Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion) (montecristo) wrote,
Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion)

Bring your secrets, bring your scars, bring your glory, all you are

This entry concerns a checklist of traits I found on Pete Gerlach's IFS web site. It is a list of behaviors and tendencies exhibiited by people with what Gerlach calls "psychological wounds."
    Fracturing of the personality into various sub-persona. (inevitable and everyone pretty much has this one) Excessive fears Excessive shame or guilt Trust issues: too much, too little, or oscillating between the two extremes. Reality distortions. Difficulty feeling, empathizing, or bonding.
According to the Gerlach and the IFS people, people suffer these wounds in response to various childhood psychological traumas. Do I have them? Before I started reading this stuff I would have answered probably. Now that I have been reading, I'm beginning to find connections between behaviors and causes of which I was previously unaware. What impacts have my own upbringing had on my life? I had previously been aware of a few things with which I have had difficulty, but I hadn't before seen a compiled list that could be examined and compared with one's own behaviors and tendencies, so I thought I would give this a try. It is an interesting list. I don't think I found out a lot from it. Most of the things I see here are things with which I am already somewhat familiar. Of course, it's interesting to see it collected here in one place, as it were. To me, it looks something like a target-rich environment. I'm wondering how much of this kind of stuff I can get a tamed in the life I have left, not that I'm feeling particularly daunted. Self-improvement is a continuous process. This is the list:
  1. S/He usually thinks in black-or-white ("bipolar") terms: s/he sees things as either right or wrong, good or bad, relevant or not, logical or "stupid" - not somewhere between, or a mix. S/He's significantly uneasy with ambivalence, vagueness, or uncertainty.
  2. Hmm. I can be inflexible about some things, even plenty of things. Am I mostly inflexible? I wouldn't answer that affirmatively. Am I inflexible, dogmatic, pedantic, judgmental, or incurious in situations where it is inappropriate, contrary to fact and reality, or counter-productive to be these things? This last question I can definitely answer yes. Sometimes, I am this way. Am I actively and honestly attempting to improve this? Yes. Then I acknowledge that it does cause me problems.

  3. S/He is often a (compulsive) perfectionist. Achieving perfection is just "normal" (vs. special); S/He has trouble enjoying personal achievements, and is often uncomfortable accepting merited appreciation and praise.
  4. No.

  5. S/He is often rigid and inflexible. S/He thinks obsessively, and/or acts compulsively, even if personally unpleasant, unnecessary, or unhealthy; or s/he is overly passive and compliant fearing to take personal, social, and occupational initiatives and risks.
  6. Yes. I think I'm too constrained in my risk-taking and stretching. I like being comfortable. I worry too much that when I push myself I end up getting pushed by others instead of being the driver. I worry that investing my effort will not please me or serve my values after I have made commitments to some mutual goal or to provide something to someone else. I worry that failure on my part will let others down. I have a fear of the disappointment of people to whom I feel close.

  7. S/He is usually serious, intellectual, and analytic, wanting to understand life and situations, and know in detail why things are as they are. S/He may be interested in psychology, counseling, and/or study and discuss human behavior "endlessly."
  8. Well, yeah. I'll cop to that. I have things I want to change. I can't change them if I don't learn what is going on and what can be done about it. The question seems to be question-begging. If you want to work on your self-awareness then you are admitting to being psychologically wounded. On that ground, I would have to say yes, I am.

  9. S/He is often confused, disorganized, overwhelmed, and helpless; or s/he is fiercely independent, controlling, and over-competent. S/He depends excessively on, or chronically procrastinates or avoids seeking appropriate medical, psychological, social, and/or spiritual help (self neglect);
  10. Oh yeah. I let things go and I do have an aversion to "help," and I am leery of well-meaning advice when it is not solicited. I have avoided doctors and dentists, but I'm working on getting better at doing proper maintenance. I feel out of control of what happens to me and my body when in the presence of most medical practitioners. I fear that things will be done to me over which I have inadequate power to say no, or that I will be pressured into making decisions before I am adequately convinced of the proper course of action.

