Pride In Self

Chapter Two of Woman Transforming

To reclaim your power, it is important to appreciate and be grateful for yourself.

Many years ago I was whining about my life to a woman I knew, and she reframed what I was saying into a positive idea. She interrupted me and said, “It is amazing that you don’t seem to realize all that you have accomplished in life.” It took me off guard and I stopped to think for a minute. “What do you mean?” She started to mention all the things I had done so far in my life that I had seen as negative rather than positive. It was quite amazing to me. I was only focusing on how these things had gotten in the way and brought me down. When she reframed my way of looking at it, I saw how it really was great that I had accomplished what most people would have had a hard time with. I felt pretty wonderful that another woman had seen these things, as it is always important that our own gender give us feedback about what they see, to help us grow as women. A woman-to-woman experience of selves strengthens our gender as a whole. Later on, a teacher at my college noted one day that she was glad to hear me saying that I was a survivor instead of a victim. The words we use in reference to ourselves go a long way in reclaiming our power.

When I speak with women in my practice I see that they all do the same thing: beat themselves up. They grow up in homes that teach them to be second-class citizens. They are not taught to set boundaries or to ask for what they want. Instead, they are supposed to put their own needs aside and focus on the others around them. The Calvinist motto is “Children are to be seen and not heard,” and in this respect it can apply to boys as well as girls, though girls are pushed aside much more than boys are in the household. Girls are meant to be the caretakers. They are raised to believe they will get married one day and their husbands will look after them (this still happens as I still see young girls chasing boys the same way I did in my day).

I don’t mean to pick on single parents but unfortunately, young girls who aren’t raised with a father figure need one. They need to feel admired by a man (unless they are a lesbian, though even for this sexual preference, I still see a need for a father figure). It is human nature, yin/yang, and a balance of male/female. If there is no male figure in a young woman’s life (for men this is still important but a different book to write), she has no one to teach her about boys and men and how to be in a relationship with them. Thus it will create havoc when she tries to have a relationship with a male. I have found in my own family, with clients I have served in private practice and while working for social services that these girls try too quickly and it amounts to sex (which they idealize means he loves me) and since so many are not using birth control (a frequent comment is that it makes them look fat or they don’t like the side effects) the end result of course is babies. This desperate need for attention (love) is recreated in the false belief that the boy will stick around for the child, and if not, what fun it will be to have a baby. Of course they later learn those ideas are most definitely untrue, especially when people begin to focus more attention on the baby instead of the mother and suddenly she finds herself alone once more. The Morehouse Research Institute and the Institute for American Values, (1999. Turning the corner on father absence in black America, A statement from the Morehouse conference on African-American fathers.), stated that when children are abandoned by their fathers, the girls are most likely to end up with early pregnancies and the boys are most likely to end up behind bars.

When I point out to my female clients that it is important to have self-respect, they nod their heads. I then tell them that they can’t expect a man to give them happiness, or to give them what they want in life and this causes confusion. How can I say such a thing and completely wipe away everything they have ever come to learn or expect in their lives? It really throws people into a mess philosophically. Sometimes women say yes, they realize that [intellectually] but to put it in practice is another thing all together. We can’t just stop time and turn ourselves from caretakers into independent women who set boundaries. There are steps to take as we begin to grow from fragile human beings into more evolved ones.

To have pride in yourself starts from the head and goes down to your toes quite literally. The way you present yourself says a lot to the world and a feeling of pride is external as well as internal. All senses are taken into account here. The way you dress – visual, the way you smell – pheromones, the way you talk – hearing and speaking, or how you are heard and how you talk. Taste would even come into play in the way you take care of your body. Let’s look at some of these things individually.

