While I was compiling the schema therapy self-quiz that has run here at The Willpower Engine over the past week (to take it, start here with part 1), I began to realize that the principles behind the schemas amounted to some advice about how we can live happily and fulfillingly. This shouldn’t be surprising to me: after all, the whole point of learning about and working on mental schemas is to live a happier and more fulfilling life, so the fact that the schemas offer recommendations on how to do that shouldn’t be too shocking.
But I sometimes think about psychology the way I think many of us may think about it, as a non-judgmental, unopinionated body of knowledge. This, it seems, is wrong, and it makes sense that it’s wrong. After all, when we look to an area of knowledge to help better our lives, that area had better contain a sense of what “better” means.
Here are some of the ideas I found embedded in descriptions of some of the schemas. These conclusions are mine alone, though, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Young (who originated schema therapy) or any psychologist whatsoever.
- Good relationships require trust, even when there’s some chance that trust will be betrayed.
- Being happy and doing well in the world begins with assuming we each have value. There does not have to be a reason we are valuable, although admittedly having solid reasons can be comforting.
- We can screw up any number of times and still have value as human beings.
- Somethings things go badly, and this is normal and in an important sense OK. It helps to be prepared for particularly bad situations if they’re likely, but it generally doesn’t help to preoccupy ourselves a lot with bad things that might happen.
- There is a place for each of us in human society, and it is useful and right and good for us each to seek out some support and some ways we can support others.
- When other people tell us things about ourselves, they are often wrong, no matter how certain they sound. (However, sometimes others can provide us with useful and accurate insights.)
- Valuing another person’s needs above or below our own often seems to lead to trouble.
- We all screw up sometimes, and we all do well at things sometimes.
- We aren’t entitled to anything at all: we start with nothing and do our best to get our needs met.
- It generally helps to give other people the same consideration we would want ourselves, even if it feels like we’re in a special situation that doesn’t apply to others.
- Being approved of is not a useful measure of how valuable a person is.
Photo by Adam Foster | Codefor