Schema: Unrelenting Standards

1 Comment

I bring you my post on unrelenting standards after an incredibly draining therapy session, which included regression to an issue that helped form some of my schemas and a couple of mind boggling hours on Twitter so am tired, confused, sad and have a stinker of a headache.

I feel this blog is appropriate and needs to be written though as more and more frequently I have noticed other people with the unrelenting standards schema. Young defines unrelenting standards as:

“The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others.  Must involve significant impairment in:  pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.

     Unrelenting standards typically present as:  (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm;  (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.”
A lot of people thrive on this perfectionism and it keeps them going. Up until I broke down I put 100% of my attention and ability into everything I did, this obviously wore me out and made my POTS worse, I’d envitably have to cancel engagements or take time off work, which then activated my failure to achieve schema.
Constantly comparing everything about myself to the best in those situations (the most intelligent, the most beautiful, the most successful, etc) left me feeling like a failure, yet I still had these unrelenting standards driving me to make myself the best at everything. What I refused to recognise was that nobody is the best at everything, some people may seem to be perfect but I’m now trying to convince myself that there may be one thing they might not be able to do so well.
Please don’t misinterpret me, I don’t want others to question their own abilities and I definitely don’t want to knock anyone down or hunt for flaws, I just need to recognise that just because I’m not as pretty/clever/funny/settled/rich/happy as “Ann” doesn’t mean that I have not achieved good things in my life.
As part of my CBT my therapist surveyed people on my behalf to ask if it is possible to work at 100% all the time in every aspect of your life. The answer was a resounding ‘no’. Some understood where I was coming from, others just didn’t see it as necessary but they all had the same answer in common that it just plain isn’t reasonable. I know I wouldn’t ask it from others, so why is it fair to ask it of myself?
This is where the rigid rules of “I should…” guided my life, and still do to some extent, however, I am more aware of it now and get people I love to question me when I say these things. Sometimes in a response to a question asking why I have to do something perfectly, all I would be able to say is “I should”, because that is the rule I had given myself and it had become automatic rather than a reasoned thought.
I may add to this at a later date when I am feeling more with it, but in an attempt to break my behaviour associated with my unrelenting standards I’m going to post this without proof reading it ten times (yes, I would really do this, work would take forever), without being 100% happy with it and knowing that I have missed out some important parts (which are currently swimming about just out of reach in the mess that is my brain).
Advertisements

TW Defectiveness Schema

1 Comment

Following on from my “Reinventing Your Life” post I thought I should begin my analysis of what the schemas mean to me by talking about the schema that affects me the most. Although it doesn’t score the highest of the schemas when I rate them according to the tests in Young and Klosko I know it underpins all the ones I have, even the ones that score higher. It was one of the higher ratings amongst the tests I did with my therapist and we came to the mutual agreement that it was the one that had the most profound influence over my life.

Please remember this is only what the schemas mean to me and how they affect me. I hope you don’t identify with it as I hate to think of anyone thinking this about themselves as I’m sure I can list 100 good things about you.

I know some people will read this and think why is she depressed? She has had all the priviledges afforded to her but that’s my point, I don’t deserve the good life I have been given and do feel ashamed every week going to group knowing that other people have had worse situations to deal with but they assure me that my depression is just as valid.

My underlying schema is defectiveness. It is the foundation, not only to all my other schemas, but to who I am. This is why, as much as I want, no need, to be better I am terrified that by stopping this part of me I’ll essentially rip out who I am and be left with nothing. This became more apparent to me as I was talking through my schema flashcard in the group this week.

Using the definition that Young uses (see the defectiveness link above) I identify with the majority so I will initially talk about what I don’t identify with.

I am unlovable, however, it’s not that I would feel unlovable if aspects of my personality were exposed, in fact it’s quite the opposite that I am so keen for people to see the good in me that I overcompensate by thinking I need to do things for people in order for them to like me. Having spoken about this with the group this seems to come from a thought that people will automatically dislike me and I have to do things to win them over.

The flaws in myself are both private and public, although I wouldn’t use the examples used by Young;  I’d probably be the opposite of these and be passive and subjugated. I do have an overwhelming fear that people will think I am selfish, so overcompensate, sometimes at the expense of my own needs and definitely at the expense of my health.

So back to the parts of the definition that do apply. Yes, I feel defective, both in my personality and physically. Having POTS and EDS makes not feeling defective near impossible, as does the Vitamin K deficiency I had as a baby and how close I was to death as if I was born with something fundamentally wrong with me and I wasn’t meant to be alive. I feel like I’m failing at living and that’s without adding my mental health conditions. Feeling bad, unwanted, inferior and invalid are all more than familiar to me. I could list more but don’t want to bore you.

I am hypersensitive to other people in general. I have always felt like I’ve fed off other people’s emotions. If they’re happy, I’m happy. If they’re sad, angry, stressed it worries me and I feel like it is somehow my fault. I have already accepted criticism, rejection and blame before they are dished out (even if they weren’t going to be aimed at me, I have somehow worked it out in my head how it could be my fault). I will explain some of my background that has had an influence on where these thoughts have come from later.

I am incredibly self-conscious, this led to me developing agoraphobia and still makes me avoid situations where I may be judged whenever possible (especially if I can see or hear the other person so telephones in particular are no go). My self-consciousness also links to the eating disorder I developed and have thankfully now beaten. My self-consciousness is a self fulfilling prophecy as I start to panic in social situations, my throat goes dry, I get hot and flustered and this in turn makes me justified in being self-conscious, especially if it affects my POTS and I pass out.

