Happy October everybody. I wanted to let you know that the manual is up and available for purchase at Amazon. However, it is also available in PDF or Word format. Just let me know if you’d like your own copy. Just send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to give that to you for free.
To me it feels tragic that a person can go through any significant portion of their lives feeling alone and unsupported! I’d like to say that at the ripe old age of 56 I have put this feeling thoroughly and completely behind me. And I think this manual is what turned the key. I am so so so so excited!! I’ll tell you a little secret: I started taking tango lessons!!!!
But in all seriousness, the feeling of isolation, having only oneself to count on, and chronic touch deficit is entirely too prevalent in our society, and only exacerbated by Covid-19 and our political divisions. It is my belief that the current state of our country has its cause deep in early relational trauma, which leaves people feeling that they are different, alone, and lacking in essential resources and belonging. And people who feel like this are susceptible to the messages and shenanigans of narcissists and sociopaths. They have yet to find a durable and supportive tribe or connect with stable roots. As they move through life, these feelings become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Body Owner’s Guide for the Stewards of the New Earth: My Meta Self Owner’s Guide offers you eight chapters, channeled by eight loving ethereal masters, offering nuggets of wisdom in a format that can be read from start to finish or opened at random to spark your creative juices and inspire you to reach for more of what your soul is longing for. This handy reference book includes affirmations, dream interpretations and more, with the intention of bringing into focus a vision of a post-trauma future.
Though this manual was created for me, it is also intended to inspire you to strengthen your connections with your own angels, guides and ancestors. They are always there, and there is nothing they would like more than to see you learn how to care for yourself well. May this set you on the path of creating your own personal volume.
I remember, in 2013, prior to my second flight from the Midwest (the first being to Bangladesh, in 1994), giving my clients the following homework: Take a week to be just as lazy, selfish and irresponsible as you can be. I’m not kidding. If that is not possible, take two days. If that isn’t possible, then at the very minimum, take four hours. That was the advice I, myself, needed to take and so I finally did. But it took me this long to realize what that would actually look like, and what it really meant. In hindsight I wonder how possible it was for any of my clients to do this assignment without drastically changing their environment – the cultural, political and economic setting of the USA in the 21st Century. But why, you might be asking. Why this assignment? I will give you the long explanation now.
So many of us, as survivors of early relational trauma, have been programmed for survival, though the danger is not what we think it is. So many of us have an inner critic that berates us mercilessly, perpetuating feelings of shame and self-doubt, if not self-loathing. It hurls names at its person, and depending on the words their family used to express their unresolved pain and shame, these might have included “lazy,” “narcissistic,” “selfish,” “stupid,” “irresponsible,” etc. Many of my clients are learning what to do with the part of themselves that spews these toxic messages. What we are learning together is that this abusive part is actually an automatic reflex designed to “protect” its person from feeling the overwhelming feelings of pain and loneliness from the past. It protects us from the pain and overwhelm of one or more tender, vulnerable parts that are stuck in the past, needing our help to get them out. But it is designed to remain undetected to our conscious mind, and that is what makes it tricky to deal with in a straightforward way.
Until we do bring consciousness, care and compassion to these unresolved issues, these parts will continue to get activated and wreak havoc in our lives. I knew this when I created Self-Abuse & The Drama Triangle, but I’m realizing it at a deeper level now, as I recognize with renewed clarity what a tremendous amount of my energy can still be wasted in self-doubt, self-flagellation and something just under the surface that is keeping me from feeling like my clear and shining adult self.
My inner critic is 14-15 years old. She feels indignant and she believes that she can’t stop or she will be just as outrageously unforgivable and deserving of repudiation as the ones responsible for the violence and neglect she experienced in the past. She believes that if she lets up, she will fail us both (she is operating from her adolescent perspective with righteous indignation and her 14-15-year-old determination to keep me from getting hurt). And so she continues to do her thing, just beneath the level of my awareness. Her toxic message – this survival reflex – gets kicked up as I diligently work to reclaim my original, First Nature, and say NO to the generations-old programming that kept me small and quiet by telling me that the world is an unsafe place and that I should not expect to be loved.
This reflex kicks in to preserve the status quo. With the incisiveness and sophistication of a terrified 15-year old, it scrutinizes and second guesses my motives, my choices, my decisions, my reactions, my performance, my physical appearance. She can go on and on and on before I recognize what is happening in there. When I ignore this dynamic over time, it chips away at my confidence, at my general sense of well-being, my health and my Life Force. This part does not trust me because of mistakes she is sure I have made in the past. She can be seriously abusive because she is terrified and she doesn’t believe she can ask for help and get it, and because she believes our lives and integrity depend on her keeping up this internal battery and its concomitant feelings of shame and self-contempt.
I am thinking of one of my clients who has figured out how to talk to his angry little one inside. His is only five years old. He shows me how firm but loving boundaries can be instituted and maintained with this little one, who has brought so much destruction to his closest relationships in the past. When he feels his angry little one starting to get agitated, he checks in with it. He reassures it. He has even learned to be preemptive. In the mornings he snuggles up with it, telling it that it is okay, and that he is big enough to hold it and protect it. You are safe now, he tells it. You can trust me to take your needs seriously. I love you. I am here now. I will not abandon you. It is your job to play and have fun now. You don’t have to be big and angry to keep us safe anymore.
Another client too, has learned to take a bit of time to attune to the disturbance and the players inside. Like mine, his is 14-15-years-old and has a tongue that slices him to shreds if he allows it. He is learning to talk to this inner critic softly but with assurance, pointing out the landmarks of his growth and success, what he is doing right. Reminding them both that he does not deserve to be punished, and never did. As the inner critic softens, he is freer to accept himself and his past mistakes and release the remaining shame, self-loathing, self-doubt and self-censure that he has stockpiled but failed to examine all these years. Together we form the alliance necessary to glean the wisdom from his life experience, to acknowledge his successes, and discern his real needs and the real maturity he has gained through his efforts and experiences instead of just trying to hide, amputate or erase this terrified, vulnerable part of himself, along with his imperfect past.
We need to be able to attune to and acknowledge the wisdom beneath the disruption, this hidden chaos inside. Because what other recourse does the powerless have than to revolt? The parts that feel powerless and abandoned need to be listened to because they showed up in the first place for a reason. They have wisdom that is profound and irreplaceable. But we do need to get support and take the time necessary to find out what is actually happening in there.
Just as important as recognizing that they are there for a reason and having compassion for these tender parts, it is necessary that we let them know that they are not allowed to abuse us or others anymore. We need to value ourselves and have enough substance – enough Self – to put into place firm boundaries. Though we have been programmed otherwise, we need to be more selfish to do this. As my sense of Self strengthens, that’s what keeping my commitment to doing a daily meditation feels like for me. It is a revolutionary act, holding nurturing routines in place, adjusting them as I grow to fit my continuously changing needs. And it is what is necessary to leave the status quo and achieve the change I really want.
This morning, as I put the finishing touches on my owner’s manual, I realize that I have been newly reconnected with envy and how much this emotion has impacted my life without my even knowing it. I was so clueless of envy, never thinking that word described any part of me. Well now I see how anger, jealousy and envy were so central to my life and experience, and how thoroughly I blotted them out, pushing them under so they could be hidden, so I could maintain my image of a “good girl.” Now I can see how this has contributed to the stifling of my reaching reflex. How it crippled my ability to want what I wanted and even to receive what was sweet and available all around me.
Now, I am reclaiming my envy, and with it perfecting my own reaching reflex. Every hint of envy is my new best friend because it tells me what I want more of. It no longer needs to remain hidden. As with anger, it can now inform me. I am so grateful for everything in my current life that is helping me develop my reaching reflex. Films, Netflix, free time to reflect on my relationship with people I have judged as selfish, irresponsible or lazy. Newly admiring their ability to enjoy their lives and allowing myself to distill my own understanding of my unique constitution, tastes, values and desires as similar and distinct from theirs. I am so thankful for my clients. Each one of them a tremendous gift. So thankful for each day, a dance, a step closer to a life that is even more filled with the things that I have been afraid to ask for. A calmable nervous system. People who help me calm my nervous system. People with whom I can and do regularly play and explore the wonders of this experience called Life.
