Bullying Answers

How do I talk to dad about how he hurt me as a kid, & how do I process why I am the way I am now.

Growing up in a dysfunctional home can lead to the members (esp. children) in the home suffering from mental health disorders or other self-defeating challenges. The word, "dysfunctional" can refer to any family lacking the homeostasis of two fully functioning parents (adults) in the home to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for proper development of the individuals in the home. The healthy homeostasis of the family can be disrupted when there is a family member requiring more attention and care than normal. This can occur when a parent (or child) suffers for a mental health, substance abuse, or medical condition, which inhibits the parents from performing their needed parental duties fully (due to a family member needing more care and attention than normal), which tends to disrupt the homeostasis and shift more responsibility on the fully functioning parent and also an older child or older children to attempt to maintain some healthy functioning of the family unit. This stress or tension due to this imbalance is distributed throughout the family unit, even to the children, who may have to grow up faster to function in certain roles placed upon them. This can, in turn, lead to anxiety, depression, or other cognitive challenges over time due the additional amount of tension or stress produced in the home. This added stress can condition the members in the family to be in fight-or-flight response as a result due to fear of the unknown or future due to the family members (usually children) taking on roles that they are not mentally and emotional capable of performing effectively. Emotional and psychological (manipulation) abuse can cause additional cognitive and other developmental challenges due to these being childhood scars that get overlooked, because they cannot be seen like the scars or wounds from physical abuse. As a result, boundaries in the family are very unhealthy (being to restraining and controlling allowing no room for growth and independence or lacking to the extent there is little or no supervision and too much independence and freedom). Without healthy boundaries in place, children lack a sense of security, guidance, and nurturing. This is why most children in dysfunctional homes grow up as codependent individuals with poor emotional, physical, and other boundaries. They have no idea where they end and other begin. They lose their identities in relationships due to fears of abandonment, rejection, or being alone, which results in intense people-pleasing behaviors (such as adopting the interests, likes, and desires of others, although they may feel uncomfortable or uninterested). They tend to feel responsible for and tending to others, while neglecting their own needs or wants. Emotional abuse damages feelings of confidence and self-worth causing a person to never feel good enough, like a failure, and leading them to try too hard to prove their self-worth by overachieving aimlessly to be affirmed by others. Manipulation and other forms of psychological abuse can leave those affected feeling confused about what they want, feel, or think; indecisive in their decision-making abilities; and more dependent upon others. Emotional management can be a challenge due to not being taught how to properly identify and express your emotions. Sometimes in dysfunctional homes, expressing one's emotions were viewed as weak or not encouraged. This usually encourages the suppressing of emotions or unhealthy coping to deal with emotions (such as eating disorders, self-harm, codependency, fighting, bullying, substance abuse, or other types of addictive or self-defeating behaviors).    Unforgiveness with family members is common when growing up in a dysfunctional home, due to frequent disappointments that lead to anger, which later festers into unresolved resentments. Resentments can be worked through effectively in counseling, whether the person you resent is still living or deceased. A licensed therapist can work with you by use of letter writing, roleplaying, the empty chair technique, or other therapeutic interventions and modalities to help you heal from these invisible wounds of your childhood. 
(M.Ed., LCMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I learn to communicate my emotions without getting overwhelmed with anxiety?

Hello A!   It gave me a lot of pain to hear what you have been through as a child:   How can I learn to communicate my emotions without getting overwhelmed with anxiety?  All my life I have never had the space to properly express how I’m feeling. My parents always dismissed my feelings and acted as though my mental health struggles were an incredible burden on them. I consistently tried to hide my feelings of anxiety and depression and never properly learned how to deal with them or how to communicate them. I feel very lonely and misunderstood. When I was younger, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. My parents forcefully admitted me to the hospital under intense care, and then into a psychiatric ward. I resented all the help I was getting because my parents never cared to make the space to allow me to express how I was feeling and why I was feeling, even though I probably didn’t even know why I was feeling such negativity. I went through terrible bullying throughout grade school to a point where I didn’t care if I were to die from my eating disorder, in a sense I kind of wanted to. I’ve never talked to anyone about this and I to this day don’t know how to live with these emotions and feelings or how to communicate my feelings with any relationships (intimate or not).   A, you very likely have suffered from Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, C-PTSD, due to the prolonged “terrible bullying throughout grade school” and emotional neglect that you have been through.  You are still living with the legacy of the trauma, so much so that you might still be still functioning in the same mindset of that young and helpless child that you once were.  To heal from the trauma, and then to finally can “communicate your emotions without getting overwhelmed with anxiety”, a good place to start is to get properly diagnosed.  The following self-administering PTSD symptoms checklist can at least give you a guide into whether you have C-PTSD, and how severe it is.  A score of 31 and above indicated a provisional diagnosis of PTSD.     https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/documents/PCL5_Standard_form.PDF   I wish you to get the support you need to heal and to start living here and now!  
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to get rid of bad past?

