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Posts Tagged ‘working through lies’

This week, I have been writing about the process of reframing or challenging the premises of the contradictions in your life. You can read the series here and here.

The initial premises in my life that I challenged were child abuse-related – premises such as whether the abuse was my fault, whether I was worthless and unlovable, etc. However, to this day, I continue to identify areas of my life in which I have been operating on faulty premises, resulting in much frustration on my part.

I don’t know how often this happens with people without a history of child abuse, but my life has been filled with buying into faulty premises. These tend to be areas of my life that suck my energy and cause me endless frustration. I keep expecting my efforts in doing X to result in Y, but they don’t. Of course, I assume that I am just not trying hard enough, so I put even more energy into that area (typically a relationship) with the same results.

The movie He’s Just Not That Into You covers this concept in an amusing way. The movie begins with a girl being taught a faulty premise. A boy shoves her to the ground and calls her a mean name. When she cries to her mother about what the boy did, the mother says, “Do you know why he did those things to you? It’s because he likes you.”

That’s the opening of the movie – the laying of the foundation of a faulty premise that many women sadly believe. The next scene is a montage of different women reassuring each other that “he” isn’t calling for any reason other than the obvious one … that he just isn’t that into you (hence the movie’s title).

Later in the movie, one of the main characters, Gigi (played by Ginnifer Goodwin) gets the following advice from her friend, Alex (played by Justin Long):

If a guy acts like he doesn’t give a s#$%, it’s because he really doesn’t give a s#$%.

This is another example of a “duh” moment for anyone who isn’t buying into a faulty premise, but there are (sadly) numerous women who buy into the premise that someone they are dating cares about them despite the plentiful evidence that he does not. (This dynamic is clearly not limited to men treating women this way.)

If you have an area of your life (especially your relationships) that appears to be a contradiction, challenge your premises. While the process is daunting, you will be better off knowing the truths in your life and finding clarity. For me, the process often is accompanied by grief intermingled with feeling like a rube. Give yourself permission to grieve your losses, even when you awaken to the reality that nothing was actually lost – it never actually existed. The loss of what you believed to be true is still a loss that might need to be grieved.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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PhotobucketIn my last blog entry, I talked about my experience with reframing or challenging faulty premises in my life. Today I am going to share the specifics of how I work through this process. I will use a specific example from my life that was very difficult but also empowering for me.

My mother/abuser was a “religious nut.” She started taking my sister and me to church when I was eight years old, and we bounced from church to church every few years because she was asked to leave so many times.

My mother has very strange views about religion, and she raised my sister and me to believe that she had this special connection with a higher power that we did not. If we only had more faith, we would have this special connection, but we didn’t try hard enough.

I bought into this premise hook, line, and sinker. I truly believed that my mother had this strong connection with a higher power while I was not “good enough.” This premise shaped my views on religion well into my late thirties (when I was in therapy for healing from child abuse). I held onto this belief despite all of the memories I recovered of being sexually abused by this allegedly religious person.

I spent one Easter pushing my baby in his stroller on a two-mile walk. Since we did not go to church, I thought I would meditate on scripture as we walked. During this process, I faced my frustration with not wanting to connect with a higher power who viewed my mother as religiously “right” and me as religiously “wrong.”

The thought hit me like a ton of bricks – What if my mother isn’t actually a Christian? This is probably a “duh” question for all of you reading this since you know my mother was my first abuser. However, this was a groundbreaking thought to me that felt like heresy even to ask!

When I chose to challenge the premise, I experienced amazing clarity. If my mother wasn’t actually a Christian, then her abuse, whacky versions of faith, etc. made complete sense. I no longer had to wrestle with trying to make sense out of the contradiction of my mother being a Christian and being an abuser. My premise was faulty, so when I challenged my premise, my life suddenly made much more sense.

More tomorrow…

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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One of my biggest hurdles in healing from child abuse has been recognizing the faulty premises in my life and challenging them. This is a process that I call reframing, but I like the idea of referring to this process as challenging faulty premises.

I learned this terminology from Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged. I am paraphrasing her words – one of her characters says that there are no contradictions in life, so if you encounter a contradiction, question your premises.

I have been through this process numerous times and continue to do the reframing process today. As an example, most child abuse survivors have to challenge premises such as that the abuse was their fault or that they are worthless. A large part of therapy for child abuse survivors, particularly in the early months, involves the therapist challenging faulty premises such as these.

Because child abuse survivors have bought into these faulty premises for most of their lives, the reframing process can be difficult and scary. Challenging the very foundation upon which you have built your life is frightening, even when the foundation is harmful to you.

The good news is that challenging your premises is worth the effort because it results in clarity and greatly improves the odds of your energies actually resulting in the expected or desired results. As an example, before therapy, I had several people in my life who said they were my friends. I believed this premise and treated them accordingly. The problem was that they did not act like my definition of a friend. When push came to shove, they were not there for me when I needed them the most.

I become frustrated because my “friends” where not treating me like a friend. I finally reached a place of challenging my premise of them being “friends.” What if they were actually just acquaintances? When I reframed my categorization of these “friends” as “acquaintances,” their behavior made perfect sense.

Reframing my understanding of these relationships was painful because I had to awaken to the realization that I had very few friends in my life at a time that I really needed them. I also felt like an idiot for investing in these people as a friend when, in reality, they did not want me as a friend. This hurt deeply because I had been a good friend to them while they had been mere acquaintances to me. I experienced this reframing as a loss that I needed to grieve.

However, the process of reframing this area of my life was empowering because I could stop pouring energy into a dry well. I kept thinking that if I put more energy into being a good friend, I would get the results I needed (true friendship in return). Once I reframed these people as acquaintances, I stopped setting myself up for disappointment.

Tomorrow, I will share how I work through the process of reframing.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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