Category Archives: recovery

Sending love to the world (again)

Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell
Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell

Trite and hippyish as it may sound, sending love / loving kindness / metta etc isn’t easy.

Sometimes, it can be hard enough to wish ourselves well let alone people we see as ‘other’ or worse. It can be really challenging to see people we disagree with and attempting to send compassion and loving kindness rather than judgment.

I mean, who does that (be it ploughing into innocent people crossing a bridge and stabbing a policeman or boiling a prisoner alive… I could go on with horrors from just this week but won’t)?

And then, of course, there’s the judgment about how we ‘should’ all react. As if we could legislate our feelings even if we wanted to.

Over the years, I’ve learned that allowing myself to feel whatever I’m feeling is the best way through it. Judging myself for crying more over London than Mosul (I was born there, lived there for years, am in every week and passed through on Wednesday) wouldn’t have helped anyone.

Far more lives were lost in Mosul this week and I consciously feel guiltier as ‘our side’ is responsible yet, I can’t control what I cry over. Similarly, my tears for London  were different to my (more intense) sobbing over the murder (and lack of his murderers being charged) of Darren Rainey in Florida  and Timothy Caughman in New York.

I feel compelled to state, aloud, that (I hope!) most people who look white DON’T think like the awful white supremacist who killed him. I also feel rage at the injustice that as a white looking woman, I’m not expected to have to speak out against that in the way that, for example, peace loving Muslims are expected to denounce attacks that extremists undertake.

I feel hopeless when I think about terrorists but I don’t feel as afraid of them (nothing – that I know of –  I can do to control or even influence their actions) as I do about a certain English woman who is passing off her hate speech on US telly as the norm for (diverse! Inclusive!) London.

However we feel, whatever our reactions – to global or more personal tragedies – we have a right to our feelings.

The more we give ourselves a bit of time and space to process and grieve and heal, the less likely we are to mess things up even more badly by lashing out at people we disagree with.

This is something simple, though not easy, that we can all do (should we want to) to contribute a teeny bit towards creating a safer, more peaceful world for all of us.

What might you do to be extra kind to yourself today?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

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The importance of self-care when dealing with people impacted by narcissitic wounding

Parts of this post may be triggering and upsetting but I’m taking that risk because I hope it will be helpful.

Gaslight

Seasoned White House reporters have been shocked* after being told that what they’ve seen with their own eyes is not true at Sean Spicer’s first press statement yesterday.

I work with a lot of adult survivors of narcissistically** wounded parents. As babies and infants (throughout our lives but especially then), we need to be seen. To be loved and accepted and cherished for who we are. To be allowed to feel however we feel. Even when we’re furious.

When we’ve been seen as we are (often through therapy as an adult) and have learned to integrate our own feelings and know it’s OK to feel however we feel, we’re in a much better position to empathise with others. To, as Obama said in an interview with Oprah long before he ran for President, ‘Disagree without being disagreeable.’

Yet, to varying degrees, we’ve grown up having certain aspects of our personalities celebrated while others have been punished or ignored. The recent pink/blue merchandising (cutting out a most of the rainbow and attempting to force boys and girls to conform to gender stereotypes) is an element of this. Black and white. Boy or girl. Good or bad. Republican or Democrat. Brexit or Remain.

When a parent (or President) has a high level of narcissistic wounding, his or her needs always come much higher than the children’s (or population’s). Ultimately, many of these adult survivors, as a result of systematically having their needs denied and suppressed, often believe they don’t have a right to exist.

When certain parts of our personality*** are celebrated and others denied, it can lead to us (naturally) feeling unseen in our wholeness. In varying degrees, this can lead to narcissistic wounding. If we weren’t seen and allowed to be as we were, we’re incapable of seeing others as they are.

Watching a powerful press corp being treated like naughty children who need to be disciplined can be triggering. Trump’s team, with his ‘running war with the media’ is attempting to tell the press they don’t have a right to exist.

I regularly recommend Elan Golomb’s book, Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self, as she explains (using many personal examples) how the residual effects (including self-loathing),  can be overcome. No matter how grandiose a person struggling with narcissistic wounding might appear, there’s a very fragile core which doesn’t feel good enough.

The new President of the United States of America is a self-confessed sexual predator.

We saw the tape (apologies for the language but this is the President’s own language) where he said:

Pussygate

His ‘stalking’ of Hillary Clinton, literally following her around the stage like he was going to do something during one of the DEBATES was chilling to watch (although she took it in her stride and handled it with grace).

We’ve seen the tape where he mocked the disabled reporter and all of his denials that he did this even thought we’ve seen the tape.

We’ve heard his outrageous allegations about people from various ethnic groups and his endorsements by the KKK. He’s said he’s not racist then appointed an Alt-Right (neo Nazi rebranded) publisher as his Chief of Staff.

Just as the narcissistic parent blames the child for the abuse because s/he made him/her do it, the President, while campaigning, blamed the government for not having tighter tax laws that would stop him exploiting a loop hole and not paying taxes for years.

And I’m not even mentioning all the evidence of hacking and electoral interference by a foreign government. Again, his tactic has been to deny it.

 As an adult (with an online ‘echo chamber’ although I attempt to be open to as many opinions as possible, just not tolerating hate speech of any kind), this is crazymaking: It was termed ‘gaslighting’ after the films (Diana Wynard in the 1940 original and Ingrid Bergman – pictured above – in the better known 1944 remake) about the abusive husband who slowly (with the help of some of his staff) convinces his wife she’s going mad.

For a child, it can be horrific to experience that sense of being ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’ because the adult you’re supposed to trust to raise you is telling you something you know isn’t right. It’s abusive.

Even adults who’ve had (as if there’s such a thing) ‘normal’ upbringings can be affected when, say, a partner uses such tactics and they lose their sense of self.

Many adults are being triggered by the news on a regular basis, straight back into that suddenly not knowing if the sky’s up or down.

Brene Brown’s amazing work around shame and vulnerability, and the need to embrace them – however uncomfortable – if we want to live wholeheartedly, can help.

We can watch some of the inspiring speeches from yesterday’s marches. (You might want to get started with Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johanson, America Ferrera, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Madonna).

We can connect with people, discerning safe people to share our vulnerabilities with so we can support each other rather than feel exploited by sharing with people who’ll use them against us.

As we connect and support each other, we can then reach out (as Obama advised) and attempt to talk to people who feel differently – not to dismiss their feelings but to attempt to hear and understand. I’m not talking about condoning hate speech and worse but attempting to connect with the best in people even when we’re flummoxed by certain decisions.

As always, you know what’s best for you. 

I really hope that enough of these reporters can stay grounded enough to keep calling out the lies, investigating properly, fact checking and not giving up.

What helps you stay grounded and in your truth no matter what someone else (who may, or may not have a high level of narcissistic wounding) is trying to convince you of?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

*again – it seems, for them and for us at home, as if we all keep thinking we’ve seen it all and then something else happens and we’re knocked for six again

**Psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology, is very much about looking at what – no matter how challenging the issue – might be trying to emerge at a soul level. We’re all on a spectrum in terms of narcissitic wounding

***There was a scene in the documentary about Trump’s background where he introduced his then toddler son as ‘smart’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ as if the latter two were good things. Melania and others at the Hollywood Star of Fame ceremony being filmed all laughed like it wasn’t something to worry about. I really hope he has people in his life who seem him for all of who he is and who will nurture and support him as he grows up in this enormous spotlight

**** While I’m quite outspoken about my politics, I respect others’ choices as long as they’re not hurting anyone. In those cases, I feel I have a duty to attempt to speak up (as compassionately as possible). I hope that yesterday was just a warm up and that we’ll all (the marches were led by women but all genders were welcome) do what we can to support each other and fight to prevent the progress that’s been made being undone

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One giant teachable moment? ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’

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I’ve been doing my best to stay informed without sinking into despair. Am thinking of all the possible teachable moments coming from the depressing news about a certain Presidential candidate (who, taking a leaf from Michelle Obama’s spectacular playbook, I’m no longer going to name) and a footballer from these shores.

Obama describes the pain she feels hearing Hillary’s opponent’s misogyny: ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’

You can see her full speech by scrolling down here.

