Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reclaiming the Holidays

What does the winter holiday you celebrate mean to you?

The word "holiday" comes from the term "holy day". According to the Free Dictionary, "Holy" has many meanings depending on its use:

Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred
2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered
3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly
4. Specified or set apart for a religious/spiritual purpose
5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct
6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence

Holidays have evolved (or devolved) to include purely commercial and practical purposes. Nowadays, holidays consist of time off work, time for family life and feasting, and extra opportunity for recreation, celebration and gratitude. On holidays we are given permission to rest from our daily routine and ideally use the time to focus on things that make life enjoyable, purposeful, meaningful and fulfilling.

What can you do this holiday season, and continue to do every day, so that each day has at least a little holiday in it? What can you do, give, appreciate, or take care of today to add a bit more holiday to your life? When that's done, can you do something else tomorrow?

Is there any reason to wait for a special day to show and share gratitude, generosity, gaiety and growth? Why is any other day any more worthy or special than this day and this moment right now? What is stopping you? What is helping you?

Warm Regards,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jealousy and Envy 101

My basic philosophy is summed up best in a quote (I don’t know who first said it) “relationship is primary, everything else is derivative.” Everything we experience is generated by our relationships (real or imaginary) with something we perceive.

All of us have been jealous or envious of another and what we perceive about their relationships. And most of us have been jealous and envious more often than we like to admit!

Here is how it usually goes: we see someone else with something we used to have, wish we had, or want to have more of. When we admire someone it is because they exhibit some quality we find valuable, or have something/someone we used to have in our lives, wish we had in our lives or want to develop more of in our lives.

Sometimes we are able to feel glad for the other person while wishing it was us having that relationship instead or along with them. Other times we simply experience a sense of unfairness, and we do not wish the other person well. In this case, we think they don’t deserve it (and we do) or there is not enough for both of us and if they have it, we can’t.

Whatever it is we perceive the other person having, we think that our not having it diminishes us somehow. Or, their possession of it threatens a key component to our identity, usually a sense of being special or important.

This conditioned response is based in a scarcity model of life. We feel that the other person having something means there is less or none of that admirable thing available for us. And, at one level, this perception is accurate. If someone else gets the last tank of gas at the pump, there is indeed no more gas in that pump for you. However, there are likely other gas stations you could go to in order to fill up. Alternately, there are cars that run on other types of fuel and many alternate ways to get yourself from point A to point B. However, if all you are focused on is who got the last drop of gas in that particular pump, then indeed there is something you can’t and don’t have. When we say “there is an energy crisis” what we really mean is there is a fossil fuel crisis. There is plenty of energy, but not enough of a certain type that we prefer and are used to using.

Often, when jealousy or envy is triggered, what is threatened is our habitual and preferred way of thinking about ourselves as special. When others appear not to recognize our specialness, or take something to which we feel entitled, we go from feeling secure to feeling inadequate and uncertain.

What are some good strategies for taking our jealous and envious reactions and the energy created by them and using it to create abundance instead of scarcity, to respond positively to the challenge instead of indulging in destructive behavior?

How To Use Your Jealousy and Envy For Growth - Some Easy Guidelines:

1) Don’t Just Imitate – Integrate!

You will never be anything but a second-rate version of someone else. You may admire the qualities and skills of another, but anytime you catch yourself inflating or diminishing yourself when comparing yourself with them, you are missing the point. Go ahead and learn and integrate the skills and behaviors you admire in the other person, but make them your own, imbue them with your unique expression. Be the absolute first-rate you!

2) Don’t just Agitate – Motivate!

If you want something, how can you get it in a way that benefits everyone in the relationship? How can you take your desire for change and have it add to, rather than take away from the relationship? What can you do that doesn’t rely on needing to inflate yourself or deflate another in order to feel ok? Don't just react against something and stew in the feelings of unfairness and inadequacy that your jealousy generates, do something positive for yourself that you can feel good about. Being against something is easy, being for yourself...that takes some action!

3) Don’t Just Regurgitate – Innovate!

