Broken Sons of Narcissistic Mothers

Sons of a Narcissistic Mothers

Randi G. Fine, Author

From the book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery © 2017

The experience I have with sons of narcissistic mothers was gained through my counseling work with them. I can assure you that the extent to which they can be broken and confused are equal to that of women—sometimes even worse.

Overcoming pain is not an easy thing for men to do. They have more difficulty than women do when it comes to expressing their feelings, and they are much harder on themselves, more self-censoring. Men tend to be less tolerant of their weaknesses and less patient of the healing process as well.

Maternal narcissist abuse runs very deeply in men. Without help, they suffer a lifetime of devastating emotional pain.

Sons of narcissistic mothers have a void inside that their mother’s love, encouragement, recognition, and validation should have filled. They lack the triumphant feeling and confidence in the success that Freud spoke of when he said, “If a man has been his mother’s undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it.”

As adults, these men strive for success and stability, but without the foundation of their mother’s love, nothing they achieve ever feels satisfying.

Narcissistic mothers assign childhood roles to their sons just as they do their daughters. All three roles are equally abusive but in different ways.

There is always a golden child, scapegoat child, and sometimes an invisible child. If there is only one child he may play a variety of roles. Roles can be switched, but there can be only one golden child at a time.

The Golden Son

A son chosen for the golden child role is revered like a god. He is the mother’s ideal in every way. As a reflection of her perfect self, she values his superficial qualities such as appearance, academic or athletic performance, and talent. The person he is inside is never nurtured.

To retain the favor of the golden child status the son must submit to total enmeshment with his mother. Constant praise and adulation is his reward. It is constantly reinforced to him how perfect, handsome and charming he is. No one will ever make the golden child feel as entitled and superior as his mother does. Still, he is not immune to her head games.
Always worried about her supply getting cut off, the narcissistic mother must prevent him from getting too full of himself. By alternating between ego boosting and figurative emasculation she keeps him off balance and therefore dependent on her.

Narcissistic mothers employ the usual dependency tactics with their sons; gaslighting, infantilization, and triangulation. But there is an additional abuse tactic sometimes used with golden sons known as “Emotional Incest.”

Emotional incest is not incest of a sexual nature. It is a pathological form of emotional seduction initiated by parents with their children. Mothers turn their golden sons into psychological surrogate partners and expect them to meet all their adult emotional needs.
Using emotional incest, the golden son becomes her little man. If she has a male partner he will take a back seat to this child. Nearly every boundary that should exist between mother and son is crossed in her seduction. She flirts with him, hugs him, kisses him and touches him far more often than what is normal.

That is particularly violating during adolescence—a stage when boys typically reject mostly all physical contact with their mothers. But having not been permitted to go through the natural stages of maturity, golden sons may not see anything wrong with their mother’s over-affectionate behavior. Catering to their mother’s every need becomes their way of life. The message subliminally reinforced in them is that they’ll only be liked or loved if subordinate.

Instead of developing a rich inner self, golden sons are likely to develop the “doormat syndrome.” People will use and abuse them. As adults, their worth will hinge entirely on others’ opinions of them. They will forever struggle with self-respect.

Men who are psychologically possessed by narcissistic mothers have great difficulty with emotional intimacies. Their relationships are likely to be shallow and perfunctory. On a subconscious level, they always belong to their mothers.

Narcissistic mothers resent and reject every woman their golden sons date. Believing their property is being stolen from them, all out wars will be waged. Women who stick around are subject to a cruel and endless battle.

Golden sons experience tremendous emotional conflict. Repressed anger lies just below the surface of these men. While they are completely devoted to their mothers, they harbor terrible resentments against them for destroying their lives and relationships.
Since they cannot lash out at their mothers, other women become targets of their aggression. Many golden sons grow up to be womanizers.

The scenario is very different for golden sons who seek autonomy. Their mothers are greatly offended by their efforts toward independence. They take it as the ultimate betrayal.

These sons face a difficult battle with mothers who are dead set on punishing them. Their mother’s campaign of revenge will be spiteful, relentless and cruel. For boys who cannot yet leave home, this can be particularly trying.

There are no limits to the antics revengeful narcissistic mothers will pull. They will repeatedly woo their sons back in, only to retaliate again and again. Sons continue to take the bait because they want to believe their mother has changed.

Narcissistic mothers on the warpath are known to “accidentally” destroy things their sons love. When their sons make plans, they make every effort to sabotage them. Any opportunity to minimize or ridicule their sons’ achievements and successes is capitalized. To humiliate their sons they deliberately embarrass them in front of their friends.