Good men – including professional athletes who know locker room talk – are speaking up, too. And women and girls are coming forward after being silent and afraid for decades and saying, ‘Enough.’

You can read Peggy Orenstein’s* New York Times piece on How to Be  a Man in the Age of Trump by clicking here. It made me think of Dr Christiane Northrup’s praise for righteous anger.

Dr Northrup talks about feel good nitric oxide being produced by our bodies, boosting immunity and overall wellbeing, when we experience positive emotions including righteous anger.

Just as the men and boys in Orenstein’s article who go along with alleged ‘locker room talk’ and worse without stepping in and stopping abuse feel awful themselves, we know from WWII that it’s up to all of us to protect the more vulnerable.

When we let powerful groups or men (or women) exploit and abuse others, whether it’s because they’re a vulnerable young girl or an immigrant or person from a minority religion, we ALL suffer.

As Pastor Martin Niemöller described the rise of the Nazi’s:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

When we’re frightened and afraid ourselves, someone stronger (in that moment) can lend us the strength we need. When we see someone else in need, we can step in and let perpetrators know any kind of abuse is unacceptable.

Today, a Facebook story about an A&E nurse called into her daughter’s school sounded like a glorious way for women and girls (and boys and men) to stop internalising the shame of everyday abuse.

Although it looks like it’s possibly not a true case, it will hopefully inspire girls, women, boys and men to stand up for themselves and support others in doing the same.

In a nutshell, an A&E nurse was called into her daughter’s Catholic school because her 15 year old daughter had hit a boy. He had repeatedly pinged her bra strap after she’d not only asked him to stop but been told by the teacher she reported it to to ‘just ignore it’.

The mother (fictional or real – my new hero) said, ‘Ahh, so you want to know if I’m going to press charges against the boy for sexual assault and the school for not stopping it?’ The school had been more concerned with the damage to the boy.

The mother’s reaction takes the shame and places it firmly back where it belongs by pointing out the girl’s punch was self-defense (against a much larger boy).

We can all do this in our own ways. Instead of worrying so much about hurting the feelings of powerful people abusing their power, we can use our power. We don’t need to apologise for setting healthy boundaries.

The girl in the story (or real life case?) saw that no one was going to protect her (in her classroom!) so punched the boy who was messing with her underwear.

And the mother backed her up.

As a white looking woman, I can’t know (although I can imagine) how it feels to be targetted for my religion but this piece (click here) offers some insight by showing a couple of researchers who literally walked several miles in the shoes of more visible Muslims to experience Islamaphobia.

There are so many ways in which we can be different and potentially targetted – age, gender, sexuality, physical differences, nationality, language, religion, class… –  but by standing together, bullies can’t get away with it.

Surely compassion and kindness make ANY nation ‘great’?

What has helped you speak up for yourself and for others?

How can you support yourself in noticing and helping people (including yourself) in this very strange time we’re living in?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

*author of the glorious Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

 

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‘They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds’

seeds

Thanks Lisa Lister (Love Your Lady Landscape, Hay House, 2016) for reminding me of this gorgeous proverb.

When have you felt buried by life?

What do you notice when you ponder your inner seed, right now? That part of you that’s healthy and whole and ready to flourish?

Do any ideas for how you might grow and flourish in spite of what you’re facing spring to mind?

If you’ve already flourished in spite of the thing that sprang to mind, what helped you do so?

How can you remember your resourcefulness and resilience more easily in the future?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

 

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My Weekly Summer Health special – mental health feature (published 4/8/16)

MWmentalhealthspecial

If you struggle with anxiety, post traumatic stress, depression, OCD or any other mental health issues, what helps you be extra kind to yourself?

You can read the full piece by clicking the links below. I used to be able to easily create one pdf from several pages but this skill has (temporarily, hopefully) eluded me today.

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Hope you find it helpful.

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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What to dooooooo? Working with our shadows

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What can we do to avoid historian’s predictions of Holocaust-like-history repeating itself? As individuals? How can we tap into the loving, expansive, inclusive, generous parts of ourselves and humanity instead of giving into fear and loathing?

