Tag Archives: emotions

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse leaves little or no physical scars. Its victims suffer no black eyes, broken bones, torn flesh or spilled blood. Still, those who are emotionally beaten down might describe it as the most painful and destructive form of domestic violence.

While statistics are elusive, experts agree that emotional abuse—for mostly women, but some men as well—have reached epidemic proportions. And despite its everyday occurrence, few of us recognize it, identify it or even do anything about it.

Here are a few questions that might help you recognize it:

  • Are you walking on egg shells around your partner or spouse?
  • Are you worried, anxious or nervous about your partner’s attitudes or moods?
  • Are you concerned about you’re their criticism, sarcasm, frowns, glares, gestures, silence or other behaviors?
  • Are you concerned that they will withdraw or give you the cold shoulder?
  • Do you feel tense when you hear the car pull up in the garage and hear the door open and your partner comes home?
  • Does your partner uses economic, sexual or other power tactics to control you?
  • Are you happy and feel free when you are alone?
  • Do you think that if you tried harder that things will be better?
  • Are you mostly defensive about your actions? Are your reactions on automatic pilot?
  • Do you sometimes feel trapped in your relationship?

So what is the impact of emotional abuse?

Here are a few that are easily recognized. The emotionally abused individual will exhibit:

  • Loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Increasing levels of self-doubt leading to the inability to make normal life decisions
  • Signs of anxiety and depression
  • Inner fear and anxiety that he/she ‘is losing it’
  • Loss of enthusiasm for life, decreased involvement in normal social activities, and decreased involvement with friends
  • Feeling of a loss of power and control over one’s life
  • Development of a very critical internal voice
  • A desire to avoid, escape, or run away
  • A false sense of hope that ‘everything will be OK’ when…
  • Increasing self-blame for everything that goes wrong
  • Pervasive feeling of ‘not being good enough’
  • Defensive of the ‘other person’ to friends who ask questions and show concern

What can victims of emotional abuse do?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Reach out to other people who you know care.
  • Read a good book on the subject as a form of bibliotherapy. See my article on this subject here.
  • Realize that you cannot change your partner… you can only change how your respond.
  • Develop a list of how you are affected by the emotional abuse.
  • Get professional assistance.
  • Make the decision to deal with the situation.
  • Develop your internal emotional and cognitive strengths and focus on emotional health.
  • Emergence of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • Change your self-talk from self-criticism to self-empowerment.
  • Look at your own behaviors and decide what you need to change and what new behaviors you need to adopt.
  • Decide on what you want and how you want to live your life.
  • Decide on and then set some personal boundaries and clear expectations for the other person to change their behaviors. Also describe the consequences.
  • Follow through on your decisions.
  • Make an internal commitment on your ultimate decision if the person does not change. In other words, are you willing to say goodbye to the person and hello to a new, more vibrant life?

At this blog we recommend tens of books that will help you through the process of confronting the emotional abuse and then starting to move towards emotional health. Here are some that we specifically recommend to help with emotional abuse.

                                                         

Emotional Wounds

We are a wounded people. In this largely uncaring world, people are hurt from exploitation and victimization. People everywhere are experiencing all kinds of rape and trauma: racial, financial, political, organizational and sexual. Children are abused. Marriages are broken. Tragedies of all kinds – natural and man-made – afflict all of us. And many of these ‘wounds’ cut deep and last beyond a lifetime.

In many cases, emotionally wounded people are victims of the criminal, hurtful, or selfish actions of others. In other cases the emotionally wounded have self-inflicted wounds and are victims of their own hardheaded, addictive or narcissistic actions. The outcome is the same regardless of the source. People are emotionally wounded! And so they struggle with crippling emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, desperation, shame and guilt, hatred, depression, and low self-esteem.

The pain of such emotions is often present with us even though the incidents and relationships that caused the hurt may be long past. We have difficulty with our relationships – even those within our own households. On the job, we can’t get along with colleagues. We fight with our neighbors – whether they are next door, around the corner, in the next county – or in the next country. Politically – there are fights everywhere: neighbor against neighbor; family against family; country against country.

Our emotional wounds show in the insanity of our public and private actions. What else can explain a father raping his daughter or a mother killing her kids? What else can explain a priest sexually abusing young children? What else can explain a politician raping his country of the financial resources earmarked for those who need it most in his country? What else can explain caregivers who exploit the elderly and the disabled? Those people – the perpetrators of those disgusting and horrible actions – are themselves emotionally wounded.

