MARRIAGE: Tired of Arguments and Unsolvable Problems

COVID-19 has created an unusual situation for our marriages and close love relationships. Suddenly many couples were forced to live and work in close quarters, often struggling with financial hardships and worried about their health, about educating and entertaining their children at home and about the future in general. For some couples, having the forced time together has rekindled their love and refocused them and their families on what is truly important: their relationships with each other. For other couples, the close and constant proximity has highlighted their differences and accentuated their conflicts and doubts to a point where the pressure has become unbearably painful.

When World War II started, there was a sudden increase in marriages. Unsure of what the future held and perhaps trying to give their lives some normalcy, hope, and joy, many more couples found their way to the altar. These life and death situations seem to force us to make hard decisions one way or another. They bring up our vulnerability and make us realize that life is short and that everything is transient. These moments might push us into getting married or, the opposite, into giving up on our marriage. Perhaps we are also desperately struggling to find something that we are in control of when life is so unpredictable.

Several times over the last few months I have heard from clients, “I am so tired of the same arguments and frustrations. We just don’t seem to see eye to eye. Now it is worse than ever before. All we seem to do is argue. Maybe we would be happier apart.”

Living on top of each other for months is bound to bring to the surface what has always been smoldering underneath. No matter how good a fit we seem to be with our partner at the beginning, no two people are ever perfectly alike in their values, needs, life goals and how they handle crisis situations. It is completely normal for every couple to have similar but also different values and needs. When we are stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, these clashes of values and needs are unavoidable.

Relationship therapists Dr. John and Dr. Julie Gottman have always empathized that in each partnership, there are perpetual problems. In his research, John Gottman found that 69% of problems couples have are repetitive issues because they are based on fundamental differences in personality, lifestyle, or needs. Daniel B. Wile, the late founder and developer of Collaborative Couple Therapy, phrased it well by stating, “Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems” (Dan Wile). That means, no matter which partner we choose, there will always be some issues which are easier to solve and others that turn out to be perpetual problems.

If we invest our energy into changing our partner, we are exhausting ourselves with a hopeless mission and we have completely missed the point. If we are identified with opposite energies in a partnership and entrenched in our position, opening up to the other person and their experience is exactly what we need.

Let’s take Stephanie and Chris and one of their perpetual disagreements. Now more than ever, she wants to be consistent with the bedtime for the kids, while he is more generous and willing to let them stay up later. This creates weekly tensions and discussions between them. Each of them feels unheard and misunderstood.

Underneath our conflicts is a hidden dream, fear, need, or value. To find out the dream or the fear underneath our conflict, we need to ask our partner the question, “What makes this so important to you?” We might also want to be curious if there is an experience behind this situation for our partner, maybe during childhood or in a past relationship. Being curious about the story goes beyond understanding just their thoughts and feelings. We want to find out what our partner values, believes and holds dear.

An important key to a happy relationship is to learn to listen without judgement, to acknowledge the other person’s experience and feelings, and to share our own feelings and experiences with as much openness. Without active listening and true dialogue, we end up in gridlock conflict.

According to Gottman, gridlocked conflict does not simply happen. Dr. John Gottman names the steps on the way to this gridlock situation as:

  1. The partners have opposing dreams or values.
  2. They get entrenched in their opposing positions.
  3. Their fears of accepting influence from their partner increases.
  4. The “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt) are progressively more present in their interactions.
  5. The partners emotionally disengage from each other.

 

All couples will face some forms of perpetual conflict. But those recurring issues do not need to become gridlocked. What a couple needs is the willingness to explore the other person’s side of the conflict and what dreams are beneath their position.

Stephanie and Chris have different needs. Stephanie feels strongly about sticking to the bedtime for the kids. What this is not about is her being controlling, inflexible or not enjoying her kids, as Chris assumes. By 7:30 p.m., she feels overwhelmed and has the need for quiet time to recharge and for alone time with Chris to connect with him. What this is about is her being able to step out of the role as a mother and feeling like a woman. It is also about her needing and valuing a deep connection with her husband, independent of their roles as parents. She is able to communicate to Chris that her parents dutifully stayed together until her dad passed but were always distant and quite cold with each other. They had different interests, were judgmental of each other and did not share their feelings. As a young girl, Stephanie promised herself to have a different marriage.

And what about Chris being more laid back about the bedtime? What this is not about is him being irresponsible, just wanting to be the fun dad and avoiding time with Stephanie alone, as she suspects. As Stephanie asks why being flexible is so important for Chris, they uncover that family time is about comfort, nurturing and belonging for Chris. He grew up as an only child without brothers, sisters or cousins his age. He has always longed to have a big loud happy family. His parents never seemed to struggle connecting with each other. They were going out three or four nights a week, to the theatre, a concert or to meet with their circle of friends. As Chris contemplates his parents’ relationship, he realizes that the quality time they spend together, and their common interests, were probably one reason why they had a good connection.

After both feel heard and their needs and values were acknowledged by their spouse, Stephanie and Chris arrive at a compromise:  From Monday to Thursday the kids bedtime is strict, Friday and Saturday their bedtime is more flexible, and on Sunday evenings Chris and Stephanie plan to spend time together as a couple. As we are going into phase two of the pandemic right now, they are able to expand the group of people they get in contact with and they are able to ask Stephanie’s mother to babysit every Sunday. They also have set the intention to tackle their other perpetual problems with the same open curiosity to arrive at compromises that meet both their needs.

With awareness and adaptability, perpetual problems do not need to mean the death sentence for a relationship. We can move from judgment to being understanding and accepting, to a dialogue about what values and needs are not met and how to negotiate compromises.

 

What are your perpetual problems? What opposing views are you and your partner entrenched in? Have you noticed how criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, or even contempt, play a role in your interactions?

If you are willing to explore your partners dreams, beliefs and values and share your own needs and values reach out for

Online Coaching

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Before booking a session, you will get the opportunity to have a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can ask all your questions and we can determine if we are a good fit as coach and client.

 

 

PSYCH-K® And Getting Yourself Online

In recent months, people all over the world have been reshaping how we work and learn. Even those of us who haven’t felt the need before, have been catapulted into using a variety of online portals to connect and meet with colleagues and friends, to buy groceries and other products, to learn virtually or to offer our own services online.

David Anderson

My friend and fellow coach, Dave Anderson, invited me to join his perfectly timed new venture of encouraging speakers, coaches and other service providers to build their online presence. Dave himself is an inspiring speaker, musician and—together with his business partner Blake Fleischacker—a leader of school programs focusing on anti-bullying and on teaching kids to be safe, smart and kind online. Now, he has designed a program, “Get Your A$$ Online!” to help entrepreneurs establish an online business presence and earn money virtually.

He asked me to join the first session of his mastermind group this week as a belief change coach. It was an honour to meet seven entrepreneurs who are now embarking on the next step in their journey. The participants are looking for connection and mutual learning to generate action and share their visions with the world. This mastermind group is about support, accountability and encouragement.

As one part of Dave’s year-long coaching program, he is offering every participant a belief change session with me. During that session we will examine individual limiting subconscious beliefs that are holding that person back from achieving their goals with ease and confidence.

