Like moss, shames grows in the dark. Vanquish it by bringing it into the light, Ross Rosenberg
Have you ever been in a relationship where you were forced to feel overwhelming guilt just for being you? Your partner made you feel as though you were flawed in such a way there was nothing you could ever do to fix yourself? Did you believe you were fortunate to be with this person although they treated you terribly? Have you finally broken free of the relationship but you’re not sure if you will find someone who ever understands you?
You’re not alone in your experience. This is the underworld of toxic shame – what toxic and abusive people use against their targets to isolate them, degrade their self esteem and cause them to undermine their self worth.
Many people have come to me to describe their experience with toxic shame and their struggles to release it and move forward. If your partner has subjected you to toxic shame, is causing you to doubt yourself until your self worth has evaporated, and you’re feeling isolated and confused about who you are and what you should do next, this blog is for you. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can release toxic shame and move on with a happier and more fulfilling life than what you currently have.
What is toxic shame?
According to John Bradshaw toxic shame is: “The feeling of being flawed and diminished and never measuring up. Toxic shame feels much worse than guilt. With guilt, you’ve done something wrong, but you can repair that – you can do something about it. With toxic shame, there’s something wrong with you and there’s nothing you can do about it, you are inadequate and defective”.
Still unsure? People who experience toxic shame demonstrate the following behaviours:
– Irrational paralysing feelings of worthlessness, humiliation, self loathing
– Stopped identifying with themselves or lacking a sense of self
– Other people bring them more peace than they feel they could ever bring to themselves
– When they’re hurting they are very quick to disengage, disconnect or detach
– They are comfortable being abused and often don’t recognise it – friends may see it first
– They feel completely unlovable and less-than human
Toxic shame is what holds us in toxic and abusive relationships and prevents us from leaving and people who are targeting you will depend on it to hold you there.
Experts say toxic shame is linked to childhood traumas, and while I agree this could trigger toxic shame in adult life – I don’t think it’s essential to have a traumatic shaming childhood experience in order to suffer from toxic shame as an adult.
People who experience toxic shame will demonstrate the following behaviours:
– Lack of intimacy in relationships
– Poor communicator
– Engage in relationships with: non-productive circular fights, manipulation, games
– Vying for control
– Fear of anger – your own or someone else’s
– Ongoing short-term relationships (caused by a subconscious fear of people getting to close) and this can be demonstrated in romantic relationships or jumping from job to job
– Low self worth and confidence
– Prone to knee-jerk reactions to benign comments, inquiries or situations to attempt to maintain some control (Note: Coming out of an abusive relationship – this behaviour not an unusual experience and can be part of self-preservation following your experience)
If you recognise these symptoms in yourself, it’s time to change. NOW!
Can you fix toxic shame?
Absolutely – but it’s a journey and it is down to the individual experiencing the toxic shame to recognise it and fix themselves. Unfortunately the co-dependent element strongly linked to toxic shame often leads these people to more romantic partners in an attempt to avoid dealing with the core issues linked to their toxic shame. This can force them down the obsessive path of love, sex and people addiction.
If you recognise these things in yourself and then you find yourself thinking it will be different with your next partner as you begin to seek your next partner out – I urge you to stop. Toxic shame creates big gaping voids, and while it’s tempting to resolve the loneliness and isolation it causes by placing another person in the hole – it won’t resolve your issues until you’re ready to face them head on.
Once you’ve committed to facing your toxic shame, the next area many people get stuck is knowing what to do next. Stick with me, I’m about to tell you! The following steps will hopefully lead you to a path where you’re feeling back on track rapidly. It is better to recover on your own than to bring someone else into your recovery with you.
What do I do if I suspect I’m suffering from toxic shame but I’m not entirely sure?
Keeping a diary may assist you to process what you have experienced or are experiencing. The more you speak about what is happening, the easier it will become to digest, process and recover from. It may also lead you to a point of self compassion, which is one of the steps we will look at to help you in your recover.
You can seek help through a psychotherapist, life coach, psychologist or counsellor to work through your experiences. I am also available to assist people all over the work, so you can contact me via email on email@example.com.
What will happen if I don’t get help?
Without the correct help, toxic shame will manifest all throughout your life in self destructive ways.
For example, you may continue to leave relationships or jobs as you avoid letting people get close to you; the big gaping void of loneliness and isolation that you suffer coupled with your horrible helpless feelings caused by lack of self worth and identity won’t go away and you’ll never have the opportunity to develop your true, authentic self.
Or it may even get worse. You could become co-dependent with obsessive tendencies that steer you toward love, sex and people addiction. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will become dangerous but it means you will have to overcome your addiction before you can deal with your toxic shame – so it’s better to nip it in the bud.
So how can I release my toxic shame?
1. Switch on the self-compassion light
Often toxic shame festers in people who are particularly hard on themselves. If it was a friend in a similar situation, this person would be able to empathise and demonstrate compassion – but because they’re close to it, they become hard on themselves for experiencing it. Shame is a “soul-eating” emotion according to Carl Jung – it survives as long as someone is fearful and negative and causes these people to be insecure, self-loathing and self-doubting.
Keep a process journal during your recovery. First I want you to write about your most shameful experience – and there are two approaches:
If you experienced shame in your childhood – try to remember the very first time you experienced it and what happened and write it down in your diary. This exercise deals with the core shame and is the most powerful approach of the two options. Once you have written about your experience, detail what you would’ve liked an adult to say to you directly after you experienced the shameful incident.
If you have only experienced shame in your adult life – try to remember the time when you experienced it at its peak. This exercise deals with “situational shame” and will assist you to process what you have recently experienced. Once you have completed writing about the incident, write what you would have liked an authority figure to have said to you directly after you experienced your situation.
Alternatively, you could write the story as though a friend experienced the exact same situation and write down what you would say to them directly after the event. Then say it out loud to yourself and see how it makes you feel to hear those words from yourself.
2. Enhance self worth by embracing your inner child
Find out about various ways you can connect with your inner child – I highly recommend this meditation by Mark Ryan. You can work with a psychotherapist, life coach or hypnotherapist to do this. Once you have connected with your inner child and created a platform for self-love, you can start embracing your inner child by finding out the things they like. When you reward yourself going forward, be mindful of your inner child and the things they enjoy. With the right ground work and assistance from the right support, this process will help you to feel security in an unconditional sense – it’s very, very powerful!
3. Take time off dating
If you are single, take at least six months off dating to detox from what you’ve experienced and allow yourself to process and find your true authentic self. During this time, challenge yourself to banish any unhealthy or limiting beliefs that may keep you in your current cycle or the state of harbouring toxic shame. Be mindful of your self talk (you are listening!) and challenge yourself to shift your focus to positive and healthy things as much as you can – as Tony Robbins says: where your focus goes, energy flows! It takes practise. I’d recommend getting a life coach to assist you to stay on track and really stretch you to reach some great achievements during this time. If you are codependent, I highly recommend “Codependent no more” by Melody Beattie and attending CODA meetings to start to break this and developing a self-care plan for yourself.
4. Learn to trust yourself
Toxic shame causes us to lose our faith in ourselves, so while we’re taking time out from other people to rebuild, it’s important to start looking at how you can build your self trust and test it in various safe environments. Quit putting yourself in self-sabotaging situations and instead work to break the cycle. Rebuilding self trust can be a frustrating task, so again, I’d recommend working with a life coach, psychotherapist or counsellor for this. One of the things I ask my clients to do is create the ideal of what they’re looking for and then find small ways to test if the quest to obtain this is possible – for example a healthy relationship with the perfect man, my clients would set boundaries and know the consequences to each being crossed and sticking to those boundaries to prioritise their self-preservation as a way of developing self respect and self trust. This is one of my specialities, if you would like to work with me – contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Reassess the people you associate with
Nurture all relationships with people who recognise and appreciate your fundamental and naturally defining value. If a client comes to me having left a toxic or abusive relationship, I often recommend they cut contact with their ex-partner, which includes limiting communicating to mutual friends if they need to maintain the friendship at all. Part of the reason for this approach is that it’s very difficult to drive a car forward – and not crash – when you’re looking in the revision mirror.
Then once you’re ready to enter back into a relationship, only allow yourself to be with people who can see your self-worth based just on who you are, not what you do. Setting clear boundaries will assist with defining who may best assist you on your journey to detoxing from toxic shame.
6. Keep promises you make to yourself
You may have noticed you often tell yourself “If you do this, you can have that” – as a parent would, but once you do it, it’s like an anti-climax and you don’t reward yourself as promised. From today forward, keep all the promises you make to yourself – particularly when it is around achieving something – this is a really simple and effective technique which will assist to build your self worth back up.
7. Be mindful of your shame
When you do begin to experience shame, be mindful of it. Have a look at the meaning you are attaching to events in your life and ask yourself “What else could it mean?” or “What else could I feel as a result of this situation?” Instead of relying on external validation and other people to tell you how you should feel, ask yourself what you feel or how you should feel, decide on it, and make your next move from there. There are some fantastic mindfulness Apps you can download on your smartphone which will assist you to practise mindfulness including Headspace (10 days of 10 minutes) and Smiling Minds.
8. Spend time with pets or children
Spend time where you can getting unconditional love from pets and children. Watch how they make you feel about yourself. Then take that feeling home and try to replicate it on your own with one of your self-care activities. It’s important to teach yourself unconditional love, towards yourself, so you’re not relying on receiving it from others.
9. Rephrase “I am…”
Often when we feel shame we are also assigning blame … to ourselves. If someone want to say to you “Finish this sentence: ‘I am …’” what would you put after it? Be mindful of what your self-talk says and start to find healthy endings to that sentence and then go out of your way to prove it to yourself where ever possible. This is the affirmation for your life.
10. Change the ending
Going back to that shameful experience you wrote about, you could also change the way it ends. Write this out in such a way that you become the powerful hero of the story. Pick a character who resembles this powerful hero (a good one is Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games), and when you feel toxic shame is taking over again or can see signs of it, ask yourself what this character would do before you take action.
Have you experienced toxic shame? Please share your recovery experiences below.
Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re romantic, career-related, family-related or friendship-related. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: email@example.com
Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come. Robert H. Schuller
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. Napoleon Hill
They say that the universe always provides for us – ask for patience, and you’re likely to find a line at the bank or you could just test yourself and head to the post office during your lunch break. Imagine the frustration you would encounter if every time you looked for patience you got tested in some way. Patience is a skill, that’s why often we hear the term to “practise patience” – we can actually practise it and strengthen our ability to be more patient in all circumstances! This week Happiness Weekly gives you some tips on how!
Know your triggers
If you know what makes you feel impatient, you can avoid it when you are already feeling irritable, but you can also use it to challenge yourself when feeling calm to strengthen your patience in various situations.
Letting go can be difficult, but once you’ve packaged everything in a box and handed it to the universe, trust your journey to guide you. If you find directly challenging yourself with frustration is too difficult, you could also get in touch with your inner zen and practise:
- Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
- Meditation: a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.
- Affirmations: the action or process of affirming something.
- Visualisation: a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal.
Look at the big picture
When you’re finding it difficult to practise patience, sometimes stepping out of the situation and looking at the bigger picture can make the discomfort feel more bearable. Remember your goals and direction and then decide if enduring discomfort is necessary or worth it for what you desire.
Don’t demand yourself be perfect
We can all be perfectionists. We all want to do the best and be the best. But what if for just one day it was ok to be yourself, exactly as you are and that was perfectly perfect enough? Sometimes when we’re on the brink of frustration it’s because we’re demanding too much of ourselves or expecting too much. Consider how you would treat your best friend in the same situation. Treat yourself accordingly. What you’ll eventually notice is that being hard on yourself won’t change the outcome.
