Life Traps | Pt. 1: What are my Life Traps?

Posted by Maria

In this post, I will go through the test within the book (or online here, for those that speak Finnish) briefly, and try to make a preliminary screening of which of the 18 Life Traps I hold on to. 

The 18 emotional locks as described by ISST (International Society of Schema Therapy), and the book Tunne Lukkosi (by Kimmo Takanen)  are as follows:

SUBJUCATIONI have to submit to everyone and everything.

EMOTIONAL INHIBITIONShowing emotions is bad, they should be controlled.

FAILUREI failed, am failing, and will always keep failing.


APPROVAL-SEEKING/ RECOGNITION-SEEKINGPlease, tell me I’m good and valuable!

MISTRUST / ABUSEEveryone will betray me, use and abuse me.

ENMESHMENT / UNDEVELOPED SELFOh you like heavy metal? Me too, even if loud, aggressive noises make me panic!

ENTITLEMENT / GRANDIOSITYIt’s my god damn right to be a dick!

NEGATIVITY / PESSIMISMI knew it’s going to be terrible.

PUNITIVENESSI made a mistake, I deserve all the shit raining on me!

DEPENDENCE / INCOMPETENCEI can’t do this alone, help me! “It’s just a potato, honey.”


VULNERABILITY TO HARM OR ILLNESSLove, are you dying? Am I dying?

EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATIONYou don’t love me, nobody does!

SELF-SACRIFICEYes, of course, WHATEVER you need!

SOCIAL ISOLATION / ALIENATIONI don’t belong anywhere…


DEFECTIVENESS / SHAMEDon’t look at me, I’m worthless.

Here is the good news: According to the test, I have all of the above Life Traps!

And we get to go through all of them! Bad news, well, I have all of the above things affecting my adult life.

In all the sections I have phrases that describe me perfectly, such as “I want to avoid conflict”, “It is difficult for me to be happy with my achievements”, and “The fear of failure is limiting me from going forward in life”.  It’s quite a doozy to figure out, that I’m avoiding conflict when it seems that here at home I blow up easier than a flask of unstable nitroglycerin!

The truth of it is, that at home the fear of losing my favorite person, my husband, overthrows the fear of conflict. And so I explode in an attempt to not get hurt. In my husband’s words, that’s not logical. No, it is not, he is right about that one.

The fear of failure is very much tied to the feeling of never being enough.

The ever-living sensation, that no matter what I do, I should’ve been better. I could’ve been better. Why do I have to be better? Well, If I’m not, I’m not going to be praised for my work/actions. Why do I have to be praised? If someone compliments me, they must like me, right? 

As a Borderline, I’m petrified of the thought that I might be left alone, abandoned.

I keep having recurring nightmares about it, especially when I’m more stressed. 

The feelings of “He might just vanish for no reason, maybe we just grew apart”, “What if he gets sick?”, and “What if he stops loving me?” are constant in my mind. To compensate for this I often find myself doing whatever I can, in my broken way, to stop the inevitable decrease in the like’o’meter. 

I’m very hard on myself and have only recently started to give myself credit for the amazing things I’m doing, I’m writing a book for heaven’s sake (and it’s nearing the end)! If that’s not amazing then I don’t know what is. 

In my past, I’ve been constantly discouraged by people I’ve met, friends, and family when it came to the dream of writing, I’ve been guilted for wanting to write rather than spend time 24/7 with people or be a 9 to 5 worker. Having to continuously fight the thoughts of my dream not being a valiant and valid one, that it’s somehow wrong to chase it, and that my priorities are wrong according to other people – it’s rough. No wonder I keep being so stressed and beat myself down. It’s what all the invalidation taught me in my past.

You can only imagine what this does to my mental balance, the continuous war.

Bursts of anger, excruciating pain at the thought of loss, mania, you name it. 

But now I’m here, be it over a decade late, but I’m showing up for myself. Time to make a real effort and work towards ending the daily pain, because finally, I see myself as worth it.

So, I have all the 18 Life Traps, the harmful emotional locks, to break in one way or another.

Next time, we will start exploring the Life Traps, looking deeper into what they could mean in general and, of course, how they affect me.

Can you recognize yourself in any of them? Let me know in the comments!

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