Blog: The Observation Deck

In this blog, I’ll be sharing snippets of intuitively discerned guidance on “life 101” as well as observations about my favorite topics– human behavior and healing, which is why I’ve chosen to brand myself an “intuitive behaviorist” until I think of something better. When I can’t resist the urge, some acerbic comments on current affairs might challenge you to examine your current beliefs versus current social, psychological, spiritual and holistic trends.

Sometimes posts will explore the unfolding archetypal power struggles we face when our ego, identity and personal and professional power clash with our relationships, values and spirituality. In the long-term, depending on the level of resilience (emotional sturdiness) one has, that kind of inner conflict creates stress that can lead to illness.

Paradigms, Change Agents and Visionaries

A paradigm is a standard perspective, a set of ingrained perceptions that represent a common viewpoint among a group of individuals or the worldview of an entire culture. Since paradigms have multiple deep roots, they can take generations to evolve. The German physicist Max Planck, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1918, put it this way:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

For example, most people believe that therapy involves emotional pain, lots of time and money and probably anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications in order to end up with insights and coping skills for their trauma. They’ve never been exposed to a new healing paradigm that can heal deeply, relatively quickly and painlessly, without drugs. The field of Energy Psychology provides powerful but gentle healing methods, one of which is evidence-based, that can do that.

Since change agents are outside-the-box, innovative, creative thinkers, as most inventors are, they need to be independent, confident and powerful enough to defend their ideas about change from the gatekeepers of the paradigm, which generally resist change, even good change. For example, the ACME Mousetrap Company which has 90% of the market share will not be thrilled to find out that the competition has in fact invented a better mousetrap.

When the Heimlich maneuver was initially introduced, it was stonewalled for years before the American Red Cross finally endorsed a fast, effective, no-harm procedure anyone could perform to save people from choking to death.

Change agents aka “paradigm shifters” are independent thinkers who tend to ignite movements that result in fundamental changes to “standard” beliefs about the way things should be done. Visionary change agents are those whose courage, innovation, and pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit have birthed “radical” ideas as well as radical inventions into mainstream acceptance. Who would ever believe we’d have driverless cars? In many cases, visionary change agents such as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King have altered the course of history. Without the passion to power one’s way through the cycle of resistance, ridicule and rejection, and the perseverance to stay the course no matter the obstacles, innovation dies.

You’ll become very familiar with the ACE Study, Adverse Childhood Experiences, which links childhood trauma and the development of life-threatening illness in adulthood.

Get your personal ACE Score in 6 minutes

I’ll be posting excerpts from my next couple of projects– some true case histories from the second book in the Compass series, Family Compass, about how negative family dynamics affect us, and Out of the Kill Zone, about how trauma impacts combat troops, cops and civilians and how to heal. See the reviews from the first book in the Compass series, Spiritual Compass: Practical Strategies for When You Feel Lost, Alone and God Seems Far Away.

Recent Posts

When Parents Criticize: Unintended Consequences, Unintended Damage

Here’s an excerpt from upcoming book two in the Compass Series: Family Compass

There’s a difference between parental criticism and discipline. Discipline, done in a healthy, balanced and consistent manner, is about guidance for children to learn appropriate behavior and values as they also hopefully see their parents model appropriate behavior and values. Parental entitlement, (“Do as I say not as I do”) doesn’t cut it. Parents who bully their children may gain rapid compliance, but their children also learn to bully others to get what they want. Children are not only shaped but strengthened by appropriate, non-shaming discipline. Hopefully they grow up taking responsibility for their actions, and learn to respect others and lawful authority. In some cases an appropriate form of punishment is part of the correction, as long as the punishment fits the crime and does not involve shaming, humiliation or physical assault. Some parents have taken to shaming and humiliating their children on street corners or on social media then deny their behavior fits the definition of bullying. The parents may “win” in the short term, their children can sustain long-term damage.

A female client called me recently, overwhelmed with grief and sadness due to the latest round of invalidating, judging, criticizing and shaming from her elderly mother. As we began to trace the long circuit of involuntary guilt and shame she felt, she remembered an episode at age seven, when she was in second grade. She describe that memory as “the day Mom broke my heart.”

She recalled it was Christmas time, so the teacher asked the class to draw some symbols of the holidays. She eagerly grabbed her box of crayons and drew, freehand, a slender red candle, the base nestled in a sprig of bright green holly with clusters of crimson berries topped with a yellow flame. The teacher liked it so much that she held it up for the class to admire “Tina’s beautiful work” then turned to Tina and said, “Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?” Tina nodded, beaming with pride. She couldn’t wait to get home to show her mother.

