I’m taking Linda Dillon’s Core Issues class and getting in touch with some of my core issues or vasanas.
The one that’s arising for me now is the core issue or script of a self-deprecating child, a needy child, a child who feels themself worthless.
It’s a child who’s been criticized, brow-beaten, demeaned, and is constantly tugging on the sleeves of the big people for reassurance.
Tell me I’m OK. See me. Include me. Hold my hand.
It can be a real energy drain.
When I’m the one who has this script playing, I’m demanding that people listen to me, reassure me, protect me, etc. I’m taking what Eric Berne, in transactional analysis, would’ve called a child’s position.
Berne discussed three ego states or what I prefer to call personality states – parent, adult, and child. (1) The adult state is balanced; the parent is dominating; and the child is demanding.
I’m occupying the child personality state when I deprecate myself or put myself down. I’m seeing who among the big people will come and reassure me. Those that do are my friends; those that don’t may become my enemy.
That’s a problem. Another problem arises when it’s requested over and over and over again. People begin to feel that they’re being exploited in some way.
It can drain energy from another and from the group, demand attention, which may be inconvenient at the time, and ask others to play a role without end from a position that may not feel good to them.
It also disempowers me.
When someone else has this script playing and I’m the one they’re speaking to, I feel cognitive dissonance arise in me. On the one hand, I want to listen. On the other hand, it seems to require me to take a parental position. And I don’t want to. In Berne’s terms, I want to remain an adult.
None of this is very conscious. It’s an example of how conflict arises and yet few of the participants see or know what’s happening.
It’s cost is that I get excluded from playing with the big people. And I don’t know why.
The big people are usually (not always) playing from the adult personality state – balanced, self-confident, responsible.
Since I don’t get it about myself, they simply avoid me.
The most effective answer to this situation is for me to just stop. Just stop making those kind of comments.
Every time we think of making a self-deprecating remark, don’t. We don’t have to have something to put in its place. We just need to not say what we were about to say. The rest will follow.
That means monitoring myself and voluntarily censoring myself.
Stopping is so simple and yet it seems so difficult to some people. Why?
Same thing as always. Our uncomfortable feelings drive us to act. They’re feelings that we don’t want to feel. Rather than feel what lies below self-deprecation, we compulsively act out the same script day after day until those around us find an excuse to leave. Leave the conversation. Leave the scene. Leave the relationship.
We act on the basis of seeking some feelings and avoiding others. And the feelings that lie below self-deprecation are ones that I particularly avoid.
Dismay, despair, shame, humiliation – they must be deep to cause a person to condemn themselves daily throughout life.
Last point: This kind of behavior can cause a person to split off from themselves, dissociate, succumb to cognitive dissonance. And the details of the second side may be hidden even more deeply than the self-deprecating side,
I (the Humpty Dumpty Man) had a submissive, self-deprecating side that was public and a nasty, hostile side that was private. (2) When they first met in 1967, when my girlfriend casually remarked that I had the profile of an abused child, a volcano erupted. (3)
If a self-deprecating person becomes a manager before they’ve handled their script, they can give vent to a hostile side – often passive-aggressive – and watch out!
The reasons for it – the original traumatic circumstances. – are usually long gone.
There’s no cure for it more effective than simply stopping and getting that it’s a script, a vasana, a core issue based on us having been mistreated. Simple awareness will do the rest.
We can also invoke the Law of Elimination and the Divine Mother and ask her to take the script from us along with everything else that arises from it.
For us self-deprecators to stop is an act of service, an act of courage, that saves us from mistreating others.
(1) Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships. London: Penguin, 1964.
(2) On the Humpty Dumpty Man, see “Putting Humpty Together Again – Part 1/3,” July 18, 2016, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/
(3) Both sides rose up and said, “Yes!” They then looked at each other and wordlessly said, “Who are you?” And, boom! the volcano went off.