Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘triggers’

Trauma Management Skills

Every Trauma is Unique

traumaMy trauma isn’t your trauma. Even if we experienced the same traumatizing event, my life experiences and coping mechanisms will paint my perceptions with a different pallet of colors than yours. Though we’ll ultimately have to go through many of the same steps in the healing process, I’ll go through them in a different order, spending more time on some and less on others. My needs are different and defined by how much I’ve stuffed down, released, denied, or revisited from previous traumas. They’ll  also be impacted by whatever else life throws at me in the meantime.

My process isn’t right for you, nor yours for me. But it’s exactly right for each of us with no set timeline nor point when you or I will be completely healed from the event. I will simply keep traveling on my healing journey as will you with many triumphs and setbacks along the way.

Still, I see so many similarities as I read articles and posts from others who are at various stages in their healing process. It doesn’t really matter whether the trauma is old or new, dealt with right away, or held deep inside for decades. Once the process of healing and releasing begins, the road traveled has many common stops along the way.

Not only does the process share components, but so does the way we coped with the trauma initially. Personally, I can only speak from the “holding it all in until you burst” camp, and as such, relate well to those who suffered childhood trauma, or years of abuse before they finally made the break, realizing they did not deserve such treatment, eventually learning they didn’t bear any responsibility. Those people opened my eyes to how emotionally bankrupt my own childhood was, not because my parents didn’t care, but because it was the only thing they, themselves knew.

Peeling Your Own Coping Skills Onion

Healing from trauma is like peeling an onion, but never reaching the very center. Often, in the process there are layers which go back to previous generations. In my case, my family’s primary coping mechanism was to stuff things down and try to ignore their existence. I don’t know if any of them realized (or realize, depending on the generation) how destructive it was and is. I believe when it originated, it was more of a survival mechanism than a choice. Unfortunately, when it was no longer a matter of life and death, the pattern was so deeply ingrained as to be considered normal.

I’ve always been a rebel in my family. Never really fitting in. Never trying to conform to familial patterns. I was always too sensitive or too outspoken, and in hindsight, made people uncomfortable by overtly questioning what was considered appropriate behavior. To me, it never made sense to bottle things up or pretend I didn’t feel something, though I truly did try to conform, much to my detriment. It took me years to figure out why. I just assumed I was some kind of misfit. In a way I was, but I see now it’s not in a bad way.

Failure to Fit In is a Red Flag

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTIf I don’t fit in with my family and their attitudes, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. In fact, I’ve come to understand it means there’s something right. Coping with trauma by stuffing it all inside wasn’t healthy for me, and probably isn’t for anyone else, but I can only change my own approach. If anyone learns something by my example, that’s great, but it’s not my purpose. It is, however, my purpose to break a dysfunctional family pattern, if only in my own line, and then, only a part of it. You can lead a horse to water, as it were.

Part of the process has meant cutting ties that no longer serve me, and creating new ones that do. Too many of the ties I’ve cut are blood, but we can’t help who we’re related to. In fact, I believe I chose them in order to drive me to the point where I had to learn the lessons and cut the ties if I wanted to do more than just survive. I’ve learned I deserve to have supportive people around me; people who have my back as I have theirs. I deserve to thrive.

My life is, in it’s own way, no different than anyone else’s. I’ve had traumas and triumphs, but mostly long periods of living, learning, and coasting along. Sometimes I’m oblivious and others, sharply and sometimes painfully aware. I put time and effort into healing, then step back and allow things to settle into the newest version of me. If I get too complacent, something or someone comes along to shake me out of my complacency, forcing me to put some effort into releasing more that doesn’t serve me to replace it with something healthier.

Triggers Get Me Moving When I’ve Become Complacent

I “get to” experience triggers periodically. Triggers like the murder-suicide at my favorite dance https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclub, or hearing a friend lost a family member to suicide, and being asked for my insight. Those triggers often set off a visceral reaction; tears, sadness, and a general withdrawal into myself. It doesn’t last long, but reminds me there are layers I’ve yet to uncover, much less, heal and release.

