(See also Range Of Specific Behaviours)
Linking Our Behaviour To What's Happening Inside We can behave in many ways. It is our very self, intentions, thoughts and beliefs (see also Catastrophising, Awfulising, Impending Doom, Sense Of Dread), emotions and actions (e.g. being caught in our own internalised drama triangle - that we become our own persecutor, rescuer, victim), that influences our behaviour - especially if we allow someone or something outside of ourself to determine how we behave, rather than acknowledge that is our own intention regarding situations that determines how we act. The counselling and psychotherapy can explore how we are in the world, what we willing to disidentify from - how we act & respond, behave, which may cause certain behaviour problems in us. We may have some emotionally self-defeating behaviours (e.g. over or under confidence, defensiveness, aggression, hostility, shyness, suspicion). We may have become trapped in our own cycle of behaviour, with or without feeling guilty, as if from our life script. For example: we experience an old trigger or stimulus (simply having an experience) and our response follows, e.g.: because we are feeling this, we do that. We may be sensitive inside, struggling to articulate this. Some of these behaviours may be self-defeating, impulsive or compulsive and may include unwanted habits or addictions. We may have become a person of extremes, always following our passions without rationally choosing our behaviour. Wrecked by guilt or shame (which prohibits changing our behaviour), we may not like how we behave, become recklessly careless or unkind at times. Inflicting harm (on us or others), we may be suffering inside, or make others suffer. We may distract ourselves temporarily, yet our core behaviour problem may remain. And our role together in the behaviour therapy may be finding creative ways of managing this cycle or patterns of thinking (stimulus) & behaviour (responses) differently (see also Behaviour Patterns), if that is your desire - what some people call behaviour management or managing impulsive behaviour, some of which may be linked to repetition compulsion (see also Early Unconscious Agreements, Beliefs & Trauma). The therapy can also be used to look at ways of diverting some of our powerful forces into creative solutions (see also Our Vision, Visualisation, Envisioning The Reality We Wish To Be True).
Underlying Factors We all have our own blind spots. Sometimes it can seem as if we are an actor in our own play (a re-enactment), noticing us responding in old, familiar ways, yet seem helpless to change. Changing behaviour may be our challenge, which may be linked to self-defeating thoughts, fear of failure. We are convinced we know what we are doing, yet seem unable to stop or recognise that we are caught in an old, habitual role of learnt behaviour. This behaviour problem may have become controlling, which keeps our heart closed. Sometimes we may be behaving in ways which no longer work, simply to fill our void. Some of us can get into trouble almost deliberately, or to stir up things. These recurrent themes of behaviour can go round & round like a broken record, and we may wonder why we do this. We may run to something as an escape. We may have become self-destructive, treat people in unkind ways because of how we feel about ourself - especially when we are tired, stressed, anxious or fearful, depressed, feel chaotic inside or have other uncomfortable feelings, or we struggle with empathy, compassion (especially if we feel wounded), which gets in the way of caring about the effects of our behaviour on others. How we express what we need and how we behave if these needs are not met, can be a real challenge at times.
