POSTS  2013



Christmas Night 2013 at home with the Bonner-Britt's

The greatest Gift



We suffer when nobody listens.

Giving up on ever being heard is the greatest of all tragedies.

Having no voice robs the world of your story.

Without your gift how is the world to bloom?


by Hal Pullin

Hoag Ring Galaxy


12-12-13 a




You are hyper-focused on your son and your wife about the reality of great loss, and fear and sadness you have created for you.  You impulsively leave your body and focus on others in hopes they will somehow rescue you from your losses.


They have plenty to deal with... with their own losses.  You have created losses for you and them.  They have created losses for you and for them.


It is your job to get back in your body and build a life that focuses on you taking care of your own feelings of loss.  As your self-care (affirmations, prayer, exercise, rest) improves your decisions will be less and less impulsive... meaning that you are aware of the consequences of each choice and the need to learn what will be more effective next time.  The way you make decisions will result in others first feeling less fearful and distrustful and then over time finally feeling more and more comfortable with you.


This is hard.  It is never be easy to improve a reputation... but you are human and humans can do it if they get enough support and build their skills at noticing, interrupting and replacing their impulses with feeling based self-care plans.   I have seen you do it.   It is your job for you.



(La Belle et la Bête)

An amazing classic film by Jean Cocteau


Below are productions stills showing actor Jean Marais in makeup in his

lead role as the Beast.  Below that are stills from the film, including Jean Marais

and his co-star Josette Day in the role as Beauty.


This dreamlike movie beautifully describes the real drama of relationship and

the courage required for two people to work through the discovery of the

beloved and to witness each other's transformations.



12-112-13 b

Codependence is a very vicious social co-destructive cycle.


When your self-care plan is bringing consequences you don't want... it is your job not someone else's job to change your plan so it works for you.


Something in your childhood (This is true for me and everyone I have ever known.) taught you that, "When I am in pain it is someone else's job to fix it for me."


We all learn things that never worked for anyone.  When I am someone's "Model" his or her healthy developmental needs have chosen me.  What I am doing may not be working at all but the person that has chosen me as a model does it like I do anyway.  It is their starting place in learning how to live.  Attachment and Separation are a process.  As a younger person I "look up to someone" and choose their way of doing things to begin to plan my behavior.  When I blame the resulting negative consequences on that person it is clear that I have not yet learned how to learn.  We all need models who know how not to blame others for negative consequences and do know how to do something different next time so learning can happen.  Perfect loyalty for the human and imperfect models of our childhood can slow down the process of finding more effective models for today's situations.


I want my son to know that I don't need him to keep doing what never really worked for me.  I want him to be loyal to want works for him and keeps him safe.  (If my parent or model has this attitude I have permission to actually learn what works for me in my current situations.)


When the subject is learning to survive being a "Man" is the same as being a "Woman".  All adult people of each sex need to know how to be autonomous in the world.  We need to know how not to be "bullied by life".  "Bullies" manipulate us around our need to be taken care of.  They do it because they need us to take care of them.  The "victim" does it because they are afraid and they have been taught in their family to "take care of the needy person" (the bully.)  The problem is that everyone impulsively bullies and everyone impulsively allows himself or herself to take the role of "victim".  Codependence is a very vicious social co-destructive cycle.


You have created a situation here (your reduced role as father due to your repeated impulsive choices) and you feel bullied by the situation.  You keep creating similar situations and you keep feeling bullied by the situations you create.


Then you impulsively look outside your self for a solution.   You feel hopeless, alone, afraid.... and bullied. Then you try to get someone you love to remove those terrible feelings.  They feel pushed or blamed or shamed or frightened by your impulsive aggression.  You feel more hopeless, alone, afraid.... and bullied.




You take a five-step self-time-out and gently look inside yourself to listen to your feelings of hopelessness, isolation, fear.... and powerlessness.  You remember your true intention to choose a plan that does not repeat these terrible consequences.  You remember that your power is in listening to yourself and making sure you own basic needs are met.


