Mindful Parenting – Eliminate the electronics

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings. Goethe

I went to Hoover Dam today (in Columbus, OH) and was absolutely amazed to see every single person on the bridge with a cell phone in their hand and their heads down. It was a beautiful day of mid-high 80’s and a crisp breeze was reaching out to us from the exploding water down below. In the horizon to the right were deciduous trees commanding attention for over 200 years or more. To the left the river flowing by with a few scant boaters in the midst. Many unoccupied boats sat docked rather than utilized.   As I walked by these people, no one said hello or even noticed that I existed. A man and his son, heads bent down walking, oblivious to the fact that other humans existed. They are discussing something of importance, probably a game they are playing via a smart phone. A bunch of teens were crowded around the building that houses the engineers and they were all gabbing about, looking down at their smart phones – rather than facing each other like men. A bunch of adults who were clearly together sit under the observation deck on the opposite side of the bridge, every single one of them heads down poking very quickly on their mini keyboards. A woman rode by on a beachcomber, right hand clutched to her ear gossiping about life, left hand on the handlebar. Others walk by had head phones on and were staring straight ahead like a zombie.

Dam in Fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel so bad for these children who’s parents deprive them of nature’s beauty. Who have no ability to set boundaries for themselves, let alone are teaching their children to have no boundaries and to just ignore the world. Parenting like this is neglecting human connection and is creating isolation. No holding hands, no rides on dads shoulders, no talking about the boats and dam and what it is there for. It is not just here that I have noticed this and I am sure you have too. In restaurants families have their heads bent down over IPads. In cars, parents are on their phones rather than focusing on the road, with kids in the back watching videos. Parents are not attaching to their children, they are teaching them to detach from life. The violence level in this world is to such extremes as we have never seen before, in modern times and the stories we hear about the perpetrators are people who have been neglected in life on some level.

What is our future to be like if we are all walking around with our heads down ignoring life around us?

The Emperor’s New Clothes

In our current hedonistic society so many people are walking around dressed or acting without a sense of moral obligation, rules, etiquette and so it reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson written in 1837. emporerThe people who choose to continue dressing professionally or behaving with a sense of concern or awareness of others have also chosen to be the ones who walk by the Emperor and say nothing. Sure, we roll our eyes, we talk behind their backs, we stare, we shake our head but we don’t really do anything. So it continues.

At one point in our lives fashion was something of legendary artists. We had

linton tweedth36XHAAS9thKZWNVCK6th0AGX6UQQ

 

 

 

 

 

Now we have this:

thCF1COU93thZTABX0J6thSFNFI2APthDQIRQYOG

 

 

 

 

We are an oversexualized culture, and when you dress in this way, it makes a statement about your lack of self-respect. The way you dress is the way you act. If you don’t care how you look, you don’t care about your self or others in society. But what about our actions? Boys are raping drunk girls, who are passed out at parties. Would they have sex with dead girls too if their panties were down? Girls are out at night, at college campuses, dressed with skirts up to their bums and no panties on. They have heels so high, well, what would you be thinking I was talking about if I had not mentioned college campuses? This is what I think too. An era where women are supposed to be at the height of feminism and instead of embracing their rights they are taking advantage of this moment. They are saying “I can dress however I want.” Those of us who are older understand that you can’t. This is why we have rules in society. Ways of behaving.

We have boys and girls driving down the street in all neighborhoods, blaring their stereos from their cars so that you can hear them for 1/2 mile. This takes away the peacefulness of an area, it is threatening music, it is anti-social behavior because in many states it is against the law. It says to people that you don’t care about other people’s feelings and you only consider yourself.

We also have:

person on phonteens textingphone with parents

 

 

How can we expect to live in a society where no one is paying attention to the other? Where everyone is doing whatever they feel like? Parents aren’t raising their children, husbands are avoiding their wives – or vice versa, no one is listening. Why should we have to be told in a movie theater to turn off our phones? Why should a corporation have to tell its employees they need to turn off all devices during meetings? Why have we had to create babysitter laws to teach adults (and teens) how to behave or drive in public?

Hormones injected in foods and/or overly medicated people have caused an onslaught of obesity that has devastated our population. Perhaps though, they are just stuffing their faces so full to self-soothe in our hedonistic society. Restaurants have been serving sizes three times the amount we would normally eat at home. We can have whatever we want, do whatever we want, screw whomever we want. It’s “my” life, I can do what I want.

Meanwhile, some people are so far out of control they pick up a gun and shoot. Hedonistic, Narcissistic, Psychopathic thinking people – Hell, we used to be afraid of “gangsta” wannabe’s and now we are afraid of terrorist wannabe’s. When was the last time you even heard of a gang related shooting? Well, you probably have only heard this if you live in Oakland, LA, Boston, D.C., Detroit, or one of those other great big cities that are a hub for prostitution, drugs, gangs, guns and the like. Little towns, big towns, who knows where the next terrorist act is going to occur? This is America, we can do whatever we want, think as we wish, dress how we feel and who gives a Shit about anyone’s feelings. Right?