Ask yourself these questions before just going on autopilot and spewing the usual reaction to your envy or jealousy

  • Is there really scarcity here – not enough for me to share in?
  • Do I feel a sense of unfairness?
  • Do I see myself as a victim here? What are the advantages and disadvantages of my victim mindset?
  • What can I do right now that is a new behavior to free me from my negative pattern?

Realize that your perception and subsequent interpretation of your experiences are mostly learned and should be questioned as they may or may not be accurate. Whatever you interact with can provide a sounding board, a focus, a mirror, a target, an excuse, permission to feel your feelings, inspiration to think your thoughts, and material to derive meaning and purpose from life. What you choose to do is up to you. Why not use each experience to learn and grow? What are you waiting for?

Warm Regards,


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Simple Doesn't Mean Easy

Many of the tried and true practices offered to enhance self-growth, personal development, and build relationships are quite simple in theory. The concepts are easy to understand, make sense ethically and logically, and they sound easy to implement. And, they would be easy to practice if we were doing them with our whole heart and mind, but we usually aren't. Instead, they compete with the conditioned behaviors and responses which, (although they are hidden from our conscious mind) are our default operating mode. We try to insert a new practice into a maze of conflicting priorities. We are stressed and exhausted and worried while longing to realize our personal truth, deepest goals and essential selves.

One of the most common mistakes we make when we start a new practice for self-growth, is to expect results to happen immediately. If they don't, we think the practice isn't working and give up. Most people don't test the efficacy of a new practice by giving it enough time to become a pattern compelling enough to replace the old behavior or problem. We really want there to be a magic remedy - something that comes from outside of us and fixes everything. We may know that the only lasting changes we make come from within, but we wish a lightning bolt solution would strike us and fix what ails us!

Many people experience the beginning stages of empowerment of our true essence at retreats, or in places where the environment does not contain our usual stressers and triggers. We leave these experiences euphoric and motivated. But, when we get home and are no longer isolated from our day-to-day lives, our the ability to maintain that state of mind is sorely challenged. The autopilot reactions we learned to cope with conflict and unwanted stimuli step back into the forefront again, unless we are very aware and consistently practice the strategies or methods we have chosen to improve our life experience.

When you decide what you want to do to improve your experience of life, whether it is
eating healthier foods, getting more exercise, meditation, practicing mindfulness, spiritual study, or another creative expression, you need to keep at it daily so it has the opportunity to become as easy for you as your current behaviors are. Our undesired behaviors and reactions had many years to become habit, so we need to allow the new activity time to be cultivated, grow, and blossom.

Here are a few techniques you can use to keep your focus and re-commit to your new practices daily:
  • Remembering that creating and sustaining new behaviors takes thought and effort at the beginning
  • Remembering why we chose to do this - what are the benefits we are intending
  • Finding ways to create the intended benefits throughout the day in smaller units, in addition to regular more lengthy practice
  • Approach the new practice as a pleasure because of the benefits it provides, rather than focusing on how difficult it is because it is new and different
  • Tracking progress and challenges in a journal or log - puts more intention into the activity

I encourage you to contact me to let me know how the ideas and suggestions from these blogs are working for you. I want to hear about what works best, where you are challenged, and any adaptations you have discovered. You can reply directly to the blog or email me at cindahocking@yahoo.com.

Warm Regards,


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Problem With Hope

Dear Friends

Hope is something we generally think of as positive. It keeps us going in tough times and is the light at the end of our tunnel of suffering. But, hard as it may be to believe, hope has a dark side. The dark side is that hope exists primarily as a reflection of anxiety. Hope, like anxiety, is all about what might happen in the future, not about what is happening in the moment. We set up hoped-for circumstances which, if we attain, we believe will make our lives more successful and fulfilling. Setting goals is not the problem, it is when we postpone living right now until those conditions have been met that creates our absence in the present moment. Anything that threatens our hoped-for future turns into a cause for anxiety.

