How to Implement Decision Making Steps
Going to See Mom. A woman in her twenties, we will call her Sally, Sally lives in the Borderline Zone. She grew up in a psychotraumatic family environment (Level IV on the PTES). Her mother was self-centered and fixated on all of her own medical problems. Sally’s worst behaviors included a bad temper, getting drunk and sleeping with any guy who wanted her, while occasionally cutting herself. She couldn’t hold a job. She had little desire to go to school. Sally wasn’t living at home. She was seeing a therapist. Periodically, Sally decided to go home and visit her mom. Inevitably, they would fight with each other and Sally would storm out of the house, get drunk and high, sleep around. Sally could not seem to get control of herself.
Follow the steps below for guidance on how you can apply the decision-making steps to Sally’s situation.
- Determine what feels and needs Sally is experiencing. The need she wasn’t in touch with was her need for her mother to be a different kind of mom, one who could fulfill her individual needs as a daughter. Sally’s feelings include sadness, emptiness, and anger. Sally always believed that she had to see her mother. In reality, there wasn’t any rush to make that decision.
- Sally’s choices were to see her mother, talk to her on the phone, write her a letter, or have no contact with her at all. Sally never took the time to consider all of her options.
- Sally did not consider the consequences of each of her choices. When Sally visited her mother, they almost always got into a fight. Rarely did they enjoy their visits together. Sally wanted her mother to express love and affection towards her. She wanted her mother to admit to the hurt she had caused her. She wanted her mother to let go of all defenses and open up to her. Unfortunately, this was unlikely to happen. Regardless, Sally held onto the fantasy that one day it would.
- Sally did not see that she was very emotional about her mother. The mere act of talking about her mom would often cause her to be angry or tearful. Sally often made her decision to visit her mother when she felt down.
- Sally always blamed her mother for the bad visits. Sally never took responsibility even though she would often be the one to provoke her mother. Sally was blinded by her anger and resentment which would ultimately set the stage for an argument.
- If Sally ranked her options she would have found that her preferred option was to go see her mother, followed by a phone call, writing her a letter, and having no contact.
- If Sally now assessed the net effect each option would have on her, she would have discovered that a letter to her mother would be the least negative option. It would also allow her to approach her mother in a safe way about what truly desired from her.
- Sally depended on her therapist to absorb all of the anger and hurt she felt after a visit with her mom.
- Had she followed these steps should have found the best two best options were to write or call. The worst option was to visit.
- Sally never had an action plan for her visits with her mother in meaningful dialogue. She expected her mother to be able to read her mind and initiate the process.
- Sally never assessed her ability to engage with her mother in a meaningful dialogue. She expected her mother to be able to read her mind and initiate the process.
Key Overlooked Considerations
The timing was never considered. Sally based the timing of her visits on her emotional state. Consequently, Sally always evaluated her encounters with her mother in the same way: “Mom is a bitch and it’s her fault.” Then she would feel guilty about fighting with her mom and allowing strangers to take advantage of her. She had a hard time connecting the fact that she was using sex as a substitute for the love she wanted from her mom. Sally Always failed to realize that she used these sexual episodes to punish her mom and make her concerned for her daughter’s safety. The coded message Sally sent her mom was: “Mom, you don’t care about what happens to me!”
Does this dialogue sound familiar to you? If so, know you are not alone. Speak with a Blue Sky Behavioral Health expert today and connect with our staff of highly trained health professionals.