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Author Topic: TOOLS: Making necessary changes in our behavior and relationships (Step 17)  (Read 3953 times)
blackandwhite
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« on: May 09, 2011, 08:52:19 AM »

This workshop is about us--about the changes in our behavior we have made (or are starting to see we want to make) and about new skills we are learning or have mastered and can share with others.

As you move through your healing journey, you begin to incorporate a new confidence into your life and your relationships. You're less reactive and though change may still be scary (it feels risky to most people), it isn't overwhelming. And you can start small.

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I can make necessary changes in my behavior and relationships at home and work.

HEALING [Step 17]: This step challenges you to learn new interpersonal skills to replace old, maladaptive ways of relating. Like many survivors, you may never have learned these basic skills that are normally taught in a well-functioning, healthy family. As a result, your relationships may be suffering. In order to create more fulfilling relationships at home, you may need to develop some additional skills in the more personal realms of parenting, sexuality and intimacy. In addition, you may still be playing catch-up when trying to relate to others in competitive or even cooperative situations at work. This may result in discomfort, stress, poor work evaluations and even failure to achieve desired promotions or goals.

Assertiveness, listening, communication, decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership skills are among the many skills that survivors may need in order to relate more effectively in both personal and work relationships. Because you didn't acquire these skills in your biological family, you will now have to learn them and then adopt them as your own. With these skills available to you, you may find each day's tasks a little easier and more likely to yield positive results. With positive results comes more self-confidence in your abilities.



1. What changes in behavior have you made or recognize you would like to make?

2. If you've made changes, what are they and what has been the result?

3. Have you learned new skills, like "assertiveness, listening, communication, decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership"? Share your experience. What tools (books, courses, therapy, other) have helped you learn and apply these skills?

If you're this far along, sharing your experiences will help others and will give you an opportunity to reflect on and take satisfaction in your progress. If you're not this far along, you may wish to identify changes you would like to make and begin to set a plan to get there.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 11:03:15 AM »

Working on this one issue with a BPD ex has blossomed into seeing unhealthy  relationships with a LOT more people including myself.  I'm re-examining past relationships and seeing the dysfunctional parts clearly.  A lot of people I refused to hold fully accountable I am now holding accountable.  I have much higher standards for admission into my life now.

The most interesting thing right now is discovering some pretty dysfunctional folks in my workplace.  I have a supervisor who is said to be a drug user and may have a pd.  Either way I'm changing how I deal with her.  I loved the whole feeling of a surrogate family but she is too much like my actual BPDm!  SO now I have adapted my schedule to avoid her as much as possible and it's made a huge difference.  I don't like to dread work.  It's been my favorite refuge over the years.  If I can't get back to that I may have to change jobs.  It would have been unthinkable before but now I prefer that to being ground down by an erratic supervisor who could get me suspended or fired just because she felt insecure or powerless that day.

I'm also working hard to get my ideals in line with the rest of my life so I'm not running from crisis to crisis.  I want to run on positive reinforcement not fear and pain avoidance.  For me that means that I take my emotions seriously instead of going into denial and forging ahead.  It's frustrating to stop and think so much when you are  used to charging after whatever you want.  But, if I charge blindly after every job, relationship, goal in a desperate need to feed my saggy self esteem, I open myself up to crisis after crisis.  I'm slowing down to investigate the red flags.  I'm being more protective of myself instead of jumping into the next whirlwind "romance".  I'm keeping a safe distance from abusive family members instead of blowing past it like it never happened then blowing up  when it reaches critical mass.
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 05:24:22 PM »

I can make necessary changes in my behavior and relationships at home and work.

I dunno, can I? I get kind of nervous when I read this stuff as I have hell of a long way to go. I was at relationships therapy earlier tonight with my boyfriend. We both have work to do. But I find it hard to hear. Sometimes when he or the therapist highlight stuff I need to work on I get angry. Or I laugh. Either way I get uncomfortable.

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1. What changes in behavior have you made or recognize you would like to make?
For me it's all about the changes I would like to make. Then I get worried about losing me ?. I am making some good, positive changes but I have a pretty big shopping list.

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2. If you've made changes, what are they and what has been the result?

The main change is accepting I need to change. And also investing in therapy in a major way. And being really truly soul-baringly honest with them. In the past I have paid therapists just to prop me up/feed my ego (but to some extent that helped me survive so it wasn't wasted money  cry)

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3. Have you learned new skills, like "assertiveness, listening, communication, decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership"? Share your experience. What tools (books, courses, therapy, other) have helped you learn and apply these skills?
I'm not great at any of the above. I have to do all of those things in my job but I kind of fake them OK ? One thing I can do is make decisions. But I tend to make them fast and ruthlessly and, dare I say it, I sometimes get them wrong lol
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What tools (books, courses, therapy, other) have helped you learn and apply these skills?

