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  1. I recently observed some women who were afraid to take a stand against sexism (express their disapproval of sexist comments and behavior) because they fear that something bad may happen if they identify as feminists. If they spoke out, they could promote positive change, or ask for respect, but instead, they remain in a context in which they feel anxious and offended.

  2. It just cost a high level price for so many people…
    Thanks for this video!

  3. I have seen clients holding on to long past offenses and wielding power over thier partners by casting the offense up to them – blaming them for thier own unhappiness. I wonder if in finding themselves unable to forgive or let go, they have created a refuge of hurt and isolation which protects them from conflict by enabling them to play thier trump card – the past offense – whenever they are in danger of not being heard.
    I’d welcome comments and ideas in this.

  4. For me, this discussion is healing in and of it’s self. I’m looking forward to further progress to come from people working together here as a team. I hear more and more people where I work voicing concerns about their lack of skills in the areas of conflict resolution, speaking up and verbal self defense. Thanks.

  5. think it is pretty normal for people to feel discomfort with conflict. And not assertively addressing things often just leads to emotions bottled up in the body causing not only anxiety and depression but physical illness. Thank you Tara for sharing your thoughts on this.

  6. The video asks for feedback from psychology professionals. I’m not, but I’m an armchair-therapist and have reads lots about the inner-self. And I have very recent experience with this. My (ex?) girlfriend and I just broke up and I moved out, because we have serious issues to work out and we cannot seem to communicate in a way that helps to solve things. Her style is to avoid-conflict, and focus on the positive aspects of life. She has told me many times to let things go and not sweat the small stuff. So what that taught me was to be very selective in what thoughts or feelings I share with her. And it also meant that I never truly knew what was on her mind, and thought she was just happy most of the time. When she would finally break down after suppressing for so long, then it would become so overwhelming for both of us, that our problems seemed insurmountable. And for me, the more I held it in, the more stress I experienced and I would have a hard time sleeping, or I would explode over little things. We went to several different couple-counselors, and they all identified our inability to communicate in an effective and empathetic way, as the main source of our conflicts. Too often we led with our emotions and started with defensiveness, instead of doing what the counselors taught us, which was to lead with empathy. As I learned, that’s much easier said than done. The frustrations and built up anger got so bad, that finally we broke up and I moved out last Friday. We (including our young kids and respective friends and family) are all very upset and can’t believe that two people who love each other so much can be in this situation. But here we are.

    • Chris I’m curious…were you resentful of her positive attitude to life?
      How did you handle problems that bothered you? Did you often say that “the way I think about things is realistic? Maybe her frustration was being with someone so negative…. Rather then a build up.
      Life shouldn’t be so hard…

  7. Thanks Julie, Mitch, John, Val, Anne for the great comments and support! I really appreciate it. I hope its not too late to thank you for this. You have given me some great nuggets to chew on. In regards to my Dad I have gone through a journey. Through childhood I was complicit and didn’t realize what was happening. Once I realized I wanted to overcome and gain self esteem it changed to being very angry at him. Now its changed to wanting to “fix” him. I’m not sure this is healthy and will try Val’s technique to give him back the inferiority he placed on me. (not in a revenge way but a healthy way) I also think Mitch is right that he didn’t realize what he was doing entirely. His Dad was abusive to him and he seems to still be in child mode here. It does help to try and stand up for myself even though I don’t feel strong yet. I know I need to be assertive but not in a bullying way. I don’t want to be angry like my Dad. I also deal with being hard on myself and an incorrect feeling that I have to be perfect to be ok. I appreciate Mitch for saying “Let it happen” rather than to force it. I just hope I can overcome all this pain. Thanks for all of your understanding and help. I really appreciate it.

  8. My husband will do anything to appease people. Often it seems patronizing. It is confusing to our two grandsons, 7 & 9..
    I now see this habit being repeated in them
    It is poor self image like you say .but “suffering” is the way he was taught in Catholicism.