Caution! Think carefully before you decide that because you are not in this dastardly group and you therefore are not emotionally wounded!

Not everyone who is emotionally wounded abuse or hurt others to the degree that those described above do. Most people who are emotionally wounded do not abuse children and are not involved in any kind of rape – financial, political or sexual. Most appear to live ‘normal’ lives. Their emotional wounds and hurt are hidden deep on the inside… and only shows itself to the trained analyst and the expert eye. But those emotional wounds do wreak havoc with their lives and the lives of those closest to them.

What are some of the symptoms?

  • Addiction to approval and people pleasing
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Gambling
  • Manipulation of others
  • Lust for control and power
  • Possessiveness
  • Extreme selfishness, disloyalty and self-centeredness
  • Lashing out at and hurting others without any visible signs of regret
  • Eating disorders
  • Kleptomania
  • Shopping addiction
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Emotional numbness
  • Overly sensitive
  • Intensely secretive
  • Very little patience or tolerance for others
  • Shame and guilt
  • Nightmares
  • Rage and hatred – including self-hatred – and anger towards themselves
  • Depression
  • Sense of hopelessness leading to suicidal thoughts and gestures.
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Irrational expectations (stated and unstated) of others
  • Abusive behavior including child abuse
  • It shows up in their children who exhibit emotional pain by being abusive and violent; children who use drugs and become involved in anti-social and delinquent activities.

As you can see emotional wounds are a fact of life and is exhibited all around us.

There is hope, however, for those who think that they are alone in their suffering. Despite emotional and psychological wounds – there are things that they can do individually and collectively to heal the emotional wounds and improve their overall emotional health. People with emotional wounds need a lot of things.

Here are a few of the many tasks:

  • They must acknowledge that they need help. This may be difficult for those who believe that their situation is hopeless. It could also be difficult for those who are intensely secretive.
  • They need intensive and clinically sophisticated help through counseling and psychotherapy with expert clinicians.
  • They need to feel a sense of hope. This will start them on their journey towards healing.
  • They must express themselves, to talk and be listened to. In this endeavor, they need to hear themselves from the inside and at the deepest levels of their psyche. Talk-therapy could be enhanced with expressive therapy whereby the individual is allowed to express themselves in myriads of ways with the guidance of an experienced professional. In this regard, any therapeutic intervention would have to take into account the dynamic, sensitive, tenuous and potentially dangerous nature of the therapeutic process for people suffering from deep emotional trauma.
  • They must accept that time does not heal emotional wounds or scars! Then they need to give themselves permission to let go of the past and heal from the inside out.
  • If codependency is a factor, they need to begin recovery and healing and develop awareness in the many ways that this is a feature in their lives.
  • They must uncover and then deal with the shadow parts of themselves which remain hidden from their conscious minds.

There are many resources that can help people who are suffering from emotional wounds.

Here are a few.

                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliotherapy

 

The Reading Cure!


As a Clinical Psychologist, I am always looking for low cost yet very effective ways in which my clients can help themselves. Most clients meet with a mental health clinician a couple of times per month. Between those sessions clients ought to be busy working on healing themselves by practicing the strategies and techniques and making facilitating changes in their behavioral, cognitive and emotive processes. Most successful mental health outcomes are generated when people are focused on helping themselves.

One very useful method of self-help for emotional pain such as grief and depression is reading books. Reading books? Absolutely! Reading therapy!

The idea that reading can make us emotionally and physically stronger goes back to Plato. Plato said that the poets gave us the arts was “not for mindless pleasure” but “as an aid to bringing our soul-circuit, when it has got out of tune, into order and harmony with itself”. The Greeks had it right! Additionally, I don’t think that it was a coincidence that the Greek God Apollo was the god of both poetry and healing!

These days “reading therapy” is officially called bibliotherapy! Bibliotherapy is defined as an expressive therapy that uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. In some studies, bibliotherapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression and the results have been shown to be long lasting. Bibliotherapy is also an old concept in library science. The ancient Greeks put great faith in the power of literature, posting a sign above some of  their library doors describing the library as a “healing place for the soul”.

The idea of bibliotherapy or reading therapy seems to have grown naturally from the human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art. For instance, a grieving child who reads (or is read to) a story about another child who has lost a parent will naturally feel less alone in the world. Bibliotherapy is often used very effectively with children

Among adults, reading groups (book clubs) seem to serve many purposes. They serve as social gatherings for like minded people to discuss issues, ideas and topics relevant to their collective interests. Reading groups however also help to bring people together so that they feel less isolated and so that they can build their self-esteem. Reading groups also seem to be an experiment in individual and collective healing.