Visual: A woman who has reclaimed her power is going to be a person who is confident in herself and shows this in the way she walks and dresses in public. Look at a woman like Taylor Swift. She is in the same entertainment business as Britney Spears, though she was raised differently and so instead of seeking the sexual route, she is modest and careful in the clothing she chooses. She has a more mature look rather than a childish (little girl) look that excites sexual predators. She even makes fun of the racier styles in her videos as if to say, “Yes, I acknowledge the world around me, but I don’t need to be a part of this.” She is strong, confident, young, and willing to take risks but not to the point of ruining her reputation. Another young role model Jennifer Hudson, conveys a sophisticated, elegant woman with an amazing voice. Listening to the passion in the lyrics she belted out while she sang in Dreamgirls, I felt such a heavy weight on my chest. Older women such as Helen Mirren and Judi Dench astonish us all wearing clothing that makes them look beautiful and intelligent. It is horrifying to see women who have had plastic surgery wearing dresses that a twenty-year-old would wear or exposing their bodies. After you turn fifty, you really need to rethink how you dress in public. It is about looking attractive, intelligent, confident, and comfortable in your skin—because you know you have made it in the world.

When you walk, you need to do so like a woman who is dressed for success, not like a woman who is wearing clothing. Six-inch heels do not make you seem confident, nor does it demand respect. It makes you look ridiculous. They are not practical shoes for the boardroom or for going out at night. Stilts are for clowns in the circus or ladies of the evening who are selling sex. If you want to get ahead in life and in your career and want people to take you seriously, don’t wear this type of clothing.

Smell: Pheromones are subtle signals that we both emanate and pick up from others. There are some people who repel us for obvious reasons such as wearing too much perfume or cologne, and there are people who attract us for unknown reasons, but it is really the pheromones, which are our body scent, our energy, the aura that we have around us. A confident woman who is a good person will attract people because they are eager to hear what she has to say, to see what she is wearing, and see what she is like in person. They want to get to know her. A woman who pretends to be confident may come across as bitchy or insecure; she dresses in a desperate fashion focusing on her sexuality to attract people rather than acknowledging that she is a good person who does not need this attention. If you are intelligent and talented, you will get across the message you want to your audience; you don’t need to cater to people’s negative expectations. Modesty is always the best policy. It makes people want to know you more. Suddenly you are mysterious rather than obvious, and people love suspense.

Taste: what you eat says a lot about you. Our country has turned upside down with Walmarts ruining our communities, and this has also created a junk-food culture. Since Main Street is gone, so has our need to preserve and protect it. Our society has begun to want the predictable and it is expected wherever we go. You can find McDonalds in almost any country and a variety of nationwide franchises like Applebee’s enable us to get satisfied with the same junk while travelling. Predictable food makes Americans feel comfortable when they are on the road and don’t want the adventure of trying the local cuisine. As a result there is an obesity problem because chain food delivers oversized meals that no one ever sat down to at home growing up. Likewise, mom and pop restaurants serve normal portions. It is not just the food Americans are eating in these places but the servers and the cooks presenting it to us as well. They are used to quick and easy, not healthy and happy. Mom and pop restaurants, for the most part, have good values and ethics. Our dollar is important to them and they want us to come back. They have bills to pay and kids to feed. They are working hard to supply their families. A franchise is working hard to serve the corporation. Sure they have families too but the ultimate ruler is the person they bought the chain from. As a result, cleanliness in restaurants is at an all-time low and our society has come to expect this. They don’t have time to clean the place, because there are too many people to serve. Our society just allows these things because everyone is in a hurry and wants the quick, predictable meal. Why care what it looks like? If you are staying in a hotel, you can take it back to your room anyway. Eating good food happens when people love themselves, feel good about themselves, and are confident and conscious of what goes into their bodies.

Hearing and Speaking: Do you talk like a lady—a woman who is in charge of her life, or are you bossing people around trying to control the world around you? Healthy, strong, confident women do not need to demand, they have a way about them that people respect. We see women in society who are loudmouths, who fight with other women and men, who are known as drama queens or who take other people’s men. Women who are educated, well mannered, and diplomatic often have good communication skills. They don’t have these types of problems. They don’t need to yell or fight or demand. When they talk, people listen because there is a sense (from all the senses as well as this one) that this is someone they should listen to. If you have to raise your voice, you need to rethink how you present yourself. Also, you don’t need to be an educated woman to have these skills or to think well of yourself, but it helps. College often brings confidence, but only when your skills are being utilized in the workplace and you enjoy doing what you have set out to do.

