Being honest with yourself can be one of the hardest things you can do. The ability to see who you are and sit with it in peace is something I believe few of us acheive in our lifetimes. Most of us who do not sit on mountain tops, get glimpses now and then generally try to avoid the less than ideal stuff that comes up.
Recently, I was thinking about how difficult I find people. I really want to play well with others, but sometimes I am so completely overwhelmed by how toxic people can be. How much they are willing to hurt others for some perceived gain. It disheartens me. It is not as though we can walk away from every person like this. We have to work with them, live with them if they are family, associate with them if they are in an organization we volunteer.
I find myself often very depressed and anxious around these people. They suck the life out of everything and seriously decrease my creativity and joy. To make matters worse, they aren’t responsive to communicating about the problem and often try to blame it on you. It’s a real cespool of our worst human traits.
Personally, I have a hard time letting go of the feelings that arise from this because I feel trapped and uncomfortable. I don’t trust them and feel treated during our interactions. It plain sucks. To make a bad situation worse, it takes a hit on my self-esteem because I feel like a failure for not being able to handle the situation and create peace and harmony. I feel like the other person is saying, I don’t think you’re worth it to make things work. I feel resentful and angry then on top of helpless to advocate for change. A recipe for depression.
I’m curious to know if others have had similar experiences and at what they did.
For me, this one of the most challenging aspects of myself. I feel deeply, my skin is far thinner than people realize, and I have a hard time finding a way to positively interact with those who are unkind in this way. It eats me alive and I obsess over the “why!?!”
So I wondered if there are fellow empaths out there who have advice for me on not having it consume me.
I suppose because it is considered unfashionable to “need” anyone nowadays, I have even tried to divorce myself from my own needs inside in romantic relationships. Fact is I’d like to have someone to take care of me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one looking out for myself. I have tried to make due with unloving men telling myself I can give that to myself and I don’t need that. That’s bullshit! You need to have both if you’re in a relationship. I miss feeling the safety of another person I can count on besides myself.
Nowadays it seems like everyone considers the other disposable. It is as if people try to pretend they need less connection than they really do. We all try to act like we’re ok when we’re lonely as hell and desperate for connection. Fewer and fewer people want to risk their own vulnerability. They keep people at arms length with texting and chatting electronically, but won’t expect themselves to act with courage towards one another.
Once upon a time, before technology became our life line to others, people actually faced challenges and people head on. Yeah it was tough, but it built character. You learned, by doing, what you could handle and as time went on you actually grew as a person. We talked things out and took for granted we’d be together, so the only two options were to be miserable together or work it out together.
The problem now is that now people don’t make that assumption and so their relationship is always on the line. You CANNOT build a relationship with someone when you are always willing walk away during challenges. No one could relax in this situation. With the constant threat of it ending, both people are not all in or committed. It is like being in a relationship that doesn’t exist.
Maybe it is nostalgia clouding my memories, but I remember it being easier to be in a relationship and to work things out with people. Now I just find myself digusted most of the time with how people treat one another.
When things end differently than we expect, especially when we’ve invested a lot, it can be really hard to move past the outcome. The phrase most often heard to describe this is “needing closure”. In some situations I believe closure can be achieved, in others not so much. Hanging on to getting it in these situations can put your whole life on hold. And you deserve better than that, don’t you think? I think you do 🙂
I’ve recently extricated myself out of a really bad relationship that I’ve been hanging onto for about 1 year. It was one of those situations where you keep thinking it will get better because it is “not so hard to fix”. You believe that he will move beyond making promises and finally take action. You think the meanness will stop. I began to hold on to the few moments of happiness in between the pain thinking that the 10% could become 90% if we talked enough. You start asking yourself what you’re doing to cause it or if you’re imagining things because it seems so unreal. I’ve never done such mental gymnastics to be in a relationship in all my life.
He claimed he was here for me, but sabotaged every important moment in my life. He badmouthed me to his family to the point that they hated me and then invited me to drive 6 hrs. to spend Thanksgiving with them. He caused drama in an attempt to come between my best friend. Then, he’d buy me expensive”I’m sorry” gifts as if that should make it all better. He’d tell me how much he wanted to spend his life with me, but could never manage to get past his selfishness to actually include someone else. As he often reminded me – “I just don’t think about you when you’re not around”. Nice. So, yeah he was here for me, but not in any way that you’d want to have someone around.
