If you had a traumatic childhood, like being neglected or abused by parents, then there is a good chance that you are carrying what I call –
The Bad Mindset Pack (BMP).
In the pack are the whole family of facked up mindsets caused by traumatic childhood that prevents you from living a happy life. Traumatized people carry this pack wherever they go, whatever they do, and for most of them, for their entire life.
It contains 30 of the most common bad mindsets. They are packed into 9 balls, and mindsets in each ball fall into the same category.
If you have depression or anxiety, then the chance is you got the whole pack of bad mindsets too. You got one, you got the whole pack. Like wolves, they always come in packs.
Lucky for me, I have got them all.
Then I basically got rid of them all. And that feels like, how to describe it, REBORN.
So I am a pro at this. HaHa.
Better listen up if you want to figure out how these bad mindsets screwed you so hard.
First, let’s talk about why you have all these bad mindsets.
All these bad mindsets are rooted in one thing – Insecurity.
Trauma → Insecurity → Bad Mindsets.
It’s really easy to understand, all we need to do is go back to our childhood.
Just imagine a kid, let’s call him Ted. Little Ted has no control over his life, he can’t survive on his own, and his life is totally at the mercy of his parents. But his mom doesn’t care about him, and his dad beat him every sometimes. So Ted constantly lives in a situation where everyone and everything seems dangerous and unpredictable.
He is scared, helpless, and desperate.
Now let’s go through each of these bad mindsets, and see how they are rooted in insecurity.
Remember, when Ted grows up, his situation could totally change. But these bad mindsets stuck with him, and often unnoticed.
Ball 1: Control → Security.
Anxiety and worry. When everything in Ted’s life is a threat, of course he is constantly anxious, worrying about what’s the next thing that could hurt him. By worrying about stuff, he is actually telling himself “look, I am already analyzing and preparing for the upcoming threat”. This temporarily gives him the feeling of control, and what control gives him? Security.
Overthinking. Thinking is the same as worrying, it generates a sense of control. The problem is, no matter how hard you think, things go their own way, you can’t control them with your mind. So what Ted does is he thinks harder, aka, overthinking. “If I could think about all the little details, I could get fully prepared for every threat”. “So I can feel secure”. After all, he can’t deal with the threats practically, the only thing he has control over is his own mind, so he thinks the fuck out of it, and hopes it could help a little bit. But this is a doomed path.
Try to control everything. Deep down, Ted knows clearly that it’s impossible to control everything. “But what can I do to avoid getting hurt? I have to try my best, even if it’s not possible”. Control generates security.
Can’t live in the now. Ted’s whole mind is worrying about the future, trying to identify every little upcoming threat and get prepared for them, of cause he can’t “just let it go” and live in the now, he doesn’t feel secure enough to do that. “There is a bear at my door, and you are telling me to enjoy my meal? Are you serious?”
Not grounded. Ted feels like he has always been floating in the air and blowing around by the wind, trying desperately to hold on to something. But keeping his eyes wide open to detect threats is the top priority. “Feeling grounded must be nice. But that’s a luxury I can’t afford now.”
Ball 2: Value → Security
High expectation. Why does Ted set high expectations for himself in everything, even if that leaves him always tiptoeing and exhausted? Because 1) achieving something extraordinary makes him feel that he has value, and value gives him security. “Look, mom, I am worth it.” 2) It’s the mind’s mechanism of motivating you to get out of your facked up environment, so you can be secure. Accomplishment will normally do that, as it brings you money, and independence from your original environment.
Afraid of being normal. The same as high expectation. “Normal people are losers, they are worthless. That’s the dark past that I will never go back to”.
Low self-esteem and Not worthy. The way Ted’s parents treated him tells him one thing: you are useless, you have no value, you don’t worth my love. “Mom said I suck. So I must suck, one way or another”. The word “suck” is tagged all over his little body. As a result, Ted thinks the same. No one has ever told him “you are worthy, you are enough just as you are”.
Self-abusive. To prevent “being a loser”, oh boy, isn’t Ted hard on himself. He tells himself “you will sit your ass down and study for 10 hours each day” “If you ever let yourself “play”, this evil thing will destroy you and drag you down to the hell full of losers”. “Relax is for successful people and losers, stop wasting your time and go read two more chapters”. Insecurity skyrockets.
Ball 3: Inaction → Security
Hesitate, Analysis paralysis. Normally people can’t decide on things mainly because 1) they don’t know what they really want (the goal), and 2) they don’t know their value (the filter). So no amount of data and pro/con analysis is enough to make a decision.
But for worriers like Ted, it’s this plus an even worse problem – FEAR. Fear is irrational, it’s emotional.
So even if Ted does know clearly about his goals and values, and one choice is a 99% sure thing, the only answer he wants is “what if the left 1% totally fucks me up?” And that’s a dead end question no one can answer. He wants 100% ABSOLUTE sureness, and there is no such thing in the world, so he is stuck. Why sureness? Security.
Procrastinate. Even if Ted makes a decision to do something, he procrastinates on it. People procrastinate for a bunch of reasons. But the main one for Ted is that doing new things is stressful, which is harder for him, as his life is already stressful enough. And this makes him more insecure.
Self-doubt. Now Ted finally did what he decided, but he then keep asking himself “did I make the right choice here? Maybe I’m not that good at this?”. This is again insecurity talking. He wants to make sure that he is on the right path, so he will not be harmed, and his time will not be wasted.
Dabble. As a result, he starts and quits, in anxiety and fear, ended up wasting even more time. He thinks giving up on this one could save him more time, but after giving up, he again thinks maybe he shouldn’t. Pretty facked up, right?
Ball 4: Nonacceptance → Security
Don’t accept reality. This is evolution protecting Ted from getting hurt.
When Ted was young, it’s not that he did not want to accept reality, but his reality sucks so much that it’s just too damn hard to accept for any sane person.
Also, accepting means keeping getting hurt, and as a kid who has no ability to fight back, he could die from this acceptance.
Later when Ted is older, he starts to see reality more clearly. But it turned out that reality sucks balls, and he sees no way out. That’s when he got depression.
Idealistic. When reality is too hard, we turn to imagination. Some kids create fluffy toy friends. Ted fantasies a better world where he has friends and caring parents.
Deny past. To Ted, every period of the past is “not what I wanted”, “I prefer to not look back at it”, and “the next one may be better”. Because he was anxious and insecure during all these pasts, the only feeling they left him with is, they are all not happy enough. So he refuses to accept that as his past.
Ball 5: Alone → Security
Don’t trust others. When parents, the only person, who are also the closest person Ted knows, keep hurting him. Or they are absent, so others hurt him. Naturally, he learned that no one is reliable, and distrusts any human being.
Commitment issue and Loneliness. Ted also finds that the more he is evolved with a person, the more he cares about them, and the more he gets hurt if things go bad. So to ensure he will not get hurt again, he doesn’t start relationships at all. As a result, he is all alone.
Ball 6: Perfection → Security
Perfectionism. “If I make no mistake, then no one can accuse me of anything, so I can stay unhurt. And I can finally get that compliment from my mom”. This gives Ted security.
Black White thinking. The feeling of “I am No.1 in something” is em-powerful, and Ted feels more secure with this power. Also, for Ted, being better than others is a self-value source, and value produces security. Plus, if Ted fucks up at something, he will feel humiliated, thus even more insecure. So “I will either be the best, or I won’t do it at all”.
But this mindset facks Ted up, because the reality is
- Humans learn from practice and failure, being the best is a gradual process. That means you need to DO things first before you get better. No matter who you are, or what you do, you will suck at the beginning. But Ted finds this unacceptable, to fail in front of others is just too embarrassing.
