“I’m unattractive & I Don’t Deserve Love”: Change Negative Beliefs with EMDR

By Scot Campbell from Charlotte, NC, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I have a few Negative Beliefs . . .

I did some dumb things in my teens. I backed the family car out of the driveway, into our neighbor’s car (which had exited his driveway a second ahead of mine). I waited tables at a church banquet and spilled iced tea down the back of a well-dressed Sunday school teacher. I sat at the piano in complete paralysis, unable to remember an entire section of my Chopin Polonaise as the audience waited . . .

When I think of this chain of horrors, I want to hide and disintegrate into the soil, never to be seen again. I feel like . . . I’m a failure; I’m a disappointment.

Those two beliefs, until pretty recently, dominated my life. I never fully relaxed for fear I might bomb another important event, thus reinforcing my status as a disappointer.

Negative Beliefs sound like . . .

I’m not (good) enough.

I’m unworthy.

It’s my fault.

I’m a bad person.

I’m unsafe.

I can’t trust.

I’m insignificant.

These beliefs come from adverse experiences, especially repeated ones that happened when we were very young. The traumatized brain grabs these explanations – unless someone helps us understand and talk about what happened. So maybe your logical, adult self knows that these are false . . . but the emotional or child part of you FEELS they are true anyway.

Maybe you have old Negative Beliefs that could be interfering with your life now.

So, when you think of your worst problem  . . . the thing that causes you the most grief and heartache and anxiety:

  1. What does it look like?
  2. How does it feel when you think of it?
  3. Where do you notice that emotion in your body?
  4. What does it mean about you? . . .

There it is.

EMDR targets those old ways of viewing and experiencing our selves. It causes us to reprocess, or metabolize, old information that once got stuck in traumatic form in our bodies and it lets new information replace it.

I do the best I can.

I did the best I could.

I’m okay now.

I’m good enough.

I’m enough as I am.

I’m a good person.

I’m beautiful and I deserve love.

 

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Transition and EMDR: No such thing as a wrong turn.

 

By Khunkay (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Spring brings rebirth and color and joy. It also brings pollen, tornadoes, and allergies. My life transitions like the seasons, and even though it scares the crap out of me, I know it’s a good thing.

Something gets stale, stuck, or sour and I know it’s time to think differently. I get an urge to do something – an urge I ignore at my own peril. If I ignore my urge, the message of my higher self, I tend to get sick or depressed. EMDR helps me clear the cognitive clutter and make a change.

Maybe I need to:

Cut my hair

Nurture a child (fur baby or human)

Say yes to a trip

Leave a job

Leave a relationship

Lose my religion

Seek the company of a certain friend

Start a new venture

Get rid of things I’m not using

Change my behavior in relation to someone

Change my behavior in relation to myself

Get into therapy

Complete something I’ve postponed

Abandon a task I thought was essential

Trade couches with someone

Grieve and let go of an old belief that blocks me from growing

There’s always a reason for the urge. It comes from a place I can trust.

Over the years, I’ve learned these transitions always pay off in joy and growth and prosperity, even when it feels like I’m being shoved through a revolving door and lose my shoe. In fact, even when others disapprove of my change, I grow and my life gets better. I have no regrets for any of the detours or U-turns or shocking, hair-spiking, neon-sign-wearing changes I’ve made. Through EMDR, I’ve learned to pay closer attention to how my higher self talks to me, how transition shows up, and how I can allow it.

There’s no mistake, only my path. I welcome the change.

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EMDR, Worry, & Letting Go

Holding On & Letting Go

You know, that feeling where you remind yourself to worry? Lately, I catch myself holding certain issues with a death grip; things I can’t control.

  • My loved-one’s health habits.
  • The world’s poverty and greed.
  • Our mass addictions to technology.
  • Someone else’s parenting failures.
  • My child’s future direction.

I catch myself thinking about these things and literally not breathing.

  • What people think when I don’t call them right back or answer texts on Saturday.

Yet, I realize that clutching worries as if they were mine to command only keeps me cramped. The death grip is a self-punishing illusion. I can only take care of me.

  • What really happens to all those used plastic Keurig cups?

