Some thoughts on why people hurt people...

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Some thoughts on why people hurt people...

…and what might be done about it.

by Rain Phutureprimitive (reposted with permission)

🖤Nearly everyone has experienced trauma or wounding in their lives. Left unhealed, this can lead to all kinds of behavior, choices, actions, emotional states, unconscious survival patterns and illnesses that end up lowering the quality of our lives and negatively impacting those around us.

🖤Every person on this planet has a different threshold for, and response to, traumatic events. What is traumatic for one person may go unnoticed by another. If it landed as traumatic to the person in question, then it was traumatic for them. Likewise, what can trigger this unhealed wounding is also different for each person. The fact that it may or may not make sense to you is irrelevant to the fact that, for them, they may be reliving unhealed wounding and may not even be aware of it.

🖤Sadly we all live in different brackets, classes, and levels of convenience, privilege, and wealth. Despite this vast and tragic landscape of man-made scarcity and abundance, trauma can happen to anyone. To draw the conclusion that someone is immune to the effects of trauma or are not allowed to speak to their suffering simply because they have more privilege or advantage is neither helpful or accurate in a healing context. The diversity of privilege and poverty we have is horrifying. The range and severity of suffering on this planet is vast and clearly, some are in much more immediate need than others. I’m saying I believe the origin of this imbalance and suffering stems largely from unhealed wounding/trauma. And that healing this imbalance can be massively accelerated by each of us taking responsibility for addressing what is unhealed within us. I’m making the point that trauma does not discriminate. And just as hurt people hurt people… Healed people heal people.

🖤When a person experiences a traumatic event, the emotional and mental parts of them that were most impacted often cease to develop (until the trauma is healed). Meaning, despite their current age, if an adult suddenly begins to behave in an immature or childish manner in response to a stressful event (such as an argument with a spouse or partner), unhealed wounding or trauma has likely just been triggered, and they are now behaving at the emotional, mental and or even physical maturity level of the age at which the initial trauma occurred. Far more effective than blaming or judging someone for behaving this way, is to see them compassionately, and view them as a child, at roughly whatever age their trauma occurred (do this internally and do not accuse them of being childish or talk down to them). If a child became emotionally distraught because they were afraid, whether or not that fear was real or imagined, an appropriate response would be one of compassion and love… a response designed to help them feel safe and understood, without judging them or making them wrong. Try that.

🖤Once trauma has occurred, coping mechanisms are usually created to help survive the event. Often our coping mechanisms are blind to us, meaning we don’t realize they exist or see them when they are happening. No two peoples coping mechanisms are exactly the same, but here are some common “go-to’s”: Regularly externalizing (projecting) the source of one’s discontent or suffering. Regularly blaming or shaming others. Displaying regular patterns of avoidance or anxiousness. Displaying a pattern of inflexible attachment to outcome. Having an externally derived sense of value. A regular pattern of being self-absorbed. An inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for one's emotional state or actions. Consistently seeking the attention of others. A regular pattern of victim, hero or perpetrator (Karpman drama triangle). A pattern of fear. A pattern of fear of intimacy. A pattern of uninformed righteous condemnation of others. A pattern of depression. A pattern of “drama”. Patterns of co-dependence. (I’ve derived these from my own observations, healing, and books I’ve read. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Just because one of these shows up does not mean unhealed trauma is present, but in my opinion, providence considerable evidence for it.

🖤The unconscious mind works hard to maintain the coping mechanisms and states of trauma. Here is the survival based “logic” behind it: "Even though these conditions may be painful, they have kept us alive, therefore we’ll keep doing them to stay alive." This is one reason why healing from trauma can be so challenging. It goes against the will of the unconscious mind.

🖤A common response to unhealed trauma is to blame another person for it. (Yes, sometimes this is true. Quite often it is not). An innocent person may inadvertently trigger someone else’s unhealed trauma/wounding. The triggered person will then emotionally react as if the original source of their trauma has just happened and project much or all of their suffering from that original event onto the other person who just triggered them. This often leads the triggered person to react in an exaggerated or inappropriate manner. While they are actually responding in large part to the original unhealed trauma from their past, they are often blind to that. They will likely assume their exaggerated emotional response to the immediate event is totally appropriate and justified. Sometimes, the lengths to which a person triggered by unhealed wounding/trauma will go to is considerable, such as vehemently denying the true source of their suffering and instead targeting someone who has more recently triggered them as the source, causing damage, pain, and trauma in others, thus continuing the cycle of trauma. This is often because it is easier to project the cause of our deeply held pain onto others than to face the original event which caused it. It is also a core reason why it is so important for each of us to heal that which is unhealed within us, to break the cycle.

🖤Another common response to unhealed wounding is holding the presupposition that the person who triggered them was intentionally attempting to cause harm, act with malice, attack them or is mean, bad, or evil. They will often invent motives and claim them as fact, exaggerate events or emit context in order to justify their pain, while often blind to the fact that the core of their suffering is actually from their unhealed past and far less about what has triggered them in the moment. This often leads to inappropriate, defamatory, false or righteous condemnation of the person who triggered them and even others who simply hold some resemblance in appearance or action to their original perpetrator. They may do so on social media causing further harm and damage, in an attempt to recruit the support of others in their “story” of victimhood, all to help justify a wound who’s source is too unbearable to confront.

🖤Usually, the initial event which created the wounding/trauma stems from the actions of another person, often our parents and often in our childhood. It may have been intentional, or unintentional. In either case, I believe it is usually the result of unhealed trauma/wounding leaking out or lashing out and causing trauma/wounding in another. This is where the notion that “hurt people hurt people” comes from.