I am sorry for the trauma that you have been through.  Loving your mother, being assualted, and being bullied are things that no one has to go through.  Going through very stressful, frightening or distressing events is sometimes called trauma. When we talk about emotional or psychological trauma, we might mean:  situations or events we find traumatic  how we're affected by our experiences. Traumatic events can happen at any age and can cause long-lasting harm. Everyone has a different reaction to trauma, so you might notice any effects quickly, or a long time afterwards.  Going through further trauma can also cause you to start being affected by past experiences, or make existing problems worse. It’s ok to ask for help at any time – including if you're not sure if you've experienced trauma.  What's traumatic is personal. Other people can't know how you feel about your own experiences or if they were traumatic for you. You might have similar experiences to someone else, but be affected differently. Trauma can include events where you feel:  frightened  under threat  humiliated  rejected  abandoned  invalidated  unsafe  unsupported  trapped  ashamed  powerless. Ways trauma can happen include:  one-off or ongoing events  being directly harmed  witnessing harm to someone else  living in a traumatic atmosphere  being affected by trauma in a family or community. There are various approaches to trauma and mental health problems. Some people find it helpful to receive a diagnosis because this feels validating or explains what they’re going through. Others feel this makes the focus of their problems more medical than is helpful, instead of recognising how any difficulties could be reactions to life experiences or ways of coping with adversity. They feel that it would be better for mental health professionals to focus on what elements of their life experience and environment may have contributed to their problems and address these, rather than locating the responsibility for their illness more in them as an individual. Connecting with people who have also survived trauma can sometimes be particularly helpful, for example through peer support – including if you don’t see your experiences in terms of medical problems or symptoms, or if mental health services have made things worse for you. Some people find it helpful to join groups that are part of a survivor's movement. However you prefer to think of your own experiences, we hope that you will find the information in these pages useful when considering different options for care and support
(M.Ed., LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to avoid getting lied to?

Dear Narcfree,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on perhaps how our boundaries have been violated by others, and that we have been not receiving the credits / compliments that we deserved.     Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to deal with anger after getting attacked?

First of all, I am so sorry you had to go through this horrific experience. This could cause the person to have PTSD symptoms for the rest of their life unless they don't take actions to process what happened effectively. Before I get to the anger part, I'd like to address regret. You need to reflect on what exactly you feel regretful about. That horrific incident was not your fault no matter what you did and whether you broke the driving rules or not. There is no justification for a physical assault, and that is what you were a victim of. I understand the need to feel that you could have done something to prevent it, because otherwise you would have to admit that you were utterly powerless in that situation, which is not something we like to admit. The most traumatizing effect that such events create is the feeling of being utterly powerless and vulnerable to future attacks. It is understandable why you would want to regain the sense of control, but imagining that there was something you could have done in that situation is not the way to do that.  That being said, getting your power back is the major thing for you to focus on in order to prevent trauma from paralyzing you and not letting you enjoy your life. There are some concrete steps you can take to regain some sense of control. I would recommend reporting the incident to the police. Even if they are unable to find and arrest the perpetrator, the very act of reporting will give you a sense of fighting back and an opportunity to channel your anger in a healthy way.  It would also be helpful to take self-defense or martial arts classes. This is a great way to give your anger a healthy expression, as well as to build your strength and confidence.  You can also get involved in social groups or organizations that fight to prevent road rage and advocate for the victims. Becoming an activist and fighting to stop violence through legislation is another great way to channel your anger and an opportunity to get your power back.  All of the above, however, while giving you an opportunity to give your anger a healthy expression and empowering you through action, will not necessarily heal your trauma if you don't engage in some therapeutic work. The best existing therapy modality for such type of trauma is EMDR. I would recommend you to find a skilled EMDR practitioner so you could address the pain created by the experience directly.  You can also research and explore the method called somatic experiencing. It is not widespread and well known yet but is worth exploring, as well as energy healing and some types of body work that are designed to help people process trauma on the body level. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I get past childhood trauma and abuse that’s affecting my relationships and career?

I like to start working with trauma by making sure that there is a basic understanding of trauma and how it affects us because I have consistently heard through the years questions like Why is this still bothering me?  Why do I keep doing______________?  My partner is safe, but things that have happened to me in the past are interfering with our relationship now.  Why?  We respond to trauma in predictable ways and I think it is helpful to normalize that experience so that we can change that inner dialogue to be more objective and less judgmental.  Secondly, I like to make sure that there are safeguards in place to be able to work through the trauma.  Things like emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and grounding/containment skills.  Trauma work is not easy, but it is very much worth doing.  It is important to have good foundational skills in place so as not to create more trauma.   There is a lot to be said for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CBT is the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  If we didn't first have a thought, we wouldn't have a feeling.  Please forgive me if I am saying things you already know because I know you have done work around this...  We develop core beliefs based on all the influences we have had in our life:  family, friends, church, school, social media, etc.  If we were raised in a healthy environment, we probably have healthy core beliefs.  If we were raised in a dysfunctional environment, we probably have a lot of cognitive distortions or thinking errors.  Therapy would be about examining those messages and core beliefs about being "worthless or a loser".  Children always blame themselves for what is going on.  You probably heard a lot of bad messages growing up from your parents and later when you were being bullied.  We don't have to have the abusers in our life to continue repeating those messages as an adult.   I also like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.  That is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but there is a specific focus on emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.   Healing from childhood trauma is like going back and reparenting that wounded child.  It is about processing those events and integrating those experiences into our life.  I often tell people to imagine a mural that tells their life story.  When there is unresolved trauma, and you look at your mural, trauma appears to be front and center.  By processing your trauma and integrating it into your life, the trauma fades into the background.  Yes, it is still in your mural, but the intensity has become less and it is not a focal point.  What may be front and center on your mural after processing the trauma could be, family, friends, career, travels, etc.   The trauma journey begins with being a victim and then moving to survivor and eventually to thriver.  First and foremost you did what you needed to do to survive.  You don't want to stay in that role of a survivor because it is limiting.  You want to go on to thriver.  That looks different for people.  It could be about learning from the experience and doing something positive with it.  It could be about becoming an advocate for others or something totally different.  I experienced a lot of family of origin trauma and that is what motivated me to become a therapist (after I processed all that old trauma).  It is hard work, but it is definitely worth doing. Going back to your original statement, "I don't know what to do", I think a good place to start would be to stabilize your depression, and if you do not have good skills with emotional regulation, distress tolerance, grounding and containment; develop those so that you can begin to process the trauma without creating further trauma.  I also really like EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing).  However, it is not possible to do it in this format.  There are other specific therapies that can be useful but I do not have the credentials or the ability to do them in this context.  Doing this work is hard, but it is worth it so that you don't have to continue being distressed. I hope this helps.  Take care.  I wish you a very successful journey of recovery.      
Answered on 01/20/2022

