Childhood Adversity

Were You Born Under the Gaslight?

Of the endless number of psychological factors that can plague a person throughout his life, I think there’s none more powerful than The Gaslight.
The term “gaslight treatment” was coined by a classic 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman. In it, Bergman’s character is gradually made to think that she’s going mad. Her new husband moves household items, makes the sound of footsteps in the attic (which he claims not to hear), and alters the brightness of the gaslights on the first floor, all to make his wife believe that she is losing touch with reality.
When applied to a family, the gaslight treatment is a special form of dysfunction. It happens when you, a child, receive messages or encounter experiences within the family which are deeply contradictory. Messages which are opposing and conflicting; experiences which can’t both be true. When you can’t make sense of something, it’s natural to apply the only possible answer:
Something is wrong with me.”
Today, scores of children are growing up under a gaslight of their own. And scores of adults are living their lives baffled by what went on in their families, having grown up thinking that they, not their families, are crazy.
I have seen gaslighting cause personality disorders, depression, anxiety, and a host of other lifelong struggles. Receiving contradictory messages that don’t make sense can shake the very ground that a child walks on.
The Four Types of Child Gaslighting:
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Emotional Awareness

The Four Kinds of Boundaries & How to Build Them

What can protect you from toxic people, keep painful memories in their place, keep you safe and strong, and help you manage your feelings?
Truly, boundaries are amazing. And good ones are a cornerstone of mental health.
When you grow up in a household that has healthy boundaries, you naturally have them yourself as an adult. But unfortunately, many of us don’t start out with that advantage.
If you grew up in a household with Childhood Emotional Neglect (your feelings and emotional needs weren’t met enough), or if you had a parent with a personality disorder, you may be especially challenged in this area.
Without strong but flexible boundaries, you may be overly vulnerable to criticism or insults from others, you may struggle to manage your feelings internally or prone to emotional outbursts, you may find yourself worrying too much, dwelling on the past, or not keeping yourself safe enough.
People with Childhood Emotional Neglect often have an overly rigid Internal Boundary, which blocks off their emotions too completely. So they can come across to others as excessively unflappable, or even emotionally bland.
If one of your parents had a personality disorder, your Internal and External Boundaries may be overly porous, or too flexible, resulting in emotional outbursts and difficulty managing your feelings.
The hallmark of a healthy boundary is strong but flexible.
As adults, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is understand boundaries, and work on building them for ourselves.
Here are The Four Types of Essential Boundaries:
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Drama Drama Drama

"Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think."

-Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight
Sappy, sloppy, annoying drama; insipid, tiresome, wimpy,...
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Childhood Adversity

The Fine Line Between Selfish and Strong

Read through this list of personal actions, and label each as either “strong” or “selfish.”
1. Your elderly aunt asks you to take her out to dinner and you say no because you have to get home to your children.

2. Your elderly aunt asks you to take her out to dinner and you say no because you are really tired, and need to go home and get some rest.

3. Your elderly aunt asks you to take her out to dinner and you say no because you don’t want to miss the Red Sox game on TV.

If you answered “selfish” to all three:

Chances are, you are highly uncomfortable with saying “no” under any circumstances. You are governed by guilt, and you believe that your own needs are less important than those of others.

If you answered “strong” to:

Number 1: You are able to be strong, at least for the sake of your children. If you are saying no for the sake of your children, you are putting their needs before your elderly aunt’s, and that is a judgment call. Who needs you more right now? If it’s your children, then being able to say “no” to your aunt is a sign of strength.
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