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Crossing the Shame Swampland

I really like Brene Brown’s work. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown says

“In Jungian circles, shame is often referred to as the swampland of the soul. I’m not suggesting that we wade out into the swamp and set up camp. I’ve done that and I can tell you that the swampland of the soul is an important place to visit, but you would not want to live there. What I’m proposing is that we learn how to wade through it. We need to see that standing on the shore and catastrophisizing about what could happen if we talked honestly about our fears is actually more painful than grabbing the hand of a trusted companion and crossing the swamp. And, most important, we need to learn why constantly trying to maintain our footing on the shifting shore as we gaze across to the other side of the swamp—where our worthiness waits for us—is much harder work than trudging across.”



Here’s how we can work on shame with EFT.

Understanding Shame

First and foremost understanding shame is a good place to start.

What is shame?
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”( Brown, 2013)
“Shame is a form of anger that arises when your boundaries have been broken from the inside – by something you’ve done wrong, or have been convinced is wrong.” (McLaren, 2010)

So putting it simply, the difference between guilt and shame is:

Guilt is when we feel we ‘did’ something wrong. It’s about an action. Shame is when we feel ‘we’ are wrong as a person.

Make EFT your companion and talk honestly about your fears while tapping.

With EFT you can cross the shame swampland

a) Accept what you feel truly feel

Even though I feel ashamed, I accept myself and this feeling of shame.

b)Tap on all the Catastrophic thoughts – What will happen if you allow the feeling of shame to come up? Tap on all the worst case scenarios in your head about allowing this feeling.  Example – You might feel that if you allowed yourself to feel the shame, you would feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with it.

Even though I might be overwhelmed if I allow this feeling to come up, I deeply and completely accept myself and how I feel.

c) Make a Shame List – Make a list stating all the incidents in the past that make you feel ‘shame’ and tap on them.

d) Perfectionism

“Brene Brown talks about practising ‘critical awareness by reality-checking the messages and expectations that tell us that being imperfect means being inadequate.’

Since perfectionism is tied to shame, check all the triggers related to this. For example – Do you feel inadequate when you haven’t done things ‘perfectly’? Tap on all the unrealistic expectations that you have and release the feeling of inadequacy and shame.

e) Developing Shame Resilience

“Shame resilience is the ability to recognize shame, to move through it constructively while maintaining worthiness and authenticity, and to ultimately develop more courage, compassion, and connection as a result of our experience. “ ( Brown, 2013)

Some tapping statements that can help you develop shame resilience.

Even though I feel ashamed, I would like to develop courage to move through it and let it flow easily through me.

Even though I feel shame, I choose to have compassion for myself in this process of letting it move through me.

Even though I feel shame and it makes me want to distance myself from myself and others, I want to develop authentic connection with myself and others as I let it flow through me.


The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren

How I healed my thyroid

I would like to share my personal healing story.  EFT along with lifestyle changes helped me shrink a complex cyst in my thyroid, and heal other related symptoms of sub-clinical hyperthyroidism, without any medication.

Diagnosis (April, 2015)

In April 2015, I noticed a big lump in the left side of my throat. I also started feeling a throbbing pain in the lump. I did some tapping on my own and with a friend; this brought about a significant reduction in the pain.
During the next one week, I kept hoping that it would go away and it was due to some muscle pull or injury in the krav maga classes I was taking. It would have been much easier to deal with that!  But no such thing happened. I spoke to my dad over phone, who is a doctor, and saw a general physician. They suggested that I go for a scan and blood test.
The day I went for a scan I had read and tapped enough. So the scan results didn’t come as a big surprise. The scan showed a complex cystic lesion, measuring 3.0*2.1*1.7 cm. It also showed enlarged lymph nodes in my throat. The radiologist suggested immediate biopsy (FNAC) due to the size and the nature of the cyst.

The FNAC was painful but tapping on my fingertips helped me get through it. When I went home, naturally my mind started throwing all the worst case scenarios at me. I tapped on allowing , accepting and releasing these feelings. I also tapped on staying hopeful in the face of uncertainty, believing that everything would be alright, but at the same time I was prepared to deal with whatever came up.

One thing that kept bothering me was the thought that – “How could I get something like this when I have mostly taken care of my emotional and physical health?” I spoke to my dad and his words consoled me. He said, “You have a body hence there will be ailments. Don’t dwell too much on it. Focus on getting better”.  And I did.