We all know this is happening right now. So why are we sitting back and watching The Emperor walking by naked and applauding him for his beautiful way of being? It is not politically correct to speak out without being called names. We hide behind social media and when someone does dare to say anything, they are blocked, unliked, blasted around the Internet with scathing opinions against them and lots of comments saying “Yes, down with the idiot who dared to say this is wrong.” What grade are we in?

Did you know that many young girls are CHOOSING to not use birth control right now? That the new way of creating domestic abuse is for a young boy to move in with a girl who is working so he doesn’t have to? Not only is there emotional abuse going on but also financial abuse. Then, when she is not using birth control, well, we all no what this scenario is creating.

WTF, our ancestors would be saying in our new slang social media language, if they could rise from their graves and look around them. WTF has happened to my grandchildren and my great grandchildren? This is not what I taught my children to pass down to theirs. This is not what I came to this country for, or what I worked my whole life to provide for them for. It is not why I built this house, started this farm/business, it is not the values I hoped they would pass down.

And yet, here we are. Most kids could care less about their elders, they are just a bunch of old fools anyway. Their parents didn’t teach them to respect these wise ones as they were too busy keeping them up with the Jones kids. If both parents were even involved.

Our society has gone to hell in a handbasket as the old saying goes. It is going nowhere fast. We are multiplying like a bunch of irresponsible rabbits. We need a miracle to get back on track. Who knows what that is going to look like, what it is going to take, how we will ever get back to where we once were. And immediately, someone will read the last line and say “It was never better before.” But it was. Perhaps we did make some mistakes but as I always try to mention to people, your parents may have beat the crap out of you but if you take away the abuse and think only of the values that were meant to be taught – this is the part you should have remembered if you were going to learn anything. Since time began we made mistakes in society but this doesn’t mean we stop teaching the values, stop having etiquette, stop having rules about decent living and respect for others. It means we look at how we could teach these things without beating our children. It means that we set laws which we enforce, not ignore. It means we take stock in our lives and think about our actions.

It means that no matter who you are, no matter your race, religion, social and economic status, you must take responsibility for your actions. You must take responsibility for the way you behave in society and how it effects other people around you. No excuses, no political stands to grab for a way out. You simply say, “I am responsible for…” the way my actions have effected others, or how I behaved, or what I said, or how my actions will impact the society that I live in. You simply take responsibility for your life and stop acting as if the world owes you something. You simply behave, dress, walk, talk, with self-respect. You take pride in who you are.

We should be an intelligent society right now making great strides in creating a universe we can be proud of. Instead we are an ignorant society that is ruining the world, taking advantage of others, making up our own rules as we see fit and dressing like a naked emperor because we can.

 

The Child of the Narcissist – Part Two

In 2011, I wrote the article The Child of the Narcissist and since this time, I have grown quite a bit as a psychotherapist and as a person surviving this type of parent. The reasons for this is that I worked on taking my power back from this person, in order to be able to help other people do the same thing. I also did this because I felt as if I were out of integrity as a therapist not being able to do so.  I still felt like a child around this person and, as a therapist, I needed to grow up personally to be a better professional.

I won’t be able to do a step by step plan in this circumstance because it really depends on who this person is to you. You know them. You know what it might take intuitively, so standing up to this person will vary. It is important though, for your own healing process, to not only understand what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is but to understand how to heal from this. How to move forward in your life without continuing to be a victim. So I am updating the original article here from a more mature, healthier perspective. You can read all types of pop psychology books that will make you more “in the know.” Reading these books will only give you tools to make you believe you can now diagnose this person and prepare you with a suit of armor. This is not healthy – to only read about them. It is important to read about how to heal from this parent and for you to become a healthier person.

One thing I want you to understand before you continue reading is that you are not changing the Narcissist here. You are changing yourself.

Firstly, focus on taking your power back from the Narcissist.

1) You have to stand up to them in whatever way makes sense with this person. Maybe you confront them head on (sometimes this can be dangerous though, especially if you are unprepared for the outcome. I know people who have been assaulted by the person as a result.) In my case it was spontaneous, without warning, somewhere deep inside of me I just snapped (unlike the TV show no one was killed or harmed in anyway). It helped in my case because the placater in the family stood up for me and the hero just remained aloof. Everyone else just stayed quiet. After this person (the Narcissist) threw a temper tantrum and saw they would receive no attention from anyone, it just ended right then and there.

I have also known people who stood up to their parent and the family abandoned them. This is something you have to be prepared for and reconcile this within yourself.

2) You have to set boundaries with this person and continue to set boundaries, and continue to set boundaries and continue to set boundaries.

