Infantilization

You might have heard of the term infantilization but you may not realise how incredibly abusive it is when a parent does this to their child.

It is only natural for a growing child to start developing independent thoughts, actions and opinions. For a narcissistic parent this can be very threatening, as they want to continue controlling their child and use them for narcissistic supply.

Check out my video for an explanation of what infantilization is.

Some examples of infantilization are as follows:

A parent stops a teenager from socialising with friends or doesn’t allow them any privacy in their bedroom. The parent may still treat them as if they are a young child whereas a teenager needs growing independence and privacy.

A parent buys their child age-inappropriate clothing and/or arranges age-inappropriate activities.

A parent might not allow the child to speak for themselves, when they are asked a question directly by somebody else.

A parent might discourage the child from pursuing new interests as they don’t want the child to become more skilled at new things than they are.

If a parent isn’t able to have healthy relationships, they may try to influence the child against their choice of partner. They can’t allow their child to leave the family nest. The parent wants to continue their enmeshed relationship for as long as possible.

The effects of infantilization are as follows:

  • The adult child ends up having chronically low self-esteem
  • The adult child has difficulties academically
  • The adult child may find getting a job difficult
  • The adult child learns helplessness and enabling
  • The adult child may self-harm
  • The adult child may have poor social skills
  • The adult child may self-sabotage
  • The adult child may become avoidant

If you can relate to any of what I have written or said in the video, then please re-blog so it reaches more people.

Knowledge is power and with knowledge comes healing. To also further promote healing on a larger scale, I have recently signed up to patreon to further support my creations of videos, pdfs & hopefully in the near future, e-books.

Patreon is a platform that enables creators to reach new goals by having their followers & supporters fund their work.

If you find my videos & blog posts helpful, then please check out my patreon page.

It would mean the world to me to be able to reach more people and help them on their journey of recovery.

https://www.patreon.com/AthinaEhlen

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Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

How to survive over-thinking

Over-thinking an issue or event is a very common coping mechanism for dealing with stress. When there are unresolved issues or stressful situations with more than one possible solution, this is usually what leads to never-ending ruminating.

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Unfortunately, over-thinking is usually linked to depression & anxiety. People that already suffer from a mental illness, are usually big over-thinkers. However, someone can also become mentally ill by starting to think destructively. All it takes is one single stressful life event to trigger unhelpful ruminating.

The best way to cope with your possible over-thinking, is to look at the way you think and to analyse the different thinking errors (otherwise known as cognitive distortions) you may be indulging in.

If you don’t know much about the different types of cognitive distortions, then click below:

Cognitive distortions

Secondly, it is important to challenge any unhelpful thinking patterns by looking honestly at the evidence that supports those thoughts. Sometimes over-thinking can really spiral out of control and what may have started off as a minor problem, might have escalated into a catastrophe. Thinking isn’t always based on actual facts.

Thirdly, it is important to replace any unhelpful or overly dramatic thoughts with more grounded and sensible thoughts. If you are overly critical of yourself or others, then maybe try to tone it down a little. If you are worried that something bad is going to happen, then ask yourself ‘What are the chances of this really happening’? and ‘Is this really as bad as I think?Give yourself more constructive, positive thoughts and even write them down on paper if it helps!

Lastly, try and distract yourself when you are lost in endless over-thinking. Do something you enjoy, which will stop your mind from going into an uncomfortable state of hyperarousal.

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

 

 

Question & Answer- YouTube videos

Today I am starting off my series of Q & A videos, where my viewers and subscribers are able to get their questions answered by me, in a video each week. Please feel free to ask me questions on the following topics:

  • Complex PTSD
  • Narcissistic abuse
  • Dysfunctional relatioships
  • Negative thinking
  • Dealing with emotional flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma Bonding
  • Toxic shame
  • Codependency

I also am happy to answer questions on how to :

  • Better manage your time
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Develop resilience
  • Stop self-defeating thinking patterns
  • Better manage your workload
  • Build confidence
  • Set boundaries
  • Deal with toxic people

Here is the first video on a question asked by one of my viewers:

Please note: **I will always keep the identity of my viewers confidential**

Thanks for reading and watching

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

You are not a failure

Nobody told you when you were a child that life could feel so tough sometimes.