  9. I see some of my clients use over-rationalization, complexity to confuse the other person, silence, changing the focus of the topic/situation, shifting of blame onto a third entity or person who isn’t present, keep self busy and active, compliancy to name a few.
    I generally find the client is not aware of these behaviours until pointed out.

  10. There seems to be a pervasive conflict for females, I think, in all of our patriarchal societies. We’re taught to go along, submiss in the early years and then much LATER taught to individuate and speak our own truths.
    Taking *false refuge*, as Tara is talking about here is the LATER version of what we might-should have been taught early on. If, during implicit times (approx. conception to about age 2)our models of how to be are suppress-yourself models, then that’s the identity who is formed. Cognition that you *should be* someone you are not, does not change those IMPLICIT programs.
    UNDERNEATH that temporary avoidance of conflict– by taking false refuge lies POOR SELF WORTH worth. Pema Chodron teaches FIRST–there must be a deep unconditional friendship with oneself (as you are). The Buddhist concept of Maitri. ……

    • Yesss.

  11. Time and time again I see clients resorting to alcohol, drugs, work, eating as refuge for their inability to stand up for themselves, to count, to speak up. I like the concept of “false refuge” to start the conversation and bring awareness to the ineffectiveness of the chosen behaviour.
    Thank you!

  12. I have been following these posts and appreciate the insights that are being shared. Even though I’m not answering the question being asked above I’d like to share the description of a book that gives us concrete tools to stop being nice and start being real while considering other people’s needs:
    “Being Genuine” by Thomas d’Ansembourg … His work offers you a fresh new perspective on the proven skills offered in the bestselling book “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” [by Marshall Rosenberg]. Drawing on his own real-life examples and stories, d’Ansembourg provides practical skills and concrete steps that allow us to safely remove the mask we wear, which prevent the intimacy and satisfaction we desire with our intimate partners, children, parents, friends, family, and colleagues.
    I want to add that the founder of Nonviolent Communication also used these tools in his practice as a therapist and as well as a mediator in war zones. The key ingredient is to make ourselves vulnerable as a human being while expressing our feelings and basic human needs. It takes a lot of practice to use these tools because our limbic brain is doing everything it can to protect us from hurt. Being real does not mean to thoughtlessly throw our judgments at other people, it means to practice deep self-connection in every moment.

  13. I see that in order to face the conflict, the trust between client and therapist will have to be very very sturdy and the client needs to know that they won’t be hurt further by sharing their deep painful wounds. If they. have had trust broken so many times by those they have loved, trusted, family etc then it will take longer but as long as their are baby steps in place, the conflict may be dealt with more slowly. It can also fester a lot of build up of anger for the client in the process. I woukd like to do what I can to help client get to the place of knowing that I’m here to support them through the darkest stones unturned whatever they may be. This takes time.

  14. As a therapist who sees a lot of substance-abusing clients, I see a lot of avoidance and how that plays out in their lives. I often remind people that “Avoidance works. If we don’t do or say anything, then we don’t feel all the discomfort associated with dealing with it… but avoidance almost always makes our lives smaller and our growth slower.” It is also important to remember that we don’t have to accept every challenge that comes our way… we do have choices.

    • Well said. Applause. More. Continue.

  15. Brandon it is possible. See my article at on Integrity:the way out of catering. Also visit my FB page: Dr.Sara Joy David, R.Psych.0786, Emotional Wellness. You must do affirmations about being good enough. There is also a need to face, express, and release stored hurt, anger and fear so as to reclaim that energy and replace it all with love and Joy.
    KH, you may need a new community. You deserve support not more suffering and hardship. The cost of playing it safe is TOO HIGH. However, honesty and integrity are valued only by those who use it. The dishonest, the guilt inducers, the control freaks hate to be confronted and will distort, lie, manipulate to stay in power. Getting still and centered, re wiring the brain, opening to those already in integrity all are needed to tread this path.
    Thanks Ruth and Tara.

