Emotional Wellbeing




Mandy Kloppers

Life traps that we all experience

Life Traps that we all experience

Life traps are situations in life that we find hard or difficult to escape from. Certain kinds of thinking and acting result in a vicious circle when, however hard we try, things seem to get worse instead of better. When we try to deal with feeling bad about ourselves, we think and act in ways that tend to confirm all the negative thoughts that we have about ourselves.


There are times when we feel ineffective and anxious about certain situations. Places like crowded streets, social gatherings, packed trains and so on. When situations make us feel uncomfortable sometimes we respond by avoiding them altogether. However, by constantly avoiding situations our lives are limited and we never learn how to conquer the experience and get through it. We never learn the coping strategies required. As a result the avoidance perseveres and we continue to feel ineffective and anxious.

Depressed thinking

When we are depressed we underestimate our abilities. Depression is characterised by negative thinking. We become convinced that we will be unable to handle a task or a social situation. We either emphasise our inabilities and this reinforces our negative feelings about ourselves hence the depression continues.

Social isolation

Feeling under-confident about ourselves as well as anxious not to upset others can lead us to feeling dread at the prospect of having to mix with other people. We worry that others will find us boring or stupid or that we will, in some way or another, embarrass ourselves. Sometimes we will manage to socialise but we give off negative non-verbal body language due to our fearful and negative thoughts about ourselves. Others will interpret this as someone who does not want to be approached or who is unfriendly and will avoid us. This in turn, results in our negative feelings about ourselves being reinforced. We use the fact that others are not approaching us as a sure sign that we are unworthy boring and stupid.

Trying to please

Feeling uncertain about ourselves and anxious not to upset others, we try to people please by doing what they seem to want. As a result we end up being taken advantage of by others, which makes us angry, depressed or guilty, from which our uncertainty about ourselves is confirmed. Sometimes we feel out of control because of the need to please, we start hiding away and putting things off, letting people down, which makes other people angry with us and increases our uncertainty. Trying too hard to please other people can lead to a loss of self-identity where we lose sight of who we are and what we really want.

How to know if you are stuck in a life trap

You might be stuck in a life trap if you find that your behaviour/plans tend to backfire or that your behaviour ends up appearing as self sabotage.

Learn to tell the difference between what you can and what you can’t control. If you catch yourself feeling dread about an upcoming event/situation, this is a good time to explore what is going on for you on a psychological level. Are you dealing with your fears adequately? The more we do what we fear the easier it becomes. Are you avoiding anything or trying to make your life a little easier by implementing strategies to cope with various situations? Short-term strategies work for a little while but in the long run deeper level of understanding will be required. This is where therapy comes in. A good counsellor can help you to become more aware of any denial or avoidance that might be exacerbating your vicious circle.

When we have the courage to deal with our self-limiting beliefs, we begin to learn what we are truly capable of and it is often far greater than we imagined. Learn to put the fear in its place-these fears are often made up of negative thoughts rather than facts in any event.

Get used to challenging your beliefs about yourself and about life. Get rid of the ‘mental chains’ and you will be a freer person because of it.

If you want to get unstuck, get in touch and I’ll help you to move forward.

Mandy X