As I sit here with rubber bands between my molars, I feel the “opening” of my avenue of expression. It’s uncomfortable but it is fundamentally changing me. Expanding my ability to experience joy and pleasure. Expanding my ability to express and share myself. I feel everything falling into place just as it should.
I am learning to enjoy liminal space these days, not exactly knowing what will happen next, and it’s uncomfortable sometimes. But it’s okay. Better to be in this space than to jump prematurely to the next thing.
I vigilantly work on recognizing self-doubt when it comes up, I attend to the tender vulnerable feelings underneath, and step in to make sure that nobody is abusing me inside.
Here’s what I can watch out for, lurking in the shadows:
Feeling critical of myself
Comparing myself with others
Feeling critical toward others
Negative self-talk (You’re irresponsible. Who do you think you are? etc.)
Nurturing a stronger, more reliable sense of Self means that I can more readily step back and recognize this as the abuse that it is, and that it says nothing whatsoever about me. Once I recognize that I am doing this again, I can firmly but compassionately redirect that energy. I am committed to mastering the skills necessary to do this.
In the spaciousness of my life, here in my Mexican retreat, I can recognize that disruptive younger part of me now and tell her that I appreciate her and all she has been through. I speak to her softly, lovingly, and assure her that I am committed to learning how to be embodied, how to gracefully navigate the world as an adult and how to live a life that we have been worthy of all along. I let her know that I’ve got this now, thanking her, but assuring her that she can safely rest now, and do what she, as a 14-15-year-old, enjoys. Supported in my village and with my ancestors and guides, I am in a position to keep her safe now, and I let her know that I am committed to doing just that.
I let her know that I am learning the skill of turning feelings into needs. When she feels critical or judgmental, I can understand that she is scared or envious or angry or ashamed of being scared or envious or angry. I can help her know that her tender vulnerable feelings are okay, that there is a place for them, and that it doesn’t hurt anyone on the outside when she makes me aware of them. I can be curious about what she is feeling without making her wrong. And once I know what the feelings are, we can work together to figure out what she needs. This can take some work, but I am up for it. And I am worth the effort it takes. I am anything but lazy, though from the outside I might be judged otherwise. That is why it is so important that I surround myself with people who share my values and worldview at least a large part of the time.
You are enough, I tell her. You no longer have to be better than anyone else. You can just show up. We have all the love and support we need. We are thin enough. We are attractive enough. We are smart enough. We work hard enough. We have plenty of money. We have enough time and resources to take care of ourselves, and I am committed to taking the time I need to stay adequately attuned to your vulnerable needs, preferences and potential. This may be the most important work of all. And then I make sure that my schedule is open enough to stay attuned to her needs and appreciate her contributions to my life. Some may call that selfish or lazy or irresponsible. I call it coming home to my fully embodied and integrated self; making my body a place where it feels good to be, where I truly belong.
I have been thinking about belonging, and the various points in my life when I felt I more or less belonged. At this particular phase where I live a rather secluded life due both to personal choice and the more recent COVID-19 pandemic, all of my attention is going toward taking care of my most basic needs, I set up my daily schedule so I can get all of that important self-care stuff in like I never have before. My house is set up so it can be as efficient as possible. If I didn’t make a concerted effort to do it, I assure you, it wouldn’t get done.
The quality of my life, of my future, depends on how well I meet my basic needs. This was also true when I was an infant. Like all infants, I had many needs and obviously a good many of them were met because I survived, right? I am here writing this blog post. But as I am getting more clear on my unmet infant needs now, my home was set up primarily to meet everyone else’s needs because either they were providing the income necessary to put a roof over our heads or because they were attending to one urgent emergency after another, juggling financial hardship and probably postpartum depression, leaving me not feeling particularly safe or cherished. The home was not set up to make sure that my unique needs were well met.