EMDR, Bilateral Stimulation, and Letting Go

By Olivier2000 at French Wikipedia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the olden days, therapists had to convince you it would save your life to relax. Now, with EMDR, your own nervous system pushes through all the information standing between you and peace. You get there . . . sometimes with lightning speed.

Even so, between EMDR sessions, I need tools. My higher self knows it’s okay to let go, get calm, and expect good things. These steps make that happen.

  1. Take a few deep breaths. Read about why this helps.
  2. Notice the beginning signs that these issues are floating away: a feeling of warmth, a slowing of my heart-rate, a change in my breathing.
  3. Repeat the phrase, “All is in divine order,” or “Everything is already okay.” (That second one comes from a principal of a Dallas high school where I worked in the 90s . . . he said it every morning over the PA system, followed with one minute of Mozart as students settled into first period classes.)
  4. Give myself some bilateral stimulation: Tap the sides of my knees or head (at the temples), alternately, while saying something like this:

“Even though I’m worried my anxiety is rubbing off on my child, I know I’m still a good person and I know we can deal with it.”

“Even though I feel uptight when I notice racism being stirred in our country – I know it’s okay for me to relax. I know that love prevails.”

  1. Focus on something beautiful for 30 seconds while tapping.

Everything really is already okay.

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Ready to Receive: A Valentine’s Mindset

I just learned something: getting more of what we want happens when we shift into the right mindset to receive . . . Receiving Mode. We want intimacy, creativity, close friendships, satisfying work, a healthy family . . . a healthy community, nation, and world. Receiving Mode allows us to draw the right people, situations, and energy to us, creating the opportunities and relationships that ring all our bells and generate happiness all around us. Life is chock full of miracles and love.

I sort of knew this part. But I forgot, in the heart-stomping of this historical moment.

Here’s what I just learned: we practice Receiving Mode by getting a scalp massage. When we spend time in Receiving Mode, doing easy, our feet in the grass – our faces to the sunshine, we get ready to receive. As we get ready, those happy outcomes, love, beauty, friends, and even money, flow naturally toward us.

So in honor of St. Valentine, patron saint of happy couples, I make a new kind of to-do list, to get us ready to receive love.

  1. Get a pedicure (doing this right now).
  2. Go outside and breathe.
  3. Meditate 10 minutes before bedtime.
  4. Walk for pleasure in a beautiful place.
  5. Sit with our furry friends.
  6. Get some EMDR therapy.
  7. Do nothing. Stretch. Do more of nothing.
  8. Stare at the moon and know it’s a personal gift.
  9. Do a little yoga.
  10. Get out the watercolors and mix a new shade.
  11. Close our eyes and listen to Mendelssohn.
  12. Make a list of our favorite people.

Get ready to receive your heart’s desire. Even if you can’t see it now. Get ready. It’s coming. You are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Transform Holiday Stress into Mindful Rest & Giving

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mindful holiday rest

Until recently, I resented the holidays. As in, Already???? We just did this, right? Except the years when my son believed in Santa and we put together tricycles and trains, after his bedtime, under the synthetic Douglas Fir, I got a sinking anxious dread just before Thanksgiving that let up after January first. Holiday stress separated me from myself, and everyone else.

I think it came from the following factors.

  1. Pressure, everywhere, to be gleeful: to clink champagne glasses, sing carols, bake things, throw parties, and wrap the house in colored lights.
  2. Reminders of loved ones from whom I’m disconnected, including my dad who got himself banished from family holidays for bad behavior.
  3. A sense that I should be experiencing something mystical and life-altering.
  4. Consumption and constant images of consumption that begin as soon as jack-o-lanterns are thrown away and continue until time for hearts and dark chocolate.
  5. The glaring contrast between the Lexus commercials and the young woman standing on a street corner begging for food money in 30-degree weather.

Last year, I decided to accept this about myself, rather than force a false cheer. I pared down. I hung one sparkly star on our front door, forgoing the wreaths and my ceramic tree collection. I said yes to only the most sacred holiday gatherings. I wrote about how weird and separate I felt. I also asked friends and family to donate to charitable organizations instead of our lavishing each other with things none of us needed.

And something unexpected happened . . .