She hopped off the school bus and ran all the way home, bursting into the kitchen where her mother stood at the sink. “Mom!! Look what I drew today!”  Her mother glanced at the drawing, said, “You didn’t draw that,” and turned back to the sink.

The tears turned to heart wrenching sobs as Tina repeated those four words:  “You didn’t draw that.”

I said, “How did you feel and what did you decide after that?”

“Stupid, unloved and ashamed,” she answered. “I never drew another picture again.”

The wounding

Tina’s psyche also internalized, consciously and subconsciously, the following damage:

  • Shock
  • Betrayal of trust
  • Rejection
  • A broken heart
  • “I’m not good enough to draw excellently.”
  • “What’s the use of trying?”
  • “It’s never good enough.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”

Gradually, as Tina’s self-confidence shrank and eventually shut down under her mother’s withering attacks, she adopted perfectionism as a defense against the shame. The more she tried to be perfect to protect herself from her mother’s criticism, judgment, rejection and shaming, the more anxious she felt, because perfectionism is an unreachable goal. Eventually, her anxiety deepened into despair and depression. She felt increasingly insecure, “betrayed by love” and her vulnerable childlike trust and safety was shattered. She stopped laughing and talking spontaneously, because it was no longer safe to do so. When Mom rejected Tina’s drawing, she reasoned at age seven, Mom rejected HER.

Practical Wisdom:

When a parent, teacher or other influential adult in a child’s life criticizes and/or judges a child’s creative expression, “That’s not how you draw a tree!” or their gift, “Dandelions are not flowers, they’re weeds!” the child receives that as shame and a rejection of his/her SELF. Shame disempowers. It damages the self and in a child’s evolving mind, (which is different on just about every level from an adult’s reasoning mind,) can leave children with a sense of feeling worthless, undeserving of love and bad, such that they find ways to deprive and punish themselves. It erodes the confidence that every child needs to grow into a self-reliant, emotionally sturdy teenager and adult. Shaming a child is not an appropriate not effective parenting technique nor a form of discipline. It is emotional abuse and the damage can last a lifetime.

Practical Strategy:

Never criticize a child’s creativity. No matter what their artistic endeavor looks like or how tired or stressed you are feeling, be thrilled with it, thank them for it, love them for it and proudly enshrine their creation on the nearest refrigerator door. Just as it’s considered rude to criticize or refuse a gift between adults, it’s an act of hurtful rejection to children who all crave parental approval (“Watch me! I can do a cartwheel!”) and will do anything to get it. Children who gain self-esteem and confidence through consistent parental validation, balanced discipline and unconditional love grow up to be secure, stable adults.

Older Posts

Gangs and Bullying: A Virulent Societal Plague

Bullying, whether it’s primarily emotional, physical, racial, cultural, sexually motivated or all of the above, is spreading through the world. Terrorist gangs are better armed and more lethal version of street gangs and play by similar rule books, even killing people, including cops and rival gang members, to protect the viability of the gang. The […]

How to Not Make Bad Decisions — Avoiding Scammers and Manipulators

This post explores the ins and outs of critical thinking, deductive reasoning and discernment, issues that should concern everyone in the voting booth, on a jury and to protect both heart and checkbook in personal and business relationships. In my intuitive healing practice, I help people identify and heal the vulnerabilities that make them susceptible […]

Hoarding: The Metaphors Behind the Madness

  “Eric” a successful businessman in his early 50’s, came to my office burdened with a shameful secret. He reluctantly admitted that no one had been inside his home for over a decade. Unlike many hoarders, Eric was not in denial. He nervously handed me a stack of photographs of his home and garage in […]

Navigating Grief and Loss

Everyone wants to know how you’re doing. The answer can vary from day to day or minute to minute. Most people don’t know what to do or say. They want to show concern and support, but they’re afraid that if they do, they might cause more pain. Death, dying and grief in this country is awkward. […]

Anger, Injustice, Unforgiveness and Cancer

Holding anger and grudges have biological consequences. They create anxiety, a form of stress, which contributes to the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin eroding the ability of the body to produce T-cells, the “foot soldiers” of the immune system. According to this article, 61% of cancer patients have toxic loads of unforgiveness/anger/stress. This speaks to […]

New Facebook Community: Military with PTSD Out of the Kill Zone

We are announcing the launch of a new Facebook community as an international directory of resources and free or low-cost treatment for veterans and traumatized civilians who want to heal their trauma, not talk about it endlessly in counseling or suppress it with dangerous, toxic and potentially life-threatening drugs. My book of the same title […]

Yoga is Not Against the Law in Encinitas, CA Judge Rules

One ultra-conservative Christian couple here in San Diego tried to use the legal system to force their narrow beliefs on an entire community and school system. That’s what extremist Muslims who believe in Sharia law are trying to do, minus the bloodletting. Yoga is an exercise, not a Hindu belief system, unless one practices it […]

Why Change is Hard: Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Have you heard the saying  “people resist change?” We do resist, because an element of change is the unknown, which implies a possible lack of control. Any perception of lack of control produces anxiety. That is a  recipe for resistance, whether the anxiety is conscious ( job change) or unconscious ( “Dad left  when I […]

Can Chronic Stress Make You Sick?

