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

BOOK: “Kind Self-Healing”

sick-day cat

Hi Everyone,

I’d like to pass on info about an up-coming Recovery book for ACoAs – due out in March 2015:

“The KIND Self-Healing Book – Raise Yourself Up with Compassion & Curiosity’
by Amy Eden,  author of blog for ACoAs “Guess what Normal Is


From the book:

5 Super-Kind Abilities You’ll Gain from Doing This Work

I honestly believe that each of these abilities is within your reach. These abilities can develop from practice and applying a compassionate approach to your personal growth–and from a decision to take the leading role in your own story every day:

1. The purpose driving your actions will become your wants, desires, and needs rather than your anxiety about other peoples’ needs or wants. Your own unique interests, goals, and personal fulfillment will become more central in guiding how you participate in life.

2. The discomfort you feel when asking for what you want and during confrontations will become a manageable discomfort (a low simmer rather than a high flame) and you’ll regard and appreciate the discomfort you feel as encouraging proof of having become daring and engaged in life.

3. Your self-confidence will become more consistent, less of a roller-coaster ride, and you’ll experience more and longer-lasting hopeful moments of self-appreciation, because you’ll have cultivated unconditional love for yourself and cease to expect perfection of your every breath.

4. You’ll be able to remain calm in situations involving criticism without losing your sense of self, your core, and your self-esteem; you’ll be able to hear and benefit from criticism without the old and unhelpful party-crashers of anger, fear, and defensiveness.

5. You’ll become comfortable expressing yourself and your needs in romantic relationships and willing to risk an ending rather than stay in a problematic situation; you will never again rationalize disrespect, criticism, or manipulation just to keep a situation going. And you won’t be tempted to try controlling the relationship because you’ll have moved from living in your head to living in the present moment.

You can have a life in which you grow, feel alive, happy, and feel like yourself (and like yourself) and live at ease. The tools in this book are meant to support you in your growing-up and healing process.

NEXT: Permission to leave

Being CONFIDENT (Part 5)

happy people
is an expression of self-esteem

PREVIOUS: Being confident (Part 4)

SITE: ‘Creating Confidence

QUOTES: “Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in giving creates love.”
“When you are content to simply be yourself, & don’t compete or compare, everyone will respect you.” Lao Tzu

REMINDER: Do NOT let yourself get overwhelmed by this 6-part list. It’s meant to be a guide, qualities to work towards. To look at the cup half full – or more – notice & then acknowledge when you have expressed a little of any one of these in your daily life. Then give yourself a pat on the back, & remind your Inner Child of your progress!

CONFIDENT People (cont):
stand out in a crowd. Confident people tend to be mScreen Shot 2015-10-03 at 10.41.41 PMore successful in life, have better personal relationship & perform better at school or at work

aren’t afraid to look silly. They don’t mind being seen when they’re not at their best. Occasionally “looking bad” makes them more human & accessible. They don’t try to be 100% a 100% of the time.
They can be unprepared, caught off guard, the butt of a joke, having a bad hair day, or find that the equipment isn’t working for a presentation – without becoming self-conscious or awkward.
They may be able to quietly ‘fix’ the problem, get help or just go with the flow, depending on the circumstance.

Confident people have a good sense of humor, about themselves & life in general, so even if they can’t tell a joke to save their lives, they can appreciate the irony in everyday events. Being genuine & unpretentious encourages other people to laugh with them, not at them

avoid self-promotion. Positive self-assurance permits genuine modesty / humility. They’re not as bothered (as insecure people) if they don’t get all the credit for their ideas or hard work. Braggers are insecure & lack self-respect, who secretly think: “Please notice me & tell me I’m special”.

Confident pwith friendseople know what they’re capable of – or not – & their actions speak for them. They enjoy being acknowledged, admired, lauded, respected…. because they’re comfortable with who they are & what they’ve achieved. But they don’t need the glory from others, since true validation is an inside job

don’t need approval from the whole world. A professional & social network of hundreds, even thousands may have some business advantages, but don’t contribute to self-esteem.
Confident people would rather have the respect & trust of a handful of people they consider important.

