Archive for April, 2011

April 24, 2011

From overwhelmed to calm

by Dandy

We are all powerful people.  But powerful people have their limits.  How is your power being weakened throughout the days, weeks, months as we lead our professional, home, and personal lives?  There are aspects of our lives that can be creative, happy, and engaging in the right setting, but all too frequently we find ourselves overwhelmed and doubting our abilities.

We certainly all know the feelings of being overwhelmed and over extended.  Of having to put our time and energy into the frustrations of life.  In a state of being over extended we may find that our personal relationships are suffering.  We may find ourselves uninspired to connect in meaningful ways with our loved ones.  For some of us may find our jobs have become our primary relationship and our job has become an unforgiving taskmaster.

Health can suffer.  We may find ourselves unable to fall asleep or stay asleep with the nagging worries we have.  Unhealthy eating or not eating enough, our bodies become lethargic and weakened.  Purposeful exercise feels like it would be a luxury.  We are in a state of overwhelm when…

*Our shoulders feel the weight of the world on them.

* We wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts of worry.

*  We don’t look forward to doing what once brought us great happiness.

*  We find ourselves thinking if we only worked harder or did better than we could make it all work out.

Different choices need to be made when we are overwhelmed.  The following strategy will be able to help identify and get out of the over extendedness and prevent it from happing again.

  Know Your Limits

We must be able to recognize when we are over extended.  So many of us have been fighting and pushing for so long that we see it as normal.  Everyone of us has signs that let us know we’ve hit our limit and those signs are present before we are overwhelmed.  This is the line between being happily busy and productive to being overwhelmed.  To discover our limits we need to think back to a time to when we were happily busy and productive…functioning, not stressed.  What were we doing?  How were we doing it?  Discovering our limits requires an inner journey to discover how we want the rhythm of our life to happen.  By knowing our limits we can avoid or notice it more quickly and be able to correct it sooner.

  Change Priorities

When in the state of overwhelm there is a different way of prioritizing  that supports us, it is a mindset of crisis intervention, so to speak.  Rather than looking at the most important items and plugging away, look to complete the easiest.  So the project that can be done the fastest and easiest.

  Focus On the Inner Journey

Being overwhelmed is a state of mind.  Thoughts such as, “how am I going to get all of this done?” and “I don’t have any time for me anymore.”  Feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fatigue are telling us that we are running on fumes.  We must be mindful of filling ourselves up, with creativity, positivity, joy, and vitality.  This is our fuel.  When we recognize that our positive emotions are depleting, we must give ourselves the time and attention necessary to bring balance back into our lives.

  Restful Days

Just as our bodies need recharging, so do our minds.  This requires rest on a regular basis.  This means taking a day out of every week where the focus is on rest.  The rest of our days are already filled up with work, school, laundry, and grocery shopping.  A day of rest requires a different sort of energy… one of calmness, recharging, relaxing, and fun.  By taking this one day a week for ourselves, we are supported in keeping our creativity high and the ability to meet whatever presents itself to us in a positive manner.

Make the choice to choose a strategy that will have you transforming feelings of being over extended into feelings of calmness.  Know that you deserve it.

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April 18, 2011

The benefits of a good therapist

by Dandy

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now than you’ve probably figured out that I’m a strong advocate for counseling and therapy.  I have benefited greatly from psychotherapy.  It has changed my life profoundly in so many ways.  I sought out therapy for depression and anxiety, as well as the need to know myself better and be aware of my own needs and emotions.

The overall benefit of therapy is to have a safe and secure place to talk with another person without the fear of judgement.  Having a sounding board releases an incredible amount of pressure and stress, which allows the person to be happier and more centered; this goes for all people, and doubly so for anxiety sufferers.

Another benefit of therapy is it places a high value on the worth of the individual.  A good therapist will praise and encourage their client to seek help.  A therapist can help to determine which kind of therapy the person will benefit from, whether it be cognitive behavioral therapy, Pastoral, Humanistic, Gestalt, Interpersonal, Transpersonal, or Positive Psychology.  Therapists may present other techniques to the client, but the client has the ultimate say of which technique, he or she feels works best for them.  The client works with the therapist to establish goals that the client wants to obtain from therapy.  Therapy is all about the client, while the therapist does their best to help the client seek and reach those goals.  For many, being in the position to make significant choices over their own well-being is a new experience.  This can be intimidating to some, but again this is what the therapist is for.  Working through this can be incredibly empowering.

