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Category Archives: false self

NOW Is A Good Time… For Emotional Healing

Hi everyone!  Now that it’s Spring, the warmth is finally here in the midwestern part of the USA!  Yay!!  I feel happier when the temperatures are warmer and I can get outside and enjoy nature and recharge.  As a HSP healing from childhood wounds, I am still figuring out what makes me happiest and what I “like” most in life–right now I like thinking about some day moving to a warmer climate during the winter months!  😉

As HSP children, your “job” may have been to often to take care of your own parents’ feelings so you didn’t dare even ask yourself “What do I want?, How do I feel?, and What are my dreams and desires?  Perhaps it can be  “fun” now to “create” a life for yourself that is purely satisfying to “you”.  This is not being selfish for HSPs who have spent their lives putting others’ feelings and happiness first.  This is realizing your feelings and desires are meant to be your “compass” for finding direction and satisfaction in your life!

Even after all of your recovery and replacing a negative inner critic with a very consistent feeling of love and protection for yourself and you inner child, do you still sometimes wake up with a feeling of shame that surprises you?  It may usually happen after a day when you really asserted your voice and followed your heart (I have written about this before). Try to see that as evidence of how your shining light as a child may have been a threat to a narcissistic or bullying  caretakers and they had to bring you “down”.  “Get off of your high horse!”, “Who do you think you are!?”, “How dare you be happy when I am not happy!?”,  and “Straighten up and fly right!”–Were these phrases (spoken or implied silently with mean looks (angry eyes)) ones that come to mind that were a daily occurrence to shame and control you as a child?

Now that you may be working on changing the core beliefs about yourself, it is also helpful to reframe all those events with how you would have voiced your opposition if you had felt safe and knew you were loved and supported by the Universe.  Talking back to the inner critic is acknowledging it is there and then saying what you need to say to yourself to be an emotionally healthy soul–say, “I like being on my high horse!–it is good to feel proud of myself!”, “I think I am an amazing and gifted person!”, “Everyone is free to pursue their own happiness–it’s in the Constitution!”, and “Your right way and my right way are 2 different things!”  If you had felt safe and strong as a child and had been able to say these things in your childhood without being shamed and punished, then your true self would have survived and you would not have had to push your feelings underground and develop a false self that was fearful and obedient.  You can say it NOW and reclaim your strength that it didn’t feel safe for you to have. It is very healing to your wounded soul when you express the truth about yourself, either silently, out loud, or in a journal–express your true voice!

Just realizing you have an inner critic that stops you from enjoying your life and feeling good about yourself is the first step–writing out all the mixed messages swimming around your brain and getting them on paper in a journal will help you to realize that your inner critic has taken over.  I no longer have to journal to realize when I am listening to my inner critic–I recognize the negative feeling right away, acknowledge it, and say to myself  “that is ridiculous and that is not true about me!”

The real truth is I am a shining light of God’s love and I am perfect just the way I am!  You are perfect just the way you are too! There is nothing wrong with you!  You just have self-doubt– “doubt” just means questioning the truth–the truth is there but it takes courage to Believe It!  Believe it because it is true–you are perfect exactly as you are NOW in this moment!  And you deserve the LOVE, COMFORT, COMPASSION, and ENCOURAGEMENT that you never got during childhood.  You can learn to give it to yourself!

For myself, any shame feeling I get in the morning goes away immediately as I shoo it away and replace it with love for myself and with my new core beliefs: “This shame is not mine and not true and I have nothing to be ashamed of!”  Poof!  Gone! I also say, “Wow, I must have done something amazing and authentically me yesterday, I am on the right path!”  Then I can’t wait to get up and enjoy my day, my way!  I love my life and I am grateful that I am free to enjoy it now.

I feel my true purpose is to help others who are struggling to love themselves because of these very complex, negative messages that were engrained in their brains since early childhood.  It is not easy but growing new loving neural pathways in your brain is possible and I am living proof.  I hope that by my example I can help those of you struggling, suffering, and occasionally falling into pits of despair to climb out and break free from the negative energy “soup” that can engulf the soul of an emotionally needy HSP.  It takes time so please be patient with yourself if you fall backwards sometimes.