It is impossible for a son to redeem himself. If he offers to help his mother out she agrees and then gives him slavish or arduous chores. Any act of kindness the son shows her is blatantly disregarded. Former golden sons do not understand why their mother’s treatment so drastically changed. They used to be adored. Now it seems their mother despises them. It does not make sense. They are just acting the way other males their age act, but everything they do or say is met with hostility.

Trying to get back in their mother’s good graces (while also trying to forge their own identities) they continue doing nice things for her, but everything they do is criticized.
If narcissistic mothers cannot have full compliance from their golden sons, they want no part of them at all. There is no middle ground. So resentful of their sons taking away their supply, there will be no end to their cruel crusade of vengeance.

The former golden son must continue pandering to his mother if he wants any relationship with her at all. This becomes his modus operandi in every other adult relationship.
As the giver, pleaser, and fixer in all his relationships, he will find being on the receiving end of others’ favor uncomfortable. He is not familiar with playing that role. Codependency issues born from childhood emotional abuse leave him vulnerable to people who only want to use him. All his relationships will be unbalanced and frustrating until he recognizes the part he plays in all the dysfunction.

Unlike the golden son who was held in high esteem for at least a decade or more, the scapegoat son will never be valued.

The Scapegoat Son

The scapegoat son sees how well his golden child sibling is treated and cannot understand why he is deprived of the same. It seems the golden child can do no wrong and he can do no right.

The scapegoat son cannot seem to please his mother. He tries everything he can think of to get her attention. It does not matter if the attention is positive or negative; he is willing to accept either.

His mother criticizes everything he does. She pummels him with insults, tells him he is stupid and worthless and calls him derogatory names. She insults his masculinity and makes snide remarks about his appearance.

Nothing she does dissuades him from trying to get her recognition. The worse she treats him, the harder he tries. Knowing how desperately he wants her favor, she will throw him an occasional bone. She does this to string him along, to give him glimmers of hope that she will treat him better, but things never change.

The scapegoat son does not like his mother but he does want her love. Those driblets keep him coming back for more. Whether or not he recognizes the manipulation does not matter. He will take anything she is willing to give.

He only wants to make his mother proud, but she never applauds him. Instead, she tells him that he is incapable of success; that he will never amount to anything and has only himself to blame.

Some boys respond to their mother’s degradation by acting out at school or in the community. Some run away from home. They are likely to get involved with other troubled kids. Many become substance abusers. The message that they are failures becomes a truth they live down to.

As an adult, the scapegoat son may chase success to prove his mother wrong, but he is unlikely to ever achieve it. Every defeat further reinforces what his mother told him about himself—that he is a loser, always was and will always be.

When scapegoat sons begin dating, their mother takes great pleasure in sabotaging their success. Narcissistic mothers have been known to make derogatory remarks about their sons to their prospective girlfriends such as, “Be very careful, he has anger issues,” or “If I were you I’d stay far away from him. He can be very violent.” Some mothers point out their sons’ defects, weaknesses or mistakes to make them appear less attractive.

Narcissistic mothers may pull out photos of their son with his previous girlfriends and show them to new prospects, or make a point of asking their son, in front of the girl he likes, how his previous girlfriends are doing or if they still keep in touch.

If these romantic relationships are ever to stand a chance, they must be conducted outside the narcissistic mother’s range of scrutiny. The odds that these relationships will succeed are slim anyway. Scapegoat sons are not equipped with the tools required for healthy relationships.

The scapegoat son is likely to choose a partner who manipulates and abuses him since that is the only kind of attention he knows. If he is lucky he will be taken under the wings of a nurturing partner who shows him the love, attention, validation, and recognition his mother deprived him of. In either case, these men will always feel unworthy of their partners or their love.

The impact maternal narcissism has on each son may vary based on the role they are assigned, but abuse is abuse. Scapegoat sons think that golden sons have it better than they do, but that is an illusion. They suffer just as much.

The Invisible Son

The invisible son is not given good attention by his mother nor is he given bad attention. He is given no attention at all. The narcissistic mother puts on no false pretenses, tosses no crumbs his way.

From her selfish viewpoint, his very existence interferes with her daily agenda. She has no tolerance for his childhood neediness. If she has to tend to his needs for any reason, he will somehow be made to suffer for the inconvenience.

From very young ages, mothers hold these boys responsible for feeding and dressing themselves. They are forced to grow up far too early.

