Find Your G-Spot: Healthy versus Coercive Guilt

Find Your G-Spot

Find Your G-Spot

 

My clients report LOTS of guilt. Guilt over everything . . . being a rebellious teen (thirty years ago) . . . failing to protect their children from unforeseen tragedies . . . eating desserts . . . not living up to their potential . . . breaking someone’s heart . . . flying into rages . . . majoring in business instead of art. Some of this is healthy guilt. Most of it is coercive guilt.

It’s my fault: . . . I’m not more successful.

My dad died too young.

My parents split up.

My mother stayed in bed all the time.

My brother has so much trouble.

My husband doesn’t want me.

We had to file bankruptcy.

We lost the baby.

 Sometimes I try to argue with them. So, a five-year-old kid could cause his parents to divorce? So, you’re supposed to put your young life on hold to make sure your dad doesn’t die – even though he’s trashed his body and chased away his loved ones?

 Talk therapy only gets us so far: countering this kind of guilt with words is only partially helpful. We need the power-washer of EMDR to clean out old trauma channels in the brain that hold residue from our history and hold back the forward progress of our thinking.

But sometimes guilt is good. And we need to know the difference between guilt that helps versus guilt that hurts.

Healthy Guilt

Healthy Guilt steers us in the direction of becoming kinder, more responsible, more empathic, and more helpful. Guilt is good if it makes us better.

I wish I had not insulted his masculinity.

I wish I had handled my children more gently.

I could have helped that woman down the street with her car.

I should give more to charity.

Healthy Guilt brings awareness and changes our behavior in the future. It notices and then lets go. It illuminates a path not taken and creates experiential learning. It says: I’m human, I’m imperfect, and I’m learning. I believe Healthy Guilt comes from the higher self in connection with divine love.

But if it hangs on, keeps us awake at night, or paralyzes our ability to feel joy or to take action, guilt has morphed from healthy to coercive.

Coercive Guilt

Coercion involves force or threats – direct or indirect. So Coercive Guilt comes from some experience (past or present) in which we were induced to feel bad about ourselves for disappointing someone else. Coercive Guilt steers us toward depression, rigidity, anxiety, and less enjoyment of life. Coercive Guilt gets passed down the line, creating anxiety for younger generations. Guilt is bad if it is used to coerce others or make ourselves sick. Guilt is bad if it hangs on in spite of our changes, our apologies, our restitutions. Coercive Guilt comes from an outside influence that says we’ll never be enough, no matter how hard we work or how much we deny ourselves.

Coercive Guilt activates false family-of-origin beliefs.

  1. I’m a bad person.
  2. I make people angry, sad.
  3. I don’t give enough.
  4. I’m selfish and ungrateful.
  5. People who move far away from family are selfish and cold.
  6. If I take care of myself, I can’t be good (enough) to others.
  7. If I speak my truth, I will hurt people (and that would be bad).
  8. If I do what’s in my own best interest, I will have failed someone else.
  9. I should have known better. I should have seen it before.
  10. I’m not enough.

I wonder how the world would change if we all began to shed our coercive guilt. I wonder what would happen if we wrote about where it all started, how it’s limited our life adventures, and what we’d love to do if we weren’t so guilty.

Contact me if you’d like to target your Coercive Guilt with EMDR therapy or talk about re-writing your life story without all the apologies.

Contact Deborah

 

 

Trauma Therapy: How Healthy Rebellion Uses Anger to Heal

Healthy Rebellion, Part II: Can anger make you smarter?

There’ve been two Me’s in my life. My friends from high school only know the Deborah Before Trauma Recovery. This Deborah smiled too much and allowed herself to be manipulated. She tried too hard to be sweet because she thought it was her role in life (you know, the whole submissive woman thing). She tried not to know things that would force her to be angry or assertive.

Trauma_Therapy_and_Healthy_Rebellion_in_Springfield_MO

 

Now, there’s Deborah After Trauma Recovery. (Yes, I still have work to do.) Look at my 49 years and you’ll see a dramatic change at around 27…the point where I started to heal…and the point where I started to get pissed off.

