Posts Tagged ‘healing childhood wounds’

Anger, the Time Machine

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

For those of us who anger quickly, the emotion seems to well up fast and furiously, activated by something just said or done that is hurtful or offensive. However, if we had the ability to play out every scene in slow motion, we might notice something interesting: Just before we feel the anger, we have a thought. That thought sounds something like, “This situation is familiar. I didn’t like it before. I won’t like it now. I’d better protect myself.”

In other words, the present upset is often a trigger of a long-forgotten situation, without our even being aware of it. If we pay more attention to the thought that triggers us, our anger will lose its power to whisk us back to the past so instantaneously.

If we pay attention to our anger instead of shunning it, or shaming ourselves for it, or stuffing it out of fear, we will more easily remember those long-ago events that taught us to protect ourselves with anger. When we remember and offer ourselves compassion for what we felt back then, we no longer need to put on the armor and get out the ammunition now. This is how anger becomes our ally and begins to serve as a healing force.

So, next time you feel that flash of anger, imagine for a moment that, like a time machine, your anger is carrying you swiftly back to your past. Ask yourself what this present trigger reminds you of. Even if the memory is vague, trust it. Then give yourself compassion for whatever hurt or humiliation remains from back then.

The trick is to give yourself compassion before you lose your temper. In fact, make a commitment to yourself that the moment anger arises, you will offer yourself compassion. This way, you don’t need a reason to justify the anger or your compassion. Anger will lose its power as compassion works its magic.

Jane Straus is a life coach, keynote speaker, media guest, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. Visit www.janestraus.com to read her articles, view her TV interviews and seminars, buy the book, or hire her as your personal coach.

How to Forgive and Let Go

Monday, January 15th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
How do I forgive some family members for what they have done to me? I hate going to family events and skip the ones I can.

Often, we attempt to forgive because it would be more convenient for everyone concerned if we just hurried up and did it. Forgiveness, however, is a four-step process. In order to do it well and thoroughly, we don’t want to skip a step.

Step One: Acknowledge the wrong(s) done to you. Don’t sweep anything under the rug. Don’t minimize the transgressions.

Step Two: Give yourself compassion for the anger, betrayal, and hurt that accompany telling the truth to yourself. This is the step you really can’t rush. It may take a day to work through these feelings but, more likely, if you have ignored your feelings up until now or shamed yourself for having them, you will need time to honor the pain. How much time? You can’t put a stopwatch to your feelings. We tend to become stuck in feelings when we try to push them away, not when we give them their due. If you want to forgive others, have a pity party first, which is something I talk about in Enough Is Enough!

Step Three: Forgive yourself for any situation where you have not been your own best ally. Maybe you didn’t speak up when a family member was demeaning or insulting you. Maybe you cried when you wish you had said “Stop.” Maybe you even defended or excused their behavior by thinking, “Well, Aunt Mary was drunk when she said that so I can’t hold it against her.” Forgive yourself for not standing up for yourself.

Step Four: Notice what happens next. By doing the first three steps, you will feel less triggered by the transgressions. You won’t forget them; your Spirit just won’t feel a need to remind you that you have more healing work to do. If you are still upset by what someone has done to you, keep doing the first three steps. There may be more layers to the healing your Spirit requires.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Healing Your Shame

Friday, December 1st, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
What is the difference between guilt and shame?

It’s invaluable to discern the difference between guilt and shame so that we can respond appropriately in situations and can ask others to respond to us appropriately and fairly also. It’s also vital that we know whether we are feeling bad because of something we have done or because we have simply gotten into the habit of feeling bad.

Guilt is something our conscience compels us to feel when we have acted in a way that is not in alignment with our own moral compass. If we believe in being honest and we lie, we will feel guilty (even if we justify it as a “white lie” to ourselves or others). If we believe in the Golden Rule, “Do unto others…,” we will feel guilty if we treat someone disrespectfully or unfairly. In guilt, we feel bad about what we have done, not who we are. We are able to distinguish between the goodness of who we fundamentally are and the mistake we have made that requires correction/amends/asking forgiveness.

Shame is a different experience. When we feel shame, it is not for what we have done, not for a particular behavior, but for who we are. When in shame, we want to hide; we feel that we don’t deserve love or respect. Shame is often a pervasive experience that we don’t recognize within ourselves. Shame can feel quite “normal.”

When we feel ashamed, we emit a certain aura/vibe/energy. Others who pick up on this energy may misinterpret it and assume that we have behaved badly, causing them to overreact or for us to believe we deserve excessive punishment. We may not recognize the ways we carry and show our shame and wonder why others are so hard on us. This is how others mirror our beliefs about ourselves and why it’s so important to heal our shame.