The doubts and underlying beliefs that hold us back tend to be individual, but some negative beliefs that might come up could be:

  • What if I cannot handle the technology? (I am not good with technology. It is hard for me to learn something new. Etc.)
  • What if people don’t want to pay for what I have to offer? (I am not good enough. I am not providing enough value. I won’t be able to move my existing business online. I am not likable enough. Etc.)
  • What if I can’t make the money I need/want? (I am not worthy of financial abundance. I am not good at making money. I can’t make the money I need doing what I love. Etc.)
  • What if I give up? (I get distracted. I have given up in the past. I am a quitter. I am not persistent enough to follow through.)
  • What if I put myself out there and embarrass myself? (It is not safe to be seen / to be different / to try something new.)
  • What if I put all this time and energy in and I fail? (I always fail. It is embarrassing to fail. Etc.)
  • What if I get incredibly successful and busy with this online venture? (Being too successful will affect my relationships negatively. People will be jealous. I won’t have time anymore. Etc.)

 

Have you ever tried to change your beliefs through affirmations alone? How long did that take and how effective was that? We usually need many repetitions to create lasting changes on a conscious level.

And what about willpower? We can achieve a lot through determination and willpower, but our subconscious mind is a million times stronger than our conscious mind. It is like a sumo wrestler in a wrestling match with a child. Unless we get the sumo wrestler on our side, the match is pretty much lost.

As Bruce Lipton explains, our conscious mind is like a 40-bit computer processor, that can process and manage 40 nerve impulses per second, while our subconscious mind is a super-computer with a 40-million-bit processor, that manages 40 million nerve impulses per second.

In other words, while the conscious mind can process 40 bits of information, the subconscious can process 40 million bits. Our conscious mind only controls a small percentage of all our actions, while 95-99% of our actions are due to our subconscious programs, our beliefs based on our past experiences, traumas, ideas and values.

How do we get into our subconscious mind to change those beliefs that we are often not even aware of?

Bruce Lipton

Bruce Lipton summarizes the four ways of rewriting subconscious programming:

  1. Shock

For example, a belief like “Life is safe for me” can suddenly change to the opposite when we experience a traumatic event like an accident or loss.

  1. Repetition

Affirmations are a way of repeating a new belief over and over again until the subconscious agrees.

  1. Hypnosis

In a normal waking state of consciousness, our brain wave activity is in the beta range. Through hypnosis, we can access alpha and theta brain waves and access the subconscious mind with beneficial suggestions.

  1. Energy Psychology / Belief Change Modalities

Belief Change modalities, like PSYCH-K® or the Shadow Energetics® Belief Change Process, are equivalent to super-learning and are undoubtedly the fastest way of changing a belief. You can rewrite a belief program in 5-10 minutes.

Even though PSYCH-K®, originated by Rob Williams in early 1989, has been around for 30 years now, it is still is a bit of an “insider tip” when you want to change your subconscious mind.

Bruce Lipton calls PSYCH-K “an energy-based psychological treatment system” (The Biology of Belief) and recommends it as one way of changing your belief system. In fact, both PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics, developed by my friend Darryl Gurney, are energy psychology techniques which allow us to effectively shift our beliefs at a subconscious level.

When I first learned PSYCH-K® in the spring of 2006, my background at that point was in hypnosis to help my clients reach their conscious goals. I hypnotized them, and taught them self-hypnosis, to be able to continue certain suggestions at home, but I wondered if there was a faster and more efficient way of changing our beliefs and seeing the results right away. There is! PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics both allow us to change a particular belief in just a few minutes.

“PSYCH” stands for “Psyche” and the “K” for Kinesiology. Applied Kinesiology, also referred to as “muscle testing” or “energy testing”, allows us, whether we use PSYCH-K® or the belief change process from Shadow Energetics, to communicate with our Subconscious Mind and our Higher Self (called the Superconscious Mind by Rob Williams).

We cannot say something that our subconscious believes to be a lie without experiencing a weaker muscle response—compared to when we are expressing something our subconscious deems to be true. That is extremely fortunate for us, because it allows us to determine what our subconscious really agrees with. Once we have detected that a certain beneficial belief is not held at a subconscious level, we can ask permission (through the muscle testing) to make a change and to program or establish this more supportive belief.

To ensure safe physical distancing, I am right now offering all my sessions exclusively online. If you have come to see me in person and you have experienced me muscle testing (energy testing) you to determine your subconscious beliefs, you might wonder how this works online. Thankfully, it is possible for me to energy test for you. You will go through the belief change processes at your end as I demonstrate them via zoom. To read some client reviews for the online work, please click here.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Check out

Dave Anderson’s 

30 Day Challenge to Get Your A$$ Online

or reach out to him on Facebook.

What Is Your Story?

Do you like stories about relationships? I love them. Lately, we have been watching old seasons of the sitcom “Modern Family”. It felt like we needed some good laughs. Some seasons are of course better than others, but what I really appreciate about this show is that the characters, even though stereotypical, are easy to sympathize with. They are human, every single one of them, and they take turns being the one who learns a lesson, just like in real life. Nobody has it all quite together and this show reminds us that we are lovable with all our flaws, vanities, insecurities and dreams.

Due to the mockumentary-style of the show, we get insights into the character’s thoughts about themselves and their loved ones. Thus “Modern Family” also illustrates well how we all run a story of who we were in the past, who we are in the present and who we can be in the future, and how our family plays a part in shaping that story. The show provides different perspectives of the same situation or same person and demonstrates that we are not stuck with one view of things.

Our personal life story is never just a summary of facts and events. We as the narrator cannot help but interpret what happened. What is essential is how we integrate the facts and events internally into a coherent story which has characters and a plot line that weaves it all together and gives meaning to the events. Our story, as we tell it in our heads and to others, becomes an essential part of our identity.

Years ago, I had a young client whose story I have told many times as a powerful example for how we do not need to let our story limit who we are. She was the youngest of three siblings. When she was little, her family had a car accident. Her dad died and her mom became wheel-chair-bound and experienced chronic pain. Life was safe and comfortable one moment, and suddenly became a huge struggle. My client could easily have told a story of adversity and hardship. She could have focused on the loss and sacrifice. Nonetheless, she was positive and felt that her experience was not a misfortune but had helped her become who she was. All three siblings cherished their family and supported each other. They worked hard, became professionally successful, and adapted a great attitude towards life. All three of them chose to tell empowering life stories rather than disempowering ones.

But it is not just the tough stories that invite us to shift from a victim story to an empowering one. Sometimes it is the story of a so called “easy start in life” that leave us feeling undeserving. I have heard people tell me “I had two loving parents, who provided well financially and allowed me to explore my passions. I got to do sports, arts and music. My parents weren’t rich but supportive. I had an easy start in life. I never had to overcome anything. Who am I to be a role model to others?”

In my experience, everybody experiences some hardship at some point in their life. Some people as children, some as young adults, others in their 40s or 60s. It is important not to let your story hold you back. The same applies to the “I had an easy start in life” story as to a “hardship” story. How you connect the simple facts with a central theme and what meaning you give the events, is completely up to you.

Before we can potentially change our story, we need to discover what story we have been telling in our heads and to others. As a belief change coach, I work with beliefs and stories on a regular basis. We can explore how our stories are serving us, but also how they are holding us back. Our stories always reflect the beliefs we have internalized about ourselves, our relationships, other people and the world in general.

What’s your story? What is the plot and what are the main characters? Do you see yourself as the hero or villain, as the victim or the fighter? If you are willing to dig a bit deeper, you might be surprised which positive and also which limiting patterns you can discover.

In her book “Loving Bravely”, Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD, suggests an illuminating exercise of creating a table of contents for your life story. These are the questions she asks to discover the patterns:

  • What is the title of your entire life story?
  • What chapters are there and how will you title those chapters?
  • Then fill in the details: Who are the major characters? Who has stood in your corner, who has presented you with challenges?
  • What are the central conflicts or major themes in your life?
  • What have been your most impactful lessons?
  • What are your favourite chapters and why?
  • In what ways have you been blessed?
  • Select 3-5 patterns or themes that represent your core issues and capture your life so far.
  • Now select 3-5 themes that you would like to have captured in the upcoming chapters of your life. What needs to be shifted?