Neglect is the hallmark of the invisible son, but there are extreme cases of total abandonment where these boys are deserted, given to someone else to take care of, or put in foster care.

Invisible sons who are lucky will end up in better homes with families who care about them, but there is no guarantee of that. They can just as easily end up in more abusive situations.

Whether neglected, rejected or discarded, the invisible son feels abandoned. Logic tells him that he must be an unlovable person or that he must have done some reprehensible, unforgivable act to make his mother despise him. The responsibility and guilt he feels for causing his mother’s rejection never goes away.

No form of surrogate nurturing will ever make up for the loss of his mother—the one person in the world who is supposed to love him. The pain of maternal neglect leaves an indelible mark on him. The emotional wounds fester for a lifetime. Many invisible sons self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to block the painful memories that haunt them.

Maternal narcissistic abuse is severely damaging no matter which role sons are assigned. The repercussions of it last a lifetime.

Narcissistic mothers never allow their sons to earn anything in their own right. They don’t like to be shown up by their children. If they can somehow take credit for their sons’ achievements, they will. If they cannot, they will devalue or ignore what they do. Should their sons fail at something, they will relish in it.

The only efforts narcissistic mothers support are the ones they initiate or those that make them look good.

Image is everything to the narcissistic mother. She uses her sons to replicate her perfect image—the self she wants the world to see.

Narcissistic mothers are very controlling, especially over their sons’ career choices. They do not care what their sons want to do with their lives. There is always a self-centered agenda.

If you are a son of a narcissistic mother it is important to know that what happened to you was not your fault. You have the right to feel hurt and the right to be angry about what your mother did to you. You may not have been physically abused but you were severely abused emotionally. That can be harder to overcome.

Please stop beating yourself up for things you had no control over. Do not give your mother one more second of your power. She has already taken enough from you. Allow yourself to heal.

Healing from maternal abuse requires that years of emotional pain be chipped away. That is something that takes time and patience. I urge you to seek counseling. You will not be able to do this alone.

This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with permission and proper attribution.

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Taking Back Control From Your Narcissistic Abuser

How to Blow Your Abuser’s Mind

If you really want to blow your narcissistic abuser’s mind, use the same deceptive tactics he uses on you. Gaslight him. Insist that you didn’t see what he said you saw, hear what he said you heard, or experience what he said you experienced. Don’t argue or defend. Deny, deny, deny.

Learn your abuser’s methods and use them to throw him (her) off balance. Take your power back!

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My Thanksgiving Gratitude Message to You 2018

Dear Friends,

On this Thanksgiving holiday 2018 I am so very grateful for the faith, love, trust, and support you give me every day. Thank you for allowing me a platform on which I can share my experience, knowledge, and perspective. It is hard to express how much that means to me. When I share with you I affirm the truths that I know, but from time to time may need reminders of. I am also afforded a place to share new truths, inspirations, and information as they unfold before me.

This has not been an easy year for many of us, myself included, but this is the time to remember everything we have to be thankful for–and there is plenty. From this day forward start each day with a grateful heart. Take moments out of your day to express your gratitude for the small things that you may take for granted but would find difficult to live without. Say thank you when things go your way or ease finds its way into your life, no matter how brief.

Focus on the positive side of every situation you find yourself in. You may have to soul search, but in doing so will come to realize that there is always at least one.

For the last two weeks I have scoured the internet searching for the most beautiful, inspiring gratitude message to share with you in honor of Thanksgiving 2018. Today I found this video and it resonated deeply with me. I hope it does for you too.

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. It does not matter where you are; who you are with or not with. Make it a day of gratitude.

And always remember, I am here to support you in any way I can. All you have to do is reach out.

With Love,

 

Enjoy this magnificent video.

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Thanksgiving Special for NPD Abuse Survivors

FEELING ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery written by Randi G Fine

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Are You Being Spiritually Abused by a Narcissist

Spiritual Narcissistic Abuse

Randi G. Fine, Author

From the book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery © 2017

Mark shares his Close Encounter:

I’ve been married to an intelligent, beautiful woman for seventeen years and we have three wonderful children, ages eleven, thirteen and fifteen.

My wife and two younger kids go to church every Sunday. My oldest son and I do not. I am not of the Christian faith, therefore have never gone. My son used to go to church with his mother when he was younger, but now he is in sports leagues on Sundays and I take him to his practices and games. His mother is not happy about that.