Reclaiming your power has to do with reinventing yourself. You, as a woman, have to make a conscious effort to look at what type of people you are attracting into your life and whether or not you have the life you want and are happy with it. If not, it is important to address this, not by finding a man, but by making some changes in your life. How do you fix these things if you have been raised in a world where you have been abused? If your life has been overwhelmed by a mental illness or mental health issues? If you have been raised to be a second-class citizen and are just unhappy overall? Working on the self includes getting support spiritually, psychologically, and physically: mind, body, and spirit.

Having a spiritual belief system strengthens your resolve. It gives you something to believe in. When you have nothing, it often gives people a sense of emptiness. Start with what you learned growing up and then begin to explore religions in general. Take a walk in nature, a good long hike deep in the woods that will bring you to a place of questioning. Nature is good for soul searching. If not a walk, sail a boat, sky dive, do something that enriches your sense of self and takes you to a deeper place.

Almost anyone can benefit from psychotherapy to gain greater self-awareness and contentment within. There are thousands of psychotherapists available who have different modalities of practicing and come from all different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. If you are unhappy, have come from an abusive background and suffered physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or domestic violence as an adult or witnessed it as a child, if you have a mental illness that runs in your family, if you have lost someone in your life very dear to you… these are just some of the examples of why you should seek out a psychotherapist.

Finally, you can’t work on your mind and soul without enriching your health. Cigarette smoking is neither spiritually nor psychologically healthy. If you are putting drugs or alcohol into your system, you are keeping yourself from thinking clearly. Soda pop and coffee on occasion is one thing but living your life with them is another. I have known young people who dehydrate themselves with highly caffeinated drinks, because they were living off these new sodas and not drinking water, juice or milk at all. I have also known people who don’t even drink water or juice on a daily basis. All of these things are bad for the soul. If you are taking lots of medications, you really need to get a second opinion from either another psychiatrist or medical doctor depending on why you take them. A healthy mind, body and spirit does not come from taking four or more medications. Seeking out holistic support and changing your diet can often help to eliminate medications. Don’t ever ignore psychological or physical reasons for taking medications, but you don’t need to be popping pills as if they are candy for the soul. Not only should you focus on eating well and re-examining all that goes into your body, you must also exercise and stay fit and trim. Too many times people give me excuses: “I used to do that” or “I know I need to get back to going to the gym.” Excuses lead to obesity which is an eating disorder in the sense that you are unable to control your food habits or control the way you live your life. Food soothes and nurtures the human being as they begin to give up on themselves. This is tied to family issues, the non-organic food available in stores today as well as the junk food culture, mental health issues, all of which require the support of a wellness practitioner, psychotherapist or nutritionist.

Reclaiming your power is hard work, isn’t it? Anyone can do this. If you want to feel happy with yourself and have the life you want, you must demand it of yourself and start organizing your life in a different way.

Thoughts for the Transforming Woman: Name 10 female role models in your life, personally or professionally or women of history, that are not in the entertainment business, and who personify the criteria above. Read a book about at least one of them.

Womanfinal (1)If you enjoyed reading this, you can continue to learn more at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/563570

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Woman Transforming

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My new book, Woman Transforming: Reclaiming Your Power to Have the Life You Want, will be available on August 26, 2015 (extended). This book is written for women of all ages. It is never to late to take a look … Continue reading

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Forgiveness Is for You, Not Them

Forgiveness is a dirty word. It causes people to do things they don’t understand and then shame themselves for doing so. Having a sense of what this word means only comes when you are more fully aware of what choices you need to make in your life. It happens when you are clear about how to set boundaries and to ask for what you want. However, religions tell people they need to “forgive,” self-help books tell people they need to “forgive,” then folks dish out this word with “I forgive you,” and all they are really saying, when they aren’t clear what it means is, “I am sorry I was upset with you for your behavior. I shouldn’t have been.” This means we are merely letting the person off the hook.

