In our lives we often know people who we think are well meaning, their words or actions may be hurtful to us but we often brush off our own feelings in order to keep some semblance of peace with them. We can find ourselves making excuses for their behaviour, and we often look instead to ourselves, finding faults and defects within that do not exist in reality, but we nurture them in order to feel better about these people who hurt us.
These people who have such a strong hold on us are called Toxic People. They can be friends or co- workers but more often than not they are family. Usually it is a close family member like a parent or sibling, and often times, several of these toxic persons will join together to convince a family member that they are the person in the wrong, that the person who is not going with the “flow” of the family dynamic is in fact the toxic individual. That person gets a lovely title like, the family “scapegoat” the “screw up” the “troublemaker” to name a few. The irony is that the family member who refuses to tow the line and follow the secret family rules is the only one who is really in touch with themselves and what is actually happening in the family. Their knowledge, their belief that a toxic person or persons exists within that family structure, gives them a strength that they often don’t know they possess.
So how are you to cope if you are the family scapegoat? Do you try to convince your family to change? Maybe one day they will see how wonderful you are and love you for who you are? Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, life seldom works that way. The hardest part of having a toxic family or family member is that you have to come to terms with the fact that they will not change. I know some people will say that one should hold out hope, and indeed that glimmer of hope is what causes further fuel for despair. Years of trying to “make it work” with toxic persons and can also fuel self-hatred and low self-esteem.
Imagine for example, that your sister was the toxic person in your life. Every year you say “maybe” this year my sister will change. Maybe this year she will apologize and tell me that she loves me and that she was wrong to treat me so badly. Imagine that you even start the year feeling pretty good about yourself, but as the year goes on and December 31st rolls around and yet again you are left feeling let down by your sister, as that elusive “maybe” never happened. What does happen is that your despair deepens and your self-esteem lowers because once again, she did not accept you for who you are. You might say to yourself “well if my own sister doesn’t accept me, then maybe I am a really difficult person like she said. Maybe I am all those horrible negative things that she says about me! How could anyone love me if my own sister can’t stand me and finds so many faults with me? “
Toxic people are very good at twisting the truth, and toxic family is of course, the best at it. Your family knows so much about you, including all of your early history, so it is easy for them to pull out bits and pieces from your history and twist them to use as fuel for the fire of toxicity. Anything from your past could become fodder such as those piano lessons you stopped (you give up easily) your poor grades in school (you were always so lazy) that winter your brother broke his arm tobogganing with you (you are clumsy and careless). Often a toxic parent or sibling will bring up the same incident multiple times in order to remind you of your faults over and over again, as they attempt to reinforce their beliefs onto you.
So how do you deal with this type of relentless abuse? One of the best ways is of course to avoid contact with the toxic person or persons. If you are truly not able to do that or are not ready for that step, then the next method is to treat that toxic person as if they were a small child.
For example, your brother Billy once again brings up the story of how terrible you were at hockey as a child. He then goes on to imply that you are terrible at all sports and are uncoordinated as well. Your usual response to Billy would be to start to defend yourself, rapidly giving reasons and explanations for your skill set. Having to immediately defend yourself can leave you flustered and upset, the perfect place for you to be in to suffer another attack from Billy. So how do you deal with this? In a group setting such as at a family dinner, the best strategy in dealing with a person like Billy is to not respond to his taunting. Simply smile at him as if he were a small child and start a conversation with someone else at the table. If he continues to attempt to bring the story up, you can then turn to Billy wearing your best bored expression and remind him that he has told that tale X number of times already, and ask him if he has anything new to share. Continue to patronize Billy whenever he rears his toxic head, staying cool and collected.
It is often helpful to throw in a visualization technique as well. Imagine yourself patting Billy on the head as if he were a small child rambling on. Toxic people often love it when you get angry. It fuels their own self worth to feel superior that they have made you crumble. They will often use your anger as “proof” of your missing traits. Try not responding to their taunts and include visualization. For example, imagine Billy as a child having a tantrum, fists thumping on the floor, facing contorted screaming away. How silly he looks! Aren’t you glad that you are an adult?
There is a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher that I have always loved:
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”
Sometimes it is really hard to find your courage. Sometimes the toxic voices are so loud you believe the words they say and think that they are true, but they aren’t. Inside of you is a voice that yearns to be heard. If you have a toxic person or people in your life, then you have a choice to make. Either you cut them out of your life or keep them in it, but don’t allow them to have any control over you. You start doing that by not waiting for that “maybe” day. Even if they never see it, even if they never tell you that you are, inside, some part of you knows just how wonderful and loveable you are. You are not the one that has the problem, they are.
Let Your Spirit Grow.com
Lately I have been in a spiritual slump. I’ve been sick since the beginning of winter with an ongoing sinus issue that went straight to my lungs. My child and husband have both been sick recently too. It’s pretty hard to find the energy to do anything spiritual, when I am so exhausted and stressed out about my and my family’s health. Also, it’s supposed to snow again today. It’s the middle of March and as I dream of spring flowers and warmer weather Mother Nature is not done sending shivering winds and drifts of snow. How do you find that spark to keep going in times like this?
As I type this, I am listening to some relaxation music I found online. It is helping to take me to another place that doesn’t have snow and stress. Sometimes, that is all that you can do. Find something small that keeps you going. Music, a chapter of a favorite book, ripping images out of a magazine of a goal and putting those up so you can see them daily, whatever small inspirations that you can find that keeps you going.
Being a spiritual person doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. It doesn’t mean that you can’t and don’t fail. It doesn’t mean that you are perfect and without faults. Spirituality is a journey. I always say to my clients that we are all a work in progress, including myself. On days like this, I feel that journey very clearly, that struggle to walk the path and find reasons to go on with learning and growing and moving forward. So do you know what I do? I don’t move forward or even try to, but I also don’t say that I have failed. What I am doing is pausing, taking a break. I set myself up with a nice little virtual camp in my head. Right there on my path, because today, this week, maybe even for the next few weeks I just need to rest. I have learned that it is okay to just stop for a while. It is okay to give yourself permission to heal and recuperate. That “to do” list that is often a mile long needs to be tucked away for another day.
We live in a world where we often make ourselves feel guilty for not doing something all the time. If we are not moving all the time, working, cleaning, organizing, emailing, texting or chatting on the phone then we are somehow, not productive members of society or “good” people. We need to learn to give ourselves permission to let go when we need to. We need to learn that sometimes, the best thing you can for yourself is to rest, relax and take a break. Forgive yourself and just breathe.
Let Your Spirit Grow.com
Breaking the Patterns
They say that an uncluttered living space helps you have an uncluttered mind. It’s a great theory, one I could definitely manage to a great degree as a single gal, living in a tiny apartment by myself. Fast forward a few years to marriage, a toddler, multiple moves including from one Province to another, and a super busy life and let’s just say that uncluttered doesn’t exactly describe my living space!
I grew up with an obsessive parent who had a super regimented life. Groceries bought on Tuesday only, laundry day was Friday only, floors to be vacuumed every day starting at a certain point in the house, stuff like that. It drove me absolutely batty to life like that and I swore that I would never be that way, and yet as my life went on I found myself exhibiting OCD type symptoms myself. Looking back I think I adopted many obsessive behaviours as a way to control some aspect of my life, which, from the start had been very much out of my control. In my mind I created a “right way” of doing dishes for example, and it literally made me anxious, nervous and angry to have someone else wash dishes the “wrong way.”
When we repeat a belief with a negative basis aimed at ourselves such as “I am a terrible dancer” we create that negative belief. If we reinforce that negative belief by constantly saying it, whether it is to ourselves and/or to others, we reinforce that negative belief to the point that it becomes true to us, and we can make it true for others as well.
Obsessive behaviour patterns work in the same way. For example, “The dishes are only done right if they are done my way” is a belief with a negative basis. By repeating that to myself all the time, I had reinforced my belief to the point that seeing anyone else doing dishes in any other way that “my way”, resulted in an experience of anxiety, nervousness and anger.
I was at a point in my life that I was working on myself and what I wanted out of my life, when I decided that my behaviours were not acceptable or fair to me, or to anyone who was around me. I decided that for me, my behaviours were too hard to live with. I spent a great deal of time reprogramming myself. I didn’t know it then, but I guess I was practicing self-hypnosis techniques, both to fuel the behaviours and then to help myself reduce them or remove them.
Breaking the patterns consisted of creating new ways of thinking and reinforcing that thinking in a positive way by repeating positive messages for myself. For example, for dish washing I would say to myself “My way is one of many ways to wash dishes. It’s okay if someone washes them a different way.” It took time, and truly at first I could not watch anyone wash dishes! I had to walk away from the visual of it but that is okay, it was part of the process.
If you are trying to break a pattern, consistent, regular, positive reinforcement is what is needed. Tell it to yourself, repeat it others (I am a great dancer!) and know that sometimes you will have to walk away or deal with increased anxiety, or other symptoms but it will get better. What you are doing is reprogramming a belief and that takes time and patience with yourself.
We are all a work in progress. To this day, I still shake my head at the way some people wash dishes, but I have learned to just let it go. I still prefer an ordered, clean space but I also know that sometimes, at some points in life, that is just not possible, and that is okay.
Let Your Spirit Grow.com
The Trouble With Tarot
I love helping people. I love feeling that I have contributed in a positive way to someone and their life. Helping a person find his or her “a-ha” moment or moments is truly, a very rewarding thing. I am not ashamed to admit that I am good at what I do. Being a Healer in multiple modalities and a Spiritual Coach is something that comes naturally to me, aided along the way with a big helping of life experiences of course! Having said all of that I have started to really cringe when one service I offer is requested, especially for group settings. The service I am speaking of is Tarot Readings.
Tarot for me is a tool, something that I use to assist in reading for people. I am a natural Intuitive Reader. I mainly see symbols and images for people. A lot of the time the images and symbols I see are not cut and paste. I would love to see super clear-cut answers for people, but it just doesn’t work that way for me. It would be nice if it did, because I personally could seriously use some winning Lotto numbers for myself!!
When people learn that I am an Intuitive and offer Tarot Readings, I am often immediately met with wide-eyed glee, and abrupt questions like “Can you give me the winning Lotto numbers?” or they demand exact answers to love life questions or work questions. Single persons will often ask me for the exact date and time they will meet someone or the exact description of that person.
That is the trouble with Tarot. It is often seen as a quick fix system for life answers. Some people want to use it as an excuse to be lazy. What do I mean? Well If I could give them an exact answer, like “You will meet your soul mate in 2.5 years” Then they don’t really have to try to meet anyone do they? If I told them “ You will be rich” then they would just sit back and expect money to come to them. Tarot is a tool to assist you that is all.
Life isn’t about waiting for answers or your life to change for the better because someone tells you it will. YOU have to change your life if YOU want things to be different. You have to work on changing yourself, if personal growth is your goal. Instant answers and instant change is the stuff of fiction and movies. Fiction is fun. Oh My Gosh! I love to read Historical fiction, and boy do I love a good fantasy movie! I love the ones that solve mysteries or have magic in them. That is all they are though, just fantasy; a product of Hollywood, all sets and costumes and scripted lines.
Real life doesn’t come with scripts, you have to write your own. You don’t get a magic wand or ancient coded text to help you. Your tools are your support network, guides and teachers whom who meet along the way, and allowing yourself to believe in your own power and knowledge that you have deep inside of you.
Let Your Spirit Grow.com
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