Ask Zoe: What is PTSD and How Do You Work with It?

Jeanine recently asked, “What is PTSD and how do you work with it?

healing-stress-healing-traumaWhen most of us experience a threatening, scary or painful event, our energy systems and nervous systems are zapped and, almost inevitably, emotional and/or physical symptoms automatically begin. Usually, they don’t subside until we do specific work to alleviate them. The complex of emotional and physical symptoms that start happening after one of these scary, threatening or painful events is called PTSD—Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been trained in various ways of working with PTSD symptoms: Process Work, a trauma method similar to Somatic Experiencing and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). In my over 25 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, I’ve found EFT to be the most effective, by far, in resolving the emotional pain that often follows painful experiences and painful childhood family patterns–in other words, PTSD. So that’s how I work with it. PTSD creates a painful “charge” in the nervous system. Clients often find that, where before they would be overwhelmed by emotional pain and even physical pain, after a short time using EFT, when they think  about a traumatic incident or painful family pattern, it’s like it’s far away or like watching a movie.  There’s no painful emotion attached to it anymore. They also find that their lives and relationships become much freer, too.

If you’d like to know more, read my past blog posts, EFT Helps with PTSD and  EFT Helps With PTSD, Part 3    .

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoe

Giving Your Power Away–And Getting It Back!

couples-counselingWe’ve all heard the idea of “giving your power away.” Most people assume that this also means that someone else has your power and using it against you. But that’s not quite right. Usually what happens is that people don’t speak up, don’t stand for what they need, or fall back in the face of someone else’s requests or actions

Relationship Counseling for Emotional Freedom

In my practice, I often do relationship counseling, both with individuals and couples counseling with two people together. Take, for example, Jordan, who feels he’s at the mercy of his girlfriend, Anne (names and biographical details have been changed to protect anonymity). Often, when on Monday he asks her out for the weekend, she tells him she doesn’t know what she’s doing over the weekend. When, midweek, he asks if she’s made up her mind, she gets angry at him and tells him he’s always hounding her. Then, 4:00pm Saturday she calls him up and says “come get me at 8:00—there’s a party at a friend’s house.” He’s angry because, after waiting for her to decide all week, he’s in the middle of catching up on work. With resentment in his voice he says, “All right” and heads off to her place. At the party, she barely spends any time with him and he wishes he had just stayed home. When he tries to tell her he’d like to leave now, she’s angry and yells that he’s no fun at all. This pattern of behavior shows how we can get stuck in relationship unhappiness and feel at the mercy of others when just a small but powerful change in behavior would create a sense of emotional freedom.

We Often “Teach” Others to be Inconsiderate

It would be easy to think Anne takes advantage of her boyfriend, and that she is selfish and inconsiderate. However, another way to look at it is that her Jordanhas “taught” her to be this way because he never requires anything of her overtly while inwardly resenting that she isn’t doing what he wanted to require. It looks like Anne has all the power and is using it against him. And this is true, to some extent. If she were a paragon of virtue, she would realize how considerate and generous and accommodating her boyfriend is and she would reciprocate.

In reality, hardly anybody does that; almost everyone takes what they get and, quite soon, becomes unaware that they’re even getting anything. It soon seems quite natural that this other person is giving and they just use what they are given.

What Can Jordan Do to Get His Power Back?

It’s like Jordanhas metaphorical feelers going outward, focusing on Anne. Imagine him pulling his feelers inward and noticing what he needs and wants and what he wants to offer and doesn’t want to offer, and acting from that. In other words, assertiveness. For instance, if he wants to go out with her on Saturday, he could ask her to do something specific with him. When she says that she doesn’t know yet, he could say, “OK. I’d love to go to the movies with you. If you can let me know by Wednesday afternoon, I’ll be available. After that, I’m going to make other plans.” And then, of course, he would need to stick by that and not give in to her at the last minute—or anytime after Wednesday.

Co-Dependence is Never Saying What You Want

The hard part about this is that, often, people are afraid that the other person will leave if they make a requirement. They become “co-dependent.”Jordanmay be afraid that he likes Anne more than she likes him and that if he doesn’t go along with whatever she does, she’ll go find another boyfriend. So he keeps on “giving his power away” and being miserable just to hold onto Anne.

Paradoxically, many people value people who make limits and stand by them more than people who don’t. In essence, people value those who value themselves more than those who don’t. It’s a risk, but it may be better than losing oneself and being unhappy.

For more on relationship counseling, see my Relationship Counseling page.

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoe

Organizations Work Better With Clear Roles and Responsibilities

healing-stress-healing-traumaIn spite of sometimes disastrous consequences for businesses and organizations, it’s amazing how often they miss creating clear roles and responsibilities for their employees. There are many reasons for this, one big one being that there’s just so much to do merely to stay on track that taking the time to create written, clear job descriptions seems like a waste of time. It’s not, though.

 Organizational Effectiveness

Creating clear roles and responsibilities for every employee, from the CEO on down, usually greatly improves efficiency and effectiveness. You reduce redundancy—two or more people working on parts of the same projects without coordinating. You decrease things falling through the cracks, where people assume someone else is doing something and so fail to do it themselves. You decrease the chance of conflicts, where several people or departments feel they have the power to make certain decisions or allocate certain amounts of manpower or funds to the same areas. You increase the chances that the organization stays on a clear path to fulfilling its vision and mission and doesn’t go on costly side-tracks. You even decrease personality conflicts.

 How to Create Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Here are some requirements to creating clear roles and responsibilities:

  1. Do an analysis of the kinds of roles and responsibilities the organization needs to thrive.
  2. Do an analysis of the kinds of people that would be competent or even talented at fulfilling these roles and responsibilities.
  3. Be aware of who is already employed at the organization, in which positions they are employed, and whether their personalities, skills and/or talents match their positions. If they don’t currently have the skills, think about whether they can reasonably be trained to acquire them, and how many resources would be required. It’s often beneficial to an organization—and to organizational morale—to keep people with a history in the organization instead of hiring new people to fill positions.
  4. Write down very detailed and specific areas of responsibility, limits of power, and tasks to be performed.
  5. Delegate these areas of responsibility to specific departments and, within them, to specific people.
  6. Create a “water-tight” structure to enforce and follow up, to ensure that those departments and specific individuals are given the authority to fully take on their areas of responsibility, that no one can sabotage their work by doing end-runs around them or supersede their authority, and that there is regular oversight to make sure that the individuals tasked with areas of responsibility know how to do their work and are doing it efficiently and effectively.

Wishing you–and your organization–a free and joyous life,

Zoe