Worse is when family members have felt they had the right to be cruel to my daughter or me. Despite knowing what they’re capable of from long experience, and recognizing they’re only venting their own pain on what they think is a safe target, I can’t help feeling a level of disbelief that people could treat their own family badly. I also know they came from the same place I’ve been working hard to heal and leave behind. Still, it’s where abuse starts, and if boundaries and barriers aren’t set, often escalates. Even so, my heart aches for all the broken people out there who think causing pain to others will ease their own. They never learn how to heal themselves, and will come into their next life with many of the same unlearned lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as I allow myself to go through an often painful process towards healing is compassion for others, including those who mistreat me or the people I love. I know they aren’t coping with their pain, but trying unsuccessfully to fling it outwards. It isn’t always easy to avoid the initial feelings of anger, but ultimately, those feelings degrade into pity. It’s not exactly compassion, but I’m not adding negative energy to their own in the process. It’s more of an energy void. I strive for forgiveness, but frankly, there are some with whom I have to settle for pity and leave it at that. Maybe in my next life I’ll be able to forgive. For now, I’m focused on learning how to handle trauma in a healthier, more productive manner.

And when all else fails, I fling imaginary heart-shaped confetti.

Gratitude Reminds Me How Far I’ve Come

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the traumas I’ve suffered, the coping mechanisms I’ve put in place, and the lessons I’m learning from both as I continue to heal.
  2. I’m grateful for people I meet who are willing to be open about their own traumas and the challenges they’ve faced in trying to heal.
  3. I’m grateful for vulnerability. Without it, there is no healing.
  4. I’m grateful for a new moniker, “Holistic Ghostwriter” which was given to me recently.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, choices, love, challenges, lessons, trauma, healing, forgiving, imaginary heart-shaped confetti, dancing, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Triggering Old Memories and Unspent Grief

Memories and Grief Dug Up From the Past

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWhile reading a manuscript about childhood loss, I was thrown back in time to the day my dad told us his mother was dying of lung cancer. It was the first and only time I saw my dad cry, and even now, just thinking about it unnerves me.

Yet as a child, I followed my parents’ lead when it came to emotional issues, not only because it was all I knew, but because I was often ridiculed for being overly sensitive. Though I was already 12 at the time, I’d  had a few hard lessons about publicly expressing my emotions. I’d continue to experience humiliation from many directions until I learned to switch that part of me off (not the best solution, but all I had for a long time). The little I knew about losing someone I loved was enough to color my first experience with grieving.

So when I started reading about how a child’s grief is different from that of an adult, it threw me back to when my grandmother died. I realized I never grieved her passing. We visited her a few times before she passed, and I think I went to her funeral. But after that, she was just gone. We didn’t talk about her or think about her any more after that—until Dad took his life after being diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother.

Emotions Buried, Memories Skewed

Even so, it’s taken me years of writing therapy, reading books about other peoples’ suicide experiences, and finally, a book about childhood loss to shake loose the feelings and emotions I buried so long ago.

The first thing I discovered was my faulty memory. In my mind I lost my grandmother when I was 10, but in reality (and after a Google search for her obituary) I discovered I was 12. Researching the date actually helps to put things in perspective as the year she died, 1968, was a pretty eventful one all the way around.

That was the year I was walking about 2 miles to attend a Junior High School that was out of my district. I’d leave the house early to make the 45 minute walk most days rather than having my mother drive me. I remember walking alone and enjoying the solitude. In those days, no one thought twice about a young girl walking alone on a city street. By the time my daughters were born, we were diligent about teaching our kids to travel in groups. Were the weirdos and creeps always there, or has life and disconnection made them more common?

I don’t remember what I thought about on those long walks to school. I don’t even remember having any friends, though I’m sure I interacted with someone during my school days. I do remember bottling up my emotions until they’d come out in a flood at inconvenient moments. It opened me up to the cruelty of Junior High School kids (the worst of all if you ask me) and likely caused me to recede further into myself.

The Festering Cesspool of Unexpressed Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMixed in with those emotions were probably the things I couldn’t express about losing my grandmother. My dad’s example wouldn’t allow it. After her death, I don’t remember any pictures of her around the house except in my parents’ wedding picture which I didn’t see until years later. Her name wasn’t spoken. We didn’t even go visit my grandfather. He visited us once with a cousin he’d married so he wouldn’t be alone. It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s death, and she asked us to call her “Grandma”. My sister and I ran up the stairs to our rooms in tears.