🖤Taking responsibility for our own wounding and resulting behavior; for our own emotions and coping mechanisms does not mean the person who initially caused that trauma has no responsibility. Nor is it about denying we were at one point the participant of an event that caused pain, fear, trauma or wounding. It’s about making a choice: “Now that it’s happened, it’s up to me to decide what I do about it. It’s up to me to decide what meaning to give the experience, and how to heal. Do I identify as a victim? Do I identify as a person who can turn this experience into a strength and help others? Do I want my life to be better or worse as a result of this happening? Are my resulting actions possibly based on unhealed wounding from my past or are they coming from a genuine place of love and healing? Am I condemning someone without being truly open to what their motives were? Am I creating conditions for deeper understanding and healing?” It was Viktor Frankl (a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps) who said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

🖤Everyone has their own model of the world and their own wounds they carry. Because someone else responds to a situation differently does not instantly make them wrong or mean they were attempting to hurt you. It’s possible they are acting from a place of unhealed wounding or trauma. It’s also possible they simply have a different model for what is appropriate or normal in that moment and it happens to trigger unhealed trauma or wounding in you. Try replacing your judgment with curiosity about the other person’s model of the world. Be open to simply seeing it as a different way of living, instead of being wrong.

🖤Unhealed emotional and mental wounding often ends up mirroring itself in the body, leading to a variety of physical illnesses, pain, and suffering. I believe it's usually not a question of if this will happen, but when.
* None of this is said to condemn, judge, belittle or make wrong anyone who has unhealed wounding/trauma or acts out on its behalf. It is a noticing of the ways in which unhealed trauma impacts and influences those who have it, those who are exposed to it and how frequently it is the source of our suffering. Clearly, my suggestions are not relevant in every situation. (If for example, a triggered person becomes abusive or violent, a different approach may be necessary).
* I believe that if everyone assumed they have a level of unhealed wounding or trauma in their past and made it a priority to address even just some of it, the positive impact that would have on the quality of life on this planet, for everyone, would be profound. Healed people heal people.

🖤A recent journal entry: As a result of the healing work I’ve been doing over the past year, experiences which used to triggered a strong negative emotional response or a bound up sense of resistance, are now arriving more like newborn seeds landing on the fertile soil of a freshly scorched landscape, making way for growth, opportunity, potential, boundless expression, and new life. The way I see and interact with challenges is radically changing. I witness their nature rather with less attachment and resistance. Gratitude is becoming a default, and not dependent on things feeling “good” for it to show up. I have greater depths of compassion for others, and myself, even when they are acting out of unhealed wounding or trauma. I take things less personally. I spend more time in states of love and possibility and less time in states of fear. I see others and myself more clearly, with less unhealed wounding clouding my view. Far less of my mind is hijacked, unconsciously scanning for potential threat (a leftover coping mechanism that had been running since childhood), leaving far more mental capacity for being present. I am more consistently resourced. I contribute more. I listen more. And the more I heal, the more I want to help others do the same.

Some of the healing modalities I’ve done in the last year:

  • Somatic Experiencing

  • Yoga Nidra 

  • Holotropic Breathwork

  • Neurofeedback Therapy

  • Shaman led 5meo DMT Journeys

  • Transformational Chairwork

  • NLP

  • Reparenting 

  • Boundaries Exercise

  • Date with Destiny (Tony Robbins)

  • PTSD and trauma release counseling 

  • EMDR (have not yet tried, but plan to)

Some of the books recently read:

  • "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie, 

  • "Attached" by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller,

  • "Facing Codependence" by Pia Mellody

  • “Attached” by Walter Dixon and Amir Levine

  • "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk

  • “Mans Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl

  • “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix

  • "The Six Pillars of Self Esteem" by Nathaniel Brandon

  • “Conscious Loving” by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks

  • "The Truth" by Neil Strauss

  • "Radical Acceptance" by Tara Brach

  • "The Surrender Experiment" by Michael Singer

  • "Learning to Love Yourself" by Gay Hendricks

  • "Loving Yourself Advanced Program" by Gay Hendricks

  • “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins

  • "Creating Lasting Change" by Tony Robbins

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Childhood PTSD is no jokes, regardless of your background

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Childhood PTSD is no jokes, regardless of your background

I’m not sure where to start with this...it’s so close to my heart for many reasons. I grew up in a crazy level of privilege in terms of the race, gender, and socio-economic status of my town and school...and my family was one of the poorest in our town. So I supposed “rich-poor” would describe it.

Watching my classmates have every possible opportunity while I wondered why I couldn’t seem to function, even with a great education and many things paid for just by being a part of the town I grew up in...yet I couldn’t seem to understand why I was so...different. ADHD? Anxiety? Depression? Was I just lazy? After 30 years of bad choices and a few good ones, and MANY mixed feelings, I discovered that I had C-PTSD.

How could I have missed something so big? Was I making it up? Was I just being too sensitive? Too ungrateful for my privilege? Just blaming life for my choices? No...I had come to understand that there are varying degrees of this epidemic, but as Dr. Gabor Mate says, “It’s not ‘why the behavior?’ It’s ‘why the pain’ behind the behavior?” that we need to be inquiring about.

No child...rich, poor, privileged, multi-generationally traumatized, or whatever...can function well with childhood neglect, abuse, or any type of unsafe conditions...whether it be physical, emotional, or both.