In the midst of the gloom, which I allowed myself to feel without any self-judgment, little sparks of joy appeared. A simple candle and some homemade bread, cozy at home with family. With lowered expectations for gaiety, I felt satisfied, warm, and thankful for my inner circle. And with some of my attention turned outward, to the needs of the wider world, I felt more connected to the universe.

Turn dread into mindfulness.

If you’re someone who hates the holidays, try on this list of suggestions to see if your mood lifts and your perspective changes, just a bit.

  1. Look for ways to give that really count. Find charities that you can endorse and ask family members to give to them, in lieu of your new bathrobe. Here’s a collection to get you started.

http://www.thekitcheninc.org/our-programs/rare-breed-youth-outreach-center

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

https://www.nrdc.org/

http://refugeerights.org/donate/

http://www.naacpldf.org/

  1. Write about your holiday distress. Putting emotion and story on paper will both help you clarify the roots of your blah mood and improve your immune functioning through the winter months.
  2. Do less. Only go to the events you find most satisfying. Spend more time resting. Limit your decorating, socializing, and gift-giving to a few simple things. Tell loved ones you’re putting bounds around your busyness and consumption.
  3. Spend time in quietude. Turn off the holiday music, the news, the movies, and listen to your own thoughts for a while. Just notice them and let them go. Pay attention to emotions and let them move through you.
  4. Consider EMDR therapy to target bad feelings associated with the season. If your childhood holidays meant disappointment, separation from a parent, or heightened family stress, you may need to reprocess those memories and reclaim some present-day joy.

If these suggestions don’t help you feel better, just be where you are. Feel what you feel. Observe yourself without judgment. You’re enough, just as you are.

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Once Upon a Time: Repression and Learning to Say No

Once upon a time, I learned repression.

Once upon a time, I learned repression.

Repression: I once knew what this was and then I forgot.

Last weekend, I attended the EMDRIA conference in Minneapolis where physician, Gabor Maté, spoke about the connections between trauma, emotional repression, and disease. He told the story of his Jewish infant self, crying all the time, in Hungary, 1944, just before the Nazi invasion. He quickly learned to negate his own childhood needs in order to protect his mother from further stress. Maté’s book, “When the Body Says No,” tells about the emotional coping styles we learn as children – and how they become precursors to adult diseases. Here’s an excerpt.

Repression, the inability to say no and a lack of awareness of one’s anger make it much more likely that a person  will find herself in situations where her emotions are unexpressed, her needs are ignored and her gentleness is  exploited. Those situations are stress inducing, whether or not the person is conscious of being stressed.

I came home and bought all Maté’s books, so I could read about my two selves . . . the child version that, long, long ago, learned to cope through repression (who put her difficult feelings into lidded jars and set them on a high shelf to collect dust); and the adult version that survived cancer.

Anger & Repression & No . . . just No

Maté reviews the mountain of research that’s been done since I first studied women’s anger. He reads obituaries and tells stories about his work and interviews with dying patients . . . people with breast cancer, ALS, and other life-threatening diseases. This passage captures his premise:

                    Emotional experiences are translated into potentially damaging biological events when human beings                                           are prevented from learning how to express their feelings effectively. That learning occurs –or fails to occur – during childhood.

Bottom line: these patients repress their true feelings most of the time.

If you grew up in a fundamentalist religious group, I have no doubt you learned to repress your true feelings in favor of what someone wanted you to feel or be. I once got scammed while making change in my college retail job because I didn’t want to be a disappointing Christian young lady and hurt the perp’s feelings. Just . . . NO.

Once Upon a Time: I forgot how to say no.

Once Upon a Time: I forgot how to say no.

Repression & Dissociation in Everyday Life

Here’s how it looks. I have stress, but dissociate (cut off) from my stress. You have anger, but stay out-of-touch with it. You have anxiety, but distract from your true feelings. I may be grieving the loss of my father, but not shedding tears, just desperately trying to save a friend from his addiction. I may be furious at how women are objectified in this world, yet only aware that I feel old and unattractive. You may be afraid of being alone and unloved in the future, but only know you’re driven to work harder, be fitter, and produce more now.

How do you dissociate from the reality of the moment? (e.g., food, alcohol, work). How do you repress pain? (e.g., humor, obsessive thoughts about your body). With whom do you avoid saying no? (e.g., your mate, your boss, your mother). What do you use to distract from the real pain at your core? (e.g., religion, politics, shopping, talking). What ingenious strategies did you develop as a kid that keep you shielded from what you really feel?

