At The Heart Of Your Shadow Side

“Do you sometimes say about what you’ve just done, ‘I don’t know what got into me?’ Do you sometimes feel like you’re being run from ‘behind the scenes’ or are stuck on automatic? At such times, it’s very likely that your shadow is in charge. So what is shadow?” Robert  Agustus Masters Phd

Connie Back in Gary’s Office 

Connie’s anxiety seemed to build as she sat waiting for her Life Coach, Gary, to open the door.

“Maybe this was a mistake,” she said to herself. “No, I have to talk to somebody and Gary already knows my situation.”

She continued waffling back and forth. “Should I stay or should I go?”

Finally, the door opened a young man walked out of the door, turning to speak to Gary, “Thank you. I feel a lot more at peace than I did when I got here.”

“I’m glad,” Gary replied. “Keep doing the exercises and you’ll feel even better.”

“Connie. Come on in. How long has it been, a year, a year and a half?” he said as he motioned for her to take a seat.

“It’s pushing two years,” she said as she sat in front of his desk.

“You look and sound very disturbed. Tell me what’s going on.”

“Well, shortly after my last appointment with you, James and I got married and moved back to Cincinnati so James could finish his work contract. We moved back to Knoxville about three months ago so I could finish up my degree.”

“Good. I’m glad you decided to finish. But, that doesn’t give me a clue as to the look on your face. Your body language is very stiff. I’m sure you did come to tell me that you moved back.”

Connie paused and looked down at the floor for several moments before continuing. “Well, no. I just don’t know what to do.”

Gary tilted his head to the side and leaned forward propping his elbows on the desk.

“Married life was great for maybe a year.”

Gary nodded with a little smile.

Problems In Paradise

“Then a few months ago James made an accusation. He proceeded to tell me how I felt, what I thought, what my intentions were in a certain situation. I can’t remember all the details. But, I do remember my thoughts and my actions. I exploded, asking him who he thought he was, God. God is the only one that knows all those things about me, I told him point-blank. Nobody else can see inside me. He didn’t ask how I felt or what I thought. He just accused. But, I can’t believe I exploded like that. I’ve never been explosive before. I don’t understand what happened.”

“Is that the only time it’s happened?”

“No. Since then it’s happened several times. Every time I’m being accused of something that feels very derogatory and he never asks how I feel, what I think, or anything.”

“When you blow up, what do you do?”

“I started yelling at him. Telling him off and pointing out his faults. It actually gets us no place. Then we’re both hurt because of being falsely accused on both sides.”

“How quickly do you kiss and make up?” Gary asked.

“This last time, just the other night, we still haven’t made peace. He accused me of some very nasty things. I remember every detail. I can’t believe he thinks that way about me.”

“What did you accuse him of?”

Connie paused, “Well, I accused him of having an anger management problem. He came to pick me up at school the other day and saw me talking to the guy I’m supposed to do a project within one of my classes. He accused me of getting to close to him and that I’d end up having an affair with him before the end of the semester. I went ballistic. That never crossed my mind until he accused me of it. I was yelling and screaming at him. I really can’t believe I went so ballistic. I’ve never gotten angry like that until recently.”

The Shadow Side

“Have you ever heard of your ‘shadow side?’ Gary asked.

“Only in horror movies or things dealing with witchcraft or the devil.”

“No. That’s not the same thing. Our shadow side is our negative emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, jealousy, desire, and the striving for power. As a child, we cut off or lock away every emotion or characteristic that does not get acceptance or approval from our environment including our parents, teachers, extended family, and friends. All these qualities that don’t fit into our culture get locked away in our shadow. Robert Bly, a poet, called it our invisible bag that we drag behind us since childhood. Since we can’t easily identify these qualities within us, our mind projects them out onto others. It’s called Psychological Projection.”

Connie wrinkled up her brow and sat forward a little in her chair, “Are you saying that I’m projecting me having an affair?”

“No,” Gary said with a little laugh. “You are both projecting. You are projecting the anger of being falsely accused. If someone has had adulterous thoughts or feelings or if they are jealous, they will accuse their partner of infidelity.”

Gary typed something into his phone, “Here’s the definition.  Neurotic projection is the most common variety of projection and most clearly meet the definition of a defense mechanism. In this type of projection, people may attribute feelings, motives, or attitudes they find unacceptable in themselves on to someone else.”

“So, it’s a defense mechanism?” Connie asked. “Does that mean he’s had an affair?”

“No. It means he’s had some thoughts or feelings that he feels are unacceptable, so he accuses you of having or will have an affair.”

Anger In The Shadow

“I get what you’re saying about his thoughts, but what about my anger? It doesn’t seem the same.”

“You’re right. Anger is a little different. Some people who get really angry project it onto those they are angry with. Others try to maintain a cool and collected exterior. Some go as far as to tell others to ‘calm down’, as they deny the anger raging on the inside of themselves. Some use the actions of others to justify their anger, even when they could have chosen a different approach. Projecting anger onto someone else is shifting the blame, at least in your own mind. In your mind, you aren’t the cause of the conflict. You see yourself as being attacked, not the attacker. So you blame them for your anger, ‘you made me angry.’”

