Category: <span>Self-Care</span>

After Experiencing Relationship Hurt: 5 Healing Practices

Dear Reader,

 

When we are growing up, our primary caregivers are like mirrors.  They mirror back to us how they see the world, how they see others, and see us. Their way of relating and engaging with us and others impacts how we may see the world, others, and ourselves.

When reflecting on our own childhood experiences, we need to consider our primary caregiver’s mirrors.  They hold the reflections of their own caregiver’s mirrors which provide us with glimpses of transgenerational patterns and themes that may be passed down from one generation to another.  Hence, our world-views, the way we interpret the world, hold the mirrors of our caregivers, our culture, our ancestors, and own life experiences.

Over time, we internalize at a subconscious and conscious level our identity, our beliefs, and parts of ourselves.  Early life experiences highly influence the messages we learn about ourselves and how the world works.  This basically sets our subconscious programming.  

Is the world safe? Can I trust others? Am I worthy?  Am I capable? Am I enough? 

To further analyze what may influence these beliefs, we can explore the relational and emotional injuries that can occur in families and at a cultural level.

According to Dr. Mario Martinez, there are three common relational wounds we experience as human beings: shame, abandonment, and betrayal.

In his research and work, he also outlines the antidotes to those emotional injuries such as honor for shame, commitment for abandonment, and loyalty for betrayal.

Dr. Martinez encourages readers to seek evidence of individuals in our lives who have shown honor, commitment, and loyalty to help reframe our worldview.  Now, his message is one of empowerment where, if we can identify the origin of the wounding, we can then help it heal.

Now the words relational, emotional injury and wounding are used to reflect what we experience when being shamed, betrayed or abandoned, not as actual physical injuries, but to reflect the depth and complexity of the pain.

Below, I want to outline five practices to begin or compliment the healing journey after experiencing relational hurt.

An important ethical disclaimer:  This list does not in any way shape or form endorse staying in abusive relationships.  If there is any form of abuse in the relationship, sexual, emotional, physical or forms of neglect, it must be addressed with professional help.  I will outline our community resources available in the *References section and available hotlines as well.  This list is not exhaustive and is not meant to replace any form of therapy. If you believe you or someone you know would benefit from counseling you may call our office for more information.

So, what can we do if we have experienced any form of emotional wounds?

1. We need to take care of our body first. When we have experienced any type of emotional pain, our body registers the pain.  In fact, the brain cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional pain.  Pain is pain for the brain.  Hence, taking care of our sleep, nutrition, rest, and safety are incredibly important in allowing both our body and brain to recover and heal.  We want to take care of our body with more self-care than usual. This helps increase the level of safety and reduce levels of stress.

2. We need to reflect on the stories we are telling ourselves. Our brain thrives and yearns for purpose and meaning.  When we have incomplete fragments of what happened to us, it feels uncertain and our thoughts may loop, feel stuck, or feel intrusive in efforts to make sense of things.  Granted, there are things in life that are so painful that those experiences may not have any meaning because nothing will make sense of it.  If something truly doesn’t have meaning, then that’s completely fair and okay.  Helpful practices in processing meaning are practices such as journaling, contemplating, prayer, or meditation.  These introspective practices help increase our awareness while making meaning of our own story.

3. We need to surround ourselves around safe, supporting and encouraging individuals. When we experience a relational injury, it’s as if that’s all we see.  It’s the way we feel seen and known.  In fact, it limits and narrows our perspective to any other possible positive views of ourselves.  When we nourish our mind and heart with people who believe in the best of us and want the best of us, we make room for another internal dialogue and perspective that can truly feel liberating and healing.  This may mean spending more time with a supportive friend or family member who participates in active listening, expresses compassion and provides encouragement.

4. We need to reflect on what we’ve learned from the experience. In many cases, this is where reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking to others may be helpful in better understanding situations and dynamics; although the most important learning is the one that we derive from the experience.  Learning from external sources such as books and other resources can help us name what happened.  Like Dr. Daniel Siegel says, “When we can name it, we can tame it.”  Naming things has an empowering impact since it allows us to reclaim our reality, knowing that what we went through has a name.

5. In some cases, we need professional support. If that means a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, social worker, doctor, or any individual in a professional capacity who can help us or guide us, it’s highly encouraged.  We were never meant to do life alone.  In some cases, it’s liberating to admit, “I need help.”  Mental health professionals are there to help us understand ourselves, our emotions, beliefs, boundaries, and needs.  More importantly, counseling is a process where small changes have a compound effect on our desired goals.  In the beginning change feels small and unnoticeable, but, over time, we can see how much we have evolved, healed, and grown.

In closing, there may be experiences we may be holding on to that might be impacting our present.  If there are, know that for every injury there is an antidote and a way to reclaim our life and mental and emotional energy.  My hope for you is to live the life your heart longs for.

