Journal - SO Recovery

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by souvlakispacestation, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    As I have begun to recover from betrayal trauma, overcome body shame, and face the many other challenges that one encounters as an "SO" I have learned a lot about myself that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. While I would never wish this experience on anyone I am grateful in a way for the opportunity to understand myself and others in ways I would have likely been too stubborn or stuck in my ways to do otherwise. I am not here to tell you how any of you should feel or act - I am here to share my own experience and some things I have learned that have helped me.

    Background on myself if it matters, if not please feel free to skip.
    My first "d-day" was about 3 years ago (only 6 months after we started dating, but I have known him for almost 10 years now, most of the time as friends. He holds a special place in my heart so I am not willing to give up the relationship so easily.) but most of the recovery for each of us has happened in the last 6 months. Currently I am struggling with body image more than anything else. The relationship recovery has been lagging behind but I am not so concerned with this fact at the moment - there will be time for that if/when we decide to continue to be together. We each want to be able to make the real choice to be in the relationship - to learn about ourselves and each other and then decide whether to recommit. That isn't to say things are peaceful - we still argue and I still feel angry and hurt many times. I don't exactly have a desire to go into further detail but these are at least the basics of my situation.

    I see a lot of posts that talk about betrayal trauma, addiction, negative impact of P on PAs and SOs, and other related topics but there are a lot of other types of ideas and concepts I have learned over time which have shaped the majority of my own recovery. I hope these ideas can be useful for others in situations similar to mine. Additionally, I hope this journal/thread can help provide me with motivation to more formally aggregate ideas and resources I have found (because I said I would, maybe something like accountability?), be a resource for myself to remember these ideas more easily in times of hardship and receive feedback from a community of people who I believe can relate at least somewhat.

    The most important part of this series of ideas is taking ownership and responsibility for my own feelings and actions without blame. I believe this is true for SOs and PAs alike. In taking responsibility and ownership of my feelings and actions and aligning my values with my actions I am able to develop self-efficacy and build a true sense of self-worth. This is not about letting the PA off the hook for the effects of their actions.

    I plan to write a post on a concept/idea periodically. If this can be helpful for at least one other person I would be grateful.
    newlife1975 likes this.
  2. Irrelationship

    The reason I chose to post about this topic is that I think it’s possible that many SOs have been drawn to relationships with emotionally unavailable partners – maybe the same types of people who use P to avoid intimacy, avoid dealing with insecurities, avoid feelings of shame and worthlessness, avoid stress, etc. By understanding how and why these things happen we will have a better understanding not only of ourselves and our own story, our partners and why they do what they do, and potential sources of relationship malfunction but also how to stop repeating the same old patterns and how to empower ourselves to, at a minimum, understand what does not work for us in terms of (re-)building a true sense of self-worth.

    This post is only meant to be an overview of the topic and is written as my own interpretation of what is meant in the source material. If anyone is interested in reading more I encourage you to visit some of the links I’ve added. Quoted sections come from this page.

    Irrelationship is a concept that has been very useful for me by shining a light on the ways that I have learned to maladaptively interact with others and myself. By increasing awareness of the ways I have avoided closeness and fruitlessly tried to fill a void by bolstering a false sense of self-worth I have been able to begin to understand their origins, understand why I do these things and find new ways of thinking and acting that are much healthier for myself and others.

    What is irrelationship?

    In describing irrelationship the authors take the idea of “attachment styles” and describe how these attachment styles (see additional links for info on attachment styles) and other effects of childhood trauma affect our relationships (romantic and otherwise, including with ourselves – a pattern I believe is common in PAs). The authors assert that many people who are affected by “irrelationship” are unaware and sometimes insistent that their childhoods were normal, healthy and non-traumatic. People affected by irrelationship often find themselves in relationships where they feel helpless in repeating the same things over and over, their needs are “unmet”, they are unsatisfied, there is a lack of empathy, etc.

