Level V: Seek origins of your dependency, conformity, and master-
If you are passive and dependent because you are too immature or
irresponsible to manage your own life, realizing that should be
sobering and provide motivation to change. If you are weak and
helpless so you will be taken care of or attractive to dominant men or
nurturing women, you have settled for a dependent, subservient way
of life, perhaps without carefully weighing the long-term pros and
cons. If your helplessness is to punish yourself or to frustrate someone
else or a way of saying "don't expect much of little old me," an
awareness of those payoffs might be painful but liberating, allowing
you to make better use of your capabilities.
Recognize there is a child in all of us that wants to act
impulsively and delights in being nurtured and pampered.. A
more mature, rational part of us has to regulate the child so that it
gets indulged occasionally but doesn't dominate our lives. It helps to
be in touch with the child. See chapters 9 and 15.
Recognize that the inner child gets its way by providing us with
excuses for being passive-dependent rather than strong-assertive (see
earlier discussion). The inner child shuns positive thoughts about
ourselves (it is "arrogant" or "selfish" or "contrary to God's will") and
encourages weak, needy thoughts. The inner child is selfish and
insensitive to the needs and rights of others ("it's not my job,"
"nothing can be done," "it's the victim's fault," and "I'm too busy right
now"). Detecting our rationalizations and childish needs are a major
part of becoming self-controlled. Refer to Snyder, Higgins and Stucky
(1983) for a complete discussion of excuses.
Observe the antecedents and consequences. Observe the
antecedents and consequences (method #9 in chapter 11) of your
submissiveness, your deference to authority, or being a martyr. Look
for the payoffs. Try to figure out the origin of this behavior --did
you have a dominant parent? or a dysfunctional parent? Were you
taught that good girls (or boys) should be quiet and obedient? Were
you the "caretaker" as a child? Were you the "spoiled" child? Are you
angry and afraid to let feelings out? Are you self-punitive and/or
enjoying your suffering?
Also record your thoughts that lead to submissiveness or "going
along to avoid conflicts" and so on. Some people think that many of us
attempt to "read other people's minds" and then do what we think
they want. The trouble is we are frequently wrong (when mind
reading) and, consequently, we may end up doing things with other
people that no one wants to do, just because no one said, "I don't
think I want to do that."
Read about the dynamics of dependency. Insight can come
from reading about the dynamics of dependency --the need to be