I mentioned two weeks ago that I would continue with the theme of Super Pleasers and here is the second part as promised.
We all make mistakes and get things wrong, but if we can accept it, recognizing we are imperfect and yet still lovable, we can also accept and forgive ourselves. This may sound simple but in practice it is far from being so; the fear of getting things wrong and being imperfect can be so terrifying to some people they simply cannot function.
An ex patient of mine became completely fragmented placing part of himself in a good version and part in a bad, giving names and descriptions to the fragmented parts. Being bad was so intolerable the patient had unconsciously separated out the different parts of his personality allowing the good part to be loved by himself and others while the bad part could swear, grumble and become angry. By wearing different clothes and using another name he could pretend the ‘bad’ version had nothing to do with him.
Aren’t we wonderfully creative in our defences?
Yet another person removed herself, leaving home aged 12. She felt that no matter what she did how much she achieved she could not get noticed. And so she lived in a stables, horses and dogs being easier and less judgmental than her own primary carers. For her not being noticed and not feeling good enough was too difficult to face and so by removing herself she could pretend it simply didn’t matter.
So how does this change?
As with everything it is a process which takes time.
Firstly a person is helped by receiving support and recognition as to what is going on. There may be tears, distress and huge anxiety during a re-finding process that focuses on discovering who the person really is – it can be very frightening.
This may take months of exploration into what a patient has been doing and why and is a process where she learns to let go of trying to be perfect and comes to accept and love herself, warts and all.
From this may come an understanding that the desperate need to be perfect had less to do with herself and more to do with her primary carers who may have inherited their behavior from their primary carers. And so it goes on until someone decides it needs to stop.
The final stage is where all the pieces of the self are accepted and put back together. When a person can do this he can defend himself if necessary and dismiss those who don’t like him as not being his problem.
He will know who he is, his likes and dislikes and can say no without the fear of rejection, recognising he has as much right as anyone to be perfect in his imperfection.