How much Internet is Too Much?

Now you might be thinking, “Well duh, Zulaikha! We are in the middle of a pandemic and my kids are doing e-learning. The only way they can stay in touch with their friends is through the internet.” I get that and I’m not knocking it. We all need to be safe and social distance at this time. However, let’s talk about what life was like before the pandemic and how it’s going to be moving forward in this age of technology so that you can put the phone down.

Technology has made things a lot more simple and convenient by the click of a few buttons, it has also driven us further apart.
The unhealthy detachment that comes from internet use is an epidemic that is affecting people more than they realize, especially our vulnerable youth. Tiktok has become our free go-to babysitter. Online gaming has become the go-to source of socializing and building friendships. And unfortunately, it comes at a big price. Most of the major social media sites and online gaming are designed to get you hooked. The longer you stay on, the more you crave it. The more you crave it, the more you use. The more you use, the more they profit.

The affect that the internet has on our nervous system is  similar to what we see with drug use.
In large quantities like doom scrolling on instagram or gaming for several hours straight, we get a huge increase of dopamine and serotonin. Read more about it here. It’s the feel-good chemicals that makes us happy and energized. Naturally, we want things that make us feel good, so the internet becomes a superficial source of happiness and escape.  People will keep using by doom scroll to the next video, and the next, and the next. Oftentimes we don’t even realize how much time has gone by. You might think, “Oh well? I’m just having fun and it helps me when I’m bored. What’s the harm? Does this really mean I’m addicted to the internet?” The harm is that you’re getting a rush of the neurotransmitters at such a high doses,  causing your nervous system slows down its own natural production. Day after day of this, you start to burn your receptors from the overload of chemicals. In the long run, this means you stop naturally producing the good chemicals because you became dependent on the substance, in this case social media, gaming, internet.  Naturally, you start to feel low, even depressed because you’re making less dopamine, so you seek that feeling again. With this cycle, internet addiction is born.


Other damaging effects of social media and gaming linked to internet and gaming addiction.

Young people are getting hooked on the “like” or reaction they get from their followers. This causes the same influx of dopamine serotonin. They rely on superficial relationships versus building real connection They might even become angry if their followers don’t comment of like their post. They start to mold themselves to be a version that gets reactions. What do you think this does to someone’s self-esteem? They internalize negative beliefs about themselves and their value. They get the message that their worth depends on other people’s approval, that it’s not okay to show my true self. Will they grow up to be confident adults? Will they learn how to present themselves at a job interview or learn how to think abstractly? Or worse, will they grow up to repeat the cycle with their own children, creating another lineage of socially distant and detached communities and internet addicts. What can we do about it?

Need help with your internet addiction? I’m a Nationally Certified Internet Addiction Coach serving across the US. Let’s talk.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA

Perfectionism and Anxiety

 What Is Perfectionism?

We have all been taught to be the best in life. To get straight A’s in school, to win first place, and to that being average is anything but that. We are taught that being the best at something is what makes you valuable and worthy and this is what we should continue to strive for. Do you remember in elementary school how you got those blue or red first place ribbons for your achievements and how good it felt? This might have been the start of your perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the desire to be perfect or flawless both internally and in your surroundings. Perfectionism involves a state of mind where being “perfect” is the standard and should be strived for. You have high standards for yourself and your life. You strive for success in your relationships and work, which takes a lot of mental energy. It requires critical self-evaluation of yourself and doubt of others’ evaluations.

Two Types of Perfectionist

In my practice, I’ve noticed there are 2 types of perfectionist and believe each one deserves to be identified. I call them Covert Perfectionists and Overt Perfectionists. Covert Perfectionist hide their ideal standards and ideas and keep it to themselves, whereas Overt Perfectionist prefer to show their success and driven nature openly.

Overt Perfectionism – Success Driven

Perfectionism can feel black and white, either you were successful at the job or a total failure. Your work shows your effort and high standards and naturally your team will appreciate it. This can feel like reinforcement to continue to produce at high levels. Many people see this as a strength and don’t realize how taxing it can be to constantly evaluate your work, perfecting it several times before you produce it. The success can be addictive and not meeting those expectations can lead to anxiety. Work and success can get you so hooked that you might struggle with putting the phone down after a long day or find yourself constantly checking emails. This can lead to become addicted to the internet, more specifically email addiction.