Connie sat quietly for a few moments. “Okay. So I’m telling myself that James is the whole problem, in essence, he made me angry, it’s his fault.”

“Right. By saying it’s all James’ fault you are projecting your anger. You then are consciously avoiding identifying, taking ownership, and dealing with it.”

“I see that now, but what do I do about it?”

“It’s called ‘Shadow Work,’ facing our own contradictions, and making friends with our own mistakes and failings. Jesus called it ‘the log in your own eye,’ in Matthew 7:3-5. His advice was to ‘Take the log out of our own eye, and then we can see clearly enough to take the splinter out of our brother’s eye.’ The first step is to become aware of our shadow. It takes effort and continual practice. The more you pay attention to your behavior and emotions. The better chances you have of catching and changing your shadow.”

Becoming Self-Aware

“Okay. What do I do? I’m beginning to see, but I still don’t have a handle on what I’m supposed to do.”

“The first step is to become self-aware by practicing self-honesty. It’s not easy, but it is a prerequisite for working with your shadow. Whatever bothers you in the other person is likely a disowned part within yourself. Get to know that part, accept it, make it a part of you, and next time it may not evoke a strong emotional charge when you observe it in the other person. Here are some exercises to do that will help you. It’s based on ‘Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet by Byron Katie. Here’s a copy of the worksheet. Let’s start it so you have an idea of how to do it at home,” he said handing her the worksheet.

Connie sat with her eyes closed for quite a while. Tears began to run down her cheeks. When she finally opened her eyes she said, “Okay, let’s do this.”

Shadow Work

Your shadow self is any part of yourself that you try to hide or deny because it seems socially unacceptable. There is no shortage of opportunities to discover your personal shadow. As Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates you about others can lead you to an understanding of yourself.”

Get comfortable, but be able to write.

  • Think back to a stressful or conflict situation that is still fresh in your mind. Close your eyes and return to the setting in your mind. Name your emotion. Was it frustration, fear, disappointment, anger? Describe the object of this feeling in a simple sentence. For example, I was angry with James because he accused me of being unfaithful.
  • Name your frustration, fear, or disappointment, and the object of this feeling in a simple statement.
    • For example: I am angry (emotion) with James (name) because he never listens to me.
  • Now answer these four questions as honestly and truthfully as possible:
    • Is it true? (Yes or no. If your answer is no, go to #3.)
    • Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
    • How do you react, and what happens when you believe this thought?
    • Who would you be without the thought?
  • As you look at this situation, how would you want the other person to change? Or what would you want the other person to do?
    • For Example: I want James to see that he is wrong, that I have not been unfaithful.
  • In this situation what do you need from the other person?
    • For Example: I need James to listen with understanding to what I have to say. I need to hear some a verification that he understands that I am not having an affair, but that I must work with him on a project and that I will give him all  the verification he needs to know that I am not having an affair.
  • As you are answering these questions, view the situation in three different ways:
    • pull yourself in the other person’s place,
    • put the other person in your place,
    • state the exact opposite. For example:
      • I am angry with myself because I was falsely accused.
      • James is angry with me because he feels falsely accused.
      • James is not falsely accusing me, he’s just concerned or afraid.”

You might want to ask God to help you see as He sees as you go through these exercises.

  • Father, please help me to see what you see, help me to understand what you understand and show me what I need to change. Thank you.

Connie’s different Feeling

Connie put down her pen and wiped the tears from her face, “You know, as I read the last statement I had a different feeling inside, more peaceful when I thought that maybe James was scared. He’s having a problem getting a good job. Right now he’s only driving for Uber. I know he feels bad that he hasn’t gotten an engineering job or contract. I can see how he would feel insecure seeing me talking to the guy from class. This really helped.”

“I’m so glad. It shows on your face that you are more at peace. Keep this worksheet and work it every time something comes up. Eventually, it won’t come up as often or not at all.”



Connie’s Stories:

Finding Gold In Your Shadow Side

The ‘shadow’ is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having.

Dark World

Jeremy thought about his discussion with his counselor while sitting on the bench in the school courtyard. She had brought a little light into his seemingly very dark shadow world. She said everybody is different it didn’t matter if I had ADHD or not. We’re all different.

“If that is true why does my world feel so dark, why can’t I really talk to anyone about it?” he thought to himself as he sat outside the counselor’s office. It had been a couple of days since they sat on the bench and talked. After their talk, he’d felt better about himself. It had been a long time since he’d felt that good. But, he had so many questions in his mind and Ms. Smith was the only person he thought he could trust.

His anxiety mounted. “She probably can’t help me either,” he said to himself as he stood to leave. “It’s not worth it.”

The door opened and Ms. Smith stepped into the waiting room. “Jeremy, come on in,” she said.

“Ahhh. Maybe, I think I’ll just go back to class,” he said as he picked up his books.

“No. Come on in. I’m sorry it took so long. I had to finish up a phone call. Really, come on in.”

Jeremy slowly walked into her office. His head down. Shuffling his feet.

“Have a seat. Can I get you a soda? I have several different kinds,” she said opening a small refrigerator revealing a variety of different sodas and flavored waters.

“A Coke,” he said still looking down at the floor.