3) Be prepared not to take the bait – there are going to be times when you are with this person. I have found that, in my circumstance, a long time passes without criticism and then out of nowhere I am hit with some strange comment, an insult, or some type of questioning that I know is going to lead to trauma in the family. I know if I am not careful answering this question, to deflect the intended result on their end, people will be hurt.

Example: Lets say you mention something to the Narcissist. You are with other family members, whom you said something about. The Narcissist says something out loud “outing” what you said. You are suddenly caught between a rock and a hard place.

In this type of situation you could get caught up in defending yourself, or you could just be honest. Yes I said that. Then you talk to the other family privately on your own, without the Narcissist in the room.

4) Work on detaching yourself from this parent or family member – You have to be in a place where you no longer need them or their nurturing. This means you get your mother/father from a surrogate. Find an elder or older friend that you look up to. It is also important to heal from these wounds by focusing your attention on yourself and building your ego.

This last part is the most important aspect of healing from the Narcissistic parent. You don’t think of this parent as being dead. You just don’t worry about what they say or do because you are not invested in gaining something from them. You know longer need them for validation, love, support. You have separated and individuated (become an individual separate from your parent) and are behaving like an adult now. This is very important because what I have learned is that until you are able to do #4, you will continue to behave like a teenager around this parent, no matter if you are 30 or 60. Until you individuate, (let go and mature) you will find that when you are around them you continue to act like a child.

Now that I have individuated from my parent fully, I find I am actually able to listen to them differently. Sometimes I actually learn something from what they say. Sure, there are moments, such as #3 above but I recover from this more quickly because I realize they have no power over me.

In 1980, I ran away from this mess and during this time lost an ability to grow with nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters. I missed out on so much simply because I could not bare being around this parent anymore. The emotional abuse was so overwhelming to me. I had a “parent” in California, where I was living for 30 years. This woman guided me, protected me, taught me, nurtured me and I was able to grow as a person. However, I returned to Ohio in 2010 because I realized, as a therapist, it was time to heal from the Narcissistic parent. I did not really understand this until I became a psychotherapist. I knew it would help me in my practice and help me to teach others as well. I was guided to this process intuitively.

*To understand separation and individuation a little more, here is Murray Bowen’s philosophy which I kept trying to read and understand in my graduate program, until I finally got it one day. It also helped that I worked with a clinical supervisor during my internship who focused on Bowen’s theory of family systems. (a selection from Wikipedia)

Differentiation of self

Differentiation of self is one’s ability to separate one’s own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of the family. Bowen spoke of people functioning on a single continuum or scale. Individuals with “low differentiation” are more likely to become fused with predominant family emotions. (A related concept is that of an undifferentiated ego mass, which is a family unit whose members possess low differentiation and therefore are emotionally fused.) Those with “low differentiation” depend on others’ approval and acceptance. They either conform themselves to others in order to please them, or they attempt to force others to conform to themselves. They are thus more vulnerable to stress, defined as stressor(s) and psycho-physiological “stress reactivity,” and theirs is a greater than average challenge to adjust/adapt to life changes and contrary beliefs.[7]

To have a well-differentiated “self” is an ideal that no one realizes perfectly because, like with Abraham Maslow’s concept of “self-actualization“, it is a concept without literal physical or material example. Even if total self-differentiation is achieved in a given moment or context, it is, like feeling states or thoughts, temporary and ephemeral. Those with generally higher levels of “self differentiation” recognize that they need others, but they depend less on others’ acceptance and approval. They do not merely adopt the attitude of those around them but acquire and maintain their principles thoughtfully. These principles, morals, and ethics help them to decide important family and social issues, and to consciously or unconsciously resist lapsing into emotional reactivity and feelings-based—-usually impulsive—-thoughts and actions. Thus, despite conflict, criticism, and even rejection, those with greater capacity to “self differentiate” can stay calm and rationally “clear-headed” enough to distinguish thinking rooted in a careful assessment of the facts from thinking clouded by emotion. What they decide and say matches what they do. When they act in the best interests of the group, they choose thoughtfully, not because they are caving in to relationship pressures. They’re more objective observers, more capable of calmness under relationship and task pressures. Confident in their own thinking, they can either support another’s viewpoints without becoming wishy-washy; or, they can reject another’s opinions without becoming hostile with them, or passively disconnected from them. This is especially relevant to the family of origin, and as we grow and develop maturity, also with extended family members, friends, or associates.[8]

 

 

It’s Not About the Nail

A client recently suggested I might like this video and I was very grateful once I saw this. This is a terrific example of couples in communication with each other. The guy wants to fix things (in real life it is not this obvious). And the woman just wants him to listen to her, to be empathic, to “not side with the enemy,” (to quote Dr. John Gottman’s work). She is getting more and more frustrated in the video and he is continuing to try and point out the obvious – just fix it.