I have been constantly compared, either directly or indirectly, for over 20 years. As a young child I don’t really remember it, however, once I went to the school I went to aged eight there was constant comparison. I was compared to my highly academic older sibling and had high achieving, competitive friends who were driven by any form of comparison. The teachers also held the misguided belief that by comparing me and telling me I wasn’t good enough would drive me to do better. It didn’t. I had been taught to believe adults and have respect for teachers and what they said so in the 10 years at the school my self belief was gradually worn away until I was a shell. It is with this in mind, along with the usual bullying one finds at an independent girls’ school that helped lead to me being so insecure and incredibly ashamed of myself as all I see is a thing made up of flaws.

I wasn’t tall (I grew my last 5″ during my first year at Uni), I was flat chested (again it was after I beat my ED and I began to put on weight at Uni that my chest developed), I had frizzy hair, glasses, spotty skin, didn’t wearing make up, had my own dress style (comfortable not dressing to please others) and had (and still have until I know someone well enough) a quiet demeanour which all in all gave people a field day of physical attributes to target me for.

Then the teachers made me feel stupid about my work. Little did I know, until I got to Uni and talked to other people that I actually got awesome GCSEs and that, if I hadn’t been made to feel like no matter what I wouldn’t achieve, I may have done even better in my A levels (even these weren’t that bad it turns out). I got a degree in Latin whilst battling depression the first time around and a post graduate diploma in Human Resource Management. By the end of my PGDip I had regained the confidence I had at seven and actually got a merit in my exams and distinctions in my course work. Who’d have thought I’d ever do well in exams? But despite this I still feel stupid and flawed. I should have done even better given the chances I was given.

There were a few issues within the family too where I was the one who felt like I had to sort things out or do whatever I was told to do. I hasten to add it wasn’t an abusive household, my parents were always great, they were just dealing with things in their lives and I didn’t speak up about what was going on in mine. My sister was also a lot more domineering than I was so for a quiet life I went along with her plans, which have translated into my every day life now.

There have been more things in my life that have reaffirmed my reason to think I’m defective. Suffering physical and emotional abuse in a relationship and being the victim of a sexual attack gave me evidence that there was something wrong with me.

So with all my history in mind I know why I feel the way I feel about myself and with the help of the group I identified some positive thoughts I need to focus on (I won’t bother listing the negatives as I am trying not to give these any more validity):

  • I am kind, loyal, caring, friendly, a good listener & can bake/cook.
  • I haven’t done anything bad, there isn’t anything about me not to like.
  • Other people had the problems.
  • People don’t dislike me by default.
  • It’s not my responsibility to fix everything.
  • People are responsible for their own moods.
  • My parents are proud of me.
  • My family & friends want me in their lives.
  • I don’t need to do things to be liked, they like me not what I do.
  • My boyfriend loves me and wants to be with me and do things for me, he is not choosing the easy option.

So this is what defectiveness means to me. It affects my behaviour in a lot of ways, but having had CBT I have learnt how to force myself to get through some of the behaviour, like tackling my agoraphobia. However, as I have stated previously I feel like a lot of my behaviours are part of my personality. Letting other people always decide, taking on too many things, saying yes and constantly thinking about others wouldn’t be such an issue if they didn’t come at the expense of me neglecting my own physical health, self harming and making myself uncomfortable. The group are going to come up with specific tasks for me to do to help break the thoughts and behaviours, however, in the meantime we have come up with:

  • Looking after my physical health.
  • Saying no.
  • Doing things for myself.
  • Making decisions.
  • Not mind reading.
  • Concentrating on what I’m doing not others.
  • Doing what I want and what I need to do.
  • Suggesting options.
  • Letting others know my thoughts.

I know I can do some of these with certain people, however, I am very apprehensive as to how others will react as they always know me as the person who says yes to them and who lets them do what they want. Even if I speak to them about it first I know that they will find adjusting hard but I guess if they care about me they will have to put up with it! I’m really putting myself to the test.

Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how changing my thoughts and behaviours works!

Do you identify with anything I’ve said or does defectiveness mean something else to you?

J x

100 Years of Books

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” Henry David Thoreau

Poppy Ponders

Thinking outloud

opinionatedplanet

The Lesbian Avenger

Feminist Socks

Feminism! Smut! Tea! Socks! Exclamation marks!

Because, you know.

You are not alone...

Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy

flyingontherainbow

My journey, my passions, LGBT rights, feminism and mental health understanding. Also disability rights too

Revenge is never a straight line...

My adventure in cutting out the bullshit and growing strong

Exiled Stardust

Art, culture, travel, and feminism by an artist flung out of her home galaxy

Crates and Ribbons

In pursuit of gender equality

Feminist Book Club

A place for feminists to discuss books (and essays, and films, and TV shows, and...)

The Occasional Poet

I have a million thoughts a day...And this is where I turn them into poems and set them free

Just What I Was Thinking.....

........nothing more, nothing less....

Bugbear and Caw

Adventures in Fear and Fascination

The Fementalists

At the intersection of feminism and mental health activism

Wandering Through Wonderland

My madness. My recovery.

Portia Smart

Feministing and politiking