Notes from the book, The Emotionally Unavailable Man

Book:  The Emotionally Unavailable Man

1. Realize that, as an adult, I am no longer a victim. Getting to this point in life requires an “awakening”.

This takes understanding how you got to where you are and how to choose another path.

a. Acting out of a child ego state (due to subconscious childhood programming) has led to the following thinking:
  • Emotions are not safe or desirable
  • There is NO WAY to negotiate the storm
  • I don’t have what it takes to make things different

b. Acting out of an adult ego state (happens when we reach the moment of awakening and realize we have a choice)

c. Comparison

Thinking Pattern Comparison: Child Ego vs. Adult Ego
Child EGO State: Victim stance Adult EGO State: Non-victim stance
I feel powerless I feel powerful
I don't have any options or choices I know I have choices and look for them
I "have to" RE-act; I "can't" RE-spond I "can be" PRO-active and can RE-spond
Defensive stance: "Not my fault!" Feel no need to defend; Able to own my part

d. Don’t let a 5-year old drive your car! Stop letting a child run (and ruin) your life.

e. Understand why you are choosing to continue to act out of your Child EGO identity?

It's Easier. – yes, because it was programmed into your brain.

You don’t know what else to do. - As a child you were truly deficient of tools, but now you have access to such tools as the following: Information, Healthy Role Models, Validation

You believe it won’t do any good to try anything different. – this type of thinking is what demotivates you to change. It comes from erroneous data you were taught as a child. You couldn’t be effective then because you actually didn’t have the right tools.
THINK OF WAYS YOU HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE AS AN ADULT - This will motivate you to take new steps.

2. Recognize that I have God-designed needs  

Having needs is not weak.   Following are some of needs to consider.

  • Touch
  • Safety
    • Child coping mechanisms due to dysf(x) – DISCONNECT (from others and self)
    • True Safety - when you can fully connect with someone and not lose your own identity (value system, essence, convictions, interests, uniqueness, etc.)
  • Power
    • My words DO impact others.
    • God gave me authority over the earth.  I regained this when I became Christ’s.
    • I need to “exercise” this power – like breathing out oxygen! Otherwise I am not living out the role God has given me and am not impacting my environment!
    • Raised by a “power parent” – 2 options as a child:
      • Become angry and ACT my anger OUT
      • BECOME ANGRY/AFRAID and withdraw (internalize it)
  • Choice
  • Love & Acceptance – tenderness, kindness, grace, acceptance, belonging.
  • Hearing Positive Statements (validating yourself). A primary way to do this is by paying attention to your "voice dialog", i.e. what you say to yourself.
    • Compare your critical (tearing apart) voice with your affirming (supportive) voice.  Start transforming your voice dialogue with yourself by saying:
      • “I am smart, handy, friendly, compassionate, honest, a good mom.”
      •  “I CAN figure it out; I CAN do that.
      • “ I CAN be funny. “
      • “I am lovable. “
      • “I have value.” (My value doesn’t have to come from what I do.  It can also come from the fact that I am “LOVED”.)
    • Who’s In Charge – Let your supportive & affirmative voice take charge.  Tell your critical voice to shut up.  Silence it!
    • Philippians 4: Focus on whatever is true, noble, excellent, praiseworthy.
3. Recognize that my decisions and behaviors have been fear-based
  • Confront your rational self – don’t say “no” when the answer is “yes”.
  • “It’s Hard to do that” – recognize that “hard” is nothing more than a lot of small easy steps clumped together.  Figure out the small, easy tasks you can do to break through your fear, then do that.
4. I need a voice – say what is on my mind, share my opinion, feel free to disagree respectfully.
  • Don’t expect others to read your mind. They absolutely can’t!
  • Not talking limits connection – for fear of the hurricane. 
  • Fine-tune my voice.
  • Face the storm and you will learn how to calm it.
  • Buy myself time when needed: 
    • Oh, I’m not sure.  Let me get back to you.
    • Mmm. Really?  Let me think about it.
    • I can’t think straight right now.  I’m not sure what I think about it.  I’ll have to let you know. 
  • I have the right to privacy and don’t need to share every thought.
5. I need boundaries - Developing Effective Boundaries:
  • Become aware of when your boundary, your line, is being crossed.  Just start tuning into your gut and become aware of the feeling that happens when your line is crossed.  It won’t feel good, it might feel rude, violating, invasive, hurtful, wrong.
  • LABEL IT –
    • Example:  when someone makes a joke at your expense, instead of just saying to yourself, “Idiot,” “Jerk,” say, too, “Boundary.”
    • Be aware he/she just crossed over your line (boundary).
  • Let the person know that they have crossed a boundary – ask them what they meant by their comment.  What are they trying to communicate with you.
  • Tell them that it is difficult for you to hear them when they are insulting you and ask if they could say it in a different way. 
  • You must stop verbally abusing me.  I want to talk about it but will not stay when I am abused this way.
6. Emotional Incest - if you are wondering if you have been a victim of this, here are some of the characteristics:
  • Claims an ideal childhood
  • Has an Underground “secret life” – might include acting our sexually but always involves hiding things and lying (especially through omission).
  • He has a “split” in his view of himself: overinflated & entitled vs. under-inflated and worthless
    • I’m so special that the world owes me vs. No matter what I do, nothing is ever good enough
  • Common response to conflict:  Deer in headlights or Vehemently defends self