The key is to keep on feeling the feelings and comforting yourself through them–it is a grieving process.  You will come out the other side–to truth, light, and a connection to the Universe that no one can ever take away from you–it is innate in you and as a HSP you are a loved and highly evolved soul with compassion and light for others as your greatest gift.  You are going to be okay if you allow yourself to believe these things NOW–start today.  I am here, I understand–I have been lost, and now I am found.  NOW is the time to begin to love yourself without shame. You can do it!  This blog post was written for YOU!

After a weekend visit with our grown son who lives in Chicago, I felt energized, so energized that I wrote a new poem–even though I am a pretty extreme introvert and we had a very extraversion-filled weekend.  I was energized because of the quality of the relationship we have with our son and we all so enjoyed each others company and enjoyed being positive, building each other up, expressing our love and appreciation for each other, and having fun together.  So when we returned I was standing in my kitchen and had to grab paper and a pen because I felt this poem just had to be expressed.  I just let it flow out of me and when I was done I realized I was still “standing up” in my kitchen! (leaning against the counter 🙂 )  I am so glad I listened to that still small voice in my head that said to write this down.  Here is the poem that flowed out of me that cold, winter, sunday evening after our trip:

NOW Is A Good Time

By Roxanne Smith

Feb. 18, 2013

NOW’s a good time to nurture yourself and your feelings

To release the past and all painful dealings.

The pain’s coming up NOW so you’ll see the truth

of how you weren’t seen and loved in your youth.

The child inside, he or she yearns to be free.

The pain is just blocking your feelings of glee.

Joy and great gladness are all waiting there.

Waiting until you feel the truth and despair.

What happened to you was awful and sick

The pain you repressed was unbearable and thick.

You were too small and dependent back then

but now you are safe so the wounds can open

and your soul wants to heal these wounds from within.

You cannot move higher until you tell the truth of your kin.

How they poked you and pulled you down each time you succeeded

’til you gave up and blamed yourself… but they weren’t what you needed.

You were a bright star with a higher energy.

They were jealous and threatened by your desire to be free.

So you hid your true self until a much safer time–

It’s safe NOW so your soul is crying out as a sign

to be kind to your inner child who is coming out—please allow!

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad NOW.

Because you’re rising up from patterns ingrained in your head.

New ways of being are in your soul, time to shed

all the old pain, it must be felt to be released.

It is gone forever once you see the danger has ceased.

The danger was real then, don’t ever forget it

but now you choose new friends who are not like your inner critic.

You are learning your true self is a compassionate soul

who is kind to others and that is your role.

So being kind to your self is the very first step.

All day everyday you must give yourself pep!

Don’t listen to your inner critic—it is wrong and so mean

like those who abused you and weren’t nice as they seem.

You deserved better and NOW you must give it to your soul.

The more you are kind, the more you’ll feel Whole!

Each layer of pain will dissolve as you express

all of your confusion and unhappiness.

How could this be… you thought: “I was bad and wrong”

but really blaming “YOU” was unfair all along.

You were a bright light never harming a flea–

so easy to control because you trusted completely.

I hope you can see that you can reframe your past.

Replace those mean moments with self-love that will last.

Accepting Love from Above will change your beliefs about your core.

Who you are YOU must love so your dreams can then soar!

You are gifted and brilliant, a gift to us all.

You are treasured by those others who also feel this call.

The call’s mixed with pain and feeling bad about your childhood.

When you change your beliefs you will see your soul’s all Good!

Then you can reconnect with your self and find creativity and fun.

You’ll learn to relax and recharge from the sun.

Learn to listen to your body instead of working too hard.

You’ll get lots more done when you “play” in your yard.

Allowing yourself to enjoy being you

will slow you down and allow the pain to come through.

After a good cry, each time you’ll feel better–

lighter and lighter ‘til you’re light as a feather.

And allowing yourself to have space that is yours—

new boundaries to protect yourself will help open doors.

You must learn to feel grounded and connected to the earth.

This will help you feel solid and put yourself first.

You deserve to be happy and that starts with self-care.

After you are grounded, then you will become aware

that lifting up others is your gift and your purpose

and there’s a billion others out there who are not just kind on the surface.

