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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dealing with narcissistic and/or sociopathic mother in-laws? Here's a way to gain some insight!

If you are dealing with narcissistic in-laws this will be interesting to read. The book 'The sociopath next door' by Martha Stout describes sociopaths, of the sort that live next door. The sociopaths you're dealing with in your life (in-laws, family, job, school, neighbors), not the ones 'starring' in a movie. The ones you can not quite put your finger on, but you know something is very wrong. This book is very well written, funny and entertaining and puts into words what you cannot, so next time you won't doubt yourself when you encounter the 'average' sociopath :-). This book gives guidance on how to deal effectively with sociopaths, something everyone should know and which should be part of your everyday tool-kit. Apart from that it is a highly entertaining read!

Here's the link to this must read:

And here's a review from amazon:

"I've written many five-star reviews, but never have I been so motivated to try to convince everyone to read the book. Here's why: one in twenty-five Americans is a sociopath, a figure psychologist Martha Stout obtained from three journal articles and a U.S. government source. Assuming this premise of The Sociopath Next Door is correct, or even if the figure is say one in 50, odds are you know at least one sociopath. He or she could be an abusive partner, the person in the next cubicle at work, your landlord, or the person your teenager is dating. Even if you can't think of sociopath you know, you have high odds of encountering one. Given the havoc even one sociopath can wreak in one's life, this book provides a sort of insurance that you'll be able to identify him or her and deal with that person so they don't harm you emotionally, financially, or in any other way. This is a well-written and well-researched book that I think will benefit the 96% of you who are not sociopaths.

To gain the benefits of "sociopath insurance" there are three portions of the book I believe are crucial for you to read: (1) the discussion of what is a sociopath along with her stories illustrating the different types of sociopaths, (BTW, those stories would make fine literary short stories with Stout's descriptive language and suspense building.) (2) Stout's "Thirteen Rules For Dealing With Sociopaths in Everyday Life", and (3) the discussion of how good people with consciences end up allowing sociopathic leaders to rise to power and do horrific acts. If you read just these sections and skip all the philosophical discussions about sociopaths, you will still gain a lot from this book."

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Helping yourself relax! Mindfulness and Poweryoga.

Hello everyone!

What I'm realizing more and more that it is so important to take good care of yourself. One of the things you can do for yourself is to take up yoga classes. I like poweryoga and have a dvd by Baron Baptiste with a few routines on it. It is really convenient for use at home. In the case you're starting yoga for the first time I would suggest to buy Baron Baptiste's book "Journey into power". In this book all the yoga poses are very clearly explained (pictures included). Guidance for developing your own routine is also included. There are adaptations for each pose when you're a beginner or when you're finding a pose simply too difficult or not suitable for your body. Always start slow!

There are also very good yoga routines and teachers on youtube. One example is Brett Larkin. Check her video's out here: Free Yoga Routines by Brett Larkin

Another good practice is integrating mindfulness into your life. The benefifts can be huge, even when you're just starting with 5 minutes a day. I read a really down-to-earth book about mindfulness, connecting it with building new pathways in your brain. There are many helpful examples of meditations throughout the book (starting really slow and easy). The title is "Rewire your brain for love" by Marsha Lucas. It teaches self-love and acceptance (ultimately leading to better relationships with the people around you too), and how you can accomplish this, one step at a time, starting with a few minutes a day.

I'll quote the first meditation practice in the book "Rewire your brain for love" by Marsha Lucas to give you an impression of how she writes and to have an example of which meditation to start with:


 If you’ve never meditated before (or even if you have), you may have some idea that meditation requires being able to sit on the floor with your legs crossed, in a perfectly constructed, perfectly peaceful room, gentle sunlight streaming in while the faint hint of incense wafts over you and the warmth of a candle imperceptibly finds your serenely closed eyes, with your mind completely still.

Gaaaahhh—no wonder so many people think they can’t meditate! Who can achieve that?

Let’s try again—this time, with equal doses of reality and compassion.
 First, I heartily recommend that you read all the way through the instructions and notes before you actually start.

And second, know that while meditators in glossy magazine ads always look quiescently blissed out, meditation isn’t always pleasurable. Walking around as most of us do, with lots of stress, has our bodies pumping out stress hormones much of the time. Those find their way into special receptors in your brain, and they basically make you want to seek pleasure—and seek it quickly. The brain is jonesing for a quick squirt of dopamine—sometimes referred to as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” even though it does many other things—and impels you to do something to provide this, such as eat some ice cream or look to see if a new e-mail has arrived. While this will make you feel better now, it turns out that it’s not good for long-term well-being. So keep in mind that even if your meditation practice doesn’t feel good in a given moment, or if your brain is telling you to go do something else quicker and/or “more pleasurable,” know that by practicing, you’re training your brain to deal with stress more effectively, eliminating much of the stress—craving pleasure—indulging—stress cycle in which we so often get trapped.

