Tag Archive | isolation

What the Hunger Games says about Domestic Violence

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Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor! Effie Trinket

When people ask me my favourite movie I say “The Hunger Games … all of them”. The next question is why and I instantly respond “Because at the time I needed it most, it brought me a lot of comfort – it became the metaphor for my life”. That’s generally when people give me a funny look. It brought me comfort? How?? At the time I didn’t realise, but when I look back at each of the movies with domestic violence in mind, many similar themes are taken to give hope to survivors. This week was White Ribbon day. This week Happiness Weekly explores what The Hunger Games says about Domestic Violence.

As well as being able to see the movie as strength for survival, I also feel people recovering from domestic abuse will also find themselves being easily able to identify with some of the lines, on a level that other people may not understand. In perfect timing, exactly as I needed them, these movies became my metaphor for life.

The standout moment for me – as with anyone who watches the movie – would have been the scene where Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute. I identified with this particularly when I was served with an AVO for lifting windscreen wiper blades – this of course is the equivalent of having both hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread in 2013-2014. And so came the court case where I “volunteered” for my abuser to have the order over me – aka “consented without admissions” – the bravest decision I have ever had to make in my life. You don’t know courage until it gets that real. I had to overcome a lot of fear to allow for that to happen. That’s just one example, but when I look back on the relationship there were many times where I volunteered, putting myself in a position where I remained part of his Hunger Games – and I continued to volunteer for more pain, anguish and upset. The next thing to stand out to me was when they went into the aircraft and Effie Trinket is talking about all the things they can have – although just for a little while. And there they sit in this dream world of luxury and glamour that was well beyond their world and their imagination … this scene, reminds me of the grooming phase in my past relationship. The part where he love-bombed me and brought me gifts, and wrote me cards, and turned up at my house with dinner and my favourite drinks, he stood up for me … and the list goes on. That dream world that was well beyond my imagination that became a reality. But just for a little while. And just as the movie metaphor has it – Katniss and Peeta Mellark may agree – I will be glad never to glimpse that world again if it means I never enter back into his Hunger Games!

I was even able to identify with the characters – Cinna, Gale Hawthorne and Primrose Everdeen – who represented my beautiful best friends, Lara, Luke and Bryan, who always had my back, but could only help me so far – they couldn’t fight in the games for me.

I don’t even want to get started on those trigger-happy “peace keepers”, who actually have no interest in keeping the peace but in punishing at any slight disturbance. How dare I lift those windscreen wiper blades … and so it goes on my record for life that I’m abusive, even though I was never charged and I never breached it. In that police station, at that court, it will remain forever. The punishment didn’t match the crime. But it’s not unusual for Sydney police to maintain this trigger-happy “peace keeper” feel to their work, they don’t care if they’re good guys, bad guys or what the ultimate facts are: watch them at work. Just like that old man whistling from Rue’s district only to get his brains blown out of his head moments later … just for whistling a tune and kissing his three fingers before putting them up in the air. I guess this puts things in perspective… perhaps it could’ve been worse for me and the lady in the clip?

How about when Katniss speaks to Gale about running away. Is that a fantasy? Does that seem childish? Unlikely? Running away from Domestic Violence is often the only way to break the abuse cycle and stop it from continuing. If it wasn’t for running away from my Domestic Violence situation, I wouldn’t be here today. In fact, the games would have continued like cat and mouse until the end. And it wouldn’t have been a long way to that end. I had a very abusive, exceptionally jealous partner who couldn’t control me. Following going into hiding for a year, I got passionate enough about what I had experienced, that I started a business to help others avoid and recover from what I went through. I vowed that while I hadn’t had the strength to fight, I would assist others to find it. And in fact, I stood up in so many more ways, which maintained dignity yet still took a stand, and I will blog more on that in coming weeks.

From my perspective Haymitch Abernathy represented the people around me who cared about me but who I was unsure if I could trust or not. And there is another scene where Katniss raises trust as an issue, saying she’s not sure who she can trust and Haymitch says “It’s not about trust – it’s about survival” – and that’s true to an extent. It’s true that targets of domestic abuse often feel “a single perpetrator has the potential to taint or implicate all humanity. If one person can abuse then all others become potential abusers” (Grant, The Way Of The Wound, 1996, p13).

Survival is obviously another core theme throughout the Hunger Games as Hymitch’s parting advice is always “Stay alive”, but it really highlights trust. Not necessarily trusting your abuser or the people around you – but it’s about trusting yourself to make the right moves.

Trust also became a theme when Peeta betrayed Katniss to join an alliance against her which he did for his own protection and safety. I think this is a general life lesson that we all learn at some point, but it was a hard one for Katniss, although she moves quickly past it, and it’s a hard one for anyone in a domestic abuse situation. Trust becomes exceptionally hard to give away to anyone after being the target of domestic violence, which is why I encourage all my clients to focus their energies only on trusting themselves during their recovery. The rest can come later, but while healing, that’s the best place to start.

There’s discussion about betraying themselves for the sake of the “games” – and I can’t tell you how much self-betrayal is involved when you’re being abused. I don’t even know where to start … but I guess a common theme in these relationships would have to be betraying ourselves in a bid to convince our abused that we’re always ok. And in the process we tell them that we’re ok or forgive them again, we’re also telling them what they’re doing is ok and we force ourselves to accept the unacceptable. It’s so not ok! And then as the abuse continues – just like Katniss finds in each of the Hunger Games movies – we find ourselves in more and more complicated situations. And the more complicated and far-fetched the situation becomes, the more difficult it is to get out as things continue to move from bad to worse. I am in the process of writing a book called The girl who couldn’t get away: the typical rise and fall of narcissistic abuse where this is more clearly exposed to develop this understanding.

Another thing I identified with was when Katniss started looking for solutions as she was just trying to survive as best she could, but in the process she actually betrayed herself more – because it wasn’t actually what she wanted and only made her play right into the hands of President Snow and the Capital. We witness this in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire when she suggests: “We could get married!” Even the way she said it, was exactly as I’d come up with ideas to try to protect myself from further abuse. Emotionless, matter-of-fact, as though anything is better than the current hell we’re subjected to. If you’re in this toxic situation you may be able to relate.

The falseness of Caesar Flickerman and everyone from the Capital, represents the abuser who presents as something they’re not. Their so caught up in displaying their “false self” that in the process they lose all sight of their true self – which is an ugly person, very lonely, very broken and they suffer a lot of pain. While they think what they are presenting, all their lies and manipulation is normal and natural, it’s so far from the authentic truth. By the time a target sees the true self, it is often too late. Once it’s revealed, the abuser has you well in their sights and so being the threats and entrapment.