 

If you want to explore your story or change your limiting subconscious beliefs, please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Right now, due to COVID-19, I have shifted all my sessions to

Online Sessions

Please click on the link and read these testimonials from individuals and couples about their resent zoom sessions with me.

If you are still unsure afterwards, you can start with a

free phone consultation.

Online Sessions During COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has brought us lots of fear and challenges all over the world. It has brought anxiety, pain and stress. It has shaken us up to rethink our healthcare systems, our ways of doing business, our society, and the impact our way of living has on our environment.

Because this time is shaking us up, it also brings us new opportunities. What comes to mind is the gift of more time that we are being gifted right now. Instead of running from one scheduled event to the next or commuting for hours every day, we have extra time now to connect with our families. We have time to relax and perhaps reflect and consider our habits and our schedule that is usually so full. This is an opportunity to experience a slowing down. It is also an opportunity to reflect about a better future with more sustainability, simpler and healthier food, more kindness, compassion, and caring and overall less stress. We are making changes to our lives right now, some of which might be beneficial to keep once the crisis is over.

The shut-down of large parts of our economy and of tourism all over the world is rough on all the affected industries and people working in these areas. At the same time, we are observing a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses and other pollution of our air, our land and our waters. Images from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), as well as satellite footage from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), show for example a significant decline in NO₂ emissions over the last two months, particularly over Italy and China. Perhaps this makes us contemplate keeping some of these ways of polluting less also after the crisis is over, to save our environment. COVID-19 brings us together on a global level. We are all affected, and we are all part of the solution. It is an opportunity to reconsider our societies and reorganize our way of doing things globally to have less of a detrimental impact on our planet.

One great opportunity the current restrictions and the practice of social distancing brings is to connect virtually in meetings, classrooms and individual sessions. How can we turn this time of challenges into a time of opportunities by connecting online? What if most of us could save all the time commuting and work from home? What if schools discovered new ways of teaching? What if my favourite therapist or coach is just a click away without me sitting in traffic to get to a session?

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

 

Like most coaches, I have shifted all my appointments to online sessions. I have always worked with clients who live further away by connecting through Skype or Zoom. In the past I already addressed the question, Can PSYCH-K® be done via Skype, Zoom or on the phone? Now I am also offering online session to you, if you live close by.

I have been teaching via the platform Zoom daily throughout the last few weeks and I am positively surprised how stable it is despite the increased number of people using it for meetings. But what is “Zoom”, you might ask, and how would you and I use it?

 

What is Zoom and How Does It Work?

Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool that allows you and me to meet online, with or without video, very similar to connecting on Skype. Zoom offers a good quality video, audio and a wireless screen-sharing option, if I have a document to share with you. We can see each other and hear each other well. I can guide you through belief change processes using PSYCH-K® or Shadow Energetics, releasing emotions, an IFS process, a meditation, relaxation or even a hypnosis session. If you are used to me muscle testing you in person, you also know that I can simply stand-in for you and do the energy testing on my end.

 

Is it safe?

You get your own private login username and password for each session, which I will e-mail or text you. Zoom offers end-to-end secure encryption (using Advanced Encryption Standard AES-256) for video sessions. This helps ensure that the video session cannot be eavesdropped on or tampered with. In other words, only the host (myself) and the invited participant (yourself) has access to the video session. As an additional precaution, I have enabled the Zoom “Waiting Room” feature which means an attendee cannot join the video session unless the host (myself) admits them individually from the ‘waiting room’.

I also give you my assurance that no sessions with clients will be recorded. As a further assurance, you can verify this yourself because there would be a clear notification at the top left corner of the Zoom “window” if the Zoom video session was being recorded.

 

How Do I Get on Zoom?

  1. Go to zoom.us
  2. Click the “Join a Meeting” tab. You can find the tab on the top right corner of the homepage.
  3. When prompted, add your designated Meeting ID, which I will e-mail you prior to the session.
  4. We are connected at the agreed upon time!

 

 

Is a Zoom Session as good as an in-person Session?

I will let some of my clients answer this question by sharing their testimonials.

CLIENT REVIEWS:

Dave:

My name is Dave, and I’ve been working with Angelika for almost two years now. My sessions began with her at a very low point in my life. Angelika’s belief change coaching and emotional release counselling has literally transformed my life on both a personal and professional level. My work with Angelika has enabled me to heal from some devastating personal and family losses and, more recently, to successfully navigate a complete career change in mid-life!

On occasion, due to inclement weather, I’ve done remote video sessions with Angelika using my laptop. Admittedly, I was skeptical beforehand as to the benefit of an online session. However, I was amazed how adept Angelika was in adapting her belief change and emotional release exercises to an online setting so effectively.

So when Angelika suggested using Zoom video technology for our future sessions due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, I agreed without hesitation. Despite the sacrifices and inconveniences we are all currently undergoing, I feel very grateful for this video technology option that will allow me to continue my invaluable life coaching sessions with Angelika in the comfort of my own home.

– David W

 

Julia:

Work with Angelika has been a game changer in realizing my professional and personal potential for several years now. Having moved to Europe to continue with my MBA degree, I was determined not to lose this important tool in my development.

At first, I wondered if online sessions via zoom would have the same comfortable and enabling energy as the setting at Angelika’s?! But then I though to myself: “We will make it work. After all, technology has enabled so many advancements in our society.”. If patients can move their medical check-ups to telehealth format, then surely Greendoor Relaxation can follow in these footsteps.

My first Zoom session with Angelika was well set-up and seamless. In a matter of 15 minutes, I could not even tell the difference.

I quickly realized that this format also had advantages. First, I did not have to spend extra time commuting. Second, I was able to talk out of the comfort of my couch. Third, Angelika stepped in to muscle test whenever needed. All I had to do was relax and watch her do her “magic”. And that was great! I trusted that she is more experienced and attuned in receiving guidance for our sessions.

My personal call to action for all those who are wondering if Zoom session is the right format for Greendoor Relaxation: Give it a try! We are fortunate to have this choice.

– Julia T.

 

Tobias:

My wife and I have been seeing Angelika for marriage counselling for 9 months now. We usually purchase one of her packages and see her every 2-3 weeks. She has taught us to communicate differently, to be a team and to get through a challenging time with one of our kids. It has been very fortunate for us that Angelika also speaks German, so that my wife and I can speak in our mother tongue with each other during the sessions. Despite COVID-19 we wanted to continue our sessions. We are very satisfied with our first online appointment. Angelika was able to guide us and help us with an issue we were struggling to solve on our own. It was not much different from our usual sessions in her office. While the coronavirus pandemic continues, we will see Angelika via Zoom.

– Tobias M.

 

 

from April 1 to April 14

11/2 – 2 hour online sessions

for individuals and couples

20% off

If you have lost your job or you are financially struggling because you are self-employed, reach out and talk to me, especially if you are a previous client.

I am here to help you and your family through this time.

If you are in existing client, I am offering the option of shorter booster sessions in lieu of your regular two hour session during the months of April and May.

For health care workers or first responders, a session is complimentary right now.

