5 Unacknowledged but Useful Truths to Know about Self-Care

Self-care sounds cozy and pretty but often is not. It is made up of those routine moments you need to dig in deep and motivate yourself, when you would rather be doing anything but self-care. Sometimes, it would be a heck of a lot easier to mindlessly zone out on social media, watch marathon hours of TV, or eat a half gallon of ice cream out of the tub. If you find yourself here, no judgment. We all do what’s easiest when we experience extreme stress. If you are ready to incorporate self-care into your routine, here is what you need to know.

Self-care is not easy to do- Doing what is good for you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, often does not come easy. Setting boundaries, eating healthier, and managing your finances are not always fun or relaxing. These types of activities often don’t feel good initially but have long-term benefits.

Self-care takes practice and persistence. When you fall off the horse, dust yourself off and get up again. Self-compassion will become your best friend in moments like these. There is no shame in reaching out for counseling support to keep you on track.

In order to be successful with self-care, you need to become aware of the blocks and obstacles within yourself and in your external world. Once you are aware, acknowledge these and put your self-care plan into action. Self-care means taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions. It is about embracing your vulnerability and being kind to yourself. If I sound like a broken record, this is not always easy.

You may lose some relationships- People who do not take care of themselves cannot support you in your self-care efforts. You may not notice this kind of relationship discrepancy until you set a self-care boundary. Do not allow other’s guilt or manipulation get in the way of your health and wellness.

Self-care is not selfish, it is self- FULL– It may feel unnatural to put yourself first or even include yourself on your list of priorities, when you are a caregiver or empathic helper. The more you take care of you, the more you can take care of others. We all need times of silence to process and integrate. Time away from others means more quality time together. Remember self-care is for everyone, whether you are a man or woman. We all need a little TLC.

Self-care does not require a lot of time– The more you devote time to self-care, it increases your productivity. When you feel better, you become more engaged and mindful with all you do. Take five to ten minutes each day in the morning or right before bed to engage in a relaxing activity, such as deep breathing, writing in a journal or mindfulness techniques.

The person who says, I don’t have time to do self-care, needs it the most. Do not wait until your body or mind breaks down before you start making your health a priority. Sometimes people say they don’t have the time, when they really don’t want to become quiet and sit with their feelings. Your emotional pain will not heal until it is acknowledged, felt and released. If you don’t make time now, when will you?

Self-care does not make your problems disappear- Self-care does not magically erase your problems or pain but it will help you cope better. It helps your body release stress and tension, which left unchecked can make you feel much worse. When the crisis has resolved, you will be able to bounce back quicker.

Activities involving self-care fill your cup. Self-care can help you gain a clearer perspective and detach from other people’s energies. This way you can focus more on what needs to be done in your life. Self-care can help you feel supported by yourself and others, which helps you feel less alone.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Slow Down Impulsive Decisions & Improve Your Relationships

Impulsive decisions can wreak havoc on your boundary setting and relationships. When you act without thinking, you can contradict the very limit you were attempting to set with someone. This leaves you appearing to negate what you previously said or did for others. Understandably, people will question whether you have integrity or if you can be trusted.

People in today’s world are more impulsive. Many of us react to whatever is seen or said, without pausing to think first. We expect and some of us demand, instant gratification. I see impulsive behaviors on social media, whether it is reactions to posts, posting without thinking and even expecting an instant answer or response through messages. Sometimes people get blocked, ghosted or impulsively cut out of others’ lives.

Impulsivity as a Symptom

Addictive behaviors thrive on impulsivity. This can include people pleasing, social media, along with any type of substance or alcohol abuse. Many mental health issues feature impulsivity as a symptom. Some are bipolar/mania, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Cluster B personality disorders (borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.) and impulse control disorders. You can also find people act impulsively when they are anxious or experiencing trauma. If you are suffering from a mental health issue, treatment is available to help decrease these kinds of impulsive behaviors.  

It’s Not All Bad

As with everything, there is a healing and a destructive side. The healing side of impulsivity is taking action whereas you wouldn’t have before. This push can help you step outside of the box and explore new ways of being. Much of our intuition and gut feelings lead us to take immediate action without thought. It is important to trust these drives, which protect and guide us.