I am currently experiencing workplace bullying by my direct supervisor. What should I do?

Hi Stacy, I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this issue in your workplace.  This is EXTREMELY inappropriate - obviously.  I want to first commend you for how you have tried to handle this situation already.  We always want to follow the chain of command in a professional setting (I learned that lesson the hard way) and you did that.  When there was no progress or change, you escalated it to the next level and when that didn't work, you approached the perpetrator directly.  Bravo!  The fact that you saw some improvement, however brief, shows that there was some awareness on the perpetrator's part.  The reality of the situation is, if you wanted to be hard-nosed about this you can escalate this to your human resources department and get them involved.  If your company does not have a human resources department, the reality is that you could obtain legal representation and that would put a halt to this behavior immediately.  BUT, I'm sensing that you would like to try to avoid that route if at all possible.  In that case, I would suggest repeating all of your steps, but in writing! I would explicitly outline the efforts and steps you have made to rectify this issue and share that you are now putting this in writing so that all parties involved have a written record of the offenses and the complaints.  Bottom line is that they are creating a hostile work environment and can endure heavy penalties, or if you choose to not return and you had legal representation you could get some money paid to you from the company.  But that's a legal fix - from a clinical fix - I would do the letter. Once they have the letter, I would not accept this behavior from the perpetrator.  I would verbally remind them that you will no longer be engaging or allowing this type of behavior.  If they persist, I would verbally let them know that you are disengaging and leave the meeting or discussion.  I would keep a record of all interactions and what was said and if by chance you get a bad review or God forbid you are let go, I would not hesitate to find legal representation to fight this.  Many lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis and take a percentage of whatever is awarded to you from the courts.   Just because you are in a position beneath the perpetrator does not mean that you have to accept this kind of behavior.  Sometimes people find it easier to deal with this kind of behavior because there are self-esteem or confidence issues, but I would always work with my clients on "knowing their own truth" and with that foundation come from a base of confidence.  I truly hope I have given some information that will be helpful for you in navigating this challenge in your workplace.  Good luck!  Diana
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why do I still have nightmares about my emotionally and physically abusive ex husband?

It makes a lot of sense that you would continue to have nightmares about your living with your ex as you were with him for a long time. When you began your relationship with your ex you were fairly young and this can be a very vulnerable time. There are usually many pressures from society and from family members that would have made it very difficult to leave. Abusers are often able to present a very good image to outsiders; a lot of times so good that it could make you doubt that your perceptions are right! There is often a cycle of abuse where the man (or the woman, but usually the man) will be abusive and then try to make up for his behavior by being very apologetic and attentive. This can certainly be very endearing and eventually convince you to come around. Unfortunately, the cycle then turns down again. As the victim, you are often blamed for all of his issues and the problems in the relationship and it would be difficult to avoid feeling guilty. I am sorry to hear that the restraining order has expired and that I am sure makes you feel even more vulnerable. However, much experience with abusers (after 35+ years working in corrections) tells me that it is most likely that your ex has moved on and found someone else to victimize.  During my time in corrections and since then, I have helped many women to move on from abusive relationships and start to deal with the trauma that they have experienced. Many women have had expperiences within their own families that have led them to accept poor treatment (especially when the man looks very good initially), unfortunately, women around the world are often regarded as second class citizens and there is little protection for them from their families or social services agencies. It is so important to have the resources to maintain independence so that you do not need to stay with a man that you do not feel comfortable with. You want to have a good life! You are strong to have moved on from this relationship and to have the self confidence to start to a new life without him. Many women do not leave and stay until the bitter end; unfortunately this could mean death! I would like to work with you in continuing to find growth and independence if you feel comfortable. Joe
Answered on 01/20/2022

