Toxic Parenting: How to Survive When Parents Mess You Up

A friend of mine (we’ll call her Fran*) recently had some bad news. Someone they thought they could trust, let them down in a really bad way.

As we talked through how she felt about it, she had this sudden moment of clarity. The person Fran cared for didn’t love her back, at least not in the way she’d hoped.

Whilst on the one hand Fran felt enlightened, on the other you could see the pain in her face at the prospect of this revelation. “But she should love me. She’s my mum”.

Fran’s mother hadn’t been able to provide emotional warmth or kindness, and a lot of the time displayed narcissistic and toxic traits: it was always her mum’s way or no way, indignant when anyone dared to stand up to her (claiming a lack of respect) and playing the injured party if anyone answered back.

This type of mother will see her child as an accessory – a parent was all about making the mum look good – and woe betide if they didn’t.

She was always right. Fran was always “wrong”. And, just to make life more difficult, her mum would play her siblings off against each other – having clear favourites. The punishment for falling short was often silence, that lasted days if not weeks. It was abuse but without the fists. Fran’s mum used guilt as a weapon.

How the narcissist sees himself – Credit: Joe Navarro

Through my therapeutic practice, I know a lot of people can relate to this. It might be a partner that lets us down. Sometimes it’s a friend. It’s always heartbreaking when we realise we’ve been duped, conned or just taken for a ride.

But when it’s a parent, where do you go with that?

For a while, Fran was angry. She focused a lot on the “shoulds” – “she should love me. She should want to change. She should want to make it all right.”

But after a while, Fran realised that her mother’s toxic parenting – the negativity, the bullying, the way her mum would ignore Fran when she didn’t get her own way – was no reflection on who my friend is as a person. That how their mother chose to behave, didn’t make Fran guilty by association.

Fran hadn’t chosen her parents, and how her mother chose to behave was not a measure of how good a child Fran had ever been. Fran felt comforted when she realised she is not under any obligation to meet the needs of her parents, and never was. If anything, it’s the other way around.

But after a while, Fran realised that her mother’s toxic parenting was no reflection on who she is as a person…. She is not under any obligation to meet the needs of her parents, and never was. If anything, it’s the other way around.

Often when a parent lets us down, we immediately assume it must be our fault. If we see them as the authority figure – the one who has it all figured out – we assume they must be right, and we’re the one in the wrong. It can mess us up.

But usually, parents are just winging it. And a child is never to blame for the way their parents choose to parent. And this is where acceptance can help.

Acceptance isn’t about excusing someone for their unkindnesses. It’s about recognising that the person’s choice of behaviour has little to do with you, and usually everything to do with how that person is experiencing the world.

They might give excuses like “that’s just how it was back then” or “my mum did it to me, so that’s how it is for you” – to deflect responsibility. And essentially that’s all that is. Using the past as an excuse does not make a choice of actions today okay. That’s why the #MeToo movement has been so important – men saying “that’s how it was” doesn’t make it alright. It should never have been allowed. And parenting need to change for the right – and compassionate – things to be done.

A parent should never be too proud to say sorry for their mistakes or too stubborn to change where children – and their feelings – are involved.

If a parent can recognise and address their own behaviour then there is opportunity for positive growth and reconciliation.

In my friend’s case, however – despite several attempts by Fran to communicate her concerns, to understand her mum and reconnect – her mother would gaslight and refused to accept Fran’s view (confronting a narcissist rarely goes well).

Fran had to conclude she’d never know or understand why her mother chose to behave the way she did – accepting the reality that “it is what it is” was hugely healing, and helped her get her sparkle back. This is where talking to a friend or a professional can be helpful.

Acceptance isn’t about excusing someone for their unkindnesses. It’s about recognising that person’s choice of behaviour has little to do with you, and usually everything to do with how that person is experiencing the world.

If someone is being unkind to you, remember there are no excuses for that. We all have bad days but pressure – and certainly biology – doesn’t give anyone a free pass to bully, manipulate or control. You can try talking to them assertively, if it’s a healthy enough environment to do that. But ultimately creating some space between you, even if only temporary, can be a healthy thing to do.

If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship – including adults and their parents – organisations like Refuge can help.