Another triggering moment was the offering to hose down Katniss a second time – these style of insults are dished on a daily basis to keep targets self esteem and self worth low so they will stay in the relationship. While the target accepts it because … well, it’s true, right? She is from district 12, she is dirty… she just has to accept what was said, right? Go with it… get hosed down again…

There’s a quote in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire that really stood out for me, Haymitch says: “This trip doesn’t end when you get home – you never get off this train!” Recovery from Domestic Violence isn’t dissimilar. When you “get home” – ie. leave the relationship – depending how traumatic your experience is, every second of every day is spent thinking about how you’re going to avoid that happening again. While you may find yourself out of the relationship, that’s not even a scratch on the surface for the journey you have ahead of you in order to make a complete recovery. It’s actually something I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy. It’s extremely difficult to deal with. I liked The Hunger Games: Catching Fire because it really grasps the concept of trauma recovery as it covers themes including the flashbacks, reoccurring nightmares, the reality being so far away from anything ever experienced in the past… Trying to get use to how things are all over again – it’s like trying to sleep with a broken bone – it takes a long time to get comfortable again. It is a long way to recovery. Anyone who thinks once you’re out, you’re ok, is extremely misguided.

One thing I would never do though … I would never enter back into the games as a way to recover or to try to find that same door I entered through. Maybe at the start I would’ve. But now, I’m more than happy to keep searching for a different door to eject myself from this really difficult two steps forward, one step back dance I’ve been doing.

In the first two movies there’s very strong themes addressing bravery and courage. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire where Peeta and Katniss stand before the families of fallen tributes and are forced to read off cards given to them – speaking words well outside their authentic truth. This literally gave me flashbacks to those times I returned to family, friends and colleagues and they questioned if I was ok, and just like a robot, I would come out with responses that were forever protecting my abusive partner or steering their focus away from him. Even when I went to the doctor to complain I was “bruising easily” – it was never his fault, it never had anything to do with him at all – or so the script went. And despite my desire to be honest with the people I loved dwindled as the fear for their safety and protecting them from whatever else he would subject me to next, became a priority.

When Peeta is dancing with Katniss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and he says: “People are starving in 12, here they are throwing up their food so they can eat more…” and if this triggered anything it was that moment when you’re in that domestic violence situation with those false scripts, and you’re talking to a friend who is mostly happy in their relationship, and they have a great husband and gorgeous children, when all of a sudden they say how they’re upset at their partner over the smallest thing – and now they’re considering separation, or whatever it is. And all you can think about is: “I used to crave marriage and children, but now all I want is peace – I’d do anything for peace!” It feels as though many people take their good, healthy relationships for granted, and it’s so easy to see when you’re looking at it as a target of domestic abuse.

There is one moment when Katniss says it as it is: “The games don’t mean anything – they’re just here to scare us!” And isn’t that the truth? Even in Domestic Violence – even in my situation with all my abuser’s crazy, bizarre threats – it’s literally all there to scare them. And I think the answer to why is really explored a lot more and done really well in the third instalment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I. Plutarch Heavensbee is speaking with President Snow in one scene when he says “We don’t need to destroy her – just the image – let the people take care of the rest”. If my abuser sat down and had a conversation mapping out the ‘moves and counter moves’ with all the people involved in his quest, then I’m pretty sure it would have sounded something along these lines. And even after he got what he wanted, even after his ridiculous attempts to destroy me, his feeble attempt at a pathetic smear campaign involving a previous employer. You know what? Talk about shoot yourself in the foot … because without this campaign, I never would have linked my abuser to narcissism or know that what I experienced was narcissistic abuse or know anything about his Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because I wouldn’t have started searching for the answers, I would’ve continued blaming myself. It was only in being the target of such a horrendous campaign that I started to piece together what really happened to me and all those pieces came together.

Gale asks Katniss if she loves him and she responds: “All I can think about every day since the reaping is how afraid I am – there is no room for anything else”. In my experience with domestic violence, suffering some extremely traumatic events caused by the ongoing abuse and even in my recovery after, I was so terrified that I barely remembered the simple things – like how to breathe and when to eat! It’s not until you experience such a horrendous trauma that you realise how much your life slows down to such a basic level just to enable that recovery. And it’s true – you just don’t have the mental capacity to try to process anything else, other than what you’re experiencing.

Another sterling standout moment that triggered my feelings that this movie really is a great metaphor for targets of domestic abuse and domestic violence is where Haymitch Abernathy says “Nobody ever wins the games. Period. There are survivors. There’s no winners.” If anything encapsulates my feelings towards narcissistic abuse and domestic violence it’s this! This was what I came out of the relationship saying. “OK, he got what he wanted and he hurt me … but really, was that winning for him?” Clearly not if the abuse needed to continue. And no one won. He thinks he did because he sucked his wife and children back in to his games. But it’s not winning when the cycle (or “games”) continues. The only good that came out of my experience was what I boldly turned it into! Until I started Relationship Free there were no winners, but now … there is – as I push myself into that the role of a victor. Using my learnings and my survival to share my story and lift others from the ashes. And there will be an uprising from targets of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence – you can count on it! Because now they know they can not only survive but they can win by thriving through it! If you get off on hurting people, your days of pulling satisfaction from other people’s pain are limited! Because I’m not afraid anymore. And I will be the face to help others become fearless after their abuse. Join forces with me, share your stories and bring light to this darkness!

At one point, Johanna Mason loses it and goes into a short monologue challenging President Snow to set everyone on fire, when she stops and says “What? He can’t hurt me. There’s no one left that I love”. I identified with Johanna because of all the isolation my abuser caused. In the end I felt I had absolutely nothing left to lose, I had no motivation to protect myself or to continue the fight – simply because I had nothing left – and so we go back to that courtroom where I volunteered as tribute. And I thought as long as there was no one left that I loved, he couldn’t hurt me anymore. This wasn’t entirely true and I think is demonstrated in the third instalment of the Hunger Games when Johanna looks completely broken. One of the final scenes in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has Katniss lying on the ground as debris and destruction falls around her. She makes no effort to move to safety. She’s exhausted. This is a metaphor for how I felt by the time I got to the courtroom. I was exhausted. I literally had no fight power left. I just wanted it to be over. I didn’t want to hide. I didn’t want to run. I was just completely numb. My soul was completely shattered. I was helpless and I didn’t have any motivation left. It took six months to recharge … and my batteries will never run flat again.

Just as there were themes in the first two movies, the third movie also shared themes that resonated strongly for anyone suffering from or who has been the target of domestic violence. There’s a scene where Katniss is speaking with President Alma Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee and she gets frustrated and says: “You’ll never be able to guarantee my safety!” and President Alma Coin responds: “What if you get killed?” And Katniss says: “Make sure you get it on camera.” That feels like how it was when I went to the police and even now – that chilling realisation, and most of the cause for the trauma is that no one can protect you. When I travel based on where the CCTV footage is – it’s not in a bid not to protect myself, but if anything does happen, then for it to be shared so my abuser is exposed.

Another scene where Katniss is yelling at President Snow “And if we burn – you burn with us!” And I think that’s so true of targets of domestic violence and their abusers, particularly in the case of homicide or suicide. When the target dies as a result of ongoing domestic violence and domestic abuse, I think it’s difficult for the abuser to completely get away with it. While our flimsy laws aren’t that great at serving justice – it draws attention directly to the abuser. And even in a smear campaign – even in my abuser’s attempt, people in his industry went to a friend of mine and said they heard the story and no one believed him. So while he spoke in an attempt to get people to judge me, he actually brought judgement upon himself. Bob Marley says it best: “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect – and I don’t live to be – but before you start pointing fingers… make sure your hands are clean!”

