Re-posting this from last year - seems a lot of us are currently having to deal with abusive people who live in a strange 'mirror world' where they accuse everyone else of being the problem. Here's a little background, to help you understand what's really going on - taken from my series of posts on C-PTSD.
I just wanted to talk a little about the phenomenon of ‘projection’, which will help you understand one of the most puzzling aspects of dealing with emotionally-disturbed individuals.
On some level or another, emotional disturbance occurs when a person isn’t acknowledging the truth of who they really are, how they really behave, and what they really think.
Now, this characterizes all of us from time to time. All of us have things we’re in denial about, or facets of our personalities that we’d rather not acknowledge, or things we do that we try to play down or minimize. That’s human nature.
The more emotionally and spiritually ‘transparent’ we are, the better our emotional and mental health usually is - and vice versa. By the time you get into the murky area of things like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Anti-social Behavior Disorder (AsBD), Disassociative Identity Disorder and schizophrenia, for example, that healthy ‘transparency’ has become so opaque it’s literally led to a breakdown in the affected person’s grasp of reality.
When a person can’t honestly accept and acknowledge facets of their own personalities, thoughts and behaviours, they start PROJECTING these things on to other people - which can be completely head-wrecking, until you understand what’s really happening
Here’s an example: a restaurant in Hawaii put up a notice saying no “Trump fascists” would be served on its premises. That restaurant owner is acting in precisely the ‘fascist’ way they’re accusing Trump supporters of doing - which is classic projection.
Multi-billionaire George Soros accusing Trump of being a ‘wannabe dictator’ is also a classic case of projection. Now, I’m not saying that projection and emotional disturbance only happens by liberals and left-wingers, because it’s a problem that crops up all over the place. But what I have noticed is that there an awful lot of ‘projection’ stories hitting the headlines in the wake of Trump’s win, as one emotionally-disturbed celeb after another is using Trump’s win to vent their own emotional issues.
Of course, projection also happens much closer to home, too. If you want to know what an emotionally-ill person really thinks about themselves, pay close attention to all the insults and put-downs they start shooting your way, especially those that are completely off the mark, seem completely out of context or are just plain bizarre.
Say, you’re a gourmet chef and someone starts ranting at you that you couldn’t even make a decent piece of toast. The chances of that statement being true about a gourmet chef are practically nil, so you know you’re dealing with a pure piece of projection. But the projection can be much harder to spot if you’re being accused of a problem you really do have yourself.
For example, if you’re being accused of not doing enough ‘soul-searching’ by someone with zero interest in spiritual issues, that’s obviously projection, but it could also still have a crumb of truth in it. Some effort will need to be made to figure out how much of that statement is pure projection, and how much is actually relevant.
Another point to make about projection is that whatever we’re accusing other of doing (at least directly, to their faces) is nearly always an indication of something we ourselves need to work on.
The more I’ve been trying to work through my own issues like arrogance and anger, for example, the less those traits are disturbing me when I see them in others, and the less likely I am to comment on them in a critical way.
God created the whole world as one big mirror, to show us what we ourselves need to work on and fix. Any trait or behavior you see in someone else that hits a nerve is something you yourself need to deal with, and work on. If it’s not agitating you, it’s not your problem in the same way, even if it’s still objectively nasty, bad and mean behavior.
You could write a whole book on this subject, but I’ll stop there.
In the meantime, here’s some rough rules of thumb for dealing with projection:
I personally now almost enjoy my abusive correspondence (almost….) as each fresh batch of emails gives me a clearer picture of my emotionally-disturbed correspondant's state of mind, which is sometimes even entertaining (almost…)
The last thing to say about projection is that God is still hiding messages for us inside all the projected statements from the emotionally-disturbed people we know, but it’s very rarely the ‘face value’ message of what we’re being told.
Once you’ve been in the ‘alternative health’ game for a while, you start to realize that a lot of what passes as ‘healthy’ eating is actually an eating disorder in disguise.
It can be so very difficult to spot this, especially initially, because deep down we all know that at least on some basic level, we are what we eat, and the more fruit and veg we can get down us, and the more whole grains we knock back, and the more ice-cream, margarine and jelly beans we avoid, the better it’s probably going to be for us, health-wise.
BUT - there’s a line that’s so easily crossed when ‘eating healthy’ actually turns into ‘eating disordered’, and in this post, I want to try to pin down where that line actually is.
THE FIRST RED FLAG: EVERYTHING IS BOILED DOWN TO FOOD
One big red flag is when the ‘healthy eating’ person starts to bring all their problems and issues - and everyone else’s problems and issues back down to food. Got a headache? It’s a food issue. Feeling sad, anxious or upset about something? It’s a food issue. Having serious relationship difficulties with your parents, spouse or kids? Man, you just need to eat more seaweed and steer clear of red meat!!!
