Blame is a powerful tool many of us like to use as a way of hiding our own inadequacies and shortcomings. When we blame another person, it takes the focus off of us and places it on the other person for a while. When we blame others, we are also closing the door to self-reflection and growth.
We are taught at a young age by our parents and other role models to blame others. We learn to blame through being blamed, controlled, and manipulated. We may be told that it is our fault or told we are wrong when we are not. We may hear controlling and manipulative statements like these: “If you would just listen to me, you would not have to do this,” or “Do what I say so I don’t have to punish you,” or “You made me do it.”
While we all have experienced blame and/or blamed others at some time in our lives as a way of protecting ourselves, the use of blame today helps us remain emotionally stuck and keeps us from moving forward with our lives. Many of us have a long history of blame, which has served us well as a shield and as a way to hide the truth. Blame is pervasive in our society today to the point we hear it happening every day on Capitol Hill. The president is blaming Congress, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats along with the President. With all this blame, no one is taking ownership of the problem and it seems that no clear, healthy solution is on the horizon.
When people take ownership rather than blame, the truth is able to come out, there is no need to blame, and ultimately everyone has the potential to win. When we take ownership of our true feelings and actions, there is no need to lie, so our relationships shift and become healthier and our environment becomes a safer place. In business, when a company is willing to explore solutions rather than find someone or something to blame, the synergy created helps build teamwork and creates an environment for positive growth.
When it comes to emotional recovery in a relationship, one of the greatest obstacles is blame. Typically each person is wanting to be heard on how the other person is the reason for all the problems in the relationship. While we want the other person to change so the relationship can be better, we can only create that change in ourselves. What this means is that if we truly want change in a relationship, we must stop blaming and explore what we contribute that allows the negative aspects of the relationship to continue. When we look at the way we respond in the relationship, we can create changes in ourselves that change how others respond to us.

Blogs, Uncategorized

Dealing with Perfectionism

Every time I attempt to write an article, I question myself. Have I used the right words? Will this make sense to others? Am I using proper grammar? Will the article be interesting to others? Have I written it in a fashion that others will understand?

With all these questions running through my head, I realize I want to write the perfect article. These questions prevent me from writing more or addressing topics I believe could be interesting, because they limit my creativity.

When we strive for perfection we are guaranteed to fail, because we can always see flaws in whatever we do. Perfection is not a natural trait, but is something we are taught.

Many people see perfection as a good thing because it can produce positive results, yet there is a down side to perfection as well. Perfection creates much unneeded stress in our lives due to the higher demands and expectations we place upon ourselves. This stress affects everything, including the people we love, because the stress comes out sideways as sarcasm, criticism, and anger.

We are taught to strive for perfection as children when we are criticized for not behaving, looking good, trying hard enough, or feeling our feelings when we are not supposed to. We also learn it when we are told we are wrong or even bad for what we are doing or thinking. When we receive these messages often enough as a child, we take them to heart and start to tell them to ourselves, reinforcing the message that we are inadequate and need to try harder. These messages we learned as children and tell ourselves are actually reflections of other people’s direct or indirect inadequacies that they saw in us.

Since these messages that drive the need for perfection are so engrained, they create a pattern that is difficult to break. When a person is ready to break the pattern of perfectionism, it takes a conscious effort to do something different. Many people that are perfectionistic do not see a need to change because these tendencies can prove beneficial in certain situations. Yet perfectionistic tendencies are destructive in relationships with ourselves and others, which is the typical reason for working on our perfection.

Many people are concerned that when they work on their perfection, they will lower their standards and this will not work well for them in their professional lives. When we work on our perfection, we can still maintain a high level of performance, without the unnecessary and destructive stress. This is where we evaluate when good enough is good enough and not try to push it even further.
In my case, I have found it helpful to let the words free-flow in the document and get help from my gifted writing friend, Kathleen, who polishes the writing. Then I can let go of my internal criticism, relax more when I write, and free myself to focus on what I have to say instead of questioning how I say it.


Understanding Experiential Therapy

Counseling has many theories and techniques available. The insurance industry, for example, has embraced behavioral counseling. Behavioral counseling embraces techniques to modify behaviors, and much research is available that demonstrates behavioral changes.

Experiential therapy is another approach that can be used to help modify behaviors. Additionally, experiential therapy has the ability to help a person explore and work through core issues when and if they are ready. While most counseling theories connect with the conscious or cerebral part of the brain, experiential therapy works to address both the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain. This is what sets experiential therapy apart and what allows the person to access core issues.

Experiential therapy also goes beyond talk therapy in that one of its goals is helping a person connect with what the body is saying or hiding. Many times a person is unaware of what their body is saying, yet the information the body shares has truth that wants to come out. Experiential therapy allows a person to reenact the emotional experience, then to embrace it and let it go. This is an important part of the process necessary to create long-term changes that many people desire.

Many techniques currently exist that are experiential in nature. Experiential therapy allows people to feel and connect with the hidden emotional truths that create chaos in their lives. Experiential therapy techniques include but are not limited to play therapy, art therapy, journaling, meditation, story telling, sand tray therapy, psychodrama, sculpting, and intuitive experiential therapy.