“Tell me what’s on your mind. You looked happy and more positive when we talked the other day. What happened?”

Being Different

“I don’t know. After talking to you, I felt really good about myself, like it is okay to be different, that different isn’t necessarily bad, just different. Not less than.”

“Absolutely,” she said.

“But the more I thought about me being different the worse I felt. My mind kept going over all the times I’ve been told I was different and by all the different people. I had a doctor tell me once that he didn’t know how to help me, just accept being different. I’ve had a few people, mainly kids, tell me or indicate that I am less because I am different. You actually told me I have skills and talents that others don’t have. But, I don’t know if it really matters.”

“That is true. You are very smart, smarter than average, and very talented. And ‘yes’ it matters,” she said in a very affirmative encouraging voice.

“Then why do I feel like I have a really dark side that I have to keep hidden. I feel like if people really knew me they would hate me? Why do I feel like I want to hide from the world until I fade away?”

Shadow Side

“We all have a side that we prefer others don’t know about,” she said. “They call it our shadow side. Another way of looking at it is where we dump all the things in our personality that we don’t like and don’t want to deal with. Do you understand?”

“Sort of. Do you mean like me having ADHD and being different? How can I dump that in my shadow? No, I don’t understand.”

“Our shadow side is usually referring to the part of us that we fail to see or know or we try to ignore. It is often the side of us that doesn’t seem to fit into our culture or society. Let me see if I can explain it. Do you ever try so hard to do and be what everybody else expects of you that sometimes you just want to scream or run away or something?” Ms.Smith said.

“Yeah, all the time. Like that math test. What do they expect me to do, pretend that I don’t know how to work the problems so I’m like everybody else? Why do I have to fit in? Why do I have to be like everybody else? When Jack started in on me I really wanted to get in his face and scream at him, but I didn’t. If I had I’d be in the office or suspended. I’ve been there before,” he said sitting forward to catch every one of her words.

Culture Demands

She continued, “Our culture demands that we live out only part of our nature and refuse to acknowledge that the other parts exist. We have what they call our ego, which is our thinking, feeling, and will that distinguishes us from others. It’s the part of us that experiences and reacts to the outside world. Then we have the shadow side. The things that we want to keep hidden from the outside world because they don’t seem to fit in. The culture that we live in insists that we behave in a particular manner, so we stuff those other parts deep into the back corner of our shadow self, like a dark back room with a locked door.”

“So, my shadow side contains the ADHD characteristics that other people think are weird, so I try to keep them hidden, right?” he said.

“Right. An interesting thing, though, is that different cultures in the world have different expectations. For example, in our country, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. In other countries, they drive on the left. In the West, a man can walk down the street holding hands with a woman, but in India, he may hold hands only with a male friend, but not with a woman. In our country, we show respect by wearing shoes in formal or religious places, but in the East, it’s very disrespectful to wear shoes into a temple. You would be asked to leave and not return until you learn proper manners.”

They both laughed.

Different Than The Norm

“Because of these cultural norms, some really good characteristics end up in a person’s shadow. Usually, the ordinary, mundane characteristics are the norm and are what others see. We often try to fit in the middle instead of on the extreme at either end. Unfortunately, people with extraordinary characteristics hide them in their shadow, because they don’t fit into the culture.”

Jeremy sat and thought for quite some time before speaking, “The other day you told me that I was very smart and very talented. Right?”

“Yes. But, I also notice that you try to keep those gifts hidden because you do things differently. Am I right?”

Learning He Is Different

He nodded and continued to sit quietly before speaking, “When I was in kindergarten and first grade I was always way ahead of the teacher in doing things. I could read when I was three, so when the other kids were learning how to read I was reading all kinds of books. But, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I would always interrupt the teacher or someone else who was talking and blurt out the answer or ask a question that was way beyond where the class was in the lesson. I don’t know how many times I got sent to the office and had to miss recess or stay after school. It was terrible.”

“How did your parents handle it?”

“My mom seemed to understand, but not my dad. When I got in trouble at school I’d catch it double at home. Eventually, I began to think I was an alien or something weird. I thought it’d be better if I could cut it out of me, but I didn’t know what part to cut.”

“Did you start hurting yourself?” Ms. Smith asked with a worried look on her face.

“I did a couple of times,” he said as a grin starting to take over his face. “But, it hurt too much so I didn’t do it again.”

They laughed.

Gold In Your Shadow

Ms. Smith continued, “Many people resist the temptation to hide their good characteristics in their shadow and bring them out of the back room. But, it is often harder to own the good or should I say the gold in your shadow. It is terrifying for some people because it makes them stand out. They aren’t part of the norm. Some times and for some people, it’s terrifying to say, ‘God gave me these characteristics for a specific calling.’ Too many times it begins to look like the person is giving themselves too much credit, that they are better than everyone else. Usually, these special gifts are for a higher calling in life, a purpose that will only be revealed later in life.”

Jeremy seemed to disappear into his thoughts again, “I do understand. When I was in the first grade I did think I was better than everyone else in the class, sometimes, better than the teacher. But, I’m beginning to see that I’m not better just different. Because of ADHD, I do things differently. Can I say, ‘sometimes I am smarter.’”