    • Thank you Sara Joy David for speaking what my heart has been telling me. I must be true to myself, and if I am treated with less than dignity and respect for doing so, then I must find relationships where people can celebrate me being true to myself.

    • Thanks Ruth and Tara. I read the article you recommended and it helped. I’m learning I can’t cater to my Dad anymore. I need to confront him and educate him on how he makes me feel. I haven’t decided how to do this yet. I feel I’m in the “face it” stage right now of my journey. I hope to eventually release the hurt inside but I’m not sure how this will happen. Thanks again for your insight.
      P.S. – I hope I’m not crossing a boundary by seeking help on this forum. I’m a student with emotional problems. However, I feel I benefit from all the experience here. I hope to be a therapist one day or at least learn enough to help my Dad.

  16. One client suffers abuse from her husband, doesn’t say no to her married kids who themselves have quite a few kids,spends an inordinate amount of time with her high school daughter doing homework and trying to motivate her. She does this at the expense of her health and is terrified to make the smallest of changes and of course can’t fit meditation in her schedule

  17. I am very greatful for the new insights in what can help people move forward out of traumatic systems within them and how changing that internal lockdown response can be unlocked and the kind of movement and feeling of safety works so well. Thank you so much .

  18. I will be aware of not seeking a false refuge when seeing my therapy patients today.

  19. I am in a healing community where I have been criticized for practicing not playing it safe, setting healthy boundaries, not people pleasing and learning to stand in my power. Every situation that I have attempted to practice this behavior in community is remembered and I am now described in negative terms and as a problem. The ideal place to practice this is in a community where I am encouraged and praised for making attempts at changing behavior, and coached when I may not get it exactly right. It takes time and practice to change unhealthy behavior to healthy behavior. I love my community and pray that I will find healthy ways to be authentic and grow in positive ways. Making a decision to grow and change is not easy and is not always met with warm fuzzies.

    • Dear KH
      You are right it is not easy and you are doing brilliantly withstanding all that is happening. It sounds la bit like the swan and the ugly duckling. I hope you find your new flock soon
      Best wishes

  20. I’ll be honest. I’m not a Dr. or therapist. I’m a patient. But I’m benefiting from the knowledge here. I have a question and would appreciate an expert opinion if someone is willing.
    This video talked about feeling “defective” or “not good enough” and this is the underlying cause for seeking false refuge by pleasing others or “going along with them”. This fits me to a “T”. I feel it is a key problem. My Dad made me feel this way growing up. I see that this feeling now manifests itself in all my relationships and the world around me. It took a lot of work to get to this point and see this on a “feel” level. I’m not sure the best way to proceed now. Is it possible to really get over this problem in adulthood when these feelings developed as a child and is how I came to see the world??? What is the fastest way over this mountain???

    • Dear Brandon
      Make it a molehill!
      Your Dad was probably feeling small himself and passed that on to you. Some-one probably gave it to him. You have done so well to seek help rather than just pass it on and now is the time to put the sense of unworthiness back where it belongs in the hands of your Dad.
      Imagine it as a parcel in your hands having wrapped it up nicely. Shrink it down in you minds eye till it is a tiny dot. Visualise your Dad as a tiny person with open hands and then hand him the parcel. Say to your Dad” thanks Dad this is yours not mine. I am sorry that you felt so bad yourself. I am grateful that I have found the strength to become the true, worthy me and to have the power to hand it back”
      Best Wishes

      • Val,
        Great idea to imagine that person as a tiny person, and `give back’ to a parent, (or ex, or a teacher.. ) their issue, that you thought was yours. I will try that with clients!
        I have friends and clients who are fear based, and are so very unhappy, but yet unwilling to make changes, as it may `hurt someone’ or just seems too scared, and so they avoid all potential pain, without fully realizing the pain they are causing themselves and others , i.e. The husband who stays in an unsatisfying marriage, and hurts his wife by avoidance, withdrawal- but stays `because he doesn’t want to `hurt her’, but its really about his own fears, as he hurts her daily by not loving her.
        The cost to avoidance is hurt, pain and no growth. Sad.