This Woman Got Breast Cancer From a Bad Marriage.   Here’s a story that illustrates the painful damage just one negative, limiting core belief can do to a person’s life. This woman “didn’t believe in divorce” and stayed married to a man with a mental disorder who wouldn’t work for 15 years. According to tons […]

Obituary For a Cruel and Abusive Mother, Written by Her Adult Daughter

 A gut-wrenching obituary about an abusive mother The obituary below, written by the daugher of an abusive mother, has gone viral. The story is gut-wrenching and tragic, but  sadly, in my experience treating childhood trauma for the better part of 14 years, it’s not unusual. Abandonment, rejection, abuse, cruelty, shaming, torture and beatings disguised as “discipline” have scarred the lives of millions […]

Why Hoarding and OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is so Hard to Heal

The Secret and Shameful World of Hoarding With the advent of the Hoarders and Hoarders: Buried Alive shows on A & E and TLC, the previously secret and shameful world of hoarding has gone public. Hoarding is a particularly chronic and difficult to treat manifestation of OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Conventional psychological approaches including Cognitive […]

Left Behind: He Left Me–To Go To War

It’s 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep. My Army reserve husband returned safely from Afghanistan and is back to his old self, but the part of my heart that went with him still aches for those who suffered horrific injuries or who didn’t come home at all. On this Memorial Day, I want to speak […]

Food Sensitivities, Autoimmune Disease and Unhealed Trauma—Is There a Connection?

Studies have shown that chronic stress affects everything from your gums to your heart and can lower your immunity to everything from the common cold to cancer. In the 1930s researcher Hans Selye first coined the term “stress” to describe the damaging effects that the stress hormone cortisol had on the long-term health of rats. […]

Why People Don’t Heal

There are many reasons why people don’t heal. Some blocks to healing are emotional or spiritual and can be overcome. Sometimes illnesses have genetic components that resist healing until gene therapies advance. Emotional blocks to healing can be subconscious or conscious. Here are some examples of blocks to healing that I find frequently during intuitive […]

Can Stress From Unhealed Trauma Cause Autoimmune Diseases and Chronic Pain? Science Says YES.

Traditional psychotherapeutic approaches to trauma and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) which focus on cognitive “restructuring” and insights too often supply clients with coping skills for their pain instead of healing. Likewise, medical treatments that do not diagnose and heal the cause but instead rely on symptom suppressing medications and treatments that do not also address […]

The ACE Study–link between autoimmune diseases, chronic stress and childhood trauma?

According to the landmark ACE Study, Adverse Childhood Experiences, (www.acestudy.org), the connection is unmistakable. In 1992, doctors at Kaiser Hospital in San Diego, CA and the federal Centers for Disease Control began a collaborative and still on-going study that would eventually involve over 17,000 people in the Wellness Program at Kaiser and offer solid evidence […]

The Many Faces of Panic

  When a doctor takes your physical history and notes your symptoms, she’s comparing the symptoms you report against a list of symptoms of various conditions she suspects and looking for a match that fits your specific symptom profile. When she gets a hit, she might follow up with tests to confirm the diagnosis. Or, […]

What’s on Your Hard Drive?

There’s nothing more important that we can do for our present health and future happiness and well being than self-heal the viruses and stealth programs on our internal hard drive. According to the landmark ACE Study, (Adverse Childhood Experiences, www.acestudy.org) there is a strong graded correlation between our personal body/mind storehouse of toxic unhealed childhood […]

Two Cases of Chronic Back Pain: Grief and Heartache Held in the Back

When I first started my practice, it seemed like a first year internship. Most people had what appeared on the surface to be simple issues: back pain, phobias, anger, grief, etc. I had yet to learn that most emotional issues, especially those that have somatosized (taken root) into the body, are more like icebergs where […]

Energy Medicine: A Multi-Dimensional Healing Paradigm

There are several missing links in the current paradigm of emotional healing today.  Conventional psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy is time-consuming, frequently taking months or even years, and is, clients tell me, painful and re-traumatizing.  It’s also expensive, and has a hit and miss reputation in terms of changed lives and the long-term release of […]