Self Love and Gratitude

ThanksgivingThis week, in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving. I have been a vegetarian for decades and Thanksgiving Day is not about the Turkey Feast. It is about gathering with friends and celebrating what it is we are truly grateful for in our lives.

When going through pain and hardship it can be difficult to think about what you are grateful for, and often difficult to feel any gratitude at all. It seems to be human nature that our inner focus is directed to “what’s wrong” rather than “whats right.” We are problem solvers and want to solve “what is wrong” in order to achieve our goal of having “everything right.”

We are human and we are flawed. We will never have all our duckies in a row and perfection will always elude us. However we do have an amazing capacity to feel love and joy.

selflove5Studies show that “gratitude” is a powerful healer. Whether you are sick, in pain or depressed, by focusing on what you are grateful for, you begin to shift your attention to “the glass is half full” rather than “half empty.”

It is “self loving” to actually seek out things to love about yourself and about your current circumstances, whatever they are. If you don’t know where to begin, do a personal inventory. Do you have your arms and legs? Can you see? Can you hear? Can you taste your food? Do you feel? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food on your plate when you are hungry? Do you have anyone in your life who you know really loves you?

Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, tells us “comparison is the cause of all unhappiness.” We tend to compare ourselves to those we see as having less than we do and as a result we feel superior and we compare ourselves with those we perceive as “having more” and feel inferior. Both superiority and inferiority separate us from each other. We do not see ourselves as equal and therefore we build walls that separate us from standing on common ground.

Since many of us tend to see the glass as “half empty,” the comparisons we make in our daily life are most often focused on our lack and limitation. We don’t have enough and we are not enough. We compare ourselves with those, we perceive, as having more and feel insecure and inadequate. This is not self loving. It is self sabotaging.

Practicing gratitude is a way to take us from focusing outside of ourselves on the successes and failures of others and instead focus inward on our own blessings. The more we focus on our blessings the more we become aware of what is good in our lives and the more “good” we attract into our lives. We also begin to feel better about ourselves. We stop comparing ourselves to the fortunes and misfortunes of others and start to realize that our life is meant to be lived for our own soul’s growth and we need to celebrate our own successes.

Those who wake up in the morning and count their blessings will have more blessings to count. This is because “counting your blessings,” creates an energetic vibration of gratitude that, through the law of attraction, draws more to you on that same vibrational wavelength.

When I work with people who have just come out of terrible relationships and are in deep emotional pain, I often suggest they shift the way they look at what just happened. One can say “my husband left me for another woman,” or she can say “the Universe removed this person from my life so that I can know myself on greater levels, learn to love myself more, and attract someone into my life who will mirror to me my own self love.”

If, at the core, we are self loathing, rather than self loving, we will attract into our lives someone who mirrors to us our own self loathing. This means we may attract someone who abuses us, or treats us poorly. We may not have been aware of how much “self loathing” we actually had, on a subconscious level, until we found ourselves in relationship with someone who made us feel really ugly and worthless. We may stay in that relationship because there is a core belief we don’t deserve anything more. Bad relationships are a great way to “root out” those negative core beliefs and show us how we really feel about ourselves. If that person leaves, say “thank you;” because you are now being given an opportunity to move up the vibrational ladder to greater self love and awareness.

The pain we are often left with in circumstances like this, is our deep core pain being rooted out. We may have moved through a life filled with distractions so we didn’t really have to look that deeply at ourselves and at some point your soul says “it’s time to evolve beyond this pattern” and will create the circumstances for your evolution. It may be painful, because you are growing out of a self sabotaging, dysfunctional pattern. You are facing your inner demons, your shadow side, in a way you never have before. So if you are in pain from being thrown into a deep inner growth challenge, say “thank you for this opportunity to grow from self loathing to self loving.”

Even in the most painful circumstances we can find something to be grateful for. Feel the pain! Embrace the healing process! But seek out what is good about where you find yourself and celebrate that.

When you practice gratitude in your daily life it becomes second nature. You simply begin to see the glass as “half full” in your life and you naturally have an attitude of gratitude which gives you a more positive outlook on life and a happier disposition.