Management of Self-Care under Gaslighting and Bullying in Workplace

Hello, Wow you have really been dealing with a lot!! And I can hear your high amount of self-awareness. The counseling and subsequent healing you have done are evident. I applaud your insight, awareness, and courage to reach out for help in this situation. And what a tough situation it is! I hear that you are the boss, however, no matter how high we are in leadership, we always have someone above us. So, while I respect you not wanting to hear that, I would be remiss if I did not ask about going to your boss which would be his boss's boss. Most companies have a human resources department for just this very situation. There are HR protocols in place on the federal level to prevent things like this and to protect any victims and appropriately reprimand any violators. I commend your efforts thus far. You sound like you have really held your own against his bullying tactics. I can't imagine how hard that must have been for you. For a solution-focused approach to this work issue/conflict resolution, explore these reflective questions: 1. What do you and he already agree on? How might you build upon that? 2. What has worked in your communication with one another? How did you manage to have that level of communication before this conflict arose? 3. There is something here that is important to you both. What solution would meet both of your wishes? 4. What have you not talked about that needs to be discussed with him or others involved? 5. Suppose you were unable to find a way to resolve this conflict, what problems would that produce? And how would you want to deal with that? Those are just a few reflective questions that can help in gaining clarity when heightened emotion is involved. Sometimes in life (and in work), there is not a resolution that we are 100% comfortable with. Then it becomes up to us to decide what we can control and what we want to do with that understanding. It is called Locus of Control. I encourage you to explore the definition of locus of control and see how you can apply it to your life (and situations like these). I will leave you with a quote: "God makes three requests of his children: Do the best you can where you are with what you have now." African American folk saying. Your daily affirmation: I am doing my best! It seems to me that you are doing your best. Who could expect you to do more? Thanks again for reaching out. I hope this answer was helpful to you and wish you the best in resolving this conflict.  
(M.Ed., LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why am I always moodywhen why is it when someone hurts me I cry 2h?

First I just want to say how truly sorry I am to hear that you have experienced bullying in addition to emotional wounding by your parents. You didn't deserve to be treated that way. Not by your peers and not by your parents. And there is some grief to unpack there. Grief is not just about being sad about the loss of a person who has died. We forget that there are other kinds of losses that we experience throughout life, and each one needs to be grieved. Losses of friends or family members who have died, loss of relationships with friends we have experienced a falling out, loss of a childhood we should have had, and also grieving the type of parents we deserved as kids. Children don't come with an instruction manual on how to handle life. Children learn as they go and have to learn pretty quickly how the world works in order to survive. A lot of times childhood situations have a big impact on how you view and approach life as an adult. Life is full of events--big and small. These events result in an emotional response like happy, sad, angry scared, and these feelings are accompanied by thoughts. And our thoughts and feelings combined direct you into action. And so rules are created in your head and you develop a core belief system and develop coping skills. These core belief systems and coping skills work hand in hand to create shortcuts in life by allowing us to make quick assumptions about certain scenarios and how to cope or act.  Think about an event that happend early in your childhood.  What age were you?  What happened?  When that happened, what did you feel? What did you think?  How did you react?  For example. someone might say: "When I was 5 I was playing too loud and my dad came in and started yelling at me. I felt scared and thought I'm too loud, it'ts not okay to have fun, men can be scary. So I will be quiet, not have too much fun, and do whatever it takes to keep a man from being angry" You can see that this is probably helpful in the moment--especially if there is a parent who is unstable. Its thought processes like these that as children, save a lot of pain and heartache. Its brilliant. The problem is, these coping skills don't work well as adults, and we become over adapted for trauma and you begin to expereience the perception of threat here in the present moment where there is little or no danger.  In this scenario, the adult may grow up to be quiet, afraid to have fun and take risks, and become co-dependent and afraid to express themselves in a relationship for fear of angering the other person. They may become frightened when their partner becomes upset and yells because a plate fell and broke on the floor. Suddenly, that person may not feel like an adult in a relationship, they feel like the 5 year old getting yelled at by their parent. The brain is responding saying "This is exactly like that one time..." even though there is a logical part of the brain that knows that it is perfectly reasonable to get upset when something breaks. It is sometimes hard to listen to logic when the childhood experiences created a rocky foundation.  When you think back on your early experiences with your parents and bullying, how do you think those experiences played a role in the messages you internalize? What are some of the first thoughts that come to mind when you fill in the blank Men are___ Women are___ I am ___ The world is ___ When you fill in the blanks, can you trace it back to an event? The second part is to identify how you behave because of the belief. For example Men are dangerous therefore I keep them at a distance Men are___ therefore I ___ Women are ___ therefore I ___ I am ___ therefore I ___   It can be helpful in identifying the core beliefs and getting an idea of where they came from and see how that stuff shows up as an adult. Once you have things kind of figured out, you can start the process of working through some of that trauma and change that thought process.  As adults we tend to look for the evidence that reinforces those negative belief systems and ignore all the evidence that goes against those beliefs. For example, if your core belief is all men are dangerous,you will be able to name a bunch of men who have been dangerous or only look for the ways in which a man can be dangerous or scary, but overlook the ways in which men aren't dangerous.  The first part is practicing staying in a relaxed body. I always recommend practicing a technique I call the "wet noodle" where you sit up straight and relax the rest of your body. Allow your arms and legs to go limp and release all the tension in your muscles imagining your limbs melting off your body  like ice cream in a hot sun. Take some slow deep breaths. Remind yourself that you are safe. Even if you don't feel safe, you ARE safe. Nothing in the present moment is endangering you.  It is important to connect and stay relaxed in that moment because when you experience someone hurting your feelings, your brain's internal alarm goes off and screams "IT'S JUST LIKE THAT ONE TIME..." and you experience the hurt from many years ago all over again like it just happened. When you can stay in a relaxed body and engaged in the present moment and remind yourself that you are safe, the feelings become less intense. You can still be sad or upset because someone hurt your feelings and its natrual to feel hurt, but it won't be as intense because it will be about that specific hurt and not all the hurts that were just like it from your childhood.  The second part of changing your thought process and staying in the present is learning how to use grounding techniques. When you feel like you are too overwhelmed with emotion and its time to pull up for air, take those deep breaths and use the wet noodle and look around the room at the nearest piece of furniture. What is it? What color is it? Describe it in as much detail as possible. Describe as many things in the room in as much detail as you can. You will find that feelings become less intense and if you are experiencing flashbacks they will start to go away because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. The brain can't be logical and emotional at once and it has to choose one or the other. This activity basically slaps the emotional side in the face and takes back the wheel and allows you better presence. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I heal from past traumas??

