Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Injunctions and Drivers to Autonomy

I have described in my previous post - Injunctions and Drivers - the most basic messages that the child receives in the early ages and interprets them as means to stay alive. I have to note here, that it is possible, that the message is conveyed without the parent's intention (for example if either of them has to spend a longer time in hospital, the child can interpret it as abandonment and acquire the "don't be, don't exist" injunction).

For moving towards autonomy (consciousness, spontaneity and intimity), the goal is not to over-analyze our life-script. Realizing our own injunctions and drivers is only the means of getting rid of the life-script once and for all.

It is difficult, because these were the ones, that we believe with every inch of our body, will save us from demise. Starting questioning them usually stirs shit up, but it worths it.

The most important fact is, that you are OK as you are. Even if you make mistakes, even if you are guilty, even if you are the archetypal villain. You can always correct your faults and improve yourself. Your core, your deepest definition is OK.

Permissions instead of Injunctions

If you have managed to identify your own injunctions and drivers, or have found at least some of them, it usually results in sadness or anger. This is a normal first reaction. What is more difficult to accept is, that these were our own, very rational decisions, based on what we knew best with the mind of a small child, of course. These were useful and good decisions back then. These ensured our very survival - which is only possible that time if our parents nurture us.

It was an adaptive decision, because it worked: you are alive and grew up, and here you are, reading.

What has changed since then is only one thing: you are not a young child anymore. You can survive and live your live even if your parents don't love you.

Therefore, the once rational and valid injunctions are now invalid. Give permission to yourself to do what the injunction has forbidden you to do before. This new decision will be made with your adult self and consciousness:

  • Permissions for Don't be (Don't exist)
    • You can exist. You have just the same right to live as anyone else. You will die one day, but you don't have to bring that date closer in any way. You cannot be obliged physically, emotionally or relationship-wise to harm or destroy yourself, neither partially nor completely. You can give up any self-harming behavior and still survive life and its difficulties. You are allowed to be noticed by other people. Your life is yours alone, and you are allowed to live it.
  • Permissions for Don't be who you are (Don't be You)
    • You are who you are, and you are completely OK that way. You are generally valuable and good, with your gender, sexual orientation, personality, qualities, abilities, skills, thoughts, beliefs and preferences. Other people are OK if they are different from you, but you are OK the way you are. There can be things that you would like to improve or change in yourself, but this does not change the fact, that you are OK this way.
  • Permissions for Don't be a child
    • You can be imperfect, and you can be uninformed. You don't have to instantly know everything and be proficient in everything. You don't have to provide the maximum in every situation. You can be as free and as happy as a carefree child. You can put aside consciousness, rationality and responsibility, and you can play freely, without any specific reason. You can do things that are ineffective, irrational or not tangibly useful, for your own enjoyment. You can enjoy life as such and value the little things.
  • Permissions for Don't grow up
    • You are an adult. You can separate physically and emotionally from your parents and live your own life. You can experience your sexuality based on your own norms. You can make independent, responsible, rational, conscious decisions and you can bear the consequences for your decisions. You are able to evaluate situations on your own and phrase your own opinion about them. You can take everything you can into account when deciding something. You are allowed to prioritize.
  • Permissions for Don't make it in your life (Don't succeed)
    • You can perform well, you can achieve things, and you can finish whatever you have started. You are able to be successful, and you are allowed to succeed. You have every possibility to work for your own achievements, and you are capable to do things on your own. You be proud of yourself for your successes even if others are less successful in that particular field or situation.
  • Permissions for Don't do anything!
    • You can make your own decisions. You are allowed to make risky or wrong decisions. You don't have to escape critical situations. Your personal value is not dependent on your decisions. You can learn from your own mistakes and improve yourself. You can do what you intend to do, and you don't have to report about it to anyone. You can be loved if you are active.
  • Permissions for Don't be important
    • You are just as important as anyone else. Your needs, desires and requests are as important as anyone else's. You can be in the center of attention, and you deserve to be listened to. You can be beautiful, successful, smart, popular, and you can be loved. You have the right to have physical, emotional and social needs, you can take steps to fulfill these, and you are allowed to reach your goals. You can pay attention to yourself.
  • Permissions for Don't belong
    • You can decide to partially give up your own freedom and belong to a family, society, team, minority, movement, culture, nation, religion, band or any other group. You can have your own social connections. By belonging to others, you can still be yourself, and don't have to be enmeshed with anyone else. You can have different points of view and still belong to groups. You are allowed to agree with ideas, beliefs, thoughts that certain groups agree with.
  • Permissions for Don't be close
    • You can form intimate relationships with others. You can decide to be open and honest while communicating. You are allowed to trust others. You have the possibility to think the best of another person without prior proof. You can express your needs, feelings and opinion. You can have close friends, you can be close to the members of your family, your spouse, your children, your colleagues, your neighbor, and anyone else you decide to open up to.
  • Permissions for Don't be well (Don't be sane!)
    • You can be healthy and sane. You don't need to get attention by having physical or psychological symptoms. You deserve attention, love, respect and caring even if you are not different from others, even if you are not extravagant. You can stand out, but you can also be like others. You can live a healthy life physically, psychologically and emotionally. You can blend in if you choose to.
  • Permissions for Don't think
    • You have the right to know the world, and to form theories about anything. You can have your own opinion. You can realize problems and find solutions for them. You can ask questions, find answers and draw conclusions. You are allowed to make mistakes and be wrong, you can reconsider your previous conclusions. You do not have to stick to your past thoughts and beliefs. You have the right to think what you think. You don't have to evaluate your thoughts as right or wrong based on other people's thoughts or belief systems. Your thoughts and beliefs are your own, and you do not have to disclose them to anyone if you don't want to.
  • Permissions for Don't feel
    • You have the right to feel, and to express these feelings. You are allowed to be happy and feel good if your need is satisfied. You are allowed to feel bad, if your need is not satisfied. You can be sad because of the past, you can be angry in the present and you can be afraid of the future. Your feelings cannot be invalidated, they are neither right nor wrong, they simply exist. Your feelings are valid, and yours. You do not have to disclose your feelings to anyone if you don't want to. You can express your feelings to any extent you choose to, and you can decide whom you share your emotions with.
It does not mean that if you reprogram your injunctions with permissions, that you will become unscrupulous, or a sociopath/psychopath. By becoming autonomous, you don't inevitably become selfish as well. Knowing that you are allowed to do something does not mean that you are obliged to do it. It is a possibility, that you can decide. Redefining the values that originate from your childhood does not necessarily result in being valueless, an anarchist, or being a nihilist. You can have your own personal values, and stick to them, and if you - as an adult - realize that in a given situation it is appropriate for you to do so, you can act differently also.

