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.

Emotional Freedom

Live Honestly – Without Codependency

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.

Emotional Freedom

Resolutions

Every year all over the world people use the first day of January as a n opportunity to make a fresh start… and every year a percentage of those people have given up on their “resolutions” by February.

Why? Because often people feel they should make certain changes in their lives. They feel they should lose weight, they should save more money, they should spend their time differently. These are often the people for whom resolutions simply do not work. An attempt may be made and does not last because they are not emotionally ready to do the work required of such change.

The truth is, resolutions are really only valuable for those who are emotionally motivated and really want to commit to making a change in their lives. These people are truly ready to commit to the deep work that is necessary because they are physically, intellectually and emotionally connected tothe commitment. They have genuine enthusiasm about doing the work. What emotionally motivates us is what energizes us, and it is what keeps us going two months in and longer.

We’re taught to do the things we need to do, which can bring a lot of guilt and shame that prevents change. If you want to be ready to make the change, if you want be be emotionally motivated and enthusiastic about it, get real with where you’re at emotionally.

When you try to force yourself to do something, it tends not to work or work as well as you might like. Acknowledge how you really feel about it, about your life, about yourself. If you find yourself stuck in a certain area, try to embrace, feel and understand the stuck-ness as a way of motivating a more natural change.

Whether or when you make a “resolution” or commitment to yourself is the same throughout the year, and while resolutions can be useful motivational tools, they generally only work when you are in the right place emotionally. So, take the time to connect to your own true feelings. Then, when you are truly ready, your “resolution” will stick because the motivation will be pure, rather than driven by guilt and shame.

Emotional Freedom

Anxiety and Family Patterns

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?

Emotional Freedom

Finding Emotional FreedomThis past summer I went to visit my parents for the first time since the publication of my book, Finding Emotional Freedom. I had actually forgotten, at the time of the visit, that I had shared with my parents and many of my siblings that I had written the book. I was surprised and saddened by the welcome I received from my mother.

When Liz and I arrived, my mother proceeded to share how angry she was about the book. She told me if I were to do a book signing, that “it would be over.” She went on to say how much of a liar I am and that I need to get the story straight. What is interesting is that nothing she talked about was in the book.

I share this story to demonstrate what most of us might call a no-win scenario. As I have reflected on this interaction with my mother, I’ve seen that almost any interaction would have, in her mind, justified her position and validated her anger. I asked a few friends for thoughts about how they might have responded, and listening to their thoughts clarified just how few options there are in such a scenario to respond in ways that honor ourselves.

Arguing. To argue with Mom would be engaging at her level, which would allow her to validate that her anger and position were justified.

Apologizing. This would likewise have justified her position, because an apology would imply that I had done something wrong. If I did no wrong, there was no need to apologize.

Attempting to explain or justify my position. This would also be an invitation for Mom to justify in her mind that she was correct. If I had no need to defend myself, why do it?

Say nothing. In this case, with such a strong conviction that I was wrong and she was right, silence would once again validate her position. In her mind, if I had nothing to say for myself and could not stand up for myself, I must be wrong.

When Mom was finished sharing her thoughts and her sideways anger, my response was “that’s an interesting perspective.”

Later that day I learned that she shared with a nephew that she “might have been a little hard on me.” This response told me that I had responded appropriately.

As you read and reflect on this blog, I invite you to consider this question: “How do I respond to someone who is communicating in a fashion that has no perceived positive outcome?”

Emotional Freedom

It was 15 years ago at a Valentines dance that I first saw and met Liz, my wife. For this reason Valentine’s Day is special for us. As the years pass, the question is how do we keep the love and spark alive in our relationship with each other.

Early in a relationship, it’s easy to create a romantic spark. As the years go by, creating the spark can be more difficult. Doing the same thing all the time takes the spark out, so how do we come up with new ideas of showing our partners how important they are to us?

While big ideas can be great, small things can be even more important. Ideas that seem to create the greatest spark in a relationship are ones that involve thinking about and investing in that thought so the other person feels special and loved.

Some romantic ideas to consider may include:

  • Coming home with a rose in your mouth as a way to kiss and give the rose
  • Hiding favorite chocolates in unexpected places that are easily found
  • Cleaning the house
  • Making a candlelight dinner for two
  • Create Shania Twain’s “Party for Two”
  • Make a special dinner together
  • Have a dance party for two
  • Call and leave a message of a kiss only
  • Listen without comments, criticism or attempts to fix
  • Write a poem or love letter
  • Create an adventure together
  • Create time to share all the wonderful qualities you recognize in the other person
  • Set a date to do things your partner enjoys doing and than another date to do what you like to do
  • Make a special visit to the place you met, proposed, honeymooned or some other special spots
  • Search the Internet for other romantic ideas

Hopefully Valentine’s Day will be special for you and your sweetheart. To help make it special, if you have any romantic ideas, please add them by responding to this blog.

Emotional Freedom

ChileWith the cold weather we have had this winter, Liz and I appreciated having an opportunity to go to Chile so I could co-facilitate a workshop with a colleague and friend. The season is summer down there so we were able to bask in 80 – 90 degree weather.

One of the things I greatly appreciate about traveling and working in other countries is the opportunity to experience different cultures, perspectives and ways of doing things. The people were very friendly and helpful. The food we enjoyed the most was at my friend’s home, where his house nanny made authentic Chilean and Peruvian food. One of the areas I struggled with is the concept of time. I was tired at the end of the day, and being told that dinner typically starts around 9:00 pm was not exciting for me. It did afford more time to connect with others, though.

While there are many differences with other cultures, I was appreciative and validated to see that body language is universal. It was the part that helped communication be successful. I look forward to the opportunity to visit my friend and Chile again, as well as other countries, because of the opportunities traveling affords me to learn and grow.