The most effective and useful counseling method is EMDR and it works quicker than any other method.  It is based on learning how to relax and to put things into their place first and then on the trauma itself.  You need to have a basis in relaxation and focus before you can effectively address the trauma.  The preparation phase moves quickly as we work to achieve those relaxation goals and also to reduce the stress of problems and frustrations that are interfering with your work on the trauma and your life in general.  It is amenable to teletherapy with adjustments made to the required bilateral stimulation.  If you were wondering how it works, I can refer you to a URL where you will find a client-prepared handout concerning its use and progress data. EMDR sessions always end with the same early relaxation processes to ensure that the issues do not arise unbidden and unwanted between sessions.   There are many other methods of addressing trauma as well.  EMDR is not the only method of treatment and not the appropriate method of treatment if it doesn't fit you.  EFT which involves tapping is a very good resource for trauma victims as well.  It is known for being amenable to work in the office and individual work in the home or other location directed and managed by the client.  I have had a great deal of success with EFT.   DBT has methods and processes that are amenable to trauma treatment.  It involves mindfulness but its measures go far beyond mindfulness which is often viewed as medication alone.  It has processes useful at all ages that involve distress tolerance, interpersonal relationships, and regulate emotions.  I cannot imagine trauma recovery without all of these steps and methods of treatment.  Each step/method has mnemonics to make their use easy to recall and follow independently and with clinician support.  Trauma may not be appropriate in group DBT sessions but can be in instances where parties are respectful of one another and capable of managing confidentiality and privacy concerns. There are additional methods and practices that also are helpful.  Engaging in an assessment with a person-centered therapist can help you determine which method and in what sequence these may be appropriate for your situation. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

What would be the best help for me? Or am I just broken?

When someone suffers from trauma at an early age, it can have a lasting impact on how the person responds to situations and relationships.  Even when the person doesn't remember the trauma, the impact is still present.  How people respond to our trauma can also have a huge impact on how we handle things moving forward.   You have been shut down by people you have attempted to turn to, and ridiculed for it.  This has caused you to not feel safe with others, and puts you on the defense.  Your past experience has taught you that other people are dangerous, especially in the most intimate moments.  Something that is important to recognize is that you are not broken.  You are responding to what you have been taught in childhood by someone who took advantage of you.  Your trauma is not your fault.  You are also not alone.  The CDC estimates that at least 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 13 boys have been victims of sexual abuse at some point during their childhood.  Because childhood abuse can often go unreported, rates maybe even higher.   Working with a therapist who specializes in trauma is a great way to work on overcoming these issues.  A therapist you work with should first establish trust in a safe environment, and recognize that it will take time for you to trust them and be comfortable with them.  This can take several sessions, and should be done in a non-threatening, non-judgmental manner.   Once you are comfortable with the therapist, then you will be able to begin processing your trauma.  There are multiple ways that a therapist may do this, and these different ways can be discussed with your therapist to determine the best way to work on this.   As you continue therapy, you will also be able to work on your relationships with others, and begin to recognize how your past trauma affects your current relationships.  The desired outcome would be that your relationships will start to improve as you learn healthy ways to cope with stressful situations.   Lastly, please know that this would be a long, difficult process.  Sometimes individuals want immediate results.  However, regardless of the presenting problem, therapy is often a long process.  Your therapist can talk with you throughout the process about the progress you make and how you are doing.  Also, don't be discouraged by what may look like a regression - this is also common.  Once you have a positive therapeutic relationship building, you have a great chance at having lasting, positive results that you can feel great about. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

Hello, my question is how do I feel good again after being in a abusive relationship with a narc.