    They define irrelationship as a jointly-created system where intimacy is impossible:

    “Irrelationship is a jointly created psychological defense system that two or more people maintain in order to avoid awareness of the anxiety that’s a natural part of becoming close to others — especially anxiety about letting people see and know us for who we really are (i.e., intimacy). Irrelationship happens outside of awareness, working well to protect us from anxiety, intimacy, and emotional investment while blocking mutually satisfying relationships from developing.”

    What does irrelationship look like?

    For one thing, a sign they point out is seeming to always end up with the same kind of partner or in the same kind of relationship. For example, I had always blamed myself for being “too clingy” and assumed that was why other people in each of my relationships distanced themselves so much. However, in the model of irrelationship an explanation would look more like being attracted to types of people whose behavior feels familiar to the ways I learned to experience love as a child – even the maladaptive ways. These people who we find ourselves attracted to are both seeking a partner who can fill a particular maladaptive “role” and fitting a maladaptive “role” for us.

    This role is something the authors call Performer or Audience, each with their own “song and dance”:

    “Those in irrelationship generally tend to fall into the role of either Performer or Audience. The Performer desperately tries to take care of the Audience, and the Audience hangs back and lets the Performer try to rescue and fix him or her. By doing so, the Audience is also taking care of the Performer by giving her or him the opportunity to avoid anxiety by getting caught up in those same futile activities. While it fends off anxiety, it only leads to repetitive cycles of distancing and withdrawal.”

    In childhood we are (often unintentionally!) treated in ways that pressure us to take care of our parent or to act as a parent in ways that are inappropriate roles for a child to fill. These pressures can take the form of a situation where the child’s needs are not met by the parent so, distressed, the child must find ways to handle the situation that will better enable the parent to meet their needs again. This can lead to a pattern of compulsive caregiving in adulthood. However, compulsive caregiving is about artificial security in the form of filling a role – not love and intimacy through “true giving”. Filling the role of “rescuer” is not good for either the “rescuer” or the “rescued”.

    The song and dance is performed when there is a desire to feel more valuable or when we see our partner in distress. It often manifests in the form of what the authors call “GRAFTS” – ways which we learned in childhood could produce a positive outcome and which we have formed expectations around over time.

    In order to overcome irrelationship and allow ourselves to allow ourselves to develop intimacy, achieve “relationship sanity”, and “earn” a secure attachment style, the authors suggest what they call the “DREAM sequence”.

    Additional helpful articles on this topic:

    Healthy dependency

    Irrelationship vs codependency

    Irrelationship and abuse

    Co-creating emotional unavailability

    Intimacy Disorder” by Sam Louie

    Life, Interdependence and the Pursuit of Meeting Needs” by Miki Kashtan – on the discomfort with receiving I see common among compulsive caregivers including myself.

    Wikipedia page for Attachment in Adults

    Articles linked inside this post:

  3. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

  4. Blame (and Responsibility)

    Today I wanted to write about blame, a concept I have struggled with greatly. I’m sure many SOs can relate to feeling taken advantage of, feeling as though their emotional “bank account” is in the red, feeling like they have given so much and been only taken from… the list goes on. How can you be emotionally supportive when you feel so betrayed and hurt? Maybe it’s possible for a while but when it’s taken for granted over and over again what are you supposed to do? I personally ended up feeling frequently inconsolably angry and resentful.

    I don’t know if this is true for other SOs but I ended up feeling paranoid of being taken advantage of with friends, at work, with my own parents… I couldn’t tell real from false a lot of the time. And knowing that I could no longer tell the difference left me feeling even more paranoid. I think that was the turning point for me where I knew there was a problem with me and my own understanding of reality – that includes inside of the relationship.


    What is blame?

