Which Life Traps Do You Have?

In this page, we will help you identify which life traps seem most pertinent to your life. Rate each of the next twenty-two statements in terms of how true each is of you on this six-point scale.


1 Completely untrue of me

2 Mostly untrue of me

3 Slightly more true than untrue of me

4 Moderately true of me

5 Mostly true of me

6 Describes me perfectly

First, rate how true the statement was of you as a child. If your answer would be different for various times in your childhood, choose the rating that best fits the way you felt in general up until the age of twelve. Then, rate how true each item is of you now, as an adult. If your answer would be different for various periods of your adult life, choose the rating that best applies to you in the past six months.


Now you are ready to transfer your scores from the questionnaire to the Score sheet. The sample questionnaire and sample score sheet below show you how to do this:

Questions 1 and 2 are both part of the Abandonment lifetrap . Let’s start with Question 1. Take your score for this item as a child and transfer it to the box just to the right of the word ABANDONMENT on the score sheet , next to the number 1 ( under the Child column ) . Now take your score for this item now ( as an adult ) and transfer it to the next box 1 ( under the Now column ) .

Next , look at your score for question 2 as a child . Transfer it to box 2 , under the Child column . Then take your score for question 2 now and transfer it to the next box 2 , under the Now column .

Look at all four of your scores for the Abandonment lifetrap . Which one is highest ? Transfer your highest score ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , or 6 ) into the last box on the Abandonment row . If your highest score is 4,5 , or 6 , put a check mark in the first column . This means that Abandonment is probably one of your schemas . If your highest score is 1 , 2 , or 3 , leave the box blank . This means Abandonment is probably not one of your schemas .

Now go ahead and fill in the rest of the score sheet in the same way .


We will now describe each of the eleven lifetraps briefly , just enough to acquaint you with each one . Refer to your score sheet : each lifetrap with a next to it is likely to apply to you . Naturally , the higher your scores for each lifetrap , the more powerful it probably is for you , and the more impact it probably has had on your life . You will want to read more about each of the relevant lifetraps later , after you have finished the introductory chapters .

If you are unsure about whether a lifetrap applies to you or someone close to you , do not worry about trying to be sure now . When you get to the chapter devoted to each lifetrap , we will give you a much more detailed test you can take to be sure that it fits .


Two lifetraps relate to a lack of safety or security in your childhood family . These are Abandonment and Mistrust .


The Abandonment lifetrap is the feeling that the people you love will leave you , and you will end up emotionally isolated forever . Whether you feel people close to you will die , leave home forever , or abandon you because they prefer someone else , somehow you feel that you will be left alone . Because of this belief , you may cling to people close to you too much . Ironically , you end up pushing them away . You may get very upset or angry about even normal separations .


The Mistrust and Abuse lifetrap is the expectation that people will hurt or abuse you in some way – that they will cheat , lie to , manipulate , humiliate , physically harm , or otherwise take advantage of you . If you have this lifetrap , you hide behind a wall of mistrust to protect yourself . You never let people get too close . You are suspicious of other people’s intentions , and tend to assume the worst . You expect that the people you love will betray you . Either you avoid relationships altogether , form superficial relation ships in which you do not really open up to others , or you form relation : ships with people who treat you badly and then feel angry and vengeful toward them .

Two lifetraps relate to your ability to function independently in the world . These lifetraps are Dependence and Vulnerability .


If you are caught in the Dependence lifetrap , you feel unable to handle everyday life in a competent manner without considerable help from others . You depend on others to act as a crutch and need constant support . As a child you were made to feel incompetent when you tried to assert your independence . As an adult , you seek out strong figures upon whom to become dependent and allow them to rule your life . At work , you shrink from acting on your own . Needless to say , this holds you back .


With Vulnerability , you live in fear that disaster is about to strike – whether natural , criminal , medical , or financial . You do not feel safe in the world . If you have this lifetrap , as a child you were made to feel that the world is a dangerous place . You were probably overprotected by your parents , who worried too much about your safety . Your fears are excessive and unrealistic , yet you let them control your life , and pour your energy into making sure that you are safe . Your fears may revolve around illness : having an anxiety attack , getting AIDS , or going crazy . They may be focused around financial vulnerability : going broke and ending up on the streets . Your vulnerability may revolve around other phobic situations , such as a fear of flying , being mugged , or earthquakes .