I have more clarity about this today because of a book I’m reading called Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, by Dr. Sue Johnson (a little hint as to what I was needing and not getting). The book’s basic premise can be summed up with an acronym, A.R.E., which stands for Accessible, Responsive, and Emotionally Engaged. The level of belonging I felt in my family of origin was directly proportionate to the degree to which I felt that my caretakers were accessible, responsive to my needs, and able to emotionally engage with me.
The quality of my relationships and my adult life have been a reflection of the absence of the accessibility, responsiveness and emotional engagement that nobody but me was even aware of. Through this lens, I can finally see what it was that caused me to create relationships where I did not feel connected or safe. And now that I am in the process of parenting myself well, I am experiencing what it feels like to be safe and connected, if only to myself. And it is with great joy and anticipation that I can say that I feel as though a whole new world awaits me. As a result of the ongoing dedication I have to caring for myself well, and books and other resources such as this, I am broadening my vocabulary, my capacity to experience new things interpersonally and educating myself about what is possible when we feel truly attuned to, and are accessible to our tender selves, responsive to our own needs, and committed to staying emotionally engaged with ourselves – uncomfortable emotions, vulnerable needs and all.
I see a very different life opening up for me, where the dialogue involves a whole lot of listening to and paying attention to what delights me (even if that sounds silly or selfish), and at the same time offering myself an environment that provides safety, along with the structure and tangible practicalities that are necessary to meet the more typically recognized needs like adequate rest, good enough hygiene, sufficient exercise, hydration, routines that ensure that my spiritual needs are met, human connection and remedial care that my body requires after a lifetime of neglect. A lifetime of not being sure that I was the kind of person who could get attuned to, responded to, and emotionally engaged with – at least with a parent or a primary partner. Holding it all together on the outside is a very different thing from feeling that sense of safety and true belonging on the inside that is a result of strong bonds and healthy intimate relationships, whether it is the mother-infant dyad or the couple who knows how to stay calm and listen and offer assurance when his or her partner is experiencing intense emotions or an automatic reflex that harks back to an earlier traumatic moment.
“…once distressed partners learn to hold each other tight, they continue reaching out to each other, trying to create these transforming and satisfying moments again and again. I believe that A.R.E. interactions turn on this neurochemical love potion honed by millions of years of evolution. Oxytocin seems to be nature’s way of promoting attachment.”
Over time it has become increasingly evident that prayer is the single most powerful tool in my toolbox. For me, there are three aspects to prayer: Gratitude, Asking, and Humility.
You might not think of the first, initially. So let’s look at GRATITUDE. I see gratitude as letting the powers – whatever they are – know that I have noticed and received the abundant gifts all around me. I accept! I delight in them; I take them in. I receive them; they are for me. I feel loved and grateful. I notice all manner of things, large and small, obvious and subtle; straightforward and quirky. These gifts are here, whether I notice them or not. I attribute them to a benevolent force more powerful than me. I let my thank yous flow free and abundant.
The second aspect of prayer is ASKING for what I want more of. Something that is not as easy as it sounds for many of us. Reaching for what our hearts desired was often shamed out of us as children, and it was not in our repertoire to believe that we were worthy of asking God for what we wanted. Therefore, we unlearned to naturally reach for what we wanted or put importance on developing a regular or clear sense of what we liked or preferred. Rather we learned to hope that if we were good enough (not greedy or selfish), God would reward us with all He thought we needed and that was the correct and proper way of it. Nor were we encouraged to know ourselves to understand what made us uniquely ourselves, and what made our unique hearts sing (beyond merely getting by). This is what we saw our parents doing too. I sometimes attribute this trait to my Puritan ancestors. Make no mistake, it is not normal or healthy; it is a form of intergenerational trauma. But I digress.