My point is that we now have cheat science to show how children can develop properly, and ALL children deserve this opportunity. This means that we need to create support systems for parents to raise their children with physical and emotional safety for the first 3-7 years of life. Will people take advantage of this support? Absolutely. But who doesn’t claw for life when they’re drowning? Even if they claw at the lifeguard trying to save them...this is important to understand.

There is so much hurt in the world. We blame so many people for their lack of behaving in a particular way, yet the effect of trauma in all forms literally CHANGES THE BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM DURING DEVELOPMENT. Thus means that in order to be a part of the solution, we need to start talking about this as a human issue, and support ALL PEOPLE EQUALLY. And yes, that means those with multigenerational trains need MORE SUPPORT.

There’s no big mystery around why people behave in ways that hurts themselves and others. It’s the effects of trauma, and it’s on a neurological level that both mental and physical health issues that we see play out in so many ways in this society. This hurtful behavior is simply people in survival neurologically, and this survival mode blinds them to the effects of their behavior. Hurt people hurt other people.

Is it really such a stretch of the imagination that people in privilege who aren’t sensitive to those who aren’t privileged are ALSO traumatized?

I don’t see a world full of bad people. I see a world full of people in a survival state, fighting to stay safe...and ironically hurting themselves and others as they do so. They don’t know it’s counterproductive...that’s what trauma does to the human nervous system.

When trauma is unresolved (especially when it happens in early childhood during critical developmental periods), all that person can see is danger everywhere they look. Why? Because their nervous system is adapting to the needs perceived.

But that’s the problem...if a traumatized person cannot see they are repeating damaging behaviors, they are in survival. That includes a kid raises in the ghetto who ended up in crime, or a CEO who steals from his company and justifies it.

Our prison system punishes traumatized people instead of helping them resolve their trauma, and our justice system does its best to provide incentive to avoid the most harmful behaviors. But this is like bail out the Titanic with a paper cup. It’s just not sustainable.

Comparing who is more traumatized in our society isn’t helpful. But taking steps to resolve our own traumas and support those around us is helpful. “Think global, act local,” right?

Based on my upbringing, I probably should have done better in life...but wait! No one knew my mother was on food stamps, paying minimal payments on all her bills with 6 kids and putting herself through school while recovering from an abusive marriage. What happened when she was gone at school or working? It’s a miracle child services didn’t take us all away from her, but I’m grateful we made it.

As an adult, I married and had two children with a woman who was severely abused as a child...we were 18 and 19 when our first child was born. I worked and went to college while on and off welfare to get by...her mental health waned, and I eventually left the marriage to try and pick up the pieces. I didn’t believe in divorce, but dissociate identity disorder without proper treatment leaves someone to cope in their own ways...she had so many fantastic stories that I can’t keep track anymore. I left to try and make my life better and give our kids a shot at a better life than I had...then I remarried someone who had an even worse childhood.

My second wife was left homeless at 13 (an ethnic minority), and joined a gang to survive...the horrors she survived I’ll probably never know about, but needless to say, she didn’t function well emotionally, although she had managed to rise up in terms of career to take care of her kids...4 kids, all from different fathers, two of who have mental and physical handicaps.

What was I thinking taking this on? I knew how to overcome adversity, and I saw greatness in her...yet something in my gut said it was off...I tried to leave 6 times. By the time it was finally over, my own kids had more trauma from being in that environment of 4 kids and a mother from gang culture. I won’t go into details, but essentially I learned the hard way that compassion includes yourself, or it’s not complete.

I still ache thinking about what my kids went through because of my choice to be with and help someone who was suffering that I loved. My point is that this is complicated when you’re in a body and mind with unresolved trauma. I was capable of functioning just well enough to appear “unfortunate” and unlucky...but part of me knew better.

The truth is that trauma can look many different ways, and I’ve experienced myself, and those I love with so many types of trauma from so many different backgrounds that it’s safe to say I’ve learned a great deal about trauma.

I happen to be in a wonderful relationship right now, and my kids are adjusting. My first wife is mildly successful, but still struggling emotionally. The same could be said of my second wife, and many of my siblings appear quite successful in the ways that matter. Yet they all suffer with no one who will take their pain seriously...including themselves.

I offer support wherever it is received, and I actually support nervous system regulation fir a living now. But I am only one man, often trying not to drown himself. I do my best to educate myself, my clients, my friend and family, my community...we must recognize we are all human beings doing the best we can, and appearances of behavior are often the coping mechanisms for the pain underneath.

Want to learn more? It’s lifetime journey, but I can recommend books. We’re all in this together, and perceived privilege or not, no one is above childhood trauma.

A neglected child can come from a wealthy family through surviving infancy in daycare, resulting in a human being devoid of the developmental circuitry to feel empathy. We often call them sociopaths, but when they become a CEO, we often “pedestal” them, assuming they know better because if their position. Addiction to power and money is the result of inner pain trying to be masked in “success” financially. These people are some of the most miserable in the world, and there’s never enough money or power for someone trying to fill an emotional hole with empty money and accomplishments. A person who grew up in a ghetto with a depressed single mother who becomes a lifelong criminal doesn’t choose this from a mindset of clarity...they are desperately trying to fill a void that was developmentally missing in infancy from a mother overwhelmed with adversity and responsibility.

I could go on and on...we can do better than blaming others who are different than we are. We need to all do our best to be gentle with ourselves and others, and to make sure we’re not drinking before we step into helping others.

Those who can give back from a place of abundance love nothing more than that feeling of giving. Although I’m far from abundant financially, I’m abundant emotionally much of the time, and I can share that through trauma education, self-regulation techniques, and whatever I can...AND, I just remember to take care of myself when past trauma arises. There are always others levels that can emerge it seems. If I can feel good, that’s a start. If I can give back, even better.