She nodded, “So, how do you handle it? Do you get down on yourself or a big head?”

Don’t Have To Stand Out

Jeremy shook his head, “Neither, if I can help it. But I discovered that I don’t have to stand out. I know what I can do. I don’t have to make others feel bad. Like you suggested the other day, I could ask Jack if he would like some help.”

The counselor nodded and waited while he was deep in thought, “I guess I would feel better if I accept who I am and what I can do. I think I can do that without trying to show everybody up. I think I have learned that I don’t have to be right.”

“Good. Remember, ignoring the gold or special gifts can be as damaging. It’s like ignoring a part of you. I know you have had problems with hyperactivity. How is that?”

“Well, I was made fun of so much that I found ways to keep it from showing.”

“Like what?”

“If I’m really interested in something I don’t fidget as much,” he said with a smile. “I started drawing when I’m bored in class. I always keep a sketch pad in the back of my notebook. If I start to fidget or get really bored I draw. Would you like to see?”


Sketch Pad

Jeremy pulled out his sketch pad, “I don’t show these to anyone, not even my mom. I always sit in the back so very few kids see me drawing.”

The counselor took the sketch pad and slowly flipped through it, “These are really good. Do you only draw people?”

“I guess it’s a way for me too, you might say, even the playing field. I catch all the expressions and movements of the people around me. It’s funny, but those things just stick in my mind. I will sketch the basics then usually finish it at home later. Like this one,” he said flipping to a certain sketch.

The counselor laughed as she saw it, “That is an awesome sketch of Jack and the teacher. Did she really grab him by the back of the collar?”

“No, but it fits with both of their expressions so I added it. What she did was grab the fidget spinner that he was playing with and threw it in the trash. It was so funny. I just had to add her grabbing the back of his collar and lifting him out of his seat with his feet dangling,” he said laughing.  “Maybe that’s my payback.”

They Keep Telling Me I’m Not Normal

The hardest thing about ADHD and other Personality Disorders is that it’s ‘invisible’ to outsiders.

“I’m so tired of everyone telling me that I’m not normal just because I have ADHD. Who do they think they are? God.” Jeremy said. “I’ve been like this my whole life. Of course, it’s normal. It’s normal for me. Where does he get off saying that to me?”

Jeremy sat on the bench in the courtyard at school. So wrapped up in his own thoughts that he missed the bell to report back to class.

“If I’m so ‘abnormal’ why did they let me come to school? Maybe it would be better if I jumped off the interstate overpass like Jack told me to do. Am I that big of a problem to everybody?”

Bullying About Being Different

Jeremy didn’t know how long he sat on the bench. He slightly remembered seeing kids in the courtyard a couple of times.

A counselor finally came and sat beside him, “Jeremy are you okay?” She asked.

No response. He didn’t even flinch. No eye rolls or side-eyes.

She reached out and laid a hand on his arm, “Jeremy?”

His whole body jumped as he pulled away from her touch, “Don’t touch me. You’ll die.”

“What do you mean,” she said with a wrinkled brow. “Are you going to hurt me?”

“No,” he said turning slightly toward her, “but if I’m as bad as Jack said I must be poisonous or something.”

“What did Jack say to you?”

Jeremy paused, “He said I was abnormal, that I was probably alien and I’d poison everyone who got to close. He told me to go jump off the overpass onto the freeway. I guess I better go do it,” he said as he stood up and started to walk away.

The counselor grabbed his arm, “Can we talk first?” she asked.

Jeremy sat back down, “I guess a few more minutes won’t matter.”

“Tell me about what happened,” she said.

“Well, we were in math class. We got our midterms back. I had 100% on mine. Jack looked at my paper. He started in that I must be a freak or something because nobody gets a 100% on a math midterm unless they’re an alien or something. He got everybody to chanting. I wanted to die. He kept saying that I wasn’t normal. Then, he started saying that I was an alien.”

“Where was your teacher?”

“Somebody came to the door and she stepped outside,” he said.

“Did it stop when she came back in?”

Jeremy nodded as he stood to go.

Plan Interrupted

“Please sit down,” she asked.

“You are different,” the counselor started as Jeremy turned to look at her. “We’re all different. Yes, you have ADHD, which does make you different than some, but that’s not always a bad thing.”

“It’s not?”

“Look at the score on your math test. I’d say 100% is pretty good, wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess. I never think about it. Math is so easy, but I don’t make fun of Jack because he got a D.”

“What else are you really good at?” She asked Jeremy.

He thought for a few minutes then his face began to brighten up, “I’m a pretty good artist. I guess I’m what you’d call creative. I can think of solutions to problems and put the solution together in my head.”

“You’re right. You are a very gifted, talented and smart person. You can actually think circles around Jack. So, why do you think he talked to you that way?”

Jeremy looked down at the ground for a few minutes drawing something in the dirt on the sidewalk. He finally looked up at the counselor, “Because he was jealous?”

“You are so right. I know Jack. He often tries to put others down or make them feel bad or look bad to the other kids so he doesn’t feel so bad about himself. Don’t let him get under your skin.”


