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


Plus sized yoga video showing yoga is for every body*

A friend just shared this video with me.


You can click here to see it.

Great timing for me – I’ve just started blogging a different yoga pose / tool each week and felt exceedingly self-conscious asking a friend to take the pics and putting them out there.

I will continue to feel that way, in all likelihood, but had decided that I wanted to embody the ‘Yoga is a way of becoming friendlier with your own body and mind’ definition of Trauma Sensitive Yoga creator, Dave Emerson as much as possible.

While totally believing the words when I say them to students and clients, I was shocked at some of my own self-talk, triggered by these pictures. I love Instagram and all the contortionist yoga pics but, to often, it’s like looking at a picture of a seal or monkey** and recognising that my body just doesn’t work that way – we might as well be different species.

And yet, however deeply we move into any pose, we’re getting benefits. And, of course, my focus is on the mental and emotional health benefits.

So I got over myself (I’m strong, fit and healthy – incredibly lucky. I’m also lucky to enjoy donuts and yum yums. And Wotsits and…) and decided to go ahead with my plan to share as many benefits of the tools as possible. You can see some here.

But in a world where ‘plus size’ means models of size 12 and over (US size 8, that’s just one size bigger than the Wakefield twins’ ‘perfect size 6’ in Sweet Valley High), it’s natural to sometimes fall into old traps of self-loathing. Thanks to tools including yoga, I am glad that these are just occasional blips rather than the default setting of my childhood, teens and early 20s.

*If you’re not into yoga (I often find swimming more yogic than yoga, personally), dance, run, walk, find other ways that you enjoy moving in and enjoy being in your own skin. Just because every body IS a beach body or yoga body or whatever body doesn’t mean you have to go to the beach or do yoga or whatever if you don’t WANT to – YOU know yourself best. Do what feels best for YOUR body.

What kind of movement / exercise do you enjoy the most?

What would you like to experiment with but have been delaying because of self-consciousness?

What might you do to challenge yourself to take a step in that direction today?

Feel free to comment below.


Eve x

** I temporarily forgot I wasn’t a monkey when high hopes took me to an ariel hoop class last year – could barely lift a toothbrush for days but did get to hang upside down briefly


Healing painful pasts doesn’t HAVE to hurt


Even though Jane Fonda has long since eschewed her ‘No pain, no gain’ mantra from her workout video phase, there’s a part of many of us that thinks that growth, recovery and healing has to hurt.

I only embarked on counselling training (after years of coaching myself into overcoming inner feelings of hideousness) when I felt ready to delve into past traumas and finally do whatever it took to heal ‘properly’.

Comfortably uncomfortable with my default setting of self-loathing, I didn’t want to hear it when told that it was all about acceptance and allowing, self-compassion and so on but they’re key to everything.

Fortunately, the type I chose (psychosynthesis), is a transpersonal psychology and one of the earliest exercises we did in the first week showed me that I didn’t have to cut open wounds to heal or have what felt like the equivalent of emotional surgery. I could simply be open to healing.

I don’t want to dismiss that natural grieving that can (and often does) arise. I regularly remind clients that although my practice is called the Feel Better Every Day Consultancy, it CAN be hard.

But it doesn’t HAVE to be.

Even when it’s so hard that you feel like you need a ‘closed for refurbishment’ sign so you can just pause life and focus on recovery (something I longed for at one point), it’s worth it.

Still, it was delightful to hear clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Phil Mollon reaffirm my own experience at an Energy Psychotherapy workshop I attended recently.

‘It doesn’t have to be hard work,’ says Dr Mollon. ‘It doesn’t have to be painful. It can be gentle and easy.’

Talking about energetic techniques including EFT, he explained that many people are so surprised by how much better they feel afterwards that there’s a tendency to minimise how badly they’d been feeling before the treatment. Roger Callahan (founder of Thought Field Therapy which inspired EFT) called it ‘the Apex effect’.

Mollon explains that because it can’t track the process, the dramatic shifts in emotional states can be confusing for the brain.

If you’re interested in blending your counselling / coaching / yoga therapy with EFT (or any of these services on their own), click here to find out more.

They are available in Witham, Essex (and everywhere via Skype and telephone)

Metta x

Image courtesy of Markuso /


If you’re doing yoga, you already HAVE a ‘yoga body’

I did my yoga therapy training with a group of lovely people who, in the main, were already yoga instructors. I was conscious, throughout the training that I didn’t, at that point, have their ‘yoga bodies’ and that we’re all different anyway. But a part of me wondered if maybe, at some point, through my own practice and teaching, I’d get one…

So I was really interested to read this blog post about the myth of the ‘yoga body’ yesterday.