I just couldn’t understand how someone could be so consistently hurtful. It is, after all, so easy to be nice and kind. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Particularly if you really want to spend your life with someone. I took so much crap from this man. I didn’t like who I was around him. He put on a good show in front of friends and family, but in private, I rarely smiled, cried a lot, didn’t want to be intimate with him in any way. I was completely unclear why I stayed or invited him back again and again. Somehow he would always find a way back and it would always be worse the next time.
Finally he had done something so horrible to me while I was heavily medicated and sleeping, that I was done with giving out chances. But my mind still wanted answers for how someone could behave in such horrific ways. Why, why, why?
So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you that have been helping me move forward even though I have not gotten any answers or asked him to make sense of it for me.
First Lesson:Who Cares? If a person cares about you they would never disrespect and humiliate you – EVER. If they do and you tell them and they don’t do better or feel remorse, this is a reflection of their shitty character. It is not a judgement of who you are. People who care take care of you especially when you’re weak.
Second Lesson: Invest Wisely Sometimes we invest so heavily in someone that we feel we are owed a return on investment. But in fact, it is a lot like the stock market, there is NO guarantee. Also, there are some “stocks”, like men, that are simply better performers. They have shown what they’re made of over time. If I had taken his “portfolio” to heart, I’d have walked away from a man who was a serial cheater during his entire marriage, who blamed his ex-wife for his unhappiness, and also bad-mouthed her to his family while never revealing his misdeeds at any time. After all he started to do the same things to me. Every time we’d have a fight he was out on the online dating websites trolling for new women to stroke his ego, he’d bad mouth me to his family, and told me that if he ever killed himself, it would be my fault because I make him so unhappy. Yeah. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses ladies and admit that you put your trust, time and energy in an undeserving man. Just walk away and learn something that will make you invest more wisely next time.
Third Lesson:Where’s the Apology…the Explanation? Waiting for the apology that never comes can be infuriating. It is kind of a waste how much faith and belief I put into a man who has shown no integrity in his thoughts or deeds. Even though he’s let you down more times than you have fingers and toes to count on, you hold out hope that he will care enough about you to suddenly realize how “worth it” you are and rush in like a knight to prevent losing you. I assure you that you ARE worth it. He just is lacking the integrity present in decent human beings. Think of yourself like a placeholder more than a significant person to him and it will make a lot more sense. Anyone who stands in that spot gets that treatment. Trust me, I wanted an explanation for his despicable behavior towards me. An account of how he could bring himself to commit a crime against me. An apology. I didn’t get any of that. Not for days after. Not now. Nothing except complete denial as he walked out and slammed the door at me crying in a heap on the floor. Used and discarded like trash. Good men just don’t do this. Period.
It takes time to get past all this sludge because we want our hurt, our experience to matter to the one who does the hurting. We want them to feel bad about making us feel bad. We want them to make good on their promises. It is normal and healthy for people to interact in a caring way about people they care about and most people are decent. For example, I hurt you. I apologize sincerely. I don’t do it again. You accept. We move on stronger and deeper. But some people really don’t give a shit about you or your needs or the fact that you are a person with feelings, let alone that you were in a relationship with them.
The thing is that the longer we hold on to our desire for “admission of wrongdoing” from the one who hurt us, the longer they are left in charge of our personal power. And nobody should have access to that wheel except you should they? No. They shouldn’t. So, let’s just take that back, shall we?
What we really want is to just feel better. We want all the yuckiness to clear out so that we can feel good again. It is more of an internal/emotional shift that we are looking for from another person.
Luckily that is a gift we can give ourselves, much like forgiveness. We have to do it all the time really when you think about it. We know that the rest of the world, our coworkers, strangers, etc are not responsible for our feelings, right? So, if we apply that to relationship “closure” we don’t really need the other person to help us move on do we? No. We don’t 🙂
I would say instead of trying to deny it or drink, drug, or shop your way out of it……
Do this instead:
Just acknowledge that something sucky happened. Don’t pretend you’re not hurt just so you look all “together”. That’s just gonna mess you up for interacting with other humans. It doesn’t mean your weak, it means you’re human.
