Tag Archive: Life coach



ImageI’m wrapping up my series on abuse, with some tools to break the cycle! We’ve discussed verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as the subject of bullying and violence in the workplace over the past month. Today I want to equip you with some tools to know when to stay and when to go, how to hold your ground and maintain your boundaries, and respect yourself in the process.

The decision to continue or end the relationship will likely be a difficult one. You have history together, some good and some bad. You are likely fueled with hope for repair, that maybe ‘this time it will be better’. Envisioning your life free from the abuse is foreign and distant, and let’s face it, often things that are unfamiliar are fearful. What will life be like without him or her? You hold onto hope, because there is a part of you that is so attached to ‘need’ for the relationship. As I mentioned a couple weeks back while discussing sexual abuse, the same holds true for all abusive relationships: “our lack of connection is a big reason why we choose unsafe people. If we are not able to connect in an intimate way with others, then we will often pick people who are unable to connect as well. If someone is isolated inside, she will pick isolating relationships until she addresses her problem. Fear of abandonmennt fuels an ongoing isolating connection.Many times someone who is in a painful relationship should set strong boundaries or cut off the relationship altogether for a time. But he fears being alone so much that he can’t do it. Every time he thinks of standing up to the other person, or getting out of the relationship, he is overwhelmed by feelings of loss and aloneness, and he either avoids the difficult step to begin with, or he quickly caves in. Because he doesn’t have primary safe and supportive relationships, he would rather have the unsafe relationship ghan nothing at all. This… keeps the isolation and abandonment going.” Dr. Henry Cloud PhDImage

The above quote is the precise reason why choosing to end an abusive relationship is so hard.

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

-William Blake

Before we examine reasons to leave an abusive relationship, let’s take a look at some good reasons to stay.

If your abusive partner has admitted to being abusive and has begun to take some of the following steps to change the abusive pattern, you may want to consider going the distance or at least staying a while longer to see how sincere or permanent this change is. The steps your abusive partner needs to take are as follows:

  • 1. Admit to himself that he is abusive and acknowledge the damage he has done.
  • 2. Understand the reasons why he abuses.
  • 3. Understand her abusive pattern and work on her unfinished business from the past that traps her in the abuse cycle (ie. having been abused as a child – hurting people hurt people)
  • 4. Admit to your partner that you have been abusive.
  • 5. Apologize to your partner and work on developing empathy for her and others.
  • 6. Learn and practice ways to identify her anger, pain and sress in constructive and healthy ways.
  • 7. Identify your triggers and false beliefs.
  • 8. Seek professional help. Be willing to see a counselor for the long haul until the root issues are revealed and being dealt with.

However, this is not the only thing necessary for change to occur. Believe it or not, the abused person needs to take some action as well in order for this process to work. If the abused partner is willing to do the following steps, there may be hope for real change in your relationship.

  • 1. Admit to yourself that you are being abused and acknowledge the damage you have experienced as a result.
  • 2. Understand the reasons why you chose an abusive partner to begin with. (ie. examine the isolation/fear of abandonment mentioned above).
  • 3. Examine and understand the reasons why you have put up with the abuse.
  • 4. Understand your pattern and work on completing YOUR own unfinished business. This can be done with a therapist if you are unsure how to go about doing this.
  • 5. Confront your partner on his or her abusive behavior. Believe it or not, but this is a CRUCIAL step. If you are unable to do this, there is little hope for real and lasting change. You will need to examine the subject of boundaries and how to set and maintain them for your protection.
  • 6. Pay attention to your feelings. Sometimes emotional abuse is subtle, and you may not even be aware that it is taking place, especially when you become accustomed, or ‘used to’ it. Notice physical reactions like knots in your stomach, or tightness in your chest. Pay careful attention to how you are feeling when you are with the abusive person. You DO have the ability to determine when things are ok, despite possible put downs you endure frequently that cause you to second guess yourself.
  • 7. Take your power back by setting up and enforcing your boundaries. I am a certified personal development and relationship life coach and spend a lot of focus on developing solid boundaries. Feel free to contact me for a complimentary coaching session with me if you feel you need help learning about and setting boundaries. You can find me on my website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com to book your free consultation to see whether working with me is the right fit for you. 
  • 8. Continue to speak up each time abuse occurs. If you let it slip just one time, you may be giving up your power, and allowing the abuse cycle to start all over again.
  • 9. Be prepared that if you confront, things MAY get worse before they get better, as being confronted most likely will not sit well with the abusive person at first. But setting limits is the only way to stop the cycle.
  • 10. Be on the alert for the moment it is not working, and you need to make preparations to leave to ensure your safety.

Other Reasons why you stay:Image

  • My partner told me it was my fault and i believed her.
  • I’m afraid I am unlovable, or unattractive, stupid, etc. because he says I am.
  • I am afraid I will never be loved by anyone else.
  • I’m afraid of what he will do if I leave.
  • I am afraid for my safety.
  • I’m afraid I can’t make it on my own financially.
  • You may also struggle with a strong desire to avoid confrontation or
  • a tendancy to try and believe that things are better than they are.
  • You feel responsible for their behavior.
  • You blame yourself for the problems in the relationship because you believe what she says that you ARE the problem in the relationship
  • You listen to the lies spoken and believe them as fact.
  • You make excuses for their behavior.
  • And once again… that dreadful fear of being alone.

Be prepared that if you confront, and say something like “I don’t want you to talk to me that way.” Or set a limit such as “If you hit me I will leave until you can calm down.” or simply let them know that their statement is abusive. In response, you will likely get an argument (or further berating or familiar abusive tendancies.) Are you prepared to stand your ground if this happens? Don’t engage in the argument. Simply stand firm by repeating the same thing you stated before. Be prepared to follow through on whatever limits and consequences you set on their behavior. They may give you the silent treatment. Don’t let him get away with that either. Remind him that this is also abusive and disrespectful and that you do not appreciate it.

If you can do all the above steps (there are tons more… too much for one blog) you may have grounds to stay in the relationship.

Another good reason to stay (at least for a time, to see how things fare) is if you and/or your partner have admitted to being abusive and have begun working with a counselor or marital counseling. Do not stay on the basis of the promise alone that she will go with you to therapy. If she makes good on her promise, then you might have a chance. If she makes a promise to seek professional help and does not follow through, her commitment is not sincere, and you are likely in store for more of the same.

If you make it clear you are unwilling to tolerate abuse of any kind, and your partner is willing to work on changing their behavior and makes positive steps toward change, then you may have a chance of making it work.

If your partner has begun already any of the processes or stages mentioned above and has become less abusive, or not as often, this may be an indication of their willingness to work on and change behavior. Change takes time. Abusive speech and actions are a learned behavior and will have to be unlearned. They may have slips from time to time, but if it is decreasing, and they have become more loving and treat you as an equal partner in the relationship and are actively working toward bettering themselves, deciding to wait and see may not be such a bad idea. Each situation is different, and if you feel in danger in any way, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as you can before it has the opportunity to escalate further.

Some questions to ask yourself to determine the amount of good will in your relationship, as well as to help you determine if getting out or staying is the best choice for you at the time are:Image

1. Do you and your partner have an equal footing in the relationship?

2. Do you have an intimate connection?

3. Do you feel like your partner’s intentions are good when it comes to how he/she treats you?

4. Do you have much in common?

5. Do you experience more joy than pain in the relationship?

6. Do you believe your partner genuinely wishes you well, and may just have some bad communication habits, rather than an intention to deliberately undermine, control, manipulate or destroy you?

Even if you want to say yes to staying based on what I have said above, here are some things to consider when it comes to whether you have endured too much pain in the relationship to stay.

ImageGood reasons to Leave

If your partner refuses to acknowledge and take responsibility for his abusive actions, or admit to being abusive, he is beyond reasoning with, and needs the limit of your leaving to protect yourself from further injury.

If your partner does not seek out help for her abusive behavior… on their own. If you have to do it all for them, you are taking responsibility for something that is not yours to own. They must see the reason for help and seek it out on their own, thereby taking responsibility for their own actions.

If you have made yourself clear that you will not tolerate any further abuse, but she still continues to abuse, you should leave.

If you or your partner are unwilling to follow these suggestions and/or the ones given to you by your therapist, there is little hope for things to be any different. As the saying goes: “The definintion of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!” And another one I particularly like is this: “Until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change, then you will change.” If you continue to stay involved in the same cycle over and over, nothing will change until you are tired of the cycle and finally the pain is too much to remain trapped in the abusive cycle.

WHEN YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO LEAVE!!!Image

  • If you or your children are being emotionally, physically or sexually abused by your partner. If your partner is overly dominating, controlling, critical or rejecting of you, this pattern may be passed on to other members of the family, such as your children.
  • If your children are being damaged by the emotional abuse between you and your partner.
  • If your partner is physically abusing you or threatening to do so.
  • If you have reached a point where you now have become physically abusive as well.
  • If you are fantasizing about ways to kill or harm your spouse.
  • If you are seriously questioning your sanity.
  • If it becomes clear to you that your partner has no respect for you at all.

Seek outside help immediately. Go to your supportive friends or family members, or an agency in your area that can help you get the help you need.

Learn how to prevent abuse in the future.Image

Ways to spot an abuser:

  • someone with poor impulse control
  • low self esteem
  • selfishness and narcissistic
  • being needy and demanding of your time, attention, etc.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or addiction
  • A history of abuse (either as an abuser, via his/her reputation among peers, or experienced it as a child growing up. Most kids who were abused grow up either as abusers or the abused.)
  • Any history of mental illness
  • If they exhibit anti social behavior, have a personality disorder.
  • Becomes agressive, demanding or abusive.
  • A need to feel powerful and in control.

Make a list oImagef what you will not tolerate in future relationships. For instance, “I won’t have a relationship that is not equal”, or “I won’t stay in a relationship if it becomes clear that it is all about him/her”, or “I won’t be in a relationship with someone who criticizes me,” or plainly and simply, “I won’t have a relationship with someone who hits me and does not have control of their anger.”

Make your list and set your limits. These will prove to be the boundaries you need to stand on and enforce when and if the time comes for you to have to confront the issue.

If you still wrestle with how to find safe and supportive relationships, circle back to a blog I did in my boundaries series a while back on identifying safe people if you have not already read it, or need a crash course reminder on the subject!

I hope that this information has been informative and beneficial to you, or as a tool to offer someone you know who is currently in an abusive relationship. Please tell them to read this blog and encourage them to seek outside help!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

 

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Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse is a major problem in today’s society, going far beyond domestic violence, sexual exploitation has become a major multi-billion dollar business exploiting and trafficking human lives to sexually gratify one person at the expense of another. Although, in the case of human trafficking, this gratification goes far beyond one person’s gratification, as a whole industry is gratified lucratively for monetary value at the expense of innocent lives sold into slavery to fulfill a greedy lust for power, money and sexual addiction, and perversion. Let’s face it, to pay for sex with an unwilling participant is cruel to say the least, but goes to prove that we have an incredible problem with sexual addiction in our culture. Only sexual addiction and lust for power and greed can ignore the humanity of another to gratify one’s own lust. The purpose of this blog is to discuss sexual abuse and not sexual addiction, so I will not go in depth on that particular subject, but I will say this much before moving on: sexual addiction is not even about sex. It is coping mechanism for early childhood boundary violations, or trauma, or to cope with a lack of nurturing. It is a ‘quick fix’ to deal with much deeper issues of isolation and emotional neglect, or other issues a child cannot figure out how to deal with that are traumatic in their life. It is a way to temporarily ‘feel better.’ it may even be caused by being sexually violated themselves in childhood.

So let’s take a look at domestic violations that seriously affect a child on into adulthood, often for the rest of their lives without divine intervention and intense healing to allow the consequences of the violation to be made whole.

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse, as it is a physical violation, involving a lot of shameful emotions. It is also a boundary violation, coming back to the series I did on boundaries, one of the boundaries that we have is physical, involving who can touch us and how. The problem with sexual abuse, especially in childhood, is that this boundary is completely disregarded, teaching the child that they do not actually ‘own’ this boundary, or the right to say ‘no’ to unwanted and inappropriate touch. Just like the out of control problem with sex in our culture I just mentioned, the same principles apply in domestic cases of sexual abuse. It is the same issue: one person exploited and taken advantage of for another’s sexual pleasure.

Children take in a lot of information and pick up on everything. They are very observant and can feel that something is inappropriate or ‘not quite right.’ But they lack the development to know what something healthy should look like if it is not modeled. The problem of sexual abuse is that suddenly a child becomes unsafe in their own home. They lose all ability to know what ‘safe’ should be. Sadly, this carries on into adulthood, and a recurrent pattern of sexual abuse continues throughout their life.

Some of the effects and consequence of sexual abuse that happen in the life of the one abused, is that they learn that they do not ‘own’ their own bodies, that they do not have the right to say ‘no.’ the same shame and secrecy and threats from childhood resonate deep within their spirit. Often the abuser threatens with ‘don’t tell anyone, or else’ messages. The child can grow up believing she must give herself away, and is not allowed to set limits on other people’s behavior, or that she is powerless to do anything about it, as she was powerless in childhood to her childhood abuser.
All sorts of confusion can arise. Everything from confusing sex with affection, nurture and intimacy or she may become rigid and avoid sex and fear affection believing affection will cause sex which has all kinds of negative experiences associated with it in her mind, because sex was not a mutually beneficial experience for her. Sex and affection are interpreted as ‘exploitation.’ Sex may not be seen by someone who has been abused and violated as something enjoyable and safe. It often involves fear or a resigned detached participation believing she is powerless against it, to the opposite extreme of offering her body willingly to anyone, in search of finding affection and nurture, but because these things were distorted from sexual abuse, she lacks the understanding of knowing what authentic nurture, affection and intimacy really are.