Again, my memory is unclear as a search revealed the marriage didn’t take place until 1971, 3 years after my grandmother’s death. Our grief was clearly lying dormant awaiting an opportunity to be expressed openly—an opportunity which never came.

Other memories of 1968 include horrific migraines (a legacy from my grandmother and father) which had me throwing up in trash cans while waiting for my mother to pick me up from school. But it wasn’t an entirely bad year. It was also the year we moved to Westlake Village after spending the better part of the year traveling back and forth so my dad could do the electrical in our new house himself. He’d made a deal with the builder to reduce the price and allow him to do what he wanted. We ended up with upgraded appliances and far more lighting than the typical tract house enjoyed in those days. We also ended up with avocado green and harvest gold EVERYTHING!

Opportunities to Start Anew

1968, the year I turned 13 brought a lot of changes into my life. I made new friends who https://www.flickr.com/photos/162733867@N08/29086322568/in/photolist-Ljg1m9-8b3Bcq-8dftDn-8mKHGw-kNJinr-7G5qTG-qqkYQy-8diVHq-icq54s-7G1vvv-8wSgbU-icquZX-7G5rPh-icquE8-icqcvj-dumDWG-c2Bg2L-9tJW5E-c2BjJY-dug3Ya-6CY1c7-F2Dn7m-6RgcKS-oTJEvg-myPgtn-5JppCu-b8Mizx-6zQ5G6-8mKTLQ-7KP9jG-dumDnj-8mGTPt-ryq1RH-sve5aR-7KK6Ec-4JjASd-9ATqPS-7KKbkz-8mGXFk-8mL5Ld-7RZ28J-4Jfkoc-8dfkdv-8mGyHH-8mGJdK-8afnPD-6Lg64e-biSy3F-pihYMh-8sRJY6shared my interests and didn’t want to beat me up (a major flaw in my previous neighborhood). We all had to ride the bus to school as there was only one Middle School in the district at the time and it was a freeway ride away. We had teachers who weren’t beaten down by an excessively large school district who actually made learning fun and interesting.

Still, I managed to attract the bullies who did their best to embarrass me at every opportunity. Hard as I tried, my overly sensitive nature and all the emotions I wasn’t allowed to express at home refused to stay bottled up and controlled. I had yet to replace tears with anger, though I practiced at home. My mother and I were already pushing each others’ buttons on a regular basis.

I also got to indulge in a pleasure I still find today with my writing. I had an extraordinary English teacher who gave me many opportunities to flex my creative muscles and introduced me to collaboration.

Learning to Grieve, but Only in Private

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpThe year my grandmother died was filled with a lot of highs and lows. I learned more about keeping to myself and not letting anyone see the shy, frightened child inside. But I never learned to grieve. Not for my grandmother, not for my other grandparents when their time came, and not for my parents. The only ones I’ve been able to openly and unashamedly grieve for are all the cats I’ve loved and lost over the years.

Each time, I grieve alone, in the safety of my home, spilling tears on the comforting backs of the ones who are still here letting me love them unreservedly. And maybe that’s how I’ve learned to grieve. It’s a whole lot better than holding things in and allowing them to fester.

Today I have friends who are more than willing to help me get over the rough spots, whether it’s grieving or anything else. They talk unashamedly about expressing their emotions (both the men and the women) and aren’t afraid to turn to each other when their own strength needs shoring up.

Though I’m always there for them, and especially sensitive to someone else’s needs, I still find it hard to be honest and open about my own feelings—my own struggles. Old habits die hard but I’m trying to stop saying I’m fine when I’m not. Even that is a huge step for a girl who comes from a family who discouraged expressing your feelings. For a girl who was beaten up, picked on, and humiliated by peers who took pleasure in seeing her cry.

Accepting Ourselves Fully and Completely

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691NIt’s a legacy I inadvertently passed on to my daughters. One struggled with the same issues I did, the other became hard and cold. It’s a legacy which has to stop, if not with me, with the daughter who’s as overly sensitive as me. She needs to know it’s OK to openly grieve, whether it’s a friend, a grandparent, or a beloved pet. She and her own children need to know it’s OK to be human.

