Mental Health DON’Ts – Emotional (Part 1b)

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is easy – and fun!


SITE: Physiology and Biology of Mental Toughness


REMINDER: To be Mentally/ Emotionally well we need to develop the Healthy Adult & Loving Parent (UNIT). What the “Don’ts” represent are characteristics of our damage, run by our WIC (Damaged Child) & PP  (Introject) – but can be corrected.
Understanding the specifics of our childhood traumas helps to accept the reality that we can’tJust do it’ or ‘Just let go’. All of Recovery is a process – for everyone.
ALSO, each of us will have our own specific issues that are definitely more deeply ingrained than others & will therefore take longer to heal. Some will never go away, but can be diminished greatly, & we can learn to manage them whenever they do surface.

EHP Don’t thrive on chaos
Successful people simplify life. They know that having as much order as possible in all parts of their life allows then to accomplish their goals, & not have to waste time looking for things or dealing with emotional drama.

EHP Don’t try to be happy all the time
One of the coping mechanisms for ACoA is the try to be ‘UP’ or ‘positive’ all the time. This usually applies to the Hero (Toxic Role) or the “Good girl/boy” false persona. This is as unrealistic as being miserable all the time. It’s just another way to deny having a wide range of emotions. For every ACoA, happy/sadno matter our style, our underlying emotion is fear/terror. So we try to feel safe before we can truly be happy.

No one is happy all the time. Feeling peaceful & content – a day at a time – does not mean having no complaints, dislikes or distress. EHP don’t try to avoid painful emotions but incorporate them in an effort to be whole, to honor their True Self. They know that happiness, victory & fulfillment are a wonderful, valuable part of life, but not the whole story.

EHP learn from their ‘mistakes’ & correct distorted thinking, so avoid repeating harmful patterns. This may include making amends to others (8th & 9th Steps) & forgiving themselves for ignorant or stubborn adherence to their Toxic Rules, so they no longer have to obsess about what happened in the past. EHP know this takes time & need patience & perseverance to always be moving forward, no matter how slowly. One 12-Step slogan says: “Look back but don’t starelive in the present”.
Some benefits from thinking about the past can be: identifying the lessons, considering facts not just emotions, & looking at PPT from a new perspective.

EHP Don’t violate / sacrifice personal values
Each of us have more than one value system – what we were taught by our family, by our religion, our early social environment, AND what we develop in ourselves from our Core Truth. Some of these may overlap, some may not. The problem for ACoAs is that we are either not allowed to find out what we truly believe, or more often have been so brainwashed by our toxic upbringing that we’re not allowed to live according to our personal beliefs even if we know what they are. (Core Values lists)

EHP have figured out what they consider important – even essential – to their identity, for themselves & in relation to the rest of the world. A value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is meaningful but not always conscious – as many are taken for granted. They know that their personal Core Values are not automatically the same as that of other people or institutions, & they don’t try to impose them on others.

They do NOT value the impossible, like perfectionism, eternal human love, fairness…. They know everyone falls short sometimes, so they get back on the horse when they don’t live up to their ideals, & are also patient & forgiving to others then they also fall short. (MORE….)


ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Part 3)


but my first responsibility is to my own!

PREVIOUS: “Feeling Sorry For” #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.



FEELING SORRY for oneself can be healthy or unhealthy.

HARMFUL, from others :  When we express genuine pain, we often hear cruel reactions from ‘authorities’, family or so-called friends (some 12-step members, religious communities, various self-help gurus / books) :

“Get off the pity pot , You’re JUST feeling sorry for yourself , Don’t wallow in your pain , Don’t live in the past , That was a long time ago , Are you still going on about that? ….”

These comments come from someone not working to heal their old wounds (even in Program), but instead are clinging to & protecting their own defense mechanisms & don’t want to be reminded of their damage.

we have our own version of “feeling sorry for”, in 2 forms.
a. Negatively (self-pity) endlessly rehashing old traumas, as a way to:
• not care for ourselves – stay in damaged-child modeself-pity
blame others, instead of focusing on what we can do now
• stay in the anger – which is ‘safer’ than feeling the pain underneath
• not have to grow up & ‘leave home’ (S & I) — escaping the responsibility of being in charge of our life.

b. PositivelyFirst & foremost, we need to have great compassion for ourselves – for what we endured as kids, & also as adults. Feeling sorry for & comforting our WIC is NOT selfishness, as we were told. Gaining the trust of our WIC is the only way to heal.