Where ever they go or what they try, those who truly matter believe in them & are consistently supportive, whether at home, at work or in public.

don’t gossip, envy or compare. They can keep confidences (+), & don’t want to participate in rag-fests (-), not having a need to be one-up to anyone. They don’t compare themselves to others, or others to each other. Each person is unique, with their own personality & experiences. Al-Anon says to not “compare & despair”.
They rarely focus on envy or jealousy, (which is intensified by comparisons), because they are empowered by being able to achieve their own goal. For confident people, what others are or have is ‘none of their business’.

appreciate compliments. Allowing oneself to receive, graciously & with appreciation, is a sign of solid self-esteem. Knowing their abilities & value, they don’t need to minimize or reject expressions of honor & validation from others, freely given. It lets other have the joy of giving, as well.

This self-knowledge also helps distinguish between compliments that are genuine, & those that are manipulative & controlling.
EXP: “Thanks, I really worked hard on that ____. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”

are thankful & don’t complain. They keep in mind all the benefits & blessings they DO have, & work toward what they still lack or desire. They acknowledge, appreciate AND enjoy what’s available, which generates inner peace.

NEXT: Conficence #6

S & I needs a Heathy EGO (Part 1)


allows me to flourish

PREVIOUS: Healthy S & I – #2

SITES : “Ego Psychology”  / / Trans4mind

See ACRONYM page for abbrev

EGO: The way Spirit has of expressing its uniqueness, so without Ego you as an individual would not exist. Therefore they go hand in hand. It’s “the Individuated consciousness of Infinite Being…. and a distinct personality apart from universal consciousness”, says Enoch Tan, in Dream Manifesto

To successfully S & I we need a HEALTHY EGO.  It’s the source of our overall physical, emotional & mental health, in relationship with ourselves & to others. Modern psychologists often replace EGO with “confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness”.

➼ It’s unfortunate that most people misuse Ego to mean ‘arrogant, self-centered, conceited, limiting’…. & therefore a bad thing! Since it’s almost always incorrectly equated with the real problem of adult narcissism, its original meaning has been forgotten. We hear this in 12-Step programs, therapy, ‘spiritual’ literature, even famous people – talking about the pitfalls of ego, such as ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass: The False Power of Ego’

These labels are not correct. The ‘character defects’ being referred to come from our PP or WIC aspects. Neither of those internal ego-states have healthy egos!  Wounded people are said to have damaged egos, split-personalities have multiple egos & psychopaths have fractured egos. NOT having a strong, clear ego causes us to be victims or absers!

NOTE: AA’s 3rd Step says: “Made a decision to turn our will & our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him”.
In this context, the focus is on the word will. What will? Who’s will? ACoAs are afraid of this Step because it feels like volunteering for slavery to yet another authority figure – in this case the “ultimate” one.
It’s one reason why so many of us reject all religious or spiritual connection, or are drawn to paths that don’t include a specific God-person. The WIC is still functioning from the feeling that “God is an alcoholic parent” & therefore unsafe

• Before Recovery (& even during) ACoAs don’t have actual free will – no matter how headstrong, arrogant or genuinely accomplished. As long as we’re still run by the Toxic Rules, our will is not our own, controlled by the Negative Introject, which the WIC is passionately devoted th-1to.
So, the point of S & I is to find & express our True Self, by no longer obeying the PP.

A NORMAL (healthy) EGO is the ‘eyes’ we use to see the world.  IT IS the :
🌱 aspect that lets us become strong, loving, valuable, contributing members of society, both at work & in relationships – the foundation for “emotional intelligence”
🌱 adult / reality part of ourselves, the “I” that chooses what to think, feel & act
🌱 part that’s separate from our own thoughts, & from the Self of others
🌱 natural capacity for attention, concentration, memory, motor coordination, language & perception.  It is NOT something to get rid of!

