Give yourself the love you deserve!

To the recipients of emotional abuse…

Have you known the you deserve better than the treatment you receive in your relationship?

Do you beat yourself up, feel bad or embarrassed for not getting out of it soon enough?

There’s a secret I want you to know.

Your dedication is a strength.

You love fiercely.

This is a wonderful thing! I just want to offer you one tweak. That love? Turn it inward. To you. You deserve it. It doesn’t even mean you have to stop giving it to anyone else. Just..add yourself into the recipient pool.

We can expend so much energy giving love to another in hopes they will reciprocate. And it’s ok to make this a more direct path to receiving love. It’s ok to value your dedication to relationships and love. It doesn’t mean you have to keep offering it in a direction it’s not appreciated, or drain yourself in an uphill battle. It can be something you appreciate directly about yourself.You may be used to the world demanding a lot of your caring nature. You may have forgotten what it feels like to be truly loved. You don’t need anyone else to remind you. Just make the decision to love yourself.

Give yourself the love you deserve!
Love yourself fiercely!

What can you do, right now,

to commit to loving yourself?

Take a moment

It is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. We evaluate ourselves on what we DO. Have we done enough? Accomplished enough? Earned respect, love, attention? It’s exhausting and we’re frequently left feeling ‘behind’ and trying to catch up. And sometimes, a few moments to step back and change perspective can make all the difference.

Allow yourself to be in the moment…here..now..focusing on what you choose to attend to. It can leave you feeling a lot more empowered, grounded, and choiceful. If you feel your heart racing, feeling the need to urgently stand up and defend yourself in a conflict, reacting emotionally to something… I’ll leave you with the suggestion that there’s another option!

I encourage you to check this out.

Claim this moment for you.

Go ahead- just one moment. Just for you. The link is a short series of prompts to remind you where you are. Walk your way through them. Go through it as many times as you want, as often as you want. Standing in line at the coffee shop, as a pause amidst a challenging conversation with a loved one- my hope is that this little prompter can help you gain perspective to re-ground yourself. HAVE your emotions, rather than being driven by them. Things can be important, it doesn’t mean they have to be urgent. You CAN feel more in control.

Prompts were inspired by DBT principles and exercises which are shown to be very effective for helping with emotional distress. Please give it a try, I’d love to hear about your experiences with it!

Tip: The link can also be saved to your home screen for easy access if you find it useful!

 

You might be abusing the Most Important Relationship you’ll ever have

It’s no secret that therapists help you improve your relationships. It’s what we do! However, there are times when I’ve told people I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist, and they at first think that couples and family work is ALL I do, when in fact at least half of my practice is seeing Individuals!

The key is this: The most important relationship you will ever have, is with yourself. Lives change, people move, people die, divorce and heartbreak happen…other people will come and go from your life. But you?…You’re kinda stuck with you!

If you’re going to be stuck with yourself for the rest of your life, it’s quite beneficial to find peace in that relationship. Don’t just beat yourself up for all the things you “could have done differently”.  Don’t just look to others to give you love, validate that you’re worthy of companionship and kindness! Do you possess any of the qualities you look for in others? Probably…so enjoy it!

DO respect the person you are! You have interests, and hobbies, you care about people and have unique thoughts and experiences that are completely yours. How cool is that? Doesn’t it deserve some celebrating?

Sometimes when we keep ourselves surrounded with others, it’s easy to lose ourselves a bit. To engage in hobbies that our loved ones engage in because of community, even if it’s not what WE totally love. We let certain things slip away because especially in the early stages of New Relationship Energy, we get caught up and willingly lose track of some things to make more room for time with the subject of our affection. That can be fun and exciting, but think about it. If you and your partner only spent time together while in part of a larger group, would you be satisfied, or do you sometimes want Quality Time just the two of you? You and yourself deserve that too!

Spending some time alone gives a chance to assess all of that. To reflect. If we don’t like our own company…why not? If you’re unbearably negative, do you want to try finding more gratitude? If you’re bored, do you want to try a different activity? If you DO like yourself, take the time to honor that relationship! You don’t ALWAYS have to share with others. It encourages authenticity, growth, and joy to occasionally spend time alone. And…it will have a ripple effect and improve all the rest of your relationships as well!

Take the time for you. Show yourself the love you deserve instead of trying to convince others to do it for you. If the idea of spending time alone makes you anxious, if you fear loneliness or disappointing someone by not including them, give me a call. I’d love to help you embark on a new and fulfilling relationship with yourself!