The biggest disadvantage of using hope to cope, according to the gifted author Dr. Richard Moss is when "we substitute heading for our lives for actually living." In other words, we use hope to avoid and evade what we are actually feeling and what is really happening right now. In our search for success, we become focused on the future, avoiding self-examination of what our senses, bodies, emotions and thoughts are teaching us as well as the enjoyment and growth opportunities of the present moment. Instead, we fast-forward through the moment, working towards a future in which we hope we will have the time and space to really start living. We live in hope that "things might get better." Is living in hope really much different than living in anxiety? Anxiety's only different because the thoughts about the future are primarily worry that "things might get worse". However, both of these perspectives diminish our capacity to truly "be" in the present moment.

More often than not, we use hope to hide from ourselves. We don't really believe in the power of the moment and that the experiences of the past and possibilities of the future inform but don't define who we are, unless we let them. Who we are is happening right here, right now. In each moment we can redefine it, but we have to be fully in the moment to do that!!

An exercise you can use to experience the fullness of the moment rather than escaping into hope (or anxiety) is to stop when you catch yourself longing to be elsewhere and just let yourself feel and tune into what is going on within and around you. Notice your bodily sensations, the environment, your feelings and thoughts. Pay attention and be aware like this for a minimum of five breaths. You will be amazed at the richness and detail that surfaces around and within you when you do this. It gives you a much-needed respite from the relentless swing of hope/anxiety, judging/appeasing, building ourselves up/knocking ourselves down we usually operate in.

While we all may know deep down that the moment is really all there actually is, we don't usually practice being in it! I have been amazed how simply bringing awareness and attention to the present, regardless of whether I like what is happening or not, creates a tremendous sense of clarity and appreciation for my life, as well as a sense of fullness that far exceeds my hopes.

Warm Regards,


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Understanding Our Own Minds

Hi Friends,

Due to the nature of our early life we all have unconsciously programmed and conditioned behaviors and reactions that helped us survive our earlier years, but left us with a lot of trouble understanding ourselves once we mature! During our formative stages we learned methods to avoid pain and survive, emotionally, physically, and socially. The methods we learned were based on our natural temperment and how others in our environment reacted to the way we expressed ourselves. Their reactions usually taught us we were insufficient or not enough of what was required, or that our natural expressiveness was excessive or too much for them. We learned what was acceptable and not acceptable to others, and to suppress, hide and deny aspects of ourselves which were disapproved of. When we felt the need to control the reactions of others the basic choices we saw to take charge of the situation were to anticipate and accommodate, defy and rebel, or stonewall and withdraw. These survival strategies became seamlessly integrated into our identity and their origin forgotten. Unfortunately, the underlying belief that most of us took away from our early conditioning is that our real, true selves are inadequate and unworthy. This fear remains lurking in our unconscious, getting triggered by situations that stress or threaten the positive or negative social identity we have created to mask or calm this fear.

Our social identity is comprised of roles such as the "spoiled girl" the "successful businessman" the "creative artist" or the "funny fat guy." When the identities we use to cover our feelings of insufficiency are questioned, we are thrown into survival mode and our early programming and conditioning takes over. Some examples: even when you are trained and relatively competent at a job do you get the feeling that you are a fraud and your expertise is not real? Have you felt like someone questioning you at all invalidates and insults you? This is that early conditioning and fear of underlying inadequacy getting triggered.

It is easy to get triggered because we also tend to overly value, idealize and identify with whatever aspects of our social personality we are using to cover our fear of inadequacy and unworthiness. The more able we are to understand how our minds work, the more curious we become and the less threatened we feel when one of our roles and social identities is questioned or challenged.

The next time you feel yourself getting triggered, try naming and staying with the feeling (without overly identifying with it) and ask yourself what it is you fear. If you can name the feeling, the thoughts that feed it and observe it, you can make a more informed choice of behavior. When you get stressed or threatened, notice whether and when you automatically anticipate and accommodate, defy and rebel, or stonewall and withdraw. Get the feelings, accompanying thoughts and fear out where you can see them, and you'll be amazed what you learn about your own mind!