Get real about the feelings you have – name them. Are you sad, hurt, humiliated, betrayed, violated*. You get to decide what’s important and significant to you. Nobody else can tell you what’s real for you or how bad it hurts. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Resist the need for outside approval. You don’t need others to validate your feelings. Learn to accept and acknowledge your own state of being and consider it valuable. This way you can trust what you want and need for yourself. Use your own voice!
Learn something as you process this life moment. It will help you make different decisions next time. Nobody’s perfect or has all the answers and that’s ok because we’re designed that way.
Finally, give yourself the gift of closure by honoring yourself, remembering you are awesome, and that sometimes other people really suck and that’s not got a darn thing to do with you.
-with love from aneternaltraveler 😉
*If you feel that a crime has been committed against you, I would add to the list that you consider contacting authorities and taking appropriate legal action.
While I love delving into a variety of psychology topics, I seem to have developed an acute interest in researching, understanding, and explaining Narcissistic behavior. Perhaps it is because I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic “N” father and was left with a lifetime of questions I’ve been working to answer. I also seem to meet a lot of narcissists and even date them (Freud. Is that you?). As time has gone on I’ve gotten far better at recognizing the red flags and have healed so I walk away a lot faster and minimize the damage done to myself.
Recently I was reading an FAQ on Sam Vankin’s website, who is a narcissist himself and writes extensively on what it is like from a 1st person perspective. For whatever reason, his description about the two different “geneotypes” of narcissism; somatic and cerebral struck a different cord for me.
It made me think about religion and its long standing relationship to misogyny and narcissism.
The second thing that it important to know is the definition of the two genotypes and that if you stick around long enough you’ll witnesss both. One is default or dominant, but both will show depending on circumstances:
Cerebral narcissists – basically trying to impress you with their brains, intellectual accomplishments, “the know-it-alls” define this dominant type.
Somatic narcissists – these are the ones that are into their bodies, sex as conquest, the philanderers. They treat women as objects to get off. If you ever felt like you were having sex with a man that felt like he was basically using your body to masturbate, you may have been with this dominant type.
In an excerpt regarding Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity, Sam Vankin, a dominantly cerebral narcissist writes, “The somatic narcissistuses sex to “conquer” and “secure” new sources of narcissistic supply. Consequently, the somatic rarely gets emotionally-involved with his “targets”. His is a mechanical act, devoid of intimacy and commitment. The cerebral narcissist feels that sex is demeaning and degrading. Acting on one’s sex drive is a primitive, basic, and common impulse. The cerebral narcissist convinces himself that he is above all that, endowed as he is with superior intelligence and superhuman self-control.”
This made me think about about religion. Let’s take a look at what St. Paul has to say in 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”
Then I remember that at the core narcissists hate women. Finally, I went back once more and thought about why religion remains a pervasive part of our society even though we supposedly have equality. How could parents bring their children to a mass that condones this kind of sexism? I thought about the horrors women still face and the very real danger they are often in.
There is a clear endorsement of female subservience in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord”; and similar advice for slaves in 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” One truly cannot discern a difference between being a woman or a slave.
Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them:
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)
Fundamentally at the core of religion is the degradation of women.The fact that both genders still participate is an act of consent to the precepts both written and preached.
As I consider narcissism and the misogyny that exists at its core, I cannot help but be convinced by the overwhelming evidence that the very founders of most world religions were themselves narcissists. I imagine two types of narcissist priests – the somatic who has urges he tries to repress (they are the ones we eventually hear stories about) and the cerebral narcissists who find sex disgusting anyway so it is not that hard to abstain. These are the ones making the sexist, degrading laws. All because they have a dysfunctional relationship to their bodies, women and sexuality.
The more traditional the country, the more easily it is bound by religion. The worse it is for women. But even here in the USA where we are in the land of the free and we supposedly have equality, day after day women continue to support religion as a front for their own degradation simply because they show up and self-identify! And puuuhlease, even though I hear this all the time, NO! You cannot pick and choose the parts of religion that you’ll support or not support either. Every time you show up and keep quiet, every time you donate your time or your money, you condone it all – part and parcel.
Do you know that there are 3 rules to keep a dysfunctional family intact: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. As long as you feel that you are being treated badly and don’t say anything, you are complicit. You are enabling the behavior to continue. And when it comes to religion, if you are woman supporting a religion in any way that categorically degrades women into a lesser position, then you are saying “it is ok” to treat me like less, my daughter like less. It is ok to expect less. It is ok to be dominated and silent. And as a man you are also agreeing to treat your wife, daughter, sister in this unequal manner and to teach them that this is what it is to be a man.
