The importance of being emotionally intelligent

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

Emotional intelligence is the one part of the human psyche that we can develop and improve by learning and practising new skills.

  • People with higher emotional intelligence find it easier to form and maintain interpersonal relationships and to ‘fit in’ to group situations.
  • People with higher emotional intelligence are also better at understanding their own psychological state, which can include managing stress effectively and being less likely to suffer from depression.

My newest video on my youtube channel, talks about emotional intelligence in more detail.

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 heal from childhood abuse

A lot of my followers on this blog and also subscribers from my youtube channel keep coming to me with the same question ‘How do I heal from childhood abuse?’.

Although this is something I have already addressed previously, I have decided to actually explore this in as much detail as I possibly can.

I will address this with reference to my own recovery journey and also by looking at research done by psychologists, psychotherapists and trauma specialists such as Pete Walker, Wilhelm Reich, Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk and many more.

Healing from childhood abuse isn’t a simple process. It takes a huge amount of courage, inner strength & resilience. It requires a willingness to become more self-aware of our own dysfunctional coping mechanisms, that we may have learnt from our primary caregivers.

If our parents were high on the narcissism spectrum, we will have endured years of all or some of the following:

  • neglect
  • hypercriticism
  • parentifying
  • infantilising
  • pathological envy
  • blaming
  • patronising
  • mood swings
  • pathological lying
  • aggression or passive aggression
  • gaslighting
  • controlling behaviour
  • emotional blackmail
  • scapegoating
  • silent treatment
  • shaming
  • invalidation
  • isolation
  • intimidation
  • verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • engulfment

Living in a household with abuse, causes the child to develop Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Complex post traumatic stress disorder is a more severe form of PTSD and has the following 5 features:

  1. Toxic shame
  2. Self-abandonment
  3. Emotional flashbacks
  4. A extremely harsh inner critic
  5. Social anxiety

Emotional flashbacks are the most characteristic part of CPTSD. They are sudden and sometimes prolonged age regressions to the overwhelming feelings of being abused or neglected as a child. Emotional flashbacks don’t have a visual component. These flashbacks do however include an overwhelming feeling of fear, shame, alienation, abandonment, depression and emotional pain. They can range in intensity from subtle to unbearable.

Toxic shame is the when an individual has an overwhelming feeling that they are flawed, loathsome or stupid. It completely destroys a person’s self-esteem and causes the person to abandon themselves emotionally. This creates a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

The inner critic is the internalised punishing voice of our abusive parent. If we had a parent who was a bully and constantly called us names such stupid, pathetic, too sensitive, ugly etc, then we will have this voice within us, even if our abusive parent isn’t in our life anymore. It will be a habitual inner bully that punishes us instead of supports us.

Other symptoms of CPTSD are:

  • Feelings of loneliness and abandonment
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Attachment disorder
  • Developmental Arrests
  • Relationship difficulties ( Fear of forming relationships or forming relationships that are too dysfunctional)
  • Hyper-arousal / extreme flight/fight response
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Oversensitivity to stress
  • Dissociation
  • Exhaustion
  • Body armouring  (which involves tensing of muscle tissue whenever stress or emotion is experienced. To protect itself, the body takes a defensive, tight, and stiff stance. On a tissue level it enters into a muscular holding pattern that resists change and release. Unexpressed emotions such as anger, fear, and grief are common causes of this phenomenon. This was first described by psychologist Wilhelm Reich).
  • Impulsivity
  • Inappropriate anger

 

The stages of recovering

To recover from abuse and trauma, we must first educate ourselves on a cognitive level. We must understand that we most likely suffer with CPTSD and that it isn’t our fault that we are suffering. We have to put the blame where it belongs – to our abusive primary caregivers.

Secondly we must find a qualified therapist/specialist coach that will help us with the very difficult task of shrinking the inner critic. The inner critic can be a very difficult part of recovery to tackle, as the negativity from this critic has become automatic over our lifetime. It may take a long time to stop the inner critic from affecting us. Constant awareness of when the critic is present will help us stop him in his tracks and try and replace the negative criticisms with positive affirmations and self-compassion.

