School and Psychology of Adjustment

This term I’m taking Psychology of Adjustment. I really didn’t know what to expect when the course started. There were a couple psych classes available this summer with instructors who had good ratings on ratemyprofessors.com and that was my qualifier. LOL! My first semester in school I registered for classes without checking out the professors on ratemyprofessors.com. I learned the hard way why that was a bad idea. 😉 Anyway, my understanding was that the class was about adjusting to the changes and challenges of life.

Well, I am loving this class. It is personally challenging rather than just an exercise in accumulating knowledge. If you really want to dig around in why you do the things you do and learn how to change your own choices, I recommend getting the book, I Never Knew I Had a Choice, by Gerald and Marianne Schneider Corey.

The chapter we’re working on this week talks about “injunctions” – the internal “do’s” and “don’ts” that we are taught, either actively or passively, from the time we are very young. These injunctions program the way we act and the choices we make, and unless we deliberately choose to stop and challenge them we will never be able the change our lives.

See which of these may be determining your actions:

Don’t be yourself.
Don’t think for yourself.
Don’t feel.
Don’t be close.
Don’t trust.
Don’t fail.
Don’t be foolish (or silly or have fun).
Don’t be important.
Don’t brag.
Don’t let us down.
Don’t be sexy or sensual (even within your marriage).
Don’t focus on your appearance (at all).
Don’t change.
Don’t talk back (or question authority).
Do – be perfect.
Do – say only nice things.
Do – be more than you are (you are not good enough the way you are).
Do – be obedient.
Do – work up to your potential.
Do – be submissive.
Do – be practical at all times.
Do – listen to authority figures.
Do – always put your best foot forward.
Do – put others before yourself.
Do – be seen but not heard.

I included a couple extras that weren’t in the book. Even the ones that “seem” like they are good are not necessarily, especially the way they are interpreted within an abusive environment.

Another question that I thought was very thought provoking was, “What messages have you received concerning:

  • your self-worth
  • your ability to succeed
  • your gender role
  • your intelligence
  • your trust in yourself
  • trusting others
  • making yourself vulnerable
  • your security
  • your aliveness as a person
  • your creativity
  • your ability to be loved
  • your capacity to give love

Think about it and see if you learn anything interesting about yourself. We can only change what we can first identify as a problem. Personally, I think this is a process that will never end. If we’re not growing, we’re stagnating or going backwards – neither is something positive.

Reference:

Corey, G. & M. (2006). I Never Knew I Had a Choice. 85, 86

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Leaving Abuse Behind & Changing Lives

How can you tell someone they can change their life, if you’re unwilling to make the herculean effort to do it yourself?  This thought occurred to me this evening while I was studying for an exam tomorrow.  I feel so strongly that one of the key truths that has the power to transform the lives of people who have been locked in abuse is the understanding that they do have the power to change it.  But it is incredibly hard; in fact, it usually appears impossible.

In a way I had not previously seen, I’m practicing what I preach.  I can safely say YOU CAN DO IT! because I’m doing it.  As I’m doing it, I am also having to work through all those things that are realities in the process – the constant battle with the “mental tapes” that play in my head, actually surviving somehow when there is less than no money, juggling single-motherhood with the demands of unforgiving schedule requirements, exploring a new, exciting, and sometimes unwelcome way of life, attempting to balance short-term immediate needs with the equal need to sacrifice now for long-term security, etc.

It is hard but it is doable.  It is hard but it is rewarding.  Sometimes the hard part seems insurmountable.  Then tomorrow comes.  And the sun comes out.  And I know I can do it – and so can others.  I know they can, not because I read it somewhere, but because I’m doing it.