Shame Holds us Back from Our Possibilities

This is a great talk by Brene Brown.

She describes the difference between shame and guilt very elegantly here. She has done extensive research about shame, and states that it is a cause of depression, anxiety and suicide in most cultures. 

She talks about shame as an epidemic in our culture and how the media and society program us for shame. The ads that tell us how we “should be,”
 and what we “should be doing.” …to the people in our lives that expect us to live up to unreasonable standards. 

Shame can come from abuse and emotional trauma in our childhoods, and in our adulthood experiences. Shame is programmed into us by others. You can re-wire the brain with thought patterns that are more supportive for you. Shame is a destroyer.

I believe that many mental disorders are based in shame. I work with abuse survivors that carry loads of shame from their past. Even when people come to the realization that they were abused, the shame does not just go away. In fact sometimes it becomes worse, during the healing process because old wounds are being opened up. 

Walking through the programs that are in your brain is important, to be able to find the truth about yourself. You are a special, unique person.

You do not have to carry toxic shame with you.

You cannot change the past, but you can change the meaning of the memories that you carry of it. 

The people that planted those seeds were just trying to meet their own agenda by keeping you down, and unsure of your value and place in the world. 

Brene Brown makes the point that creativity, inventiveness, and change come from a place of vulnerability. Doing things that are different, and uniquely you means you have to be somewhat vulnerable.

The greatest minds of the world came up with original ideas and creations and discoveries. They were not always met with acceptance. 

You do not have to follow the crowd. You have your own voice…you just have to find it and differentiate that authentic voice from the programs that were implanted into your brain. Shame is one of those programs that is no longer serving you. 

 

Self Love and Restoring Balance

Life needs balance. Our bodies are systems of balance. We need a balanced diet or we become sick.

We need balance between work and play, rest and activity, and focus vs. relaxaxing the mind.

We need balance between socializing and time to ourselves. Too much of any one thing throws off something else that is equally important.

Our physical and mental health are dependent upon this critical balance.

We should not negect nature for technology. Nor should we forget about our family and friends because we become too focused on work.

The reverse of any of these statements is also true. We should not neglect our work, our dreams and our vision for our family.

It is a constant struggle to keep things in balance. Every physical problem has to do with something being neglected for the sake of something else.

On-going, extreme imbalance will cause disease, illness, fatigue, and a lack of wellness.

Ancient Chinese medicine was based on the idea of sickness and disease being the result of imbalance. This was an entire system of trying to connect certain health problems with particular imbalances.

The ancient Chinese medicine developers believed that by identifying imbalances early, you can prevent serious illness and diseases.

There are entire health arts related to identifying imbalances, and restoring imbalance in the body. Acupressure, acupuncture, yoga are all about restoring and maintaining the fine balamces within the body.

These arts also restore balance between the mind and the body. It is clear that physical health is intimately intertwined with mental and emotional health.

At any given time, something is bound to be in an imbalance. Our goal should be to look at imbalances if we feel like something is wrong.

Moderate to severe mental health problems can be your body’s way of communicating to you that it needs something. It could be that something is in starvation.

We can become emotionally starved for love and compassion. We can become starved for physical touch.

Emotional starvation can cause every system in the body to suffer. The mind will suffer as well and cognitive processes will slow down.

We were also made to be able to think and create. Being stuck in a routine job and living on autopilot can cause imbalance in your life.

We were made to have a balance, which includes variety and change, as well as the comfort of some predictability.

Remembering the importance of balance will help you to be able to identify and restore balamce to yourself. It is also something useful to pass down to your children or teach others.

Whenever you feel like you are having trouble keeping up with something in your life, or that something is being neglected, see what might be drinking too much energy and time from you.

If something is being neglected, it is due to something else taking too much of your time and energy. We do not always want to admit what that something is.

Even if you are not ready to make a dramatic change, yoi may be able to make smaller ones. Without change we cannot move forward.

Staying stuck in the same unhealthy routine will slowly starve your body and your mind.

Accept your tre self and nurture yourself without judgement. Restoring balance is not about self judgement. It is about self love.

