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Re: What is distressing

Posted by Dinah on January 23, 2005, at 7:47:49

In reply to Re: Failing Daisym, posted by mair on January 23, 2005, at 0:06:49

Is that everyone assumes it just won't happen. Maybe my office is beginning to conclude that it might.

But my husband thinks it's just silly old Dinah, same as high school, agonizing over getting an "F" and ending up with the highest grade in class. My therapist *just* stopped refusing to look at anything but the positive and started thinking possibility of negative outcomes. But even now, his stock reply is "We'll deal with that if it happens." I know he means it to be comforting because of the "we", but it's not really. At least he's acknowledging that maybe I really am not capable of doing it right now.

The tyranny of high expectations. I was disciplined by it; I do the same to my son I fear. Because it's all either my husband or I know.

Of *course* you can do it. You've *always* done it before. You are a smart girl. If you just put your mind and attention to it, you can do anything you like.

Subtext: If you don't do it, it's because you're not trying hard enough (which is, of course, bad). Your not being able to do "it" is something so horrible as to be unspeakable. Failure isn't an option. We expect better of you than that.

There's a behavioral corollary to this achievement motivational tool. "You can come home whenever you like. I trust you to do what's right."

There's a fair amount of pressure involved to all that trust. Failure seems like more than just failure even - not that failure isn't horrific enough on its own.

We were talking about failure yesterday in therapy. My therapist doesn't understand why I see no particular difference between making a "C" and making an "F". When the goal is making an "A", failure is failure. And the goal has always been making an "A". And the expectations have always been that I'll make an "A", because, well, I can. And if you *can* make an "A", it would be wrong not to. And it would be extra special wrong to cause anyone else any inconvenience or distress by not being able to do what you can do.

But there's no room in there for not being able to do what you used to be able to do.

To be fair, no one expects me to win Olympic Gold, run in a marathon, or remember my son's dental appointment without prompting. Their expectations are based on prior history.




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