Need a Roadmap for Living?

pexels-photo-1385250.jpeg

I don’t mean a one sized template that fits all. I mean a map that works for YOU. One you create from your needs and desires that actually changes your life for the better, that lets you know real change is possible. You can take any number of steps to make that happen. Here are a few:

.

  • Write letters to yourself about what you love and what doesn’t work for you.

  • Go inward. Discover meditation and contemplation.

  • Make time for others. Let others really know you. Talk to someone today. Tell another person who you are and what you need

    These efforts will increase your capacity to be fully human. Maybe not all at once, but they are an important first step because they set you on a right direction, which is all a good map does. By knowing what direction is best for you, you can begin to see the outline of your own soul.

The Brain and the Mind are in the Same Soup

pexels-photo-1371168.jpeg

A lot of people like to believe that life’s decisions are made in their minds, not in their physical bodies. I believe this is true only part of the time. I believe a lot of what we think and feel and do is modulated by the influence of our bodies.

For instance, people become drug and alcohol dependent when their minds create the the stories needed to continue to reproduce a chemical bath the body craves. Others are so obsessed with sex that even as their families are falling apart, they can rationalize participation in the rush of illicit sexual contact. Still others store memories of childhood abuse in their muscles and bones, not understanding how the trapped painful memories still control their behavior as adults.

The mind and body are an interdependent force field, and isolation is the enemy that keeps one stuck in that field. Once a person learns to reach beyond themselves for help and support with their habits and addictions, the chance of becoming into a happier and healthier person is greatly enhanced.

How Do You Talk To Yourself?

pexels-photo-1428235.jpeg

A person can be much more negative towards themselves than anyone else could.  The human mind is built to try to solve problems, to notice when things are not right, and to remember negative outcomes.  Critical thinking can keep us safe. But unfortunately this can lead to talking to oneself in a harsh way.

Understanding this is the first step toward being nicer to oneself.  Most self-criticism is overblown or unnecessary,  For instance, if you parents said you were not good at math, this idea will bob up in your mind every time math comes into your life.  Even if you are actually adequate in math, you would still habitually believe otherwise. Or perhaps a love affair did not go as you wish. The pain could easily lead you to think you were the main problem when you were not.

Learning to replace negative thoughts with positive ones is a process that can start immediately, but usually happens over time.  This is ok - trying to change overnight can be overwhelming. Practicing letting go of one's negativity with rational, positive thinking will eventually win the day. 


Don't Pretend to be Non-monogamous...

IMG_0009.JPG

…unless you truly are. As a therapist I often see people reeling from the pain of trying out “non-monogamy” in order to keep someone in their lives. The idea of losing someone can be dreadful. But the trauma of non-monogamy when you don’t really want it is almost always going to be worse.

There are, of course, plenty of people who make a healthy choice to be non-monogamous. But couples should both be clear on why they want to bring someone else into their relationship. Boundaries should be set. A community that can function as a support system may also be an asset. This is truly different than agreeing to be non-monogamous because your partner wants to see someone besides you.

Three Signs of Codependency

pexels-photo-1374550.jpeg

Codependency can be hard to understand because caring relationships seem so natural for most people. So where does one draw the line between healthy caring and codependency? Here are three indicators:

1) Trying to get someone to change - this can take considerable amounts of time and head space. Despite this, your well-meaning plans to help others or improve situations rarely work, if ever.

2) Being "fed up" with a partner, child friend or colleague while also feeling quite attached to them. This can lead to resentment and anger, which are exhausting and further harm the relationship.

3) Not knowing what you want while being overly aware of what others want. If you find yourself trying to provide everyone else with what they want and need without a clear sense of what you want and need, you may be codependent.

It is easy to feel obsession with another person without really being that aware of just how high the price is in terms of self-neglect. 

Almost all people feel codependent at some time in their lives. Indeed, codependency is appropriate between children and parents during much of childhood. But as adults, we can chose to implement the tools needed to implement more joyful and satisfying ways of relating to those we most care about.

When Someone Won't Forgive You

pexels-photo-1377055.jpeg

Feeling unforgiven by someone can be very unpleasant.  Your mind may go over and the situation with that person, trying to figure out what your part was or if it was even your fault.  None of this changes the situation . But it can lead to ruminating about the situation and that can affect your mood and sense of self-esteem.

