A Victim Pattern Story

This a story about Sandra who is a person with the Victim Pattern.

Sandra was married for over fourteen years to Robert, who had been kind of a pushover. She was often able to get her way in things and she criticized him a lot. He rarely stood up to her. Over time, Robert became depressed, and at the advice of friends, began to get IFS therapy.

He tried to get Sandra involved, but she wasn’t interested.

Eventually, Robert began to grow and become more assertive. He started standing up to Sandra and confronting her about some of her controlling behavior, but she was unwilling to take him seriously or do anything different, thinking the flaws in their marriage were mostly his doing. Robert also wanted her to listen to the feelings he was uncovering in therapy, but she had little interest.

After a year of these conflicts, Robert decided to pursue divorce, and Sandra was stunned.

SANDRA: “I don’t understand how Robert could do this to me, after all our years of marriage. He’s just so selfish.”

Even though the divorce left her with half of their assets, she became frightened about her financial future. Instead of looking into how she might make some extra money, she just became angry at him.

SANDRA: “What in the world am I supposed to do now? Robert just doesn’t even think about me. He didn’t give me enough money. I’m not prepared to get a job. What skills do I even have, after keeping house and cooking for him and the kids for all these years? This is just so unfair. I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

Sandra complained to all their friends, who were sympathetic at first–after all, divorce can be heartbreaking and depressing for the best of people. But after hearing Sandra go on and on about how terrible Robert was, some friends stopped calling her for lunch dates. Others stopped taking her calls entirely. Sandra had always been critical of people, but it had never been this bad.

Finally, one friend, Jill, ran into her on the street and Sandra started in again on how hard her life was now and how she didn’t know what to do to move forward. Jill listened patiently, and then spoke.

JILL: “Sandra, I know you are facing a lot of change right now, but you might want to think about how making everything Robert’s fault really disempowers you. As long as your divorce is all about him and your situation is impossible, you leave yourself no room to take any steps forward. And I have to tell you, hearing you complain about this over and over, sometimes I feel like you want me to fix your life for you. And I can’t. Only you can do that.”

Then Jill hugged Sandra and continued on her way. Sandra stayed rooted to the spot, stunned by what felt like a slap in the face.

Slowly, over the next week, she began to consider what Jill had said. She discussed this with some other friends and began to look at herself and her situation a little differently.

The Victim Pattern Webinar

If you have the Victim Pattern, you believe that your life situation is impossible or that someone has wronged you. The Victim Pattern

In other words, you believe that your problems exist because bad things were done to you. Granted, difficult things may have happened in your life, as they do in all our lives. The difference is that you feel like the victim of these circumstances, and you believe that there is nothing you can do about it.

With this Pattern, you may find yourself continually thinking about how others have wronged or hurt you. You make excuses to yourself for why you cannot get your life together, feeling cheated and helpless to do anything about it. You may feel angry or depressed about your circumstances and helpless to change your life for the better. In the back of your mind, you may even feel entitled to special time and attention from others, especially those whom you feel have wronged you.

This webinar will help you to determine if you have a Victim Pattern–or if your partner (or someone else close to you) does. You will learn how the pattern operates, what its underlying dynamics are, and how to change it, using IFS and Self-Therapy Journey.

You will also learn how to relate to someone with the Victim Pattern and how to encourage them to change their pattern.

You will learn how to develop the Responsibility Capacity instead of the Victim Pattern.

Responsibility involves recognizing that you have choices available to you at all times and that the direction of your life is up to you. The Responsibility Capacity helps you to see that there are many small and large things you can do every day that influence the flow of your life.

You can see that it’s ultimately your job to figure out your life and to do your best to identify and attain your goals.

This leads you to a sense of personal power and the ability to make your life work.

Tuesday, April 14
4:30-6 PM pacific time (7:30-9 PM eastern)

Click and Register for the Self-Therapy Journey Webinar


Please register even if you can’t make that time. A replay of the webinar will be sent to you afterwards.

Self-Therapy Journey Demonstration Webinar




Self-Therapy Journey Demonstration free webinar is for…

(1) people who are already using STJ who want support and guidance

(2) people who want to learn about STJ to decide if they want to use it.

I will provide an overview of STJ and a demonstration of how to use it on the web, which will include almost every page. I will also answer questions from those of you who are considering using STJ.

I am excited to meet people who are using Self-Therapy Journey and find out how it is working for you. I welcome any questions you have and I will provide help with any places you are stuck.

Monday, March 23
4:00-6:00 PM pacific time (7:00-9:00 PM eastern)

Click here to enroll for free.

Feel free to register even if you can’t make that time. A replay of the webinar portion will be available afterwards.

Self-Therapy Journey (STJ) is an online tool for psychological exploration and healing. You can check it out at www.selftherapyjourney.com

What can you do?