Forgiveness is something you have to give yourself but only when you are strong enough to step away from a situation and have some clarity and wisdom to know that you must now let go (or you are ready to let go of) the hold the other person or situation has over you (such as past trauma).

If a person strikes you, you don’t walk away and say the next day “I forgive you,” therefore we will continue our life as it is and hope this doesn’t happen again. That sounds easy but likewise if you are with a partner who does not find relevance in what you have to say, you don’t “forgive” them so that you can just have peace once again until the next scenario crops up. Instead, you must view the relationship and say to yourself “Am I getting what I want from this partnership?” If your gut says “no,” then don’t allow yourself to find fifty different excuses as to why you are really the problem instead of them. You also don’t say “Okay, I forgive my perpetrator,” so that my family will be happy that I have shut up about what happened.

Naturally if you are in a bad relationship, you must take responsibility for making an unwise choice. However, this does not mean you should stay. You do need to face your partner and state your intentions. “We need to do some work on our relationship by doing, x, y, z.” If their response is negative, they do not feel a need to do anything, than your answer should be “Then I don’t think we have anything more to say to one another and it is time to end this.” The way they will react to you when you are being mature and standing your ground with them might not be mature in response. After all, if they are a mature person themselves, you probably wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.

Once you stand your ground and state your intentions, you must follow through. If you don’t, than you are saying, “I am not a person who deserves respect because I don’t respect myself.” This is not the time to say “I forgive you,” otherwise we are back to my initial paragraph.

It is important not to use the term forgiveness to anyone unless you are self-aware, have moved on and are in a stronger place in your life. It is not necessary to say this to anyone else anyway because you are the one who needs to know this in your heart, not them. You need to be ready to let go the issue that you face with another person but only when you see your responsibility in the matter. Your responsibility means “I made a choice to be with that person even though I knew intuitively that it was wrong, so I am forgiving them of any hold they have over me.” They did not do anything to you that you did not allow by staying with them and not setting boundaries or asking for what you want. In a past trauma you are saying “I have worked on myself and I no longer need to make that aspect of my life a conversation I need to have.” This is something you will feel within, after doing a lot of psychotherapy and soul searching.

This is a huge thing for me to write and put out there because it really doesn’t make any sense unless you have survived a situation and can really grasp what this means.

Yes, you can “forgive” your child for a mistake they made. You are their parent and it is important to teach them what is right and wrong. You can “forgive” a spouse for making a mistake, when they come to you and take responsibility for what they did or said and are stating a realization they have had about how this has effected your relationship. If they are coming to this conclusion then they value you and the affect their actions have on others. Of course, this again does not apply to someone in an abusive situation as this is merely the cycle of violence that continues over and over. I am talking about a healthy mature relationship where two people are growing as a couple.

In fact, I don’t even like using the term forgive in the above paragraph either. I would say “Thank you for taking responsibility for what happened.” With a child I would say “This was wrong what you did,” and here is the reason why. You state what behaviors you want from them in the future and depending on the mistake you either give consequences or tell them you will give them another chance to prove themselves. It isn’t about forgiveness really but a lesson learned.

Try to take forgiveness out of your vocabulary all together until you are clear what it is that needs to take place in your heart. Then begin to let the past go inside yourself, after you are in a stronger, self-aware state and have a sense that you no longer need that aspect, or person as a part of your life and you are ready to move forward without this being part of your story.

Don’t worry about forgiving them, focus on taking care of yourself and moving forward in your life in a way that works for you. Choosing the wrong person to be in a relationship with isn’t about forgiving them, it is about forgiving yourself, being strong, taking responsibility and making the right decision this time. Staying with the wrong person only prolongs your ability to have the life you want.

Enjoy your life and the people around you. Choose people who support you for the person that you are and for the path you have chosen to walk down.