Shame can cause us to continue to act in ways that lead us to feeling guilty. So guilt and shame are part of a vicious cycle. How can we heal our shame?

1. The first step in breaking the cycle is learning to discern between guilt and shame. The following are the chief symptoms of shame. If you can identify with even one of these points, you are likely to be living in shame.
• Comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves always falling short
• Embarrassment when we receive compliments
• A general sense of unworthiness
• Distrust that others truly like us or respect us—“waiting for the other shoe to drop” in every relationship
• Accepting excessive blame—more than a situation warrants
• Continually behaving in ways that go against our own standards of behavior
• Feeling bad about certain thoughts, even when we have no intention of acting on these thoughts

2. The second step is to look at your recent “wrongs” objectively. What triggered those behaviors? What did you do about rectifying your actions? Did you over-apologize? Did you allow someone to verbally or physically punish you for your behavior? If you overcompensated in any way, then you are carrying shame, not just guilt, and you are doing yourself harm.

3. The third step is to retrace your path to where the shame started. Often, shame starts in childhood when a trusted adult shames us for something outside of our control: our sexuality, our intelligence, the way we spoke or dressed, a behavior we didn’t know wasn’t okay. Children soak up shame easily.

4. See the past with your adult eyes. Would you want to shame a child for what you feel shameful about? Let the child within you know that it was not his/hers to carry and that you release him/her from the shame now.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Ten Ways to Enjoy Your Holiday Season More

Monday, November 20th, 2006
 
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The holidays can be a mix of renewing connections and being reminded of old wounds. If you are approaching the season with both excitement and dread, keep these pointers in mind. They will help ensure that you leave family gatherings with the kind of memories you want to recall.

*Talk to yourself before a family gathering

Remind yourself that you are inherently worthy of respect and kindness and that you don’t need to prove yourself at this time of year. Promise yourself that if you slip into defending yourself, your mate, your children, your job, or your appearance with those you have a history of trying to prove yourself to, you will stop as soon as you notice you are being goaded. You can even say out loud, “I don’t want to spend my time or energy defending myself or others. Let’s find a way to talk more productively (or kindly).”

*Keep reminders close at hand of how you are valued
During the other 50 weeks a year, you are often appreciated by those in your daily life. If you are celebrating away from home, bring emails, notes, or letters that contain compliments or loving sentiments, pictures of those who are your support system, and a book that lifts you spiritually and helps you stay above the fray.

*Write a new affirmation every day and repeat it constantly
An affirmation is a positive thought you choose to immerse into your consciousness for a desired result. An example might be, “I appreciate and acknowledge my own strengths.” Or a good one might be, “I now give to myself what I think I need from others.” This could include understanding, compassion, respect, or joy.

*Don’t talk behind others’ backs
Gossip feeds upon itself. If you don’t want it done to you, don’t participate in it. This commitment will help you feel self-respect when you look in the mirror.

*Don’t use the holidays as a time to try to heal past hurts

Being around family can trigger old wounds. But too many people, too little time, too much alcohol, and too much pressure are ingredients for disaster, not mending relationships. If you are harboring resentments, talk about them ahead of time or after the holidays are over. Don’t get caught up in the moment and let loose. It will just make next year’s holiday time that much harder.

*Use win/win communications
You don’t have to stoop to anyone else’s level. If someone in your family behaves badly, try not to name call but promise yourself you will stand up for yourself and tell them how you feel about their behavior.

*Set limits about what’s acceptable for yourself in advance
What are some likely uncomfortable or painful scenarios you will be facing? You don’t have to cross your fingers that nothing will happen, especially if fighting or belittling has been one of your family’s holiday traditions. Decide in advance how you will handle these situations and at what point you will respond rather than ignore, take a break rather than endure, or even walk away.

*Take some time for yourself
We all need to regroup and get centered again. Most of us aren’t accustomed to being surrounded by company 24/7 and our spirits need a break. Go for a walk or drive, read a book, take a nap, or do an errand BY YOURSELF. Take in your surroundings in more detail. While you are alone, don’t rehash past conversations. Do an affirmation instead.

*Shop from your heart
Let go of trying to “balance the books,” figuring out what to get others according to criteria such as what they got you last year or how much they spent. Let your heart find the perfect gift that reflects their specialness without putting you into the endurance of deepening debt.

*Be generous with what matters
Offering compliments, listening well, giving of your time, helping with chores—all of your efforts will make you not only a welcome member of your group but will help you to keep your heart open.

No one can guarantee that this holiday will be the best one ever. But you can decide to stop enduring and make this season your lead-in to a new, extraordinary year.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.