If you want to improve your life, it’s important to recognise the issues that are holding you back. Some psychologists use a list of criteria called Schemas or Life-traps to identify the main limitations which individuals are living with.
I find this approach useful sometimes because it gives you an awareness of what you need help with and, vitally, requires you to be honest! It’s uncomfortable but important. Nothing will change or get easier if you’re not being realistic about your starting point.
Here are the eleven life-traps as outlined by Young and Klosko in ‘Reinventing Your Life’:
- Abandonment: you feel that you will be left emotionally isolated forever. You may get very upset about separation and tend to cling.
- Mistrust and Abuse: you feel that you will be abused or taken advantage of in some way. You are mistrustful and have difficulty establishing meaningful relationships.
- Dependence: you feel unable to handle everyday life in a competent manner and need constant support. As a child you were made to feel incompetent when you tried to assert your independence.
- Vulnerability: you live in fear that disaster is about to strike. You do not feel safe in the world. You were probably overprotected by your parents which has caused your fears to be excessive and unrealistic.
- Emotional Deprivation: you have the belief that your need for love will never be met. You feel cheated and you alternate between being angry about it and feeling hurt and alone.
- Social Exclusion: as a child you felt excluded by peers. As an adult, you avoid socialising in groups and making friends. You feel socially undesirable and inferior.
- Defectiveness: you feel inwardly flawed and defective; you see yourself as fundamentally unlovable. You are afraid of love and expect rejection.
- Failure: you believe you have failed relative to your peers. You may have been called stupid or lazy as a child.
- Subjugation: you sacrifice your own needs for the sake of others You do this out of guilt or fear. You repeatedly enter relationships with dominant, controlling people.
- Unrelenting Standards: you strive relentlessly to meet extremely high expectations of yourself. You probably apply your standards to other people and can be very judgmental.
- Entitlement: you are unable to accept realistic limits in life; you feel special. You struggle with self-discipline.
I won’t tell you which ones I fall into – you might be able to tell, anyway… But hopefully by thinking about the different ways in which you might be limiting yourself, it will become easier to stop doing it! Let me know how it goes!