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The Gifts of Imperfection

“No matter what gets done and what is left undone, I am enough….Yes. I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection.

Conflict in Relationships

Conflict, itself, does not ruin relationships and couples with good communication skills are not guaranteed good relationships. Conflict is in fact essential to a healthy relationship because when conflict is faced and worked through feelings are expressed and understood and generally a positive atmosphere is maintained. It is important to change what is going on inside of you as well as what goes on between you.

Stress and Decision-making

Have you noticed that when highly stressed even small decisions become difficult? Do not be hard on yourself as this is a normal consequence of stress. When we are stressed the primitive part of our brain may see stress as a threat and activate survival mechanisms, and these mechanisms interfere with cognitive (thinking) ability. What happens is the middle and lower brain reacts quickly to threats and prepares you to fight, flee, freeze or collapse. To do this effectively it shuts down the upper brain which is responsible for cognition. Making good decisions are deemed of less importance than basic survival.

So what can you do if you are stressed and are having difficulty making decisions? If you can, avoid making a decision until things have calmed down. De-stress by saving 30 minutes a day to exercise, read, meditate, or watch television. Seek guidance: get a second opinion by someone who is calm.

Quote on Sexual Abuse and the Beginning of Healing

I am reading a novel for pleasure, “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon and came across this description of the impact of sexual abuse by the main male character.

“It’s..difficult to explain. It’s…it’s like…I think it’s a though everyone has a small place inside themselves, maybe, a private bit that they keep to themselves. It’s like a little fortress, where the most private part of you lives—maybe it’s your soul, maybe just that bit that makes you yourself and not anyone else.”…”You don’t show that bit of yourself to anyone, usually unless sometimes to someone that [you] love greatly.”…”Now, it’s like…like my own fortress has been blown up with gun powder—there’s nothing left of it but ashes and a smoking rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, trying’ to hide itself under under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but—but not.. makin’ m-much of a job of it.” “I’ve been close death a few times,…,but I’ve never really wanted to die. This time I did.”

“[You] know the fortress I told of, the one inside me?…Well, I’ve a lean-to built, at least. And a roof to keep out the rain.”

If nothing changes, nothing changes

A simple statement which often produces an “Ah, ha” moment with clients in session. How often do we do the same behaviours which lead to the same results and yet we get frustrated by these results. Taking note of what we are doing that is leading to frustration and make a small meaningful change can be the start of something wonderful.


“The Greatest prison that people live in is the Fear of what other people think.”
by David Icke

How to ‘How to Recover From ‘Relationship Trauma’

THE BLOG. Huffington Post
‘How to Recover From ‘Relationship Trauma’
Susan ValentineDec 17, 2013
You can’t get over it.

Your partner promises he won’t go out for drinks alone with that flirtatious colleague while he’s away on a conference. That night you text and call him, again and again, and no answer. Finally when he picks up, you can hear he’s out somewhere and he admits that yes, he’s out for drinks with her, “but really,” he says, “it’s no big deal.”

Or maybe you pick up your wife’s cell phone and see a text message. It says, Can’t stop thinking of you and last night, J. And you know it’s not your wife’s sister who she said she was out with last night, and you get that sick feeling, and when you look up she’s staring at you with an expression of shock and guilt.

Or your doctor finds a lump in your breast and is sending you for tests. You’re scared, overwhelmed, and start crying as soon as you get home, hoping your husband will hold you. Instead, he’s tired from work and says “you’re being overdramatic, as always, and I just can’t handle it right now.”

Whatever it is — your partner breaking a promise, or cheating, or abandoning you — it can be devastating. You may feel helpless, fearful, alone, or out of control. This is a relationship trauma. It knocks you down and you wonder if you can get back up.

And that’s the thing: everyday hurts go away with time, but traumatic wounds don’t heal on their own. They can’t be ignored, or brushed aside, or dismissed with quick apologies. We often hear from the injuring party that it was ages ago. How can she still be upset? Or, I’ve said sorry so many times, what more can I do?

There is a way forward — through real apology and forgiveness.

Emotion-focused therapy (thanks to Dr. Les Greenberg and Dr. Sue Johnson) teaches us that if you’ve suffered a traumatic relationship injury, consider these steps: 1. Tell your partner very clearly how this behaviour hurt you. Ask yourself: At a time of urgent need, did I feel abandoned and alone? Or devalued? Did my partner become a source of danger, rather than safety?

Your partner needs to understand the meaning this injury had for you — what exactly made it so painful or traumatic. It may be from a childhood wound or insecurity (i.e. Your father used to call you “overdramatic”) or a matter of timing (i.e. Your wife had an affair while you were grieving the loss of your mother) or an issue of values (i.e. Keeping your word is a fundamental value), or something specific to you.

2. Listen to your partner acknowledge your pain and his or her role in it. As Dr. Johnson states in her book, Hold Me Tight, “Until injured partners see that this pain has been truly recognized, they will not be able to let it go.” This requires your partner to step it up and take accountability.

What you need to hear is a heartfelt apology — one that comes with regret and remorse. You need to see that your partner has suffered too, not from your anger, but from the weight of his or her own actions. If you believe your partner deeply regrets his actions, knows he was wrong, and even feels he violated his own personal standards, you will feel more trusting and open to forgiveness.

3. Be willing to forgive. Remember real forgiveness is not excusing, condoning, pardoning, or forgetting. It is holding the other accountable, acknowledging your role in what happened (or your reaction to what happened), and giving up any grudges, revenge, or sense of entitlement.

4. Let your partner know what else you need from him or her to bring closure. Ask directly for your needs — the ones that were overlooked — to now be met. The focus is on restoring trust and security. You may even want to set out rituals for reassurance (i.e. When either of us asks for a hug, we give it no matter what, or Your spouse promises to call very regularly when she goes out).

Beware the pitfalls! The main reason couples can’t find resolution is when the injuring partner becomes defensive or deflects responsibility:

• Pressuring a partner to “get over it”, or telling her it was long ago. • Competing with the injured partner over who is more hurt. • Failing to recognize the hurt that’s been inflicted. • Assuming a victim role, or becoming hopeless. • Offering a token apology. • Blaming the injured partner.

You may have spent months or years suffering from this wound, even building up a wall to protect yourself. So remember these steps take time, especially bringing closure. But there is a way forward. You can finally, with real forgiveness, get over it.


“Healthy self-esteem is essentially internal. It is the capacity to cherish oneself in the face if one’s own imperfections, not because of what one has or what one can do. Healthy self-esteem presupposes that all men and women are created equal; that one’s inherent worth can be neither be greater or lesser than another’s. …We can still recognize our gifts and limitations, as well as those of others. But our basic sense of self as valuable and importance neither rises nor falls based on external attributes.” By Terrence Real in his book “I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression.

I am enough

“No matter what gets done and what is left undone, I am enough….Yes. I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection.