Self-Compassion – Luxury or Necessity?

Sarah comes in through the door, I pour her a water and I ask, “How are you?” She replies, “Aww, not that great. I have been feeling really down for the last two weeks. So much has been going on with my family, and at work, too. It all feels futile. I have failed in so many ways. I just can’t handle all these conflicts and problems anymore.”

I don’t usually see clients when they feel good or are at the top of the world. Instead, they normally come back when something has happened and they need to work through a conflict, often both an outer one as well as an inner conflict.

Life throws us these curve balls and the Inner Critic voice we all have loves nothing more than to beat us up in the face of adversity. It pipes up especially loudly when we feel we have made a “mistake” or “failed” in some way. We didn’t get the grade we were aiming for, we are being laid off from a job or are not being hired for a position we have applied to, the person we would like to date rejects us or our marriage is struggling, we are experiencing fertility issues or our teenager is acting out, we have received worrisome health news or are trying to lose weight with little success, and the list goes on and on.

self-compassion 1

The “I’m not good enough in some way” story is almost universal. We all struggle with it at some point in some way. How much we struggle is largely based on the experience we had with our caregivers during childhood. Were they compassionate, empathetic and able to love us unconditionally? Or did we have the experience that we were loved when we were “performing according to certain standards and ideals, and that love was withdrawn or guilt was applied” (Dr. Kelly McGonigal), if we didn’t meet the expectations.

The sad news is that most parents did not know how to raise their children with unconditional love. And we cannot even blame them because what we have not experienced ourselves is hard to pass on to the next generation. Sarah, for example, had an emotionally absent father and a harsh mother, who preferred her younger children and had unrealistic expectations of Sarah as the oldest. No matter how hard Sarah tried to please, she could never win her parent’s attention and full love. When she was 18, she married to get out of this cold home. Unfortunately, that marriage didn’t last, as Sarah naturally brought her childhood issues around love with her into that relationship. She tried to be perfect and to please, but never felt that she was good enough. The failure of the marriage, however, added to her list of regrets and mistakes, which all seemed to prove her unworthiness.

Receiving conditional love as a child is the breeding ground for pathological perfectionism and the feeling that we are never quite enough. The good news is that we can still heal those wounds with self-compassion and the compassion of others.

self-compassion 2

Our feeling of lacking in some way is very old. When we go back and remember moments of self-esteem deflation, we realize how early this started. The qualities and criteria, however, which allow the Inner Critic to collapse our self-esteem, have changed through the different developmental stages and can be quite arbitrary. The Inner Critic will always find something to criticize. Ultimately, that critical voice is the internalized parental or societal voice. It has the power to completely deflate us and affect our mental, emotional and physical state.

Smaller or bigger Inner Critic attacks are not only very common but brain research has shown that self-criticism and self-judgment are the default setting of our brain. When we are not focused on doing something specific, the Inner Critic is running its programs of comparison and categorizing into good and bad. Sadly, most of the time that voice is not all too friendly with us, which has direct effects on our health. “We know that people who are highly self-critical, who are never good enough, are obviously at increased risk for depression. And depression reinforces those feelings.” (Dr. Kelly McGonigal)

Nicola Hermanto, a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at McGill University, published a study in 2016 that looked at adults in Canada, England and Portugal and the relationship between self-criticism—so in other words a lack of self-compassion—and depression. This study did not just find a high correlation between those two factors, but they also found that the fear and inability to receive compassion from others contributes to depression. Feeling unworthy of receiving compassion, or being suspicious of other people being kind and caring, increases the link between self-criticism and depression.

Dala Lama

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.
– Dalai Lama

If we all have a default tendency to be self-critical, the one thing that becomes a necessity to counteract that Inner Critic voice is a loving, compassionate Inner Parental voice. Part of that process is the ability and willingness to receive kindness, empathy and loving support from others.

Subconscious belief changes therefore need to address the issue of deserving and receiving, as well as beliefs around making mistakes and embracing failures as part of life, instead of a sign that there is something deeply unworthy and shameful about us.

Once we have changed some subconscious beliefs about our own worthiness, it becomes easier to practice self-compassion or inner compassion. True self-compassion means feeling a “sense of love or self-acceptance or inner acceptance even in the moment of self-esteem collapse” (Dr. Ron Siegel). When we have this sense of okay-ness, or sense of value and worth in the world, we can lovingly re-parent ourselves. With love for ourselves in moments of crisis, we can ask, “What’s good for me in this situation? What is the self-loving thing to do or think right now?”

self-compassion 4a)

Another very powerful piece of work in practicing kindness and gentleness towards ourselves is self-forgiveness. Often the most important work is to forgive ourselves for our past choices and decisions. We don’t need the forgiveness of others nearly as much as we need our own. We can alter our relationship with ourselves by releasing those harsh judgments and self-critical thoughts that keep us imprisoned within that sense of not being valuable, not being good enough. Moment by moment of inner compassion, we are healing our sorrows and wounds and ultimately changing our entire life.

self-compassion 5

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika
Life Coaching, Belief Changes & Forgiveness Work
905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Taking Care of Our Vulnerable Feelings and Needs

 

 

Easter-bunny-family

Easter is my favourite holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, less commercialized and overloaded with expectations than Christmas, and I truly love the feeling that spring is in the air. I loved Easter when I was a child and even more so when my children were younger and excited about the more and more elaborate Easter Egg treasure hunts I would create for them each year. Easter is one of those occasions when our own Inner Child might come out, no matter how old we are.

little-boy-hiding

Our Inner Child is that vulnerable younger part in us which carries our playfulness, our imagination and creativity, our sensitivity, our fears and needs, and last but not least, the ability to be completely in the present moment. “This child inside of us which never grows up is of the uttermost importance because it carries our psychic fingerprint, the rhythm of our essential being and it’s presence determines the level of intimacy we are able to achieve in our relationships.” (Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

