Typical Presentation of the Schema
It’s not that I value intimacy less than self-control, but intimacy is a vulnerable place. Being in control presents a more impenetrable emotional defense. Unsurprisingly I have a tendency to be all emotional or all logical. All one, none of the other.
Goals of Treatment
Part of my problem is that it’s not that I just have a problem expressing my emotions. I have a hard time determining what I’m feeling at all. When I’m stressed out I tend to detach from my emotional state. It’s impossible to express how you’re feeling when you aren’t able to determine what it is you’re feeling in the first place.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Experiential work can enable people to access their emotions. By considering a situation from youth or childhood you can look at how a parent or caregiver suppressed emotional needs. As an adult it is possible to confront the parent and encourage the inner child to express their real feelings such as anger and love. This can also be done with current and future situations.
This is definitely my problem. Especially when it comes to showing any kind of fear or sadness. I cannot, CANNOT, show vulnerability. When my co-worker told us he was leaving another male colleague said to me, “You and me can sit down and have a good cry together when he finally leaves.”
I responded with, “Please, I don’t cry.”
“No, never.” I joke about having my tear ducts removed. I laugh and say things like, please, I’m practically a robot, tears would rust my system.
I do not come across as soft. I am strong and independent and a little insensitive. This is an image I cultivate especially for work. I’m afraid if I show “girly” emotions I will be judged as weak and my credibility will be destroyed and I won’t be taken seriously. Or someone will see this display of weakness which will allow them to believe they can try to take advantage of me. Or it will highlight the fact that “I’m not one of the guys”, different, an outsider. I hate it when the guys at work make a point of mentioning I’m a girl. It compounds the fact that I am out of place. Showing these softer emotions will drive the rift further.
When people have been emotionally inhibited for virtually their entire lives, it is hard for them to begin acting differently. Expressing emotions feels so foreign to people with this schema – it is so contrary to what feels like their true nature – that they experience great difficulty doing it.
I’ve been working on this though. I think my actions tend to mismatch my words. I talk a tough game. When I’m one on one with a significant other though, I snuggle in close. It’s like I have a face I show the outside world, and one that only the people very closest to me can see.