Being Able to Speak About Our Mental Illness or History of Abuse

Some people with mental illness speak freely about it and others are afraid to speak. Many of us have issues of mental illness because we were traumatized and mentally abused. It may have occurred during early childhood and is so far back that we do not really remember. There may be clear memories of some type of trauma or abuse during childhood.

We may have sustained psychological injury at the hands of an abusive partner during adulthood. Often times people are abused in childhood and then end up choosing partners who abuse them also. Not that we know that in the beginning. NO one hooks up with an abusive partner on purpose. They are often very charming and seemingly sweet at the beginning of the relationship.

If we were psychologically injured as children, then we were also probably conditioned that we do not speak of such things. There is secrecy and guilt built into those early relationships. We were taught that we do not talk about abuse, feelings about what goes on on our homes and to keep everything inside.

I remember Pat Benatar’s song “Hell is for Children” and she sings “Be Daddy’s good girl and don’t tell Mommy a thing. Be a good little boy and you’ll get a new toy. Tell Grandma you fell off the swing”

Very powerful lyrics and a great song. This is where the secrecy begins. We are taught that to be “good” means keeping your torment to yourself. Do not involve other people into the situation. Do not talk to people about your problems. Keep everything bottled up.

These behavioral patterns continue into adulthood. They are imprinted onto our brains with big “DON’T TELL” stampers. It is very hard to  break out of the patterns of not talking about things and keeping our “shame” to ourselves. We feel ashamed about what happened to us as children. We feel shame for having chosen an abusive partner.

We do not see other people around us, ending up in these situations. We feel ashamed and guilty. We feel like people will not believe us or that they will judge us. There is a feeling of not wanting to burden another person with our problems. No one wants to hear about MY problems, They are busy with their own problems.

Some of us even have trouble opening up to the family doctor or primary care physician. It can even go so far as not wanting to go to a therapist because we do not think they will  want to listen to. We may not think the therapist or psychiatrist will believe us. Maybe we will not explain our problems properly , in a way that they will understand.

Maybe the psychiatrist will think that his other patients have “real” mental health problems and we are just “faking it” or maybe we are afraid to tell the psychiatrist the whole truth because he never would have met anyone that bad before. Maybe we are the worst one ever and they will decide to commit us to a psychiatric facility.

These feelings have been conditioned into us by abusive people who did not want us to tell on them. They wanted to control us and they did not want to be revealed. Once their game is exposed, they can no longer play.

It is hard to change how we feel, We have ingrained reactions to things. Emotions are associated with anything that triggers memories from past trauma. Even the voice of the therapist sounding like your abusive father’s voice, could send you into post traumatic stress and immediately shut down your ability to communicate with them.

The solution is complex and it takes time to be able to open up to other people about mental illness. Sometimes people will respond in ways that are horrifying to us. Some people treat the mentally ill, the psychologically injured, like they are third class citizens. Like we are not competent , not reliable, not truthful and not worthy.

We already feel a low self esteem and a feeling that we are not as good as other people, if we endured years of mental abuse. If we had to hide things as a child then it is easy to go into that “safety mode” of hiding again.  I put “safety mode” in quotes because it is our old belief system. It was how we survived for years. It was the way we knew that we had to be, in order to avoid further trauma. Not that it kept the abuse from continuing.

It is necessary at some point, for us to open up and speak about our mental illness. We need to speak about our abuse during childhood or our abuse from our ex husband. It is not shameful. Anyone who makes you feel ashamed is not doing the right thing. You should be able to have feelings and thoughts like any other person.

You may have had experiences that are unique and that are so unusual that many people just cannot deal with them and they do not want to hear them. I am not suggesting frightening people or distressing them with your story.

The point is to reach out and find the right people to tell your story to. WordPress is great because we can tell our story here, with an avatar as our picture if we wish. We can be truthful and transparent. It is a healing thing to write about out thoughts and feelings about what has happened to damage us mentally and emotionally.

We are not designed to sustain trauma and keep it locked up inside of us. We are people that need the community of others, We need to be listened to and understood. We must have our feelings validated or we will become more mentally ill.

It is very tricky sometimes to know who is a safe person to talk to and who is not. It is hard to know what part of our story to tell someone and what part to leave out. We are so much in the middle of what is going on in our obsessive, constantly running brains, that we cannot always see the forest through the trees.

