5 Relationship Insights to Inspire You to Add This Resource To Your Library – Stat!

You're the one pic

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Potentia’s featured book this month is all about relationships: You Are The One You Have Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to Intimate Relationships by Richard Schwartz 

While this book is geared towards married couples, this lens can be beneficial for all relationships. Truly. As a child of divorce, what makes relationships work and not work has fascinated me and terrified me all at the same time.

And if I have learned anything in my years as a therapist is that there is not just one way to heal. If there was, we would all be doing it. At Potentia, some of our our main lenses on healing and change involve EMDR Therapy, systemic approaches such a Bowen and Structural Family Systems Theories in additional to, Shame Resilience Theory, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and various action methods like Psychodrama.

Over the last year, we began really digging into an evidenced-based therapeutic approach which has been around for over 30 years called Internal Family Systems.

This approach is non-pathologizing, client-led and effective. The language and lens of IFS moves us away from a place of blame, shame and overwhelm to integration and clarity in our actions.

I have seen Richard Schwartz speak at conferences over the years which always led to fruitful insights on how I approached my clients struggling with immense shame about their story and how their were managing their shame and pain.

Instead of trying to ‘get rid’ of the parts that were causing clients distress, I started to help clients get curious about these parts and see that they were there for a reason – to protect. Though the protection often led to hurting self and/or others at times.

This was pretty radical for clients because they had such deep loathing for parts of their stories and inner lives. By identifying this inner conflict with their various parts and developing compassion for them, the charge and reactivity around their choices decreased their internal spinning so there was space for other ways of responding to self and others.

Below is a description of the internal parts Richard Schwartz refers to in this approach from his website selfleadership.org:

“Most clients had parts that tried to keep them functional and safe. These parts tried to maintain control of their inner and outer environments by, for example, keeping them from getting too close or dependent on others, criticizing their appearance or performance to make them look or act better, and focusing on taking care of others’ rather than their own needs. These parts seemed to be in protective, managerial roles and therefore are called managers.

When a person has been hurt, humiliated, frightened, or shamed in the past, he or she will have parts that carry the emotions, memories, and sensations from those experiences. Managers often want to keep these feelings out of consciousness and, consequently, try to keep vulnerable, needy parts locked in inner closets. These incarcerated parts are known as exiles.

The third and final group of parts jumps into action whenever one of the exiles is upset to the point that it may flood the person with its extreme feelings or make the person vulnerable to being hurt again. When that is the case, this third group tries to douse the inner flames of feeling as quickly as possible, which earns them the name firefighters. They tend to be highly impulsive and strive to find stimulation that will override or dissociate from the exile’s feelings. Bingeing on drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or work are common firefighter activities. 

In You are the One You Have Been Waiting For, Richard Schwartz offers a provocative approach to our relationships.

The following are five nuggets that will hopefully encourage you to add this resource on relationships to your library:

1. “You will no longer expect your partner to make you feel complete, worthwhile, elated or safe  in other words, to be he primary caretaker of your parts. While your partner may elicit all of those feelings in you at different times, you know that you can help your parts feel that way, too, so their welfare does not depend on your them.” p. 209

IFS supports your agency in how to care for yourself and reduces feelings of helplessness when a partner cannot show up for you emotionally in ways you need.

2. “Attachment re-injuries are events in which you experience your partner as having betrayed, abandoned, or humiliated you, reaffirming the original message to your exiles that they are unloveable.” p. 85

IFS reframes those people who trigger our protective parts as ‘TOR-mentors’ – often beloved ones who help us learn and grow.

3. “Our culture, and many of the relationship experts in it, have issued us faulty maps and improper tools. We’ve been told that the love we need is a buried treasure hidden in the heart of a special intimate partner. Once we find that partner, the love we crave should flow elixer-like, filling our empty spaces and healing our pain. When that love stops flowing, even momentarily, we get scared…” p.6

Learning to respect your story and be responsible for healing the pain in it – instead of putting someone else on point for that role – is a powerful and challenging mindset switch to move from getting relief only from others and instead learn how to stay calm and connected when confronted with triggers.