Two lifetraps relate to the strength of your emotional connections to others : Emotional Deprivation and Social Exclusion .

• EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION • Emotional Deprivation is the belief that your need for love will never be met adequately by other people . You feel that no one truly cares for you or understands how you feel . You find yourself attracted to cold and ungiving people , or you are cold and ungiving yourself , leading you to form relation ships that inevitably prove unsatisfying . You feel cheated , and you alter . nate between being angry about it and feeling hurt and alone . Ironically , your anger just drives people further away , ensuring your continued deprivation .

When patients with emotional deprivation come to see us for therapy sessions , there is a loneliness about them that stays with us even after they have left the office . It is a quality of emptiness , of emotional disconnection . These are people who do not know what love is .


Social Exclusion involves your connection to friends and groups . It has to do with feeling isolated from the rest of the world , with feeling different . If you have this lifetrap , as a child you felt excluded by peers . You did not belong to a group of friends . Perhaps you had some unusual characteristic that made you feel different in some way . As an adult , you maintain your lifetrap mainly through avoidance . You avoid socializing in groups and making friends .

You may have felt excluded because there was something about you that other children rejected . Hence you felt socially undesirable . As an adult you may feel that you are ugly , sexually undesirable , low in status , poor in conversational skills , boring , or otherwise deficient . You reenact your childhood rejection you feel and act inferior in social situations .

It is not always apparent that someone has a Social Exclusion lifetrap . Many people with this lifetrap are quite comfortable in intimate settings and are quite socially skilled . Their lifetrap may not show in one – to – one relationships . It sometimes surprises us to realize how anxious and aloof they may feel at parties , in classes , at meetings , or at work . They have a restless quality , a quality of looking for a place to belong .

The two lifetraps that relate to your self – esteem are Defectiveness and Failure .


With Defectiveness , you feel inwardly flawed and defective . You believe that you would be fundamentally unlovable to anyone who got close enough to really know you . Your defectiveness would be exposed . As a child , you did not feel respected for who you were in your family . In . stead , you were criticized for your ” flaws . ” You blamed yourself — you felt unworthy of love . As an adult , you are afraid of love . You find it difficult to believe that people close to you value you , so you expect rejection.


Failure is the belief that you are inadequate in areas of achievement , such as school , work , and sports . You believe you have failed relative to your peers . As a child , you were made to feel inferior in terms of achievement . You may have had a learning disability , or you may never have learned enough discipline to master important skills , such as reading . Other chil dren were always better than you . You were called ” stupid , ” “ untalented , ” or ” lazy . ” As an adult , you maintain your lifetrap by exaggerating the degree of your failure and by acting in ways that ensure your continued failure .

Two lifetraps deal with Self – Expression — your ability to express what you want and get your true needs met : Subjugation and Unrelenting Standards .


With Subjugation , you sacrifice your own needs and desires for the sake of pleasing others or meeting their needs . You allow others to control you . You do this either out of guilt — that you hurt other people by putting yourself first – or fear that you will be punished or abandoned if you disobey . As a child , someone close to you , probably a parent , subjugated you . As an adult , you repeatedly enter relationships with dominant , con trolling people and subjugate yourself to them or you enter relationships with needy people who are too damaged to give back to you in return . • UNRELENTING STANDARDS • If you are in the Unrelenting Standards lifetrap , you strive relentlessly to meet extremely high expectations of yourself . You place excessive empha sis on status , money , achievement , beauty , order , or recognition at the expense of happiness , pleasure , health , a sense of accomplishment , and satisfying relationships . You probably apply your rigid standards to other people as well and are very judgmental . When you were a child , you were expected to be the best , and you were taught that anything else was failure . You learned that nothing you did was quite good enough .


The final lifetrap , Entitlement , is associated with the ability to accept realistic limits in life . People who have this lifetrap feel special . They insist that they be able to do , say , or have whatever they want immediately . They disregard what others consider reasonable , what is actually feasible , the time or patience usually required , and the cost to others . They have diffi culty with self – discipline .

Many of the people with this lifetrap were spoiled as children . They were not required to show self – control or to accept the restrictions placed on other children . As adults , they still get very angry when they do not get what they want .

Now you have an idea of which lifetraps apply to you .

Source – Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey E.Young, Ph.D., and Janet S Klosko, Ph.D.

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