• According to Freud, EGO functions on the Reality Principle, ‘sitting’ mainly in the pre-conscious & conscious, but its strong ties to the id means it also interacts with the unconscious. (id = socially or spiritually unacceptable desires)

Ego is the part of the ‘psychic apparatus’ that works to achieve a balance between the id’s anti-social wishes & our personal standards, via the superego.  It prevents us from automatically acting on id-urges, while working to satisfy them in realistic & appropriate ways. This is done through a variety of defense mechanisms, in 4 levels, from worst to best: —-> Pathological, Immature, Neurotic, Mature.  (MORE…. )

Healthy Ego mediates conflicts between the demands of the:
id – the chaotic, impulsive, unconscious part of us, which is instinctive & totally unreasonable (young narcissistic child)
superego – the incorporated values of family & society which become our own Conscience & Ideal Self (Loving OR Bad Internal Parent)
reality – the current social & physical environment

EXP: If someone cuts you off in traffic, the Healthy Ego :
✨ prevents you from chasing down the car & physically attacking the offender (altruism)
✨ tells you that reaction would harm you & the other person, which is unacceptable (identification), that —
✨ there are other more appropriate ways of venting frustration, & is in control of your choices (sublimation)

Psychologist Kit Yarrow says: “A person with a healthy ego is able to see their flaws, learn from their mistakes and forgive themself. They allow others to know them, rather than only see their surface. Because they do – they feel loved. They act purposefully rather than react emotionally to stressful people & situations.”

NEXT: S & I – Ego, (Part 2)

WHAT is SHAME? (Part 1)

I was born bad & I’ll always be bad

PREVIOUS: What is Guilt?


While guilt is mainly about negative actions,
SHAME is about our IDENTITY – about who we are, fundamentally.

🔹 It tells us that our very essence is bad, unlovable, unacceptable – to be eliminated. It makes us:
• want to hide, isolate, not talk, try to be invisible
• want to be dead! The pain of shame is so great & the conviction that we’re un-redeemable is so deep (not worth saving), that it eliminates Hope. Why bother even trying!
• we overcompensate – by acting superior, controlling, out-doing, knowing ‘everything’, never showing ‘weakness’ (grandiosity), shaming others…..

SHAME is connected to our NEEDs, rather than actions – specifically – each need we had as a child which was neglected, punished & made fun of.
Consider how many needs children have, & how many of them were met with abuse or not at all – you can imagine how huge our shame quotient is !!

BTW, most of us focus on the need for love, & while it is crucial, the need for safety is even more basic! We can’t begin to take in love, even when it’s available, if we’re terrified.

a. Being Ashamed – Children admire, even idealize their parents when they’re quite small. They need to do this to feel safe – to know they can rely on those people to be competent & available to them. It helps to compensate for the child’s extreme dependence & vulnerability.
✶ In reasonably healthy families, children gradually come to understand that their parents are human, fallible, imperfect – BUT still basically trustworthy & decent role models.

● But in dysfunctional families, one or more adults act out their damage ⬅️ 
All of these & more, make children feel ashamed of their family (the chaos, the craziness, the cruelty) – & by extension themselves, as members of that group.
A sense of pride in themselves & their parents is eroded & shattered.
This is devastating. That feeling is then carried, like a canker sore in our spirit, into adulthood.

b. Being Shamed – Children in damaged families are:
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests….
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many things  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious

These & many other ways of shaming have been called soul murder. It represents parents’ lack of love & respect for themselves & so for their children, who stand in for their own Inner Child. Their dysfunctions negate / abuse the needs that all children have.
EXP of NEEDS : be paid attention to & heard, feel safe & loved, find out who they are as individuals, grow & learn at their own pace, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, treated with respect, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

Many or all of these NEEDS became SHAMEFUL !
We conclude that if the adults hated these needs, then they’re bad (& us for still having them). So they must be suppressed, better yet Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PM– eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

EXP: After hearing the 4th Step in Al-Anon (“Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves’), one member suddenly realized:
☁︎ his #1 toxic rule was: “I should be dead !”
☁︎ most shamed need was for love. “ I thought that was my greatest character defect!
After all, the constant message was that he wasn’t lovable – so he must be a fool to keep wanting it – which he does, desperately!”

In Recovery he learned that this & all his needs were legitimate, universal & his RIGHT, & so he was able to reject the need to die, & could start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)