Nobody told you that life could drain the joy right out of you, just when you thought things were getting better.

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Life is a crazy rollercoaster and you have to ride it out, no matter what it throws at you.

It might be that your boss criticizes you, no matter how much extra work you put in.

It might be that your partner who once made you smile, now only seems to point out all your flaws.

Your family might be hopeless at supporting you and instead always tells you when you have let them down.

Your looks fall short of what is considered beautiful, your body has piled on the pounds and your health is deteriorating.

Your money problems never seem to end and you are surrounded by angry, hateful and impatient people.

Everywhere you seem to look, there are people pointing out what is wrong with you.

Your career isn’t where it is supposed to be. You still aren’t married and people think there is something wrong with you for not wanting to have kids.

Even people with the best self-esteem, can end up feeling horrible.

Everywhere you look, people are pointing out that you are a failure..

Outer criticism ends up becoming inner criticism. That inner criticism ends up taking hold of your daily life and you can’t seem to silence that nasty little voice inside you that tells you, you have failed.

You might have once been a reasonably confident person and now you are nowhere near that.

Do you find yourself being haunted by this inner voice of failure? Do you find yourself needing to apologise for things that are out of your control?

Are you sorry that you couldn’t do better at work?  Then you failed

Are you sorry that you couldn’t lose weight? Then you failed

Are you sorry that your partner left you? Then you failed

Are you sorry that you are too sick to support your family? Then you failed

Are you sorry that you are struggling with the housework? Then you failed

Are you sorry that everything is too stressful? Then you failed

These negative thoughts are very harmful, even though you may not think so. When you internalise self-doubt your body absorbs it. Your muscles tense and you can actually become physically ill from it. If you allow others negativity to affect how you see yourself, then this might become a vicious cycle.

Have you ever noticed that when an abusive spouse, parent or boss criticizes you, you get nervous and are more likely to make more mistakes? The more difficult the people around you, the more on edge you feel and the more clumsy you may become. This was definetely the case with me for many years…

It is crucial to be aware of how destructive it can be to give your control away to others. If you constantly accept that you are a failure, because you judge yourself through others’ eyes, then you will eventually freeze. You will stop trying, you will stop living..

So how do you change this? How do you manage to keep the negativity that surrounds you away?

First of all, remember this! You are NOT A FAILURE!

You are not a failure because you failed your driving test.

You are not a failure because your relationship ended.

You are not a failure because you lost your job.

You are not a failure because you don’t want kids.

You are not a failure because others think you are.

Making mistakes in life is NORMAL. Making mistakes in life doesn’t mean that you are a failure. A mistake is just a mistake! This doesn’t make you anything less than wonderful.

Mistakes help you learn and at least you were brave enough to take on new opportunities.

Every time you catch yourself telling yourself that you are a failure, then say the word ‘STOP’. You are not a failure..

Remind yourself of all the good things you have done and that you are proud of. Even the tiniest things can mean so much! Don’t let others define you. Nothing matters more than the opinion YOU HAVE of yourself.img_1844

Never apologise for not being good enough because you are a valuable and worthy person. No matter how much others judge you, don’t let their voice drown out your own.

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

How to deal with negative emotions

Happy Monday dear followers & friends,

I have been busy making & editing youtube videos for the last few days, as towards the end of the month I will be very busy studying. I am trying to do videos on topics that people have emailed me about and today’s video is based on a question from a YouTube Subscriber.

Dealing with negative emotions is something everyone can relate to and is something that nobody wants to face in this life. Unfortunately, every single one of us has constant experience with negative or uncomfortable emotions.

I have already written a blog post about the main point I make in the video below: https://couragecoaching.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/the-importance-of-feeling-our-feelings/

In the video I talk about the importance of dealing with negative emotions in the healthiest way.