Intentionally practise patience
Deliberately put yourself in situations time and time again where your patience is constantly being tested. For example you may:
- Choose to stand in the longest line
- Drive behind a slow driver when you’re in a rush
- Take the longer route to get somewhere
- Make yourself wait longer
- Deliberately miss a deadline
Laugh at the problem
Laughing at anything is great at reducing stress. If you’re irritable and you laugh, you will instantly feel calmer about the situation and be able to feel more patient in your situation. When I can’t find the funny side in a situation, I have a lot of friends who will find it for me! If you’re having difficulty, talk to a friend and tell them their job is to find the funny side in your story. See how you feel once they find it and you’re both laughing.
Remind yourself what’s important to you
Is it really important that you achieve that goal exactly on time? What happens if you don’t? What is it about that particular thing that is frustrating you? How does it honestly affect you? Really think about it before you wind yourself up too badly over something. Sometimes simply reminding yourself what’s important to you is enough to practise patience.
In becoming more patient and practising patience you will reduce your stress levels, feel happier, make better decisions, be more empathetic and compassionate to others, and be better able to understand the process associated with growth.
How do you practise patience?
I’m really excited to announce Happiness Weekly is back online! Our Facebook account is now active and we’re set to go with some very exciting news to share, new blogs, a different writing style and more!
During the break I actually received a submission for Happiness Weekly from my colleague, Craig, who saw something on the way to work one morning and it reminded him of Happiness Weekly. That afternoon he returned to the spot to take photos of it and I wanted to share the Happiness Hero’s action-packed version of events:
Pulled up my car in a side street…
Walked to the bus stop where the chair was…
When I took the photos I was standing in the middle of a bus lane – pretty wild – cars traffic…
Some chick called out “Are u a reporter?”
Well I could not resist the opportunity: “Yes I replied – I am on an assignment for “Happiness Weekly.org.”
For a minute I really thought I was a reporter – till a bus tooted me and shocked me back into reality … Doooohhh!
Have a good day!”
Here are the photos he took for us:
Thank you, Craig the Happiness Hero!
If you have a submission you would like to make to Happiness Weekly, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put it up for you or you can post it on our Facebook page and we’ll share it for you.
Happy Independence Day everybody – catch you on Monday!
How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar. Trina Paulus
Look around you. Right now. What do you have in your life that’s important to you?
Now imagine that gone. Completely.
Generally even the thought of losing whatever it is makes us feel sad, overwhelmed or possibly even angry.
`While going throughout the journey in life, you’ll eventually come across a point where you need to let go. It may be letting go of a person in your life, it may be letting go of negative thoughts and feelings, it may be letting go of material things. Letting go is the steepest learning curve in attachment. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can let go the easy way!
Part of letting go is acceptance – acceptance that it is gone, acceptance of your feelings and acceptance of the feelings other people have around you about whatever is gone. For example let’s say we lose someone close to us through a relationship break up or death – there’s not a lot we can do about it, it is what it is – but we will have feelings about it and the people around us will have feelings about it. If we can accept what has happened quickly, then what other people think will bounce off us rather than consume us.
I’ve been talking about this a lot lately because it’s true – a lot of the time we look for external validation – but why? We live our lives! Stuff what other people think: What do you think? How do you feel? That’s what matters. Check in with your self and make your internal or self-validation a priority in your life.
Be conscious of attachment
If you know you are attached to something (dependent children are different) – let’s say we’re talking about a house, a spouse, a sports car or a romantic partner, start distancing yourself emotionally from whatever it is you are attached to. Practise thinking about letting go of it in the most positive way you can. This is key in recovering quickly if you are to lose it. Even if you just practise it as a passing thought rather than doing a deep meditation over it – if you are to lose it, your mind is prepared and your subconscious will return you with “Oh yeah, you prepared for this – remember when you were thinking this would happen and this is what you thought…” Don’t panic, it’s not the Law of Attraction, it’s preparing for what may eventually happen.
Challenge your limiting beliefs
If you were to lose whatever it is you’re attached to, what would it stop you from doing? What is it about that thing that you are so afraid of losing it? How does this thing make you a better person now than what you could be without it? If you lost whatever it is you’re attached to, what would it stop you from being? You’ll find when you start challenging your limiting beliefs about the thing you’re attached to, that you’re able to create distance from it. In fact, you may even discover the thing you’re attached to is holding you back.
Believe in yourself
When you believe in yourself, you know exactly what to do. The only way you can believe in yourself is to know who you are. Spend some time on your own exercising your self trust, self acceptance and self love, and learning about yourself and the things you love. Once you know all these things, you’ll be able to believe in yourself, your confidence will grow and you will be ready to face whatever challenge comes your way.
Break it down
Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time. You don’t need to let go all at once. But if you use each day to detach piece by piece, you’ll feel stronger because every time we let go of something, we give more energy and power to ourselves. If you are strong enough to let it all go at once, then more power to you – letting go quickly enables you to start your healing journey faster whereas letting go gradually can sometimes just prolong the pain.
Let it go
If it comes time that you need to put this into practise: give yourself permission to let it go. Consider other positive stories where people have been in your exact situation (or something very similar) and as a result, have gone on to achieve much bigger and better things. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Read positive affirmations and encourage yourself to let the situation strengthen you. Allow it to make you better not bitter. And remember: When you’re going through hell, just keep going – keep going and going until you’re so far removed from that hell that before you know it, you’re floating with angels again. Remember: nothing can hurt us forever.
Finally, if you really want a lesson in letting go, try packing your entire life in a small suitcase and moving overseas to a completely different country … indefinitely. What’s stopping you? Remove the blocks and excuses – and go for it – it will be one of the most empowering things you ever do.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. Buddha.
You probably think I’ve lost it – the chief blogger of Happiness Weekly who prides herself on spreading peace and happiness worldwide is writing about getting angry and seeking revenge? What good could come out of embracing an emotion such as anger and responding out of revenge? And I’m not only talking about getting angry but actively seeking revenge?
Yup … I’m crazy. Or am I?
Holding anger in, or suppressing it – which is basically the same – can be unhealthier and even more detrimental to your long-term health, than to actually get angry and respond. Suppressed anger leads to premature death (ie. by 50 years old), long-term depression, increased risk of heart disease, cancer, accidents and suicide.