In our development of our personality, our move is towards power. We move away from the vulnerable child as we develop our personality structures, our sub-personalities, that protect us in the world. Some examples for sub-personalities are our Rational Self, our Perfectionist, our Pleaser Self, our Ambitious Self, our Smart Self, our Confident Self, our Intellectual Self, our Aggressive Self and so on. Those sub-personalities make us tough and able to cope. The purpose of this development is to protect the child, make life safe for it, and ensure it is appreciated and loved by other people.

easter-bunnies

The downside of this development is that without the child, we lose intimacy in personal relationships. “You can have marvelous contacts with people, exciting, exhilarating, intellectual contacts or power contacts but there is something missing; there is always something you are yearning for and you don’t know what it is and that’s the child being a part of things.”(Sidra Stone, The Child Within)

It’s the job of our Aware Ego to be responsible for the Inner Child. The Aware Ego has the job of parenting all the different selves but with the Inner Child, it is particularly important. If the Inner Child is not cared for by the Aware Ego, that child is going to emotionally reach out and bond into another person in our environment: our partner, our friend, or one of our real children. We then expect that other person, our spouse, friend or child to take care of our emotional needs.

Easter-hidden-eggs

With nature awakening, our Inner Children love the opportunity to be outside more. They adore the playfulness of searching for hidden Easter treats. The more you are in touch with your own more vulnerable feelings and needs, your child can come out to be playful and carefree.

Here are some ways of caring for your Inner Child now at Easter and at other times:

  1. Spend Time with Your Inner Child

Visualize the little girl or little boy and feel them. Find out what his or her feelings and needs are. What type of an Easter weekend does he or she want? Does he or she, for example, really want to spend hours on the road to drive to the in-laws to sit inside all weekend and eat, or does he or she want to be outside to connect with nature? How can that need be met in conjunction with your other Easter plans?

Spring-walk-path

 

  1. Honour Your Fears

Don’t be a slave to your Inner Child’s fears no more than you would let a small child dictate to you what you are doing with your life, but honour the fears which come up and see what you can do to make allowances or lessen them. For example, you are going to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time on Easter and you are nervous. What can you request from your girlfriend to make this easier?

 

  1. Allow Time for Creative Activities

When you engage in creative non-demanding activities, child-like activities, like playing with clay, painting, drawing, or other craft activities, your Inner Child rejoices. It is important those activities are without the goal or aim of producing something marvelous. Also be aware that our Inner Critic likes to come in and criticize child-like activity because they don’t produce anything and are not necessarily of any kind of aesthetic value. The Inner Child part is not production oriented. The adult parts in us are. Now at Easter can you engage in some playful arts and crafts with your kids or by yourself, just for the fun of being creative?

 

  1. Learn How to Express Hurt

Learning how to take responsibility for hurt feelings and how to communicate the fact that your feelings are hurt helps the child inside. Do you remember the last time your spouse said something that hurt your feelings and you bit your tongue? How could you successfully and productively free of blame express a hurt next time?

Easter-hurt-feelings

 

  1. Learn What Hurts the Inner Child and Stay out of Toxic Situations

Ask what situations or relationships you are exposing your Inner Child to that are doing damage; and then make a conscious decision whether you want to continue those situations or relationships. There are some situations which are damaging but which—as sophisticated grown-ups—we feel we should be able to manage. That could be toxic work situations or relationships we feel we have to deal with.

For example, each time you go to a celebration or event of your partner’s children and grandchildren, your partner’s ex-wife and the mother of said children is also invited, and your partner doesn’t leave her side but serves on her and flirts with her. The proud grown-up part in you might feel you just need to handle this maturely and be fine. The revengeful part in you might feel it’s best to somehow show your partner how you feel by punishing him. Both parts are trying to protect your vulnerable feelings, but you are still exposing your child to unnecessary hurt and pain.

 

  1. Enough Food and Rest

Sometimes we forget that having enough food and rest is basic care for that child. We need to make sure we have healthy nutritious and regular meals and get enough sleep at night.

Easter-sleep

 

  1. Financial Security

Inner Children feel better when we are able to pay the bills. They don’t like debt and dependency on others. In a situation where a woman is financially totally dependent on a man, her Inner Child is never completely safe because she doesn’t have money of her own. Honour your Inner Child by planning ahead, paying bills on time, and doing what you can do to give yourself some financial security and independence.

 

  1. Allow for Some Predictability

Inner Children, like real children, like some predictability and schedules. They can be playful and spontaneous but too much unpredictability often frightens them. Make plans for the future and give your Inner Child some predictability.

 

  1. Treat Yourself

Sometimes Inner Children want particular things. We do not need to go broke over those wants but some physical objects make the Inner Child feel important and good. Does your Inner Child want something special for Easter?

Easter-table

 

  1. Be Conscious of Your Environment

The Inner Child is often sensitive to how comfortable, cozy and safe the environment feels. Is there something that needs to be changed in your home or office environment? Does your Inner Child right now maybe rejoice in Easter decoration, more plants, pleasing colours or some other elements that adds homeliness?

 

ENJOY A FABULOUS HOLIDAY!

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Join Dhebi DeWitz and myself for our next bi-monthly FREE webinar to get in touch with the needs of your Inner Child.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 9 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST or 5:00-6:00 PST

TOPIC: “Are Your Essential Needs Being Met?”

DESCRIPTION: Uncommon knowledge on how to connect with your essential self and experience greater fulfillment and soul authenticity.

Click here to register and to receive the link to join us life. The webinar will also be posted on YouTube afterwards.

Setting Boundaries

I attended a beautiful full moon ceremony last week. The full moon symbolizes completion. There were several projects and events to give thanks for which have just come to completion, like our new Inner Child meditation CD project.

