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.

Finding a balance between self-soothing and running away from emotional pain is tough..

Inspired by a comment made by a friend on her facebook page, I wanted to address the difficulty of finding a balance between self-soothing and running away from emotional pain. I also wanted to write about what it actually means to self-soothe.

Self-soothing is about allowing yourself to experience any uncomfortable emotions by using healthy techniques to comfort and restore balance. Successful self-soothing doesn’t mean that you make the feelings more intense. It means that you will eventually enable the emotions to pass. Self-soothing is about tolerating an uncomfortable experience, without acting in ways that are not helpful in the long run. This is when running away from emotional pain comes in. If you choose to block your emotions or run from them, this will then make the emotions grow in intensity or come out in ways you didn’t intend in the future.

Running away from emotional pain looks like the following:

  • Compulsively drinking, smoking or self-medicating
  • Using meaningless sexual encounters to numb emotional pain or fear of abandonment
  • Compulsively working or keeping busy to avoid feeling
  • Sleeping too much to avoid feeling
  • Comfort or emotional eating – Eating too much sugar or fatty foods whenever you feel low
  • Compulsively exercising
  • Gambling
  • Compulsively shopping

Do you see a pattern here? The more addictively or compulsively you do something, the more it means you are running away from what needs to be dealt with. It’s like an ostrich burying its head in the sand — just because you are hiding from everything and pretending everything is okay, does not mean that it will be okay.

We are all guilty of running away from our emotions. Sometimes they are just too painful to deal with and nobody wants to feel pain of any sort.

My biggest vice seems to still be comfort eating. I love my cakes & biscuits unfortunately, although apart from those, I generally eat a very balanced diet. Chain smoking used to be my biggest coping mechanism from the ages of 15-22 but I am so glad that I was able to quit.

Luckily, I have become better at self-soothing. I have realised that the more I deal with my emotions, the better I feel in the long term.

When feelings are dealt with head on, you talk about them, you cry, you blog about them, you ask a friend for support and you do something in that moment that will help you feel a little better, safer or comforted.

Self-soothing means that you wrap yourself in a blanket and play your favourite music. It means that you take yourself for a walk in nature. It means you find a quiet space in your home and you focus on breathing slowly and deeply and calming yourself down. It means that when you are feeling especially low, you read out some positive affirmations to help empower you. It means that you run a bath with your favourite oil or bath foam.It means that you engage in something creative. It means that you listen to your body.It means that you practice self-compassion and kindness to yourself. Self-soothing can be done using all 5 senses.

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There are so many ways to self-soothe and everyone has different ways of doing so.

What is your experience?

Do you feel you are somewhere in the middle of self-soothing and running away from your problems or not?

Please share your experiences.

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.

Avoidant Personality-Video II

In yesterday’s video, I decided to talk about Avoidant Personality in a little more detail, as my first video became very popular in a short amount of time and many viewers reached out to me with questions .

In this video I discuss some examples of what avoidance may look like, not only in full blown Avoidant Personality Disorder but also with people who just have a lot of the avoidant traits. I also talk about what specifically causes avoidant traits and what the consequences are.

Thanks for 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.

Mental Health Awareness week

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Ending the stigma of mental health is still proving to be a challenge, although in the UK we are getting ever closer to our goal of a deeper understanding, tolerance & acceptance of the importance of talking about our mental health.

As somebody who has never known what life is like without mental health problems, I know how difficult it is to be open and honest about it..People are still uncomfortable with knowing what to say or not say..Even if they try to be understanding, deep down you can sense whether they get it or they don’t..

Every single one of us is touched by stress or anxiety at some point in our lives, whereas others live with it every day…I am one of those people who lives with chronic mental health problems..Complex PTSD isn’t something to be taken lightly..There are still so many moments in my life at the age of 34 that I still learn new things about myself that I am not able to do, that others would find incredibly easy to complete. The hypervigilance and overwhelm never goes away..The chronic fatigue never goes away..The low mood is always lingering in the background..The voice that says ‘you are just not good enough’, pops up a lot when I am working alongside others…

Self-care is so important in these moments and remembering to accept ourselves when we are struggling can make a world of difference!

Walking the same path as others with mental illness really helps people feel less alone..

All the wonderful people who ran the London Marathon raising money for Mental Health are simply incredible..

If you think about how much these runners must have battled with those nasty little voices inside their head, it makes you feel incredibly inspired. The voice of depression or the voice of anxiety is not an easy task to manage..but yet they did it, and in what an admirable way!

I am also blessed to have many friends & fellow bloggers who do so much to raise awareness about mental health! They have all been personally affected however and live with debilitating conditions themselves..