As someone who’s been practicing yoga (albeit sporadically until I trained as a yoga therapist and instructor) for over a decade, yoga has helped me enormously in managing a chronic pain condition with miraculous (to me) results (click here to read my feature for Healthy* magazine), becoming stronger, fitter and more flexible. And (I am a yoga therapist for mental health – anxiety and PTSD were no strangers to me), the impact it’s had on my own sense of wellbeing has been wonderful.

Because it was part of my new, healthy lifestyle (before having surgery, I was told I had a healthy heart so I gave myself a month of smoking around 70 Marlboro a day before quitting for good. I also discovered that alcohol meant more pain so, a few months later, stopped drinking), it took me years to realise that the weight gain wasn’t muscle (I’d started swimming, cycling and walking more, too) but that I’d been eating more since stopping smoking and drinking.

I had several very stressful years for various reasons and the mindfulness element of my trainings made me realise that I was, on occasion, almost using food to self-harm (not only not being hungry while eating an extra packet of crisps but sometimes, being full and STILL opening that packet).

2013 has been much easier for many reasons and I have lost some weight pretty effortlessly but am still carrying more than I need around my belly (the least healthy place to carry such excess due to the pressure it places on internal organs).

I’ve learned to talk to this excess more kindly than I would have in the past, thanking it and releasing it (as opposed to grabbing it and hating on it). Most days, I eat well (AND still enjoy one packet of crisps and a dessert, be that a chocolate bar or slice of cake) but sometimes (usually when stressed and pulling 15 hour shifts), I think that 4 packets of crisps for dinner is a perfectly good idea.

I’d like to drop another dress size or two (without giving up ALL crisps and chocolate) and know that I will and that it’s a lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet. Still, in my yoga classes, many of my students are closer to this ‘yoga body’ ideal than me. I remind myself that I’m not there as a model (other than to ‘model imperfection’ as one of my favourite colleagues used to say) but to teach them practical tools to use their breath and body to retrain their nervous system and brain, maximise their potential and enhance their wellbeing.

For a few months, I (unconsciously) thought I couldn’t teach until I achieved this ‘yoga body’. I was happy working with individuals but thought I couldn’t teach until I ‘looked’ more like a yoga instructor.

Then I told myself to get over it and just start. And I’ve been loving it and getting great feedback. It’s possible that some students may actually feel comfortable with a more normal looking instructor than many (I remember my favourite ever Pilates instructor as being strong, powerful and toned but much bigger than the others).

On Monday morning, I cycled 5 miles (round trip), swam and did a Vinyassa Flow class before cycling home (stopping to give blood) and eating nothing but crisps, chocolates and ice-cream for the rest of the day.

But this is a rarity (not the cycling, swimming and yoga but the eating nothing BUT crisps and chocolates afterwards). As a teenager and well into my 20s, almost all I ate was crisps and chocolate but because these were meal replacements and I smoked and drank, I ate much less. I might have looked better when I was younger and skinnier but I was drinking too much, smoking too much and the closest thing I had mantra was usually, ‘I hate myself and want to die.’

So sure, there’s that part of me that often wishes I were svelter and yet I’ve never felt more embodied or comfortable in my own skin than I do now. Yoga has helped me become friendlier with my body as it is now.

I appreciate my body for what it’s been through and can do. And I encourage my clients and students to do the same. So whatever shape, size, level of flexibility you are, I hope you’ll remember that any time you choose to do yoga, you have a yoga body! It is your body, doing yoga.

Iyengar is a wonderful model for this – I read one of his illustrated books recently and he has the most enormous belly I’ve ever seen on a yoga instructor, let alone for the one so responsible for bringing yoga to the Western world – it was liberating to read and much more accessible and motivational than many pictures of ‘yoga bodies’ demonstrating similar.

Perhaps you’re svelte but flexibility is an issue – know that with practice, you will be able to go deeper into those poses you struggle with and that, doing even a little, can be enormously beneficial.

If you’re local to Witham, my small (two maximum plus me) classes may be a way for you to begin to take yoga classes without feeling as self-conscious as you might at a larger venue (although I’m also looking for larger spaces to teach bigger groups). Get in touch if you’d like to chat.