The full moon also invites to release what we want to let go of for the upcoming new moon cycle. This could be feelings like anger or fear. It might be sickness and disease. Or sometimes it is time to let our growing or even grown-up children live their own life and trust that they will be safe and protected. Considering my oldest one is moving out on her own in the fall, that was a good intention for me to set.

Some people around the camp fire decided to release “toxic family members”. I have very mixed feelings when I hear that. I do agree that we always need to have clear boundaries and that sometimes we need to love people from a distance. But is there such a thing as a “toxic person”, or is it rather that the person’s behaviours and actions happen to be toxic in some way? Also what about the relationship with that person? Could it be that it is our interactions with them, our communication and responses rather, which are really toxic?

When a relationship is abusive and/or life threatening we need to cut the cords completely. In all other relationships, we need to set clear boundaries. Regular unpleasant or what we tend to call “toxic” interactions show up for us to learn something. We cannot change others, but we can always change ourselves. Let’s examine what lessons show up. How are you or others getting affected by these unhealthy interactions? How are misunderstandings, hurt or pain created? What boundaries need to be set for the interactions to become healthy?

  1. Take a close look in the mirror. Every relationship is a dance between two people and we have to honestly decide what missteps we have made and what part we are playing for the situation to be the way it is. We have to take responsibility and own our half of the situation or nothing can change. Have we invited the other person to overstep boundaries? Then we need to change our own behaviour.
  1. Forgive yourself and others. Life is short and can be over from one day to the next. What upsets us now won’t make a difference in a few weeks, months or years. The things we hold on to that upset, irritate and annoy us create toxins in our bodies, our relationships, our family, our community, and our world.
  1. Examine whether the existing boundaries are healthy and work for you, and then clearly set or re-set boundaries.

Boundaries - Featured Image

One repeating theme over the last few weeks, for clients, friends and myself, was setting boundaries. The Universe has an interesting sense of humour at times. Whenever you think you have learned or mastered something, it will bring a new challenge or a new trigger to test you.

Having clear boundaries has almost become a catch phrase. What does that even mean? Who do we ultimately set boundaries for and why are boundaries healthy? Maybe a couple of examples will help.

A client of mine has a father who has an alcohol problem which he hasn’t faced. He goes from drama to drama, from accident to accident. She has been clear with him about what she has noticed, how she feels and what she is not willing to put up with. She has provided him with resources to get help. He is not ready to do anything to get help at this point.

Setting boundaries meant to tell him not to call her or show up when he is drunk. He has regular accidents and is frequently admitted to the hospital for an injury caused by falling. In the hospital, he has the chance to ask for help with his drinking problem but so far he hasn’t. Setting boundaries for my client means to not rush to the hospital but to trust her father to make his own choices.

Is that easy? It usually isn’t easy because a part of us still hopes for our loved ones to change. Does not rushing to him for help mean she doesn’t love her father? Not at all. Sometimes we need to love people from a distance or by setting and maintaining clear boundaries. What it means is that she loves herself! She makes her own feelings and the needs of her own core family first priority. We can still be compassionate and loving but at the same time very clear which lines we will not allow others to cross.

Boundaries-Brene Brown quote

One of my clients had to set boundaries with her mother. The mother gossips about one daughter with the other. One day, she forms an alliance with one daughter until something occurs that triggers her fears, then she turns to the other daughter and forms an alliance with the other. Those family dynamics have destroyed the friendship between the sisters and have created mistrust between all three women.

My mother used to do the same for the longest time. She would call me to complain about my sister’s kids and praise my children instead and visa versa. There is a part in us which feels flattered to be the chosen confidant and the one to hear what a good mother we are. However, how much does that truly mean if the wind can turn at any time and suddenly blow from another direction? The inability of our relatives to love themselves and others unconditionally causes us a lot of hurt. It creates competition instead of true unity.

My client gently but firmly had to tell her mother that she is sorry that she feels disappointed by her sister. She also had to tell her that she needs to talk to the sister herself. She had to clearly refuse gossiping. The mother desperately looks for an ally each time she feels unloved, rejected and disrespected. We can be compassionate with a relative who does this but need to set clear boundaries out of self-love.

I should have set clear boundaries with my own mother much earlier. It would have saved my sister and me years of unnecessary competition and grief. When I finally set boundaries with my mother, did that mean I didn’t love her? Not at all. I did and still do love my mother dearly. I also love myself and choose to live—most of the time, unless I forget—in a space beyond right and wrong, beyond judging others and myself. If somebody wants to complain about being a victim and wants to gossip because another person has triggered their inner feeling of unlove-ability, make a clear choice of not connecting in that way.

Boundaries-quote no

Who needs us to set clear boundaries? Our own Inner Child, the vulnerable part inside us, needs to feel loved, safe, protected and respected. Not setting boundaries is internal child abuse. By allowing others to cross our boundaries, we are telling our inner child “you are not worthy of your feelings being addressed and your needs being met”. We are not treating ourselves with love and respect.

Setting boundaries means to not allow others to pull us into drama or discord. It means speaking up when somebody sticks their nose into what is not their business and not allowing them to destroy our other relationships. Parents do not need to know any intimate details of their children’s relationships, just as children don’t need to be told any intimate, private or embarrassing details of their parent’s relationship. Those are blurry boundaries. They destroy respect and invite meddling. Talking behind somebody’s back about them is also a blurry boundary. Admittedly, we might all forget this at times but unless we are able to only say nice things, it is better to not talk about others when they are not present.

We need to clearly and lovingly let the other person know where our comfort level is and what feels good and loving and what doesn’t. Communication is the problem of the communicator, not the person communicated to. If the conversation doesn’t go well and we are not understood the way we intended, it is due to how we communicate with the other person. It is our responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible.