I hope my life story and perspective can shed some light around this topic. Thanks, Philippe, for tagging me here. I wasn’t expecting to write on this topic tonight, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back where I can. May all who suffer be free of it as much as can be in this moment. All we can do is start within to be the best versions of ourselves we can be, and whoever we can support to be better after that is a happy bonus.

-by Curt Hammer

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The Anxious-Avoidant Relationship Dance

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The Anxious-Avoidant Relationship Dance

by Mike Thomas

The non-clinical population has an even amount of male and female people with anxious attachment, as well as those with avoidant attachment. The differences in gender are nuanced, but for the sake of understanding attachment from a human perspective, it’s important to step outside of the need to separate men and women’s differences, and step into the human nervous system free of gender distinctions...from there we can look at differences, but connection must be made first in order to cultivate safety in the nervous systems of BOTH partners. This is an art form that requires tremendous patience, but the payoff is well worth it.

Stan Tatkin suggests a method called “catch and release” for anxious partners who have avoidant partners who seem to be “too distant.”

The avoidant partner is far more aggravated physiologically in connection than anxious partners...but they are generally unaware of this emotionally and physiologically. Although the anxious partner has awareness of this dysregulation when apart from their partner, they must learn to “self-regulate” when away from their partner as part of their growth toward secure functioning. The avoidant partner cannot self-regulate as effectively, or at all, and so they must “auto-regulate,” which is an adaptation to an unconscious terror in relational connection, as they generally experienced some form of neglect to develop avoidant patterns in the first place.

Anxious patterns of adaptation come from having most attachment needs met during their attachment period, but inconsistently. As a result, their attachment systems are hyperactive and sensitive, and often their fears in adulthood relationships are a “replaying” of that early experience of perceived rejection.

Avoidant patterns come from complete disconnection from the parental caregiver... so in order to keep from going insane, they dissociate and disconnect, as that experience of emotional isolation and perceived abandonment is too painful to manage before autonomous neurological function is possible.

“Self-regulation” is the process of regulating the nervous system without an attachment figure/partner present (as is also the case in adult relationships). This is so an individual can regulate their nervous systems until co-regulation can resume when connection is again possible. Through healthy and secure parenting, the child learns this autonomy of self-regulation through the parent consistently demonstrating that they are available for the child while they become more and more capable of emboldened exploration, knowing their “safe haven” is also a “launching pad” of autonomy. Secure functioning people can do this flexibly, and easily support a partner who needs space to self-regulate or to auto-regulate. Either way, a secure functioning partnership has the flexibility based on whatever needs arise.

Anxious functioning partners need to practice this skill in order to learn how to develop the neurological autonomy that they didn’t develop during infancy with their caregiver, who wasn’t consistently available to bolster the appropriate autonomous development. Anxious attachers therefore are lacking that critical aspect of knowing their safe haven is available to help them become more secure in developing autonomy, as co-regulation with an attachment figure is FAR superior to self-regulation for the nervous system.

The avoidant partner in adulthood uses a completely different process called “auto-regulation,” and it is a form of regulation that happens in isolation, but it is not as effective as co-regulation with a partner. They learned to do this auto-regulation as an adaptation from having little to no co-regulation from their attachment figure (the parent might be avoidant and unaware there is any issue, but simply cannot effectively attune emotionally to their infant). The child and adult with avoidant attachment patterns has unconsciously adapted to emotional isolation and neglect, and so they are NOT capable of “self-regulation,” for the purpose of TEMPORARILY regulating until co-regulation is available. Instead, they “auto-regulate,” which is a period of regulation in solitude that has no intention to resume “co-regulation” once connection with their attachment figure is available...because their experience with needing regulation outside themselves was terrifying, and therefore dissociation and numbness was actually adaptive.

Since “auto-regulation” has no such intention/purpose to resume co-regulation (the association with co-regulation is abandonment), they seek autonomy without awareness that they are getting gradually drained of energy and resources over time...and they believe that relational connection is dangerous and costly. But since auto-regulation is ineffective longterm, avoidant partners NEED their partner to “catch and release” by reconnecting briefly, and demonstrating that it’s ok to auto-regulate but only connecting briefly, then separating again. For a partner with secure functioning attachment, this is completely manageable, and so they can appropriately connect and release, gradually demonstrating safety by allowing the avoidant partner to be alone (which is their perceived safety), yet that period of connection can gradually increase, allowing the avoidant partner the capacity to learn safety in co-regulation...and eventually self-regulation (which has the capacity and intention to reconnect in co-regulation).

This presents an apparent problem for the anxious partner, who has an unconscious “self-defeating” approach, assuming that disconnection means that it will stay that way. Their deepest unconscious fear is abandonment as well, but they’re consciously aware of this process...leaving them in the position to aggravate the avoidant partner by demonstrating a lack of safety in insisting on connection at the level they perceive they need NOW.

This might work during the first year of the “infatuation stage” of relationship, when both partners APPEAR secure from increased pleasure and motivation hormones, BUT REDUCED serotonin...which reduces the capacity to think clearly. Once that wears off (approximately 6-12 months), the insecure attachment patterns arise, and the anxious-avoidant dance begins. Cultivating safety fur one another is absolutely critical for the relationship to survive this emergence of their “complimentary” attachment patterns.

So the anxious partner must learn to self-regulate, “catch and release” their avoidant partner, and support both themselves in learning that connection will be there later, AND allowing the avoidant partner to be alone as often as they need. Only then will the avoidant partner eventually become capable to feeling safe in connection. This is ANYTHING but easy, but it is more than possible. Both partners simply need to learn to communicate on a nervous system level: body language! Tone of voice DOES MATTER! Who’s right about the current argument? It makes no difference. What matters is how to co-regulate effectively, because this will allow both partners optimum nervous system function. Safety in the nervous system must become priority.

It often doesn’t feel fair. The avoidant partner is often labeled as being “insensitive,” which is true! It’s an adaptation to a deep unconscious pain and feeling of lacking safety around connection. But it’s not intentional, and avoidant partners actually need connection too...they just need to be shown that their temporary safe space of being alone is accepted and respected, as they truly will connect more deeply over time if given the appropriate space to heal. Alternating between being supported to be alone when needed, as well as short periods of connection will do the trick. Then these periods of connection will gradually increase in time and comfort...but ONLY if it’s slow as the avoidant partner needs.

Think of approaching a deer in the wild...an avoidant partner truly needs that kind of patience to feel safe. It’s an art, and that’s what you unconsciously sign up for with an avoidant partner! They truly need a loving and flexible partner to heal...otherwise they will continue to feel unsafe in connection.

The anxious partner is typically more aware of emotions and sensations that can lead to secure functioning, and they are usually more expressed about what’s going on inside themselves...but with a strong negativity bias and often a victim mentality. The avoidant partner is typically less aware of the emotions and sensations that can lead to secure functioning, but they are far more capable of staying grounded about practical behavior to cultivate secure functioning.

They need one another. The anxious partner is the navigator of their relational car because of the ability to see, and the avoidant partner is the driver because of the ability to drive without looking at all the obstacles in the way...when you drive, you must look where you want to go, not at what you might hit. The partnership can be a navigator screaming about what’s coming, and distracting the driver, and it can also be the driver trying to drive with a blindfold on...or avoid even getting into the vehicle, insisting that running is more efficient to travel across the country.

To do this relational dance well, there needs to be an intention of both partners to honor the strengths of the other, while also honoring their partner’s unique needs for safety. The anxious partner must honor the avoidant for their ability to drive once they feel safe enough to get into the car, which they will do willingly and with joy once they are allowed to CHOOSE to get into the car as they feel safe to connect. The avoidant partner must also accept support from the more perceptive anxious partner in order to navigate with growing empathy. The result is that both partners can then learn to cultivate the strengths of the other...but this process can only BEGIN once they are both honored fir their unique needs to experience neurological safety.

Do this process well, and the anxious partner will have the deepest and most tender love and adoration from their avoidant partner. If the anxious partner ignores this, the avoidant partner will continue to perceive relational connection as dangerous, and the anxious partner will continue to perpetuate the pattern of being abandoned...it’s not easy to own this self-defeating pattern of pushing a partner away through “smothering them.” I should know, I have anxious attachment patterns. I also have developed avoidant qualities over the years through the sheer pain of unmet needs from unconsciously self-sabotaging my relationships.

Get resourced with friends, try EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), and be gentle with yourself as well. The good news is that an anxious partner has far more awareness of the attachment system through sensitivity. The challenge for the anxious partner is learning to create safety OUTSIDE of connection, so that the avoidant partner can truly feel safe in relational connection...which is what BOTH PARTNERS truly want and need to regulate effectively, through “co-regulation.”

Ultimately, BOTH partners want and need connection, and co-regulation in connection is FAR superior to doing it alone. Avoidant partners tend to be great at autonomy, but suffer unconsciously on a level that is far more devastating to overall health than the anxious partner’s patterns, due to their lack of awareness of their nervous system cues communicating dysfunction. Anxious partners tend to be far more aware of their needs and feelings, but also tend to self-sabotage through negativity bias. They both need what the other has. At some point, connection needs to be more important than doing it the way that feels comfortable...but the only way their unconscious parts will be willing us if they feel safe. The take-away message? Cultivating safety in ourselves and our partners MUST take priority if we are to cross this abyss of disconnection.

What’s more important to you? Being right? Or being happy?

Know Yourself and Be Empowered,

Mike Thomas

http://holisticfitnesslifestyle.com/

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Mike Thomas, Educator, Writer, HFL Empowerment Coach, Holistic Fitness Trainer, and Spiritual Strategist is the innovator and co-owner of Holistic Fitness Lifestyle and has been trained and certified by Dr. Matt James, of The Empowerment Partnership, and Board Certified by the Association for Integrative Psychology as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Master Practitioner of Hypnosis and Mental Emotional Release® Therapy.

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What’s Good About Anger?

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What’s Good About Anger?

A different look at where anger comes from, and how to engage with it.

by Mike Thomas

Anger is a neurophysiological state that drives upholding boundaries. This is so often misunderstood, it’s nearing epidemic levels. Rage is unchecked anger. Anger is simply the feeling and impulse to protect when boundaries are threatened.

When anger is suppressed, or when it’s not acknowledged as the subtle awareness of a breached boundary (or about to be) internally, it can easily escalate into rage.

When rage happens, anger has been bypassed unconsciously in lack of awareness, or it has been suppressed, resulting in an amplification of that feeling.

The actions that people so often mistake for anger have been shamed, misplaced, and/or ignored when rage presents itself. When mental violence (judgment, for example), or physical violence is expressed behaviorally, the underlying anger wasn’t appropriately expressed. Rage (and violence in some form) is the result.