Mindful Moments Collection in our online store

*Authors note: Details of the people involved in this article have been changed to protect their identity.

©️ Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo – Take a Break

Monday Mojo™ – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: Take a Break

When was the last time you took a break? Not a holiday by the pool (as fabulous as they are). But one from worrying about everyone else. From checking friends and family are okay. From saying yes (when you wanted to say no). From doing it ALL.

Many of us are hard wired to be the harmonisers. The peace keepers. The carers. The organisers. But honestly: it’s exhausting. You need a break.

Here’s your permission slip.

This week, set the intention to Take a Break. Stop what you’re doing right now and put some time aside in your diary for YOU. Then for at least 90 seconds do something that brings you into this moment. Whether it’s noticing all the sounds in your office, focusing on your breath, or creating a virtual holiday in your mind, do something each day this week that provides opportunities for rest and relaxation.

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©️ Delphi Ellis 2018

Monday Mojo – Reach for the Sky

Monday Mojo™ – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: Reach for the Sky

What do you really want?

It’s a big question, and worth taking some time to think about.

Sometimes we have a vision.

A hope for the future.

A desire to to be fulfilled.

But life doesn’t always go the way we planned, right? We think we’re on the right track and then someone or something unexpected comes along. Or we lack motivation.

It can set us back. It can steal our sunshine. And instead of moving forward, we find ourselves stuck. We spend even more time in something we should probably leave behind (because we feel we are invested in it). We settle for second best. And we find ourselves taking the scraps from the table of life.

You don’t have to do that any more. And this is why it’s so important to decide what you want and to go for it.

This week, set the intention to Reach for the Sky. Take a few moments to imagine a life where you feel happy and whole – what does it look like? Then spend some time over the next few days thinking about what’s keeping you from moving forward in the life you want to live. Explore why you doubt yourself and your abilities, and find new ways to build your confidence. Make a commitment to “unstick” yourself, talk to someone if it helps but remember above all else, you have a right to be happy.

To receive Monday Mojo™ straight your inbox each week, click here

©️ Copyright Delphi Ellis

Hello and Welcome

Welcome to my website, thank you for stopping by.

These pages tell you how to access services which have been carefully designed to help you find your mojo and get your sparkle back.

Our mental health is as important as our physical health and we now know that one can have an impact on the other. But many people still find it difficult to slow down, talk about their feelings or make their wellbeing a priority. Talking with someone impartial can help.

I help people find their mojo and get their sparkle back, often after a difficult period in their lives.

I’m Delphi Ellis, a Qualified Mental Health Therapist and Wellbeing Trainer – Helping You Sparkle™.

I offer talking therapies, workshops and classes promoting positive mental health – my aim is to help you reconnect with your energy and enthusiasm, I call this ‘your mojo‘.  This includes working with people often after a difficult situation in their lives, like a bereavement or relationship breakdown.

The services I provide also enables people to positively manage their mental health, particularly if they’ve been experiencing periods of stress, anxiety and depression.  As a Mindfulness Practitioner I blend the philosophy of mindfulness in to the work I do, offering an holistic, integrated and tailored approach to helping someone find their way forward.  .

As someone who has worked with and supported many women dealing with challenging situations like breast cancer, domestic abuse and pregnancy, some of my services I offer are exclusively female.  I also help busy working women find time in their schedules for some much needed self-care, through my group Serenity, 

Some of my services are re-directed through different websites, so that they provide a dedicated experience for you in topics I specialise in, like sleep.  I also have online services and resources available to buy. Take a look here.  When you subscribe to my mailing list ‘Monday Mojo™’, you get free access to resources in the Members Area like the Sparkle Repair Kit™.  You can also get in touch here.

Services are available in 1-1 and as group sessions. Private and Corporate clients are welcome.

Mindfulness Class: Delphi, A HUGE THANK YOU. I really have learned so much and enjoyed every week.

Professional Career 

I have supported people professionally since 2002, where I started my therapeutic work in bereavement, helping those bereaved by murder and suicide.  My role then was to attend coroner’s court and support people through the inquest process. In 2004, I also established a unique website dedicated to Pregnancy Mental Health, following my own experience of depression during pregnancy.

