanding how I got to where I was. I think that our child development is really important. If your parents were controlling, you probably didn't get a chance to develop who you were. You had to attend to their script instead. I assessed my child development and did the repairs as an adult.

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Easily guilted into things. I will do something I think or know is wrong if I'm strongly guilted into it somehow.
Is this what your parents did? It seems that you were raised to listen to your parents drum and not your own? You can change this now if you catch yourself doing it today and have a plan to respond differently. (Sometimes it takes a few times of working on this until you work all the way through it. Just try it out and then review and have a plan for next time.)

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Why do I get panic-y and overcome with acute symptoms of anxiety when I'm addressed in certain social/public situations? Why would I rather bathe in sewage than walk into a place knowing all eyes will be on me
You must not feel comfortable with yourself? I think that a parent's job is to help a child get to know themselves and like themselves. This involves the parent focusing on who the child IS and not who they are trying to develop. You can get the message that you aren't important or "right" if your parents are always trying to mold you into who they want.

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Why did I essentailly give myself a borderline eating disorder?
Eating disorders have a theme of control with them. Seems like you had a theme of control while growing up?

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Why do I get uncomfortable with things like a touch on the shoulder or walking arm-in-arm as playful with friends? Why does hugging feel so awkward?
You don't trust?

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Why do I lie about things I'm uncomfortable with?
To avoid them?

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I don't remember events leading up to it, but I remember always leaving the room as a kid in a fit of emotions and tears, "I only wanted to help; I was just trying to help"
Because you were always told that you didn't do things correctly? And you tried so hard to?

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What were the things I did that were so bad my father felt the need to spank me?

What did I do that was even worse to warrent getting a belt taken to my bare behind instead?
This was probably your dad's problem and not yours. If your dad was really into control, physical punishment goes along with getting that control.

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How come "I love you" feels more like a socially prompted norm (i.e. "Hey how are you?" "Good.") or tension than a true feeling of warm emotions?.
Because you heard these words while growing up but didn't feel anything warm? It just didn't match up?
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:41 PM #20
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Default Re: PLEASE HELP me with ideas!

That sounds like a good plan. I liked the hunger illusion idea. I can definitely give that a try. Tbh I think I have unknowingly used this technique to try and find out what is underneath the urge to self harm - what am I trying to cover up etc. However, unlike you, I do find it a bit difficult to trawl through the past and find the reason why I feel as I do in the present because it feels judgemental and like a blame-game because I don't really understand how to have painful feelings about situations that, as an adult, I fully understand but as a child I didn't and therefore got upset about. This probably relates to logically knowing people aren't perfect but some part in me longing for it and not liking to fully acknowledge that people are good and bad in one! E.g. how can I be angry but understanding at the same time? What would I do with that complexity? Besides I don't really have an specific events like you that I remember from my childhood, although I understand a lot of the questions you are trying to answer. I think to overcome this I will attempt to view it as Perna said: a science experiment.

One thing I have learnt from therapy, which may help you, is that sometimes simply having emotions and letting it 'hang' in the therapy room can diffuse it significantly. Sometimes I have found that I don't always need to intellectually understand where it is all coming from (in my therapy we don't overly talk specifics about childhood, just your general garden-variety unmet childhood needs theory) but having it out and seen and acknowledged can be really helpful. May be that is a technique you could try especially if you are used to having to push through lots of difficult situation? It is pretty much the same as Perna's example about her anxiety over eating ice-cream except perhaps one step earlier in that I don't go into the why's but just acknowledge there is anxiety instead of simply 'pushing through' all the time. I think it is good to be aware of our behaviour definitely but it is also good to realise our defences are there for a reason and may be if you are unconsciously stepping away it is okay to honour that in yourself too sometimes.
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