I now understand that for so many years my body was too bound up in defenses and unprocessed emotions to ask for what I wanted. And there was the issue of the missing skill set. That is what I am working on now. And I am making beautiful strides. This crucial step in growing one’s self up emotionally involves studying oneself and noticing when they like something. A smile creeps over your face. You feel lighter. You sense that your heart has been flung open. Or there might be a subtle putting down of defenses, a relaxing. A nod. And then taking that one step further, taking the risk to admit, I want more of that, please. Can you help me? For me, that is the third aspect of prayer: HUMILITY.
As I dedicate these days to studying myself, caring for myself and slowing way down in the heart of this COVID-19 quarantine, I think of The Serenity Prayer, which tells us to ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is such an important prayer to be praying at this time. Being confused about what we do and don’t have control of is something that might also have followed us from emotionally impoverished childhoods. It was developmentally appropriate at age seven to believe we had control of things we absolutely did not. Many of us learned that we should try to control things we had no business controlling – other people’s moods, feelings, opinions of us. And without proper role models or any other way to recognize these errors, we entered into adulthood with the toxic combination of unexamined shame and unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others: I am responsible for the bad things that are happening. I am responsible for your bad mood, etc. I should be doing something to fix this. And if I try harder to be what you need me to be, then I might be able to get what I so desperately need.
Wisdom often comes with maturity which comes not just from getting older, but from resolving trauma and releasing hurt from the past. It is what helps us know whether we should accept a thing or fight to change it. And whether it is ours to change.
My wish for you is that you learn to cultivate a prayer practice beginning with gratitude. Pray. Ask for what you want, even if you’re not sure what to ask for. Even when you can’t see how your heart’s desires could possibly be granted. Spend time thinking about what you would rather have. What you want more of, what would truly delight you. Go ahead. Make it detailed, and imagine what it feels, looks, tastes, smells and sounds like when you actually have what you have asked for. Write those things down because they matter.
You are an infinite being of light; one cell in the organism of humanity. And that organism needs you and me to be fully who we are, to choose for ourselves what we want. To reach for what makes us shine, what delights us, to bud and blossom into all of who we are, which necessitates kicking into self-care mode, fearless self-attunement. I do this now in order to coax out what I had deemed as my shadow before, but which is actually my Great Self.
Spirit, please let this time be the container I need to study, to know and to nurture my Great Self. Help me to appreciate and cherish Her. Help me to value Her above all else. Guide me so that I can be the person I came here to be, to contribute what the world needs most from me and can only get from me. Guide me so that I can find my way to my tribe, to feel that I belong. To share physical warmth, harmony and deep connection in a supportive family environment, to be part of a whole – a thing of great functional beauty. This family community is the one that gets to usher in a new version of modern life. A more sustainable one, connected to heart and filled with physical and emotional warmth, balance and beauty. Thank you, and so it is. Amen.
Thank you, Spirit, for putting me in a family of visionaries and healers. Three of the healers and visionaries who are inspiring me during this pandemic, who never cease to amaze me with the way they use their gifts and talents to make the world a better place, and serve as role models for me, also happen to be sisters. If you don’t already know them, allow me to introduce them to you:
Tracy Barnett inspires me endlessly in her tireless ability to see the bigger picture, to be an advocate for the planet, and for people who are on the front lines making strides toward not just environmental and economic sustainability but regenerative living. She has helped me to add flesh to the bones of my vision of what that kind of life might look and feel like, and that is such a priceless gift. She supports so many in telling their stories that would otherwise go untold. With her magnificent heart and her journalistic spirit, she shows us the world, and introduces us to change makers and wisdom holders. I hope you will check out her recent Patreon and learn more about Tracy at Esperanza Project.
I have had the great pleasure to witness the blossoming of Tami Brunk, Shamanic Astrologer, as she literally blossoms these past couple months. Quarantine for her prompted the call for a free Earth Sky Woman Summit, a gathering of enlightened women who shed their light and share gifts to help those of us who want to maximize this time of transition, or a portal into a profoundly changed post-pandemic world. That summit can be viewed here. Tami recently kicked off a brand new podcast which you can check out here. Tami’s knowledge of astrology and her ability to zero in on what is most important right now never fails to knock my socks off.
