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Greetings:

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Sincerely,

Heather Blackwell

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Say ‘No’ to Emotional Vampires

What is emotional reactivity?

During my childhood, my mother and father were volatile/violent daily. I lived in vigilance/fear, a heightened state of alertness, so that even alone, in my own little world, I was aware that at some point of the day I would be confronted with threat. Then, I had seconds to react to avoid harm. This operant conditioning, learned behavior, habit, fear-derived reflex, was my reality for years to come.

As an adult, I encountered people (e.g. strangers/managers/co-workers/lovers/friends) who responded to stress like my parents had, and I reacted the way I was conditioned, like a puppet with strings. I was unaware that I and the people around me were out-of-control.

In 2010, I read Melodie Beattie’s book, “Codependent No More.” I began to understand the correlation between my childhood and my adulthood. For years, I searched/studied/practiced every behavioral technique I could find to reverse my maladaptive pattern.

Today, I can feel calm in the midst of stressful events. I can observe chaotic situations/people without stepping into the chaos. I am able to pause/reflect/consider/respond even when others pressure me to react. I know that despite my external environment I have a choice to take my time/center my mind/weigh my options. It’s like having a super power to observe — via sheer will —frenzied events in slow-motion. Having self-control is better for all even though those who only know chaos would like to pull you back into their madness.

Do you pull others into emotional drama? Are your emotions easily triggered? Do you crave drama? If so, you are struggling with the emotional reactive element of codependency, which can be overcome. You can cut the strings.

Choice to Love

On the ride home I was thinking about my Great-Grandma Lorene. I think about her often.

Lorene was born in 1901 and she died in 2000. I wish she could have lived forever. She was a quiet, Scotch-Irish woman, 4’10” with a tuft of snow white hair. She could touch her toes and swim three miles a week at age 80, and best of all she loved me unconditionally. If not for her I wouldn’t have understood unconditional love. I miss her somethin’ fierce. Her kind of love is the kind that lasts you all your life and makes everything else “enough.” I could only wish to be able to love like her.

I hope each person gets to experience that kind of profound love at least once in his or her lifetime. Unconditional love doesn’t have to emanate from anyone in particular; what I mean is that unconditional love is not reserved for any specific relationship. Unconditional love can emanate from anyone — friend, lover, mother, father, sibling, child, grandparent, mentor…I’m sure there are more titles and labels out there. Reciprocated Unconditional Love is the greatest gift. My great love happened to be with my Great-Grandma Lorene.

I hope you have had a great love in your lifetime.

Beware Narcissistic Charm

Vignette

Throughout the years, Kelli has had a turbulent relationship with her step-mother who makes fun of Kelli’s appearance, does not allow Kelli to eat with the family, belittles Kelli as well as Kelli’s little sister, and if Kelli defends herself or her sister, then Kelli is grounded for months at a time. To punish Kelli, the step-mother destroys Kelli’s clothes/other personal belongings.

There are other times — after a period of abuse and when Kelli displays sadness — when Kelli’s step-mother is playful like a friend, takes Kelli clothes shopping, and there are outings to coffee shops and nail salons.

When the step-mother attempts to hit Kelli, the father intervenes and then the step-mother hits him. Recently, the step-mother tried to push Kelli down the stairs. To make up for shoving Kelli, the step-mother takes Kelli to the beach.

Throughout the years, Kelli’s mother has tried to discuss the step-mother’s inappropriate behavior with Kelli’s father, but this only makes Kelli’s father defend his wife, and Kelli also defends her step-mother and father. Kelli’s mother has addressed the courts, but the courts will not help.

The step-mother’s behavior is typical of a pattern of narcissistic abuse/charm. Without realizing, Kelli has an emotional tie to her abuser and craves the positive regard.

Meeting the Inbetween

When I was a little girl — about age 4 — I emulated my father, trying to burp, dress, and eat Just. Like. Him. When I was age 7, my role models became police officers…they were men.

I also remember thinking at around age 10 that traditional women’s roles like teaching, hair-styling, “secretary” work, and nursing were cringe-worthy, although I did like the idea of being Super Woman or She-Ra Princess of Power.

Most important, I remember that I looked up to courageous men, even Abraham Lincoln when I was age 7 after reading his biography loaned from my school library trailer. When I thought of myself, I thought about being stalwart, courageous, a hero, a protector…all the attributes I assigned to noble men.

Although I’m heterosexual — my first crush (age 7) was He-Man Master of the Universe — I know how it feels to identify with a man, even if it’s just my imaginary “ideal” version of a man. Since I know what it feels like to be a man, I can relate to the LGBTQ members who also identify with the opposite sex, albeit to a higher degree.

How can your life experiences help you relate to others?

What Can You Withstand?

“I Can’t Stand It!” are the four words that are deadly, yes, deadly…deadly to your success and happiness.

Why is this?

In order to succeed, we must struggle. Struggle is painful. Pain can be difficult to endure but it is not debilitating.

What is debilitating?

The four words “I Can’t Stand This” are debilitating and they will extinguish the quality of your life, because if you give up you won’t get better or stronger.

Short Story Example: Mary was 9-months-pregnant and going into labor at the hospital. She was 2 centimeters dilated and she needed to be 9 centimeters dilated in order to push out her child. However, the pain was so great that she curled her body into fetal position with her legs tightly closed. The nurse said, “Mary, if you don’t sit up and open your legs I’m going to send you home because you are not allowing yourself to dilate.” Mary sat up in lotus position, feet pads touching, legs spread wide apart. The pain was intense, but she remembered her breathing techniques which allowed her to focus through the pain. Her body dilated faster. She was not sent home. She birthed a child.

