How Compassion Helps You Fight Back Against the Hurtful Voices in Your Head

In the third part of this series on learning to love yourself after a violent relationship, I look at how to use compassion to actually change the way your mind works.

As I talked about here and here, abuse disrupts our ability to seek out and provide the warmth and nurture that all mammals need to function. Our response mechanisms short-circuit and we have to relearn how to treat ourselves with gentleness and care.

Plus, when you’ve experienced a trauma like domestic violence, your fight-or-flight reactors go into overdrive as you try to combat the very real external threat.

But the upshot of our traumatic experience is that we’re also under attack from internal threats: pain, despair, loss, heartbreak – intense emotions that hurt and frighten us.

From a psychological perspective, we react the same way to external threats as to internal ones. So, when these feelings rise up, we counter-attack. We self-attack.

We treat the emotions with ridicule, aggression, frustration or disappointment. We try to fight them away.

But these emotions aren’t an external threat that you can simply force into retreat. They are part of you, and fighting with them will hurt you.

When our legitimate distress is met with cruelty and rejection, it makes us feel ashamed. We tell ourselves that we’re weak, stupid, not good enough… that we brought this on ourselves.

One way to tackle this is to imagine the self-attacking voice – the voice that shames you for the way you feel – as a separate person. Try to visualise them. What do they look like? What emotions are they directing at you? What do they want from you?

Then: Do they have your best interests at heart? What would happen if they left you alone? Who gains from them treating you like this?

Why are you scared of standing up to them?

You may find that the person you hear attacking you isn’t your own voice at all. You may find that it sounds suspiciously like the partner that made your life miserable. Or a parent, authority figure or bully that made you feel small. Maybe even someone that made you feel like you weren’t strong enough to stand up to the abuse.

And, if that’s the case, ask yourself: what right, what legitimacy, does that person have to attack you like this? Why do you feel you have to submit to their opinion?

What makes you think that their criticisms are at all valid?

Working out where this voice comes from won’t make it shut up. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen.

Instead, work on developing some empathy for your negative emotions. Remember the compassionate image that you developed? How would they respond to someone feeling your pain?

This is not easy. You’re working against the fight-or-flight instincts that tell you how to handle a threat. You’re talking over the voice that has dominated your emotional defenses for far too long. It will not let you take over without a struggle.

But you have to challenge the authority of that voice. You can’t just accept it – and you certainly can’t just accept it as part of who you are.

Be patient. You may need to try out different ways of handling your negative emotions and showing kindness to yourself before you find a way that works for you. These feelings might take a long time to quiet down.

What’s more, in order to really heal, you have to go beyond self-soothing – you also need to gather positive momentum for the future, setting goals and giving your vulnerable self the motivation and encouragement it needs to succeed.

The important thing is that, however you do it, you’re approaching yourself with compassion. You’re not judging, shaming or attacking the negative emotions. You’re not giving credence to the voice that attacks you.

If you’re struggling to recover from an abusive relationship, I hope that this series has helped you develop the tools you need to be kinder to yourself. If you feel you need more support, please do get in touch. I’ve helped hundreds of people to get through their divorce trauma – if you’d like to hear more, you can book a clarity call here.

The First Step Domestic Violence Survivors Can Take to Learn to Love Themselves Again

Last week I described how many survivors of domestic violence and abuse get so caught up in beating themselves up that they can’t give themselves the care and compassion they need to heal.

In this post, I’ll explain how to take the first step towards fixing this problem, by building a compassionate image.

If you’ve been a violent relationship, you’ve been deprived of the things that we need the most from those we love, in order to feel psychologically sound and healthy.

Things like kindness, nurture, and a sense of physical and emotional safety.

This can make it hard to picture what a loving persona actually looks like.

We all know what words like kindness and love and compassion mean on an intellectual level – but when we’ve been hurt and betrayed, it’s hard to really feel them.

The purpose of the compassionate image exercise is to start to reconnect with these ideas on an emotional level by creating a fully-formed image of compassion. This gives us an internal reference point that we can keep coming back to.

As a starting point, your compassionate image needs to be built around four essential qualities: warmth, strength, wisdom and non-judgement. Beyond this, it is your own personal ideal and should reflect all the ways in which you want to be loved and cared for.

Find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and breathe deeply and focus without any distractions. Your mind might wander, and that’s ok – just try to guide it gently back to the image you’re creating. You want to feel as relaxed as possible, so don’t try to force anything!

Then, guide your image by asking yourself questions such as:

How would you want your ideal caring-compassionate image to look? Are they human, or is this represented by a particular animal? Or even something else entirely, like sunlight, or the sea? What colours do you associate with them? If they are human, are they male or female? Young or old? Would they look like you?