Hello, you wrote the question: I just left a narcissistic man, he was very abusive to me. He bullied me and took full charge of my life. I have to get back to my old self. And fast. That is a good question, how do you get back to your old self. In life there is no fast healing, it takes time, just as it took time to be in that relationship.  Abuse is often deeply traumatizing and the healing process can take some time. Being in a relationship with a narcissist it is not that easy to leave an abusive relationship, I commend you for leaving. It is the first step towards recovery. Right now you might be dealing with plenty of hurt and confusion. It's like the grieving process it takes time to go through each process, one being denial. Love can do that to you and it's hard to accept that other human beings don't seem to care who they hurt. You are probably wondering what you could have done differently to prevent him from bullying you and taking full charge of your life. Denial also protects you from the hurt but it also prevents you from addressing the abuse, the loss of your own power, and the healing process. If you want a fast break, then you have to remain contactless, it helps maintain the boundary lines. One thing is blocking him from all your social media accounts, phone numbers, and email addresses. This can also help you in giving in to temptation, it is also good if there are no share pets or children to maintain contact with. If you do have to have contact, be strong and you make the rules for that contact. Leaving is hard, staying is harder, you are on your way, you have made that first step. The next step is seeking professional help as you recognized that you cannot do this alone. Friends and family are good but it's not the same.  The question is what do you mean by "I have to get back to my old self." And fast. That is something you can explore further should you decide to seek therapy. Good luck with whatever decision you make.  
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why do I always feel like I’m being attacked by someone ?

Hi Zoey, Thank you for your question. Believe it or not, this is actually really common for adults to experience, even decades after the actual bullying occurred. The fact that you are recognizing this at 22 is a testament to your strength and resilience. The first step is to understand that bullying is a trauma. And what makes the trauma more complex is the fact that it is repeated over time (the bullying). What may be happening to you is when you are in a situation in which you want to be open and connect (vulnerable) with someone, you become "triggered" by those past memories and feelings. As a result, you probably either shut down or push that person away. And why wouldn't you? Nobody wants to re-experience those traumas and be hurt again. So, after recognizing it as a trauma, the next step is to figure out how to process the trauma so that you can mentally and physically heal and move forward in a positive way and make real connections with people again. So how do we do this? Most of us adhere to the "I just won't think about it" school of thought and hope that will work. It rarely does. 1) Always remember that you are in control. Think of this process like you are on a train, looking out the window as the scenery passes you by. The train is moving and all of a sudden you see the bullies and you feel all the different emotions. You can either stop the train and address those feelings and memories or you can keep the train moving. If you aren't ready to stop the train then just "see" the memory and watch it go by. 2) You need to work on some type of grounding technique. This could be learning how to do some deep breathing exercises or envisioning a calm, relaxing, and safe place (real or imaginary). Sometimes by bringing up these memories, we can become anxious. Having a grounding technique that you have practiced will allow you to be in control of your emotions (not being anxious). 3) Expressing the emotions associated with the trauma. This is really important. You will want to express those emotions in a very real way. For example, anger can be expressed by hitting a punching bag, high-intensity workout, and screaming into a pillow. The idea is to unlock those feelings and let them out. 4) Journaling can also be a great way to process your emotions and experiences. By writing them down in a journal, you can say anything you want. Nobody else is going to read what you wrote so putting into words or drawings how you feel or felt, is often very "freeing." 5) Writing a letter. Another way to express your feelings is to write those people or that person a letter. Just don't send it! This can allow you to speak directly to them and to say all the things you have wanted to say from way back then until now. Thank you again for this question. It isn't easing healing from past traumas. But the weight that will come off of your shoulders will be worth working through this process. I wish you all the best! Steven R. Levey, PhD, LCSW
Answered on 01/20/2022

I am getting bullied at my place constantly. I have tried fighting but no use. Not sure how to handle this situation.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! I know that bullying can be difficult, approximately 60 million people deal with workplace bullying at some point in their careers (https://www.thebalancecareers.com). Every person should be in a workplace that is healthy and safe. Your employer should have policies in place to assist employees who do not feel safe in the work environment. I would suggest that you investigate your Human Resources department for possible assistance. It is often the case that the employer is not helpful if that is the case you may have to take actions on your own to deal with the bullying. One thing you have to understand is that the bully and bullying behavior left on its own does not get better. You mention that you believe that your future wife will be affected by this stress, you are right. You need to include her in your work on this issue. If this is something that you have dealt with before in your life you can work on these issues with a counselor keeping in mind that you can learn to use the steps below to reduce future incidents of bullying. You also need to know this is not your fault, but it currently is something that you must deal with in order to make it go away. There are several steps you need to consider; the first is to face the bully. I know this is difficult, but it must be done. You may want to rehearse this with a friend or possibly your future wife or with a counselor. If you practice you will become more comfortable when you actually face the bully. Things to include in the conversation (consider writing this out and again practice it): 1) Describe the behavior you see as bullying, do not add a lot of opinions, just simply describe the behavior/s. 2) Describe the impact the bullying is having on your work. 3) Inform the bully of what behaviors (those you described above and possible others) you will not tolerate in the future. 4) If the bully violates your list of things you will not tolerate, act. You will need to include HR in the process or other EAP resources that you may have at work. You need to ensure that you document all experiences that you have with the bully. Be sure to include the time, date, and details of the encounter. This will be helpful if you seek help from Human Resources. As with many things in life when we face it and take steps to improve it our lives become more manageable.
Answered on 01/20/2022

I’m having a poor mental health relapse, this time a little bit more severe than in the past. What are some ways I can get back on track on my own, other than the obvious answers like self-care, journaling, and exercise?