ADHD, The Brain Disconnect

“Two brain areas fail to connect when children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder attempt a task that measures attention. This is the first time that we have direct evidence that this connectivity is missing in ADHD. The researchers measured electrical rhythms from the brains of volunteers, especially the alpha rhythm. When part of the brain is emitting alpha rhythms, it shows that it is disengaged from the rest of the brain and not receiving or processing information optimally,” stated Ali Mazaheri, a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain and M.I.N.D. Institute.


ADHD and Other Personality Disorders

Those who have ADHD, Bipolar Disorder or other Personality Disorder continually tell us what it looks and feels like from inside their box. They say they are tired of everyone telling them they’re not normal. It is normal for them.

They tell us, on the outside of their box, to accept their behavior as absolutely normal. Yet, those of us who are close to that person have to deal with the consequences of their behavior.

Unfortunately, they never seem to be aware of the cause and effect, the relationship between their behavior and all of the resulting drama. They never seem to have a clue that other people have to deal with problems created by them. I Can’t Really Blame Them.


Jeremy Becomes Aware

He didn’t talk for several minutes. Finally, he looked up with a side-ways grin on his face, “He almost got me there. I have an older brother and his friends that always make fun of me because I’m different, because of the ADHD, and I do things differently.  Jack made me feel the same way. I hate that feeling. I actually feel alien or sub-human or something. But…”

The counselor sat quietly while Jeremy was thinking.

“Like you said, ‘Yes, I am different and that’s okay. Sometimes I just don’t get what some people are talking about. It just doesn’t connect right in my head. Now, when I read something or have exercises, like in Math, it is so easy. I could actually make fun of Jack because he can’t get it,” Jeremy said pausing again.

“But it doesn’t feel good to be made fun of or left out of the games they are playing. My brother can have his friends over to the house and they’re playing some kind of game. I ask if I can play, but they start teasing me, telling me I’m stupid and I’d never been able to figure out how to play it.”

Choosing Not To Pay It Back

He laughed, “One time I played the video game after they left. I hear the noise they make about it being so hard, but actually it’s very easy. I aced it the first time through.”

“Here’s a thought,” the counselor said. “Why not get Jack alone, away from his pack and tell him you know he got a ‘D’ on the midterm and ask if he’d like some help with his Math?”

“Are you kidding?” Jeremy said. “Wait, that would give me the upper hand, wouldn’t it?”

The counselor nodded with a grin.

“I’ll do it. When he least expects it.”

“How are things at home?” the Counselor asked.

“Well, it’s okay most of the time. My mom got help from a psychologist who specialized in ADHD to help us develop some workarounds. They have helped.”

“What kind of workarounds?”

“I have trouble organizing things and I have a lot of trouble with time. When I’m working on something, it feels like just a few minutes to me, but my mom tells me it’s been over two hours. We set timers so I don’t lose track of time. I also use To-Do lists that are prioritized so I get the most important things done. The rule is that I don’t go on to something else on my list until the first one is completed. I’m distracted very easily and don’t finish things. We’re working on it. My mom says I’m doing a lot better.”

“Do the workarounds help you feel better about your ADHD?” the counselor asked.

“They do. I know I have to do things differently than other kids, but…” he paused and grinned. “When I stick to the rules in the workarounds, I do a better job than any of those kids.”

Letting Go Of Yesterday’s Junk – The Past

“You Can’t Reach For The Skies When Your Hands Are Full Of Yesterday’s Junk”-Louise Smith


Jerry Returns

Jerry, in last week’s story, had gone to see Darlene, a Life Coach, and Connie’s mom. He had thought he could manipulate Connie into allowing him to move in with her by getting Darlene on his side. But, it didn’t work out the way he had planned.

Jerry sat in Darlene’s waiting room for his second appointment. He wasn’t quite sure why he was there.

The door to Darlene’s office opened, “Jerry, come on in.”

Jerry walked slowly into the office, as if, he weren’t sure about this visit.

“I was surprised when I saw your name on my calendar for today. I didn’t think you’d be back,” Darlene said as they both took their seats.


Jerry’s Second Session

“When I left last week I didn’t think I’d be back. But, you touched on areas in my past and I couldn’t get them or what you said out of my mind. I do want to move forward with or without Connie in my life,” he said. “I think I need some help putting the past behind me if I can.”

“Jerry, how do you see that happening?”

“I’m continually hearing my dad’s voice berating me and telling me I’m no good. After thinking about it all week, I think the reason I wanted to move in with Connie was that she’s always been loving and kind. She never berated me or made me feel stupid like my dad does. But. I’m not sure that’s the right reason to move in.”

“I’m glad you came back,” Darlene said. “You are right. That’s not the right reason to move in. You need to be able to put the past behind you so you can enjoy a good, healthy relationship with Connie or someone else. When you are focused on the past, especially if it’s traumatic or hurtful, you can’t focus on the present or the future.”


Yesterday’s Junk

“There are people who believe in holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” – Ann Landers

 “I like to call the past hurts, junk. Junk from the past that clutters your mind and emotions. Everything that has happened to you did have an effect on you. Since your experiences were very traumatic, I’m sure they changed the course of your life. Would you agree with that?”