To be honest, when I have learned about some of these, it literally made me cry. It was such an overwhelming feeling to even think that there is a world somewhere, where I am allowed to do those and be like that. And that I can let myself heal.

I'm nowhere near that road yet (I'm practicing one of these right now, and it is really difficult for me to forget lifelong conditioning, but I am taking one step at a time).

Permissions instead of Drivers

Drivers are usually the behind your belief that you are in deep shit and that "something wrong will happen". That punishment will come. If you have these thoughts (usually it does not even have a source in your thoughts where the punishment, the shitstorm or the end-of-the-world will originate from), it is very likely, that one of your Drivers has started operating. And, as the name shows: it will drive you like mad, to escape the perceived all-hell-will-break-loose, demise, and all the other horror. It is usually not enough to simply remove the drivers, as it is possible with Injunctions. What can help is to redefine them.

  • Permissions for Please me/others!
    • Please yourself!
    • You don't have to please your parents or others to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Be Perfect!
    • You are OK as you are!
    • You don't have to be perfect to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Be Strong!
    • Express your needs!
    • You don't have to hide your emotions and be strong deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Try Hard!
    • Do it!
    • You don't have to burden yourself with unfinished projects to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Hurry Up!
    • Give yourself time!
    • You don't have to hurry and multitask to deserve others' acceptance and love.
These redefinitions are all long processes. After all it took a lifetime so far to realize your injunctions and drivers. But with practice, self-love, and help from a professional mental health specialist, therapist or even a spiritual leader, it is possible and reachable.

Note: I'm using Wikipedia, Sanctuary for the Abused,, Eric Berne's What Do You Say After You Say Hello book, my therapist's sessions and my own thoughts to write this blogpost.

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