These are all the same question.

Now, where in your body does the physical impact live?

How to deal? For me, writing draws out hidden feelings. When I write, I connect with the serious little girl who forgot how to say no and, instead, left her instincts in sealed jars.* I move abstract emotion out of storage and into the realm of paper and ink where it can be touched and smelled and targeted with EMDR. Also, regular, focused exercise helps me stay attuned to my body/mind, so I’m more likely to feel No and say No when I need to.

*Once upon a time, you did this too.

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Notice Body-Mind Connections and Heal from Trauma

Bone Flowers Deck, Luca Barberini, 2010, http://lucabarberini.com/en/home

Bone Flowers Deck, Luca Barberini, 2010, http://lucabarberini.com/en/home

I used to fall a lot. On the sidewalk. In my yard. Up a flight of marble stairs. About seven years ago, after a string of bizarre falls where I ended up with scars on my shins and a pulled muscle in my back, I followed the trail of breadcrumbs and made a body-mind connection. It went like this.

  1. I have contact with a mean or narcissistic person.
  2. I feel “off balance.”
  3. I trip on my own feet or a tree root or a rock in the driveway and land on my hip or my hands.
  4. I hurt myself and also feel humiliated.
  5. I immediately recall the bullying individual from #1.

At first, when I told my doctor about this, I felt sheepish. I didn’t want to blame my clumsiness on someone else (and I didn’t want her to think I’d had a stroke). But as I told my story, I caught sight of my patient me, as if through my doctor’s eyes, apologizing for the link I’d made between mean people and my having accidents. I thought of other patients in her office, recalling what they’d eaten or where they’d been just before a medical event, and I started to feel some compassion for myself. She’s not a shrink, but my doctor understands how our emotional and medical lives intertwine. I am a shrink, and I’ll tell you, they are one and the same.

Luca Barberini, 2015

Portrait from Photo, Luca Barberini, 2015

 

Maybe it’s okay to notice the weird connections between things. Not just the physical things, but the emotional things too.

“But I don’t want to be unfair.”

I get it. But there’s a difference between blame and etiology. Just because you track the origins of your anxiety or your over-drinking doesn’t mean you need restitution from the person(s) involved.

Or maybe you do. But that’s another conversation…

Maybe you’re afraid to see how your panic attacks started in a relationship. But it’s just human and normal and natural to want to UNDERSTAND. How did I get here? What is my body telling me?

As distinguished traumatologist, Bessel van der Kolk, writes in his book, “The Body Keeps the Score,” trauma disrupts our ability to notice what we feel in our bodies – yet this interoceptive awareness is the first step in becoming more able to stay safe and meet our physical and emotional needs.

So I want to remind you  . . . it’s okay to notice meanness or boneheadedness or emotional invasion. It’s okay to notice how hearing a particular teacher or minister or political figure gives you a nauseated chill. It doesn’t make you petty or shallow to see how contact with your mother leads to a migraine or makes you sluggish or gives you erectile dysfunction. It doesn’t make you a whiner to notice you feel lonely and you crave sugar after a conversation with a certain friend. Noticing means you’re awake. It means you can detect traces of a trauma (past or present). Not-noticing means you’re in some way asleep to your experience.

So as long as you’re awake . . . I invite you to notice. Take inventory of your strange symptoms. Notice any pain or discomfort or numbness in your body. See if you can trace it back in time. Notice the picture in your mind. Write about it. Then, read about how EMDR can help you clarify the connections between things, and get resolution on bad experiences you’ve had.

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Food=Love: Attachment Trauma & Eating Problems

Food, Love, Attachment

Food, Love, Attachment

Food, Love, and Attachment Trauma

Eating is fraught with complications these days. I’m not a nutritionist, but I work with people who have food issues….People who binge and then feel ashamed and worthless, people who starve and then binge, and people who eat mindlessly as a de-stressor (this was me, last weekend…on a road trip…with a bag of oatmeal-raisin cookies). Some of us who are most afraid of food develop eating disorders. Some of us just wish we could manage our food intake more consistently.