Warm Regards,


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Who Am I, Really? Are My Roles My Identity?

Dear Friends,

America not a social occasion goes by without someone asking within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone “what do you do?” People ask each other about their roles making a living and producing value for society to help them define each other quickly and feel more at ease. The context of your major life roles gives them a way to figure out what relationship to have with you, and what value you have or could provide to them, and what they may need to do in exchange. It provides social rules and guidelines for behavior. I am primarily “John’s mom” to my son’s friends, I was “the social worker” to hospital staff, and a “student” in seminars I attended. This need for definition is both limiting and comforting.

I remember being surprised traveling in Europe years ago when the question of “what do you do?” didn’t come up in conversation for a long time. Instead, people wanted to know “who are you?” They were interested in what moved you and what you had passion for. They wanted to know what values you had and what essential components flavored ALL your roles. Their way of figuring you out was to look at what makes you tick.

We all have many roles in life that we play, and these roles we play or refuse to play take prominence on the different stages we act on. When we are with our families, we are focused on being (or rebelling against and not being) mothers, brothers, daughters. When we are providing something society requires in exchange for wages we are waiters, doctors, teachers, plumbers. When we are learning a skill, we are students. We are all of the roles we play, yet no one role completely defines us. And if one role does define us, the threatened or actual loss of that role is devastating to our sense of identity.

We see people become lost with a diminished sense of meaning and purpose when the role or context of a role that has become part of their identity is removed. This happens when we retire, children move out, we lose spouses, become chronically ill, or move away from a familiar environment.

However, some people feel restricted by their roles and seek out role changes to provide them with a renewed sense of freedom and ability to find and reconfigure their essence pieces into a new definition of self.

Here is an exercise to help you discover and cultivate the question “Who Am I, Really?”

This will help you learn to live more from a sense of identity that is integrated into yet transcends the roles you play. You can begin to develop this skill by asking and answering a few simple, yet profound questions.

FIRST - you want to ask and learn “what is my essence, what defines me?” This question alone will provide tremendous insight if you really answer it.

Caution - this question alone is not enough. You could think about it all day. Most of us do think about this while resenting or feeling stifled in our life roles. We then become more involved with worrying about how “this isn’t it” or “this isn’t me” than actually working with developing what IS.

SECOND, you want to ask - "what actions do I take to develop and demonstrate it in ALL my roles?"

There are some details you can explore that may help you in answering these questions:

1) Is there something I do everywhere, all the time? .

2) What about me flavors and spices every role I play, yet is also independent of all those roles?


Have you noticed how unsettled people become when your behavior doesn’t match their idea of how a role “should” be played, or when your idea of how to act in a role doesn’t match theirs? The simplest example is the discomfort people have with not being able to tell what someone’s gender or sexual orientation is.

Have you noticed how unsettled you become when the behaviors you feel are needed for your various roles clash, or the demands of your roles conflict with each other? The ultimate choices of behavior you make in these situations tell you a lot about your self-identity.

DON’T FORGET - we have all sorts of ideas of who we really are, but we also have to then take the actions to manifest them ,or they remain untapped potential. If your actions don’t show it, how is anyone else to really know it, or get to know the real you? Define yourself in your roles, don’t let your notions of a role define you. Our roles provide opportunities to express our essence, yet usually we use them to limit ourselves and others. How can you start right now to make every action, in every role, more authentic and real? Ideas, feelings, and core values are internal catalysts, motivators and fuel, but no matter what role we are in, our actions are what tell others who we really are.

Embrace yourself, be yourself. Let your words express your essence. Let your deeds match your words. There will always be opinions, there will always be judgments. Someone will always think and feel something about you. It might as well be about who you really are!


Monday, June 16, 2008


Dear Friends,

Turn Meetings at work from Deadly Dull to Dynamically Directed with the use of these Simple Questions.

Here is a quick example of a practical way to immediately start improving meetings at work. Meetings are a necessary part of most jobs, but we often dread them because the tone and atmosphere is either a confrontational “prove yourself” reporting, or a dull recitation of details that seem irrelevant or are just "going through the motions".

