Reinventing Your Life Book Summary - Reinventing Your Life Book explained in key points
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Reinventing Your Life summary

Jeffrey E. Young and Janet S. Klosko

The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behaviour...and Feel Great Again

4.3 (10 ratings)
17 mins
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    Reinventing Your Life
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    Abandoned Michelle

    Michelle’s father left when she was two. Her mother stayed, but she was an alcoholic. Sometimes mom would be gone for days, binge drinking, and Michelle would be left in a worried panic. Even when mom was home, she would drink and wouldn’t be present – wouldn’t be a mother.

    Now, Michelle has recreated her childhood environment by dating Thomas. She’s 31 and wants to get married, but he won’t fully commit, even though they’ve been dating on and off for 10 years. They’ve broken up three times, and each time Thomas leaves, Michelle goes through a whirlwind of crippling emotions. There’s the panicky fear that this breakup is real and he’s never coming back. The grief so heavy Michelle feels like she can’t move. The anger so hot she wants to break something, anything. And when Michelle and Thomas are together, she lives in constant fear that he is going to leave, again and for good.

    Michelle is stuck in the first of our 11 lifetraps: the Abandonment Lifetrap.

    Lifetraps start to form when something is done to us in childhood by our families or our peers. Maybe we were criticized, deprived, abused or, in Michelle’s case, abandoned by our parents. Perhaps our families were overprotective or over-indulgent, and that has negatively affected us. Or maybe we were excluded or bullied at school.

    When we recreate our damaging childhood environment as adults, we build our own Lifetrap. In Michelle’s case, she was abandoned by her parents, and even though she was hurt at the time and knows now how harmful it was, she still recreates the situation with Thomas, who she feels may abandon her at any moment. 

    Lifetraps take over our lives and control how we think, feel and act. They lead to self-destructive behaviors. They trigger overwhelming emotions, like anger, anxiety, fear and sadness. They are very difficult to change because they are ingrained into our very beings. Michelle’s Lifetrap is so deep-rooted that she feels a powerful chemistry with Thomas, an attraction so strong it keeps her in the trap.

    But change is possible.

    The first step to escaping your Lifetrap is giving it a name. In the next section, we’ll describe the 11 Lifetraps and the traumatic childhood experiences that, typically, lead to each one. As we’re going through the list, keep in mind that you may have only one Lifetrap, but it’s common to have several of them weighing you down at once. One Lifetrap may be dominant, but the others are still hanging on and causing damage.  

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    What is Reinventing Your Life about?

    Reinventing Your Life (1994) is a manual on how to pull yourself out of negative habits and improve your life. By identifying key stumbling blocks to growth – or “lifetraps” – and presenting ways to overcome them, it guides you toward sustainable personal growth and happiness.

    Who should read Reinventing Your Life?

    • Anyone who feels stuck in the same old negative loop
    • People looking to understand themselves better
    • Psychology buffs

    About the Author

    Jeffrey E. Young, Ph.D is an American psychologist who pioneered the model of schema therapy. He is the author of several books on schema therapy and also on cognitive behavior therapy. 

    Janet S. Klosko, Ph.D is a clinical psychologist who practices cognitive behavior therapy and schema therapy. She is the Codirector of the Cognitive Therapy Center of Long Island, New York.

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