Yes, there are petitions and demonstrations.

But what about the rest of our lives? The gazillions of thoughts and beliefs we rarely even notice but which contribute to our experience and the way we relate to others?

Apart from sending Metta to places we feel helpless around, we can take a look at our own shadow stuff.

I read an interesting piece by Deepak Chopra today on Donald Trump being a manifestation of America’s shadow.

We all have our shadow aspects and they’re not easy to recognise when we’re caught up in them.

Just as we all have the potential to do amazing things with our one, precious life, we could find ourselves in unimaginable circumstances and be capable of the worst, least imaginable acts.

When we notice them, we can integrate them by owning what we’ve been repressing in ourselves and projecting onto the other.

Something we can all do is pause before posting or speaking or lashing out in any way.

Notice where our shadow might be in that moment.

Who are we most angry with right now?

What does he or she represent to us?

What hidden aspects of ourselves resonates with what they’re doing?

How does it feel to own that feeling? To acknowledge that at some point, we’ve all felt homicidal?

Again, I’m not at all advocating acting on such feelings. Oddly, making this more conscious means we’re less likely to act out aggressively. 

It can be scary.

I’m a pacifist by nature. I wish we could all just get along. We’re all the same. Where we were born had nothing to do with us. Hippie, peace, love, blah…

Years ago, I learned that trying to send peace and love to people who were annoying me was, frankly, beyond me. I think Metta’s wonderful but even that varies day to day. This was years ago and I eventually realised that owning the fury, the rage, the anger and the despair was freeing.

Obviously, I’m not talking about acting on any of this. But recognising however we’re feeling and letting that be OK actually enables the feelings to move through us more quickly than when we try to deny them.

So writing this, thinking about certain politicians and their seemingly bullyish ways, I can either judge them and pretend it’s all about them or be open to acknowledging that bully part of myself.

The part that I don’t want to acknowledge I have yet that I realise of course I do, otherwise it wouldn’t upset me so much to see it in others.

Once I’ve done this, I can better see how I am connected to, for example, a politician. Or someone who votes differently to me. Or a terrorist. Or a serial killer. Or someone who puts his or her feet on the seats on public transport. Or child or animal abuser. Or any number of people I don’t want to think I have anything in common with.

As with everything, it’s a practice. But the more I do this, the less likely I am to add fuel to the emotional fires of the world right now with mean, small minded, unpleasant posts (I’m deleting A Lot).

Embracing our shadows not only helps us integrate and be more whole ourselves but we’re better able to reach out to others with compassion and kindness.

And this depends on us embracing our shadows (rather than beating ourselves up for not being saints, having said shadows).

Who are you most angry with right now? Who do you hate?

How does it feel to own that hatred and fury in yourself? (If a lot is coming up, you might want to work with a therapist – use all available support.)

Personally speaking, just through drafting this post, I’m feeling something closer to empathy for certain politicians than I’ve previously been able to feel.

How about you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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Safety pins and self-compassion

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What a week!

Apart from here, the floods in Ghana, attack in Turkey…

There have been high emotions in the aftermath of the vote. I’ve shed a lot of tears, hearing about the increase in racist attacks, wanting to connect and collaborate with the world at large, not be cast adrift.

Also, respecting the democratic process and knowing we’re all doing the best we can with what we know at any given time.

A lot of us are struggling with our sense of identity.

I’ve been clumsily attempting to be super friendly to people who look like they might be not from here.

Then, to increase the strange looks resulting from my beaming at strangers in London and Essex, trying to be extra friendly to everyone.

Being naturally more introverted (I think I’m an extraverted introvert), I’m sometimes exhausted by it all.

In attempting to be more smiley to people, I’m no longer hiding behind books and newspapers on public transport but making eye contact (the horror! Joke – it’s actually refreshing), I’m remembering that the heartbreaking stories are far from the big picture.

Still, what could I do to (without freaking anyone out by being too smiley), help others feel safer?

I was delighted to hear about the safety pins being worn to show solidarity with immigrant communities (again, as the daughter of an Irish and Indian, via Kenyan, immigrant, it feels a bit odd to show solidarity with myself so am aiming for some self-compassion rather than beating myself up for all the times I’ve cried or welled up since Friday).