With warmth and kindness,

Jazmine

References

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Dial 1-800-799-7233  or Text: “START” to 88788

Community Centers in El Paso, Texas 

Center Against Sexual & Family Violence: Dial 800-727-0511

La Posada Home: Dial  915-544-4595

A., V. D. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York (New York): Penguin Books.

Martinez, M. E. (2016). The mindbody code: how to change the beliefs that limit your health, longevity, and success. Sounds True.

Wolynn, M. (2017). It didn’t start with you how inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle. Penguin Books.

The Tummy & Brain Connection

What is the one thing that is most annoying when it comes to thinking your stomach?

        Is it doctors saying that you are overweight? Or family members commenting on your weight which in turn makes you feel terrible about yourself? Or is it not feeling good about how you look? How does this make you feel? How does this change your appetite? What about your health overall?

It’s common to struggle throughout the years to a point in which we don’t even want to hear the word “stomach” ‘tummy’ or even look at it. Maybe this has been the case for you or perhaps not.  However, our stomach is an important part of us.

Well, what would you think if I told you that your stomach is attached to your brain and affects your mood? For some of us, it may concerning to hear that since it may impact the way we treat it.

Read more

Why Emotional Needs Matter

Dear Reader,

 

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

-Brene Brown

As a former teacher, I have seen how important, in our culture, is to think our way through things with a heavy emphasis on thoughts and changing mindset.  There is no doubt that our mind is incredible and capable of amazing things.

Meta-cognition (thinking about our thinking) was very important in helping students develop critical thinking skills.  In essence, it helps us formulate decisions, problem solving, planning, and organizing.

Now, as a mental health counselor, I understand how important and essential emotional needs are.  So, let’s begin with one important question:

  Read more

Treat Yourself Like a Plant: Four Steps to Well-Being

Humans don’t come with an instruction manual, but there are things that we can all do that have been proven to keep us physically and mentally healthy. 

 

I do NOT have a green thumb, but I do know the basics of how to keep a plant alive and growing. Therefore, I’d like to explain how to engage in self-care in a way that is easy to remember: treat yourself like a plant.

 

  1. Get some sunlight.

Just like plants need sunlight, so do we!  It is widely known that Vitamin D comes from milk and some foods, but did you know it also comes from sunlight?

In fact, 15 minutes of sunlight exposure at least 3 times per week can give us enough Vitamin D to make up for what is missing in food.

Vitamin D helps reduce inflammation and helps all types of cells grow!  It makes our bones stronger, lowers blood pressure, and helps us sleep better. (We all know what consequences we suffer if we don’t get a good night’s sleep—grumpiness, grogginess, overeating, bad decision making just to name a few!)

Additionally, according to researchers at BYU, the availability of sunlight has a big impact on our mood.

During seasons where we get less sunlight, humans experience more mood and emotional problems and disorders.

On the other hand, days with plenty of sunshine helped increase positive mood which means the release of “feel good” hormones and chemicals in the body. Just remember to wear your sunscreen!

 

  1. Drink plenty of water.

According to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water.

Skin is 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: at 31%. It only makes sense to drink water if much of our bodies, and most especially the brain, are made of water!

A 2014 study concluded that habitual water drinking facilitates clear thinking and helps with alertness. It also could benefit mood and confidence.

For example, drinking enough water can clear up skin problems, which can give self-confidence and vitality. There is such a thing as drinking too much water though, so be careful and don’t go overboard with it.

 

  1. Get some fresh air and activity.

Some plants do well indoors, and some plants thrive in the outdoor elements of wind, rain, and snow.

I’d like for you to imagine though that you are a plant that happens to benefit from the fresh air.  Imagine the slight breeze that moves you and gives you chance to interact with other plants.

Studies have shown that spending time outdoors and in nature can induce calm, decrease depression, and stave off anxiety.

There is a treatment called Ecotherapy, where you spend a prescribed amount of time outdoors and in nature to treat depression.

The benefits of being around nature and green plants is also very grounding.

Grounding is a natural way to combat anxiety because it helps us live in the moment.

Since you are out of the house, it may even give you a chance to do some light socializing–waving at neighbors, saying good morning to passersby.

This even light amount of social interaction has great benefits for the brain. It keeps loneliness at bay and can improve overall mood.

 

  1. Ensure that you are getting proper nutrients and minerals.

Have you ever seen those commercials for plant food or soil?  They show flowers that grow without the MiracleGro and some that do.

The difference is, with the plant food, the flowers grow bigger and are more resilient and the ones that grow without it are still pretty, but puny and weaker.

The same goes for our bodies!  If we ingest junk food or fast food, sure our bodies will survive.

We won’t go hungry and we will live.  But if we eat high quality, nutritious food and take our vitamins, our bodies will not just be surviving and functioning, they will THRIVE.

Also, have you ever noticed how you feel after you eat a large fatty and not-so-nutritious meal? Or what it feels like if you drink too much alcohol?

That is not fun at all. Like a plant, your brain functions best when it gets nutrient rich soil and plant food.

Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress.

 

So, there you have it.  Four simple strategies to keep your mind and body happy and healthy…like a plant!

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