1.   To begin, just sit down somewhere. That’s all. The rest of this step, in all of its multi-bulleted glory, is to make it a little easier for your sitting* to support you in your meditation, and to put you at ease if you feel more comfortable with detailed instructions.
•   You can sit on a chair. I find it best to choose one that has some cushioning on the seat. It’ll be easiest if the height of the seat allows your feet to be comfortably planted on the floor (about a foot apart) and lets your thighs be parallel to the floor (hips at about the same level as knees).
 * While most people find sitting to be the best position for meditation, you don’t have to actually be in a sitting position. You can find more about different positions in the “Resource” section.
 •   If your chair has a back, sit forward far enough so that you won’t find yourself leaning on it unless you need to. (If you do need to have that support, by all means, use it.) The idea is for your body to be able to keep itself upright with ease, a sort of natural balance. Sitting without a chair back to lean on also allows you to know when you’re getting drowsy or distracted. I’ve been known to “come back” to my meditation after realizing with a start that I was about to pitch forward out of my chair and onto my face. (Go ahead and laugh—I did!)
 •   Find a comfortable place for your hands to rest. Some people like to have their hands in the crook of their lap, resting like two spoons facing their belly. Others like to have their palms on their thighs.
 •   Your eyes can be slightly open with a “soft focus” (kind of fuzzy-eyed), or closed. If you have your eyes open, you might find it helpful to aim your gaze slightly downwardSit with your back straight, but not rigid. It’s sometimes helpful to imagine a gentle, elastic string attached to the crown of your head, softly lengthening your spine and neck, with your shoulders able to hang loosely. Perhaps lower your chin slightly until your head feels comfortably placed. Try to remember that this is about ease, not about stretching or pushing, and that being kind to yourself is part of the practice.

 2.   Now, just breathe. Really. Just let the natural rhythm of your breath, whatever it is, lead you; there’s no need to force it or change it in any way. Your only task right now is to bring your awareness to the sensations of breathing—the slight tickle of the air just under your nose as you breathe in. The coolness of the air as it enters your nostrils. Feeling the air as it passes down your windpipe. The movement of your chest and belly as your lungs expand, then contract. Bring your awareness to any one, or more, of these sensations (or any others you become aware of) as you breathe in and out.

 3.   Did your mind immediately wander? Good! With kindness and gentleness, simply bring it back. Just like a puppy that’s naturally curious, your mind is meant to wander off, get distracted, and so on. So, when it does, gently and lovingly bring it back to the sensations of your breath, just as you’d bring that soft, sweet puppy back to you. Like scolding a puppy, angrily chastising your mind for wandering off is going to make it less likely to want to be close to you (or maybe even make it pee on the floor, poor thing).

 The busier your brain is, the more opportunities you have to notice that your mind has wandered and to gently and lovingly bring it back. (Those actions—the noticing and bringing back—are what neuroscientists like Richard Davidson, PhD, believe may be the brain-wiring “reps,” like the repeated biceps curls a weightlifter does to build muscle.)

 4.   That’s all there is to it—that’s the basic form of how you practice mindfulness meditation. Whenever you’re done, gently open your eyes and slowly reenter your day. Start with just a few minutes of practice and invite yourself to gradually increase your practice over time.
 One more important note before you move into meditation—and as a good reminder all along the way: please be gentle with yourself. Sometimes, while meditating, things might come into awareness that we otherwise avoid, or that are particularly difficult, such as an old emotional wound or something big that we need to change in our lives. In this case, it may be helpful to stop the meditation and get some support, such as psychotherapy, to help you deal with the issues. I’ve included some suggestions and resources later in the book."

I have been dealing with a burnout and very high stress levels the past few months, Three weeks ago I joined an online program that is helping me deal with it. At first I was skeptical and afraid to start with it. What if it was disappointing? Well it wasn't, it turns out to be very helpful. It encourages you to find out what works for you, what is helpful in your day to day live. It encourages you to do more helpful things for yourself and less of what is unhelpful. You can invite friends to support you (they'll answer questions about you on a regular basis). You'll get a questionaire every week to check your progress. You're encouraged to take very small steps. You will practice new techniques to help you relax and feel better about yourself. You can check it out here: Self-help Program heals Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Burnout

I will be adding other resources for you soon, but wanted to give these helpful tips to get you started!
For your ease I've included the links to the books:

Wishing you a wonderful day!


