Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our Freedoms


Virginia Satir's Five Freedoms:

1.       The Freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.

2.       The Freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should feel and think.

3.       The Freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought to feel.

4.       The Freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.

5.       The Freedom to take risks on your own behalf, instead of choosing only to be secure.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Growing Up

"We'll have to take risks, learn about consequences, and then practice, practice, practice. In time, with the right support and enough sincere motivation, the autonomous parts will 'catch up' with the rest of the functioning adult. That's what maturity is: all the parts working together." --John Townsend

Friday, May 27, 2016

Quoting Frankl

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run…success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it” (Frankl, 2006, p. xv).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

our bucket

we are at our best when our bucket is full.




our adult part is responsible for making decisions that fill us up.
our child or parent parts can help or get in our way.






if we rely on others or external conditions to fill us up, then we are are choosing to relinquish our power to others and may feel like victims or helpless.

if we have a leaky bucket then no amount of external supply will fill us up.
others may tire of pumping water into our bucket only to watch it quickly recede.




so what makes our buckets so leaky?

Our own negative thoughts and beliefs:
"i'm not lovable."
"i am bad."
"i'm incompetent."
"i can't trust anyone."
"s/he is making me look bad."
"i'm scared of change because i'm afraid things will evolve beyond my capacity to grow."
"there's not enough for everybody. there won't be enough for me."
"people are bad."
"i don't need anyone."
"your best friend is your worst enemy."
"i feel left out. people owe me friendship."
"i'm not good enough. i'm not okay."
"i can't run very fast."
"i don't have the right connections."
"i'm not very good looking."
"i'm not very smart."
"life is not fair to me."
"s/he is unreasonable."
"nothing ever works out for me."
"if they knew the real me, then they wouldn't love/like me."
"nobody loves me."
"everyone is out to get me."
"i can't trust anyone."
"wo/men just want to control me."
"i'm not very lucky."
"good things never happen to me."
"i will never succeed."
"i'll never find happiness, love, success..."
"i'm not the right _______."
where do these negative thoughts come from?

if we are anxious or depressed, then our brain generates them.
over and over again.
sometimes we recognize them as words that our parents said to us - either as a way to teach/caution us about the world or to unload their own pain - because of their own anxiety and depression.
when we are depressed, we cannot help but only see the negative in everything, even if the positive and negative are standing side by side.

what do we do with these negative thoughts so they don't continue to torment us?

there are many roads to recovery.
we all have to work out our own salvation.
we can figure it out.
no one knows us better than we understand ourselves.
what has worked for us in the past?
  • cognitive behavior therapy (cbt) is effective (according to the research). find a therapist who is skilled in cbt.
  • hypnotherapy helps. 
    Phone number
    from a certified clinical hypnotherapist that i have frequented: "...Therapy is then delivered in many different forms. When in the hypnotic state, words are heard free of interference of the critical analytic conscious mind. When in the hypnotic state you are able to focus more precisely on the words, images and ideas provided to you that enhance motivation and change. Changes in attitudes and behaviors, reducing stress and fears are reached by using several different therapeutic strategies. My approach to Hypnotherapy is an integrative, multidimensional approach. Depending on the individual client, direct or indirect suggestions may be used as well as a combination of guided imagery, metaphor, neuro-linguistic programing (NLP) and insight oriented techniques."
  • affirmations help. positive statements crowd out negative statements that you say to yourself if you say the affirmations over and over again:
"i'm ok."
"you're ok."
 "i am lovable."
"it's ok to love me."
"we're all effed up, it's amazing we get anything done."
"nobody can take what is already mine."
"the universe is conspiring on my behalf."
"i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"if God is for us, who can be against us."
"i have a right to choose my friends."
"relationships are voluntary."
"i can make and keep friends."
"i trust myself to make decisions in my own best interests."
"i can be a good parent to myself."
"i am good enough."
"i can run faster with time and practice (and coaching if necessary)."
"i develop relationships that support my dreams and goals."
"i appreciate my good qualities."
"i take care of my mind, body and spirit so that i attract people to me."
"i learn."
"i create opportunities by showing up and being prepared. over and over again."
"the difference between success and failure is giving up. i refuse to give up. i am persistent."
"i create my own reality (with my words, actions and beliefs)."
"i try to understand the point of view and needs of others."
"i love myself."
"i can take care of myself."
"the world is mostly a safe place."
"i can trust most people."
"i am grateful for the people, events, resources, opportunities and abilities that i have."
  • it helps if you choose to say affirmations that you are able to believe - that don't trigger strong skepticism. 
for example, if you say to yourself, 
"i can take care of myself."
and your first reaction is,
"no you can't! you can't even _____."
then tell the bully in your brain,
"eff that $hit. you are not the last word. you don't get to tell me what i can or cannot do. i can take steps toward taking care of myself and will not let you stop me. i am going to ignore you now. i refuse to give up on myself. i've done good things in the past and i can do it again."
or something to that effect. and then have an audience of all your heroes (real and imagined) slow clap in your head. just like in the movies.