 

Reach out for a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The AWARE Approach to Anxiety

Have you ever experienced anxiety, and have friends and family tried to help you out by telling you to “calm down” or to “stop thinking about it”? Have they tried to reason with you, pointing out that your fears seem exaggerated or unrealistic? Has either of that helped? I’m sure it hasn’t. There is no arguing with the anxious part in us and no just trying to ignore it. Anxiety persists and gets even stronger when we do that.

We live in a time where depression and anxiety are both on the rise. Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common types of mental disorders in Canada and have a major impact on the daily lives of those suffering from it and on their loved ones, who often are support people. According to Statistics Canada, three million Canadians (11.6%) aged 18 years or older suffered with a mood and/or anxiety disorder in 2013. It is important that we learn to understand what can be done to address anxiety.

A person with an anxiety disorder comes to treat their anxious feelings not just as a symptom of nervousness, but behaves as if there is a threat. The mark of a chronic anxiety disorder is that a person feels afraid and defensive when they are not presently in danger. A part of us takes over that wants to protect us. We are left with our instinctive three responses to enemies: fight, flight or freeze. All these are very useful when there is real danger. These instinctive reactions allow us to act without conscious thought and to either fight, run away, or play dead when confronted with a dangerous enemy. These responses, however, are extremely unhelpful when we are caught up in “What if…” thoughts or worries about a future that hasn’t yet happened, and is most likely not even going to happen the way we fear.

What we have to keep in mind is that anxiety is not about being in a dangerous situation. Therefore, the first two questions to ask according to anxiety expert David A. Carbonell are:

  1. Does the problem I am afraid of exist right now in the present moment?
  2. If so, what can I do to address the situation? If not, I am dealing with severe discomfort, but not acute danger.

 

When a bus is driving towards us, we are busy jumping out of the way instead of distracting ourselves. Or if a dog is attacking us, we are busy fighting the dog off rather than distracting ourselves. So, when you feel the urge to distract yourself from the fear, that is a powerful reminder that you are not in present danger.

For some people, the fear of fainting during a panic attack is an issue. If that is one of your worries, let’s examine what happens in the body for us to faint. What causes a person to faint is a sudden and significant drop in blood pressure. Because the brain is at the top of our body it has difficulty getting an adequate supply of blood. Fainting brings the brain down to the floor to guarantee the blood supply. However, during an anxiety episode or panic attack, the blood pressure is doing the opposite, it is going up, not down. Carbonell mentions in his book “Outsmart Your Anxious Brain” that in thirty years of seeing anxiety clients, exactly five clients have fainted and that was due to a rare condition called POTS, which less than 1% off the population has. If you had that condition, you would know because you would have a history of fainting frequently.

Once having determined that there is no acute and present danger, rather than trying to argue with the fear, or trying to distract ourselves from it, or going into fight, flight or freeze, what is most useful is to relax, be with the fear and give it time to pass.

In my article “Hello, Old Pal Anxiety!” I mentioned greeting the anxiety like an old friend, “Hello, my friend. I know you. You are my old pal fear. Welcome back.” While we are simply watching the physical sensations, we use deep belly breathing.

Taking a deep breath can be tricky when we are tensed, so start with a deep sigh or two, exhaling with an open mouth before you take your first deep belly breath. You can place one hand on your belly (to feel it filling up with air) and the other one on your upper chest (for comfort). As you inhale through your nose, let your belly come out and fill up with air. Take a short pause, and then exhale through your mouth and let your belly become smaller again. Continue this way of breathing while you remind yourself that every anxiety episode has an end.

In his book “Outsmart Your Anxious Brain”, David A. Carbonell outlines five simple steps to address anxiety.

Accept

Resistance to the part in us which is coming up with warnings is futile. The fearful part will only make itself heard more loudly. In the end, we feel worse when we resist or argue with the anxious part. The opposite of resistance is acceptance. Simply decide to accept that it is there. Welcome it. It is there for a reason. There is some deep wisdom behind this part showing up, even though it seems like it is trying to make life harder for you.

Watch

Watch the sensations and observe your symptoms without judgement. Carbonell suggests keeping a symptom journal, because it keeps our mind in the present moment. Watch how this part makes you feel physically and listen to what is has to say with open curiosity.

Act

This does not mean trying to stop the anxiety. That is not your job when you are experiencing fear! The anxiety will last as long as it lasts, no matter what we do to stop it. Acting means to see if you can feel a little more comfortable while you wait for it to end. One main way of acting is the deep belly breathing I described above.

You could also communicate with the part in you that is trying to protect you with “What If…” thoughts. Do not argue with it. What we resist persists.  Instead remember that there is a part in you that has the best intentions. This part is separate from you. It is trying to protect you. Humour it. Listen to it. Let it know you understand what it is trying to do for you. Let it know that it makes sense to you that it would feel it has to give you anxiety symptoms to warn you. Let it know how very grateful you are for what it is trying to do for you.

Carbonell suggests using the “Yes, and…” rule of improvisational theatre. Agree with what this part has to say and add to it in a humorous way. He gives the example of a man who is anxious about his next job evaluation: “Chris might respond to his frequent thought, ‘What if the boss gives me a poor evaluation?’ By replying, ‘Yes, and he’ll probably hit on my wife too and steal her from me once I’ve been fired!’”

Repeat

The “R” in the AWARE method stands for “repeat”. You simply continue to repeat the accepting, watching and breathing or talking to the “What-If” part. Practice is key for addressing anxiety.

End

Have you ever had an anxiety episode that did not end? They all end, no matter what you do or don’t do. Remind yourself of the fact that it ends as you accept, watch and breathe.

The AWARE method outlines clear steps to respond to anxiety rearing its head. Carbonell also suggests making daily ten-minute appointments to worry out loud in front of a mirror, just letting one what-if thought after the next flow. People find that by giving the anxious part room in that way, that the rest of the time they feel less anxious.

To practice the AWARE method and to learn other techniques to embrace yourself with your anxiety, reach out for a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work – And How to Ensure You Are Reaching Your Goals for 2020

Another year has passed and if you are like most people, you might be looking back right now, reflecting on your toughest challenges but also your happiest moments. Perhaps you can feel gratitude for what unfolded in 2019 and how it has served you. You might also be looking ahead, wondering what dreams and goals are still waiting to be fulfilled.

https://pixabay.com/photos/new-year-s-day-target-resolutions-4705447/

I had a client a couple of days ago who, when we spoke about goals for the new year, insisted that she doesn’t know what she wants. Yet, we had already determined a hierarchy of her values and she had great clarity on what her top six values are. Ultimately, our values determine our dreams and goals. If family and friends are one of my top values, I will need to spend time with them in the new year. If adventure and new experiences are important, I might plan an exciting trip. If health is high on my list of values, I might want to make healthy lifestyle changes. Or if financial security is an important value, being out of debt or owning a house might be one of my goals. If companionship and love are high values, I might want to put myself out there to find a partner.

When we feel a resistance to planning ahead or figuring out our goals, we might hold an underlying belief that our wishes and dreams never come true anyways. Or perhaps we had a traumatic experience in the past where we made important plans which have not come true, and we are still grieving the loss of those dreams and plans.

We also need to have supportive subconscious beliefs in place to reach specific goals. Popular new year’s resolutions tend to be losing weight, exercising more, living healthier (e.g. quitting smoking, drinking less, changing your diet), financial abundance, travelling, or attracting a romantic partner.

But new year’s resolutions alone simply don’t work very well. They only work if we get our powerful subconscious mind on board with our conscious goals. Let me illustrate this with a couple of examples.