If we had any kind of real equality, religion either wouldn’t exist or it wouldn’t put the genders in a one-up, one-down position. But in the competitive society in which we live, we can’t even imagine a world where both people are equal. There has to be a dominant and submissive model in play. Do you realize that research shows that only 1 in 4 relationships have women in the one-up or dominant position? That mean 75% of our “romantic” relationships have men dominating women and women in the “one-down or devalued position”. And of course the culture punishes the men by calling them “wimps” and the women “bitches” in hopes that it will get them back in line.
Do you see that all of this perpetuates the idea that narcissism and misogyny is ok? Do you see that religion sticks around because our society keeps generationallyreinforcing that this model works even when it doesn’t. The social pressure to conform feels like too much. So we stay quiet in public and dissent in private.
Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. It masks reality. It gives way to learned helplessness, drama, and victimhood. Instead of empowering yourself, you become “the one who survived” each life event and think that measures your success.
Woman or Man – If you want to change how you’re being treated… If you want to leave the Narcissist in your life/dysfunctional relationship… If you want to live in a healthy society and have healthy relationships between and among genders….
I have done a couple of 30 day challenges and I really like them. I wondered if any of you have done a 30 day challenge that has changed your life and if you’d pass it on to me. Can I get your advice? I’d like to come up with some great ideas that can improve my life and the lives of others and make a blog about it.
I’ve done the green smoothie challenge and a gratitude challenge and they were fabulous. I walked across Spain in (almost) 30 days.
In a culture whose mantra has become, “what you believe, you conceive”, we could use a cold bucket of reality to wake us up every once in a while. While I tend to look on the bright side of things, I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist. Quite frankly, I think these definitions are too oversimplified to be helpful.
I think we can all agree that being a “Debby or Dan Downer” with things in life can be just as bad as expecting to shit out rainbows for breakfast everyday. Total realism, on the other hand, is like a dry piece toast; edible but not enjoyable. Extremes in any form are not healthy, no matter which way you slice it.
I like to think of myself as a Realistic Optimist which I define as, someone who goes into a situation filled with the hope of a good outcome, but who is realistic enough to know when enough evidence to the contrary says it is is time to walk away.
So, I find promoting the idea that “what we believe we can make true” without any caveats is both irresponsible and untrue. For example, no matter how much we may believe and conjure up all our will power, hope, and commitment towards changing someone, we cannot make an individual do something they don’t want to do. We cannot make them change. We cannot make someone care. We cannot force love. None of these things are possible through the power of thought.
You don’t need to put up with someone’s crap just because you want to show how positive you are. Or how kind you are. Or how loving. Here’s another newsflash, they are not going to change for you.They are an asshole despite you. You sticking around will only wear you out. It will not cause them to change.
I promise you that they will not wake up one day and say, WOW!! Because she’s/he’s stuck around all this time while I’ve busted up every boundary she/he has, taken all my shenanigans in stride, and given her/himself up for me, I’m TOTALLY READY TO SUDDENLY BECOME (WO)MAN OF HER/HIS DREAMS NOW.
It is fine to give someone chances, but have a time limit in mind. Showing yourself less love will not make someone change unless you want that someone to be YOU. You have not been put on this earth to martyr yourself. You don’t have to stay in a place that sucks. You can do better. It may not feel like it at first, but being alone is better than having your soul sucked out by someone else who means you and the relationship no good.
There are no two ways about it. Walking 800 km across an entire nation will change your perspective on things. I have returned from my Camino and I look forward to the manner in which this experience will continue to unfold throughout my life. Thus far, I have had a few important insights that I would like to share with you. As a fellow traveler, I hope you find them useful.
We are always alone (and that’s ok 🙂 ) No matter how much or how long we may walk side-by-side with someone, each step we take is our own. It is our journey. Solitary even when shared. We always have a choice in where to put our next step.
Friends are recognized not made Too often we demand of others what they do not have to give. We fit with whom we fit and not always forever and in every condition. Kindness is optional. When it is shown towards us, it is a gift. When it is consistent, this is friendship. There is nothing to force. There is nothing to create. It is given and received freely. You recognize a true friend by their actions in the moments that really count for you.
