Recently, I was talking with one of my nieces over the holidays and she was sharing what it felt like to be her in her family and community. She said to me “Auntie, I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong in my family.” In that moment, my heart broke both for her and for the child inside of me.
I knew what she was talking about. I know how it feels to be an outlier in the family group.
I am talking about my experiences growing up not only in my family, but in the world in general. I have always felt absolutely and totally on the periphery of everything.
As if there was not really ever a place for me. Like I was a part of things, but didn’t really belong. Most anywhere.
And here’s why...
I have always been able to see what’s not is not obvious and often no one wants to talk about.
I’ve always felt the undercurrents of emotional energy in other people and in the outside world experiences, and have always been able to recognize when what someone is saying doesn’t quite match up with their energy.
I’ve always been interested in depth, meaning, authenticity and connection. And in kindness.
Even when the rest of the world around me was downplaying, disregarding and dismissing these experiences as unnecessary for everyday living and functioning in the world.
I have always needed gentleness, calm, vulnerability and protection. I’ve needed caregivers and communities that were committed to consciousness, realness and responsibility, to kindness and regard for everyone.
I’ve needed openness and welcome for differences in opinion, structure, ideas and beliefs. And not just tolerance, but true, unabashed welcome.
I have always abhorred cruelty and violence, even when so much of this is in the ways that people interact with each other, the words that get used and the actions people take without care for another person.
And what makes being an “outlier” difficult is not because I am wired this way, not because I see, hear and feel deeply.
What makes being an “outlier” difficult is a direct result of how these parts of me were met by others when they showed up in me as a child.
It happens to everyone.
And most of the time we don’t even know that it is happening.
In these situations, our Enneagram defense system kicks into action to protect our vulnerability from being assaulted and exploited any more than it already is.
And the only motivation, the only pursuit of our Enneagram defense is “no more pain”. So, all its energy is geared towards taking the least amount of risk in order to avoid emotional pain. Our defense system does not concern itself about whether or not we feel satisfied.
And this all happens unconsciously. Beneath our radar. Most of the time we are not even aware that this is even happening. And because it is an unconscious process, we cannot “think our way out” of this place.
And this folks, is how we become depressed, anxious, lost, unfulfilled, end up in addictions and just generally learn how to “survive”, hold ourselves back, isolate, not live our life to its fullest.
This way of living in the world certainly does NOT encourage tapping into our infinite potential.
This just becomes about surviving our world and experiences, not really being alive.
The only way to shift this is to dive into the deep emotional work of healing these unconscious places that were hurt and humiliated.
This happens in a place far below words, thoughts and cognition. Cognitive work just isn’t going to work on these kinds of situations.
As I sat with my niece and listened as she talked about what it felt like to her to be an outlier, it was like she was speaking the exact same words I would have said, when I was her age, had I had someone that I could talk to about something like this.
Someone who could have understood me and actually seen me.
I sat with my niece for a while longer, until she finished sharing about what this meant to her. Throughout all of this, I gave her connection for her experiences, letting her know that I believed her and that it made sense to me. And that I could feel how painful it was for her to have to live this experience.
So here it is: our official club gear.
If any of this sounds like you too, grab yourself a shirt and come join our club. There’s a space for you here too.
Recently, I have begun exploring the relationship between our physical body and our emotional well-being. Our relationship to our bodies is complex and even more complex is our relationship with food and what we take in to fuel our bodies. In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor, I also am a certified massage therapist and personal trainer and deepened my knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology of the body through these experiences as well.
Being that I focus heavily on body-mind-spirit healing in my therapy practice, it only seemed natural to eventually begin to extend my interests into exploring how healing the physical body can also bring about healing for our emotional body as well.
