Posts Tagged: strategies

Strategy to Survive Emotional Pain: Part III

When relationship turmoil or loss consumes your every waking moment, it is important to have a strategy for survival. If you can’t do anything to improve the relationship, or to bring back what’s been loss, you are left with limited choices.

But choices, none the less. And choices mean power.

Take Heart


If you have been in my sessions before, you will know I refer to Viktor Frankl often. He was a Jewish Psychiatrist and Neurologist  held in Nazi concentration camps for years before being released and moving to America. After his rescue, he wrote a powerful little book about his experiences and theory called, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

In his three years in the camps, he discovered the difference between those prisoners who took hold of their power of choice, and those prisoners who did not. Although all prisoners had lost family, wealth, profession, and every human dignity, Frankl discovered there was one thing each prisoner still maintained, and that was their choice of response. He writes,

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Isn’t that an interesting concept? That when all is stripped away, we still possess power for growth and freedom… within ourselves?

He also wrote,

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They have have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.



As you are faced with challenging situations, and what feels like hopeless circumstances, you still possess your most powerful asset, and that is your power of choice. You can still chose how to respond to the bad that is happening to you. You may feel like you are powerless in your situation, but you’re not. You must exert a different kind of power than you’re used to. As you harness the power of your attitude, personal choice and response, you will experience true growth and freedom, from the inside out. From those small choices, you will change your environment and you will see new opportunity.

The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me.

There is purpose in your suffering, and you will find it along the way as you chose your attitude, your responses, and your growth. No one may truly know the depth of your suffering and your loss, but I believe that God is in those small choices, and you will find your strength again. The stronger you become, through each small response, the clearer you will see your options for freedom, love and life.

Strategy for Surviving Emotional Pain: Part II

We make plans for vacations, for the future, for our career and for our kids. But what about making plans for surviving heart ache? If you find yourself in a season of loss or relationship turmoil, having a survival strategy is key. You may not be able to make the pain go away or the relationship better, but you can figure out how to survive it and get through to a better season.

sun through trees

Last week, I wrote about the Two Key Strategies to Survive Emotional Pain, and today I am breaking down those strategies into practical, doable bites.

Disappointments, break ups and unexpected tragedies can leave you feeling devastated and lost. Everyone goes through challenges and difficulties, but not everyone knows what to do with themselves when difficulty comes. When you experience a season of loss, choosing the right coping strategies makes all the difference.


light on the journey


  1. Distraction: Distracting your brain from internal psychic pain is a necessary tool during recovery. Some people see distraction as a cop out with temporary results. However, distracting the brain from it’s anxious worry or rehearsal of past events, is actually a very healthy way to deal with trauma, loss and pain. When used as a temporary break from the problem, distraction is a useful tool. Examples of healthy distraction are watching a movie, going to work, reading a book, working on a project, exercise class, etc.
  2. Contribution: Using your energy to contribute to someone else’s well being is a positive way to cope while experiencing your own distress. Finding ways to help, encourage, care for or give to other people can provide a sense of control, purpose and meaning.
  3. Prioritize Problems: Choosing one problem to work on at a time is an effective way to address stress from work, relationships, and child raising. Trying to tackle all the problems at once becomes self-defeating. However, selecting one problem at a time helps you get unstuck and in gear.
  4. Self Sooth: Taking time to sooth yourself throughout the day is not indulgent. In fact, it is smart. People who take a minute three times a day to do something self-soothing are happier, stronger and more effective. This could be any small action like lighting a candle, listening to nice music, taking a walk, breathing in fresh air, petting a dog, holding a baby, taking a shower, rubbing your temples, or using essential oils. Consistent attention to self care makes the body and brain feel better.
  5. Gratitude: Noticing things that you are thankful for begins an attitude shift from insufficiency to sufficiency. Instead of focusing on the loss, the grief, the hole, or the things you don’t have, focus and give thanks for the things you do have. Practicing gratitude is a form of mindfulness and establishes a mind of peace.
  6. Mastery: Putting energy into proficiency and competency can help treat grief, loss, trauma and psychic pain. Whether it be practicing tennis, a new language, yoga, or learning to cook, mastery of skills is a way for the brain to focus and be rewarded. It’s harder, but better.
  7. Pleasure: Experiencing pleasure is a distraction technique used to ward off overwhelming feelings. Pleasure can come from a latte, a visit to a park, an orgasm or a good discount at your favorite store. It is important to give yourself small pleasures, and permission to enjoy that pleasure while you are recovering from difficult times.
  8. Creativity: Allowing yourself to create something new affects the pleasure centers of the brain. It’s like medicine. Whether it is writing a song, coloring a picture, making an album, planting a garden, or trying a new recipe, creating is good for the soul.


