Schemas, mine suck.

I found out my top schemas today and they weren’t a surprise in the least bit.

Just in case you were wondering, a schema is defined as the following:

A schema (pl. schemata or schemas), in psychology and cognitive science, describes any of several concepts including:

  • An organized pattern of thought or behavior.
  • A structured cluster of pre-conceived ideas.
  • A mental structure that represents some aspect of the world.
  • A specific knowledge structure or cognitive representation of the self.
  • A mental framework centering on a specific theme, that helps us to organize social information.
  • Structures that organize our knowledge and assumptions about something and are used for interpreting and processing information.

A schema for oneself is called a “self schema”. Schemata for other people are called “person schemata”. Schemata for roles or occupations are called “role schemata”, and schemata for events or situations are called “event schemata” (or scripts).

Schemata influence our attention, as we are more likely to notice things that fit into our schema. If something contradicts our schema, it may be encoded or interpreted as an exception or as unique. Thus, schemata are prone to distortion. They influence what we look for in a situation. They have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information. We are inclined to place people who do not fit our schema in a “special” or “different” category, rather than to consider the possibility that our schema may be faulty. As a result of schemata, we might act in such a way that actually causes our expectations to come true.

Okay, so now you know what a schema is. Which schema is affecting me the most? Abandonment, Emotional Deprivation, Pessimism, and Approval Seeking are my main schemas.

Emotional Deprivation
This schema refers to the belief that one’s primary emotional needs will never be met by others. These needs can be described in three categories: Nurturance – needs for affection, closeness and love; Empathy – needs to be listened to and understood; Protection – needs for advice, guidance and direction. Generally parents are cold or removed and don’t adequately care for the child in ways that would adequately meet the above needs.

Abandonment/Instability
This schema refers to the expectation that one will soon lose anyone with whom an emotional attachment is formed. The person believes that, one way or another, close relationships will end imminently. As children, these clients may have experienced the divorce or death of parents. This schema can also arise when parents have been inconsistent in attending to the child’s needs; for instance, there may have been frequent occasions on which the child was left alone or unattended to for extended periods.

Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking
This schema refers to the placing of too much emphasis on gaining the approval and recognition of others at the expense of one’s genuine needs and sense of self. It can also include excessive emphasis on status and appearance as a means of gaining recognition and approval. Clients with this schema are generally extremely sensitive to rejections by others and try hard to fit in. Usually they did not have their needs for unconditional love and acceptance met by their parents in their early years.

Negativity/Pessimism
This schema refers to a pervasive pattern of focusing on the negative aspects of life while minimizing the positive aspects. Clients with this schema are unable to enjoy things that are going well in their lives because they are so concerned with negative details or potential future problems. They worry about possible failures no matter how
well things are going for them. Usually these clients had a parent who worried excessively.

Am I surprised by these? No. Do they hurt. Yes, they still hurt. Each of them describes my childhood to a “T”. I wasn’t abused as a child. I wasn’t necessarily neglected, in the traditional sense, but I was in the emotionally damaging sense. Everything that happened to me in my childhood, including my teen years, has made me the hot mess I am today. While I agree that many have been through far worse and have come out just fine; it’s the fact that I am genetically predisposed to be more sensitive that has made my upbringing that more painful for me.

It sucks to know you’re defective and it can be so easily summed up in little paragraphs. While it’s a comfort to see that there is some sort of therapy available to help, I’m very doubtful (pessimism) and concerned. I still need therapy to deal with ongoing issues each week but we have to focus on schema therapy instead.

I feel like a big part of me is being ignored. I feel alone again. These are parts of me that I knew to be, me. I didn’t think they were fixable. I thought I was one big mistake, one big problem. While I am trying to remain hopeful, it’s still a lot to process right now. I have so much going on in my life. I have so much going on in my brain. While I had convinced myself that I was fighting BPD and tried to learn all I could about that, it turns out it’s so much bigger than that. BPD is just a part of a bigger monster. I feel like I’ve been fighting for years now, and I have. For ten years, I’ve been fighting each day to stay alive and it’s draining the little bit of life out of me. I don’t know how much more fight I have left in me.

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8 thoughts on “Schemas, mine suck.

  1. Working with schemas is a bitch. It’s really hard, takes all you’ve got and is not a short term issue. I have a great handout that puts the whole thing into a few pages. I can email it to you if you want.

    I too have been fighting for 10 years. But I’ve finally gotten to the other side. Sometimes in order to survive I have to let go of the fight.

  2. Thanks for this post, I know next to nothing about Schema Therapy and I can see how complex and exhausting it must seem. I, too, don’t know how much fight I have left in me… hope we both have enough xx

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