Not a lot of us have been taught how to get angry. In fact from a young age it’s an emotion that is often to be neither seen nor heard – in my social circle I’ve found that particularly being female impacts this as you’re almost expected not to get angry. Unfortunately when we swallow anger, we also swallow other emotions along with it – such as fear.
I’m often told of people doing the wrong things by each other. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to colleagues and I’m almost certain at some stage in your life it would have happened to you. In fact, maybe you’re even the person who does the wrong thing sometimes out of anger. That can happen – we’re all human and sometimes we make mistakes – so long as no one gets hurt. So I’m excited about this week’s blog post because this week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can get angry and seek healthy revenge.
Have you felt that overwhelming sense of anxiety, where you have so many emotions as a result of someone hurting you that you actually don’t know what to do so you’re trembling in silence and almost suffocating in agony? All you seem to be able to feel is sheer frustration combined with immense pain? You may have also felt fear.
Anger, when we don’t know how to deal with it properly, will often manifest as other emotions. When our anger finally does explode, we will generally overreact to something impulsively, irrationally and also may not have as much control as we would if we’d dealt with our anger at the time we felt angry. By dealing with our anger at the time, rather than keeping it suppressed, we can continue living a harmonious life. This doesn’t mean you can punch people out when they do the wrong thing by you, although it may be tempting, so today we’re going to look at the healthy ways you can express your anger.
First, it’s important to acknowledge the upside to anger according to Dr Gary J. Oliver, “One of the many potentially positive aspects of anger is that it can serve as a very powerful and effective warning system. Healthy anger can help us identify problems and needs and provide us with the energy to do something about them.”
How to express your anger in a healthy way
As I said, it’s best not to go knocking people out every time they wrong you – but it’s almost important to allow yourself to have your feelings and ensure you feel validated in feeling the way you do.
When I first considered the concept of getting angry in a healthy way, it was such a foreign concept to me that I kind of laughed. “I don’t even get angry! I just cry!” It was brought to my attention that those tears were caused by years and years of swallowed and suppressed anger. I had actually had a lot of anger bubbling under the surface but I didn’t know how to let it out so I’d never released it.
One concept I had grasped correctly about anger is that anger is an emotion, not an action. This means you need to express it and in expressing it, you need to figure out a healthy way of doing it – such as seeking “healthy revenge”.
Recognising that you’re angry and dealing with it appropriately won’t hurt you or anyone else. As Dr Gary J. Oliver pointed out, anger can carry messages that act as warnings to us – when we swallow our anger for a long time these loud warning bells start getting dimmed and we start overlooking them and accepting circumstances we don’t like, which links back into my article about cognitive dissonance.
How to express your anger in an acceptable way
There’s no right or wrong rule of thumb here, but let’s set some ground rules and boundaries around this to ensure we’re safe and the people around us are safe as well.
– No one (you or others) should get hurt as a result of your expression of angry (this includes hurting their wellbeing or negatively affecting their life)
– There should be no consequences from your actions and if there are, you need to accept the punishment
– Part of knowing how to get angry properly is knowing how to fight fair – if you get angry and then don’t fight fair then you never actually won that fight, whether you feel better about the outcome or not.
Anger Management classes will obviously identify and establish healthy responses to anger. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re passive aggressive (as the movie may suggest) or that you have issues in over-expressing your anger. A few tips for expressing your anger in an acceptable way may include:
– Assertive communication or waiting until the anger has died down and then communicating
– Acknowledge that you feel angry and validate yourself
– Go for a run and really pound your feet against the pavement
– Smash a pillow onto your bed
– Healthy revenge – which I’m going to tell you more about now.
How to seek healthy revenge
The first thing you need to do is cut the fantasy. Yup, you have to stop fantasising over writing rude words in your neighbour’s lawn with weed killer because their loud partying kept you awake til 3am last night. Stop thinking about slashing your ex’s tires because they cheated on you. Stop thinking about picking up your ex-girlfriend’s sleazy best friend to get back at her. Can you see how these fantasies only make one person look bad at the end of the day? Carry it out and I guarantee the only person who will feel bad will be you. Although I’m sure each fantasy may enable you to express your anger, none of them do anyone any good. In fact, these thoughts waste energy, people’s time and money at the end of the day. Although it may make you feel validated at the time and as though you “won”, none of these things will lead to a positive conclusion. So, instead of bothering with any of that, we’re going to concentrate on how you can really get your anger out and win. The best way to do this is to act for the greater good.
OK, now you’ve quit wasting your time on fantasising and let’s work out how you can actually deal with this anger in a healthy way and then how you can seek healthy revenge.
How do you seek revenge in a healthy way?
Warning: DO NOT SEEK REVENGE WHILE YOU’RE STILL ANGRY! If you’re still angry, keep on with the first part of this blog or see a professional psychologist about how you can deal with your anger. Anger is the strongest emotion that can manipulate our responses, causing us to act irrationally.
Now that you’ve dealt with your anger and released it in a healthy way, you’re in a better position to seek revenge. That’s what the first part of this blog was all about, getting in the best possible position you can so that you can use your anger to seek healthy revenge. OK – we’re going to do is something quite radical now…
Instead of seeking revenge on the people who did us wrong, we’re going to look at how we can use this incident to help other people. So literally we’re taking the pain from the situation and we’re going to turn it into power. This is what I’ve been referring to as healthy revenge. This is the only actual revenge that shows you as a positive and balanced individual that is striving for success rather than hurting others as a result of the pain you are feeling. Your response by taking action this way will speak louder, encourage powerful outcomes and create a positive difference – people can see that you got angry in order to take that action but they, and you, will be grateful for the outcome. A really good example of this is Tom Meagher from Melbourne, who contacted the parole board to change their system in order to enable our justice system to protect other women so they don’t get hurt like his wife did. The value that he has added to our world by using his anger to seek positive revenge is incredible.
Well that sounds great! But how do we know what action to take?