My wife is a devoted but very controlling mother. She’s a controlling wife too, but I’ve learned that I can keep the peace by doing things her way. For years we fought about me not going to church with her to “make the family look good.” I have had to put up with the silent treatment every Sunday for the last fourteen years.

Every Saturday, she reads me passages from her Bible or whatever Christian book she reads to try to make me feel bad. She tells me that I am ruining my chance of ever getting into heaven; that it is my fault that we will not be spending eternity together. I don’t buy any of it. It makes her furious that she can’t make me do what she wants me to do. She’s been able to manipulate me into changing many things about myself, but I refuse to budge on this one.

I can handle what she does to me, but not what she’s been doing to our oldest son. He was always her favorite child; he could do no wrong until he started having a mind of his own. When he told her he wanted to start playing sports on Sundays instead of going to church, her entire attitude toward him changed. Since then she constantly picks on him. I have to keep building him up when she’s not around to keep him from getting down on himself.

His mother tells him that he is not and has never been a good athlete so he should stop wasting his time—the time God has specifically set aside for prayer. She tells him that if he keeps doing what he’s doing he will end up in hell with Satan. I’ve asked her to stop saying that to him, but then her face turns red and she rages at me. She tells me that I’m going to hell with him and that we deserve each other.

I have never heard you discuss this topic on your show. Would you please do one and let me know when it will be on so I can listen? Thanks.

***

People find great comfort in spirituality and religion. It gives structure and meaning to their lives. In difficult times faith provides a soft, safe place to land.

Faith is personal and different for each of us. We each develop it in our own way and in our own time. No one has the right to judge others for their beliefs or lack of them.

Narcissists don’t care about the rights of others. They only care about taking control of others’ lives and will stoop to any level in that pursuit.

One control method used by some narcissists, but not often talked about, is known as spiritual abuse. As is true with other cunning abuse tactics, those who experience spiritual abuse may not even realize what is happening to them.

Spiritual abuse attacks people at the place where they are most vulnerable, the heart of the very thing that gives them ease. The faith and hope that lifts them up and gives their life meaning is viciously snuffed out and replaced by fear, guilt, and shame.

Those who follow religion, live in accordance to the doctrines of their faith. Because of the way these doctrines are written, much of the teachings found within them are open for interpretation. That is a loophole narcissistic opportunists may see and use to their advantage.

Rather than using scripture as the positive teaching tool for which it is intended, spiritually abusing narcissists manipulate the interpretations or take words out of context and then twist them to scare their victims into compliance. Some cite the words of Jesus, the Torah, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, Allah, etc. to give credence to their claims.

Spiritual abusers are believable because they act under the pretense of being men of God. They can be so convincing in their misrepresentation of religious teachings that victims fear the spiritual repercussions of non-compliance.

With all the other methods of abuse at their disposal, one might wonder why narcissists would resort to using spiritual abuse.

To believers, there is none as powerful as their God. Whether or not the narcissist truly has faith, he does believe he is superior, perhaps even God-like. Religion gives him the perfect platform on which to rule others.

Spiritual abuse allows the narcissist to:

  • Live out his fantasies of omnipotence
  • Speak for God or whatever Supreme Being he worships
  • Prove his righteousness
  • Demonstrate superiority over victims
  • Show that God or the Supreme Being he worships is on his side
  • Become the focus of a victim’s worship

Spiritual abusers masquerade as people of faith to fool others in ways that further their self-centered agenda of controlling them. They may use spiritual abuse as a way to:

  • Back up and enforce demands
  • Enforce marital “entitlement”
  • Instill guilt, fear, and shame in victims who don’t comply
  • Prove they are right
  • Put their victims down through the ridiculing of their beliefs
  • Justify their abusive behavior
  • Demand forgiveness
  • Control victims by denying their right to practice their religions
  • Control victims by forcing them to go against their beliefs
  • Control victims by forcing them to practice a faith they don’t believe in
  • Control victims by forcing them to raise children in a faith they don’t believe in

Because the nature of the abuse is spiritual, it is very difficult to identify. The fact that it is yet another manipulation often goes unnoticed. This is tragic for victims who once relied on their faith to survive their oppressive life. What used to be a source of safety, comfort and solace become a source of anxiety, fear, and worry.