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Why you Attract Narcissists

I thought this was a pretty clever video about attracting narcissists. So I am attaching it here for educational purposes. It would also be the same for attracting a batterer and this might be the same person in that emotional, physical, financial or sexual abuse could occur with a Narcissist.

Remember, Domestic Violence is one OR two or ALL, it does not have to be JUST physical or physical AND one of the others.

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For Men Who’s Partner has been Abused

Home life can be difficult when you can’t be with the one you love. The way you won’t to love them. I can’t seem to find anything written about this topic and it comes up quite a bit with couples and sometimes with my male clients in individual. It is difficult for the guy who’s partner has been sexually abused or even physically abused. Issues of Trust, Sex and Boundaries are often misinterpreted. Guys take it personally because they are assuming it is about them. It causes a lot of hurt and frustration with the partner that they love. Many times the guy will say to me “Why doesn’t she trust me?” or “Why won’t she have sex with me? I didn’t abuse her?” It is really difficult for both the survivor and the partner of the survivor. So how do you cope?

1. Patience – If your partner is in therapy, they are spending time working on themselves and trying to get through this trauma from childhood (or even as an adult) and, if your partner is in therapy, it would be good for the two of you to do couples work as well.

2. Confidence – If your partner has confided in you that they have been abused, know that however they are behaving around you in the bedroom or in other situations has to do with the pain they have experienced. It isn’t always because of a situation between the two of you. It also isn’t always because of the abuse. Ask questions.

3. Research – While there aren’t books written to help men cope, there are plenty of online articles and books available to survivors of abuse. One of the top books is called “The Courage To Heal.” I understand there is a chapter in there specifically for the partners but the whole book is talking about how to cope with this trauma.

4. Practice Conscious Sex – Sex with your partner is going to have limitations when your partner is an abuse survivor. Some women forego certain acts of sex. This is because it is too difficult – the memories. Talk with your partner about sex, with the understanding that this talk is not going to lead to sex. Talk to them about safe touch (what feels comfortable for them). Work together on how sex can be fun for both of you.

5. Touch her emotionally and you will have touched her physically – Women regard emotions much higher than touch. Hearing how she is valued, loved and respected will get you much further in the bedroom than just touching her because you want to. This has to be authentic and really mean something coming from you. There are way too many men out there (and you know who I mean) who are players and can say a lot of crap to get a woman in bed. This isn’t about being a player. This is about being a man, building a connection with the one you love.

Once you have done these things with your partner, you will find that over time, trust will begin to re-build for her and she will begin to feel safer and safer.

 

Note: Also take a look at some of the resources on my Couples page.

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You must be the change – Easy to Say

I have written quite a few times on the topic of Narcissism in this blogroll. It often seems as if there is no hope with family members whether they are Narcissistic or not. We give up with people in our family because they don’t fit the lifestyle we have created as an adult (as a surviving mechanism), which we feel is much saner. Sometimes we have to hang around family members we don’t like to be around those we do. I have given tips on here, in the past articles about Narcissism, to help cope with this. There is even more to it than that.

It has to come from you though, solely. This isn’t an easy task to take on, especially when you feel exhausted already from trying to “change” them. Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This was easy for him to say because he was a philosopher and was already living this mantra when it came out of his mouth. In this age of “awareness” we see it on many people’s email signatures or people constantly quote it and misquote it about as easily as we used to say “dysfunctional.” It is the new buzz phrase that we want to say to make us sound good and loving and aware.

The Buddhists have an additional phrase “To know and not to use, is to not know.”

So we, as family consciousness builders, need to sit with ourselves in meditation  and listen to our higher conscious to find out what the heck Gandhi’s phrase means in our life.

I will give you some hints in the meantime, while you are in contemplation.

1. Let go of your ego. Let go of needing something from someone. Get your needs met from yourself. If you don’t need something from someone, they can’t take it away from you.