Trina Brunk continues to inspire me by doing her own sacred and beautiful work, to share on her own Patreon, and to offer SoulPath Sessions, Hypnotherapy, and EFT Support Groups. Not to mention inspiring music, kirtan, poetry and artwork. SoulPath is my favorite of her offerings, which powerfully and consistently help me connect with my spiritual supports, remove blocks to love that I didn’t even know were there, and blast through self-defeating patterns that have flown beneath the radar for so long. She is a wonder, and I don’t know what I would do without her.
I have immeasurable gratitude for these three during this time of great transformation and change. If you need inspiration on your journey of learning to better care for yourself and/or create a better future for yourself and the planet, I encourage you to check out their free offerings or dive deeper and get individualized attention you need to break out into a deeper, richer, more connected reality for yourself and those in your circle.
I’m heading to the border. Please read if you’d like to know the details, and how you can help.
These are not ordinary times.
Many of you already know me. I am an adventurous spirit with an itch to travel, a license to practice as a counselor and consultant with quite a bit of experience working with people who are struggling from one kind of trauma or another.
I am currently on a mission of the heart. Though I am from the Midwest USA I live in Guadalajara among kindhearted and welcoming Mexicans. Every time I tune in to the news and world events I am compelled to do something out of the ordinary. In October I went on a fact-finding mission to see how I might plug in there, and had a phenomenal response. So, in January I’m heading back. This time I’ll fly to Tucson, and then travel by bus to Hermosillo MX. I will be volunteering with Healing Days, an event in Tucson that happens every three months. And in Hermosillo I have been invited to do a talk about trauma and self care. I am continuing to build relationships with activists and healers at the border, with hopes of contributing to the effort, offering healing and reinforcement to the folks who are on the front lines, tirelessly providing care to refugees and others who are affected by the situation there.
In my experience, those who serve others are often less dedicated to making sure their own needs are well met. And since the bulk of the work I do now is with people in helping professions (clinicians, administrators, healers of various sorts), I plan to team up with an organization or two at the border where I can do some volunteer work with clinicians and/or people in service on the front lines who are in need of some personal support.
For me, these past few years have been about getting myself positioned to contribute more to issues I am passionate about. These trips to the border are only the beginning. I will keep you posted here.
Below I include the latest version of my winter 2020 tour. It will change as the days go by and things firm up.
Jan 23 – Arrive in Tucson
Jan 24-25 – Individual Sessions, Meetings with Friends
January 25 – Complex PTSD and Early Relational Trauma talk at Public Library
Jan 26 – Volunteer with Healing Days
Jan 27 – Leave for Hermosillo
Jan 28 – Red Tent Presentation – Anger and Using your emotions to achieve your heart’s desires
Jan 29 – Centro Zalzican – Complex PTSD and Early Relational Trauma
Jan 30-31 – Individual Sessions in Hermosillo
Feb 1 – Return to Guadalajara
I can easily craft talks about trauma in very basic terms, and the importance of trauma-informed care. I also can teach techniques for helping people who have just experienced a traumatic event to calm their nervous system down so they can think and attend to next steps. This can be learned by anybody for self use or helping others.
Summing it up, I am interested in providing appropriate, high-quality therapies, knowledge and techniques to people who might not otherwise get it. The kind of therapy I do is research-based, of the highest quality available for trauma. A lot can be done in a session or two, and even more if follow-up sessions are arranged via video. I will see English speaking service providers who are suffering physical symptoms that are likely due to secondary trauma and stress, or helpers who have diagnoses of PTSD/Trauma. I would also be open to seeing non English speakers if I can have appropriate interpretive support. Adequate support would necessarily be someone with a mental health background/pastoral experience.
If you have read this far, thank you. If you feel so moved, please send me some words of encouragement, pass the word to people you know in Tucson and others who are concerned about the humanitarian crisis at the border. I trust I will find just the right setting in which to plug in, but your well wishes and support mean a lot to me. The border is calling me, and there are still so many important people there I wish to meet.