The Covert Perfectionist – Paralysis By Analysis

Ever feel like you have great ideas but they end up staying ideas? Do you feel like you’re lazy because you don’t act on those ideas to bring them to fruition? I doubt the reason for this is because you’re lazy. People with perfectionism can be particular and want to get it just right. You’re an imaginative thinker and have a vision of how you want it to be. Some people with perfectionism avoid getting things done all together if they don’t have the resources to make it perfect. Leaving it to remain an idea for safe keeping. You might even wonder if you’re an imposter, as though maybe you’re not that great and you’re going to be found out at any moment. Read more about imposter syndrome here. Do you keep your ideas to yourself because you worry what other’s will think if you haven’t figured it all out yet, playing it in your mind and answering all questions that may arise? The underlying goal is to avoid failure due to fear of letting other’s down and being viewed in a negative way. If this resonates with you, you might be a perfectionist.

Pros and Cons of Being A Perfectionist

There are both positive and negative affects of perfectionism. On the encouraging side, perfectionism can be a motivating factor in achieving your goals, practicing self-improvement, giving tasks your best, and trying harder in future endeavors. People who use perfectionism in a positive way are often achievement focused and driven, which can help in reaching many aspirations in life.​

The downside is that the success can come with a heavy price. Research indicate that perfectionism is strongly and consistently related to numerous detrimental work and non-work outcomes, including higher levels of burnout, stress, workaholism,  anxiety, isolation, and depression. The stress it takes to be perfect can also impact other areas of your life including relationship satisfaction, sexual dysfunction, internet addiction, and insomnia. Ever feel like you need a month off from work to enjoy some sun on a desert island away from everyone? This is the effects of anxiety and burnout.

You Can “Have It All”

Being a perfectionist has it’s time and place. There’s a way to feel successful and share your ideas and also not feel this has to be your standard at all times. There’s a way to give what it takes to produce meaningful work and still have enough to give to yourself and to your family at the end of the day. Being a perfectionist has gotten you far in life, but you get the feeling there’s got to be more. As a therapist in the metro-Atlanta area, I work with high-achievers and perfectionists to help them get to the root of the issue and also create work-life balance. As an internet addiction coach offering coaching across the US, I can help you learn how to find the balance between your achievements and also cope with the anxiety that it can bring. Together, we can work through the anxiety that comes from changing your habits and automatic negative thoughts that have kept you in this cycle for so long and to see that you can have success and be goal-driven and maintain healthy boundaries so you feel energized and excited about what’s to come. Call me to learn more.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC


© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA, All rights reserved


High Achievers With High Anxiety

Hiding Behind Success.

If you’re a high achiever, you are all about getting things done. You do whatever it takes to find success at work and this is probably nothing new for you. The need for success has rewarded you with the accolades that you crave. It fuels you to stay on the hamster wheel, and leaves you avoiding other important things in life that are starting to pile up. You starting to feel burnout. Cue the therapy.

Am I a High Achiever? Here are 13 signs.

  1. You prioritize success and feel like a workaholic.
  2. You have a hard time putting the phone down after work in case you miss an email.
  3. You have a hard time stopping work or distinguishing work and other areas of your life.
  4. You have little free time because of work.
  5. You consistently got good grades in school and were involved in extra-curricular activities.
  6. Your parents had high expectations of you.
  7. Your parents were emotionally abusive, saying you wouldn’t amount to anything.
  8. You mostly only felt praised by your parents when it came to school, which was probably rare.
  9. You have a strong need to avoid making mistakes.
  10. Your high levels of anxiety cause you to lose sleep because you stay up thinking of ways of improving your performance.
  11. You notice perfectionism in other areas of your life, like the way you present to people, sometimes replaying what you said.
  12. Your success may ostracize you from family members and friends, leaving you feeling lonely.
  13. You might feel like an imposter, even though you are successful. Read more about it here. 

Your Perfectionist Tendencies Didn’t Start Yesterday.