  11. S/He is uncomfortable being silly, spontaneous, or childlike ("doesn't know how to play"), or s/he is frequently silly, simplistic, childish, and joking. S/He is uncomfortable with, and frequently avoids, prolonged emotionally-intimate personal contacts.
  12. Do I dissociate? Oh yeah. I deflect. I have troubles with intimacy sometimes. Yup. It is interesting to ponder that I can be either of these things at different times. Sometimes, when I am with young children I experience difficulty connecting with them on the level of play and make-believe. I have trouble entering their world with them. Is it insecurity? Is it only insecurity? Other times, I can joke as a means of avoiding uncomfortable situations or truths I would rather not face. If The Joker fears a fight that will bring me pain and sadness he will attempt to change the subject or change the context of the anxiety-causing interaction to one of play and jest instead of confrontation and curiosity.

  13. S/He is very responsible (over-willing to take charge, organize, and fix things, even if personally taxing); or frequently irresponsible and undependable; and probably denies, minimizes, or rationalizes (explains) doing either one.
  14. It would be weird to claim to do both of these, but yeah, I do...and then I deny minimize and rationalize about it as well. Heh. If I had to say that there was a preference for one of these modes over the other, it would be that I find it easier or more natural to admit to irresponsibility and lack of dependability. On the other hand, sometimes I over-extend myself and over-promise. Is my quicker readiness to cop to irresponsibility a valid self-criticism? Do I break promises and fail to live up to agreements? Yes, I have before. Do I make unrealistic or problematic promises out of a false or misplaced sense of obligation? Yes, I have done this, also.

  15. S/He often has trouble feeling and/or expressing strong emotions, and/or tolerating them in others - specially anger, hurt, fear, and sadness. S/He often feels "nothing," or s/he has frequent unpredictable or inappropriate outbursts of rage, sadness, weeping, depression, and/or anxiety. S/He may never apologize, or apologizes all the time.
  16. I think my tendency to apologize is pretty well balanced and used pretty much where appropriate. As for trouble feeling or expressing strong negative emotions I've got that one but good. There is no denying it. I block, which is to say, something inside of me fights the expressing of strong emotions that I actually do feel, most often when I am in the presence of other people. It is difficult to trust my vulnerability (however much I may have misgivings about that word, Brené Brown, phone your office) and I also anesthetize myself and numb-out emotions that parts of me might find problematic. Occasionally, I am ambushed by feelings whose source is not readily apparent.

  17. S/He compulsively needs to control personal emotions, key relationships, and interpersonal situations. S/He is overly aggressive, demanding, and domineering, or subtly, persistently manipulative - e.g. using guilt-trips or a "helpless victim" stance, striving to "always" get her/his way. Where true, s/he probably denies, minimizes, defends, jokes about, or rationalizes this.
  18. I've got a little of this as well. I can be pushy, arrogant, and disrespectful when insecure. I catch myself attempting to manipulate rather than deal honestly with others in an attempt to control outcomes of interactions in such a way that is beneficial to myself. Then I feel guilt and shame for having done this. Most of the time, when I catch myself doing these things I can admit to doing them, especially if I have had time to think, and I can change what I do and apologize, but the trick is to catch myself before I engage in such behavior. There is definite room for improvement here.

  19. S/He has significant memory gaps about early childhood years, events, and one or both parents. S/He knows little about one or both parents' childhood experiences and feelings, and finds that unimportant or unremarkable.
  20. I don't have this one. My memory has always been pretty good. I know quite a lot about the younger years of both of my parents. There are plenty of things about their actions and motivations, nevertheless, when I was a child and now that I am an adult, that I do not grasp and understand. There are too many places in our relationships wiith one another where dishonesty and secrecy hold sway.

