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I'm Unlovbable- Changing your Clients Lifetraps

Section 6
Perceptions of Low Power (Part 2)

Question 6 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed the power imbalance questions of meta-messages and cause and effect logic.

In this section, we'll talk about power imbalance questions of Responsibility and Symbiosis vs. Independence in Relationships.

4 Power Imbalance Questions (Continued)

Question #3 - Responsibility
After Christy and I discussed Cause and Effect Logic, we explored Power-Imbalance Question #3, which addresses responsibility of emotions. I asked her, "It sounds like you make Jason responsible for your feelings. Does that sound accurate?" Christy stated, "Sometimes I do say things like, you made me feel so angry. You made me slam the door or you make me so happy!" By verbalizing her thoughts in this manner, Christy was able to see that she was shifting the responsibility of her emotions onto Jason and onto her parents at times, as mentioned earlier.

I found it helpful with Christy to introduce what I call, "Responsible-For-Your-Own-Feelings-Basics." Here's how this intervention works. The fact is, one person can't transplant feelings into another person. So, Power-Imbalance question #3 for your client who feels he or she is unlovable is, "Do you make your significant other responsible for your feelings?"

Question #4 - Symbiosis vs. Independence in Relationships
With the "Responsible for your own feelings basics" in mind, let's look at power-imbalance question #4 regarding symbiotic relationships. I asked Christy, "Do you see Jason as a person separate from you? An individual with his own needs and goals?" Christy responded, I always thought of us as a unit. I didn’t think about my wants being different from his or his being different from mine. My parents always seemed to be a unit; my mother never made a decision without input from my father. I guess I just thought that’s how things worked in a loving relationship.

Have you found that clients tend to gravitate toward situations that mirror childhood experiences? For example, Christy tends to get into relationships with men who take over and control situations so she can depend on them to make the decisions about daily life and direction.

Christy stated,"I keep thinking the next relationship will be different. But it never is. It's like I'm doomed to have the same relationship over and over again, just with different players." Someone who has learned to think of himself or herself as a victim might become involved with a victimizer. Exploring this pattern helped Christy to realize that she has choices in the types of relationships and structure of relationships that she's involved in. Power-imbalance question #4 helped Christy to understand a common relationship pitfall: lack of separateness and the creation of a symbiotic or co-dependent relationship.

Ask yourself in the next session you have with your client who feels he or she is unlovable, "Would it be beneficial to review any of these four power-imbalance questions of: meta-messages, cause and effect logic, responsibility for your own feelings, and symbiosis vs. independence in relationships?"

In the next section, we'll discuss methods of coping with the Lifetrap of depression, and using the Cake and Icing Principle as a way of addressing client's needs vs. wants for finding closure.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Cross, E. J., Overall, N. C., Low, R. S. T., & McNulty, J. K. (2019). An interdependence account of sexism and power: Men’s hostile sexism, biased perceptions of low power, and relationship aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(2), 338–363.

Overall, N. C., Hammond, M. D., McNulty, J. K., & Finkel, E. J. (2016). When power shapes interpersonal behavior: Low relationship power predicts men’s aggressive responses to low situational power. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(2), 195–217.

Rudolph, A., Schröder-Abé, M., & Schütz, A. (2020). I like myself, I really do (at least right now): Development and validation of a brief and revised (German-language) version of the State Self-Esteem Scale. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 36(1), 196–206.

Schmid, P. C. (2018). Less power, greater conflict: Low power increases the experience of conflict in multiple goal settings. Social Psychology, 49(1), 47–62. 

What are the four power imbalance questions? To select and enter your answer go to Test

Section 7
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