The Dance of Fear by Harriet Lerner

The main thing I got from Harriet Lerner's book The Dance of Fear is that fear and anxiety aren't just individual problems; they totally impact the way we relate with each other. Anxiety is contagious and gets passed around between us whenever we interact with anxious people. Families, companies, organisations, churches, countries and social groups of all kinds can become infected with anxiety that affects everyone in the group. When a social system becomes fear-based or shame-based, everyone in it suffers.

Fear can be like a dance, often involving other people

Since anxiety causes suffering, we naturally want to escape. One way of escaping is to dump our anxiety on someone else. Being a sensitive person, I've always been susceptible to having other people's anxiety dumped on me, but it's only now that I'm learning to recognise when this is happening.

This book helped me identify such a situation once when I volunteered to lead a public speaking training course run by my Toastmaster's club. I had run it successfully several times before and we always got great feedback from the participants on how valuable it was. But this time I wanted to make it even better by talking more about how anxiety works physiologically, and throwing in some exercises I had learned during my acting classes to help deal with fear right up front.

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Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Do you ever get the feeling that you're the only one on the planet with feelings? Does it sometimes seem as though your life is at the mercy of your moods? Does everyone around you seem to be cruising along just fine with their emotional barrier up, making it difficult for you to connect with them, and leaving you feeling like there's something wrong with you? Do you feel out of place because you're a man, and men aren't supposed to have feelings; or do you feel that because you're a woman with feelings, you're playing second fiddle to the cold, hard men that rule the planet?

Emotional Intelligence is a vital skill we often don't learn at school

I can relate to these feelings sometimes, and with this in mind I recently tackled Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence. It seemed to me that the message I'd received from my family, my all-boys high school and my society at large while growing up was that emotions were a sign of weakness to be eliminated at all costs. I wasn't supposed to have feelings when I was a boy; and yet I still have them even now as a man. I've often felt deep down that there was something wrong with me as a result. Men were supposed to be emotionally invulnerable, but I'm not. I'd like to be. Other people seem to be; or are they just faking it? I often get hijacked by my own feelings preventing me from doing what I really want. Surely by now I was supposed to be past all that; I'm not a kid any more, after all. Perhaps a little EQ would bring an answer to the quandary.

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How (Not) To Manage Anger: Lessons From My Parents

When we are young, we learn to manage our emotions through the interactions with our immediate caregivers, principally our mother and father. The way our parents manage their emotions leaves a dramatic imprint on our developing nervous system that can last long into adulthood. This is particularly true of strong emotions like anger.

Two common adult reactions to poor emotional management by our parents are to submit or to rebel. We either live the rest of our lives managing our emotions they way they taught us out of fear and submission, or doing the opposite out of anger and rebellion. Neither of these two reactions represent true freedom. A better approach is to make our own choice in each situation but this takes insight and practice, especially if we choose to do things differently from the default programming we got from our parents. (more…)

How To Get A Toxic Mother Out Of Your Nervous System

When we are children our survival depends on having support from our biological caregivers, principally our mother. If she rejects us, we die. Since our very life depends on her support, this gives us a tremendous desire for approval from our mother that goes deep into our nervous system.

If our mother was emotionally mature, mentally developed and physically competent at facing the challenges of her own life, her relationship with our father and of raising us, her reciprocal feelings of love towards us motivates her to meet our basic needs. Our nervous system calms down over time as we learn to regulate our emotions via the empathic bond that we share with our mothers, and to a lesser extent with our fathers, siblings and other significant older people in our infant lives.

Over time as we begin to individuate from our mothers, particularly during adolescence, our need for love, support and approval from her diminishes as we learn how to form healthy relationships with other people and to meet our own survival needs. Once our survival is no longer dependent on our mother and we are free to pursue our own goals, even ones that she may not approve of. This is part of the process of growing from a dependent boy into a confident, independent man.