Other common effects are an inability to trust, ana an altered sense of impaired judgment to determine what is ‘safe’ from ‘unsafe’, unable to properly judge character, as this part of them has become shattered by previous abuse. Often we choose people to connect to very subjectively. We base it on who we feel a connection or sense of attraction to, or what “pulls us” toward someone. This in and of itself is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, but for one who has been abused, the sense of ‘familiarity’ is what draws a person to repeat abusive cycles. We are drawn to the familiar. We are also drawn to ‘complete’ our growth & development. If there is some unfinished business in the area of growing, we are attracted to what feels familiar in order to complete that growth. Unfortunately, attempting to complete that growth without awareness of what the unfilled need is, ‘pulls us in’ to cyclical patterns, doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different or better result. This is why those who have experienced abuse of any kind, need retraining in a sense. They need to understand a healthy set of boundaries to teach them how to be drawn to healthier relationships. This is because some of the basic tools for living were not taught or distorted in their early development. As I mentioned above, trust is one of those areas that becomes distorted from sexual abuse, the same applies to boundaries, and can also distort our decision making processes, (ie. being drawn to unhealthy people, inability to follow through with promises, inability to make decisions, or trust their decisions,) and it can also cause problems with planning and organization.

Other problems that result from sexual abuse are anxiety and stress disorders, depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, compulsive behaviors, rage, self mutilation, self hatred, problems with concentrating and much much more.

Some of the disruptions that take place for normal development involving any kind of abuse include a lack of predictability, sense or order, love, acceptance, nurture, safety and security, appropriate attention and healthy affection and recognition and appreciation for the talents and abilities and simply the God given sense of a healthy self esteem.

One thing I have not yet mentioned is why it is that once people are in an abusive relationship of any kind in adulthood, why it is that they often feel they cannot leave.

According to Dr.s Henry Cloud and John Townsend, PhD,

“our lack of connection is a big reason why we choose unsafe people. If we are not able to connect in an intimate way with others, then we will often pick people who are unable to connect as well. If someone is isolated inside, she will pick isolating relationships until she addresses her problem. Fear of abandonment fuels an ongoing isolating connection. Many times someone who is in a painful relationship should set strong… boundaries or cut off a relationship altogether for a time. But he fears being alone so much he can’t do it. Every time he thinks of standing up to the other person, or getting out of the relationship, he is overwhelmed by feelings of loss and aloneness, and he either avoids the difficult step to begin with, or he quickly caves in. Because he doesn’t have primary safe and supportive relationships, he would rather have the unsafe relationship than nothing at all. This all-or-nothing split keeps the isolation and abandonment going.”

Sexual abuse in childhood most often leads us to abusive relationships later in life. They may not always be sexually abusive, but the lack of a healthy understanding of one’s physical boundaries can lead to allowing yourself to put up with mistreatment of any kind. As well as the lack of connection and feelings of isolation keeping us locked in a relationship that involves mistreatment of any kind, due to a fear of being alone, disconnected and isolated. Any kind of abuse leads to all sorts of problems. Even if you were not sexually abused as a child, if you have undergone any other type of abusive interactions, these same principles apply, the same lack of understanding of boundaries, the same lack of connection that leads one to try and find some way to fill the void.

There is hope for recovery. There is hope for being totally restored, change can take place. Your patterns of being drawn to unsafe, unhealthy relationships can change as you begin to develop a stronger sense of your self worth, and an understanding of healthy boundaries. The more you begin to value these things, your values will change and you will begin to be drawn to others with the same healthy values. Like attracts like. There IS hope.

Stay tuned for next week as I touch on workplace bullying, and the following Friday as I close the series with learning some tools to break the cycle of abuse, and how to get out of unsafe, and unhealthy abusive relationships. How to know when and if there is hope for change in the relationship, or if you are simply staying for the reasons mentioned above: fear of abandonment.

As I have mentioned from my previous blogs on this sensitive subject, if you or someone you know is being abused, in the words of the song twenty seven million, “We’ve got to rise up, open our eyes up, be her voice, be her freedom, come and stand up!” Contact the appropriate authorities, Children’s aid, or the police, or whatever the situation calls for. Go to a shelter for battered women if you are a woman being abused. Seek help! If you are a mother or father who has a child coming to you telling you they are being abused, take them seriously, listen to them, stand up for them and don’t ignore it. Do not be passively involved in allowing it to continue. If you are not standing up for your child for fear of your own safety, you need to seek help for yourself as well. It is likely you too, are being abused in some form or another.

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

I would also like to mention on a closing note, that my coaching business, Freedom Life Love, supports the A-21 Campaign, an organization devoted to fighting against human trafficking and rescuing those sold into slavery, and helping to rehabilitate, restore and re-establish these victims back into society. I would also recommend downloading the song “Twenty seven million” by Matt Redman and LZ7 from iTunes on the subject of human trafficking, as the proceeds from your purchase of this song go towards rescuing these innocent children and youth from their exploiters.

Let us ‘rise up’ together, and be the voice, be the freedom, be part of the solution to the problem of abuse!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


Domestic violence happens in intimate relationships or marriage when one person tries to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence includes sexual abuse, but we will take a closer look at that subject on it’s own next Friday. Today, we will take a closer look at the aspect of Physical Abuse. For those just joining in, I am in the middle of a series on the subject of a abuse, and if you wish, you can take a look back at the preceding blogs including Emotional Abuse or Verbal Abuse.  I will discuss Sexual Abuse, Workplace Bullying, and finally, how to break the abuse cycle in the coming weeks.

Domestic violence is used for one purpose: Control. Total control. It takes place in the form of using fear, guilt, intimidation, shaming, put downs, manipulation, threats, and physical harm to wear you down until you submit to the total control, because you have become too tired of fighting it over time.

As I mentioned in my last blog, physical violence in a relationship often isn’t the first sign of abuse. You will likely see the signs of emotional and verbal abuse first, until it escalates to physical violence. Interestingly enough, although the purpose of the one who is abusing is to control and dominate, the very thing that occurs when his anger is aroused to the point of physical violence is the exact opposite – a lack of self control. Each one of us is called to be able to control our own reactions and interactions with others, and restrain our anger from physical and even verbal violence. Although it does not seem so at the time, (because anger is a powerful emotion, accompanied with a powerful sense of control), when a person loses the ability to control one’s own harmful actions towards another, they are out of control. Often physical violence happens for this reason. At the point the one abusing begins to feel they have lost control of the person they are trying to control, that is when the release of violent behavior takes place in an attempt to regain total control.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship, and we have addressed some of those over the past couple of weeks, but to simplify, if you feel a sense of ‘walking on eggshells, or an al or constant state of fear, unsure what you might do next to ‘set him off’, constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t say to avoid his wrath, you are likely involved in an unhealthy relationship. If you are belittled, or feel controlled, helpless desperate, or even a sense of self hatred, be careful… You may very well be in a toxic relationship.

Signs that you are in an abusive relationship:

Inner thoughts and feelings

Do you:
Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:
Humiliate or yell at you?
Criticize or put you down?
Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
Ignore you or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
See you as property or a sex object rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

Does your partner:
Have a bad and/or unpredictable temper?
Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
Force you to have sex?
Destroy your belongings?

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:
Act excessively jealous and possessive?
Control where you go or what you do?
Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
Limit your access to money, the phone or the car?
Constantly check up on you?

It is still abuse if…

The incidents of physical abuse seem minor compared to those you have read about, seen on tv, or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ form of physical abuse.

The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he/she will continue to physically assault you.

The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!

There has not been any physical violence. Many people are emotionally and verbally abused. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try and understand.