This is similar to how you were fantasising about plotting revenge, but instead of listing negative scenarios, we’re listing positive scenarios that will assist you in moving forward from the event that hurt you and left you angry.
The best, most dignified way to get angry about something that happened to you, is to make something positive from it. It’s just up to you to come up with what action that may be.
Here are a few steps you could take in order to take healthy revenge:
Step one: Give yourself permission to go on a healthy revenge mission. A big part of this will include forgiving yourself for any part in what happened
Step two: Consider the most positive thing you can do with your anger – for example, I started supporting a domestic violence charity that shuns violence against women after my experience with narcissistic abuse. This action was just one step in seeking healthy revenge, but it was certainly the most empowering response I could’ve had to the situation.
Step three: Get creative. If you’re really angry, spread it out and get creative about it. Contact politicians, start your own business based on the event that affected you, write the story and educate as many people about what happened to you as possible (imagine if it went global and you saved thousands of people from going through the same thing), hit the gym and workout to be strong enough to defend yourself in case it happens to you again … the list goes on.
Events are just events until we add perspective to them. Anger is the one emotion that leaves us feeling completely powerless – unless we do something positive with it. Even negative revenge is a temporary fix. Don’t let your anger beat you.
Difficulties mastered are opportunities won. Winston Churchill
The way we process things all comes down to our perspective on the events that have occurred and the lessons we take with us to grow and help others. The greater the challenge, the more we learn from it and the more opportunities appear right on our doorstep. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can find opportunities and lessons in challenging times.
This blog was inspired by a recent trip to the airport. One thing after another kept “going wrong” for me, but instead of getting frustrated by each event, I laughed hysterically at myself. When things like this happen, you have a choice – you can either laugh at it as an outsider would, or get uptight and stressed about it. Life’s short – choose wisely.
After much debate I decided to wear high-heeled boots and look attractive, rather than be practical and wear flats because I hadn’t seen the friend I was visiting for some time. I had a large suitcase, my laptop bag and a large handbag and I struggled with all three as I caught a bus and then a train to the airport – all the while, chatting to a beautiful soul on Facebook, who happens to be a pilot and was keeping me calm about my impending flight.
When I got to the airport I went straight to the automatic check-in point. There were about seven options on how you could check in including scanning a barcode, typing in the reference number, typing in your name etc. Having some time on my hands, I decided to scan the barcode. About ten minutes later (I’m pretty persistent at times!), I stopped attempting to unsuccessfully scan the barcode and typed in my name – which took approximately sixty seconds. The rest of the process took approximately two minutes to complete and I was all checked in.
The lesson I learned in this was that sometimes it really is just easier just to do things the simple way than to attempt to do things because of novelty.
I then start struggling over to the baggage check-in point – on my way stopping to ask an attendant if I would be able to take my fold up umbrella aboard in my carry-on luggage. For those looking to fly domestically in Australia – the answer to this was yes.
I got to the conveyor belt that takes your baggage into the abyss until you hope to see it again at your destination. I placed my bag on the conveyor belt, standing up on its wheels, where it got weighed. What I was convinced weighed a couple of tonne, weighed 15kg. (For a five-night stay interstate, I’ll admit – I probably over-packed a little.) At this point I had my laptop bag on my back, my large handbag over my arm and was clutching onto the boarding pass and receipt for the boarding pass along with the sticker to put on my bag (also known as the luggage sticker). “Goody! I’ve always wanted to do this!” I thought to myself, as I envisaged the lady at the counter doing it for me last time – so seamlessly, so professionally, it probably took about two seconds in total to take the sticker off and wrap it around the handle and off went the bag.
Now it was my turn.
So I removed the sticker. Half of it peeled off seamlessly, just as the checkout lady had done at my previous visit to the airport. It was just as I’d imagined – I could almost have gone for a job at the checkout, I thought to myself. But then: disaster. The other half of the sticker just didn’t go so seamlessly. In fact, it started to tare and as I instinctively tried to use my other hand to separate it – my boarding pass and receipt both got stuck to the sticker. Concentrating, I carefully peeled my boarding pass away – it tore slightly but not too bad … the receipt wasn’t so lucky on the other hand – it tore in half.
So the lesson I learned here was this: when trying to stick the sticker on your bag at the airport, keep your boarding pass and receipt completely clear of the sticker. In fact – put them in your handbag or pocket if you have one. Oh – and just because you visualise something doesn’t mean it’s going to pan out that well for you – make sure you’re adaptable and creative enough to adjust to whatever may happen next!
My next challenge was trying to place the bag down on the conveyor belt. It was a wheelie bag, so I thought if I just tipped it then it would fall flat – but for some reason it didn’t work that way. I ended up rolling my bag up and down the small section of conveyor belt about five times before I physically had to pick the bag up, lie it flat and place it back on the conveyor belt. I watched my bag disappear on the conveyor belt to join other travelling bags. The lesson I learned here was sometimes persistence doesn’t pay!
Next was walking through the scan machines. I carefully placed my handbag, my belt and my backpack into the trays provided and watched them go through the machine. I walked through and all was clear. I then took my bags and started tying my belt back around me. I then received a random request to be scanned for explosives. I agreed. I learned if you wait around for too long, people will take advantage of you – sometimes it’s best not to loiter, take your belt with you and put it on elsewhere!
After that I marched off to the travelator which has been my favourite thing about airports since I was young. I learned that things we enjoyed as children, we may also find enjoyable as adults – even if we’re using it properly (unlike when we were children and would use them as a treadmill). I made sure I walked it on the way home too – just to please my inner child and bring back a few memories to bring a smile to my face.
As you can see, there are lessons in every little thing we do and as long as we learn through our times of despair – as much as we may feel the loser at the time, we come out the winner. It is our perception of the events that happen to us that frames the event. Life events are just events until we frame them – and our perception of these events is based on our beliefs, values and past experiences. For example, laughing at the chaos in my case helped me to view the circumstances in a positive frame of mind.
The ability to learn from things is up to us – for example, if I allowed each of these events to frustrate me perhaps I would have repeated all the same things on the flight home because I wouldn’t have been so receptive to learning from what happened.
When things appear to be mounting against you, have a think about this quote: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly”. Many people will interpret this in different ways. What does this mean to you? Check out some of these powerful interpretations.
Finding opportunities in challenges is like looking at life like an optical illusion – sometimes they can be two-faced and the opportunity is up to us as to how we interpret it. Have a look at these optical illusions and see what you find – I’ll put answers below. You should be able to see two images in each image below – what do you see?
Optical Illusion Answers:
A Beautiful woman looking away/Old woman looking to the left
B Old couple looking at each other/Two people in sombreros – one playing a ukulele
C Old man/Person on a white horse
D Rose/Two cherubs kissing
E A man with a moustache looking to the left/A boy with sheep near a village
Thank you for reading and have a fantastic day!
You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there. Edwin Louis Cole
Last year my life didn’t move. It was like I was frozen in time. Nothing changed. At all.
I didn’t learn anything (other than what I researched for my blog), I didn’t do anything new or exciting (because I was so busy trying to facilitate that for others) and my life just stayed exactly the same. I couldn’t help but compare it to the year before when everything changed all at once: new job, new home, new relationship.
It was frustrating for me because I am usually good at initiating change in my life, but I couldn’t find what was anchoring me down. I was stuck. My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I couldn’t make anything happen and just as I was on the verge of making something happen, I’d back down.
I stopped believing in myself.
Yet here’s the thing: in this year of nothingness I wanted change and almost expected it to happen without me even trying.
It wasn’t long before I developed something that I call “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” – unless something happened to demonstrate change was imminent, I didn’t believe anything would change, so I wasn’t going to bother trying. I remained completely unmotivated.
Fortunately, once I cut myself from the anchor, and started working on myself, I was able to turn things around. I started by taking a big step and left that relationship I’d gotten into – over time I have found the bigger the step you take, the greater the change. Not surprisingly, this year is completely different. My confidence is restored, I feel as though I’m in control again and I love life!
This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can overcome this “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” and make positive change happen in just one simple step.
I heard a fantastic quote the other day that I wanted to share with you:
“If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven (happiness) is created by good actions. To take action, just do it. Do it now!”
The rule of thumb here is: in order to get out this “I’ll believe it when I see it depression”, we need to take action to encourage positive change and keep taking steps until we reach our goal. In other words, we’re turning things around to enables us to see it before we believe it! How do we do that?
1. Stop what you’re doing
Stop what you’re doing and be mindful of any rituals you’re currently following. Think about where your values are and whether your priorities align with them. What is most important to you – and why? Are you following through with these things or have you forgotten about yourself? How are these rituals you are following serving you?
2. Discover what’s holding you back
Realistically assess what you’re spending your time on – is this holding you back? It didn’t take me long to realise what I was spending my time on was doing nothing for me, and when really honest with myself, I acknowledged it was depleting my self-esteem – and it was my fault! I was spending 95% of my energy on a relationship with a narcissist – my anchor – and I was choosing to remain in it even though friends and family disapproved, it didn’t align with my values (despite his best attempts to cover it up – it was an affair), and it wasn’t doing anything positive for me at all. Once acknowledging this, I could concentrate on the steps I needed to take in order to get out of there.
3. Do what’s in your control
If you can make change happen, within your control, do it! Generally if you have “I’ll believe it when I see it depression” you would have been procrastinating for quite some time… so you know what changes you want to make but you never quite got there. Today is the day you give yourself permission to make change within your control happen. If you’ve been looking at renting a property, if you’ve been thinking about studying, if you’re looking at jobs but not applying… STOP HOLDING YOURSELF BACK! Make it happen!
4. Don’t be scared of eliminating blocks
This is a big one – sometimes taking steps to remove our blocks is exactly what is holding us back from making positive changes to our life. What if it means the difference between being with your partner and being on your own? It sounds scary. OK, go into your imagination for a moment – and fast forward time by 10 years, imagine your life once you have removed the block and the positive change has happened as result. What do you look like? How are you behaving? What’s changed around you? Now weigh up if you want that anchor tying you down, or not.
5. Empower yourself
We all have a lot more control than we think we do in any given situation – don’t wait for someone to save you, save yourself! Empower yourself. Depend on yourself to make the right decision. Trust yourself. Love yourself enough to let go of something that’s hindering your happiness. The key to making positive change happen is setting goals to help you out of your situation. Define a goal as positively as you can and then write down what steps you need to take to get there. Then choose just one of those steps and action is today! Some people take little steps, others – like me – like to start with the toughest step to get the biggest impact and make the most dramatic change. There’s no right or wrong. Once you have actioned that one step, you are one step closer to achieving positive change in your life.
Remember this in trying to move forward, no matter how scary that first step appears to be:
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. Nora Roberts.
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Bob Kerrey (1943)
The kindness of strangers has the power to improve our wellbeing and increase our feelings of happiness more than our normal friendship circle. How do I figure this? Imagine you have been hurt or let down by someone you trusted and thought you knew. You’re just looking to vent and for someone to listen to your story.
First you talk to a friend, they listen, and offer you their opinion and give advice in an attempt to try to lift you back up. You can sense their empathy and genuine care in their response which makes you feel somewhat better and your day continues as normal.
Now imagine the same scenario, but this time you’re talking to a complete stranger. You tell them your story and they listen. They then respond in a way that shows they identify or can relate to your situation, they offer you their opinion based on what they have heard and understood, and advise you accordingly. All of a sudden you feel less alone and your faith in humanity is restored and it’s like the sun has started shining through a grey sky – your day almost feels better, more fulfilled, than when you spoke to your friend. The happiness you feel as a result of the correspondence with the stranger barely compares to how you felt after communicating with your friend about the same issue.
This week Happinesss Weekly looks at why strangers can have a greater impact on your happiness than your friends.