I also got the blood test done and discovered that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was abnormally low, just a mere 0.1. The normal range is 0.35 -5.50. I also had high serum cholesterol (250) and LDL (177) which came as a big surprise since I don’t have weight issues. I became certain that it was due to stress.

The FNAC results came. The report showed that it was a colloid nodule with cystic degeneration, category 2 benign adenomatoid nodules.


Doctor’s Prediction

The next step was to see a thyroid surgeon to discuss this. Even though the doctor was very well-informed and he patiently explained everything, he painted a very grim picture. He said that I was at a sub-clinical stage of hyperthyroidism and all the thyroid hormones would soon become abnormal. My cyst could eventually act like a rogue entity (reminded me of a Hollywood movie!) controlling the hormonal secretions on its own. According to him, I would eventually develop hyperthyroidism if I didn’t go for surgery: He suggested that the entire left lobe of my thyroid had to be removed. Partial removal of the nodule/cyst wouldn’t help due to its size and complex nature. He also said that FNAC is not 100% accurate. No medication would shrink the nodule. All this information was  overwhelming, I left the clinic quite shaken.


Understanding the symptoms and their deeper causes

After coming home and while discussing it with my husband, two things became clear. One that I could now explain why I had  palpitations, tremors and fatigue for the past couple of months; second that this was a wake up call for me and I needed to make some changes in my lifestyle. Although, my ECG, blood sugar and blood pressure were normal, I had palpitations every time I went to bed. It was pretty debilitating and interfered with my sleep, and it wasn’t due to anxiety. I had some tremors in my hands and muscle fatigue and weakness. I realized that all these were symptoms of my body approaching a state of hyperthyroidism which in turn was a result of accumulated hidden stress.

My body was giving me messages, I just wasn’t paying attention. So in a way the nodule/cyst was a metaphorical way of alerting me to the changes I needed to make before my body went into the hyperthyroidism state. I still had a chance to reverse this condition.

I spoke to my dad and told him that I needed to carefully weigh all options before going for surgery. There were many questions to consider. I decided to give myself two months time to see if I could tap to reduce the nodule.


Healing Journey


I did intensive tapping for two months – from April to June. I tapped daily sometimes up to 2 hours by myself and also swapped some sessions with my EFT practitioner friends.

I used Regular/Classic EFT along with Choices Method and tapped on the following:

  • All the stressful events from the time my last blood work was done in 2013, when all hormones were in the normal range. During the past 2 years there had been a few crisis events in my family and I started clearing the unresolved aspects of these events.
  • Tapped daily on shrinking the cyst and normalizing my TSH.
  • Tapped on blocked creativity and finished the eBook on ‘EFT concepts Illustrated’ during that time.
  • Thyroid is the center of communication and creativity. I worked on the themes of truth, creativity, self-expression, being heard, listening etc.  I took up incidents where these themes showed up and tapped on them. Many incidents didn’t have charge until I saw them in this light.
  • I tapped on regaining the healthy function of hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid glands involved in the secretion of the thyroid hormones.
  • I worked on inflammation and having the lymphatic nervous system function in a healthy way. I also tapped on healing any autoimmune conditions that might be there.
  • I revisited some traumatic memories from my childhood and released the trapped feelings. Prior to starting my private practice in 2003, I had done extensive tapping on this and it was very empowering. Despite that, I still had some unresolved aspects that came up.

I also did OM chanting, moderate exercise and some breathing exercises. I was doing far too many client sessions daily, so I reduced them as well.


Results (June, 2015)

2 months later, I went for blood test and scan (June, 2015).

Cyst had shrunk. It was  1.9*1.3*1.2 cm

TSH was 1.85. (Normal)

All the other thyroid hormones remained normal as before.

The lymph nodes had also shrunk.

I had better sleep, reduced palpitations, and less fatigue.

Serum cholesterol was 201 and LDL was 135 – the best part is I didn’t tap on cholesterol at all. By tapping on all the stress causing factors my cholesterol became normal on its own. My doctor was surprised, said that it wasn’t possible for cholesterol level to go down in just 2 months!

I continued tapping for the next few months – nearly 3 times a week. I thanked my thyroid and tapped on further shrinking the nodule. I recently got the blood work and scan done (November, 2015)


Results (Nov, 2015)

The nodule has further shrunk and is now at 0.7 *0.5*0.4 cm. TSH is normal. Serum cholesterol is 191 and LDL is 129, all normal. My sleep quality has drastically improved as I rarely get palpitations. I have no hand tremors and less fatigue and body pain.