The only thing to do when we are struggling to be understood is to focus on a non-violent, clear, authentic communication while having clear boundaries. Check in with your inner child about what feels respectful and meets her/his needs. Express your feelings without blaming anyone. Nobody makes you feel a certain way. It also doesn’t matter who did what. All that matters is to acknowledge each other’s feelings and to take responsibility for one’s words and actions. Setting boundaries is not about rehashing the past but about changing the interactions in the present and in the future.

The more we set boundaries and stand-up for our inner child, the more we connect with what we truly feel and need. Every time you make a clear decision to set or maintain a boundary, it is another piece on the journey to true unconditional self-love.

Angelika

Life Coaching and Belief Changes
905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my posts you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the follow button in the right hand corner of your screen.

Do you truly love, honour and respect yourself?

When I work with clients, as well as in my own work, the inner child comes up a lot. Being in touch with our inner child is a key piece in learning to truly love ourselves, to be comfortable with our feelings and lovingly taking care of our needs. A caring relationship with our inner child is necessary to be vulnerable, to trust others and to have truly intimate relationships.

Inner Child 3

We all have an inner child; a little girl or boy inside. This is our vulnerable and loving self that we are born with. In our society, it is part of the process of growing up that our power selves, like the successful self, the intellectual self, the controlling self, the angry self, the perfectionist self, the pleaser self and so on, protect the inner child from becoming hurt. During this necessary process, the inner child gets buried and we can lose our ability to experience true closeness. If we over-identify with one or more of those power selves, we might find it difficult to be authentic and vulnerable with others, or to let somebody else come close.

Many of us have an inner child, who feels lost, lonely, rejected or abandoned. Sometimes our inner child feels unworthy or full of shame because we only criticize it. If we are in the habit of ignoring our inner child, her or his fears and feelings, or beating up on her with negative self talk and making her feel “not enough”, the inner child might jump into the driver’s seat and drive us into words, actions or behaviours which stem from feeling unlovable. When the inner child feels attacked, threatened or unloved, our angry part, or our manipulate part, or our lying part and so on, step forward to protect the inner child.

When we are aware of that dynamic, we can take care of the inner child, express our feelings and needs calmly and set clear boundaries for the inner child.

Inner Child 12 upset

Sometimes the inner child feels scared or upset and needs us to act in a certain way so that she feels safe.

Inner Child 12 angry

Sometimes she might even show up as angry and feel like we have not protected her well. We have to teach her that from now on we will take better care of her.

We need to bring up a strong parental voice to assure that child like part in us that her/his feelings and needs matter. That we will parent ourselves and love ourselves in the way we parent our own children or take care of others. Inner Child work helps to shift the relationship we have with ourselves to true self-love and living in line with your authentic voice.

I am excited to be able to introduce a completely new CD: Inner Child Meditations. On this CD you will find two different inner child meditations which have been combined with beautiful music.

The first meditation is based on the inner child meditation my good friend Darryl Gurney developed for his Shadow Energetics workshop. This workshop combines shadow work, a belief change process to shift subconscious beliefs, relationship healing, emotional release work, dream interpretations, and – last but not least – inner child work. This first meditation guides you to meet your inner child, talk to her or him, to switch places with your inner child and to hear what you need to hear. It helps you to connect to your true feelings and needs and to address them.

The second meditation allows you to go back in time to different ages and collect and reclaim different parts of yourself at different times. It also guides you to communicate with your future self, and to connect to your future self as your mentor.

TESTIMONIAL:

“I spent last night and this morning listening to the Track 2 of the CD. I was guided to spend a little time under the tree with my little girl. I love the CD your voice is amazing so soothing, comforting and you really make me feel safe and my little girl feels safe too 🙂 I will explore the last track I think in a few days, after a long visit under the tree. I just want to say how much I appreciate you. You always make me feel so safe and that I can share whatever needs to be shared and that a solution is always uncovered. Thank you Thank you Thank you!”

A FEW DAYS LATER:

“I just finished listening to the 3rd track and spent time with my future self: she says hello and thanks you for sending me for a visit. It was very emotional and I shall have to wait awhile for the red eyes to diminish before I go shopping. What a powerful meditation and how much I needed that. I really needed to feel how through my life I have survived and thrived and in this present time nothing will be any different. I am so very grateful that you are in my life, that you have such wonderful gifts and your meditation was like having a great Angelika hug”.

– B., Mississauga

Please contact me for further information about inner child work or the CD.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The Perfect Mother

A client said to me this week, “I saw my mother again and suddenly realized that I could just be with her, treat her with compassion, see her as a human being. I really have stopped judging her, and am more able to love her the way she is.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Each time when somebody I am working with is healing a relationship, it touches me deeply in my heart.

Another client of mine wrote a letter of gratitude to her stepmother this week. She hasn’t seen her stepmother or her father in twenty years. Their last encounter was one full of anger, conflict and mutual hurt. The daughter has spent the last two decades blaming the stepmother for everything. Those feelings had bound up her energy in the past, and left her feeling unloved and “broken”. She felt she was victimized by her stepmother, who struggled to raise her stepdaughter with the same affection she had raised her own biological children with.

perfect mother - letter

My client did not write the letter for her stepmother, she wrote it for herself. After doing the inner work, she was able to acknowledge her own feelings, but also everything her stepmom had done or had attempted to do; she was truly able to forgive her for what she didn’t do. Nothing of that needed to be written in the letter. Instead it was a simple letter of thank you to the woman who was in her life for most part of her childhood. She didn’t send the letter off to receive a response, nor for the purpose of changing or influencing her stepmother. She wrote it to clear her own energy of resentment and anger out.

