Self-Sabotage to Self-Love-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Understanding Self-Sabotage

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Have you ever started a new exercise routine, a new diet, or tried to change your spending habits only to have your good intentions backfire? It is painful when we know what we want for ourselves but can’t make or sustain the changes that would create a healthier or more successful life.

“Read on to learn 7 common roots of self-sabotage and 8 tools everyone should know to enhance your health, relationships, and work success…”
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Emotional Intelligence and the Biology of Behavior-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Why Emotional Intelligence?

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It is easy to get caught up in negative thinking, misinterpreting our emotions, cut off from our intuition; all of which can lead to painful consequences. As a clinical psychologist, I am an enthusiastic supporter of emotional intelligence. This post focuses on building your emotional intelligence as a skillset that helps you:

  • Improve your quality of life
  • Enhance your relationships
  • Reduce your stress
  • Develop efficiency in decision making
  • Improve functioning in your workplace

“This post breaks down the biological underpinnings involved with emotion and perception. Learn five strategies to building your emotional intelligence…”
-Dr. Schwartz

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The Neurobiology of Transgenerational Trauma-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The Trauma Legacy

Unresolved trauma can disrupt your life

I was once asked to describe the genetic component of transgenerational trauma. The question posed was: If my parents had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) does this increase my likelihood of having it too? This question stopped me in my tracks and I have been exploring this concept as it applies to psychotherapy ever since.

The development and expression of PTSD is complex and involves not only being exposed to a traumatic event but also your perception of it, the amount of current support, existence of previous traumatic events, your early family life, and biological factors that shape how you adapt.

“Research is suggesting that unresolved PTSD can facilitate lasting physiological changes and that these modifications can be passed on to the next generation.”
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Medications and the Mismanagement of PTSD

Psychotherapy vs. Medication

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Large scale, long term studies reveal that psychotherapy is as effective as medications, lasts longer than drug treatments, and avoids the harmful side effects. Despite growing evidence for the efficacy of psychotherapy, the use of therapy has decreased in the last decade while the use of medications has been on the rise (APA, 2012). This is due in part to the billions of dollars allocated to “direct to consumer” advertising by pharmaceutical companies. Psychotherapy simply can’t compete for marketing airtime and the results are misleading to those suffering with mental health conditions.

“We are all vulnerable when we experience anxiety, panic, or despair and in these times we are especially dependent upon the experts around us to provide sound medical and psychological care.”
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Trauma and Resilience-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Resilience as Path

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Did you know that only 8% of individuals exposed to trauma develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Most people respond with resilience and some report feeling stronger or having grown in some way in response to the traumatic event. PTSD develops when your natural adaptive capacity to respond to a traumatic event isn’t accessible. This can leave you feeling stuck, panicked, or hopeless. If this is you, it is not your fault and you have not failed. There are a variety of reasons why some people are more susceptible to PTSD.  These include lack of relational support systems, genetics, intensity of the experience, duration of exposure, and early life experiences. However, with sufficient support most people do recover from PTSD.

“Resilience involves practices that you can actively engage in to strengthen your likelihood of recovery from trauma.”
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Resilience-Informed Parenting-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Transformational Parenting

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Our family just returned from 10 days in the wilderness. With our 9 and 11 year olds, my husband and I hiked over 40 miles, shared one small tent, told stories, sang songs, and pressed the reset button for our family. Musings on Resilience-Informed-Parenting through the lens of a summer vacation.

“What in your life gives you the space you need to reflect on the abundance around you? In what ways can you allow yourself to be nourished by what you have rather than focus on what is missing?”
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How Relationships Change your Brain – Heal Attachment | Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Relationships, Loss, and Vulnerability

Depresses woman EMDR

One of the common reasons that clients come into therapy is the experience of pain associated with the loss of an important relationship; such as the ending of a marriage, the death of a family member, or repeated feelings rejection and abandonment. Relational losses are universal and they can leave us feeling vulnerable and destabilized. However, your brain may have the capacity to be “re-wired” through connection.

“Neuroplasticity points toward our potential to be changed by relationships throughout our lifespan. Healthy relationships allow us to shape and be shaped in the directions that most serve us.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz Continue reading

Polyvagal Theory Helps Unlock Symptoms of PTSD-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Getting Unstuck from PTSD

Polyvagal theory Dr. Arielle Schwartz

One of the painful repercussions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the experience of a lack of control that can occur when you feel trapped by feelings of anxiety, panic, overwhelm, or despair.  Polyvagal theory, the work of Stephen Porges, Ph.D., offers a valuable framework for understanding and effectively responding to the intense emotional and physiological symptoms of PTSD.