Also in the third movie, there is a scene which touches on the theme of co dependence, strongly linked to domestic violence and abuse. Katniss kisses Gale and he says: “I knew you’d do that…” Katniss responds: “How did you know? I didn’t even know!” And Gale says: “Because I’m hurting and it’s the only was I can get your attention”. If anyone watched my video about abuse last week, I read out a post-it note left from my abuser where he says he’s “hurting”. It was only then as I was watching this movie one year later, that I realised he anticipated my response as a result of writing that. He knew I would immediately try to go to him and to try to stop his pain, because he’d seen me rescue him time and time again … and then he used it against me in the final blow. So, if your abuser is playing the victim or “hurting” – run AWAY because it’s likely they’re doing it to get that control. In short: abusers use and fake pain to control their victims.

In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I Finnick Odair says “It takes ten times longer to get yourself back together than it does to fall apart”. I LOVE this line because it’s SO true! Anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence and abuse will certainly be able to relate to this because the journey to recovery is so LONG! And painful. And frustrating and all the rest! Also, the longer you stay, the harder that journey becomes. I’ll always consider myself one of the lucky ones for getting out when I did, how I did. My abuser underestimated me. And right towards the end of the movie, Katniss goes on screen at the Capital to talk to President Snow and commitment becomes a theme. “I’ve always kept my promises,” she says trying to bargain with him. In response, President Snow brings her honesty into question. This was triggering for me because this was one of the conversations that would continually cycle through the relationship I had with my abuser. My bargaining using my demonstration of commitment, truth and honesty, followed by my honesty being called into question.

And right after they touch on fear and Beetee says “It’s the most difficult emotion to overcome because we remember it the best” – which is exactly why abusive people use it to trap their targets, not only in the current situation but also in their recovery. Fear is also known to be the strongest human emotion there is and overcoming fear is extremely difficult. As you can see, The Hunger Games can be used as a metaphor for targets of abuse and domestic violence.

Another core theme is hope – and it is also hope that will keep the targets going – it’s that hope that will build strength to venture out and try to find these new solutions to problems. I hope it also explains why I found so much comfort in these movies! When you come out of a relationship with domestic abuse and violence, it is really challenging to identify with anyone and anything – so to have these movies really helps. I think they expose a lot of hidden and helpful messages when it comes to domestic violence as well.

The Hunger Games – I strongly endorse this series – watch it, read it, enjoy! Use it to find your strength.

Want to talk about it or need assistance moving forward? Contact me: sarah@relationshipfree.com

The day life stopped

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The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Douglas Coupland

Everyone seems to have one day in their life where life just … stops. It could be the day your partner tells you they want a divorce. The day you find out you have cancer. The day someone really close to you dies. How we respond to the day life stops is up to us – the difficulty is sometimes we just don’t have the steps to move us out of there, so we get stuck.

I’m going to talk about the day my life stopped. Anyone who knows me right now knows how I feel about police, our systems surrounding domestic violence and most of my story – which I don’t cover up anymore and I’m certainly not protecting my abuser anymore. Anyone who knows me, would tell you I’m respectful of everyone I meet – but believe me, if you work for NSW Police Force right now – you don’t want to meet me because you get a different side to that story and here’s why:

 

It was 31 December 2013.

I was getting ready to go out with friends to celebrate New Years Eve.

I didn’t have a care in the world. My music was playing.

For the first time all year, I felt happy.

 

Four weeks before I had left an abusive relationship. During that next four weeks there was torment and more abuse and push and pull like you wouldn’t believe. I was involved with a narcissist but because of the constant lies, deception and manipulation – I couldn’t see it. And I didn’t realise how dangerous that was to me … until this day. The day my life stopped. So here’s what happened…

 

I’m sitting there naked in front of my full length mirror getting ready.

I’ve just put some foundation on – no other make up.

My intercom buzzes.

I answer.

There’s two police waiting to talk to me with some “paper work”.

 

And I look back at that moment and I think wow! How’s that for desperation? He stopped me going out with friends all year. He ruined every happy event to the point of exhaustion. And now this? Well I knew I couldn’t be dreaming – because it was right in line with everything else he’d done, including filing for divorce on his wife’s birthday. What I still have difficulty accepting is that the police supported his abuse! The AVO was “non-urgent” so why wouldn’t they stop for just one moment and go “It’s New Years Eve, this is non-urgent … she’s complained about him three times already, it’s an ongoing dispute … really, it can probably wait – I’m sure he’ll survive another day if she lifts his wiper blades again.”

 

Clearly the fact an abusive partner WOULD target New Years Eve in a bid to crush my plans and stop me going out, just didn’t come into the equation at all.

Well … to my stalker (yup, still subscribed twice there, I see, still have your fake Facebook profile … good on you, you loser!) and you were the ultimate kill-joy: I just want you to know it didn’t stop me. I still went out.

And I had fun!

In fact, in one night, I had more fun than I’d had all year.

I had more fun than I EVER had with him!

And then at midnight, I declared the year of Awesome.

So if you think the day life stopped, and the day my soul shattered into a billion pieces that I changed from the life-loving person I am, you’re wrong.

 

So here lies my frustration with the day my life stopped:

The “paperwork” called him a “defacto”.

But he never lived with me – and I never lived with him.

And I wouldn’t call it a relationship when I thought we were in it and he deceived me and his wife so badly for an entire year. That’s not a relationship.

So … where was the evidence?

 

The paperwork said I asked about his “ex wife”.

But they never divorced.

In fact, they never even separated which is what I was questioning about!

And the police then ask me on the phone if he’s back with her… what the fuck? Is this a test??

Where was the evidence at the time that he WASN’T with her?

 

So I complained – because the majority of their reasons for serving me were fictionalised beyond recognition. And they said:

“You left nine voicemail messages for him”.

But here’s the thing…

He didn’t have a voicemail. He had a moment of white noise and right to the beep.

Plus, I knew, after a year of being with him that he never listened to his voicemail messages – so why would I leave a message?

And so I asked: “Did you listen to the content of just ONE of those messages?”

“No”.

Well then WHERE was the evidence?

 

In the constable’s protest and determination that his manipulated evidence was fact, he continued reading out the alleged times – this is the same man trying to manage my complaint, I suggest he keeps his day job because customer service certainly isn’t a strong point – because as I cried out: “I couldn’t have done that because I was in the basement at that time, I can’t get reception there!”

WHERE WAS THE GOD DAMN EVIDENCE?

 

We were getting nowhere so I asked why the police didn’t call me before serving me on his behalf.

Back pedal: “The constable thinks he did, but he can’t remember”

Even from his tone I could hear the doubt. He was LYING and he knew it!

At that point I realised I was discussing this with police defending police. I will NEVER trust police for my protection or the protection of others again. EVER!

And don’t get me started on their ridiculous times – I wasn’t even home at the times they alleged: I was out with my parents! Ha! And I have a text exchange verifying all that. But alas, pretty sure the next claim would be that I have a hidden time machine!

I laugh – but my belief that police were there to protect people was shattered.

I can’t begin to express my disappointment in knowing I’m entirely unprotected: by police and our systems.