If you recognize yourself as being or having been spiritually abused, consider the following:

  • Recognize that the purpose of faith is to elevate you, not bring you down
  • Practice your faith in ways that your abuser does not know about
  • Listen to what your heart tells you, not what your abuser tells you
  • Ask yourself if what you are being told makes sense. Challenge it. Search for the truth.
  • Take your guidance only from a spiritual source, not from a false prophet
  • Seek the support of a trusted member of your spiritual or religious community
  • Tell others what is happening to you; get your feelings out
  • Reconfirm for yourself the principles of your faith that you love
  • See the setback as an opportunity to learn more about and strengthen your faith
  • Weigh the options of staying with someone who hurts you this way

If your abuser believes he in any way speaks for a Supreme Being or is equally omnipotent, you are surely dealing with a mentally unbalanced person. It is time to reevaluate your situation. You are not emotionally safe.

This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with permission and proper attribution.

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Veteran’s Day 2018

via GIPHY

To the Soldier, To the Veteran

Author Unknown

These things I do not know:

The sound of a bullet.
The power of a blast.
The blood of a comrade.
The depth of your wound.
The terror at midnight.
The dread at dawn.
Your fear or your pain.

These things I know:

The sound of your honor.
The power of your courage.
The blood of your wound.
The depth of your strength.
The terror that binds you.
The dread that remains.
Your dignity and your valor.

For these things we pray:

The sound of your laughter.
The power of your voice.
The blood of your yearning.
The depth of your healing.
The joy that frees you.
The hope that remains.
Your wholeness and your love.

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Help Has Arrived for Narcissistic Abuse


Pathological narcissists are parasites. Their very survival depends on capturing live hosts to “feed” off of. But narcissists do not feed on blood as vampires, ticks, fleas, and leeches do. They feed on the vitality of human souls, sucking the life out of each unfortunate victim; stripping the person of his or her dignity and ability to thrive, and then heartlessly discarding the person when the supply runs out; just like rancid food. One would hope that pathological narcissism is a rare occurrence, a societal anomaly, but it is not. These vermin are everywhere. They infiltrate our families, our love relationships, our friendships, and our workplaces. Because of the covert and cunning manipulation tactics used by narcissists against their targets, those who suffer their abuse do not realize they have until it is nearly too late. By then victims are confused, disoriented, despondent, and self-destructive.

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Can Your Children Be Honest

Can Your Children Be Honest?

Parenting Advice: Establishing Open Communication and Trust

 Written by Randi G Fine

Children go through phases, particularly during their adolescent years, when they see no logical or justifiable reason to communicate with their parents for any reason other than to have their most basic needs or their material desires met. After spending ten or so years as the apple of their child’s eye, parents are suddenly seen as the “lamest” people on the planet.

Adolescence, the period of children’s life when they are most vulnerable to outside influences, is rightfully a scary time for parents. Children of this age become the target of many negative influences while at the same time experiencing hormones that are raging out of control. The only influence that they seemingly become deafened to is that of their parents.

From the moment of birth we begin a gradual process of separation from those we are dependent upon. That is how children emotionally mature into adults. This process becomes starkly obvious and seemingly accelerates during the adolescent years, a time when children are mortified at the thought of being seen in public with their parents and spare no feelings when telling them so. But parents should not be fooled by their children’s rejection and rudeness. Children expect the support, guidance, structure, and influence of their parents to remain constant.

Keeping children as safe as humanly possible, especially during adolescence, requires knowing what they are doing, what they are thinking, and who they are associating with. Communication, though difficult at times, is the key.

Very little is certain when parenting, but one thing is for sure. If we want to have open communication and trust with our children we must monitor our reactions to what they do and say. No matter how shocked or upset we feel we must always present a calm, non-judgmental front.

If your children have done something wrong they need to be accountable. When discipline is required it should be given in a way that is reasonable and fair. Children should always know that you are parenting and disciplining from a place of love, and one that is always in their best interest.

Children best absorb the lessons we wish to teach them when they can relate to us. The most effective parents are ones who are real, who do not profess to be perfect. Do not hesitate to share the mistakes of your past as it relates to issues your children are experiencing.

Other parenting quotes, poems, and articles:
Ten Things Every Parent Should Know (Article)
Raising Self Reliant Children (Article)
Unconditional Love Parenting (Article)
Unborn Baby Poem
Unconditionally Loved Children Blossom Grow Soar (Article and Poem)
Preparing Children for Life (Article)
New Baby Quote
Happy, Healthy Children Picture Quote
Good Parenting Picture Quote
Parents Love Builds Childs Future Picture Quote

 

Podcast Shows About Parenting

Tough Love

Given Your Children the Successful Edge in Life

 

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Navigating the Transitions in Your Life Part Two

Life Transitions

Written by Randi G. Fine

Transition is uncomfortable and difficult but nothing in life would exist without it.

Transitions have beginnings and ends. We cannot possibly know what is in store for us, but hindsight of our past will assure us that everything will work out for the best. The confusion will pass, clarity will be restored, and our vitality for living will return. The end will always come, followed by a new beginning.

Change is an inevitable reality for all of us; it will come whether we are prepared for it or not. It is just another one of life’s challenges.

Acceptance of your reality and patience with the process are essential. A transition can either flow through its course or turn into a crisis. It is what you make it. Resistance and avoidance only hinder the process and get you stuck. Flexibility is necessary.

Though we cannot always choose our circumstances, we can choose how we deal with them. We can be a victim of circumstance and give away our personal power, or we can make the best of the hand we are dealt and steer the course of our lives. It does not help to take a victim stance; to say “why me,” or feel sorry for ourselves. Life has not singled us out to be punished.

If you are one who has always resisted change, try to shift your way of thinking. Embrace transition as a positive process you can trust; an opportunity for rebirth. Life has a way of working out though it may take time to see the positive outcome. You can choose to have a positive outlook, to welcome change as a growth opportunity, even if you don’t understand he reasons behind the transition or are unprepared for the process. There is much in life that we do not understand. It is the big picture that counts.

When faced with the unknown it is natural to feel as if you have lost control of your life. That is because you probably have, but you have only lost control of certain aspects of it. Start by recognizing one small aspect of yourself or your life that you do have control over and exercise that control. Be sure to keep some things consistent. These strategies will help in re-balancing the loss of equilibrium you feel and give you back some of the power that you feel you have lost.

Change is dealt with differently by each person and for each transition. No two experiences will be the same. There is no manual, but there are strategies you can apply that will make the process more manageable and less stressful.

You cannot accept your situation unless you acknowledge your feelings and face your fears.

Observe your life from the outside looking in. What is the overall picture of what is happening? Ask yourself what the worst thing that can happen is. Often your fears take on a life of their own and cause you to lose perspective. Take a step back; get out of your own head for a few minutes. Take a rational approach.

Spend time alone to learn about yourself and gain self-awareness. This is the time to figure out what your needs are and who you would like to become. Take care of yourself, body, mind, and spirit; eat well, exercise, rest, and do things you enjoy.

Change your attitude from dread to anticipation. Understand that the comfort of old routines is only temporary. Take a new perspective; look at change as an opportunity for rebirth and growth. Try to find something positive about whatever situation you are in. Ask yourself what the potential opportunities that can come from it are and focus on them. Look back at your past to see how situations beyond your control ultimately benefited you.

Set manageable short term and long term goals for yourself, and then celebrate when you reach them. Give yourself credit for the progress you make. Identify any resources available to you that will help you through the process.

You may want to express what you are feeling through journaling. Reflection and writing on a regular basis will help to reduce the confusion you feel, help you identify your fears, and help you reclaim the power your thoughts have over you.

Before you can embrace the new you have to let go of the old. Create an event to mark the end of the past and the start of a new beginning. Make a ritual of saying goodbye to people, situations, or places that will no longer be a part of your life. Be willing to let old identities, roles, and routines that no longer serve a purpose in your life go.

Allow yourself to imagine the future as you hope it will be. Seek inspiration through books, blogs, podcasts, and special interest groups.

Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and ask for help. Share your feelings with those who are truly supportive of you, unconditionally accept you, and encourage you. You may need people you can emotionally lean on for awhile, people who will patiently listen to you as you obsess over the same feelings and frustrations over and over; people who will affirm what you are feeling and are willing to share their own experiences, their own positive outcomes, and offer you a more positive viewpoint.

Find an accountability partner—someone who will keep you on track, encourage you, and bring you back to reality when you stray. This is person you will share your plans and goals with who will motivate you to keep moving forward. Choose someone you can trust to be brutally honest and give you a dose of tough love whenever you need it.

Progressing forward in a healthy way is critical to the process. You may need the help of a financial counselor or mental health professionals to guide you.

Think about the many transitions you have passed through in your life. Realize that they have delivered you to this moment. You made it through the best and you made it through the worst, and you are still here to talk about it.

How did you deal with past changes? What would you do different? What have you learned as a result of transition and how has it transformed you?

The most important and probably most difficult part of the process is taking the first step toward accomplishment. Begin by taking one small step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other and propel yourself forward, no matter how insignificant the effort may seem.