What Fuels your Impulsive Behavior?

Often people act impulsively to get rid of anxiety or anger. By acting to remove your discomfort, you end up creating more discomfort.

Ask yourself;

Is my impulsivity from a learned behavior through society, a mental health condition, people pleasing or a combination of these?

Ways to Decrease Impulsive People Pleasing

Growing up and sometimes as an adult, I felt compelled to jump in and help, whenever a need arose. I automatically said yes to all requests, as if I didn’t have a choice. I did not take the time to consider if this was something I wanted to do. This is how impulsive people pleasing cuts you off from your own feelings and thoughts. 

Whether you identify as empath, empathic or a people pleaser, here are some ways to decrease impulsivity and connect within. The next time someone asks you for a favor or help, try these phrases to give yourself the space to process;

1. Let me sleep on it.
2. I will consider it.
3. Give me some time to check my schedule.
4. Let me get back to you. 

These phrases give you the option to make a choice based on what you want. In this space, check in with your body and mind. Observe your thoughts and feelings. 

Ask yourself;

Does this feel right for me? 
What does my gut tell me?

Ways to Decrease Reactivity in all Situations

When you feel triggered by another person or situation, this is the time to not respond. It may go against everything you feel within and seem wrong, but do not do it. Create a space of calmness and try these activities instead;

Write out all your thoughts and feelings uncensored. Shred the page.

Talk to a trusted friend and ask their opinion.

Go for a walk.

Practice deep breathing and stay in the present moment.

Pray.

Final Thoughts

The more you can build awareness, take responsibility and be specific, the better you can manage impulsivity. When you react out of fear or anger, take responsibility for your part. In unhealthy relationships, we contribute something to keep them going. Look at your own patterns and heal these.

You do not have to say yes to every request on your time and energy. If you are repeating your boundaries multiple times to the same person, it is time to detach and possibly disconnect from this person. You do not need or require another’s permission or approval to heal yourself. Remember, we are all on our own journey of healing. Some people will not be traveling with us.

You do not have to share every thought that comes into your mind. In fact, it is often best when you don’t.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Compassionate People Need Boundaries Now More Than Ever

Boundaries are essential for those people who have big hearts and a desire to help others. As we approach the one year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic began, continuing political unrest, and an awakening of multiple injustices, our society needs all hands on deck.

When I write about the word boundary, I am describing a professional or personal limit. Some examples of professional boundaries are mindfully self-disclosing, leaving work at work and taking your vacation time. Personal limits are your self-care and self-compassion practices. Whether your boundaries are personal or professional, they all represent self-care and self-compassion.

Warning Signs

Stress symptoms indicate a need to increase your boundaries. Stress manifests itself physically (headaches, muscle tension, digestive disorders), emotionally (irritability, restlessness, concentration problems), in relationship with others (communication difficulties or avoiding others), and through behaviors (overeating, increased use of alcohol or drugs). These resulting experiences can set off more stress, leading you into a vicious cycle.

Little or no boundaries can contribute to burnout, illness, and even addiction. Stress is not a sign of failure but rather a warning or indication self-care needs to be increased. Stress reminds us, we are human and we have limits. You can learn how to manage it and feel better.

When You Care Too Much

Too much empathy is not a good thing for compassionate people. Too much sympathy, or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy. This makes you vulnerable to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout.

Compassion fatigue develops when you care too much and lack boundaries. Empaths often suffer from this type of fatigue when they cannot separate their energy from others. This over connection, leads to exhaustion. It can prevent you from empathizing or having compassion, towards others and even yourself. To remedy compassion fatigue, any personal energy management technique will work well. A starting point you may consider is the book I created, I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers. You could also benefit from assertiveness training, boundary setting and cognitive therapy.

Vicarious trauma– During and after a trauma or period of intense stress, such as living through a pandemic, it is normal to feel shell-shocked and reactive. We have been and are still going through a lot. For some compassionate people, it is traumatizing to hear about others trauma or too much trauma all day long. You may experience the symptoms of posttraumatic stress, even though you have not directly witnessed the trauma. For example, you may experience nightmares, flashbacks or memories of the trauma you heard about. There are several treatments to help you process and integrate trauma. Some are talk therapy, expressive arts therapy or EMDR. (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). Trauma will not go away on its own.