So “be glad” for the good and trust that life is moving you towards your highest good and the greatest fulfillment of your life purpose.

Happy Thanks Giving!

Self Love and Gratitude

ThanksgivingThis week, in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving. I have been a vegetarian for decades and Thanksgiving Day is not about the Turkey Feast. It is about gathering with friends and celebrating what it is we are truly grateful for in our lives.

When going through pain and hardship it can be difficult to think about what you are grateful for, and often difficult to feel any gratitude at all. It seems to be human nature that our inner focus is directed to “what’s wrong” rather than “whats right.” We are problem solvers and want to solve “what is wrong” in order to achieve our goal of having “everything right.”

We are human and we are flawed. We will never have all our duckies in a row and perfection will always elude us. However we do have an amazing capacity to feel love and joy.

selflove5Studies show that “gratitude” is a powerful healer. Whether you are sick, in pain or depressed, by focusing on what you are grateful for, you begin to shift your attention to “the glass is half full” rather than “half empty.”

It is “self loving” to actually seek out things to love about yourself and about your current circumstances, whatever they are. If you don’t know where to begin, do a personal inventory. Do you have your arms and legs? Can you see? Can you hear? Can you taste your food? Do you feel? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food on your plate when you are hungry? Do you have anyone in your life who you know really loves you?

Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, tells us “comparison is the cause of all unhappiness.” We tend to compare ourselves to those we see as having less than we do and as a result we feel superior and we compare ourselves with those we perceive as “having more” and feel inferior. Both superiority and inferiority separate us from each other. We do not see ourselves as equal and therefore we build walls that separate us from standing on common ground.

Since many of us tend to see the glass as “half empty,” the comparisons we make in our daily life are most often focused on our lack and limitation. We don’t have enough and we are not enough. We compare ourselves with those, we perceive, as having more and feel insecure and inadequate. This is not self loving. It is self sabotaging.

Practicing gratitude is a way to take us from focusing outside of ourselves on the successes and failures of others and instead focus inward on our own blessings. The more we focus on our blessings the more we become aware of what is good in our lives and the more “good” we attract into our lives. We also begin to feel better about ourselves. We stop comparing ourselves to the fortunes and misfortunes of others and start to realize that our life is meant to be lived for our own soul’s growth and we need to celebrate our own successes.

Those who wake up in the morning and count their blessings will have more blessings to count. This is because “counting your blessings,” creates an energetic vibration of gratitude that, through the law of attraction, draws more to you on that same vibrational wavelength.

When I work with people who have just come out of terrible relationships and are in deep emotional pain, I often suggest they shift the way they look at what just happened. One can say “my husband left me for another woman,” or she can say “the Universe removed this person from my life so that I can know myself on greater levels, learn to love myself more, and attract someone into my life who will mirror to me my own self love.”

If, at the core, we are self loathing, rather than self loving, we will attract into our lives someone who mirrors to us our own self loathing. This means we may attract someone who abuses us, or treats us poorly. We may not have been aware of how much “self loathing” we actually had, on a subconscious level, until we found ourselves in relationship with someone who made us feel really ugly and worthless. We may stay in that relationship because there is a core belief we don’t deserve anything more. Bad relationships are a great way to “root out” those negative core beliefs and show us how we really feel about ourselves. If that person leaves, say “thank you;” because you are now being given an opportunity to move up the vibrational ladder to greater self love and awareness.

The pain we are often left with in circumstances like this, is our deep core pain being rooted out. We may have moved through a life filled with distractions so we didn’t really have to look that deeply at ourselves and at some point your soul says “it’s time to evolve beyond this pattern” and will create the circumstances for your evolution. It may be painful, because you are growing out of a self sabotaging, dysfunctional pattern. You are facing your inner demons, your shadow side, in a way you never have before. So if you are in pain from being thrown into a deep inner growth challenge, say “thank you for this opportunity to grow from self loathing to self loving.”

Even in the most painful circumstances we can find something to be grateful for. Feel the pain! Embrace the healing process! But seek out what is good about where you find yourself and celebrate that.

