I was sitting this morning in the quiet and I started to reflect. I was questioning my current opinion or view of those who were beginning to enter into myself, those who have recently exited, and those who have been a part of my life for a very long time. A more solid image began to form. We are all complex and multi-dimensional puzzles that are in process, and are being built over our lifespan.
For years I would try to apply a label, a reason, season or lifetime, to people who were in or coming into my life. To be completely honest, people use labels like this to build certainty in our culture of uncertainty (also known as a fear response). The only way to truly understand the role a person has when they enter into our life is to stay present and let things play out. Watch and learn what that purpose is.
I was walking, in our social distancing climate, with a new person who has entered into my sphere of life. This person and I could feel a pull towards one another but we couldn't discern why. We both, regretfully, attempted to define what that pull was, and when we shared our thoughts we were both a bit embarrassed. Why? Why did I feel the need to tag him and label him, and him me! Why did we try, so prematurely, to define what the role is that we will serve in the other's life? Are we friends? Am I a comforter? I am a supporter? Who am I in this new man's life? I don't know because I don't have all the pieces. Yet.
We walked and came to an agreement that men and women have integral roles in each others lives. We agreed that God had drawn us into something (unknown), for some time (undefined), and that we are going to support, encourage and be available. We acknowledged that God knows what He's doing. God has brought the most wonderful mentors, students, and iron networks to me over the last several years and it's my job to enjoy, not to set out parameters of where a relationship leads. If I had done this I would be missing out of some of the most blessed relationships I could ever hope for.
Here's my point, and maybe my challenge: I encourage you to see yourself as beautifully complex, an artful work in progress, and while we are here we are all unfinished. I want to invite you to imagine yourself in a new way, as a beautifully dynamic puzzle with pieces still to be filled.
The world is full of puzzle piece treasurers; some come into our life with wrong pieces and desire to force their piece where it does not go; others are patiently waiting, abiding, to see their place; and others have left prematurely without leaving the piece they were intended to. If you look back over your life you can identify the roles that people have taken in your life, wanted or unwanted, but you can't prescribe those roles moving forward. [Take a deep breath]. As people (men, women and even youth) come into the sphere of your life, I encourage you to let them be. Don't define them, don't try to fit them into a special role or purpose, don't seek for them to fulfill something in you or vice versa. Rather, wait patiently. Let time fulfill its purpose. Look at people, and yourself, as treasure holders in this puzzle-building life of ours. ~Be encouraged!
Why does a man who is sexually abused by a man - who had no proclivities prior - become a homosexual thinker?
Why does a girl - who has no previous characteristics of being loose with her body - begin to act out sexually once abused sexually?
Why does the idea of suicide immediate become an alternative after it is proposed?
There might be times where you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. Perhaps everything you’re doing to try to be more successful just isn’t working. So you might be scratching your head thinking, “WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?”
By DrStem, Psychotherapist, Author & Show Host
We all like to think that we are in control of our destiny – if we just work hard enough and have clear goals, then we will fulfill our dreams. But maybe things aren’t going as smoothly as you had hoped. In fact, there might be times where you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. Perhaps everything you’re doing to try to be more successful just isn’t working. So you might be scratching your head thinking,
“WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?”
Don’t worry. You’re probably not doing anything wrong. You just need to dig deeper. We all have blocks to success that aren’t obvious at all. Our discussion today will focus on five ways you can uncover and remove these hidden blocks on the road to YOUR success.
Childhood abuse or abuse at any age – together with any kind of trauma can cause mental blocks that can prevent one from living their life. Without objective awareness of our emotions and motivations we can never enjoy the freedom of choice that let’s us get what we really want from life. Unfortunately, we set up many mental blocks for ourselves that keep us from achieving this kind of self knowledge.
My guest in this show, Christine Mauriello has been through it all, mental blocks stemming from sexual violation at ages 7 and 17, years of struggle with PTSD and PNES, and now an independent woman who has found herself and her way to Freedom of Choice and living. She says “ I aspire to publish many books, to be a presenter on Ted Talks, teach scripture and history to those desiring to be disciples, learn how to receive love without fear, have a radio talk show, travel with my person brand of hope and deliverance, soup kitchen for the hurting, hungry and lost, and record a dvd instructional on self-healing from ptsd.”