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How To Deal With Man-Hatred In The Media

It seems like every day I’m coming across articles and interviews in the media on so-called “toxic masculinity” written and organised by man-hating post-feminists with an obvious personal agenda of beating up on men. They piggy-back on otherwise positive themes like equality, the #metoo movement, tackling domestic violence or eliminating sexual assault; but then hijack the agenda with an underlying theme that men are crap and the future is female.

Plenty of other social commentators have dissected the inherent hypocrisy of man-haters relying on societal infrastructure predominantly provided and maintained by men that keeps them housed, clothed and fed with clean water, electricity, telecommunications and other services so reliable that they fail to notice they're even there; while at the same time complaining at every opportunity about the behavior of a tiny minority of men as if it were the universal norm.

So instead of delving any further into what’s wrong with man-haters, I’m going to focus on how to deal with the problem: (more…)

How To Heal Intergenerational Unworthiness Trauma

Intergenerational Unworthiness Trauma is a term I coined this morning to describe feelings of unworthiness and insecurity that are passed from parents to their children down successive generations.

Parents who feel fundamentally unworthy create a lack of secure attachment with their infants, leading to children with insecure, avoidant or disorganized attachment styles. When these children grow into adults, they pass the trauma on to their own children through their inability to bond emotionally with them. Everyone in the family ends up with emotional abandonment trauma manifesting as core feelings of unworthiness.

In other words, parents who feel fundamentally unworthy, insecure or broken are unable to raise children with deep feelings of worthiness themselves.

The cycle repeats down the generations until someone recognises and breaks it by doing the emotional healing work to deal with their own traumatic attachment wound, so they can create a secure attachment to the children in the next generation.

I have experienced this personally, and believe it is the underlying issue that undermined my own self-confidence for so long, ultimately leading me to create this website. (more…)

7 Fun Things to Do On Valentine’s Day as a Single Person

This is a guest post by Michelle Peterson from RecoveryPride.org

Valentine’s Day creates a huge market for advertisers and big companies. It can be pretty commercial, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spread the love around. If you’re single, you can spread the love to your friends, family, but perhaps most importantly, yourself. Here are some great ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day as a single. (more…)

How To Find And Keep True Love

With Valentine’s Day coming up I thought I’d review David DeAngelo’s program Love The Final Chapter, which could otherwise be titled How To Find And Keep True Love.

Love Is Real

David had a series of realizations as he evolved over time which for me boil down to worthiness. When you don’t feel worthy, you need a lot of tools and techniques to attract women. Learning these tools can help develop a sense of worthiness but ultimately they need to be dispensed with to create a truly loving relationship. (more…)

How To Deal With Generalized Anxiety

Anxiety sucks, especially when we don’t know what’s causing it and what to do about it. When we feel anxious all the time for no obvious reason, it’s called generalized anxiety. However there are often things we can do to reduce, eliminate or manage generalized anxiety so that it doesn’t ruin our life.

There are many reasons why we may feel anxious. Solving this problem can sometimes involve trying a number of different approaches until we find one or more that work for us. Based on my experience of what works for me and my clients when feeling anxious, here are some strategies to try: (more…)

How To Release Resentment Towards Your Parents

Unhealed childhood resentment is like a cancer that can destroy your adult life. We unconsciously project resentment towards our parents that we continue to carry from our childhood, onto other people. Especially people of the same gender as the parent we still resent.

If deep down you are still angry with your mother, you’ll tend to resent any woman who acts even remotely like her. If you still have resentment towards your father, it’s likely to negatively effect the way you relate to other men and authority figures in general. This operates unconsciously so you may not even be consciously aware of it.

If you grew up in an environment where anger wasn’t handled well and you learned to suppress your own anger, you could have a truckload of resentment simmering away beneath the surface that you’re not even consciously aware of. Symptoms of this are feeling rage when other people violate your boundaries, either exploding out of proportion to what’s actually happening or seething internally instead of standing up for yourself.

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