"Don't take it personally!" (Yeah, right!)
How many times have you heard someone say, “just be the bigger person” or even better, “let it go, they didn’t mean it” or, “they’re just having a bad day” when someone has been unkind or as a way to explain away someone's abuse?
And how many times, after hearing someone say that, did you roll your eyes, want to jump out of your skin, or even scream out loud because of what was done to you?
If any of these descriptions fit you, then you are not alone. Because it's hard not to take it personally when someone is being hurtful or even abusive.
We hear time and again, "Someone else's behavior is a reflection of them, and how we react is a reflection of ourselves" — but it is virtually impossible not to have your self-esteem be affected by someone else’s bad behavior.
And in many cases, it's even more impossible to not react. Not getting derailed by others’ behavior begins by discarding the expectation that you can reach a point in your life where you will not be impacted by anyone or anything going on around you. It's not realistic. The only way to stay completely unaffected by others would be to find a way reach inside of yourself and dispose of your most vital organ — your heart.
As long as you are striving to stay connected to yourself and to live in a meaningful, confident and heartfelt way, you will be affected by all that life has to offer you. That is a given. If you have a heart, let yourself off the hook when it comes to not being bothered by what others do. But that doesn't mean you have to let every thing others do have a huge impact in your life or ruin your happiness.
To find some balance, here are 4 ways to protect yourself from taking the blame for the abuse of others, while also being kind and compassionate toward your feelings.
1. Admit that something just happened.
Learning to validate your experience is a key piece to avoiding getting derailed by others’ negativity.
This starts by acknowledging that something has happened, and has had an effect on you. Get real about what just happened and that you feel impacted by what has just been said or done. You can express this either quietly inside or say it out loud to yourself or a trusted friend.
Validating your experience is an important part of staying separate from others’ negativity. So, take a breath — a deep belly breath — and acknowledge that something just happened to you that didn’t feel good for your self-esteem.
A simple thing you can quietly say inside as you breathe is, “Something just happened here”.
2. Trust your gut.
Another important part of protecting yourself is to trust your perception. True or not, you’re making an assumption around what has occurred. If the other person is in a rational place and open to having a conversation so that you can check your assumption out, that is a wonderful thing — and the first thing to do. In many cases, though, they are not and you have to trust that something just happened that did not feel good to you, and recognize that you are drawing conclusions based upon your interpretation of the events.
How you live out your assumption is going to make the difference between getting sucked into their negativity or supporting yourself in a different way. A simple thing you can say quietly inside as you breathe is, “I didn’t like that”.
3. Get validation that what you're feeling is normal.
Validating your feelings about what just happened is another important piece of support to bring in in these kinds of situations. This would be the point in which you identify what you are emotionally feeling, and get validation for those feelings either from yourself or a trusted friend. For those of you who struggle to recognize or experience feelings, you might want to start by learning about the various different feelings that are possible, and how to begin to recognize them when they are happening inside of you.
This might take some help from a friend or even a therapist who can guide you through developing a deeper knowledge about this part of yourself. But take the time to locate what you are feeling and give yourself room to feel that experience through the initial rush of intensity.
Responding from emotion is generally never a good idea, and often it's the point at which we begin to derail. Especially if we are dealing with an irrational person or situation. So again, take a breath. As you breathe, you can say to yourself, “I feel mad [or sad or scared] about what just happened.”
4. Let yourself feel your emotions.
Determine what you need from how you are feeling about what has just happened. If you are feeling scared, you might need some space or protection, until the rush of emotion slows down. If you are feeling angry, you might be experiencing a sense of violation and may need a boundary. If you are sad, you may need some comfort and support before beginning to get clear about next steps for you. Whatever you are feeling, let yourself feel it. Because on the other side of that feeling is your road map about what you need in any given situation. And if you need help to get clear on what you need, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When someone is treating you badly, it is a direct response to something happening inside of them, emotionally, that feels intolerable. That is why they lash out: it is easier to blame someone else for a negative feeling inside than to breathe down into the experience and contain their reaction. If they have little tolerance for their own feelings, it is always going to come bursting out onto others, and usually in an unhelpful way.
So, let yourself off the hook for being able to do this perfectly.
Our ability to not be derailed by others’ behavior, and to instead stay focused on our own response, starts in childhood and is entrenched very early on in our lives. It takes time to rewire our brains and our bodies into responding responsibly when we have been treated unkindly or abused by another person. Creating a different response to others takes a lot of mindfulness, patience, and guidance as we begin to rewire our responses to the world around us. This is like any other practice: it takes repetitive practice and coaching, as it is much easier to lash out at another person or to engage back in irrational behavior than to breathe into our own experiences inside.