Over the hundreds of hours I’ve spent with clients who struggle with food, I’ve noticed a pattern. People with the most serious food problems distrust food and distrust themselves for needing it.

Here’s my theory…

Eating Problems are about ATTACHMENT.

Or more precisely, ATTACHMENT TRAUMA. That is, a breach in the safety of our earliest attachment moments – which probably involves feeding, to one degree or another.

When we’re born, the very first things that happen to us, or that should happen to us, involve being held and fed. We babies know instinctively that we must have the loving, nurturing presence of our mothers if we are to survive.

Food, Love, Attachment

Food, Love, Attachment: Our eating attitudes get set here.

If our mothers are calm, safe, and responsive – and if we get our little bellies filled consistently, we learn to trust that food is plentiful, available, and that we need only signal our hunger and we’ll be fed, loved, and accepted completely as we are. This is a lot to pack into one feeding scenario, but it’s all there. I’m hungry, my mother notices this and takes care of me, so it must be normal and okay for me to NEED.

But if our mothers are distracted, sad, sick, depressed, anxious, or otherwise compromised, this sweet picture looks very different. Instead, we signal (cry) and the response is delayed or nonexistent – or maybe fraught with negative energy (fear, grief, or anger). Think of refugee mothers here. Think of mothers who don’t have enough resources to feed themselves or their babies. Think of mothers who are abused or otherwise unsafe.

Food, Love, Attachment

Food, Love, Attachment

As babies, we feel all of this. We know all of this…but we have no tools or language to make sense of it. The situation becomes coded in our bodies as implicit memory, an emotional state that has no words. This makes it powerful and difficult to identify. On some level, we feel:

  1. I am bad, unlovable, or wrong for needing. I’m alone.
  2. Food is scarce or scary or too important to be trusted.
  3. I can’t count on food or love to be there when I need it. So I better not need it. Or I better grab all I can get while it’s in front of me.

This is attachment trauma. And it’s how eating problems start. AT THE VERY BEGINNING. (Now, when I ask you about your birth, you’ll know why).

Lest you think I’m blaming your mom for how you eat, just consider what was happening to her and around her when you came into the world. Get the story. Take notes. Look at photographs. Ponder her emotional states. And then picture yourself there, as a tiny infant, a bundle of need.

All is not lost though. You may have the symptoms of a full-blown eating disorder. Yes, this problem was set into motion forty years ago. But we have the tools to heal it now. And if your mother wants to join us, all the better. EMDR repairs attachment trauma and helps the nervous system rewire itself for mindfulness and healthy eating. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about how EMDR can help you resolve the earliest trauma and move forward into a healthier lifestyle.

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Differentiate and Help your Parents Grow Up.

Differentiation is Growth.

Differentiation is Growth.

Depression and Stuckness

Lately, my fifteen-year-old tells me I am too rigid and he no longer believes in anything I believe in. It makes me a little weepy to hear this, but it challenges me to let go of my pre-planned images of how he would grow up. If I tried too hard to control his views, he’d just have to pull harder the other way. Differentiation is how we grow and stay engaged with life.

Depressed people tend to be bored people. Even if they are too busy with urgent responsibilities. I notice that depressed people quietly adhere to ideologies they’ve long since outgrown. They say, I could never… Yet, they show signs they desperately want to break free. Since they’re not at liberty to voice these longings, they do other things to rebel, like eat too much or lose important jobs.

Being stuck in our parents’ way of thinking restricts our growth…which is depressing.

Differentiation of Self

Each successive generation sees a bit further down the road than its parents. That makes us evolve as a society and as a global community. The fact that children become adolescents who say, Just let me be my own person! shows how forcefully the maturation process unfolds us and our children into the future and changes how we eat, drive, and talk. We live in constant change.

Change pulls us out of the funk and keeps life interesting.

Differentiation of Self happens normally as a child grows up, says No, becomes aware of her preferences, and bonds with an adult partner to form a new family. It keeps the species moving forward, which is healthy. The alternative is enmeshment, which feels like mental quicksand (think of people you’ve known who lived in their parents’ basements until they were thirty-five). Differentiation keeps us maturing into the people we were meant to be.

So if you struggle with breaking free of your family’s dysfunction, remember that your differentiation can help your parents grow up too. You, pulling in your own direction, forces your parents to mature – even if they don’t want to. Your misbehavior therapizes your family in an unexpected way, even if they go kicking and screaming into the more healthy future.