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/weight-loss-weight-nutrition-scale-2036969/

In order to successfully lose weight, we for example need to believe at a subconscious level that

  • we can lose weight easily and effortlessly
  • exercising and moving our body is fun and enjoyable
  • we have a normal or fast metabolism
  • it is safe to be slim and attractive
  • it is easy to keep the weight down

and much more.

Or in order to get our finances in order and create abundance and financial security, we need to for example believe that

  • we can support ourselves
  • we deserve to make and keep money
  • we are good with money and finances
  • we can be a “good person” and make lots of money
  • we can do what we love and make the money we want

to just name a few beliefs.

No matter what dreams or goals we have, no matter what we want to create in our lives, whether that is better health, more abundance or loving relationships, we ultimately want happiness. So, it all begins with the decision to start loving what is and what we are creating right now. It literally begins with the decisions to live a joyous life in the present moment, instead of putting happiness on hold until we have reached a particular goal. From that joy we can more easily create what we want to see in our lives.

We also really need to focus all our attention on making the change. Another reason why new year’s resolutions don’t work is that we often do not consistently set and follow concrete action steps to reach our goals. Choose one goal that you want to reach and make it your first priority by figuring out reachable and reasonable action steps. Where attention goes, energy flows. And where energy goes, shifts and changes occur.

Making changes and keeping your new year’s resolutions starts with changing your subconscious beliefs and your thoughts. As you think differently, you are able to create better health and experience more abundance in every area of your life. PSYCH-K® and the belief change technique from Shadow Energetics allow us to reprogram your limiting beliefs into those beliefs which support your conscious goals for 2020.

Reach out to Angelika for more information

or to book a session in person

or—if you are not in the area—through Zoom.

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/new-year-s-day-new-year-s-eve-2020-4720207/

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A.R.E. you there for me?

Daniel is dating Kelsey. He is incredibly attracted to her beautiful body, he loves to touch and kiss her, and cannot wait to make love to her. She has told him that she is not quite ready yet to be physically intimate with him, but that she will let him know. She has shared with him that a year prior, another man took advantage of her when she was drunk. They are in her room, where they have been studying together for the next exam, and the young couple ends up in a passionate embrace. Daniel is excited and can feel that Kelsey is getting more comfortable with him as well. He could push on and coax her into moving into the next step. He decides to do what is so much harder, which is to honour her request and go for delayed gratification. He leaves. Without fully realizing it, he has laid the basis for a trusting relationship with her.

Christina is five months pregnant with their first child. The midwife has examined her and has recommended to go for an ultrasound. She is concerned that the baby might not be putting on enough weight, especially as Christina is of what is looked at as “advanced maternal age”, at 39 years old. Christina calls her husband, Daniel. He is stressed due to an important deadline at work, but he knows that Christina has experienced three miscarriages in her first marriage and wasn’t supported by her ex-husband. He can hear the fear in her voice. He always does his best to ensure that he is accessible by phone. Despite his work deadline, he agrees to come to the hospital with her because she needs him as her anchor. Doing this, he has reassured her that he will—unlike her ex-husband—put her first when she needs his emotional support, no matter how busy he is.

John just turned 75. He wakes up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, which leaves him not feeling well. He had a heart attack ten years ago and since then, he has been secretly worried about his health. He has trouble breathing. He wonders whether he should reach over and wake Betty. What if she is annoyed with him for being such a baby? He decides to take the chance. Betty responds with understanding and care. She holds him, talks to him and soothes him. They fall asleep again together, arm in arm. She was accessible, responsive and willing to engage with him, despite it being 2:30 a.m. She was willing to be his emotional anchor.

These examples are of three couples of different ages and at different points in their lives and their relationships. Yet, in each case, one of them is asking in one way or another, “Are you there for me? Do I matter? Do my feelings and needs matter to you? Will you honour my requests, fears and needs? Can you be my anchor when I am afraid?” And the other one responds by being mindful of the partner’s requests and needs, by being accessible, responsive and willing to be present and engaged.

We as humans crave nothing more than deep intimate connections with at least one other person, yet, we are at the same time deeply afraid of reaching out to that other person and entrusting them with our fears and needs. The longing to be truly seen for who we are is strong, yet often the fear of rejection is stronger.

In the age of speed-dating, Tinder, and many sites for sexual encounters, we more or less live in and experience a hook-up culture. It has never been so easy to find somebody for a one-night stand, for sexting or for other erotic experiences. Those interactions often leave us temporarily distracted from our inner pain, but ultimately feeling more alone and empty inside.

We receive our wounding in relationships and we also heal in relationships. Our partner becomes a substitute for our parents or caretakers and therefore, our partner triggers our childhood wounds. As painful as this is, there is also the beautiful opportunity to heal these wounds and shift those memories, experiences and beliefs from our childhood, within the “container” of our present-day partnership.

Our partner also heals the wounds we have experienced through previous partners. If a past partner has hurt, disappointed or betrayed the person you are with, you have the honour to be their healer. That is an incredible gift you are being given. It’s a call to show up with awareness, gentleness, understanding and most of all, integrity. Ask yourself what it means to be truly intimate, available, reliable and safe.

Or as Sue Johnson phrases it: “The key question in love is not, ‘How many orgasms can I have with you?’ It is, ‘A.R.E. you there for me?’, where A.R.E. stands for emotionally Accessible, Responsive and Engaged.”

Our deepest healing happens within the boundaries of a safe, exclusive, committed and intimate relationship. In order to heal, we need to acknowledge that we all have wounds, some might be due to bigger traumas, others due to smaller traumas. We need to be ready to let go of the past and expect the best now from our current partner. And as the partner, we need a compassionate attitude and the willingness to be patient; to affirm and re-affirm, to assure and reassure.

The more you A.R.E there for your partner and your partner for you, the deeper your connection will be and the more you will be rewarded in all areas of your relationship. Emotional intimacy translates into physical intimacy and vice versa.

“This quality of emotional connectedness also seems to translate into the bedroom and erotic connection. Securely bonded lovers report more and better sex. They are more confident in bed and can deal with sexual disconnects and problems together. When you are safely connected, you can relax, let go, and give in to sensation. You can take risks and reach for erotic adventure. You can share and respond to each other’s deepest needs and desires.” (Sue Johnson)

What would it be like if, next time your partner reaches out to you, you would be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged? And what would it be like if you gathered all your courage to be vulnerable and reach out to your partner, trusting him or her to be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged?

Image by Skitterphoto on Pixabay

 

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

How Do I Accurately Assess a Potential Relationship Partner?

Listen to the blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read it below.

Are you dating and wondering if this time around the other person is the right long-term partner for you? What is required to assess another person realistically and minimize repeating heartbreak and disappointment?

I often see people leaving their marriage or common-law relationship and within a few months, they are involved with somebody else, declaring that this time, things are different.
What has most likely happened in those cases? It is very possible that the person has skipped an important step, the one of grieving and completing the old relationship. Instead, they have simply replaced one partner with the next, because that is what we are taught to do.

If you are like most people, you will associate the word “grief” with a loved one dying. In reality, grief and loss, in one form or another, occur with most changes in our lives, including the end of a relationship.

When a relationship ends in separation or divorce, it brings huge changes to our daily routine, to our friendships and social interactions, and often to our financial situation. There may be elements of relief that the pain and suffering we experienced being in the relationship is over, but there will also be elements of grief and having to adapt to the changes.

Processing the changes can be challenging because our environment is not supportive. Often, the advice we are given when a relationship ends is along the lines of “don’t feel bad” and “there are many fish in the sea and you’ll find somebody else”, or in other words, “replace the lost relationship with another one”, as if partners are simply exchangeable.