A little bit about me: before becoming a private practice therapist, my background was in physical education and health. I taught pre-school through highschool for many years, which also included coaching a number of different athletic teams in a variety of different sports. A few things that I learned throughout my years as a Phys Ed teacher was that the variety in body type was endless, different body types excelled at different sports and activities (there wasn't "one" activity or sport that fit for everyone), paying attention to blood type and food choices was worth looking at, and that nutrition played a huge role in both athletic performance as well as mental health.
I will also add that sadly, I learned first hand how pervasive our cultural pressure is to conform to certain body types, for kids even as young as 7 years old! Yikes!
Over time and throughout all these experiences, I have come to learn firsthand how our gastrointestinal track is quite sensitive to our emotions and our feelings (anger, anxiety, sadness, elation, and others) can also trigger symptoms in our gut. I think that I knew this as a little kid when I would struggle with stomach issues, I just didn't know how it all connected. One of the things that I repeatedly see present day in my practice with clients, is that very often people will experience uncomfortable and noticeable physiological reactions in their body that seem to correlate with emotional reactions happening in their life.
Over the past several years, I had been wanting to begin participating in detox cleanses both from a health standpoint as well as from a place of curiosity about what kind of impact it might have on my health physically and emotionally. In about May of 2017, I purchased my first "detox cleanse", it was a 7 day program offered through Daily OM and was created by The Decadent Detox. I was excited, ready to go and couldn't wait to get started! I got a week scheduled on my calendar to commit to doing the program.
Then I cancelled that week and rescheduled it for a later week. I did this for just about a year, the whole time giving myself a hard time about why I wasn't doing the cleanse yet, every time I cancelled it on my calendar and rescheduled it for another week later in the year.
What I didn't know at that time was that it would take me just about a year or so to actually get to a place emotionally where I was ready to dive in and give it a try. I only learned this in retrospect after completing my first 7 day cleanse and experiencing the impact that this program had on not only my physical body but more significantly on my emotions.
Some things about food and our bodies. Our relationship with food is formed at birth and becomes primally ingrained inside of us; furthermore, many people’s early relationship with food became attached to reasons beyond just satiation and nutrition. May of you probably know this when you find yourself standing at the counter blindly eating beyond the point of not being hungry any more, yet you cannot stop.
Another fact about food and changes committed to cleaning up our eating, when we change the way that we relate to really anything in our lives (food, behaviors, addictive substances and experiences) it will stir up unconscious emotions and feelings. Every time. That's why it is so difficult, sometimes, to make changes that we know would be helpful or beneficial for our well-being. Somewhere deep inside, a part of us knows that we are going to have to deal with some pretty tricky feelings and issues that we just don't have enough internal emotional supports to deal with yet. We aren't emotionally ready.
And our brain doesn’t determine our “readiness” to make these kinds of changes, our defensive structure does and is primarily unconscious, so we cannot “talk” ourselves into being ready…it just won’t work. We have to have enough internal emotional supports to deal with these mostly unconscious and stirred up emotional issues or else we will “fail” whatever it is that we are trying to attempt (lose weight, stop smoking, quit sugar, etc..
Many people are unsuccessful with their attempts to complete a cleanse or diet, change their food chocies, incorporate a new food plans primarily because they simply are not emotionally ready, despite their brains determining that they are. In many cases, people may even be struggling from a health-perspective and really need to be ready, but if they do not have the emotional supports to drop into the feelings that will be stirred up, it won’t work. I see this all the time in my practice.
What ends up usually happening in these cases is that our self-esteem takes huge hit, we might even feel shame about not being able to complete what we set our mind on doing (this is especially true for Enneagram-3 types) and we end up drowning in a pool of frustration and embarrassment or shame which generally derails all further attempts.
So, the work then becomes about building up the emotional supports internally to deal with what will be brought up when you join a cleanse or a fast, rather than forcing yourself to do the cleanse, start the diet or eat differently. When you can focus on changing your life in this way, you will organically be ready to do the cleanse. Remember: it took me over a year to build up the emotional supports to be ready to participate in my first cleanse. I thought I was just being "lazy" or "scared"- little did I know that there was something else very important happening deep inside, that was preparing me to be ready when it was my time.
