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 ♥

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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.

 

Things not to say to those with a mental illness

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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.

Complex PTSD & PTSD exhaustion

The exhaustion which comes as a result of suffering with the above conditions is constantly present. No matter how much you sleep or rest, you never seem to feel completely rejuvenated.

The following blog post by Roland Bal further explains this:

https://rolandbal.com/trauma-and-ptsd-exhaustion-fatigue-and-tiredness/

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.

Taking on others’ emotions-Having weak boundaries

When you have grown up in a dysfunctional narcissistic home, taking on others’ emotions becomes the norm. Narcissistic parents teach their children to cater to their feelings & moods and the child learns to ignore their own emotions.

A great book which can help you understand whether you have weak emotional boundaries, is by Charles Whitfield: Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self. 

The following statements from his book, can help you identify whether you struggle with taking on others’ emotions and neglecting your own.

Answer with “never,” “seldom,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “usually.”

  • I feel as if my happiness depends on other people.
  • I would rather attend to others than attend to myself.
  • I spend my time and energy helping others so much that I neglect my own wants and needs.
  • I tend to take on the moods of people close to me.
  • I am overly sensitive to criticism.
  • I tend to get “caught up” in other people’s problems.
  • I feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

If you reply mostly with ”often” or ”usually”, then this is something you should consider getting support for. This means that you are extremely affected by the emotions & moods of those around you and aren’t able to focus on your own needs first.

If this is something you relate to and need support for, then please leave a comment below.

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.

Guilt & people pleasing

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Second-guessing myself always lingers in the background, when I don’t allow myself to PEOPLE PLEASE..

Feeling guilty for not people-pleasing is something that I just have to make friends with, although sometimes it just feels harder than others.

Being authentic & true to myself is so much more important but breaking old habits is tough, especially when I am not always aware. Sometimes I just seem to realise too late and end up having to deal with whatever it is I said yes to.

Whenever I have lingering guilt after saying ”I am not comfortable with that” or just simply saying ”No”, I try and ask myself why I am feeling this way. It always boils down to not feeling good enough, not being liked & feeling like ‘I am bad’ rather than the healthier ‘I have done something bad’.

I know now, that I was moulded into a people-pleaser by my parents, when I was a young child . Narcissistic parents are very good at using their children as sources of supply, whether that is for adoration, love, doing chores for them, being their emotional crunch or getting them to do all sorts of uncomfortable or age inappropriate things.

I am fully aware that even now, in my thirties, it is a lot easier and less scarier for me to make excuses about why I don’t want to do something rather than to simply say ‘I don’t want to do it’…

As a child, if I simply said NO, I would usually get into trouble and my parents would withdraw their love and attention towards me, until I complied..I learned the hard way that standing up for myself would almost always lead to punishment..

Now as an adult, I still feel crushed whenever I sense that someone isn’t happy with my response. The guilt can sometimes linger for days and this is a really crappy frame of mind to be in, as it isn’t productive or useful. However, part of being able to stop people pleasing, is to accept that you just have to sit with your feelings of guilt, as in the end you are doing what is best for you and not others.

What is your experience with feelings of guilt when choosing not to people-please?

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.

HSP-The Highly Sensitive Person

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People who are highly sensitive are born that way; it is not something that is learned.

The scientific term for high sensitivity is “sensory-processing sensitivity” (SPS).

Highly sensitive people have the following traits:

  • They feel more deeply.
  • They’re more emotionally reactive.
  • They’re probably used to hearing “Why are you so sensitive?”
  • Highly sensitive people are introverts but 30% of HSP’s are extroverts.
  • They’re more prone to anxiety or depression
  • That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person
  • They cry more easily and are deeply empathetic to other people’s emotions.
  • Highly sensitive people have reactions to criticism that are more intense than less sensitive people
  • They’re crushed by bad decisions
  • They take longer to reach decisions
  • They are highly conscientious
  • They tend to be highly intuitive & can tell when someone they care about is upset
  • They are incredibly observant
  • They can be easily overwhelmed by bright lights, too much noise, big crowds, strong smells or uncomfortable clothing.

Do you think you might be a highly sensitive person?

If yes, then the following website may be of use to you!

http://hsperson.com/

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.

 

 

 

Self-growth

How do we develop ourselves into better human beings?

What steps can we take to become wiser, more self-aware and more humble?

Self-growth is a topic that I think about a lot and when I am interacting with others in my environment, I feel saddened by the fact that so many people don’t seem to acknowledge their weaknesses, don’t find time to make improvements in their life and just seem to be on a path of complaining & under-valuing their lives.

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Although I acknowledge that in my own journey there are many things that I may not be able to completely change, due to circumstance or mental illness, I definetely aspire to bettering myself on a daily basis.

One of the biggest motivations for most people to make changes for the better, comes from a feeling that something isn’t quite right in their lives. They are either too stressed, too angry or just simply feeling depressed. They may start noticing certain destructive patterns repeating in their life and feel completely stuck in trying to make changes.

This is where coaching can be really useful and for the more complex mental health issues, therapy can also be an invaluable source for self-growth.

Although many people think that they have things under control, it is those same people that actually live chaotic lives and just don’t seem to prioritise their own self-development. They aren’t able to be introspective and they remain in the same state of mind most of their lives. They end up reaching the age of 60 and are still acting in ways that are either unhelpful, harmful to others or self-sabotaging.

So what is the first step to self-growth?

What is the one, most important thing that can motivate us to start making lasting changes?

  1. We must acknowledge our weaknesses- It is helpful to write a list as honestly as possible about the things we really struggle with and want to work on. It is good to spend as much time on this as possible, looking at all areas in our life: relationships, work, spiritual, physical health, mental health etc..It might also be helpful to ask close family or friends for feedback about this. Which areas do they think we struggle in. It might not be easy to hear about our struggles at first, especially if we are not aware of them. In the long-term however, it could be very beneficial to us.

 

  • It is important to set 1 goal at a time in the area we would like to improve in.

 

  • We need to realise that change happens when we break out of bad habits and form new healthier ones. Again this needs to be broken down into smaller goals, by breaking out of 1 bad habit at a time and forming 1 new healthy habit.

 

  • We have to accept full responsibility for all areas in our life. This means that we have to fully accept that we are the only ones who can make changes. We can blame others until we go blue in the face but at the end of the day, it is our job to improve our lives. Accepting responsibility of course, doesn’t mean that we completely ignore certain disabilites we may have or certain traumatic events that we may have experienced. It means that we fully own our journey and embrace the unpleasant things we aren’t able to change by grieving them whilst also trying to have gratitude for the things that we are fortunate to have and are able to do.

 

  • Enrich our world with learning and doing courses in self-development

 

  • Growth comes when we face certain challenges. We have to push ourselves to move out of our comfort zone. Sometimes the things that scare us the most hide the biggest opportunities for self-growth. It is important to face these fears and see how far we can get.

 

What is your experience with self-growth? Have you looked inside yourself to see if something needs to change?

Feel free to comment or share this blog post.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Covert narcissism-The hidden narcissist

Today’s post and youtube video is about the more hidden type of narcissism known as covert narcissism.

I know how destructive this type of narcissism can be from personal experience and I believe that more people need to be aware that covert narcissists sometimes hide behind a mask of generosity, fake empathy and self-sacrifice.

They walk among us more often than anyone realises and they can be doctors, healthcare workers and psychologists.

Covert means: not openly acknowledged or displayed, concealed or hidden

If you find the video or this post useful please feel free to comment, like & share it with anyone who might benefit.

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.