Saturday, February 13, 2010


What do we say to ourselves? Do we say things that encourage ourselves and build ourselves up? If we've been abused, then we may not. We may actually use the abuser's voice and words to tear ourselves down. We may do it without thinking.

It is a challenge, a continual challenge for me, to rewrite the "tapes" that play in my head. First, I have to be self-aware enough to catch what I am saying to myself and what automatic assumptions I am making. If I can "hear" myself, then I can make new choices. I can do a do-over and say something more encouraging and true.

This morning I realized that I was just too tired to participate in a neighborhood garage sale, so I didn't load up my stuff to take to a neighbor's driveway and then sit outside in the cold for 4 hours. Instead, I went to the sale with some money in my pocket and bought some items from my neighbors. I was out in the cold air a much shorter time than I would have been otherwise. It was the right move for my body that is still recovering from a bad head cold.

The interesting thing is that I assumed I was going to be "in trouble" somehow. After all, I hadn't done what I said I would do. I had "failed" according to the tape inside me that pushes me to be "perfect." I am combating that voice today. I didn't fail. I actually took another positive step in responding to my own needs in a positive, nurturing way. For years my needs were a problem to be ignored. But I am no longer in a dysfunctional environment. I can choose now, and I do, to practice being kind to myself and addressing my needs in a respectful and caring way.

How about you, Reader? Did you have an opportunity recently to practice a new tape to replace one of your old dysfunctional tape? Or do you have a tape you'd like to try changing? If any of your tapes include words such as lazy, stupid, selfish, needy, ugly, a failure or not good enough, I urge you to talk to someone trustworthy about it and try replacing the old message (that is a lie anyway) with something that you'd say to a friend. None of us need to stay stuck in the mindset we were loaded down with as victims of abuse. Today is a new day that we can live in a healthier way by practicing a gentler voice with ourselves.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Teaching Our Children

It is our responsibility to teach our children. Most of us know that on a deep internal level. But what shall we teach them? In this age of relativism and DNA awareness, what truths will we send forth into our family trees?

I urge all of you to write your own list of values that you would like to pass on. What do you think is essential for future generations? What truth or knowledge has helped you tremendously in life? What raises your passion, your sure loyalty and energy to defend? What do you hope your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be like?

Working on a list will strengthen your resolve and equip you to be intentional in how you behave and what you say. It will strengthen you to do things even when you don't feel like it. It will help you to do things for the next generation that no one did for you. It will help you to be your best self.

My list includes modeling kindness and teaching my children to respect others. Not the type of respect that is modeled by the world--not a kind of respect that depends on power or performance. I have wanted my children to understand on a deep level that they are special and unique, and so is every other human being. Respect among equals is powerful and lovely; I want my children ready to find and keep such relationships.

I want my heirs to know that there are situations in which they need to stand up for themselves, because some people will unknowingly step on their personal set of boundaries and need to be taught the limits of those boundaries. I also want my young sheep to be wary of the wolves in the world, who are prone to be controlling or abusive. I want them to respect that those people are choosing a lifestyle that is toxic to others around them. I want my children to respect themselves enough to stay away from poisonous relationships.

What is something that would be on your list? Give it thought. It could make a huge difference in the years to come.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft