Childhood Answers

What can I do to stop feeling guilty for everything, even when I know its not my fault?

In my experience, this often is related to shame and guilt developed by your major support systems, like your family, when you were a child. This feeling also leads to this idea that you must not make any mistakes and be perfect in everything you do, say, think and feel. It is when you give yourself credit for all that you are and all that you have accomplished and endured that you no longer accept guilt and shame. You are enough, even with your flaws and mistakes and errors. Self-compassion, self-preservation and self-love leads you to know that you do not have control over what happens in much  of  life. That you do your best and more importantly, you love everything about you. When you feel this guilt, do something comforting for yourself like go for a walk, take a bath, close your eyes and hug yourself. There is a technique called "Tapping" and a great, loving "tapping" is called "Butterfly Tapping." Butterfly Tapping involves putting your hands on your chest and alternatively tapping your fingers against your chest - like the fluttering of butterfly wings- while saying to yourself that you are loved, you are enough, and you are safe. You may want to close your eyes while doing this if closing your eyes feels comfortable. So much of living is loving yourself. Another technique that helps is art therapy , whether it is writing, journaling, drawing, painting. Another is meditative practice, Imagining brightness, lightness, and warmth coming into you as you breathe in beauty and loudly exhale pain and hurt. There are also books about Self-Love and my  favorites are the workbooks as you can journey through your reading and learning. Surround yourself with comforting, beautiful objects and let them nourish your soul while you embrace self-nourishment. Surround yourself with supportive people who embrace and fill you with comfort, safety, and compassion.  If you cannot readily find people who are able to give you grace and compassion, spend time with pets, animals and young children who only know how to  love. I wish you joy in your self- compassion journey. Be gentle to yourself. You are so important!
Answered on 10/21/2021

I have no idea what to ask. I know I need to speak to somebody but I don’t know where to start.

Dear Eddie,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been suffering from abuses from your father. I agree with you that it is difficult to think about leaving when we are so scared of not knowing what to do with ourselves should we leave, therefore during this time we must learn and gather strength to build our security, confidence and assertiveness so that we can better respond to abusive behaviors.   Meanwhile perhaps it is also important to understand the nature of abuse and see if there is anything we can do to change in this pattern so that at least we would limit the damages that we suffer from these abusive behaviors.   Dealing with emotional abuse is something that many men and women face in relationships. Whether it's a marriage, a friendship or even a familial relationship, learning how to cope with emotional abuse can become a reality.   The first step in dealing with emotional abuse is learning to spot the signs. If you're not aware of the emotional abuse, you can't make it stop.    The first sign of emotional abuse might be just something in the pit of the stomach, a vague feeling that something is "wrong." It's only by further assessing these feelings and the relationship that emotional abuse can be seen and stopped. Often it comes in comments that makes you feel being put down, not being appreciated, not being respected, not being worthy etc. I could sense that these are some of the comments and feedbacks that you have been receiving, perhaps so much so that you no longer think it's wrong. That in itself, is a sign that you have internalized these abuse and started to believe in them.   In short, in an emotionally abusive relationship one party will try to control and dominate the other party by using abusive techniques. There becomes a power imbalance in abusive relationships where the abuser has all the power and the victim feels that they have none. However, victims really do have the power in this situation to stop the emotional abuse, but it can be difficult.   Coping with Emotional Abuse   Emotional abuse doesn't have to go unchallenged and coping with emotional abuse is more than just learning to "live with it." Emotional abusers are just like bullies on the playground and just like bullies, their abuse can be handled.   Use these techniques when coping with emotional abuse:   Understand the abuser – while it can seem counterintuitive to have compassion for the abuser, sometimes changing the way you view the abuser can give you insight into coping with the abuse. Often abusers are insecure, anxious or depressed and remembering that may help you to keep the abuse in its proper context – the abuse isn't about you, it's about them.   Stand up to the abuser – just like the playground bully, emotional abusers don't like to be challenged and may back down if you challenge their abusive tactics.   Find positive ways to interact with the abuser – if you can handle the abuser in a neutral way, you may be able to see the positive in the abuser and find new ways to interact with him or her that is positive. This is mostly seen in workplace environments.   Change the subject or use humor to distract from the situation.   Never support acts of emotional abuse of others.   How to Stop Emotional Abuse   Dealing with emotional abuse isn't always an option though, particularly in severe cases or in intimate relationships.   Abusers don't stop emotional abuse on their own and it is up to the victims and those around them to help stop the emotional abuse. Although a victim may feel "beaten up" by the emotional abuser and may feel like they are nothing without him or her, the victim still can still stand up to the abuser and assert their own power.   Stopping the emotional abuse takes courage. Use these techniques when stopping emotional abuse:   Regain control of the situation by acting confident and looking the abuser in the eye.   Speak in a calm, clear voice and state a reasonable expectation such as, "Stop teasing me. I want you to treat me with dignity and respect."   Act out of rationality, with responses that will help the situation, and not out of emotion.   Practice being more assertive in other situations, so you can be more assertive when being emotionally abused.   Surely these techniques are easier said than done, therefore we can work together to practice being assertive and keeping a healthy boundaries so that we can start limiting some of these damages we receive from abusive behaviors.   A first step as we talked about is to understand the cycle of abuse. We can't do anything with something that we don't understand. Therefore I am sending over a guide that talks about the cycle of abuse, would you mind taking a look and send it back with a few thoughts after you have looked at it? That way we can be on the same page in addressing this issue.   At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   After all, you are not alone, there are many many others who are suffering in the ways that you suffer, and there is hope. We can go through this together.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Is it my fault for all the bad things that have happened?