  • stress makes everything worse. 
whatever condition you have - dandruff, asthma, diabetes, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc. - is made worse under stress. 
the opposite of stress is relaxation
take a nap. or go for a run. or do whatever the heck makes you feel relaxed (and doesn't hurt you or somebody else). 
unfortunately, even though these things work - drinking alone, gambling, eating potato chips or staying late at the office every night, shopping until you drop, and so on - they may hurt you and those you love/love you. crowd out your plate of these semi-effective strategies with strategies that don't have so many negative side effects. baby steps. you'll figure it out. 
choose your go-to relaxation strategies wisely. choose them out of true self-love. i have a very long list of them. i do them a lot.
  • medication helps if prescribed. addressing the stigma and fears that you may have about taking medication is worth the effort. do it. it's better than being depressed.
there are countless other types of western, evidence-based and traditional/cultural practices. do the research. what attracts you? what are you willing to try? what are your friends doing that works?

there are many roads to recovery.
we all have to work out our own salvation.
we can figure it out.
no one knows us better than we understand ourselves.
what has worked for us in the past?


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Exploring the Ambivalence

We feel ambivalent about everything.
We both love and hate our parents.
If we get a promotion and a substantial raise, we feel both elated and scared.
If we go through a break up, we feel both sad and relieved.

What usually stands in our way when we want something, is our own ambivalence.
That's why listing the pros and cons of a thing is such a good idea.
Both sides of our ambivalence need airing and recognition.
If not, the dark side of our ambivalence will seek to sabotage us.

Regardless of the nature of the decision to be made, explore both what motivates you AND what fears, worries, doubts, concerns and questions you have.

We want to lose weight.
We feel better and more confident when we are fit and healthy.
We are also scared of change and the consequences of change. What will we lose as a result of this change? What challenges will we face as a result of this change?

We want to go back to school.
Education opens up our options, especially when we feel stuck.
Going back to school also means losing status and financial opportunities in the short-term.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Are we ready for the costs?

We want to raise healthy and happy children.
Being a parent requires being firm about making rules and enforcing them consistently in order to teach children responsibility and self-management.
It sucks being the enforcer if we are afraid of being disliked. Also, we give in to our children if we feel guilty or sorry for them for whatever reason.
Inconsistent parenting creates misbehavior. Children need parents that are consistent. Structured and predictable environments make us feel safe. What makes it so hard for us to follow through consistently? For most parents, it is feeling guilty as a parent or feeling sorry for our kids.

Whatever goal, decision, desire, wish or dream we have is at risk due to our own fears, worries, doubts, questions and concerns.
It's not pathological, it's just how we're built - like a safety mechanism.
Exploring our ambivalence frees us up to decide if we're willing to address the emotional concerns getting in the way of what we really, really want.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Growing Up

"...we are all in stages of spiritual and emotional immaturity and disrepair. At times, we may feel like a burned out bomb site; sometimes we can see a glimmer of the image of God in us. And sometimes both are apparent...we are to be active participants in our own growth. The solution to our problem is to find our areas of spiritual and emotional immaturity, and to enter into the process of restoring those parts to their renovated condition." John Townsend


  • "We are an unfinished people, in need of maturing."
  • "...the two main problems of living: the task of growing up, and the obstacles to growing up."
  • "But this difficult process [maturing] is paralyzed when - because of past experiences, fears, shame, and pride - we withdraw from the very relationships and truths that would mature us."
  • "The safety of the walls we build as children can become a trap in our adult lives, as what was once protection now becomes a prison."
  • "For decades, perhaps, these hidden parts have been kept safe from abandonment, ridicule, or annihilation. Yet they have also remained frightened, disconnected, undeveloped, and unloved."
  • "Perfection doesn't exclude growth. A gardener who raises perfect roses begins with perfect seeds. Perfection simply means that things are as they should be at a given stage of development."
  • "Immaturity, then, only means that a goal has not yet been reached for something."
  • "Over time, with proper care, these intense emotions become more manageable and mature."
  • "We all have parts of our character that have retreated deep inside the Deep Woods of our hearts. There those parts remain. For decades, perhaps, these hidden parts have been kept safe from abandonment, ridicule, or annihilation. Yet they have also remained frightened, disconnected, undeveloped, and unloved."
  • "You know you're attached when you experience loss after someone you love leaves you. Their 'pieces' stay in your heart. The sad feelings are a sign of how deeply the person got inside you. Individuals who can't feel that sadness have an incapacity to be close. That sadness is a mixed blessing."
  • "Our ability to attach is our ability to relate our spiritual and emotional needs to others...to relate our needs to others is to connect, or expose ourselves to them. Attachment means letting others inside the private, vulnerable parts of ourselves."
  • "Attachment, or bondedness, is our deepest need."