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A Powerful Program to Help you Raise your Self-Esteem, Quiet your Inner Critic, and Overcome your Shame

Beverly Engel

1. Mental health. 2. Self-esteem. 3. Self-care, Health. 4. Psychology, Pathological

Healing your Emotional Self - A Powerful Program to Help you Raise your Self-Esteem, Quiet your Inner Critic, and Overcome your Shame
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Book Details
 272 p
 File Size 
 860 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 978-0-471-72567-1 (cloth)
 0-471-72567-6 (cloth)
 2006 by Beverly Engel

THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE who were emotionally abused,
neglected, or smothered by their parents or other significant caretakers
when they were growing up. Many of these people do not realize
they were abused or neglected, and they continue to suffer from myriad
problems throughout their lives because they are not getting the
help they need. People who internalize the abuse manifest selfdestructiveness,
depression, suicidal thoughts, passivity, withdrawal
(avoidance of social contacts), shyness, and a low degree of communication
with others. They are likely to have low self-esteem and may
suffer from feelings of guilt and remorse, depression, loneliness,
rejection, and resignation. Perceiving themselves as unworthy and the
world as a hostile place in which they are bound to fail, many are
unwilling to try new tasks, develop new skills, or take risks.
People who externalize the abuse may be unpredictable and violent,
their behavior characterized by impulsive action rather than conformity
to social norms. They frequently become anxious, aggressive,
and hostile. They suffer from constant fear and are always on the alert
and ready to hit back. Many end up mistreating others, often in the
same ways they were mistreated.

At the core of all these symptoms and behaviors is an inadequately
developed sense of self and a distorted image of self based on parental
negative messages and treatment. Unless adult survivors address these
fundamental issues, their efforts toward recovery will be thwarted.
If you were a victim of emotional abuse or neglect as a child, this
book will show you exactly what you need to do in order to heal from
the damage done to your self-image and self-esteem. Healing Your
Emotional Self will guide you step by step through a program that is
both innovative and psychologically sound—innovative because it uses
the mirror as a metaphor and a tool for healing, and psychologically
sound because it combines my many years of experience specializing
in treating people who have been emotionally abused with various
respected psychological concepts.

Although the primary audience for this book is survivors of emotional
abuse and neglect, this book is for anyone who suffers from low
self-esteem or body-image issues. People who are preoccupied with
their bodies, or who determine their self-worth by how their bodies
look, will find the book particularly helpful. Many suffer from a distorted
body image and from negative feelings concerning their bodies,
but they do not understand that the cause may be negative parental
messages, emotional abuse, or neglect.
Many of you know me from my other books on emotional abuse,
namely: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, The Emotionally
Abused Woman, and Encouragements for the Emotionally Abused
Woman. In those books I wrote about the fact that people who are
currently being emotionally abused (or are abusive) are doing so
because they were emotionally abused as children. Now, in Healing
Your Emotional Self, I will help readers take a giant step forward by
offering a powerful program that will help them repair the damage
caused by emotionally abusive parents.

Childhood neglect and emotional abuse cause many of the most
serious problems people suffer from today. This is not a revelation to
most professionals or to many who suffer from its effects, but in spite
of this knowledge, there is insufficient help for the survivors of these
types of abuse. Relatively few books have offered readers a complete
understanding of how this kind of child abuse affects people, ways to
heal from the damage, and how to resolve relationships with parents.
This is the first book to offer a comprehensive healing program specific
to the kinds of messages (mirrors) that emotionally abusive and
neglectful parents give their children and to how this kind of abuse
affects a child’s self-image.

Neglect and emotional abuse are the primary causes of both
borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality
disorder (NPD), which have turned out to be the disorders of our
time. This is true for two major reasons: Children in the past two
decades have grown up with absent, neglectful parents and parents
who continued to pass on the emotional abuse they themselves
sustained. In addition, both the borderline and narcissistic personality
disorders have “come out of the closet” in terms of professionals
telling their patients exactly what their diagnoses are. In the past they
had kept these diagnoses from their clients for fear of traumatizing them.

Those who were emotionally abused or neglected also tend to
suffer from eating disorders. Many overeat as a way of soothing
themselves, while others overeat out of self-loathing. On the other
end of the spectrum, many become anorexic as a way of gaining a
sense of control because they feel overly controlled by their parents.
People recovering from alcohol or drug abuse will also find this
book helpful because many addicts suffer from severe distortions to
their sense of self.

In Healing Your Emotional Self I offer my unique Mirror Therapy
program for healing, which has proven to be highly effective with my
clients and the clients of some of my colleagues. This program is
highly innovative, combining what I have learned from many years of
specializing with adults who were emotionally abused or neglected as
children with concepts from developmental psychology, object relations,
self psychology, body therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy,
and art therapy. Many of the ideas in the book are uniquely my own,
while others are variations on the concepts created by other people,
and together they form a unique program designed specifically for the
emotionally abused or neglected.