2. Be patient and be silent. As you begin this process of changing the inner self, be quiet and wait. Only talk when you know that you are coming from a loving place. This does not mean “I am only saying this because I love you.” It means waiting till your higher conscious tells you to speak and then you speak from the soul, not the ego. Your inner voice never makes mistakes and it comes when you least expect it. If you hear yourself talking, that is you. The inner voice talks only when you keep quiet.

3. Ask your higher power, God, Goddess, how you can be a better person, not how can they become a better person. LISTEN. The answers will come from places unexpected. The radio, TV, friends, psychotherapists, spiritual leaders and even family. Yes, the people who annoy you the most are giving you answers that we often ignore. They are saying “I love you” in the craziest ways.

4. Set boundaries with people around you. Especially with those that you love. If it means you don’t hear from someone you love for a year or two, then you go on with your life and continue to feel love for them and work on yourself in the meantime. Every time something cruel wants to come out of your mouth – because you just have to get your word in – because you have been patient long enough – just breathe. Saying nothing is more potent than saying something. In the meantime, breathe long slow breaths – Not loud sighs that everyone can hear. Just slow…breaths.

Eventually love, boundaries, patience and being silent find results. The more you focus on being the change, rather than waiting for them to change, the more love that will come into your life. These are just hints though. Listen to your higher consciousness and wait for the answers.

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Rescue Your Relationship From the “Four Horseman”

Written by Guest Author: Jonathan Miller, Ed.M., LPCC-S

“We want to stop fighting,” is what most couples say at their first therapy session. “That’s never going to happen,” is what John Gottman, Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington, would tell them. So why is he considered one of the most important figures in relationship counseling?

albrechtdurer4horsemencropped

As illustrated by Albrecht Durer, ca. 1498

Gottman spent years studying couples and how they communicate. Although he came to see there’s no way to avoid conflict, he also found squabbles don’t have to spell doomsday. He identified four emotional reactions that shred relationships. He called them the “Four Horsemen”, after the Biblical figures who signal the coming end of the world. He also picked out four substitutes to make arguments productive.

From the least harmful to the most, the four riders are:

Criticism: “How can you treat me this way?” “You never think about what I want.” “Why do you have to be so selfish?”

Criticism is anything that implies something is fundamentally wrong with your partner. If you use words like “always” or “never”, it’s criticism. After all, if it happens every time, there must be something lasting about them and their character.

“Complaints” are more effective: “What you said hurt my feelings.” “When you don’t do your share, I wonder why I should do mine.” “That kind of language gets me really angry.”

This kind of complaint isn’t whining. Good complaints are specific about what your partner does, and what you’d like them to do differently. Be careful; if you give anyone with a long list of detailed complaints, it might as well be global criticism.

It’s worth the time it takes to spell out the problem precisely. Criticism often provokes …

John M. Gottman

John M. Gottman, PhD

 

Defensiveness: “Have you looked in a mirror lately?” “If you don’t like my temper, don’t talk like I’m an idiot.” “ME? What about you?”

When you feel attacked, you want to defend. It’s easy to believe your partner starts all the trouble, and easier to think your actions should be overlooked.

“Owning” part of the criticism, even a small part, will get their attention: “You’re right, I should have done the dishes.” “I talk to kids all day, so maybe I don’t realize how I sound.” “You did say you wanted to leave by 6:00 PM.”

If 90% of what your partner says is flat wrong, start by agreeing to the 10% that’s accurate. They’ll be more relaxed and open to the other things you want to say. Fight the temptation to rationalize what you’ve done or to point out your partner’s blind spots. They will get the message you don’t care about things that are vital to them. That can lead to …

Contempt: “I’m the only one who’s being logical here.” “If you don’t like it, get out.” “You’re just like your mother and I’m sick of you both.”

Contempt includes ridicule, eye-rolls, condescension or any kind of belittling comparison. It goes far beyond gentle teasing. When partners hold genuine contempt for one another, the relationship is most likely over.

Cultivate a “culture of appreciation” in your thoughts about the other person, and it can overgrow the contemptuous ideas: “He works really hard in the yard,” “She never keeps me waiting,” “He’s great with the kids.” You don’t have to pretend you aren’t frustrated. Write up a list of their good qualities and re-read it. Realistic, appreciative thoughts will balance your thinking and you’ll remember they aren’t garbage.