The most crucial part in my opinion of raising awareness, is to also hear more people talking about mental health that don’t have any personal experience with it..People that feel concerned about someone they know but just don’t know how to respond..People that are lucky enough to live with good mental health and are surrounded by people who aren’t that lucky..

If you have experience with ill mental health, stigma or intolerance, then please feel free to comment.

Lastly, I would also like to share my latest information video on defence mechanisms. I was having a bad day yesterday and couldn’t face the camera to film myself talk, so I came up with this instead.

Thanks so much for reading & 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.

 

Why & How to stop over-explaining

Following on from my post Are you a chronic over-explainer? , I now want to address why & how to actually stop over-explaining.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, many individuals who suffer from low self-esteem or people-pleasing, have an almost compulsive need to over-explain. Others do it, because they have been misunderstood many times in the past when talking.

Using more words should not be a go-to for clarity. It is better to try and use the right words the first time instead of all the words in a stream-of-consciousness style.

Being nervous of what others think of you, will make it hard for you to make simple statements about things you like or don’t like. For example, a new friend of yours who has cats may ask you if you like cats. Instead of your response being ”I don’t really like them” you end up saying ” I am not too fond of cats because I don’t like that they are selfish, although I am not saying that your cats are selfish, I just mean that I prefer dogs to cats because they are more communicative” etc……

It is important to remember that when you over-explain to others, you may at times make them feel stupid. They might think that you are over-explaining things because you are sure they just ‘dont get it’! Over-explaining also makes you look stressed, because you aren’t able to get to your point simply. This will then end up stressing your listener out. It may also make others think you are confused, which will then create confusion in them and eventually lead to even more over-explaining.

The key to stop over-explaining is to just tell yourself ”It is not that important”. If others think of you in a negative way after you state ‘a dislike’ or a particular way of doing things, then that reflects on them, not you.

Another good way to stop it is to try and be precise in the way you communicate. Try and limit your use of words by practicing beforehand (if for example you need to explain things to an intern at work or to someone you have assigned work to).

Thirdly, try and be mindful about whether you are over-thinking. If you are a worrier or an over-thinker, it will come naturally to you to want to over-explain. If you are thinking ”I hope they get what I am saying. I hope they don’t think I am selfish, cruel, stupid etc”. Try and let go of the worries by telling yourself ”So what if they think I am selfish? or ”so what if they get it wrong?”.

By taking time to try and listen more to what the other person is saying, this also helps you to avoid over-explaining, especially if you see that the other person completely ‘gets’ where you are coming from.

Lastly, ask yourself this when explaining ”Am I explaining or am I talking for my own benefit?” If it is the latter, then you are over-explaining!

Thanks for reading

If you like this post, then please like, comment or share.

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.

 

Approval seeking

Approval seeking is a very common behaviour that all of us are guilty of at some point in our life. It might be that we are trying to impress someone we like, make a new friend or make a good impression on our new boss. It is perfectly normal to seek approval in others occasionally.

Approval seeking only becomes a problem when we do it chronically. When we constantly seek to be validated externally because we don’t feel comfortable to accept ourselves as we are.

This is the topic of today’s video, which I felt was very important for those of you who are people-pleasers and/or codependents.

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

Dealing with parental estrangement

If you have become estranged from your parents, it’s important to remember that this can be a very vulnerable place to be. Making the decision to become estranged from your family may alleviate some of the instant emotional pain after a huge argument, however, many people find that estrangement is a constant battle in their life, as it can cause them to endlessly think about their situation, even if they do feel an initial sense of relief.

Some people become estranged from their parents because they have been emotionally, physically or sexually abusive during childhood or beyond. This is a difficult decision to make but sometimes a necessary one. It’s immensely tricky to continue a healthy relationship if there has been abuse, and it can be extremely risky to continue a genuine relationship with this family member without the right professional intervention and support.

Others become estranged with their parents or siblings due to conflicts about religion or sexuality. This can also be especially painful, as the adult child isn’t able to truly be who they are. Authenticity is crucial for a happy life.

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Grieving the estrangement from a parent, no matter what the circumstances, is a very important part of healing from it, as the loss of an accepting & healthy parent is an extremely painful experience, even more so than normal grief. Nothing will ever fill the void of not having had what every child so rightfully deserves. Comfort, validation & unconditional love. Realising that a parent was never truly able to love & accept you, is utterly heartbreaking.