It’s all good.

I suggest these ideas for your emotional travel (growth) and for offering a hand to your folks who may see the ship disembarking and secretly wish to come along.

Misbehavior is Growth.

Misbehavior is Growth.

  1. Read banned books.
  2. Talk openly about your evolving spirituality (even if it’s no longer believing in anything).
  3. Disagree out loud.
  4. Make friends with people ethnically dissimilar, especially if they make you a little uncomfortable.
  5. Vote differently from your family. Tell them about it.
  6. Consider making your sex life different in some way (this, you can keep to yourself.).
  7. Go back to school. Study something opposite your current field.
  8. Read about philosophy.
  9. Take an art class.
  10. Give away stuff you don’t use.
  11. Take a trip and don’t tell your parents.
  12. Change something about your diet.
  13. Get a tattoo.
  14. Make a wardrobe change: experiment with clothes that feel more fun to wear.
  15. Learn to write naughty poems.
  16. Get some EMDR focused on staying true to yourself while in the presence of your family.

When the subject arises, embrace the chance to un-closet your changing self. (Do I always embrace the chance to un-closet? No, but I hold it as an intention.) If you block your misbehavior and maturity to keep your parents unruffled, you do so at the peril of your mental health. And you rob your parents of the chance to know who you really are. Your acting out might inspire them to do the same. (Picture your mother getting a tattoo or taking a lover.). Remember, one person’s evolution matures everybody around them a bit, even if it’s shocking and painful or fraught with disagreement.

Evolution lifts you out of depression by feeding your brain with new ideas. It propels you into things not yet imagined…the life you were meant to live.

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Managing the Mirrors: How to Stay Calm When the World is in Chaos

 

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People ask me, “How do you do what you do and stay calm? How do you not go crazy with all the stories you absorb from people who are hurting?”

I say, “Sometimes I do go crazy.” I’m not immune to people’s stress and it can make me crazy tired…..Which is why I have to limit my intake and do a bunch of other self-preserving things to calm myself and make sure I’m rested and ready to listen again each Monday.

We all have mirror neurons that allow us to empathize with each other and even mimic each other’s behavior. With mirror neurons, we literally pull people’s pain (and joy and dance moves and fashion sense) into our own nervous systems. Children do this automatically with their parents: we feel the stress and impact of our parents’ emotional lives, as if it were our own.

To deal with all the flashing internal empathy mirrors, I have to be mindful of my intake, deliberate about my self-care, and awake to what I need at all times.

If I’m not mindful, deliberate, and awake…..I get sick from too much mirroring.

Here’s a partial list of ways I (sometimes) accomplish mindfulness, deliberateness, wakefulness. Consider it a work-in-progress. I learn more about calming and self-care every day.

  1. I have to move, every day: A walk or a cardio class or a yoga session. Movement lets me metabolize information and it prevents depression.
  2. Some of my favorite people tell me they can go on three hours of sleep and a few cups of coffee, but I still need a good eight hours every night. Sleep probably helps us process information. When I’m taking in lots of new stories and ideas, I need more mattress time.
  3. Art (visual) and Music. Colors and shapes and notes create a kind of medicine for me. I need them like I need to eat greens. I need to see, hear, and make them myself. I need to surround myself with people who work in textures and tones. I need Bach and the comingling of magenta and lime.
  4. Although it feels like a chore at first, I need to write something in my journal every morning. If I skip this, I pay.
  5. My Own Therapy. I get my own EMDR therapy, to help me sort and utilize all the incoming data that can seem so cruel and disconnected. Like many of you who work with people, I’m exposed to a steady stream of Type II Trauma (little t trauma) in the experiences of others. Just watching the news leaves me with enough material to fill an entire therapy session. This stuff has to go somewhere. EMDR helps clear the sidewalks of my brain, so I can move about again.

I hope this list gets you started on your own self-preservation journey. I’ll be back with more…..Because we need you in this world. We need your clear heart and mind. We need your calm spirit. We need your ideas and generosity. We need you to care for your body and soul, so there’s more of your goodness available to the world.

 

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about caring for and protecting yourself in this complicated world.