They are deep and compassionate—you are not alone.

We are healing together as we feel grace and atone.

We did our best with all that we have known.

NOW we know it’s okay to be angry, then let it go.

Don’t hold onto blame, but blame needs to be spoken.

Release it and move on—don’t yell at the broken.

You are higher than they are (those who brought you down).

You don’t need to punish—you can just leave town

to start a new life and create all that your dreams can arrange.

Move forward… not fixing those who don’t want to change.

Trust these new feelings that spark in your heart.

Healing is painful but that’s only part.

This feeling’s inside that you’re finally alive!

Keep going with following your passions inside.

Don’t compare yourself to others—you have a new gig!

Let desires be your guide and your success will be BIG.

If you do this and trust your intuition inside

your internal guidance will help you to thrive.

Sometimes you’ll get stuck so you’ll need to be kind

to yourself when you inner critic starts messing with you mind.

Drop down to your heart instead of your head.

If you need to cry about something that was said,

grieve for this loss, the wrong path where you were led.

It hurt you so much, childhood pain must be shed

so we can see, that NOW we’re safe and free

And we would have parented differently!

And that’s good you are different and unique and that’s great!

I hope you can see that it’s never too late.

We often must go backward to move forward to be free.

You can heal and find wholeness—take it from me!

I found here a community of souls who relate–

I share how I healed and how sensitivity is great!

By journaling out the pain, I had new eyes to see.

My true voice was found, then my true self was free!

I know it sounds simple but it took a long time.

Try to trust in your feelings, then all will be fine.

As I followed my pain I got signs from above:

“relax and enjoy” and best “You are loved!”

I know of your pain– I know just how you feel.

It happened to me and I learned how to heal

So NOW as you journey from wounded to whole

I hope that these words will comfort your soul.

=============================

Please share your feelings in a comment if this post resonates with you.  Your comments also help others who are still struggling to find their voice.  We can help uplift each other higher as a community of compassionate souls.  Thank you for reading.  Have a wonderful Spring–may the warmth of the Universe envelope you and comfort you NOW as you heal and grow to your true potential.

With love, light, and my deepest compassion,

Roxanne

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Honor Thy Parents Only If They Are Honorable–Support for Highly Sensitive Survivors at Easter

Hi everyone.  April is almost here and as highly sensitive survivors you may be experiencing what can only be described as Easter Guilt.  Easter is a family time, when families get together and celebrate God and Jesus and hsps often contemplate very reason for being on the planet.  Even for the non-religious, Easter causes many to deeply evaluate our true purpose and our humanity.  It is similar to the Christmas holiday when we look at our lives and say to ourselves “Today I SHOULD be happy!  Where is my happy extended family that loves and supports me!”

Depending on where you are in your recovery from narcissistic abuse or childhood wounds, you may have started your own new Easter traditions with yourselves or with your own children which are more loving and focused on celebrating Spring, the miracle of nature and new life, and appreciating the ability to renew yourselves by being more loving–you remind yourselves, your children, or new-found friends that God loves you as you are, unconditionally.

Still, the Easters of your childhood may hold onto your hearts this time of year.  You may still unconsciously hold down the pain of Easter family get-togethers filled with religious abuse and guilt-inducement, or the pain of no celebrations at all at a time when other families and children seemed to be so happy and loved and celebrating.  Holidays such as this can surface feelings of deep loneliness as you realize you are separated from your true selves and true potential because you may have had to manufacture a self that was pleasing to your narcissistic parent, a false self that was superficial and not at all the rich, deep, complex personality that you still feel ashamed to completely step into.  You may want so badly to be good, kind, fair, and right with God so you may feel guilt not honoring the commandment that tells you to Honor Thy Father and Mother.