  21. S/He's socially very shy or very social, and has few or no real (intimate) friends. S/He has a history of relationship avoidances and/or break-ups, including divorce/s. S/He feels uncomfortable with interpersonal commitment and/or intimacy, and consistently denies, minimizes, or rationalizes (intellectually explains and justifies) this.
  22. Divorce, check. I have one of those. My wife and I were wounded and ignorant people who lacked key relationship skills and we made unwise choices. I'm not terminally shy, but I don't have many of what I would call intimate friends. I can think of a few people with whom I have been particularly open and candid, but at the time I write this, I don't maintain a circle of friends well and there are not many people with whom I can or do practice a high degree of intimacy (openness and honesty) Asside: Is it an accurate definition of Brown's "vulnerability" to say that it consists of openness and honesty? Is it only that, or is it more? Sometimes I would have trouble being emotionally connected with my wife, but I'm not sure which of us is more to blame for that or even if it matters where the blame was. I lacked the skills to bridge the psychological gap that would occasionally divide us.

  23. S/He may be sexually dysfunctional - e.g. impotent, frigid, or compulsively avoids sexual contact; or s/he is harmfully seductive and promiscuous. S/He may be secretly uncomfortable with, or ashamed of, her or his gender, body (parts), sexual feelings and fantasies, and/or behavior. S/He may have been sexually abused or traumatized as a child or young adult.
  24. I should consider myself lucky that I don't have this one, to any great extent. I have my kinks and I have been a hermit for much of the past ten years. If there is a problem in my romantic partner relationships I feel that it is more a question of intimacy than sex.

  25. S/He "never gets sick," or s/he suffers chronic illnesses like migraines or other headaches, back, neck, or other muscle pain; insomnia or apnea, obesity; asthma; gastric, intestinal, or colon problems; anxiety attacks; phobias; allergies, or other emotional or physical maladies which may not respond to appropriate medications or therapies.
  26. Heh. I don't get sick. Is that denial? Is my standard reasonably objective? I haven't had so much as a cold in the course of the past year. I rarely ever miss work for illness or bodily dysfunction and yet I am not in the position of going to work suffering from illness or bodily dysfunction. Almost eveyone I know has gotten sick or seems to be getting sick significantly more often than I do. My one allergy is not even severe. I almost never encounter allergens and when I am exposed it is for maybe one or two occurrences, lasting only hours each, a year. For whatever reason, health issues don't seem to happen to me all that frequently, despite my lackadaisical attention to proper maintenance and prevention.

  27. S/He is significantly uncomfortable about revealing personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences (is excessively distrustful, or s/he often discloses personal things inappropriately (naive, insensitive, and overtrusting)
  28. Oh yeah. I "keep my own counsel" and I keep secrets, sometimes ridiculously so. I have written before in here that when my wife left me I used to continue packing my lunch to go to work and never said anything about it to anyone for six months or more after my wife had left. I told no one who didn't already know but my friends, Tom, Robert, and Don, with whom I was working on McGuffin. To this day, my friend Tom does not know that I have a grandson. I didn't tell him at the time, when Jackie was pregnant. I was feeling a bit shamed by the idea that my daughter had gotten pregnant without intention and without being in a suitable relationship, and then later, I was ashamed that I had avoided talking about this part of my life and that I had chosen to keep it a secret. This has been bothering me lately. Can I admit that I do this, and offer my best explanation for why I did this and why I have done such things? Can I accurately assess the nature of my friendship with Tom such that I can make a good decision on this? Questions like these convince me that I must respond affirmatively to the question under consideration in this item.

  29. S/He is uncomfortable giving, getting, and/or observing affectionate and appropriate touching and hugging (is "stiff" or "cold"), and/or s/he often touches others dutifully, awkwardly or inappropriately.
  30. I'm very physically affectionate with people I know well and those with whom I am comfortable. I do tend to avoid non-casual physical contact with most other people though.

  31. S/He often avoids personal conflicts with or between others by changing or controlling the conversation, getting intensely angry, "collapsing," or withdrawing physically and/or emotionally ("numbing out"); or s/he seems to often enjoy triggering or experiencing conflict (i.e. excitement and drama) with or between others.
  32. Yeah, that happens frequently, where I will change or control the conversation. I don't do drama though, nor do I seek out excitement of conflict, whether it would be involving me or not.

  33. S/He is compulsive about, and/or is or was addicted to, one or more of these:
    1. alcohol in some form
    2. No.

    3. excitement / drama
    4. No.

