Series

Introduction: Life Trap Series

Posted by Maria

As a part of my journey through life with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I have decided that it would be an amazing opportunity to go through the tools and ways I’m trying to manage my everyday struggle, with my readers. And of course, what better way of doing that than to journal my progress, beginning with a book that my psychiatric nurse suggested to me when I went for my appointment after a while of not having any contact with the health-care system. 

The book she so kindly pointed out to me was a book by a Finnish therapist/ educator, Kimmo Takanen. According to the little snippet in the book, he is running a schema therapy site at www.skeematerapia.fi (in Finnish). For those that don’t understand our noble gerfunkle of a language, I found this site that gives information about said therapy-model. 

For those of you that don’t know about the therapy, it is a method developed in the 1990s and is based on Cognitive Psychotherapy, and has methods from things such as mindfulness, which is something all of us, with or without disorders, could use more in our lives!

According to the Finnish site, the developer of this therapy, Jeffrey E. Young, found that his clients tended to have similar patterns that caused similar issues in their lives. These were schemas, 18 of them in total, or more commonly known as Life Traps. 

In his book, Takanen goes through the Life Traps and tries to help people understand and eventually break free from their harmful emotional patterns and locks that they may have adopted in life. 

I wanted to take you, my readers, along with me as I go through this journey and journal the findings of my own Life Traps and how this book affected/ helped me. 

Let’s take a look at the first section of the book: What is a Life Trap?

Takanen wants us to know that the Traps are not disturbances within our mental health, instead, they portray how we have lived our lives, what we have experienced, and how we have learned to deal with the world as a whole. They are based on our beliefs about ourselves and the environment, other people around us. 

I understand these Life Traps develop in our childhood and youth, to make it easier for us to fit into society. Because we are helpless as children, we are at the mercy of our elders and their teachings until we come to the age where we, hopefully, start to look for answers through our own thoughts. 

Takanen tells us, that not every Trap is born from a traumatic event. Lack of limits, overprotection, and being spoiled abundantly may also cause the child to start adopting some of these patterns for survival. Problems arise when these childhood methods start affecting our adult lives, where they may not be valid any longer. We are stuck with our Life Trap-lenses, seeing the world colored in their colors.

They make us pessimistic, untrusting, even paranoid at times. And dare I say as a Borderline-person when I am stuck in the rollercoaster of emotions and methods I’ve learned to apply in order to get out of situations or to keep myself in one, it is very hard to get out of it! 

Lastly, in this first section of the book, Takanen talks about the amygdala.

No, not the one in Bloodborne (heh, gamer humor, though the beast looks very much like a brainiac!), but the actual part of our brains that controls emotion-regulation. Its purpose is to keep us alive by sending signals of fear and anger, you know, for those moments when we have to run away or fight our way through the threat.

He talks about how we are like wild animals, which we are, and how we will have three main ways to survive: avoidance, fight, or flight. We go through life learning, which one works the best for us, and that becomes our second nature. 

I have found that my main methods of survival are first to fight and then to run away. If I feel trapped enough in a situation, I will lash out, ain’t no fire like the rage of a borderline woman, and then I will most likely attempt to remove myself from the situation. Of course, I do sometimes freeze I practice avoidance to the max when it comes to talking about unpleasant things.

What I’m hoping from this journey into my own Life Traps, is to find a way to understand myself a bit better, as well as to break free from some of them. Otherwise, I might just keep sporting the seven-armed weird nightmare creature inside my head instead of a perfectly harmless little clump of brain matter, just so it can keep flailing about and wreaking havoc on me and my loved ones.

I’m curious, what are your first reactions, when facing a presumed threat to your way of being?

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