In one study, there was an indication that involvement in reading groups helped some members to deal with depression, loneliness and grief. Some book clubs specifically help members who are going through the loss of a spouse through death, while it helps others deal with those experiencing the pain of separation and divorce. Reading specific books as biblio therapy is also a feature of meny self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Books seem to help everyone… whether as individuals or in groups. No matter how ill you are, there is a world inside books which you can enter and explore, and where you focus on something other than your own problems.

The benefits of bibliotherapy or reading therapy as a ‘reading cure’ are threefold: Identification, Catharsis and Insight. Simply stated, when reading the appropriate book, a individual has the opportunity to:

  • relate to the main character and his predicament
  • become so emotionally connected to the story that their own feelings are revealed
  • realize that his/her problem is solvable or, at the very least, that he/she is not alone
  • process possible solutions to his/her problems
  • develop hope based on the positive outcomes from the lives of the characters in the book
  • bring an added positive dimension to the self-talk that goes on inside

As a result of reading certain books, people are uplifted, positively influenced motivated and inspired to heal themselves from the inside out.

The key to making all of this work is making sure you have a great book. With so many out there, how do you know which one to choose? In this Blog – Heal Your Hurt – we provide you with lots of suggestions – all of which can be seen through the lenses of reading therapy (biblio therapy). All of the books recommended in this blog can help with emotional pain, depression, sadness, grief or other devastating emotions that people can experience.

Here is another great book suggestion: The HelpThree ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

In The Help, author Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town. And it forever changes the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. This is a deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope.  The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

I found The Help to be therapeutic. My clients all rave about the many benefits that reading it provides them. You too will find it beneficial when you read it.

 

Emotional Health

Our negative emotional patterns of suffering will continue to make us sick throughout our lives until we heal ourselves from our core and gain emotional health and wellbeing.

Did you know that our cells hold memories of our emotional patterns of suffering? These deeply embedded cellular memories continue to feed anger, jealousy, fear, helplessness and general disenchantment with life. They contribute to emotional drama in our lives; they are linked to unsatisfying relationships; and they power a downward trend in our emotional health.

Good emotional health is aligned with high levels of emotional well-being. Recent research by such people like biologist Bruce Lipton shows that our emotional health directly affects our physical health. For instance, depression can correlate to heart attacks, anxiety can create digestive issues, and anger over stresses our heart.

Western medicine tends to ignore the impact of such negative emotions on our physical health. Many of us are in denial of the impact of these negative factors on our emotional health.

Improving our emotional health is crucially important if we are to feel more empowered, have better relationships, and achieve high states of personal wellness.

In Michael David Lawrience’s book “Emotional Health – The Secret for Freedom from Drama, Trauma and Pain” readers learn how to break the cycle of suffering, heal emotional pain,  overcome sabotage of your happiness, removing things which sabotage success, and awaken their excitement and joy. Emotional Health is really an owner’s manual which describes practical methods to release physical and emotional chronic pain, suffering, and stress.

When you get “Emotional Health”, you will read stories of people who healed their emotional suffering to gain greater freedom, including a former CEO of a major company, a therapist for teenagers, a minister, a medicine woman, an author and spiritual coach, a horse whisperer, a quadriplegic, a life consultant coach, a core energetic healer, a psychotherapist, a former nurse, a transpersonal therapist, and the founder of spiritual organization. Now just from reading this book and following the steps laid out be the author, you, like these people, will find, learn and apply the solutions you have been looking for and get the benefits you deserve.

Now if you want to read more about how you can find your way from emotional hurt, pain, suffering, trauma and drama to full emotional health and wellness, then I suggest you get “Emotional Health – The Secret for Freedom from Drama, Trauma and Pain” here now.

Surviving Infidelity

 

From presidents or people who want to be president to ordinary people from every area of life, infidelity seem to be one characteristic that plagues marriages. And as we have seen, infidelity leads to hurting hearts that are hard to heal.

According to Psychology Today, “Infidelity is breaking a promise to remain faithful to a sexual partner. That promise can take many forms, from marriage vows sanctified by the state to privately uttered verbal agreements between lovers.”

The list of infidelity stores is long and the exclamatory comments by those betrayed are indicative of people who are deeply wounded, deeply hurt emotionally, – people whose hurt might be potentially hard to heal.