I saw a magazine headline the other day about Kate Moss ‘finally’ coming to terms with her body and sighed – if someone who’s been held up as the cultural ideal for decades has struggled, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all give ourselves a break and enjoy our bodies for all the wondrous things they let us do (starting with being alive on this beautiful planet)?

And wherever you’re based, you’ll probably find that even the sveltest yoga instructors are delightfully human, too (my favourite teacher’s gorgeous Vinyassa Flow classes are sometimes beyond me on bad pain days but her words, ‘sometimes a hot water bottle is your yoga’ have stayed with me and been enormously helpful). They will help you modify poses appropriately and help you become friendlier with your own body.

Metta xx

*the photographer who took the pics for this seemed bewildered as to why he’d been sent to shoot me. He told me stories of other jobs involving the Obamas, Blairs and so forth. Part of me thought, ‘Wow! I have something in common with the Obamas!’ Another part, on seeing the pics, was ‘Boy oh boy, I look enormous.’ Progress not perfection…


Are you and your body friends?


I recently interviewed the delightful David Emerson and loved his description of using yoga as a way to become friendlier with your body.

You can find out more about his Trauma Sensitive Yoga programme in Boston here

Click here to buy his co-authored book, Overcoming Trauma through Yoga (mine’s on order and I can’t wait to read it).

Having trained as a yoga therapist with Heather Mason at The Minded Institute, I see that I’ve benefitted from his approach. She trained with Emerson and was one of the first people to bring Trauma Sensitive Yoga to the UK, working with people struggling with traumatic stress at the Maudsley in London.

Learning to breathe and move differently and changing the way we feel about ourselves and our lives not just through becoming stronger and more flexible on the mat but taking on more in our lives is just one of the things yoga can help with.

While Emerson’s focus is on helping people who’ve survived traumas find safety and comfort in their bodies, pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has forgotten to treat their body with friendliness at some point.

How many times have you experienced self-loathing of varying degrees when you were ill or while looking at our society’s ‘ideal’ body types in magazines or on TV?

The whole ‘your body is a temple’ idea can make our bodies feel even further removed when we feel far from sacred, whether that’s due to abuse or trauma or simply feeling a bit overweight. But friendliness is something we can all aspire to.

In psychosynthesis, we’re reminded that although we have bodies (and minds, and feelings), there’s more to us than that. It helps us to look at the bigger picture.

Psychosynthesis works with the body as well as the mind and emotions (and spirit). While clients sometimes think it strange at first, working symbolically with their bodies (when this is appropriate) as well as tracking physical sensations can open us up to enormous wisdom. And yet we humans often need to relearn how to access this.

I’ve started talking to some of my yoga students and clients about this idea of becoming friendlier with their bodies, not just through yoga (although it’s a wonderful way that has many benefits) but even through the things we tell ourselves (silently) or say about ourselves (when talking to others).

Dr Emoto’s studies with water, where the cellular structure changed when people said kind things or horrible things, indicate that we humans (made up of much water) can reap even greater benefits as we learn to send kinder thoughts to our own bodies.

Next time you’re in the shower or bath, take advantage of the opportunities to become friendlier with your body. Shampooing and conditioning, thank your hair (yes, even if you’re worried about hair loss). Massage your scalp with kindness. As you moisturise, send a little thank you to each part of you.

Appreciate your feet for carrying you through each day, helping you with each next step (writing this, I remember how much I used to hate feet. Even my own). Appreciate your legs for helping you stand, your knees for allowing you to be flexible and bend and jump.

If you’re carrying extra weight from pregnancy, experiment with appreciating the miracle that you – thanks to your body – were able to create and deliver a new life into the world rather than bemoaning the loss of your old jeans… Which feels better?

You get the idea. It may feel strange at first – imagine saying ‘Hi’ to a mistreated kitten. It may be wary at first but once you continue to shower yourself with friendly thoughts, you’ll begin to relax into it.

Thank your whole body. And if there are issues (back aches, recovering from surgery, parts you associate with pain of any kind), experiment with sending that part extra love.

In your yoga practice (or when you go running, cycling, swimming or whatever you enjoy doing – remember to let all your activities feel friendly and fun), rather than wishing you could stretch further / be faster, THANK your body for helping you do so much already and act as if you’re on the same team.

This will help you make healthier choices regarding food, rest and all sorts of things.

Experiment with it. And have fun.

Metta xx

Image courtesy of khunaspix /