    From the dictionary:

    1. verb (used with object), blamed, blam·ing.

    a. to hold responsible; find fault with; censure: I don't blame you for leaving him.​

    b. to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on): I blame the accident on her.​

    c. Informal. blast; damn (used as a mild curse): Blame the rotten luck.​

    2. Noun

    a. an act of attributing fault; censure; reproof: The judge said he found nothing to justify blame in the accident.​

    b. responsibility for anything deserving of censure: We must all share the blame for this deplorable condition​

    However, when we apply blame to others it is often more complicated than simply acknowledging that that person is responsible for making some choice which resulted in some consequence. What I want to talk about is not the simple act of attributing responsibility but the angry feeling of blame that accompanies the attribution of responsibility.

    When I have engaged in blaming it has been in situations where I perceive that someone is not taking responsibility for what happened (or if I the damage done is irreparable or now causes great inconvenience for me). In normal everyday circumstances (like making a mess) if the person responsible for the undesirable outcome is taking ownership, has apologized and is taking necessary steps to prevent it from happening again and to repair the damage done it is much less tempting to blame them. Yet, like I said, in situations where I perceive that the other party is unconcerned with my troubles (or not concerned enough to do something about it), I am now greatly inconvenienced, something of mine is damaged beyond repair, or “nothing can be done about it” it is much easier to have feelings of blame. What does this say about the role that blame serves? I think a few things can be observed here:

    · Blaming stems from a belief that each person is responsible for their actions and choices.

    · If we are more likely to feel blame in the types of situations I described, what do those situations have in common? The way that I understand it is that these are situations where we feel an unpleasant feeling, perceive that we are given no choice but to feel that feeling and are attributing responsibility to the other person for that feeling. We feel feelings of blame when we attribute responsibility to another person for our unpleasant feelings.

    · Given how I described that likelihood to feel blame is different depending on how we understand the other person is responding to responsibility or how irreparable the outcome of the situation is, likelihood to feel blame is dependent on perception of the situation and is not inherent to the circumstance itself. Sure, you can say, for example, that inconvenience is inconvenience but the feelings that accompany the inconvenience or the (sometimes subsequent) degree to which you perceive that you are inconvenienced are context-dependent, differing from person to person. For example, imagine how your “laid-back” or “dramatic” friends may react differently to the same inconvenience or how you might react to the same inconvenience in a bad mood vs a good mood. This same concept is applicable beyond talking about inconveniences. Feelings that follow circumstances are perception-dependent.

    · Following from above, the feeling of blame you have in any given circumstance is based on some meaning that you have attributed to your perception of the circumstance. Why else would a change in perception cause a change in the feeling one experiences in response to that perception? For example, if you perceive some misdeed was intentional vs a genuine accident why do you feel a different feeling? Because intentional harm and accidental harm have different meanings to us. Feelings of blame that follow circumstances are dependent on the meaning that someone attributes to their perception.

    · However, the above is true for all feelings, not only feelings of blame. We feel happy when we perceive someone did something nice to simply “make” us happy, we feel annoyed if we perceive that same action was done to “butter us up”, maybe we feel angry if we perceive someone did that same action in lieu of a genuine apology or taking genuine responsibility because all of these perceptions have different meanings to us. All feelings that follow circumstances are dependent on the meaning that someone attributes to their perception.

    Based on the last point it logically follows that all of our feelings arise from within us, based on a meaning that we personally attribute to a perception that we personally have understood about any given circumstance. If this is the case then feelings cannot be done “to us.” Therefore each of us are responsible not only for our actions but for our own feelings. To blame is to forfeit responsibility for one’s own feeling and, in my personal experience, leads to feelings of helplessness, lack of compassion, and demands for things to occur in some particular way to “make it right” to “fix” my feeling. But, as tempting as it is, feeling like someone else “did” a feeling to us does not make it true. And, ultimately, it is up to each one of us to take responsibility for our own feelings by understanding their origin (“what is my perception of what is happening and what is my own personal meaning behind that perception?”) and our personal values/needs that we perceive to be violated in that circumstance.