4. “When each partner has courageous love for the other, many of the chronic struggles most couples face melt away because each partner is released from being primarily responsible for making the other feel good.” p. 4

This lens decreases feelings of helplessness because we cannot change anyone but ourselves. IFS helps gives couples a framework to feel relief and empowerment without relying only on the other person to make them feel better.

5. “Everyone is born with vulnerable parts. Most of us, however, learn early, – through interactions with caretakers of through traumatic experiences – that being vulnerable is not safe. As a consequence, we lock those childlike parts away inside and make them the inner exiles of our personalities.” p. 55

IFS integrates trauma and attachment theories in a way that offers sustained healing for both the individuals and the couple. It is nuanced and complex but well worth the journey.

Make sure to check out the questions at the end of each chapter. These questions will inspire powerful reflections for both the individual and the couple.

With love and gratitude –

Rebecca

NOTE: When a relationship is violent and uses physical, sexual, emotional, or spiritual means to manipulate and coerce, safety is the number one concern. The cycle of violence in intimate relationships does not always involve bruises and it can be extremely confusing.  Help is available and you are not alone. 

 

 

The Loneliness of Suffering in Silence

Helenkellerbest

suf·fer·ing noun the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.

Too many people are suffering in silence. Our neighbors, classmates, colleagues, members at our church and our social media friends may not look like they are struggling because most people do not wear their loneliness and shame on their sleeve.

We all have become pretty darn good at hiding our suffering.

In vulnerable and authentic conversations, I hear people say:

Well…everyone seems to have it all together.
Why am I still struggling? Others seems to get over challenges quicker than I do.
I am the exception to grace, forgiveness and peace.
I can’t talk about my loneliness. No one will understand because I have so many blessings in my life, I will just seem selfish. 
I am tired of trying again and again and nothing seems to work to help me feel better. 
It only makes me feel worse worrying the people around me – it is better to just keep my pain to myself. 
If I really told people about why I am hurting, I would lose my job, my family, my friends. No one at church would talk with me anymore. 
I do not have the resources to get help. I need to just figure this out on my own. 
I do not think people want to hear the pain. It seems everyone wants to fix me instead of understand me. 
Too many people think mental health struggles are my fault. If I could do something to stop feeling this way, I would! I have tried!

Story shame disconnects, blames and fuels fear beyond its protective origins.

Shame wins when you stay silent about your pain. And shame also wins when you shrink from the messiness of entering into another’s story of struggle because of judgement, blame and fear.

I made a vow to myself when I was in high school to do everything I could to make sure people did not suffer in silence like I did during my teen years and beyond.

The mentors, friends and professional in my life were anchors as I navigated figuring out how to adult in a way that made sense to me and was sustainable.

Eventually studying why people struggle helped me develop a deeper understanding of my own story, my brain and the spiritual aspect of suffering which eventually led me to my current professional passion as a therapist.

Mental illness is real and the statistics around those wrestling mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders are way too high.

But even greater is the epidemic of loneliness.  This is the kind of loneliness that is not based on whether you have people around you but more about whether you feel seen, heard and understood.

The kind of loneliness I am talking about is a deficit of social connection – which may seem ridiculous to those who say we are more connected then ever in this era of social media. But what is presented on social media is often not a holistic picture of people’s lives.

This video address the connection of loneliness and social media brilliantly:

Loneliness impacts our physical body and our souls. It is a biological warning sign there is a threat to our social connection. It activates the pain triggers in our brain to inform us we are in danger.

Loneliness is different than depression but is a bedfellow with it, for sure. And shame, oh the narrative of shame, gets fueled when we are in connection deficit.

Experiencing positive connection often does not eradicate the loneliness immediately. But if steadfast in the practice of reaching out and showing up with the right support, you can begin to get your mind, body and soul to recalibrate. Genetics, temperament, history and life experiences all play a role in the impact of loneliness and suffering along with how we heal from these difficult states.

It is also risky business to be steadfast with someone struggling. Rarely are there quick fixes and it can be intense navigating how to help, when to help and when to step back.

It is scary to reach out for help. It is also scary to help someone.

Committing to help someone struggling involves uncertainty, messiness and stress.