I will continue to tap and see how it goes. Since the cyst has shrunk from 3 cm to less than a centimeter, I am hoping to further shrink the cyst and probably dissolve it permanently. I want to reiterate that I didn’t take any medication. However, I made some lifestyle changes and started eating thyroid and gut friendly food.

We know that mind and body are intricately connected and influence each other, hence both emotional and physical health matter – we cannot leave the mind or body out of this healing equation.


Update (Aug, 2016)

On 19th August, 2016, I went for my thyroid scan again and guess what!

My cyst has further shrunk. It is now 6*4*3 mm. (0.6*0.4*0.3 cm) Also, all the thyroid hormones are normal.


A word of caution: Please consult your doctor and get all your tests and scans done if you have a thyroid problem.  If surgery or medication is needed; you can still tap on the post-operative care or the side effects of medication. In my opinion, you can start using EFT at any point in your healing journey and it will surely make a huge impact.

Enmeshed Parenting – The Codependent Parent

Codependency is a ‘relationship addiction’, often seen in parent-child relationships. We can often confuse narcissistic parents with codependent parents. But there are differences. Of course a narcissistic parent raises a codependent child who often attracts narcissistic partners, but that’s a topic for another day.

The difference lies in the degree of control they exert over the children. They also differ in terms of empathy. Codependents have empathy while the narcissistic parents don’t. Often there are overlapping features/traits between codependent parents and narcissistic parents and you will see that in this article.

Who is a Codependent Parent? 

I often speak to clients who have codependent parents. A codependent parent-child relationship is an enmeshed relationship where the boundaries are blurred. Children of codependent parents have a tough time coming out of these enmeshed relationships.
Before I go further, it is important to distinguish between codependent and interdependent relationships.

“Having dependency needs isn’t by itself unhealthy. We all have them. In an interdependent relationship, however, each party is able to comfortably rely on the other for help, understanding, and support. It’s a “value added” kind of thing. The relationship contributes to both individuals’ resilience, resourcefulness, and inner strength. All the same, each party remains self-sufficient and self-determining.” 1
On the other hand a codependent relationship depletes the individual’s resilience, resourcefulness and strength.

In this article I am going to highlight some of the significant characteristics of codependent parents and the impact this has on the children. I will be using brief examples from multiple real life client cases.

1) Child’s welfare vs. Motivated by one’s own interest

In a normal parent-child relationship, the nurturing that the parent gives to the child comes naturally and is influenced by the parent’s desire for the child’s welfare. It is normal for a parent to have aspirations and expectations from the child but in a codependent relationship, it’s more about the parent, what they want, than the child’s genuine needs. Even though the codependent parent thinks whatever they are doing is for the children’s welfare, they fail to see how much of those decisions are based on keeping the child in their control and overly dependent on them.

2) Healthy discussion vs. I’m always right

A Codependent parent is always right. There is no space for a healthy debate or discussion with their children. The children aren’t allowed to express their opinions if those opinions aren’t similar to those of their codependent parents. Any difference of opinion will be seen as an act of rebellion and squashed at the earliest, through subtle manipulation. In the end the codependent parent makes sure that the child’s opinion changes to fit their own opinion.

3) Child’s needs given importance vs. treated as insignificant

The codependent parent has difficulty in understanding the child’s needs. Children of codependent parents repeatedly get the message that their needs and wants are secondary  to their parent’s needs, and hence they stop valuing their own needs. And if they try to assert they are given silent treatment (not being spoken to) or physically punished (spanking).

4) Doing self-work vs. Victim mentality

Codependent parents blame everyone for their problems and take no responsibility for their actions. They refuse to work on themselves and resolve past traumas, instead dumping all their unresolved emotions on their children. They always act like a victim in front of their children. Many a times they share their victim stories with their children to garner  sympathy. They often expect their children to right the wrongs in their past and even blame them if they aren’t able to fulfill these unrealistic expectations.

Sometimes the parent even ends up playing the role of a frail and weak person who needs protection and parenting by the child. One client remembered her mother’s behaviour with bewilderment and resentment, and said, “I don’t understand how she could do this? How could she burden me with her stories? Only her needs were important, what about mine? I couldn’t be a child in that relationship, I had to be a parent to my mother.”