And so on and so forth, until the whole awesome complexity of being a sentient human being with a spiritual dimension and a highly complicated inner emotional world is boiled down to how much gluten or sugar you’re consuming.
Sadly, this is something that I see SO OFTEN in the ‘healthy eating’ world, and amongst the ‘healthy eating’ experts out there that is pretty much passes as standard, normal behavior. And that’s such a shame, because people are rarely so black and white, and even when food is a major component in their issues, it’s hardly ever the only thing contributing to their problems or difficulties.
People typically eat junk when they feel overwhelmed by life, and when their self-destructive emotional and spiritual impulses are running the show. But here’s the thing: simply switching the diet over to wholefoods / raw foods / gluten free / sugar free / macrobiotic / whatever the fad of the month is doesn’t solve the underlying emotional and spiritual issues.
Over time, it can surely ameliorate them, and begin the process of moving to a much healthier overall mindset and approach to life which puts a proper emphasis on looking after the self, and dealing with cause and effect, but food is not the whole answer.
So that’s the first way you can tell if ‘eating healthy’ has morphed into ‘eating disordered’, when absolutely everything in the world is brought down to food, or the particular diet etc that the person happens to be following.
THE SECOND RED FLAG: A RIGID, JUDGMENTAL AND CONTROLLING ATTITUDE
Another key sign that ‘eating healthy’ has become ‘eating disordered’ is when the healthy eater starts to adopt an extremely rigid, judgmental and even controlling attitude towards people in their orbit that aren’t eating healthy, according to them.
Again, this is unfortunately such normal ‘standard’ behavior in the alternative health world that it’s completely off most people’s radars. But to call a spade a spade, when people start getting all uppity about other people’s ‘lack of self-control’ that they don’t just eat kale for lunch, or jog five miles before breakfast, or contort themselves into all sorts of ‘relaxing’ poses for three hours a day, that’s another big flashing neon sign that ‘eating healthy’ has become ‘eating disordered’.
Rigid thinking is one of the key signs mental health professionals look for when diagnosing serious issues including personality disorders, etc. The more ‘rigid’ a person is, the more controlling they are, the less flexibility or ‘give’ there is in their routine, their thought processes, their ability to roll with the punches and react to ever-changing external circumstances, the bigger the problem.
Again, let’s remember that so many people only eat unhealthily in the first place due to underlying emotional and spiritual issues that aren’t being properly acknowledged and addressed.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to ‘flip’ these issues into a rigid, intolerant and judgmental approach to food and life that’s anything but really healthy.
THE THIRD RED FLAG: THEY'RE ANGRY, MISERABLE AND STRESSED!
The last telltale sign that ‘eating healthy’ is really actually ‘eating disordered’ is the person’s own mood. Invariably, when people are truly ‘eating healthy’ in a balanced, truly useful way, they feel great, they feel happy, they exude calm and joy, and they tend to be pretty laid back individuals that are easy to get on with and be around.
By contrast, when someone is ‘eating disordered’ then they’re usually full of repressed (and not so repressed…) anger, prickliness and intolerance. They tend to be wound very tight, on the ‘mega stressed’ end of the relaxation scale, and to be very hard to be around or really get on with, for any length of time, not least because they often put the burden of their own incredibly high expectations (and diet prep…) on to you.
These are the people who will tut disapprovingly when they see you holding the Starbucks paper cup, or who have to tell you how many ‘bad’ calories are in that muffin you’re eating, or who encourage you / nag you to eat different, or exercise better, or fast more ALL THE TIME!!!
No conversation can pass that doesn’t have some reference to food, and if you’re not eating disordered yourself, that usually makes for a pretty annoying, stressful and aggravating exchange of ideas.
So, to sum up: if someone isn’t glowing with joy, if they’re a martinet about food, or hyper-anxious about everything they’re eating, if they can’t go with the flow and keep feeling the need to bring up their food (figuratively speaking…) every chance they get, and to lecture people about their diets - the chances are very high that they are eating DISORDERED, not eating healthy.
Whatever they’re actually claiming or telling you about their AMAZING!!! eating habits.
We're covering a lot of ground pretty fast with these posts, so I decided to 'sum up' most of what we've learnt so far about C-PTSD before we continue discussing how you can know if you're affected, and most importantly of all, what to do about it all!
Even just having the knowledge that you're not 'crazy' or 'bad', and actually are just very traumatised by your life experiences makes an enormous difference to the way you start to relate to yourself and your 'issues'.
The key here is to crank the self-compassion to the max, because self-compassion is really the key to starting to heal from C-PTSD. Try to see yourself through God's eyes, and know that the 'real' you is actually only good and kind, and really wants to build the world anyway it can.
Once you start to get a handle on how your C-PTSD is preventing you from accessing and expressing the 'real' you, you just came a huge step closer to getting out of C-PTSD prison...
the one minute definition of c-ptsd:
C-PTSD is a severe form of PTSD that is characterised by the following five things:
• Emotional flashbacks
• Toxic shame
• Vicious ‘inner critic’
• Social anxiety
In contrast with ‘regular’ PTSD, the flashbacks most sufferers of C-PTSD are NOT visual, but are usually a regression to an overwhelming state of mind or feeling state from childhood.
See HERE for a post on how to tame the 'inner critic'.
The most common types of emotional flashback in C-PTSD are overwhelming feelings of:
Emotional flashbacks occur on gradient. Some can literally paralyse the C-PTSD person on the spot, while others will be experienced as a more ‘low grade’ sense of being lost, worthless, anxious, or ‘down’.
FLASHBACKS AND FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT
Emotional flashbacks usually trigger the fight-flight-freeze-fawn stress response, causing a person to snap instantly into ‘danger’ mode, where their either experience hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) - (fight of flight) or in more ‘overwhelming’ cases, move straight to the exaggerated parasympathetic response of FREEZE.
(Fawn fits somewhere between the two, with the ‘fawning’ of a flattery-prone personality attempting to forestall danger by appeasing it, in any way possible.)
See HERE for more about fight-or-flight, and to start figuring out which 'reaction' you tend to most have to stress.
FEAR FLASHBACKS CAN LEAVE YOU FEELING:
DESPAIR FLASHBACKS CAN LEAVE YOU FEELING:
• Don’t exist
TOXIC SHAME FLASHBACKS CAN LEAVE YOU FEELING:
• Can’t do anything right
‘ALONE’ FLASHBACKS CAN LEAVE YOU FEELING:
While there is often a ‘primary’ feeling underlying an emotional flashback, each flashback usually contains a mixture of shame, fear, depression and ‘aloneness’.
See HERE - for how to stop emotional flashbacks in their tracks.
Sensible accountability, along with healthy compassion and balanced kindnesses, is one of the three pillars of emotional health. If your accountability is skewed, it's going to cause you a whole load of problems, all over the place.
Either, you'll feel bad and guilty too much of the time, or at the other extreme, you'll be completely oblivious to the mistakes you make, and the harm and pain you might be causing other people.
Clearly, neither of these is ideal. The good news is, there's lots of things you can do PRACTICALLY to start solving this problem in your own, actual, real life.
One of the first, and most crucial bits of internal work is to recognise the difference between healthy shame - the kind that gets you to own up to the bad things you might be doing, and to make amends - and toxic shame.
The best definition I've come across is this:
Healthy shame is where you feel like you made a mistake. Toxic shame is where you feel like YOU ARE THE MISTAKE.
For those lucky people who have never experienced toxic shame, it's almost impossible to describe. The best I can do is say that you feel like your soul is being murderered, and you can't bear to be in your own skin. You feel so disgustingly, horribly bad about yourself, that you start wishing the ground would open up and swallow you.
Toxic shame is such a terrible feeling, that many people will go to any length to try and get away from it, including turning to substances, alcohol and other addictions. Other people switch off their feelings and go numb - which is probably one of the big things contributing to a whole bunch of mental health issues, including personality disorders like narcissism, where the narcissist can't accept they're ever wrong about anything, or less than perfect.
Ok, so far so good. Now, what do you actually DO about it? How do you get the toxic shame out of your system, and the healthy shame that stops you turning into a sociopath to flourish?
These are the basics (I go into a lot more detail in the Talk to God and Fix Your Health course, but even this stuff can start helping you big time, without you having to spend a cent):
1) Recognise the problem: You have a 'toxic shame' button that you need to defuse. (If you're not sure if this is you, go back to the definition, above, and see if you feel like you make mistakes, or that you ARE the mistake.)
2) Get God involved: Talk to Him for at least a minute every single day, and ask Him to help you stop feeling so bad about yourself.
3) Stay away from people who routinely blame you, criticise you, mock you and guilt you - you can't clean out toxic shame if it's still being shovelled into you by negative people in your environment. (Btw: the reason they do this is because they, themselves, have a lot of toxic shame. If they don't make you feel bad, then they're going to feel bad, so of course they're going to through you under the bus every single time, to save their own skins.)
4) Work with your relevant meridians, to defuse the trapped feelings of guilt, self-hatred and toxic shame that have got stuck in your energy system. If you're dealing with toxic shame, you should definitely work on your liver meridian, and your kidney meridian. (God-willing, I'll have the free ebook telling you how to work your meridian energy ready very soon. After five months of waiting, I had to fire my Indian illustrator, and find someone else to do it…)
If you work across these problems on the mind, body and soul level, they do free up, they do disappear, and they stay away for good.