(See http://www.helpguide.orgfor more information on domestic violence).

Despite what I mentioned earlier regarding the abuser’s ‘loss of control’ about his/her physical responses, giving in to that ‘loss of control’ by becoming verbally or physically violent is actually a deliberate attempt to control or regain control. There are different perspectives on whether it is due to a loss of control or not. I feel that anyone who no longer takes the ownership of their behavior and allows themselves to respond out of rage and violence, is indeed ‘out of control.’ But I also believe that when we feel a loss of control and feel rage, what we are doing is trying to regain control by becoming violent. I believe we do not have to give in to our feelings and let them control us. We have a ‘choice’ as to how we react and CAN control our behavior. When we choose not to take ownership of our ‘out of control feelings’ we give in to the illusion that we are not responsible for our actions, and we are consciously choosing to become abusive, and yield to the rage we feel for feeling ‘out of control’ because someone is not doing what we want them to do, so we incite force to make them comply with our wishes. It is a very complicated matter and a fine line between control and out of control, involving cognitive distortions about what behaviors we believe we have control over and what we believe we are powerless over. No matter what we believe, we are each responsible for our own choices. Abusive behavior often comes from not taking ownership of your own thoughts, feelings and actions, and projecting ownership onto others. Engaging in abusive behavior IS A DELIBERATE CHOICE made by the abuser to control. I do not have time to thoroughly unpack the psychology of the abuser’s make up in this blog, but what I have written is a short summary of a more in depth discussion.

Let’s take a quick peek at the cycles involved in domestic violence:

To recap: the tactics used to exert power in a relationship include, domination, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

The Cycle Of Domestic Abuse:

Abuse – The abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The power play is designed to show you who is “boss”.

Guilt – after abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not about what he’s done. She’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing the consequences of her abusive behavior.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior – everything to avoid taking responsibility for his/her own actions.

“Normal Behavior” – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. The peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set up – Your abuser sets up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where she can justify abusing you.

The apologies and loving gestures in between abusive episodes make it difficult to leave. He may make you feel like you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, that he will truly change, and get counseling, and that he really does love you.

If you suspect somebody you know is being abused, look for these signs:

The person seems afraid of, or is anxious to please their partner.
They may go along with everything their partner says, not expressing any difference of opinion.
They seem to check in with their partner about everything they are doing.
They receive harassing phone calls from their partner.
They communicate to you about violent encounters, or talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy and possessiveness.

They may communicate re: excessive injuries that they have had an ‘accident’.
They may frequently miss school, work or social occasions without explanation.
Dress in clothing to disguise bruises or scars.

They may have very low self esteem, be restricted from seeing family and friends, rarely go out in public with their partner, be depressed, withdrawn, suicidal, anxious. They may have limited access to money, credit cards or the car.

Speak up if you suspect someone you know is being abused. Let that person know you care by expressing your concern. It may save their life!

If you are identifying with being abused, and feel your life is in immediate danger, seek help now! Call 911 if you are in danger of being physically assaulted imminently. Don’t wait! Seek help!

I will be discussing in a few weeks how to make the necessary steps to stop the abusive cycle and/or get out if necessary, but please don’t wait until then if you are in imminent danger! Call the police!

Stay tuned for next Friday’s blog on Sexual Abuse. Remember, no action is seen as agreement. If you know someone is being abused and you don’t speak up, you are silently agreeing that the abuser’s treatment of your friend is ok. You are unknowingly, but not deliberately participating in communicating that your friend does not deserve better treatment than the abuse they are putting up with. Say something. Remind them of how much they are worth. Their self esteem is low, you need to be the voice to rebuild their confidence and remind them what loving behavior looks like.

No one deserves to be abused! No one! We all have innate, God given worth. You ARE lovable! And worthy to be treated with love ad respect!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

————-

If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

Verbal Abuse


Today I am continuing my latest blog series on abuse in relationships. Last Friday I blogged about Emotional Abuse, this week, I hope to unpack verbal abuse a little, which is a sub heading under the broader concept of emotional abuse, because verbal abuse affects us emotionally as well.

Before I get started, I want to discuss some basic rights we should expect in any healthy relationship, all of which are violated in a verbally abusive relationship.

These basic rights include:

The right to goodwill from the other.
The right to emotional support.
The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.
The right to have your own view, even if your mate has a different view.
The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you find offensive.
The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business.
The right to live free from accusation and blame.
The right to live free from criticism and judgment.
The right to have your work and interests spoken of with respect.
The right to encouragement.
The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.
The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.

(Basic rights excerpt taken from The verbally abusive relationship by Patricia Evans)

Apart from the absence of the above list of items, how else can you tell That you have been verbally abused? Because verbal abuse is under the broader category of emotional abuse, many of the same factors play a part in verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is not only just someone raising their voice and yelling at you or calling you derogatory names, but can be much more subtle as well, involving sarcasm and criticism, put downs and manipulative, controlling speech, that if it has been a ‘norm’ for you all your life, can be hard to recognize and realize the difference between healthy interaction, and that which is abusive. You may think that verbal abuse is readily identifiable, but it can be very concealed, and the manipulation of it can even cause the one being verbally abused to feel as though they are the problem. Often times people don’t realize it is verbal abuse until it escalates and becomes more intense over time, or turns into physical abuse. Often, verbal abuse remains hidden and secretive from outside observation in the early stages of the abuse, often unnoticed by people outside of the relationship. They may even think the abuser is a wonderful person, because that is what is presented in the public eye, leaving the victim of the abuse isolated from outside support, and confused.

Here are some indicators that might suggest whether you are being verbally abused or not.

1. Does he seem irritated or angry with you frequently, even when you are not trying to upset him? 2. Does he tell you in some way that the way he feels is your fault?
3. Do you often wonder what’s wrong with you or why you feel so bad, but don’t know why?
4. Do you feel out of balance, caught off guard by her reactions?
5. Do you feel lost and aimless?
6. When you feel hurt and try to discuss your feelings with her, does she minimize your feelings, ignore them or refuse to talk about it, or outright blame you for something unrelated to what you are talking about to ‘knock you off course” to avoid taking responsibility for her actions?
7. Do you feel disconnected, isolated, confused, disoriented, or believe critical and condemning voices in your head that minimize and devalue your sense of self worth? Specifically messages of put down your partner has said repeatedly in the past?
8. Does he blow up at you and then pretend as if nothing ever happened, often seeming overly cheery later on without apologizing, or owning up to his behavior, as if nothing ever happened?
9. Does he apologize only when you are on the verge of leaving the relationship vowing he will change, but once you concede, he takes no initiative or action to correct his behavior and resumes his usual controlling and belittling behavior? Does he beg you not to leave?
10. You frequently feel frustrated, confused or perplexed by her responses when she doesn’t seem to understand your intentions?
11. She takes the opposite view on almost every opinion you have?
12. Do you feel like you are given double messages a lot? Ie. you express an opinion and the abuser takes the opposite position just to start an argument, or remain in a power position, only to hear the person agree with your opinion with someone else, and when you call them on it, they refuse to acknowledge it happened and blame you for making things up?