Repetition Compulsion Sometimes we can see ourselves doing things - putting ourself in certain situations, behaving in certain ways (maybe retrospectively making the same mistakes or seek comfort in the familiar) yet seem unable to stop which may point to a compulsion to repeat circumstances, difficult, distressing situations or traumatic events over and over again as if we are re-enacting, something, (not dissimilar to a dream which itself can be a repetition compulsion) where the unconscious finds ways to bring something from the past to the foreground as if trying to re-live the previous experience hoping that this time the experience will be different, not as negative as before, that we will heal, find solutions, resolve things. The repetition compulsion can be experienced as if old emotions carry a script connected with our current emotions. When caught in our repetition compulsion we may catastrophasise, awfulise things self-sabotage as if doing things that are doomed to fail or we become addicted to pain, suffering, continuing to believe we have to carry life's burdens (see also The Martyr In Us). Some may turn to unhelpful habits or addictions (see also High-Low Addiction Model). Our repetition compulsion usually carries a relationship dynamic and choreography (see also Previous Relationship Themes, Patterns, Cycles, Roles) as if an unconscious attempt to rewrite history (e.g. including choosing a partner who may at some level resemble one of our parents - or we project onto them our parents' traits), where we use our radar to select others (often at a common level of wounding) who replay our emotional woundedness in the hope, attempt that this time the scenario will have a different outcome (see also Remembering - Choosing How We Look Around Us Now, How We Look Back & Ahead). Carrying early destructive relationship patterns, there may be a dance between an emotionally dismissive, avoidant and emotionally dependent partner, a drama triangle maybe with a sense of learned helplessness being re-enacted as if events must confirm our expectations. In relationships, this may include how we (or more accurately the regressed wounded part of us) repeatedly confuse longing with loving, want intimacy, yet not want it, fall out of love or impulsively want to end relationships, rushing headlong towards separation, maybe sabotage things in our relationship get angry, become jealous. The repetition compulsion may include carrying power struggles in our head, holding on to expectations, our painbody, inhibiting rules, loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, doing things the same old ways, old wounds, hurt, pain, shame, guilt, loathing, feeling low, sad, depressed. Alongside looking at our unhelpful self-beliefs (see also Linking Our Behaviour To What's Happening Inside), the therapy for repetition compulsion may also include exploring all our relationships, the roles we take on, our unconscious processes, e.g. any feelings we denied, repressed, suppressed from our history (including going numb) - see also Healing & Liberation From Our Past Feelings. Recognising that any wounds back then in childhood especially our early bonding patterns were not due to our inadequacies and learning about our attachment style, that we may no longer have to place or chase others to be in our drama, may be part of the counselling process through exploring and releasing our past (see also Our Intimate & Loving Relationships Now - Strengthening The Secure, Loving Lasting Attachment Bond Between Each Other) self acceptance, choosing open, loving, available, supportive people (who may be new and different), being anchored, centred, grounded in our own right able to soothe, love ourselves and others, envisioning the reality we wish to be true, live life to our full potential, accessing our free will, being open to healing, evolving in all our relationships.
The person... in the grip of an old distress says things that are not pertinent, does things that don't work,Harvey Jackins
fails to cope with the situation, and endures terrible feelings that have nothing to do with the present.
Reactive Behaviour Problem Chains of events in our life, our reactive behaviour (or impulsive behaviour) can be regressive, connected to certain triggers or our own beliefs, which may have origins in our history, including unmet needs from our past or uncomfortable feelings like envy & jealousy. Our behaviour can at times be infantile. We may also have a behaviour problem, because the strong emotions we are experiencing lock our attention and it can be hard to think clearly. Anything good may be sabotaged by our punishing behaviour. We may even behave in ways opposite to what we feel. We may sense we are acting on automatic, not fully aware of our actions. "Oh xxxx, I've done it again" may be our reaction. Some of us may experience hurt, fear, anxiety or frustration, yet don't know quite what to do with it, other than being dominant or submissive. We may struggle to come to terms with part of us we may not like (this may include our fear, shyness or vulnerability), finding it difficult to be in touch with our intrinsic worth. If we don't feel worthwhile inside we may behave in ways as if to confirm our low self worth. Some of us can behave in sabotaging ways we would rather not, because we are physically unwell, unhappy or not fully in touch with our needs or emotions. We may end up sabotaging our own or other's lives in counterproductive ways. We may have a pattern of being moody, grumpy, as if there are no other responses. We may become stuck, lonely or helpless and struggle to respond. Our behaviour in our relationship can be associated with making our partner responsible for our needs (for details see Unmet Love Needs & Emotional Neediness). The counselling & psychotherapy can also be helpful in supporting us reducing our own dramas, filtering our thoughts. The therapy examines our own roles (e.g. victim, rescuer, persecutor), choices & responsibilities in how we behave, becoming less reactive, more proactive, and ways to tolerate our anxiety, when we are not in control, alongside what any unconscious behaviour is pointing towards.
Losing Ourselves Some of us may unhelpfully conflate our personality, our self with our behaviour, as if they are the all the same things. Taking other people's behaviour personally may be challenge for us, especially in our relationship or marriage. Our wounded behaviour may ripple outwards & range from attacking, blaming or criticising to withdrawing or withholding. We may seek solace in our work, TV, the internet, food, alcohol or drugs. In the way we behave we may have abandoned or harmed us or others, and the counselling & psychotherapy can help if this concerns us. The therapy may also look at our "default" behaviours - our personal template, and other responses towards managing our behaviour problem, so we no longer let our behaviour run away with us or lose our self in the process.