With one of my specialist areas being sleep and dreams, my career includes an extensive TV and media profile, with regular appearances as the Dream Expert on ITV’s This Morning and presenting the Guide to Sleep on Daybreak. I have also featured in Spirit & Destiny, Pregnancy and Birth and Natural Health magazines, and featured on radio programmes including BBC 2’s weekend/bank holiday extravaganzas with Aled Jones.  You can find out more about my media appearances here.

Qualifications and Training

My qualifications and training include Therapeutic Counselling, Delivering Adult Learning, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Support for Insomnia, Mental Health First Aid and Mindfulness. I am also a Women’s Advocate, raising awareness of situations which predominantly affect Women’s Mental Health, like Domestic Abuse and Pregnancy.

With Delphi’s help, I have a new perspective on life and the strength to face new and challenging things in a positive way.” B.

©️ Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo – Dive In

Monday Mojo™ – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: Dive In

What would be your greatest adventure?

Perhaps you’ve thought about:

Taking the plunge.

Throwing caution to the wind.

Letting the cards fall where they may.

Maybe you’ve had an inspiring idea or need to have a tricky conversation with someone – but something’s holding you back.

Sometimes it’s good to be cautious. Important decisions need to be weighed up. We need to take our time over the things that really matter.

But sometimes, for other things, we just have to go for it.

This week set the intention to Dive In. Take something you’ve been putting off for a while and think about what’s stopping you. Is it something practical (like money) and if so, what needs to happen to get the resources you need? Are there steps you can take or people you can speak with, to put a positive plan in action, even if you won’t see the results straight away. Take some steps towards where you want to be, and work towards taking the fear out of the infinite possibilities and adventures ahead of you.

For Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox click here

©️ Copyright Delphi Ellis 2018

Clothing Range Launched to Help Fundraise for Mental Health Charity

Announcing the Helping You Sparkle™ online clothing range, offering fun, inspiring and thought-provoking clothes and accessories to raise awareness of mental health.

Within the Mental Health Awareness Collection you’ll find must-have items for your wardrobe and, even better, a percentage of the profits are going to Rethink, a UK charity raising awareness of mental illness.

The new clothing shop also includes a collection called Time to Rise™ to raise money for Women’s Aid, raising awareness of Domestic Abuse.

To go straight to the online shop click here or click the image below.

Sign up here to receive Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox, along with details of special offers as they become available.

For other products available online including guided meditations, click here.

All items are copyright Delphi Ellis unless otherwise specified.

Monday Mojo – Claim Your Power

How do you feel about power?

We often think of power as a negative thing:

Control. Aggression. Domination.

Politics. Leaders. Greed.

As if it’s the complete opposite of love.

We also don’t like to feel power-less. We don’t want to lose our power to anyone. And yet, paradoxically almost, we don’t want to assert our power, for fear of what others may think of us. (If you ever said what you meant as a child and were called ‘bossy’ you know what I mean).

I wrote an article about this a while ago – is it possible to be both powerful and have love / give love / be love in a positive way? The short answer is yes. The Sakyong Mipham defined this simply when he clarified that “power means the ability to do something”. And we all have that power.

This week, set the intention to Claim Your Power. Identify if there are areas of your life where you feel powerless – is this because things are outside of your control, or control has found its way in to someone else’s hands? What power do you need to take back? If it helps , talk it through with someone, and make a plan to control what you can and leave the rest. Sit comfortably with the idea that you can be as powerful as you want to be, when you act with good intentions.

For Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox click here

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo – See Your Wonder

Monday Mojo™ – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: See Your Wonder

How often do you tell yourself you’re wonderful?

I’m going to guess that it’s not something you do every day. In fact, I’m going to bet that a lot of the things you say to yourself aren’t as kind as they could be. And you’re not alone.

When I run my classes, people often describe how ‘wrong’ it feels for being nice to themselves. Genuinely. As if whispering words of encouragement to yourself is, well, maybe a bit silly. But I’m here to tell you, it’s not.

In my article, the Power of Words, I explore the relationship between how you talk to yourself and your self-esteem. The direct connection between what you think, how you feel and what you say or do. And how in order to live a happier life, it starts with making friends with the amazing person you are.