I will be providing as much pro bono work as I can. But there may also be people who would like to schedule paid sessions with me. That income will help subsidize my volunteer work, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please pass the word. You don’t even have to be local. I offer EMDR Therapy via Internet, and I can receive payments via PayPal! Or if you feel like you would like to make a monetary contribution, it could help me expand my reach and the amount of trauma work I am able to do. I promise I would spend it wisely, always with the intention of maximizing my positive impact in the region and making a difference. My expenses will include the following:
Bus fare and Air fare.
Meals while I’m on the road.
Missed work while I am traveling.
Incidentals – small gifts and compensation for hosts, etc.
Toni Rahman is a trauma-informed practitioner, certified in EMDR, and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant, who can provide consultation toward EMDR certification. She is also trained in Advanced CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release and Hypnosis.
And the kicker, which is a combination of my conditioning and what my body instinctively knows: This really is a matter of life or death. I die either way. If I’m not attuned to or if I demand what I want/need. The ultimate double bind.
(As infants) “our most intimate sense of self is created in our minute-to-minute exchanges with our caregivers.” “Early attachment patterns create the inner maps that chart our relationships throughout life, not only in terms of what we expect from others, but also in terms of how much comfort and pleasure we can experience in their presence.”
Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score
I get to reach out for what I want. I am more of who I came here to be when I reach for what I want. I get connection that feels sweet to me. I get to have friends who give of themselves, who have skills, who do their emotional work. Doing without is not a virtue. Doing without is a way of shutting down and blocking the flow of good. Identifying with doing without is another form of anger, resentment and unfelt pain. God and I are on the same team. God tells me what I want and need by giving me emotional responses, which I can attune to, and learn from. I can be involved in this process. It isn’t some mysterious process that happens behind the scenes. If I stay in denial about my emotions and needs, I am telling myself that I am not worthy of my own care and attention. There is no reward for applying austerity measures in response to scarcity. I am totally worthy of the sweet stuff. Doing without is not what gets me what I should have had in the first place. Doing without is not what gets me what is already available and free for the taking: the really sweet stuff of life. The really sweet stuff of life is free. I am the one who gets to say what I like and what is sweet to me, in each moment. There is no should when it comes to my desires. I am completely worthy of pursuing my heart’s desires. Spirit is right behind me, encouraging me to reach for and satisfy exactly that. My heart’s desires are gifts, and I can attune to them, clarify them, and explore them. I am encouraged to act on my desires. I can be deeply satisfied even when I am reaching for other things I don’t yet have. Me being deeply satisfied hurts nobody! I can get what I want and need. I release the pain, frustration, anger, resentment, and terror of not being well-attuned to in infancy and childhood. I can let that go now.
These affirmations sprung out of my head after working with a client who shares my blocks around moving from scarcity to abundance.
The fear and pain and resentment that is trapped in a human body from infancy and childhood can be expressed in words. Once the words are stated, a part of oneself can feel seen, heard and validated. Once the feelings are acknowledged, they can actually be released.
Here are the emotions (not truths) expressed in words:
• If I do without (the sweet stuff – these profoundly necessary things: connection, being attuned to well, expression of my desires) I will be rewarded. • The real reward comes if I am self-disciplined and accept doing without (without complaining or being upset). • I will be rewarded with what I “really” need (what God thinks I need). • If I accept the lie and tell myself I’m not worthy – for some reason – of the sweet stuff in life, then I will subconsciously believe that doing without what I really want will get me what I should have; that I will be rewarded and that I will then be worthy. • Sacrificing gets me the good stuff, that I may or may not like or understand, but God knows better than me, so I’ll trust and accept that. • If I accept the other lie that what I really want is not a trustworthy or reliable gauge of what I should have, I’ll eventually get what I should have. • I can’t trust my desires, for sure. That will bring me unhappiness. • Acknowledging my desires and outwardly reaching for what I want is selfish and bad and will only result in unhappiness. • I will be punished if I act on my desires. • There will be serious negative consequences if my wants and needs are deeply satisfied. It will probably really hurt someone I love. • It is impossible for my wants and needs to be satisfied, so it’s an infernal waste of time to pursue that or focus on them. • This really is a matter of life or death. I die either way. • If I’m not attuned to or if I ask directly for what I want/need.