You can easily make meetings more dynamic by knowing the right questions to ask. Adding just a few key questions can keep your meeting on target, and more productive. If you are the manager or the one organizing the meeting, answer these questions of yourself before you prepare the agenda.

What is the purpose of the meeting? Why are we here?

What are the goals, objectives we are hoping to achieve?

For example, is the meeting’s purpose to work on a big picture, detail, or process focus? Is it supposed to:

  • Give information/further understanding,

  • Solicit feedback or ideas;

  • Outline specific goals or productivity expectations;

  • Gain commitment to goal/project;

  • Report on progress/obstacles;

  • Discuss and assign specific incremental tasks to reach end result desired;

  • Discuss end results desired; or

  • Build shared vision?
If you are the employee you can interject these questions when a topic is stuck (or being flipped back and forth to avoid any resolution) and not being addressed. For example, if a manager is reporting endlessly on an upcoming project which generates a lot of ideas but no action plan, you can ask about the results that are expected and the incremental tasks needed to achieve them. You can ask about the timeframes within which certain phases will be completed. You don’t have to know all the answers yourself, because the right questions will elicit the best responses.

An important strategy: To avoid scapegoats and shirkers you can ask “what are we going to do?” and "How can we equitably divide this responsibility?" Then, tasks can be assigned within the social contexts of fairness and sharing.

You will avoid taking on more than your share and not allow anyone to disown his or her share of the work. But be aware -- if you do not set an example and immediately accept a portion of the responsibility prior to asking this type of direct question or immediately after having asked it, you will not be effective...in fact, instead of being an inspiration for taking responsibility, you will look like a hypocrite. As a general rule, you must set an example by your actions to set the tone for your questions. This is true for both employers and employees...for both team leaders, and team members.

We all hope if we're patient, someone else will fix the problems we observe in life. We know deep inside that no changes happen just by waiting and wishing for someone to set us free, give us rights, notice our discomfort, or pay us the wages we deserve. We need to stop enduring and start curing the deadly meeting doldrums. Asking the right fundamental questions in a directed manner helps convert expended time into invested time. A meeting is only as good as the results that it produces.

Try this strategy and let me know how it works for you.--Cinda

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Postural Techniques for Clarity and Focus

Dear Readers:

Have you ever noticed that how you move, stand and sit influences how you feel and how well you think? When you are feeling fuzzy, tired, upset, or happy, take a moment to notice what your body is doing. Without changing anything, observe what your autopilot physical positions are when you are in these emotional/mental states. What do you automatically do physically to express or repress what is going on with your mind/emotions?

If you haven’t checked yourself in this way, you are missing out on an incredibly simple tool to shift or elevate mood and improve clarity of thought. Your body is constantly reflecting and communicating, to yourself and to others, what you are feeling and thinking. Just as your mind affects your body, your body affects your mind. They are an inseparable system. A shift in one area impacts the whole.

I still remember the first time I really noticed how I stood when I was bored or irritated, for example, when waiting in a long line at the check-out or in a traffic jam. I was unconsciously making myself feel worse by keeping my chin and gaze down, clenching my hands, and slumping/curving my shoulders inwards.

One day I purposefully set forth to change my posture... and yes, my mood changed as well. But what was more surprising to me was how differently I was treated by others when I shifted my posture. During one day of purposefully standing straighter, taller, and with more relaxation, I had three positive experiences with clerks who were harassed and stressed themselves. I am particularly sensitive to the moods of others, so what was most interesting is that their moods did not affect me nearly as strongly as usual when I maintained a straight, tall, and relaxed stance. My positive stance acted as a shield against their negativity! In fact, it may well have acted as a subtle, but positive influence upon them.

A great benefit is that physical alignment and conscious relaxation helps prevent, minimize, and address many common health concerns caused by repetitive motions, slouching, and neck/shoulder tension.