    5. sugar / fat / carbohydrates
    6. Maybe, to a certain extent.

    7. food / dieting / nutrition
    8. No.

    9. sexual arousal and release
    10. Yup. Fortunately, I'm not promiscuous though.

    11. lying / secrecy / truth / honesty
    12. No, but I often had dodged the truth with people when it would have been better to be more aware and honest.

    13. a social cause
    14. No.

    15. self help ("recovery")
    16. No, I don't think so. I'm interested in this stuff because it might help but I don't want to make a career out of it.

    17. illegal ("hard") drugs
    18. No.

    19. pain / death
    20. No.

    21. God / worship / church / salvation / hell / Satan / angels / demons / ghosts
    22. No. Ugh. Fortunately not.

    23. material possessions
    24. No. On the other hand, I can be something of a pack-rat.

    25. prescription drugs
    26. No.

    27. a special hobby
    28. No.

    29. analyzing / explaining
    30. Maybe a little.

    31. another person
    32. No.

    33. fitness / health / exercising
    34. No.

    35. "justice" / "fairness"
    36. No.

    37. caffeine / nicotine
    38. No.

    39. competing and/or "winning"
    40. No.

    41. work or "busy-ness"
    42. No.

    43. cleaning / neatness
    44. No.

    45. money / wealth / saving / spending / gambling
    46. No.

    47. self-image / others' opinions
    48. No.

  34. S/He has children, relatives, and/or past or present partners who are compulsive about, or are or were addicted to, one or more of the above.
  35. I have a rather large family. A few of them would be well-acquainted with a couple of these, like alcohol or dieting, etc. None of these would pertain to my immediate family.

  36. S/He has recurring depression, apathy ("laziness"), and/or tiredness "for no reason." S/He may have periodic sleep disorders (e.g. insomnia) and/or nightmares, and may medicate these.
  37. I get occasional insomnia but very few nightmares. I've never taken anything for insomnia.

  38. S/He repeatedly feels "empty," "something's missing (in me)," or "I'm different (than other people) somehow...", without knowing why.
  39. Yes. Occasionally, I feel this way. I have lived pretty much like a hermit for the past decade, outside of contact with coworkers every day and a couple of friends and sporadic episodes of dating.

  40. S/He is significantly uncomfortable being alone or s/he prefers solitude to an unusual degree and seems socially isolated and "anti-social."
  41. I've always considered that I have "a talent for solitude." I've lived pretty much alone for the past ten years and spend most of my time when I am not at work at my house. I'm not very many people's idea of "social, but I don't think of myself as anti-social, either.

  42. S/He has markedly low self-esteem and is often harshly self-critical and discounts her/his own talents and successes. S/He is constantly apologetic and/or defensive, and usually deflects or discounts merited praise. S/He often avoids making appropriate eye contact with some or most males / females / authorities / people, and reflexively uses "you" or "we" rather than "I."
  43. Interesting. I can be self-denigrating sometimes. I am well-aware that I have some baggage, and occasionally I get to feeling bad about it. I came from a problematic background and I am still dealing with it. I also can be a bit defensive and wary of being attacked. I don't typically deflect of discount praise, although I know I have deflected empathy. I've had to work at eye-contact, but I used to find it difficult. I have noticed a tendency that I have of using the word "you," in the generic sense, when I am talking about my own experience.

  44. S/He often experiences mind-racing or mind-churning: ceaseless "inner voices" (thought streams), which are frequently anxious or fearful, cynical and/or pessimistic, critical, catastrophizing, argumentative, obsessive, and/or chaotic.
  45. I've always had a certain amount of inner voices, but I never really looked at them from an IFS perspective. They've never been distracting to me, so I never regarded them as a problem. Frankly, I didn't even regard them as "voices," so much as the flow of thoughts. One of them, my Inner DJ has often been playing music in my head, but again, that hasn't really been distracting. My inner thoughts can be occasionally pessimistic, self-critical, self-attacking, and even chaotic. I've never really thought of them as a problem before, or thought of managing them.