What is required to move forward without dragging our old baggage with us is to fully process the previous relationship, understand what patterns caused the break-up, and grieve the old relationship and the loss of our dreams for the future. The choice to be with somebody else without having done the deeper work might come from fear of being alone. I know because I have experienced this myself in the past. I remember being very much in love with a man many years ago and feeling shocked and heartbroken when the relationship ended due to depression and mental health issues. Within five months, in fact by Christmas that same year, I was dating somebody else, convinced he must be “the love of my life”. What was really underneath this rash decision was that I didn’t want to be alone for Christmas. I had not vetted this man properly and the relationship did not last long.

Jumping into the next relationship without knowing the other person well will most likely cause further heartbreak when that relationship also ends. So how does one not give in to the temptation to rush into the next relationship? And how do we evaluate other people as a potential match?

Dr. Joan Borysenko likes to joke that “if your parents were alcoholics, you can go to a cocktail party, and there’s one alcoholic, and you’re going to end up talking to that one person.” We are naturally drawn to what is familiar and unresolved from childhood. Therefore, we need to be aware of our wounds and our patterns. What have I learned about myself, other people and love relationships growing up? If I am afraid to be alone or have a pervasive fear of abandonment, I might rush into the first possible relationship that shows up and recreate a vicious circle of repeating heartbreak. Or if one of my parents was emotionally distant that might be exactly what I find myself attracted to over and over again, even though I suffer greatly when my partner retreats and closes off.

When we get to know somebody, it pays off to take it slow and to not focus so much on ourselves, but to actually be really curious about the other person. If we focus internally on how someone makes us feel, for example attractive, admired, or appreciated, that focus on ourselves does not tell us anything about the other person. We cannot hear what people tell us between the lines if we are too distracted by our own feelings. We want to learn to read other people relatively quickly before we get emotionally attached to them. Once we have started to bond with somebody or have announced the new relationship to all our social contacts, we are more likely to make excuses for them and to put up with behaviours, character traits and values that will become deal breakers in the long run.

In order to assess somebody for a match, we need to know what our own values are and which ones are “must haves” or “deal breakers”. We need to learn to listen for other people’s values in what they share with us. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • What matters to them? What values become apparent? Are these values in line with your top 10 values?
  • What is their position on taking responsibility for their own words and actions? Do they blame others, like ex-partners, for past difficulties?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do they look at challenges and problem solving in regards to life situations, especially relationships? If they are conflict-avoidant, they won’t be able to work relationship issues out when they arise.
  • How great are their interpersonal skills and communication skills? Do they have a high EQ which allows them to have empathy, share their own emotions and maintain relationships beyond the initial connection?
  • Do they have a history of working through situations, or are they most likely a “fair weather friend”, who is going to be there for a good time but does not have the resilience to work through challenging life situations?

Even after a few dates, we don’t have the entire picture yet. We are likely filling in the blanks with wishful thinking. Rather than deceiving ourselves that we already know a lot, let’s continue to remain curious and open to discover what the other person is really like. Hypnotherapist Michael Yapko recommends to make a concrete list of 25 things we do not know about this person, any one of which could be a potential deal-breaker. What are the things you don’t know for sure yet, and still need to find out?

Before we commit to another person, it is also beneficial to have one or two honest friends or family members vet this potential new partner. In order for this to be helpful, we of course have to be willing to listen to their impressions and assessment. The best way to attract a more successful relationship is not to approach the search for a new partner with desperation and immediacy but with curiosity, a realistic attitude and by taking one step at a time.

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Balance (Costa Rica 3)

“Libras are sooo balanced”, my mom would say a bit sarcastically, commenting on both my dad’s as well as my own astrological sign, “but just wait until they become unbalanced, then you better go into hiding. The arm of the scale will just come crashing down, once the Libra has lost the balance.”

Now, that was my mom’s perspective, yet, I have to say for myself that there was certainly a grain of truth in what she observed. Often people comment on how calm and balanced I appear to be. What most people don’t know is that being in that serene state requires awareness when I am about to become unbalanced, and the conscious effort to create balance every single day. At different times in my life, I have allowed myself to lose that self-care piece and have become emotionally, or mentally, or physically, or spiritually unbalanced, or all of the above. I learned some lessons the hard way. When I am unbalanced, I am not able to show up the way I want to show up. That has made me hyper aware of how to remain centred.

Returning from my trip to Costa Rica, has been a journey of integration. Integrating the learned lessons and experiences while getting back into routines which allow me to create an equilibrium between work and relaxation, between intellect and heart/spirit, between doing and being, between external and internal focus, between socializing and alone time.

Personally, I find that I need to make time for myself first thing in the morning to raise my vibration, or in other words, to get myself into a joyous positive state.

In Costa Rica, the sun rose at 5:30 a.m., beckoning me to start my day. One of the resorts we were staying at offered 6:30 a.m. yoga in an outside patio. You could see and hear the warm rain falling, smell the plants, hear the birds and monkeys calling. It felt like a piece of paradise. This was the perfect start to balance the body, the mind, the heart and the spirit, and to create a day that unfolds smoothly and gracefully.

At home, I start my day by journaling, to address any of the messages from my dreams, which my subconscious has brought to my attention during the night. Sometimes that means I need an emotional release or a belief change or I need to work with some parts (IFS). Being an observer of different parts (voices) that come up in me and honouring them, allows me to be less reactive and more aware.

I then get on my stationary bike to activate my endorphins. After that work out, I call a wonderful client of mine every morning to do a spiritual mind treatment together.

A spiritual mind treatment is affirmative prayer. In that ritual, we connect with Source energy, recognize that we are one with that one Divine creative power and affirm what we want to manifest each day. We end with gratitude, knowing that we are already receiving what we have asked for, and release our words to the Universe.

 

How do you start your day and create balance for yourself?

We all have different ways of how to get and keep ourselves in a state of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual balance. What is your practice? Is it meditation, yoga, drawing tarot cards, playing music, exercising?

Or if you don’t have an established routine for yourself, consider what would give you personally the best start to your day. How do you get yourself in a great mood, into heart-openness and in a state of clear mental focus, so that you can begin each day with positive expectations?

By consciously creating routines that meet your needs and help you to experience peace and calm, you can respond to and grow through many of the challenges that come our way every day. Each day can be a wonderful day when we consciously choose to make it so.

 

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

Pura Vida (Costa Rica 1)

“Pura Vida”, says the vendor at the beach with a smile as I leave his stall with a pair of hand painted shoes for my shoe loving—or should I say, shoe crazy—daughter. One of the sneakers I bought for her shows a sloth, the other a toucan.

Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, have adopted the beautiful philosophy of “Pura Vida”. They use this term to say hello, to say goodbye, to say that they are doing well. Pura Vida is the way Ticos live. They don’t stress about things the way most of us around the world do; they are more laid back and content. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Costa Rica rates as one of the happiest countries in the world. Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. They are conscious of nature, and they make family and friends their primary focus. Pura Vida is being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on lack or any misfortune.

Pura Vida also means that everything has its own time and takes usually longer than expected, especially when it comes to getting from one destination to the next. On our 12 day trip to beautiful Costa Rica, we traveled from the capital San Jose to the volcano area of Arenal, from Arenal to the coast and the National Park in Manuel Antonio, and then back again to San Jose to fly home. All unfolded in Tico time and by going with the flow. We eventually got where we needed to go, even if not as originally planned.