Jerry nodded, “I’d say it was traumatic. I can still see every event and hear every cruel berating statement that my dad made. Sometimes they just echo through my mind. Once I started beating my head against the wall trying to get the voice to stop.”

“I’d say the events you experienced were very traumatic. But, you can’t change the past. You can’t wipe the memories from your mind and you don’t want to. When a person has repressed memories, they may not remember the event, but the pain and trauma experienced still affects the individual. When least expected those memories or the wounded child reacts to the situation to protect the person. You don’t want to repress the memories, but you do want to deal with the memories and the hurts from them so you can move on and have a very successful life.”

“So, what do I need to do?” Jerry asked. “How can I stop all the stuff from cluttering up my mind. Sometimes it really gets to be too much.”


The Past

“The first thing is to learn how to let go of the hurts, yesterday’s junk, so you can move on. You can’t change what happened in the past. But, what you are experiencing are the emotions in the present, not in the past. You are also experiencing your critical inner voice, which is also in the present. The anger, embarrassment, pain are all emotions that you are experiencing now, in the present. The first step is to change your focus. Focus on the present. Feel your feelings right now.”

“So you’re saying to stop thinking about the past and focus on the present? But how do I stop all the critical comments that go on in my head, sometimes, all the time?”


Sticky Thoughts

“We’ll get there. First, let’s look at your memories. They are just thoughts. They don’t have any power or meaning unless you give it to them,” Darlene continued.

“How do I give my thoughts power?” Jerry asked.

“Let’s look at the thoughts for a moment. Some are sticky. Sticky thoughts have emotions attached to them. Whenever a sticky thought pops into your mind you feel the emotion that is attached causing the thought to stay in your mind, causing you to think about it over and over. Most sticky thoughts have core beliefs attached to them. For example, when your dad would beat you and berate you, you developed the belief that he was right, ‘you can’t do anything right.’”

“When a sticky thought becomes stuck in your mind it’s because you have a belief attached to the emotion you are feeling. Your critical inner voice then picks up the belief, “you can’t do anything right,” and repeats it back to you over and over and over again.”

“Yeah, that’s basically what happens. Once the voice starts in it can go on for hours,” Jerry said. “So, how do I get rid of the sticky thought?”


Do The Opposite

“You need to lose interest in the sticky thoughts. One of the best ways is to Do The Opposite. When a sticky thought pops into your mind with the critical inner voice, begin telling yourself the opposite. So, if sticky thought is that “you can’t do anything right,” change it. Say something like, “I can do a lot of things right like being a DJ. I’m a very good DJ. People like it when I’m the DJ. So basically, you lose interest in the sticky thought and replace it with the opposite. The more you say it the less power the sticky thought has until you’ll notice it doesn’t come up very often.”

“I’m beginning to understand.”

“Healing takes place when you let go of the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings so they no longer impact you in the present. When you learn how to Do The Opposite the past loses its power over you. The event is still in your memory, but it no longer has the mean, effect or power.”

“Let me get this. You are saying that if I repeat the opposite over and over it causes the sticky thought to go away?”



“Actually, it can change the sticky thought, getting rid of yesterday’s junk. The sticky that was a put-down, but you exchange it for a positive thought about yourself. Repetition is funny. I had a professor that told us about a camping trip that she and some friends took. One friend couldn’t go. The friend that couldn’t go was a real Patrick Swayze fan. While sitting around the campfire they cooked up this story of Patrick coming to their campsite. They had all the details worked out so everyone had exactly the same story. When they got home they told their friend about Patrick coming to their camp. The friend was so jealous because she hadn’t been there. This story was repeated over and over and over among the friends. A year or so later, in a totally different setting, someone mentioned Patrick Swayze and the professor launched into the story they had cooked up. She got almost through the story and stopped, looking at the other person, telling them what really happened. She told us in class that she had repeated it so many times that she actually began to believe it.”

“So if you repeat the opposite enough it will begin to replace the sticky thought?” Jerry asked.

“Absolutely. You can’t make yourself forget the experience. It often creates more problems, like addictions, if you try to stuff or ignore your feelings. The old saying is that ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but it rarely works that way. You can’t change what happened, but you can change your reaction to it by doing the opposite.”


Affirmations – Renewing Your Mind

“The positive things, The Opposites, are affirmations which plant thoughts in your subconscious mind. You can plant negative thoughts in your mind, which is what happened during childhood. In doing the opposite you are exchanging the negative thoughts for positive ones.”

“Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23 tells us to “Be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Repeating positive affirmations is how you renew your mind. Many people use Bible verses as affirmations. Make the Bible verses personal.”

“I AM come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom.”–Mathew 12:32

“I walk in love as Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for me so that it became] a sweet fragrance.” Ephesians 5:2

“When I walk in love God is present.” 1 John 4:12

“Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me”. Psalm 23:4

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the refuge and stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1


Write It Down

“It also helps to write down your feelings about the past. In school, we learned a method of processing feelings that is quite effective. Write down everything you can think of about the event and how you felt. Then burn the paper in a fireplace or bonfire. It’s very releasing to watch the event, the experience, and the feelings go up in smoke. Others prefer to keep a journal. Still, others write the person a letter but don’t send it. Put it away or burn it.”

