I have paid to attend two of Marion’s workshops at the Ravenstone Retreat. Marion has a referral program where the person being referred and the person making the referral both receive $50 off next booking.
Marion Baker is a Registered Therapeutic Counselor with a specialty in trans-personal therapy – a modality that marries spirituality and psychology. She has been a RTC since 2009. She published a relationship book, The Lime Green Plastic Couch, Insight for Women Who Struggle To Find Lasting Love. She has her own private one-on-one and group practice and is both a teacher and a student of A Course in Miracles. Marion hosts small, affordable groups of 8 to 10 people in her home at Ravenstone Retreat, located in Sunshine Valley BC, where you can stay for a weekend and immerse yourself in the experience of what it means to live the lessons that ACIM teaches.
Her next Peace of Mind retreat is November 2nd to 4th, 2018. I have previously attended this and you can read my review here. This weekend focuses on guilt and forgiveness. Marion asks that you bring one thing that you feel guilty about and it can be anything and one thing that you feel a grievance about. The retreats include daily group therapy exercises, accommodations in her home, and two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners that are all freshly prepared and are healthy meals. If you mention this article you will receive $50 off the retreat of your choosing. To learn about upcoming workshops please visit the Ravenstone Retreat on Facebook.
For my self-care September series I wanted to interview Marion about relationships. I am a single mom and have not put myself out there as much as I could have because of fear of repeating past relationship patterns. The lessons that I have learned from her retreats about relationships are really just to be an equal participant. I have had to change or re-structure friendships over the last year which I am sure to the other person(s) felt like I was blaming them when in reality I couldn’t be a friend the way that they needed me to be or I needed a more equal participant than they were able to be. I walked away being as open and upfront as possible and walked away with love for what the relationship was instead of angry for what it wasn’t.
What are the signs that you are in a toxic relationship?
Well, I have to get on my soapbox here a bit as I don’t like to call anything toxic. A relationship is two people doing the best they know how and operating from their own defense systems. The interesting part about what mostly women don’t want to hear is that we are on the same page emotionally as the person we are in a relationship with. I know that can be difficult to wrap your head around, but if you stop looking at behavior and look instead at emotional patterns, you will find it true. You wouldn’t find a narcissistic person in a relationship with anyone else but a caretaker. They automatically attract one another. Or a violent person in a relationship with someone who on some level doesn’t think they deserve the violence, or at least is used to it.
How do you overcome the aftermath of a toxic relationship?
First of all you need to find some empathy for yourself, knowing you were doing the best you could with the information you had. Be kind and gentle with yourself. If you can establish your own emotional patterns in the relationship you get to find some sense of empowerment in it. The best way to do that is look at what you feel guilty about so you can finally let yourself off the hook for all of your human mistakes that we all make, but our mind wants to charge us with murder when all we did was jaywalk.
Tips for acknowledging or releasing guilt?
The only way to do this is to get some help. You can only see situations from the perspective that got you into the situation, so it takes an outside source to shine some light on what keeps you stuck. It could be spiritual guidance-building a relationship with spirit such as going to church or following the lessons in A Course in Miracles, going to a 12 step program, getting some counselling help, or whatever feels right for you.
How do you restructure relationships so you teach or train people to treat you?
I have this thing I call the egg, which is the best way to explain this. Half of the egg is yours and the other half is the other person that you are in a relationship with. If you are ever trying to help, fix, change, get them to see how they are doing things wrong, talking about them etc, then you are over on their half of the egg. Or if you aren’t standing up and saying what is real for you or what does and doesn’t feel right, then you are letting the other person cross over into your half of the egg. You train others how to treat you by standing up to the middle of your egg when you need to say something or by stepping back into your own part of the egg and out of your partners. It means you aren’t willing to let others’ cross your boundaries and you are going to stop crossing theirs. That is how you teach a new relationship dynamic and the way others treat you changed.
Tips on forgiveness?
The best way to start the process of forgiveness is to start to be more gentle with ourselves, then that transfers to the outside world. A faster way is to get a bit of help with it so you can see how you are making another’s actions mean something about you. That is where the secret lies. In our subconscious we think that when our parents or our partners do a specific something that it means something about us. When you can start to see that isn’t true, then the emotional charge gets taken off the situation.
Advice on how to be gentler to ourselves?
Again, get as much outside help as you can afford or find a spiritual path. In the meantime, see if you can start to notice when you are being hard on yourself. That in itself, will stop the process in its tracks and just ask yourself if it’s necessary. Is being hard on myself going to help anything? Will it make a difference? I don’t know any situation where it will actually help. Also, find ways in your life that you can do some self-care. It’s a nice way to be gentle.
Tips on fighting fair?
The best thing I can say about this to strike while the iron is cold. Not hot. Cold. When we are upset, for some reason we think that is the best time to talk about our issues. It’s NOT. Walk away. Go punch a pillow. Go scream in your car. Get a pool noodle and beat the crap out of your couch. Get it out. Then get some perspective from your support team ( a counselor is brilliant for this) and then talk about it while staying on your half of the egg. It’s not about what they are doing wrong. It’s about sharing who you are in a confession. What you make it mean about you when your partner does X and being willing to look at that. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ask for changes, but it’s better to see what is driving that need in your before you cross the line of the egg.
The number one way is to self-care is to take the stressors out of your life and build yourself a support team. Have people in place in your life (by asking them) if it’s okay if you can phone them for support when you are feeling troubled or just need to talk. You have to instruct them how to support you-“can you just sit and listen without giving advice?” Or ask for a hug, etc. If you can have someone else that is neutral in your life-like a counselor or a pastor or a 12 step mentor, that is even better. Make sure you have a good family doctor or naturopath that you trust with your health. Even a money manager to help take any money stress away. All of that is a great way to set yourself up for success in ways that you don’t think of. Even though I am a counselor, I still have my own counselor that I see regularly. I am still a human with my own struggles that come up, but I have my own support system in place to deal with them right away so I don’t let them take over my life. And if there is anything in my life-like a long-term stresses, it helps to have a support system that I can ask to keep me on track.
Thank you to Marion Baker, RTC, for taking the time to answer my questions and continuing to help other people on their journey to find their versions of self-care and peace of mind.