Then people often go on and on about the “problem with anger,” completely missing the vital understanding of the neurophysiology that needs to be addressed in order to facilitate an angry person shifting from a survival state to a state of safety. (Important note...we never (or rarely, anyway) think WE are the one who’s angry, irrational, etc...that’s what makes it an unconscious issue.)

There’s a great deal of “projection” of our hidden shadow issues onto others in this culture, and a corresponding “denial” of those “undesirable” traits within ourselves that goes with this process. If we unconsciously fear expressing anger, our unconscious defense mechanisms hide anger’s existence within our own experience to “protect” us from discovering that “undesirable” or “shameful” trait inside. This is quite genius, because it keeps us from escalating our own survival state into “immobilization,” which is what happens in the trauma response. So we need to be gentle with ourselves if we expect to address this issue effectively.

Think about someone that you perceive as “dangerous,” or some variation of that concept...perhaps you view them as “unreliable,” “manipulative,” or whatever word implies you do not trust them. What happens in your body? How does your breathing shift? What sensations do you experience? Are you aware of your body? Or are you thinking about what you’ll say to them, how to avoid them, or judge them in some way? Maybe your judgment is warranted and justifiable...but we are very poor judges of character when triggered into a survival state. So cultivating awareness of this state of anger is critical if we are to improve this handicap in awareness.

These above responses are all possible expressions of the survival response in our human neurophysiology, and it disconnects us from the present moment awareness of bodily sensations, and the sophisticated human brain functions associated with the human prefrontal cortex including: self-reflection, empathy, compassion, forethought, impulse control, and many other functions of the prefrontal cortex.

So when recognize this physiological process happening in our own bodies, we can “be the change we wish to see in the world” by simply noticing this survival response, and suspending judgment to properly address this neurophysiological state. We can do this by simply focusing attention on breathing and bodily sensations. You see, the centralized networks in the brain, including the “Default Mode Network” (DMN) has a job to do in order to make sure we survive, and ultimately stay safe. In a triggered state of survival we O.W.N. ”Observe,” “Witness,” and “Narrate” about O.A.T.S, “Others And The Self.” This “O.W.N.ing” about “O.A.T.S.” happens when the DMN is activated during survival responses. (Referencing Dr. Dan Seigel’s work, here)

Although the survival response keeps us safe, it uses a tremendous amount of energy, and cannot remain operating for long periods of time without serious consequences. One of these consequences is an overtaxed “medial prefrontal cortex,” or “mPFC,” which is involved in impulse control when we have an impulse arise to physically or verbally attack someone else who APPEARS to be threatening in some form. (The term “ego fatigue” is used to describe a neurologically overtaxed mPFC, leaving it unable to control impulses until it recovers...which doesn’t happen if it’s always triggered. This is what happens in many conditions, such as ADHD.)

The fact that the brain is simply exhausted from controllingbuncobsciousxsurvivsk impulses is an important distinction, because we are lousy judges of character when triggered into a survival state, and we’re ironically judging someone who is at their worst as well. The other person you are judging is clearly in a survival state if they perceive judgment or criticism from you, which escalates the survival response for you BOTH. See the problem here? (Referencing Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk’s work, here)

(It’s also important to understand that a severe drug addict has these constant survival impulses fatiguing their ability to resist another fix. This is why it’s so difficult to hold compassion for an addiction who “should know better.” They might, but their neurological capacity to resist is overwhelmed by a survival response that perpetuates a deep shame for not being capable of staying sober. They need specific support to overcome this...see Dr. Gabor Mate’s work on addiction for references and the research science behind this.)

Unfortunately, the primal, survival aspects of neurology do not have the sophistication to honor diversity, and will amplify all potential threats of anyone who appears outside of our “tribe.“ This concept of our “tribe” is assessed unconsciously, and we do not know it is happening other than a “feeling” that we can trust someone else. If we get a certain “gut feeling” about someone that is uneasy and triggers a lack of safety, we will perceive ONLY the worst parts of them, leaving them in an impossible position to connect to us, regardless of how well they behave. (Referencing Dr. Stan Tatkin’s work, here)

Kind behavior from someone we have unconsciously assessed as dangerous (outside of our tribe) will only seem like a ploy to let our guard down. ***Cue Michael Jackson’s song, “I always feel like somebody’s watching me!”*** This unconscious survival response includes “hyper-vigilance,” and is often the root of paranoia.

This idea of someone outside of our tribe being dangerous can manifest as anyone who is “different,“ which could be any human being than ourselves, our family, our community, our religion, our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, our beliefs, our values, and the list goes on, and on, and on…

When the DMN is active during a survival response (which remains overactive in unresolved chronic stress and trauma), we end up over-thinking, and turning off our more lateralized networks involved in breathing and sensation, particularly the “Temporal-Parietal Junction.” By focusing on breathing and our sensations, we can counter this survival response and in turn balance our DMN activity with bodily presence, allowing our nervous systems to begin calming down.

Truly, conflict resolution begins within our own self-awareness, and then the more sophisticated parts of our brain can come online to assess if we are truly in need of protecting ourselves, or if our primal brain response was truly the issue. We will never know if we do not practice this mindfulness in stressful and conflictual moments.

If we are habitually suppressing anger, we’ll be so unaware of our own appropriate boundaries that we’ll likely be argumentative and ready to fight, flee, avoid, or dissociate into our own world of apathy or numbness to the outside world that seems so uncertain, out of our control, and “full of bad people.”