5) Genuine understanding of the child’s feelings vs. making it all about themselves

In a healthy child–parent relationship, parents allow their children to express all their emotions, even their disappointment, anger, hurt etc with the parent and they seek to understand the child’s emotions and genuinely apologize when they have hurt their children. A codependent parent makes everything about themselves. Children of codependent parents often say that their emotions were hurled back at them when they expressed them; the parent turned their emotions around and made it about themselves. For example if a teenager says, “ I am angry with you”, the parent repeats it by saying, “I am angry with you too” . A client said that whenever she called out on her mother’s behaviour, the mother became defensive and angry and said that the daughter didn’t care for her, how rude she was and was this the way to talk to her mother etc. She would start crying when her adult daughter brought this up; till date the daughter feels unheard and misunderstood.

6) Being responsible for one’s own happiness vs. Making the child responsible for the parent’s happiness

Children of codependent parents grow up feeling immensely responsible for their parents’ happiness. They were somehow made to feel that they had to keep pleasing their parent to keep them happy.

7) Healthy self-regulation vs. Rapid mood swings

The codependent parent cannot manage their own emotions; they have difficulty in self-regulation. They vacillate between extreme show of affection and sudden angry outbursts. They cannot handle or cope with any kind of stress and usually have rapid mood swings.

8) Authentic relationship with the child vs. Emotional manipulation

A codependent parent is emotionally manipulative. They will manipulate subtly to get their point across by using guilt as a weapon. They are skilled in taking their child on a guilt trip (“If you do this…., I will not love you anymore”) or threatening them with abandonment. (“If you don’t do this, I will leave you”) This trait is present in narcissistic parents in a higher degree.

9) Healthy protectiveness vs. Unhealthy control

A codependent parent wants control; they play different roles to get an obsessive love and devotion from the child. When children are young, their growing demands for individuality are squashed by either playing the victim card, by being aggressive, giving a silent treatment, or making them feel guilty. A codependent parent has many tricks up their sleeves to keep the child in control. (This is more common in parents with narcissistic traits)

10) Accepting one’s flaws vs. I’m perfect

Although everyone would like to think that they are the best parents, normally parents have a healthy understanding of their own behaviour and are open to changing their behaviour when needed. However, a codependent parent is miraculously blind to their own faults. They don’t take responsibility for their actions; can never believe that the child is hurt because of them. It’s always someone else’s fault.

11) Active listening vs. Never listening

A codependent parent never listens. Adult children of codependent parents (post 30s) realize that they were treated unfairly, they were unheard, visible to the parent only when the parent needed them for their own reasons. Grown up children of codependent parents often say that they were held responsible for bizarre matters that didn’t even make any sense as the parent never listened to their side of the story. For example, a client’s father wanted him to take on the financial burden of his business when he was a teenager. And when he couldn’t handle it, he was blamed for not helping.

12) Healthy expectations vs. Unrealistic expectations: Codependent parents have unrealistic expectations from their children. They expect their adult children to drop everything for them. They are expected to ‘always’ be there for them. While it is healthy to expect support and kindness from your children, thinking that they only exist for you is a sign of selfishness. (this is more common in parents with narcissistic personality disorder)

Some Effects on children ( Will write more in another blog post)
1) They get the feeling that their needs and wants aren’t important.
2) They are plagued by guilt and anxiety.
3) As an adult, they feel that they had to take on adult responsibilities at a young age; behave like a mini-adults.
4) Feeling overly responsible for their parent’s moods and needs.
5) They feel like they are walking on egg shells.
6) They constantly try to appease the codependent parent.
7) As grownups , they tend to be clingy in relationships, although they might also take up the role of a savior for others.

Conclusion: The worst part is that a codependent parent reading this article will think that they are not codependent. They aren’t aware of the way they behave as they think that enmeshment is a healthy parent-child relationship! However, if they are willing to recognize these signs, they can get into psychotherapy and bring about positive changes. They don’t lack empathy unlike the parents with narcissistic personality disorder, which will be the next blog post. Stay tuned!



Image redrawn from the original image found on this page:

“I’m always right” – The Narcissist Parent

People with Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have an inflated and grandiose sense of self. They think themselves to be superior to others and are extremely selfish. How they are seen in public matters a lot to them. On the outside they are an ideal spouse, lover, parent and friend. The world sees them as charismatic, successful, enigmatic; they have a larger than life persona. For example, a narcissist mother will throw lavish parties for her daughter and will be seen doting on her in the pictures, while showing a completely different side of her personality in private. She will be far from nurturing in her private life. However, every successful charismatic, extroverted person isn’t a narcissist. Many people have a high self-regard and a healthy self-esteem that might be seen as narcissistic in societies that value humility.