At the end of this trip, I am filled with appreciation, immense gratitude and countless memories. I was travelling with an amazing group of entrepreneurs, each of them brilliant in their own way, and with inspiring and heart-centered Bob Evans and his supportive crew of conscious team members helping us entrepreneurs logistically, technologically and even emotionally. Every one of us gave a 15 minute TED talk-like speech as one of our videos for becoming part of the Personal Development App (PDA).

When everything is complete, each of us 13 entrepreneurs will all also have our own App. I am excited that I can now bring educational and informative content in written, audio and visual form to you via another platform.

I also had the incredible honour of facilitating a workshop for this group of messengers, who each impressed me in so many different ways. The workshop was about working with our protective parts and our inner child, which of course loves the idea of Pura Vida. I was a bit apprehensive about being mic-ed up and video taped while teaching, but it was beautiful to see what came up for each participant, despite being on camera.

The last two weeks held so many experiences for all of us that I have decided to write a Costa Rica blog series. Personally, the trip brought me out of my comfort zone, taught me a lot about myself, filled my heart with joy, and inspired me immensely. A community outreach program was part of this trip, and one of my next blogs will be about visiting the alternative school which we were so fortunate to be invited to.

Different fellow travelers have also inspired me and I cannot wait to write about some of them or share their wisdom. I had never traveled with a group before, and for me this trip became an interesting walk between being part of the group and connecting, while at other times expressing my need for quiet and alone time. That meant staying back from some activities or get-togethers, to be able to keep my inner balance and to recharge.

Upon embarking on this journey, I had different parts inside of me who were quite polarized. On one hand, I have a part which loves travelling and was excited about going to not only a country but a continent I hadn’t been to before. I have a part which likes to experience new things. I might not be as adventurous as other people, but there is a part that certainly has a sense of adventure. I also have a Zen part which can go with the flow and trust that all will be fine. I tell you, that part came in handy when we were navigating the steep and curvy pothole-filled Costa Rican roads with two vans weighed down by luggage and eight people each.

On the other side, I had parts come up before—and during my trip—that were concerned. I have a part that does not appreciate surprises at all, and this trip was filled with surprises. In theory there was a schedule, but it was subject to last-minute changes on a daily basis, when something showed up due to the group dynamics or the weather; it was rainy season after all. And, boy, did this trip require being adaptable.

I also have a part, like many of us, that is somewhat uncomfortable with the Unknown and this trip was new for me in every way. I had different parts inside of me which were a bit concerned. A safety conscious part of me was questioning if it would it be safe to be in Costa Rica. A part of me that is rather private was wondering what it would be like to be followed by cameras every day and every step of the way. All these parts relaxed as the days went on. After a while, I barely noticed the video cameras anymore.

I also have a part, and that was probably one of the loudest “voices” in my inner system, that was concerned about being with others and all the sensory input coming at me on a continuous basis. It knows that as an introvert an HSP,  I need alone time like other people need water or air to breathe.

Sensory overload is an experience most Highly Sensitive People have. Travelling in a van for many hours with six or seven other people, where the radio was playing and two or three conversations were going on at the same time, while the scenery outside also wanted to be taken in, was extremely challenging for me.

I am so grateful to my fellow travelers and to Robert Evans for giving me space and alone time after each of those experiences and fully supporting me in taking care of myself. Their understanding and support allowed me to have a fabulous time and experience a life changing trip in full Pura Vida. I am returning home with a heart filled with joy and a mind filled with fabulous ideas and insights which I look forward to sharing with you over the next few weeks. Pura Vida is a beautiful concept to embrace and bring back with me to our busy life.

 

To download the PDA onto your phone, go to the App store and look for the following logo.

 

If you are wondering if you are an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) please read my blog post “Are You an HSP?”

If you are curious about finding out more about working with your parts (IFS Inspired Coaching) contact me for a free phone consultation. I offer sessions for individuals and couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Empathy, the Antidote for Shame

Lina, single mother of three, is in the line up at the grocery store. She feels rushed to buy dinner and get home in time to prepare it. Sarah, her 3-year-old daughter, who she just picked up from a new daycare, is overtired and whiny. She starts grabbing chocolate bars, which are so conveniently placed in her view, and puts them into the cart. Lina, says “no” and places the bars back on the shelf. Sarah continues to reach and struggle to climb out of the cart. She starts crying at the top of her lungs. Lina turns beat red. She is clearly embarrassed about being stuck in the line with a screaming child.

A couple of customers seem to stare at her. She hears a woman’s voice behind her, “When kids are this overtired they belong in bed, not out shopping at the busiest time of the day.” Lina pretends not to have heard the comment. She feels shame for not being able to calm her daughter. In fact, she feels like a complete failure as a mother. She wants to just take her daughter and leave the store without buying the groceries, but that would be really embarrassing, she thinks, and what would they then eat for dinner? She takes deep breaths and continues moving forward in the line up.

When she reaches the cashier, the woman just smiles and gently says, “That’s a tricky age.. I still remember when my kids were that young…”. Lina smiles back relieved. “It’s not easy, is it?” says the cashier and pulls out a lolly pop. “May I give this to the princess…?”

Lina feels like a weight is lifting. She feels validated, seen and understood. Instead of being judged, she is acknowledged as doing her best. What she is experiencing is empathy.

In her research, Brené Brown has collected different definitions of how we experience empathy. Receiving empathy is “feeling emotional and physical warmth”, “feeling understood”, “feeling wrapped up in a blanket”, “feeling validated”, “feeling you are not alone because somebody else gets you” and “feeling somebody hears you or feels you”.

In her shame, Lina felt alone and unworthy as a mother. When the cashier extended empathy to her, the messages was, “You are not alone. We are alike and connected. I get your struggles. I am as human as you are.”

We feel completely alone when we are in shame. We might feel like we are the only one who experiences fertility struggles, or the only one who feels they are not a good parent, or the only one who feels not thin or attractive enough, or the only person who has an addiction, or the only one who was cheated on, or the only one who was physically, emotionally or sexually abused, or the only one who hasn’t found her/his perfect partner and so on.

There also is a difference between embarrassment and shame. We experience embarrassment in regards to a behaviour of ours. We feel embarrassed when we have perhaps said something we shouldn’t have said, or when we have done something that we view as a mistake, or when somebody points out something we are self-conscious of. Embarrassment is fleeting, and we know we are not the only one who has that experience.

I have been a coach for 14 years and have always scheduled my own appointments. It has happened throughout the years, that I have “dropped the ball” and double booked or thought I didn’t have an appointment when I did. Now, each of those incidents have caused me a fair amount of embarrassment. I had to claim responsibility, apologize and hope that the other person would still want to re-book. In most cases, the incident was forgiven. Because I deep down know and believe that I am, overall, a reliable and organized person, there was no shame attached to making these mistakes for me. However, they certainly were embarrassing.

Like all of us, I have also had moments of shame in my life, whether that was in regards to having an alcoholic family member, around my fertility struggles in my twenties, about weight gain at different points in my life, or in regards to marriage struggles or relationships ending. Most of these moments of shame had nothing to do with a specific behaviour of mine but all to do with feeling judged and feeling not good enough in some way.

We all know shame, even though some people have more shame to carry due to their personal history, but, as Brené Brown points out, “to have the capacity for shame is to be human”. Feeling shame is a common human experience, yet, shame—unlike guilt—does not serve us. Feeling guilty allows us to make amends for a behaviour and gives us a chance to become a better person. However, when somebody shames us, or when we shame ourselves, we are being defined by the worst mistakes we have ever made or the worst situations that ever happened to us. It feels like there is no way out of the shameful role we have played. The label sticks, whether that is “infertile”, “disappointment”, “unemployed”, “bad mother / father / wife / husband / daughter / son”,  “jealous girlfriend / boyfriend”, “financial failure”, “unwanted child”, “weak”, “angry”, “controlling”, “victim of abuse”…  A shame label always takes away our power to grow, to leave the past behind, and to show up differently.

