Lots of couples have one person who is more self-centred and one who is more self-sacrificing. Often we have learned these ways of operating as a self-protection in our formative years.
It can be hard for clients to understand what the alternative is – often they fear that they might become like their partner (whose behaviour hurts and frustrates them). They fear that “If I’m not self-sacrificing then I’m being selfish”. Or “If I’m not self-centred then I’m going to be a doormat”.
This table is intended to help your clients get clear about what the middle ground of having a solid sense of your self looks like across a range of aspects of relating. Not everyone will necessarily fit every attribute described here – but it gives a general idea.
It can raise a very interesting conversation with clients about what the words in the middle column (like “empathic” or “vulnerable”) actually mean to them.
|“RIGHT” OR IMPORTANT||OK/GOOD ENOUGH||UNIMPORTANT|
|FOCUS ON OWN HURTS||INTIMATE||ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED|