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Laura Giles, LCSW

emotional safety

Want to Connect? Do This.

A really common statement that I hear in my office when dealing with couples is, "When things get tough, all I need is for you to hold me." That's a request for emotional safety. So why is it so hard for our partners to do this? It's about safety. When you're in an argument with someone and you don't feel safe, the last thing you want to do is move into that discomfort. It's like violating your own feelings. This is true in non-romantic relationships too: parent/child, co-workers, friends, and communities. Remember being a kid and fighting with your brother? Your parents made you hug and say you're sorry? What about your anger? Your feelings? Don't they mean anything? When you are ignored, it's invalidating. When you're feeling like you're not...

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raised by wolves

The Hidden Pain of Not Having a Healthy Mother

Okay, I am not literally talking about being an orphan. What I mean by "not having a mother" is when your parents are physically or emotionally absent. Maybe you were a latchkey kid. Maybe you had a helicopter mom. This can happen if your mom was preoccupied with a sick child, parent, or spouse. If your parents were mentally ill, had substance abuse issues, were workaholics, or were children of dysfunctional families and just didn't know how to be healthy adults or parents, that could also qualify. I am surprised at how dismissive mainstream society is about the value of healthy parenting. I see so many people who were neglected who don't know they were neglected so they don't see how harmful that was. Some don't see their...

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resting bitch face

Is Resting Bitch Face (RBF) a Real Thing?

Do you have resting bitch face (RBF)? Don’t know what that is? Here are some symptoms:  people frequently ask you to smile morepeople think you’re angry or sad even when you’re notyour friends tell you that when they first saw you, they thought you were a bitchpictures of your face never look the way you feelpeople often ask what’s wrongwhen people get to know you, they remark about how pleasantly surprised they are to find you’re actually nicepeople avoid you “Resting” means that the face looks this way when the person is unprovoked. It’s an every day look. “Bitch” refers to the unapproachable, hostile interpretation of the facial expression. It can also be perceived as contemptuous or annoyed. Either way, it is not warm and welcoming. The overall effect is that viewers are...

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Tips for Handling Invalidating Comments

If you’re in an environment of disrespect, it can make it really hard for you to function. This is really stressful. There are some thing you can do to make it easier. Here are some tips for handling invalidating comments. Give responses that: reflect YOUR thoughts, feeling, and needsshow respect – both self-respect and respect for all other partiesacknowledge the feelings of others. These things will help to keep the situation from escalating. They also model effective communication skills. It could be that the person that you are speaking to comes from an invalidating environment and hasn’t learned how to speak in other ways. Your example will give them other choices. Other guidelines: ask for clarification if anything has the potential of being unclearif you jump to conclusions, err on the side of a positive assumptionstay away from...

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dealing with racism

How I Am Dealing With Racism

There is a push for business owners to make a public statement to proclaim how we are dealing with racism by working to change systemic racism, educating ourselves about how to not be racist, and changing policies to more make services and work opportunities available to minorities and the disadvantaged. So here is my statement. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- I don't really share my story because I'm private. It's not about me, and frankly, it's none of your business. So this is very uncomfortable for me. But when I was a child, other children used to ask me, "What are you?" I didn't understand the question. "What" is a word we use with objects. I would have thought it was obvious. "I'm a girl," I replied. "What are you?" I wasn't trying to be a wise ass....

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is PTSD incurable

Is PTSD Incurable?

I was recently slammed by a war veteran for saying that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be cured. He said I was irresponsible for giving the hope to the hopeless. Apparently someone – or maybe lots of someones – who treat soldiers is telling them that PTSD is incurable. Jeez. What a shame. I generally do not argue with colleagues. I am not the expert on everything. I don’t know everything. What works for one person may not work for another, and I respect that. However, when it comes to this, PLEASE STOP TELLING PEOPLE PTSD IS INCURABLE. It's damaging and just not true. Lack of Progress Probably Means You’ve Got an Ineffective Treatment or Ineffective Provider If you’re getting treatment for PTSD and are not getting symptom reduction, blame the treatment...

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destiny

Embrace Your Destiny

Everybody’s got tragedies. Everyone has greatness – some big and some small. Not all of us survive our tragedies as we can live our lives as victims. Not everyone reaches their greatness because we can get stuck in our stories. The way around this is to embrace your destiny. What’s your destiny? It’s whatever is happening to you. What?! Isn’t your destiny supposed to be something worthwhile and grand? What if what’s happening right now is mediocrity, being a war refugee, or failed writer? Is that your destiny? Yes, your destiny is whatever is happening to you right now. The only way forward is to accept that. So let’s say that you never knew your mother. Your father is a raging alcoholic, and because of his absentee parenting, you did a lot of ineffective things...

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rape

Arousal, Orgasm, and Rape

Psst! I have a confession to make that I think everyone needs to hear. I am really embarrassed to admit that I worked as a domestic violence advocate and rape crisis counselor for a while without knowing that a rape survivor could experience arousal and orgasm. Yep! That was shamefully left out of my training. I learned it from a more seasoned colleague. I am taking the time to tell you this because I am not sure how many other professionals and survivors still don’t know this. When I have a really tough case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to sexual assault, arousal and/or orgasm is almost always a factor. It’s usually because the victim can’t face the shame of lubricating, feeling aroused or experiencing an orgasm. It can...

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wrong diagnosis

Can’t Get Better? Maybe It’s the Wrong Diagnosis and Wrong Treatment.

I’m not a big believer in labels. I think that people live up to their labels. Most labels we give each other and ourselves aren’t very empowering, so I don’t like putting people in negative boxes. But even a stopped watch is right twice a day, and sometimes having a label is a good thing. Like when you’re diagnosing a mental illness. The wrong diagnosis leads to the wrong treatment. One of the most misdiagnosed mental illnesses is borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD tend to be viewed as difficult. So, when I was an intern, I got a lot of the BPD clients because many people don’t want to work with them. Fortunately for me, I like difficult people! Give me a challenge! Because I’ve worked with BPD a long time,...

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functional wounded child

Are You a Functional Wounded Child?

What’s a functional wounded child, you say? Well, have you heard of a functional alcoholic? This is a person who is addicted to alcohol but is able to hide it by appearing to be able to do what needs to be done in life. A functional wounded child is much the same. This person may have a job, a relationship, and even be really successful. He just habitually acts from a place of woundedness. This keeps him from being as Effective, connected, or happy as he could be because his lens is clouded by pain. So, you don’t have to be disabled or struggling to be in your Wounded Child energy. You could be a functional Wounded Child. A Look at the Inner Child To put this into perspective, let’s take a...

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