All of these things and more are indicators of verbal abuse.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that you are ‘not’ the things your partner accuses you of being because they are said so repetitively that over time you begin to believe the self-defeating messages. It may be hard to tell yourself:

I know that I am not critical.
I know that I am not competitive.
I know that I am not a bitch.
I know that I am not selfish.
I know that I am not ugly.
I know that I am not stupid.
I know that I am not always trying to start a fight, etc. because verbal abuse tends to diminish your self worth over time. So much so that you begin to believe it yourself and no longer need someone to tell you how worthless you are, because you believe it and tell that to yourself over and over. This is not beneficial nor helpful to anyone. You have innate value and worth and no one has the right to tell you otherwise or diminish your value. If someone has said these above messages to you, they are verbally abusing you.

If you believe you are being verbally abused, seek help immediately! It is likely to get worse not better. You need to get equipped with the right tools to help you not only build your self confidence and sense of self worth, but know how to address the behavior and require change to occur, and set limits on behavior that is abusive. If you feel fear about setting limits on abusive behavior, ask yourself why that is. What would happen if you set limits on the abusive behavior? Would you be physically assaulted? Would the abuse get worse? What is the reality of that fear? If you believe that you would not be ‘safe’, it may be time to break that relationship and get out, and seek counseling on how to break the addictive relationship cycle.

Stay tuned.. In a few weeks, I will have some answers on how to respond to the abusive cycle.
Next Friday I will blog about Physical Abuse. Stay tuned, as I will address how to break the abusive cycle in my blog on Friday May 25th. If you believe yourself to be in real and urgent danger, do not wait for my tips on breaking the cycle at the end of May, seek help immediately!

In the meantime, I hope and pray that you are not being verbally abused, and I pray for your safety and protection if you are, and for the strength to break the cycle and to build healthy patterns of relating to others, that you may enjoy real intimacy and respect within your relationships. Do not be deceived by the times the abuser is charming, and ‘intimate’. Real intimacy does not abuse. Real intimacy respects and cherishes the other always. Real intimacy involves the ‘basic rights in a relationship’ as mentioned at the beginning of this blog. If you are manipulated, if there are power plays, or control, aggressive and hostile speech and name calling, this is inappropriate in a relationship and harmful to the health of the relationship. The reality is, no relationship is perfect, and we all ‘lose it’ at times, or manipulate or control, but the question is whether it is habitual, the entirety of the relationship or is it as a result of a traumatic life experience that has brought harm to one or both members of the relationship, that is a mere season of the relationship, and when the trauma settles down, the relationship returns to a harmonious respectful flow, or is this anger and hostility a regular part of the relationship? I will eventually do a series on trauma as well, where I will unpack how trauma plays a role in changing our usual behavior, but for now, I am mentioning it only in reference to knowing how to identify between what is abuse, what is normal anger and what is happening due to a trauma induced life circumstance? A perfect example of how trauma can change one’s usual interactions I am taking from the newly released movie, “The Lucky One” with Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling. There is a scene in the movie when Logan (Zac Efron) comes back from the war, and is staying with his sister’s family, and his nephews come in the room to jump on him and startle him while he is asleep. But what happens is more than what they expected, and by the shocked reaction on his nephews face, you can tell that his reaction of jumping up and pinning hid nephew down on the bed in a choke hold is NOT Logan’s normal interaction with his nephews. This is an example of post traumatic stress disorder and how it affects someone’s usual interactions, and is not to be considered abusive. Being able to distinguish between normal and healthy anger in a relationship and abusive patterns, you may need some help to decipher that if you are unsure. I do not have enough time to get into that in today’s blog.

Remember, seek help if you feel you are in immediate danger!

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


Check out my life coaching website for more information!


Self compassion. What is it?

To understand this concept better, we must first understand the concept of self worth. For people who generally already have a pretty good sense of self esteem and who recognize that their worth does not come from something external, such as how you perform or whether you are accepted or rejected by the people you love, self compassion is a relatively easier concept to understand. These people have either taken in enough emotional object constancy from their formative years and taken in enough nurture and love from their parents at that crucial stage of development, that they have enough love within themselves to understand self compassion. Or, they have learned the tools to develop a positive sense of self esteem later on in life. And yes! Self-esteem can be taught, learned and appropriated!

It is for those who have come from a more traumatic background of neglect or abuse of any kind or who lacked the nurturing or a stable, consistent environment while growing up who will likely find this subject of most value. A stable consistent environment can include anything from receiving consistent messages of worth and value as a person, not by what you do or don’t do, but just for who you are, to having steady, consistent people in your life, to living in the same neighborhood, growing up with the same kids from your school to increase the sense of bondedness and connection. Kids who grow up with one parent who has several partners who come and go frequently lack the steadiness of knowing both parental figures will be there for them. When families move frequently to different cities, uprooting their kids and planting them in new schools every couple of years or so, even if it is necessary for work related reasons, the child learns to adapt, but not to feel a sense of consistency or attachment with peers, which is also essential for the stability necessary to build into a child a healthy sense of connectedness. Even those who grow up with healthy parenting can be affected by low self worth for a variety of reasons. No family is perfect, and you may miss out on one or two of the essential pieces necessary to build a strong sense of worth, as in the above examples. The nurturing may be there, but moving a lot can affect the child, or if the nurture is inconsistent, or a variety of other factors may affect one’s sense of self esteem. So the bottom lime is, everyone can benefit by understanding more about self worth and where it comes from. So let’s take a look at a simple definition of it, before we unpack how to build that self esteem by introducing self compassion.

Self esteem is a realistic and appreciative opinion of oneself. Realistic meaning an honest and accurate assessment of yourself. It involves having positive feelings toward the self. It involves the ability to know that you have worth regardless of external circumstances.

Trauma has a way of re-wiring the brain to de-rail one’s sense of worth. What then begins to happen is that a person begins subconsciously speaking negative messages to the self. “I am not lovable because I was abused” or “I can only be worth something if I perform well” or telling oneself messages like “I’m a failure.” “no one loves me.” “I’m worthless.” “It would be better if I were dead”, etc. These are a few examples of negative self talk. The more you listen to these subtle statements, the worse they become. A person can begin to self-sabotage themselves and give in to self pity, or reject love when it is offered by dismissing it with reasons and assumptions as to why it can’t be true that someone loves us. Why? Because we have re-programmed our brain to only listen to negative messages that we use as a wall to protect ourselves. That’s right! Pain can be a protector. So can anger and rage. Anger and rage turned inward on ourselves is deadly to self worth. The sad thing is, most of this is going on subconsciously as we go about our day to day life, battling depression, despair, or self hatred, not realizing where it stems from, due to a lack of mindfulness about what we are allowing our minds to dwell on. There is a lot of research on how our brains work, and in many studies revealing ways to by-pass the trauma centers of our brain to re-route as it were, by reformatting the messages the brain is taking in. I do not have the time to go into that further. But the point is, there is sufficient evidence that our brains can learn new messages. We do not have to stay in trauma forever!

The bible suggests that ‘ whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” Philippians 4:8 NIV

This is good advice and wise counsel. Buddhism and Psychology also offer good tools for paying attention to what we are thinking about, called Mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is the practice of skillfully managing our attention and awareness. Attention regulation leads directly to emotional regulation.”