As humans, anger is the easiest emotion to express. Too often, we use it indiscriminately to mask softer emotions like grief, worry, and insecurity. Unfortunately, being angry all the time as a mechanism for protecting our softer selves tends to make us appear hard and cold. If carried on too long, we start to become the persona we’ve assumed.

We need to accept and own our emotions fearlessly. They are as much a part of us as fear, and deserve to be expressed. Those who try to use them against us are simply not our people. It might take awhile to find those who accept our whole package, emotions and all, allowing us to express those emotions in a healthy manner. We may stumble a few times, and get hurt many more.

Finding those who do accept our complete selves are the rainbow we find at the end of a long storm that seems to thrive on our misery and discomfort. But when we find them, when we’re finally allowed to be and express our true selves, both happy and sad, the trip through that storm ceases to matter. Only the end of the journey will remain in our hearts and memories. And I finally found my soft place to land.

Gratitude Heals Our Wounds

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am, and instead of running away when I’m barely holding on, offer me lifelines.
  2. I’m grateful for for the many cats who’ve traveled through this lifetime who’ve allowed me to be who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  3. I’m grateful for storms because there are rainbows at the end.
  4. I’m grateful for the many layers I’ve uncovered as I travel the roads this lifelong journey leads me on.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy and sorrow, storms and rainbows, all the cats I’ve loved, and those I’ve yet to meet and love, dancing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

People Are Not Labels

Labels are for Soup Cans

https://www.flickr.com/photos/poorcans/20900661451/in/photolist-xQVmtV-yh8Gq-8Br9Sd-4Maaoo-aQmNMR-6EtxkP-4yy1G9-2Pvp9C-8FsGxQ-7ACUMX-7YQMzo-sKdkT-6gF66N-4k4cjt-tH52Y-7wBA9z-Uq8r73-6naAjp-5WoaMD-7qEHtt-NphFXZ-8C8jQm-26PmX2c-8KwHYS-7Pc1gd-6BYvZN-2e9wtSE-EKpx8-6GaRw7-QtPQN8-283eQFu-s7emTJ-qJT9mH-zauotZ-21EW38n-C5z8wF-6KkmjD-HXUSJ-69sF6V-dPZ1QG-BL7Pye-m5bGQX-ajS8qC-8AyreB-8HEnCg-8gXZjp-6HNM47-bvN9eN-79sdVC-86nchvI’ve always found it both offensive and short sighted to assign labels to people because invariably it leads to a judgement based on generalized characteristics. Lately, I’ve realized I’m guilty of labeling and judging myself, and frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As an Empath who attracts other Empaths, I’ve learned to be especially aware of attracting Narcissists too. My fight or flight reflexes are set to ultra-sensitive after too many experiences with people who only loved my for my energy and nurturing qualities. But sometimes I overdo it, especially when I operate under the mistaken belief I need to protect my friends.

Observe More, Label Less

Lately, I’ve applied the label “Narcissist” too often and too quickly, instead of standing back and watching; allowing the person to show their many facets instead of focusing in on a single one. Needless to say, I’ve judged people overly harshly, overlooking signs there may be something far more complex going on.

When my daughters were young, a psychologist was quick to label them ADHD and ADD, completely overlooking their intelligence and ability to learn and understand complex concepts quickly, even at a young age. A year or so later when they’d tested into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) Program, I attended the parents’ orientation meeting. Large posters were tacked above the blackboards in the classroom depicting various aspects of the G.A.T.E. personality. Lo and behold, the characteristics were EXACTLY the same as the ones I’d been told were indicative of ADD and ADHD.

While contemplating my guilt in being too quick to apply the label “Narcissist” I’m reminded of that long-ago lesson. We all exhibit a wide variety of behaviors which are common to different personality types. That doesn’t mean we ARE a certain personality type. I suspect there are some who exhibit narcissistic behavior when they simply haven’t learned how to have a give and take kind of relationship. It’s not that they don’t want to be loving and giving. It hasn’t made it into their skill set yet either through nature or nurture.

