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Connecting through Change

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Why would someone go to therapy?  Because of significant traumas, severe depression, a personality disorder (borderline, bipolar, schizophrenia)?  Or because of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks?  Perhaps it is more of a feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed, or a little sad and not sure why.  Maybe it’s grief or figuring out a big decision or developing executive functioning skills or digging out the buried self-motivation.  If I asked each of my clients that question, I think I would get that many different answers.  I used to try to simplify those answers under the big umbrella of “to make life better”.  While that may be true, at least on some levels, there are so many other reasons.  Some may say my (mom, dad, spouse) said it would help me.  Others did a whole lot of research and decided what kind of therapy they wanted (practical, cognitive behavioral therapy usually) and what specific goal they wanted to work on (depression, stress, anxiety, anger).  I think others would say they have a whole lot going on in their head and don’t want to burden their loved ones with all they deal with, so they use their therapy time to unload (one of my first blogs was titled “Empty Your Head”).  But in today’s consumer-driven world, combined with my own personal impatience, I think most of my clients are looking for some immediate change and success.  And as most of you know, change is not always driven by logic (because if it were, nobody would smoke, overeat or do drugs) but it requires emotion.  And to really make changes, the kind I can help you make, we need to do emotional work.  It is hard, but it is good.  We figure things out.  “Things” being strategies and insights.  We go deeper.  We figure out even more.  And then change happens.  And life gets better.  

 

Connecting with your Inner Voice

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

You know that voice I am talking about. The one that never blames, criticizes and guilts… anyone but yourself. Oftentimes when I talk with clients about their inner voice, tears come immediately. Whether they are fifteen or fifty, they know exactly what I am talking about. Their harsh critic. Their unforgiving words. Their denial of good work. It is that voice that thanks publicly but chastises privately. So many people have this, but so many are unwilling to talk back to it.

I was reading a magazine article about questions we should be asking ourselves. The questions ranged from caring too much about what other people think, to asking am I strong enough, helpful enough, reflective enough, to how do I want to be remembered. While tough questions for most people, these can be torturous for others. Enough is a really tough word, and I admire those who ever feel “enough”.

I joke that a diagnosis in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) should be “hard on yourself”, because that is what afflicts many. It is said with a smile, but often felt with sadness. If that voice is spending an ordinate amount of time questioning and judging and criticizing yourself, then how can you make better use of your time? There is a difference between quieting that voice and actually confronting it. Can that same energy that is used to listen to that voice now be used to sing your own praises? Can it forgive, and finally say “yes… enough”?

Connecting Bluntly

In Uncategorized on September 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

“You’ve gained some weight. Is everything OK?” “I saw your son’s name in the paper for a DUI. How is he doing?” “Your son told mine that his dad has a bad temper. I thought you should know that.” “You lost a lot of weight and look different. How are you?” “I heard you have to sell your house after your husband lost his job. I hope you are doing alright.” “You mentioned treatment and you have been MIA lately. What’s going on? What can I do?”

I could go on and on. These are all the things we think but rarely if ever say. Instead we say, “Hey!!! You look great”; “How are you?”; “Good to see you.” The you look great comment is often our reflexive reaction when we notice different but we don’t always meant great.

What is culturally and socially acceptable to say to people? What is crossing a boundary and privacy line and what is genuine caring? I will admit that in my personal life I ask a lot of questions. It is an integral part of my professional life and my job really defines who I am. I ask because I do care. But I have to always remind myself that questioning people can come off as invasive and nosy. And on the other hand, I find myself feeling let down when friends don’t ask about my recent life event and have to remind myself that they are respecting my privacy; or possibly would feel it would make me uncomfortable to bring up a sad situation.

The clients I see are by and large the nicest, most considerate, loving and caring people to walk this Earth. How do I know? Because each session they tell me their thoughts about others and their desire to reach out, connect, listen, support. But it is impossible that they are the select few. More likely is that we all hesitate. They have the desire, but don’t always follow through. We hesitate to ask, connect, support because we are too concerned with being rejected or seen as invasive.

What we need to remember is that genuine is genuine is genuine. As humans, we can get on board with genuine intentions and love, and if we can remember that, we can say what we mean and then reap the benefits of the consequences.

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