Burnout is the physical and emotional exhaustion compassionate people experience when they have low job satisfaction, feel powerless and overwhelmed at work. This can result from too much work or not enough support from higher ups in the organization you work for. Some people change jobs or their line of work and find burnout goes away. This is different from compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma, which would not lessen with a job change. Some other causes of burnout and compassion fatigue can result from perfectionism or being overly involved with other people’s issues. Cognitive therapy works well with this type of thinking.

In order to prevent or decrease cases of burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization among compassionate people, it is important to receive education on the signs and symptoms of each. This increases your awareness and allows you to recognize any early warning signs. The next step is reaching out to a professional psychotherapist to help you learn the skills to protect, restore and rejuvenate your personal energy.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Why narcissists avoid you and your boundaries

One surefire way to know if you are dealing with a narcissistic personality is to set a boundary. If the person has an angry outburst or gives you the silent treatment, that is your answer. People who are mentally healthy keep the lines of communication open, respect and honor other’s limits.

What is a narcissistic personality?

In a nut shell, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, relationships problems, and a lack of empathy for others. Their behavior occurs the majority of the time, not as an isolated incident. These people have big EGO’s and take offense at the slightest criticism. This can be what you say or you setting a boundary. Either of these may not be a criticism but they perceive it that way.

Below are five specific reasons narcissists hate boundaries and why they avoid them.

1. They have a sense of entitlement and feel superior to others. Narcissistic people think limits or boundaries are beneath them. These rules may apply to other people but not to them because they are special people, who deserve special treatment. They expect favors and unquestioning loyalty. Your boundary, no matter how healthy it is, can cause them to feel offended. How dare you set a boundary with me! Don’t you know who I am?

2. They use chaos as a way to control others. Narcissistic people have to be in control. One way they do this is to either delegate or create chaos. Interestingly, when this type of person delegates work or planning to others, they often change the timing or plan at the last moment to suit them, without any regard for your schedule.

A part of their chaotic presentation is their narcissistic rage. This type of personality has difficulty controlling and regulating their anger. You will experience their outrage, a pouty silence or both. Sometimes they intentionally start drama to see what you will do. They don’t like limits because you can’t have chaotic behavior, if you have healthy boundaries.

3. They refuse to take responsibility for anything. If you assertively point out a narcissist’s poor behavior and set a limit around it, he or she will refuse to acknowledge the behavior as harmful. In fact, they may project their poor behavior onto you. Somehow it is your fault or responsibility, they have acted this way. Don’t take the bait. Either they will rage, cut you off through the silent treatment or disappear completely (ghosting you).

4. They want to be enmeshed with you. They do not know how to be a separate person. Together you are one and they like it this way. This sounds romantic but it is a recipe for disaster. A narcissist feeds off of your energy, in order to feel powerful. Their self-centeredness leads them to believe their feelings are your feelings and vice versa.

When you are enmeshed, they can control your identify, thoughts, feelings, and even opinions. The narcissist wants to mold you to give them an endless supply of whatever they need. They want you to anticipate their needs before they even speak them. This type of personality does not want you to have your own sense of self.

5. They don’t like the word, “no”– Much like a toddler, the narcissistic personality disordered person has a temper tantrum, when a limit is set on his or her behavior. They feel rejected as a person and insulted. No to them says I don’t care about you, when in fact you are saying, I don’t care for this behavior.

Exit stage left

A true narcissist is an opportunist and will use anyone to get what he or she wants. Once they see no usefulness for you to stay in their life, you will be discarded. This is when they avoid or drop you. If this person has a need for you to be in their life, he or she will attempt to manipulate your boundary in order for you to change your mind. The bottom line is, a person with narcissistic personality disorder will not respect you or your boundaries.

To learn more about boundaries here are two blogs to read: 3 Ways to Maintain Good Boundaries and How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered Learn more about Narcissistic Personalities with this blog: Why Narcissists Overreact When They Don’t Get Their Way and watch this video: When Narcissists Claim to be Empaths

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

3 Ways to Maintain Good Boundaries

Boundaries are invisible limits that inform people what behavior you will and will not tolerate in your relationship. These parameters are healthy not only for yourself but others. When someone has a negative reaction to a compassionate limit, it reveals more about their character, than yours. Since empaths are natural people pleasers, they often have a difficult time creating limits and sticking to them.

