Not being able to say no can force us all from time to time. Although we do not want to, we can fulfill the wishes of others, participate in environments we do not want, or do things that force us. We can define this situation as the self-sacrifice, benevolence and kindness we make for the person in front of us, but when this situation is repeated constantly, it is necessary to go beyond these definitions. The reason behind not being able to say no is not to offend, offend or please the person making the request. If the freedom of the individual is restricted so that the other person is not offended, we can talk about the submissiveness scheme here.

At the heart of submissiveness is the belief in pleasing other people. The focus of the person is not himself. The person does not need to please himself and other people’s wishes always come first. Meeting other people’s needs and pleasing them comes with great responsibility, and these responsibilities are exhausting. The submissiveness schema deprives the person of the perception of what they want and need, and the person feels trapped in his life and his freedom is restricted. Being a spectator about his own life, inability to shape his life, inability to express his needs and passivity are the most basic characteristics of a person with a submissive schema. On the other hand, a person may describe himself as a helpful, kind, harmonious person who can get along well with everyone. As well as the submission of needs, emotions can also submit. The person suppresses his emotions, especially his anger, in order to avoid conflict and not to be punished.

The Origin of the Submission Scheme

When we look at the origin of the submissiveness schema, the mother and father of the person who developed the submissiveness schema may not have paid attention to his needs or the child may have been punished or not taken care of when he expressed his needs and feelings. The child may have received messages from such experiences that their own needs are unimportant and that if they express their needs, they will be punished by other people. Thus, in order not to lose or gain the love and affection of his parents, the person puts his own wishes aside and begins to meet their demands. For example, he does not misbehave, becomes a good boy, does not play with children his mother does not want, goes to the school his father wants, or chooses the profession his father wants, and this may also be reflected in his choice of wife. The submissiveness schema is a conditional (secondary) schema and was acquired to get rid of unconditional (primary) schemas. First of all, it should be understood what the primary schema is. Emotional deprivation, abandonment, defectiveness, and punishment schemes are among the primary schemes that come to mind first.

Submissiveness and Aggression

People with a submissive schema meet their demands to please the other party and thus continue their relationship without any conflict. However, as long as this situation continues, the person accumulates anger against the requester because his freedom is restricted. The submissive attitude represents one extreme, while the aggressive and rejecting attitude represents the other. If the person does not want to be submissive, he becomes aggressive as a result of the anger he has accumulated. Requesting person; It could be our parents, spouse, friend, or one of our colleagues at work. While the demands of the demanding person are constantly being met, when suddenly rejected by the submissive person, the person thinks that he has been rejected and is offended. Well, wasn’t the main purpose of the submissive person not to offend the other person? Since the opposite of submissiveness is rejectionism, the person becomes aggressive and rejecting as soon as he wants to let go of submissiveness. The person who feels good because he doesn’t give in and can say no, also struggles with the feeling of guilt for hurting the other person.

Healthy Adult Mode

There is a missed point, which is that there is a third way. A person who can express their needs and is accepting is neither rejecting nor submissive. In the schema therapy approach, the healthy adult mode of the clients is tried to be strengthened, while the healthy adult is the person who can express their needs freely and is accepting. When the needs are expressed in a healthy way, the other party does not feel offended, offended or rejected, and the person feels good because he is now aware of and can express his own needs. However, there may be demanding people around the person, no matter how much the person expresses his needs and sets limits, the people in front of him may continue to demand. In this case, the person becomes free if he accepts the other person rather than waiting for the other person to change or trying to change him. Accepting it does not mean submitting to it. On the other hand, while the person expresses their needs in a healthy way, if the other person is a healthy adult, they will not have any problems in their relationships. But if the other person is retaliating, he is not a useful person to establish a close relationship with.

However, there are some important people in all of our lives that we cannot avoid our relationship with. For example; this demanding person is ours or a member of our spouse’s family and we have yielded to his demands for too long in the past, we no longer want to submit to him and we set boundaries in a healthy way. Because we no longer aim to please him. But no matter how many limits we set, it continues to demand. This can reactivate our submissiveness schema, but we also start accumulating anger. We are patient, we manage, we try to pass it off, and they lower our energy. But if we accept it as it is, we save the energy we would spend to change it.

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