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Me-Muscles… It’s All About The Questions

I’ve had an extraordinarily busy and amazing week working with a fantastic group — which is why I simply didn’t have the time to post anything last week. My apologies. The workshop sessions were intensive, running through from early morning to late evening, and yes, it’s tiring work — both for me as well as for the delegates and, of course, my training team. But goodness me it’s worth it. How do I know? The room filled with smiling faces tells me so, and it makes me feel glad.

So this week I’ve decided to share some of the techniques we were exploring over the course of the workshops — because there are many that, in my experience, also apply to dealing with the sociopaths among us.

The first subject is one I’ve written about before. It’s the question of blame and responsibility. You’ll know and recognize the times when the hand raises, the finger starts pointing and out come words like “He said”¦” or “It’s her fault”¦” or “My boss is to blame”¦” as people focus on what’s wrong about something or someone else? Now then, so far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong in noticing when something is not right — in actual fact it’s extremely positive and necessary to take regular ”˜health checks’ on surrounding circumstances. How else can we know whether or not we’re happy with where we are or what we’re doing? The problem, though, lies when people simply state the ”˜blaming’ fact and leave it at that — without doing anything about it, and likely feeling more frustrated in the process.

What Can I Do?

So, instead of automatically leaving things as they are, though, what might happen if we adopted the habit of asking ourselves honestly and gently what we can do about it — even when it seems that things are out of our control? In a group scenario, it’s quite simple to give a visual explanation for this — so I’ll share it here with you now. Imagine pointing your finger out towards whatever is upsetting, annoying or frustrating you — and look at how you hold your hand. Notice that for the one finger that points away, there are three pointing back at you. It’s a metaphor that demonstrates if we focus all our attention on what is ”˜out there’ we are giving away our power — forgetting that if we focus back in on ourselves, we can both acknowledge our power, and also start to grow self-confidence by flexing what I like to call our Me-Muscles.

What are “Me-Muscles—¦? They are the tools that sit within us — within all of us — that are within out power to recognize, acknowledge, and build. I often refer to the work I do as the “inner game” because I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we have more personal resources within us than most of us realize. I have been learning and experimenting with this fact over many years, and after my experiences with my ex I know for sure that it’s the truth. Because I was able to fall back on the countless skills I’d learned and taught over the years, gradually strengthening my me-muscles and finding myself in the process. Those skills helped me to come through, and as a result, they have become even stronger as a result of my experiences.

That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but how do we do that? How can we find strength and faith in ourselves when all around us seems so hopeless”¦? It’s a good question — and let me assure you, it’s one I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions, while holding tightly on to the bathroom sink and staring at my tear-streaked reflection!

It’s Not About The Labels

And you know what I’ve learned? I’m aware that my next statement may well seem contentious at first — so please stay with me. Because the fact is I’ve learned that it does little or no good to point out the person who has done me wrong. Whether intentional or not, and whether from a sociopath, a narcissist, a bully, an abuser, a psychopath, an enemy, a back-stabber or just a misguided friend”¦. It doesn’t matter the label I give the person. It doesn’t matter the name or category that the person (or people) sit. No. At the end of the day, that’s not what counts. What counts is the recognition of the behaviour that they are demonstrating — whether that behaviour is conscious or automatic. Whether it’s deliberate or accidental, manipulation or just mis-guided care. At the end of the day, it’s not important. The label, once again, doesn’t matter. Because what matters is that whatever is happening, whatever we notice (and point our finger at) it’s an opportunity for us to flex our Me-Muscles and say “yes” to what we like and “no” to what we don’t like.

It’s our invitation to go within and find our own resources. Why? Because we’re worth it. How do we do it? By learning techniques. When do we start? As soon as we realize (or, as I was taught many years ago “see with real-eyes”) that we can — or even if we may not believe that we can, perhaps we get an inkling that perhaps it might be possible that we may be able to do a little more than we had previously thought”¦ You get my drift?

Can you begin to imagine the possibilities as more of us not only become more adept at recognizing bad behaviours (within individuals, groups and cultures) but also do something about pointing them out and changing them? I can imagine it”¦ and it gives me goosebumps. Those goosebumps happen every time that I work with a group and hear these words “Nothing’s really changed outside — but I’VE changed, and now I know for sure that I can change my life for the better!”