Forgiving and shifting into appreciation and gratitude is always primarily for ourselves, “for-giving” ourselves love and freedom. It is also a huge step towards taking responsibility for our own life. When we finally let go of blaming others, we win the ability to respond differently to past, present and future events in our life. We gain true response-ability.

Why do so many of us struggle for such a long time with forgiving our parents for their imperfections? Why do we insist on blaming them and on feeling that they ruined or affected our lives negatively?

We have idealized images of what our mother (and father) should be like. We might all have slightly different ideas, but the perfect mother somehow should be selfless, she should take care of us, she should always be patient and supportive, she should listen well and encourage us, she should be proud of us and make us proud of her, and so much more: in short she should love us unconditionally. Media images, TV shows, movies and books often perpetuate these ideas of the perfect mother and affect our beliefs of what a “good mother” is like. These images stem from our deepest desires to be truly loved. Yet, they cause us to judge our mother and ourselves as mothers because we naturally fall short of this perfect mother myth at times. They are the source of guilt and shame instead of enjoying the love we do feel.

Perfect Mother -Carpenter quote

Most people, no matter whether they are parents or not, are still learning to love themselves and others unconditionally. The perfect mother images disregard the fact that we always mirror and trigger each other’s issues and challenges. Children trigger their parents and parents trigger their children. That is a good thing. It is an opportunity to grow and do our inner work.

What triggers us in others, what we judge and dislike about them, is really what we dislike in ourselves. As long as we refuse to give ourselves what we would like to receive from others, it is out of our reach. Only when we truly feel we are good enough, do we become just perfectly lovable the way we are. We can feel loved by others, no matter how limited their ability to love unconditionally might be.

Perfect Mother - Desjardins quote

Nobody and nothing can prevent us from truly loving ourselves. It is our job to love ourselves; nobody can do it for us! No amount of love from the outside can penetrate through if we do not take the cape of self-judgment, self-loathing or even self-hatred off.

 John Gray cartoon love-hate

  from “What You Feel You Can Heal” by John Gray

On this Mother’s Day, make the choice to let go of the past. Forgive your mother or stepmother, whether they are alive or dead. What happened in the past is over and does not matter anymore. Realize that it doesn’t mean anything unless you give it a certain meaning. Decide that your mother, stepmother, or mother-in-law for that matter, is just perfect the way she is. Start telling your story differently, with love.

Perfect Mother - Tolstoi quote

Free yourself up to love your parents without expectations or needs. Be willing to love them the way they are. Take the cape off that prevents you from feeling the love of others. Finally give yourself the gift of loving yourself the way you are.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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The Dance of Our Parts in Relationships – PART 2 Bonding Patterns

To understand how we interact with our spouse or partner, we need to know about our inner children and about bonding patterns.

BONDING PATTERNS

Bonding patterns are basic units of interaction between people. The primary bonding pattern emerges at birth between the child needing nurturing and the mother giving nurturing. Our primary bonding patterns with our parents or primary care givers become recreated in all our relationships as adults. We are able to solve the issues from our original families in those new relationships.

The mother parts of the woman are bonded into the son parts of the man, and visa versa, the father parts of the man are bonded into the daughter parts of the woman. Bonding patterns represent the interactions between our sub-personalities or selves.

Our Aware Ego allows us to become aware of the bonding patterns, for example to realize that we are in our inner child part in an interaction, or our parent part in another interaction. Through this awareness, I can separate from this bonding pattern. The bonding pattern itself won’t disappear but I am able to meet my partner from the place of my Aware Ego. It gives us choices in our interactions as opposed to interacting automatically.

Hal & Sidra 5

Hal and Sidra Stone

Hal and Sidra Stone are very clear that there is nothing wrong with the parent-child bonding pattern. It is a basic unit of interaction. It is always present in our love relationships. It happens automatically and allows us to be intimate and close. When we love somebody we are protective and want to take care of them. Judging these bonding patterns as “co-dependency” is not helpful. As human beings, we are naturally inter-dependent. The key is to become aware of the bonding dynamics in our relationships, enjoy them when they have a positive impact, but also separate from them when they cause problems.

The positive bonding pattern can tip over into a negative bonding pattern. When the negative bonding pattern is activated because our vulnerability is triggered, we might switch from “good parent” to “judgmental parent”, and that’s when we realize we are in a bonding pattern.

Let’s take an example. Mark makes more money than Barbara and enjoys buying gifts for her or surprising her with get-aways or other special activities. Barbara feels good about having things bought for her as it reminds her of her father who had a similar love language to show his affection. Over time, she is getting used to those gifts and might ask Mark for something more expensive, for example a bigger house. At that point, Mark’s vulnerability is triggered and his fear that he is unable to keep up these expenses. If he is not aware of his fear—and most of us aren’t—he will move from the loving caring father who fulfilled Barbara’s desires into the judgmental father. Barbara is stunned to hear him say, “You are really ungrateful and spoiled. Why do you need an even bigger house? Who do you think you are married to? A millionaire?”

Barbara’s inner child is surprised and hurt and she might in turn judge Mark now as being controlling with money or cheap. With awareness, they are able to realize they are in a parent-child bonding pattern. Mark can then from his Aware Ego explain to Barbara, “My fear was triggered by you asking for the bigger house. I am worried we won’t be able to carry a higher mortgage. Several people have been laid off at my company and I am afraid this might happen to me as well down the road.” Instead of having to protect her inner child by going into a primary personality part to defend herself, Barbara can now respond with love and understanding from her own vulnerable part.

We have to be kind to each other and ourselves when it comes to these bonding patterns. They are natural and we spend a lot of time living in these bonding patterns. Most bonding patterns exist in a positive form. They are not causing trouble. As long as Mark is behaving like a good father and Barbara is the pleasing compliant grateful daughter they might not even realize they are in a bonding pattern. However, the moment Mark becomes the negative father to the frightened little girl inside Barbara, it lets them discover that Mark was taking on the role of responsible father and Barbara was letting him take all the financial responsibility.