Usually this stems from childhood where you, being your clever self, leaned how to get things done. This included how to get the attention and approval you needed from your parents. I can tell you are resourceful and this has worked well for you. It has gotten you far in your career and you’ve proven yourself, but it has also left you feeling like there’s got to be more to life, there’s got to be more to you. We continue to try to seek the things we didn’t get in childhood, oftentimes through our achievements. But those wounds don’t go away and can’t be filled with work success. I can help find the person behind the achiever. The person that hasn’t felt seen in a long time, the person that has been waiting to feel heard and seen for years, but learned to hide. As an Atlanta therapist, I offer online therapy for high achievers and perfectionists that fits into your busy schedule, from the comfort of wherever you are.

How Stress Affects Your Health.

It’s easy to ignore your emotional and mental health when you’re as successful as you are. But being a high achiever is catching up to your health and is contributing to your anxiety and depression. Avoiding the anxiety doesn’t work, because you may notice it in other ways. Check out this study on how high levels of anxiety can trigger your fight-flight-freeze response because you’re in a constant state of high levels of adrenalin and cortisol, the stress hormone.  Anxiety can also show up as frustration, irritability, racing thoughts, insomnia, and feeling withdrawn. This can cause sexual dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, headaches, back aches, hormonal imbalance, cardiovascular problems, and Alzheimer’s.

You Want to Enjoy The Life You Created In Years To Come. The Work Starts Now.

Take a moment imagine what that would look like for you…how do you see yourself in your relationships, family, leisure, hobbies, friendships? Are you giving these areas the attention that they need? I know you’re not afraid to do hard work, which is what makes you a high achiever. It can be hard for you to let someone in because you’ve gotten used to figuring things out on your own. The truth is, we all have blindspots. I can help you dig deep to find out who is hiding behind the success, the part of you that has been in hiding for most of your life. Together, we can use evidenced-based therapy to shift the control from your outer world to your inner world. The part of you that you’ve been wanting to connect with but worry what that might look like. Curious to find out? Let’s connect. Give me a call or schedule a free consultation.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC


© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA, All rights reserved


Multicultural Trauma Therapy

Oftentimes when strangers ask what I do for a living to make small talk and they find out I’m a trauma therapist, they like to open up and share their experience of therapy or briefly empathizing with trauma. I’ll never forget the time I met a young black woman sharing her experience of therapy with me and she has been attempting her own healing. She shared that she wanted to connect with her ancestors and that when she shared this with her counselor, her counselor thought she had psychosis. I don’t usually react, but this was both shocking and painful to hear. Her counselor made her feel like something wrong with her for wanting to connect to their ancestors, which is part of her culture heritage and natural for her to want to do.  The field of counseling has a long way to go in understanding trauma healing  and ancestral trauma. Trauma is an experience that is dynamic and unique to every individual. Trauma healing oftentimes can be just as unique.

Trauma Therapy Isn’t Just For Your White Friend

Recently, a counselor colleague shared with me that he only refers clients that need help with trauma to people that are certified in EMDR because too many people go outside of the protocol. This is a common thing I hear among my counselor colleagues who feel loyal to the method of counseling they were trained in, oftentimes not realizing how they are limiting themselves and their clients. I want them to understand that protocols and research only go so far. That the work we do requires us to share our own energy to help healing occur and therapy requires in an integrative approach that doesn’t just rely on protocol, but on our own experiences, intuition, and attuning to our clients feelings.  This is the way that many cultures and communities healed in the past. To these counselors and to the BIPOC people turned away from healing by their own therapist, I say this..Trauma Therapy Isn’t Just For Your White Friend. There are multicultural counselors who get it and want to support your journey, who don’t believe you are psychotic for wanting to heal in a way that doesn’t fit the “protocol.”

It’s Time For a Serious Wave of Healing for BIPOC people. Here’s How Trauma Can Affect Your Health.

The ancestral trauma that continues to repeat every generation has left us feeling alone when we should know we belong to our communities. We feel sick because our bodies continue to keep score of the pain we hide and as we continue to be the model minority. Suppressing those traumas generation after generation shows up in other ways. Trauma can cause genetic mutation that is passed down for 4 generations. Here’s an into to generational trauma. It can show up on our bodies in the form of autoimmune disorders, aches and pain, weight gain, heart disease that can lead to stroke and dementia. It can cause you to feel disconnected from your body and you feelings. It can show up in the form of anxiety and in our relationships, where we might people please to the point of feelings we are losing ourselves. Read more about it here.