This healthiest way, is something that has already helped many people who have had coaching and psychotherapy and  I am offering it in this video for free.

I really hope it is helpful and makes sense. If you think it might help others, please re-blog or share it on social media.

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

How to deal with loneliness

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Loneliness is an unpleasant feeling that a lot of people experience at some point in their lives. Loneliness is a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you.You might experience loneliness as a feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness. Or you might feel loneliness as a very intense deprivation and deep pain.For the most part, it is something that can be remedied quickly by reaching out to family or friends.

What happens however if you have a chronic feeling of loneliness? What happens when you don’t have any supportive family to turn to? or even friends? Do you end up feeling even more isolated? Do you retreat further into your shell and just tell yourself that this is how you are meant to be? Lonely and helpless?

A lot of the time unfortunately this happens. Loneliness is paired with depression and this can lead to further complications.If  you don’t have the appropriate support, the downward spiral gets worse and worse. Loneliness is a passive state.

The most important thing about loneliness is that we have to remind ourselves that it is a state of mind, a feeling, not a fact.So what are we doing to enable our loneliness? This is a really important question to ask ourselves.

If we lost a loved one to death or have grief related to trauma, then it is important to acknowledge our feelings. Acknowledging our feelings of loneliness is the starting point to dealing with them. Expressing these feelings in numerous ways is the bext step. If we don’t have a friend or family member to express these feelings to, then we have to try and find someone else who might listen, like a counselor or mental health volunteer. We can also express our loneliness through art or writing a blog.

As I said before, loneliness is a passive state. So how do you change something passive? Your turn into something active.This might be a simple thing to state and some people might find it hard to make changes, but it is crucial to understand that if you do nothing about it, it won’t change.

Being active means that we reach out to others and that we maybe take up a class doing something we enjoy.This is a good way to connect with other people. It means that we can choose to maybe do some volunteering, as helping others can bring a feeling of fulfillment and reduce the feeling of loneliness. It means practicing different acts of kindness towards people that really need it. It also means the possibility of getting a new pet, or helping in an animal shelter.

It is very helpful to write a list of the things we enjoy and which things in particular helped us feel less lonely in the past.

It also very important to fight those self-defeating thoughts we may have, that tell us we can’t feel better and that we will always be lonely. Even if we are very depressed, we must fight this feeling and push ourselves past the negative feelings of not wanting to leave the house or connect to others. We have to challenge the passiveness and do things that might makes us a little uncomfortable.

What are your experiences of dealing with loneliness?

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

 

 

Poor sleep-One of many side effects of CPTSD, anxiety & depression

Are you somebody who struggles to sleep well and ends up waking up exhausted in the morning rather than refreshed? Do you find that you often have vivid stress dreams which can at times disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night?

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If you are someone who also struggles with depression, anxiety or (C)PTSD, then this will no doubt have an impact on your quality of sleep.

Both anxiety & depression, involve a thinking style known as ruminating. Ruminating means that we go over the same thoughts over and over again,without any resolution. These thoughts are usually negative and if they aren’t resolved with some sort of action, they will then possibly play out in our dreams at night.

Apparently is has been stated that a memory is composed of a situation or thought, the emotions experienced from that situation or thought and then the actions taken. If something happened during the day for example, that was upsetting but you weren’t able to resolve the situation in some way, then this will most likely linger until you go to bed. Since ruminating means that our thoughts and emotions are stuck in a repetitive loop, we will then most likely have an anxiety dream, in which we will try and find a resolution to our initial problem. Our mind just isn’t able to switch off properly until our problem has been solved.

So basically, if you have had a stressful day and there is still stuff that needs to be resolved, you will then most likely be doing this in your sleep as well. Since stress and anxiety can be exhausting during the day, then it is pretty similar at night too.If the brain doesn’t get a chance to ‘switch off’ or relax at night, then you can understand why the quality of your sleep is compromised.