    The action of taking responsibility for your feelings is not meant to and does not absolve the other party of their own responsibility for their offending action. The purpose is to create a boundary between yourself and the other person and to remember that your feelings are yours alone, based on your own needs. In other words, the idea is to empower yourself by clearly identifying where your own feelings are coming from and recognize that feelings are not “done to you” which reduces feelings of victimization, powerlessness, helplessness, etc. In addition, by learning not to blame others for your own feelings you learn that you are not to blame for others’ feelings and become more capable of taking ownership for your actions (and therefore developing a sense of self-efficacy which I may write about in depth another time) without ending up feeling resentful, servile, powerless and maintaining a sense of self. This has been a very challenging concept to implement into reality (i.e. into my actual actions in challenging situations) and it has taken a lot of practice to be able to accomplish this even sometimes.

    The bottom line is that it is not helpful or healthy for PA’s to be blaming SO’s for their guilt and shame about their actions and similarly it is not helpful or healthy for SO’s to be blaming PA’s for their own pain. If you want your relationship to improve you need to remove blame from your repertoire of actions and take full responsibility for your actions and feelings – this is true for both parties. This is like making boundaries and is, in fact, my own definition of what it means to have a “boundaries list”.

    To be perfectly clear I am not saying that instead of blaming your partner for your feelings you should now blame yourself – the entire point of this post is to describe how blame is not a healthy way to manage feelings. And just as you should not blame yourself for your feelings, you should not use this as an argument to blame others for theirs. The point is to understand feelings, accept them and take responsibility of them, and allow others the same space to make choices as they will. You can’t force someone else to do something and it isn’t healthy to blame them for your feelings about their refusal to make a choice.

    The next entry I’ll write will center on practical implications of this line of thinking and ways I’ve learned to implement these ideas into real-life situations.


    More * = more influential source of information for me

    1. ***** Blame, Responsibility, and Care (The source of most of what I have written here)

    2. ***** How to Get the Intimate Partner You Most Want to Have (I found this article very helpful for myself. I do my best to live by the idea of “when you are feeling devalued do something to feel more valuable, not more powerful”)

    3. ***** Anger, Anxiety, Resentment, Stress, and Basic Humanity (On how blame, resentment, anger, shame and anxiety are linked)

    4. *** Love and Toddler Brain Coping Mechanisms (On Blame, Denial and Avoidance as toddler coping mechanisms)

    5. Don’t Justify What You Want to Change

    6. No More Blaming

    7. Take Personal Responsibility, Don't Blame Others (you shouldn’t blame yourself for your feelings and you shouldn’t blame others for theirs)

    8. Stop Blaming Your Partner For Your Relationship Unhappiness!

    9. Stop Blaming Others For Why You're Not Doing What You Want

    10. What Head Games Look Like in Lasting Relationships (on the way our perception of our partner’s actions is context-dependent and why not analyzing it can be toxic)

    11. Taking Responsibility versus Taking the Blame (on how to accept responsibility for your action and not someone else’s feelings)

    12. Why You Blame Yourself for Bad Relationships—and How to Stop (on how to stop taking responsibility for your partner’s feelings, possibly helpful for SOs who are in the cycle of blaming themselves for the PA’s addiction or PA’s who feel yelled at no matter what they do)

    13. 52 Ways to Show I Love You: Accepting Responsibility

    14. How We Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over (On justifying negative feelings – a phenomenon I have experienced to be tightly linked to blame and resentment. Also mentioned is PTSD as a breakdown of state-dependent recall which I find relevant to this post but in ways I don’t fully understand yet)

    15. Feelings and Needs We All Have (for improving your emotional vocabulary and connecting your feelings with your needs)
    Rock_Star and moonesque like this.
  5. Responsibility and Boundaries

    What does it mean to take responsibility for one’s own feelings? A lot of members of the forum have identified a similar concept as something helpful for improving relationships and that is boundary-making. My own take on boundary taking may or may not be similar to others here. To me, what it means to create healthy boundaries is to put the right type and amount of separation between my Self and others’ Selves. To more clearly define the lines of my own Self, to make it more visible, to be less likely to confuse where the edges are, to feel safer and more confident in my actions by knowing where my Self starts and stop and others’ Selves start and stop.