And now I realise the ugly dangerous world as it really is. This is happening in Australia, what I thought was a safe country. And it’s the scary truth. Particularly for those in domestic violence situations. Now I empathise on a level that not many people can – because not only is it unsafe, but our systems aren’t working to protect anyone.

 

The constable then moved the conversation to directly accuse me of deliberately being misleading in my complaint:

He told me I lied to the ombudsman and I tried to deny all the allegations made.

I looked back at my complaint today – that is INCORRECT. It clearly states my awareness of what I did. There’s not even a slight attempt to cover it up.

I DON’T LIE! But my abuser does. Police do. People do. People lie…

And there is nothing you can do about it.

 

So at the end of the day: what does evidence matter?
People can happily stop your life even without evidence, without reason, without you “deserving” the pain you are set to experience. That’s how life goes.

What’s weird, in reflection on that final conversation, is that that accusation itself didn’t bother me. People make mistakes. People judge. People are just people.

It was the fact that constable made me doubt myself – just like my abuser did – that bothered me most.

It was like being abused all over again.

 

I look at the evidence I gathered and it’s so clear to me.

The abuse I didn’t see before is SO clear. The control. The harassment. The threats. THE WHOLE ENTIRE CYCLE IS RIGHT THERE! And it is a cycle.

The being served with an AVO, the intimidation displayed in the court house, the “act normal” for my birthday – just three days later, the smear campaign when I didn’t respond, the attempt to bring me down publicly via my blog. It’s all there in the evidence collected and it’s certainly evident!

It was there all along. Blind Freddy and his blind fucking cousin could see it!

I can’t look over the evidence anymore because I just get angry (clearly). Mostly at myself for being so naive. And beating myself up … that gets me nowhere, because I am the only one who gets it. I was there!

And if they can’t see it – just on the evidence before them, then why are they working on domestic violence cases?

And if they do see it, because it’s so obvious, and they really are just covering it up … then why are they working with victims of domestic violence?

All you see in the media is RESPONSE. People dying from domestic violence.

I haven’t heard one “Thankfully they had an AVO against that person and so they left them alone and they lived happily ever after?” Why not? Because that’s not how it works. Abuse is soul-destroying.

How much counselling has my abuser got – who claims I abused him. I bet none. He got nothing for his mental health and wellbeing. I put my life on it. He’s just a super-victim, right? And that’s how I can clearly see narcissism. Counselling for both people involved should be a mandatory condition of an AVO – sorry taxpayers but it’s true! Because I can promise you – it would’ve stopped him. He hates counselling as narcissists do because it doesn’t bode well for their perfect image.

One thing the constable admitted was it didn’t sound right. Things I was saying were things a victim would say. Of course that in the end was inferred that I’d just done my research to intentionally sound like that, because I want to help people in my situation. I couldn’t possibly have been the victim, despite the evidence in front of them. No words. No words on how this was managed at all.

I hate police now. I’ve never been like this before. I very rarely tar people with the same brush because they resemble something that hurt me. I’ve never said “I hate men” after a break up. But I hate police. Yup, all of them. There: I said it.

 

Being served with an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order for lifting windscreen wiper blades, is kind of the new form of getting your hands chopped off for stealing a loaf of bread. I can’t imagine this happening to anyone else: how did I get so lucky? :)

 

And my self talk got dragged down to this:

“No one gets it. No one understands. No one can help me.”

But you know what? That’s how it is when life stops!

 

THAT doesn’t just happen to me. When life stops – no matter how it stops – that’s what self talk does.

 

NO ONE does get it!
NO ONE does understand!
Only you because you were there – the whole time.

So my story isolated me just like my abuser planned, targeted and wanted. I can’t believe someone could be so cruel and evil. Let alone someone I loved. Someone I chose to love.

It still shocks me every morning I wake up and my first thoughts are still: “Wow, I’m here, that really happened!” And that overwhelming feeling of betrayal. That’ll fade in time. I can sit with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new place –  but the move wasn’t under ideal circumstances.

And no, I wasn’t asked to move, but the day life stopped: I made the decision I should’ve made a long time ago, without waiting for my friends or family’s permission this time. But if I moved a month before, I wouldn’t be in the Safe Haven where I am now… everything happens for a reason.

 

So lots of people have come to me recently and asked how I got back up.

What was my “secret” – what could they do?

That’s the weird thing. You definitely know the day life stops.

You experience this soul-shattering crunch.

And it’s impossible to prepare for.

But it’s so difficult to know what to do next.

It’s the broken plate, no matter what you do, it’ll never be the same.

Life will never be the same.

 

So here’s what I did…

The day my life stopped – I stopped.

I stopped dating.

After 14 years of toxic and abusive relationships – I hopped off the dating treadmill with no interest or inclination for getting back on.

I stopped going out.

I go to work, I come home. Repeat.

Once the door closes at either end, that’s where I stay. I won’t even go to the grocery store.

I stopped communicating with people.

I closed Facebook. I stopped blogging. Kept conversations short. I think people find it hard to know what to say to me too. I’m not the same person. I’m broken now. You can see it. I can recognise a shattered soul anywhere now.

I stopped blogging like I’m invincible and I started sharing the reality of what I live.

Surprisingly my blogs have become more popular, maybe because they’re real now? That’s great and welcome to every one of my new supporters, I’m so happy to have you here … but it’s also not the world I want to live in … it’s not the reality I once knew. I kind of liked my cocoon. But it’s alright, I’m strong, and I’m happy to share my lessons.

I stopped feeling safe.

Now I watch my back – everywhere I go. For him. For his wife. For his kids. For the police (like a fugitive). For whoever he sends to watch me.

I stopped eating – overnight.

I dropped from size 10 to size 6. I don’t have much of an appetite still to this day. I never regained my weight.

 

It’s been like a broken bone … I’d say a broken arm but it’s more significant … more like a broken back – without medication to numb the pain.

It’s taken a long time to adjust to the break.

To overcome the trauma. To sleep without nightmares.

To just get on with life.

It’s been hard.

I don’t think I’ve lived a single day since when I haven’t gone over it again and again.

 

My life stopped completely for six solid months.

I even pushed my family away who offer unconditional love and support.

I’m probably the luckiest person in the world to have my family. They’re not perfect, but they’re perfect when it comes to offering that.

They’ve got no fucking idea how hard this has been for me and how hard it still is. No idea. No one does.

And reconnecting has been really hard. Not just with them and other people, but also with myself.

 

I don’t trust anyone like I used to. I don’t love like I used to. I’m not attached to anything anymore.

Take everything you want.

Do whatever you want to me.

Insult me.

Abuse me.

I’ve numbed out to that now.

Like naturally numbed out.

I went from caring about every little thing, little miss life perfectionist straight to: I DON’T CARE!

It’s like since the day life stopped, a glass force field came down and surrounded me.

I know it’s meant to protect me but it also isolates me. Depends how you look at it, I guess.

 

The day life stops isn’t necessarily bad though!

And you’re not alone.

As I said, there’s lots of situations that make lots of people’s lives stop.

You’ll find your own way to celebrate it and when you do, you start to thrive.

