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Laura Giles, LCSW

what does safety feel like

What Does Safety Feel Like?

If you grew up in a chaotic environment, you may not know what safety feels like. How do you cultivate something when you don't know what it is? It's like trying to describe chocolate to someone who has never smelled or tasted it. Nothing else comes close. It's something you have to experience to really get it, right? Here are some tips to get you there. A Calm Mind Depression is about focusing on the past. Anxiety is about highlighting the potential future. Safety isn't in either of those places. It's in this moment. If you are someone whose mind is always going, going, going, it may be hard to be here. So try this. Look at one thing that is within your view right now, or one thing that you're feeling...

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healing toxic shame

How to Heal Toxic Shame

Shame happens when we perceive we have done something wrong and someone else witnesses it. Instead of seeing the behavior is wrong, we believe that we are wrong, bad, defective, unworthy, or don't deserve love. Unlike guilt, shame requires a witness to exist. For example, if I believe that stealing is wrong and take something that doesn't belong to me, I will feel guilty. I won't feel shame unless and until someone knows I've stolen. Toxic shame puts us in shadow. We forget, if we ever knew, that we're creative, brilliant, worthy, amazing, daring, trustworthy, good, sexy people. Nothing can convince us otherwise because when we look out into the world, all we see is proof of our depravity. Stop the Crisis The first step to healing from anything is to...

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what causes toxic shame

What Causes Toxic Shame?

Sometimes I get clients who are really nice people, they seem honest, and really want to feel better, but they just don't budge. Almost always the underlying reason is toxic shame. They have a deep belief that they are bad, and they don't deserve to feel any better. That's utter nonsense. Everyone has a beautiful light inside. Sometimes we let poor choices overshadow it and we forget to let it shine. Or sometimes we grow up in invalidating environments and the people around us throw so much shade that we don't learn that it's there. Whatever the reason, we don't have to live with it. Every day is a new opportunity to have a different life. We just have to choose, then stay the course. Sometimes that's easier when we...

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Could You Be Carrying Toxic Shame?

I've never had any client come into my office saying, "I suffer from toxic shame." In fact, a lot of people don't know what it is or that it's a problem. They think of it as something "normal" or "not a big deal." Toxic shame can keep you from living a vibrant, healthy life. So let's take a look at it. Guilt Is Not The Same Thing as Shame Guilt is the unpleasant feeling that happens when you don't live up to your values or other people's expectations. For example, if I like being perceived as reliable, and I say that I will do something and don't do it, I may feel guilty about it. If I want my mother to think well of me, and I forget all about her birthday,...

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take responsibility

What Does “Take Responsibility For What’s Yours” Look Like?

In my previous post, I said that one way to reduce relationship friction is to take responsibility for what's yours. This is a part of having great boundaries and being effective. But what does this look like exactly? "Taking responsibility" means that you're taking charge of a situation and doing what needs to be done. It's very common for some people to play the Hero, Rescuer, or Mother role and do things for others or over give. "What's yours" means allowing others to fight their own battles, clean up their own messes, and do their own growing. If it's yours, own it. Everyone needs to grow up. It's natural. If you aren't taking responsibility for what's yours, you are short changing yourself of the benefits of your life experiences. Here...

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creating a truce

Creating a Truce for Stormy Relationships

If you are in a stormy relationship that you want to grow into a healthy one, it may be useful to call a truce. Here are some ground rules that you can consider adopting while in your truce so that you can function together while working things out. The guidelines are meant to create a space of safety and willingness to negotiate. If there is a little peace, perhaps all parties will be motivated to sustain it. So the goals are to refrain from creating more problems, don't stir up old problems, and build on the love that is the foundation of the relationship. The Don't List No blaming. Blaming is destructive and has no benefits. When you blame, you give all your power away and become a victim. Someone else...

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are you the one for me

Are You the One for Me?

When we meet someone new, we can ask ourselves, "Are you the one for me?" If you don't have a track record of happy relationships, it can be hard to know. Is there a checklist? Everyone has their own wish list for what they would like in a partner, but here are some things everyone can look at to rule someone in or out. I Feel Safe With You Safety is the most important emotional need that we all have. It's linked with survival. If we are not safe, we cannot thrive. Any situation that puts us in physical, emotional, or sexual danger is not healthy. Examples of physical safety are: are you in danger of being thrown out? Is your food restricted? Is your movement watched or restricted? Do you have...

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stuck

Five Reasons You’re Stuck (And What To Do About It)

Are you spinning your wheels? Can't get any traction to move on? Here are five reasons why that can help you get going again. Did You Feel Your Feelings? Sometimes people hit a rough patch and do the stiff upper lip thing. They pretend it didn't matter, it didn't hurt, and stuff it all inside. Maybe they even convince themselves that they have no feelings about it. Feelings want to move. They have to be expressed. When they are bottled up, it prevents us from feeling the hurt, but it also prevents us from feeling everything else. The only way to keep moving is to let yourself go through it. Feel it. Take your time. It will last as long as it lasts, but it does end. You may think you can't...

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how to express anger

How To Express Anger in Healthy Ways

Let's face it. Everybody gets angry sometimes. It's not a "bad" thing. It's a natural thing that alerts us when we feel our boundaries are being violated, we're not being seen or heard, or we sense that things are not fair. It's the juice that spurs us to action so we can make things right. When we express anger in healthy ways, it helps us to reach that goal. The problem is, anger has a bad rap. So many of us think that being angry is a sign that we're "bad" or out of control. Or maybe we're afraid to be angry because it will make other people not like us. Anger isn't the problem. Emotions are normal. However, the way that we express anger could be problematic. If our parents...

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