  • Understand yourself psychologically
  • Resolve problems like procrastination, shyness, or anger
  • Gain self-confidence, strength, openness
  • Transform behavior patterns, such as dependency or people-pleasing
  • Achieve intimacy, success, contentment

How does it work?

  • You take charge of your growth, in private, at your convenience
  • There are guided meditations for healing your emotional wounds
  • You get a customized report for each pattern, wound, and capacity
  • You engage in homework practices to change your behavior
  • You systematically work on your issues and track your progress

Get the life-changing power of psychotherapy for a tiny fraction of the cost.

You can think of Self-Therapy Journey as a very sophisticated and interactive set of self-help books, plus guided meditations and customized reports. It is based on the Pattern System and Internal Family Systems Therapy.

What Users are Saying

Self-Therapy Journey is brilliant. It’s been an absolutely great experience to use it. Every time I had a thought like, “What about this?” there was something in the online system to handle it. — Athena Murphy

I think Self-Therapy Journey is immensely helpful. You can go as deep as you’re willing or want to go. — Elizabeth Moulton, Clinical Psychologist

The problems that I worked on using Self-Therapy Journey have been resolved. — Cathy Duke, Licensed Counselor

Click here to enroll.

A Passive-Aggressive Story

Here’s a Passive-Aggressive story about Joe and Marge.

Whenever Joe’s wife, Marge, asks him to do something around the house, he always seems to go along and agree to do it. But the task rarely gets done. He either conveniently Passive-Aggressive husband and wife“forgets” about it or he does a little bit of it, but doesn’t finish the job. Sometimes he does the job but in a way that isn’t really what she wanted. In all instances, Marge is left feeling frustrated with Joe.

Joe appears to feel vaguely guilty about this, but it keeps happening, and Marge is getting increasingly angry. She begins to wonder: “Does Joe really care for me? Because I feel like I can’t trust him anymore.” Marge has a vague feeling that he is getting back at her, but she can’t figure out exactly why.

Joe keeps saying, “Hey, I’m only human. I just forget sometimes.” He claims he would really like to give her all the things she wants.

This is Passive-Aggressive behavior in action. What is really going on with Joe?  He has a part that is a People-Pleaser. This part of him really wants to make Marge happy by doing everything she asks. It is actually afraid of not pleasing her. It fears she will become angry and judgmental, that she will withdraw from Joe and reject him. Therefore, when Marge asks Joe to do something, the Pleaser doesn’t stop to consider whether or not he wants to do it or if he has the time. It automatically says yes. It wants to protect Joe from the pain of being judged or rejected by Marge. And Joe isn’t aware of what is going on.

However, this is only half the story. There is another part of Joe that is Passive-Aggressive. This part has very different feelings about Marge’s requests. First of all, it doesn’t see them as “requests.” It feels that Marge is “demanding” things from him. It resents Marge for pushing Joe around and telling him what to do. And the Passive-Aggressive Part is even more resentful when Joe gives in. It feels angry at Marge and wants to say, “How dare you tell me what to do!”

However, the Passive-Aggressive Part is overruled by the Pleaser. It isn’t allowed to defy Marge or get angry at her because the Pleaser would be terrified about what would happen. So the Passive-Aggressive Part is silenced. It doesn’t get to act in a direct way, and Joe doesn’t even know that he has a part like this. The Passive-Aggressive Part is completely unconscious.

In addition, Joe has a lot of anger and rage held over from his childhood, especially directed at women. So now this anger sometimes gets directed at Marge, even when she hasn’t done anything. However, Joe has protective parts that are terrified about what would happen if he expressed his anger directly. This way it stays hidden away where Joe doesn’t know about it. It feeds into the feelings of the Passive-Aggressive Part, again in an unconscious way.

Nevertheless the Passive-Aggressive Part is not without some power. Even though it can’t be directly aggressive the way it would like, it can be passively aggressive. It can prevent Joe from giving Marge what she wants. It may cause Joe to forget what he has promised to do. The Passive-Aggressive Part may influence Joe to do a job in a willy-nilly way that will frustrate Marge, or even scare her by leaving it precariously half-finished. It knows how to get back at Marge in an indirect way that Joe isn’t even aware of. And when Marge does get frustrated or scared, the Passive-Aggressive Part feels satisfied because it has expressed its anger and rebellion. Ha-ha! It has “gotten” her.

Joe has two sides that are at odds with each other. They are conflicted about the best way to deal with Marge.

The Pleaser takes charge directly when Marge asks Joe to do something, and the Passive-Aggressive Part takes charge indirectly (subconscious revenge) later on.

Click here to see how Self-Therapy Journey can help you understand and transform your Passive-Aggressive Pattern.



Webinar: Understanding and Transforming the Passive-Aggressive Pattern

PassiveAggresivePattern-2.jpgIf you have the Passive-Aggressive Pattern, you tend to act in a way that looks as though you are agreeable and pleasing on the surface, but in the end your behavior either hurts people or frustrates them.

You may only be aware of your surface desire to please people. You may even realize that you’re afraid of not pleasing someone, especially your partner.

The clue to help you realize if you have this pattern is when people you are close to regularly get frustrated with you or feel hurt by you.

You may feel wronged when this happens. You may even say to yourself, “I’m doing my best to be nice and agreeable, but my partner doesn’t seem to get this. She keeps getting on my case for doing things that upset her. But I don’t have any idea what she is talking about.”

If you have a Passive-Aggressive Pattern, there is an unconscious part of you that is resentful and perhaps defiant. This part is irritated at how much you kowtow to what your partner (or someone else) wants. Or the part may be angry at your partner for things she said that resulted in your feeling undervalued or unappreciated.

However, you don’t feel that you have any right to be angry or defiant, so it all goes underground in your consciousness. You act in seemingly agreeable ways, but you add a little mean twist to your behavior that frustrates your partner without even being aware of what you are doing.

This webinar will help you to determine if you have a Passive-Aggressive Pattern–or if your partner (or someone else close to you) does. You will learn how the pattern operates, what its underlying dynamics are, and how to change it, using IFS and Self-Therapy Journey. You will also learn how to relate to someone with this pattern and how to encourage them to change their pattern.

You will learn how to develop Assertiveness and Cooperation instead of your Passive-Aggressive Pattern.

Assertiveness involves having a firm knowledge of what you feel, think, and desire, as opposed to being overly influenced by other people’s opinions, feelings, and needs. Assertiveness involves exerting power to ask what you want, explain why something is important to you, and follow through even if others don’t go along right away. You can bring up difficult issues with people in order to try to improve your relationship with them. You can say No when someone asks you for something you don’t want to give.

Cooperation means being able to work together with other people in a connected and collaborative way.

The integration of Assertiveness and Cooperation will allow you to…

  • Say No to tasks you don’t want to do.
  • Say clearly what you want.
  • Feel a sense of personal power
  • Work well with others
  • Take care of your needs without upsetting people
  • Improve your relationships

Wednesday, Feb. 18
4:30-6 PM pacific time (7:30-9 PM eastern)
Click here to register for free.

Please register even if you can’t make that time. A replay of the webinar will be available afterwards.

Working Through the Taskmaster and Perfectionist Critics

This story is a continuation of Jeremy’s story, which dealt with Jeremy’s Taskmaster and Perfectionist Inner Critics.

When Jeremy started working on these issues in therapy, he learned that his Perfectionist was in fact attempting to protect him. It believed that if it forced him to make his work really perfect, he could prove to his boss (who this part saw as his father) that he was a success and deserving of appreciation and love. His Taskmaster also had the same goals, which he was supposed to achieve by working incredibly hard without rest.

b15 TaskMasterGradually Jeremy was able to negotiate with his Taskmaster so he could set more realistic goals for himself at work–ones that he could finish in a reasonable amount of time so he didn’t have to overwork. This allowed him to relax and have more enjoyment and connection in his life. It also allowed him to work in a more relaxed manner, which unexpectedly freed his creativity. This resulted in higher quality work with less effort. This was a big surprise!

He also negotiated with his Perfectionist Part to let up and give him some freedom. He experimented with giving his boss feedback on the progress of his projects and asking for his boss’s input. This way he could determine when his projects were good enough to turn it and move on to the next.

He learned that everyone wasn’t like his father. His boss could be reasoned with and would support him when Jeremy made realistic goals and kept his boss informed about the status of his work. He began to get excellent reviews from his boss and his career flourished.

BK007-Letting-Go-of-PerfectionismYou can use Self-Therapy Journey to work on either of these patterns or on other Inner Critic patterns. You can also read my book Letting Go of Perfectionism.

Wanted: Volunteer Testers for Self-Therapy Journey

Volunteer testers for Self-Therapy JourneyI have made some major changes to Self-Therapy Journey, my online tool for psychological healing and personal growth.

Before I move these changes to the live, user version of STJ, I need volunteer testers to test them, to see if there are errors and if they are explained well. I got some volunteers a few weeks ago, and they have been very helpful, but I need some more.

If you aren’t familiar with STJ, you can check it out here www.selftherapyjourney.com. But this version doesn’t contain the changes we will be testing.

The testing will take about 45-60 minutes, and I will be on the phone/Skype with you to get your feedback in the moment. I need people who don’t already know much about Self-Therapy Journey.

I need both therapists and non-therapists.

If you are interested in volunteering, email me at earley.jay@gmail.com. Let me know (1) your phone number, (2) what time zone you are in, (3) if you are a therapist.