Manipulating Others We all have need to connect and we may go about it in emotionally manipulative ways, especially in times of conflict, if we are in a difficult relating state or have unhelpful habits, addictions. In our need to control outcomes & others or our partner (often without them knowing), maybe struggling to live from our own home truths, conscience, integrity, hand on heart most of us have been manipulative at some points in our life, but when this becomes part of our daily demeanour (even manipulating ourself), we may feel uncomfortable with this (as others are). Our esteem erodes and we may want to do something about it including addressing our needs. (In our close relationship we may struggle to acknowledge our own dependency needs we may have become very indirect in expressing our needs.) Struggling to be in tune not only with us but others & the wider world, we may have developed subtle or underhand ways of trying to manipulate others or need to change others. We may live as if only we count and have become slippery, calculating, steering others towards our desired thinking and behaviour, in order to achieve our hidden goals and to get our own needs met (see also Living As If Only We Count). We may discount our passive aggressive ways and effect on others, be mistrusted and our range of behaviour, roles may include:
- Buttering others up
- The pleaser, fixer, helping & offering acts of kindness
- The martyr or victim, the rescuer or using self-pity
- The underminer
- The withholder, withdrawer or using the silent treatment, so the other person feels guilty
- The controlling one in our relationship, marriage
- Feigning, carrying, empathy
- Apologising when we don't really mean it
- Disingenuously offering our validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance
- Baiting others
- Gaslighting - trying to isolate others
- Being in a codependent state
The Isolator As part of gaslighting, the person may suggest that so many others agree with them (including people they personally know. They might say something like "You are the only one who thinks this way, your friends... told me you need to...") We may have become physically isolated, no longer free to see who we want to see go where we want to go, being driven everywhere by our partner. When we sleep may be controlled.
The Evasive One Rather than speak our truth we may end up not saying things as they are, trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes. We may have become like "Teflon" man or woman, when we don't allow anything to stick to us, become deceptive or untruthful.
The Guilt Tripper Some of us may use our partner's vulnerabilities, needs, weak spots against them (e.g. they may not want to disappoint us or find it hard to ask for what they need). We may try to send others on a guilt trip especially if they are prone to doing this themselves anyway (e.g. everyone else is doing it, if you are my friend, you would..., but I thought you loved me, after all I've done for you, I would do it for you) so they feel they are doing what we want them to do, because they should do it out of guilt, even if they don't want to.
Baiting Others Some of us may flirt to bait our partner. With similarities to gaslighting, conversations may take turn when we bait, accuse others in order to get an emotional, angry response. Baiting is manipulative technique, which occurs by playing on someone's emotions, to make them upset, angry (turning the tables on them from a victim place inside us). Jealousy baiting can occur when we destroy something precious to others, because this makes us feel angry.
On The Receiving End Of Being Baited Not taking the bait is essential. Rather than defend ourselves against baiting accusations, we may want to reflect upon why we would be accused of this and encourage the "baiter" to tell us their thought processes. Often silence can be a powerful response, saying nothing at all, allowing both of us to cool off, not be flooded by emotion, so we can think rationally.
The Flatterer Being insincere in our flattery - buttering others up, telling them how wonderful or how well they did something in order to make them feel good, so they are less likely to say "No" or disappoint us.
The charmer in us (alongside our pleaser or rescuer) may appear attractive (yet may be lying with a smile on our face), know all the right things to say, yet be trying to manipulate, exploit, con our way towards getting what we want. We may break rules thinking we can get away with them with little remorse. Inside we may feel socially isolated, lonely.
Habitual Lying Going against our conscience, morality & personal integrity, we may lie for many reasons, motivations - often lying out of fear or being seen to be vulnerable. Numb, empty inside, we may feel we have little substance, internal structure, centre, be afraid of the consequences in telling the truth, as it is (often as protection against pain, shame). We may worry how people will react (e.g. letting people down, disappointing, hurting, upsetting or annoying them - especially if they become angry, judgemental - which is probably what we do to ourselves ). Other motivations to lie may include: struggling to grow up, to shore up our defences, to gaslight others, hide an unhelpful habit, addiction, or needing to be noticed, for validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, to be valued, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, adulation, acceptance, trust. Some may end up pathologically lying where we get a thrill in manipulating others through lying, which may need addressing through the domain of specialist help.