How would your ideal caring-compassionate image sound? What are their vocal qualities (if they have them)? How does this make you feel?

What other sensory qualities are attached to your ideal caring-compassionate image? Keep in mind the qualities of warmth, strength, wisdom and non-judgment here.

How would you like your ideal caring-compassionate image to relate to you? How would you relate to them?

Perhaps you connect through touch? Laughter? Vocal support? Or perhaps it’s simply an unspoken sense of security?

Try to keep in mind all the time that this image brings you complete compassion.

As you continue in your healing journey, this compassion image will be something you refer back to again and again. You can use it to remind yourself what warmth, strength and love truly look like for you – and can tap back into this ideal when you’re tempted to lash out at yourself and others, or when those around you treat you with less compassion than you need.

It gives you a benchmark for working out what kind of people you genuinely want to have in your life – and the kind of person that you want to be.

In my next post, I’ll explain how, armed with your compassionate image, you can start to use compassion to change the way your mind works, helping you to break out of self-destructive cycles and get on the right road to recovery.

Have you tried the compassionate image exercise? I’d love to hear about your experience – if you feel comfortable, please do let me know in the comments section below.

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Does Time Heal? They Say 18 Months – I Say 21 Days!

e08c65b4068a173f39c0f51ca1db5dd1A survey covered in this Daily Mail article interviewed 155 people and found that breakups take 11 weeks to get over on average. The article also says it takes 18 months to get over a divorce.

Actually, I’d say with no good strategy, even breakups take 18 months to heal from. It may take just 11 weeks to get over the split, but not to fully heal and get back to your joyous, strong, positive, life-loving self again. Because:

Healing requires active engagement with the topic!

Which is why it really takes 18 months to heal without any system or engagement or strategy, or without the right support.

And during that 18 month period, without the proper healing, you’re very likely to move into more unsuccessful relationships, which will end in breakup or divorce too. 56% of second marriages also end in divorce, and 72% of third marriages – the statistics don’t lie!

Time alone does not heal wounds

Many types of relationship therapy may tell you that it just takes time to heal and there’s nothing more to do about it, but it’s just not true! It makes me sad that so many people believe this nonsense and live unnecessarily with their pain or depression for months and even years.

I’ve seen time and time again that healing happens in short spurts during that time.

Healing is not a linear chronological process – it happens when you focus on healing. And with good strategy, process, attention and support you can make those short spurts of healing happen quickly, over the course of a few weeks. Not months or years.

Here’s another statistic for you – 97% of divorcees who take my Naked Divorce program are successfulin getting over AND healing from all their trauma in 21 days.

Back on track, happy and loving life once more. Check out their personal stories here.

It’s a pity the study above didn’t ask the recipients exactly when and how they felt little bursts of improvement and how they worked to those points and through them.

When you actively embrace the healing process, and face the sometimes very difficult feelings and stages to work through, in an intelligent way, you create an environment where these flashes of improvement and healing begin to happen.

Unfortunately, there is evidence that traditional forms of therapy don’t help the recovery process at all. In fact, there are clear conflicts of interest that certainly don’t incentivize therapists to get their clients cured, healed and happy as rapidly as possible.

Clients become dependent on therapists, and therapists gain secure, long-term clients and income

Imagine if a relationship therapist had to find new clients every month because they were helping them heal so quickly. Business would become extremely tough. Far better to have a guaranteed monthly or weekly client paying for a year or more – make sure you don’t become one of these clients!

With my program, I’ve deliberately incentivized myself and my team of Divorce Angels to help people truly, properly, deeply heal faster and more effectively. Our reputation depends on it.

I want that 97% success rate in 21 days to go up to 99%, not down to 95%.

Come and try the system, we’d be delighted to prove it to you!

Or if you have any questions at all about getting over your divorce, do ask.

I’m here to help.

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New Year, New You: Create a Healing Goal To Move On!

dribbble-newyearnewyou_1xEvery New Year is an opportunity to become clean, fresh, new and shiny bright. It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and make some decisions about your life. It’s all about believing it’s possible and then going out there and making it happen. First step is to have a HEALING GOAL.

This is a vivid movie in your mind that you can day-dream about and work on every single day. It has colours, sounds, feelings and a beginning, middle and ending. It’s a little vision of yourself healed, better, living a wonderful life.

So, here it is – my gift to you to use and enjoy:

HEALING GOAL EXERCISE

1. Choose a very specific HEALING GOAL that you will work with on a daily basis. Make sure that this goal is something that is really important and meaningful to you. It should make you feel good imagining yourself having achieved that goal.