Perhaps by understanding some of the obstacles, we can more easily overcome them, especially when you hear it from someone who has been through so much and can now talk about her trauma and recovery to help others.
I have to be real and authentic - otherwise what benefit would you have in listening. I had a rough morning this morning with discouraging thoughts. I had to combat them with, not positive catchy lingo and jargon but with facts, tools, and encouragement. Did I want to? No... my instinctual response was to comfort myself, not with truth but with food and avoidance. It was uncomfortable. I fought it hard because the struggle was real. I began by writing out exactly what I wanted to do (format for me was like talking to God) - and the struggle I was having was a desire to avoid Him. Can you relate? Do you avoid the very people who encourage you to mend/heal because somewhere deep down there is a comfort in feeling crumby? Maybe a lie-based belief that you deserve it because you are crumby?
There are some days when I have a hard time getting going because I missed some sleep, or had a rough sleep. There are some days that are difficult because the sky is pouring and is clothed in gray! And then there are some days that are rough because a belief (which is lie-based and yoked in my thought processes) surface and that lie-based belief makes you feel yucky. What do I mean by lie-based belief? Have you ever questioned yourself about the dozens of opinions you have of yourself - how many are true and how many are lies? Do you hold an negative opinion of your self-worth? Value? Purpose? Where did they come from, and are they true? Beliefs result in either value (+) or devalue (-), and regardless of where we are in our journey we absolutely have (+) value, and everything we experience can have (+) value and (+) purpose if we allow it to transform us for good. If we choose to reject old lie-based ideas, test all our theories, and question the validity of just about everything we have put our thoughts, energy, and belief in - the fruit of that labor is priceless.
Tony Robbins said, "It is not the events of our lives that shapes us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean".
My truth: I once held lie-based beliefs that bad things happened to me because I had no value or worth - that I was cosmically rejected and valued as worthless. Have you ever felt that way? Question that, and don't allow those beliefs to dictate where your going in your life anymore. If you recognize your own lie-based beliefs, like the one I just shared, and are committing to rejecting them - make a declaration against them. "I denounce the lie that I am worthless and without value." You can choose what you put your belief in and boldly declare that too: "I have limitless potential and will be evaluated not on what I have done - and definitely not on what has been done against me, but the value of my legacy will be created from this point forward by how I live my life and the kind of fruit my life produces in those I have the honor of influencing and impacting from now until I die." The past is dead - long live the fruit!!
*photo by Ali Syaaban
"Many experts in the area of trauma treatment believe that when overwhelmed by something traumatic or deeply distressing, the emotional “charge” or memory from that event becomes stored or trapped in our body. We’re often unaware that this has even occurred, but our brain is altered as a result. It can cause problems on all levels – emotionally, mentally and physically."
Whether it be addiction (to love, sex, work, drugs or alcohol), PNES/NES, or other changes to the original map of our brains - trauma has an effect - AND, it is reversible.
I love talking to people who are currently experiencing a chemical imbalance, and additionally a physical manifestation such as PNES or addiction, BECAUSE it gives me an opportunity to share my hope. First and foremost, chemical imbalance is a clinical term and it is the natural response to seeing a fearful object - it's not a word to describe a person who is "crazy". Our brain is a large chemistry set that is altered and affected by the circumstances we are in, our thought life, and our past traumas and events. Example: if you had a bad experience with a dog and that experience is unresolved, your brain will respond to seeing a similar dog with increased cortisol (stress hormone). Pretty basic. Think about anything you have not resolved in your past - a break-up, loss of parent, loss of pet, war, a brutal attack - these can create patterns of responding to perceived fearful stimulants and triggers (ie. emotion provokers). Emotion provokers affect our brain chemistry and therefore how we physically feel or react - it is part of our flight or flight auto-response system which is intended to help us survive.
Unresolved patterns and traumatic events from our past keep up reliving that trauma until the build up is too great and we crash, have a seizure, or worse. Here's where the hope and help come in... the key phrase is "if it is unresolved". You may be asking, "well how do you resolve it?" Glad you asked!