For me at the moment it's the Board...therapy...books in that order.
I think the Board is helping me mourn properly and helping me realise I've been traumatised. I have learned to give myself a break.

The weird thing for me is that I have a gut feeling that my relationship, my (new) friends, my job are all basically good for me. I haven't quite mentally 'caught up' so that I can enjoy them. Possibly that means I'm hovering at step 15.

Thanks for this thread B&W xoxox

love Annie
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2011, 10:27:16 PM »

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1. What changes in behavior have you made or recognize you would like to make?

2. If you've made changes, what are they and what has been the result?

Most of them... ;}

I'm a much more patient person, than I used to be, and less frenetic in general. I have a tendency to pile on a sense of immediacy and urgency to whatever I feel like needs done, and I'm learning to let go of that more and more. I think that I think both more, and less about other people. I'm more aware of their responses and needs, but less concerned with their opinions of me. People that I've found to be negative influences in my section of the world, I'm much better at simply letting go of them, rather than contorting my poor little braincell to understand how I've screwed things up to make things difficult.

Slowing down, and allowing myself time to process- sometimes it does take me a little longer to sort through things in my brain- lets me evaluate them in my own time, and reach my own conclusions, without necessarily trying to match my opinion with what I think will be perceived as a favorable response.


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3. Have you learned new skills, like "assertiveness, listening, communication, decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership"? Share your experience. What tools (books, courses, therapy, other) have helped you learn and apply these skills?

I've been through about three years of dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Some traits, in leadership and assertiveness I've always had, but kind of got turned around about how to use them most effectively, or got stuck in feeling that I shouldn't be assertive, so I tried to squelch those traits. Some assertiveness is necessary, to be a functioning person.

I think I've always been kind of a hyper-listener. In that I take in more information that people mean to give, usually. Again, fine-tuning that, so that I can filter out the extraneous noise that is going on, and focusing more on what people are trying to mean, has gotten easier.

Communicating is something that most people can work on forever, me included. The process of translating and sharing one's thoughts to be understandable to someone else is perpetually mystifying. I'm still settling into the idea that not only are all other people's perspectives uniquely valid, but that that also includes appreciating that my own perspective is also valid. Not more or less valid than anyone else's, but equally important. Accepting that idea has also made it easier to make decisions. I used to have a really terrible time making decisions about things, because I would get hung up on the possibility of picking "wrong." And then what would happen if I did pick "wrong." Accepting that, when it's a matter of preference, that my choice is okay, no matter what it is, has made life a lot easier. Not being able to pick out which of four teas I like, in case the one I like is "wrong" is a very special kind of hell, and I'm pretty happy to be more or less free of that kind of thinking.

Most of my time and energy lately has been focused at figuring out what I would like my life to look like, and seeing how to make that possible.
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2011, 08:03:50 AM »

1. What changes in behavior have you made or recognize you would like to make?

2. If you've made changes, what are they and what has been the result?

I'm getting better, like Diety describes, at letting go of my attachment to managing other people's opinion of me.  I've realized that it's rather inordinately terrifying to me to have people think of me as foolish, incompetent, inconsiderate, etc etc., and so I spend a lot of energy figuring out what people want and trying to provide that to them, rather than attending to my own experience.  When I've made progress in this direction, it's been an incredibly freeing feeling, being able to simply say what I think and do what I like without trying to manage and control my own and others' experiences.  Specific changes in behavior - these are very specific to my own life and interests, but: I've stopped trying so hard to win at games, I've allowed myself to just say things in social situations, without thinking about how the other person will respond, I've forced myself to have difficult conversations, where I really didn't like the other person's behavior and I didn't think they would like having that pointed out to them.  These have actually all turned out well, which makes me think I am maybe not pushing myself as hard as I could!   tongue

3. Have you learned new skills, like "assertiveness, listening, communication, decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership"? Share your experience. What tools (books, courses, therapy, other) have helped you learn and apply these skills?

I really like assertiveness training - the art of simply stating what you want clearly in a non-aggressive, non-manipulative fashion.  The book I always turn to for reminders on how that should work is "How to be an Adult," a fantastic book.  I also keep around and periodically refer to "Feeling Good: the new mood therapy," since I still fall into those cognitive errors, catastrophizing, minimizing, and so on.  I've read many other self-help books that are good on one or two issues, but you basically read it once and that's it - those two are the ones that I keep on my bedstand for regular reference.  I've had a good experience in therapy, though it works slowly and subtly and always in conjunction with my own efforts. 

Thanks for the thread!
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2011, 01:09:42 PM »

Thanks for your input so far, everyone.
I want to comment, but I'm in the midst of dealing with my uBPDm trying to break contact...which puts me back at square 1...it feels like anyway.  I have something to say on this, and want to see what others have to contribute.