As part of your recovery from childhood wounds, you may want to include reading Alice Miller’s book, The Body Never Lies.  I want to share with you a  review of this book that I found on her website in order to support those of you who still struggle with guilt if you happen to be needing to enforce No Contact in order to heal from your childhood wounds:

“Norm Lee, May 2, 2005

Of Moms and Moses A Review of Alice Miller’s book, THE BODY NEVER LIES: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting

….  We have to break free of our (internalized) parents’ grip on us, that of the biblical injunction, “Honor (obey, worship,) thy father and thy mother.” Until then we, in a sense, feel and behave and think like the little children we once were; we cannot grow up. Worse, because as children we weren’t accepted and loved for who we were, parents repeatedly punished us in attempts to force us into the imaginary mold they had prepared for us, i.e., what a child should be. Dr. Miller’s message is that our bodies bear a detailed record of every childhood hurt and humiliation inflicted, every spank and slap, insult and indignity. And until or if those internal, psychic wounds remain unhealed, we can expect to continue to pay the terrible price in physical illnesses. Powerless to do otherwise, we suppressed our true and good authentic selves to win the love our emotional survival depended on.

Dr. Miller writes with astonishing and penetrating truth about the connections between childhood suffering at the hands of parents, and the physical consequences of obedience to the Fourth Commandment. The Biblical law, “Honor thy father and thy mother” is here challenged as the source of widespread – even universal – life-long suffering. As children we attempted to free ourselves from our feelings of fear, insecurity and confusion thru repression and dissociation/self-alienation. Whatever the cost (abandonment of our true selves), we persisted in loving and trusting our parents (we hardly had a choice) and strived to earn their approval, (and (thus) to please the Greater Parent in the Sky.)

Today, what stands between our bodies and the healing of those injuries is the hold the Fourth Commandment has on our minds. As we live and breathe, the fear of parental rejection/punishment lurks within that fear. It has to be brought to consciousness and examined before healing can take place. We walk carrying a sack full of personal history, the burden of wounds inflicted by all the punishment and indignities that have ever happened to us. Until we heal those internal wounds, we daily pay a terrible price in suffering, much of it physical illness, and make others pay as well. Those others are most often our own children. The claim so often heard, “I got spanked and I turned out OK,” cannot be upheld when it is understood how the denial of physical and emotional injuries are connected to present illnesses.

“….  Dr. Miller repeatedly emphasizes the tragic effects, in the form of physical ailments, of the body’s life-long yearning for parental love and affection. She touches on the way this suppression is expressed in religion: the command to love God, on pain of punishment when we fail to do so; the absurdity of inventing a parent-like creator, perfect and omnipotent, who craves our love. It is an odd god, an immensely dependent god, a Big Daddy who, if given the love demanded, will reward with an eternity in blissful heaven. (And the teenage suicide bombers of the Middle East are promised the bonus of 72 virgins to sweeten the deal.) Inasmuch as the Great Father is not loved, even worshipped, the alternative is agonizing punishment from now to the “end” of eternity.

We have to liberate ourselves from the propaganda imposed on us – and enforced on us on pain of punishment – by conventional morality. This book calls for a higher morality, as it applies to parenthood. We cannot truly love our parents, she asserts, until we are liberated from the infantile attachment, the idolatry, that trapped us in childhood.

Dr. Miller wants the reader to understand and accept that parents who abused us do not deserve our love and honor, regardless of a Moses-imposed commandment to do so. As we all must know, love is one thing that cannot be enforced. Like Sgt. Joe Friday, the body, in its wisdom, rejects illusions. It accepts only the facts, as higher morality is inherent not in the mind, but in our bodies. She takes to task all those friends and relatives and preachers and therapists who say, “Forgive your mother, forgive your father; they did the best they knew how. She changed your diapers, he sacrificed for you, and above all they loved you.” Miller will not hear it: forgiveness is a crock and a trap, laid to continue the dependency, and preserve the hope, that somehow, sometime, we will finally bask in the love that was so long ago denied us. Reading Alice is like hearing someone whisper, “I know the secret you are hiding in your past, the feelings of hurt and fright and shame and humiliation at the abusive treatment you suffered at the hands of your parents. And I’m asking you – urging you, challenging you – to come out of that dark closet and face up to it.”

In the valley where I live, the #1 fear at whatever age is parental punishment. And among adults, it’s primary defense is Denial. Behind the denial of childhood mistreatment lies the fear of punishment, therefore acknowledgement or recognition of it in adulthood can approach terror. But the price for denial is paid in physical as well as mental illness. When aware of it we see it everywhere: the suffering in the bodies and minds of strangers and of those dear to us. But we must begin with ourselves, confronting the punishing parent within.”