Ask yourself what beliefs were created as a result of your specific event. Is it a true belief? More often than not we aren't balanced in our responses. If we have a break-up we may say something like, "no one will ever love me". Is that true or does it just feel true? That is an important distinction! If someone we love dies we may respond with something like "there will never be anyone who understands me like they did" (often said after a parent dies). Again, is that true or does it just feel true? If you realize that you do currently steal your own joy and hope in how you respond to situations, there is hope in getting it back. How? Be intentional in how you respond to situations.
Now I don't want anyone to think this is an easy task - it is easier than continuing to kill your own joy - but it certainly takes work.
Step 1. Determine your goal and outcome.
Step 2. Enlist people you trust to join you on your journey (be aware that this may be a learning process of who you can truly trust). If you don't have a circle to choose from hire a wellness coach (like myself).
Step 3. Establish your how? Example: learn the art of pausing before your respond (either emotionally or conversationally). The word "learn" is a verb - an action word, so do some reading, watching, whatever will get you what you the support you need. Another example: listen to the words you use in an attempt to correct dramatic emphasis such as, "I'll never have, be, whatever..."
Step 4: Live with intention and become the real new you. Metamorphose! :-)
** Repeat as often as your awareness brings problem areas to the surface and into the light.
Wow - really? There is a solution to stop feeling emotional pain?! Yes - and it takes a countermeasure, folks.
Throughout childhood, adolescence and far too great a period of my young adulthood I was under the false impression that emotions were scary, and not my friend. But we are not put together haphazardly - everything in our mind and body has a purpose and serves to ensure our survival. Emotions are no different. They serve as a reminder when we are not balanced, and must take action to get that peace and balance restored.
I learned this the hard way, I was not always this way. I was once a post-traumatized reactionary who feared everything including myself. I feared God, humanity, spiders, emotions - everything... even myself. I didn't trust myself or anything for that matter. Well, there are many blogs to write on those elements but I am not interested in dwelling for this blog - I am focused on sharing the solution.
Isaac Newton was so inspired to investigate and then propose, and prove, what we now call Newton's Laws of Motion. I was inspired because the first law is the one that proves my theory that the use of countermeasures will stop emotional pain(and the physical pain caused by emotion). Here is Newton's first law:
An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed and direction (velocity), unless acted upon by a force.
Many people (including myself far too often) act as though life is random and full of confusion - but it's not - and we don't have to have that mind-frame when we can take a full pause, reflect upon agreed certainties, and then apply them to a situation at hand.
This won't appeal to everyone (that is a certainty) so if you are one of the few who think as I do let apply Newton's first law to an emotional charged situation. (and by the way - this is what I do as my livelihood - if you are interested in discussing it more, one-on-one hit the Contact tab.)
Let's say you have a spouse, you and they are not getting along and you are not quite sure where/when it began. Using this law, we can guarantee that unless there is a force acted upon the situation using a countermeasure the discomfort will grow and eventually cause disconnect and withdrawn - possibly divorce. That's fact. Let's switch it around though. Let's say that you collectively act on the situation at hand with a force (maybe counseling, a marriage retreat, prayer, and commitment) - then the track that your relationship is on will be altered.
Let's say you are a child and there is something you want at a store and your parent says no, but because of the force of desire to have your needs/wants met you fuss and fuss unrelenting. Now, I don't know about you but as a kid it took some kind of consequence for me to fall in line with the expected behavior that I was being trained up into. Behavior (fussing) + force (consequence) = changed behavior (relenting)
You see, emotional discomfort is no different - it will continue down it's path (anger, depression, hopelessness) until you do something about the cause of those emotions.
Be blessed, be well!
*photo by Jonathan Pendleton
Do you keep a record, a journal, a diary, or a notebook with random doodles? Anything that helps you record where you have been, what you have tried, and most importantly - the nature of your thoughts? If you have thought about it but are not convinced, let me help by confirming - It is crucial!!
Last week I mentioned to a friend that I can tell when my thoughts are getting cluttered because of the physical manifestation of clutter at home. In the old days of hard-core depression it was evidenced in the lack of my physical care - flossing was optional, hair - eh, and my sleep pattern was terrible. Now it is less obvious (not that it was obvious to be then)- but unmanaged thoughts and neglected emotions still leave clues. Having accountability is amazing - telling a safe friend of those tendencies may help, and recording them is a way of managing yourself in accountability. No one wants to remain depressed or in a mind-cluttered fog, so leave a trail of breadcrumbs (record) for yourself and enlist someone to help you fight this battle of thoughts.