  46. S/He is often hyper-vigilant: i.e. anxiously alert to the present and expected painful actions of other people. S/He tends to assume others' (usually negative) perceptions, beliefs, and/or intentions, and to react to things that haven’t happened yet as though they had.
  47. I can say I have a little of this, but again, I never looked at it as being really that much of a problem. It's very infrequent. I'm not especially hyper-vigilant, but I have times when I am moreso than others. I also can make presumptions about people's perceptions, beliefs, or intentions, but I've tried to be careful not to trust first impressions when dealing with my intuition.

  48. S/He often smiles and/or chuckles inappropriately when nervous, hurt, confused, scared, angry, shamed, and/or worried. S/He is probably unaware of this habit, can’t explain it, and may joke about it to hide related guilt and anxiety.
  49. Oh yeah. I've got this one. "The Joker" is one of my inner people. It's annoying to have that tendency to laugh or grin at inappropriate times, but fortunately, as I've gotten older, it is easier to control it.

  50. S/He often feels vaguely or clearly victimized by others or "fate", regularly avoids taking responsibility for her/his own choices, and denies or stubbornly rationalizes doing so; or s/he assumes too much responsibility, and feels guilty for things s/he can't control.
  51. Now this one I do not have. I have never been a fatalist, or a subscriber to the idea of determinism. I'm also pretty reasonable about accepting things that are my responsibility, and acknowledging the things which are not.

  52. S/He is highly sensitive to real or imagined criticism from others, and unnecessarily rationalizes, explains, and defends her or his actions and values. S/He is quick to blame others or often empathizes with "the other guy’s" situation and gives in easily.
  53. I think everyone has seen both of these phenomena pop up in themselves upon occasion. I wouldn't call it excessive, per se, in my case but I am aware of it happening, occasionally. I do sometimes see criticism when none is intended.

  54. S/He commonly fears, distrusts, is tense around, and/or argues with some authority figures. S/He feels very anxious without clear instructions, or s/he compulsively resists them and acts independently despite others' irritation or frustration.
  55. Nah, not too much. I've got a resistance to officious busybody types, and I philosophically reject politics and government as a source of regulation and dispute resolution, but I'm not authority hostile, per se.

  56. S/He fears saying "no" and offending people or being rejected by them. S/He avoids setting appropriate limits (boundaries) with others, and feels reluctant to - and guilty about - respectfully asserting her/his own rights, needs, values, perceptions, and opinions.
  57. I have a hit-or-miss relationship with boundaries. Sometimes I assert them, but frequently I would say that I don't set them or set them inappropriately. I could definitely stand to learn a few things in this department.

  58. S/He confuses pity with love, and/or associates love with pain. S/He usually focuses on others' needs first, and seeks to rescue or "fix" them; or s/he is over-concerned with his or her own needs (is "self centered"). S/He avoids intimacy, or cyclically seeks, then runs from it - i.e. s/he has a history of approach-avoid relationships.
  59. I'll admit to having played the white knight, plenty. I still do have a bit of that operating in me, but I feel I am getting a handle on it. I wouldn't regard the self-absorbed problem as something that afflicts me but going the other way, with the over-focus on the needs of others is definitely a modus operandi appropriate to my life. As for intimacy, sometimes, even frequently, I have felt the presence of that sixth wound of Gerlach's: the difficulty in connecting, bonding, or feeling.

  60. S/He hangs on desperately to relationships that regularly cause significant shame, fear, guilt, hurt, resentment, sorrow, and frustration. S/He may repeatedly cycle between intense jealousy and guilt. Major personal relationship-choices are often largely based on fears of criticism, "being wrong," rejection, and abandonment;
  61. I hung on to my relationship with Crystal. It is clear to me that, given the set of circumstances and choices available at the time, it was unadvisable to have remained in a relationship with her, the way she was, let alone married her and had children with her. I've been involved or attracted to other damaged people before.

  62. S/He is unaware of not being able to empathize with some or all kids and adults, and denies or minimzes this.
  63. Before I started reading this stuff? Oh yeah. I was somewhat not really aware of it, but I was familiar with the consequences that it brought me. I would have denied that it is a problem. Now, after reading what I have, it is much harder to deny. I think it would be better to say that I knew this was an issue, but I just looked at it as "how I am," and didn't think of it as something that could be changed.