Even if there was abuse, children never stop loving their parent unconditionally and never stop hoping that their parent will change. This is the main reason adult children remain in contact with a parent, despite any abuse that may have occured. They will always long for the unconditional love they never had. In cases when the abuse or invalidation was constant, the trauma bond will also be why the adult child finds it hard to cut ties with their parent.

If the adult child isn’t able to fully grieve the loss of a healthy parent, they will not be able to move forward in a new relationship with them. If the parent continues to be abusive, shows no remorse, shows no understanding and doesn’t make any attempts to make amends, then it is healthier for the relationship to end.

In both cases of estrangement and remaining in contact, grieving is essential. Grieving helps lift the intense painful heaviness of not having had your needs met in childhood. It helps lessen the anger, frustration and injustice.

Most importantly, the adult children who end up going ‘no contact’, have to learn to live with the ‘early death’ of their parent before that parents actually dies. They have to continue living their life, without any communication or knowledge of how that parent is. They have to swallow the grief that creeps up from time to time, during holidays, birthdays, Mother’s day, Father’s day and during other emotional times in their life.

Those adult children who were lucky enough to have had good childhoods, with unconditionally loving parents, will never truly understand the deep pain of those who didn’t have good childhoods.

Family estrangement is a huge challenge and living with it requires support in more ways than one. It is important to have counselling from time to time and to be surrounded by understanding friends or a partner that can truly empathize. Lastly, it is crucial for the estranged, to feel the sadness that emerges and be self-compassionate as much as possible.

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 loss of what should have been

When you don’t get certain basic needs met in your childhood, there will come a time in your future where you will eventually become awakened to these unmet needs. Although this isn’t the same for everyone, there is usually one feeling which is most prevalent for most: ”The feeling of being ripped off”

This feeling of being ripped off, because you didn’t have a healthy family or because you no longer have a family to turn to, starts a very real and painful journey of mourning.

A lot of people who grew up with abusive parents, or in one parent families, or in families where their parents were chronically ill, learned to ‘live on autopilot’. They either had to push down their feelings to keep the peace, be a confidant or carer to the sick parent or learned that they had to solely rely on themselves. Even when they were scared and had no one to turn to as children, they had to keep going. As early adulthood approached, they may have found many ways to cope with this underlying feeling of sadness or anger, by drinking too much, working too much and generally trying to find ways to numb out any uncomfortable feelings that would creep up.

When an adult child is first awakened to the reality of what really was and what now is, they somehow know that things will never feel the same again. It might be that a certain event in their adult life uncovered feelings that had been buried deep inside them and suddenly the strength that they thought would always keep the safe, slowly starts to crumble. New anxieties, fears & losses start to unfold and the world suddenly starts to feel like a scary & unsafe place.

At this early stage of realisation, when adult children come to terms with the fact that they needed so much more than what they were given emotionally, the grief can feel overwhelming. Grief for adult children is a complex emotion because so much of the loss has been built up over time and they have long learned to adapt to the constant loss of an ideal childhood. Looking into the future feels bleak and they feel as if things are only going to get worse rather than better.

Through my own journey of grief, I learned that it isn’t a straightforward process and that it doesn’t have a certain time limit. When the grief was so overwhelming at times that I couldn’t imagine a better future, I reminded myself that it was necessary for me to truly feel the sadness. When your heart feels broken you have to let it heal and healing requires compassion & patience with yourself.

Pete Walker is a truly Inspirational Psychologist and survivor of childhood abuse. His words below really resonate:

 “…the broken heart that has been healed through grieving is stronger and more loving than the one that has never been injured.  Every heartbreak of my life, including the brokenheartedness of my childhood, has left me a stronger, wiser and more loving person than the one I was before I grieved”

The last thing that is worth mentioning, is that a lot of people don’t start their journey of recovery & grief from childhood trauma, unless it is emotionally safe for them to do so. It might be that they are in a supportive relationship and a stable environment and this enables them to ‘let go’ and just be vulnerable. It might be that they have found a therapist which they feel comfortable enough to be themselves.

Recovery from the losses of one’s childhood is necessary in order to restore balance & new found hope in the future.

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What is your experience?

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

Psychological Projection-A defense mechanism that people with NPD use often

Dear friends

I am hope you are enjoying your weekend and are generally doing ok.

Before I fly off to Scotland tomorrow, I wanted to upload Monday’s Youtube video early, as I won’t be able to work on it when visiting family.

This week’s video is about an abusive behaviour & defense mechanism that people with narcissistic personality disorder use very frequently.

Projection is something I experienced most of my life from my mother and it is something that was immensely painful.

This is the definition of Projection according to Wikipedia:

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

I hope you find this video helpful.

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

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.