2. Create a picture in your mind’s eye that would indicate to you that your goal has already been accomplished. For example, if your goal is to heal from your past relationship and be even better off than you were before, your inspiring outcome might be that you are walking down the street, your head held high, looking gorgeous and feeling empowered, amazing, light and free. Your ex walks past you and calls your name. You wave and feel grateful and inspired. There is no worry or angst remaining as you go over to say hello. Your inspiring outcome is the end result. (You don’t have to have your ex in your goal, this is just an example).

3. To find your inspiring outcome, ask yourself the following three questions:

a. “How would I know that my goal had been accomplished?”

b. “Where would I be and what would I be doing when my goal has been accomplished?”

c. “What will I see, hear, and feel when my goal has been accomplished that will indicate to me that my goal is realized?”

4. Write out your HEALING GOAL describing in exact detail what you will see, hear, feel (emotionally and physically), taste and smell when your goal is complete.

Express your goal in all five senses:

• V – Visual (sight)

• A – Auditory (sound)

• K – Kinesthetic (feeling, both touch and emotion)

• G – Gustatory (taste)

• O – Olfactory (smell)

As your mind experiences reality, it filters reality through your five senses i.e. it receives input from what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling.

Research shows that when you use your imagination like this, you can create an imagined experience so real that your mind cannot tell the difference between your imagined experience and reality. When this happens and your mind believes that your imagined experience is actually real, chemical reactions take place in your brain, effectively storing your imagined experience into your memory banks as if it were a real memory.

As you repeat this process of imagining over time, you can program new false memories into your mind. Your mind can then use these false memories as the basis for creating your reality.The end result of all this is that you can begin to think, feel and behave in new, more productive ways that will lead you closer to your goals. New ways of thinking, feeling and behaving have you attract new opportunities and resources into your life to help bring your dreams and goals into reality.

Note: You can hear each suggestion and can RELAX in the knowledge that YOU are making POSITIVE changes to your subconscious mind.

Example HEALING GOAL

Imagine that your inspired outcome for realising your perfect HEALING GOAL is to see yourself dancing and looking incredible and being adored by all the men around you. You feel amazing! Here is an example of what you might write down describing your HEALING GOAL.

Visual: (sight)

Flashing lights, bodies moving to the music, smiling people, arms up in the air, catch reflection of myself in the mirror looking amazing, gorgeous guys smiling at me and making motions towards me, champagne in tall glass…

Auditory: (hearing)

Hearing the music, glasses clanking together, murmuring of voices, laughing, guy asking me to dance etc…

Kinaesthetic: (touch)

Cold champagne in hand, feel warmth of a body next to mine, the touch of the fabric against my skin etc…

Kinaesthetic: (emotions)

Happy, contented, empowered, at peace, warm heart, excited, peaceful, grateful, appreciative, joy, mind quiet etc…

Gustatory: (taste)

Salty as I lick my lips, champagne etc…

Olfactory: (smell)

Champagne, after-shave etc…

Note: Before you program your mind, it is important to get specific about what you want to program your mind with. Fill in your HEALING GOAL using single words or short phrases. An example of what a completed HEALING GOAL looks like can be found below.

VAKGO sensory elements

To help you extract the VAKGO information from your HEALING GOAL, I have included a list of some sensory elements that make up each of your five senses.If you find yourself having difficulty creating some of the sensory information in your HEALING GOAL, go through the list below for the particular sense that you are working on, and see if it jogs your imagination.

Visual elements:

Objects

People

Shape

Size – big / small

Color

Brightness

Contrast – light / shade

Texture

Auditory elements:

Volume – loud / soft

Distance – near / far

Quality – clear / distorted

Background sounds

Kinaesthetic (touch) elements:

Temperature – hot / cold

Wind / water / rain against skin?

Texture and pressure

Clothing – how your clothes feel against your skin.

Are you holding anything in your hands? / Are you touching anything?

Are you sitting or lying down – if so, what does that feel like?

Movement and posture

Kinaesthetic (emotional) elements:

Emotional quality – e.g. joy, excitement, pride, gratitude etc…

Intensity – strong / weak

Location in your body – e.g. heart area, solar plexus area, head area.

Gustatory elements:

Texture

Intensity of taste

Hot / cold

Sweet / sour / salty

Olfactory elements:

Pungency / intensity of smell

Smells good / bad

Distance – close / far

MY HEALING GOAL

Date: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………

My HEALING GOAL is (no more than a simple paragraph):

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

My inspired outcome is…

(write one or two sentences summarizing your outcome):

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Visual (sight)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Auditory (hearing)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Kinaesthetic (touch)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Kinaesthetic (emotions)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Gustatory (taste)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Olfactory (smell)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Till next time,

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If forever single and 50+ – are you a woman who emasculates men?

In a recent article for the Daily Mail, Kate Mulvey bemoans the fact that as she approaches 50, she is not yet married, putting this down to the fact that men are unable to cope with a woman ‘outshining’ them. She refers to recent research confirming this, saying ‘I have lost count of the times men have rejected and insulted me simply because I was brighter, wittier or cleverer than they are.’

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In her article, Kate talks about several occasions when her partners (for she seems to have had many), have reacted negatively when she has demonstrated her superior knowledge or intellect. She is ‘convinced that the reason I am still booking a table for one..[is] because men are so threatened by my intelligence.’

Kate outlines her academic prowess, including having breezed through university, stressing how she continues to enjoy learning, and how she is keen to flex [her] intellectual muscles, and to never let a man get the last word just because of his sex. Kate concludes that it’s necessary to become a giggly man-pleaser in order to have a successful relationship, and is unwilling to sell-out by doing so.

Fair enough Kate, but I am not sure if your assessment of why you are single is accurate…

I don’t think men are threatened by you, I think men feel emasculated around you so don’t like the way they feel about themselves when with you, so they leave you…

I agree that it’s not necessary to conform to some stereotypical view of a submissive doormat, who flutters her eyelashes and simpers, because it’s impossible to attract a man otherwise BUT I also think shoving your superior knowledge or intellect in their faces is not going to win any relationship points.

Consider what makes a fulfilling and positive relationship. What do most people, male or female, look for in a relationship? Of course, there are many answers to this, and what makes one person happy in a relationship may not make another person feel the same. However, at the heart of any strong relationship is the concept of mutual love, support and respect, and the idea of your partner wanting the best for you, and helping you to be the best that you can be. No-one feels happy in a relationship where one partner is so concerned to demonstrate their capability or strengths, that they don’t take their partner’s feelings into consideration.

The sad thing is I SEE SO MANY WOMEN LIKE KATE WHO DO THIS. They then blame the men for being threatened!! Ladies: showing a constant need to be the best, or always wanting the last word, is not a good way to communicate care and respect for your man. For a relationship to deepen and strengthen over time, it needs to be carefully nurtured and nourished, by letting him know that he is the most important person in the world to you, and that you care about how he feels. Continually undermining him, or competing with him, will exhaust him and damage and end your relationship.

Here are some sure fire signs that you emasculate men:

  • Ask him for help, then either criticise what he did, redo it or do it your way
  • Fight and shout in scream in public
  • Call him names in front of other people or mock him in public in ANY way, shape or form
  • Belittle what he does for a living
  • Mother him
  • Flirt with his friends in front of him
  • Tell him another guy could do it better
  • Straighten his tie or preen his clothes for him in public (like his mother used to do)
  • Pat him on the head in public
  • Never praise anything he does, just criticise
  • Nag and nag ang nag him shouting instructions at him to do x,y or z
  • Belittle his manhood
  • Micromanage his every move
  • Tell him you will pay for things all the time or ASSUME that he cannot pay his own way
  • Embaress him by giving him bigger presents than he gives you
  • Nothing he does is ever good enough
  • Go on and on about how clever you are
  • Laugh at him mockingly often
  • Make his salary an issue

What makes a great relationship? When both of you feel like the best person of yourselves when together. Most men I know have no problem with a highly intelligent woman – on the contrary: they look for them. BUT when a highly intelligent woman is also arrogant, haughty or emasculating to be around – most men will run a mile.

If a couple lays a foundation of mutual support, encouragement and respect, this builds confidence in the relationship. True love is demonstrated by the willingness to compromise occasionally, and a genuine concern to act with their best interests at heart. You will not want to hurt or embarrass your fella, especially in public. Choosing not to outshine your man on occasions, (even if you could), is not selling out. You simply recognise that consideration for his feelings is far more important to the health of your relationship. A man who truly feels loved and valued will not want to leave.

SO, if you are forever single, serially dating and being dumped and 50+ and have been telling yourself that you are just too smart and intelligent for all the men out there – stop. Take a look at yourself. Has your positive sense of self turned your arrogant and do you emasculate the men around you? If so, then come and do the Naked Divorce program and get to the source of why you keep pushing great guys away and sending most men running a mile. As you are the common equation in each relationship you have ever been in, it might be time to look deeper at what you can be responsible for.

Till next time

Lots of hugs,

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