15.) Negativity/Pessimism – A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation – in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations – that things will eventually go seriously wrong or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because they exaggerate potential negative outcomes, these individuals are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.
17.) Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness – The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
Unrelenting standards typically present as:
a. Perfectionism – inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm.
b. Rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts.
c. Preoccupation with time and efficiency, the need to accomplish more.
As you can see, there are a great many ways the mind learns to cope in a maladaptive manner. It’s even more involved than just this though since there are various ways that each of these schemas presents, not just the basic outline that I’ve given so far. We’ll get there! The goal of schema therapy is to recognize which maladaptive schemas affect a person and work to change these negative coping mechanisms to healthier, more productive ones. Once you recognize and can see the problem at the core, that’s when it becomes possible to really get a handle on it in order to change it.