Holiday Triggers and Partnerships

Positive Reframe...

Every major holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas, my body’s impulse is to shut down, disconnect, and cut out all pressure. My Mom slaved to create picture-perfect holidays. Most of it was magical and I am very grateful for all she did. The conflicting part for me was witnessing her killing herself to make it perfect. Sure she tried to get her six kids to help but most of it came in the form of yelling and anger as she was at her wit’s end. I just wanted to avoid her at all costs which of course stressed her out even more. It just didn’t make sense to me why she was doing all this work and seemed miserable doing it. I know now, she was wanting to give what she never had and once she earned that role, she didn’t know how to let go and set boundaries to preserve…

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Positive Reframe on spilled milk

I am grateful I ran across a newsletter about Energy Parenting by Susan McLeod when my kids were little as it shown a unique light on my parenting and spiritual  journey. Here an excerpt from newsletter:

My parting story is borrowed from Jack Canfield about a mother and a young child. It sums up for me the essence of all things energy parenting:

A research scientist famous for dozens of medical breakthroughs was asked by a reporter why he was able to achieve so much more than the average scientist. He traced it to this early experience: When he was 2 years old, he tried to get the milk out of the refrigerator and ended up spilling all of it on the floor. His mother’s response wasn’t typical. She said, “What a wonderful mess you’ve made! I’ve never seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage is already done, so would you like to get down and play in the milk before we clean it up?” Indeed, he did. After a few minutes, his mother said, “Whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you’ll have to clean it up. How would you like to do that – with a sponge or a mop or a towel?” After they cleaned it up, the mother said, “What we have here is a failed experiment in how to carry a big bottle of milk with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the backyard, fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it.” The scientist told the reporter he knew at that moment, at that tender age, that he didn’t have to be afraid of making mistakes. He understood that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new.

Give your children and YOURSELF this same gift of “no mistakes” –  freedom to explore living, loving and being human. And…if you feel the need to cry over spilled milk, do it – before or after you clean up and have another go at it! Feelings are our friends and they only need to be felt. They are the flagpoles of our soul; we need not fear them.

It helped give me permission to let go of behavioral management of kids, to just be present and enjoy my children. The fact that I felt I even needed permission to do this gives more credence to the unnecessary suffering I endured from my messes.  I don’t have to make up consequences or enforce anything. I can just use what is inherent and experience the manifestation of human development within the most influential relationship there is: parent and child.

Positive Reframe on Risk-Taking

“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~Alfie Kohn

Positive Reframe...

“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~Alfie Kohn

I ran across this article from NPR Is It Time To Bring Risk Back Into Our Kids’ Playgrounds? and I say ‘Yes’ and not just at playgrounds but in life! Risk-taking is a healthy, life-long skill which builds confidence and competence, especially when kids are younger as their brains are doing the most development and the consequences are typically smaller. Overprotecting inhibits natural growth and resilience. How are kids suppose to learn if they can’t experience the decision-making process and the consequences of those choices? There is also no need to punish or add more shame to these experiences like the sadly common reaction of lectures and “I told you so” or “You should know better”.

Children learn when allowed to feel the full range of emotions of…

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Reframe on “Mental Illness”

I have found that unconditional love, kindness, attunement, compassion, understanding, safety, and assertive, non-violent communication in our relationships, especially in the parent/child relationship and our partnerships, to be the most effective for cultivating mental health. #endstigma

Positive Reframe...

I am very grateful that there is a shift in language from “mental illness” to “mental health”. Personally and professionally, I have yet to meet an individual who was diagnosed with a “mental illness” that was not surrounded in environments or relationships that were loaded with emotional, social and chemical toxins or had a significant negative event occur during critical and sensitive periods of development. Unprocessed toxins build up, dysregulate our systems, create dis-ease, leads to disconnection, disorder, and trauma, then passes on through generations until processed. I have found that our culture tends to accept toxins and violence as well as grossly neglects getting vital needs met which would nurture and heal us during times of stress. I believe this systematic problem and subversive dynamic are contributing factors to the development of a “mental illness” so why should the individual bare the weight of a diagnosis and stigma?

Levine truama quote

On…

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Conflict Reframe

Positive Reframe...