This is a common question that many people ask. It is not your fault that bad things have happened to you. The first thing one should consider doing is examining the situations that have happened to them in life and try to look at it from different points of view. To address this you have to first look at it from a different perspective. Meaning, bad things have happened but that doesn't mean those bad things have to shape your future.  What I mean by that is you can own that something bad happened to you but that does not give a reason for life to bad all the time or that one has to live thinking that every time I turn around it something bad happens to me because bad situations follow me. It is time to change your mindset, by exploring the bad things and understanding that the past is the past doesn't mean it didn't happen but that it doesn't have to continue to determine what happens now. Your father made choices that were wrong because they harmed you but those were his decisions. This is not easy because you are now letting go of the responsibility that this bad event was not caused by you or not your fault. When we can change our mindset it allows us to see the event differently and place responsibility on the individual who made the choice. If dad was the one that made a negative decision. Then it should be my Dad made a negative decision that hurt me. Now you are unpacking the pain and recognizing that you did not cause your pain but you can heal from it once you let it go. I would suggest that you review past events and look at how many of those situations were by your choice or someone else's choice. The choices that you made, own those, and explore why you made them. This is where you explore am I making bad things happen because I choose to or because I was taught this learned behaviors. This too allows an individual to then look at the situations of your past differently and explore how can I make different choices that will then lead to decrease in bad situations happening. So, my recommendation is not to lump all the bad things as this is my fault but explore who made the choice that caused the event and then explore what you can change in you and your environment to remove the thought process that bad things happen because it is your fault. Thoughts leads to feelings leads to action and this is a cycle we all live in.
Answered on 10/21/2021

What is wrong with me?

Dear Yuki,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/21/2021

How do I not give in to the urge to return to a toxic habit/pattern after breaking it?

It is difficult to break old habits especially if they are ones we have had since childhood and from trauma. We all tend to want what is easy and fimiliar.  With you bieng mindful of these patterns and knowing how you feel about them. We can work to fiugre out your triggers then you may be able to develop ways to not go back. Being mindfull of what is going on when you are thinking about or wanting to go back will help develop ways to not go back.  It will not be easy but it can be done with help and support. May I ask what you have tried in the past to work with these feelings and what coping straegies you have used. Is your family supportive in your quest to rid yourself of these patterns? There are several different modailites that can be explored and techiques to help with not going back to old habits and patterns. These would depend on the history behind the patterns and what has been tried already.  You look at your coping mechanisms as being toxic, however is the relationship in which you are using them toxic and there for the coping mechanisms seem to be toxic? Every one stumbles when dealing with the past and with traumatic events. When you stumble to find a way to pick yourself back up and move forward instead of sliding backwards is a big step. With addiction some find themselves stumbling  more than not but they cointune to try to move forward others give up. I do not see you as a quiter as you have mentioned that you have gone back a few times and did not like that you did. give youreslf some grace and understanding that any change  no matter howbig or small may take several times to conquer it. Staying positive and looking for more avenues to change and continue to grow is one of the keys to sucess in any thing. looking for the something good that came from the something bad will also help move you forward. I would like to speak with you more about this if you are willing.
(MSW/LCSW)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Is this PTSD ? Do I suffer from sexual deviation?

