Tag Archives: Brene Brown

What comes after #metoo?


Alyssa Milano’s suggestion that all women who wanted to show how widespread sexual harassment, sexual assault and abuse are use the #metoo hashtag has gone viral with variations being taken up in other languages.

Some find it empowering, some infuriating. Some simply have used the hashtag (personally, I didn’t go over my stories – I didn’t take all of them to therapy but I did enough work on it to know that, for me, it wouldn’t have been helpful to dredge things up to an even greater extent again this week) while others have pulled no punches in detailing the examples.

Some have seen their perpetrators charged, tried and jailed.

Some have never told a soul until now.

And some men (notably, the wonderful Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) have spoken up about times it’s happened to them. And the fact that it happened to HIM, in front of his WIFE, shows that even with people who stop thinking of women as sex objects and instead like The Rock (click HERE for the brilliant, Rock endorsed advice), size, strength and power doesn’t ensure safety.

When the sky turned an eerie yellow and the sun red on Monday afternoon, I imagined, for a few seconds, that it was the result of so many women’s rage. That our combined anger and rising to say ENOUGH had literally shaken up the world, changing the colour of the sky.

Reading story after story emerge, my emotions rollercoaster in a way they’ve been rollercoastering since 45* announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Sometimes, I feel jaded like nothing can surprise me. Other times, the outrage rises again. Sometimes, this feels empowering. Other times, I feel exhausted by it all.

On the Tube today, seeing  a strange (to me) man glancing at the new report I was reading in the paper, I wanted to ASK him, What do YOU think about all of this? What will YOU do differently, as a man, to help ensure more women and girls are safe if you witness dodgyness? Obviously, I didn’t. I realised also that while I was raging (again) reading it, my face was in normal Tube Face mode and no one would have known about the turbulence I was feeling.

I don’t imagine I’m the only one. So I thought I’d share some thoughts in hopes some of them may help you:

  1. If you’re a man, please pause and bracket your feelings about how the revelations make you feel and ask the women in your life what, if anything, THEY want you to do to support them. The whole ‘What women want’ thing is as ludicrous as trying to define ‘What men want’ as if we were one homogenous group of people who all think and feel the same. Just like you, we’re whole people. My favourite definition of feminism, from Gloria Steinem, is simply this, thinking of women as whole people TOO
  2. If you chose not to #metoo, honour your decision to do what’s right for you. ALWAYS do what feels best for you
  3. If you shared your stories, BE SUPER GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. It’s a brave thing to do. Brene Brown’s work around shame and vulnerability teaches us that when we share our vulnerabilities with people who can hold and support us, we can avoid shame spiralling. The internet is a phenomenal tool for putting us in touch with support we could never have known about before. It can also be used to hurt people. Block people as necessary. Turn off comments if need be. Honour what is right for you
  4. Let your loved ones know what support you need. This isn’t the end of it. More and more high profile cases are coming to light and hard as it can feel to stomach the brutality and injustice, there’s a power in truth coming to light. Again, quoting the glorious Gloria Steinem, ‘The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off’
  5. Keep reminding yourself that you are safe now. You survived. You are so much more that what has been done to you.
  6. Notice what you feel in your body. Pay attention to how you want to move your body, maybe miming fighting back or lashing out many years or even decades later (it may sound silly but so much trauma gets trapped in our bodies, it’s amazing the difference listening, tracking and moving can make – read Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger and Babette Rothchild for more if you’re interested). You may want to mime punching or kicking or screaming or any of the things you were unable to do as you did whatever you needed to do in the actual moment/s
  7. You may simply want to stamp your feet and scream and shout – let it out of your body. If this feels like too much, a walk or, better yet, a good run or energetic swim or push ups or any thing physical which honours the body’s natural fight/flight instinct.
  8. You may want to take up kick boxing or something similar. Lifting weights, becoming more powerful physically can be healing. Maybe dancing it out is more your style. Go to a class or even draw the curtains and go wild in your living room
  9. Drag out your mini trampoline if you have one and JUMP it out. Stamping feet can feel scary or too silly for some but with a rebounder, you can get similar effects
  10. Write a letter to the perpetrators you couldn’t protect yourself from. This is not to send but to get it all out. Burn it and maybe decide if there IS anything you want to say or do in reality (pressing charges etc). Again, whatever you decide, YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
  11. Journal the full spectrum of emotion as and when it feels helpful (if that feels too permanent, use looseleaf paper and burn it safely afterwards or even loo roll and flush it)
  12. Think about a time or imagine a time you felt happy, contented and at ease. Really comfortable in your own skin. It might be a moment from a holiday, from years ago or it might be something completely imaginary – when I was first asked to do this many years ago, I cried because I couldn’t imagine feeling so happily embodied and at ease in my own skin. I started out by imagining myself floating in the sea, far away from people. While I still adore the sea (in real life, too), I’ve built up a comprehensive mental library of happy places to imagine – time giving your brain a break from the horrors of the news / intrusive thoughts not only feels nice but has an impact on our physiology, reducing stress and boosting performance
  13. Woman or man, get whatever support you need and deserve – no one is broken beyond repair. Find a good therapist and/or support group. We can use the rage to heal and make the world a safer place for everyone.