You don’t want them to think you see them that way. It can result in …

Stoneware stonewalling

Stoneware stonewalling

Stonewalling: (Nothing is said.)
When people feel overwhelmed by sadness, anger or fear, sometimes they shut down. They may look away, cross their arms or sigh heavily, but they won’t communicate.

Stonewalling hurts. It sends the message, “I don’t care enough to answer you.” Ironically, it’s often intended to help. If your partner grows quiet, it may be they don’t want to lose their temper. When one person thinks, “I’m going to keep my mouth shut so I don’t make it worse,” and the other thinks, “I’m going to keep talking until he shows me he understands,” it makes for a long, destructive, one-sided conversation.

To break out of stonewalling, “calm yourself and respond.” Slow, measured breaths will relax you enough to speak with an even tone. Even if you only say, “I’m agitated and I want a break,” you’ve told your partner you respect them enough to say that much.

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How Do I Know When Therapy Is Done?

I want to say here “What is the meaning of life?” though that question doesn’t completely relate to my topic above. On some measures it does though. Therapy is different for every single person. On a spiritual level, I know that you will know when it is “done” when you feel ready to leave. This does not mean that therapy is “done” as in forever if you are someone who really appreciates self-awareness and continuing to do in-depth work on yourself. If you are only there for a minor concern, such as an EAP (Employee Assistance Program, aka short term therapy) type matter, often times people get to a place where I know and they know, that there is really nothing more to say.  When I work with couples, I either know that I can’t really do much more for them or things are going really well and they are feeling great about themselves or a change is made and then the choice to continue becomes individual.

When it comes to a traumatic injury whether it be current or long-term (childhood), it is much more intense. Sometimes therapy is for the first time and then I am working with the client to help them to have a voice. It feels good for people to be able to finally say “This is what that son of a bitch did to me…” and for them to hear “That was terrible, OMG, I can’t believe someone would do that…” It is the first time they are getting validation. The wounded child is being soothed and nurtured. I watch them begin to stand up for themselves over time, in their personal lives, as they continue to be heard and acknowledged and respected in a safe environment. This is extremely rewarding for me as a therapist and obviously a huge break through for them. Then the client will at some point walk away from therapy for a bit – to take a break. Sometimes I know that the process is on hold for a short time until they are ready to return to me, or to someone else.

I am happy for a client to choose someone else, if they want to, once they have gone through a breakthrough with me. It is good for a client to get a different voice, a new method and from the place they are at now. Even if they haven’t had a breakthrough but still choose to go to another, it is okay too because this is what they need to do. It is the soul searching process that brings us to enlightenment on some level. The answers are there for you, as you continue to search and when you are ready, it will come.

When I get a client who has been with another therapist, I try to check in with them first, to see what worked and what didn’t work. This is important for me and for them. One, it helps them to have some closure if there was a negative experience and two, it helps them to celebrate the work they have already accomplished. This also builds trust as I am again giving them a voice right up front about being in the psychotherapeutic process.

When I work with someone who have been working on “this issue for years,” I acknowledge that now we are going to work from a different place than where they started. I listen to what they have already learned and accomplished but at the same time I am finding out where it all began (so that I am clear). Sometimes, I hear things or “see” things that maybe someone hadn’t put together before. This is because, when a client tells their story more than once, it changes (with their new voice, new insights they have had since then) so it makes sense that I will or might see things that another therapist did not see (and the same goes for one of my clients seeing a new therapist).

