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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!

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!”

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