Reach out anyway and try to find other humans to talk to. Therapy works for many people, but it is very common for someone to have to try out 2, 3 or even 5 therapists before finding the right one. It is a scary thing to tell a therapist your story, if you are not in the habit of talking about it at all.

I am writing this post in order to validate anyone that has a behavior pattern of never talking about their mental illness or their history of abuse. It may have been the rule of the abusers in our lives that we were not “allowed” to speak of these things, but the times have changed to new times.

If you are, however, still in an abusive situation, please be careful. You do need to be careful who you talk to about the abuser. Call a women’s shelter (or a men’s shelter). Talk to people on wordpress, but be careful to protect your identity.

If we can not speak then we have no voice. If we have no voice then who are we? We lose our identity.

Blessings to all and to all a good night 🙂

Annie

Recovering Alcoholics Have to Survive the Holidays

While everyone is having a fun and relaxing time, some people are struggling to survive the holiday season. It is easy for people to forget the recovering alcoholics who are used to drinking on the holidays.

If you are a recovering alcoholic and this is the first year you have not been able to drink to get through the holidays, it will create anxiety for you. You may feel depressed because your usual method of turning off the anxiety is not accessible.

I have not been through this myself. I did however, live with a guy who was recovering. The holidays were hard for him. It was hard to find other tools to get through. It was hard to see that other people were drinking and getting their party on.

Other people I have talked to, have told me that it is hard for them to socialize without the alcohol. The alcohol helps them to feel comfortable in a group. They feel self-conscious or shy otherwise.

There are people that have been sober for 10 years or more that will still feel the pressure and anxiety of the holiday season.

My thoughts are with the people that are on the path that they believe is best for them. I pray for your strength and happiness. I pray for a peaceful holiday season for you.

If you are not an alcoholic and have not thought of these things, please be considerate of others at your office parties and other events.

Namaste
Annie

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference Reinhold Niebuhr

The serenity prayer was written by theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, sometime during the 1930’s. It was quoted by others a few times during the 1930’s. Niebuhr sometimes used it in his sermons.

The original wording was printed as follows:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

This prayer is widely used in alcoholics anonymous meetings and other 12 step programs. Some people think that it was written for alcoholics anonymous but it was not. They adopted it because it is a helpful tool to give recovering alcoholics a frame of reference for what to work to improve in their lives.

I love the first phrase “…accept…the things that cannot be changed” This is a very important concept for healing. It is an idea in Buddhism which is a practice that has a lot of healing benefit to it.

We cannot change everything. We cannot change other people. Peace comes through acceptance of letting go of the things we cannot change.

If we were to make a list of things that are causing us to feel anxiety right now, we might be surprised that there are things on the list that we cannot change. Especially in regards to other adult people.

We can guide and encourage. We can support and comfort. But in the end, we cannot cause other adults to change anything.

Even when someone is in a dangerous situation, like drug addiction, you can only be as supportive as you are able to be without incurring damage to yourself.

There is a point at which you have to protect yourself and draw a line as to how much help is reasonable to give to another adult.

I find the original wording interesting to compare to the updated version.  There is  a difference in the meaning of the second phrase. “courage to change the things that “should” be changed.”

I personally like this version better.

There are times we want to force our desires on other people as far as their choices go. But should we make another adult’s choices for them?  People get self-esteem and confidence from making their own decisions.  

The wisdom to know the difference...”  This may be the ultimate trick. How can we tell the difference between things we can change and things we cannot change. Well, basically we really only have the power to change ourselves. We can improve our mental and physical  health. We can make choices and decisions that will create changes in our lives.

We have some power over the environment around us. We can clean and organize. We can move to a different place or to a different job. We can choose to make changes in behavior, relationship patterns, and habits. We can educate ourselves, learn new talents and create things.

If we can let go of the anxiety of trying to change things we can’t. we have more energy for working on the things we have some control over.

 

Top Ten (10) Thoughts for the Day to Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression

1. I accept myself for who I am.

2. I forgive myself for my mistakes.

3. I will and am doing the best I am able to considering the state of my mind and body.

4. Today is a new day. I will not feel bad about choices I made yesterday.

5. I do not have to worry about the future today. The future is unknown.

6. I cannot control other people and am not responsible for decisions other adults make.

7. My mind and body are interconnected. Both must be cared for.

8. I do not have to injure myself mentally, emotionally or physically for others.

9. Peace can only be found within myself.

10. There is peace in stillness. Stillness of the body. Stillness of the mind.

The Right to Change Your Mind / Don’t Stay “no matter what” .