As kids, our suffering was ignored or punished & we were expected to suck it up. Even then, ‘they’ said we were being a baby, too sensitive, over-reacting, making things up, being crazy….
This has left us with a tragic inability to be kind & understanding toward ourselves!  We’re as unsympathetic as our family was – indeed, just as cruel in the way we talk to & treat ourselves! (Self-Hate)

SO, ‘healthy’ feeling sorry for – ourselves- includes:
gain WIC's childrenclearly understand exactly what happened to us in childhood. As long as we can’t identify & acknowledge it, we’ll keep repeating it
• having others validate our experience, without blame or judgment, because we never got the right kind of mirroring growing up (a crucial aspect of our damage)

• go over & over the traumatic events of childhood in order to get to the emotional pain which they caused – to be able to process it & get it out of our body
• cry & rage & mourn – in safe places, with safe people – so we don’t have to carry it around anymore or take it out on others

➼ These can take a long time, because there’s a huge backlog of pain which we can’t access quickly or easily – & our resistance to change.

EXP:  Rob was working on connecting with his Inner Child for several years.  While sharing in an ACoA 12-Step meeting, he suddenly visualized his kid sitting on the floor, hunched over – with knives sticking in him, all over. That’s what all that early verbal abuse had felt like! Rob started to cry.

In that moment he saw & felt the terrible distress his kid was in but which he compassion for WICwasn’t allowed to object to or express. As his Loving Parent self, he was able to feel a great rush of sorrow & compassion for his younger self. After that he couldn’t be harsh with the kid any more (negative voice coming from either the WIC or the PP).  It was a turning point in his recovery.

• Remember: The only source of self-esteem is unconditional love. Having a strong, positive identity means treating ourselves with loving kindness, patience & perseverance. We do need to ‘feel sorry for’ our wounded part – the real-life child we were, who suffered unfairly & alone thru endless days & nights, in our home, school, church & neighborhood – without people noticing, caring or helping!

• If we – as the Loving Inner Parent to our WIC – can feel genuine sorrow for what we endured, through no fault of our own, we can begin healing those wounds.  The child part of us is waiting to be heard!

NEXT: Fear of commitment- #1

ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Part 1)



How can I turn my back on them?



Feeling sorry for” someone may be generated by any situation we personally identify with, or simply caring about the plight of others who are less fortunate. We may or may not be able to do anything practical for the millions who suffer, but on a one-to-one basis, at the very least we can LISTEN to someone who needs a caring heart & ear, without advice or judgment

a. Empathy : a visceral / emotional experience of another person’s feelings – an automatic mirroring, like tearing up at a friend’s sadness or loss

b. Compassion:
  “a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, giving rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component of altruism ….”rescuing

c. Altruism: an action that benefits someone else. It may or may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion, (EXP: making a donation for tax purposes).

“Tending to do good to others, regardless of self, a behavior that costs the doer & benefits others.
A traditional virtue in many cultures, & a core aspect of various religious traditions”, considered the highest form of love (Agape) – where we put our own needs aside to help someone else.

For this type of ‘feeling sorry for’ to be legitimate – the recipient of our concern must be truly in need of help AND not have the ability to do for themselves – at least temporarily.
This is not always easy to determine, especially is it’s someone we care about, who is acting out of the victim role. SeeRescuing” -vs- “Healthy Helping.

1b. For OTHERS – Negative
For ACoAS, the core issue is that we feel sorry for the wrong types.
While ACoAs have a strong caring & compassionate side, which we use for others instead of for ourselves, we misplace our sympathy by focusing it on narcissistic people (parent, spouse or lover, BFF, sometimes a boss, teacher…)

i. WHO: Anyone who is
☛ emotionally & practically irresponsible. This can not be emphasized enough!  These are people who are unwilling to use available resources to help themselves, hooking us into do it for them! This can be in a practical way, but most often wanting to be taken care of emotionally

☛ abusive, abandoning, narcissistic (but often charming) – because they prey on our desperate need to stay attached. It allows them to “feed on” us without having to give back.

☛ even some who act like they need us, but if we set boundaries or disagree, they’ll throw us under the bus in a heartbeat! This way of being treated is so familiar from childhood, we think it’s normal.

• POTENTIAL does NOT count – when it has to do with others!  We’re attracted to selfish people because they’re familiar & we can rescue them & feel superior.
BUT as long as they refuse to develop their latent capacities – we end up drained, feeling inadequate, disappointed & angry – just like we did at home.

• our damaged need to feel superior (compensate for feeling powerless)
• copy what we learned from our para-alcoholic parent (usually mom)
• don’t want to face who this (current) person really is, because then we’d have a different relationship with them, or have to leave

iii. WHAT
Their behavior patterns TRIGGER our WIC to:
• (E) feel sorry for them (they are manipulating this), the way we felt sorry for family members who we tried & tried to fix, but never could

• (A) act out our pre-programmed training to rescue & enable them
• resonate our WIC with theirs, feeling their pain – so we take on the Good Parent role, for them – but not toward ourselves

Instead, we need to be with people who are ALREADY willing to & capable of taking care of themselves, & therefore can be available to us, without causing a lot of drama & stress.

NEXT: Feeling Sorry for – #2