Jerry sat quietly for several moments.

“What are you thinking?” Darlene asked.

“I’ve listened to all the things you’ve said. I feel calm like this is something I can do. I think I can be free from the abuse and ridicule.”

What Is It, What Happened, How Do I Fix It?

“Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger.” – Lonerwolf


Jerry and Connie had been seeing each other for about six months. Jerry wanted to take their relationship to the next level. He wanted to move in with her.

In fact, he was so insistent that it made Connie wonder why he was pushing so hard. Jerry was nice enough, but maybe too nice. He seemed to dote on her by going to her apartment and cleaning the house and having dinner ready when she got home. Yes, she worked longer hours than he did, but he seemed to be brownnosing, but why? What does he want? Something didn’t feel right.

She talked to her mom who was a counselor but didn’t go into a lot of detail. She knew her mother had ethical issues about being her counselor and she didn’t want to put her mom in a hard spot.

“Mom, if I can’t come to a decision that I’m comfortable with soon, we’ll talk, okay? I think you’ve taught me how to listen to myself and God,” Connie said.

“Okay. If you need some help come to me. We can figure it out or I’ll put you in touch with another counselor.”

“Thank you, Mom. You’re the greatest,” Connie said as she gave her a goodbye hug.

“I’ll call you later. I have a new client coming in soon. I have to get things ready,” she said turning to walk into her office as Connie went out the front door.

Connie continued to think about Jerry’s insistence to move in with her. She liked him. Actually, she liked him a lot, so why was she so hesitant. She just couldn’t put her finger on the problem.


Jason’s Counseling Session

Darlene, Connie’s mom, got up from her desk when she heard the doorbell alerting her to someone entering her waiting room. Her house was arranged with a two-room office with an outside entrance, perfect for working at home.

She opened the door to the waiting room. A young man in his late 20s, about her daughter’s age, sat paging through a magazine.

He was clean-cut and had been very polite on the phone when he set up the appointment.

“Jason, come on into my office?”

He walked into the office handing her the paperwork she had asked for during his phone interview.

“Have a seat,” Darlene said as she paged through the sheets. “Thank you. Looks like you’ve been very thorough in answering the questions. Give me a moment to look at them.”

Jason picked up another magazine that was on the table and began thumbing through it. Darlene watched him for a few seconds. For the information he put on the worksheets, he seemed way too comfortable. His appearance was immaculate even to the pressed crease in his blue jeans – who presses their blue jeans?

Darlene looked up as she took her glasses off and laid them on her desk, “I see from you worksheets that you have ADHD and have not been on medication for a few weeks during childhood. How old were you?”

“I think I was about eight. It made me so dopey that my mother wouldn’t give it to me anymore.”

“How long did you take it?” Darlene asked.

“If I remember right a couple of weeks.”

“Did she take you back to the doctor; they could have adjusted the dosage?”


“Do you know why?”



Jason, began to squirm in his seat like he was becoming very uncomfortable. It took him several moments to answer.

“Now, we’re beginning to get to the heart of the matter,” she thought to herself.

“Well, yeah, I guess I do.”

“Could you please explain it to me?” Darlene asked.

“Well, my dad,” he paused staring down at the floor. “He said taking meds made me a sissy.  He wouldn’t allow me to take them anymore. He said all I needed was a strong arm.”

“What did he mean by that?”

Jason hesitated for several more minutes, finally clearing his throat to continue, “He used to beat me and my brother really hard any time…any time we did…any time we did any little tiny thing. He would beat us so hard we’d have welts on our whole back. Everything had to be perfect according to him. And don’t ever…ever tell him ‘no’. I told him ‘no’ once and he almost killed me.”

“I’m so sorry Jason. Now, that I know a little more about you, let’s get started,” Darlene said as she pulled out some more information.

Jason sat very still almost like he was frozen.

“Is it okay to get started?” Darlene asked.

Jason continued to sit, finally shaking his head ‘no.’

“Can you explain, please?”

“I think I’ll go now,” Jason said starting to get out of his chair. “No, I better not. I have to tell you something you aren’t going to like.”

Darlene leaned forward in her chair a little.

“I’m not Jason,” he said.

Darlene frowned, “Please explain.”

Jason propped his head upon his knees, looking at the floor for what seemed like an eternity, “I’m Jerry, Connie’s boyfriend,” he said just barely loud enough to be heard.

‘Excuse me?” Darlene said leaning forward a little more.

“I’m Jerry.”

“Why all the charades? Why not just tell me who you are? What did you hope to accomplish?”


Jerry’s Problem Revealed

“I have to win,” Jerry said hanging his head again.

“Win what?”

“Connie and I have been arguing a lot about me moving in with her. I thought I could get some information from you that would help me convince her. Then I’d win.”

“So it’s all about winning. You need to win so badly that you’d fake who you are just to win?”

“I was sure I could give you just enough information and get you to back up my position then she’d give in. I thought maybe you’d tell her you had a similar client and you’d actually back me up and convince her to allow me to move in. But when you started talking about ADHD and my dad I couldn’t pull it off. I’ll go now,” Jerry said picking up his things.