This bonding pattern also exists the other way round. When our inner child isn’t taken care of by us, our inner child will hook into our partner and expect them to take care of him (or her). When real physical children come along, and the woman is all focussed on nurturing the little baby, the little boy in the man can become triggered. He might unconsciously drift into a more passive role and let the good mother in the woman run the show. He most likely is not even aware that the only way he feels he can get her attention is by being a little boy himself. That can quickly tip over into a negative bonding pattern when the woman refuses to mother her partner as well because she feels overwhelmed and vulnerable with her new role already.

A bonding pattern tips over when our vulnerability is triggered. That could be because we are frightened, hungry, tired, abandoned, lonely or feeling misunderstood, unappreciated or unloved. When our needs aren’t met, a primary self comes in and takes over. We might get angry or judgmental. These conflicts can go on for a long time or be re-activated over and over again, especially if we are not aware of the mirrors and our disowned selves.

When I have disowned certain things in myself which my partner carries for me, I might get angry at what I don’t like in myself. If Susan is over-identified with being productive and her partner is able to relax and do nothing, she might begin to criticize and judge him for being “lazy” or a “procrastinator”. If John is more serious and his partner is more playful, he might over time judge her as being “immature” and “childish”. If Rita is thrifty and her partner is less concerned with saving money, she might judge him as “irresponsible” and “wasteful”. The ability to relax, be playful or be generous which each of them originally loved in their partner is later on the trigger for judgments.

They might express these judgmental opinions either in words or with looks and in turn their partner will flip into judgmental parent judging them for the opposite. At that point, love “goes out the window”. What once was dear and fascinating to them about their partner is what they now hate. The partner’s inner child feels betrayed and is quite confused, “Wasn’t this the wonderful person who at the beginning loved me for who I am?”

Our disowned selves which we are so ready to criticize in the other person become the bats we are beating each other up with. We forget that what our partner mirrors for us is what we need to embrace and heal inside ourselves. We need to stop when we find ourselves being judgmental and examine how our vulnerability was triggered. How do I really feel underneath this judgmental voice?

We also need to realize that no energy is bad. Energy exists in polar opposites when we have not fully integrated an energy. What if Susan allowed herself to relax more and just be in the moment without the pressure to be productive? What if John took life less seriously and allowed himself to be more playful and laugh more? What if Rita realized her fear is triggered around money but that she can allow herself to be more generous without ending in poverty or debt?

It’s the job of the Aware Ego, not your partner’s responsibility, to properly parent your own inner child. Like a real parent, the Aware Ego has to learn to be a parent to the primary selves and to the vulnerable child. That parent voice is not critical or harsh like the inner critic or a primary self can sound. The parent voice is encouraging, loving and takes care of the inner child’s needs.

If I consciously take care of my own inner child, I won’t expect my partner to do it for me. That prevents these negative bonding patterns from continuing and opens up opportunities to communicate openly about our true feelings and our vulnerability. By taking care of my own inner child, I give myself the gift to have deep, intimate, mutually supportive and honest relationships.

 

If you want to listen to Hall & Sidra Stone’s “The Dance of Our Parts in Relationships”, go to http://www.voicedialogueinternational.com/bookshop.php

Hal & Sidra 4

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Relationship Coaching

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Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

The Dance of Our Parts in Relationships – PART ONE Primary Personality Parts

“Relationships don’t die a natural death.

They are murdered by either

ego, attitude or ignorance

or all of the above.”

 Rose

(Rose Saroyan, Karmic DNA)

My friend Rose Saroyan couldn’t have said it better. My own marriage to the father of my daughters died the death of ignorance and a good portion of ego—mostly my ego—ten years ago. What I mean by that is, we could have made it work, knowing what I know today. Less ignorance and less ego would have allowed us to heal what was greatly strained after 13 years of marriage. We fostered a little girl for several years, and had two daughters of our own. We moved from Germany to Malaysia, back to Germany and then to Canada, starting all over each time. We went through a lot together without ever really knowing ourselves and the dynamic in our relationship.

After the death of our marriage, we created the second best thing: we build a respectful friendship as co-parents of two wonderful children. Yet, the fact remains that the love relationship died—like so many others—because we were not taught about our shadows. Our partners—just as our parents and children—are our mirrors. They bring out all our challenges, not so we can run away from them, but so that we can face them.

For quite a while now, I have been meaning to write about Hal and Sidra Stone’s insights on partnering and relationships. To do their extensive teachings justice, I will need to lay the foundations first. I have decided to write a series of two blogs on relationships, rather than leaving something important out.

Relationships are remarkable teachers for all of us and offer huge personal and spiritual growth opportunities. It usually is so easy to fall in love with each other and be fascinated by the ways in which the other person is different from us but complements us so beautifully. Then a few years down the road, we might find ourselves feeling irritated by exactly what we originally fell in love with in the other person. Why is that?

A relationship is not between two people but between two groups of people. Any relationship involves a multitude of selves in each person interacting with similar or opposite selves in the other person. To explain this further, let me elaborate on the idea of parts of selves.

 

PRIMARY PERSONALITY PARTS

We come into this world vulnerable, and our primary personality parts—which we develop growing up—protect that vulnerability. The objective of our primary selves is to protect the vulnerable inner child. Those could be power selves which allow us to protect our vulnerability by being angry or aggressive; or they could be ambitious selves which help us to make money and be successful; or they could be pleasing selves or gentle selves which make us lovable to the people around us.