” Mindfulness is…knowing what you are experiencing WHILE you are experiencing it. Moment to moment awareness. Paying attention to our stream of perceptions rather than our interpretations of them… It is both knowing where our mind is from moment to moment AND directing our attention in skillful ways.”

The above quotes are from the book “The Mindful path to Self Compassion” by Christopher K. Germer, PhD.

The bible discusses this concept as well when it instructs us to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Joyce Meyer teaches on this concept as well, to “think about what you’re thinking about” instead of carelessly allowing destructive thoughts to take up residence in your mind.

Before I get into self compassion, I must look at the flip side of the coin. There are those who dwell on pain and allow pain to be their protector. The same applies to self hatred. But, there is another aspect to take a quick look at. Studies show that the mind naturally wants to avoid distressful events and uses denial and all sorts of other coping mechanisms like projecting our distress on others, etc. The problem with this is that denial amplifies the problem. Seeking pleasure or addictions to numb pain are temporary fixes that inevitably make things worse for us later on.

“The ability to see things as they are, with acceptance, gets us through.” (taken from the book, the mindfulness of self compassion, Again.)

Suppression actually ends up becoming preoccupied by what is trying to be avoided, causing all sorts of anxiety, self hatred, depression, etc.

“New research suggests that establishing a new relationship with our thoughts and feelings, rather than directly challenging them, makes the difference. This new relationship is less avoidant, less entangled, more accepting, more compassionate and more aware. Leaning into our problems with open eyes and open hearts – with awareness and compassion – is the process by which we get relief…Resistance creates suffering. Acceptance alleviates it.” (The Mindfulness of self compassion)

Now acceptance is not embracing and feeding the negative emotions and coddling them and making them right at home where they can wreak havoc on our souls, but rather to take a look at what is happening in our emotions. I have had it explained to me to try and look at those problematic emotions as a cloud passing by in the sky. You watch it with interest, apply compassion, and allow it to move on.

“Self compassion is a form of acceptance. Whereas acceptance usually refers to what’s happening to us -accepting a feeling or a thought- self compassion is acceptance of ourselves while we are in pain… Self compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

“Mindfulness says ‘feel the pain’ and self compassion says ‘cherish yourself in the midst of the pain.'”

The bible, as does like every other religious teaching out there, the golden rule: To love others as you love yourself.

I invite you to practice kindness toward yourself. Give yourself grace for when you feel like you have failed at something. Every time you want to automatically criticize yourself, you are hurting yourself by engaging in self-sabotage. Some of you believe that is all you are worth. It is a lie in it’s ugliest form. We were all made in the image of God and are dearly loved by Him. We were all designed with dignity and incredible worth. My heart goes out to those of you who believe you aren’t worth much. My advice: If there are people who are contributing to this message of a lack of worth in you, that you separate yourself from them, at least for a time, to begin to practice self compassion and self worth, until you recognize that your value does not come from external validation, but that it is innate within you.

I could say SO much more on this subject… It is very near and dear to my heart. But I can only say so much in one blog.

Remember to think about what you are thinking about and extend kindness and compassion to yourself!

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Personal Development Program which will help you overcome this and other struggles such as depression, unhealthy thought patterns and so much more!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


Good afternoon bloggers! I’m late getting to my blog today, as I have been prepping for my interview with Khama Anku of Spiritual Physique, getting ready for the No Limits Tele-summit she is hosting next week live, that I have been asked to teach a tele-class on the subject of healthy boundary development & the 4 stages of boundary development.

This is such an exciting opportunity for me in my coaching career! So today, I simply want to promote the event as a way of sharing who I am and what I’m about with you, while encouraging you to check out my tele class airing live next week at: www.NoLimitsTeleSummit.com  !!!

As I was discussing the event today with Khama, we talked a little about my passion for coaching which I will share with you now.

I personally believe this is what I was made for! I have been coaching naturally my whole life! I have a passionate zeal to see others become who they were meant to be, to overcome the obstacles in their way and to reach their goals and dreams!

I want to see people develop and obtain their purpose in life and find their sense of destiny! I want to help people get past what holds them back from living life fully alive! My calling comes right out of Isaiah 61, to bind up the wounds of the broken, to set the captives free, and release from prison those who are captive – in the sense of being held back by things in their life hindering them from living life free and whole. I am meant to comfort the broken, and those who grieve, and provide beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of sorrow, healing for wounds that have crippled…

I want to see people live life in freedom, life and love!

 This is why I love coaching, because I am able to offer resources to people and walk with them through their journey to becoming whole!

So today, I want to invite you to check out my YouTube channel for my video announcing the upcoming Telesummit and what I will be discussing @ www.YouTube.com/user/ktmeilleur
I also encourage you to check out the site where the Telesummit will be featured at www.NoLimitsTelesummit.com  to sign up today for the event and check out my tele class next week!

You can also find the video on my website and if you want to check out who Khama Anku is and what she’s about, check out her website at www.spiritualphysique.com  for more info.

If after listening to my tele-class, you are interested in some coaching on the subject you can also visit my website and click the contact us button on the screen to connect with me there!

I am soooo excited about this event! It is such a great opportunity for me, and just had to share that with you today, just a little about one of my passions in life!

Can’t wait to connect with some of you after the Telesummit!

Katie Meilleur Live at the No Limits TeleSummit!

Hope you have a great day and wishing you a happy Easter Weekend!

God bless!

Codependency – What is it?


Are you codependent? Take this short quiz and see if you identify with codependency.

1. I am in a relationship with someone who is addicted to a substance or a behavior, or someone who is depressed.
2. I feel responsible for almost everybody and everything, but I feel guilty much of the time.
3. I can’t say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
4. I can accurately ‘read’ other people by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice.
5. I try very hard to please people, but I seldom measure up.
6. I feel that I have to protect people, especially the addicted or depressed person in my life.
7. I live in such a way that no one can say I’m selfish.
8. I vacillate between defending the irresponsible person and blowing up in anger at them.
9. I often relive situations and conversations to see if I can think of some way I could have done or spoken better.
10. I am overly frightened of angry people.
11. I am terribly offended by personal criticism.
12. To avoid feeling guilt and shame, I seldom stand up to people who disagree with me.
13. I tend to see people and situations as “all good” or “all bad”.
14. Though I try to please people, I often feel isolated and alone.
15. I trust people too much or not at all.
16. I often try to get people I love to change their attitudes and behavior.
17. I tend to believe the addicted or depressed person’s promises, even if he/she has broken countless promises before.
18. Sometimes I have a lot of energy to help people, but sometimes I feel drained, depressed and ambivalent.
19. I often give advice, even when it is not requested.
20. I tend to confuse love with pity, and I tend to love those who need me to rescue them from their problems.
21. I believe I can’t be happy unless others, especially the needy people in my life, are happy.
22. I am often a victim in strained and broken relationships.
23. I am defensive when someone points out my faults.
24. My thoughts are often consumed with the troubles and needs of the addicted or depressed person in my life.
25. I feel wonderful when I can fix other’s problems, but I feel terrible when I can’t.

If you answered yes to 5 or fewer statements, you have relatively healthy boundaries, confidence or wisdom in relationships.

If you answered yes to 6-12 statements, your life is shaped to a significant degree by the demands of needy people in your life. You feel responsible for the choices others make, and you try too hard to help them make the right ones.

If you answered yes to 13 or more statements, you have lost your sense of identity, and you are consumed by the problems of addicted or depressed person’s in your life. You have to take steps to get well whether that person does or not.

Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling and behaving towards others and ourselves. It is a learned behavior, and again, is one of those side effects of a lack of healthy boundaries in life. Codependent characteristics are demeaning and can cause pain, and the habits become self-destructive.

Some of the common characteristics of codependency are:

1. Care taking – This is where one feels as though they are responsible for other people’s thoughts, opinions, actions, choices, beliefs, well being, etc. If you feel like making a choice that would make someone unhappy with you, not only do you wrestle with codependency, but also enmeshment with another person, which I briefly discussed last Friday I believe.
If you feel compelled to solve another person’s problem, or feel anxiety, pity and guilt over other’s problem’s to the extent that you feel you need to be the one who has to rescue or ‘make it better for them’ at great expense to your own well being, you have adopted a care taking role in someone else’s life. Codependency and enmeshment often go hand in hand.
Do you try to please others instead of yourself? Try to anticipate their needs, feel safer when giving? Do you feel sad when you spend all your energy, resources, and life… giving to other people and feel like nobody ever gives to you? Do you feel bored or empty or worthless when you are NOT helping someone overcome a crisis, or a problem in life, or someone to help?

2. Low self-worth – codependents tend to come from troubled, dysfunctional families. They may deny that their family was/is dysfunctional – after all, if it’s all you knew, it WOULD feel ‘normal’. Do you blame yourself for everything – including taking responsibility for someone else’s displeasure with you or your choices? Are you afraid to make mistakes? Do you reject compliments or praise? Do you feel like you are not good enough? Do you fear rejection? Do you feel ashamed of who you are? Do you often tell yourself you can’t do anything right, or other self critical, self destructive, self hatred type of language? Do you think life is not worth living, or believe that good things will never happen? Do you try and prove that you are good enough for other people? Do you settle for being needed, and diminish your own needs?

3. Repression – Do you push aside your thoughts or feelings because of fear or guilt or to gain someone’s conditional approval that if you perform the way they want that maybe you will finally feel the acceptance you desperately need? I am here to say, if you are pushing yourself aside because someone does not approve of your choices, not only are you harming yourself, you are also accepting conditional acceptance, based on your performance, rather than on genuine, authentic acceptance, that loves you and accepts you regardless if your choices, values, or opinions are different than theirs. This is real love. Anything less than that is settling for enmeshment rather than intimacy, and it is not REAL love. You have great worth and value. Are you afraid to be yourself? Have you lost your sense of self because you have become enmeshed with someone else?

4. Obsession – Do you worry about the smallest things? Are you super careful with what you say and how you present yourself to others? Do you feel anxious and/or responsible for other people’s problems? Are you more concerned with other people’s problems while repressing your own needs and feelings? Do you focus all your energy on other people and their problems? Do you lose sleep over problems or other people’s behavior? Do you worry a lot? What are you worried about? Finding the answer to that might just be the root, or at least the door to understanding the root issue.

5. Dependency – Do you feel unhappy with yourself, or lack peace and contentment? Do you look for happiness outside of yourself, in other people or addictions? Do you find yourself latching on to whoever or whatever you think will provide happiness? Did you feel loved and approved of by your parents? Careful now, before you say yes. Was their love and approval based on how well you performed according to their standards? Ie. if you successfully made it through university or picked the career of their choice for you? Or did they still love and approve of you even if you made decisions different than what they would have chosen for you? Do you feel like you need people more than you want them, like you can’t make it without them? Do you find yourself worrying or wondering or constantly making assumptions about whether people love you or like you or not? Do you believe that people are never there for you?

6. Poor communication – Codependents frequently blame, coerce, beg, advise, don’t say what they mean, don’t mean what they say, don’t know what they mean, or how to communicate it. They tend to not ask for what they need, or ask indirectly, leaving it a guessing game for others to try and interpret their needs. They find it difficult to get to the point they are trying to make, gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect, try to say what they think people want to hear. This is where people pleasing comes into play here.

7. Lack of trust – codependents don’t trust themselves, don’t trust their feelings, decisions, or other people.

Many codependents feel very hurt, scared and angry, have weak boundaries, struggle with having allowed themselves to be controlled, and often try to control the outcome of events in their current life. They may struggle with denial, sex issues, be extremely over responsible, or become irresponsible. They may struggle with feeling close to people, or wrestle with depression, among many other symptoms of the same root we have been discussing for the past few weeks -poor boundary development. Many of these symptoms first emerge out of necessity to protect ourselves from harm, and because legitimate needs we had were not met. and
These methods tend to feel like safe coping mechanisms to try and meet our needs indirectly. We think… If I meet someone else’s needs, they will reciprocate and meet mine. But instead, what usually happens, is that they just continue to take what we offer, and do not give back what we are looking for and desperately in need of. We are taking responsibility for them, neglecting our own needs, something we each our responsible for. We need to become safe enough to ask for what we need. We need to take responsibility for our needs and getting them met, rather then expecting others to automatically know, or mind read to try and figure out what it is we need.

This is just to get you thinking. I may need to circle back to this subject at a later time more extensively, but for now, this is an introduction to codependency. The roots of which, stem from, as I mentioned before… Lack of healthy boundary development.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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How have you felt impacted by codependency?  What have you done that has helped break this cycle?  What resources can you share with the community that has helped you?  If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to identify and break codependency in your life!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


Good morning bloggers! In Toronto today, it’s a bit of a rainy day out, and definitely not as hot as the past few days! But despite the weather, I am feeling great! Heading out in an hour headed to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, for an inner healing training seminar. I hope to bring back some useful tools to offer to my coaching clients out of this conference! Exciting stuff! All that to say, this might be a shorter post than usual for me if I run out of time before I need to leave!! LOL!

Moving right into todays’ subject on Enmeshment vs Intimacy. Most people don’t really know the difference, due in large part likely because enmeshment is not a word we frequently use to describe the nature of our relationships with one another. Intimacy, on the other hand, has often been confused with sex, or lust alone. Going along with the subject we’ve been discussing for the past several weeks, regarding boundaries, this is one of those subjects I promised to delve deeper into. Looking back at my blog about our need for attachment and bondedness, this particular blog should help solve a few dilemmas for you in your thinking about parenting. Were you taught intimacy or enmeshment from your parents? That’s right. Intimacy does not necessarily mean SEX! You can be intimate with your friends, your parents, your partner without sexual involvement being the primary definition of intimacy.

Let’s define intimacy and enmeshment before we go any further:

Intimacy Knowing each other very well, understanding the other’s thought processes, and an awareness of differences and similarities in perspective, opinion, attitute, preference, ideals, values, beliefs, and goals. This intimacy includes the freedom to disagree with someone, to want something different than the other, and to have different needs. It also refers to the closeness desired in a committed relationship including physical and emotional intimacy. If you are looking at this from the perspective of a romantic relationship, this will also include sexual closeness.

Enmeshment is attempting to feel and think as if you were the same person as another. Since quite a bit of uniqeness is missed this way, neither person can really be known – a very different experience from intimacy. Eg. “I gave them so much I didn’t even have a self. And when I finally started developing a “me”, they fought me. They didn’t want me to change. They wanted me to go on living just for them.”              An enmeshed person is not known.                                                                                                    A single word that describes enmeshment well could be, “to entangle”.

If by reading this, you identify just a little, I encourage you to refelct on the definitions of intimacy and enmeshment and try to write down who you are, vs the persons you are intimate/enmeshed with. What are the differences? Are you the same? If you find that you are feeling entagled, enmeshed, like you don’t have a clear sense of self, try the following: Determind the differences between you and the persons you feel enmeshed with. Look at things like your differing strengths and weaknesses, talents, abilities and values that you have and that the other person has. this may help you distinguish the differences between you and them, helping you to identify a clear sense of your ‘true self’.

What do you do with your differences of opinion or your anger? Are you safe enough to express it? Intimacy comes from being ‘known’, and being known requires knowing yourself, having a self to know, and having a sense of your individuality and differences from another, and your valures and thoughts and desires, so that you have something separate to bring to the relationship, Even if you DO have a firm sense of self, intimacy should take time to develop as trust is earned and deepened. We all need to learn whether we are feeling judged or accepted in the relationship, knowing whether it is safe to be open with the other person and be loved for who we are, distinct, and separate, bonding, fully loved. Arguments will happen, communication takes time to work well, mistakes will occur. Clarity of communication needs to be developed. (For further info on communication, see my blog from a couple weeks ago on communication). Are you able to forgive and accept and support the differences in another?

Here is a definition from the free book I’m giving away soon entitled “Boundaries – Where you End and I Begin”, by Anne Katherine on healthy boundaries, and essentially, at the same time, the definition of what it takes to engage in intimacy rather than enmeshment in your relationships:

“So what’s the goal of a person who wants to be healthy? To form boundaries that have some flexibility and some definite limits, boundaries that move appropriately in response to situations – out for strangers, in for intimates. Boundaries should be distinct enough to preserve our individuality, yet open enough to admit new ideas and perspectives. They should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtlessness and the mean. Healthy boundaries protect without isolating, contain without imprisoning, and preserve identity while permitting external connections.”

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!  I have also created a Relationship Development Program which helps couples build towards a greater life together.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


As some of you know by reading previous blogs, I recently trained to become a certified relationship life coach, aligning my work with what my passion in life is. However, as life coaching is relatively a young profession, many people are still largely unaware of what life coaching IS exactly. What do I do? How do I coach people? And what is my specialty? What IS a life coach?
 
So the purpose of today’s blog is to give you a picture of what coaching looks like and what I specialize in.
 
If I were to define my mission statement, I would say that it is ‘to help people discover their life purpose and align their work with their true calling, in order to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, overcoming the obstacles and setbacks keeping them back from reaching their goals and dreams.
 
I would say that my coaching specialty is that I work with people who have trouble establishing and developing firm boundaries due to boundary development injuries. I coach people to develop a clearer sense of self and overcome traumatic past injuries by developing healthy limits and self worth.
 
What types of things do I coach on? Relationships, taking initiative, healthy boundary development, overcoming depression and anxiety and addictions, trauma, abuse and other boundary related violations.
My biography of what my coaching looks like reads somthing like this:
 
Biography

Do you have a relationship in trouble? Do you feel like your life doesn’t make sense and can’t figure out why? Do you feel like there is something holding you back in your life but don’t know what it is? Do you have a passion in life that is not being fulfilled? A goal or a dream you have not yet reached?
Working with me, you will turn that passion you have into a vision, that goal or dream into actionable steps to help you achieve it!
I will help you see that you already have what it takes to achieve your vision!!
What I can provide is a promise that you will develop a clearer sense of yourself and develop the confidence to meet and overcome the obstacles preventing you from achieving your goals. I will offer relationship tools and skill building concepts to assist you on your way.
Coaching helps you break through your limiting beliefs and self doubt. It unlocks the potential you already have and creates a structure of support and accountability.
As your personal coach, I will be your sounding board, a non-judgmental, objective partner whose goal is to help you realize your dreams. I will bring constructive feedback, motivation and intuition, all focused on helping you to accomplish more with your life and relationships, and be the best you can be.

As your coach I will:
-Encourage you to set goals that you truly want
-Ask you to do more than you may have done on your own
-Help you focus better in order to produce results more quickly
-Provide you with accountability, along with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more.

I have the ability to encourage, motivate and get excited for others reaching their dreams and personal potential. I am good at drawing out answers from people and to cause them to think in new and challenging ways, outside of the box, by asking questions. I am good at seeing what is beneath the surface, and able to see past the obstacles in people’s way, helping them reach for the stars! I believe I can help people who do not yet know what their purpose, goals or dreams are, and unlock and develop those areas, and help them discover who they were meant to be and what they were meant to pursue in liife.I am a caring person, loyal, committed and trustworthy, a good listener, and empathetic. I have excellent skills at understanding people, boundary issues, self-compassion, and mindfulness skills to offer as well as knowledge pertaining to such issues as abuse, codependency, understanding depression, addictions, and marriage/relationship building skills.
 
If you are still interested and are curious how I actually go about coaching my clients, below you will find my coaching methodology. That is to say, what you and I would actually accomplish together in our sessions if I were to coach you.
 
My Coaching Methodology
 
I use the successful conversion coaching process with my clients.
First, I help you identify your goals and dreams and what it might look like to live a balanced, healthy life, overcoming obstacles standing in your way to achieving the life you want to live. I offer powerful exercises that will help you gain clarity and a very specific picture of your ideal life. We accomplish this together by me helping you to unlock that picture as I help you become clear about what it is that you want.

Next, we identify three goals and action steps you can take right now to begin working towards your goals. Building on that, I help you create your ideal plan. The ideal plan includes specific discussion about the obstacles standing in your way. By evaluating and identifying your setbacks, we work together toward eliminating the things holding you back by looking at past and present contributing factors in your life that are causing fear, anxiety and other problematic symptoms in your life, while discussing and creating new habits, patterns and ways of being that will empower you to move forward.

Then I introduce key concepts, assessment tools, and exercises that will help progress you in a forward motion toward obtaining your goals of a healthier life, in ways of relating to others, and in your relationships, enabling you to move towards your life goals.

After that, we evaluate your sense of satisfaction with your progress and reassess your goals and action steps. I will offer accountability throughout our sessions together as you implement your goals and life plan.

Finally, through our work together, I will help you overcome challenges and setbacks as they arise, enabling you to move steadily forward towards a balanced and fulfilling life.

That about sums it up. This is who I am. This is who I have always been. I have always been passionate about seeing people become who they were meant to be, not restrained by the circumstances in life that have defined them, or the negative voices inside that they have chosen to believe, allowing themselves to live beneath their full potential. I have always wanted to unveil the secret reality… The cage you feel around you holding you back… it’s not really there. You were meant to be free.
 
My life calling is this:
 
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-4
 
To register now for your Complimentary Strategy Session, please visit my website.
 
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