When you are recovering from something hard, devastating or traumatic, it is important to use that recovery time to do things that are helpful and good for you. It may be tempting to fall into negative patterns, (drinking, extra-marital relationships, over spending, etc.) but small helpful choices go a long way in helping you get your life back.

These Survival Strategies are like vitamins, that when taken and practiced over time, can produce remarkable results. There are no quick fixes to psychological pain, heart break or loss. However, there is a pathway through the pain, and there is hope for the journey.

Cracking the Secret Code of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychological Manipulators: Part I

Have you ever been burned, and then wonder why you didn’t see it coming? The answer is that narcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators play by different rules. They speak a different language. Learning to crack the secret communication code of narcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators will help you identify them as dangerous, before they identify you as prey. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators use tactics, strategies and well plotted plans to outsmart their victims. They like to stay one step ahead, using their power and control to get what they want. Here are ways to recognize their secret strategies, crack their code, and reclaim your own power in the process.sad-girl-window

Be the Journalist

One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is to take a step back and observe objectively what’s going on. Think of yourself as a journalist who’s job it is to observe her surroundings, collect the evidence and report the facts. Take yourself out of the equation for just a little bit, and notice what is really going on. Ask yourself, “If I was an outsider looking in, what would I think about this guy?”

Identify the Strategy

Narcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators can garner support, solicit worship, and even radicalize followers with their influence and control.  They want you to be swiftly swept along by their promises and ideas so smoothly, you don’t have time to have doubts or ask questions.  However, if you recognize the strategy that’s being used to control you, you can stop to think through your next move. These common communication strategies used by narcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators are easily recognized if you know what you’re looking for.


  • Generalizations with few specifics (words like all, none, always, never, winners, losers.)
  • The Sales pitch- a one-way conversation designed to wear you down so you’ll say “yes.”
  • Over promise and under deliver- the sky is the limit, but real results are rare and shady.
  • Shifts the blame to someone or something else.
  • Projects his faults onto others who can’t/won’t defend themselves.
  • Claims he’s the victim to secure others’ sympathy.
  • Distracts others from his faults and motives with smoke screens (changing the subject, causing a distraction.)
  • Uses gas-lighting to manipulate the victim into questioning her own sanity, memory or motives.
  • Pathological lying mixed in with a little truth, so everything sounds “good.”
  • Shock and Awe to keep people mesmerized, quiet, and unable to act.
  • Threats to keep others afraid to disagree, to leave or ask too many questions.
  • Abuse (financial, emotional, verbal, sexual or physical.)
  • Putdowns (name calling, bullying, mocking or gossiping.)

weird-man-reflectionNarcissists, sociopaths and psychological manipulators exist in families, churches, and offices. You may live or work with one, and feel the daily struggle. Working or living too close to a narcissist, sociopath or psychological manipulator can take a toll on your self-esteem, your career and your health. It can feel like a living nightmare.

What To Do

If you recognize these strategies at home or at work, and think you may be dealing with a narcissist, sociopath or psychological manipulator, seek professional counseling. A good counselor will be able to empathize with you and help you make a plan to deal with this type of personality. You will need smart and supportive assistance to help you reclaim your voice, your power and your life. Next week, Part II will help you become Sociopath Savvy and learn ways to be one step ahead.



My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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