- Most people won’t be the best in any field, and more importantly, they don’t need to be. But Ted thinks like this “can I kick C Ronaldo’s ass someday if I decide to play soccer? No? Then why even bother trying? ” As a result, Ted stays in the circle that he is familiar with.
Ball 7: Shield → Security
Defensive. Defensiveness is out of the fear of being hurt. The slightest insult from anyone could easily set Ted off, his angry words builds an air shield around his body, and he hopes it could scare off the danger. The puffer fish blows up its thorny skin at any threat, but it’s not a villain, it’s just afraid.
Inauthentic. A lot of traumatized kids are good liars. I know this because I was one of them. Lying is just another protective mechanism because they learned that being authentic could get hurt.
Ball 8: Sadness → Security
Ungrateful. It’s hard to be grateful for life when all you see is danger and all you feel is fear, with wounds all over your body. But the life game is designed this way, it’s its game rules. No matter what life throws at you, if you want to be happier, you have to be grateful. You have no choice but to accept this rule. Pretty facked up, I know. But traumatized people tend to indulge in sadness and refuse to look at the bright side. Why? Sadness is actually familiar and comfortable, so it brings security.
Can’t forgive. Here comes the harder level of the game, to forgiving the people who hurt us. To do this, we have to lower our expectations even more. Not only traumatized people can’t forgive, but most people can’t. Because forgiveness is based on the realization that life is a sick game by design, all human players have no choice but to play by its rules.
Ball 9: Avoidance → Security
Addiction. Traumatized people are more likely to be addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn, or other similar stuff. Because addiction is an escape from the hard reality, plus an alleviation for anxiety. All the time I spent on porn and masturbation is not because I like porn that much, but because it makes me feel relaxed and secure. Even just for a while.
Undefined anger. This baffled me for a long, long time. I have always had this constant undefined anger. I don’t know what I am angry about or who I am angry with, but I know I am angry. Until finally I figured it out. I am angry about the harm done to me when I was a child, which I don’t remember anymore. But somewhere deep in my mind, that pain stayed. And I am angry with my parents for fack me up, I am just not aware of it.
These are all the mindsets that stole your happiness in the name of security.
I will talk about how to discard these mindsets individually in separate posts.
Why security matters so much
Why do all these mindsets point to this security thing?
Because from an evolutionary perspective, human is nothing but survival machines. The human body and mind are designed toward one goal – survival.
We know from Maslow’s Hierarchy that to survive, the first thing we need to take care of is the most basic physiological needs such as food, water, and sleep. And the next most important thing right on top of that is – security.
In fact, a surprising lot of things humans do are out of security, people are just not aware of it.
What people do for a sense of security could blow your mind, leaving you jaw-dropped. Like enduring a job they don’t like day in and day out for decades. Like a woman who is beaten frequently by her boyfriend but is still unwilling to leave. Just look a little bit closer and you will be shocked by the shit people could do for some pitiful security.
More on security later.
The security that these mindsets give us is not real
Take a little bit closer look, we can all see clearly that these bad mindsets won’t give us real security, but just an illusion.
But Ted is not to blame for this, not at all.
All these mindsets are actually the best tools we have to cope with that helpless childhood. They are all powerful tools that evolution took like one million years to arm us with, they protected us and minimized the harm.
The problem is, later when we are adults, who have already gotten out of the helpless home, these mindsets did not stay in the home but stuck with us. Old tools in a new environment, they start to make our life miserable.
For example, anxiety. Little Ted was anxious because some bad shit could happen to him at any moment, so it’s totally understandable. But the 25 years old Ted, who is already a successful manager, is still anxious about the regular group meeting, even if he knows that work is just the same old shit every day. He does not like that.
What do we do?
Say thank you to these bad bad little mindsets who protected and screwed us.
“Thank you for trying your best to protect me.
But I have grown up now,
and it’s time
to say Goodbye.”
Then we move on.
Are you carrying this Bad Mindset Pack with you? Leave a comment below.
Don’t worry, I’ll talk about how to get rid of this pack and free up your back in other posts. Stay tuned.