When you practice gratitude in your daily life it becomes second nature. You simply begin to see the glass as “half full” in your life and you naturally have an attitude of gratitude which gives you a more positive outlook on life and a happier disposition.

So “be glad” for the good and trust that life is moving you towards your highest good and the greatest fulfillment of your life purpose.

Happy Thanks Giving!

Talking to Your Children about Mental Illness

mothertalkingtochildAs a counselor for victims of narcissistic and sociopathic abuse, I come across about every scenario imaginable and have witnessed, through my work, the worst evils in human behavior.

When dealing with narcissists, sociopaths, borderline personalities and even bi-polar disorder, there is a lot of abuse, pathological lying, blaming, projection of hatred, absolute crazy making behavior including “gaslighting,” and the spreading of vicious rumors about the other parent.

What happens when children are caught in the middle of marriages and relationships where there is a personality disordered or mentally ill parent? Most psychologist will tell us that we don’t talk to our children about “the other” parent in any type of negative way. We encourage our children to love and accept the “other parent” and keep our mouths shut about the abuse that is happening. Well, I have another belief about this.

Some studies will tell us one of the top causes of death among children over the age of ten is suicide. Why do you think this is? I believe it is because, in our emotionally repressed society, we repress and invalidate the emotional reality of our children. To invalidate your children’s feelings is to deny their reality. To deny their reality causes them to feel crazy inside. They not only feel “crazy,” but lonely, isolated, and left alone to suffer in a world where nobody understands them.

Children feel very deeply. They are sensitive. They psychically pick up what is going on in the family dynamic and if you tell them what they are perceiving is inaccurate they are being taught they can’t trust their own “inner knowing.” At an early age we teach our children to doubt themselves, which undermines their self-confidence and their ability to perceive the world accurately.

Of course we all want to protect our children but we must learn the difference between protecting our children from harm and denying their reality. Invalidating the reality of a child is not protection. It is abuse.

Divorce is common in today’s society. Those who suffer abuse at the hands of a spouse are encouraged to get out of the relationship and take their children with them, to give the children a chance to have a peaceful, loving and supportive home. Unfortunately, the court system doesn’t really recognize abuse; especially narcissistic, sociopathic, and borderline abuse. This is because most people with these kind of “Cluster B” personality disorders present as normal, successful, capable people. People who have these kind of personality disorders put a lot of effort into appearing “normal” and being liked and accepted by others. The abuse is hidden. It happens only behind closed doors and usually only the nearest and dearest witness it. The nearest and dearest usually includes the children.

The courts will most often award shared custody to both parents, forcing the children to be with the “disordered” parent half the time. In some cases, with a more sophisticated narcissist or sociopath, full custody is awarded to the disordered person.

Children are usually aware that something is not right with this parent and will go to the other parent seeking answers. If the parent can’t be fully honest with his or her child, there will be problems in the emotional development of that child. The child needs to know he or she can depend on at least one parent for honesty and stability.

Pathological lying is a trait of a personality disordered individual. He or she will not hesitate to say horrible things about the other parent in attempt to discredit that parent. The nature of personality disorders is self-centeredness and the lack of ability to care about anyone but the” Self,” even at the expense of one’s own children. A personality disordered individual will use the children as pawns in order to punish the other parent. He will break all the rules about not bringing a child into the middle of a nasty divorce or battle between parents. In cases of “Parental Alienation Syndrome” the spiteful parent will brainwash and turn the children against the other parent altogether. The court system is completely unaware of such dynamics.

In cases of personality disorders and mental illness, it is important that the healthy parent talks openly and honestly to the children about what is going on. The child already knows something is going on and is most likely hurt, confused and seeking answers. Where are those answers going to come from?

Although I agree we need to talk to our children out of a place of calmness, rather than hostility and anger towards the other parent, we do need to talk to our children about the mental illness of the other parent.

I’ve had clients whose children get very upset when told they must go for their visitation with the other parent. They scream, cry, throw a temper tantrum and refuse to go. They are already experiencing the abuse and neglect of the personality disordered parent. However, if the healthy parent acquiesces to the wishes of the child, he or she could be thrown in jail for violating a court order. Parents are forced, by law, to send their children to the home of an abusive parent when the children are too young to understand why. The children are being sent into a war zone half of their young and fragile lives. The children need as much emotional support as they can get and part of this emotional support involves tactful honesty.

In some cases, the disordered parent is kind and caring to the children but vindictive towards the other parent and fills the children’s head full of all sorts of lies and half-truths. This is highly confusing and disturbing to the child who wants to love both parents. If the other parent doesn’t set the record straight she risks losing the respect and love of her own children who are being brainwashed to believe she is to blame for every bad thing that happens in the family dynamic.

Truly I have seen it all and it breaks my heart. I’ve heard stories of young children tugging at their Mother’s leg saying “Mommy please don’t make me go” and stories of teenage children, brainwashed into believing the other parent committed some horrible crime against the family and completely turning on that parent, refusing to have anything to do with them. Often this happens when one parent remains silent and the disordered parent is cursing and blaming the other for tearing the family apart, being crazy, or mentally ill.

Personality disordered people are known for pathological lying and projection, which means they blame and accuse the other parent for doing exactly what it is they are doing. This is a very confusing dynamic. It is not at all uncommon that a pathological parent will accuse the other parent of being mentally ill, and in front of the children. This is a defense mechanism against his or her own mental illness. A disordered individual really needs to believe it is the other person creating the problems because he or she is incapable of taking any responsibility for his or her own actions and behavior.

How to talk to your children depends on the age and awareness level of the kids. Some very young children are extremely aware and others are not so aware. You will need to tune into the cues of your children and listen to their reality and help to guide them. If they asked a question concerning the behavior of the other parent or why you live apart or are divorcing, speak honestly but with tact and speak at the emotional level of your child so he or she can understand what you are saying. Encourage conversation and questions.

It is the nature of a child to love both parents and want the love, attention and approval of both parents. It is important to pay attention to the relationship your child is having with the other parent. If your child is “in love” with the disordered parent, it is important to support that love and acceptance of the other parent but also explain to the child that Mommy and Daddy see things differently. You might use props to demonstrate how when you look through this pair of glasses the world looks different. You might also show your child how life looks without any of the eye glasses and explain this as an “unaltered” view. You might explain that when people have a mental illness they are looking at life through a very different pair of glasses and pick a pair that really distorts their vision so they can get an idea of what you are talking about.

When my son was young I made the mistake of “following the rules” and did not mention to my son that his Father had bi-polar disorder. Since my ex-husband was on medication for bi-polar disorder I believed he would tell his son and I felt it was his place to do so, not mine. When my son came to me, at the age of sixteen, confused and hurt by his Dad’s behavior I asked “did you know your Dad has bi-polar Disorder?” My son got very upset and said “Really? Really? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?” He was angry that he was left in the dark about such an important matter. It was then I realized I made a mistake by not talking to him about his Dad’s disorder earlier. This is why I now encourage parents to talk to their children about their parent’s mental illness or personality disorder. If we don’t, the children will often feel crazy and believe it is somehow their own fault.

People with personality disorders and bi-polar disorder don’t live in the same reality as the “average” individual. In all fairness we all live in a different reality but we can all usually agree that white is white and black is black. A personality disordered person will argue with you that white is black and you are colorblind and be very convincing. You may start to believe that you aren’t seeing things accurately and begin to doubt yourself. You may have to take that “white” piece of paper to a friend and ask “what color is this?” Your friend will likely say “white, are you colorblind?”

To live with a personality disordered individual is to live in a distorted reality and your children will also be living in this distorted reality. You need to get the help you need to align with your own truth, learn to trust yourself and teach your children to trust themselves as well. Narcissistic parents breed children who are either narcissistic themselves or have very low self-esteem, stemming from years of abuse.

As the healthy parent you are your children’s link to sanity and a healthy sense of self-worth. Having one good, kind and loving parent can counteract the effects of the abusive, undermining and mentally ill parent. Be the example of emotional health by learning how to demonstrate it to your children and validate their emotional reality.