The Psychology Of Relationships:
an internal process during which we, out of conscious awareness, ignore
information relevant to the solution of a problem.
A discount always
entails some distortion of reality, which confirms our
a form of putting oneself, another person, or the world in general down.
way, discounts help us to maintain the status quo rather than change.
a rather unhelpful thing to do, but sticking to what we know and what we
normally do helps us to feel safe. Unfortunately, this is often at the
expense of a richer life.
A good example
comes from the fable of the fox and the grapes. In the story a fox would
very much like to eat some grapes, but they are too high up on a vine and
he can't reach them easily. In the end he gives up and says to himself
"Well, they are sour anyway, I don't want them".
firstly discounts the grapes as "not good" or put in slang "they're crap
discounts his desire for them, and thirdly he discounts his own ability to
act on his desire and do something to reach the grapes despite the
difficulties he is having. (He could come up with some clever ideas, as
foxes usually do in such stories!)
often unconsciously discount ourselves when we say "I can't do
are we actually saying about our own abilities to solve problems and
Often when we can do things, we might choose not to, or we may need
some help, or we may need to learn more, or we may need to try a couple of times. In reality
we often can do things, even though it might not be
In saying "I
can't do this" we are discounting our own abilities and we ignore the fact
that there are always other solutions or options to deal with a problem
than just the obvious ones.
also think that one can take this a bit too far. Sometimes people can't do
things (like feel safe), because they have never been shown how to.
discount we do so by making a statement in our heads. It is an internal
process, and so a discount itself is not observable.
people will be able to observe manifestations of a discount which you
make. Some behavioral signs are doing nothing or passivity in response to
a problem, over-adaptation, agitation or incapacitating oneself in some
way (e.g. getting ill).
also part of discounting. Every discount is accompanied by grandiosity,
which is an exaggeration or minimization of some feature of reality (e.g.
making a mountain out of a molehill or vice versa).
can discount on 4 different levels. They are ranked in severity from
denying or discounting the existence of an issue to discounting one's
personal options to do something about a problem:
the existence of a problem. Example: I was not drinking last night, or:
I am not an alcoholic.
Discounting the significance of an event or problem. Example: Well,
yes I was drinking last night, but it doesn't do me any harm.
the possibilities for change. Example: Yes, I am an alcoholic, but I
was born that way.
one's personal ability to change: Yes, I am an alcoholic, it's killing
me and I know other people manage to stop, but I can't.
As you may
have concluded, discounting can be quite a nasty habit and the best thing
to do is to confront it in oneself and other people.
especially damaging in a relationship if one partner uses discounting to
avoid changing or taking responsibility. In that case, don't allow the
hidden agenda of "I can't" and collude in it, when actually the person
should be saying "I won't".
is also a possible start for a psychological game.
Remember not to discount your own ability to change and take control (go
into Victim mode) or the other person's ability to do the same (Rescuer
or Persecutor mode).
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