Narcissists don’t have healthy self-esteem, they have inflated egos. They lack empathy and an understanding of their own feelings. They are not in touch with themselves. As Keryl McBride1 puts it, “they cannot put themselves in your shoes and feel or understand how something might affect you. They can only see how it affects them. They are hypersensitive to criticism and judgement, but constantly criticize and judge others”

They tend to do things that only serve them. They will manipulate, control, abuse and dominate people closest to them, without holding any accountability. A narcissistic parent does the same. They see the child as an extension of themselves, brought on this earth for the sole purpose of becoming their miniature selves and to obey them.

These are some of the unique characteristics of the narcissistic parents:

  • Control: They manipulate and brainwash their kids; they are master manipulators. They surpass the codependent parents in this category by miles. Children of narcissist parents get the message that their needs and wants are not important. They have to behave exactly how the parent wants them to. They are manipulated into doing what the parent wants. For example, an 8-year-old boy wanted to take piano lessons but the mother told him that it wasn’t good for him. This wasn’t because there was any shortage of time or money but because she wanted to spite her ex-husband who was all for it. She blatantly manipulated the child’s interest to show how much she was in control of the situation. The boy gradually stopped protesting and started thinking that he didn’t have any interest in it as well. A narcissistic parent will keep repeating and demanding something until you yield.
  • I’m always right: A narcissist parent is always right. There is no space for a healthy debate or discussion with their children. The children aren’t allowed to express their opinions unless those opinions are similar to those of their narcissistic parents. Any difference of opinion is squashed at the earliest through punishment or manipulation. In the end, the narcissist makes sure that the child’s opinion is changed to fit their own opinion and the child is even influenced to feel that their personal opinion has no value.
  • Seeing the child as a surrogate spouse or friend: In a normal and healthy parent-child relationship, the child is guided by the parent. While the parent can become a friend to the child, the primary role is that of a parent, until the child is old enough to see the parent in the role of a friend as well. In narcissistic parenting, sometimes the child becomes the parent, the care-giver, the savior. The parent ends up behaving with the child as a friend or spouse – both of which are equally unhealthy for the child and the parent. My client’s divorced mother shared inappropriate personal details, about her ongoing relationship, with her 7-year-old daughter. She also shared each and every tiny detail with her – her fights with her friends, her boy-friend’s quarrels with her etc. She ended up burdening her daughter with inappropriate information that the child wasn’t equipped to digest. This kind of parenting severely limits the child’s capacity to develop his/her unique self. The parent changes who the child is by constantly engulfing and/or rejecting the child; the parent doesn’t draw any healthy boundary.
  • Disconfirmation: They continuously disconfirm the parts of the child’s personality that they don’t like seeing – like growing autonomy or having personal likes and dislikes. The child ends up repressing their feelings and disowns the parts of their self that are disliked by the parent. For example, if you cry when you are hurt, your narcissistic parent will tell you to stop crying and be strong. “It’s nothing, what are you crying for?” I have worked with grownup children of narcissistic parents who felt crazy for expressing their most basic human needs of being listened to and understood. Their parents turned a deaf ear whenever they expressed that they were hurt or upset.
  • No empathy: They have no empathy for the child’s state of mind. Since the child is continuously subjected to the parent’s mood swings and silent treatments, the child is anxious and fearful to go against the narcissist parent’s wishes However, the parent is oblivious to all this.
  • Diminishing the child’s personality: The children of narcissistic parents realize at a young age that they have to diminish their personality to mould themselves into what their narcissistic parents want. They have to give up on their individuality to survive. For the sake of self-preservation they will do anything they are told. If they don’t fit into the behaviour prescribed for them, they are ignored for hours and days and they end up apologizing to their parents in order to make amends and appease them. The punishments range from silent treatment to physical abuse and neglect.
  • Inconsistent behaviour: The narcissists vacillate between apathy and showing love and affection. Often children of NPD parents are left guessing as to what their parents feel. The narcissists often use double meaning words, give vague references, keep the child guessing and seldom answer their children directly, in order to control them. You might keep pleading to your narcissist parent for hours to speak to you and he/she will keep ignoring you, till you do what you’ve been asked to do.
  • The child knows he/she isn’t loved: Deep down the children understand that they aren’t truly loved. They will be good enough for the narcissistic parents only till they do what they are told to do. For example, a narcissistic father will want his son to become as successful as him so that he can show him off to his colleagues. A narcissistic mother will make sure her daughter fits the conventional standards of beauty, and is always nitpicking on the daughter’s appearance, she is too thin, too chubby, has thin eye brows, long face etc. As a kid you will get the message that, “You will be only loved if you comply with my wishes. You are only good enough if you look and behave like I do.”
  • Abuse in the name of discipline: Children often get punished for not obeying their narcissist parents. And they are manipulated into thinking that being slapped, spanked, abused and/or the silent treatments they are meted out to them are okay – that it is good discipline.
  • Favouring one child over the other: The one they choose gets all their praise and attention. The other child becomes a scapegoat and gets blamed all the time. One of my clients was recounting how her elder sister got all the praises and my client was blamed and criticised all the time, although she took care of her mother in her old age and her sister didn’t. All her elder sister’s transgressions were forgiven and even a minor mistake by my client was withheld against her and used to manipulate her.
  • They make the children feel flawed: Their inconsistent behaviour and mood swings, make the children feel responsible. The children want their parents to be happy and appease them constantly, and when they fail they take the blame on themselves. They feel they have failed in making their parents happy, which is clearly not a child’s job.
  • They are jealous: They want the child to ‘only’ love them and depend on them. They get very jealous when children show love for anyone else, even their own spouses. If the child is happy with another person, the narcissist parents think they are losing control. They express disapproval for this and try to make the child feel guilty for being happy. For example, one of my clients recalled how as a child when her mother gave her one of her silent treatments, she would frantically ask her, “Why aren’t you talking mom? Are you okay? Are you sad? Are you angry?” and get no response from her.
  • Gaslighting: The narcissistic parents lie to you by word or deed and deny your perceptions of reality. “It can make the victim feel as if she’s going crazy. If your perceptions of reality are constantly denied, and above all, denied by your mother of all people, the person you look up to and who you think knows everything, it is very, very head-wrecking and crazy-making.”2
  • Not taking responsibility for their mistakes: Whenever my client brought up incidents from her childhood when she felt unheard by her mother, the mother kept brushing it aside, instead blaming the client for bringing it up and making a big deal out of it.

