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  • Heather Vest

Your Paradigm

Frequently, in session, my folks will ask “Why does my mind automatically go there?” or say “Even though I know the reality of a situation, I obsessive over the faulty idea/ perception of it. To this, I ask “How is that working for you?” ……Just kidding…I’m just as annoyed as you when Dr. Phil asks that. Instead, however, I tell them this is where we begin our investigation to figure out which unhealthy paradigm they are operating under. A paradigm is essentially a model or idea which usually derives from an earlier life experience. If the idea is healthy…Great… but if it is unhealthy, it rears its ugly head in our responses to the world and often yields undesirable results.


Let us take, for instance, the situation where a little girl was handed off from person to person in her childhood while her parents were too busy partying. This could manifest in a paradigm of “I am not worth anyone’s time” or “I am not good enough”. As the child grows into a young woman, she avoids any situation where she might feel burdensome. She sabotages relationships by pushing away and she denies other people the opportunity to get close and help her. She would likely avoid new ventures or interviews because she believes they would not see value in her or her skill. Do you see how this works?


Then, there is the boy who was sexually abused as a child and upon reporting the abuse to his father, he was made to “keep quiet”. He might be operating under the “No one is trustworthy” paradigm which, as you might guess, would keep the man from forming bonds that could potentially leave him feeling vulnerable.


Upon identifying the paradigm, we then move to identify the actions and faulty assumptions made under the plight of that paradigm. This is extremely important when we are working with rumination and changing our thought patterns. In the moment, our automatic- self goes to: “I will likely fail so I am going to blow off the interview”. This is where the conscious- self must awaken and begin analyzing the unhealthy thought process that is being utilized. The benefit of this (aside from better moods and healthier thoughts) lies in the changes that occur neurochemically and in the cellular makeup of the body. This process is essential for improving mental status and creating healthier responses to the world around you.

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