Why strangers do it better
There are several reasons why strangers have the power to make us feel happier than our usual circle of friends – this could be why internet dating is becoming more popular and a more acceptable way of meeting someone and finding love. Here are some of the reasons why strangers can appeal to us more than our friends:
- Our expectations
The fact is we expect our friends to care about our wellbeing and therefore subconsciously depend on them to listen to us, side with us and support us unconditionally through all turbulence. It’s a part of friendship that almost all of us take for granted.
In the case of a complete stranger, we have no expectations. When a stranger is entirely removed from a situation and shows us kindness, we appreciate the time they take to actively listen to our story more than when our friends show us the same courtesy. Then if the stranger passes judgement that validates our feelings or actions, we start to feel better understood and less alone.
Although a stranger may have responded the same way as our friends, they exceed our expectations because we didn’t have any to begin with.
- The “stranger danger” belief
Strangers may also have an advantage over our friends because as children we were made acutely aware of “stranger danger”. These messages shaped our beliefs that strangers are a threat and potential danger.
Even now, despite statistics showing that someone we know who is a greater threat to us than a stranger, the media often highlight stories that demonstrate the opposite. When a stranger offers us kindness, our receptors instantly flick on warning us to be wary and we begin to question their motives and what could be in it for us.
It is when the kindness of a stranger is proven to be genuine and consequence-free, despite what we were programmed to understand, we often find ourselves pleasantly surprised.
As adults, neglecting or rejecting the kindness of strangers can force us to be confined and limited, so if we challenge this “stranger danger” belief, it enables us to work together to make a positive difference in each other’s lives.
- The selfish world we live in
Society often finds people first looking for the “what’s in it for me” before taking action in any situation. We all do it, whether it’s because we’re all time-poor in this fast-paced world or we’re simply becoming more selfish by the generation.
You may even notice that marketing campaigns are starting to lean towards commercial bribery as they become more aware that if they can’t convince the consumers that there’s something in it for them, it’s nearly impossible to motivate anyone to take action, let alone convince people to try a new product.
We are starting to value time more than ever before which is why when a stranger takes a moment to act selflessly towards us it leaves us feeling good because they have given up time to be thoughtful.
- About the kindness movement
This theory that strangers can have a greater impact on us than our friends isn’t new. Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward published in 2000, which was adapted into the film starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment in the same year, may have inspired the movement that encourages random acts of kindness towards strangers.
Whenever it began, adults are now being actively encouraged to be more mindful of each other and to demonstrate random acts of kindness where they can. The stigma associated with strangers being dangerous is deteriorating as more people embrace the “Pay it Forward” movement.
How you can make a positive difference to a stranger
The purpose of the following activities is to do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return – It doesn’t have to be expensive and there’s no need to go above and beyond when you choose to demonstrate a random act of kindness for a stranger.
– Buy someone’s coffee in the coffee shop
– Help a student with their tuition
– Teach someone something new
– Volunteer for a charity
– Let someone in front of you in the grocery store line
– Hand-write a letter to someone telling them how important they are to you
– Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter, be a referee for a job
– Work pro bono where your skills are needed
– Compliment a stranger
– Give up your seat when taking crowded public transport
– Listen to someone without interruption
– Greet someone in the elevator
– Hold the door open for someone
– Explain the Pay it Forward concept to someone
– Take part in Pay it Forward Day on 22 April. Find more information here.
For more ideas on how you can show kindness to others, follow the free Thrive Happiness Challenge application.
No one has it all figured out, especially not the people who are acting like they do and judging you because of it. Pretending to be something you aren’t because you’re trying to please a bunch of judgemental hypocrites and shitheads is not the way to be happy. Tucker Max
Do not judge and you will never be mistaken. Jean Jacques Rousseau
It can be extremely painful when other people judge us based on stories they have been told, something they have heard through the grapevine or maybe they simply believe a narcissist’s smear campaign after we finally worked up enough inner-strength and courage to walk away from a toxic relationship or a friendship that no longer serves us.
Some celebrities – such as Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus – embrace it openly, going with the “any news is good news” philosophy, but many others they talk about how daily rags and trashy magazines got their stories wrong and it impacted their reputations.
Most people would agree that they would rather not be the centre of controversial conversation that could lead to negative criticisms and judgements. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can handle being judged harshly – particularly when the rumors aren’t true.
Why do people judge others?
You can actually narrow it down to insecurity. No matter which way you slice the scenario, anyone who jumps to a negative conclusion about others and judges them based on that is insecure.
I used to work with a man who actually couldn’t form his own opinion about anyone. Whatever people would tell him about anyone else, he would listen– particularly if it was negative and even more if it was about a woman. This included him speaking badly of his wife and his own daughter, which is why I think the issue is more strongly geared towards women than men. Often this man would hear something and then continue to spread whatever he heard to whoever would listen. I remember acknowledging it at the time and thinking it was a horrible trait to have – in fact, he also inspired Speak positively or don’t speak at all.
In reflection: I feel sorry for him.
You’re probably wondering why – particularly as I am a woman – why I would feel sorry for someone like that.
Well, imagine being so insecure that you couldn’t form your own judgement of someone, or worse, if you had formed a judgement, but someone said something different you would change your opinion just because of them. No other reason. How could you ever be happy living like that? You would constantly doubt your judgement on everything – even simple decision-making – or always be ready to change what you think or feel in order to please someone else which would only encourage your self-doubt and make you vulnerable for people to play on. You know the people I’m talking about – they’re constantly looking for external validation.
You can’t be happy living like that.
Constantly living to receive external validation is a sure way to live miserably. However, if we look at this a little closer, it’s clear that someone like this has been hurt before in order to have lost their confidence in their own perception and judgement and their wounds and pain never healed. We can look even deeper into his harsh judgement of women and it becomes more likely that the person who hurt him was probably a woman. This person has been so deeply affected that they have no respect for women, but in the process none for themselves, their judgement and their perception either.
