Author Topic: Learning skills others learn in childhood  (Read 124 times)

Sunny Clouds

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Learning skills others learn in childhood
« on: June 06, 2018, 04:53:28 PM »
I know that a lot of my problems arise from having been bullied as a child at home and school, then in the workplace (though not in all workplaces), then in the community (not by most neighbours, just one very nasty family), then by the local mental health services, then by my father again.  I've been taken advantage of over the years by organisations and individuals for whom I've volunteered for free and then not been given a testimonial or whatever, other than maybe a naff email.  I've been taken advantage of by tradesmen.

And there are so many skills that others take for granted they have that protect them from most of this most of the time.

Today, a friend I see occasionally for lunch made some comment that was like so many I've been on the end of.  People tell me not to analyse the past etc.  I tried to explain to her that she, and so many other people, learnt lessons as a child and as a young adult that I didn't.  And the results of not learning them are treated as a mental illness, and if I go back and try to do the equivalent of a performance review to see how I could do things better, I get criticised.

I then found myself wondering whether people that say this sort of thing to me do the same with people that didn't instinctively learn physical skills or tried to but mislearnt them.  I think of a variety of physical skills that I didn't instinctively learn or that I found difficult, and find that no one ever told me not to try to analyse where I went wrong with physical stuff as part of the process of finding a new way of doing it.

I struggled with writing as a child.  Not with the concept - I could read and write from an early age - but with the physicalities, with the fine motor control.  As a student, I decided that enough was enough, sat down with pen and paper  and 'dismantled' the letters of the alphabet, finding easier ways to write them. Sadly, I never thought to change my 'b's and still struggle with them some days.  No one ever said I shouldn't analyse where I was going wrong with my writing in order to try to do it better.

So why do they do it with things like  mental strength and interpersonal skills and assertiveness etc? 

As I type this, the issue affects many others besides me.  Our whole society continues to promote the idea that victims of bullying, abuse etc. should simply fight back.  No recognition that some lack the necessary skills.   If I had the power (which I don't) I'd tell NHS England that there needs to be less lecturing of us 'mentals' over what's wrong with us, and more life skill courses.

Meanwhile, I'm learning skills consciously that so very many people simply absorbed and practised when growing up.

It felt good to pour that out.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

auntieCtheM

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 09:39:40 PM »
"So why do they do it with things like  mental strength and interpersonal skills and assertiveness etc? "

Ah, but they do.  That is why there are so many assertiveness, mindfulness etc type courses around.  Look up 'funzing' for example - lots of talks on psychology of the mind in London.  Also look up 'meetups' in your area.  I get loads of notifications about courses that analyse the personality and give guidance on how to move forward.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2018, 10:05:31 AM »
Thanks.

I haven't been on many courses, so that was a timely reminder to look for some.  One of the most life-changing courses I did that I would have gained more from was one about how to handle difficult people.  I only managed to get a little out of it, but the one bit I grasped was the type of bully that says nasty things then if you speak out to defend yourself, says "Can't you take a joke?"  I take things so terribly seriously that it didn't compute how to deal with it.  I had to rote-learn a formula: "Ouch! That hurt! Did you really mean it?" 

"Ouch!" never worked for me (sorry!) but "Gosh!" "Oh!" "Wow!" go some way towards it.  I now recognise people who say things like that or "You shouldn't take what I say seriously" followed by nastiness as probably classic bullies, without prejudice to the fact that sometimes a non-bully will say it, genuinely joking and genuinely not trying to be nasty.

But I lack a full repertoire.  I worked out some years ago that I'm easy prey for bullies and also people like workmen who know they can take advantage of a non-assertive woman.  I began to recognise more types of 'dominators' amongst men.  Someone I'd known through work got in touch and we met and wanted to meet and chat more, but I picked up two warning signs that I previously wouldn't have: (1) an over-eagerness when barely knowing me to take over sorting out some stuff to do with the house, but not "I'll help you find a workman" but "I'll sort all that out" and (2) he spoke of his son-in-law abusing his daughter, but the tone came over not as "How dare he abuse my daughter!"  but "How dare he abuse my daughter!"  His daughter was his to abuse, not his SiL's.   I don't for one moment think this man realised that he'd given it away, because he knew me well enough to know how vulnerable I can be.

The employer I worked for when he'd known me  before  had exploited me and then scapegoated me to make changes that disadvantaged colleagues.  After I left, I went back to say hello to people a year or so later.  They'd lost staff galore.  Recently, many years later, I could only identify two former colleagues working there, and one had previously said to me once as regards how management treated us "We're like abused wives" and the other had had a breakdown herself in the past.

You could say that by posting this here I'm leaving myself wide open, but I've been posting here so long that if a type of bully I haven't yet learnt to handle joined and settled in, they'd spot me quickly and easily anyway.

So hunt-the-course time it is!
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

ATurtle

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 01:55:25 PM »
"Can't you take a joke?"  The worst thing that any bully can say.  I/we can take a joke, as a joke is something humourous that both parties can laugh at.

My reply to that is "I can take a joke, only that wasn't funny!"  The physical side that has only happened in the last 8 years is harder to take, I normally spin to hit the person that has kicked my crutch out from under me with the other one or land on them with my (large) body.  I once got nearly arrested for ABH when I did this, fortunately it was in a CCTV covered area.  The lad got 30 hours community service after his leg was out of plaster.
Tony.