You deserve to be treated respectfully. In order for boundaries to be effective, you need to be clear about what you want, know your values and voice these assertively.  You may want to read this blog; How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered to learn more about your personal rights. 

Now you have communicated your boundaries, the real work begins. This is where you walk your talk. Some people will test your limits, to see if you will hold the line firm. Here are three ways to make your boundaries stick:

1.) Call upon a Higher Power for a Boost 

When a sensitive person speaks up, he or she can feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Each time you feel tested, either by yourself or someone else, one affirmation you can say is, “God/Divine, give me the strength to value myself.” There is no shame in reaching up for help. Remember, with God/The Divine everything is possible.

2.) Feel All the Emotions but Don’t Act on Them

When you set a boundary, you may feel confused and begin to second guess yourself. Was I too harsh? Maybe it is too much? Did I hurt their feelings? Guilt can sabotage you, if you let it. Process all of these feelings, in your journal or with a counselor, in order to release any unnecessary emotional burdens you carry. Think about how much the other party is considering your feelings at this point. Is he or she offering you the same energetic consideration?

3.) Self-care is Essential

Improve your mental, physical and spiritual health. You give a lot to others, make sure you give to yourself. Have a luxurious cup of tea or do an activity you enjoy. Another aspect of self-care is limiting your time with those you set boundaries with. In order to protect your energy, make an honest assessment and take a hard look at your life. What is your need to stay or be around this type of energy? Take steps to be around this person less and less. You may find my book, I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers, beneficial for you.

Here is an additional resource: My presentation about boundaries on SkinCare Talk Radio: Boundaries, Difficult People & COVID-19

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my You Tube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

7 Simple Ways to Calm an Overstimulated Mind

We all have experienced an excess of energy, known as an overstimulated mind. This occurs when you exceed your brain’s ability to process information. The result is a lack of clarity with your thoughts, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, digestive issues and even heart palpitations.

The biggest culprits of overstimulation

Modern Technology-Searching the internet, social media surfing and working too many hours on the computer, all contribute to overstimulation. It is not unusual to have multiple windows open and running in the background. This is symbolic of our own minds, trying to be in the present moment, yet getting distracted by x, y and z.

Obsessive Thinking- Many people believe the more time you think about a problem, the faster you get to a solution. The opposite occurs because you can get stuck in obsessional thinking. Over thinking is an attempt to control and is fueled by anxiety. The more anxious and out of control you feel, the faster you run on the hamster wheel. Getting no where, fast.

Analysis Paralysis- Creative people are blessed and cursed with too many thoughts. Too much head energy can lead to creative and writer’s block. Analysis paralysis is often fueled by perfection. Your mind falsely believes there is only one right action and fears you won’t choose the right one.

How do you get out of this behavioral loop?

No matter what causes overstimulation, the solution is to let go and begin small. Slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and respond. Now you have the power to choose what to do next. Here, I outline seven ways to get you started.

  1. Unplug from Social Media for at least one day a week. Give your brain a break.
  2. Have a Healing Session– Some examples are: Reiki helps you release energy and restore balance. You may also want to move the excess energy from the head into the heart, through your breath and conscious intention. Place one hand on your forehead and the other on your chest. As you breathe slowly envision the energy balancing between the head and heart. Massage grounds your energy and establishes a connection with the physical body. Psychotherapy can help you gain self-awareness and insight. Find out why you are busy and distracted. Not only will you release stress but also learn new coping strategies. Having a psychological evaluation can determine if other mental health issues are contributing to overstimulation.
  3. Write- Get all of the thoughts in your head out and onto the page in fifteen minutes. Use creativity as a vehicle to transform chaos into calm.
  4. Meditation and Mindfulness– Slowing down the brain and your impulses will help you be in the present moment and make healthier choices. Combine walking with mindfulness, to shift the energy. Do something physical to move the energy from your head into your body. Go for a walk, clean the kitchen or your closets.
  5. Avoid Crowds and Large Gatherings- Minimize shopping online and in stores as much as possible, until your mind feels at peace again.
  6. Rest and Replenish- Create quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, computer and be alone with your thoughts. Create stillness and drink lots of water. Get out into nature.
  7. Pray. Connect to your Higher Self. Ask for healing and guidance from the Divine. Accept and Surrender. Admit you are overthinking and choose to give up control. The serenity prayer can work wonders in this type of situation. The world will not fall apart if you let go of your thoughts. In fact when you let go of busy thoughts, inspiration has room to enter your mind with new ideas.