A person who has a belief of “bad people” and/or a “dangerous world” being everywhere indicates that they have a nervous system stuck in survival mode. There are plenty of issues to be addressed as we all learn and grow in this world, but focusing attention on danger/threat cues will ensure those issues perpetuate. What if instead of seeing “bad people,“ we could see their “tragic expression of unmet survival needs” (referencing Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication” here) in our world as an opportunity to support ourselves and all others to cultivate the very best parts of ourselves through neurological safety?

A general and widespread misunderstanding of anger implies that we are mostly repressed around appropriate boundaries, and likely most of us are perpetually in a survival state. How could we collaborate and create a more sustainable and compassionate world that embraces diversity as an asset? Honoring our emotions, every one of them, with acceptance is a great start. From there, we could begin to notice how much better we all feel when we see the greatest parts of ourselves, and we would then start seeing greatness in others as well. Perhaps we could begin this process with a few moments per day of sensing the breath and bodily sensations?

“Oh right, I DO have a body! I forgot that fact while I was busy trying to strategize how to survive this dangerous world!” When we get lost in our heads, it’s ok. We can be gentle with ourselves about that too. We can just simply shift attention back into mindful awareness of the present moment whenever we notice we’ve drifted off into our survival strategies. It’s only human to do so, and judging ourselves or others will only create more triggered nervous systems.

If we truly understood this as a society, our crime, prison/punitive system, and general fear around “dangerous people” would shift to compassion. Why? Because when “dangerous people” are understood for the unmet needs that are underlying their apparent behavior dysfunction, their capacity to function in a more sophisticated way opens up.

Our brains quite literally cannot learn in a state of survival. So if we continue to punish those who behave in a dangerous way, and feel the accompanying state of survival in ourselves as righteous judgment, we are actually BOTH experiencing survival states, and are therefore unable to access the sophistication of our cerebral cortex that is capable of compassion. Compassion is only accessible in a neurological status of Safety… Otherwise we are just being agreeable at the expense of our own boundaries. Then anger is appropriate to feel, but we are suppressing for the sake of appearances. That will only result in repression over time, and the resulting denial from that process. The correlations between repressed anger and rage and the number of psychological and physiological problems are clear. That unexpressed anger will ultimately either hurt our own health from not releasing the resulting tension patterns in the body (The connection between autoimmune issues and repressed anger and rage are quite clear, as it is so eloquently laid out in Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, “When the body says no”), or it will suddenly come out in explosive rage that could hurt someone else.

We CAN create a better world, and it begins within your own self-awareness, and then expands outward as you integrate these awarenesses in your life. Would you like to see this world become better than it is? If you’re aware of a problem in need of addressing, it’s within you already. Projection works both negatively AND positively. Because you notice something that could be better, it’s now your responsibility to practice that in your own life.

Notice who inspires you...is it the person who tells you what to do? Or is it the person who lives what they teach, integrating into their lives with integrity, honesty, and humility? Perhaps the person that could inspire you most is the one looking back at you in the mirror. What vision inspires you? How will you live that and fine-tune it in a way that the world benefits from learning from your example?

So what’s good about anger? Awareness of anger as bodily sensations, and a healthy expression of boundaries is a sign of self-awareness and integration...Not chronic rage and violence, which is often mistaken for anger. So where will you go from here?

It’s a beautiful day, especially if your nervous system is in safety enough to notice those sophisticated details that allow new awareness to emerge. Look at that beautiful person staring back at you in the mirror. Do you see it? Do you see the beauty of your intention to inspire through your example? Good, then it’s more likely that everyone else will as well. Everyone who’s engaged in this game of empowering human greatness will notice this beauty in you because they’ve chosen to awaken their own passion and inspiration inside...and we’ll always do it better together.

Know Yourself and Be Empowered,

Mike Thomas

http://holisticfitnesslifestyle.com/

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Mike Thomas, Educator, Writer, HFL Empowerment Coach, Holistic Fitness Trainer, and Spiritual Strategist is the innovator and co-owner of Holistic Fitness Lifestyle and has been trained and certified by Dr. Matt James, of The Empowerment Partnership, and Board Certified by the Association for Integrative Psychology as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Master Practitioner of Hypnosis and Mental Emotional Release® Therapy.

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About Becoming a Conscious Leader

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About Becoming a Conscious Leader

When we begin to show up as a leader, we begin to have impact. We want to make a difference and we begin to develop the skills of social, emotional, and intellectual influence. This is power.

Many also, by the same token, begin to explore the skills of primal and sexual influence, some of it consciously, some not.

We may not want to take responsibility for it because we didn't ask for it. Because we didn't consent to it. Or perhaps it's because it's not our problem, because it's not something we chose. Or perhaps it's not something our "group" has been known to impact others with.

But we do choose to speak up into the world to make a difference.

THIS RIGHT NOW IS THE DIFFERENCE WE ARE MAKING IN PEOPLE'S LIVES, to speak up and be heard.

Most, hopefully, will be positive.

But some will be negative.

Or look like it might.

Because we are touching people and they often can't help how they are impacted. Because they don't have the power that we have over reality.

Energetically, we develop that power. So we can have impact, so we can make a difference.

Remember: we are choosing this.

Now we begin to notice to what degree this power, without finesse and skill, can get out of hand. And others notice too. Or they believe it might get out of hand and the are afraid. And there might be some truth to that.

When one has come into their power with maturity, there is never push back around owning up to it and its effects and impact. The bigger we get (energetically, socially, physically), the more easily we can bump into others, and so the more we have to become present to our size and how it can harm or impact others, and the more we have to expand your level of awareness, consciousness, and care in order to move freely around the world.