I'm a much more patient person, than I used to be, and less frenetic in general. I have a tendency to pile on a sense of immediacy and urgency to whatever I feel like needs done, and I'm learning to let go of that more and more. I think that I think both more, and less about other people. I'm more aware of their responses and needs, but less concerned with their opinions of me. People that I've found to be negative influences in my section of the world, I'm much better at simply letting go of them, rather than contorting my poor little braincell to understand how I've screwed things up to make things difficult.

I'm feeling this, too.
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011, 01:36:53 PM »

Thanks for starting this thread. Very interesting to think about.

I would say that the biggest change that I've made recently is to start reacting differently to the requests that I receive from people. Before, my default was to try to figure out what they were asking, so that I could find a way to make them happy. I was striving to be a better person by meeting more of more peoples' needs (that was what I had been taught to do). Now, I purposely reflect on what do I want to do. What do I want to get out of this? What would be my preference?

So far, this has led to me going VLC with my entire family and with several friends. I am also standing up for myself at work. There has been some pushback, but I am prepared to accept that in exchange for having more control over my life. I asked for and got a raise, and I have started working with new colleagues who seem to appreciate me more than my old ones. I've also had some policies changed that will help to protect some of the junior staffers.

Most of all, I've noticed that by avoiding certain people, I have more time for things that I want to be doing. I am calmer and happier. I look much healthier too. I also feel better about myself for standing up for myself (esp. to my family).

I am still hoping to improve my communication skills. I notice that I sometimes let people steamroll over me in conversations that go on and on. And sometimes I'm the one doing the interrupting! This will take time but I think it will be worth it.

I still haven't sorted out what will happen vis-a-vis my family. I won't let it go back to how it was before, but I don't think everything is quite over and done with yet.

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blackandwhite
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 09:06:22 AM »

A follow up...have any of us transferred work skills to our personal lives and if so, how did that go?

For example, I work in an area that involves a lot of back and forth, critiquing and helping colleagues with joint projects and vice versa. I have been hypersensitive to criticism in my life and also a perfectionist. Both are legacies of growing up with a BPD parent; I had incorporated them and struggled with feelings of shame and failure if an error was pointed out or if someone had legitimate suggestions. Over time, I came to accept the give and take in a work context, see that it was a mutual project and that we could move forward even in a spirit of fun exchange, take criticism, reframe, take risks by trying out new ideas...most of the time, that made me a great colleague to work with, not a flawed and shameful failure.  smiley

As I saw the success of taking an "experimental" as opposed to an "absolute must succeed or die" approach at work, I also began fostering that new attitude in personal relationships. It has helped me a GREAT deal.

Thoughts on that, other examples, things you might try? A huge part of Step 20 is the willingness to TAKE RISKS.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2011, 10:05:17 AM »

Yes.  I would say that I probably was able to make changes easier in my work life, and even in volunteering "jobs" that were then transferred over to my personal life.  Unfortunately, it didn't go over as well with my FoO.  HA HA.

I used to be a "need to be in charge of projects, couldn't delegate for fear of things getting screwed up, and I want to be the leader because only I know what needs done" type person.  Wonder where I got that from?  I also had difficulty taking criticism, to where I was immediately defensive.  I was also the type to participate in rumoring type discussions that were unhelpful to workplace morale.  I'm embarassed to say that...but I did it...so.

Anyway, I don't know when it happened that I started to realize mistakes were human, and sometimes the smaller parts of the engine (i.e. not the leadership roles, but the support ones) could make just as important an impact.  In other words, don't sweat the small stuff, and you're not less important to an outcome just because you're not in charge.

It was really organic, over time.  I wish I could pick an incident or share a specific story.  I think finishing my degree, and having success in the cohort of college classmates really helped me.  Once I got comfortable with that, I saw relationships with people and coworkers improve.  I still falter at times, with my husband, and even my kids, but I'm in a much better place.  I think I would be a much better coworker than I was even five years ago.
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2011, 11:59:54 AM »

It's funny you asked that B&W because a lot of the changes I started on my personal life were because of the success I had at work.  I began to realize that all of the skills I'd developed and the success I had could be duplicated in the rest of my life if I applied it.  So far so good.  My confidence is up and I see that even though my BPDm suggested no one would take me seriously, she was dead wrong.  As I began to take the risk of being myself instead of chasing her approval, I gained self respect.  That was because I had to believe in myself at work in order to sell people on my ideas.  I had to create a strong persona.  It worked just as well out of work as in.  I took more chances in romantic relationships and the sky didn't fall in as my mother suggested it would.  All of this because I felt I could have an impact on other people even though I could never seem to have an impact on her or my father.
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