What helps you? Feel free to comment below.



* Self-confessed sexual predator and white supremacist President of the US – since Lawrence Fishburne calmly called him 45 on The Daily Show many months ago, I’ve found that this simple number helps take some of the heat out of the pain and disbelief I’ve felt since enough people disregarded his recorded boasts of sexual assault and voted for him anyway


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.


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:


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.



*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


‘Mean Tweets’ and shame spirals


Have you ever received an email or seen an online comment or somehow heard something mean about yourself and gone into a bit of a shame spiral about it?

The wonderful Brene Brown writes a lot about how we need to allow that shame and vulnerability in order to live ‘wholehearted’ lives but boy oh boy, shame spirals can hurt.

Maybe they’re right, we might think. And we keep it to ourselves in case the rest of our world says, why yes, they totally agree.

Yet when we shine a light on such mean spiritedness (especially the anonymous kind), we not only diffuse our own shame spirals but we are better able to keep our hearts open and get support and salve for the emotional wound.

Studies have shown rejection registers as pain in the brain so support is important.

American comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Mean Tweets’ segment is delightful. Not only is it hilarious but it feels healing to watch. We’re all human. We’re all just doing our best.

Click here to watch President Obama read out some of his mean Tweets.

And click here to hear others, from Emma Stone and Julia Roberts to Gary Oldman and Mindy Kaling, read their own.

Can you think of something mean someone said / Tweeted / wrote (maybe even going back to childhood) which still resonates?

How might it feel to share it with a trusted loved one (Brene Brown is clear about the need to share with people who can support you, not those who’ll send you even deeper into Shameville because it touches on their own wounds)?

How might you shine some light on it to laugh it off and let it go?

Feel free to comment below on some of your favourite ways to feel better after such things (EFT is one of my favourite quick fixes).





Feeling our feelings (even when they SUCK)


Being a counsellor, coach etc, with all my work being so focused around helping clients and readers (and myself!) feel better every day, I sometimes forget all the good stuff I’ve learned and experienced.

In these moments, I think I should (warning sign in itself, those ‘shoulds’) somehow not let life’s challenges get to me.

This means that not only am I experiencing something I’m finding challenging, but I’m beating myself up about it. (It’s not Egypt or Syria. I’m so, so lucky compared to so much of the planet’s population. Yet thinking about all the people who are enduring much greater challenges doesn’t actually help me feel any better about myself and my own challenge).

I’ve read enough of the fantabulous Brene Brown to know that when a shame spiral hits, it’s best to allow those feelings to flow. So, tonight, I observed myself go into fight/flight mode. I felt the surge of adrenaline (I can still feel it). I felt myself get a bit shaky and hot.

I paid attention to and regulated my breathing. And I did a little yoga to help alleviate some of the stress hormones and shaking.

And I reached out to someone who could help.

I asked, quite articulately, for help. And when offered the exact kind of support I’d asked for, I said, ‘Sorry for wasting your time, I’m over-reacting…’ and stopped them following through.


So now I’m attempting to show myself a little more self empathy, to acknowledge that it was a horrible, scary thing (I’m sharing this in order to illustrate the challenges of self-care even when it’s your job. Please don’t worry about me – am fine. All is well) and that anyone would have been stressed about it.

And somehow, telling myself this helps my whole system calm down. Sure, the mindfulness and breathing and yoga (and conversation where I then went back on what I needed) helped too.

It’s something my clients sometimes get sick of hearing when I encourage them to pause in challenging moments and tune into their inner wisdom and just ask themselves what they need before figuring out a way to honour that as much as possible.

But ultimately, it’s acknowledging to ourselves that whatever we’re feeling is OK. Even if it’s scared, vulnerable, shaky, afraid, weak, powerless – all the things I still sometimes do my best resist feeling (even though I know that allowing myself to feel all of what Jon Kabat Zinn calls the emotional landscape the better able I am to experience joy, delight, love and all those ‘good’ things).

So next time you feel something you don’t like feeling and you want to put a lid on it and just numb yourself and stop feeling anything at all, you may want to experiment with allowing whatever the feeling that’s arising to flow.

It WILL pass (so much more quickly than when we attempt to divert such things).

And I’ll continue to do my best to do the same… :)

Metta xx

Image courtesy of Jennifer Ellison/freedigitalphotos.net


If your name was used as a verb, what would people mean?