“Healing the nervous system can take time and requires patience. Put the polyvagal theory into action in you life to increase your sense of freedom in body and mind” -Dr. Arielle Schwartz Continue reading

Stress, PTSD, and your Health-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Trauma and Your Health

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The connections between unresolved trauma and the immune system provide insight into a wide array of medical symptoms. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are meant to work in a rhythmic alternation that supports healthy digestion, sleep, and immune system functioning. However, chronic stress and unresolved trauma interfere with the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. As a result, unresolved PTSD takes a significant toll on physical health.

“This post takes a closer look at the relationship between stress, trauma, and your health. Developing an understanding of how your body responds chronic PTSD can help you to feel empowered to take a greater role in your health care. When you are informed about your body and mind you attend to challenges of chronic illness with greater success.”
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Embrace Your Shadow-Unlock your Creativity

Shadow Integration

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We all have parts of ourselves that are split off, hidden, or denied.  Living in the world cut-off from these parts can leave us feeling empty, as if we are going through the motions of our lives rather than fully living. However, turning towards the “shadow”, a term first introduced by Carl Jung to describe these repressed parts of the self, allows us to feel more grounded, real, and whole.  Just like the lotus that roots in the mud, we access our shadow to unlock our creative energy.

Why Embrace the Shadow?

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It takes a lot of energy to compartmentalize our disowned parts and it feels good to think of ourselves as strong, beautiful, and smart. However, we generally hold equal amounts of fear that we will be seen as weak, ugly, or stupid. In truth, neither the light nor the dark alone comprise our wholeness. The need to be “right” also leaves us at risk of getting stuck in comparison and in dichotomies of right-wrong and good-bad. Rather than being black or white, the shadow lives in the grey and softens the boundaries between “me” and “not me.” Here’s a common theme:

I was working with a woman who was speaking vehemently about her ex-husband and how controlling and selfish he was. We deepened this opportunity to explore her shadow as mirrored in her relationship. She revealed that felt tentative about taking up space and grieved events of her childhood when she felt powerless and resigned. She expressed the rage that had been suppressed behind her need to be “nice” and realized that her choice to marry her ex-husband was aligned with the part of her who felt safe staying small. As her process drew to completion she described feeling a deep sense of compassion for herself and even for her ex-husband. She described an experience of freedom and possibility that had previously been unknown. While there remained some fear about whether she could sustain this expansion she was willing to take the risk and committed to listen to that quiet voice inside that had so long been discounted.

Shadow as Access to Creativity

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Attending to the shadow not only illuminates the darker parts of our personality but also gives us access to the disowned positive parts that we find too risky to bring out into the world. New possibilities awaken when working with the shadow. Now rather than “either-or” polarities we have access to a “both-and” reality. So an opposition of rage and niceness, for example, are no longer mutually exclusive contradictions. The energy that was previously expended towards managing the disowned self is now available and can be applied towards your creative endeavors.

Psychotherapy and Shadow Process

One of the tricky parts about working with the shadow is that we generally cannot see it! This is where working with a psychotherapist comes in as an external witness to help you gain insight into the unknown parts of yourself. The initial phase of integrating the shadow can be very vulnerable, uncomfortable, and can even feel shameful.  We often need some coaching and encouragement at the edge because is it seems easier to turn away. By holding a safe place for curiosity and mindful exploration we can lean into the uncomfortable edges together.

Further Reading:

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Dr. Arielle Schwartz Complex PTSD, EMDR Therapy, Somatic Psychology

 

Dr. Arielle Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist, wife, and mother in Boulder, CO. She offers trainings for therapists, maintains a private practice, and has passions for the outdoors, yoga, and writing. Dr. Schwartz is the author of The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole. She is the developer of Resilience-Informed Therapy which applies research on trauma recovery to form a strength-based, trauma treatment model that includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), somatic (body-centered) psychology and time-tested relational psychotherapy. Like Dr. Arielle Schwartz on Facebook, follow her on Linkedin and sign up for email updates to stay up to date with all her posts.