When you improve your loving self-care you will feel less abandoned and behave less bullied and bully others less and less.  Your consequences work for you better and better.


I don't know any other way.  Your son will not trust you more at this point until the way you choose do things (your model) stops scaring him and starts working better for him.  No way around this reality.


When you improve your loving self-care you are the model for improving self-care.z

12-12-13 c


You appear to want it both ways.  You want to be able to blame others but you don't want them to know you are blaming them.  And you want me to go along with this plan.


In order for this team (you, your wife, the visit supervisor and your son) to be a more effective team and meet the goals we have individually agreed to as team members... we each need to remember that we all will be making our mistakes in the open.


You will make your mistakes in the open.  The others in the process, including me, will make our mistakes in the open.  We are all learning how to process these mistakes individually and gently by using self-time-outs so that we get to see the effects on your son when his important adults are doing better self-care.


When each of us is attending to our own feelings in gentle and loving ways we will not blame and judge and manipulate each other as much.  When one of us makes a mistake about that the others in their improved self-care will notice it sooner and set a boundary in a simpler, less manipulative way.  Your son will see disagreements happen but not power struggles and abuse.  He will see adults choose to wait to say they agree until they find out how they actually do agree.


12-12-13 d



When you are late as a pattern you are building up a reputation that you say you don't want to build.


In the form of a pattern you impulsively choose to allow simple needs to be overwhelmed by complexity.

I can choose to:


If I was five minutes late last week I can choose to push myself to be on time but end up late again for a list of reasons and go through a panic and arrive anxious and intense late or not.


Or I can choose to:


I can be hard on myself for last week and try harder to squeeze things in staying unaware that squeezing things in is the impulsive choice that gives me a pattern of lateness.



Or I can choose to:


If I was five minutes late last week I can choose to schedule less accomplishment that day, start a half hour early this week and take a book.


When you choose to organize your life so you are demonstrating that your priorities are in fact consistent with your words and your words are consistent with your deeds... people find it easier to enjoy being with you and feel safe with you.


Children believe in what you do... not in what you intend, or what you say.  They know how we are.  They know the results of our self care whatever our self-care is.





About your child understanding the consequences of his/her choices:


I need you to trust more that he will get that if he is choosing to loose some privilege he will understand what he did to choose the consequence.  It doesn't necessarily hurt him for you to say what he did to choose a consequence.  It is good practice however to know that he almost certainly knows and will test you again about the same thing... especially if you make a big deal about him understanding.  Kids interpret our need for them to understand as the same thing as our need for them never to do it again.  They will power struggle with that every time.


About Consequencing after first clarifying the choice:


This is similar to trying to get a child to understand.  It is OK but it is often better to just apply the consequence.  This is all part of your concern that your child understands.  Him not understanding is not the problem.  He is trying to master his impulses.  You are trying to get him to focus on your need for him to understand.  I need him to stay focused on the results of his last choice which he knows is associated with your application of a consequence or your initiating a consequence clock... unless we demand his attention elsewhere like understanding.  If you choose not to invite his focus away with trying to get him to do something else like understanding he will learn everything you need him to learn as he focuses on the consequence he just chose.



About needing him to feel ___________ (happy or proud or calm etc.)


Please remember children will power struggle any time we invite power struggle by trying to get them to do _________ (Anything).


You can choose to forget:

...your child is attracted to whatever you are modeling even if your model is manipulative of self-destructive.  Whenever you are busy trying to get them to do ____________...  they will be busy trying to get you to_____________.


Or you can choose to:

...praise them when they are fitting into the family in a way comfortable to you and provide them with small privilage increase and provide a small consequence when they are not,  Then you can choose not to change the subject.


About you and your child's difficulties:


Your children are not defined by what is difficult for them.  We all face issues that we find difficult to move through.  We get stuck in believing that we will not overcome what we feel is keeping us from what is possible in life.


When they say, "I can't." to ourselves they believe it we really believe it.

They are getting the idea and those words from us.


Children are defined by their self-care.  This really means that they are defined by the self-care of their model.


When you are being complicated or manipulative with yourself or pushing yourself that is your self-care.  You are choosing voluntarily to hurt yourself and your mood and at the same time perhaps hoping (or perhaps demanding) that your child's mood be fine.  When you are allowing yourself to do inadequate self-care you will be less aware of your choices and your consequences but you will have them anyway.  You will not be witnessing your child's development.  You will be destracting them from their own self-care and modeling self-destructive self-care for them.


It takes a lot of fine self-care to be a functioning model of a child's self-care and it takes a lot of fine self-care to be a functioning witness of your loved one's development.


That is why structured affirmations (which help us be more aware so we can learn from our mistakes and repeat them less) helps us feel more positive about life.  The positive feeling comes from development happening.    Self-care is the most important part of parenting.


Our children have the self-care we model for them.





A   loving parent recently wrote me, asking two questions regarding her son whom we will name Sam:


Chuck, after all that work in our sessions, I can't remember the formula words for Sam when he is acting out. Would you please refresh my memory on the exact wording? I not only need it for myself but also to discuss with his teacher.


CLIENT QUETION #1: Sam is not doing something I asked him to do or not stopping something I asked him to stop. What I am using is, "Sam, you have not done [have done] X. You have chosen to lose a privilege. You can earn it back ____________________."


CLIENT QUESTION #2. Sam has gone beyond saying, "I am angry" or something like that to saying things like, "You don't love me," or "You're mean," or "You need to do what I say." I say something like, "When you choose that attitude, you choose to lose a privilege."




Dear,  Sam's Mom

CLIENT QUETION #1: Sam is not doing something I asked him to do or not stopping something I asked him to stop. What I am using is, "Sam, you have not done [have done] X. You have chosen to lose a privilege. You can earn it back ____________________."


Sam is not very conscious that he is "acting out" but he does not need any explanation of what happened, what he did or what it means. Acting out is a very deep (DNA level deep) learning process. The child is trying to find out what the genuine rules are for joining the family or the class. The child does not think the following ideas but the child does act out the following ideas:


"If I can get my parent or the teacher to change the subject with their mood or their manipulation... then the rules are that manipulation is OK. If I can not manipulate my parent or the teacher and can not get them to change the subject, then I feel stuck in the safe but uncomfortable place of becoming more aware of my body and what I actually feel and need. Now i realize what they want me to do and I don't know why... but I guess I want to do what they want me to do."


When a child or any person is in that uncomfortable but physically curious mood they are being developmental and they are learning how to be less manipulative, less of a bully and less of a victim.


The child is not trying to win a power struggle or beat us at manipulation. They are trying to find out how to actually and genuinely join this family or classroom. All adult communication that the child experiences as manipulative of their free will or as a subject change feels like permission to manipulate and escalate and in effect is permission to avoid the very difficult task of focusing on their own body (their own feelings and needs), the poor choice and the consequence. After this happens the child and the adult are lost in co-manipulation. The child forgets about joining the family and is focused on this very interesting adult that is acting like a toy. The adult is focused on figuring out and changing the behavior of this irritating child.


The formula words for almost all consequence are:

"For every minute of attitude you are choosing (5) minutes of privilege loss."


 (The amount of time can vary depending on the situation and the values of the parent. It can be time "having a quite voice and body" it can be, "for every minute of attitude you have chosen to loose one toy." The amount of time can vary as in... for a kid who has chosen to hit someone, "For every violent act you are choosing to loose two toys (or ten minutes)." The important ideas are that the consequence is not intended to change the behavior of the child but it is intended to indicate symbolically and simply to the child that the chosen behavior is not the way to join the family or the classroom. The acting out of the child is a DNA level symbolic and immature request for information about how to join the family or group. Your successful response needs to be mature, symbolic, single purpose and simple (simple, meaning non-manipulative).


MOST IMPORTANTLY The simple meaning of the negative consequence is how not to join the family or class. The negative consequence has very little effect on improving the child self care skills or their ability to join the family or class in a simple way, until it is bracketed by the earn back which represents and communicates to the child the values of the adult with regard to how to join the family or class. Anything that interferes with or complicates the communication of this meaning slows development and complicates every family or classroom issue.


The formula words for the earn back are:

"Good job changing your attitude. For every hour of no attitude you are choosing to earn back one half of your privilege."


It is essential to say the consequence and the earn back formula words with neutral (business like and attitude free) tone and body language so as not to draw attention to the adult, which would be a subject change. The purpose of the earn back is to symbolically, simply and clearly indicate to the child that the adult has noticed the first moment of behavior that is joining the family or classroom.


The goal of a fine parent or teacher is to:

-have fine self care and great support so you can detach from the mood and actions of the child

-have fine self care and great support to give yourself an independent and neutral mood and non reactive actions that do not draw the attention of the child

-have fine self care and great support so you can choose not to initiate or fall into a power struggle

-have fine self care and great support so you can remember to use the formula phrases to keep verbal communication extremely brief, remembering to be symbolic, respectful of the child's free will and focused on the poor choice and the start of the consequence.


The formula words act to create a vacuum that invites the child (already pressurized with developmental energy) to enter. The child will feel uncomfortable, they will be questioning their current approach (wondering why it is not working to change the subject) and they will (after a period of intensified testing) become powerfully curious about how the adult is managing to keep their own mood and neither be bullied or become a bully or be a victim. At that moment they have started to use the parent or teacher's new self care skills as their new model for their now maturing ego. There behavior will now VOLUNTARILY  begin to moderate.


CLIENT QUESTION #2. Sam has gone beyond saying, "I am angry" or something like that to saying things like, "You don't love me," or "You're mean," or "You need to do what I say." I say something like, "When you choose that attitude, you choose to lose a privilege."


The formula words remain the same:

"For every minute of attitude you are choosing (5) minutes of privilege loss."


It is important not to change the formula because we feel injured by the action of the child. When we allow this "feeling injured" to continue without self care, we will, very soon, impulsively demand that the child save us from injury by changing their behavior. When the child responds to this energy by escalating their behavior... the adult feels confirmed in the unreality that the child intends to hurt. This is adult escalation.


It is not the intention of the adult to expect their feelings to be taken care of by the child but that is what we do when we forget to take a time out and take care of our own mood, our own feelings and needs. When we do this we are expecting the child to take care of us by changing their behavior.


It is hard for people learning these skills to simply "use the formula words" relentlessly in every situatio.  After years of trying to do a great job being a fine parent but feeling quite powerless in the face of their child’s manipulations as they look for the exactly right tailored and different approach in every different situation the simplicity and repetativeness of the Formula Words seems way too simple.


The reality however is that the DNA  of the child is calling us to be unperturbed, simple and symbolic in a relentlessly simple and symbolic way to get a very specific and simple task accomplished. The DNA is calling us (thru the acting out of the child) to invite the child simply, symbolically and relentlessly into the family or classroom.


Great questions. Thanks for asking them. You are doing a great job. I hope this is helpful




SUBWAY BALLET   05-28-2013




What industry... what energy, what creative voice!!!

© All Rights Reserved

Chuck Britt, MA, LMFT and Connie Bonner-Britt, MA, LMHC


Serve the following Skagit County areas:

Anacortes 98221,  Concrete 98237,  Lyman 98263,  Rockport 98283,  Bow 98232,  Conway 98238,  Marblemount 98267,  Sedro Woolley 98284,

Burlington 98233,  Hamilton 98255,  Mount Vernon 98273,  Clearlake 98235,  La Conner 98257,  Mount Vernon 98274