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Showing posts from 2020

Brave Beautiful Men Shedding Toxic Masculinity & Sharing Truthful Messages

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For the past eleven years, Co-Founder of  Creative Change Conferences “It Happens To Boys” Carol Teitelbaum, LMFT, has   provided a safe platform for bringing healing to an invisible and deeply injured population in our societies - men who were sexually traumatized as boys. Male presenters of notoriety and men known only to those who are blessed to know them unveiled their narratives of past abuse and ensuing recovery, dismantling normative destructive life-messages of what is it “to be a man” and reconstructing new life-messages based on honesty, compassion, and self-love. As each presenter told his truths, each emphasized the importance of breaking through the cultural and societal barriers of toxic masculinity, unwritten norms which define adherence to male gender roles and restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men. Thus, on a warm fall day in October 2019 in Southern California, USA,   individual professionals in the mental health field, recovery organizations, a

For All Empaths: A Message of Comfort & A Call to Courage During COVID-19

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Entering into our eighth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is suffering. In the United States, we are not only fighting the virus, but we are also fighting one another. Our battle has played out in all aspects of our lives, dividing us even further. This is not a blog about who is right and who is wrong. This blog is drawing attention to how our current state of divisiveness is affecting a rather  invisible but remarkably integral part of our population - empaths.  Empaths are individuals who feel deeply.  They are highly sensitive to the feelings of others, especially those who need healing. Empaths connect easily with nature and are extremely aware of their surroundings. Although empaths enjoy solitude, strangers open up to them and others feel calmer in their presence. Empaths feel all pain, all around them. Thus, navigating an environment which has grown increasing angry, chaotic, and intolerant is extremely challenging for empaths . However, they do not respond with anger

Loneliness: Staying Well During COVID-19

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The United States and most of the world are entering into the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Re-openings and returns to "normalcy" appear to vary greatly from country to country, from state to state, and from one locality to another. And with folks embracing differing belief systems around the nature of the virus and how they choose to live their lives, there is significant variance surrounding the degree of suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse / addiction. However, with most of my clients as well as with family and friends, many individuals seem to be struggling with one painful emotion on some level - loneliness.   For today's blog, I was going to give you a few tips or tools for helping with your feelings of loneliness. But, I think most of you know what you need. In addition, out of respect for your beliefs and the COVID guidelines within your area,  there are no "blanket" recommendations which wou

Recognizing Gaslighting and Restoring Sanity Amidst COVID-19

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Over the past several weeks, a number of my clients who have been working really hard on their wellness issues began to falter. Of course, as the COVID pandemic rages on with uncertainties around jobs, money, schooling, etc., stress is being compounded. However, I noticed there was something different, something more serious. And then, during an intense session with a remarkable, successful, strong female client, she broke down. "Holli, I feel so confused. I don't know who or what to believe any more about COVID . I feel like I am living through my childhood again with my narcissistic mother who was constantly gaslighting me. It's scary....I don't like feeling this way. Why is this happening?" Suddenly, I realized that in the divisive political climate of the United States, many individuals are feeling incredibly distressed by the incessant stream of mixed and conflicted messaging . And with folks who have a history of  psychological abuse, they are being tr

Staying Mentally Well During COVID: Own Your Relapse, Release Your Shame, & Get Back On Track!

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The past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard on everyone . In the past several blogs of Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19, we have discussed the psychological, physical, and economic toll it has taken on us. And, we have covered a few healing strategies for managing the myriad of stresses and their accompanying symptoms (*see below). Today, it is important to talk about Relapse - a sensitive topic which is impacting almost everyone in some form and to some degree.   Before you say to yourself, "Well, I'm not an addict or alcoholic,"  please read on. We relapse anytime we fall back or regress into, or return to any kind of unhealthy relationship or pattern of thinking, behaving, or feeling after a period of  stability or wellness. Over the past several months, I have listened to clients as they beat themselves up in the followings ways: For giving up on their healthy eating choices For blowing up at their kids after managing their ang

"Educated" Reminds Us, Speaking Truth About Abuse Comes At A Cost. Speak It Anyway.

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Recently, I finished reading  Tara Westover's powerful memoir, "Educated."  This blog is neither a review of her work or a critique of its content. It is about its offerings. I think one of the extraordinary gifts of "Educated" is Ms. Westover's willingness to share her story with raw and rarely revealed levels of vulnerability. I was completely taken by this book. Why?  Because "Educated" Reminds Us, Speaking Truth About Abuse Comes At A Cost. And, Tara Westover, chose to Speak It Anyway . Speaking Truth About Abuse Comes At A Cost Folks often question why victims don't speak up or why they don't speak up sooner about their abuse. Although there are many reasons for not doing so and individual circumstances vary greatly,   Tara Westover's memoir courageously unveils the costs of speaking truth about abuse and bravely unearths their painful consequences.  Let's explore three areas of cost: Being Shamed Being Shattered Bein