My new workbook is now available on Amazon! I’m so excited. You can get it here.
This course in a workbook will be your guide as you learn to
recognize and eliminate internal/self-abuse and become a better, more loving
parent to yourself. It offers a practical,
effective, research-supported framework including exercises to reduce the
intensity and duration of emotional flashbacks, a symptom of Complex Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) and unresolved early stress and trauma.
This course is designed to equip you with tools to use when
Often find yourself stuck in internal conflicts about what you want and where you are going.
Are sometimes so harsh and unrelenting with yourself that you cannot relax and enjoy what you have.
Find yourself getting triggered often or staying triggered for long periods of time.
Tap into your deepest potential by learning to focus your
attention. Dare to invest the time and
commitment that is necessary to replace old, worn-out strategies to avoid
feeling vulnerable and replace them with authenticity, integration and
health. Reconnect with your body’s
social engagement system by safely directing your compassionate attention
Get ready. You are about to learn how to calm your nervous system and experience what it feels like to be held in the safety and stability of the parents you never had.
I found reading Attached to be a tasty experience. So tasty in fact, that I read it again before putting it down. It was very much like eating a cookie. I raced through, devouring each crumb, excited to have found a book on attachment so easy to read; that the authors so clearly had researched and taken due diligence to present. I learned a great deal while reading it, not just enjoying each nibble, the richness of its texture and balance by myself, but I also shared and reflected with other people – therapist friends and relatives who were reading it alongside me. How exciting to see such a phenomenon as attachment come so fully onto the public stage in such a palatable form as this! And by the time I had read it twice, I felt myself changed somehow.
Since I am a psychotherapist,
I found that Attached gave me heart,
and a good many angles through which to enter the topic of relationships and help
my clients move toward deeper intimacy and satisfaction in theirs. Equipped with these tools and this knowledge it
is easier to emerge from past failures with a sense of hopefulness and courage
to try again.
I have always been intensely interested in relationships. Long before I became a social worker or a psychotherapist I was devouring literature on intimacy and connection. And as a person who has failed at relationships enough times to write ten books, I am especially grateful for Levine and Heller’s book. I believe that it provided exactly the right ingredients and precisely the right texture and crunch. I no longer identify as one of those poor, insecurely attached blokes who are not relationship material.
After finishing Attached for the second time and taking a separate, two-week webinar on attachment with my sister, and beginning to follow another phenomenal relationship, intimacy and dating expert, Ken Page, I can now say, with some certainty, that I am not as dysfunctional or broken as I previously thought. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that I have a predominantly secure attachment style. And yes, I was missing the cues that could have saved me so much time and heartache, had I come across this book decades ago.
What I’d like readers to know is that if they’ve failed at relationships, it may not be because they are jerks or incapable of empathy or are somehow broken. It’s because they are still acquiring the basic skills to recognize a healthy, life-affirming relationship and what it actually feels like to be in one.
The thing I find missing in virtually all of the popular approaches on dating and intimacy is the concept of the emotional flashback, which should not be confused with attachment style, though does contribute to many of the behaviors this book talks about.
As you learn and grow and partake of the popular literature, make sure that you don’t over-identify as an avoidant or ambivalent or disorganized person. What happens to me, and it may happen to you too, is that the prospect of new love, and the hope of connecting deeply is so moving and so tantalizing that I can lose my balance if I am not adequately caring for myself and tending to my important needs. Intimacy serves as a portal into our deepest wounds, for better or worse, and as we become more mature connoisseurs of sweets, we gain important tools and discernment about which desserts leave us with a belly ache and which ones actually leave us feeling stronger, more ourselves and deeply, truly satisfied.