When The Cycle of Pain is Not Broken

I recognized her face on the news report and my emotions began to spin. I scrambled to find her name and sure enough it was her. I felt sick to my stomach.

That is how I learned this week some difficult news about a foster care youth I had the privilege to meet about 9 years ago. She was a very troubled young lady. She is apparently a mother now and, tragically, according to the news, her baby has experienced trauma and abandonment and will likely enter the nightmare of the foster care system.

While many of the young people who find support in the foster care system find some inner peace and belonging in this world, it is most true that the cycle of trauma continues and that is my definition of failure.

I hope the young lady and her child get very good care so that the child gets a chance to get the tools of security and love to stop the cycle some day.

Please note that many children experience abuse and/or neglect and never make it into the foster care system. They are still the same children. It is still the same cycle. It leads to trust issues, insecurities, self-injurious/high risk behavior, as well as a lack of healthy boundaries and support systems.

A fascinating read is "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegel. If you are a foster care youth, check out a program called A Home Within that provides free counseling for as long as you need it.

While my goal is always to help my clients heal, it is driven by the desire to break the cycles and give more hope to the next generation.

For all of you out there trying to break your own cycles of pain, keep up the fight. For those of you helping others, keep your eyes on the prize.

There Is No Magic Behind Psychotherapy

At least not the way I do it....

It's scary to think or much less believe that you are in charge in your session. Not the person you think of as the expert. Get this: Every single thing that happens comes from you. Your counselor gets credit for nothing.

If they are good...they have spent years understanding themselves and understanding the human condition. They will have done this through books and conferences and clinical supervision but mostly through real life exposure to the experiences you are having.

And then, they simply don't get in your way. They give you space to be. They give you space to express. They give you the "I hear you. I see you" we all need to connect to our genuine self that is not afraid to explore our greatest fears. They introduce curiosity to you about you.

It is in that space of human connection, without judgement or consequence for trying out different ways to figure out "who am I?", that the non-magic occurs. It brings me chills every time I get to be in a room, or a nature walk, or a video conference with a person determined to keep trying. To change the trajectory of their existence.

Your courage and effort brings the change. There is no magic. Keep it up!

Abandonment Issues and the Holidays....Let the triggers begin!

I hate to be such a scrooge during what for many people is a fun time.  But for most of the people I've met, the holidays are actually incredibly stressful and bordering on (if not drenched in) being a nightmare.

While that stress comes from many places, I will say this....when your triggers of emotional abandonment and the subsequent fears of abandonment come in full force then it's hard to be genuinely "jolly" or festive.

We all want to belong.  It's fundamental. It's human.  Craving that approval and connection is what makes you human not what makes you sick.  Understanding where the intensity comes from can free you from the emotional slavery of stimulus/response/stimulus/response forever and ever.

You get to PAUSE. Think. Decide what you really want/need to do based on YOUR values and YOUR big life goals.  Not based on old stories you have in your head - old feelings that taint every experience of success and joy.  Toxic feelings and thoughts that tell you, "I am not worthy of love, acceptance, peace." That you were left or are being left because you aren't enough.


Find you and your peace.  Make the holidays work for you and shake that totally false belief that everyone but you is happy.  Be brave so that others can see what it is to think for yourself and do what is best (aka aimed at growth and improvement).... not necessarily what has always been done. Remember, it really isn't about that other person or situation. It's about what it is triggering in you.  That's what is interesting.  That's where you put your energy.  That's where real change comes.

First calm yourself (ask me in session for technique ideas) and then close your eyes and go inward. You can not guide your moves until you have a game plan. You cannot act in line with your values if you don't know what your values are.  If you are just pushing against the false beliefs you were fed then you are still acting in stimulus/response mode.

What do you need? Answer me that.  Why can't you get it?  What's one small thing you can do right now to get closer to getting it.

Own your life.  Pause. Think. Decide. Happy holidays and all days to you!