This is why it is important to not be frustrated with yourself when you find yourself needing therapy “once again.” Life impacts us hard and over the years, more things happen to us, we begin to see patterns of our own self-destruction, our mistakes, things we didn’t see at 20, become much more realized at 30, 40, 50, 60, and so on. I could not have told you any of this at 20, nor could I have been the therapist I am now at that age. When I become 70, I will be a much different therapist than I am now. Thank goodness! I hope I will learn something in the next 20 years. The same will happen with the client. We grow and we evolve. What we could expect in 1980, we most certainly cannot expect in 2015. That is sad on so many levels. Yet, this is something that people from the 1890’s would have said in the 1920’s as we see with Violette (Maggie Smith’s character) on Downton Abbey. So this creates depression, frustration, realization, awareness, many mixed emotions that at first can be quite daunting.

Therapy will end when you feel it is time to end. You are in control of your life and making this decision is one that should be made clearly and consciously and of sound mind. It should be made because you are satisfied with the results, though if you are not and find you need a different therapist this of course makes sense too. My only caveat is not to leave because you are confused or frustrated about what your therapist has said. Tell them and if the answer you get doesn’t agree with you intuitively, than you should move on. This has come up for me in the room on a few occasions and I try to deal with it head on. It is important for the therapeutic process, for trust and for the client to determine whether they are going forward with me or someone else. I have so far, only had positive results in these circumstances, except on a very rare occasion. Even then, I knew that it was not meant to be as I was not the right person for the job. I don’t believe in accidents in life. Things happen for a reason.

Finally, it is never wrong to be in therapy. If you are curious, questioning, concerned, unsure, frustrated, grieving, upset, unhappy and what to make a difference in your life…than therapy is a great place to be.

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The Narcissistic Mother

Guest Writer: Tina Fuller, author of “Its My Turn.”

My name is Tina Fuller and I am healed from the damage of having a high-range narcissistic mother.  As you already know, having a narcissistic parent/s is an awful environment to grow up in.  Like many others in this situation I grew up with low self-esteem, never feeling good enough, and all alone in the world.  At around the age of 42, I discovered my mother was narcissistic. I knew something was wrong with my mother, but didn’t know what it could be. Luckily, I happened to stumble across the 9 characteristics of narcissism.  The article said, a person must display 3-5 of them to be considered narcissistic.  My mother displayed all 9!  
 
I decided to learn all that I could about narcissism. I wanted to be absolutely certain that my mother was in fact narcissistic.  I did research, read books, and watched documentaries.  I was on a mission to get the truth.  I suffered for 42 years and wanted to get rid of the pain and damage she had caused. I now had my own family and didn’t want any of her negative behavior affecting mine. Knowledge is power. If you think your parent is narcissistic, learn as much as you can about narcissism.  This will truly help you in the healing process.

After several years of my diligent effort to become whole, I felt obligated to share my knowledge and experience with others who were suffering and experiencing the same pain that I had been through.  I remembered how lost and lonely I felt, and in desperate need of answers. I had found several good books that clinically explained narcissism, but didn’t offer any real answers concerning what to do for myself.  I decided to help others by writing a book!  It’s My Turn explains narcissism, how narcissists think, and gives real life examples that people could relate to.  I also wanted to provide ideas and solutions that describe what to do for yourself.  I wanted to let others know that you can heal from this, and how to do it.  I developed a 4-step program called P.A.C.E. (protect, accept, change and empower) to help others to heal. 

In writing “It’s My Turn,” I learned that all my pain and suffering would now be used to help others. Something good was going to come of it!  My book is being used in support groups here the US and the UK.  Children of narcissists need to be validated and heard.  I want others to know that you can heal from this.  It takes work, but it is worth every minute to be free from the grip of a narcissistic parent.
 
It’s My Turn is available on Amazon worldwide. (kindle & paperback)  www.amazon.com/Its-My-Turn-Tina-Fuller/dp/1300653787
 
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: tinafuller@mac.com.
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Children’s Mental Health As Important as Physical Health

 

This is a very powerful message about mental health and children. While we are not in the UK, we have many places locally that serve young children and adolescents. The best place to look for someone in your area is to go on PsychologyToday.com At the top of the page click on Find A Therapist, then put in your zip code and then you narrow down your selection by clicking on the different variables provided. (Note: Psychologytoday is a nationwide website).

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