Psychology Today contends that as unthinkable as the notion of breaking such bonds may be, infidelity is common—and when it does happen, it raises thorny and emotionally painful questions. Should you stay? Can trust be rebuilt? Can you and should you forgive and move on? Can you survive infidelity? Can you heal your hurt?

Nothing your marriage has sustained in the past compares to the pain of discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful. The betrayal, rage, sadness, and jealousy is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. And yet it is possible to move forward, decide what to do in your marriage, decide on surviving infidelity, and most important, decide to heal your hurt!

For more than ten years, “Surviving Infidelity” has been offering sage advice and compassionate, non-judgmental analysis. Based on the private practices of licensed marriage and family therapist Rona B. Subotnik and clinical psychologist Gloria G. Harris, Ph.D, Surviving Infidelity, 3rd Edition brings you the new hope and the empathy you need in this difficult time. It is the hope that you can heal your hurt and heal the emotional pain in your heart.

Powerful Review by a customer who bought the book:
“I recently was informed by my spouse that she had a past 1 year affair. I remember being very numb and angry. It was recommended that I read Surviving Infidelity. What a true blessing this book provides. At a time when I felt my world was coming to an end this easy to read paperback has given me the strength to move forward and understand why people in general have affairs but more importantly than that the book affirmed the emotional feelings I am experiencing right now are NORMAL and though I share some responsibility for our relationship I am not at fault for my wife deciding to have the affair. I have decided as a result of this reading that my relationship with my wife is worth saving and this book has given me valuable tools to move in that direction.”

Here is another review by another customer:
“This is a great book. It offers solutions to problems such as deciding whether to remain married, how to treat your spouse, how to control your anger/sadness/self-esteem, etc. It never at any point blames either person (betrayed or betrayer).

 

On Grief and Grieving

 

The last two days were quite unusual for me.  I had a talk with not one, not two… but three friends who are all experiencing the same thing: grief.  That by itself is unusual. But even more unusual is the fact that all of them are grieving the loss of two close family members.

As a Clinical Psychologist when faced with clients who are grieving the loss of loved ones, I normally move to the professional side of me that is focused on counseling, educating, inspiring, teaching, coaching, influencing and motivating clients how to deal effectively with their grief. I teach them cognitive, emotive, behavioral and process oriented strategies and techniques that are geared to help them to transition through the grief process and stages.

However, when my friends call, it suddenly becomes more personal. And it is more difficult to become the professional. Even though I am a clinical psychologist, I ask myself… “Are they asking the psychologist or are they talking with their friend? Or do they expect some of both?”

This presents a struggle since it is difficult, particularly in these situations to be a friend and psychologist at the same time. From the professional perspective – there may be an issue of ethics… I cannot serve a dual role. I am not supposed to serve as friend and clinician. From the personal perspective there is also a struggle… I cannot see my friends hurt emotionally and not help. What do I do?

Well… having gone through this type of struggle as long as I have been a clinician, I have developed a few strategies that helps me to help them. I refer them to some of the same resources that I useto prepare myself to help others.

Some of the most powerful resources that are available to help people who are grieving are the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Her last book, On Grief and Grieving, penned with David Kessler just before her death in 2004 cannot be described as anything less than a treasure for those who are grieving.

According to Marianne Williamson, “Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross left us one last gift, and it’s a masterpiece. Having illumined the subject of death, she has now illumined the subject of grief. She and grief expert David Kessler have written a modern classic, the kind of book that all of us will want to keep on our bookshelves because we know it speaks to our deepest hearts.”

And Stepahnie Manley in her review of On Grief and Grieving, said that “this book goes through in depth the stages of grieving and the misconceptions that we may have about those stages. For example, acceptance does not mean, we are ok, and moving on without our loved one. In reality, it is knowing they have passed away and adjusting our lives around that loss, and guess what, you don’t have to like moving on. I like how this book helps you explore the palette of grief that we all have with the deaths of loved ones. “

Manley continues that, “I honestly found myself weeping and remembering the deaths of my loved ones that I had recently lost. It was refreshing to read that the depth of the loss of my loved ones was normal, healthy, and even healing. This book is a real blessing in the healing process of the death of a loved one.”

On Grief and Grieving gives readers sage advice and counseling in abundance. For example, the authors contend that, “If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.” This is powerful and exhorts people to follow the clear steps and process that they outline in the book. These steps are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. On Grief and Grieving applies these stages to the grieving process and weaves together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, including sections on sadness, hauntings, dreams, isolation, and healing.

For those who are grieving, I lovingly suggest that you get On Grief and Grieving here.