Letting Go of Rotten Things

Letting Go of Rotten Things

In last week’s blog, “A Time for Psychological Shedding,” I introduced an exercise in which readers were invited to draw a tree and identify the fruits of life decisions you’ve made. The fruits that symbolize strength and positivity were placed in the top of the tree’s canopy, while the fruits that felt rotten were placed at the bottom. You were asked to consider which of your most rotten fruits gets dropped. In “Letting Go of Rotten Things,” I will show you how to begin dropping the people, old beliefs, old ways of being that keep you from living fully. Let’s get started! You’ve identified a rotten fruit, or two, or…twelve that you’d like to drop. Now’s the time to decide which gets dropped first. (Don’t worry. You can come back to this exercise for each rotten thing you want to drop, whenever you wish. Self-help is self-paced, after all). Which rotten fruit in your life gets most of your attention? Following the tree metaphor, which is weighing most heavily on your limbs, causing you the most ache? I’ll give a few examples of the types of things that typically weigh people down.   Letting go of Rotten Relationships Maybe...

A Time for Psychological Shedding

A Time for Psychological Shedding

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, September 1 marked the start of meteorological autumn. It’s a great time to harvest the things we wish to take forward in our lives and allow the rest to be left behind for rot and decay. It is the time for psychological shedding. If we’re to go about this psychological shedding, we must begin by determining that which must be  shed. What have you held onto that doesn’t belong with you anymore? Old resentments? A space in your heart for someone who’s not coming back and never truly deserved that space? The part of your life that’s the one you don’t like to face because it just feel gross and funky, but not that good kind of funky that makes us think of disco? In this 5-part blog series, I’ll provide creative solutions you can can use for a psychological shedding of that part in your life that needs no longer to be with you. This week, you’ll begin the process of determining what stays and what goes. Here’s what you need for psychological shedding: A few pieces of paper or a notebook that you can keep private A pen or pencil...

Paying Dearly in the Chance for Love

Paying Dearly in the Chance for Love

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Laura Brown’s keynote address at a clinical conference last week. As a therapist who specializes in trauma work, she shared some of the amazing insights from her book, Not the Price of Admission: Healthy Relationships After Childhood Trauma. The price of admission. Just sit with that one for a minute. Those whose stories have included the Otherness of adolescent peer rejection and humiliation due to our body shape or size, our gender behaviors, our social awkwardness, or whatever other features marked us as the kid who was different often are willing pay a very high price to be loved…or in the absence of love, to relieve our experience as completely touch-deprived. How much have we given of our physical and emotional health, our dreams, our very identities so that we might participate in relationships that offered us little? Some of us didn’t believe that love could be ours so we accepted sex. Sometimes, we did things with our sexual bodies that were significantly beyond what we wanted or were comfortable doing because we believed we must. Some of us sacrificed major financial resources to a relationship. We may have worked extra hours,...

A Parent’s Guide for Understanding and Responding to School Bullying

A Parent’s Guide for Understanding and Responding to School Bullying

As our nation’s children return to school, what sits with me is a need to talk frankly about the impact that school bullying, exclusion, humiliation, and other actions have on child development. The kids who are different, outcasts, Other bear the legacy of social pain. This doesn’t have to be the case, and parents’ awareness about the impact of bullying and how to recognize and respond to it can prevent problems from developing later in life. For many adults, being cast as Other during childhood had a long-lasting impact on our social development, with legacies of never feeling good enough still reflected in our self-esteem and the beliefs we hold about who we are and what we deserve in relationships. We came to believe that we were “less than” during pivotal moments as the only child who was Black/gay/poor/non-Protestant in our school, because we were very fat or very short, or because we learned to read and write differently from other children. Sometimes we were highly sensitive or introverted children, and therefore easy to target. We were the kids who were conspicuously different, and the people around us never let us forget it. Indeed, our stories of Otherness are many....

The Enabler That Was: An Exercise in Rewriting Our Stories

The Enabler That Was: An Exercise in Rewriting Our Stories

We’ve enabled them from taking responsibility for choices, rescued them from the choices they made, and buffered them when these choices should have had consequences. Our skillset may come complete with talents like putting a drunk person to bed without breaking more hearts or furniture; ducking words or objects with the grace of a dancer; or making excuses to others and ourselves (especially ourselves) about how their outrageous conduct is really a sign of love. Tired of this being your story? In The Enabler That Was, I’ll introduce a rescripting exercise for bringing these stories to an end and teach you to create a new story for yourself. Chances are, life as an enabler began for you as a method to manage friction in your early life. As I often say, humans are extremely flexible in responding to even terrible environmental conditions. People survive abuse, neglect, peer violence, all sorts of things. Enabling was our method for adapting to problems that people brought us by doing whatever we could to stabilize things. Maybe we learned to distract a violent family by being the clown; or perhaps we were the problem solver for a caregiver who had limited coping abilities....