October 28, 2013 | 4:02 pm
Posted by Golie Zarabi
Recently I've been getting a lot of comments from my girlfriends about a "certain way" I have been acting. They say that I tend to be a bit paranoid and suspicious of them. As much as it offended me, it sounded familiar. Many of my ex- boyfriends have said the same thing to me. Why am I always expecting the worst from my friends? Why do I have trouble trusting people? -Anonymous
Being able to accept and explore our friends' feedback about ourselves often demonstrates a lot of insight and an interest in self awareness and improvement. It sounds like their statements resonated with you.
Since past boyfriends have also mentioned your tendency to be a bit "paranoid" and "suspicious", I wonder if this has been a life long view you have had of people. Is this a pervasive outlook? In other words, is this the lens in which you see the world? Is this how you experience the people around you?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a theory of psychology that explores the ways in which the way we think affects our emotions, describes that all individuals have a framework in which they view the world, the people around them, and themselves. Our schemas, how we interpret the world, are at the core of our belief systems. When negative schemas become our pervasive outlook, they can begin to dictate our lives. For example, one's schema may be that "the world is an unsafe place" or "you can't trust anyone". If this schema becomes a rigid view of how we experience those near and dear to us, it can become dysfunctional and impact the quality of our relationships.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often focused on changing these schemas and replacing them with new healthy outlooks. Essentially a new lens.
You explained that you have trouble trusting people, and are always expecting the worst from those around you. I wonder if you had an experience where this view was true. An experience where someone proved to be untrustworthy? That said, I imagine that your past relationships and current friendships have also had instances of trust, and loyalty. It is important to recognize if these experiences have been overlooked and minimized, and negative experiences have been maximized. Minimizing and maximizing certain experiences often represent a negative bias we may have about our relationships. At its core, these biases originated from our schemas.
Often certain moments in our lives, or experiences in our relationships, lead us to an "Aha" moment which can inspire further self reflection. It would be beneficial to explore these foundational schemas, or experiences that have sustained these worries and concerns in a safe therapeutic environment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be a good tool for this process towards self awareness.
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