Life Traps | Pt. 2: Subjugation

Posted by Maria

In this post, I will take a closer look at the Life Trap – Subjugation, and how it affects me in my daily life. It is the first of the 18 Life Traps that I will delve into as I go through the book at hand, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen. 

A brief summary based on what the book tells us of the Life Trap of Subjugation:

I have to submit. I have to please everyone, my family, friends, and even strangers. People like me because it’s easy to work with me, I typically avoid conflicts. My boundaries are not in place, I do more than others and have trouble holding my own. I don’t want anyone to get upset with me, so I submit myself to their control in the hopes that if I do what they told me to, I won’t get shouted at or tossed. I have no choice but to yield.

I may hide my opinions, and take other’s opinions as my own. I may talk in a way I think people want me to talk. I might not talk about my wishes, wants, or needs because to me they sometimes don’t seem as important as other people’s dreams. This in turn makes me dissatisfied and frustrated- even angry.

I hide the emotions, I think I might get punished if I show them. The anger keeps piling up until it boils over, sometimes in a rage. When the balloon pops, I may overcompensate my state of submission. The justification gives me all the courage I need to make me rude, rough, and defiant. Ain’t nobody walking over me ever again!

In my relationships with people, I tend to lean towards the kind of people that are demanding and controlling, the kind that will tell me how I’m supposed to behave, to be, and to feel. I may feel trapped in a bad relationship, that I just have to grin and bear it. Sometimes this may lead to the person close to me taking advantage of me to satisfy their own needs because I am not able to hold my ground and say no.

Oh boy, where do I even start?

This description is so much on point with me that it is not even funny anymore. 

In my past, I’ve worked for days in order to please other people and their needs. I went to a school I didn’t even like for 3 years because my ex at the time figured it would be amazing to put up a bar, though he did nothing to help me work at it. Even before that unfortunate time in my life, I was petrified of confrontations with anyone. 

One memory comes to mind, where I spoke up about being bullied at school. I must’ve been around 14 at the time, and the advice I got was “Keep smiling and being kind.” Ok. I did that. Now what? It didn’t help me when a bully from that same group came up to me when I was coming home in the evening, grabbed me by my coat collar, and threatened to beat me up if I ever spoke about her friends again. Needless to say, I hadn’t actually spoken badly about anyone, that was a messed up group scheme they had going on in that girl gang.

After that I had only one boundary- nobody was allowed to touch me.

Other than that I played nice and avoided arguments. I was a good girl all around, got good grades, and kept up with my hobbies and friends. But in the evening, when my bedroom door closed, and finally I could let go of that mask, the pain got to me and I ended up self-harming.

Another, more recent memory concerns the online world, where I took refuge in my previous relationship. I met wonderful people, so I thought, and ended up going over and beyond to please them. I didn’t want them to kick me out of their group. After giving my all, the thanks I got was my favorite person at the time stabbing me in the back, sharing some out-of-the-context screenshots of our private chats, and spreading them among the people. I got called an abusive megalomaniac slut that day and the people abandoned me.

Unfortunately, the relationship in question turned out to be one of them controlling ones as well. The common message throughout over a decade was “Be on your best behavior, we need to look good to the family.” This meant no talking about my current projects since my subjects are sometimes a bit morbid. No talking about my mental health, I didn’t want to be crazy. No behaving strangely in the presence of anyone, it will make them think I’m rude. Which it did. I remember I had to stay away a lot when visiting anyone because of anxiety and panic, and being called out for it.

I was truly thinking I was trapped.

Paired with the other toxic thoughts and behaviors in that relationship I was at a point where I thought I had nowhere to go, nobody loved or cared about me, if I left, it would be the end for me. 

The book tells us that when the Life Trap, or emotion-lock of Subjugation, is released we will acknowledge our own needs and feelings, hold them dear, and understand that we have the right to express them according to the situation. That we will be less scared of confrontations and not automatically pleasing people or generally agreeing to things that might be harmful to us. It says “You are able to end relationships that are harmful to you.”

This all seems like a giant ocean I have to swim over while sharks are chasing me and I have three broken limbs. These days I overcompensate more than I submit, and either one of the options is breaking me. I want to be taken seriously, listened to, I need to know that I matter and that my opinion matters. Luckily, I’m learning to show up for myself and in the process gaining some incredible courage to face the world.

While I want all that, I don’t want it at the cost of snapping at my husband or being a general banshee when I perceive that my rights have been stepped on. I want to be able to assess the situation and make decisions based on my wise mind (Something from DBT, a wise mind is the combination of our emotional and rational side) instead of my emotion running me over and turning on the flamethrower of rage.

How about you? Do you feel/ know that you are giving or have given in the past too much of yourself, even at the cost of your own dreams or needs? How did it affect you?

Let me know in the comments below!

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