Especially if we have never seen that done before. So be gentle, breathe a lot, and reach out for support when you need it.
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and life coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information.
Originally published at YourTango.com
As children, we often did not get the type or amount of emotional support that would have felt satisfying for our heart. As a result of this, we also did not receive the support required to develop a solid internal emotional support system of our own, which is the part of us responsible for allowing us to move through the world freely and easily, reaching towards what feels satisfying and moving away from what is dissatisfying. This internal support system is also responsible for allowing us movement towards and away from people/situations/things, according to our own specific and calibrated needs. That is why in the here and now, as adults, we can struggle with “hard” feelings and not always know how to support our self in a way that brings comfort, encourages personal growth and resiliency, and alleviates distress.
Because of the heart wounding and trauma in our childhoods, many people do not yet have a fully developed internal support system to allow us to easily move towards and away from what we need, nor are they able to maintain the degree of realness/power/genuineness or openness that we often attain in our therapy sessions when given adequate support for our needs. As such, we can easily “slip back into the old ways” after our session or find ourselves responding to others or our own distress in the same old dissatisfying ways. Without a solidly developed internal support system, we have to rely on the old childhood supports- that’s all we have access to in the moment.
We also need bonding in every moment of our lives, so if we are in a piece of “the old bonding” from childhood (which is likely the case if we are having an experience that we want to change or feels intolerable inside of us), then the way that we are going to support our need for bonding is going to be based upon our rudimentary and likely dissatisfying childhood supports, and why we cannot seem to alleviate our distress, in the long term, around the experience. So, if a piece of this old bonding is in the way, (i.e., we are getting victimized or in an assault) then this is going to block our ability to fully be in the present moment and adult part of our self, and render us unable to connect to our experience in the present moment or reach out to get our needs met in a satisfying way.
In this case, we have to rely on what is there, the old supports which were never satisfying but are emerging in the moment because that is all that we have access to. All we have to rely on is the support that is there, the old childhood support, that is blocking our path towards present day satisfaction in our adult life. So, when this is happening, combined with our constant need for bonding, then we have to do the work to clear out this next piece of trauma that is blocking our ability to access new supports, which is why therapy is essential: it allows us the opportunity to continue clearing out blocks to satisfaction.
Without a fully developed internal emotional support system that we can easily access whenever we are in distress or need of emotional support, we move back to whatever is available at the moment, and if we are triggered and in another piece of old trauma, what will be available to us is our old childhood supports. And we move back there because the old supports are familiar and our spirit wants us to heal another piece of trauma.
This is why we need to be in ongoing therapy: to keep working on building our own satisfying internal support system, and this takes time and patience. If we are to truly learn how to support ourselves in a more deeply satisfying way, then we have to commit to ourselves and our healing in a deeply ongoing way. The way that we discontinue using old childhood supports, is when we have a repertoire of new satisfying support to take its place. And this takes time.
There's more to healing than talk.
Have you ever had the feeling of frustration after leaving your therapy session, wondering (again) why you are spending your hard-earned money and limited energy on something that only leaves you feeling stuck, or in the same place as you were before you started?
You may even feel a bit lost about what to do next to get out of this dead end called “Your Life”.
This isn’t what you imagined when you were a child or even young adult, and yet despite being in therapy (which is supposed to help with these exact kinds of situations), you’re at the point of wondering if it’s worth continuing, or if it's time to find another treatment. You may even feel discouraged, wondering if this is all there is. Perhaps all your childhood dreams about the kind of life you wanted when you grew up were just fantasy, and this “dead end" called your life is the “real world” that adults used to lecture to you about.
Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not all there is to your life, and that it is possible to reach great satisfaction in your life as an adult. In fact, your dreams and happiness can come true, and non-traditional therapy, which is more experiential and not cognitive or talk-based, is one of the ways that you can find more satisfaction in your life. There are countless “lost souls” who cannot seem to figure out how to obtain personal happiness, and through non-traditional therapies, have found incredible satisfaction in their lives. This happens through a commitment to their heart, and a willingness on their part to deeply dive into their own personal growth process — and their willingness get outside of their usual box, emotionally.
Here are five reasons why you might feel like you’ve reached a dead end in your life, and why the therapy you've tried up until now may not be helping you at this particular time.
