Monday, October 22, 2012

The Self Compass and Personality Disorders

How does the Self Compass help you understand personality disorders?

Here's how. The LAWS of personality and relationships form four universal compass points of Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength.



A personality pattern is a set of manipulative behaviors stemming from unconscious assumptions that directly affect how you perceive, think, feel, and act. Whether you became this way through how you were parented or other factors, you can only change a personality disorder through accurate insight and new choices.

There are primarily nine patterns that hamper personality growth, shown as they are located on the Self Compass. They are serious enough to undermine your attempts for love and happiness. But you can change them more easily than most people think. Self Compass knowledge is the key.

These descriptors are psychologically accurate, yet easy to remember because in the compass model, we pair the clinical name of the disorder with a descriptor that anyone can understand. You can think of these terms as temporary descriptions of a person’s behavior until that you make new choices that reflect personality balance and constructive change.

  • Those stuck in the Dependent Pleaser and Histrionic Storyteller personality patterns exaggerate the Love compass point. Too much love makes them compliant or attention craving. They don't realize that they lack a stable identity within themselves.
  • Paranoid Arguer and Antisocial Rule-breaker patterned people are stuck on the Assertion compass point. Too much assertion makes them argumentative or exploitive. 
  • Avoidant Worrier and Schizoid Loner patterned people are stuck on the Weakness compass point. Too much weakness makes them withdrawn or detached. 
  • Narcissistic Boaster and Compulsive Controller patterned people are stuck on the Strength compass point. Too much strength makes them arrogant or compulsive.  
  • Borderline Challengers flip-flop from the Top Dog patterns of Strength and Assertion into the Underdog patterns of Weakness and Love and back again. This unstable volatility makes the borderline person believe that everyone else is responsible for their troubles, when the truth is their own personality pattern is to blame.

Most people lay claim to several of these patterns at some point in their lives. But the Self Compass both diagnoses the problem and shows you how to fix it. Whatever compass point your personality is stuck on determines your path for getting unstuck. If you are stuck in the Worrier pattern on the Weakness compass point, you take growth stretches primarily toward the opposite compass point: Strength. Over time, you move from self-defeating thoughts like “No one feels as scared as I do. I may as well give up,” to “I might blow this, because I’m human. But I’m doing it anyway.”

In our book The Self Compass my wife Kate illustrates the Controller Pattern this way:

I hand Dan my printed-out chapter to edit. He picks up the red pen and starts in, crossing out here, adding words there, deleting whole sentences. I bite my tongue to keep from protesting. My shoulders tighten, my jaw clenches, and I watch him like a hawk, ready to swoop down in defense of a brilliant phrase that must be kept just so. 

Even though I know objectively that Dan’s editing greatly improves my writing, when the Controller pattern has the upper hand, I feel driven to present him with a draft so perfect he won’t need to change a thing. 
Without a compass correction, this inner tension would spill over into our relationship, making it difficult for Dan to give honest feedback for fear of upsetting me. Then we’d both be held hostage to the harsh taskmaster of perfection.

Personality patterns left unchecked can undermine and even destroy relationships. They hamper your ability to love God and others as yourself, keeping you from fulfilling Christ’s purpose for your personality. 

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