Hello and thank you for sharing this question. Of course, I have many questions that I feel would help me to help you.  While I can't tell you exactly what is going on, I wonder if what makes a person sexually deviant (in what you are describing), would have to do with your own morals and values. There are certain sexual things such as pedophilia, that are of course against the law and society at large would consider these deviant and unforgivable. But what you are talking about is sexual acts between two consenting adults.  When you speak of being "forced" to do things you don't want to do....and in this context of putting yourself in situations that would allow for this treatment,  I would consider, why?  What are you hoping to gain? Are you actually benefiting in some way? What does this cost you? Obviously, I'm not talking about monetary cost but rather an emotional cost.  Do these acts make you feel like you are moving closer to your goals and values or do they seem to drive you further away from them?  Your answers to these questions might begin to give you some clarity and will hopefully determine for you if this is a safe, fulfilling and healthy practice for you.  Ultimately, you want the things that you do and the people you surround yourself with, to help you feel as though you are living a happy,  healthy, meaningful life. You are the one who determines what makes you happy and what things are meant for you. What you described your mother sounds like trauma for sure.  You described simply hearing the sound of her voice evoking many unpleasant thoughts or feelings.  So, yes, I would say that a large part of things we take into adulthood began with our upbringing.   You feeling safe, secure, cared for, loved, heard and understood or even a sense of fairness.  All of these things are necessary for children and when there is a lack or neglect, it changes a child.  As an adult though, you can begin to decide whether these hurts will define you.  Whether you will remain anchored in your pain.  You are not defined by your pain or any negative experiences. You are defined, however, by what you allow them to turn you into.   You mentioned not being able to have therapy.  I don't know where you live of course,  but I would suggest that if you live in the United States, you can check in with some of your local colleges or universities. Many have a counseling department and they will provide therapy at a very reduced rate.  It is usually a sliding scale based on your income and ability to pay. It could even be free.  I think that there are many things that you must begin to address and work through in order to start to heal.  So, if there is a community center near you, perhaps you can begin there, seeing if there is a way for you to have insurance for healthcare and also Mental Health. If you are a member of or have a connection with a local church, that may be a place to start as well.  Even at a local community hospital, you might find that the social work department can help you find resources in your community.  My hope is that you don't give up.  And I want to encourage you that your worth doesn't lie in the things you do (good or bad).  You are worthy simply because you are a human being!  Outside of you having religious values that guide your life (because that's another whole consideration), then no one gets to tell you how to live whatever you feel is a happy life.  Be well and I hope I have said something that was helpful to you!
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/21/2021

Im struggling with my sexuality. How do i figure out it who i am. Im 38. I should know by now

It sounds like you may have the answer within you already. The question is are you ready to accept "who you are." Process how life would be different for you if you came to the conclusion, that at the age of 38, you may be starting a "new life," per say. I always have to remind myself and others, that New Beginnings are not always bad!!!! There is freedom in the truth. "And the truth shall set you free!" If you do not feel comfortable in your body, what body would make you feel comfortable? In addition, when you say you have been struggling for as long as you can remember, this makes me think that you have been struggling since childhood. I would also want to explore your support system and your value system and how they may and/or may not conflict with coming to the conclusion, that potentially your LGBT+ status, if you indeed do identify to have a LGBT+ status after exploration, is not what you have been portraying to the world for the last 38 years. If that is so, then transition planning needs to be done and processed. It is also possible, that after delving into these feelings and confusion, some unprocessed trauma may arise, and the sexuality struggle, is just a trauma struggle. If that is the case, then a need to process the trauma is going to be the focus of counseling. At the end of the day, my job is to ask thought/emotion provoking questions in order to find the answers, that already exist within you, not to dictate to you who you are, and who you are not. My job is then to support you through any emotions you experience, as you find the answers, and provide therapeutic interventions, as deemed necessary. I never would want to sway you to make a decision as to how to choose your sexuality and/or lifestyle, as that is your life to live, and your own personal feelings. I am not within your mind nor heart, I am not psychic; therefore, I do not hold the answers, only the questions.
Answered on 10/21/2021