Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

I saw this bottle cap at my friend’s house yesterday.  I think this is a battle worth fighting, with one caveat.

Growing up is tough

Do allow maturity to enhance your life.  Don’t give up in life what fuels your spirit.

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One moment you’re so sure that your mind and intuition are telling you the right things.

“I can’t tell him no.  He’s going to be really upset if I do that.”

“Don’t take the chance, there’s too much to lose.”

“Nobody really cares what I have to say anyway.  It’s a waste of time.”

The next moment you’re sure that your mind and intuition are telling you lies.

“I must be imagining this is happening.  Nothing this good happens to me.”

“My gut is telling me yes, but I remember the last time I was in this situation.”

“I know I should take a chance here because things feel right.  But what if they go wrong?”

damned if you do, damned if you don't

What if we were aware that we shape our situations with our thoughts?  What if we were aware that much of the time we are sabotaging our own success and needs?  What if we were aware that we could change how we listen to our minds and/or our intuition…knowing that our minds are not always telling us the complete picture?  And maybe when our minds, and intuition, are telling us the truth we choose to ignore the message.

“Embrace the suck!” We used to say that to each other in the Army during miserable all day training exercises.  These training excursions were always accompanied by temps in the 30’s and 40’s and steady perpetual rain. Carrying heavy loads of equipment while playing war games in the cold rain actually became funny to us.  No, it was hilarious.  Beyond absurd.  Obviously, we forced ourselves into another state of mind.  It was a state of acceptance.  It was wrapped in crude humor and sarcasm, but it was acceptance nonetheless.

The closer we got to the discomfort, the less control it had on us.  We were free.  Free to crack jokes, laugh, tear down walls.  We really had no choice.  It was either be miserable fighting the inevitable, or laugh and cut loose while dealing with the inevitable.

Embracing the dark

It’s interesting when I notice just how much time and energy we seem to spend trying to be happy. Trying to make it look like things are always “ok”.  Trying to maintain control and not break.  I’ve enjoyed reading several blogs in the past few days that have talked about being alright with allowing our dark to come into the light more in our lives.

What happens if we allow some more dark to come through?  What if people knew that we aren’t always ok all of the time?  What if happy isn’t our default after all?  What if we allow the hard times to do what they do and not try and spend so much energy denying the inevitable?

(Here’s an older and slightly related post where I wrote about projecting the ideal self on Facebook and social media)

Honesty is a virtue.  People value it.  That and candor.  We’d be foolish to think that others don’t value those things when we let it come through in ourselves.

 

It’s Sunday and that nagging reminder the weekend is coming to an end has settled in our being.  Not only are we bummed about the weekend ending but we dread Monday.  Monday means that we have to go back to work.

Even if we love our jobs and the people we work with, it’s normal to feel some apprehension about starting the new week. But what if we don’t love our jobs?  What if one of the biggest reasons we don’t love them is because our work environment is fear driven?

Fear in the workplace

Here are some common themes in a fear based work environment:  “If you don’t do ‘this’ then ‘that’ will happen”, “If we don’t comply then ‘they’ll’ find a reason to get rid of us!”, “We need to do ‘this’.  You want us to look good, don’t you?”.  This is the “stick” part of the “carrot and stick” approach to managing.

Fear and stress in the workplace

Pressure, pressure, pressure.  Guilt, guilt, guilt.  Stress, stress, stress.  Sounds miserable doesn’t it?

What if there were other ways to motivate a workplace?

“Oh, sure!”, you are saying.  “That’s just the way it is.  That’s the way it has to be.”

Not necessarily. Check out this Ted Talk looking at work environments and motivation.

We’ve been accustomed to accepting a pure “carrot and stick”, or reward/punishment system, in the workplace.  What the science is finding is that by getting away from the old reward and punishment approach, many places of business are becoming much more productive.  On top of that, their employees are happier.

Doesn’t going to work and being happy sound good?

Frequently I hear from clients that they did like or did not connect with their past therapists.  It could be easy to say that it’s just a simple matter of “there are a lot of bad therapists out there”, but I think it goes deeper than that.  Getting therapy that works is about finding a therapist that you fit with.  One that is getting what you, or you and your partner, need.

Just because someone has gone through graduate school, or received a doctorate, does not mean that they are automatically an effective therapist for your needs.

John Harrison Counseling Blog Finding a Good Therapist

Here’s a brief list of some things I would suggest anyone look for when choosing a counselor or psychologist to work with.

Find someone who:

You feel a connection with and you feel comfortable talking with.  If you are not sure, refer to the people closest to you and noticing what about them makes you feel comfortable.  Your personal life, current issues, past issues, traumas, it’s all sacred.  It should not feel as if you’re “just another client”.

Encourages you and supports you.   Even as adults, it’s important that we receive acknowledgement for our accomplishments.   It’s also helpful because it assists us in gauging our progress.

Can be honest with you.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to hear someone’s thoughts on ourselves but it’s necessary to receive constructive reflection.

You feel that you honestly express yourself with without fear of being criticized.  Being told what you are thinking or experiencing by a therapist is wrong is…well…wrong.

Is meeting you on your level and for your needs.  There was no chapter titled “you” in those books the therapist read in grad school.  A good therapist is meeting you where you are, not where they want you to be.

Does not make you feel pressured to do anything.  You should feel free to say no to something you are not comfortable with.

Does not talk down to you and is not egocentric.  A good therapist remembers that they are human first and their credentials are a distant second.  Because they know they are human too, they use that as a basis of connection, empathy and understanding.

Does not make you feel as if they are “just treating your diagnosis”.  A diagnosis isn’t “you”.  The focus on therapy is not solely on your diagnosis.  The focus is on you as a whole person.