Here is a sample exercise for improving posture:

Start to build your awareness and attention by doing a self-check at least once every hour throughout your day, and especially when you are doing things that are routine, boring, or irritating for you. When you check in, notice your current mood and thoughts, and then observe the following:

  • How are you standing, moving or sitting?

  • What is happening with your head position, your shoulders and your back?

  • What is happening with your arms and legs?

  • How does what you are feeling translate into your body position?

Once you have your baseline, make a change such as bringing your back to a straight position with shoulders back, adjusting your chin, bringing your eyes up, unclenching hands, uncrossing legs or arms, or relaxing your facial muscles.

Hold the change for at least three breaths. Notice how you feel. Remember, up to 90% of how people evaluate what is happening in face-to-face communication is based on body language. This means it is not what you say, but the way that you say it and not what you do, but the way that you do it that is most effective.

So friends, try this out and write to me and let me know what you noticed and how things changed for you. I am certain it will be quite an eye opener (especially during those deadly dull meetings)!

Warm Regards,


Friday, March 21, 2008

How to Recover Your "Self" After Surviving Abuse

Dear Readers:

So, you have survived an abusive situation.

Whether the situation was of short or long duration, you are left with often a shaky sense of self and conflicting feelings. You have experienced some of the worst aspects of life and are now working to discover or rediscover the best aspects.

Remember: While you are going through this process, do not expect to stop being fearful, just expect to stop letting fear control you. Let your fear, along with your shame, doubt, and guilt teach you instead. They were all created from imprints and patterns of experiences that need to be re-examined and put through your own truth filter. These reactions were put in place to help you survive, cope, and manage overwhelmingly negative input. They are not "bad", they have a function.

They are just overdeveloped, overused, and no longer needed to be the leader of your mental/emotional gang. Let's get the emotional/mental leaders in place that help you and those around you to thrive, and give them the attention and intention that they need to support your goals and life purpose.

Negativity and violence are indeed a great problem in the world: Right now, awful things are happening. It is foolish to ignore them. However, it is equally foolish to indulge your unhappiness or fear about them. I don’t advocate naivete and assuming only good actions from others, because that mindset will not prepare you for the challenges you meet. It is useless to pretend everything is all okay, but it is very useful to realize there’s a lot that is going well, and that you can contribute to and help grow what is already good, and work to create something even better.

You can learn ways to discover and cultivate the seeds of positive growth within yourself and others. Because RIGHT NOW good things are also happening right beside the bad stuff. While suffering is rampant, love is too. Which energy do you want to feed? How will your suffering help anyone, including yourself, make a positive impact in the world?

As you begin to break away from the burden of the abusive experiences and find out what to let go of and what you have learned that can move you forward in your life, there are several questions that will help you get into the self-determination mindset. To do this exercise, you need to honestly look at your whole self without judgment of thoughts, feelings, actions, and appearance.

Get paper or start a document on the computer and write down your answers to the following questions – don’t edit yourself at first, just let it flow out because your first unedited responses are you automatic/unconsciously based ones. Later you can review, reflect and add, but at first just write whatever comes out:

*What did I believe or know to be true about myself before the abusive experience(s) ?

*Are all these things still true?

*What is still the same as it was before?

*What is different than it was?

*What is new?

*Does someone else's expressing conflict or anger trigger me more or less than it did before?

*Does someone else’s negativity get me down more or less than it did before?

*What triggers my anxiety or depression?

*What triggers my happiness or sense of fulfillment?

*What do I want to strengthen in myself?

*What do I want to release in myself?

*What is my first step toward healing?

You have an inner knowing that is often hidden by all the layers of patterns that have developed in defense and fear over the years. It may be deeply buried, but it is still a spark that can be kindled into a full-blown, life-affirming flame. You have the power to be yourself, fully and authentically blossoming and growing. Let no one, especially yourself, tell you otherwise.

When you are feeling discouraged, remember these quotes from amazing women who discovered their true selves and achieved their personal goals despite great obstacles:

Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

Helen Keller “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Let your fear be part of the process.