An Inner Critic Story

Jeanette had a bad case of low self-esteem. Even when she was a child, all her teachers were puzzled by this. She was smart and musically gifted but had absolutely no Your Inner Criticconfidence.

She never auditioned for the orchestra or for school plays even when she was encouraged to do so. As she got older and this pattern continued, she ended up holding minimal jobs that didn’t come close to tapping her native talents. She just assumed that she wouldn’t amount to anything. Every time she had an inclination to reach out and try something challenging, she experienced a sinking feeling in her chest and a gray cloud descended on her, so she gave up on the idea.

One afternoon Jeanette’s friend Lynn was having a very bad day; she complained to Jeanette of heaviness in her heart. Lynn was talking about a critical voice that she heard inside of her. Suddenly something clicked with Jeanette; she realized that she recognized the voice her friend was describing. It lived inside her, too!

This was Jeannette’s Inner Critic. It was saying critical things like: “You aren’t any good. You can’t do it. Don’t even try.” She had always just assumed that this was the truth about her. She had never viewed these harmful messages as coming from a separate part of her psyche. She recalled how she longed to try out for high school musicals but this other voice spoke so forcefully that she didn’t dare.

Since she hadn’t been consciously aware of it until that moment, she’d had no way to communicate with it. She hadn’t seen any way to confront the source of her negative beliefs about herself. Now, however, she had a lever to begin to work with it.

Jeannette had an Underminer Inner Critic, which is one of the seven types of Inner Critics that we have identified and studied how to work with.

You can use Self-Therapy Journey to work with and transform your Inner Critic parts. Click here for more information or to try it out.



Do You Have A Self-Effacing Pattern?

The Self-Effacing Pattern is one of the patterns in the Social Dimension of the Pattern System. It is often referred to as “shyness.” It has been one of the major patterns that I have worked on over the years. The Self-Effacing Paggern

If you have the Self-Effacing Pattern, you may feel shy and awkward in social situations and not speak very much. You may withdraw from people and have a hard time reaching out for connection. You may actually avoid social situations.

You may have a hard time speaking up about your own ideas, stories, or achievements, especially in group settings. You may feel that you don’t deserve to be heard or appreciated. At times, you may feel incompetent or inadequate. Because of your quietness, you may be seen by others as aloof.

In conversations, you may try to keep the focus on others, and when the spotlight lands on you, you may answer questions about yourself with terse or awkward replies. You may be self-deprecating, making not-so-funny jokes at your own expense. You may find it difficult to receive compliments or attention gracefully, instead deflecting them or playing them down.

You may be afraid of being rejected if you reach out to others. You may be afraid of being judged or ridiculed if you speak up. You may believe that you don’t have anything valuable to offer, that you are a “loser.”

Some people are quiet and solitary by nature, and happy to be so. The Self-Effacing Pattern applies to you if you are quiet, but unhappily so. You wish you could speak up and be recognized. You would like more connections with people and people to know and like the “real you.” You want to be able to reach out to others with self-confidence.

While you can’t always be sure of how others will receive you, you CAN change your underlying belief that you are “less than” others and unworthy of attention. You can work through the fears behind your Self-Effacing Pattern—the fear of rejection or ridicule. You can learn to develop the Social Confidence Capacity, where you feel free to be yourself in social situations.

You can work on and transform the Self-Effacing Pattern using Self-Therapy Journey, my online tool for personal growth and healing. Click here to learn more.

The Defensive Pattern

The Defensive Pattern Self-Therapy JourneyThe Defensive Pattern is one of the patterns in the Conflict Dimension of the Pattern System. You can work on transforming it using Self-Therapy Journey. Click here for more information on this.

When a person challenges you, if you have a Defensive Pattern, you tend to defend yourself against their accusation instead of listening to what is important to them. Of course, if the person accuses you of something that isn’t true, it does make sense to straighten them out. However, if you come from a Defensive Pattern, you tend to assume that any accusation isn’t true or look for ways that it isn’t true rather than considering ways that it might be accurate.

Even more importantly, you don’t really take the person’s concerns seriously. It is most helpful to really hear the person and validate their feelings so they feel understood. Then, if necessary, you can explain the way they have misunderstood you and the way their accusation may be untrue. Because you have validated them first, they are much more likely to respond well to what you have to say.

If you have a Defensive Pattern, it may be very hard for you to admit your part in a problem that the person brings up. You may avoid looking at yourself and instead focus on defending yourself from criticism.

If the person is angry or harshly judgmental toward you, it does make sense for you to protect yourself from being treated this way. However, this is best done by setting limits on the person’s anger and judgment rather than by arguing that you haven’t done anything wrong. In addition, you may perceive someone as being very judgmental when they really aren’t because of your sensitivity to being criticized.