The next step in recovery is verbal ventilation and the very painful process of grieving our childhood losses. Verbal ventilation is when we speak in a way that releases our painful emotions with a safe person. Grieving our childhood losses means that we actually allow ourselves to cry, be angry and really feel the deep pain of not having had healthy parents. Grieving can take a long time and can sometimes last for a couple of years. In grieving, it is important for us to also grieve our loss of self-esteem and safety.

Once we have successfully grieved, we then must deal with the feelings of abandonment via somatic healing and via learning how to become self-compassionate in moments of depression or anxiety.

Lastly, we will need help with dissecting all our defences, especially those that no longer serve us. We may have picked up defences and behaviours from our abusive parents that are dysfunctional and we will now need support in stopping these defences and practicing more healthy ways of coping.

A very important part of recovery is to learn how to be patient with our progress, as sometimes it isn’t straightforward. Recovery is a journey and self compassion is crucial.

A great mantra according to Pete Walker, is

‘Progress not perfection’

Expecting perfection in recovery isn’t going to help us move forward..

Progress however is key!

Thanks for reading!

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.

 

Loving someone with PTSD

Ever since I made my youtube video ‘How does PTSD affect intimate relationships’, I have had so many of you contact me with questions about how to cope and support your partners. The reality is that it takes a very strong person to love someone who lives with PTSD, as they also live with it indirectly.

Loving someone with PTSD can easily takes its’ toll on the relationship and on the partner doing all the supporting. It can affect intimacy, communication & the expression of emotion.

The person with PTSD may not be able to work full time or may not be able to work at all.

It is of course very different for each individual relationship, as the severity of the PTSD is unique to each individual.

The most important thing to remember is that both partners have to practice self-care..

The one doing the supporting can also end up suffering from depressive episodes or anxiety..They may also generally feel mentally exhausted..

Breaks are very important and the partner of someone with PTSD, may at times need to take a mental holiday away from their partner..This is completely OK and almost necessary for the survival of the relationship.

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Thanks so much for reading and please share this post if you think it may help someone!

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.

Vulnerability & the dangers of predators

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There are countless times in my own personal life, where my own vulnerability got me into trouble.

At times where all I wanted was genuine comfort & love, I met people who took advantage of my vulnerable state of mind. Those people in particular had narcissistic traits and I only realised this of course when it was a little too late!

If you are in the middle of grieving, or fresh out of a bad relationship, be sure to tread carefully.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional home and now live with Complex PTSD, then you will always be vulnerable to the wrong person. Unless you have had a chance to work through your childhood trauma and come out of therapy healthier, choosing the wrong people to associate with, will be familiar but dangerous.

The trauma bond is what makes survivors of abuse more susceptible to predators in sheep’s clothing. Especially when it comes to romantic interests or intimate encounters.

A lot of survivors of abuse will settle for sex when in reality they really want love and a sense of acceptance.

Narcissists are experts at hiding their true colours at the beginning. They are also attracted to empaths & sensitive people like magnets.

If you have had an experience like this that has affected you, then please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Feel free to re-blog this post, if you think it will help others.

Thank you

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.

World Mental Health Day

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Mental illness has always been a part of my life. Whether it is through my own personal journey, through my family’s or watching friends struggle.

Although I haven’t been writing on here much, mental health will always remain a very important cause that I will always talk about. It is crucial for anybody struggling with mental illness to feel heard, to feel validated & to feel safe.

Empathy & understanding are necessary and we must all do our best to listen without judgement.

Life can sometimes throw us a curveball and none of us will ever know when this might happen.

Talk about mental health!

Be open & honest!

Be understanding!

Listen & give plenty of hugs to those struggling!

Sometimes that is enough to make someone’s day a little better!

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.

Healing from abuse

The sad thing about healing from abuse is that many people who haven’t themselves been abused, can’t possibly understand the survivor’s journey.

Healing from abuse is unique to each individual who has experienced it. The survivor will be emotionally damaged and/or physically hurt and unfortunately this damage is sometimes irreversible. Abuse leaves behind scars unique to each survivor’s experience.

Although healing means that your mind and body are able to recover, this doesn’t mean that the person can return to being ‘normal’.

The aftermath of abuse is usually permanent.