Therapy can help you blossom.

Hesitant About Therapy?

On my way home from therapy yesterday (yes, even therapists can use support) I noticed how good I felt, compared to the ‘iffiness’ or ‘off-balanced’ feeling I had going in. We had unpacked and tied a thread across a variety of experiences. There are times, yes, when this can leave a ‘weighty’ feeling. This experience, however, was that we had tapped in and found my energy and joy that is sometimes tainted or burdened by certain events.

This is one of the things I love about counseling, both for myself and for clients. It’s no about pretending bad things don’t or didn’t happen. It’s not about making them go away. It’s about making more room for the pure essence of self, find the joy of wanting things, allowing inspiration rather than fear to be a driving force in choosing how we live. Therapy can be painful, but it is also empowering.

If you’ve thought about therapy but have been nervous about it, listen to what a variety of people have to say:


What People Who Go To Therapy Want You To Know by buzzfeedvideo

Therapy does involve some vulnerability, and that can be scary. It can also be incredibly valuable. You’re always welcome to make the first phone call to explore your options, without any commitment.

 

Who do you listen to?

On my drive to the gym the other day, I spent the whole way considering whether to go to a class or use the equipment in the weight room. By the time I was changed, I had decided I wanted cardio… the “bodyflow” class is very routine, and I would get my preferred yoga class tomorrow. So I laced up my shoes instead of putting on the flip flops, and headed out of the locker room.

And yet, next thing I knew, I found myself stepping into the class room! All that thoughtful consideration and logic, and yet here I was following my body’s lead.
So I did the Bodyflow yoga class, and enjoyed it more than I expected. And I still wanted cardio, so went in and topped it off with the treadmill. And once again, thankfully, I listened to my body instead of my brain. My brain was telling me, “Oh, maybe 5 minutes is enough. The time is going so slowly. What was I thinking, setting it for 20 minutes?”
But I didn’t listen to my brain that was making excuses to cut the run short. Stopping was always an option, I don’t have to give in immediately. 10 minutes in, I’d found my pacing and ease. And then I didn’t want to be stopping yet. I wanted to see the end of the Niagara Falls trail I was virtually running!

Yoga instructor Roz Adams of www.rozfitness.com
Yoga instructor Roz Adams of www.rozfitness.com
The moral of the story is, our bodies have their own wisdom. As much as athletics can be about pushing limits, we can also learn to listen to and trust our bodies more. This is true whether it’s about working out, whether to cry, etc. It can help to silence the thoughts and just be present to the moment. And, to quote my favorite yoga instructor.. “Be still, and your will will move with the tide of the spirit.”

Simple Pleasures

Last night was “Ladies Night” in the downtown area of my office, enticing women to come out and patronize retail stores, collecting whatever discounts or freebies may be offered. So for three hours, I sat outside my office with a little music, blowing bubbles, offering vials of bubbles to anyone who wanted them.

At some point, someone walked by and made a comment about how I must be lonely, at the table by myself. In reality, that couldn’t have been further from the truth!

Bubbles
Bubbles

The three hours (which was supposed to be only 2.5) flew by; some people laughed at the offer, while others’ faces lit up and they scurried over to accept. Some adults took some vials home for their kids. For me, it was a joyful experience to watch the delight, the reminder of simple pleasures. Kids blew bubbles “for the plants” or exclaimed, “Bubbles!” every time they passed. One group of women spent maybe a good 10 minutes taking photos of each other blowing bubbles!

I love carrying a vial of bubbles in my purse. In a society that defaults to checking our phones every time there’s a ‘down minute’, I can reach in and pull out the bubbles instead. It keeps me looking ‘up’ and available to connect to the others around me, see the environment I’m in. It makes me breathe deeper, take in more oxygen as I inhale and blow. It reminds me that it’s okay to slow down. I can watch the iridescent colors swirl, or the slow floating away of the bubbles on a gentle wind current. It’s a reminder that we can “go with the flow,” too; not everything needs to be done forcefully.

In those three hours, I did have my phone with me, for the option of texting friends or making some notes if I got bored, but I ended up not having time for it. I felt the warmth in my heart swell, watching the delight of the people who accepted. I looked at the clouds, pondered the bubbles’ flight paths. I was present in the moment, and present with my surroundings.

For anyone who struggles with “trying to meditate”, come get your vial of bubbles and blow your cares away. Sometimes the simple pleasures are surprisingly powerful.

And thank you to everyone who stopped by last night!

Success: Letting go of the fear

Success. We all want it. Or at least we think we do.

If you avoid taking risks, it may be more than just a fear of failure holding you back. Failure is only one option. You could also succeed! And what would that mean? Have you actually allowed yourself to feel what it would be like on the other side or your challenge?

Success is more than just a “happily ever after.” In real life, the story doesn’t end once the present challenge is accomplished. Envision life after success, so you can be prepared for what comes next. Imagine what it feels like not just to have succeeded, but to Be Successful.

Being successful requires an active participation in your life. Luck can happen to you; success is earned, and being successful is just that- a way of being, not simply a one-time accomplishment needed to obtain the label.

Success, for me, means living up to my potential. It doesn’t always mean getting the outcome I want- there are always circumstances outside of our control. But it does mean no excuses when it comes to doing my best.

Sometimes we intentionally keep success at bay. By putting success on a distant pedestal, we get to believe there’s green grass somewhere, that we can have eventually, maybe once we’ve “earned” it. There’s a comfort in excuses, in the familiarity of the struggle, and not facing the fear of uncertainty of what it looks like to be successful.

I’ll admit it- I’ve felt this fear. When I took success off the pedestal and looked at it up close, I discovered…Living up to my potential is a pretty big responsibility, and that’s kind of scary! To embrace success means letting go of excuses and being open to new and different responsibilities.

If you ever find yourself unsure and asking, “Do I deserve this,” you’re asking the wrong question. Trust that you do deserve success. Step up to the pedestal. Believe that it is within your reach, and feel what it’s like to hold it in your hands..to wear the identity of being successful and take on the responsibility that come with it. See how you like it, make sure you really want it. Then ask, “How hard am I willing to work for this?”

 

To see what I’m willing to work hard for and help me past the external obstacles to my potential, please take a look and vote for my grant proposal.

Reclaim Your Life!

Do you feel like your life belongs to someone else? At first glance, this may seem like a crazy question. But I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who talk about “needing” to go to work, “having to” respond to a work request on the weekend, or feel obligated to live up to certain expectations for their parents or family. This language doesn’t allow for a sense of choice in your own life!

“But that’s the reality!” I’ve lived part of my life as a slave to money. I’ve worked jobs I hated and held three at a time in order to get by. I understand! Sure, you could not respond to that email from your boss, risk your job, and end up unemployed. It’s a choice, but not one most of us want to consider.

So then what is this “Reclaim your life” business I’m talking about? Well, it starts from within. This is not the approach most of us naturally take. “I’ll be able to relax once I get my life in order.” It’s good to set goals for life, and even better to set intentions for living.

One thing you always have control over is how you perceive your life. Sure, the grass may be greener…but you also have a hose to water the grass on your side of the fence! Don’t let your happiness rest on the promotion you’ve been after. Live your life now, with personal power. Work on shifting your view of yourself to be one of truly deserving the life you want. What would it feel like to have the life you want? Would you be a different person than you are now?

You may have learned very clearly that you need to struggle and earn the life you want, or that others always have to come first. But how long do you need to suffer before you’ve earned the right to be happy? (here’s a hint: maybe it’s been long enough already?)

Allow yourself to BE the person you want to be. If you can find even five minutes a day to dedicate to living how you want to live, you’re watering the seed for a lush future. You’re investing in yourself, and sending the message, “Yes, I am worth investing in. I can have the life I want!”

Hakomi? What’s that?

When many people hear “psychotherapy”, they still have the image of Freud analyzing someone’s words as they lay on a couch. While information is helpful, ‘knowing why’ something happens does not make it go away or immediately change it. Sometimes it even makes things worse, as we get critical and judge ourselves if we don’t suddenly change something!

In my own personal experience, I knew why certain events in my life made me unhappy. However, knowing the logical reasons around the events did nothing to change my unhappiness or my beliefs about myself! I was drawn to Hakomi from my first introduction to its power: my body responding to a simple, serious statement with a fit of uncontrollable laughter. This was a strong, undeniable message about my beliefs around anger that I hadn’t known about! Since then, through Hakomi, I’ve been able to develop a new relationship with myself that is much less critical, more relaxed, and more fulfilled. With increased awareness, I can better take care of my own emotions and needs, so I’m happier with myself, as well as in my relationships with others.

What is Hakomi?

Hakomi is a mindful approach to therapy that facilitates change in an experiential way. It works with what is present, without always needing the story. It invites the wisdom of the body and emotions in a more holistic way than simply ‘talking about’ the problem.

Hakomi trusts in the innate tendency toward healing. Even after a doctor performs surgery, much of the healing process comes from the body – white blood cells battle infection, platelets create a scab, and new cells grow to heal a wound. Similarly, emotional wounds can find their own path to healing if given enough of a safe environment where they are welcome to show up as they are, without having to “make sense”.

Hakomi invites compassionate curiosity to explore and change the core beliefs that get in our way. Having the embodied sense of what feels ‘right’ and true can create a big shift in our ability to create lasting change and freedom. We can’t control others, we can only practice being the self we want to be. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean having to change everything around us!

Hakomi involves the use of mindfulness in order to increase awareness of ourselves and our ways of interacting. Especially in our busy ‘doing’ society, the mere experience of this level of attention can bring some healing. By listening to the deeper messages of what is needed, new experiences can be created to heal old wounds. Acceptance, emotional safety, being good enough, the ability to trust, are all common themes that can grow and improve through Hakomi.

What does Hakomi look like?

Since Hakomi is an exploration, there is a lot of room for creativity in sessions. What comes up can be surprising, and sometimes fun! As much of the work is done in mindfulness, many clients opt to work with their eyes closed, so they can be attentive to their own experience, rather than distracted by conversation. Maybe we start by exploring the color, shape, or temperature of your pain. Maybe we explore the sensation of protection and safety with a pillow fort. Or maybe we simply study that subtle gesture of raising your shoulders ever so slightly when someone asks you for something. The body shares information like this with us all the time; I can help you slow down and listen to the messages that want to be heard, and create new experiences to feel more whole and at peace.

 

Give it a Rest!

Smartphones are blurring the lines between work and play. With the convenience of being forever-connected comes the expectation of responding immediately. Work isn’t left “at work” anymore; the stress is carried home. Personal connections get looser as Facebook becomes the new minimum and lunch dates to catch up fall by the wayside, and privacy is a thing of the past.

The benefits of smartphones are obvious, but the detriments are underestimated. The stress and ‘pressure to respond’ is not insignificant, even if it’s difficult to measure. However, if you’ve experienced any of the following, you may want to consider the role technology may play:

  • Difficulty focusing attention or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Communication issues in relationships
  • Making more mistakes
  • Decline in memory abilities
  • Quickly moving thoughts
  • Sense of inadequacy or inefficiency
  • Malaise, or anxiety of ‘missing out on’ things
  • Reduced creativity

According to research, the concept of multitasking is found to be more problematic than helpful.

We only have so much mental focus to attend to things, and the more attention we pay to our technology, the less attention we’re paying to ourselves. This can result in overeating or skipping meals, and greater difficulty identifying and meeting our needs, whether for sleep, food, or human contact. Combine the stress of feeling pressured by the stimulus on the phone with unmet needs and we can end up cranky or snapping at people without really knowing why.

If you think technology might be creating a problem for or your relationships, it does not mean you have to give up your phone! This can be an opportunity to practice healthy tools that can be useful in other aspects of your life as well.

Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking. It is the simple slowing down and intentional focus on a single activity. In graduate school, our introduction to mindfulness was the task of taking a full five minutes to eat a single raisin. We were asked to pay attention to the texture between our fingers, the smell. The malleability and density, the flavor on our tongue. All the small qualities that frequently get overlooked, we were asked to notice and appreciate. Anything can be done mindfully, and it can be a wealth of information revealed to us if we choose to pay attention. If you’re having a conversation with someone…try doing it mindfully, and giving them your full attention. Look at them to take in their body language and facial expression. Listen to the quality of their voice, and their choice of words to express their message.

Try to make technology usage choiceful, rather than a compulsive default response to boredom. See how you feel if you make a greater attempt to smile at strangers throughout your day. Allow yourself to really connect with people, and do things because you choose to, rather than simply reacting to reminders and notification alarms on your phone. View the sunset and experience the beauty of it’s transiency, rather than filtering it through a camera. Explore the power in ‘being’ without having to layer it up with ‘doing’ and see how the quality of life changes.

Do a web search for “no phone for a year” and you’ll find numerous accounts of people sharing what they gain by ‘losing out on’ being ‘connected’. Setting intentions to turn off the phone at night, and most especially, not check work emails until you’ve already gotten out of bed in the morning to start your day, can make a significant impact on your mood and stress. Take the time to wake up, open your eyes, and orient to your existence before ‘clocking in’ at work. You deserve it!


 
Video credit: Gary Turk