This week, set the intention to See Your Wonder. Take a sheet of paper and write the words “Wonderful Me” in the middle. Now write a list of all the kind words people have ever said to you about yourself. Words might include “gentle”, a “good friend”, “lovely smile”, “kind” and “caring”. If you can’t think of any, ask a friend or loved one to do this with you. When you have a list, even if it’s only a few words, next time you find yourself beating yourself up, replace the “mean” word with a kind one. And be sure to say something nice to yourself every day.

For Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox, click here

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Available to Buy – Guided meditations and relaxation resources packs

If, like a lot of people, you find it hard to rest or unwind, you might be wondering how you can fit rest and relaxation in to your busy schedule.

We know that mindfulness is a positive way of life which has been proven to help people manage their mood and improve their sleep.  But if you’re finding it difficult to get to a class or workshop then you might like my guided meditations and resources packs available as digital downloads.

Available to BuyJust visit my online shop to find out more about the different packs, including the Mindfulness Starter Kit and the Self-Care Toolkit, as well as guided meditations available as individual recordings – introductory prices starting from just 50p!

Resources are subject to availability and terms and conditions apply; please see the relevant pages for more details.

Take a look.

What people say about my relaxation classes:

You might also like:

Monday Mojo™ – a free email straight to your inbox each week, containing feel-good vibes for the week ahead, as well as free access to the Members Gateway containing the Sparkle Repair Kit™, a small but mighty eGuide designed to help you get your sparkle back.

What people say about Monday Mojo™:

When I see an email I think “ooooh” and open it with pleasure.

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo – Unravel the Mystery

Do you ever stop and wonder, what’s it all about?

Those days when something really random happens, and you have a real “What the…” moment. Like the day when the Dalai Lama started following me on Twitter, or so I thought, only to discover “he” (someone pretending to be him) was critiquing the latest high street fashions.

Whether we blame the full moon or mercury going retrograde, we just tend to roll with it. But sometimes it – life – just doesn’t make any sense (as I wrote that, my spell-checker corrected it to “doesn’t make any Swansea”. You get my point).

What I’m saying is that, now and then, it can help to consider the what and the why. Like what can you glean from recent events? What is the bigger picture trying to say? Why this? Why now?

This week, set the intention to Unravel the Mystery. If someone has been acting strange lately, ask them what’s going on. If you’ve not felt yourself, check in with your body and mind and see what you can uncover. And if you’re having some weird dreams, write them down so you can reflect on them later.

For Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox click here

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo -Step Back

Monday Mojo™ – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: Step Back

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said to yourself “You’re alright, you know”?

That you’re good enough.

We don’t, do we? We tell everyone else how great they are, how everything will be alright, that they’re ok as they are. But when we look in the mirror sometimes, it can feel like a stranger is looking back at us.

It’s so important now and then to remember how far you’ve come. How, even when life hasn’t quite gone the way you planned, that you’ve made it this far. That even when other people did their best to knock the wind out of your sails, you pushed through.

This week, set the intention to Step Back. Take some time to reflect on the powerful journey you’ve been on so far, and how your track record at surviving is 100%. That even on the days when you feel like you can’t go on, you’ve got through this before and you’ll get through it again. Make friends with the person in the mirror and tell yourself you’re good enough.

For Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox, click here.

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Monday Mojo – Trust Yourself

Monday Mojo – feel-good motivation for the week ahead: Trust Yourself

Do you feel you generally make good decisions. That you get it right nine times out of 10. That you have complete faith in yourself.

If you do, that’s great.

But if you laughed and answered no, it’s okay. When life takes its toll, or we’ve been knocked off balance just one too many times, it makes sense that we second guess everything we do. So much so, that we may even end up not making any decisions at all.

We think.

We trip ourselves up.

And then we think some more. And it’s that over-thinking that gets in the way of good decision – making.

This week, set the intention to Trust Yourself. Follow your gut, see where your nose takes you and generally get in tune with what you know. Start small by noticing how you feel when a colleague speaks, or you see someone giving an interview on the telly – what are your spidey-senses telling you? If your heckles go up, or you feel a warm fuzzy glow note how you feel so that you start to trust your instincts, and therefore your decisions, more. See what you can glean from the way your mind and body reacts when people speak to you, and see just how often your instincts are right on the nail.

For Monday Mojo straight to your inbox click here

Copyright Delphi Ellis

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