Be proud of where you have come from, the strength you mustered in the past that got you through hard times, and the wisdom you gained as a result. That wisdom will be tremendously helpful in your ongoing life.

You may be experiencing transitions now and you certainly will be in the future. Expect that in life there will be periods of smooth sailing and times of hardship. Sometimes you will easily stroll down the path of life and sometimes you will veer off course.

Transitions are not indications of failure; they are opportunities for growth, renewal, and rebirth. They allow us to become the best we can possibly be.

Navigating the Transitions In Your Life Part One

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Navigating the Transitions In Your Life Part One

Life Transitions

Written by Randi G. Fine

Life is a series of beginnings and endings. Seasons change; trees blossom and then go barren, flowers bloom and then go dormant, day turns to night, years begin and they end, we are born and we die.

Endings are not sudden, nor are beginnings. They come about through the process of transition. Transitions, the uncertain spaces between the beginnings and endings of change, the pauses and processes of life, are inevitable.

Life does not exist without transition; it conveys us through the stages of life. Many processes of transition are subtle, occurring fluently and without our awareness. Our bodies and minds easily acclimate to them. But change, whether good or bad, can also be very difficult. We feel off kilter when the comfort of the familiar and convenient becomes the discomfort of the unfamiliar and inconvenient, when we are forced to adjust our lives in ways that seem foreign to us.

We each view the transitions that occur in our lives differently. The way we perceive them is based on a variety of factors; our personalities, life experiences, emotional fortitude, coping skills, habitual behaviors, life styles, age, economic status, and more.

Transitions are stressful for everyone, but for those who are creatures of habit and very resistant to change, transitions may be extraordinarily so. Those who look forward to and welcome change more easily adjust to the process that goes along with it.

Couples go through many transitions as they mature in their years together. Their values, decisions, and choices as individuals and as a couple will change through the years. They must be willing and ready to accept, respect, readjust, and re-balance as each person navigates through their own stages and experiences of life at their own pace and in their own way. Some transitions, like getting married, moving in together, having a baby, making career decisions, buying a house, or relocating are navigated jointly. Both people will have different points of view and must work together to compromise a happy medium. The skills that they apply to make these transitions flow will strengthen the relationship, making future transitions a little easier to go through.

It is normal to feel vulnerable, fearful, inadequate, and disoriented when the big question mark representing your future looms large in front of you. But transitions serve a very important purpose in our lives; they are opportunities for us to learn, grow, and gain new understanding of ourselves. They show us what we are made of, what our strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities are, so we can evaluate our lives and set new goals. They allow us to edit the story of our lives and give ourselves a new beginning.

Change may be voluntary and welcomed, but it may also be involuntary and unwelcome. Unexpected, involuntary, unplanned, and unanticipated transitions such as the death of a loved one, the loss or death of a pet, a painful separation or divorce, a financial or job loss, the loss of a home, an accident, or an illness are always unwelcome. Unprepared for this types of transition these events typically leave us with feelings of shock, anger, denial, depression, betrayal, fear, insecurity, abandonment, and a whole host of other negative emotions.

Expected, voluntary, planned, and anticipated transitions come about at specific times in our lives. Though planned, the feelings leading up to them are still are anxiety producing. Common anticipated transitions begin with graduation, retirement, a welcomed change in job or career, going away to college, getting married, having a baby, the first day of school, moving to a new home, or a young adult moving out on their own.

Some transitions come about unexpectedly but are the result of a welcomed change such as a job transfer, the start of a new relationship, a promotion, or relocation to another city. Transition  such as aging, declining health, the loss of a role as occurs with empty nest syndrome, or an anticipated job loss are anticipated and expected but involuntary.

We not only transition in life, we transition between lives. Birth is a transition, death is a transition, our journey to the other side some call heaven is a transition.

Children make anticipated transitions throughout their stages of development, but according to Dr. Daniel Levinson, so do adults. Dr. Levinson, a retired professor of psychology at Yale who is now deceased, developed the well-regarded “Levinson’s theory,” a comprehensive theory of the stages of adult development. The ages that are shown for each stage fluctuate; we are all different and so is the way we progress through life’s stages. And though Levinson’s progression is linear, we do not move from one stage to another in that fashion. We may revisit previous stages as life presents us with unexpected events.

To successfully move through each stage we must allow ourselves to experience the emotions that go along with it, be accepting of the changes that are occurring, and be willing to let go of the past.