Set time aside daily for reflection Stay connected to your true-self, soul, core-being. Too often we find pieces of ourselves pulled away to go in one direction or another. We eventually notice that we’ve become fragile, empty, incomplete.
Unknown to ourselves, we’ve given up the “something more” we always were for “some things” that make us less.We doubt our worth, our intelligence, our usefulness, our purpose, our ability, our reason for existence.We have given up so many pieces of our soul that we’ve even lost our way to it. We must nurture the person whom we are everyday if we expect to sustain any kind of peace or contentment.Loving oneself is not “my way or the highway”. It is not selfish. It’s no different than any other type of love – it is kind.
Kindness to oneself brings about kindness to others around you. In this we are united. We are one. You are a part of me and I am a part of you. Unconditional love cannot exist with discontent towards oneself. If we love our selves with conditions, we will love others with conditions. We can only love others as well as we know how to love ourselves.This affects every part of your life. It is essential to your well-being. It is not optional if you expect a healthy life at peace inside and with the world around you. So MAKE the time to maintain the connection to your core self, to find your way back, to fall in love with your self again or maybe for the first time. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.
Finding Joy in Routine At some point no matter how exciting new people and places feel, eventually the initial thrill is gone. We often take them for granted and they slip into the routine of our lives. Then we seek a new high. It is madness. It is important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all that you are blessed with. It helps us to always remember how much beauty surrounds us.We can only attract joy with joy. Being ungrateful and failing to pay attention to the people and goodness in your life, only brings frustration, blindness sadness, anger, hatred, discontent. The expression “misery loves company” comes to mind. Ever notice that you never see joyful people at that party? Remember how fortunate you are with everything that is novel and routine in your life.
Write down what you want, Store it, Check it When you get clear on what you really want, write it down and put it in a safe place. As you invite people into your life or take stock of those who are already there, refer back to make sure they are people who will support what you really want out of life. Also, important is to remove those from your circle who keep you away from achieving your life purpose. These people, they hold on because they have nothing else to cling to inside of them. They need you to “feel good”. Eventually, they become very heavy to carry. You do not help them by letting them stay with you. In letting them go, you each are lighter and free to fly.
That’s all for now…
travel well. be well. live well. – with love from aneternaltraveler 😉
Today was another day of waking up to a roll call of my failures and shortcomings. All before I even opened my eyes.
Sometimes, I stay paralyzed in this state for a good 15 min. while I get the shit beaten out of me.
At some point, another dude shows up and says, “C’mon now, it’s not that bad. I love you & we’re gonna be ok.” I have to hear this repeated over and over in order to release the physical paralysis and get up.
Tired Before I Get the Day Started
Needless to say, this is an extremely exhausting way to begin my day. Often it will take me until afternoon to start feeling ok. It makes it hard for me to focus on the things I set out to accomplish. Often, I’m too exhausted to do much else after just managing these assaults all day long. This, of course, folds back on itself creating “proof” that the asshole in my head just might be right after all.
Of Two Minds
Research shows that the conscious mind averages about 40 bits of information/second – approximately 1-3 events at a time. The subconscious mind however takes on an average of 4 BILLION bits of information/second – so literally THOUSANDS of events at a time!!!
If these two were in a fight to get the message across the fastest, who would you put your money on to win?? If you said the subconscious, congratulations…you’re a little richer.
If you are one of the many people out there, like myself, who have jumped on the “law of attraction / affirmation” bandwagon in order to feel better about your life, you may have also noticed that it’s not quite cutting the mustard. Why not? Well, I’m glad you asked 🙂
First, we read all these books or watch the videos and we “think” Aha! I’ve got the secret. Soon, after much practice…we say something like…wait a minute, it’s not working.
That’s where the gurus typically tell us that we are not trying hard enough and we are affirming our negativity.
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more I hate than someone telling me I’m failing because I’m not “trying hard enough”, especially when I”m giving everything I’ve got.
I believe that’s both unfair and unhelpful. It gives you absolutely no insight whatsoever. To make some headway (pun intended hehehe), first you have to understand a little bit about the purpose of the conscious and the subconscious parts of the mind.
