Interpreting Your Abandonment Score
10-19 Very low. This lifetrap probably does not apply to you.
20-29 Fairly low. This lifetrap may only apply occasionally.
30-39 Moderate. This lifetrap is an issue in your life.
40-49 High. This is definitely an important lifetrap for you.
50-60 Very high. This is definitely one of your core lifetraps.
If you have the Dependence lifetrap, life itself seems overwhelming. You feel that you cannot cope. You believe that you are incapable of taking care of yourself in the world, and that therefore you have to turn to other people for help. It is only with such help that you can possibly survive. At the core of your experience of dependence is the sense that it is a constant struggle to fulfill the normal responsibilities of adult living. You simply do not have what it takes. It is a feeling of something lacking, of inadequacy. An in image that captures the essence of dependence is that of a small child who feels that suddenly the world is too much and starts crying for mommy. It is a feeling of being a small child in a world of adults. Without an adult to take care of you, you feel lost.
Your typical thoughts reflect your sense of incompetence: “This is too much for me,” “I can’t handle my responsibilities.” Other typical thoughts reflect your fear of abandonment–your fear that you will lose the people upon whom you are most dependent: “What would I do without this person?,” “How will I get by on my own?” These thoughts are usually accompanied by a sense of desperation and panic. As Margaret says, “There are so many things I can’t do. I have to have someone there to do them for me.” You dwell on this necessity. It drains a great deal of your mental energy. You plot and scheme to be sure someone will be there. Left on your own, you have a global sense of everything being overwhelming.
You often betray a complete lack of trust in your own judgement. You have little sense of your own ability to make good judgements. Difficulty trusting your own judgement is a core feature of dependence. You are indecisive.
When you have a decision to make, you solicit the opinions of others. In fact, you probably rush from person to person seeking advice. You change your mind a hundred times. The whole process just leaves you confused and exhausted. If you finally manage to make a decision, you have to keep asking for reassurance that your decision was right.
Alternatively, you might seek the advice of one person in whom you have great confidence, and rely solely on that. That person is often a therapist. In the beginning of therapy, our dependent patients always try to get us to make their decisions for them. This is not always easy to resist. Because it can be so painful for us to watch a patient vacillating endlessly, it is tempting to jump in and make the decision. We have to try hard to resist this temptation because it really does not help these patients. It increases their dependence on us, when the goal of therapy is their eventual independence.
It is your lack of faith in your judgement that makes you so afraid of change. Your confidence is low in new situations, because you have to rely on your own judgement. In situations that are familiar to you, you have already gotten the judgements of other people and you have already established some knowledge of the best approach to take. But when you confront a new situation, unless you have someone to advise you, you have to rely on your own opinions, and you do not trust those.
We would like to say that your sense of incompetence is more imaginary than real, but unfortunately this is often not the case. Often dependent people lack competence exactly because they have so successfully avoided the tasks of adulthood. They have gotten other people to do these tasks for them. This avoidance leads to some realistic deficits in skills and judgement. However, most dependent patients exaggerate their incompetence. They doubt themselves more than the situation warrants.
When you consistently act in ways designed to keep people doing things for you, you are surrendering to your lifetrap. Having people do things for you reinforces the idea that you are not capable of doing these things on your own and keeps you from developing a sense of competence. However, it is almost certainly true that, if you were living on your own, you would eventually be able to learn the things that are required for competence in daily living. Your dependence is one large untested hypothesis. You have never found out that you actually can function alone.
Escape is another way of reinforcing your lifetrap. You avoid the tasks you believe are too difficult for you. There are certain tasks dependent people commonly avoid. These include driving, attending to financial matters, making decisions, taking on new responsibilities, and learning new areas of expertise. You avoid breaking apart from a parent or a partner. You rarely live alone or travel alone. You rarely go to a move alone or out to eat alone. By continually running away from these tasks, you confirm your sense that you cannot accomplish them on your own.
Dependent people do not like change. They like everything to stay the same.