What kind of things are important for you, or would be, if you were looking to work with a therapist?

 

 

We are arguably at a time of social change in history like none other.  The age of women’s empowerment is increasing and has been for the last several decades.  Women’s position in our society has changed drastically.  Women are more self accepting and are more accepted in various arenas, such as the workforce, than ever.  Not just here in this country, but in most parts of the world.  Any significant change in men?  Not much.  Not a lot of change going on.  Right now, I would look at it as playing more catch up with women than anything.  And it’s not that this is a good or bad thing, so before some of you get defensive, hear me out.  Women and their roles have changed significantly while men have not and it’s affected relationships, marriages, and family life.

So, what happened?  Why are men struggling to keep up with all of this change going on?  There are a few possible reasons.  A big one is that in our society we still look at expressing emotions and feeling as a weakness.  This isn’t just men, but it’s also the women in their lives expecting them to maintain this false sense of bravado.  Men feel a tremendous amount of pressure to maintain the role as provider and fearless protector.  Another reason is that we weren’t taught to give ourselves space to be vulnerable and emotionally expressive.  Most of us men were never modeled this from our parents and our fathers.  But before we go and blame dad, we have to realize that he wasn’t modeled vulnerability from his father either.  “So what’s the big deal?”, you are probably saying.  Why do you need to be more emotionally sensitive or vulnerable?  Well, if you’re young, single, and not in an intimate relationship of any sort, you probably don’t need to be.  However, most of us men end up falling in love, thinking we have the perfect relationship, getting married, having kids, and then running into problems down the road.  A lot of us don’t know how to connect in ways that our partners and kids need us to.  There’s more to being a provider than bringing home the paycheck.

As a therapist I see couples who are having relationship issues and there is one common dynamic 9 out of 10 times.  The woman is dragging the man into counseling because she can’t get through to him on many levels.  These are areas such as shared common interests and goals, and intimacy both physically and emotionally.  The woman has found she is empowered enough to make a move to get her and her partner in counseling and now she’s pissed and wants change.  This is hard change for the man, however.  This is a huge shift and it’s not like the man can all of a sudden learn new skills overnight.  It takes coaching, patience, and vulnerability.  She’s asking him to be open and vulnerable to receive change for the first time in many cases.

It didn’t take long for me in my relationship to see where old patterns of communicating weren’t working.  It’s not that I was doing anything wrong, or intentionally wrong, it’s that I had not allowed myself to see past my perspective.  Once I began to take some risks, both personally and inter-personally, and connecting with some male mentors my relationship with my wife changed in positive ways I could never imagine.

I actually enjoy working with dysfunctional couples.  It’s not that I enjoy seeing their misery, it’s that I know what kind of positive changes are in store for the relationship.  And as a man, it’s rewarding for me to see another man willing to allow himself to grow not only for his wife and kids, but also for himself.

(Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and questions in the comment section.  I’d love to hear from people on this subject.)

One of the common themes with my clients that I see is their consistent questioning and doubting of themselves when it comes to making decisions.   Decisions with raising kids, decisions with career choices, decisions with relationships, and especially ending relationships.  “Will I make the right decision?  Will it all work out?  Will it happen the way that I want it to?  What will people think of me?”  Some seem big and it feels that the fate of our lives are in the balance. Some are small (such as figuring out where to go with your significant other for dinner).  Big or small we can still struggle with decisions.  Even with the seemingly most confident people that we know, or that we know of, the shadow of doubt creeps up on their shoulder from time to time as well.  So how DO we know if we’re going to make the right decision?

Well, we’ll never know.   Sorry.  There is no way to know if you’re about to ruin your kid’s psyche forever by refusing them their 3rd episode of Thomas the Train in a row…or if you’re trying to figure out if you should leave your job for a new one.

Here are some reasons why it doesn’t matter that we have to know if we’re making the right decision:

1.  There is no such thing as certainty and ultimate safety.  There is nobody that can get out of life untouched.   Sorry again.  I know that freaks parents out.  But we know that over protecting ourselves and others keeps us and others from engaging in life.  Since I figure we all want to engage in life, I’ll continue.

2.  Don’t allow yourself to live through your expectations!  Our expectations are nice stories but they aren’t reality.  Ultimately, they are not fair to you, or those in your life.  Especially in relationships.  Expect someone to make you happy in a relationship?  Don’t.  It doesn’t work.

3.  Focus on what you can control.  This is pretty much why expectations aren’t our friend.  We can’t control them.  Often when our hopes, dreams, sense of failures and accomplishments are tied into other people or outcomes…we end up disappointed.  Sometimes we’re devastated.   Living by waiting for things out of our control to “come through” for us doesn’t seem very stable, does it?

4.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Yeah, let it go.  We don’t have some super power that allows us to know what we don’t know and as much as we think we “just should have known better”. We didn’t.  Let it go.  Forgive and let go. This is where resentment to self and others is born.  Don’t let it.

5.  That thing you did that one time?  Yeah, everyone forgot about it except you.  We shouldn’t let that never ending loop of a story from that one thing that we did that one time influence our future actions.

6.  Life is for living.  Not over analyzing.  Life is for doing, not thinking.  We do life, we don’t think life.  Be here now.  Not only will we benefit but the people we are in relationships with will thank us as well.

Indecisiveness, like many things, isn’t necessarily good or bad.  Sometimes not making a decision is the best thing we can ultimately do.  Whatever the case, recognizing the bigger picture by not over inflating the true importance of what decision we make is what we have the most control over.  A big part of that is letting go of what happens after we do come to a conclusion.

Decide, trust, let go!  And it doesn’t have to be in that order.

 

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