As supportive as this information is, I know how difficult it is to step away from your abusive family ties and go it alone and start a new emotionally healthier life so that you can heal and get stronger.  You need support for such drastic actions and I offer you that support through my posts, articles, poems, songs and lyrics, my coaching, and a community here with many comments on my website that I hope lovingly states, “you are not alone, you are in the company of a community of survivors that is growing in number as they dare to come out of their darkness and speak the truth of what happened to them as children!” 

As highly sensitive people (HSPs) you have many gifts to offer that are lacking in many of the people around you.  Celebrate your differentness, celebrate YOU this Easter and open up to the love that exists from God and from other HSPs like yourself.  I believe we HSPs are gifted with compassion and an ability to love deeper so that we can help each other through the negativity and dark energies that do exist around us.

Love to you this Easter season, may you realize your shining light inside of you and shine it on your children, spouse, friends, and especially your self!  You deserve a wonderful Easter!  

With Love,

Roxanne

P.S. For more information on Easter Guilt for HSPs, please read my post from last Easter entitled, April 1, 2010 Guilt at Easter Time and How to Cope…  

 

The Connection To Learned Helplessness in Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)

Updated March 2016

Hi everyone.  Today I want to write about a subject that many of my clients and readers can relate to as Highly Sensitive People.  It is something called Learned Helplessness.  Learned Helplessness is that feeling of powerlessness that we all feel at times, and for some of us it is more pervasive and all encompassing than for others.  There is much hope in talking about it because if you can understand the roots of this feeling, you can understand that it is “learned” behavior and that you can become aware of it when it hits you and ultimately heal from it completely.

I first heard about Learned Helplessness in my introductory psychology class in college.  And you probably have heard the story as well–the story of Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov used a dog in an experiment in human behavior to demonstrate the result of conditioning. I can’t recall the exact details except that the dog was given rewards or withheld the rewards and the resulting behavior of the dog was recorded and studied. There were other dog experiments by a psychologist named Seligman in which he shocked sets of dogs to demonstrate learned behavior and conditioning and punishment.

The main thing I remember vividly about the whole thing was that at the end of the Seligman experiments, the dogs were shocked repeatedly both when they completed a task correctly and also when they did not.  The poor dogs were so confused that they layed down depressed and GAVE UP and even whined–and this was Learned Helplessness that the dogs were experiencing.  I still remember learning about this vividly because I felt SO bad for these dogs–I was empathizing and upset beyond what the average person reading this would expect to be.

At that time in college I did not have the insight or self-awareness yet to realize it was because I resonated so much personally with how the dogs were treated. As a highly sensitive, empathetic person I knew just how those dogs must have felt and I related to them giving up and laying down, hopeless, and helpless, in fear, and self-doubt.  Those dogs were experiencing the same damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t no-win situation that those who were bullied consistently (or even neglected or controlled) by a caretaker or narcissistic or controlling parent were subjected to day in and day out as children.  Years later I remember talking to a counselor about this, knowing just how a dog in those experiments must have felt and it helped the counselor have a picture of the frustration, fear, desperation, loneliness, despair, hopelessness, and helplessness.

After I voiced this to the counselor, I was able to picture myself as a small child with the same compassion I had for such a dog and finally realized that I deserved so much more.  The roots of my anxiety were then exposed–no wonder I felt anxious all the time, no wonder I was a perfectionist and afraid to disappoint anyone, no wonder I didn’t know how to relax, no wonder I had no access to my own dreams and desires and was filled with self-doubts and negative messages in my head.  It helped to talk to someone about how I felt what I experienced could compare to the treatment of those dogs–the feeling of not being given consistent love and support and feeling rewarded only if obedient and punished with emotional rejection if not.