Many people share that they have attempted to figure out their problems for years with no success. Since they are intelligent, it makes sense that if they could figure it out, they would have already done so. Attempting to figure out the issues is tapping into the conscious part of the brain. To create the positive change they seek requires them to connect with their feelings as well, which is part of the subconscious brain.

Experiential therapy allows people to access both parts of the brain and  connect with the deeper issues that keep them from creating change. This is the reason it is such a beneficial and effective tool for change.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom, Featured

Transference / Countertransference

Conversations can be frustrating and disappointing many times when all we want is to be heard and validated, yet we receive advice, judgment, control and criticism.

In the counseling profession there is a term called transference, in which one person subconsciously transfers what he or she is feeling to another person. For example, if I am feeling angry and am not consciously aware of my anger, I may assume you are angry. Countertransference is the same type of emotional transferring of feelings, this time from the second person back onto the person that did the transference.

I find that the potential of transference/countertransference exists, not just in therapy sessions, but in all conversations. I recently had a transference/countertransference experience that was a good reminder for me to be ever aware of the potential.

I wanted and needed to do something that required working with another professional. In order to do so, I needed to get approval from another colleague. What seemed to be a simple request turned out to be a big headache.

The colleague initially denied my request and presented a number of reasons that were inconsistent and incongruent. I began to feel controlled and manipulated. As I continued to negotiate, it became clear that their responses were not about me.

With the help of some feedback from others, I realized the inconsistency and incongruence of the responses indicated that some form of transference was occurring. I found it helpful to realize how easy and subtle it is for transference to occur. It prevented some of the people involved from hearing what I was actually requesting. Others, who did hear me, were able to help me explore deeper into my underlying motivation for this request.

This was a good reminder to be more aware of the possibility of transference. One way to reduce that possibility is to mirror back what I hear with the words and body language of the other person, with no interpretations of my own.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom

Positive Energy and Emotional Truth

We hear in many ways the need to be positive and yet it seems to lack meaning and purpose when we repeat positive messages over and over again with no positive results. If being positive is so important why is it so difficult to to be positive and how do I create positive energy in my life.

When we live in negative energy, we do not matter and are taught to hide our true self. Our true self is always positive, loving and caring, yet why do we not connect with our selves this way? When we are taught to hide our feelings we are taught we do not matter and we learn to hide our true selves. In hiding our true selves, we focus on more negative energy as a way to cope in our environment. This negative energy keeps us stuck and trapped.

For many of us, attempting to focus on the positive is difficult because it is unfamiliar. It is also scary to do something that is emotionally unfamiliar. When we are able to face the fear of the unfamiliar and feel the natural positive energy that is within us, the negative energy starts to decrease and a natural power starts to well up within that helps us realize we do matter in ways we were unaware of.

Focusing on our emotional truth (true straight feelings) is the first step in connecting with our positive energy.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom

Codependency = Impossible to Live Honestly

Codependency, which grows out of hiding our feelings, makes it impossible to live honestly. An essential part of recovery is learning to be honest with ourselves about our own negative messages, our own painful memories, and our own feelings by taking ownership of our emotional truth.

While this honesty may initially be painful, it’s important to recognize that it is not what people sometimes call being “brutally honest.” That kind of “honesty” happens when someone is being both cruel and emotionally dishonest. When true feelings are being honored, there is no brutality or disrespect to anyone.

When we can be true to ourselves and take ownership of our lives rather than blame other people or things, we have no need to lie to others. The truth is always respectful of ourselves, others, our feelings, and things around us. It allows us to be more creative, see more options in our lives, accomplish more, and enjoy life more fully. It frees us to discover our many positive qualities and enjoy living as our true selves.

When we are able to embrace our emotional truth, it sets us free.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom, Featured

How do we Learn Negative Self-talk

Many of us have heard that we are our own worst enemies. While we want to do and be the best, many times we fall short of our expectations. Many times we feel inadequate, yet we receive feedback from others who don’t perceive us as inadequate at all.

The reason we focus on our shortcomings is because of the negative messages we continually tell ourselves: you’re dumb, you’re lazy, you’re a troublemaker, you’re wrong, it’s your fault. Our lists can go on and on.

What is interesting about these messages is that we have been taught and trained to believe them—yet they are all lies. All messages that we are naturally born with are always honoring and respectful, yet we have been taught to believe these lies to the point we attempt to prove their validity every day.

Children are taught these messages directly and indirectly at a very young age by being told they  are bad, dumb, lazy, etc. Many people find it difficult to recognize where these messages come from because they may not have been directly spoken. Some of these messages may have developed from a glance, glare, or cold shoulder given that children interpreted in a negative way because they had no information that told them differently. As children grew, they took these messages on and believed them because they were coming in some fashion from the most important and intelligent people in the children’s lives: their parents and caregivers.

Many people find it difficult to believe that these messages are not true, which makes their path to recovery more difficult. These messages undermine opportunities to create positive change because they have been integrated into their lives to the point these are the only messages people can hear and know. When given the opportunity to hear and receive the true messages and positive qualities they possess, they tend to ignore and justify why these positive messages and qualities do not exist in them.