It all starts with a set of questions. Gentle and honest questions to ourselves. Invitations, if you like, so that we can find ways to tap in to the unknown power that lies within us and learn to reclaim who we are. Those honest questions can be triggered every time that we point the finger out to someone or something else. And instead of just focusing on what’s happening, ask ourselves “How can I influence this? What can I do differently? What else is within my power that I hadn’t already recognized?” And you know what? The responses will start to come.

And if (as at times you will) you hit the brick wall of “I don’t know” — then gently continue your self-dialogue with an acknowledgement and another question “Yes, of course, I realize that I don’t know”¦ but just for a moment or two, supposing I DID know”¦. Then what”¦?” And you can smile as the answers slowly start to form.

I hope this is useful, and would welcome your comments and questions 🙂


Comment on this article

27 Comments on "Me-Muscles… It’s All About The Questions"

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Mel, thank you so very, very much for this article!!! Once again….I read what I need when I need it on this amazing site.

My me-muscles are beginning to develop – I never HAD any to begin with. So, I’m taking some really awkward steps that lead me into some seriously unfamiliar places – places that I don’t recognize. I’m ending up in a lot of “self” places: self-assurance, self-validation, self-love, self-acceptance……

These places are all new to me, and newness and change often make me uncomfortable. But, today – just for today – it’s worth the risk of falling down on my wobbly “me-muscles” to see just how entrancing some of these “self” places are. The air is fresh and clean, and the water is clear and pure.

Thanks, again, Mel…..

For everyone who has been offering their unconditional support and encouragement to me these past few days, I want to thank you so much for the techniques, videos, and assurances that I’m going to be okay.

Gosh…..some tears of sincere gratitude, here. I am going to be okay.

Truthspeak,

I haven’t been “here” in a while, so I don’t know what you’ve been dealing with (of late). You and the other posters oftentimes “speak” to me (relaying to me things that I need to know, be reminded of, truths to apply in myself) by sharing your struggles and triumphs. Keep your chin up. Peace.

Bluejay, thank you for your blessing of encouragement. I’m going to be okay. I’ll put the whole mess forth in due time. Suffice it to say that I made a horrific discovery about my husband of over a decade, and I’m extracting myself from that relationship through divorce.

Brightest blessings back atcha

Truthspeak,

I was aware of your pending divorce, from spath husband number two. Like you, I’ve had my share of ugly discoveries via the spath. It’s a job just trying NOT to think about our discoveries, a lot of our experiences being disturbing, definitely not uplifting (when thinking about them).

Bluejay……yepper…..this has been one heck of a journey, and I’m just starting down that Healing Path. Whew… what a mess.

Truthspeak,

I can imagine. My journey has been one heck of a ride too! I didn’t know that someone could live through so much pain and still be standing. We are resilient, but we’re the walking wounded.

One heck of an unspeakable, shocking, journey.
I started on the path because I had no other choice.
It was either leave and pull it together or stay and be completely and totally devoured in every sense of the word. I see that now. My eyes are replaying the entire ten year adventure and I am looking at it with different eyes now and seeing it all for what it really is.

The first stage was shock. I should have been in a hospital, I was so very sick. I couldn’t eat, sleep, ended up having a heart attack.

The second stage was realizing I was given my life back for some reason and respecting that it all could be over that quick, just like that. In the meantime, I was still stalked and received threats of murder from someone I thought was my best friend. Imagine that.

Walking wounded doesn’t even skim the surface of what this has been. This has been complete and total abuse. That’s what it has been and it has all been done with much delight and glee.

You guys are right: There are NOT many people who can sustain the impact of that final spath wave….you must stay true to yourself and stand firm in what you know is real. They are masters of illusion.

I was made to think, for a good many years, that unless I allowed it near me, it would murder me. I have been held hostage inside my own thoughts for a very long time and scammed and lied to and manipulated.

Psychological crimes ARE just as heinous as any other, in my opinion. We have to see this all for what it is and realize that we are stronger. WE ARE. We have always been stronger and that is one of the reasons they leeched onto us in the first place. They wanted to suck our souls from us.

Hang in there you guys.
The first HUGE step is accepting…
Seeing it all through different eyes and with a different perspective will help soften the blow….

Blessings to you…

Dupey

Mel,
you’ve spelled out the bottom line. We are ultimately responsible for learning the red flags and saying a loud resounding “NO!” to that behavior.