That day your soul shatters, you start to see what you haven’t seen before, and you can make decisions.

And you’ll take a stand like never before, because somewhere deep in side you have something that triggers and screams: “THIS IS MY LIFE!” No matter how introverted you are.

 

Since the day life stopped I’ve:

  • Cut the addiction to my abusive partner completely (and no one really gets the addiction to the abuser until you’re in it and have experienced it … that was the WORST THING I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED IN MY LIFE. Even beyond the trauma. Because he is a disgusting man in every aspect and logically I knew it but I was so trapped under this spell. I can’t even begin to explain. And my self worth and self esteem were non-existent – that’s why I want to work with people in domestic violence now: because I GET IT! I get that isolation, I get that addiction, I get that pain… I GET IT! And I’m going to use it!)
  • Learned to love myself completely
  • Forgiven myself and learned to trust myself again (that was the hardest part!)
  • Started spending time on my own – because I actually enjoy my own company
  • Started studying despite resistance to the field
  • Come up with new life goals and a completely new direction
  • Made decisions I would’ve been too scared to make
  • Started a business – Relationship Free: facebook.com/relationshipfreepage
  • I wrote to the magistrate who reluctantly handed down my six month AVO
  • Lived for me and only me.

 

So if your life has stopped right now.

If you’re in that pit of despair where life just dumped you off and forgot about you.

My suggestion to you is: STOP!

  • Stop judging yourself
  • Stop doubting yourself
  • Stop everything you need to

And start:

  • Forgiving yourself
  • Trusting yourself
  • Being honest with yourself

 

Many of you may remember Rihanna got THUGLIFE tattooed on her knuckles at some point.

I never understood that. What a stupid thing to do, right?

How “gangster”!

And I judged. Just like people judged me when I put it on my Facebook. Testing, testing…

But you see: now I get it.

Now I understand what she means and why she did it – and I have a new respect for Rihanna because she exposed narcissistic abuse in the celebrity limelight in a way that’s never been done before.

 

The day life stopped: THUGLIFE began.

 

It means: The Hate You Gave Lives Inside For Ever. Anyone, even the most peaceful of people would understand after surviving this level of abuse.

So go do it!

Get a stupid tattoo that everyone judges you by – you only live once!

If the day life stopped impacts you to make you want to do something impulsive (so long as you’re not hurting anyone or yourself), trust it! Do it! Because it was that urge that lead me to study and respect the life I lost for a year to the man who subjected me to a torture known as narcissistic abuse until I was driven to breaking point.

 

And finally I want to finish with this. Three things to focus on from the day life stops:

  • Reconnecting with yourself
  • Figure out what you love, what you’re passionate about, what your purpose really is and do it
  • Set new goals and go about achieving them.

 

On that note – I’m a couple of months off some big changes coming to fruition. I apologise if I miss a blog during this time, but I will be back! I want to thank everyone for following Happiness Weekly and particularly to my supporters (new and old) because it has been a tremendously difficult journey and I couldn’t have got this far without all of you.

 

Love, respect and acceptance,

Sarah xx

 

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It’s not grief it’s trauma!

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There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. Laurell K. Hamilton

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is not your average break up. Comparing narcissistic abuse to a toxic relationship, is similar to comparing an adult lion in rage to a newborn kitten. Narcissistic abuse is difficult for the healthy mind or anyone who hasn’t experienced it to properly comprehend. The major difference between a toxic relationship and narcissistic abuse is that a toxic relationship leaves victim’s in control, whereas narcissistic abuse breaks down victims, and rapes them of their decision to stay or leave through continued lies, threats, manipulation, coercion and gas lighting. The tactics used by a narcissist to control their sources of supply are done to keep them hostage. This week Happiness Weekly identifies the difference between grief and trauma, so you can choose the most appropriate healing or therapy for your situation.

The difference by definition:

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss. Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. Grief is also a reaction to any loss. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship. Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract, the physical loss being related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a spouse through death, while other types of loss are abstract, and relate to aspects of a person’s social interactions. Wikipedia

Trauma, which means “wound” in Greek, is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one experience, or repeating events with the sense of being overwhelmed that can be delayed by weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences, often overlooked even by mental health professionals: “If clinicians fail to look through a trauma lens and to conceptualize client problems as related possibly to current or past trauma, they may fail to see that trauma victims, young and old, organize much of their lives around repetitive patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders, and affects.” Additionally, psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Wikipedia

Is it trauma or is it grief? Defining your issue

The reason I wanted to share this blog is that narcissistic abuse or any kind of abusive break up is far from your typical break up where people will often experience grief because they have lost someone close to them. Often an unqualified person will regard the sufferer’s symptoms as being associated with grief. Grief generally runs its own course and resolves itself, but trauma doesn’t. In fact, it’s important that if you identify yourself as traumatised from a life event that you do seek help from a qualified mental health professional in order to cope. The lack of treatment where trauma is the issue, can often worsen the condition. If you are still suffering after a significant amount of time (months), without feeling any progression and it feels surreal at the same time, the issue is almost certainly trauma.

Common in victims coping with trauma according to MDJunction – people helping people:

  • Talking about trauma is difficult initially
  • Guilt includes self-blame for what happened
  • Anger often involves violence towards yourself or another
  • Pain involves loss, terror, helplessness and fear of danger
  • Your self-image and confidence are distorted and undetermined

The easiest way to define whether you are suffering from grief or trauma is to concentrate on your emotions – are you feeling fear? Are you having nightmares about a person? Generally fear is the dominant emotion with trauma. Are you feeling sad? Are you dreaming of being back with the person you have lost? Generally sadness is the dominant emotion with grief particularly when it feels very realistic. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, the issue is likely to be grief.

The upside of grief according to MDJunction – people helping people

  • Talking about it can help
  • Your self-image and confidence remain intact
  • Symptoms decrease over time

It is as simple as that!

Moving forward from grief and trauma

Although their symptoms may initially appear similar, the approaches to recovery are completely different.

As mentioned above, someone suffering from trauma will need to seek professional consultation to address their issues. Whereas someone suffering from grief will eventually move through the five stages, and can generally feel their emotions move through each stage.

The five stages of grieving include:

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

The Australian Psychological Society offers tips on managing trauma, but I still highly recommend that if you have identified this as your problem that you seek professional assistance as soon as you can. The sooner you deal with these fears and emotions, the faster you will be able to deal with them.

Before I go I wanted to share this cartoon on the five stages of grieving by Vinh.ly:

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Happiness Weekly’s best tips for helping others

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You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan

The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.

The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:

“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:

I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!

There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.

These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.

Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”

So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.

 

The benefits of helping others includes:
-          Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
–          Enhancing someone else’s life
–          Making the world a better place to live

Things you can do to help others
-          Teach them something new
–          Smile and be friendly
–          Volunteer for a charity
–          Start your own charity
–          Make a donation
–          Share your knowledge
–          Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
–          Donate something you don’t use
–          Comfort someone
–          Buy food for a homeless person
–          Listen to someone
–          Do a chore for someone
–          Send a nice email
–          Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
–          Give a loved-one a massage
–          Praise someone publicly
–          Be patient with someone
–          Tutor a child
–          Make a care package for someone
–          Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
–          Offer to babysit
–          Share what you have
–          Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
–          Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
–          Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
–          Introduce people to each other, help people network
–          Give someone a gift
–          Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
–          Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
–          Use your power to help people around you have a good day
–          Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly

We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.