    • Some of my clients, Brandon, find it useful to violate their beliefs or suspicions in relatively safe ways. Smile at someone rather than walking a hallway looking downward. Ask a stranger, “Can you tell me what time it is?”. Politely say, “No,” when the person on the other end of a call asks if you can hold. Clients often begin to learn what they previously believed is not as true as they thought.

    • Brandon,
      You’ve hit the nail on the head. You have a lot of wisdom. The advice of Val, John and I believe I saw one other, is great. As someone who experienced the same, wondered the same and got over it, as well, I can tell you it absolutely is do-able, and its not that hard. We tend to make it harder for ourselves than it has to be.
      You may find mindfulness practice to be helpful. Perhaps there is an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) class you can join nearby? In any event, it seems you are well aware that your feelings are due to the conditioning you experienced as a child. Think of this as the programming of a computer (the mind). The mind can be re-programmed. Meditation is one very effective means by which we can reprogram it. In addition, watching our thoughts and behaviors and doing some self-inquiry are very valuable. Every negative emotion is driven by a deeply seeded fear and resulting “belief” about ourselves (of course, these beliefs are untrue) of which we usually are unconscious. So as Jung said, we need to make the unconscious conscious.
      MOST IMPORTANTLY: as you work through this process, and it is a process of familiarization, you will have advances and set backs, so keep this in mind: if this were a friend of your’s, what would you say? Most people have a strong inner critic (beating one’s self up). We wouldn’t speak that way to a friend, so why do we say it to ourselves? Make yourself your own best friend. When we accept that we are on the path, we are doing our best and that this is part of the journey, it becomes a lot easier to deal w/ the challenges. When we accept our challenges with gratitude, as part of that journey, we also can have compassion for ourselves as we work our way down the path. Remember, it takes time; its a process. Just allow it to happen, rather than forcing it.
      So, I say, “This is SO great!” I have no doubt you already are well on your way to living a great life as you benefit from the growth you will achieve with overcoming this challenge! That richer, happier, more fulfilling life will be all the better BECAUSE of this wonderful opportunity you have to grow!
      Best wishes,

    • I meant to add: it does not sound like you are blaming your father, but just in case:
      On my own journey, I found that the moment I took personal responsibility for my state – and stopped blaming them, things shifted for me. I realized that my parents each had their issues, that they weren’t perfect, that they had their own journeys to deal with and that it wasn’t their fault, they didn’t know any better. I suspect they never intended to harm me (and they were abusive, but I believe unconscious of the harmfulness of their behaviors); they simply didn’t know how to deal with their feelings. They didn’t have Ruth videos to watch ;-). So they behaved like children, which is what many parents have been doing for millennia. So it wasn’t just that I forgave them; I had compassion for them, for their suffering, for their unconsciousness which continues til this day. It doesn’t make me any better than them, either; it simply means I’ve educated myself on the issues and effected change. What they choose to do and how they choose to live their lives is up to them. The only life I can change is my own and I accept that and them as they are.

    • Brandon,
      I honor your speaking out in your quest. While I can’t say you “can really get over this problem” nor the fastest way over this mountain”, what I can say is accepting yourself as you are as Tara beautifully points our, knowing that with continued self-reflection and openness changes will take place, how you react and think of “the problem” changes, ultimately perhaps you may come to even value it, and/or other areas of personal growth begin to take priority. By what you say you already have a different relationship/sense and insight with the “problem” now you “feel” into it, the process is already becoming more organic. I regard the ‘mountain’ more as a pendulum, with many different positions but always changing.
      Along with the valuable suggestions others have given you, you may like to consider when you feel ready, joining a relational therapy group. It’s profoundly challenging but with persistence and bravery (which from your email is apparent) provides a great deal of information around oneself in relation to others. A chance to experiment in a cohesive group how you want to be in the larger world. The focus is of your way of being with others and less on your history.
      Warmest wishes