“Sit down,” she ordered.


The Session Begins

Darlene moved around to the front of the desk, sitting on the edge. She thought for a few moments before commenting.

“You come in here looking like you have the world by the tail, a winner, thriving in life. But in reality, down deep inside, you feel scared, fragile, and defensive. Am I right?”

Jerry nodded.

“Right now, you’re feeling very scared that I am going to reject and dislike you. You are afraid I’m going to treat you similar to your dad. Right?”

Jerry nodded again.

“Your dad was or is very narcissist or maybe a perfectionist.”

“Yeah. Probably both,” Jerry said.

“You’ve watched him manipulate people to get exactly what he wanted all of your life, correct?”

“Every time.”

“You’ve watched him over the years, so you thought you could make it to work,” Darlene said.

“It’s always looked easy. He always looks the part. Everybody always did or gave him what he wanted, but I can’t seem to do it. I haven’t been able to do it with Connie. I guess I blew it.”

“Would you like to know why it hasn’t worked?” she said.

Jerry nodded.

“You’re not a narcissist. Inside you’re a wounded child who has been badly abused by your dad. But because of your dad’s abuse, you have emotional injuries that have been caused over the years that need to be healed.”

“Because of the abuse, you have repressed emotions, which are emotions you were not allowed to have as a child. For example, because of the abuse, you may have learned to hide your pain. You may also be afraid that you won’t survive.  You may have been told that “big boys don’t cry,” or “you better not say what you are really thinking.”


The Wounded Inner Child

“Yes, I have talked to Connie a little,” Darlene continues. “One thing she’s mentioned is that you get very angry and blow up. Because she doesn’t back down, she pushes your button that says you have to win. As a child you were humiliated and made fun of. When she doesn’t back down it’s like you’re reliving the shame and humiliation all over again. That’s when you get angry and go into a rage, which is Little Jerry trying to protect you. Does that sound about right?”

Jerry nodded, “At least the first part. I don’t know about Little Jerry trying to protect me. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

“He’s trying to protect you from the pain you suffered as a child, the pain that hasn’t been dealt with yet. It doesn’t help to try to fight the anger or suppress it or judge it or berate yourself because of it. He is really trying to help and protect you in his own way, the only way he can at this stage in your life.”

“Is it all because of the abuse from my dad?” Jerry asked.

“Probably. When a child feels unsafe or endangered or abused it leaves a huge gaping wound in his/her psyche. A wound that needs to be healed in order to move on.


Repressed Memories

“Let me ask a question,” Darlene said. “Do you have time periods where you can’t remember anything? Or areas where you feel there’s something there back you can’t pull it up?”

“Actually, yes. Something happened about the time I started taking the medicine. I overheard a terrible fight between my parents over me taking the medicine then there’s a blank. It’s about a year, I think. I have no idea what happened then,” Jerry said.

“That’s a repressed memory. A memory that’s so painful that you unknowingly repressed it. You have unconsciously blocked it because the memory was associated with a high level of stress or trauma. It’s a way of protecting yourself.”

“Will it come back?”

“It might,” Darlene answered. “But, even though the memory is repressed, your wounded child still reaches into your adult life when he feels you are in danger. That’s why you get so angry.  Much of your behavior, aversions, and neuroses in the present are caused by your wounded child trying to protect you from the pain it still remembers.”

“Will it ever go away?” Jerry asked.

“Not without some work,” Darlene said. “I have clients that are in their 70s and are still dealing with their wounded inner child. But, you can ease his fears, insecurities, and lack of love so he will stop. Are you ready to do this?”

“What about Connie?” Jerry asked with the look on his face like he was about to cry.


The Road To Recovery

Darlene smiled, “Connie’s not going anyplace. My thought is that you are pushing so hard because Little Jerry thinks that moving in with Connie will give him the love and security that he craves. But, it wouldn’t work that way. Once you moved in and get comfortable it will be the same arguments only worse. Connie can’t heal Little Jerry, you have to. You don’t have to end the relationship, just do this first.”

“But, I have to move out at the end of the month. I have no place to go. I’m scared.”

“Now, we get to the bottom line,” Darlene stated. “Why do you have to move out?”

“Well, I quit my job and I haven’t paid my rent.”


“I was always getting angry with the boss.”

“Did you get fired?”

“No. I quit before he fired me.”

“Do you know for sure he was going to fire you? Well, no, but I was scared. He came at me really hard.”

“So the same thing, right? It felt like your dad again and Little Jerry was trying to protect you.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Darlene thought for a few minutes and looked up something on her computer, “Okay, I think I can get the funds to pay your rent and maybe get your job back. Write down your address and landlord’s phone number, if you know it, your place of employment, and your supervisor’s name.”

“But, I don’t want to go back.”

“I thought you wanted my help with Connie. Well, this is the way we do it.”

“Okay,” he said hesitantly.

“I want you to go online and take this quiz. I’ll set you up for another appointment in two days. That’ll give me time to look into the job and apartment. Have the quiz completed for our next appointment,” she said handing him a posit-it with a link.

Step #1: Your Critical Inner Voice Quiz

Step #2: Do The Opposite