Or we can care less, which is the path of the narcissist and the sociopath. This doesn't make a leader a narcissist or sociopath per se, just the behavior of not caring up to the level of power one owns makes it look like it. And the impact can be just the same.

Read that one again: the impact can be just the same.

How are you living into becoming a leader with the awareness, consciousness, and care that it takes to do it well?

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The New Calling Out: Becoming the Leader We Actually Need

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The New Calling Out: Becoming the Leader We Actually Need

Calling out has been used to get the right people to LISTEN.

It's both a form of social signaling (to garner attention towards a problem) and a way to get attention from the person who NEEDS to listen to the impact they had on the speaker, or someone the speaker loves, 
or a community the speaker loves, 
or an ideology the speaker loves, 
or a philosophy the speaker loves.

Click the title to read the rest.

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9 Ways To Support Partners Who Are Survivors of Sexual Violence

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9 Ways To Support Partners Who Are Survivors of Sexual Violence

Sexual abuse and assault can happen to anyone. Most often, we hear about it happening between partners, but what is the best course of action when we hear that our partner was just assaulted or that they reveal to us that they have a history of trauma or abuse? For most couples, this is a challenging situation rife with triggers and hurt. This list is a simple way to begin the support process with a partner who needs it. Each item could be a blog post unto itself. If you require further support, please contact me or any other mental health professional directly.

Click the title to read more.

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How To Show Up For The #MeToo Movement

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How To Show Up For The #MeToo Movement

It seems like everywhere the #metoo movement is leaving men wondering what to do – which is not surprising given that men like to DO things. Sometimes, of course, the incessant doing of men can get in the way and camouflage a feeling of inadequacy or a need to get attention. However, there are men out there who are truly seeing how much work there is to do and are simply ready, willing, and (hopefully somewhat) able to take action, and just need a sense of direction. Because, while this article may be preaching to a choir of clear conscious healthy men (as opposed to their pale substitute, the Sensitive New Age Guy, or SNAG or other types – and then again, even conscious men are apparently committing assault), there’s a multitude of men who are just waking up and looking to make a responsible and healthy difference.

Click the title to read more!

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PODCAST: Emotional Intelligence - Ready For Love Radio

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PODCAST: Emotional Intelligence - Ready For Love Radio

Emotional Intelligence is one those things that can be really confusing – mainly because emotions are just so… confusing -- to those for whom emotional intelligence and empathy are skills they are developing. For many people, however -- and this is especially true of women who culturally are more likely to get the practice needed to develop emotional intelligence and empathy -- emotions are as easy to navigate as movement is easy to navigate to a dancer (who, incidentally, tend to be somatically intelligent). Mothers also often just feel what their children need in a way that is often mysterious to men. Women's Intuition is also a way that we sometimes refer to emotional intelligence and empathy. 

On this show, my friend Nikki and I will try to unravel some of the mysteries around emotions and emotional intelligence.  The questions we discuss are listed below.

Click the title for all the juicy details!

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CLASS: Fifty Shades of Yes: A class about collaborative co-created consent

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CLASS: Fifty Shades of Yes: A class about collaborative co-created consent

Recorded at the Hawaii Tantra Festival 2017

This recording begins about 1/3rd of the class in, after the initial connection exercises that involved walking around being a yes, a maybe, and a no (without specific actions required by the participants)

A lot of lessons can be learned when we can consider that someone's "yes" can change from moment to moment, and when we have to remain curious about someone's feelings, pace, desires and boundaries as time goes by. 

Click the title for all the juicy details.

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PODCAST: Evolved Masculine Podcast: Being "Unfuckwithtable" with Destin Gerek

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PODCAST: Evolved Masculine Podcast: Being "Unfuckwithtable" with Destin Gerek

In this episode, Destin Gerek and I discuss the path to becoming a leader. We dive deeply into discussions of Patriarchy and how it affects men as well as women. We discuss the "Unfuckwithable State" and the journey that they, as well as many men who are rewiring their programming surrounding masculinity, have gone through. Philippe speaks about connecting to the inner child and the inner animal, and how it can help with the practice of embodiment.

Click on the title to listen to the podcast.

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PODCAST: Attachment Theory - Ready for Love Radio

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PODCAST: Attachment Theory - Ready for Love Radio

I'm beyond excited to be on the show with the amazing Love Coach Nikki Leigh. Don't miss it! We'll be exploring attachment theory, various types of intelligence, the importance of touch in our lives and relationships and much more will be included in this podcast and my discussion with Nikki Leigh. It will be fun to see where we go with it!

Some of the other topics we'll discuss:

- What prompted me to get into a relationship and sex related field
- What is the main focus of my work
- The 7 intelligences that I've identified
- What is attachment theory?
- What are the types of attachment styles?
- How does this relate to a person’s relationship needs?

Join us on the journey!

Here's the link or click the image!

http://www.readyforloveradio.com/attachmenttheory/

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Men, Your Erection Is Not A Sacred Cow

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Men, Your Erection Is Not A Sacred Cow

MEN, YOUR ERECTION IS NOT A SACRED COW

(PS: AND BLUE BALLS ARE A POOR EXCUSE FOR WANTING SEX)

Our society has evolved you to think that your erection is a sacred thing.

When you are hard, women are told that something needs to happen: you need to be pleasured, touched, you need to fuck, hump, grind. Everyone has to do something about it.

When you are soft, it apparently means you're not interested or that the person who is with you is not doing something right, not hot enough, not touching you right, not doing what you want in bed. It's someone else's fault.

Click the title to read more...

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