Personalities Formed By Nature and Nurture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamnaimie/8680429035/in/photolist-ee4t8z-cNjy5-oKBJYc-7tRBmg-7dpdWv-buv1Nu-aDa4AY-51uTxq-fRQgnM-7zy4Hg-ceoS1-5u6JJ6-8JFHxV-7zy4Be-ceox3-apMg6S-bR4un-dq9xPC-4zmBQJ-hPY7A8-3bZjT7-daFcd2-6ZUq3Z-27uhQ9f-r7LzYM-K5keCM-L2RZSV-dg2mJw-2bFvdJJ-i63E4D-h9hrmr-JBNmhV-7pv8vg-f8R7b2-bj66S-rBh74r-DGtb3m-EkjWM8-dg2mfg-AcSwRy-26RUBUZ-fJwZNH-prZ4C3-23RFdN8-bj6mk-8zSsSY-defSSm-4Kx1jx-pEcuwd-eiC5SUMy family wasn’t the warm, touchy-feely type. I learned how to be affectionate and loving only after I started recognizing familial behavior patterns that needed to be broken and started breaking them. To someone on the outside looking in, I suspect a lot of my behavior was narcissistic in nature.

Someone on the Autism spectrum also isn’t inclined to show affection or even endure being touched. They might appear overly demanding while giving nothing back, even though they’re giving as much as they’re able.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask how we’d feel if someone slapped a label on us and dismissed us out of hand, especially when we’re doing so to someone else. When an Empath friend sees something of value in that person despite their outward behavior, it’s a pretty good indication we need to broaden our perspective and give that person another chance. Maybe there’s more than meets my admittedly jaded eye.

Never to Old to Form New Patterns

For years, I had few friends and no one close because I shut everyone out, or more accurately, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclosed myself in. But even as I open up to people, I still crawl back into my turtle shell when faced with behavior which at one time caused me pain. While it’s important for me to break old family patterns of behavior, I’m beginning to see I need to look at some of the patterns I formed myself.

Certain actions on the part of others trigger old memories. Those memories are painful, so the corresponding emotions are triggered causing me to shut down instead of protecting myself and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. By failing to give the person who triggered the memory a chance to show me the many facets of their being, I’m cheating myself out of getting to know someone who may have many amazing qualities, and who could bring new and wonderful experiences to my life.

Expanding Our Comfort Zone

By going with my first response and slapping the “narcissist” label on someone I don’t know very well, I’m ending a potentially wonderful relationship before it ever has a chance to take root. In every case, the only one I’m really cheating is myself, and to what purpose? Will their lives be less because I’m not part of their social circle? Probably not. Will they be hurt or slighted when I shut down and turn away? Maybe for a minute, but they’ll have plenty of others ready and willing to give them the chance I don’t.

I think instinctively I still believe I need to keep my circle small and well-known. But people become well-known and trusted over time. When we label people such that they’re unworthy of our circle, we’re really moving ourselves to the outside. Others are including them so our obvious negativity is going to affect everyone and leave us standing alone eventually.

I’ve been enjoying being part of a large, diverse group, but realize I’ll endanger my own acceptance if I believe I’m in a position to look down on anyone for any reason, much less a single behavior pattern which triggers unpleasantness for me. I need to remember ostracizing leads to being ostracized. I talk a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and positivity, but there are times I fall back on old patterns, to my detriment.

Oh, Those Less-than-subtle Reminders

The Universe finds ways to remind me I’m being unkind and judgemental. It shows me myself 10 or 15 years ago, alone, lonely, angry, and judgemental. I had no compassion for anyone, not even myself. It’s a harsh but effective reminder I need to take a good, hard look at my own behavior and fix it before I break something important. I need to reach deep inside and connect, not with old pain that’s outlived its usefulness, but with the compassion I’ve found in recent years.

Do you assign labels before you get to know a person? Do you dismiss people without a fair chance? A chance you’d want to be given yourself? Do you allow old pain responses to cheat you out of adding amazing people to your social circle? Answer these questions honestly and without emotions clouding your judgement. You might find you’ve been unduly harsh a time or two like me. It’s not too late to fix what may only be chipped or cracked. Open your heart, and shut down the automatic responses. You might find a few diamonds amidst the rocks you so casually tossed away.