What I also found very interesting is that in real life, the example of real pain (with women it is usually emotional not physical) is often seen with men who do not want to go to the doctors. I could see this example much easier in reverse with a man who refuses to go to the doctor yet is in a lot of pain. A woman would go to the doctor because she would want to please her partner. A man wants to fix things but only if they are someone else’s problem, as it is too difficult for them to go into therapy and talk about their innermost feelings or go to the doctor and get a shot or (maybe) learn that they are going to die or learn that they will be weakened in some way so that they are unable to be the man they want to be for their partner, family, self.

A great video because it opens discussion and creates dialogue between couples.

Which Goddess Archetype Are You?

This past weekend, I attended a workshop in Dayton, Ohio given by Kathy Cleveland Bull, entitled “Seasons of a Woman’s Life: Feminine Archetypes to Guide the Journey.” I am including some of the things I learned in the workshop below. Mainly, what each Goddess Archetype stands for and who might be some modern or known versions of these women? Which one do you feel most represents you?

ArtemisArtemis – Goddess of the Hunt. This is the first one I will start with as this is the one which I feel best represents who I am now. She is an independent woman who stands on her own. She needs no man (hence the title of my new book “You Don’t Need a Prince to Lead a Charming Life.”) While a few of these women have been married, they made a name for themselves on their own without them. Eleanor came into herself as an Artemis type heroine.

Other Artemis women might be: Catherine the Great, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Bachelet, Emma Watson, Charlize Theron, Jodie Foster.

AhtenaAthena – She is the Goddess of War. This person is found in politics and the military of course.

Modern day Athenas: Margaret Thatcher, Condolezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright. All women in the military.

 

 

AphroditeAphrodite – Goddess of Love and Romance. This is who you might turn to when you are looking for love in all the wrong places and need some help. Or looking for love in general.

Modern Day Aphrodites might be: A Yenta (in the Jewish culture), Matchmaking services, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edna St. Vincent Milay.

DemeterDemeter – The Mother Goddess. The good mothers that you can think of, including women who were a mother to you, who were concerned about your upbringing. This is a mother who takes her job seriously and treasures being a mother. A woman who guides her children with love and values.

Modern day Demeters: Sister Teresa, Princess Diana, Mata Amritanandamayi (aka Amma), Jacqueline Kennedy.

 

Persephone

 

Persephone – Young Goddess or the Daughter of Demeter. This is the young woman who is perpetually a girl, a victim, struggling to understand life and figure out the world at large. Persephone eventually survives her ordeal and grows up to become a queen.

Modern Day Princesses: Malia and Sasha Obama, Lea Michelle, Taylor Swift, but also survivors of abuse, all young women in general who will grow up to become these other Goddesses or will stay Persephone (i.e., Anna Nicole Smith).

 

HecateHecate – Goddess of the Crone. The wise woman, sage, the one who helps us in transformation.

Modern Day sages: High Priestesses, Shirley MacClaine, Lynne V. Andrews, Female Shamans, the female elders of churches, temples, etc…

 

 

 

Hera 2Hera – Goddess Wife. She is the Good Wife. The one who enjoys being married. The one who yearns to be married.

Modern day Heras – Michelle Obama, Nancy Reagan, the Duchess of Cambridge, Melinda Gates.

 

 

 

HestiaHestia – Goddess of the Hearth and Home. She is also the Virgin Goddess. Hestia would be more apt to be the cook or the housekeeper, such as Mrs. Pattmore on Downton Abbey (I don’t believe the character was ever married though, perhaps because she was old she had Mrs. as a title). Also, Hestia was never worshipped publicly, which makes me think of someone who is the person way behind the big person.

Modern Day Hestias – personal assistants, cooks, housecleaners, for example.

Which one do you identify with? Who can you think of to add to the list of these different examples? What about the women you grew up with. Which Goddess Archetype do they fit with? It is interesting to focus on who you are as a woman and who you would like to be as a woman. As I began to listen to the descriptions of these archetypes, I realized that I had been Persephone my whole life, even though I identified with Artemis. However, Artemis was the Goddess that I looked up to and tried to understand but kept holding myself back from bringing into being. Then one day, during menopause, writing this book I mentioned above I transcended into the Artemis archetype as I finally began to understand and allow myself to become the Queen. I joked with the speaker, Kathy Cleveland Bull that this book was my thesis which transformed me into Artemis which I had been all my life but due to society and life circumstance and my own stubbornness, kept at bay.

It is important to identify with your own Goddess Archetype as we look at ourselves in this modern day world. Whichever Goddess you feel most comfortable with, learn more about her. Buy a painting or statue, or make one of your own and create an altar for her in your house, on your computer, on your wall and focus your intentions on this image which is a metaphorical likeness of you. It will help to strengthen you as a person.