Conscious vs. Subconscious
Conscious – uses logic & reason, anything you CHOOSE to do, past & present, filter for your belief system (the judge/bouncer)
Subconscious – uses emotions, involuntary actions, always in the present, core of your belief system and memories
Let’s use an example. Based on my experience of being bitten by a big dog I trusted, my subconscious has stored a memory of the event and a belief that ALL big dogs are dangerous and I should stay away. When I see a big dog my conscious mind is alerted by the subconscious that there is danger and it logically chooses to avoid contact to keep me safe from perceived danger based on my belief system.
Now, let’s imagine you try to create a conscious affirmation that “ALL big dogs are safe”because you’re tired of being scared. Hmmm…it isn’t working. Well that’s because your conscious mind says these words and then dutifully checks in with the subconscious belief system and learns that the subconscious says…hell no. So basically, you can say all you want, but if the subconscious says bullshit, all bets are off. You are still afraid of big dogs.
The Powerless Feeling of Positive Thinking
In my own life, without realizing it, I’ve habitually and chronically adopted some beliefs deep down that prevent me from achieving what I say I want out of life. This is really demoralizing and depressing.
You start to get pissed at yourself because, you’ve tried to convince yourself to believe differently through affirmations and you’ve failed. You start to think well maybe I really am useless, messed up, broken, etc. So now you’re basically afraid AND feel like a failure. Cool. So much better. Thanks.
If this sounds familiar, first of all take a deep breath. You’re not the only one who has tried the power of positive thinking and felt at your wits end.
It is enormously helpful to understand that, you simply cannot consciously do what you subconsciously don’t believe without creating a moral dilemma.
That is the whole basis of the conflict, misery, and discontent you feel inside.
When these “two minds” are aligned we can be successful, when they are not we are in conflict with ourselves and others. PERIOD.
If you wonder why you say you want to do one thing, but seem to quit before you start, or half-way through, or lose it after you get it, this is why. It is almost impossible for us to achieve a goal if we hold subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with that goal. Your subconscious mind will find a way to sabotage you at some point in the process.
Any time the conscious is distracted or offline the subconscious takes over the reigns of control. So, that’s why I wake up to the jackhammering sound of my subconscious every morning for a while until my super slow conscious comes back online to get me up and going like a good project manager.
Your Head is Like an 8-Track Player with One Tape to Play
Most of us have heard about the “tapes” that play in our heads. This is another way to approach talking about the subconscious mind. Sometimes, it is really hard to tweeze out the messages that are constantly replaying in our minds because they play so quickly. If your’e lucky you have great positive messages playing, but for many of us, that’s not the case. Today, I wrote mine down immediately after my conscious mind got me up.
I’m going to share them with you because, I have a feeling you might think you’re the only one this is happening to and you’re cracking up. You’re not alone. I can’t promise that you’re not cracking up ;p
Here are the ramblings of my subconscious (my tapes) that I hear every morning and whenever I feel insecure and my conscious can’t keep it under control.
Why don’t you just kill yourself? You always take on more than you can handle. You know you are going to fail, so why do you even try? Sooner or later you’re going to be homeless and living on the street. Nobody loves you. Nobody cares about you. You are insignificant. Fucking loser. You can barely keep it together. Why do you even bother getting up day after day? You are not good enough. You are not smart enough. You’re a fraud. You suck with people. Nobody would ever want to be your friend. Everyone see that you are a problem. If they don’t see it yet, give it time.
Whew!! I read these aloud and began sobbing uncontrollably half-way through. Day after day of waking up to this barrage of abuse. Knowing it is lying just beneath the surface of my consciousness threatening to undo me with the right trigger, makes it damn hard to get much out of life.
What do your tapes play? See if you can write it down and then read it back to yourself. How did you feel?
Prolonged Exposure Therapy?
I recalled reading about a “prolonged exposure therapy” developed by U. Penn psychologist Edna Foa to help veterans with PTSD. It has been enormously successful, but it works contrary to the way most of us deal with trauma (by avoiding talking about it or discouraging survivors to dwell). Basically, this therapy encourages you to talk about it /tell your story over and over until it minimizes or eliminates the PTSD entirely. If we don’t talk about things, they don’t magically disappear. They fester.
Prolonged exposure therapy is now also being successfully used to help survivors of rape and sexual assault to deal with their PTSD. It has been shown to be more effective than conventional therapy. After exposure therapy, 83% of these girls no longer had the diagnosis of PTSD vs. 54% who received conventional supportive counselling. Even their depression and daily functioning improved significantly with exposure therapy.