Committing to keep trying to heal involves energy, motivation and commitment.

When judgement spikes when confronted with stories of struggle, be clear it is armor to your vulnerabilities which have been triggered by giving witness and feeling painful emotions.

“Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?” – Henri J.M. Nouwen The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society

We desire so deeply to be seen and when we are  – it can also be one of the most terrifying experiences, too.

I think there is more we can do in our communities to decrease the numbers of those suffering in silence.

We are not the ‘other’. Either we are struggling or we have come out of our time of suffering so we can support those who are in the pit of pain.

We need to cultivate in our communities permission to share struggles, regularly communicate the message to never stop trying and that showing up for help is deeply important, if not necessary.

This UCLA Loneliness Inventory is a useful tool in assessing you loneliness scale and the need for additional support. 

For those feeling suicidal or who know some struggling with suicide and need support, connect with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To text for help, contact Lifeline Crisis Chat or Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., click here international support. Grief and loss resources are available here. (link http://www.griefshare.org/.)

My challenge to you is to dare to reach out this week to one person – whether to share you care about someone or to reach out for your own help.

Never underestimate a courageous act.

With gratitude –

Rebecca Bass-Ching, LMFT

Respect over Accept: 2016 #ichooserespect starts on Monday!

FB-NEDAW16-banner

Hello and happy weekend!

The following is a video clip I filmed yesterday about Potentia’s #ichooserespect effort before I picked up my kids from school. I made the commitment to shoot this in one shot and go with it no matter what – so here you go!

Towards the end, I was a little confused by what you see verses what I see on my monitor when I had some written visuals to share – so enjoy the entertainment as I navigate sharing information with you.

In summary, the main points in the video are:

  • The history of #ichooserespect
  • Why I added #storyshame in year two
  • My thoughts on why addressing these issues are so important and not superficial “phases”
  • How you can participate in #ichooserespect no matter where you are in the world!

 

ICR vlog 2016 from Rebecca Bass-Ching on Vimeo.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Facebook or Instagram next month and learning how you choose respect over body + story shame. Thanks in advance for joining the conversation.

With gratitude  –

Rebecca

You are invited! Potentia Celebration + Open House

I know there is never a lack of events, meetings, parties and kid activities to add to your calender but I am hoping those of you in the San Diego area can squeeze in some time to drop by our Celebration and Open House next Friday, October 24th between 4-8PM.

It will be a great time to not only see the new workshop/play therapy space and meet the new Potentia therapists but also to connect with other friends and colleagues from the community.

Great food – including a pumpkin “everything” spread – and  a chance to win some fun raffle prizes are added bonuses for stopping by our gathering.

Please register if you can attend so we can plan accordingly.

With gratitude –

Rebecca

OpenHouseFlier-graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarcity and the Cracks in the Road

2014-04-18 08.48.08

On our walk to my daughter’s school this morning, we ran into a couple of power-walkers from the neighborhood.

One of the power-walkers stopped and asked us to weigh in on a bet between the of them.

“These newly paved roads – how long do you think it will take until they start showing cracks? One month or two months?”

The roads still had a pretty strong smell of tar emanating from them and they also seemed a bit delicate as the tar was still soft and settling. I shrugged, “I do not know… maybe even sooner?”

The woman did not like my reply and huffed off. The suggestion the perfectly paved roads were not going to last was simply. not. ok.

I hollered after my power-walking neighbor in all of my nerdy therapist glory:

“Hey! There is nothing wrong with a few cracks in the road.”

The woman stopped, turned around and took off her rather large sun hat, setting her stern eyes on me while placing her hands on her hips as she said,

“I once had a contractor tell me if you have a crack and you can fit a dime in it, you are in some deep trouble.”

Turning on her heels, off she went to finish her morning power walk.

Ugh.

I started getting all defensive for the poor cracks in the road. And the pressure the newly paved road had on it to stay…perfect.

And so began a conversation in my head with the power-walking neighbor telling her the cracks are just a reflection of:

  • how hard the road works
  • how much pressure the road tolerates day in and day out
  • how the road has been neglected and not cared for well. The road is just doing what it is made to do and cracks are inevitable.