When we change our opinion based on others
When our judgement changes from something positive about a person to something negative because of someone else’s negative experience with them, it can be problematic. Not just for the person who you’re judging – obviously it’s hurtful to them (no one likes knowing someone thinks badly of them), but also for yourself – it can actually be quite harmful to you. Every time you form judgement through someone else, you actually lose a little piece of yourself and in the process of losing yourself, you’re literally taking on and digesting other people’s negative impressions and negative energy. Why would you want to live like that?
When our judgement is made independently of what others say, think or do we build trust within ourselves and others around us and we’re able to build a genuine rapport with people. We also get the satisfaction of having formed our own judgement of someone. Have you ever heard the saying “If you never ever go, you’ll never ever know”? It’s similar to that concept, but with people.
On a positive note: it’s never too late to let go and be better, not bitter.
Why you shouldn’t judge people based on what you hear about them
Judging is preventing us from understanding a new truth. Free yourself from the rules of old judgements and create the space for new understanding. Steve Maraboli
We all have different experiences. You might go on a thrill ride or experience and hate it – you’ll tell me all the reasons it was really unenjoyable. The next day, I may choose to go on the same ride – and I could have the time of my life and only have positive things to say about it.
When somebody comes to me and says negative things about someone, I’m very aware that this can be a reflection of who they are and who they feel they are. If you think badly about someone, you warn with facts and let it go. But if someone comes to you with a story about someone, or someone needs to sit you down to tell you about a time … cut them off. As Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins would say: ain’t nobody got time for that!
Although maybe you naturally like gossip, just like the man in the above scenario. The thing to be cautious of is that if someone is genuine in warning you against somebody else, they’ll only have facts and want to spend a small amount of time talking about that person – because they don’t like them. Generally they’ll sum up their complaint in a sentence and let it go. Cast your mind to someone you don’t like. We all dislike someone, in some way – whether it’s a personality clash, they stole your pencil in primary school or whatever… Let’s say you found out recently that the same person you dislike just kissed your best friend and they’re going to start dating. How much time would spend warning your friend about them? I guarantee you, not a lot – you would talk about the facts and let it go.
Whereas if someone has a more detailed story about someone, you have to consider there three sides to every story – their side, your side and the truth. You’re getting a third of that story. While it’s ok to listen, forming judgement and perhaps even taking action (ie. ending a friendship, not giving someone a chance by cutting them off, harassing someone via social media etc.) based on a third of the story seems foolish, right? Particularly when you don’t know the person’s motives in telling you. If you do know the speaking person’s motives and you respond, then you’re doing the wrong thing by not forming your own judgement separately to theirs.
What I have learned in recent times is that a narcissist will slander someone through smear campaign. Madeline Scribes does a fantastic job of outlining the difference between a story and a smear campaign in her article Telling your side versus a narcissistic smear campaign. The only way a narcissist can have a smear campaign is a. they have a “story” but not reality or facts and b. they have enough idiots who believe their lies and stories. This is why I suggest stopping the story. You don’t need a story, life’s too short. You need facts and experience before you form judgement.
Challenge yourself to form your own judgement, don’t depend on others for theirs.
How you can stay strong when someone is judging you?
Let it go.
It’s as simple as that.
The other day a girl at work stopped me and said “How do you just let people be around you? How do you just brush things off?”
My response was this: you can’t control anyone. You can’t get anyone else to say, think or do anything and ultimately people will say, think and do as they please. Just because someone has a negative opinion of you and you feel hurt or disagree, doesn’t mean their opinion is correct. It also doesn’t mean your opinion is correct. If someone is foolish enough to believe a rumour and judges you accordingly, then you just dodged a bullet!
And that’s true!
I am fortunate that I can detach myself from what others think or feel about me because after years of caring I adopted the philosophy: if it’s negative, it’s not my problem. So long as I can continue living my life authentically, with my friends, I am secure enough in myself that I don’t need to depend on their judgements. If I like it, I’ll do it. I only reach for my own validation. Remember what I said about the rumor mill being insecure? A secure person trumps an insecure person any day. This foundation helps me stand taller, stronger and enables me to remain positive in times of adversity.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, listen if you think the criticism will better you. But if someone forms judgement that is consequence of a smear campaign, and you go ahead and say negative things about that person: like a domino effect, there’s nothing good in it for anyone. It’s just a toxic person spreading more toxins via a minion.
If you need to vent, find a venting buddy, talk it out to a friend, or even contact me. The trick is knowing who you are to be secure enough in yourself not to be hurt by others and not to respond or react to bullying.
How to avoid being judged
You can’t – no matter what you do, you will be judged. It’s unavoidable.
But what you can do is overcome your fear of being judged, embrace who you are, act in a way that only positive judgements can be drawn and the negative ones slip right off. There are plenty of resources online that look at overcoming your fear of judgement but I like Marie Forleo’s YouTube video How to get over the fear of being judged the best because it adds a touch of fun to the topic.
Not everyone will like you all the time – the sooner you accept that and stop caring what other people think of you, the sooner you live a life of peace. Remember to respect other people’s opinions and in tougher times, remind yourself of this: “If I don’t mind – it don’t matter!
How to stop judging others
People around you will continue to judge but when I encountered a narcissist’s smear campaign I watched the reactions of people around me. The people I wanted in my life by the end of it, who I knew but wasn’t yet friends with – didn’t judge. They didn’t judge him, they didn’t judge me: they just stayed neutral. My appreciation for people who don’t judge grew significantly from that actually sparked some friendships. So being judged negatively doesn’t have to work out negatively for you.
It takes conscious effort not to judge people and it’s something I actively practice every day. It can be challenging because people are always trying to tell you their story and their version of events and it’s sometimes difficult to stay detached, particularly if they’re a close friend. Having said that, if you can leave your ego for a moment, step back enough and remind yourself you will only form judgement on facts and experiences you leave a clear passage that enables you can form your own opinions of people.
Always remember, when we judge others, we are judging ourselves. Unless your judgements are positive, be careful what judgements you form about others based on other people’s opinions. If someone is judging you, by responding we are being reactive, focus instead on being proactive, maintaining your dignity and walk away.
- Character is much easier kept than recovered ~ Robin McGraw 1 hour ago