Trauma Therapy Has Been Around For As Long As Mankind Has Existed 

Yes, some scientist labeled it as EMDR therapy or Somatic Therapy after they figured out the science behind healing our nervous systems. But, it has always been in our nature to seek relief. Before there were labels, there were healing circles. There were rituals. There was dancing, art, and poetry – do you remember how you felt when Amanda Gordon’s words shook you to your core? There were spiritual journeys to different lands where prayer and meditation took place, where the experience allowed you to meet yourself at your core.  Where your tribe held the space for you to grieve and shed your pain. They created the experience to allow you to look at the trauma from above and from within. There were healing communities and medicine women that chanted and dislodged the pain. There were elders who laid hands and tribes who banged on drums and fire danced.

These Were The Original Trauma Therapists 

These weren’t just art forms. We now know that the vibrations of humming and chanting can induce a state of calm that can pivot our of fight or flight mode to our rational mind. And that bilateral movement and rhythm from dancing and playing drums can heal trauma, calming the nervous system much like with EMDR. We know that because our brains have plasticity that these methods can heal the survival brain to ease the anxiety associated with our stress response. We now know that movement can break up the trauma that is stored in your bodies and that we as people heal in pacts. It’s time to reconnect to our traditional healing ways where you and I become the tribe.  Where we use an integrative counseling approach that connects mind and body so that what you know to be true goes deeper to believing it to be true. Where I hold a sacred space for you to heal and we create a meaningful experience as I carry you along your journey to meet yourself at your deepest level. And this becomes your protocol.  Trauma-therapy that roots back to our ancestors, the type of healing that was taken away or disappeared due to circumstances. Healing is not reserved only for some people. Healing is not a racial thing, it’s a human thing.  With everything we have been through, it’s a time for healing. Curious to learn more about how it works? Connect with me here.

As a BIPOC multicultural trauma-informed therapist in Atlanta, GA, I am offering online counseling and healing across Georgia.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA, All rights reserved


15 Signs of Unhealed Emotional Trauma

15 Signs of Unhealed Emotional Trauma


Trauma sucks. Most people have experienced some sort of trauma at some point in their life, and if they haven’t they’re probably a magical unicorn! After we experience a stressful event, emotional neglect growing up, high levels of criticism, or not having reliable support, our survival brain kicks into gear and does whatever it needs to keep us safe.  It can feel like we are stuck in that stressful time and have a hard time letting go of it. Like even though we can talk about the event, there’s still something there and we can see how the trauma is still showing up in your life. This is a called a trauma response – a survival tactic you learned to protect yourself from the traumatic event. An example of this could be feeling that you’re not okay unless the people around you are okay. That trauma response of pleasing other started somewhere in your life and it kept you safe. Even though it isn’t happening any more, the trauma response still shows up just in case you need it to feel safe. This is all happening unconsciously of course. You might not even realize it started a long time ago because of your circumstances. Let’s see if any of these resonate with you.


Here are some signs of unhealed trauma:

  1. Feeling not good enough.
  2. Over-explaining.
  3. Difficulty with making decisions for yourself.
  4. Not the best boundaries in relationships.
  5. Not knowing what your boundaries are.
  6. Fear of abandonment, so you avoid intimate relationships altogether or people-please.
  7. Putting your needs aside for others.
  8. An innate feeling of shame.
  9. Personalizing things often.
  10. Always fearing what might happen next.
  11. Resisting positive change – including healing.
  12. Tolerating abuse from others.
  13. Overextending yourself when you don’t have it to give.
  14. Being overly agreeable.
  15. Feeling overwhelmed by conflict leading to zoning out, high levels of anxiety, or anger.


Can you relate?

I feel ya. Carrying fear and doubt can make you feels weighed down and gets old pretty fast. You probably aren’t used to feeling heard, so having a space to sit with the pain can feel vulnerable and scary. Healing can happen whenever you feel ready. You’re in the driver’s seat here. You probably notice that trauma can show up at the worst times and as much as you try to cope, it doesn’t feel like enough.  Trauma therapy can heal and get those old memories refiled, almost like putting them in the proper drawer of your mental file cabinet. Stay tuned to learn more about how trauma therapy is different from regular old CBT or talk therapy in my next blog. As an Atlanta therapist offering online counseling across GA, I use evidenced-based therapy like EMDR where we can get those memories unstuck from your mind and body. We can dig deeper to get to the root of the problem because let’s be real, putting a bandaid on it eventually wears off.  Together, we can shine a light on the parts of you that need healing so that you can let go of the things holding you back in life. You’ve held it together for a long time – your whole life to be exact. Ready to find your place and find your peace in the world? I’ve got you. Curious how trauma therapy can help? Contact me for a free consultation here.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA, All rights reserved

What’s Up With Dad? An Intro To Generational Trauma

What’s Up With Dad?

If you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties, chances are it felt like dad wasn’t really present. He might have been there physically and provided for the family, but he wasn’t emotionally available. Culture is constantly evolving with the times, so it’s safe to say that this didn’t happen because they didn’t care. They probably cared a lot and did the best they could with what they had, though it may not have felt like enough. This probably goes back to their father or grandfathers – the silent generation. Here’s an important lesson in generational and cultural trauma.

Stress creates trauma. Unresolved trauma can look like culture.

The silent generation experienced war and lots of it – WWII, The Korean War, and Vietnam to name a few. So, what does that have to do with me? Well, it’s a well-known fact that oftentimes with combat, people experience any form of trauma. Some of the main signs of trauma include avoidance, irritability, rigidity, anxiety, and dissociation. Sound familiar? This was during a time where little was known about trauma, and people self-medicated with alcohol, adding another layer of problems with addiction. Though grandad loved his family, he couldn’t be emotionally there for them because of the battle his nervous system was fighting. Read more about trauma’s effect on the nervous system here.

How Generational Trauma is Created.

Emotional neglect in men is something that is real and really sucks. Culture as a whole can be affected by stressful events like war. If grandad and his buddies were all going through it, leaving their families emotionally affected, the culture in and of itself had to adapt. Unresolved trauma can look like culture. Cultural trauma can also become by accepting things that can be damaging, like abuse or neglect. Cultural trauma can even lead to narcissism and that can be passed down generationally, which can become a cultural norm. How did that affect dad? If dad didn’t have the best model of what it means to be a man, a husband, and how to show warm love, then as a father he had to figure it out on his own. Keep in mind, his role-model got away with being rigid, irritable, and emotionally distant, because this became a cultural norm for that period in time.  It taught men to have a different type of relationship with themselves, disconnecting them from their feelings and changing the expectations of those around them, insert generational trauma. Oftentimes, this goes one of two ways – dad repeats similar patterns, not realizing they’re unhealthy because again, this was normal for the culture, or he dug-deep to better himself and to others who his father couldn’t be. Just because something is normal or acceptable in a culture doesn’t make it healthy. If you’re wondering how this might have affected the rest of the family, stay tuned for the next blog.

I know what you’re thinking. Not me. I am not my dad. I try so hard to be what he wasn’t.

And you’re probably right. You are resilient and have pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. You have been intentional about breaking the cycle. And you might feel like something is missing. You might be a rockstar at work, but at home you have a hard time connecting with your partner and kids. You might respect your dad, but still feel angry because he made you feel like it was just never enough. Well, that was his crap and you don’t have to carry it anymore. You are worthy and we can work together to fully walk in that space. Whether it means working toward reconnecting with yourself or using evidenced-based  trauma therapy like EMDR to rewrite some of those past experiences so they can stay in the past. I know you’re doing your best, and your best has gotten you this far. I’m with you if you’re ready for more. Contact me here.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA

Feel Like An Imposter?

Feel Like an Imposter?

We all go through life sometimes wondering if we are doing good enough at our jobs, if we really earned that compliment, and hope we can handle it. The ability to check-in and assess our performance is a healthy and normal part of being a human. It’s an innate survival technique that allows us to understand our shortcoming and make adjustments to our performance and assess if we need to grow in certain areas. But, do you ever feel like you are constantly analyzing yourself and feel like an imposter? Worried that ‘eventually they’ll catch on and I’ll be doomed.’

Imposter Syndrome is technically not a diagnosable mental health illness, though it is completely valid. It can be a symptom of something else like an anxiety disorder, trauma, and low self-esteem related to depression. As these problems develop, you might feel more like an imposter. For some, they might have felt this way their entire life. I’m here to shed some light on this issue.

Here Are Some Causes of Imposter Syndrome:

Making mistakes takes courage

Imposter Syndrome and Inferiority Complex can go hand-in-hand. Let’s take a look back in your history to understand where it all started. Children need to be encouraged and empowered to take risks. Making mistakes has an important impact on our development and understanding of our ability to handle difficult situations. As we tap into courage, we learn to overcome our fear and believe in our abilities. Even if this resulted in a mistake, it’s okay. Mistakes are part of the what leads us to tap into our courage. We need praise for our courage to take that risk sends the message to our unconscious survival brain that it’s safe enough to try things, and that you won’t be shamed for it, so that you continue to take chances in life.

Unrealistic standard

Note that I mentioned the need for praise – your parents may not have provided this. They may have discouraged you from taking risks like climbing that tall tree to avoid falling, or caused you to suppress the part of you that is outspoken and likes to question things.  They might have criticized you for making a B and expected nothing less than ideal. This might’ve resulted in feeling inferior to your peers and colleagues, and not trusting your judgement. You might have learned to doubt yourself so much that you catch yourself running things by people first before making a decision, or seeking approval even though you don’t really need to. Sound familiar? You might take it deeply personally if you are dumped by your romantic partner, thinking “I wasn’t good enough.” You might have been reinforced for people-pleasing and weren’t allowed to say “no.” Now, you might experience paralysis by analysis, not trusting yourself or the outcome.

Unrealistic standards from society

Our culture likes to dictate how we should dress, what size our bodies should be, how to speak, and what to believe. This comes from all direction including social media, advertisements, and the authority figures in your life. We internalize these messages even if we don’t want to because we’re human and ultimately need connection and to feel we belong somewhere. Being different can make you obsessively compare yourself to other people. If you are different racially, you may not have seen many people that look like you in positions of power. What is the message that comes from this? That people that are different like you don’t have what it takes?

Not true. And it isn’t so all-or-nothing

Sometimes it isn’t as easy as just taking a risk. And sometimes you might need additional work to get to where you want to be in life like developing your skills, working on your confidence, and working through the discomfort of speaking up. You are the most valuable investment you will ever make. As an Atlanta therapist, I offer online therapy across GA to help hush those little nagging voices that cause you to doubt yourself, helping you reframe those unwanted negative beliefs, and to build your confidence. Want to work on your self-development and stop feeling like an imposter? Give me a shout, I’m here. 

Schedule a free consultation.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA

11 Signs You Were Parentified As A Child

If you look back at your childhood and feel like you had more responsibilities that other kids growing up, you were probably parentified. Parentification is the parent-child role can be reversed, or where the child acted as a parent either to themselves, their siblings, or to their own parents.  Does this resonate with you?


Here are 11 signs you were parentified as a child:

  1. You were expected to be responsible enough to figure things out on your own.
  2. You learned not to ask for help.
  3. You had to make dinner for yourself and your siblings, otherwise they wouldn’t have dinner.
  4. Your parents vented to you and discussed their problems to you.
  5. You parents were emotionally immature.
  6. You signed your own papers sent home from school.
  7. You had to work to help pay bills and support yourself or your siblings.
  8. You hid your emotions to avoid stressing out your parents.
  9. You hid your needs to avoid stressing out your parents.
  10. You feel like part of your childhood is missing.
  11. You felt anxious and depressed as a child.


How trauma might have caused your parents to be emotionally immature.

Here’s the hard truth…your parents probably did the best they could with what they had at the time, and this had nothing to do with you. You are a worthy and deserving person and it wasn’t your fault that your parents didn’t have it to give. Stay with me. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘But they did have it to give. I see the way they treat other people.’ Your parents couldn’t provide for you either because they truly didn’t have the resources or because they were emotionally immature from their own traumas and didn’t learn how to provide for you. As a trauma therapist, I understand wondering why they didn’t get help or learn to do better. Trauma can stunt our emotional development and gets stored in the brain at the age that the trauma happened. This means that they are operating from the emotional lens at that time in their life too.  There’s a chance they may not even notice the problem because they are stuck at an age in life they experienced the worst of their traumas. If mom felt emotionally abandoned in her life at age 12, you might notice her emotional development is a bit stunted and it’s showing up in the way she parents you.

Your needs don’t have to go ignored anymore. 

Being parentified may have felt like a normal part of your childhood and you and you thought nothing of it because it’s all you knew. Let’s face it – you had more responsibilities and pressure than your peers and now that you’re older, you’re starting to see the effects of it more and more. You might have learned to become more independent than others and emotionally guarded. This has protected you from being let down, but also is keeping you from forming deep and meaningful relationships. You might be a rockstar at work, but notice you feel empty in other areas of your life. You might even notice the effects of it in your own parenting style, perhaps being too strict with your kids to provide the structure you didn’t have back then, or by being too lenient to you want them to feel loved the way you needed it.

You can break the cycle, I can help. As a trauma therapist I offer tools and techniques that are backed by research, like EMDR and mind-body work to heal the past so you can let go of and fully live in the present. I can offer a space to explore who you are outside of who people in your life have needed you to be. You can give yourself what you didn’t get back then, and become the person you needed as a child. I’ll be your copilot, helping you navigate your journey and supporting you every step of the way.

Schedule a free consultation.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA

Codependency is Expensive

Many of us grew up in a family where we are taught to care for others, often times at our own expense. You might have grown up in a household where you taught that your role in the family is to be the relief, in whichever way that looked. You might have learned that I’m not okay unless the people around me are okay, and I’ll bet there were lots of times they weren’t okay.  If you’re wondering why you feel drained and empty in your relationships, this might resonate with you.

Losing yourself in others

It’s true, usually we don’t feel okay unless those around us are okay. Makes sense, we want what’s best for the ones we care about. But finding the balance is a hard thing, especially when you grew up in a home where saying “no” wasn’t really an option for you. You learned to ignore your needs, your wants, yourself. And it’s catching up with you.

People who have codependent tendencies may have been praised and reinforced for how accommodating they are and this can be rewarding. You’re probably successful in your career and love what you do. On the flip side of the coin, you feel burned-out and have little left to give after work – most importantly to yourself. Over the years, you probably forgot who you are and what you even need. You might have forgotten what excites and energizes you. You’ve lost the balance between tending to the needs of others and tending to your own needs. Here’s what that can look like.

10 signs of codependency:

  1. People-pleasing.
  2. Putting people’s comfort before yours, even when you don’t have it to give.
  3. Difficulty with saying no, so you over-commit.
  4. Apologizing often when it wasn’t your fault.
  5. Not trusting yourself so you seek the approval of others.
  6. Difficulty with expressing opinions, wants, needs.
  7. Ignoring it when someone hurts your feelings, wondering if you’re being too sensitive.
  8. Feeling lonely when you’re around people.
  9. Staying in toxic relationships
  10. Taking on people’s problems as if they are your own.

Codependency is expensive

I get it. Your family needed you. A lot. You might not know who you are outside of the role as “the help.” Now, it feels like if you were to actually spend your weekend on things you’ve been putting off forever like cleaning out your closet, it would be selfish of you. You might sometimes feel torn between helping your mom with yet another another favor and having down time to yourself. In fact, your needs have been put off for so long that you might not even know what they are. It might feel like your identity has been wrapped what the people around you need for so long that you don’t know who you are at your core. You might notice a familiar pattern in other relationships where you fall back into the familiar role of the relief. You sure others are okay, but that same level of care usually isn’t returned. They know which buttons to push and what to say to persuade you to place the focus on them. To them, your down time means you’re available. They’ve become dependent on you and it costs you a lot.

 Lean in to yourself

Codependency is overwhelming and eventually it catches up. What if you got curious.  What if you learned that it’s okay to say no. We can take a deeper look at your fears around having boundaries. I can offer you a safe space to feel heard and seen, peeling back the layers you’ve put in place that has kept people our for so long. We can explore who is really hiding behind the part of you that others see – you. If you’re ready to take a leap and take a chance on trauma therapy, schedule a consult here.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA

17 Ways To Improve Boundaries With The Internet

How To Foster Healthy Attachment In The Age Of Technology and Internet

The internet has become the go-to for all of us, including children and teens to stay connected with their friends during this pandemic when the alternative isn’t much of an option. It has become the crux of our lives and has made things possible in a time where face-to-face interaction may be on hold a bit longer. But let’s be real, it didn’t happen overnight and it isn’t changing tomorrow. The internet and social media are here to stay, so let’s dive deeper into what we can do about it.

I remember before COVID when going to brunch on Sundays and trying different restaurants in the Atlanta area used to be something I looked forward to with my partner. I mean have y’all tried the dim sum in Chamblee? (Chef kiss). I recall a time where we were sat next to a family with two young children. Every single person including mom and dad were on their phones. Even the youngest child who looked to be about 4 y/o had a phone and was watching a video. Not one of them made eye-contact or were talking to each other while eating their meals.

But we don’t just need people in the sense that I need someone to rotate the tires  on my car, though that’s part of it, but what I mean is we need engagement with people to form healthy bonds. Children, more than any other group suffer the most from having emotionally unavailable parents in their life. Children where one or both parents are emotionally unavailable have different struggles as those where parents are attentive and spend quality time with their children. Quality time and being accessible builds healthy emotional development and allows them to feel seen and heard. On a deeper neurological level, it affects the way their brain develops.

Being accessible teaches healthy boundaries and builds valuable tools as adults like:

  • Feeling confident asserting yourself at work
  • Setting healthy boundaries in relationships
  • Better social skills
  • Understanding your worth
  • Improved ability to focus
  • Feel comfortable expressing and asking questions
  • Learning to trust yourself and others
  • Understanding the value of your voice
  • Improved critical thinking

The effects of human connection on the brain

Don’t get me wrong, I know parents are trying their best and these days, both parents and even grandparents have to work a full-time job. But let’s talk about how technology has replaced quality family time and intimate relationships and what we can do about it.

Kids are doing e-learning and using the internet to stay in touch with their friends – this needs to happen. But when their internet usage isn’t monitored and they begin to rely on social media and gaming to feel valuable and connected to people, we have a problem – Internet addiction. Real connections naturally helps to release these happy good feeling chemicals that they are turning to social media and family for. I’m talking old school, face-to-face interaction with eye-contact is best here, whether in person or through video. Eye-contact naturally releases dopamine and oxytocin, the bonding hormone. It also allows us to emotionally attune to the person we are interacting because we can read their face and body language. Our mirror neurons kick into gear and create for a safe space where we intuitively pick up on the other persons emotions and social cues. This is something that technology can only help so much with and might even prevent from occurring, decreasing social skills and bonding.

Here are 17 ways the family can improve boundaries with technology and internet

  1. Limit the use of internet use to school and work. Figure out how much time they need for this.
  2. Use phone, internet, and gaming time as a reward, not the norm. Ex. If you finish your chores, you get 30 minuets of gaming time; After you finish your homework, you get 30 – 60 minutes of phone time with friends or to check social media. This time will vary based on the age of the child, the older they are, the more time they get.
  3. Dinner with the family at the table with no phones, that includes adults.
  4. Engage your kids and partner at dinner. Click here for is a list of questions to get your kids talking. Click here for a list of questions for your teens.
  5. Family activities every 1-2 weeks like playing board games.
  6. Check-ins. Build trust with your kids by showing up and getting curious (but not pushy).
  7. Read books to the kids or start a mini bookclub with your partner.
  8. Make a list of 50 things you’ve wanted to try. Get this kids to make their own list, and if possible, do it.
  9. Do a creative project with your family. Your teen is curious about woodworking? Do it with them.
  10. Show your fun side – let the kids give you a makeover.
  11. Go for a walk with your partner and get talking.
  12. Cook a meal together – kids/teens need to learn life skills.
  13. Share about your life and your childhood. Let them get to know you too.
  14. Help them make a fun/creative gift for their friends as a way to keep in touch.
  15. Give them praise when they do a good job. Kids needs recognition for their accomplishments.
  16. Put the phone down.
  17. Be consistent – the most important factor.

Need help with Internet Addiction Coaching? Contact me for a free consultation.

Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC

© Copyright 2021 – Integrative GA