Conclusion: If a parent has narcissistic traits as opposed to a full-blown NPD,  they can benefit by going for psychotherapy. However, people with Narcissistic personality disorder rarely see  psychotherapists and if they do, they have difficulty in taking responsibility for their actions. They do have a lot of internal shame that they cover up with manipulation. If they can truly acknowledge and accept their mistakes, talk about their personal traumas, learn to empathize and are willing to change their manipulative tactics, they can surely heal.




Shattering the illusion of an unbiased mind: Uncovering and transforming your biases

According to Laura S brown, “By the time that our first client, not to speak of trauma survivor, enters the office, the average psychotherapist will have had multiple experiences of classically conditioned associations with the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and other sensory cues presented by that individual. The psychotherapist will have bias simply by virtue of being human”

Therefore as EFT practitioners and psychotherapists, we need to understand the nature of biases and how to work on them. Even if you are not a therapist you will benefit by understanding and working on your biases.

In this 20 minutes presentation, the following topics are covered:

1)We are all biased in one way or the other;  we only have an illusion of an unbiased state.

2) How we are coded to notice difference

3) The neurological underpinnings of Bias

  •  Role of the mirror neurons: Mirror neurons in the target person(the one you are biased against) can literally read your discomfort.
  • Implicit bias is supported by Amygdala.

4) Types of biases: Explicit (overt), Implicit (non-conscious) and Aversive racism

5) How do we acquire biases?

6) EFT protocol for transforming implicit biases:

  • Self Reflection Exercise
  • Uncovering, acknowledging with compassion and transforming implicit biases.

We need to become aware of these biases especially the implicit (non-conscious) biases. Only when we are aware, can we transform these biases with compassion.

the key … Is to be aware of the patterns we fall into when summing people up, and to learn to hold our views lightly and be more open to finding out about the people in front of us – Phillipa Perry.

Here’s the presentation:

Anger, freeze response & Krav maga

I recently restarted my Krav Maga classes. Over the past few years, I have been in and out of Krav Maga many a times for various reasons, but have always been drawn back to it. After my class yesterday, despite the soreness and pain, I felt good and decided to pen down my thoughts about what I have felt and observed in the last couple of years. I see this practical self defense as a kind of somatic therapy which helps you get in touch with your healthy anger, and also allows you to step out of your freeze response, amongst many other things.

Getting in touch with your healthy anger

I help my clients cope with and heal their anxiety, trauma, pain and other emotional and physical issue on a daily basis. And what usually comes to the forefront is that most of us don’t really understand anger. Anger has been demonized for a long time. It’s only recently that people are discovering that anger is a very vital emotion and when not suppressed or disproportionately expressed, it can help us in many ways. And this is where Krav Maga comes in.