However, It does mean that we can’t just hand off responsibility when we are too busy. It means taking the time to do due diligence in our lives. It takes TIME.

So much corruption happens because people just don’t want to be responsible. Instead we elect officials to take care of all that boring legislative stuff. Spaths are drawn to that scenario: people handing over their power like sheep. They love it. The spath takes the power but leaves the responsibility in YOUR hands. We get left holding the bag.

Truth,
I know your divorce is coming up soon. I hope once it’s over, you can breathe for a moment before you have to get back into the hard work of healing.

I think you’re going to heal better than ever because you’re learning so much.

This is very similar to a technique I once learned many years ago called “questioning” as a way to process information. You start with the question of why you feel a particular way (it always starts with why). If your answer is “I don’t know”, you ask yourself, “Why is my answer that I don’t know?” In this questioning process it is helpful to avoid the word “not” whenever possible. So instead of saying “Why don’t I know?” you would say, “Why is my answer ‘I don’t know’?” That removes the negative from the actual question.

I have used this tool many times and it is very powerful for getting to the root of an unconscious or troubling pattern.

The most striking example I can remember happened in the group the first time I was questioned by the facilitator. I can’t recall the very first “why” question, but I kept struggling with answers. She asked why I felt like I was struggling. My answer was I feel like I always have to work so hard. When she asked why, I broke down. I recalled being a child and my stepfather forcing me into hard labor a great deal of my life. I was constantly forced to work and much of it was hard physical labor. It was similar to a concentration camp. Once I connected that memory to my struggles with answering questions about myself, I was able to clear that issue and answer the question.

I share this because I think this type of questioning, similar to what Mel talks about, can be a very powerful tool for clearing issues. But like Mel says, it requires a high degree of personal responsibility and not resting in a state of “blame” toward someone else. Or if you find you are constantly blaming someone else for your experiences, you can ask yourself why you are doing that, and see what comes up.

Peace out,

Star

Skylar, I’m going to be okay, and I know this in my gut.

I’ve mentioned this on NUMEROUS posts, but I found this site precisely when I was “meant to.” Had I not armed myself with the priceless information and developed a strong safety net within this unique community, I would not have been able to walk away. I simply wouldn’t have.

But, because of what I’ve learned on this very site, I had the courage and wavering resolve to follow through with my promise for a divorce. This site helped to “Madea-ize” me, in a big, big way.

Aw, HAYELL no….I’m not laying down and rolling over for NO man, woman, or child that is clearly a sociopath. And, you and everyone else on this site that contributed over these years were instrumental in my growth.

I am grateful, appreciative, and I feel so, so strong, even if I’m still grieving and sorting through the aftermath. I feel okay, and that I will BE okay.

HUGS and hugs and hugs

Hi, I’ve been reading here and appreciate the incredible insight and connection that everyone here, shares! I am not sure if this is the most appropriate place to offer this, however, I connect with, and appreciate this particular article, so I’ll just go for it…

I just began to read an incredibly helpful book, called;

“Trust After Trauma” A Guide to Relationships for Survivors and Those Who Love Them- by; Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D

I am acquiring an abundance of extremely valuable knowledge regarding trauma, and the healing process from it, so I thought that I would share.

Thanks for having me,

Shane

Hello,
I have not posted in a while, I am still awaiting trial against my ex-s for the assault case, its almost a year ago. With this site’s help as well as weekly therapy (courtesy of my abuser) I find myself doing much, much better.

Donna,
I want to thank you for this site and for the book. After several months of working on my healing, I met a wonderful man at church, he shared my faith so it felt like a gift from God. At last, the sun would shine for me….

I have only seen this man, face-to-face once, when we exchanged phone numbers. We continued to talk on the phone and I liked the idea of getting to know each other before dating.

I learned that Mr. Wonderful is a widow, raising his 7 yrs old son. He is the CEO of a Construction firm based in Florida with an office in California, however most of his business ventures are in Europe. My mother-in-law to be lives in Boston and his sister, a well know designer lives in Italy… ok

So, as we continued to get to know each other, he shared about an upcoming project in Europe, he even sent me the contract for my review (Red Flag) Of course the contract stated the cost of the project, near a million in profit. Mind you, the contract was very generic, 2 pages long.