First of all, I want to express my sorrow that you have endured sexual assault. I hope that your sexual assault is not an ongoing occurrence and you are now in a safe place and not living with your abuser. You might be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of your sexual assault. In my personal opinion, the best way to fully process sexual assault and reduce reactivity to triggers of sexual assault is with Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR) therapy. This type of therapy is best done in person with a therapist who is trained in EMDR. It can also be done online. I am trained in EMDR therapy. Also, please don't be scared to try medication. The right medication can really help people and you may only have to take medication for a short time. Part of therapy is learning what your triggers are and how to cope with them. A support group for victims of sexual assault might really help you. I am sure you can find one online. There are agencies that support victims of sexual assault listed on this site that might be helpful. You could do a google search for one such agency in your area or call 911. Do you feel safe? The first step to feeling better is to get safe. If you don't feel safe, that might be why you are having such a hard time. There are shelters for victims of sexual assault (and their children, if they have children) and entire organizations that work to help sexual assault victims get away from their abusers. Please get some help as soon as possible. You don't have to be a prisoner to your anxiety and depression or anyone who is abusing you. I hope that my answer has been informative and helpful. I wish you complete healing and all the best. One more thing, there is something called the "Advocacy Cure" which means fighting for a cause that you believe in. When you are feeling better, you might want to volunteer or work for an organization that fights against sexual abuse and sex trafficking. People often feel less depressed and anxious and more empowered when they work for a cause that they believe in.
Answered on 01/20/2022

Where does my trauma come from and why? Why do I seem to attract toxic people into my life?

Trauma comes from the way we have perceived experiences in our lives and how they have affected us. Initially when we think about trauma, we think about war, some kind of accident, and any form of abuse. However, childhood issues, parental issues, and bullying could traumatizing as well. When that trauma has not be addressed it starts take an effect on our lives as we get older and sometimes peaks in other places such as relationships, friendships or even in careers. For example, if someone wasn't allowed to voice how they felt about certain situations growing up or were always told to be quiet and do as they were told, that person may grown up to be less assertive. That person may not stand up for themselves or share how they feel. In turn, they start to hold things in and could possibly become depressed. They may also enter into relationships that they are not very sure about and stay because they don't want to start conflict. There is another component where there may be a lot of effort to please others instead of doing what is best for self. This also causes unhappiness. Imagine all of the above, also being true in the workplace and cause job dissatisfaction. This is just a couple of examples and is the less passive issue. Trauma can also lead a person to be more aggressive, defensive, or becoming the offender to others as well. Toxicity in relationships could be a result of trauma. It could be the way that a person is addressing and thinking about things that cause issues in relationships but it could also be the people a person is allowing to enter their life. Trauma takes time to heal from. There is no special amount of time because it depends on the trauma and person. The first step is to break it a part and process that trauma. This will be very hard to do because that person has to relieve that trauma and walk through it again. That person has to declare that they will not let that trauma dictate their future or decide what kind of person that they will be.
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I begin to trust myself? My instincts, my gut feeling, etc.

Hi Sasa, I'm so sorry to hear about the sexual assault that you suffered, and for another second time in March. A traumatic incident like that ... can really make a negative impression in a lot of areas in your personality and your life. If you haven't processed this traumatic incident, it's normal that you are experiencing anxiety and depression. However, I would like to know if you have always felt anxious and depressed...or if you started to feel this way after the sexual assault. Usually if you are anxious, then you will be depressed, that's how it goes, why? because if I have been feeling so anxious for a long time, I may start feeling like.... this is too much.... I'm tired of feeling this way, thus, the depression shows up, the go hand in hand. The fact that you lose interest in doing activities that at first you felt excited about them...it may be because of the depression that you are experiencing. There's nothing wrong if you put yourself first, I need to take care of myself first, in order for me to be able to see for other people. I wonder... what makes you think that you may let people down...I wonder if this your own perception, ...or maybe you would like to analyze the expectations that people have for you and vice versa. When you are saying: "I tend to overthink everything" this is part of the symptoms of anxiety.... doubting about myself constantly.... but also, it maybe due to past trauma or the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that you may be experiencing. Feeling insecure about yourself.... It may be because of the sexual assault... or I wonder when did you start feeling this way... "I sound uneducated or stupid whenever I say anything" .... it seems to me that this is your perception. I wonder if you have a history of having being bullied...? or if you had a stressful incident that made you feel this way.... If you were bullied at some point in your life, it's very common to feel insecure about yourself, feeling socially anxious, taking things personally, feeling on the spot, doubting yourself constantly, and also it can create anxiety and depression. The fact that you are now in college, you are concerned about yourself, you have plans for your life, makes me think that you are an interesting and fun person. Again... this might be because you had a difficult or painful experience that made you feel this way....? People have hurt you and made you believe it's your fault...I would like to know more about it. You have the right to experience your own emotions and feelings. You want to feel confident about allowing yourself to experience those emotions. so what to do now? Attend therapy, this would be a great idea. Focus on your own journey so that you can work on yourself. Sometimes, it's important to go back to some past chapters in our lives so that we can understand what we need to understand, clean our past so that the past doesn't keep coming back to the present and spoil the present. Sasa you deserve to be happy, live the life that you want and deserve, and see your dreams come true. Attending therapy can help you a lot. Give yourself the opportunity to be happy. I'm here for you, I can help you! we can work together :)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you restart your life after leaving an abusive relationship?