It is easy to develop bad behavioral patterns. We become co-dependent or addicted to certain behaviors that are not healthy for us.

We are used to doing things a certain way. We make choices and stick to them “no matter what” Sometimes we have to make a U Turn.

Well, I am back now in one piece. I did not realize that the snow storm was in full force. I made the choice to go to visit at work while I was in the nice warm house.

I really wanted to introduce my daughter to my friends at work and I wanted to visit my patients.

I did not check the weather report or ask anyone in the house how the roads were. I just took my teenager and got in the car. We slid it out of the of driveway. I decided to drive a bit and see how the roads were.

It became apparent quickly that the snow was going to continue and that the plows were struggling to keep up. I got all the way to the sign for my job.

I looked up the big hill and saw it was covered with snow. I went about 3 feet up the hill and the car was sliding down. I realized that even if I made it up the hill, it was going to be treacherous getting down later.

I told my daughter that this was a life lesson for her. In the past I would have kept going just because I had made the decision to go to the building and I had come all that way.

Sometimes in life, we make a choice to begin on a path. Sometimes it is a relationship. It could be a career or a job. It could be behavioral patterns that we establish or a habit of some sort.

We have decided to go along on this path. We do a lot of work along the way. We stick in there when it seems that there might be something wrong. We should probably have changed our minds sooner, when the evidence presented itself that it was not a healthy or safe path for us.

But looking up that slippery hill and feeling the car begin to slide made me stop right there and think.

Just because we got all dressed in our coats and scarves. Just because we drove all that way. Just because I really thought it was a good idea at the time.

Even the fact that I texted my friend at work to tell he we were coming and she was excited to meet my daughter, is not enough reason to continue into a situation full with peril. You have to be able to see ahead enough to think about what is likely to happen.

Where is this path leading you? If you follow it , even against your intuition telling you that it is bad, even if your rational brain tells you there is danger, then you are going to be hurt.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. For some reason we have a compulsion to continue with any commitment and any choice that we make. It makes us feel inadequate when we give up.

But the other day I was thinking about this very thing. Why did I stay in abusive relationships, even when I could see a path to get out. it was only because I said I would. I told them I would stay with them and I felt that I had to stay no matter what.

It is the “no matter what” thinking that can get you into trouble. Once you notice that it was either a bad choice to begin with or that something has changed to make the situation different than you originally signed up for, then Change Your Mind. Run, Turn around, Go back, Go sideways, GET OUT.

Follow your instinct. Listen to your rational brain. Trust your feelings. Don’t let anyone even yourself, make you feel bad for changing your mind.

Many women (and men and unborn babies) die every year from being in harms way from domestic abuse. The women feel obligated to stay no matter what, because they said they would. They made a promise to stand by his side.

But what about her feelings? What about her safety? What about her self-esteem?

Other consequences of staying on a path “no matter what” is staying in a thankless job when you have chances to go do something that is more suited to you and would be better for your self-esteem.

WE stay with what is familiar and what we are used to. We stick to the promises we made, even when the person does not deserve it and is not honoring their end of the deal.

If it helps you, you could think of it this way – The other person has broken the contract by not honoring their end of the bargain. They broke it , not you. You are free to walk away without feeling like a quitter.

So I told my daughter, we were going to back down the hill. I was changing the original choice to go up there. It had become apparent that the situation was very unsafe. The likelihood of damage to the car and to ourselves was too high of a risk.

Assess your risks. Not just at the beginning because new information comes all the time. If new information tells you that something is wrong, that is the time to assess the risks again.

If it is not worth the potential hurt to you, then don’t continue. There are other paths that are full of possibilities. There are adventures awaiting you and very interesting people to meet.

Change the path. It is ok. Think of all the possibilities that are waiting to meet you on another path.

There is always another choice, another path, another job, another lover, another lifestyle. There is no point of no return as long as you are open to possibilities.

It is your life. You are the one that has to live with the consequences of your choices in the end.