It got me thinking about how the tapes we play in our heads operate in our lives in a very similar way as PTSD in that they both can take over your life and belief system to negative affect. Ultimately, in both situations a trauma has occurred that has affected your belief system AND is making life unmanageable.
Could a version of this “prolonged exposure therapy” help us to manage our crippling fears and beliefs that negatively impact our lives so that we may move past the trauma and towards creating the life we really want to live?
Experimenting with Conscious Exposure to Subconscious Tapes
Step 1: I decided to begin by recording myself saying all the messages I hear on my tapes in the same mean way I hear them everyday.
Step 2: Then, I played the recording over and over and over while I visualized someone outside of me saying these things to me/about me.
Step 3: Each time I listened, I rated my emotional reaction on a scale of 1 (least affected) – 10 (most distressed).
Step 4: When I need a break, I either go to a safe place in my mind or I get up and go to another room to create a sort of “environmental reset”.
My theory is that I “know” somewhere deep inside that the things on these tapes are bullshit….somewhere beneath the trauma and the entrenched belief system.
I hope that by courageously facing the fear of hearing those words and feeling the feelings that go with them head on, I can get to the point that I recognize it as false, reject it as untrue, and desensitize myself to the emotional terrorism I feel day after day so I can have my whole life back again with a much better belief system.
Many of us have experienced the feeling of hope curdling into disappointment. How about when you show up to a job with the eagerness of a kid in a candy store, bring your qualifications and experience and suddenly this awesome opportunity turns sour because your boss or coworker begins belittling, disrespecting and generally humiliating you?
To say the least, you’re torn in two. One part of you wants to say F-off! Another part is still trying to figure out how to hang on despite the turn of events because you want / need to do the job so badly. So what can you do?
Let me give you an example of something that I recently experienced and share what I decided to do.
While I was excited about the opportunity to work with a trainer who had a lot of experience in the business, after a couple of meetings, that excitement turned into a mixture of anxiety and disgust.
I watched him interact with other clients during a group class and I was disappointed by the disrespectful tone in which I heard him address people. Picture this, there I am cycling away like a little gerbil while watching him bully his “target” until they would give in and stop protesting. Needless to say my motivation dropped significantly after this. I started to question what this guy’s training philosophy was.
After the class, I asked him if he could give me an idea of what the plan was for working together as I understood he would provide the clients, take a cut and I’d train them. When I asked him during the first meeting I couldn’t really get a straight answer, so I tried again.
This is when he decided to trash my credentials, belittle my training experience, and tell me that nobody trains his clients until they’ve learned “his” way. As if this weren’t enough he went on to say that I need to think about whether I want to work with him since I seem like I think I know it all and want to start my own business.
I called him on his claims and he had nothing to back it up. I also reminded him that he already knew I had my own clients, so why is it a problem now when it wasn’t 2 days ago? Again, nothing.
We were supposed to meet in a few days after I checked out another gym where I’d be training some clients. As time went on, I couldn’t shake this sick feeling building up inside of me. I tried everything I could think of to make it ok somehow, but I couldn’t work it out in my head.
Basically, it came down to a few of decision making questions:
1. Q. Even if he were respectful on the next meeting, would I be ok working with him on a continuous basis? A. No. Because if a person can switch that much in personality from one meeting to the next, it’s a set up for a world of hurt.
2. Q. Are our training philosophies compatible? A. No. I believe in training people utilitizing positive reinforcement and encouragement. I’m tough but in a way that I show you that you can do more than you think. He on the other hand thinks that “breaking someone down” to get them to submit to his every whim is the way to get results.
3. Q. Is this the only opportunity I will have to work with a well experienced trainer in my career? A. Not if I don’t want it to be.
I think that number 3 is what trips a lot of people up. This was actually my hardest one. It is this feeling of foreboding that if you don’t make this work, then there will be no other chance. It’s fatalistic thinking. As if you should take the abuse and somehow you’ll be better off in the end if you just “hang in there”.
This is about the time, you have to reach deep down and dig up your last shred of self-respect and walk the hell away ASAP.
It took me three days of contemplating, before I let him know, that this is not going to be a good fit and I need to cancel our next appointment.
