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Connecting Effectively

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2017 at 11:55 am

I have had some opportunities in the past few months to represent myself as an expert. I don’t shy away from these opportunities because out of all the times in life I fall, the one thing I am most confident in is my work. Which is why it is sometimes so difficult to apply what I know to be true and best and effective in my personal life.

Because when I am being clinical, I am not being vulnerable. When I am intuiting and guiding and suggesting and validating and empowering, I am not taking a personal list.

This is why, I think, I can go to the next level in my office. I can empathize as well. I can acknowledge, in words, why some of those suggestions I make to clients might feel impossible. I can speak the “what ifs” before they are fully formed as a question in their heads. And I can taper back the ideas until they feel safer and more possible.

I know my practice did not start this way. But in the years that I have done this, I have learned a second language. It is the self-talk that so many of us do. The disagreement in our own thoughts even as we nod along agreement fact to face. The self doubt shouting in our heads as we speak words of confidence. I had to learn this second language that I myself am fluent in in order to hear clients’ languages. And I had to re-interpret and then develop my own third language that is kinder, friendlier, and absolutely wiser.

I loved putting this together into words with Sarah Fader when I was (fortunate enough to be interviewed by her). We talked about how an anxious person KNOWS that people hat them, but learning why they tell themselves these details, figuring it out in my office, the shame triggers behind it, is on of the biggest life changing self-caring things we can do. Because it nurtures that third language. And then it becomes truth.

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Connecting During Therapy

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2016 at 3:01 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?  Oftentimes it is not so severe.  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.  Body image issues.  Low self-esteem.  Feeling like there is nothing to look forward to…

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, parenting, 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 excessive 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 Without Regrets

In Therapy, Uncategorized on February 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Three years ago I lost someone close to me to cancer. Jenna was my friend of 20 years and also my sister in law. I came back from her funeral and looked at my week ahead. I had more clients that week than ever, and as much as I love (LOVE!) what I do, I got scared. I was turning 40 and my kids were growing up, and my husband and I were basically talking logistics when we saw each other. Life was passing me by. I made a list then, that night, a list of changes that I promised to myself—in honor of Jenna, but also in honor of my family and of myself—that I was going to change. What a process these past three years has been.

Those of you who work, you can relate. Those of you who parent, you can relate. I read the book “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam and found that there was reason behind my changes. I became even more determined. I used to think of my day in snapshots. Morning, work, dinner, bedtime. She has me looking at my week, at my life, as not just happening, but as looking the way I want it to look. And the gift I have is the same gift everyone has. Each week we have 168 hours.

Ok, so take away sleep. If you are like me, that number is higher than most. I sleep 8-9 hours a night. I still have 108 hours a week. When I logged my week, all 168 hours, I found some really great things happening, and when I found the parts I didn’t like, I changed them. I like to exercise 6 times a week, so that leaves me with 102 hours. Work is of course a big one, and when you include phone calls, scheduling and consulting time it adds up, but not to the point of filling every hour. I still have close to 60 hours left. Sixty hours! What would you do with 60 hours? Shower, car pool, do some laundry, clean…That still leaves you with 45-50. Time to read, see a friend, walk the dog. Walk the dog with my sons, or with my husband. watch a movie, get a haircut, go out to dinner. I found myself determined to cut back on the computer hours in order to increase my hours elsewhere. Listening to my kids’ days, getting a manicure with a girlfriend, talking and enjoying my family. More reading. What would you do with 40 hours?

It’s not easy. I’m pre-wired with a strong work ethic. When I relax, my mind wonders what I should be doing or what I need to worry about. Reprogramming myself to being there in the moment is something I had on my Jenna list three years ago. It’s still hard. But it has definitely improved.

I took a Healthy Lifestyles Assessment last month. My score was nearly perfect. It amazes me to think of what it would have been three years ago. And I’m not “doing” anything different in this life. Nothing has physically changed. I’m prioritizing my time differently. I need to like my life to enjoy it. And so far, these past three years, no regrets. Mostly.