The idea is to continue to identify the situations that make you suffer on a daily basis, to study the influence of your schemas on the way you think and therefore act in order to better anticipate them later!
A concrete example:
- You have identified that you suffer from a schema of abandonment related to an emotional deficiency in childhood.
- Your best friend Xavier didn’t drop by to see you on Sunday as agreed
- Because of this schema of abandonment you will tend to think: \“Xavier didn’t come by, I’m still alone, no one cares about me, no one gives a damn.\”
- These very negative thoughts influence your reaction. For example, sad, betrayed and angry, you block Xavier on your phone and a long period of silence or even the loss of a friend follows.
- If instead you manage to tell yourself \“be careful, my emotion is very painful because I am reliving painful memories from childhood; but Xavier must not pay for it so I need to remain objective\”, then you will look for alternative thoughts to the first negative thoughts that come to you: \“Xavier didn’t come by, but he was tired from his week. \” \“I may have been lonely on Sunday but I went to the cinema on Friday and the restaurant on Saturday, so I’m actually not that lonely. \” \“I got a text from a friend asking about me.\” These new thoughts will influence your behaviour, maybe you will call Xavier to have an explanation, you will dialogue, communicate, make sure this will not happen again and your relationship with Xavier will be strengthened.
There you go, thanks to schema therapy you’ve just escaped a friendship breakup.
It may sound simple, but it is tough to stay rigorous: it is difficult to change years of beliefs embedded in yourself. Mindfulness, meditation, emotional management and assertiveness techniques can complement this program. You can be followed by a therapist in this change process, or guided by CBT apps such as My Sherpa.
In any case I don’t believe in the saying \“what’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh\”. I think we can work on our way of thinking and perceiving the environment, and that these thoughts will have an impact on our behaviours, and that these new behaviours will themselves have an impact on our habits and therefore on our whole character!