Pages that helped inspire this blog:
http://www.zenhabits.net/25-ways-to-help-a-fellow-human-being-today
http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2013/05/26/10-ways-to-help-others-that-will-lead-you-to-success
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-help-someone-who-wont-help-themselves
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/outside-the-classroom/volunteering-how-helping-others-helps-you

The abandonment complex and how to cope with it

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I saw taillights last night, in a dream about my old life. Everybody leaves and I would expect as much from you. Gaslight Anthem

According to abandonment.net, abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness.

Outofthefog.net describes it as: an irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.

People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the wounds from earlier disconnections.

Many people, men and women, have abandonment issues that may manifest during childhood but surface later in life when the person is on his or her own in the world. Their core belief is that no one likes them and those that love them will leave.

Abandonment issues may particularly flare up if you’re going through a break up, separation or divorce and are entirely alone, either physically or emotionally. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at abandonment and really helps you to understand what it is and how to cope.

What is abandonment like for the person suffering?
Abandonment is a cumulative wound containing all of the losses and disconnections stemming all the way back to childhood. Abandonment.net says that for sufferers abandonment is:

  • A feeling
  • A feeling of isolation within a relationship
  • An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
  • An aloneness-not-by-choice
  • An experience from childhood
  • A baby left on the doorstep
  • A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman
  • A man being left by his finance for someone ‘more successful’
  • A child left by his mother
  • A friend feeling deserted by a friend
  • A father leaving his marriage, moving out of the house, away from his children
  • A child whose pet dies
  • A little girl grieving over the death of her mother
  • A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school
  • A child about to be ‘replaced’ by the birth of another sibling
  • A child needing his parents but they are emotionally unavailable
  • A boy realizing he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents and friends
  • A teenage boy with his heart twanging, but afraid to approach his love
  • A teenage girl feeling her heart is actually broken
  • A woman who has raised a family now grown, feeling empty, as if she has been deserted, as if the purpose of her life has abandoned her
  • A child stricken with a serious illness or injury watching his friends play while he must remain confined to braces, wheel chair, or bed
  • A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security, and status. Now she is left feeling worthless, not knowing how to occupy her time – – feeling abandoned by her life’s mission
  • A man who has been ‘put out to pasture’ by his company, as if obsolete
  • People grieving the death of a loved one report feelings of abandonment
  • The dying fear being abandoned by their loved ones as much or more as they fear pain and death
  • Suicide is an excruciating form of abandonment
  • Abandonment is all of this and more. Its wound is at the heart of the variety of human experiences, and is found in the uniqueness of each person’s life.

What does it look like?
Abandonment is ugly and generally pushes people away. For example:

  • A spouse assumes their partner is having an affair without any objective evidence.
  • A mother does not allow her teenage child to form romantic or peer relationships.
  • A boyfriend calls or texts repeatedly – 15 or more times in a single day.
  • A girlfriend shows up at an office function to which she has not been invited.
  • A divorcee stalks his ex-wife after the dissolution of the relationship.

Some examples of statements from people who have a fear of abandonment include:

  • “You’ve never loved me.”
  • “I know you are having an affair”
  • “You prefer them to me.”
  • “You never want to spend time with me.”
  • “I know you want to leave me”

Symptoms of abandonment include:
Clinging. One of the prominent symptom observed in people suffering fear of abandonment is reaching out or clinging to the person whom the sufferer is in relationship with. Since these people live with a fear of being left alone they tend to hold on to the person, which at times drive them away from the one they love.

- Reaching out. The person will generally reach for someone they have a relationship with, which may form unhealthy relationships. It may also lead the person to realise their worst fear by driving the person they’re clinging to away.

- Panic/dreading. Generally it’s over small indiscretions, but their reactions are severe. They call often if the person they’re clinging to is late, fails to pick up the phone, doesn’t call right back or refuses to meet with them for any reason.

- Emotional blackmail. Strongly linked to panic, the person may threaten self harm to their loved ones, which is a sign of desperation.

- Complacent disposition. Seemingly ok, they may take on the most disgusting household chore or sexual activity even when they don’t want it.

- Leaving relationships. In an attempt to keep from being rejected, the person may bounce from relationship to relationship, so they are the ones doing rejecting. Even if it’s going well, they may leave thinking it’s only a matter of time.

- Continual need for reassurance. The person may look for constant reassurance of affection or love. If they don’t do this, then they may be doing it more subtly but in a more destructive way to the relationship, for example they will continually test the person they are with to ensure they still love them.

- Weakened sense of self worth. They feel happier and more confident when someone else is there to prop them up and protect them. Which is why they may try to surround themselves with someone – ANYONE – when they are feeling desperate.

How abandonment will destroy your relationship?
These tips are from Johanna Lyman.

1. You keep looking for flaws in someone who is potentially a good partner for you. You concentrate on their faults.

2. People think you’re shy or reserved. You don’t trust people which makes you hard to get to know. You’re afraid to let people in because you don’t want to get hurt, so you end up lonely instead.

3. You fall in love hard and fast, and over and over again. You don’t know who to be as an individual so you’re always in a relationship to hide from getting to know yourself. You can’t do enough for your partner and are a giver. You can’t understand why your partner doesn’t appreciate you.

4. You love the chase. You’re really attracted to someone when you’re trying to catch them, but once you’re in the relationship you get bored. You withdraw emotionally, and your partner starts to think they’ve done something wrong.

5. You are a perfectionist. You believe if you get it right, you won’t get rejected. Whether “it” is a work project, the way your home looks, how you dress or what your body looks like, perfectionism is a thief. It steals your happiness under the guise of preventing rejection.

How the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment
About Phobias published this piece about how the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment.

People with a fear of abandonment often follow one of a few basic patterns. This is how a typical relationship may evolve:

1. Getting to Know Each Other – At this point, you feel relatively safe. You are not yet emotionally invested in the other person, so you continue to live your life while enjoying time with your chosen person.

2. The Honeymoon Phase – This is when you make the choice to commit. You are willing to overlook possible red or yellow flags, because you just get along so well. You start spending a great deal of time with the other person, you always enjoy yourself, and you start to feel secure.

3. The Real Relationship – The honeymoon phase cannot last forever. No matter how well two people get along, real life always intervenes. Although this is a very normal and positive step in a relationship, it can be terrifying for those with a fear of abandonment, who may see it as a sign that the other person is pulling away. If you have this fear, you are probably battling with yourself and trying very hard not to express your worries for fear of appearing clingy.

4. The Slight – People are human. They have foibles and moods and things on their minds. Regardless of how much they care for someone else, they cannot and should not be expected to always have that person at the forefront of their minds. Especially once the honeymoon period is over, it is inevitable that a seeming slight will occur. This often takes the form of an unanswered text message or unreturned phone call, or a request for a few days of alone time.