Showing Gratitude for Gifts Both Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders to be kinder and more compassionate.
  2. I am grateful for friends who set examples I need to learn to follow.
  3. I am grateful to be able to recognize and change some of my own conditioned responses.
  4. I am grateful for the experiences which created the conditioned responses, and the lessons I’ve learned which allow me to let those responses go.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, kindness, compassion, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Where Are You Getting Your News?

Holding On To Outmoded Methods of Discernment

Emotions are a large part of the human psyche, but they were never meant to replace our brains. They’re a touchstone for some, internal guidance for others, but for many of us, something which makes us repeat old mistakes over and over because we’ve been programmed to avoid things we’ve long since outgrown needing to avoid. Old wounds left scars, but they didn’t take us back over what happened to arrive at a better solution. They simply put a scar in place which triggers avoidance behavior or worse any time we experience anything remotely similar to the original pain-filled experience.

It seems lately this is what people are using to pick sides in a volatile and self-serving political climate. Intentionally emotionally charged topics are at the forefront every single day, obscuring what really matters; we are all in this together, and by working together, we can make things better for all.

When News is Nothing More Than Spewing Propaganda to Incite the Masses

Which brings me to today’s topic, news sources. Maybe I’m not the best person to wax poetic on this topic as I eschewed all news agencies long ago. But then again, maybe I am. It’s no secret each one has its own political slant. People are going to listen to the ones which share their viewpoint more often than not. The problem is by doing so, everything we hear is slanted towards our beliefs, and gives us no chance to understand what drives the other side of the argument.

One night while waiting to get into our local dance hall, someone asked me whether I was still buying NIke products. Of course, a “discussion” about the right to take a knee during the National Anthem arose. I put the word in quotes because it was, except for one voice of reason (which wasn’t mine), more of a series of emotional outbursts than a discussion. It saddened me to see so many of my friends letting their emotions make their decisions, and realizing I’m not doing my part to improve the situation. Not that I’m immune, but those in power are stirring those emotions daily, and as long as we act and don’t think things through or do our own research, they have us by the proverbial short hairs.

We’re so busy in-fighting about stupid, emotionally triggered subjects that we’re letting the thieves clean out the banks, the stores, and every freedom we hold dear. It’s got to stop! We need to push our emotions back where they belong and re-engage our brains.

Opening Our Hearts and Minds

For example, when did people manage to separate the act of kneeling in church from kneeling during the National Anthem, seeing one as an act of respect and the other as tantamount to treason?

Jeremy Adam Smith  published a piece in Scientific American called “The Psychology of Taking a Knee”. In my opinion it is one of the best and most well thought out articles about both the reason for Colin Kaepernick’s misunderstood and misrepresented (for their own personal benefit) act of protest over police violence against blacks in particular. I urge you to not only read it in its entirety, but do so with an open mind and an accepting heart. It’s time we all made more than a token effort to understand beliefs which aren’t our own.

If you ask me, we’ve become a nation of lemmings, believing what we’re told by people we think we should continue to trust no matter how many reasons they give us for running the other way. It’s time to push past the walls of our own cognitive dissonance and realize a good part of our beliefs are based on either faulty or non-existent reasoning. Most of the time, instead of changing old beliefs with new facts, we take the easy road, and fall back on old beliefs, ignoring the reality that’s literally smacking us in the face.