There might be long-lasting Complex PTSD for those who suffered child abuse, human trafficking, kidnapping or other severe types of abuse.

For some individuals abuse might be all they have known. They don’t have a pre-trauma or pre-abuse identity. They might not know what it is truly like to feel safe.

To all survivors of abuse or trauma,it is very important to remember this:

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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.

 

Grief

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Grief is a huge part of life and yet a very painful one. We all experience it and for some people grief can be an even bigger part of their lives than for others.

Grief can be about so many things, not just the death of a person.

Every new beginning means that there was also an ending and every ending can leave a trail of grief. Grief can be experienced at the end of a relationship, the end of a job, leaving the town you grew up in, saying goodbye to friends or family, saying goodbye to a beloved pet or business or even saying goodbye to life as a single person.

What are your experiences with grief?

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.

High functioning depression

Happy Monday dear friends & followers!

After a wonderful 10 days off work, celebrating my birthday with friends and exploring new places with my husband, I am feeling grateful and refreshed.

Today’s topic is especially important to me, as someone I care about deeply is currently suffering with this type of depression.

Although high functioning depression is a milder form of depression, it is equally as important as other types of depression.

When it comes to depression, many of us envision a person caught in the depths of despair and hopelessness, who wants nothing more than to stay in bed and avoid people and work completely. We envision someone who has lost all interest in the things they love, who may be feeling suicidal and is barely holding it together.

Although the above isn’t inaccurate, it doesn’t portray life as a high functioning depressive.

When someone suffers with mild or high functioning depression, the typical joy and laughter they once felt, is usually replaced by an absence of emotion and a very deep feeling of emptiness.
This is known as anhedonia and it is the loss of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities.

To the outside world they seem like they are coping fine. They are still able to go to work every day and communicate effectively. They are still able to reach goals and get out of bed in the morning.

The most unfortunate part of those with this milder form of depression is that when they talk about their feelings to loved ones and even doctors, they aren’t taken seriously enough.

Unless someone is literally unable to function, they seem to be dismissed as not having anything to worry about. This isn’t good!

When life circumstances change, those experiencing mild depression may be at greater risk for moderate to severe depression if treatment isn’t sought early enough.

This is also discussed in my youtube video, so feel free to share if you think it may help someone you know.

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 aftermath of a traumatic incident

As much as I dislike watching the news and tend to limit what I take in, it is increasingly difficult to not be affected by the constant bombardment of war footage, terrorist attacks, murder and suffering.

When you are a highly sensitive & empathetic person, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sadness of others. I am very much aware of the cruel injustice in our world and it hurts me deeply to see so many suffering. It is even tougher when this is repeated in your own country. Due to the fact that I know what it feels like to have your life threatened, I decided to make the following video on the aftermath of trauma. This is my small contribution towards all those affected.

Despite my traumatic childhood, I was also once caught up in armed robbery, where a gunshot went off right next to me and a woman was lying on the floor with blood on her leg. The disbelief of what I had witnessed was indescribable. The terror I felt shook me to the core. I couldn’t comprehend how someone could shoot a gun, when everyone at the cashier was cooperating and the robbers had managed to get their money.

This armed robbery happened at a time where I was very vulnerable already as my CPTSD was really bad. All I could think of after this robbery was ‘not again, not another trauma to add to my list’. Life felt so unfair and scary on that day and my mind was telling me that there was more damage done and that I would not recover this time.

If it wasn’t for my kind therapist at the time, to ground me and tell me that I wasn’t going to let this swallow me, I don’t know how I would have coped in the long term.

So this video is for those of you who are new to trauma. It is helpful in understanding yourself after a traumatic experience and it gives you the tools you need to ride the emotional waves that may at times feel like they are taking over.

Although I am not a qualified psychotherapist, I do have a lot of insight into trauma through my own journey and I know the many things that helped me, as well as others. If you are someone who is in deep distress, then please call a qualified mental health professional.

Thank you so much for reading & watching! ♥

Please share this post if you think it will help others.

Check out my patreon page below, if you would like to support the creation of more videos, documents and fact sheets.

https://www.patreon.com/AthinaEhlen

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.