To further prevent and decrease overstimulation, you may want to read: Important Information about How Your Senses Get Overloaded

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my You Tube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Unlock Your Personal Freedom with Forgiveness

Growing up, I didn’t realize how much power I gave away to others. Each time I held a grudge, was judgmental or critical, I restricted my own energy and flow. What felt contradictory, was the fact that holding onto my anger felt energizing and made me feel strong. This is how the EGO and the hormonal rush we receive from an angry reaction deceives us into believing, our actions are right.

I have experienced a few family members, who have cut me off or ignored me because they felt offended by what I did or said. Growing up, I did what I was taught and followed suit. Throughout the years, I realized deep down, I didn’t feel happy, empowered or free. I began to question the beliefs and assumptions I held about other people and even myself.

Using Detachment

I learned many of the stories we make up in our heads about other people’s motives aren’t even true. People have their beliefs and perceptions, it has nothing to do with you. This is their story and you have your story. You can’t change how someone views you and your actions, as they can’t change your views. All of these conflicts we have with others feels personal, yet they aren’t.

When I began to forgive, I released years of bitterness and pain. In its place, I gained a whole new sense of freedom I never knew. This sense of peace comes from being unaffected by what other people say, do and think of me. Before, I would react and rebel. Now, I feel, let go and move on with my life.

How I Really Began to Heal

Louise Hay often referred to forgiveness as a great healer. Her concepts revolve around self-love, affirmations and forgiveness to heal physical, mental, emotional or spiritual illness. You can learn more about this in her book called, You Can Heal Your Life. This book, inspired me to forgive my step-father.

My step-father and I had no contact for over ten years. I wrote him a letter and he chose not to respond. I summoned up the courage to face him one final time, at his wake. My sister and I saw his scowl was gone and replaced with a peaceful glow. I wouldn’t have believed this, unless I saw it. My thoughts turned to regret because I wished this was the man I could have spent time with. Letting go of what could never be, I read my forgiveness letter and walked out.

A crowd of supporters waited outside the funeral home and remarked how I glowed and looked as if a weight was taken off my shoulders. It was. In that moment, I was free from years of fear, hurt, anger, and resentment. All of the energies which kept me tied to him, were gone. Forgiveness supplies you with a healing balm in which you feel a sensation of lightness or as if you are floating on air.

Going Back to God

Recently, I was reminded of the gift of forgiveness through an online retreat, which connected me to my Catholic roots. I remembered if you pray with a repentant heart, God forgives you as soon as you ask. In other words, the Divine knows when you are being authentic or just going through the motions. Once again, I could practice forgiveness and unhook the chains that bind me. The trick is getting out of the EGO and back into your heart.

Who do you need to forgive today?

Start with Yourself. Forgive yourself for not knowing, being judgmental, for all the times you were stuck in your own pain, fear and bitterness. Forgive yourself for bullying yourself, pushing yourself way beyond your limits and all the times you were harsh and unkind to yourself. Forgive yourself for not seeing the truth or reality of a situation.

Next, forgive the first person who comes into your mind. This is the person you most need to forgive. They may not deserve your forgiveness, remember God’s grace has forgiven you. The more you forgive, the better you feel. Forgive others for their abusive behaviors, all of the times you felt disappointed and hurt.

Keep repeating this process as needed. Forgiveness is like doing the laundry or washing the dishes, it is never completed after one time. This is a practice which must be re-visited time and time again.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my You Tube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Recognize Emotional Abuse & Rise Above It

Emotional abuse can be difficult to identify. Unlike other forms of abuse, there are no physical wounds. It is subtle, making it difficult to pinpoint the problem. Since, there appears to be a lack of evidence, the person who acts abusively, often denies any type of trauma has taken place. This rejection of reality, can cause long lasting damage to a person’s self-esteem and mental health.