Seeing the Light in the Media’s Darkness

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shan213/13959398126/in/photolist-RwnZWa-ayQgu1-amXuij-9KZfif-bJsTcF-dmiwBx-4LwPZS-ngxyJ3-amXunq-83AkxT-5nmCvL-ajRRF1-p726Pa-8hXzrj-WYoqBq-b3XtLV-gtT43-g2PFEr-ayVLip-6AUTqf-dZMYA2-b3XnVr-dMLMcs-dPtAeM-dC9uL-W1398F-5zxVfC-W13cbK-b3XsLF-WYowof-d5HvmS-ax8DQJ-RsJuww-bsRwtU-ni7c-S7xRBk-qHFZg7-W13cvT-7YXYc7-4geuqc-ax8Sof-SVd9Lv-4yeamM-cx5tVs-dPzfsJ-cYzr1J-SAoCFu-VdeFR1-ax5YN8-4o3RtnPersonally, I admire Nike for hiring Mr. Kaepernick to represent them despite the potentially negative https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvsbond/3477570009/in/photolist-6iispB-cTMR4f-F6qtRL-g25gqj-qnk8ek-721gcK-cTMNFu-gszkkM-cApCff-9nMRgW-orFCmu-asgdxf-9vgqRN-cTN4BU-ntm7Vj-iWoqWL-ruYcaN-hmuAUt-qDJY7g-4cyLgM-bbnbtT-bsTjtB-cTMMhE-boFaev-cTMNrQ-pC6YNZ-eMYwJ4-cTMScQ-cTMQKm-drV5oA-7Rfktm-9iQTqr-cTMNyY-8Hjoex-FzhCh2-9FuTL1-9HqAtM-cTMN3o-RWF1nm-cTMMxq-g2646E-qnjDfp-qnbDUh-5ht2kg-dK3zmi-drV2rE-cTMNbG-9ZxLax-gcrehS-cTMNiYimpact on their profits. It means a lot for a person or company with a fair amount of power (or in this case, financial assets) to back an unpopular viewpoint. People may be doing stupid things like burning shoes in protest of Nike’s decision. Yet they’re talking about it, and paying attention. It’s opening up conversations and inciting people like me to look past the hype and the political machinations to what’s behind a promising athlete essentially killing his career to stand up for what he believes is right.

There will always be people whose minds are closed and who believe they have all the right answers. We can’t help them, nor catch them when they go down in flames. But I believe there are enough of us who are at least ready to hear other points of view, but need to learn to take our own emotional responses out of the mix first.

Being One of the Baby Steps to Change

https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4Change doesn’t happen in giant leaps most of the time. Instead, it’s tiny cracks in the impenetrable walls we build around ourselves. It’s opening our hearts just a little to something we’ve misunderstood, and trying to see something from another perspective. We can start by re-evaluating who and what we’re listening to and asking where and why they see things as they do. We can actively look for publications and sources which don’t share our perspective, looking for different interpretations of facts.

Instead of shutting down when we see something that confuses and confounds, we can open to the possibilities. Unless we’re stuck in a dark, dank rut of a comfort zone, we do so with other aspects of our lives. So why not use the skills we’ve learned to open our minds to things which we can’t immediately see as impacting us personally? In reality, we are all connected, so what impacts one, truly does impact us all. Think about that for a few moments.

Breaking Our Own Paradigms

I can only speak for myself in this, but know in the last couple of years I’ve altered my perceptions and pre-conceived notions on a wide variety of subjects. If a self-confirmed hermit like me can come out of her shell, interact more freely with people, and even do live videos, why is it such a stretch for others to make small changes, create tiny openings in beliefs that may seem hard-wired, yet can be changed with a little concerted effort?

Start small. Listen to an opposing viewpoint without immediately going on the defensive. Change news stations (if unlike me you’re still listening). Talk to friends who disagree with you and agree to hear each other out without showing disdain, raising your voice, or emotional outbursts. Or at least read the article I linked.

When you’re ready, branch out. Take one of your more emotional beliefs and the events or people linked to it. Search for articles and stories which take an opposing view and read them without criticism. Learn to accept that there is truth in every side of a story. The trick is to weed out the emotional triggers and biases so you can see the bald, unadulterated truth buried inside the rhetoric.

We’re sentient beings born with the ability to reason and discern. It’s time we rose above the apes and into that birthright again.

Gratitude for All We Have, and All the Possibilities

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for situations and circumstances that remind me to open my mind and stop being an ass.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn both from watching others, and watching myself behaving badly.
  3. I am grateful for a circle of friends with varying beliefs, even if some of it frustrates me and even makes me want to cry.
  4. I am grateful for my talent for research, and the desire to dig deep into things others are accepting on faith these days. Faith is overrated all too often, I’ve found.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, client attraction, friends, joy, kitty love, happiness, morality and ethics (even if buried deep), peace, harmony, philanthropy, health, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

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