As a reader of this blog, please note that the advice and information given by me as a lifestyle and wellness trainer does not treat mental disorders as defined by the American Psychiatric Association or medical disorders as defined by the American Medical Association. Life and wellness instruction and coaching are not a substitute for medical care, psychotherapy, mental health care, or substance abuse treatment. If you have ongoing medical and/or mental health issues, you should be in ongoing contact with medical and/or mental health professionals.

- Cinda

[Douglas Castle contributed to the editing of this article.]

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gain Victory Over Your Experience of Abuse

Dear Readers:

Do you have a history of abuse? There are ways to avoid the guilt and shame trap that is too often a result of such experiences.

The more you are able to release the shame and guilt which you have stored from the abuse you have experienced (any kind, any level), the more free you will be to discover your purpose and start living it!

It can be crippling to hold onto the shame from not having known how to stop abuse, not stopping it sooner/soon enough, or having participated in your abuse out of fear, financial insecurity, misplaced love or misplaced trust and loyalty.

We may have intense guilt if others were hurt along with us, if we feel we didn't protect who we wanted to, or if we closed our eyes, ears and hearts to what was happening.

Regret, pity, apathy, despair. None of these feelings or attitudes work toward solution or victory from your history. You are more than your past and you can use its lessons to shape your future, instead of destroying it.

One of the first exercises you can use is to purposefully cultivate your awareness and assessment skills of the abusive tactics so you recognize them in action.


What is Abuse?

Abuse is use of the tactics listed below to control you or to "keep you in line":

  • Coercion, threats and intimidation
  • Emotional manipulation - taking advantage of your lack of knowledge, love for them, shyness, etc to keep you dependent upon them.
  • Social isolation – keeping you away from your support system.
  • Economic abuse – taking advantage of financial dependence, lack of job training and skills, withholding money.
  • Using male or cultural privilege to keep you in “your place.”
  • Using children and fear of their wellbeing to keep you “in line.”
  • Using force in sexual actions and sense of entitlement to your body.
  • Using force in physical actions and sense of entitlement to your body.

Progression of Abuse

Abusers up the ante from psychological to physical abuse if you don't obey. Sporadic and unpredictable use of the above tactics, especially the physical violence, is key to keeping you afraid to leave.LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

During The Relationship
– these tactics are used to steadily erode confidence, body image, self esteem, support system, and eliminate alternatives to the relationship.
After Separation - the most dangerous (and potentially lethal) time period of all...the abuser is most likely to aggressively retaliate against you and all that you value in your life.
The reasons people stay with abusive partners are FEAR-BASED.LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

For Example:

  • Fear of losing support systems;
  • Fear because of being isolated physically & emotionally;
  • Fear you are wrong about abuser (he's just misunderstood, lonely) and hoping for change;
  • Economic pressures - no money, housing, education, job
  • Family pressure to stay, and being ostracized for
  • leaving;
  • Lack of information - don't know how to leave, or what help is available;
  • Love of partner and hope- remembering how abuser used to be or seeing their potential to change;
  • Feel you are not "good enough" if alone;
  • Fear of retaliation;
  • Threats to safety of self and others;
  • Fear of losing children;
  • Fear of no help from the criminal justice system;
  • Fear no one will believe;
  • Fear of being deported;
  • Fear of being alone or single;
  • Fear of not being desired by anyone else;
  • Fear of losing "invested time".

To Avoid The Guilt and Shame of Abuse History, Remember:
Anger does not cause violence
Alcohol and drugs do not cause violence 
Stress does not cause violence (or he'd be abusing his boss, too)
Your actions, thoughts and words do not cause your abuser's violence
 These factors can be triggers to violent behavior, but are always the abuser's CHOICE.

  1. Abusers depend on your fear controlling your behavior.
  2. Abusers depend on your loyalty and that it will outweigh your desire to change the situation.
  3. Abusers depend on your ignorance or fear of options.
  4. Abusers depend on your optimism that they can change.
  5. Abusers depend on your unconditional "love," while theirs is extremely conditional.
  6. Abusers work at destroying your identity as anything separate from them to make controlling you easier.


    - Cinda