On The Receiving End Of Manipulation With certain people - even those we love, are loyal to & trust, we can end up being in a familiar situation of doing things we don't really want to do, even unaware this is happening to us. Feeling angry, irritated, guilty or confused, we may struggle to take control, or remember that nobody has the right to manipulate or control our feelings without us letting them. Some of us may be faced with a dilemma of working with or letting go of the manipulative people in our life or choosing to be with supportive others, who genuinely respect us without trying to erode our esteem. The counselling & psychotherapy can explore how we can:
- Use our boundaries to emotionally protect ourself.
- Remain calm, speak clearly without judgement, in spite of other's behaviour.
- Clarify the other's comments by finding out exactly what they mean.
- State our feelings about their comments, e.g. that we feel confused or uncomfortable about what they said.
- Assert ourselves by asking for what behaviour we prefer, e.g. "when you say..., it's as if I'm supposed to feel guilty, I would prefer it if you..."
- Not get drawn in to guilt trips of having to reciprocate favours, not let others do things for us when there is an uncomfortable price to pay, so if something was done for us, we can appreciate their help, and if appropriate, state how we'd prefer them not to do it in the future, as we may be unable to return the favour.
- Avoid being drawn into further guilt trips by articulating that we understand what the other person thinks we should do, yet this doesn't fit with us.
- Not to be drawn in to a hook of self pity, so we can understand their difficult circumstances, yet also appreciate any positive attitudes or actions they are taking to overcome their situation.
- Explore our own guilt issues
Changing Our Behaviour
Opportunity For Change Fear and anxiety may be driving our behaviour, and this can be explored in the counselling. We may have unhelpful, fatalistic beliefs, be out of touch with our free will. "How do I change my behaviour?" may be our question, as if our behaviour has to respond to a certain template, that has to bring out the worst in us. Considering our responses to situations and then responding can also create our habits, attitudes & personality. People can't create tension in us (see also Our Triggers) unless we let them. We create it in our responses (behaviour management) and we may want to utilise the counselling to explore what is acceptable behaviour. How we behave can also affect our stress levels. The way we behave is also connected to the way we feel about ourselves, sometimes to avoid our pain. Some of us prefer to rationalise our behaviour, compartmentalise things to justify whatever we do, even though we may not feel good inside, as if in a hole. Mentalising, modifying our behaviour at times, cleaning up unhelpful, risky behaviour (e.g. addictions), taking responsibility may support us. It can be a challenge to be warm, kind & respectful towards everyone we meet, especially if we don't have much in common. Aligning ourself to our values, conscience & integrity, resilience & personal boundaries can support how we behave (behavioural flexibility). (See also Building, Maintaining, Scheduling Supportive Habits, Routines, Rituals, Patterns)
Controlling Our Behaviour, Widening Our Capacity To Choose Some of us struggle with our ability to control our behaviour, make different choices, be aware of the biological component. Counselling and psychotherapy can help us consider the effect our behaviour might have on others, ways of changing, slowing down, reflecting how we react (re-enact) or act with choice in the world. Loosening any of our all-or-nothing thinking, regulating our behaviour, making various behavioural changes, may be a challenge. This may include looking at ways to step back from situations, creating a space to assimilate our experience, compose our thoughts without our unnecessary behaviour over-spilling. We may seek attention in negative ways and without beating ourself up, want to question how we want to be - now. Do we for example always take the familiar route home or are willing to choose the longer way home? As we try new things, the way we behave can become less important to all of who we are. The therapy may also examine how we can have control over our automatic reactions, having more choice in our responses, actions & interactions, taking back control & responsibility for our effect on our own and others' feelings, taking responsibility for our own - see also Boundary Setting Counselling - Self-Control. (We may also have control issues.) Counselling & psychotherapy may also consider our feelings & needs behind the behaviour problem (see also Distinguishing Between What We Want & What We Need), any opportunities to make different or powerful choices and what message we want to send out, alongside our sense of inner worth, and ways we can look after our own needs, by becoming more aware of the consequences of our thoughts (filtering them when supportive), actions, behaviours & roles (and choosing to change them). The therapy can also be a space for us to bring our struggles rather than have to act on them through our behaviour, make sense of things, find our own meaning, tolerating not knowing - and need to be in control. (See also Changes & Transitions - Counselling London)
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