My life coaching experiences and studies have taught me the following in regards to those highly sensitive people with a narcissistic parent:  The Scapegoat child of a N parent can very much relate to this constant punishment and criticism.  But the Golden Child (GC) can relate as well because they are often the obedient one who needs desperately some kind of loving approval and, out of fear, becomes what the parent or  wants for them to become.  Outwardly to others it may appear as if the GC has it all–the love, attention and admiration of the Narcissistic parent.  But inside there is so much emptiness and pain, an absence of the knowledge of self and true feelings–feelings that had to be hidden away because they were too painful to bear.  The false self is developed and honed in, the GC knows exactly how their N parent feels even before they do.  The GC develops a radar that helps them to survive the lack of love and support–and they develop an illusion that they are the ones at fault if, even with their best efforts, they fail to win the acceptance of the N parent.  They blame themselves and have very low self-esteem, crushed by criticism, holding relationships at arms length so no one will get too close and cause them further pain.

The roots of co-dependence are also linked to this learned helplessness–victims of such abuse telling themselves that there must be something wrong with them and that they are deeply flawed and it usually goes in one of two ways–either they decide they need to find another person to love them and take care of them and then they will be happy (co-dependence) or they become a porcupine not letting anyone one else near, lashing out at anyone who suspects that they just might have some insecurities underneath their outwardly successful yet workaholic exterior shell. People who suffer from panic attacks and even agoraphobia often have learned helplessness from childhood as a root cause as well.

“What can a person do?” you may be asking if you relate to what I am describing.  Plenty!  Just being aware and believing that this happened to you as a child is the first step. Just as you have compassion for the dogs in the experiments, you need to develop this same compassion for yourself and make a decision to stop being so hard on yourself.  Make a decision to be kind to yourself every time you are feeling bad–it is almost always childhood pain coming up to tell you the truth of what really happened to you.  Become aware that the negative messages in your head were put there by someone else and that you did not deserve them.  Change them to positive messages.  Write in a journal all the things you were good at as a child and never given credit for.  Writing out the truth is powerful and go back and read it often to remind yourself.

It takes time so be patient with yourself.  Taking baby steps in the direction of healing is wise because there is pain to work through and release but you can do it!  You have many gifts and talents that have never been acknowledged yet and only you can bring them out from their repressed state of Learned Helplessness.

Whether you were the scapegoat in your family or the obedient golden child, you can heal from the trauma of Learned Helplessness.  Often people who experience post traumatic stress from an abusive childhood fall into this state of learned helplessness when their wounds are triggered.  It can feel like an inability to function, a numbness–but sometimes the feelings along with that are a mix of rage and despair.

If you have lashed out at loved ones with an intensity beyond what is appropriate then you probably were a victim of a person that controlled you in an abusive way far far too much with no remorse. If you were extremely sensitive (extremely emotionally gifted 🙂 ), just a mean look from his/her eyes could cause a traumatic reaction in you as a child and the fear may have felt like a spear through your heart.  The rage and despair you feel is understandable and appropriate but needs to be directed, voiced, and released at the person that did this too you in a journal, letter that won’t be sent, and/or perhaps even read outloud with a safe witness friend, counselor, or coach present (never to them or to their face) .  You will find a sense of relief each time you release some of this truth and the light inside of you will become brighter and brighter and you will feel lighter and lighter. You will begin to experience the essence of your true self and the vitality you deserve.  This is the process of healing. Don’t hold onto the anger and resentment that comes up but release it completely each time, visualizing the negative emotions going up to heaven or into the earth,whichever appeals most, to be healed by love and light–Imagine love and light coming to you as well to replace these negative emotions each time to center yourself again to a peaceful state.

Why did you experience learned helplessness while your siblings did not?  Perhaps you had the gift of high sensitivity and along with that the knowledge and expectation of a higher level of love.  And when you did not receive this love that you innately knew existed, you had no choice but to blame yourself because…it made no sense to you.  Your siblings possibly just got mad at your parents and rebelled–they may have had no higher vision of a loving existence so it didn’t feel as traumatic to them.

So you see, the cure and the answer to all of your self-doubt and learned helplessness is LOVE Love yourself as you deserved to be loved and give yourself the love that you so easily give to others because that is your gift.  Compassion and love for yourself will help you overcome all of the many symptoms of Learned Helplessness just as consistent love and affection and kindness would help Seligman’s abused dogs to learn to trust people and trust themselves again.  I hope my words have been helpful to you.

With love,

Roxanne

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