Karla Mclaren calls anger “the honourable sentry”. Healthy anger helps you take a stand for yourself without violating the boundary of others. It teaches you to respect your boundaries as well as that of others. “Anger arises to address challenges to your standpoint, your position, your interpersonal boundaries, or your self-image”. It helps “restore your sense of self and your interpersonal boundaries”

In a typical KM class when you are asked to practice with a sparring partner, by taking turns to be the defender and the attacker, you actually get a chance to get in touch with your healthy anger.

By defending yourself against the attacker, you get to protect your interpersonal boundaries and not let the attacker violate your boundaries. With specific set of natural reflexive techniques, you protect your personal space. When it’s your turn to be the attacker, your sparring partner defends himself/herself. This helps you develop a healthy respect for others’ interpersonal boundaries as well. So essentially you learn that you need to protect and restore your own boundaries and also make sure that you don’t transgress others’ boundaries.

The sparring sessions, power drills, aggression training etc allow your anger to flow freely through your body – while getting discharged in the specific reflexive action that is needed to protect yourself. The more you practice it in a safe simulated environment, the better you are able to channel your healthy anger to keep you safe when needed.

Freeze response

When there is any danger – real or imaginary – the body goes into the fight, flight or freeze mode. Freeze response is the feeling of being ‘scared stiff’.

Freeze response is also known as tonic immobility (Levine, 2010). This is the third reaction to threat called immobilization, or Tonic Immobility (TI). When you cannot escape threat, the freeze response or tonic immobility takes place wherein you do not feel the pain of the injury or in the case of the animals, the predator feels that the prey is dead. It is a coping mechanism to fool predators.

Now if we look at it in the Krav Maga realm, the defense postures help you complete the fight – flight response that the body automatically goes into when it is hyper aroused. You either run from the situation or you stay and fight. Either way you have tackled the threat successfully. fight-flightHowever, a freeze state can occur prior to the sympathetic hyperarousal, if you have concluded in that split second that you cannot overcome the threat. You go into the freeze state; the immobility stops you from running or fighting. Tonic immobility is a somatic dissociative response that protects against overwhelming threat that could result in death. If not discharged, this usually temporary response can also become persistent and chronic leading to trauma.

Animals shake off the freeze response by literally shaking their bodies. We as humans do not engage in this behavior and hence the freeze response gets stuck in our bodies. “The storage of those false responses or procedural memories is basically the structure of trauma.” (Dr. Scaer) [ Adding a clarification here: Humans ‘can’ shake off the trauma if they want to. For more information on shaking off freeze response, go to ]

When you keep practicing these techniques in mock scenarios, your body will gradually learn to come out of this paralyzing state of freeze, and you will be responding with fight or flight depending on what is needed in that situation. This will also help in responding to emotional threats without becoming numb or dissociating. If you’ve had trauma in the past, and have frozen in threatening situations, then those locked traumas will also get released in the form of minor tremors or shaking of the body. Certain stretching techniques that we do in the classes- when done for a longer period of time – can automatically result in shaking and trembling, which is simply the body releasing the stored autonomic and physical somatic energy.

Conclusion: Krav Maga lets you find the ‘gifts of anger’ and helps you come out of the frozen paralyzing response to emotional or physical threat.

Observe how you feel after the classes. Do you think they are helping you get in touch with your healthy anger or come out of the freeze state? Leave your comments below.



Karla Mclaren

Peter Levine,

Dr Scaer

Boundary Setting

Boundary setting is a skill and is needed in all relationships. I often come across people who are very compassionate, good at heart but fail miserably at setting a healthy boundary in relationships. They constantly help others, give away their personal time, let others encroach on their private space, aren’t able to say no, and most of the times end up resenting others in the long run.

Setting boundaries doesn’t mean not helping people or becoming selfish; it simply means that self-care is very important and if we don’t say no when needed, if we don’t stand up for ourselves when needed, we will let others violate our boundaries in small and big ways.

As much as you need to rebuild, reset and strengthen your boundaries and safeguard it from others, you also need to safeguard it from yourself! Interesting isn’t it? We can break our boundaries internally as well.  An extreme example would be suicide. Others would be self harm, lack of self-care, being excessively critical of ourselves, anger and self blame, addictive and mind numbing activities etc.
You can set boundaries with grace and compassion because when you do so, you show respect for yourself and others; you don’t transgress on others boundaries and neither do you let them transgress on your own.