The safety pin is such a great example of someone doing something simple to stand up (quietly and maybe not even needing to stand up at all) and say racism is unacceptable. And I can dial back my beaming at people so minimise the risk of freaking strangers out by being potentially over friendly in an effort to compensate for a tiny by vocal minority of racist individuals.

I’m also aware of the reports of Muslim women being targeted more than men (sexism as well as racism) and talk of older people being accused of voting badly and the need (my name is Eve – am still working on my overdeveloped sense of responsibility for the whole world), recent progress for gay and trans rights and desire for everybody to be safe, free to flourish, able to be their glorious wondrous selves without fear of attack.

Is there something you’ve been feeling hopeless and helpless about?

What is something small – safety pin tiny – that might help you begin to remember that no matter what’s going on around you, everyone is doing their best?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Yoga benefits for ‘Blue Monday’ – Wheel (and other backbends)

WheelBenefitsblueMonday

Tomorrow’s ‘Blue Monday’ – that day of the year where, in this part of the world, we’re apparently most likely to feel down or even depressed.

If you’re in need of a lift, you might want to boost yourself by using your body. Just as forward folds are typically calming (not for everyone – the more you practice, the better you’ll get to know your own body and what works best for you), backbends help energise us and can improve our mood.

You’ll want to do this towards the end of your practice when you’re warmed up (injuring yourself is unlikely to improve your mood). Sun Salutations to warm the whole body (especially in this weather) can be helpful along with poses like Chair, Equestrian and Pigeon to warm up the larger muscles in the legs.

Starting with Bridge pose, a great backbend on it’s own, once your spine feels warmed up and if you feel like continuing into Wheel (it may be that the idea doesn’t boost your mood in which case, listen to your own body’s wisdom!), lie back down onto your back and bring the hands over your shoulders and into position for Wheel.

You may want to stay there (check in with yourself at every step and if you’re not familiar with yoga or have any injuries or hesitations, don’t do this without support or supervision). If you want to continue, lift the hips and come onto the crown of your head, pausing. If it feels good for your body, come up into the full pose.

Notice what’s happening with your breath, aiming to continue breathing fully and deeply for as long as feels comfortable (maybe one complete breath, maybe five. You know yourself best).

When you come back down, notice what’s happening with your mouth. Are you smiling? Notice however it is you’re feeling.

It may be that coming out of the pose is what lifts your mood but it’s a great one to play with if Wheel appeals. It’s also wonderful for helping us retrain our nervous systems over time, increasing our allostatic load which, in turn, helps us better manage bigger stresses off the yoga mat.

You can get many of the benefits by coming into the pose over a Swiss ball. This way, you’re opening the body in the same way but don’t have to support all of your weight with your arms and legs.

If Wheel doesn’t appeal, Sphinx, Cobra, Bow, Up Dog or even Mountain pose with a small backbend can all help you work with your body to help change the way you feel.

Does ‘Blue Monday’ have an impact on your mood?

What helps you cheer yourself up?

What are your favourite backbends?

Maybe you know deeper issues are at play. What changes could you make to your life, work and/or relationships so you enjoyed this day of the year more?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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On BBC Essex today – sharing confidence tips for women (and men!) who apologise ‘too much’

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It was a pleasure, as ever, joining Sadie Nine on BBC Essex this morning. Apparently, there’s an app now, that shows an alert if your email is too apologetic. I know I used to apologise so much, Sorry was practically my middle name. Switching automatic ‘sorry’s for ‘thank you’s helped (our brains need to replace the habits we want to quit with something better) helped and I also learned to be kinder to myself instead of beating myself up, compounding my overly apologetic, ‘Please don’t throw me off the planet for one false step’ nature.

Becoming more embodied (more – progress not perfection) has helped and I love sharing some of the tools that are so useful (such as the Power Poses Amy Cuddy’s Harvard research popularised).

You can listen here

Would an app like the one mentioned help you?

Do you think you apologise too much?

Do you find it really hard to apologise, even when you wish you could?

What helps you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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