    Boundaries and attachment styles are related and people can have one of many types/styles of boundaries which can change depending on the context based on environmental factors, how they were raised, their Story, perceived “roles”, etc.

    Just looking at the wiki page for “personal boundaries”, you can think of styles of boundaries in the following (simplistic but illustrative) way:

    Soft – A person with soft boundaries merges with other people's boundaries. Someone with a soft boundary is easily a victim of psychological manipulation.

    Spongy – A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion than soft boundaries but more than those with rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.

    Rigid – A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been the victim of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse. Rigid boundaries can be selective which depend on time, place or circumstances and are usually based on a bad previous experience in a similar situation.

    Flexible – Similar to spongy rigid boundaries but the person exercises more control. The person decides what to let in and what to keep out, is resistant to emotional contagion and psychological manipulation, and is difficult to exploit.​

    I have emphasized the parts in the description of the “flexible” style that highlight the importance of an individual making active choices and taking control of the situation. One way to take active choices and have control of a situation is to implement a set of rules which will be followed for the purpose of self-protection. However, I personally think that this is the step where a lot of people go wrong despite good intentions:

    First of all, it’s important to determine what you’re protecting yourself from. A list of boundary rules will work a lot better if the intention is to protect yourself from deviating from a set of values/needs that are important for you to be yourself than if you are writing a list of boundaries with the intention of protecting yourself “from others”. The idea is not for it to be about others – your list should guide you even when you’re alone.

    Second, I believe that there needs to be a list of qualifications that boundary list rules must meet prior to implementation in order to create a system that actually works. Because my goal is to create healthy, flexible boundaries that fit the description in the first paragraph above here are my own qualifications for rules on a list of boundaries:

    -Boundary rules must be used for protection of true Self, not the maladaptive state.
    -Boundary rules must not be used for coercion, manipulation, or any other form of control of others’ actions or feelings.
    -Boundary rules must be intentionally constructed with foresight in a way that minimizes risk of coercion, manipulation, or protecting the maladaptive state.​

    As an example of why these types of qualifications are important to keep in mind when determining what healthy boundary rules look like, here is a possible boundary list rule going wrong:

    “The right to change my mind” being used in an inappropriate context in such a way that yields moving goalposts, “changing your mind” out of avoidance of responsibility or avoidance of difficult feelings, going back on an agreement that was made with another party without first communicating that you are changing your mind, attempting to convince the other person to do something, etc. The list goes on. Why does this matter? Because this type of rule doesn’t provide more control for anything if it can so easily be abused! If you’re having to create a list of boundary rules in the first place, you must have some kind of problem trusting yourself to make good decisions under emotional pressure to begin with, right? The point is to help future-you remember what kind of decisions you want to be making, even when intoxicated by anger or resentment. ​

    With this in mind, what would a good way to create a list of rules to support healthy boundaries? Given that the rules must be created in such a way that I have more control over my choices and given that I can’t (not only shouldn’t attempt to control others, but literally cannot) control others, the list should be created to designate how I will conduct myself. Given that my goal is to protect myself from my poor choices/actions that deviate from my needs and values, then the list should be created to outline how I will act based on my needs and values. I can’t act of truly free will (i.e. make genuine choices from my Self/needs/values) unless I am taking actions that are guided by my values and needs.