Transparency: I'll be honest, I am not always consistent with this record - I am working in progress. There is so much positive when I do: I can more quickly align my thoughts with my heart, I can discern what doesn't match, and choose to move away from people or events that don't bring benefit to who I am or the outcome of my goals. It's effectiveness is most clear when all the world seems to be falling down - I can look through the pattern of my thoughts and note a negative trend.
So, what to do after you have begun and noticed trends? Glad you asked. ;-)
Thoughts precede emotions, so start testing the validity (or truth) of your thoughts and remember, not all your thoughts come from you. Are you cluttered? Enlist someone to help you navigate: a confidant, a friend, coach, pastor or a wise elder. Navigating our path alone seems less frightening then trusting another - definitely feels preferable, but the facts is that we are not objective. To be objective a person must be unbiased, able to face facts apart from emotion - that is something no one is about themselves. To make progress, and navigate to the heart of a matter, objectivity is mandatory.
I read an article this morning whose title read "Sense of Self - MS may challenge you to redefine who you are and what you want out of life" - THAT'S IT! I wish I had come up with that for PNES and/or PTSD, but I didn't so I will borrow it and give credit. :-)
PNES/NEAD/NES does challenge you to redefine who you are and what you want out of life... and in fact it did. So, what's the point? You must take action and ask yourself: How persistent are you in redefining your sense of self, your identity? Maybe, like me, you didn't know that was necessary or even how to. Once upon a time I thought it was a core strength to be all things for all people - a chameleon who adapts and changes to suit her environment. Maybe you, like myself once upon a time, couldn't sit still and kept busy to avoid that "being still" time... Here's the problem I found with those two elements of old me - I didn't know who I was, which meant I didn't know where I belonged. I didn't question the reasonably questionable people or activities I was asked to be involved with - I didn't know that I could, or how, or when even to say no. If you don't know who you are, you don't know where the boundaries lay. Here are some thoughts for you to question yourself and the elements of your life with? What are your kind of people - are they compassionate, caring, cool (tons of more adjective for you to use)? Do you recognize that in your crowd now? Do you even have a crowd? Do you want a group of identity makers around you?
It is said that we know who we are by who we associate with and I believe that to be true because it has very much been a truth in my journey. Redefining yourself post-PNES or PTSD is essential. For me, getting clarity on who I was (which I was not at all happy with once I got a good look) allowed me to explore who I wanted to be (and am becoming). If you want something you don't have you must go after it ferociously, get brave and dig to explore. :-)
Ancient Hebrew wisdom states, "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"*. If you are such a man or woman - then who in your life lifts you up? Who keeps you on the straight and narrow? Who is reminding you that you are not your thoughts, and that the power of the mind has huge potential? Who is joyful to see you? Who fills your joy bucket when with them?
STOP. This is an important step here - make a list, write it down. Seriously - Who encourages you? Who humbly teaches? Who points out your strength and tells you "yes you can"?
If you don't have those slots filled then you have some vacancies to fill. Ancient wisdom also says, time waits for no man (or woman). Let us vision, let's plan, and then boldly step into that plan.
Whether you are battling depression, PNES/NES, PTSD, or any other debilitating acronym - each battle can only be fought one day at a time and one goal at a time. Shoot high but give yourself grace. And if you need help, ask me.
This is a loaded question - "What do you believe" - but don't skip over it - write down some key elements that create who you are. If you believe you are what you think and ruminate over, you are correct. Are you a survivor or victim? Will you recover or are you facing a life sentence? Seriously, you must answer this for your own benefit. PNES is not new. Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures is an ancient condition, mentioned in historical documents over 2,000 years ago (Hippocrates) through 150 years ago (Jean-Martin Charcot). Would you believe that this condition is fool-proof, no shortcuts. Can't overcome with pills - but with loads of effort and the daily practice of this simple approach "watch what you think about".
Christine Mauriello's core strengths include motivational speaking, teaching, relational skills’ training, coaching, and compassionate care to meet the recovery goals for those with PTSD, addiction, trauma, divorce, and other setbacks.