This causes a vicious cycle which looks a bit like this :

Worrying/Rumination → Poor sleep quality → Increase in stress during the day & trouble coping → Worrying/Rumination → Poor quality sleep  .. etc

Too much ruminating can lead to feeling helpless. If you are too focused on the problem you are ruminating about, you tend to get stuck and this affects your actual problem solving skills.

A few tips to calming your worrying mind at night:

  • Try and resolve the problem before going to bed (if this is possible).
  • Talk to a friend or family member about your worries (A different point of view might do wonders)
  • Write down your troublesome thought/s on a piece of paper or type up a document on the computer..This might help you find a solution, by seeing your thoughts clearly written in front of you..
  • Another thing you can do is write a priority list (if your worries are work related). By organising your time and managing your tasks into more urgent, less urgent etc..this might help you relax more.
  • Think about what is in your control and what isn’t..If it isn’t in your control, then try to ‘let it go’..
  • If you are still not able to sleep, use lavender oil on your pillow and find some self-hypnosis tracks you can listen to while lying in bed..

 

What are your thoughts on this? Are you someone who suffers with ruminating and poor quality sleep?  Do you also suffer with a mental illness? How often would you say you have anxiety dreams on average? Twice a week or more?

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Low self-esteem & emotional flashbacks

Healthy self-esteem is essential for good psychological survival. It enables us to feel more fulfilled and secure in our choices, career paths and relationships. When this is lacking however and also goes unchecked, it may lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, sometimes with tragic results.

Perhaps the most well known effect of abuse is low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem means that we have a persistent feeling of worthlessness. It also means that we have a habit of judging & rejecting ourselves constantly which causes us a huge amount of emotional pain. This emotional pain, is something that people with normal levels of self-esteem can’t possibly understand.

For those of us who grew up in abusive homes, this was a daily part of our lives and we considered it to be the norm. We intrinsically felt bad when we weren’t able to do something right, such as get good grades at school or be good at sports.We hated taking part in anything competitive, we always avoided the limelight and hated participating in class conversations, for fear of making a fool of ourselves.We avoided any situation or person who made us feel rejected, hurt and vulnerable.The core of this lack of self-worth was due to our parents telling us on a constant basis that we were not good enough, not smart enough, not lovable enough etc..The more constant and long lasting this was throughout our childhood, the more destructive the damage.This then stays with us for life, unless we have years and years of therapy.Even though most of us are intelligent and full of potential, our nasty inner critic tells us we aren’t good enough.This self-hate, sabotages any chance we may have of making something a success, before we even try it. We actually avoid trying things, to avoid the possibility of failing. To others, this may seem ridiculous. To those of us who have suffered abuse, this isn’t ridiculous at all. We have already suffered a huge amount of emotional pain in childhood which then continued into adulthood. Some things we can heal in therapy but others might be a bit more challenging, as they are so deeply ingrained in us.

For those of us with low self-esteem, we might notice that as we begin a new project or work on some goal, things begin smoothly and we are filled with optimism. After a little while, however, things start getting harder, we get worried and we start to beat ourselves up.This process repeats itself as we move forward with our goal so that it seems like we’ll never reach it.Too many of us give up at some point because we’re overwhelmed by the feelings of worthlessness.The minute we make a mistake, we fall apart emotionally. In a sense, it gets even harder as we move closer to the goal because during times when things are moving ahead smoothly, we get our hopes up.low selfesteem

This sort of dynamic is what happens after abuse. Although most people are able to deal with obstacles, an abuse history can lead others to feeling overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness. Most people understand that an obstacle to a goal is part of the process, no matter what creates it, whereas for abuse survivors, an obstacle may be seen as a challenge to our self-esteem, proof that we mess everything up, that we’re not capable as others are. These dark feelings can overwhelm us so much that we give up.

Another effect of abuse, that is linked to low self-worth, is when we have an emotional flashback. In adulthood, a tone of voice, a firm look or a certain opinion about something we have or haven’t done, may trigger us into an emotional flashback of when our abusers told us we couldn’t do something and made us feel worthless. Some ‘red flags’ of an emotional flashback, are when we overreact to a present situation because it brings up feelings from the past. These feelings completely hijack us and it is very hard to control them or realise they are actually from the past.We are usually also overcome by feelings of helplessness & hopelessness and a lot of the time they can be linked to feeling worthless.An emotional flashback can be hugely emotionally painful and once again, others have no idea why we are so upset.