Am I disappointed? Yes. Do I feel better having held on to my values? No doubt. Do I know what’s next? Absolutely not!
I want to be the best trainer I can be, but I am not willing to compromise my integrity or values because then I’m really not my best after all.
I believe that when you draw a line in the sand and stand up for who you are, eventually, you are surrounded mostly by like minded people who help you get where you want to go and feel good along the way.
Thought it was a good time to post some more results from my 30 day green smoothie challenge since I am now at the half-way point.
I am ecstatic with what has taken place in just a couple of weeks. I’m now on Day 16 of 30 and I’ve lost an inch around my waist and an inch around my hips!
I thought I’d share some pics to show you my results thus far 🙂 You’ll notice those not so lovable “love handles” are starting to disappear!
It amazes me how much of a difference it makes in such a short time to replace just one meal (breakfast for me) with a green smoothie.
In addition, because I don’t crave the things I used to, I’ve been eating healthier overall so I’m making different food choices in general.
If you’re curious about what I’ve been using in my smoothies and some of the other foods I now include in my diet as a part of this lifestyle change, well here ya go:
Morning Smoothie: Choice of green (Kale, swiss chard, spinach) AND Fruits: 1 each of these three fruits: bananas, mangoes, oranges
Note: Sometimes I also add 1/2 scoop of casein protein powder and 1/2 scoop of whey protein powder to get protein right away in the morning and to keep the hunger at bay.
Other foods recently added to my diet:
low-fat cottage cheese
100% whole wheat bread
natural peanut butter
tuna (canned in water)
80 calorie 2x protein greek yogurt
lean chicken or turkey
low fat soy milk
eggs (hard-boiled usually cause it’s faster 🙂
….and when I’m lazy Michaelina’s 300-400 calorie frozen dinners, which I’ve found are better to have on hand because they keep you from calling for delivery or heading to the drive through for lunch! Saves money and calories 🙂
I also drink at least 1/2 gallon of water per day to keep flushing out my system and keep it hydrated.
Though I hate to admit I haven’t been to the gym much in the past two weeks, these results are without exercise! Imagine what could be lost if that were added. I’m going to shoot to add exercise in during the next 2 weeks and see what happens.
So, overall 2 weeks into the 30 day green smoothie challenge, I’ve lost inches, gotten better hair skin and nails, have more energy, stopped craving crappy food / ordering delivery, and started to add a whole lot of other healthy foods to my diet. I find that I eat less than I used to, I’m way more satisfied, and I’m actually craving healthy food.
If you’ve never done this challenge before and you’re looking to make some lifestyle changes, I hope that this convinces you to give it a try.
If you have any questions about making smoothies a part of your day or if you just want to give me some kudos for changing my lifestyle :), please feel free to leave comments below.
The other night I was having a conversation with my “guardian angel” on the phone and explaining to her how I am at my wits end with my life and in desperate need of a change towards the good. I feel so tired of coming up empty handed.
I explained that I’m ready to sell my house, pay off my debt and get the hell out of dodge so I can heal whatever is going on and move forward. I feel like I’m treading water and failing miserably.
She said, honey let’s look at this – ok you’re not satisfied with your current work situation. You don’t like the debt hanging over your head. You’ve been through 2 divorces which have completely shaken your confidence to the core. At the same time, I’ve watched you take on challenge after challenge on your own and untangle yourself from a lot of things over these past couple of years. And you keep coming out ahead. Heck, you’ve not even passed your Certified Personal Trainer test yet and you’ve already got someone signed up to work 6 months with you starting in 2014.
So, let’s put this all together. You want to get out of debt. You want the freedom that comes with owning your own business, you want to get your confidence back, and you want to transform lives.
If you can help this girl lose 40 lbs in 6 months for her wedding, you will not only transform her life, you’ll transform your own.
You’ll build the confidence you need and you’ll make money to get out of debt doing work you love.
Isn’t that an alternative to having a fire sale?
If I still decide that I want to sell my house to have the capital to take on a new venture to transform lives wouldn’t it feel better then?
I’m sure it would.
I can’t underscore enough the importance of having at least one person in your life that you can trust. Someone who you can be really honest with and can offer you different perspectives to your own problems. I’m not saying you have to take their advice, but it is good to consider solutions from different perspectives before making your own decision.