Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Mindfulness’ Category


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 8, 2012

“I don’t like my kid,” Eloise, seventy-four says about her thirty-year old son. Her tone and lack of eye contact speak to the horrendous shame she feels as she gives sunlight to these feelings. “I think my husband should take a long extended vacation away from me,” Annabelle, thirty-two says in a similar way to Eloise. The discomfort that both of these women feel makes me think that coping with these negative feelings is complicated by their sense that they are bad people for feeling this way, as opposed to accepting that negativity is part of relationships. The fairy-tale notion that one loves their children and their spouse, without an ounce of negativity towards them, is an idealized view which seems to grow out of a childhood in which disturbing feelings were shunned and turned into representing the quality of the person having the feelings, rather than emotions which come and go. Mindfulness has gained huge popularity countering shame in that the practice of mindfulness teaches acceptance which attempts to neutralize the judgment, the shame, associated with difficult thoughts and feelings.  Although I support Mindfulness, I also think that we need to focus on teaching parents to help their children bifurcate negative thoughts from negative self-esteem. In other words, the message is “you may be mad at your sister, but you are still a good person, and maybe you will be able to work through your anger with her,” as opposed to “you have to love your sister and be nice to her because she is your sister.” The latter is bound to make the child feel bad about himself for being mad at his/her sister, whereas the former accepts the fact that relationships are complicated. Old ideas, needing to be brought back to public awareness. Inner lives are complicated. Let us embrace that and be awed by that. Let us not feel bad about ourselves because of that.

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Posted in Mindfulness, Parenting, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Shame | 7 Comments »

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