    I believe a lot of us feel pain from a perceived lack of agency (similar to free will – a sense of capacity to make choices independently and freely) – both SO’s and PA’s. (Please do not misunderstand – I am not describing a need to act with selfish desire or without concern for the impact of your choices on yourself or others. I am talking about acting from values/needs.) And, indeed, that is one of the key ways that boundaries can help us feel a sense of agency again. But if agency is a need/value, we need to construct a list of rules for ourselves that allow us to act truly with agency. If a boundary list will truly help us act in alignment with our values and needs it has to guide us to take ownership of and responsibility not only for our own actions but also for our own feelings. The idea that other people can “do” feelings to us is a quick way to give up the agency that we are seeking. A boundary list that will truly help us separate our Selves from others’ Selves should remind us that we are not responsible for others’ actions or others’ feelings (but we are accountable for the actions that led others to feel feelings based on their perceived value/need violations!).

    Here are some practical “rules” I’ve compiled that have helped guide me to take ownership of my actions and feelings – not a “boundary list”, per se, but something I am working to live by. These are rules I try to abide by when I am communicating with others and when I am journaling or reflecting. For me, they are not a “boundary list” so much as the foundation for one. An added benefit is that learning to follow many of these rules will help others feel less attacked and blamed – because the language I will describe is specifically centered on not blaming (self or others). I recommend journaling (really, I cannot recommend daily journaling enough) and reflecting first on more benign sources of hard feelings to begin to practice the following techniques:

    1.Remember that I am able to tolerate painful feelings.

    2.Use the observation -> perception -> interpretation -> meaning (based on values/needs) -> feelings model to understand my where my feelings come from.

    a.Aim to improve awareness of feelings over time.​

    3.Never say that something “makes” me feel something because feelings are not done to me. They come from within me and are based on alignment/misalignment of my values/needs with a particular stimulus (which can also be my own action or even another of my own feelings)

    a. Similarly, I try to avoid the phrase “I get [feeling]” because framing it in that way avoids acknowledging the way that the feeling is from myself. I also avoid calling something “frustrating” – instead, I prefer to say “I feel frustrated”. The point here is to build the habit of thinking about my feelings differently in general so that in more difficult situations it won’t be such a challenge to maintain ownership of my own feelings.​

    4.When describing a feeling, follow up the phrase “I feel” with an actual emotion – don’t default to something like “I feel like you aren’t listening.” Instead, you could say something like “I feel hurt because when you look at your phone while I talk I perceive that you aren’t listening to me.”

    a. If you want to follow the non-violent communication way of communicating, then you can make a specific request for a change in behavior – a request to do something, not to not do something. Blame, Responsibility, and Care

    5.Avoid saying the word “it” at all when you’re describing feelings or perceptions. If you catch yourself saying “it”, back up and define clearly what “it” is.

    a. Especially try not to say something like “it makes me mad!” because of #3​

    6. Avoid use of dramatic/awfulizing language to stay more objective. For example, don’t say “I hate it” or “I can’t stand it” (see #1, #5).

    7. Avoid use of globalizing language (unless I am trying to create a rule for myself that you follow instead of justifying times when I don’t) – don’t say “always”, “never”, “must”, “should”, “complete failure”, etc.

    a. If I catch myself using this type of language, take a step back and investigate why. It isn’t a failure, it’s a sign of thoughts that don’t align with reality and stem from fear. ​

    8. When I am feeling devalued, I should do something to feel more valuable, not more powerful. Take action in alignment with personal values/ethics.

    9. When I am feeling like my needs are not met, I am responsible for meeting my own needs. Remove the idea that someone else is capable of “meeting my needs” from my way of interpreting situations. The Most Loving Thing You Can Say To Your Partner

    a. Implement self-care by considering your needs and taking actions to meet them.​

    b.This does not mean that another person’s actions cannot violate your values or needs and it does not mean that what they have done is somehow okay – the idea is that they are not responsible for your needs and values in the first place. Only their own needs and values.​

    10.When someone is doing an action I don’t like, do my best to consider why they are doing that action with kindness and curiosity (obviously this doesn’t count situations of potential physical harm).