Similar to physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse is cyclical. This means you will experience a period of emotional abuse followed by what “seems” like a normal relationship.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a way to control another person through the manipulation of communication or action. Some overt forms of abuse are criticism, rage or making threats. Others use covert forms of abuse such as withholding communication, money or love.

People who act emotionally abusive seek to dominate all aspects of the relationship. This can include making all of or changing up plans, telling you what you wear and who you spend your time with. They will demand respect and loyalty, yet show you none. It is their way or the highway.

I have experienced both overt and covert forms of emotional abuse from family members, a grade school teacher and people who I thought were friends. When you experience emotional abuse at an early age, you are more likely to experience it as an adult, until you heal the pattern. Here is what I have learned and what I teach others:

Why Empaths are Vulnerable to This Type of Abuse

Many empaths are born to care deeply and find themselves being raised in emotionally restrictive or explosive families. Since, there is a lack of healthy feelings being expressed, the empath becomes the feeler of all the feelings in the family system. You not only carry everyone’s emotions energetically but also feel responsible for them. Talk about exhaustion! Your reactions go into soothing and comforting others, while walking on eggshells. This also reinforces the faulty thought; since you feel other’s emotions, you are supposed to do something about them.

It is not your job to fix others. As children, many empaths, are told they have the power to make others happy by doing what they want. No one asks what makes the empath happy, not even themselves. This is how you get accustomed to others manipulating you, while you become the ultimate people pleaser, at any cost.

How to Rise Above It

Separate Yourself from Those Who Use Emotional Abuse: When someone tries to shame and guilt you, don’t take the bait. Know you deserve better. Spend less time with this person and if the person refuses to take responsibility for their actions, end the relationship.

Learn about the Various Kinds of Emotional Abuse: Education builds your awareness to identify overt and covert signs of abuse.

Step into Your Own Power: Apply empathy and healing to your own wounds. Spend time building your self-esteem and confidence.

Where do you give your power away? Those who act abusive often play on your needs or areas of vulnerability. This can include financial help, how much you value the idea of a relationship or experiencing a sense of belonging and approval.

Forgive yourself for not seeing or recognizing the early signs of abuse and for not knowing better at that time. Remember, this is the most difficult kind of abuse to identify and many people often miss the signs.

If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Seek out psychotherapy to help you heal past patterns of abuse and find a safe way to leave a current abusive situation.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Are you the ultimate mirror? Recognizing your empathic abilities

Empaths are meant to be mirrors of energy, not sponges. As a compassionate helper, you have different spiritual potentials or paths within your own field of work. For example, you may explore creativity, personal truth, integrity or like myself, a path of expression. No matter what your destiny is, you are here to heal not only yourself but also others through your unique method. It doesn’t matter if you do this through writing, being a psychotherapist, medium, coach or nurse, as long as you are learning and growing, according to your life path.

Your life path will be your greatest joy and your biggest challenge. For example, I have encountered people who try to repress or control my personal expression. This occurs when someone is blocked and does not have a desire to grow in their own healthy expression. When I was younger, I absorbed their negativity and felt guilty for speaking up. Through years of healing and personal work, I understand the majority of this energy is their guilt and shame transferred onto me. Knowing this, I now mirror or reflect that energy back.

A Fun House of Mirrors

We all project our thoughts, feelings and ideas into the space around us. This makes you wonder; do I really see people as they are or how I want to see them?

The world of our ego wants to divide, keep people separate, have enemies and keep us all stuck in this illusion. This force seeks to control your environment and all the people in it. You think what you perceive is reality but it is so much more. Look beyond the surface and get to the real story, about ourselves and others.

The Mirror Works Both Ways

Most people don’t like the status quo to be challenged, even us empaths. There are times someone’s insecurity, fears, doubts and powerlessness sticks to your energy field. This is when you need to look at yourself and ask; are they mirroring back to me?

When you feel secure and are standing in your power, you will not feel a pull. If you feel a twinge in your gut or an annoyed feeling, it is sign you have work to do in this area. We are never finished projects, look for opportunities to grow and be grateful when this experience appears for you.