Conversations in my head and feeling defensive for an inanimate object were good clues a nerve had been touched.

I took a deep breathe and checked the source of my vulnerability.

Walking home, I found myself looking at the cracks in the road that had not been repaved yet. Some were small and others could hold a roll of dimes.

And I could not shake the heaviness I was feeling about the neighborhood walking buddies already betting on when the newly paved road was going to “fail” to be “perfect”.

Wow.

The pressure to be perfect and meet all of the various standards of those who see us when we show up in life is truly intense at times.

We devote a lot of time, effort and resources to covering up or trying to get rid of our own imperfections.

Scarcity fuels critics like my two power walking neighbors.

Scarcity shows up ever where.

Bathing suit season, finals, tax time, finding a job or changing careers, relationships, parenting, creativity – you name it – there are a whole host of triggers these days that make chasing the perfection carrot a daily grind.

Seeing the messy, the cracked as beautiful is hard when your lens on life is in defend/perfect mode.

Cover Up. Protect. Do Not Be Seen. 

The critics are here to stay. As long as there are products to be sold and love to be desired, the critics will be present.

I do my best to push back on the power and influence of critics in the world and in my head.

But one of the most effective, sustaining and rewarding resources to managing the relentless critics has been developing my own life-long shame resilience practice.

Doing this work involved me getting clear on:

  • my personal shame triggers. Shame work is trauma work and trauma work is shame work.
  • how I respond when my shame is triggered.
  • what vulnerability is,  is not and how vulnerability is the pathway to living the life I am called to live.
  • who my go-to support team is in my life. And how sometimes my support team shifts depending on the season and the issue.
  • who I thought I was striving to be and who God is calling me to be
  • how best to care for, rest and feed my body and my soul
  • what values guide my decisions personally and professionally
  • the importance of maintaining good boundaries so I do not overextend, live in regret or resentment
  • how to move away from unhealthy perfection and towards healthy striving.

My shame resilience practice has helped me understand – in action, not just intellectually – the concept of wholehearted living:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left is undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘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.” – The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown Ph.D. LMSW

Cracks and all, we need to dare to show up and be seen.

If you are ready to develop your own shame resilience practice, please join us at one of our upcoming (re) Define Courage workshops. This work is life-giving soul work that helps you take insight to sustained change so you can (re) define the cracks in your life.

How do you feel about the cracks in your story? Do they allow shame to drive your choices or do they inspire you?

Cheering you on and respecting the cracks in the road –

Rebecca

Weekend Wonderment: Inspiration from the Interwebs 9/15/13

IMG_3007

 

“Being courageous requires faith.” Heartfelt words from a mother of a Sandy Hook victim to teachers and school employees as they start their school year.  Wow.

——–

“Failing forward means using mistakes or failures in the service of moving ahead.” via Karen R. Koenig.  And if you have not checked out Karen’s workbook, Food and Feelings: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health, it is a worthy resource on your bookshelf.

——–

“It’s hard: to keep your eyes on your own paper; to not want what others have; to detach from outcomes.” Parenthood, unhealthy perfection, and faith all collide in this lovely, sweet, tender post by Andrea Mauer.

——–

Never underestimate the power you have on those who cross your path in life.  Moving ad captures this sentiment beautifully.  Have some tissues nearby.  You have been warned.

——–

Are we passing down to the next generation the relentless pursuit of perfection? On parenthood, the pressures of high school students today, work and juggling it all – this provocative interview with Debora Spar, president of Barnard College and the mother of three children, touches on a lot of tender/lighting rod issues around parenting, working and being a woman.

——–

1. Settling + Starting

Sometimes we hesitate to start deep soul work because we are uncertain of the out come or how long it will take to reach our desired outcome. Trauma and distressing life events – and if you have been through middle school, you have had a distressing life event – can keep us stuck in fear, uncertainty, depression, loneliness, unhealthy perfection and enslaved to the opinions of others. EMDR is a wonderful to support for many who are stuck and the quick fixes are not working. Find a specialized therapist you trust and feel understood and start. This may be one of the most important seasons in your life.

——–

In Awe and Wonder –

Rebecca