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19: Choosing What Is Healthy For You & Your Loved Ones

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Depending on the area in which you live, most of us are beginning to enter a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic - the reopening of our cities, counties, and states/provinces, etc . As we do so, there is excitement and exuberation for some. There is still fear and frustration for others. At the very least, there is a mixture of apprehension blended with an urgency for a return to some kind of normalcy. Although all of these feelings are to be expected and many contribute to our confusion and anxiety over what to do and how to proceed, what is most important in Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19 is Choosing What Is Healthy For You and Your Loved Ones.  Each person, couple, or family has unique beliefs and perspectives about COVID-19. Every individual, partner, and family dynamic has differing circumstances, underlying health considerations and vulnerabilities, and each is desperately trying to navigate a number of psychosocial stressors (such as bill paying, providing enough fo

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19: Feeling Betrayed? Feeling Powerless? What Next?

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc with every aspect our lives, the grief we are experiencing is beginning to subside. Confusion, denial, shock and sadness are being replaced by more confusion, anger, and feelings of complete and total powerlessness. This is important. It never has been nor will it ever be the intent of this blog to advance any political agenda. This blog is about our mental health. Therefore, it will suffice to say that as COVID-19 is ravaging people's lives, folks are feeling betrayed, for all different kinds of reasons and from a plethora of sources.  What is important in staying mentally well during COVID-19 is for individuals to understand that when we are betrayed, we enter into a state of powerlessness . Why? Because we are prisoners of circumstances we did not create, and we are held hostage to the decisions of others. What is so frightening about this state of powerlessness is at one moment we may feel very vulnerable and weak. At oth

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19: Avoid Comparing Your Losses and Carrying Around Guilt

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In our most recent post on Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19, we discussed how  Understanding Our Grief Helps To Move Through It .   If you have not already done so, please read through those healing concepts and then join us here for one more very important aspect of honoring our grieving process:  Avoid Comparing Your Losses and Carrying Around Guilt. The COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines and restrictions were rolled out many weeks ago. Even with variances in their implementation and regulation, loss has occurred and continues to occur on every level and in every aspect of our lives. As we witness individuals lose their loved ones, our hearts break for them. As folks are let go from their jobs and are left standing in long lines for hours waiting for food, we help when we can and we wonder if support funds will reach them in time. And although most of us are making sacrifices of some kind, every day we witness families who are struggling with housing, food, and employment. In

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19: Understanding Our Grief Helps To Move Through It

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As days turn into weeks, we find ourselves facing more and more loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there are small pockets of hope in certain areas of the world or in our own communities, most families are dealing with overwhelming stress, fear, scarcity, and uncertainty. Within the confines of living in close quarters combined with the restrictions placed upon us by the recommended guidelines, we are experiencing loss in every aspect of our daily lives. It is hard on adults; it is very hard on our children and our young adults. Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19 means sharing our disappointments and despair with one another.  And, it is important for each of us to talk about  how our grief feels and how it shows up. Because, Understanding Our Grief Helps To Move Through It.   Most of us are familiar with the five stages of grief as identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. However, over the years we have come to

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19: It's Comforting To Draw Strength From Our Elders

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Each day when we wake up, we face a harsh reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us from what we had, redefined us from who we were, and in many cases, relinquished us to a life we have never known before.We are filled with fear and anxiety. Stress keeps mounting. With so many things out of our control, we wonder how we will ever get through this. We turn to the experts on COVID-19, and our hearts and hopes sink a bit as we absorb the forecast.This virus is teaching us as we go along, and it is a bit of guessing game, even for those who are in the know.  Although our elders may not have all the answers, it's comforting to draw strength from their experiences with suffering. Most of us have had some experience with suffering. However, not many of us have lived through the sufferings of oppression, plagues, and wars which our elders and ancestors endured. Their stories of survival can teach us about sacrifice, strength, and survival.  Ask your elders to share their stories.

Staying Mentally Well During COVID-19:It's SoothingTo Soak

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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are acclimating to "resting in place" mandates or recommendations. Losses continue to be felt on every level. Financial worries are becoming hard realities. Fear, anxiety, and stress are running rampant creating havoc with our emotional well being. During this time of extreme overwhelm and upset, it is critical to embrace healthy releases. Although we are confined to our spaces, we have an accessible healing tool available to us - Soaking. When we think of the word "soak," most of think of removing something by immersing it in water for a period of time, like a stain on a shirt. For our purposes of removing overwhelm from our lives, to soak means to allow suffering to enter and pass through you . In other words, don't fight the upset. Allow it to enter. Feel it. Acknowledge it. And then, allow it to pass through you. How do we accomplish that? Before the COVID-19 crisis, I was working with a client wh