Free To Decide

Photo by Florian Schmetz on Unsplash

An idea that many of my clients struggle with is the ability to accept they have the ability to decide what they want and what they do not want. Many of them feel that they can only make decisions for themselves if someone else agrees or approves of that decision.

This belief and behavior comes of course from trauma and traumatic conditioning and response. No one is born believing they cannot make their own decisions. They are trained to react that way.

People are trained to question their choices by others who make them feel that those choices are wrong or bad or stupid. People are trained not to trust what they really want because others make them feel that their choices have hurt them in some way or made them unhappy.

You are able to decide what you want and what you do not want without any input from anyone else.

Making your own decisions is another form of boundary setting. If someone wants you to do something for them, be in a relationship with them, choose what they want over what you want they are pushing over your boundaries. They are pushing over your free will. They are in fact taking away your right to choose for yourself and your life.

Someone invites you to a party but you do not really want to go. However, your trauma response is that if you do not go someone will be upset or unhappy or think something about you. So you go, even though you do not want to go. You can say no. You can decide what you want to do.

It is okay to make decisions without asking if they are okay with everyone or the right thing to do. Will they always be right? No, but that is the way we learn what we do not want to do next time. Are the decisions we make to please others right? They are likely not right at all for us. They are only right for what someone else wants and feels.

Think of the decisions you have made today. Were they made based on what you really truly wanted or were they influenced by what others wanted or felt? Were they influenced by traumatic conditioning? Did you actual want to do what you did today?

I have had clients who were making decisions about significant and important things in their lives not make the decision they wanted but the decision someone else wanted or that someone had made them feel they had to make. And making those decisions had resulted in these same clients being sad and disappointed with everything that happened after the decision was made.

Many times clients will say that when I tell them they can make their own decisions they feel uncomfortable, even scared. Believing that they cannot do so, they fear taking that step. The power of fear is tremendous and all traumatic response is based in fear.

Make decisions based on what you want. What you really, really want for yourself based on how you feel. Do not let someone or some past trauma rob you of your free will.

Changing Your Relationship Patterns

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When we examine anything in our lives, we must start at the beginning.

Our patterns of behavior, as well as our beliefs about ourselves, are formed at very early ages in our lives. Most are created from birth to age 7 by the actions and words (or inactions and lack of words) of our parents, guardians, caregivers, and teachers.

These are the years in which we learn our patterns of behavior in response to what others are teaching us about ourselves and when we form our beliefs about who we are in response to those teachings.

Our patterns in relationships are also formed during these times. Our attachments or lack thereof. Our value and seeking value in relationships. Our search to have our needs met that the people in our lives may not be meeting. Resulting in our relationships being healthy, beneficial, and supportive or unhealthy, toxic, and lacking any support.

Our beginnings direct our footsteps as we go forward. If we have been taught that the only way we can have relationships is in an unhealthy way, we will continually repeat that pattern throughout our lives. We will also constantly wonder why we keep becoming involved with the same kinds of people with the same kinds of results.

To begin to find our way to healthier relationships, we must examine what we were taught and how we responded at very early ages. We must accept that our responses now are an ongoing response for trauma (emotional, physical, sexual) that occurred when we were very young that we have never fully acknowledged and processed.

Until we do this, we cannot hope to have differences in our relationship patterns now. Our choices, our responses are directed by those encoded patterns that have now become “normal” and never questioned. We have come to believe “it is just who we are.”

In reality, it is just who we were taught to be by others.

Truly examining these patterns tracing our lives back to when the beliefs and responses started, we can then start to acknowledge, confront, and replace with a new way of being. We must learn to love ourselves. Believe that we have value and that we deserve healthy relationships, even with ourselves.

We must work to replace negative beliefs and thoughts that have been a part of our lives for years. This is not an easy task nor is it a quick one. It takes a long time to replace years of “conditioning” and begin to think and believe differently.

Most often, the first step is to learn to love ourselves. And this is also often the most difficult due to the years of being told and shown that we have no value, we are not lovable, we are the problem. We believe it and it is then presented as truth in our brains.

Where did your patterns begin? How did your beliefs start? What events or people shaped your thoughts about yourself? You were not born in these ways, they were created and taught.

Once we truly have those answers, we can begin to pursue change. And that progressive, step by step movement can fundamentally change our lives for the better.

Until you heal your past, your life patterns and relationships will continue to be the same it’s just the faces that change.

Until next time be well,


It Is Not All In Your Head

Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

When struggling with mental illness such as depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, and many other diagnoses, we can feel as if it is all in our head. In reality, it is, but there may also be other factors that contribute.

Many mental illness diagnoses can sometimes be a result of changes in brain chemistry. It can sometimes be the result of hereditary genetics. It can sometimes be the result of traumatic experiences leaving imprints on various portions of the brain.

All of these things can be true. Our struggle with mental illness can sometimes be in our brains. But other factors may also affect how our mental illness diagnoses are affected.

Vitamin, mineral, supplement deficiencies can also have an effect on how we process things emotionally. There have been many studies relating to the connection between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Vitamin B12 and other B vitamin deficiencies have a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.

Several other deficiencies can also affect brain function, and mood responses including Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, folate, and iron are among those. These deficiencies can be caused by unbalanced nutrition, genetics, age, and other physical illnesses.

Those who suffer from disordered eating diagnoses may be at greater risk of these body/brain/mood deficiencies. As well as those with poor nutrition as a result of their environmental factors.

Other factors that can complicate mental illness diagnoses especially for women are hormonal imbalances that can also contribute to fluctuations and possibly contribute to mental health issues. Hormones that are unbalanced have been shown to contribute specifically to depression and anxiety in women.

Many times those who are diagnosed with mental illnesses tend to be treated only with medications to manage those illnesses with chemical brain changes. However, it may be just as important to get a complete workup of vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and hormone levels. The addition of vitamins and supplements and possible hormone adjustments may help manage many of the symptoms and fluctuations in several mental illness diagnoses.

Proper nutrition and sleep are also directly related to fluctuations in many mental illness symptoms and diagnoses. Managing what you eat and how well you sleep can directly correlate to how you feel. Much of our vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and supplements come directly from what we eat. If we eat poorly or are restricting what we eat, we may not be receiving much-needed nutrition vital to brain balance and health.

Sleeping well is a much-needed item for brain health as well as physical health. Disrupted or poor sleep hygiene can have a direct impact on many mental health diagnoses including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. If not managed in a healthier way, disordered sleep can directly impact how our mental illness diagnoses affect us and can increase those symptoms and responses.

Mental illness diagnoses do very often reside in our brains and our brain function. However, there are several other factors that can directly impact the effects and even possibly the development of or increase in symptoms.

Mental illness is not just a disorder of our minds but a brain/body connection that involves many parts and pieces.

If we want to truly improve our mental health we must embrace all the parts and pieces that contribute to it and work to have all of them at the best functioning possible.

We are not a single diagnosis, we are a complex construction requiring attention to the whole being, not just what’s in our heads.

Until next time be well,