So how do you manage chronic low self-esteem?

Since chronic self-esteem is caused by the vicious inner critic that our abusive parents created in us, we have to learn ways to silence this critic. This critic tells us all the horrible things that our parents made us feel when we were younger.

We have to learn to become aware of it and every time we think a destructive thought, we have to stop it. We have to challenge the negative thoughts that pop up dailyand say ”Stop it” or ”That’s a lie” or ”Your father was wrong, you aren’t worthless”.We also have to give ourselves small challenges that we can work towards. The more we are able to achieve, the better we will slowly feel about our ourselves. The more evidence we start to see of ourselves actually being more adventurous or more successful, the better we will slowly feel about ourselves. This takes a lot of persistence, effort and help from a coach or therapist.

If you are interested about how to cope with emotional flashbacks then please check out my post here: https://couragecoaching.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/child-abuse-complex-ptsd-managing-emotional-flashbacks/

Thanks for reading

Much love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

”The negativity of the world can’t put you down, unless you allow it to get inside you”

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The above quote is easier said than done when we are constantly surrounded by negativity, tragedy, pain and loss. If we were raised by mentally ill, abusive parents, the negativity that we carry with us takes years to change in therapy. It is a huge commitment but it is possible to change for the better.

If we have been lucky enough to only have certain certain negative experiences with others and in our life, then this of course makes it easier to not sink into the depths of negativity or despair.

If we have many loving, uplifting people in our life, a good job, a healthy lifestyle and a loving marriage then does negativity affect us less? It probably does but what is also important to consider is the amount of inner resilience and courage we have and the possibility of mental illness or physical illness which can touch anyone.

Every person is unique and each experience is also unique but how prepared are we to challenge that inner voice we might have of worry or destructive thinking? Not everyone is willing to reflect on themselves.

It is difficult to commit to changing a bad habit but if this habit is making us miserable then we should want to put in the effort to change it at whatever cost, right?

One of the biggest things I learnt is that we are the driver in our life. We get to choose what direction we go in and whatever comes our way is up to us how we deal with it. Making excuses in life is easy but when we are really passionate about something, excuses don’t exist.  Maybe we should always aspire to finding passionate purpose in our life.Some of us may choose to dedicate our lives helping those less fortunate. Others may be passionate about art, science or education. Whatever we choose to do in our life, balance is very important, respect of others and ourselves is important and giving back as much as we take, is also important.

Currently, I wake up every morning with the ability to spend my days freely and I feel fortunate in so many ways. Although I have experienced tragedy, trauma and been surrounded by negativity in my immediate family for most of my life, I have chosen to give back, to share, to support and to be grateful for every single thing I have. When I watch the news, I feel overwhelmed with the state of our world. The greed that has destroyed so many lives, the fantasies of wealth and power that continue to kill innocence and safety. The constant lies that we are fed in the media, the poverty, the destruction and the neverending war are enough to erase any hope for a stable future.

What can we do however? Do we turn a blind eye and retreat into our own little bubble of life, work and family or do we make sure that we do one good thing for somebody else each day? If we earn an extra 100 or 200 a month, shall we donate it to charity to help others or do we keep it in case tragedy hits us and we need to pay medical bills?

There are so many questions to answer but the one most important thing I have realised is that we can always give back, that we can assist and share our love and be kind to others as much as possible. Keeping negativity away is very difficult, especially when you are a highly sensitive person but whenever you have the opportunity to help someone in need, then I believe you should do it. It is important to have a good conscience and that is the thing that drives me in most of my decisions.What is yours?

We are not infallible and just like any other person we have days where we feel that we haven’t done enough or could have been a bit more aware of our choices. The important thing however is that we keep learning and we keep growing.

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.