Scandal Kerry Washington in Scandal

I love that Brene Brown uses Scandal’s heroine as a verb saying, ‘I need to Olivia Pope this.’ I imagine that she means it as a way of fixing things with the style and fearlessness Kerry Washington embodies (I miss Scandal and hope it’s back on UK screens soon!).

It reminded me of an old episode of Friends where Monica and Ross’s parents visit and they regularly talk about someone ‘Doing a Monica’. Unfortunately, they don’t mean it as a good thing. They see Monica as an amusing failure. Phoebe attempts to reframe it so that ‘Doing a Monica’ becomes a great thing to do but her parents don’t buy it and Monica feels (understandably) hurt.

If someone were to use your name as a verb, what would they mean?

Imagine asking your parents and family of origin? Your chosen family and friends? Colleagues? Neighbours?

Would your name have different meanings to different groups of people?

Which meanings do you imagine yourself feeling happiest about?

Which would you like to change?

Being a real life person rather than a fictional character on a hit TV show, it’s unlikely, I imagine, that your name will become a verb. But contemplating it might give you some insight into how you act in different areas of your life, your values and, maybe, some small changes that might make a big difference.

Much love xx


Couch Coaching: Feeling like a fraud? Watch Oz: The Great and Powerful


So the critics didn’t like it? I loved Oz. In fact, am wondering where I can get James Franco’s (Oz) top hat and Mila Kunis’ (Wicked Witch of the West) beautiful red coat. And, of course, this prequel to L Frank Baum’s classic tale is chock full of life lessons:

From the Wicked Witch of the West, we learn to embrace our shadow selves. She started out more sugary, sweetness and light than Glinda the Good! This, we quickly learn, was her effort to keep her anger under wraps as she hadn’t let learned to harness this power and control it. Had she owned her anger and recognised that it didn’t make her evil, just normal (I guess not human as she was a witch), she wouldn’t have been so quick to give up on herself.

Also, don’t make decisions which will affect your entire future (such as biting into an apple – my name’s Eve, apples always make me a little wary but even West’s wicked sister warned her that one bite would be all it would take and there’d be no going back) when in the throes of betrayal or broken-heartedness. Take some time to heal. Wallow a little but don’t give up everything you’ve ever valued for some instant gratification which ultimately only hurts you.

Sure, when your heart is hurting, the idea of never feeling again and having it wither away may well feel appealing. But as Brene Brown says, when we numb ourselves pain, shame, vulnerability and so on, we stop being able to feel the full spectrum and miss out on joy, love and everything else. Let yourself feel your pain. Cry. Talk to loved ones. See a therapist! When you feel good again – you will, I promise – you’ll be in a stronger position to make the kind of decisions you’re far less likely to forget.

teaches us that even when we feel like imposters, we can turn our lives around and actually accomplish amazing things. When Glinda told him, ‘Use your magic’, he initially forgot most of his resources by wallowing in the knowledge that he wasn’t the wizard they’d all been waiting for. When he got out of his self-pitying spiral for long enough, he was able to think about how his experience had equipped him for this journey and stepped up to the plate.

He reminded me a bit of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind – she so desperately wanted to be a ‘great lady’ like her mother, kind, compassionate, virtuous, patient… ‘but not yet.’ Oz was so hung up on becoming ‘great’ that he totally dismissed ‘good’.

Whatever you want out of life, don’t let the gap between where you are and where you want to be discourage you. Allow yourself to be bad at it. With time and practice you’ll get better and you may even become great!

Glinda the Good teaches so much. Only Michelle Williams could have made her so emotionally 3D. (I’d been sure I’d leave wanting to be Kunis or Weisz’s character but nope, I totally want to be Glinda.) Just because she was labelled ‘the Good’ didn’t mean Glinda shut down painful emotions. She allowed herself to fully feel her grief over the loss of her father. She was more honest with Oz than anyone else about his shadow aspects while also encouraging him to be more than that.

Glinda wasn’t out for vengeance but she also knew she had a right to defend herself and her people. She fought back and, most of all, reflected others’ (am belatedly attempting to avoid spoilers) toxic magic back at them. In your own life, protect yourself by taking whatever practical steps are necessary. But keep your heart open.

The only thing I didn’t like was the insinuation that an ugly exterior reflected a person’s real self. We live in an airbrushed world in which even ‘Beast’ in Beauty and the Beast is a good looking man. Studies show that good looking people are treated better than less good looking souls and it would have been great if Glinda had encouraged viewers to look beneath the surface but hey, she had endured several near death experiences and even fictional characters aren’t perfect.

The Flying Monkey teaches us to wait before pledging allegiance to someone who may not be honest. As it turned out, his belief in Oz helped him become a better man but it could have all gone horribly wrong…

Ultimately, use your magic – appreciate and honour all of your resources. Whatever gifts and experience you have, share them and have faith in yourself.

Much love xx