Rather than reinventing the wheel, please take a quick read of a very appropriate guide from one of my respected colleagues Ann Silvers. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How to Recover from an Abusive Relationship By Ann Silvers, MA, LMHC Recovering from an abusive relationship may take both time and attention. From my perspective, the old adage “time heals all wounds” needs to be altered. Time and attention heal wounds. An ignored wound may just get worse and grow larger if it isn’t taken care of. The healing process often can’t really start until you are out of the relationship. When you are in it, it’s difficult to allow yourself to see how bad it really is. When it’s over, you may be overwhelmed with pent-up painful emotions. Let the realizations and accompanying pain percolate. Acknowledge it. Processing can help the pain flow through; trying to ignore it can result in it getting stuck inside or festering into something even bigger. If your ex pours on the abuse through a divorce or behaves vengefully after a breakup, it will likely be very painful dealing with them and the havoc they create. One woman felt isolated and alone as she went through a nasty divorce from an abusive man admitted: “I felt like I wouldn’t survive the divorce. I went into a black hole. I had struggled for so many years trying to figure out how to make him happy. How do you deal with someone you loved totally betraying you?" The way to deal with it is to: • Acknowledge the reality of what you have been living with. • Remind yourself that their view of you is distorted by their own agenda, history, and health. • Stop being shocked by their doing what fits their personality and patterns. • Acknowledge your emotions, such as frustration, regret, feeling foolish, taken advantage of, and fear. A person recovering from an abusive relationship offers this advice: “Whatever they are doing isn’t your business. As fast as humanly possible, recognize what’s yours and what’s not. Put down what’s not yours. Lose the anger. Any venom has got to go. The hurt takes longer.” Quickly or slowly, life should get better.Sometimes, having been in an abusive relationship brings up skepticism about relationships in general. It may be difficult to trust another potential partner when the last one created havoc in your life, drained your energy, or morphed from a friend into an enemy. To protect yourself from getting involved in another abusive relationship, take time to reflect on what has happened to you. If you don’t learn from your past, history may repeat itself. You may find yourself in a similar relationship. Debrief the abusive relationship experience. Notice: what contributed to you being pulled into the relationship, and any red flags that you chose to overlook previously or didn’t recognize at the time. Work through any personal issues that may have contributed to you getting pulled into an abusive relationship Try to take a new relationship slowly. Keep your eyes wide open, taking in the information about who the new person really is. Look for signs that the new potential partner takes responsibility for his or her attitudes and actions. Do they recognize how those affect other people? • Do they make a lot of excuses? • Do they blame others or circumstances for their situation? • Can they admit to making a mistake? • Can they give a genuine apology? Be careful that you don’t fall for the opposite of the particular abuse you experienced. Look for a person who is assertive, rather than either passive or aggressive. And work on developing a healthy balance within yourself so that you attract a healthy partner and let go of unhealthy ones. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Change, even a change for the better is difficult and challenging, but both necessary and ultimately rewarding. The abusive episodes in your life are not ordinary nor normative, they were adaptations. A therapist who is versed in trauma-informed therapy can help you take back control of your life. While the events will never disappear. With young children, you may very likely have to deal with your abuser as part of shared custody. Therefore, you need to stop letting him, and the trauma he has inflicted control you, and learn how to once again control it. A trauma-informed therapist will help you to integrate your memories and experiences and relegate them to where they belong. I trust that this helps you move ahead in your life. Should you have any questions or comments, feel free to get back to me or if you chose to work with another BetterHelp therapist, bring them up with them.
(M.A.-P.C., M.A.-A.C., LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to get over traumatic memories ?

Hello, I appreciate you reaching out and asking this question. Thank you for also providing me with this background information. To think of what you have gone through, you are resilient and strong. I know it must have been a really difficult decision for you to walk away from that toxic relationship, however I am proud of you for doing that. It sounds like you are beginning to recognize some patterns of being bullied and then being in a relationship and a friendship that replicated that same role, in a sense. When we talk about traumatic memories, we often begin to explore one's core beliefs. Core beliefs are engrained beliefs that we have developed about ourselves or the world, due to past experiences. For example, a core belief can be "I'm unworthy" or "I'm not safe". Especially when it comes to trauma, our brain gets "stuck" in that trauma. Those experiences get stored incorrectly and continue to impact us in our future experiences. It is very common for people to find themselves in relationships that are similar to the past traumatic experiences because it is what our brain is used to or comfortable. This is a significant reason why it is very difficult for those who have experienced trauma to take a step away from these self defeating patterns. Trauma can continue to impact our relationships, our self-talk, our sleep and eating habits. It can take a big toll on our well-being. In therapy, we can begin to explore what these patterns are and the thought patterns/ beliefs that underly them. When we begin to identify these core beliefs, we can better "re-frame them" or replace them with more rational and positive statements. Experiences like those can make us feel alone, however you are not. A therapist can provide you a listening ear, nonjudgmental feedback, and can assist you in finding solutions to these current challenges. Learning to move on and love ourselves is an ongoing process for most people. However, it can be helpful to start this experience with a therapist. Again, I am proud of you for taking this step toward change.
Answered on 01/20/2022