What Happens Next
For those with a fear of abandonment, this is a turning point. If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you. What happens next is almost entirely determined by the fear of abandonment, its severity and the sufferer’s preferred coping style. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove his love by jumping through hoops outlined by the fearful partner. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected. Still others feel that the slight is their fault, and attempt to transform themselves into the perfect partner in a quest to keep the other person from leaving.

From your partner’s point of view, your sudden personality shift seems to come from out of left field. If the partner does not suffer from a fear of abandonment, he probably does not have the slightest idea why his previously confident, laid-back partner is suddenly acting clingy and demanding, smothering him with attention, or pulling away altogether.

Similar to phobias, it is impossible to talk or reason someone out of a fear of abandonment. No matter how many times your partner tries to reassure you, it will simply not be enough. Eventually, your behaviour patterns and inconsolability could drive your partner away, ironically leading to the conclusion that you fear most.

How to deal with abandonment issues
Overcoming these symptoms can be the first step to becoming a self-satisfied, content person for anyone suffering from this condition.

A person going through abandonment issues can do the following:

  • Relaxing the mind by practicing yoga can help greatly. Yoga will keeps the mind calm and free from an sort of negativity.
  • Understanding the power of the mind and its capabilities improves self-awareness.
  • It is a good idea to stop getting attached to people. Detachment does not mean not caring about them, but it means maintaining a distance and not relying on anyone else.
  • A busy life helps in forgetting the past and takes away the attention from unnecessary things.
  • Engaging in a sport or giving more time to work, going out with friends, etc., can divert the mind.
  • Aiming high, setting goals, and doing things that would add to the feel-good factor, works really well.

If nothing seems to help the situation, talking things out with a friend or spouse or seeing a psychologist, would definitely help. Take it day by day.

Why it’s important to fix your abandonment complex
Abandonment can lead to other disorders including anger, depression, anxiety, co-dependence and fear of intimacy. Unfortunately there’s no way to fast track getting past these issues, especially if they’re significant – hang in there and find yourself a psychologist. Tackling this one will be well worth it in the end!

Colour psychology and what your wardrobe reveals about you

Before you choose your outfit for the day, think about how you want other people to see you and interpret your personality … your clothes say far more than you think. Bridget Allen, senior fashion expert.

Socially everyone selects something of choice to wear from their wardrobe, but generally no further thought is taken other than if it looks good and feels comfortable. A picture is worth a thousand words, but 99% of that description is about the colour of that picture. Colour psychology is concerned with how certain colours effect emotions, perceptions and reactions.

According to Adam D Galinksy, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves”. Leave your inner fashionista behind, this week Happiness Weekly takes a practical look at what the colours in your wardrobe are really saying about you!

Colours at work

Black symbolises power and sophistication, but is also the colour of the secretive unknown creating an air of mystery. Some use it to hide their weight, others use it to hide their fears and insecurities. Black provides comfort while protecting emotional feelings and vulnerabilities. It symbolises control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. It radiates authority, but creates fear in the process. People that wear black are self-controlled and disciplined, independent and strong-willed but give an impression of authority and power. Affluent and success-orientated women often choose to wear black as it gives an impression of elegance, sophistication and confidence. It’s a great colour for trousers, jackets or shirts – it is recommended that you break it up with other colours.

Yellow can be seen as cheery and warm, it is the colour of mind, intellect and acquired knowledge. Uplifting and illuminating, it offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. Yellow inspires inquisitiveness and original thought. People that like yellow are generally great communicators and love to talk – particularly suitable to networkers, journalists and people that work in Public Relations. It is linked to clarity of thought and ideas which aids with decision making, focus and study, and recalling information. Yellow should be limited to accessories such as ties or necklaces because it can be impulsive and cause anxiety. More information about yellow and its variations is available here.

Gold is the colour of success, achievement and triumph. It is associated with abundance, prosperity, luxury, quality, prestige and sophistication. Valuable and elegant, gold implies affluence, material wealth and extravagance. Linked to masculine energy and the power of the sun – it is confident, passionate and eye-catching.

White is associated with purity, innocence, wholeness, completion and serenity. Cleanliness personified, the colour white is the colour for new beginnings and the ultimate purity which is why western brides and doctors wear it. The colour of protection and encouragement, white offers a sense of peace and calm, comfort and hope, and helps alleviate emotional upsets. It creates a sense of order and efficiency – great for inspiration if you wish to unclutter your life. Too much white can be cold, isolating, empty and bland. It implies a feeling of sterility, detachment and disinterest, providing little stimulation for the senses. Wear it sparingly, white is the classic colour for an office shirt because it provides a good background for the statement colour of a tie.

Silver has a feminine energy and is associated with the moon – it is fluid, emotional, sensitive and mysterious. Reflective and sensitive, silver inspires intuition, clairvoyance and mental telepathy. It is also associated with prestige and wealth as it is seen as glamorous, sophisticated, prosperous and modern. People that wear silver are respectable, courteous, dignified, self-controlled, responsible, patient, determined and organised. It resonates well in the corporate world to those in positions of responsibility (males and females).

Grey is the colour of compromise – it is neutral and detached. The closer it gets to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes, but the closer it gets to white or silver, the more illuminating and lively it becomes. People that wear grey are generally subdued, quiet and reserved. Conformists, they are conventional, dependable and practical. Too much grey creates sadness and depression and a tendency to loneliness and isolation. More information about grey and its variations is available here.

Purple is a colour of imagination and spirituality, historically associated with luxury, wealth and royalty. It represents the future. Purple inspires unconditional and selfless love, and enhances psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment. It promotes harmony of the mind and emotions, contributing to mental balance and stability, and peace of mind. Violet is the colour of humanitarian, using its better judgement to do good for others, combining wisdom and power with sensitivity and humility. People that wear purple have an element of power as it demands respect. They are ambitious and self-assured leaders. Purple is difficult colour to pull off because it requires confidence to wear successfully. More information about purple, and its variations, is available here.

Indigo, the colour of intuition, perception and the higher mind. It promotes deep concentration during meditation. Powerful and dignified, it conveys integrity and deep serenity. People that love the colour indigo conform to things that have worked in the past, while planning for the future. It stimulates the right brain and helps with spatial skills.

Red is the colour of energy, passion and action. It exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy, it excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. Red is a powerful colour: it is a symbol for leadership, assertiveness, confidence, ambition and determination. Too much red can cause irritation, agitation, aggression and anger. In China it is the colour for good luck, in India it is the colour for purity and is often used in their wedding gowns. Red is a great colour to wear to negotiations, meetings and sales pitches. More information about the colour red, and its variations, is available here.

Brown symbolises age and maturity. It is serious, down-to earth and relates to security, protection and material wealth. People that wear brown take their obligations seriously and encourage a strong need for security and a sense of belonging. They feel that family and friends are of utmost importance, are honest, genuine and sincere – though can be stingy with money. They are trustworthy, reliable, loyal, dependable, practical and realistic. The colour of structure, it encourages orderliness, uniformity and organisation. It is reassuring and quietly confident. Wearing this colour can make you appear wise. It is a popular colour with teachers and academics because it inspires feelings of respect in a subtle manner as opposed to aggressively asserting respect like red or purple. Wearing too much brown can make you look stuffy or old fashioned. More information about brown and its variations is available here.