Before therapy, I stayed confused. I drifted off when someone gave me directions. I got sleepy and unfocused around my family. I had trouble solving logistical problems. I could barely read without getting distracted and zoning out. I knew my thoughts were deep and creative, but I had so little access to them. It was like searching in a grassy field for one’s car keys.

Enter Dr. Larry Campbell…or Saint Larry, as my husband calls him. My first real therapist, back in Dallas. My first session with Larry, in 1993, marks the start of my rebellion and my healing.

It felt radical. An intelligent man, listening to me. Larry said…

“You experienced abuse.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, of course you’re angry.”

Being heard and believed inspired me to write. Feeling supported allowed me to think through the details of things. And getting to know my anger changed my whole life.

Nobody wants to be an angry person. But anger helps us see injustice for what it is. Anger fuels resistance when resistance is called for. Anger shines light on our own needs – or the needs of our children. It generates the juice to help us act. It motivates hard work and radical creativity. It clears the weeds so we can see the flowers growing underneath.

Healthy Rebellion Involves some Anger. And that’s okay.

Exercise: List all the things that annoy you right now. Bad traffic, noisy neighbors, high interest credit card debt, your mother-in-law’s guilt trips. Put a star by the top three – the ones that are most aggravating. Write a paragraph about each of those three. Pay attention to details. What happens as you remember specific scenes?

You may have something in your history that calls for righteous anger: abuse, manipulation, deprivation, or sabotage. Maybe you think, That’s not trauma. That’s just life. Okay, that’s fine. Let’s call it, Just Life. Notice how you feel when you think about the worst moments. Who made you feel intimidated or inadequate?

Consider the rebellious act of putting these memories on paper. Just write a few of them for now. Tell the truth to your page. Notice the texture of your feelings as you tell the whole rebellious truth.

This Happened To Me…

He told me I was worthless.

She humiliated me in front of my friends.

They bullied me.

He cheated on me – just days before our wedding.

She just stopped talking to me.

As you allow anger to help you rebel, you get more honest. You know more. You see the details of things. You pay attention differently. You get back lost energy. You focus on the important points. You sleep better. You get calmer. You have creative bursts…And soon, you don’t have to be angry anymore, because you’ve moved on. And you get to keep the good stuff.

Yes, healthy anger makes you smarter. Trauma therapy can help you mine the richness of that emotion and channel it to your advantage. Let’s talk about it sometime.

For more blog posts about this topic, check out these links:

Contact Deborah

 

Stages of Spiritual Development: Rebellion Saves Lives

Rebellion Saves Lives: How acts of disobedience preserve the real you.

I loathe meetings. Most meetings bore the crap out of me and make me want to stand up and scream. Several years ago, when I worked as a university professor, I rebelled and stopped going to departmental faculty meetings. I did this out of principle and self preservation. My department housed a handful of bullies who made it their pet project to stop my creative work and shame me publicly. They dissed everybody, but especially me. So my rebellion protected me from the weekly dose of political poison that had been making me sick.

I got in trouble with the dean. I promised to take on more work than was my fair share, if only I could stay away from those toxic meetings. He didn’t understand. He tried to coerce me back into the room, every Tuesday for at least two hours, with people who wanted me to fail or die or disappear. I tried to comply. But every meeting brought some sickness: a spasm in my back, a serious fall, pneumonia that would not clear…

To sum up a long story, I quit. I walked away from a tenured position and a regular paycheck. I could no longer be true to myself and function in that environment. Friends and colleagues gasped in astonishment. “You did what????” they said.

“I did what had to be done.”

…I saved my life. When I try to imagine what it would’ve been like to comply with the college dean, I get knots in my stomach and I start to hyperventilate. At the very least, I saved my soul and my spinal column.

Keep the rebellion front and center. You need it to survive.

Think for a moment about the opposite, obedience. What does obedience mean to you? What emotions does it conjure? For me, obedience evokes tension, a sense of anger mingled with shame, a cocktail of disappointed looks and the need to hide or be perfect. Obedience makes me want to fight back or stray or run far away. Obedient servant. Obedient child. Obey your parents, your master, the law of the land. Conform to the wishes of someone in authority. Resist your urges, your impulses. Sacrifice your needs. Suppress your feelings and your unruly ideas.