How to Mirror

  1. Become a witness and observe. Do not take what others say or do personally. Through mindfulness, which is the practice of being in the present moment, you will detach and see clearly. You may have an A-HA! moment saying to yourself, “This is your block, not mine.” When you are not affected, this is very easy to understand. Everyone on this planet needs lots of practice in this area.
  2. Learn about your life path. Self-awareness is essential for empaths. When you know who you are, your strengths and blind spots, you can recognize what is your psychological stuff and what is others. I highly recommend this book and have utilized it for over fifteen years, in my private practice. It accurately identifies, based on your date of birth, what, on a soul level, you came into this lifetime to achieve. The Secret Language of Destiny: A Complete Personology Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers
  3. Heal your issues. Where you are wounded, you attach to others pain and take it on as your own. Do not avoid what you feel. Learn how to be strong in your energy, despite feeling triggered. For myself, I needed to learn communication, assertiveness skills and self -esteem. When I express assertively, it may cause a reaction in someone else, but I know I am in the clear.

You may not mirror back perfectly. Often you do not have to say a word, it is best not to. Verbal mirroring is best kept to the psychotherapist office or coaching session. If you feel you must speak. Ask someone if he or she is open to feedback. You can simply say; Are you open to some feedback? If they are not looking for feedback, do an energetic mirroring with steps one through three above.

When you drop the scripts and stories in your head, you see a larger purpose. If someone else can’t see their illusions and projections, remember to detach from other people’s stuff. This is their karma not yours.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

How to Effectively Communicate with Reactive People

Many of the reactive people you will encounter are in emotional pain and lack communication skills. While a few people enjoy raging because they like it, most people are stuck in their suffering.

People who react, either are combative or avoid. Yes, you can be reactive internally and not show it outwardly. The most common reaction is through passive aggressiveness and the silent treatment. Whether you rage outward or inward, the body reacts with the same physiology. When your thoughts trigger the brain, your heart pumps, blood pressure rises and vision sharpens.

As a society, we are chronically stressed. Many of us are at a simmer level, waiting to boil over. It doesn’t take much to reach this tipping point. You could react to someone in traffic, a social media post or even yourself for making a humanly mistake. This way of functioning, long term, causes physical health issues such as anxiety, depression, memory loss and sleep disturbances. Our bodies are not meant to be stuck in high idle.

The biggest challenge for empathic helpers, is to recognize another’s negative mood or energy and not absorb it into their bodily system. You want to stay engaged, without becoming angry or shutting down. The first step is staying centered within your energy.

How to stay grounded no matter what life throws at you

Practice resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity and grow from it. When you are in the present moment, you can easily adapt to changing circumstances and take purposeful action. Rather than look at a reactive person in a judgmental way, look at this interaction as a way to grow and learn new communication skills.

Fill Your Cup. Do something you love every day to cultivate well-being. Practice the concept of flow, becoming completely absorbed in a pleasurable activity. For me, I enter a flow state while writing, hours can go by in the blink of an eye.

Learn about Your Strengths. Notice when you use your strengths and how it feels to use them. You can take a free VIASignature Strength Test and learn your top strengths. Self-awareness is the best tool in communication.

Self-Compassion. Recognize your own suffering and lessen it. Become mindful of when you feel judgmental or critical of yourself and others. Practice loving kindness and forgiveness.

Work Your Body. Practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. Ground your energy by visualizing tree roots coming from the bottom of your feet and anchoring deep into Mother Earth. Better yet, place your bare feet into the ground or sand, feel them connect with the earth.

Once you have your feet firmly planted on the ground, through the above practices, continue onto the next steps.

How to not get pulled into other’s reactions

Be a witness. Learn to observe what is happening without taking it personally. This is very easy to understand, yet challenging to do. If you are having difficulty, revisit the above steps or contact a licensed psychotherapist. Subconsciously, you may be getting triggered from a repressed memory.

Be engaged. Listen with empathy. You are not here to give solutions or suggestions, but rather to understand where the other person is coming from. Suspend judgment and the belief that your way is the right way. Many people who react, want to be heard and understood.

Be a curious detective. Ask questions to get to the bigger picture. Figure out what is really going on. Beneath the outrage, there is a content or story. When you get to the meat of the conversation, you know what is at stake. This is where change can happen.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net