When a person is ready to work through these negative messages, it requires self-reflection and opportunities to explore the underlying feelings that get reinforced when they buy into the messages. When people can recognize the feelings, they can begin to work with those feelings to help the negative messages lose their power. This allows the underlying truthful messages to become more apparent.

Blogs, Featured

“You” – it can be dangerous

The word “You” is one many of us use every day in our relationships with others, yet this word alone can be very destructive. When we use the word “You,” most of the time we are blaming the other person for something. Or at least it feels like blame and makes that person defensive. This defensive posture is the catalyst for most arguments and tension in a relationship.

We have been taught to use the word “You” by not taking responsibility for our feelings and actions. Many of us learned at a young age that tension or problems in the family were our fault. As a child, we learned when we deflected blame, it created a release of tension by diverting the attention to someone else. While the word “You” may have served a positive purpose as a child, it creates much stress and destruction in relationships as an adult.

When we use the word “You,” it’s as if we are pointing our finger at the other person and saying, “It’s your fault.” This creates a defensive posture in the other person and then “You” starts to fly in both directions. This defensiveness created by the use of “You” gets both parties to start saying things they do not mean, things that are untrue and hurtful and that they will regret.

Many of us are used to this type of communication and disrespect. We may not like how we feel when the argument ensues, but we do it because this is the way we were taught to communicate, because it is familiar to us. Even though the current way of communicating hurts greatly, communicating in a different fashion can be scary enough that we don’t try to change.

It makes logical sense that if we are hurting ourselves and others, we need to do something different. If our logic were in control, our behaviors would quickly change to make the situation safer and more respectful. Yet feelings, rather than logic, drive these arguments. As long as we talk about the “he-said she-said facts,” no one is heard. In the argument, a portion of the issue may get temporarily resolved until the next argument triggers the underlying feelings again. This gives rise to the same argument and pain over again. Even when people are ready to change this “You” communication pattern, changing takes conscious effort.

When we talk from the “You,” we are communicating from a position of wanting to be heard. We explain all the facts and situations, hoping to be understood, with little or no success. The other person may have heard all the information and can repeat nearly every word, yet the message is not heard. To actually be heard requires the other person to be able and willing to listen rather than determine ways to respond to what is being shared. To listen means we do not have to defend ourselves or figure out ways to fix the problem, it means we just listen and only ask for clarification as needed, while interjecting nothing.

To create a situation where we can be heard requires us to get rid of the “You.” This can keep the other person from getting into a defensive posture. Rather than communicating from “You,” we communicate from “I” to help limit defensiveness. Taking it a step further, we talk about our feelings from the “I” position, since the energy that needs to be heard and worked through is our feelings.

Communicating from “I” takes time, practice and encouragement. When we are able to develop this new format of communicating, many things change in a positive fashion.

Blogs, Featured

How Family Patterns can contribute to Anxiety

Have you ever noticed where you keep tension in your body? Is it in your neck, shoulders, jaw or stomach? Based upon questioning and observations, there actually is a correlation between the family role and anxiety that gets stored in your body as tension. Roles we play in the family include the “Hero”, “Scapegoat”, “Lost Child” and the “Family Mascot”.

The hero tends to be the first born and is the responsible child. They are known for carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They typically are the family organizers and caretakers. When asked, they typically indicate that it feels as though they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They hold much stress in their shoulders and many times their neck as well. Many seek medical help for their neck problems and are told nothing is wrong.

The scapegoat is the child that is picked on or blamed for many issues in the family. They tend to be the truth teller and receive resistance for it. The scapegoat tends to hold some of their anxiety in their stomach. When asked they talk about feeling alone, rejected, not wanted and some have indicated if feels as though they are being punched in the stomach emotionally. In describing the tension, they typically talk about having a knot or a hole in their stomach. Many seek medical attention and can get diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The lost child tends to be the quietest family member. They are typically seen as good and do not require the attention the scapegoat gets. Because they are seen in this fashion, they tend to get ignored. The lost child tends to hold their anxiety in their jaw. They are known to clinch their jaw, grind their teeth and even develop TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). The tension can sometimes go down the throat or even in the chest.

The family mascot is the one that has learned the importance of entertaining the rest of the family. Since there is a lot of responsibility to entertain, the family mascot tends to hold much anxiety in their shoulders, again because they feel they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They also tend to hold much anxiety in their stomach.

While the family roles are typically created by birth order, situations in the family can cause the order to change. Sometimes people can also present more than one family role, once again due to family circumstance.

Each family role is created to have a unique way of getting attention in the family. When a person continues to play out that role, they tend to feel inadequate and not good enough, which creates the anxiety. When we do not work through the anxiety, it gets stored as energy in the body to create the symptoms discussed.

To get relief for the physical symptoms the medical community has a number of recommendations. To get relief from the anxiety requires the exploration of the anxiety, and working through it to let it go. Part of that process may include journaling about feelings, scribbling and meditation. Recognizing what is being stuffed and where it originated is important in the letting go process to reduce the anxiety. When we recognize what is being stuffed, honoring our self by actually feeling those stuffed feelings creates the necessary relief to reduce the tension.

Which role do you identify with?