It is scary! Truly, terrifying if you think about it – to be open-hearted and willing to love. But I’m not here to aggravate your nervous system. If you go around constantly acknowledging how scary it is to love and lose, to live and die – without a helpful framework of awareness – you’d go out of your mind. I emphasize both the benefits of learning to navigate emotions with compassion as well as the detriment of repression.
It hurts. So, we distract. Occasional distraction is inevitable, especially if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, or you just got divorced, or some other calamitous change just occurred. Those types of losses are outside the sphere of the usual pain we endure and require time to heal and lots of support.
That being said, if you have learned to consistently distract and numb out, you may not even realize that there is another way to be that feels more alive, vital and joyful. Read More
Love and connection can feel dangerous. Showing your real feelings may feel too vulnerable. You may want to connect, but if others have hurt you, your BODY will seek to intercede and protect you. And, the subconscious processes in the body can confuse and stir up the conscious mind. Instead of reading a text that was written with neutrality, you read it as an attack.
If others hurt you, you may get triggered more easily. Rather than seeing them as allies, your primal brain sees them as enemies. Read More
This week I explore one of many fine lines that we negotiate in relationships, adding to their complexity: support vs. enabling. In all of it, the best thing we can do is to have great compassion for ourselves and others. This being human thing can be excruciating.
Support vs. Enabling
A favorite Marianne Williamson quip is: “Oh that Mother Theresa… she was such an enabler!” Sometimes people know what they need to do to get better, but often circumstance prevents them from getting there or doing it. Support gives people who need and want support a leg up. Enabling holds everyone in a holding pattern. Read More
Are you tired of arguing and feeling contention with the people whom you most love? Do you want to be free of anxiety and the worst-case scenario thinking that keeps you up at night? Anxiety is a curse, and you can break the spell!
In the big picture, psychology is a relatively new field, and the neuroscientific understanding of trauma is very recent. Body-centered, or somatic, techniques that work best to neutralize fight, flight or freeze reactions have only been around a couple of decades. Fight, flight and freeze reactions result in thoughts that spiral out of control.
Consequently, it’s imperative that we ALL learn this information as soon as possible. We are on the forefront of psychological evolution about the time we are intersecting with technology addictions that isolate us from others. I’m not against technological advancement, but I think we will be better equipped if we keep one foot on the warm earth – preferably barefoot. Read More
Substitute a partner or sibling here. I am using the parent/child as example; it’s a trap we all fall into: A kid lashes out at you with angry or cruel words. You, the parent, are tired or hungry and not feeling your best. You snap back with equally big emotions: berating, intimidating or shaming the child.
Ideally, you will do some self-talk: This isn’t about me. Something might be going on. If it IS about me, I want to give her space to be heard. So, instead of reacting you might respond with something like: “That feels pretty hurtful and harsh. What’s going on?” Maybe kids teased her about what she was wearing or maybe there’s a test tomorrow and anxiety is building. Being young is rough! Being human is messy! Read More
What do you do when kids feel out of control? When they insult and berate you? How can you show up for them when you feel hurt? How do you teach respect while also allowing them to feel the big emotions? These will be questions I answer in the next few posts, beginning with why it’s vital to permit and “hold the space” for kids to feel big emotions.
Common Mistakes We Make
As parents, we are not taught how to hold space and show up for a child’s big emotions, let alone the brutally hard times they can go through as teens. As a result, we try three things: Read More
Understanding what is happening in your brain when you get triggered will help you to develop and sustain healthier relationships. If you can observe yourself getting triggered, then you are no longer engulfed by the experience, which gives you some space to make better choices about how to respond.
The Observer Self
Witnessing as observer permits you to keep one foot in calm. Remember, no one can make you angry. Your past associations and current beliefs create fertile ground for you to get angry. But being triggered isn’t just about anger, which is indicative of “fight.” Triggered can also mean “flight,” or running away from the situation when it would serve you best to stay. Or “freeze” which means you check out. Nothing gets resolved or accomplished when any of those reactions are occurring.
The Essential Three
There are three requirements for healthier relationships with self and others: Read More
What causes most emotional pain? I have a new take on an old tale. Perhaps you’ve heard the Cherokee story about the good and evil wolves. I will paraphrase it here in case you haven’t before going on to talk about the whether or not you feed the Trauma Wolf.
An elderly Cherokee sat around a campfire with his grandchildren, teaching them a life lesson. Fire light flickered in dancing shadows. He told the children: “A fight is going on inside of me: A vicious fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger and envy; greed, arrogance and resentment. And, the other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, serenity, compassion, kindness and humility.”
“The same fight is going on inside of you,” he continued, “And inside of every other person, too.”
After a moment of silence when they all listened to the crackling fire, one of the granddaughters spoke up. “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” Read More
Your partner is unusually distant for days. A sibling snaps at you. A friend quits initiating getting together. You feel hurt and vulnerable, maybe even abandoned. Ideally you would say – to the friend, for instance – something like: I miss you. I feel sad that we haven’t been able to connect lately because I care about spending time with you. Is there something going on? Can I help in any way?
But, instead, the feelings of abandonment begin to spin stories in your mind, like: maybe they don’t really like you. Maybe other relationships have become more important, which means you are unimportant – even unlovable. Past trauma and associations continue to fuel the stories and the belief that you need to keep up a wall, armor and protect yourself. This distressed and hypervigilant mindset is a way of being for most people and causes them to react out of proportion to what is actually going on. Read More