"I choose not to place "DIS", in my ability." - Robert M. Hensel

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2018, 03:45:39 PM »
That's really cheered me up the thought of you fighting back over the crutches.  I get knocked over a lot, but almost always accidentally, and as I may have mentioned elsethread, I have a warning sign on my backpack that makes an enormous difference in crowds and on buses.

However, recently I was knocked over in a not particularly crowded open area by some markets and people rushed to pick me up.  The man who'd done it gave me a look I didn't initially recognise and carried on his way.  As people helped, I started to do the usual "It's ok, I've just got poor balance bit..." when I realised, as some of the witnesses (including a couple of stallholders) had, that this wasn't an accident.  The man had come up behind me, seen my warning sign and shoved me.  I was taken aback, but the responses of the bystanders was warming.   

The funniest 'revenge' I've ever had was accidental.  I stepped into a hospital lift just before the doors closed and then another woman came dashing through the doors as they were closing and pushed past me.  I lost my balance and fell directly backwards only to find myself trapped between the lift doors, half in and half out.  After a little while, probably no more than half a minute, the doors opened again, but then there was an enormous faffing around as people dealt with the situation.  This being a hospital, they didn't just pick me up, they checked me out first.  I seriously enjoyed seeing that woman both embarassed and impatient. 

That was almost as good as an incident years ago when a woman decided to smoke a cigarette in a no-smoking café.  It took a while before  I realised, and I went and asked her to put her cigarette out.  She refused.  Feeling my chest tightening more and more, I decided to abandon my barely-started meal and leave.  The next thing I remember is coming to in the doorway with a mask over my face and paramedics looking down at me, and a very awkward looking smoker trying to step over me to get out.  It felt so good.

But I don't have it embedded in me how to deal with bullying and similar instinctively.  If only!

Incidentally, having read what you said about your crutch, I wonder whether I could learn to direct my falls towards those that barge into me carelessly (as opposed to either deliberately or completely unintentionally).  The ones that have no patience in crowds.  The ones that show no thought or respect for the less rugged than them.  Hmm.  Why not let the thoughtless ones be the cushions?
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 07:53:41 AM »
Turtle, your answer about being able to take a joke but that wasn't funny is a good response. I avoid my sister rarely ever seeing her because her comments are usually "put downs" or criticism and her worst trait in my opinion is that she laughs at people and not with them. That to me is 100% plain nasty and I've often wished I could find a way of allowing her to realise what she's doing so that she can work at changing these traits.

I don't want to hurt her or be critical to her in any way, that to me would make me as bad as her, or worse because I'd be doing something knowingly while she may be totally unaware of her critical traits or the fact that she laughs at people.

So I need to find a way of responding gently, but clearly making her aware of what she's doing and being open about any hurt I've felt.

Sunny, when you said about the man saying how dare his son in law hurt his daughter, I'd have taken that to mean as a loving parent my job is to protect my children and how dare anyone hurt them as they're my precious children and it's my role to protect them. Just a different take on what was said really. But obviously I wasn't there to hear it so can't judge tone etc. only the words said.

It's hard though learning absolutely anything as an adult that would normally be learnt as a child. I grew up with a hyper critical mother who regularly told me she didn't like me. So I entered adulthood knowing that I was unlikable and that I must be a really horrid person if your own mother doesn't like you. It's really difficult having normal relationships if yo believe you're a horrible failure. I constantly criticise myself and hate the person I am. After 8 years under the care of a community mental health team they've realised this is a big part of my major depression and I'm on the waiting list for compassion focused therapy where I will be taught to think kindly and lovingly about myself, which if you've been brought up by loving parents I would have been able to do through my adult life as I would have had a good sense of self and self esteem.

It's a journey sunny, I think we all continually are learning about ourselves and what might be helpful to us. I think that person who said to you that you're not to analyse the past had no right to, and obviously doesn't know you well. If it weren't beneficial to analyse the past there would be no psychologists or psychotherapy at all.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Learning skills others learn in childhood
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2018, 12:22:45 PM »
Quote
I'd have taken that to mean as a loving parent my job is to protect my children and how dare anyone hurt them as they're my precious children and it's my role to protect them. Just a different take on what was said really. But obviously I wasn't there to hear it so can't judge tone etc. only the words said.

That's why I illustrated the phrase with added the emphasis to show that the outrage was over who was doing the abusing and contrasted it with how it would have been stressed had the outrage been over the abuse.  The difference between 'how dare he abuse' and 'how dare he abuse'

Quote
"I can take a joke, only that wasn't funny!"

I think that that can work in a lot of situations but not in all.  In some it can leave you looking like your focus is on the phrasing not the truth of what was said.  And that's one of the difficulties, working out which phrase is best.

I liked the one I learnt because it catches it a step earlier, before the 'can't you take a joke' bully gets to the 'can't you take a joke' stage.  So yours works at the later stage, mine works at the earlier stage, which is obviously only an option where you see the slur coming.  However, I found that in a boardroom or meeting context, if used well, the 'did you really mean it' approach can leave the bully rather stranded.  They either have to justify what they said rather than simply letting the mud stick, or they have to say it was a joke, in which case there's only so many times they can do that.

So I'll remember yours as a useful variant for when a bully can't be intercepted a stage earlier.  Thank you.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)