Three schema coping styles
- Surrender or maintenance
- This involves distorting our view of situations to confirm our schema. A person reacts with strong feelings whenever the schema is activated. Partners are selected, and situations are encountered which typically reinforce our schema, which in turn further reinforces and strengthens the schema.
- It means that childhood situations are extended into adult life
- Feelings of hopeless about how to achieve change are often experienced as an adult
- It is a vicious, negative cycle or self-perpetuating loop for the person
- Escape or avoidance
- It is natural to avoid aversive situations, but ultimately unhelpful for the person.
- When a schema is triggered, the person is flooded with negative feelings such as sadness, shame, anxiety, and anger.
- The person is moved to avoid the pain.
- The disadvantage is that the schema is never challenged or replaced by confronting the truth of the situation.
- With this schema, a person gives up on their emotional life and do not feel. As a result, they may feel numb, unable to experience real pleasure and pain. A person may also hurt others around them.
- Counter-attack or compensation.
- This involves the person recognising the schema (albeit partially) by convincing themselves and others that the opposite is true.
- A person may typically feel, act, and think as if they are special, superior, perfect, infallible. The person may cling to this “preferable” persona because it counters feelings of being devalued, criticized, and humiliated, and is therefore perceived as being an effective coping strategy.
- When such coping strategies become too extreme, they usually backfire on the person and can make them feel isolated, lacking in intimacy, and generally feeling fragile.
- Nonetheless, people using compensation strategies can appear healthy and “successful” in the eyes of others, they are usually not at peace with themselves and may feel defective just the same.