For example, according Laurel Mellin M.A., R.D., author of The
Pathway and creator of the Solutions Program, research on childhood
obesity from San Francisco University shows that for the
children studied, most of their extra weight was rooted in the most
basic internal patterns of their functioning—the inner conversations
they had with themselves. Teaching the kids some very basic skills—
self-nurturing (which is like having a responsive internal mother) and
setting effective limits (which is like having a safe, powerful father
within)—brought their minds and bodies into balance and allowed
their drive to overeat to fade. These skills can be taught to people of
any age and are effective for other common excesses such as drinking,
smoking, overspending, and working. The skills find their way into the
thinking brain—our emotional core. I have adapted some of these
skills to help adults who were emotionally abused or deprived to
essentially “grow themselves up” and give themselves the skills their
parents did not give them.

This book will not simply cover old ground. While I will spend
some time defining emotional abuse and describing its effects, I
focus primarily on healing, especially in regard to helping readers
to raise their self-esteem and improve their self-image. (Refer to
my earlier books The Emotionally Abused Woman, Encouragements
for the Emotionally Abused Woman, and The Emotionally Abusive
Relationship for more information on emotional abuse and its effects.)
I have organized this book around several themes, including “The
Seven Types of Emotionally Abusive or Neglectful Parents” and “The
Seven Most Common Parental Mirrors.” I provide specific advice and
strategies for healing for each of the destructive parental mirrors and
specific strategies for dealing with each of the seven types of emotionally
abusive parents—all using my Mirror Therapy concepts and strategies.

There are other unique aspects to Healing Your Emotional Self.
Most of my books on emotional abuse have been focused on the issue
of relationships—how adults who were abused or neglected as children
can avoid losing themselves in their relationships, how they can
avoid being reabused, and how they can avoid passing on the abuse to
a partner or to their children. Healing Your Emotional Self focuses on
the self—how readers can become reunited with the self, how they
can create a positive self separate from their abusive parents’ distorted
picture of them, and how they can raise their self-esteem. In
addition, the book focuses on helping readers to overcome their
tendency toward self-blame, self-hatred, and self-destructiveness.
I also cover a subject that has not been focused on in self-help
books: the effects on adults who experienced parental neglect in
childhood. Many who were neglected will continually search for
someone who will give to them what they missed out on in their childhood.
This naturally sets them up to be used, victimized, or abused by
their partners. Others suffer from a constant feeling of worthlessness,
emptiness, deep loneliness, and confusion, and they are unable to
sustain intimate relationships.
I will also discuss another issue that is seldom if ever covered in
most self-help books—the effects of parental smothering on a child—
which can be just as damaging as neglect.

Many people are preoccupied with their looks and even more are
critical of them. While some depend on diets, exercise regimes, and
cosmetic surgery to help them like what they see in the mirror, others
recognize that they will never be happy with what they see unless they
raise their self-esteem. This book takes raising your self-esteem to an
entirely different level. It teaches a system that can actually help heal
the damage caused by negative parental messages.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Part One
How Your Parents Shape Your Self-Esteem,
Self-Image, and Body Image
1 Our Parents as Mirrors 9
2 The Seven Types of Negative Parental Mirrors 29
3 Your Body as a Mirror 63
4 How Mirror Therapy Works 77
Part Two
Shattering Your Distorted Parental Mirror
5 Rejecting Your Parents’ Negative Reflection 87
6 Emotionally Separating from Your Parents 104
7 Quieting and Countering Your Inner Critic 117
Part Three
Creating a New Mirror
8 Looking Deeper into the Mirror:
Discovering the Real You 139
9 Providing for Yourself What You Missed as a Child 156
10 Learning to Love Your Body 175
Part Four
Specialized Help
11 If You Were Neglected, Rejected, or Abandoned: Healing
the “I Am Unlovable” and “I Am Worthless” Mirrors 187
12 If You Were Overprotected or Emotionally Smothered:
Healing the “I Am Nothing without My Parent” Mirror 204
13 If You Were Overly Controlled or Tyrannized:
Healing the “I Am Powerless” Mirror 212
14 If You Had Overly Critical, Shaming, or Perfectionistic
Parents: Healing the “I Am Bad,” “I Am Unacceptable,”
and “I Am Not Good Enough” Mirrors 220
15 If You Had a Self-Absorbed or Narcissistic Parent:
Healing the “I Don’t Matter” Mirror 229
16 Continuing to Heal 238
Appendix: Recommended Therapies 243
References 249
Recommended Reading 251
Index 255

Healing your Emotional Self - A Powerful Program to Help you Raise your Self-Esteem, Quiet your Inner Critic, and Overcome your Shame
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey
Published simultaneously in Canada

Printed in the United States of America
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