Okay, I know. Civilized society requires some mutual agreement to obey the rules. I get that. Some following, some suppression. I’m glad my fellow drivers stop at red lights. And I’m not talking about anything mean or morally corrupt. Nothing destructive or cowardly. Nothing underhanded or dishonest.

I mean the kind of nuanced rebellion that helps you survive your situation. The kind of disobedience that forces you to grow. Rebellion as an act of faith. Disobedience as a form of prayer. Misbehavior as meditation. Intentional. Bold. Unscripted.

Let go the sacred cow. Unbridle your crazy notions. Speak the unspeakable. Walk away from destructive forces. Turn the dining room into your art studio. Take a leap and quit your boring job. Take boxing lessons. Say NO to meetings that give you cramps.

For more blog posts about how Healthy Rebellion helps you take steps to positive stages of spiritual development, click here:

If you have questions about my pathway for helping you, please contact me or call me today at 417-886-8262.

Contact Deborah

Springfield, MO Psychologist: Disobey Your Mother to Survive

Healthy Rebellion, Part 2: Why You Must Disobey Your Mother if you Want to Survive

I am a Springfield, MO Psychologist and published author. But, I am also a mother. I get it. Mothers create structure and nurture. We tell you what to do. We train, disapprove, lecture, and reward. Because we adore you. Because it’s our job. But at some point, our love becomes smothering and what was appropriate when you were two turns into nightmarish over-control when you are ten or fifteen. And what kept you safe at fifteen robs you of your life at thirty.

Everyone must differentiate from mother: even your mother must differentiate from mother.

Maybe you find yourself editing your thoughts or ideas when your mother is around. Maybe you limit yourself physically, socially, or intellectually when you’re with her. Or maybe you take a little guilt trip when you think of her? Alone in her house with the phone not ringing?

…and maybe you feel depressed or ashamed

…and maybe you have a hard time enjoying yourself if you think she’s not okay

…and maybe you say, I could never move away because what would she do?

Blame this dilemma on some big forces. Religion and commerce deface the idea of Mother: http://www.mothersmovement.org/books/reviews/mommy_myth.htm

They teach us to treat mothering as both a shopping imperative and a life-long martyrdom, a sacred role, a covenant, a debt to be repaid. She gave us life, so we owe her everything. Which of course means we must be loyal and sweet and give her perfect grandchildren.

In reality, mothering is time-limited. Anyone with a fourteen-year-old can tell you this. It’s intensely, deliciously hard for a few years. We hold that toddler and think, how could this ever end? Then we start getting clues about the limits of our ability to mother. The teen says, “I’m not wearing that. It makes me look like a momma’s boy.” We start to really know. Part of mothering is the job of letting go.

But many mothers have huge difficulty letting go. They fear being alone, so they hold onto a child for comfort, reverse the roles, forcing the person into lifelong servitude. They get so far into the role of Motherhood, they can’t find themselves anymore – much less see their children for who they really are.

…We don’t have to destroy our mothers to thrive, but we do have to prune them back a bit. Our job = pruning. Her job = grieving, changing.

The natural process of rebellion – becoming separate and fully who you are at the deepest levels – threatens your mother. Maybe just a little bit. Maybe a lot. This is natural. Although it’s her grief, she sends you signals that your independence is unacceptable. She hints. She goes silent. She triggers huge guilt bombs that go off in your body and distract you from the important work you were meant to do in this world. It’s not personal, it’s just the process.

 You need disobedience like air and water. Here are some ideas for healthy insurgency.

  • moving a little further away
  • challenging the family religious tradition
  • wearing thrift-store clothes
  • speaking your mind
  • taking a mini vacation by yourself
  • painting your house purple
  • selling your possessions and living in a camper
  • sending Mom a note, thanking her for raising you, stating that you are fully raised now and you have good sense and can go climb Mount Everest

If you haven’t read it yet, check out my first blog about Healthy Rebellion:

Contact Deborah