Friday, 27 February 2015

Self-love is the key!: Anita Moorjani - Dying to be me

A very inspirational story. Love this talk by Anita Moorjani. She talks about wellness awareness. Fear versus love. The importance of focusing your awareness on the positive side. The importance of humour, laughter and joy. And all starts with self love. Enjoy :)!

I have included a link for Anita Moorjani's book, 'Dying to be me':

Another very interesting book about a near death experience (NDE) is Eben Alexander's book, 'Proof of heaven'. I grew up agnostic, after my mother's death and the death of a dear friend I read this book. It convinced me that there is much more to this life experience than we can understand and that death is not the end.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Shifting from defensive power to non-defensive power

I heard a few times that I responded defensively which was logical since I was attacked but this was not leading to any improvement for myself or the situation I'm in. I knew I had to work on this and find a solution to overstep the defensiveness and communicate in another way without feeling I had to resort to one of the other inadequate ways of coping such as appeasing, ignoring, forgiving etc.. I also knew that it was really important for myself to set healthy boundaries, but the 'how to' was something I could really use some sound help with because I want it to be constructive and helpful for the long term.

When I searched for non-defensive communication I came across the website of Sharon Strand Ellison: Institute for Powerful Non-Defensive Communication Powerful Non-Defensive Communication

It was really interesting to read and I decided to order her book: 'Taking the war out of the words' (Table of contents). I'm really excited to start reading the book as soon as I receive it. From all the reviews I read and the information on the website it sounds as a really useful book with lots of examples. And I need examples!

In the meantime I have read the book and it is a great guide to non-defensive communication, if you find that you're defending yourself a lot when communicating with others and don't know how to break this cycle, here's you're guide!

Want to get an idea of the non-defensive communication style? In the following videos Sharon Ellison explains shifting from defensive power to non-defensive power:

Making powerful statements without having to convince anyone to agree:

Setting limits that work:

Check youtube for her other videos.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Stress and coping skills

The following can serve to identify any negative coping skills you are using to deal with stress. You can start dealing with stress in a more constructive positive way by replacing negative coping skills with positive coping skills and you can use this list to reference to in times when stress gets high to ensure you make your life better by doing good things for yourself. The text is adapted from Stress coping skills

Negative Coping Skills

  • Alcohol (Drink to change your mood. Use alcohol as your friend)
  • Denial (Pretend nothing is wrong. Lie. Ignore the problem)
  • Drug Use (Abuse coffee/aspirin/medications.)
  • Fault finding (Have a judgmental attitude. Complain. Criticize.)
  • Illness (Develop headaches/nervous stomach/major illness. Become accident-prone.)
  • Indulging (Stay up late, sleep in. Buy on impulse. Waste time.)
  • Passivity (Hope it gets better. Procrastinate. Wait for lucky break)
  • Revenge (Get even. Be sarcastic. Talk mean)
  • Stubbornness (Be rigid. Demand your way. Refuse to be wrong.)
  • Tantrums (Yell, mope, pout, swear. Drive recklessly)
  • Food (Binging. Go on a diet. Use food to console yourself.)
  • Smoking (Smoke to relieve tension.)
  • Withdraw (Avoid the situation. Skip school or work. Keep feelings to self.)
  • Worrying (Fret over things. Imagine the worse)

Positive Coping Skills

  • Breathing (Breathing is the easiest to learn and provides the fastest results!)
  • Getaways (Spend time alone. See a movie. Daydream.)
  • Hobbies (Write. Paint. Remodel. Create something.)
  • Learning (Take a class. Read. Join a club.)
  • Music (Play a instrument. Sing. Listen to your stereo.)
  • Play (play a game. Goof off. Go out with friends.)
  • Work (Tackle a new project. Keep busy. Volunteer.)
  • Laughing
  • Hugs
  • Pets 

  • Balancing (Balance time at work and home. Accept the good and the bad.)
  • Conflict Resolution (Look for win/win solutions.)
  • Esteem Building ( Build good Family feelings. Focus on personal strengths.)
  • Flexibility ( Take on a new Family roles. Stay open to change.)
  • Networking (Developing friendships with other families. Make use of the community resources.)
  • Togetherness (Take time to be together. Build family traditions. Express affection.)

Along with improving your ability to relax, you must assess diet and other strains on your body.
  • Exercise (Pursue physical fitness, job, swim, dance, or walk. Aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety up to 50%)
  • Good nutrition (a well balanced diet will improve your ability to appropriately respond to stress.)
  • Sleep (Get an adequate amount of rest each night.)
  • Caffeine (Reducing caffeine intake will help you manage your anxiety. 2 ½ cups of coffee doubles the epinephrine level).

  • Affirmation (Believe in yourself. Trust others. Give compliments.)
  • Assertiveness (State your needs and wants. Say "no" respectfully.)
  • Contact (Make new friends. Touch. Really listen to others.)
  • Limits (Accept other's boundaries. Drop some involvement.)
  • Linking (Share problems with others. Ask for support from family and friends.)

  • Imagination (Look for the humor. Anticipate the future.)
  • Life planning (set clear goals. Plan for the future.)
  • Organizing (Take charge. Make order. Don't let things pile up.)
  • Problem Solving (Solve it yourself. Seek outside help. Tackle problems.)
  • Relabeling (Change perspectives. Look for good in a bad situation.)
  • Time Management ( Focus on top priorities. Work smarter.)

  • Biofeedback (Listen to your body. Know your physical limitations.) 
  • Exercise (Pursue physical fitness. Jog, swim, dance, or walk.)
  • Nourishment (Eat for health. Limit the use alcohol.)
  • Relaxation (Tense and relax each muscles. Take a warm bath. breath deeply.)
  • Self-Care (Energize your work and play. Strive for self-improvement.)
  • Stretching (take short stretch breaks through out your day.)

  • Commitment (Take up a worthy cause. Say "yes." Invest yourself meaningfully.
  • Faith (Find purpose and meaning.) 
  • Be grateful (Write down 5 things every day for which you are grateful).
  • Surrender (Let go of problems. Learn to live with situations. Start meditating.)
  • Valuing (Set priorities. Be consistent. Spend time and energy wisely).

The above are techniques that are reliable stress relievers without the negative side effects. These skills can be used over and over again for a variety of stressful situations.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

When he's married to mom: mother-enmeshed men

Valentine's Day

In the meantime I decided to do some research again and came across a book I had read about before: 'When he's married to mom' by Kenneth M. Adams. Since the reviews were interesting I ordered the book. It was an interesting read, probably good to read it together with 'Toxic parents' by Susan Forward. The great thing about the book by Adams is that it specifically deals with the dynamics between a mother and son and addresses the problems that arise when the mother uses her son as an extension of herself and/or a surrogate husband, and when she views her son's girlfriend/wife as competition. When you feel your husband is married to his mother instead of you or has an unhealthy relationship with her, read this book, check the reviews on amazon to decide if this book would be helpful for you. I found the book Relationship Rescue very helpful as a guide to rebuilding my relationship with my husband, Dr Phil's says it's the husband who needs to manage his parents not the wife and vice versa. Taking a good honest look at yourself won't hurt either, build your strength from the inside out with guidance of Dr. Phil by reading and doing the exercises in his book Self Matters, this book has helped me gain many insights in where I was stuck myself and how I coud move forward.

By the way, at first being appalled by the title, after reading 'When he's married to mom' my husband thinks this is a great book. He said that there were some really interesting insights in this book. And I think it may have helped him finally setting boundaries with his mother.

While dealing with these difficult relationships, learn how to relax hereHelping yourself relax! Mindfulness and Poweryoga.

Subsequently I searched the internet for the term 'mother-enmeshed men' (used in the book) and found some really interesting texts that set off some bells ringing.

The following text is written by Oliver J.R. Cooper:
Mother-enmeshed men, what causes it

Mother Enmeshed Men: What Causes It?

When it comes to understanding what enmeshment is, it helps to look at what boundaries are. Boundaries are what create a sense of individuality between people. And although we are all physically separate, it does not mean that we are emotionally separate from another person. This becomes what is known as enmeshment, here one will look physically separate, but emotionally they will feel attached to the other person. One will feel that they have no boundaries between them and as a result that their not an individual.
So when it comes to mother enmeshed men, it is describing a man who is emotionally entangled to their mother. While it is true that they may live in a different house or a different part of the country; the emotional cord has not been cut.

A Choice
In a functional relationship with boundaries the emotional connection will be choice and what one has chosen. When it comes to an enmeshed relationship, it doesn’t feel that one has a choice and that they are enslaved to the other person. And for the mother enmeshed man it is a feeling of having no sense of self; other than an identity that is based on being attached to their mother.

Two Emotions
What this experience often creates is two powerful emotions, these are anger and guilt. On one side there is the anger at feeling as though one has to do what their mother says and can’t say no. And on the other side there is the guilt that is felt if one were to say no or was to think about saying no to the mother. This can create a feeling of being emotionally trapped; because based on these two options, it won’t lead to a sense of peace or empowerment. One can easily end up in a cycle of going through these two extremes time and time again. The anger can be amped up and turn to rage and may alternate between the two. And the guilt can also become shame and betrayal.

A Sense Of Self
By not being able to say no and to stand up for oneself, the man is caught between these two primary emotions. And this is largely due to the mother enmeshed man not knowing that he is a separate individual.
His mothers wants, needs and desires, are not seen as separate from him. Where he begins and ends and where his mother begins and ends: is unclear to him. This then leads to him feeling responsible to his mother.

How his mothers feels is then his responsibility and something he needs to take care off. Her wellbeing is something that he has to look after. And what this also means is that his wellbeing and his own needs, wants and desires are often denied and ignored. So being responsible for himself is then overlooked and his boundaries will end up being constantly crossed. And as a result of extending himself for his mother, a natural consequence is being exhausted.

On the surface this sounds completely dysfunctional and doesn’t make any logical sense. And one of the biggest reasons that this behaviour is occurring is due the mothers enmeshed mans association of what love is. To his unconscious mind, this is what love means to him.

At a conscious level it is only creating: pain, struggle, conflict and suffering. But to the ego mind this is being associated as familiar and therefore what is safe. The reason it is familiar is due to it being how their mother treated them as a child. As a result of those early experiences being played out thousands of times, it is no wonder that its affect is so strong on a fully grown man.

In a functional upbringing a child would be recognised as a separate individual; with their own needs, wants and preferences for example. For this to happen, the caregiver would have to have good boundaries themselves and to see that it is not down to the child to take care of their needs. However, if the caregiver is unaware of the child being separate, as a result of having no boundaries themselves, it will be more of less impossible to treat the child as a separate being. And by the caregiver being needy and emotionally undeveloped the child will be used for this purpose. The way that the caregiver acts, is more than likely how they were brought up. And as a result of not being aware; are playing out the same pattern.

Role Reversal
So what this leads to is the roles being reversed. Instead of the mother taking care of the child's development, the child ends up taking care of the mothers unmet needs. The process of separating then doesn’t happen and instead of boundaries being formed, enmeshment is what remains. Part of the reason for this process is often down to having a father that is either physically or emotionally absent.

Undeserved Loyalty
What this early conditioning creates is an undeserved loyalty to the mother. As the ego mind associates the whole experience as being what love is, it creates a kind of compulsive need to please the mother.
In reality the mother used the child for her own benefit and only harmed the child's development. And because the separation didn’t occur all those years ago, ones ego can associate separating as being equal to death. This means that overwhelming fear can be triggered were one to separate: with feelings of emptiness, abandonment and rejection surfacing.

There are many consequences that can be created from this early dynamic. Having problems with boundaries has already been mentioned. Experiencing a sense of self control will also be very difficult. Another likely issue here is with intimate relationships. Through still being emotionally connected to ones mother it can be a real challenge to let in another woman. This is because ones mother is still number one and were one to go with another women there may be feelings of betrayal and guilt that arise. Here one may go for women who they are not completely attracted to, so that they won’t have to emotionally leave their mother. And these feelings are not rational; they are based on the ego minds dysfunctional associations. There can be a tendency to attract women that are similar and this means that one will re-enact the same role. And therefore end up creating the same internal experiences. It can just as easily create a fear of intimacy; with ones ego mind associating intimacy to mean being smothered and overwhelmed. As this was how it was with their mother. The unprocessed wounds can also be projected onto others. Due to only being loved through what they did and not for who they were, it is inevitable that one’s self worth is going to be affected. And based on what one does for others and not for who one is. One may also feel completely cut off from their inner world. And generally unaware of what their thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations are. Along with this could be a disconnection to ones: needs, wants and desires. This could then result in a feeling of having no personal power.

This article has covered the basic dynamics of enmeshment and some of the consequences. To the degree that one has been affected by this, will define what actions need to be taken. The first thing is to be aware that such a challenge exists. To deny the existence of something will not change it and can lead to it getting worse. In recent years awareness has increased around this area and this has lead to more progress being made. This is not only limited to men and can affect women in similar ways.
Reading a book and going over what they suggest may be enough for some men and for others it may require some serious therapy. What matters is that something is done to put an end to this dysfunctional attachment.

Another great article can be found here:

Mogul mothers, suppressed sons ©2010 H. Hiatt/

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Thank you Albert :-)

"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.

Albert Einstein