Conflict, or times of significant stress, can also be the greatest opportunities for connection, healing, and growth when you learn to embrace the negativity and trust the journey. It is scary to be vulnerable and even though I have experienced the benefits of this experience, a part of me still gets triggered to fear and naturally wants to resist and that’s OK. It matters more how we choose to respond, to love ourselves and everyone else through. ~Debra

“Conflict can be a sign of where we are in conflict with ourselves: It can signal an unmet need that we’ve ignored for too long. It can give us a clue to where the fire’s burning so we can find ways to put it out instead of letting it spread and destroy us. It can point to where we’re stuck in our lives. It can invite us into awareness and reduction of stress…

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Reframe on “Mental Illness”

I am grateful that there is a shift in language from “mental illness” to “mental health.” I have yet to meet an individual who was diagnosed with a “mental illness” that was not surrounded in environments or relationships that were loaded with emotional, social and chemical toxins or had a significant negative event occur during critical and sensitive periods of development. Unprocessed toxins build up, dysregulate our systems, create dis-ease, leads to disconnection, disorder, and trauma, then passes on through generations until processed. Our society tends to promote toxins and violence as well as grossly neglects getting vital needs met which would best support us at times of stress and greater need. I believe this is a systematic problem and subversive dynamic which strongly contributes to the development of a “mental illness” so why should the individual bare the weight of a diagnosis and stigma?

Levine truama quote

On the flip side, I also remember what weight that was lifted when I realized I was experiencing “depression”, “anxiety”, and “C-PTSD”. It gave a name to the battles in my mind, body, and heart as well as helped me to see that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. My central nervous system was responding as it should under great stress, keeping me in a heightened state of alert to process all the toxins and perceived threats. The names gave me something to target and fight against instead of myself. I am grateful for the people who saw my light, empathized, and supported me. They responded lovingly and did not react or shame me for my intensity and sensitivity as now I can truly appreciate all the trauma I had to process as it has made me a more wise, compassionate and resilient soul.

The saddest part and why issues with mental health are so pervasive is all the surrounding shame, stigma and negative judgment and reactions by others when one is vulnerable and reaches out. Consequently, this is highly likely exactly how the initial wounding occurred in childhood (i.e. being vulnerable and needing a safe, loving response yet getting punished or ridiculed instead). It is only after I felt I had healed from these “disorders” for a substantial period of time – a decade plus – before I finally started to feel less shame around sharing openly about my journey.

To be honest, a part of me is still afraid to share this post and of other’s reactions. Fortunately, my secure wise mind is stronger but this is only more proof on how insidious the toxicity of other’s judgment and reactions affect us to our core. This often makes the hardest parts of our suffering to be endured alone, steeping our mind/body/heart connections in stress hormones, deeply ingraining the negative pathways, beliefs, and destructive habits, and heightening all the symptoms all because it feels scarier to reach out… judgment and silence are violence to the soul.

Of course, there is no one perfect way to address all these issues and meet vital needs as everyone is unique. Yet, I have found that unconditional love, kindness, attunement, compassion, understanding, safety, and assertive, non-violent communication in our relationships, especially in the parent/child relationship and our partnerships, to be the most effective for cultivating mental health. #endstigma

“Shame is an epidemic in our culture. And to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other, we have to understand how it affects us and how it affects the way we’re parenting, the way we’re working, the way we’re looking at each other….
If we’re going to find our way back to each other, we have to understand and know empathy, because empathy’s the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too. And so I’ll leave you with this thought. If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path…” ~ Brené Brown

Please take wonderful wonderful care of yourself and each other. Every moment is a gift we get to choose to love or fear, judge or accept, fight or connect, heal or wound. Choose wisely as you do not know when your last moment will be.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or visit your local emergency room

Call 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA https://www.crisistextline.org/

Outside of US, check out: http://www.defyingmentalillness.com/worldwide-suicide-help…/

Please take wonderful care of yourself… It may not feel like you can or it doesn’t seem worth it yet I know that the world needs you and what you have to offer. You deserve a safe and non-judgmental place to process your pain and discover your gift and wisdom.

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes. This online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Vital Needs

Unfortunately, what we need the most to heal, connection, we have learned to fear.

Positive Reframe...

There are no bad people, only those with less vital needs met and more pain to heal. Every interaction is an opportunity to nurture, heal and grow… 

Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov Burning Man sculpture called “Love” by Alexandr Milov

Human defense mechanisms intrigue me (i.e. passive/aggressiveness, distortion, projection, denial, fantasy, rationalization, minimizing )…They protect us from absorbing too much pain at once so that the body/mind/heart can prepare to process the uncomfortable, hurtful, and overwhelming experience in order integrate and transcend but if we depend on these mechanisms or use them too long, they harden to bricks that build a wall. You might feel the illusion of safety behind this great wall, but the build-up of toxins, the natural consequences and negativity will delude you. Connection, being able to touch another’s heart is one of our vital needs. Many of our other needs are cultivated within well-connected and mutually satisfying and respectful relationships. Unfortunately, 

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