    a. For me, stonewalling is a classic example of this problem and learning a new way to respond to stonewalling has benefitted both me and my SO significantly.​

    b. The point is to continue to operate under the assumption is that needs -> feelings and actions. What might this person be feeling? What need might this person be not meeting for themselves? Which of their values might this person feel are violated?​

    c. The reason this is important is because the instant we begin trying to change the other person’s behavior (which is distinct from making a request to that person) we have abandoned the idea that we are two separate people – this is inherently counterproductive to maintaining boundaries.​

    11. Maintain mindful awareness of my feelings and accept them. (Acceptance - topic for another post).

    a. Do not use the rules to avoid hard feelings – use them to learn to accept hard feelings, lean into them and learn why I experience them.​

    12. Remember the difference between primary feelings and secondary feelings – anger, resistance, resentment, defensiveness, shame, anxiety, and guilt are not “primary” feelings. When feeling a secondary feeling, try to identify the primary feeling (another topic for another post)​

    Taking responsibility means minimizing maladaptive defense mechanisms. The things I listed are tools to assist with overcoming defense mechanisms but it is also helpful to be able to recognize types of defensiveness (in yourself) when you see it. If you recognize yourself or your partner acting defensively, kindly and curiously try to determine why you/they may be feeling attacked. See links below for details about common types of defensiveness.

    While writing this I have realized a flaw in the way I have been talking about these ideas so far: I haven’t described the most important aspect of taking responsibility for actions and feelings, the thing that makes that possible to begin with. In order to be able to truly implement a list of boundaries that will help me in the way I’ve talked about I have to be honest with myself.

    I need to accurately represent the truth of my feelings, my actions/history, my values, my needs in both actions and words.

    Here, “the truth” is not based on however I have decided to define it at the moment for the sake of convenience. I will write in depth about honesty, authenticity, needs and values in another post. And, while I’m at it, values are not things like cars or going to the gym or dressing nicely. What I mean by “values” is something like a set of priorities in life that are derived from needs and a sense of morality and specifically not from avoidance, role-taking, defensiveness or cognitive distortion. The way I understand things is that together, honesty and values can help you live with authenticity.


    When Others Judge Us

    Blame, Responsibility, and Care

    How to Get the Intimate Partner You Most Want to Have

    Changing Habits

    Don’t Justify What You Want to Change

    Take Personal Responsibility, Don't Blame Others

    The 5 Defense Mechanisms That Can Sabotage Your Relationship

    Love in the Time of Perfectionism (consider also fear of failure and subsequent tendency towards maladaptive defense mechanisms – the point of the boundaries I describe are to allow yourself to feel safe and less in need of “perfection”)

    Why Do People Get So Defensive?

    10 Essential Emotion Regulation Skills for Adults

    50 Common Cognitive Distortions (Creating better boundaries can help overcome “cognitive distortions” (which I think I would normally call maladaptive coping mechanisms in a lot of cases). Creating boundary rules that help you work against cognitive distortions can help create better boundaries by better aligning yourself with reality and with your values. Here’s a list of common cognitive distortions to help improve awareness)

    52 Ways to Show I Love You: Responding to Silences (How to respond to stonewalling and other forms of silence (one of my personal challenges))

    Marriage Problems: Substituting Power for Value

    Emotional Abuse (Overcoming Victim Identity)

    En Guarde—How Defensiveness Can Destroy Love (these strategies offer little more than false self-protection against hard feelings. Stop doing these things by understanding where your feelings come from and taking ownership of them)

    Nine Conflict Patterns That Damage Relationships (signs that what you are currently doing is not working)
  6. Started to write about shame but I wasn't able to fully flesh out what I wanted to write yet. I think I still need some time to think because what I'm thinking about shame isn't exactly something I have read on the topic yet and I'm not sure how to articulate it. But I still wanted to share some links that I have been reading and maybe they can help someone else as much as they've helped me. I know some are repeats from other posts but they're still as good as they were before.

    Learn about shame
    What to do with shame
    Fear of Compassion and Intimacy (Fear of Shame)


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