The primary selves can take many different forms. It is hard to know what our primary selves are because we tend to identify with them. We see them as “that’s just how I am,” instead of realizing that they are just one energy we have inside us and that we have the freedom to step into another completely different energy. We tend to think we have a fixed unchanging personality, for example, “I am hard working, tough and aggressive”, or “I am sweet, loving, gentle and giving” or “I am passionate, dramatic and emotional”.

On the other side of every primary self, there is an equal and opposite energy. If I grew up identified with power and aggression, on the other side of that energy, there is somebody within me who is vulnerable and weak. If I grew up learning to always put others first and be selfless, on the other side of that energy, there is somebody who puts him or herself first.

Whatever it is that we have disowned in ourselves, that is exactly what the Universe is going to bring to us. The opposite and equal energy which we have disowned will be lived out through our children, our friends, our acquaintances, our business associates, even our animals, and most of all our husband or wife.

Hal & Sidra 2

Hall and Sidra Stone

Sidra, for example, when she first met Hal, was a very rational planner; organized, solution-oriented and careful with money. Hal was more of a dreamer, a visionary, trusting the Universe rather than carefully planning, able to sit in the discomfort of a problem rather than solving it in the fastest way, and a spender.

When we first fall in love with somebody, the vulnerable child feels safe, feels unconditionally loved and accepted. The primary selves can relax and sit back and stop protecting. We are more able to act from the opposites of our primary selves which are also available to us. If my primary self is, for example, serious and mature, I might be able to be more playful and light-hearted. Or, perhaps, I am a very busy person, always productive, using my time efficiently, making sure I never waste any time. When I fall in love and feel absolutely accepted the way I am, I don’t have to be busy to prove I am lovable. I don’t have to accomplish anything. My primary pusher self can relax. Suddenly, I discover I have time to just be in the moment, to take a walk, or to just talk to somebody.

Another thing that happens when we fall in love is that our inner critic, which always finds something to criticize and correct in us, disappears for a while. All of a sudden, I feel perfect; I feel lovable the way I am.

After a while, stress enters into the relationship and the vulnerable inner child feels threatened again. To protect that vulnerable part, our primary selves come back to fight for us.

TO BE CONTINUED

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For relationship coaching contact Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Tender Loving Care

I have been feeling under the weather for the last couple of days and have been observing how it affects me to feel this way. There is nothing like being sick with a cold that brings out the inner child in us. It makes us feel miserable, vulnerable and slightly overwhelmed.

When my girlfriend called me and asked in her ‘mommy voice,’ “How are you, sweetheart?” and responded to me feeling sorry for myself with “my poor sweetie,” I could have cried, not in a bad way, but because she made me feel so loved. Just talking to her made me feel a bit better.

TLC

Not feeling well always reminds me of being sick as a child and makes me miss my mom a bit. For a day or two—or however long it took—all pressures and obligations were gone. Nobody wanted anything or expected anything. It was the perfect state of being, feeling and taking it slow. My mom would run out for me and get me what I needed: reading material and other little treats. She would cook me “feel better” food and make me hot milk with honey. Everything she did said “I care about you and how you feel”.

Wouldn’t it be so fabulous to always be mothered a bit when we are not feeling well? What if somebody did all the housework, shopping, cooking and gave us all the love and attention we need? It IS fabulous when we can relax into knowing that our needs matter.

I have heard women joke many times—and I have  joined in on occasion—that their husbands turn into little babies when they are sick. Often there is a bit of annoyance and judgment underneath those jokes. I also wonder if those comments originate from the deep desire to let our own little girl come out when we are feeling sick.

I had a boyfriend many years ago who would respond to me being sick with “Sorry you are not feeling well. I will see you next weekend.” His only concern was that he didn’t want to get sick himself. Back then, I didn’t know I deserved better. Sometimes relationships teach us what we want, sometimes what we don’t want, or both. Since then one of the most important measures for every relationship I have had has been whether I can be sick and needy when I am with this person.

In a conscious partnership, both individuals are aware of their own inner children and the needs those children have. Both partners communicate those needs openly and make requests based on their feelings and needs. In order to give AND receive, we need to have certain subconscious beliefs in place. Beliefs that we always have to be tough and independent and cannot ask for help or love do not serve us. In order to give ourselves permission to receive, we need to feel that our needs matter, that we deserve to be taken care of, we deserve to rest and we deserve to ask for help.

Obviously, that mothering goes both ways. Maybe next time, when our partner turns into a little baby because he is feeling under the weather, we can give him love and attention without annoyance or sarcasm. If I judge him for reacting this way, it is because I am most likely not allowing myself to be in that vulnerable place when I deep-down really long to be taken care of as well.

Another limiting belief I often hear is that men are just not capable of taking care of others, at least not as well as we women are. They ARE capable! We need to allow them to step into that energy of taking care of others and they will do just fine. Just as we learned to mother others—it wasn’t a gift we were born with—they can learn to do the same. What they are not though, are mind-readers. We need to communicate how we feel and request what we need.

When we let go of our beliefs that we are just better care-takers, the benefits for us are that we can relax into that place of the little girl who just needs some TLC to feel better again soon. Nothing heals faster than Tender Loving Care.

Love

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Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The Essential is Invisible to the Eyes – Understanding the Concept of the Inner Child

We all have an inner child; a little girl or boy inside. This is our vulnerable and loving self that we are born with. In our society, it is part of the process of growing up that our power selves, like the successful self, the intellectual self, the controlling self, the angry self, the perfectionist self, the pleaser self and so on, protect the inner child from becoming a victim. During this necessary process, the inner child gets buried and we can lose our ability to experience intimacy. If we over identify with one or more of those power selves, we might find it difficult to be authentic and vulnerable with others, or to let somebody be close.