Here are ways to change the situation:

1)  Have you asked for forgiveness with no blame or analysis added into it? This is the first and most important step.  Even if you think you did nothing, have you quietly listened to why they feel the way they do then asked for forgiveness?  If you have done so and they still don’t forgive you, then:

2)  Are you respectful and kind to the person when you need to deal with them?  This may help the other person to start trusting you again.

3)  Don't keep apologizing.  This will just make them less apt to forgive you.  Apologizing sincerely and only once is enough.  No one wants to feel coerced into forgiveness by the person they feel harmed them.  Time and space may be necessary for forgiveness.

4)  Some people need to hold onto resentments for some reason that you may never know and that has little or nothing to do with you.  You can't do a thing with this type of person except treat them with courtesy and hope someday they come around.

5)  What are the lessons of being unforgiven?  Patience, self control, better boundaries, new relationships? How do these lessons make you a better person?  If they never forgive you, but you as a result are a better person, then they have given you a great gift.

6)  If nothing works, let go of them, and forgive yourself. You are worth that.

Do Justice in this Very Moment

pexels-photo-1423684.jpeg

I often see people with their shoulders up, taking fast and exuding the feeling that there is not enough hours in the day for all they have to do. Their pace is hypnotic and their habit of rushing through life can be hard to break.

Do this very moment justice. What are your eyes, ears and other senses telling you about where you are right now? Are you aware of your breath? Are you really noticing how you speak and what you say? Life is not meant to be lived in constant stress.

Focus on the present moment. A feeling of contentment arises from acknowledging oneself. In a day, anything can be accomplished perfectly just by pacing oneself to accomplish only what can be should be done in a day.

Emotions and Reality

black-and-white-cold-fog-235621.jpg

It can be quite difficult to distinguish feelings and thoughts when feelings run high. When feelings overwhelm a person, the brain creates a story that accounts for the feelings. It is hard to tell in the moment whether the story is true or not. This is a survival mechanism.

It can be especially hard to control emotionally-based stories when dealing with family members or loved ones. One’s feelings may link to an earlier time in life when one could not protect oneself. Feelings have no sense of time! So a story created by strong feeling can bring the past into the present moment, often with disastrous consequences.

Here is a another way to think about it. Because a horse is a prey animal, even a rabbit crossing their path unexpectedly can cause them to run for their lives. If you happen to be riding that horse, it is imperative that you pull in on the reins and soothe the horse. The reins represent your thinking mind.

When strong feelings create a distorted story about a person or situation, pull in the reins!. The emotions you feel are real, but they may not be the facts. Instead of reacting in the moment, stop and think it through. You will be happy you did.

Caught in Our Own Trap

pexels-photo-1422220.jpeg

Although it may feel like it is others who trap us, we only trap ourselves. Human beings are blessed with volition and can always decide to leave what feels like a trap. That is, if they are not too proud, deluded, angry or scared to do so.

Why does the delusion of being trapped seem so real? Because we take our isolation to be real. We believe that we are all alone and refuse to share our burden except in complaint. So we are looking at others, and not ourselves.

Complaining and then doing nothing is a state of rationalization. Rationalization is living in fantasy of our own making. Saying “they made me feel, they made me do...” and then not listening to wise counsel only feeds the fire of denial.

We become a part of what we project onto others. So instead of projecting, admit that some parts of our lives may not be perfect. Have the courage to acknowledge when we need support. Being open to wise counsel helps us to acquire the tools we need for positive change. By sharing our troubles – perhaps first on paper, then with others we trust – we become open to the goal of finding personal freedom from traps that once seemed real.

Thinking of Starting Therapy?

alone-black-and-white-casual-1487956.jpg

A lot of people think about going to therapy five or six times before they actually make a call to a therapist. I think one of the the biggest fears people have is that therapy won’t work and they will be even more stuck.

Indeed, sometimes the person they contact is not a good fit. But more often than not, it is. Therapy provides a place to find the answers within. Decisions get made that may have seemed impossible to make, and burdens that don't go away can be lessened. Therapy can reduce one's stress and help to heal a broken heart.  It can be an invaluable tool for growth.

