The last set of schemas comes in Domain V! I decided to spend a day on just this domain because I identify a lot here.
Domain V – Overvigilance and Inhibition: Excessive emphasis on suppressing one’s spontaneous feelings, impulses, and choices or on meeting rigid, internalized rules and expectations about performance and ethical behavior, often at the expense of happiness, self-expression, relaxation, close relationships, or health. Typical family origin is grim, demanding, and sometimes punitive: performance, duty, perfectionism, following rules, hiding emotions, and avoiding mistakes predominate over pleasure, joy, and relaxation. There is usually an undercurrent of pessimism and worry that things could fall apart if one fails to be vigilant and careful at all times.
15.) Negativity/Pessimism – A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation – in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations – that things will eventually go seriously wrong or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because they exaggerate potential negative outcomes, these individuals are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.
Chronic worry and indecision. About everything. It’s so difficult to hold onto the good when the potential for bad is so overshadowing. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about how pervasive this is especially when I consider work or friendships. Pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc…. my mind ruminates, creates scenarios, makes things up that have never happened, that will probably never happen and it’s always, always negative. Even the things I think about that could turn out well for me are laced with negative means in order to get there. It’s funny because outwardly I don’t show this way of thinking. I can only imagine that if I did no one would want to be around me so I hide it all, bottle it up below the surface, but it’s there. Oh yes, it’s there.
16.) Emotional Inhibition – The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication, usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses. The most common areas of inhibition involve:
a. inhibition of anger and aggression
b. inhibition of positive impulses (joy, affection, sexual excitement, play)
c. difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating freely about one’s feelings, needs , etc.
d. excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotions.
All of these. I bottle and I bottle and I bottle. Eventually this causes me to explode in one way or another but I can’t bring myself to express how I feel. I don’t feel like I deserve or have any right to feel the way I do most days. If I do show how I feel I might be impinging on someone else and I don’t know how they’ll react or if they’ll see it as ok. I turn inwards instead of out. I detest the idea of seeming vulnerable. In my real life outside of the blogosphere I mask myself in the rational. Outwardly I dismiss any emotional situation and speak about things logically while below the surface I may be writhing and seething in a turbulent sea of emotion. Even if I were to want to express these things I don’t know how, not without crumbling complete and that’s something I can’t let anyone see.
17.) Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness – 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.
c. Preoccupation with time and efficiency, the need to accomplish more.
This is something Therapist has been trying to work with me on. I dissolve myself into a puddle of anxiety and stress when I cannot meet the goals and standards that I’ve set out to accomplish. Regardless of the pressure I deal with in other aspects of my life, if I can’t meet ALL the things I believe I should be able to do I beat myself up mentally. That I’m not currently beating myself up physically is a step in a positive direction at least.
18.) Punitivenss – The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punative, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.
I am generally punitive towards myself. I am much, much more tolerant of the mistakes that others make. The standards I set for myself and for others are two entirely different things. Something someone else does wrong I can easily shrug off or understand, but if I were to make the same mistake I feel an intense need to punish myself for not meeting my own standards. Angry, intolerant and impatient with myself. Though when I am in an increasingly volatile relationship this does begin to creep in as well. Once I feel mistreated or taken advantage of, all the rules go to hell and there’s no predicting how I will feel or act towards someone else.
As you can see, there are a great many ways the mind learns to cope in a maladaptive manner. It’s even more involved than just this though since there are various ways that each of these schemas presents, not just the basic outline that I’ve given so far. We’ll get there! The goal of schema therapy is to recognize which maladaptive schemas affect a person and work to change these negative coping mechanisms to healthier, more productive ones. Once you recognize and can see the problem at the core, that’s when it becomes possible to really get a handle on it in order to change it.