Often a skilled counselor or therapist will be far more effective than a doctor or nutritionist at helping people change their life, food choices, navigate problems and failures that emerge in this process and then stick with the changes long term. Changes that we experience through cleanses, fasts, "diets" and food plans often lead to the surfaace of emotional issues that only therapists are trained to deal with and when these, as well as the deeper, underlying issues are not addressed, they usually sabotage change.
So here it is in a nutshell:
I am offering this next step of emotional support for anyone who is interested in losing weight, keeping it off and changing their life in a deep and transformational way. Changing what we put into our bodies is a wonderful first step, now let's learn how to fundamentally change the way that we support our bodies on an emotional level so we can sustain these changes.
I am offering a way to detox not only physically but emotionally as well. A place where people can begin to live into more of who they really were designed to be in this lifetime, excavate the "real" you and begin to create a more deeply satisfying life. We only get one chance at this in this lifetime.
Kate Schroeder is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices to work with and heal childhood trauma. To learn more about gut health and how it affects your emotional well-being, you can visit her at Gut Health. To learn how to communicate more effectively and start changing your life download her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or join Kate’s Visual Journaling Group on Facebook for more support in finding your true self. To sign up for her newsletter click here.
By now, many of you have either seen or heard about the new movie on Netflix, Bird Box, which stars Sandra Bullock and is a compelling story about fear. This movie has even spawned a viral social trend called the “Bird Box Challenge”, in which live human beings attempt to engage in “challenges”. Blindfolded. To understand what a ridiculous and dangerous idea this is, you’ll have to watch the movie.
So, the holidays are upon us and again, it’s that “most wonderful time of the year”. Here we are. This is about the time that everyone’s stress levels begin to rise exponentially in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Gifts to buy, parties to attend. Kids acting out more because of stress and high energy and adults doing the same and calling it “parenting”.
Photo by Matt Lee on Unsplash
Hi again all, I am sure by now you would have read my initial thoughts, "Tapping into Your Strength Reservoir" on historical life perspectives and accomplishments which often change as they become outdated. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and pause to visit my Linkedin article on #PonderingTuesday. Pondering Tuesday is a thread from my Visual Journaling community prompt that ended up becoming a much longer piece than usual.
Does Journaling really work? Can burnout be avoided? What even is burn-out…? Wait, do I..have burnout? How do I know if I have burnout or not…? It sounds painful….
In my article I wrote for LinkedIn, “Burnout Is An Inside Job”, I talk about burnout and its causes, which often are not directly related to anything going on in one’s external world. Rather, burn out is an “inside job” that occurs because of living in constant internal (and often unconscious) conflict about what you need and what is being asked of you.
What Your Myers-Briggs & Enneagram Personality Types Reveal About The Way You Communicate In Relationships
What kind of skills are you working with?
Some of the most common questions people ask about relationships and marriage revolve around how to improve their communication skills.
Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in my use of screen time. I’ve never considered myself someone who can get “lost” in their screen, but I guess I have the same propensity for this as I’ve seen in other people. I have always been someone who has a reaction when I am out in public and I look around and see people buried in their phones, rather than sharing time together.
A thought that still applies today....
As a culture, we are proficient and instinctual at disconnecting from our physical bodies. We live in a society that is heavily based on a “Western medicine” approach for attending to physical symptoms. When we have a headache, we are immediately encouraged to take an aspirin to relieve the pain. We have a muscle pain or body ache, and immediately are told that we must “treat it” with medicine or exercises designed to alleviate the pain, or even in some cases that we need to have surgery.
One method that I am excited to share with you for mental support and self care is journaling, Visual Journaling to be exact. From my years in practices, journaling has been one consistent method for self introspection.
Journaling is very intimate, very personal, and helps you retreating from your thoughts. So without further ado, for those interested, join our Visual Journaling Expanding Your Emotional Intelligence community