So all in all, I think therapy is worth investigating. Feel free to call me for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if therapy might work for you. If it doesn't feel like we would be a good match, I am happy to help you to find someone else. After all, you have nothing to lose, and perhaps everything to gain.

Destiny or Self-Effort?

pexels-photo-1428235.jpeg

People often believe they are destined for a certain fate from deep in the core of their being. Sometimes they believe they are destined to a particular future that may be great or tragic. But which has more power – destiny or self effort? I say self effort. Whether you make yourself into a better or a worse person, it is what you work toward that determines your good fortune.

If you find yourself thinking “But I can't help it – my family always ____”, or “other people might be able to do that, but not me” this is not destiny. It is victim-hood. Ridding yourself of victim-hood is perhaps the highest form of self-effort.

Please note that one of the myths about self-effort is that it means you have to do it ALL by yourself. This is rarely true. The support of others is practically essential. Isolation is a core factor in feeling like a victim, while having support (but not pity) buoys one toward success.

Never Underestimate the Present Moment

FB_IMG_1547155776007.jpg

In the rush of everyday living, life itself can be neglected!

The stories we tell ourselves about what we should be doing, and why we need to hurry can rob us of a sense of all the moments where life really takes place. The devil is in the details – it is the quality of the small moment-by-moment actions that determine how much happiness and contentment we can find in living.

If we do not pay attention to what we are doing and feeling in the the small moments of our lives, the big moments will not feel as precious either. Life is not a race. Slow down a few microseconds before embarking on the next detail and in doing so, become more present. 

There is no present in life that is as valuable as that of the present moment.

Change - the Portal of Opportunity

pexels-photo-1350339.jpeg

During times of change, all of us have greater access to our inner selves.  We are given the opportunity to make new decisions and connections.  We have access to the energy it takes to create a better reality for ourselves and those we care about.

At the same time, change is stressful and even exhausting.  Friends and loved ones may only be able to listen to us for so long.  We may feel uncertain about strong and conflicting feelings, and feel little unmoored in our daily lives.

This is an natural time to share your changes with a professional therapist.  A therapist can help you to make sense of where you find yourself today.  They can also help you reorganize your life in a way that is more effective than ever before.  A therapist can help to ameliorate your painful feelings and improve your relationships with the people that are important to you.

Feel free to contact me today for a free, 15 minute consultation as to whether therapy might be be right for you.


Risk Taking

IMG_0910.JPG

All of us have areas of our lives that we would like to change. What stops us? Risk. There are small risks, medium risks and risks that would make major changes to our lives, even risks that feel like death.

Small risks are those like finishing a task that one has put off. Things that we know we will eventually follow through with.  Medium risk might be something like leaving a bad job.  But a life-changing risk is something else. It feels like it takes more courage than one has. Like a divorce, for instance. It can feel like death.

Many people live with all three levels of risk present in their lives, although most of us try not to look at life-changing risk if possible. At what level does risk become foolhardy? The truth is, it is usually not foolish. When a risk is being contemplated, it is usually worth taking in the service of being true to oneself.

Being willing to take risks is a courageous endeavor that can lead to a great contentment with oneself down the line. If you are contemplating a risk that seems overwhelming, now is the time to shore up your courage and move forward in the service of your own best destiny.

When Change Feels Magical

IMG_1520.JPG

When change feels magical, be grateful! Failure is common. It is easy to feel derailed or give up. But once you find yourself changing, know you have discovered a pathway that was always there, just waiting for you.

Sometimes change seems to happen out of a longing for things to be different, without much real effort. If this happens, you are very lucky because this is not usually the way it happens!

Change most often comes when one becomes consciously willing to try something different, even if it means being uncomfortable, vulnerable or even exposed. It can be hard to take the first step toward change, and even harder to take the second. But eventually, doing things differently becomes easier, and then one can look back and see that real and positive change has occurred.

Unfortunately, many people grow up in situations that kill the belief that their lives can ever substantially change for the better. Worse, they may look at those who try to change as being a bit foolish. What a recipe for staying stuck!

There is magic in the power of looking past one’s limiting beliefs. For change is always possible if you will work for it.