Mr. Wonderful makes plans for us to have a lovely date, however, just days before that weekend, his project is approved and he needs to fly to Europe. He would be gone for 5 weeks but promises to make it up to me upon his return.
(humm)

So, he calls and texts daily, claiming to miss me so much… and how he has realized I am the woman he is to marry (red flag.) … he is looking for a ring during his spare time (right) and he asks about my willingness to sell my house and move to Florida with him, upon his return. Or, he would sell his house in Florida and move in with me…(red flag, red flag,,) At this point I am not even paying attention to anything he is tell me… (lol, I dont own a home, you idiot)

On Monday, he writes that he may have to stay longer as there are issues with the project. He adds that he needs to pay a permit worth $10,000… and assures that he would take care of it. (weird)

Then I get a text telling me that his project will be shut down tomorrow unless he pays right away… and OF COURSE, his secretary was only able to wire $4k to him and he wants me to wire $6K… after all, I know how much profit this project will leave him, right! RED F-ING FLAG! I was laughing when I was reading the text… seriously… a company doing business internationally with a potential profit of 1M, fails to obtain necessary permits and does not have $10,000? WTF?

He has been begging for me to get him $$$ somehow… which of course I have no intention of doing it. I think he just realized I am not the woman of his dreams after all.

Can anyone say run Forrest run…

RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
😆
Alina, good work on the red flags.
unfortunately, we attract them. Once we’ve been primed for spaths the rest of them can smell us coming. The only thing we can do is SMELL THEM COMING TOO!

You’re doing great and I’m very proud of you.

Thanks Skylar
I just love this site, them bastards are all the same…

cookie cutters! it’s their downfall.
if we keep spreading the word, they will be exposed soon.

They can’t change even when they know we’re on to them. Sure, they hide their abuse, but the major red flags are always there. We just have to teach people how to spot them.

Alina, good for you for recognizing your gut!!!!! TOWANDA!!!!!!

Yes, yes, and YES…..the approaches are all the same, even though the situations are unique. Holy cow, Alina, you probably dodged a whizzing bullet, eh? Now, to go No Contact….Good for YOU!!!!

More TOWANDA, here!!!!

Shane, welcome to LoveFraud, and I’m sorry that you’re having to heal from experiences that were perpetrated against you.

There are so many, many useful writings and it’s always great to see another title!

Brightest blessings

Alina, I wanted to add this: what a powerful post you made. I mean, how strong and empowered do you feel that you were able to recognize the Red Flags before anything serious happened?!?! That…..oh, my…..THAT is the definition of “empowerment.”

TOWANDA (again)

Hi Alina,

I have to say this guy doesn’t sound like someone very clever. Although manipulative and cunning I often found sociopaths not very intelligent or original, they all seem to use the same tricks. Once we know what to look for they are actually quite easy to spot. And good on you for laughing at his text, they hate being ridiculed.

Thanks Truthspeak and zizi for your comments. I agree, although he presented himself as a business owner with a couple of degrees, I didnt think he was the brightest. Or, it could be that my eyes were/are wide open.

As for empowerment, I am so thankful for all the knowledge I have gotten from this site, the book, and my therapist. Can you believe all this happened within 35 days? Crazy!

Alina….yeah, I can believe it. The lovebombing is incredibly intoxicating and, before we know it, we’re snagged like a cod.

Good for you!!!!!

Thank you, Truthspeak. I truly appreciate your welcoming words!

Hi Shane,
welcome to LF.
Not always the most pacific place but it’s where you get lots of info about spaths and healing from spaths.

hahahaha, Alina, the way you told the latest ‘catch’ made me grin. Yes, I can totally understand why you laughed at that text. Once you can spot the con and spaths, they become quite hilarious, because they never saw it coming that someone can see right through their mask.

Alina, I’m actually sitting here in front of this screen and alternating between nodding in acknowledgement of your wonderful escape from what would have become a horrible situation, and shaking my head in disbelief (again, just simple incomprehension) that this guy was so frigging BLATANT! LESS THAN SIX WEEKS?!?!? LMAOLMAOLMAO!!!!! I can laugh out loud (and, I really am for your courage and brilliance) because it’s SO darned patent in Spath World!!!!

I have a sneaking suspicion that I would (this is ME I’m talking about) be quietly dropping tidbits of this guys actions around, JUST in the event that he’s targeting others in your circle – which, as we know, is quite likely.

Alina, bravo – just BRAVO for having the clarity to SEE what was going down!!!! Wow, what an inspiration!

Brightest blessings!!!

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