Blue is a calming colour that inspires serenity, trust and responsibility. Honest and loyal, this colour is reliable, sincere, reserved and quiet. It promotes mental and physical relaxation, reducing stress. In fact, the paler the shade of blue, the more freedom we feel. People that love blue define success as quality and quantity of relationships, they give more than receive and build strong, trusting relationships. They become deeply hurt if betrayed. Conservative and predictable, blue is safe, non-threatening, but persistent and determined to succeed. Wear blue when you need to give important news in a meeting but break it up with other colours if you are delivering bad news. More information about blue and its variations is available here.

Turquoise represents open communication and clarity of thought. It controls and heals the emotions creating emotional balance and stability. The colour turquoise recharges our spirits during times of mental stress and tiredness, alleviating feelings of loneliness. It increases creativity and sensitivity. People that wear turquoise are generally good at multi-tasking and are very caring. Turquoise also encourages us to build self-esteem and be self-sufficient. More information about turquoise and its variations is available here.

Orange radiates warmth and happiness. It is the colour of adventure, risk-taking and social communication. Orange offers emotional strength, it is optimistic and uplifting, and promotes spontaneity and a positive outlook. It inspires physical confidence, competition, independence, and aids in putting new ideas into action, banishing limitations. It encourages self-respect and respect of others. A great colour for accessories, orange prevents other colours from becoming overbearing. More information about orange and its variations is available here.

Green is the colour of harmony, growth and balance (creating equilibrium between the head and the heart). It is a natural peacemaker and an emotionally positive colour, encouraging us to love and nurture ourselves and others unconditionally. People that wear green enjoy observing and listening and have good judgement. They are generally inviting, generous, friendly and can keep confidences but also tend to look for recognition. A great colour for women’s dresses, it is also the ideal colour for accessories. More information about green and its variations is available here.

Pink is associated with femininity, unconditional love and romance. It represents compassion and nurturing. People that wear pink are intuitive and insightful and demonstrate tenderness, kindness, empathy and sensitivity. It is the colour of hope and good health. Pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. A non-threatening colour, people that love pink seek appreciation, respect and admiration. It is a great colour for items you will wear briefly but you can remove for the bulk of the day e.g. jackets and bags. More information about pink and its variations is available here.

Magenta is the universal colour for harmony and emotional balance. People that wear magenta are generally spiritual (yet practical), encouraging, have good common sense and a balanced outlook on life. Magenta strengthens our intuition and psychic ability while assisting to rise above daily obstacles and gain awareness and knowledge. An instrument of change and transformation, magenta aids us in moving forward, helping to release old emotional patterns that prevent personal and spiritual development. It is uplifting to our spirits during times of unhappiness, anger and frustration. Magenta is the colour of cheerfulness, happiness, contentment and appreciation for what you have acquired and achieved. Magenta is spontaneous and impulsive, yet resourceful and organised.

Speedy wardrobe colour tips
* Blue establishes trust and credibility. It is a safe colour and universally liked by most men and women.
* To appear friendly and approachable, wear lighter colours such as mid-tone blues, greens, blue-greens, teal, tan and peachy-orange.
* To get noticed or appear assertive, wear red (but note, it can be threatening).
* To appear confident, blue-green is a good business colour for women, it suggests high self-esteem, confidence but is still friendly and approachable.
* To show dependability, wear green.
* To appear neutral wear grey or beige. You may look like a fence-sitter, but it enables you to say what a client wants to hear rather than the truth.
* To look professional with authority, wear dark blue or dark grey. It’s great for credibility when promoting your business.
* To shock or inspire your audience, wear a magenta suit … with a matching top hat and cane!
* Earth tones (dark orange, mid-brown, light yellow, beige, tan or caramel) are seen as reliable.

Fast facts on colour psychology
- Teenagers often have a psychological need to wear black during the stage of transition from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood. It enables them to hide from the world while they discover their own unique identity.
– According to Dr Jennifer Baumgartner, who wrote “You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you”, what you wear can inform people passing you in the street of your type of employment, ambitions, emotions and spending habits. “Shopping and spending behaviours often come from internal motivations such as emotions, experiences and culture,” she said.
– A study from Northwestern University examined the concept “enclothed cognition”. Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what clothes say to you, rather than about you. How they make you feel, not just how they make you act and react.
– Women react more positively to blue-based colours, such as deep blue-reds, most blues, most pinks and blue-greens. Men find yellow-based colours more attractive. They appreciate true reds and oranges, peachy-apricots and most blues.
– Colours also enhance our culinary experience. Red is the most prominent colour in fast food logos because it stimulates appetite and expresses the speed at which you will be served your meal. Blue decreases appetite – however, people are more likely to drink from a blue glass than a red glass. Orange also assists with stimulating appetite.
– Trying to lose weight? Dieticians recommend eating off a blue plate as it suppresses appetite.

How to feel emotionally secure

Insecurity is an ugly thing. It makes you hate people that you don’t even know. Unknown

Feeling secure with your job, your body, your decisions, your relationships – it can seem like something hard to come by – but it is certainly worth working on.

Feeling “safe” can be generated from opposing dynamics which create conflict – which means just because you feel secure in one aspect of your life at the moment, doesn’t mean you will feel that way all the time. The problem with this uncertainty is that people try to change things so they are secure again and do feel safe, and this can often look as though you don’t know what you want – and ultimately get confusing for you and the people around you. To avoid this, we need to make ourselves aware of the conflict before it erupts.

How can you help your partner to feel more secure?
– Be emotionally available, honest, trustworthy and authentic. Act with integrity
– Spend time doing things as simple as cooking and cleaning the house together, because it sends a message that you are committed to being with her and the relationship is going somewhere
– Avoid being distant emotionally or physically, because it will invite feelings of loneliness, isolation and put the fear of a break up in your partner.

What you can do as a partnership to encourage feelings of security?
– Give up limiting fear-based beliefs. If we are to find true happiness in a relationship, it requires dissolving the beliefs and assumptions that create painful fears and controlling behaviours
– Figure out what makes you and your partner feel safe and secure, and go out of your way to ensure both of you have that as often as possible.

What YOU can do to feel more secure!
– Dress nicely. When you look good, you feel good
– Take care of your hygiene. A trip to the beautician may even help to make you feel better
– Sit up straight. People with slumped shoulder and lethargic movements display a lack of self-confidence
– Exercise regularly – I will improve your physical appearance and helps you spend time constructively. Power walk, people with confidence walk faster
– Volunteer – concentrate on the contribution you can make to the rest of the world
– Compliment others and break the cycle of negativity
– Make yourself win: let go of the past, ignore hurtful negativity and make yourself happy
– Create daily affirmations. Make a list of things you like about yourself
– Start with small steps to gain confidence in your decision making ability
– Be yourself. Stop trying to please others and think before you sacrifice your own needs
– Avoid negative people
– Face your fears and learn from your failures
– Reward yourself when you succeed with your goals
– Practice letting go
– Concentrate on what’s right with the relationship and build on that
– Learn how to realistically view your relationship
– Find assurance within yourself. No one else can make you happy.

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