When we speak of the Inner Child, what we really mean is a “group of children”. There is the playful child, the scared child, the shy child and other aspects of our child. The core child is often very young. Sometimes my clients are surprised that their inner child does not literally talk to them. That core child might be pre-verbal. However, being with it still allows us to find out what our inner child feels and needs.

Petit Prince2

One way of connecting with our inner child is to allow ourselves to be in a being state as opposed to a doing state. When we over-identify with the doer, who constantly has to be productive and do something, we drown out the voice of the inner child. Another way of connecting with it is to engage in childlike activities. Play without aim or purpose, just for the fun of it. What can help us to bring that playful side of the inner child out is to play with little children or pets in our life. It is never too late to connect with and to free that inner child, no matter how old we are.

Dreams often bring up our disowned selves. When you dream of a baby or young child, whether it is a child in your life that you know or an unknown one, it might very well represent your own inner child. The dream can give you a message about how he or she feels.

Inner child work is not about allowing that inner child part inside to run the show; on the contrary. When we ignore the feelings of that child part in us, it is likely to “jump into the driver’s seat” and take over because it is scared or angry and does not trust that his or her needs are being taken care of.

Don’t become a slave to your inner child, just like you would not allow a real child to run your life. Honour it’s fears and find compromises. The child inside knows what and who is safe. Listen to that voice. Also learn to express hurt. Communicating how your inner child feels is a big part of parenting it. Stay out of toxic situations. Often the need of the inner child is to have enough good food and rest. Inner children also feel safer with some financial stability and independence from others, and more predictable life circumstances.

It is the job of the Aware Ego to parent the Inner Child. If we do not do that for that part in us, a power self will take over and parent the inner child, for example the pusher or pleaser. What also happens in that case is that the child which is not parented lovingly by the Aware Ego, bonds into other people. That bond is unconscious and often desperate or clingy. When you parent yourself with loving care, you are able to have healthier relationships.

Another benefit of connecting with the inner child is that we regain the ability to be intimate and on a soul level closely connected with others. Our inner child is our vulnerability and sensitivity. Hal and Sidra Stone also call it the “doorway to our soul”. Its sensitivity is so great that the Stones say it is “without skin”. It can and does tune into other people, has great empathy and knows what is going on beyond the words somebody speaks. Our inner child sees with the heart.

Sometimes when clients do the inner child work, they expect the inner child to grow up and lose its sensitivity. This part inside never grows up and always maintains the great ability for sensitivity. Inner Child work is not about getting rid of our vulnerability and sensitivity. It is the greatest gift we have. From that part, we nurture and we are able to receive intimate nourishment.

Petit Prince1

In the book “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the fox explains to the Little Prince, who himself is a beautiful representation of a childlike personality, what it means to be connected to one’s sensitivity.

 

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple:

On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur.

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

“Here is my secret, a very simple secret:

It is only with the heart that one can see clearly;

what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

No Mothers Out There

No Mothers

The search for Mother has ended.

The story of Abandonment is over.

The too-good-mother has vaporized into the idea that she was.

No mothers are forthwith.

No mothers on order.

No mothers in back pockets, to pull out at eleventh hours, when all seems lost.

No surrogate mothers.

No hand me down mothers.

No wannabe mothers acting out their mother on me.

No mothers except for She who whispers as the wind.

No mothers except for She who walks beneath me.

No mothers except for She who speaks my name without words.

No mothers except for the One that embraces the space that I am.

No mothers out there.

No mothers out there.

~ Maria Mars, copyright 2014

 

Maria, a very talented friend of mine, wrote this poem. It reminded me that I too used to look for a surrogate mother—until I didn’t anymore. I used to look for that ideal mother in other women my mother’s age. I used to look for her mothering qualities in all my love relationships. Until I realized that the key to wholeness is self-parenting.

The mother is not to be found outside of us in another person. The mother-love is what we open up to. It is always there. We need not earn it or learn it. We need not search for it or find it. We just need to be it and receive it.

Many of us have an inner child which feels scared, lonely, lost or abandoned. Often the only times that we connect with that vulnerable part in us is to criticize or be unloving with that little boy or girl inside. Instead of being supportive, encouraging and unconditionally loving with ourselves we make ourselves feel “not enough” in one way or another.

We can continue in the endless cycle of looking for that love and acceptance outside ourselves in other people, or we can take charge and begin to parent ourselves. We all have wounds to heal; some experiences left smaller wounds, other experiences left bigger ones. There is no wound that cannot be healed through self-love.

When my clients begin their inner child work they are often surprised by how real that little child feels. They might realize that the little one inside is scared or insecure, or feels neglected and is angry for not having been heard. Sometimes the inner child is the part in us which makes us run away from opportunities, or push people away, or act impulsively in some other way. Once we have a clear perception of that voice and realize this is an important part of us, we can embrace it and bring it into the wholeness of our being.

Inner child work is emotional and sometimes surprising; it is always rewarding. Being in touch with your inner child is a huge gift to yourself. What we call the “inner child” is the side of us which allows us to be close and intimate with others.

Being able to check in with the little child part inside to ensure her or his needs are met is the basis for an authentic and fulfilling love relationship. Before we can have a successful relationship with others, we need to establish that relationship with ourselves. When we truly know who we are and what is going on inside we can address what comes up and continuously do our own inner work.

Being aware of your vulnerability in a relationship can mean expressing your feelings and needs calmly, non-confrontationally, lovingly and with the clear expectation that your partner will understand and acknowledge them.

Taking care of our inner child includes taking responsibility for our feelings. Nobody makes us feel a certain way. It also means taking responsibility for our own needs and desires. We need to make sure ourselves that our needs are met, or we need to make clear requests for them to be met by other people.

Embracing all parts of us leads to wholeness. The rewards for doing your inner child work are relationships which arise from an authentic heart space of love, caring and compassion.

Are you ready to connect with your inner child?

Contact Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca