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.

Don’t Hate the Love Month, Learn to Love It!

tumblr_mi7851G9Nl1qlo84oo1_500The love month is upon us, and some people hate it because they are single. Is this you?

Well, time to cheer up – here’s how anyone can learn to love the love month. The thing to remember is that a romantic relationship is not just about sex. It’s about intimacy too, in all its many guises.

Love and intimacy are actually around you all the time in different forms. The problem is, as human beings in our society, we are attached to love or intimacy in a particular form or package.

If it isn’t tall, dark and handsome with the name ‘boyfriend’ OR hot and sexy with the name ‘girlfriend’ then we reject it. And when we do that, we fail to see just how much love we have in our life so we wind up running around spitting at couples and cursing at happy matches because we feel angry about being single.

tumblr_mhg7ttnalJ1qj4315o1_400Love is all around you, it’s no cliché

Love is all around and perhaps you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend but you will have 4-5 amazing people in your life who provide love in its different ways.

This feeling we have of a need for love is actually a need for the various components of love and intimacy, and when we reject and shut off these things because they do not fit some sort of socially accepted package, we are stopping ourselves from enjoying a huge amount of pleasure endorphins and overall feelings of wellbeing.

If you break down the components of a romantic relationship, you might find you have a lot of love around. Here are some examples.

Companionship

Your mother/father/the dude you watch football with/a friend you watch movies with or collect stamps with – who provides companionship in your life? You get this in many places.

Snuggles

Who do you get snuggles from? Perhaps a beloved pet, a huggy friend, your mother/father or a giant teddy bear. You could volunteer at a shelter or go visit a dogs’ home or buy a giant pink panther teddy bear. You could even put a sign up that you will give away free hugs to get your snuggle time. The simple act of snuggling releases endorphins – doesn’t matter who or what with.

Laughter

Who makes you laugh? Don’t tell me no one makes you laugh in your life! Surround yourself with gigglers or go try out some Laughter Yoga.

Good Listening

Find someone in your life who really listens to you and gets you. You already know this person and perhaps you don’t spend enough time with him or her. Schedule that in.

Romance

When you are single, it’s tricky to get the romance fix BUT there are probably single people in your life you can flirt with so find them and flirt with them.

If you are brave and put yourself out there into environments where you are in close physical contact with new people, it might just creep up on you. Join a dance class and try out that tango with a hunky man, or go to a dating event and simply enjoy the spark of getting to know new people.

See how much easier the love month is to bear when you break it down and find the components?

Go and get the intimacy you need. It’s all there just waiting for you!

Happy Valentine’s day!

Lots of hugs

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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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12 Ways to Be Powerful in 2015

New YearHow are your resolutions going?

Instead of the usual suspects of exercise more, get out of debt, save more, drink less, eat more healthily, etc. how about committing to taking on the habits of thought and action that will make you more powerful in 2015?

After all, without a foundational strength of character what chance do any of your other resolutions have of succeeding? Not much!

If you can adopt even one of these lessons, you’ll find it far easier to gain control over your life, your emotions, and all your relationships this year – not least your relationship with yourself.

So in 2015, let’s:

1. Stop being a victim

Stop being caught up in getting attention by playing the victim or trying to tell everyone your sob stories. Focus instead on solving the issues and problems in your life as quickly as possible, and moving on.

2. Stop whining

Losers always whine about the reasons why they didn’t achieve something. Winners simply work out what they can learn from the experience, count it as a step towards their goal, put it from their mind and move on.

3. Learn to bounce back

Failure is not getting down, it’s staying down. Failure is simply feedback so see it as that and work on your resilience in bouncing back quickly.

4. Stop being a drama queen

Don’t see every little thing that happens as so significant and create dramas out of small things. It’s an addiction! Stop doing it – keep things small and move on.

5. Live with integrity

Focus on your personal integrity and honoring your values, ethics and agreements with people and yourself. Especially with yourself.

6. Stop just doing what you ‘feel’ like

Powerful people don’t run their lives based on what they ‘feel’ like doing at any given moment. Powerful people value their commitments and their agreements with themselves and others and when they don’t ‘feel’ like doing something they ignore those feelings and do what they agreed to do anyway.

7. Communicate with clarity

Powerful people communicate clearly and powerfully, without drama. They make requests and never make excuses for why things don’t happen.

8. Speak with power

Focus on making eye contact with people when you talk to them, lift your chin and speak in a clear audible voice. Softly spoken people are very dominating to those around them as everyone needs to lean in to hear them. It’s subtle manipulative control vs. clear powerful behavior.

9. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

The universe doesn’t care about your bad day and neither does anyone else. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

10. Stop gossiping

Never talk badly about other people. Bored people talk about other people. Powerful people talk about the big games, projects and exciting things they are doing in their lives.

11. Stop worrying if others like you or not

Stop giving a damn about everyone liking you. There is a clear T-junction when it comes to this point – you can focus on being liked or you can make a difference in life. Both of these items cannot always be true together.

12. Stop complaining when life isn’t fair

Life isn’t fair so people will talk about you behind your back and be horrible even if you don’t deserve it and have always been nice and supportive to them.

This is because most people will only do whatever they do to forward things for themselves so don’t expect that your good deeds and actions for others will always come back to you. Simply do your good deeds and actions for your own reasons and not to get anything back – this way you won’t be disappointed or constantly feel hard done by.

Think you can take on the challenge and become far more powerful this year? I know you can.

Let this be a wonderful, empowering 2015!

Share your thoughts below!

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Are You Choosing Your Life Or Just Surviving?

DepressedOne of my clients was so traumatized by something brutal which happened in her life. She dealt with it by swallowing everything down, including alcohol, drugs and just numbing herself.

 

Many would say she ‘chose’ her path of destruction

In life this word ‘choice’ always gets tossed about. Perhaps too much. How we always have a choice in everything we do. How everything we do is our choice.

I believe that on one level but I am beginning to think that true choice is something which becomes available when you’re on the higher echelons of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs;

MaslowsHiearchyofNeeds

 

You need to be able to think straight to truly ‘choose’

Otherwise we’re just reacting and stumbling along. The thing about being in survival is you go back to basics and consequently have no true ‘choice’ because you’re just existing to survive. You can’t think properly and operate robotically.

Suddenly all you feel you can focus on is getting the basic needs of physiology and safety; sleep, food, sex, homeostasis, safety of body, safety of employment.

All those old stuck emotions keep you held down, unable to rise above survival mode or think beyond it. When you don’t face those emotions and work to release them permanently you’re just stuck struggling to deal with them day by day, while also trying to operate a normal life and survive.

Everything beyond that is way out of your reach, and beyond your choice to have in your life.

Without releasing all those old stuck emotions, you can’t choose a different path consciously. You can’t just ‘switch’ off anger, deadness, and coping mechanisms to just be full of happiness or possibility.

Your unconscious mind is driving you blindly

Although you may consciously recognize that you’re on a self-destructive, unfulfilling path away from real healing, you don’t have the choice to get off it without taking the difficult step first to release all the crap that’s holding you there.

So your unconscious mind is robotically taking over and trying to get you through the day. And without any understanding of a real strategy for release and long term healing, your unconscious mind is pushing you to deal with the pain and stuck emotions the only way it knows how – with short term escape tactics.

For my client this was drugs and alcohol among other things.

How to release and escape the cycle

But my client has now been doing this incredible catharsis release process we designed and what is now there is pure sadness and compassion – for herself, others and her family.

She now has a choice!

A choice to take a different path and heal herself. To move beyond this kind of destructive survival mode and cycle, and towards happiness and possibility once more.

And she got there by taking that first bold step and facing those old stuck emotions head on, following our carefully developed release process.

Are you stuck in a similar place?

I’d love to help.

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6 Questions Your Future Self Would Ask You Right Now

6 Questions Your Future Self Would Ask You Right Now

The magic is in this moment; let your goals drive you, but do not let them define you. The journey is where the fun is, so give yourself time to be present in this moment because this moment is all we will ever have.

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Friday life lessons…

Friday life lessons...

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”
― Bessie Anderson Stanley