Your voice is important

How many times have you suppressed your voice? How often do you suppress what you want to say?
How often do you clearly express yourself?

When I work with clients who have social anxiety, this is one topic that often comes up. Along with fear of judgment they fear that if they express, then there might be a conflict and in order to avoid conflict they don’t speak, ending up suppressing their feelings.

This is not just an issue for people with social anxiety but also for lot of people who stay silent to maintain peace in a situation. For example, if you have a spouse who is very critical, you might stay silent to avoid his/her criticism. Or if you have a very dominating boss, you will not voice your opinions openly in front of him/her. If you feel that any situation has a potential of escalating, you stay quiet and don’t express your opinions.

You don’t express fearing that it will lead to arguments and confrontation. In order to maintain peace, you put up with things that you would not usually put up with. You fear that if you speak then you will get into a confrontation which will lead to unpleasantness.

To maintain our peace of mind, we give up on our voices. To avoid unpleasantness and intense feelings, we give up on our voices!

This video will help you address this – How to find your voice again.
Your feelings are important, your voice is important and if you express with clear intent, you will feel more confident.


Imago Match

According to Harville Hendrix, Imago is a “composite picture of the people who influenced you most strongly at an early age.” It could be your parents, siblings, nanny – anyone who influenced you at that age. Everything about these people is recorded in your brain and this data is not processed or interpreted – it is simply there; and this influences your choice of your potential partner. In fact, the most vivid impressions of the caretakers – what you remember most about your interactions with them – are the ones that were most hurting and wounding. Those negative experiences are deeply etched in your brain because they were a threat to your survival. Over time, ” these ..bits of information about our caretakers merged together to form a single image.” (Hendrix, 2008)

The truth about Attraction

  1.  Whether you are attracted to a person or not to a good extent depends on how closely they matched your imago, especially the negative and positive traits of your caregivers.
  2.  You are also attracted to someone who makes up for your ‘lost self‘ – the parts of yourself that you repressed. For example, if someone repeatedly told you that boys don’t cry and reprimanded you when cried, you repressed that part of yourself and instead resurrected a ‘false self’, an image of a ‘tough guy’ to the world. Lost self is “those parts of your being that you had to repress because of the demands of the society”
  3. Growing up your false self protected you from further hurts and wounding, and you carried this image of being a ‘tough guy’ into your adulthood.  However, your tough guy image at some point is also criticized and you are told that you are not affectionate. False self is “the facade that you erected in order to fill the void created by this repression and by lack of adequate nurturing”.
  4. This causes further wounding, and becomes a part of your disowned self where you start denying your negative traits. The disowned self is “the negative parts of your false self that met with disapproval and were therefore denied”.

So essentially we look for partners who match our imago and compensate for the repressed and disowned selves.


What role does this play in the Couples’ Conflicts?

When our partner hurts us in a way that resembles what frustrated us about our parents in our childhood, our childhood wounds get triggered and we react in the same way as we did in our childhood.

For example, if you partner doesn’t talk to you after an argument for hours probably just to avoid re-triggering you, it might trigger your childhood wound – feeling abandoned. You will react by sulking or trying to get attention from your partner. In your childhood your caretaker might have behaved in the same way when you made a mistake by distancing you, and you reacted similarly by trying to please him/her to get their attention.

Imago Relationship Therapy: A brief Introduction

In the Imago therapy, these characteristics of your parents/primary caregivers are recognized and we find how our partners trigger our childhood wounds and our patterns of reacting to those triggers.

We also look at what we long for in the relationship, something that wasn’t given to us as a child.

Exercises in Imago Relationship Therapy

  1.  The potential of a relationship
  2. The childhood wounds that you experienced.
  3. Constructing the imago
  4. Childhood frustrations and how you reacted to them
  5. Parent- Child dialogues
  6. Positive and negative traits of your partners
  7. Imago dialogue – how to listen and talk with empathy
  8. Looking at the ways in which you drain energy away from your relationship – Closing the Exits
  9. Reromanticizing
  10. Surprise List – caring behaviors for your partner.
  11. Positive Flooding
  12. The behavior change request dialogue – learning about deepest needs
  13. The holding exercise – to deepen your connection and empathy
  14. Owning and eliminating your negativity
  15. Self integration – integrate aspects of your disowned and lost self.
  16. Visualization of love – amplify positive changes


Hendrix, H. (2008) Getting the love you want. USA: St Martin’s Press.