Month: January 2018

Shame: Stop Should’ing on Yourself

There are at least five words I highly encourage you to delete from your narrative starting now:  GOOD, BAD, RIGHT, WRONG and SHOULD.  Why?  Because they are highly shame based and unhelpful.  Believe it or not, erasing these from both your spoken word and self-talk can significantly improve your mood and help those with whom you interact. Might seem silly but truthfully, small changes often yield big results.  This is especially the case when shame is involved.  In my experience and observation, shame is one of the nastiest little beasts of emotions that pop up in our daily life and vernacular.

Those who ever set foot in my office are familiar with my targeting of these words and my interruption and immediate request to replace them with less judgmental versions, such as ‘helpful/unhelpful, effect/not effective”.   There is a strong correlation, starting as kids, to attribute doing ‘bad’ with ‘being bad’.  It can destroy a person’s sense of self and ability to progress forward.

I often coach that people begin the process of self-monitoring–to be aware of what you are doing when you are actually doing it. It is a helpful and powerful skill.  It is critical as it is quite difficult to change a pattern of being when you are not even aware that you are doing it.

I invite you to start to pay attention to the talk in your head (e.g. self-talk).  Notice the content and you might be surprised by how negative it tends to be. You might begin to cultivate insight into how and what you say to yourself and its relation to how you FEEL. We are constantly talking to ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not, and most of our talk is critical and demeaning.

Imagine how hurt you would feel if a friend sat by your side each day saying: “How could you do that? You are so dumb! “You look fat in that dress” “You should be faster at that” etc.   You would be horrified and would unlikely want to be around that person.  Yet, that is exactly how we talk to ourselves each day.

When we can replace this language with more realistic and positive narratives, it can improve our self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. It can also increase our interpersonal effectiveness and rapport with others.

I encourage you to extend this concept further:  Imagine the impact such wording has on someone else.  (eg. You should know…you shouldn’t have…) When you use shame based language when giving feedback, even when you believe your intent to be positive, the impact is often very negative and the other person often becomes defensive and/or simply stops listening.   It is very easy for this to escalate into conflict and it most always does. It is much more effective for you to own your emotions  and to ask directly for what you want (eg. I feel hurt when you …can you please….).  You will find people listen more and are more responsive to your requests.

In summary, shame is a very deep emotion that affects all of us.  The small suggestion of removing shame activating wording is one concrete way to try to reduce its influence in our daily life.  Shame is an inhibitor of happiness and personal progress. It is devaluing to ourselves and others.  I encourage you to start practicing and replacing it with more helpful wording and embrace the positive results that follow.

 

I encourage you to like, subscribe or comment.  I am interested in creating an interactive community which offers information and support to others and a safe place for sharing.  You may also visit my YouTube channel for videos on helpful topics at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4D31k-hngy5DFj0LYIYTQ

 

What Mindfulness IS and ISN’T

It is difficult to go a day without hearing some reference to the term “mindfulness”.  It is thrown about like verbal popcorn.  Mindfulness is an extraordinarily useful tool and/or practice but it is often misunderstood.

I prefer to explain Mindfulness as the practice of being grounded in one’s body and completely submersed, via one’s sensory system, in the here-and-now of an experience.  It is about being present focused, which typically means on the environment and/or sensations within the body.  Though the word includes M-I-N-D, I view it as actually getting out of one’s head.

Mindfulness helps anchor you into your present moment and allows for one to experience it in its entirety.  It is useful in avoiding looping (negative) patterns of thought.  It allows for one to fully enjoy an experience, assuming it is pleasurable in nature.  Thus, it can be very calming and leave one feeling contented. We spend much of our time in the automatic piloting of our days, completely disconnected from the full range of experience. We pass from one thing to another to yet another.  Mindfulness can assist us in being more present and focused at a specific time and may result in what feels like a slowing of time.

I often hear the term used in a manner that suggests that people should utilize Mindfulness to reframe negative experiences or emotions into positive ones. Absolutely not. It is unfair and ineffective to try and convince yourself that something is great when it feels awful.  You CAN use Mindfulness to re-focus on activities that DO bring you joy, whether it be sitting in your garden, listening to your favorite song, or taking a hot shower.

Mindfulness also relates to your engagement in the task not just doing something for the sake of doing it. Example, how many times do you shower while looping your ‘to do’s’ in your head?  What if you were to close your eyes, feel the hot water on your skin, inhale the scent of your favorite soap, and listen to the water hit the floor under your feet?  That type of awareness provides a completely different experience and that is, in essence, the true definition of Mindfulness.  It is a slowing down of our process, a focus on our sensory experience, and the result is often increased joy and relaxation.

We often hold unfair expectations of ourselves, delaying joyful activities until our (never ending) to do list is completed.  This can be really draining.  I encourage everyone to step outside the normal daily grind, for 15 minutes a day, and truly practice the wonderful art of Mindfulness.  Choose an activity that YOU enjoy and fully engage.  Take note of the impact it has on you and I hope that in itself will encourage you to continue in its practice.

 

I encourage you to like, subscribe or comment.  I am interested in creating an interactive community which offers information and support to others and a safe place for sharing.  You may also visit my YouTube channel for videos on helpful topics at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4D31k-hngy5DFj0LYIYTQ

Expanded practice and website

It might seem strange that a therapist would offer services related to intuition development and practices.  However, as an intuitive, this ability has always aided my work.  I have a passion for people and for assisting them in their own healing journey.

In my practice, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with individuals in different phases of their own awareness and spiritual awakening.  This has grown through out my time in private practice.  It has, for some individuals, become the primary focus of their work via their own choosing. With a broadened scope, they assess their life struggles as being more related to their sense of purpose and spiritual advancement.

In honor of those who find themselves contemplating and integrating this element of life, I have expanded my practice to accommodate this worthy need.  I have, and continue to acquire, training modalities to help others transcend barriers and progress in their spiritual and intuitive development.  Though this falls out of the scope of traditional counseling, it is very related.

Lastly, I have also begun a blog and a youtube channel to provide information, guidance and support to others on their journey of advancement.  I have observed that those in the phase or awakening are often in an information gathering mode and seeking understanding.  Though limited in scope, it is my hope that these postings will be of use or provide some comfort.

I am excited by the work already shared with current clients and the prospect of collaborating with new people.  Such work is a co-creating process in which all parties gain, learn, and contribute.