You have the right to be safe, happy and productive. You have the right to pursue the paths that look good to you and change to a different path if you want to.

Enjoy your paths and your choices. God Bless all of You
Thank you for Hearing my voice

Namaste,
Annie

I was Sweet to Your Bitterness

I was strong
to do all you commanded
I was weak
to make that choice

I was brave
to face your twisted mind
I was fearful
of your retaliation

I was beautiful
but you did not see
I was ugly
as you made me

I was loving
to your unlove
I was generous
to your selfishness

I was soft
to your hard heart
I was flexible
to your inflexibility

I was sweet
to your bitterness
I was gentle
to your callousness

I was stable
to your insanity
I was creative
to your destruction

I was light
for you to extinguish
I was hope
for you to disbelieve

I was peace
to your terrible violence
I was honesty
to your lies

I was intelligent
before I met you
I was stupid
as you made me feel

I was whole
and you took it all
I was broken
and you crushed the pieces

I was blind
But now I see
Not Because of you
But Because of Me

Don’t F%#&!! with My Manic Phase / Ode to Bipolar Phases

Monday
Was Filled With
Extreme Anxiety
Uncertainty
Heart Palpitations
Chest Pain
Nervousness
Nausea
Insomnia
Confusion

Tuesday
Was Filled with
Depression
Tears
Sadness
Pain
Regret
Sobbing
Loneliness
Disability
Fogginess

Wednesday
Was filled with
Numbness
Lethargy
Apathy
Inability
Disgust
Solitude
Isolation
Medication
Shame
Disorientation

But Thursday
Is filled with
Illusions of grandeur
Incessant talking
High Self-Esteem
Hyperactivity
Productivity
Intelligence
Empowerment
Energy
Visions
Ideas
Clarity

Don’t F&$!! with my Manic Phase !!!

Top 10 Reasons That Homeless People Cannot Get a Job and Get Back Inside / Please Donate Coats and Blankets

The local soup kitchens will be accepting donations of coats, hats, gloves and blankets.

If you go there you can bring them to the office. They are also looking for volunteers to serve food if you have time.

I have done a lot of volunteer work with the homeless people in my area. I know them personally. It is very very cold to sleep outside. It is a terrible thing.

It seems like they are an alien race compared to everyone else. They know they are perceived that way.

They all have families. Most of them had jobs and apartments. The economy is bad and some of them just could not pay the rent.

Once you are living outside it is very hard to get back inside again.

1. There is no shower to get cleaned up for a job interview.

2. There is no address you can put on a job application.

3. There is no phone number the job can reach you at.

4. There is no current job they can call for a reference. Even people who are living inside have trouble getting hired if they are not currently working.

5. There is no place to wash clothes and no way to purchase job interview clothes.

6. There is usually no one they can put for a personal reference. Most people stop talking to a family member of friend once they become homeless.

7. There is no alarm clock to wake you up for an interview.

8. Many of them have some mental illness which is a disability that keeps them from being able to keep a job. yes, the social services should help get them of the street but it is complicated. That is for another blog.

9. They are depressed and have very low self-esteem about getting a job.

10. They have become part of a subculture that is rejected by society. Most places would not even let them in the door, never mind hire them.

11. Most of the homeless people have lost all of their documents, like drivers license, birth certificate and ss card. It is nearly impossible to keep these things outside. They get stolen by other homeless people or they get wet from the weather.

It is easy to judge and say these people should just get a job and get off the street but once you are out there , it is like a life sentence of misery and fear.

These are things that I know from talking to the people, getting to know them and observing how they live. I have personally visited people at the soup kitchen and at their camps in the woods and in abandoned buildings.

I could tell some stories but that is for another day.

Please check through your storage and closets and see what you don’t need. Your coats and blankets could save someone from freezing to death or getting very ill.

Usually the soup kitchen are at a church. If you are not sure, you may or may not find out online. If you call around to the local churches, it is likely that someone will know which church or churches have lunch at the church for the homeless.

You can also take them to the homeless shelter. Most shelters only allow 15 – 30 days for them to stay. It is a short reprieve from living outside. The shelters do not keep them permanently. They rotate people through there. A lot of people do not know that.

Thank you so much.

Namaste,
Annie

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