According to Dr. Levinson, the first stage of transition, called “Autonomy/Tentative Choices,” happens from ages 18-26. At this young adult stage we are developing a sense of who we are as a person, independent from our parents and childhood peers. We are defining ourselves as individuals, initiating an independent lifestyle, testing out new friendships, peer groups, and romantic interests, and changing our focus from our family to our peers. The commitments we make at this stage are tentative with the awareness that we can change our minds in the future.

The second stage, called “Young Adult Transition,” occurs between ages 27 and 31. This is a time of disquietude. At this stage we question our sense of self, who we want to become, and what we want from life. We evaluate the choices we tentatively made in the previous stage, deciding whether or not to maintain them or change them, with a sense that the time of our carefree youth is quickly running out. We begin making commitments and connections, and sorting through our relationships, deciding which ones we will hold onto.

The third stage, called “Making Commitments,” occurs between ages 32 and 40. This is a stage of calm as we establish a more permanent sense of self. We implement the choices made in the previous stage; who we want to become and which direction to take in life. We feel a sense of mastery of our profession and focus our efforts on accomplishment. We make deeper commitments in our connections to society and community. Our relationship commitments to friends, peers, and romantic interests become more permanent.

The fourth stage, called, “Mid-Life Transition,” occurs between ages 41 and 48. This is a stage of discontentment, boredom, disillusionment, and rebalancing. We take a hard look at ourselves, questioning whether or not we achieved what we set out to do in life. Now half-way through life, we are coming to terms with our mortality. We focus less on our values and more on making up for whatever and whoever we neglected, wanting to make the best out of the next part of our lives. We re-assess the perception we have of ourselves, evaluate his values, and revise our priorities. We no longer feel the need to conform to peer, cultural, and societal pressure.

This stage is more commonly referred to as, “Midlife Crisis,” a natural maturing process first identified by Carl Jung. Though Levinson estimated the age of mid-life transition to be between the ages of 41 and 48, a midlife crisis might occur anywhere from about age 37 through the 50s. Due to the processes of life that may occur during this time of life, the difficulty of this stage may be compounded by simultaneous transitions such as divorce, bereavement over the loss of a parent, friend, or loved one, or worry over accumulated debt.

It becomes a crisis when we don’t understand the process and cannot come to terms with changes such as our aging appearance. When this happens we may find ourselves stuck, depressed, and frustrated. Dealing with this transition in an unhealthy way may cause us to do damaging things and make irrational choices that we may eventually regret.
At this stage, men typically feel the need to prove their worth, achievements, and job performance while trying to appear more youthful and successful. But they also soften their macho side and begin embracing more feminine interests such as cooking, or artistic endeavors.

Women, typically defined by their roles and relationships, begin reevaluating their performance in their roles as mother, wife, or partner. Realizing that they have put in the majority of their time raising children or being devoted to a career and are now free to make choices, they feel the urge to pursue the dreams they had previously shelved. Feeling that they have paid their dues, they focus more on satisfying themselves.

If you are in this transition, take notice of any negative changes arising from the difficulty of it. Are you suffering from depression and the symptoms that go along with it such as change in eating habits, fatigue, sleeping pattern changes, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, or obvious indications like thoughts of suicide? Are you suffering minor physical ailments that have no explanation? Deal with these symptoms as soon as possible, before you lose control or something terrible happens. Consider consulting a therapist to help guide you through the process.

When dealt with in a healthy manner, mid-life transition can be a time of tremendous growth. Support from close friends and loved ones will help us more easily navigate our way through the process.

The fifth stage, called “Leaving a Legacy,” occurs between ages 49 and 65. At the peak of our maturity, this has the potential to be one of the most productive stages. At this stage we focus on values that mean the most in the scheme of life. We are driven to make the best out of the time we have left by helping others, and we feel compelled to leave a positive legacy. We let go of our false ego and accept ourselves as worthwhile, regardless of our weaknesses. We feel less compelled to impress others and more compelled to make things better for them. We engage in deeper and more productive relationships with family, friends, and are driven to make contributions to society.

The sixth and last stage, called “Spiritual Denouement,” occurs from ages 66 and beyond. This is a stage of completion and fine-tuning. At this stage we are completing our spiritual development and the development of the person we wish to become. We come to terms with the limitations of ourselves and our mortality, recognizing that life is only a part of our existence and accepting that there is greater universal wisdom. And with that acceptance we become more willing to submit ourselves to its will or whatever higher power we believe in. As we prepare to leave our mark on the world we have a strong desire to pass the wealth of wisdom we have gained onto others.

Navigating the Transitions in Your Life Part Two

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