Mary “thought” that she could not stand the pain, but with a little realistic encouragement Mary adjusted her thoughts to match the reality, which allowed her to focus, endure, and reach her goal.

Be like Mary.

Fix. Focus. Endure. Achieve.

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Do You Approve?

To recap from the video, our society is conditioned to be approval-seeking, because all humans have a survival instinct to desire belonging. From birth, parents condition children to be approval-seeking through operant conditioning and rewards versus punishment. In addition, children have a natural survival animal instinct to belong. To feel safe, protected, and wanted, a child seeks parent approval, so it is a symbiotic relationship, but one that is oftentimes dysfunctional. Psychologist Carl Rogers called the approval seeking behavior “positive regard.” Carl Rogers stated that children would even accept “negative regard” over “no regard.” What this means is that a child hopes to be loved, but if a child can not achieve a loving parental response then the child would accept a hateful response as opposed to being ignored. The end result is that children grow up to be emotionally-wounded adults who secretly harbor fears of rejection and emotional pain from parental rejection, which can manifest as criticism, disapproval, and conditional love. As adults, we project our childhood emotional pain onto the people in our relationships. Sometimes we recreate the parental rejection and cause people to reject us via a self-fulfilling prophecy and other times we actually meet people who genuinely reject us.

So what is the solution? The solution is two-pronged. First, the solution is to be aware of and understand how our parent-child relationship is affecting our adulthood. Second, the solution is to become self-approving seeking. This means stop living to gain approval from others and start living to gain approval from yourself. It is difficult to break people-pleasing behaviors because these behaviors have been habitual for your entire life. Breaking the people-pleasing behavior cycle will be uncomfortable. And when people reject you, you will have to remind yourself that it is OK to experience rejection and where one person rejects you another person, the right person, will accept you.

To summarize, approval-seeking behaviors are engrained in us all from childhood. Approval-seeking behaviors have no place in adulthood. Healthy adult behavior is to be self-approval seeking.

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The Reason to be Strong

Humanity is intertwined. Humans need humans. People say, “I don’t need anyone”, but what they mean is “I don’t want to need anyone because the disappointment of rejection/failed expectations hurts.”

I get that; I was there once, too. Given my childhood experiences, I have a natural tendency to fall into that pit of insecure attachment.

However, I know it is a fact that:

1. People need people.

2. All people are disappointing (even me) at some point in time.

3. All people are not disappointing all the time.

4. There is someone for everyone to care for and about (whether that is platonic or romantic).

5. Each person will be helpful to someone at some point in time.

What these facts say to me is “You are required to live your lifetime.”

Sometimes – and often – to live is to struggle. When struggle begins is when you need to remember the aforementioned truths. Pull these truths out. Meditate on them as a way to get centered.

Be strong, because as long as there is a breathe in your body there is somebody along your timeline who will be inspired by you…maybe you will inspire courage/hope/patience/gratitude/perseverance/compassion/understanding/duty/long suffering/focus/self-reflection/redirection…the list of inspiration is infinite.

So be strong.

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The Origin of Your Discontent

Have you ever known someone who was discontent? Have you ever — at some point — felt discontent? Have you ever stopped to consider where the discontent originated?

Most people when discontent point the finger outward. 👉🏼 However, most often we should be pointing the finger at ourselves. The object of the lesson is not to place blame. The object of the lesson is to INVESTIGATE. When we investigate we begin to understand the WHY of our situation.

Most often the reason we feel discontent is because we are outgrowing something (e.g. situation, ideology, mentality) or someone (e.g. their situation, their ideology, their mentality).

Analogy

Imagine a small fish in a tank. The fish swims along happily. The fish grows, gets bigger, until one day the fish is cramped in its tank. It can no longer swim along happily, so its unhappy.

In this analogy, you are the fish and the tank is fear. Unlike the fish who can’t overcome its circumstance, you can overcome your fear and create an environment where you can grow.

Are you — or someone you know — like that fish in the tank, unable to move about freely, and unhappy as a result? Are you willing to take the risks and overcome your fear in order to make space to continue growing, or will you stagnate and be discontent?

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Achieving Inner Peace

To view the video, click here.

What is peace?

The dictionary has several definitions, which are a.) non-warring condition of a nation b.) an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc. c.) freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety over an obsession, etc.

The type of peace I refer to is “C”.

You see, we can’t control the tumult in others. Yes, there will be times in your life when others will war upon you with envy, bitterness, jealousy, malice, wrong-doing, resentment, and betrayal. You can’t stop them. You can only walk away. You may seek help, which bleeds into the solution portion of this post.

I have stood up for my beliefs and convictions on many occasions. I have let integrity guide me on many occasions with the unfair result of retaliation. There have been many times when I have let that retaliation beat me down with grief. But I realize now is that to allow myself to experience grief is to let my enemy win. But winning is not the primary reason to fight for inner peace.

The primary reason to fight for inner peace is self-love, self-respect, and positive mental health.

Each human being will take their turn being slighted, being abused, and experiencing tumult. You must realize that this is part of the struggle of your human existence, and the nature of humanity. In this revelation, you will find wisdom. In your wisdom, you will also find your peace.

And outside human behavior, ventures will fail, economies — both individual and societal — will crumble. Let the world fall around you, but stand strong. Your time of triumph will come around again. Be patient. Be at peace.

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