  64. S/He often feels bored, restless, or uneasy without current personal or environmental crisis, drama, chaos, and/or excitement. At times s/he seems to seek or make crises, and denies, jokes about, or rationalizes (justifies) this.
  65. Oh jeeze, I positively despise "drama." Having seen some of the conflict I have, I would say that I go to some length to avoid it. On the other hand, I have tended, at times, to seek out intellectual debate and argument on an impersonal level. I do try to be aware of this and avoid it, and I don't engage in this kind of thing as much anymore.

  66. Typically s/he waits and reacts to situations or s/he is often self-harmfully impulsive and proactive.
  67. Sometimes I have been known to wait when I should act. There's almost certainly a pattern there.

  68. S/He often feels alone, disconnected, or lonely, even in a group. S/He rarely feels s/he really belongs anywhere.
  69. Yeah...I can get like this. It's common. I've just thought I'm not very social, but sometimes I get in a group activity, even with people I know, and I feel like an outsider.

  70. S/He often seeks comfort, pleasure, and gratification now vs. later, even if that's self-harmful in the long run. S/He may defend, justify, or minimize this, rationalize it by saying "I can't help it," and/or deflect from it by joking.
  71. Yes. I have tended to my creature comforts and my diversions and avoided things which seemed like "too much effort for the return" for a long time.

  72. S/He prefers to work independently - e.g. as a consultant, craftsperson, or entrepreneur - and/or to work in a solitary setting. S/He changes jobs often or stays at the same job for years. S/He works in a human-service occupation (e.g. nurse or doctor, teacher, counselor, coach, clinician, lawyer, clergyperson, consultant, sales or service rep,…)
  73. I've been with my present job for the past sixteen years. It's not a bad job. I enjoy it, but it certainly doesn't challenge me, and come to think of it, doesn't remunerate me as well as I probably could be remunerated for what I do. I tend to have the kind of job that involves single-person projects.

  74. S/He rarely or compulsively initiates social activities. S/He habitually avoids or compulsively seeks being the center of social and/or occupational attention.
  75. I would say that I hardly ever initiate social activiities. I can't think of any, in fact, and I definitely try to avoid being the center of attention.

  76. S/He is frequently self-centered and grandiose or s/he is subtly or clearly self-abusive, self-deprecating, self-sabotaging, and self-neglectful - e.g. eating poorly, overworking, avoiding exercise, and never seeing a doctor or dentist except in emergencies.
  77. Yes. I certainly have this one. I tend to be self-neglectful: eating poorly, previously avoiding exercise, and I haven't seen a doctor in ten years. I'm seeing a dentist now, but I had neglected doing so since I got divorced, until I needed a double root canal.

  78. S/He habitually withholds or shades the truth or lies to avoid expected criticism, rejection, and/or "hurting (displeasing) others." S/He denies, minimizes. or justifies this, and secretly feels guilty and ashamed about it.
  79. I try to tell the truth always. I have ended up in situations where I realized that I was lying to myself about something or other, and then it is the case that I can tell someone else what I believe to be true.

  80. S/He is secretly or openly critical or ashamed of her or his appearance and/or body. S/He may be extremely modest or very immodest. S/He consistently grooms and dresses shabbily and drably, or "loudly," over-formally, or perfectly.
  81. No. I don't think I have this one. I have my own style. I tend to dress comfortably and neatly. I'm only ratty-looking when I'm engaged in messy work.

  82. S/He repeatedly chooses people with significant psychological wounds as mates, friends, and associates;
  83. Yes, I've done this. I haven't always realized that I was doing this but I do see a pattern here.

  84. S/He denies or discounts having many or most of these traits to excess, explains them defensively, and/or minimizes their personal significance - and s/he probably denies this denial, justifies it, and/or jokes about it.
  85. I think I'm coming to own the denial part. I certainly would have denied quite a few things above, even though some of them I've known for a long time.

Tags: internal family system, introspection, who i am

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