Last night my husband, Angel and I had a silly argument which ended up with me choosing to sleep on the sofa. Despite the fact that I felt pretty self-righteous about standing up for myself in wanting to take care of my mother, in the back of my mind I felt like my past was biting me in the butt. I consider it a real gift to finally be able to see myself and my situation from an observer’s point of view.

Anger for me has always been a powerful trigger that has left me feeling unresourceful. But Wow! I have come so far in being able to deal with people’s anger. I no longer feel like I have to hide under a desk if I have to call to confront an angry tenant. I no longer feel like I’ll die if someone points at me and yells accusations or insults at me. As a child and  young adult, because I lived under a cloud of rage and abuse for so long, anytime anger is in the mix, fear will probably always be my first reaction. But it’s nice to know that I can get my mind back by changing the filter of my thoughts. Now I use tapping or meditation to calm myself so that I can move beyond my own primitive brain and get back to thinking clearly again.

I’ve learned a big lesson–It’s not always about me. As children we all grow up believing that the world revolves around us. If anything goes wrong in our lives, it’s our child-like tendency to blame ourselves. We bear the burden of blame for our parent’s divorces, infidelities, abuse issues and lack of ability to love. We grow up thinking it’s all our fault and we end up hating and resenting ourselves for our weakness and imperfections.

In the early stage of our 28 year marriage, I always felt like my relationship with my husband, Angel was on shaky ground. In truth, I’m a very lucky woman to have such a wonderful husband. But living through an abusive past has taken a toll on my marriage and my life. For years I’ve been so used to playing the role of victim. And in a perverse way, constant drama, fear and chaos had become comfortable for me. Fear was real when I was a little girl. But as an adult facing emotional and verbal abuse, from a father I adored, it undermined my confidence at every level. My life changed when I began to work on accepting myself and putting to peace the many pains of my past. Here are some important things I learned about how you can use self-love to save your sanity:

Safety – Always consider your well-being and protection as your first priority. Violence is very real and you must never remain in a space where you are not safe.

Choose your focus – When you’ve been a victim of abuse, there are so many triggers that stimulate the fear receptors in your body. Your emotions get churned up by the thoughts you think. If you continue focusing on all things that keep you feeling overwhelmed and anxious, you’ll feel powerless. Know that by changing your focus it’s the first step to breaking the cycle of self-perpetuating abuse in your life.

It’s not personal. It may seem like second nature to always assume the worst of people whenever you get into a personal conflict. But deep down we are all vulnerable to one degree or another. Everyone has their own issues, and when they react in pain, get angry, and say hurtful things, that is a signal to you to step back and pause and look at the situation from another perspective. Get some distance from them to see that person from the eyes of their past experience so you can better understand them.

Cope with your stress – Learn tools to relax and calm your body and de-stress your mind. I swear by meditation. My version of meditation is sitting in silence for 20 minutes at a time. I set my phone timer for 20 minutes and once I close my eyes, I disconnect from everything. It’s so easy.  I used to get hooked and frustrated because I tried to eliminate all thoughts. Now I watch my thoughts parading by and within a few minutes I feel separate from them and then I start to yawn. By the time my timer goes off, I feel like I’ve gotten the benefits of enjoying a 60 minute massage or reflexology session.

Ditch the drama – Just say, “No.” Put an end to all the situations in your life where you are unconsciously re-living the consequences of your past. No matter what you do in the present you can’t undo your past.  All you can do is make peace with it and move on. You don’t have to fix everybody and  you don’t have to rescue every stray. Our cat, Owie came to us as a stray and we gave him a loving home. But in 2005 after rescuing him, my heart cracked open and I wanted to rescue all the strays that came to our backyard. I told myself a story that they were all Owie’s extended family.

Eventually over the course of 2 years, my neediness of wanting to save the strays, ended up in our family raising 7 litters of kittens, who all grew to be adult cats, each named and loved.

Sadly as much as I tried, I couldn’t get anyone to adopt any of them. They lived outdoors in our pool shed. When it was time to move from our home, it crushed me to have to accept that I couldn’t handle the feral cats to socialize them enough to find homes that would love and want them as much as we did. I cried for weeks grieving the loss of the last 3 who refused to be captured and brought to safety before a big storm. I now realize that the craziness that I created in my life with the cats was entirely my own doing. It was a powerful and painful lesson I learned about letting go and accepting what is. Take my advice. Make your mental health a priority. Step away from the drama.

Have you been getting triggered by anxiety? There’s always going to be some drama in our lives going on, and you can always stay cool even though things are heating up by remembering that you are an adult now and it’s up to you to nurture, treasure, love, accept and forgive yourself. Nobody else can do that for you the way you can. Reclaim your power and take a stand. Want some help to change your stinking thinking? Get my free ecourse; Get the Fat Out of Your Head. Click on the image below to get the course.