1. You’ve grown emotionally, as much as, or past your therapist.
You might be wondering: “How could this be possible? Aren’t all therapists supposed to be evolved? How can I have grown more, emotionally, than my therapist? They went to training for this, aren’t they supposed to know what to do in these types of situations? Isn’t my therapist supposed to be emotionally stronger than me?” Well, sure, in a perfect world. The reality, though, is that not all therapists are committed to their own personal growth like you might be. No one can guide another person somewhere where they have never been themselves. As such, if your commitment to personal growth and healing is greater than that of your therapist’s, then you will, in fact, reach a point where the process halts, and they cannot take you any further in your process. It might be time for a new therapist.
2. It’s the wrong kind of therapy for you.
Not all types of therapy are made equal. Some approaches, such as talk therapy or cognitive therapy, focus on strategies such as stopping a behavior or changing a response or perhaps adjusting your thoughts about things. In these cases, your growth is going to stay relatively superficial. These types of therapy believe that change begins outside of yourself, and don’t bother much with deeper inside-world kinds of transformation. I tend to believe that deep change first happens inside and once established and supported, begins to radiate into your outside world organically. I have seen this happen time after time for many individuals who have come searching for body-mind-spirit approach therapy. This kind of experiential therapy leads to deeper fundamental changes, which is the only way to experience greater ongoing satisfaction both in one’s inside and outside worlds. If this is what you’re searching for, then it sounds like it might be time for you to find a different kind of therapy.
3. Maybe you need a new definition of being “stuck”.
Not every moment in therapy follows a direct or linear progression towards happiness. In fact, feeling frustrated is a part of the growth process. Frustration is one of the most powerful motivations for growth — without this experience, none of us would seek out therapy or even feel compelled to grow. A tiny seed that gets planted in the ground spends the majority of its energy pushing through the dirt, with no light or air around, until one day it pokes its tiny head up and out of the ground and can feel the sunshine, and all the while we would still say that it was growing. Such is the therapy process. Sometimes “stuck” is a good thing, it motivates us to grow towards our light and make changes for the better. And when we are in that place in our growth process, we need different kind of emotional support than your therapy might be able to give you. Without this specific, tailored support, our growth will halt.
4. It might not be time yet for your next piece of growth.
How can this be, you ask? Well, believe it or not, our brain is not responsible for dictating our emotional growth, rather, our soul and deep wisdom inside of us determines the pace of our personal healing and growth process. As such, this deeper spirit inside of us does not operate on a logical or linear time frame, nor does it quantify or apply logic as to when our next piece of growth needs to unfold. Growth happens when we have enough emotional supports inside to deepen into more of our heart and feel more of the unfelt feelings from our childhood. And it takes time to build those emotional supports, especially when support like this was not modeled or supported in childhood. In these cases, I like to think of stuck as being a place of “actively waiting”. Much like a mountain climber who is spending time at base camp to let their bodies adjust to the altitude, in these places in our therapy process, we are emotionally acclimating to a deeper level of consciousness, and readying ourselves to feel more of what we could not feel when we were younger. We cannot move until our spirit determines we are ready. Doesn’t always make sense to our rational brain.
5. You might not want to be in therapy right now.
Think of it like this: none of us sits down at the dinner table and eats non-stop. There comes a point in time where we our bodies feel full, and we get up from the dinner table and move away to digest what we’ve eaten. When we’re ready to eat more, then we move back towards the table and begin to take in more food until we feel full again. There is a natural moving towards, taking in, and then moving away to digest, and this cycle continues each day throughout our lives. Therapy is similar in this way. For some people, they may need a break from therapy so that they can digest what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown, try some things out on their own, and then they come back to therapy when they are ready for more. So, occasionally, feeling “stuck” isn’t about a dead end in therapy, but actually is a message from our deeper soul wisdom, communicating to us that our next piece of growth actually looks like having our “no” and taking a break from therapy for a while. And this boundary needs incredible support from a therapist, otherwise, our growth is undermined and we fall back into a dead end place in our life. I work from the notion that absolutely everything that happens in life is important and necessary, and always has an excellent reason behind why it is happening, even if our logical and rational minds do not always understand. And this is where the right kind of deeper experiential therapy can help — it helps us decode what is happening in our life from moment-to-moment, and learn how to meet our needs in a more satisfying kind of way. And this is how we feel more satisfaction and happiness, more movement in our life, by learning more about what is really going on deep inside of us.
You do not have to feel hopeless if traditional talk therapy is not working for you. There are other ways that you can work on getting what you want in life. Your frustration might be your clue that it is time to get out of your box and begin experimenting with other types of support that feel meaningful to you. This exploration will be the beginning of feeling more satisfaction and creating the life that you have always wanted!
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and life coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information on how to connect with your best self.
Originally published at YourTango.com
Kate is an INFJ-3 on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Enneagram.