Adverse Childhood Experiences

Talk about putting things in perspective, this article demonstrates some predictable patterns and outcomes for those who experienced childhood traumas. The higher propensity for depression, addiction and victimization later in life, for example.


Imagine if we were more supportive, more understanding and less blameful about the impact of what people have been through and what their struggle might be.

It also pinpoints the responsibility – to ourselves, those we will be in relationships with, our coworkers and bosses and society – that we have to take care of ourselves given any history of childhood trauma. We’re not talking about excuses here, we’re talking about understanding and getting the help we need, the empathy we can have for ourselves and others and the information we need to be better parents.

Thanks to one of my favorite, most kind, gentle and powerful therapists I know, Kathy Metcalf, for sharing this piece and for always being so compassionate. She is an amazing resource for working productively on the effects of trauma in your life. I’m eternally grateful to her for the work we’ve done around the loss of my father, among other challenges. Also, thank you to Paul Cooper and T J Samadi Demme, two powerfully compassionate coaches, for the work we’ve done as well.

Obedience Can Be Dangerous


I was at a potluck dinner for the parents of kids in Marcus’ class this Friday night. I met the father of this very intelligent girl who is a bit of a chatterbox and doesn’t sit still well, but who is so lovely, so curious, so wonderful, so clearly well-equipped to succeed as well. Her father mainly wanted to talk about how disobedient she was, how her teachers in language school kept telling him how disobedient she was. He seemed shameful and wasn’t too interested in how great I thought she was. I was sure to give her a big smile Monday morning, happy to see her and now seeing the growing impact on her of being told she was wrong more clearly, the confusion building in her. She’s in kindergarten.

When the desire for obedience crosses with another person’e true expression of themselves, you’ve got trouble. This is where darkness occurs.

A facebook friend of mine and fellow coach, Mike Hrostoski recently shared a letter he wrote when he was a teenager that was truly saddening. A young man writing about suicide. The conflict between who he was and who his community wanted him to be was so clear. He then detailed his drug use, his confusion and his pain that lasted for years. He posted it here – (his site is currently down, maybe find it on his FB page)

No one could want Mike to go through this, to even have a memory of this and what’s even more gut wrenching is how many people we know are right where he was when he wrote that letter, who have gone through that, who are still wrestling with it and unfortunately, who may never truly try to free themselves, who get eaten alive by the ways they try to cope – power games, passive aggressiveness, controlling behavior, numbing out, withdrawal, acting like everything is ok.

Living in a society, a family, a culture is hard. These entities condition you. They ultimately mean well, but that doesn’t mean they are well-suited for the human condition. We need to teach each other how to cross the street without getting hit by cars. We don’t need to teach each other how to forsake our own self-expression, our lives. The results are heartbreaking and they lead us to transformation or unfortunate ends or both. As a father, this really hits home for me.

Mike is transforming his life with a fervor. Sometimes I can resonate with where he’s at, what he’s wrestling with today, sometimes not, but what I can always relate to is how vital his freedom is to him, how painful it is to be at the moments where it feels like life is in total disagreement with you. How desperate we are to get out.

Go on, Mike. Get OUT.

Me, too. You, too. We all have some of this in us.


Hurt is Complicated

There’s the hurt that is happening now and there’s also what we do with the belief called “I am hurt”, which is mainly from the past coming into the present.

What really complicates the process of distinguishing whether we are holding a belief that we are hurt is that this belief comes up most prominently when we are triggered by something happening in the present. We are feeling both the present hurt and the past hurts simultaneously. When we feel something, we think feelings make something exclusively real and much more than a belief. So we may ignore the value of discovering if we have a belief, too, that we can do something about, as well as something that hurts right now. I am hurt is nearly synonymous with I am not safe. It makes sense. In the short term, the safest you can be is to relate to something that hurts as real. You’ll probably fight or flee and get away. When we look at the cumulative impact of what we do with the belief that we are hurt, the illusion of safety disappears.

Many of us who are stuck in the belief that we are hurt, hurt others, often with very little understanding of the impact. When we live with the belief that we are hurt, we may hurt others physically, we may hurt them by withdrawing, we hurt by not being reliable, we hurt by vociferously defending ourselves, we hurt by assuming that others are trying to hurt us and making them wrong, and on…

We may also hurt ourselves by blaming ourselves, not speaking up, holding low opinions of ourselves, accepting a consistent experience of suffering, going along with what we think others want to our own detriment, and on…

Many of those people who are hurting us and who we believe are hurting us, are stuck in the belief called “I am hurt”, too and may be unaware of exactly how they are hurting themselves and others. We’re usually more concerned with feeling hurt, consciously or unconsciously, than taking responsibility for the hurt we may cause. This is both obviously unfortunate and very human. We don’t want this to be true, but sometimes it is where people (and ourselves) are stuck.

I’m not telling you to excuse people and stay in the line of fire. Do not. I’m not telling you to make believe that you’re not in danger if you feel you are. If you are in danger, get out of danger the best you can. It is also not your job to fix someone who has the belief that they are hurt or to talk them out of it. That can be frustrating or dangerous. We all have the tendency to deny or defend our hurt.

I am saying that we could all make use of more compassion, giving it to ourselves and others and receiving compassion, which can be very challenging for those of us who believe we are hurt. Finding our own way out of our belief of hurt is invaluable and challenges us to be both brave and vulnerable. Understanding others’ belief that they are hurt can save us all more hurt. We can see what’s coming and know where it’s coming from and act accordingly.

I choose to work on this in my own life, because I love my family, my clients and myself and honestly, I love everyone (embarrassing, but true). I wanted to live outside of my distortions of feeling hurt that were coming from my past and all of the things I did and said while I was living inside those distortions. Choosing to live outside of “I am hurt” has been a daily challenge which has spurred on a lot of personal growth, success of all sorts and uncovered more and more ways to see how it has affected me, so I can be responsible for it. You don’t need a dramatic story of terrible things that happened in your life to wind up with the belief “I am hurt”.

Like I said, hurt is a complicated topic. There’s very little to take from here and put into use straightway, other than to look at yourself first.  Are you living in the belief “I am hurt”? If you think you are, get supported so you can live outside of it and give it your best effort.