According to Brené Brown, experiencing shame is “like being trapped in a deep and dark hole”, unable to see and feel that we can be a better version of who we are in a given moment in time. Shame means feeling disconnected and unworthy of “being a part of”. As humans, we are evolutionary hard wired for connection, and our fear of disconnection, of being excluded from our community, will always be present. We cannot get rid of shame or be completely shame resistant because we need the connection with others, but we can develop a certain shame resilience.

Shame resilience allows us to move through a shaming experiencing without twisting and shaping ourselves into sacrificing who we are. That means proudly being who we are “without performing, pleasing, perfecting or improving” (Brené Brown). Shame resilience happens when we move “from shame to empathy, from fear to courage, from blame to compassion, and from disconnection to connection” (Brené Brown).

Shame is a highly individualized experience. It is very personal. What is simply embarrassing for you, might bring up intense shame for somebody else due to their own history, and vise versa. When we are with another person who is experiencing shame, we have to be very careful not to project our own ideas of whether something is shaming or not onto them. Minimizing their experience does not help them, but rather increases the shame. When we minimize, the message we are articulating is, “you should not feel shame”. The other person ends up feeling ashamed that they are experiencing shame.

The only antidotes to shame are love, compassion and empathy. Shame hates being spoken. Shames grows and thrives through secrecy, silence and judgment. However, if we bring empathy to a situation which evokes shame, shame cannot survive.

Empathy, according to Theresa Wiseman, has four parts:

  1. We need to be able to take another person’s perspective and to see the world as the other person sees it.
  2. We need to be truly non-judgmental.
  3. We need to be able to understand what the other person is feeling.
  4. We need to be able to communicate our understanding of the other person’s feelings.

There is a difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy says, “poor you. I feel for you. I am not having your experience, but I feel sorry for you.” Sympathy exacerbates shame. Empathy, on the other hand, is like saying, “I feel with you.” The two most powerful words to heal shame are an empathetic, “me too”.

You might wonder, how you can have empathy with somebody who has had an experience you have never had? We don’t need to have gone through the exact same situation to know what it feels like. Empathy is not about connecting to a specific experience, but about connecting to the emotions an experience elicits.

Having had the same experience that somebody else has had can sometimes even get in the way of empathy. We are individuals and our experiences are very different. Instead of assuming that the other person feels the way we felt in that situation, we can be curious about what the other person is going through and we can offer to be with them in that experience.

 

If you are curious about finding out more about working with embarrassment and shame, contact me for a free phone consultation. I offer sessions for individuals and couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

You Are My Valued Tor-Mentor

In my last article called “Relationship Dance” we met Sue and John, who were caught up in a dynamic of one of them retreating and the other one pursuing. There are other patterns we fall into as a couple.

Karen and Frank came in because they agreed that Frank’s anger and jealousy was destroying their relationship. Their dance was that, whenever he was stressed and upset, she tried to rationalize with him. She wanted to show him that there was no reason to feel stressed. However, the more she rationalized, the more he felt judged and not heard, and the angrier he usually became.

A similar dynamic was going on in regards to Frank feeling jealous of Karen’s relationship with her two adult sons from her first marriage. Karen was dismissive of his insecurities and told him that her sons would always be more important than he was. The more jealous and angry he became, the more Karen wanted to avoid him and not even come home but rather stay the night at one of her sons’ homes when she visited them.

Both partners show up in this dance taken over by their protective parts. Frank’s protectors are jealousy and anger. Karen’s protectors are the rational part, a dismissive part and a part that wants her to hide or run.

We have learned to exile our sensitive and vulnerable child parts. Those parts in us are often love-starved and carry limiting beliefs about relationships. We enter intimate partnerships and hope to get the love those exiles crave from our partner. Because our vulnerable child parts are clingy, needy or feel inadequate, our partner often ends up feeling overburdened or not good enough. Due to the fact that we are disconnected from our own vulnerable inner children, we end up judging each other for having exiled parts and protective behaviours.

Internal Family Systems work, or short IFS, offers a solution to this seemingly impossible cycle. We all have a source of love within us referred to as “Self”. This is our compassionate core essence. From Self, we can retrieve our exiled wounded child parts and become the primary caretaker for them. When we take good care of our own parts and they trust us, they don’t have to take over. The exiled children don’t have to desperately bond into our partner. Our protective parts, like the controlling one, or the angry one, or the retreating one, can also relax, instead of dominating the interactions. That makes it easier for our partner to be the secondary caretaker of our vulnerable inner children.

In our sessions, Karen was able to witness how the angry and jealous protectors were revealing some very vulnerable younger parts inside of Frank. When Frank was 5, his dad died, and when he was 8, his mother surprisingly remarried while Frank was staying at his grandparents. When he came home, everything had changed. The little boy experienced a tremendous amount of grief over first losing his dad and then losing the close connection with his mother. He never grew to like the step-father, who he felt was an intruder. When his mom remarried, he felt betrayed and abandoned. He had learned that the people he loves will leave him and betray him.

Using IFS, he was able to re-parent himself and assist his younger selves to let go of the beliefs and emotions they were carrying. After releasing these burdens, his protectors were able to relax. His jealousy as well as his anger were greatly reduced. Karen gained more empathy for him and helped him to work through any remaining jealousy issues. She made sure that she included him in talks and activities with her sons and their families. She started reassuring Frank on a regular basis with words of affirmation that his feelings were as important as her sons’ and that she had no intention of abandoning him.

Karen did her own parts work to discover that underneath her rational part was a younger self that felt overburdened by taking care of her bi-polar mother. Just as Frank’s protectors were triggered by Karen, Karen was triggered by Frank reacting “irrationally” and “unpredictably” just like her mother. The rational voice had become her survival strategy to cope with being the emotional caretaker of a parent. At the same time, she felt resentment about needing to be the caretaker and transferred that to Frank. The retreating protector of hers would also kick in and would instruct her “to run away”, just like she did when she was 16 and moved in with her uncle and aunt.

Karen reparented her vulnerable younger exiled parts as well. Frank began to understand how Karen’s responses had nothing to do with him but everything to do with her childhood experiences. He learned to calmly let her know in different situations that he appreciated her being rational but that he needed her to non-judgmentally acknowledge his feelings.

Our relationships are without doubt our greatest teachers. When our partner pushes our buttons, we are given an opportunity to heal. Schwartz talks about our partner being our “tor-mentor”. Our partner mentors us by giving us an experience of pain and bringing the old attachment wounds to the surface.

“…our partner can be an invaluable tor-mentor—that is, a person who mentors us by tormenting us. It is very difficult to find all our basement children when we’re not in an intimate relationship because often we only become aware of them when they are triggered by an intimate partner. Inevitably, our partner will act like an early caretaker who hurt us, and we will have an extreme reaction—and attachment re-injury. If we follow the trail of emotion to its inner source, we will find yet another exile in need of our love.” (Richard Schwartz, You Are the One You Have Been Waiting For)

 

Join me on Sunday, August 12 for a workshop in Mississauga from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. You will learn how to work with your parts, especially the critical inner voices and transform them, how to parent your inner child parts and heal them, and how to acquire the ability to lead more and more from Self. For more information or to register, please call me.

If you are curious about finding out more about working with your parts contact me for a free phone consultation. I offer sessions for individuals and couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!