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Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan Coaching, Training and Consulting

[email protected] Tel.0868373582



When I am contemplating something or have learned something worth sharing I will post it here.

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What is non-judgement?

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on May 12, 2023 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I recently started teaching a new Mindfulness 6 week course, with a group of predominantly beginners. The subject of non-judgement arose when I explained that my own vipassana practice comes from the New Burmese Method. For those of you who know about Mindfulness you will know that non-judgement is fundamental to these practices and you are often asked to let go of your thoughts gently and in a non-judgmental way. It also guides you to see thoughts and simply thoughts and to drop the judgement of them being either good or bad. What makes the New Burmese method different from traditional practices is that you don't have to understand or follow the original Buddhist teachings to practice, as vipassana is the cultivation of mindfulness through paying close attention to your experience, thoughts, and body in the moment.

Another key difference is that it doesn't involve adhering to the strict ethical norms of the Buddhist monastic life such as the Eightfold path. It is this aspect that I have enjoyed, as it opens the practices to a much wider audience. The Noble Eightfold Path are as follows, Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. These are not meant to be interpreted as prescriptive, as in there is only one way, or a right way, to do things or live, but more do with ethical conduct, mental discipline and wisdom. What is different in the New Burmese method is that it does not adhere to a right way but more focuses on things being as they are in the moment and you must respond in that moment mindfully without judgement and for the good of all. You could argue that that is the same things in different words and perhaps it is but for me one thing stood out.

I can remember clearly when my meditation teacher, at the time, a former buddhist nun, said 'there is no good or bad, there just is. This moment is neither good or bad and their is no 'right' way to respond there is only what is happening right now and what you are aware of'. In that moment a light when on in my mind. I had spent years reflecting on my experiences of trauma and how 'awful' it was and how difficult my life had been and how unfair but suddenly they weren't 'bad experiences' they were just experiences and what made them bad in my mind was how I viewed them and what society told us we whould think about them.

No don't get me wrong, I am not saying that there aren't some horrible things that happen to people, believe me I know, I've had had more than my fair share. What I am saying is that as long as you hold on to the story of them being bad, they keep having hold over you and they stop you from living in the present moment. You can't live in this moment if you are tethered to the past.

I now believe that life is messy and filled with trauma, whether we like it or not. No one gets away without having some bad stuff happen to them. If we choose to live a life that is non-judgemental the we can help people of all walks of life whether we agree with, or like them, or not. It also has allowed me to let go of me need to be attached to my own trauma and view it from the perspective of post-traumatic growth and what benefits and growth it has given me, rather than what it may have taken away. This has been liberating and has allowed me to focus on now. It's helped me to practice vipassana, how I am in this moment and when the past shows up in my reactions or responses, has allowed me to choose how I can be in this moment. The story of who we are and how we got here can be stifflng or freeing, I chose to be free and being non-judgemental allows me to do that.

How to Pause

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on April 4, 2023 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Lately I have been working with clients who are trying to change some of their old patterns in real-time. It's not for the faint-hearted, believe me I know. I have had to work hard to spot when I'm triggered and to take a moment to pause before reacting. One of the biggest challenges most of us face is dealing with criticism. I instantly feel the flush to may face, the feelings of shame or embarrassment and the instant need to defend myself. Even after years of practice this still happens, but I have learned to pause and take a breath before I respond and most importantly, to not take it personally.

When you are criticised the first thing you need to do is look at the context. To be able to do that you need to get good at pausing. Mindfulness can help you to take a breath, to wait before responding and to be objective about what is going on. Some criticism is good, it's feedback that tell us how to do better. Other times it is just another person's need to be seen or heard and using you as an opportunity to do that. Sometimes the criticism is valid but irrelevant. An example for me is when people criticise me on social media. If they tell me I talk to fast or that something doesn't make sense, they might be right, but I know if they don't resonate with how I talk or express myself, then they are not my audience and the people who do are the ones who are going to benefit from what I have to say. I am too old at this stage to change my whole way of being for one comment on social media. When that happens I politely thank them for their comment and move on.

How do you pause and take stock? The first thing is to notice. Notice your somatic response. Warmth in your body, tension, agitation or anything else. Notice your thoughts. Mine are always shame, lucky me! That's because I was criticsed as a child. The part of me that fears other's opinion, says 'what will people think?' I listen to what it says and then I pay attention to my knee-jerk response. It' usually to defend, or apologise, that's my avoidant attachment strategy. Once I noticed this, I wait, take a breath and then consider how to respond.

Thanks for your feedback is good stop-gap. It gives you time to reflect later, if you wish, or can allow you to aknowledge the other person without having to change anything right there and then. If you trust the person and value their opinion you can ask a question for greater clarity. Again, only do this if you feel the feedback is valid and worth it. Lastly, remind yourself that the criticism says more about them than it does you. It's a reflection of where they are at, how they are trying to get their needs met and whether they need to blame (coercive attachment) or take responsibility for the fact they found something you did a challenge.

To get good at this you need to practice. One of the best ways to do this is mental rehearsal. Use past expriences as opportunities to plan for future ones. Good Luck!

Dealing with someone with Coercive/Anxious Attachment

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on April 25, 2022 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)


To begin I want to explain that Coercive Attachment is the name given to Anxious Attachment in the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment and it is used to describe the 8 attachment strategies used by someone with Coercive Attachment to get their attachment needs met. This can range from disarming behaviour to punishing and protest behaviour, feigned helplessness and even in its extreme form, narcissism.

My work involves working with people who are primarily using Avoidant attachment strategies, simply because that is what I have used myself before developing a more secure and balanced way of being and I have greater understanding of their difficulties, especially if they have a coercive strategist in their life.

Like Coercive, there are 8 Avoidant attachment strategies ranging from false positive affect (acting like there is nothing wrong), inhibiting emotions (hiding your negative feelings from others), being a people pleaser, compulsive caregiver, compulsively compliant and on the extreme end being promiscuous, abusive by being socially withdrawn or unreliable, and struggling with self-concept and a sense of self.

Type A avoidant and Type C coercive often end up in relationship together because Type A parents often produce Type C children and vice versa, which means we are drawn to the strategy that is familiar to us, which is the one our parents used when we were growing up. Type As often struggle to understand and feel safe with Type Cs and Types Cs often worry that Type As will abandon them because they find it hard to read the Type A's emotions.

A type C goes through a cycle of behaviours in an attempt to get their attachment needs met and this involves, comfort seeking, anger, fear and then back to comfort seeking again. What they are trying to do is feel safe and protect themselves from danger but when they get close to a type A and that person withdraws they feel sacred of abandonment and will engage in protest behviours such as criticism or stonewalling, gaslighting or withdrawing themselves to punish the other person. After that they will become apologetic and seek to pull you close again by being disarming and charming.

If you are type A this can be hard to understand, mostly because you don't recognise that you are hiding your emotions or being emotionally unavailable. When you go away to deal with your anger the other person can feel ashamed for displaying their's. Type As are often people pleasers and so they don't always pay attention to what the other person actually needs which can cause them to feel like a child or to lose their independence or feel invisible.

The solution is to learn to display your emotions in a healthy way, to really pay attention to what the other person needs by asking questions, being consistent and open about your plans and motives and having clear boundaries around how your relationship works. What you must request from the other person is trust and that when they display their emotions they express a clear need as to what they want from you, otherwise you will go into people pleaing mode and trigger them all over again.

If you work together to build a strong and healthy relationship then you can both start moving towards an earned Balanced attachment strategy and both of you will start to feel safer in your relationship together. One important thing to remember is, there is a difference between someone who displays narcissistic behaviours and someone who is a narcissist. A big red flag is the ability of the other person to take responsiblity for their behaviour and their willingness to work on the relationship and change. If they expect you to do the changing and they do nothing then you either walk away or if you can't then you need help in dealing with a narcissist and how to maintain very strong boundaries with them.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in working with me, get in touch.

I hope our paths cross again in future,


Understanding the DMM of Attachment

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on April 4, 2022 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been interested in Attachment Theory since I studied it as part of my degree in Sociology back in 2007. When studying the Family it made complete sense to me that our feelings of safety and perception of danger could influence our personality and how we interact in all our relationships.Since then I have spent a lot of time studying the different models and supporting my coaching clients to become more secure in the attachment.

The most recent and contempory model of attachment theory is the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment. This is the work of Patricia Crittenden and it breaks down the three dominant attachment styles into A, B and C with an AC and A/C strategy that combines both. This, in the past, was often referred to a disorganised. Each strategy (not style) is further broken down into sections B1-5, A1-8 and C1-8. The more unresolved trauma a person has in their life the higher their number.

Most people fall somewhere between A1/2, B1-5 and C1/2, with quite a few at a naive B, meaning the grew up with Type B parents without much exposure to threat or danger. The A1 and A2 involve inhibited affect and idealization, which in simple terms means the person struggles to ackowedge their negative feelings and sees their childhood and parents as pretty perfect even if it wasn't.

C1 and C2 cycle between being disarming and corecive behaviour. Which basically means they cycle through wanting comfort, displays of anger or frustration, feelings or fear and back around to wanting comfort again. This can be seen as pulling people close and then pushing them away when they don't get what they need. They are more overtly emotional that Type A.

No one strategy is better that the other because they are all useful depending on what is going on around us in our relationships. Obviously getting to be a B and being able to cycle from B1 to B5 is optimal and when we are not facing a threat in our life it is the healthiest way to be.

People who didn't grow up with a type B can earn it with the right help. The first step is recognising that your strategy is not working. This is called a reorganising B and is tipified by the awareness but not the change. The earned B integrates the awareness and the change and starts to interact differntly in their relationships with others.

For me, as a coach, supporting people through this change is some of the most important and rewarding work I do.

Thanks for reading. I hope our paths cross again in future.


Pondering Parts-work and developing self-awareness.

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on March 21, 2022 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I haven't written a blog post in while. Partly because I was busy recording videos and partly because I got a bit burnt out with writing whilst I was doing my dissertation. But here I am finally getting around to one again.

This one is short one and is really a pondering on my part about what helps you to develop self-awareness. For those of you who follow me on social media you will be aware that I have been doing a lot of parts-work lately both as a client and with my own clients. One of the things this process has taught me is to be curious about my thoughts and what is driving them.

I have come to recognise many of my own parts, managers, firefighters and exiles and the way they communicate both to me and for me when they become blended. I have also recognised that I have parts that are strongly linked to my attachment style and jump in when they feel my internal system is threatened. This can take the form of over-explaining (an avoidant behaviour), of shame, of formulating responses in my mind to potential conversations or full on overthinking and panic mode where I feel like I am going to be rejected.

The more familiar I have become with these patterns the easier it has been for me to speak to them with kindness and to understand the protective patterns of behaving that they engage in. It has opened a space for greater self-acceptance and more importantly from a developmental perspective, self-reflection without judgement.

Learning to reflect with curiosity and openness, fully and somatically accessing body and emotional feelings, being able to engage in perspective taking and being open to discover discrepancies between how I see the world, how another sees it, and how it might actually be, is key to creating a balanced and non-judgemental way of being in the world.

If we are afraid to explore how we really are then we limit our growth. Getting familar with the parts of ourselves who communicate for us when we are stressed, or upset, allows you to bring kindness and self-acceptance to how you are and the reasons behind your behaviour. It is quite liberating. If you want to find out more, get in touch.

Thanks for reading. I hope our paths cross again in future.


Self-love exercise

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on July 9, 2021 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Here's the link to my YouTube video of the self-love exercise" target="_blank">

Just the Way You Are Self-Acceptance Exercise

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on July 7, 2021 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

My blog has been out of action for a while due to some technical difficulties with my service provider. Thankfully it is back now and so I am haoping to post more regularly again. I have a new video on Friday on Facebook and Instagram with a self-love and self-acceptance exercise for all of you out there with a harsh inner critic. If there is anything you woud like me to post about then let me know and I'll do either a video or written blog. Have a great weekend, Elfreda

YouTube video series Video 1

Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on June 24, 2021 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Check out my video series on YouTube" target="_blank"> Under the Circumstances You're Totally Frickin' Normal This is the link to video one in the series.