Therapy is a gentle process.  Therapist are trained to be very emotionally gentle because they realize that if they make even slight comments or mistakes that are perceived as threatening, or judgemental, that they have begun to jeopardize the therapeutic relationship.  Clients who feel judged withhold information, which impedes progress.  Going through therapy isn’t always easy.  When one is willing to make changes in their lives it can be very distressful.  Therapists help to reduce transitional stress so that they can aid their clients to lead the healthy and happy lives they want to live.

Some important things to know when seeking out a good therapist…

*  Ask your general practitioner for a referral, or ask your religious community if they can recommend someone.

*  Interview the therapist.  Ask them their area of expertise and how they’ve helped people with your presenting concern.  If it is important to you, ask if they will respect your Spiritual views.

*  Listen to your inner voice or instincts.  Not every therapist will click with a potential client. 

*  Go with experience over degrees.  Not everyone with multiple doctorates can be helpful.  But make sure they are licensed to practise.

*  You do not have to tell anyone you are seeing a therapist.  This is a very personal decision.  It is entirely up to you who you tell.  unfortunately, there is still a stigma over mental illness and it is a profound shame.  If someone you know thinks that only, “sickos go to head shrinks,”  then it may not be in your best interest to let them know your personal business.  But this must be discussed with your therapist.

*  If after a few sessions you find that you are not comfortable with this therapist than it is ok to seek another one.  I’ve had this experience and was so glad I kept looking for a therapist that could really help me.  I’ve never regretted it.

If you know of someone who may need help encourage them to seek therapy.  Let them know there is no shame in it at all.  Refer them to my website.  Let them know they aren’t alone and that they can lead a happy life.  Ok, now que the soundtrack to Good Will Hunting:)

April 11, 2011

Spring cleaning for the soul

by Dandy

“To change skins, evolve into new cycles, I feel one has to learn to discard. If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. They reflect one’s mind and the psyche of yesterday. I throw away what has no dynamic, living use.”
~Anaïs Nin~

It’s Spring!  For most of the U.S. this has been a very long and snowy Winter.  People are in need of the warmth of the sun and the chirping of birds to awaken the soul.  Nature is stepping out from her slumber and into the abundance of budding trees and sun reaching flowers.    These cues from nature are beautiful invitations to help us in identifying, releasing, and letting go of the excess, of the things that are perhaps weighing us down in our lives.

On an inner level we must “clean house” every now and then and take inventory of what we are holding onto.

Sometimes we find ourselves holding onto habits, resentments, limiting beliefs, fears and certain ways of being, because they feel safe and comfortable since we’ve been holding onto them for so long.  Yet if we were to take a closer look, we can start to see that these things no longer serve us and in fact we are standing in our own way of moving forward.

Imagine the old tree metaphor – what would happen if a tree never lost its leaves?  It would never look bare.  It would always be full and abundant.  Yet if trees never shed itself of their leaves there would never be the space or opportunity to grow new leafs, new ideas, new ways of thinking, new opportunities.  So how do we begin to identify and let go of the things that we are ready to release?

First we must claim some special time for ourselves.  We’ll need to go outside to a place that is special to us, a river, a park, an old hiking trail, a place that feels safe and sacred.  Bring a notebook and pen.

Second, center ourselves.  Feel the ground, take in deep breaths of the Spring air and the energy of release and letting go.  Next, answer these questions…

1.  What is wasting your time and energy?

2.  What feels like a burden to you?

3.  What habits or patterns leave you feeling tired, overwhelmed, or bored?

4.  What are you most fearful right now?

Analyse your answers and compose a list of 5 things you are ready to let go of.  These things should be what we know in our hearts that no longer serve us, even though  they may feel comfortable.

Next take 5 stones.  Each one of these stones represents the one thing we need to release, surrender, and let go.  Make it clear what each stone represents.  Take a moment as you pick each stone from the ground, take a breath, feel it in your hand as you say aloud, “this stone represents my resentment of _________”.  Or “this stone represents my relationship with ________”.  Allow each stone to take on the energy of the thing you need to release.

Then take a walk with your stones.  Make a note of how these stones burden you and weigh you down.  Note how they’ve gotten in your way of peace and contentment.  Then as you are ready, drop them to the ground, one by one.  Feel the symbolism of letting each one go.  If you are near water, toss them into it, listen to the splash, visualize it sinking and disappearing.

Notice how it feels in your body.  Where do you feel it the most?  Is it in your throat, your chest, your head, your shoulders?  Breathe.

The last step is for us to write down an action step for each of the items.  What will you do in replacement of what you have released?  Keep this list where you will always see it.

What do you need to let go of?  What beliefs have been holding you back?

April 4, 2011

Women and anger

by Dandy

The past couple of weeks I’ve received a few emails from women concerning my post on Boundary Lessons.  This has created some lively discussion on women’s issues, anger, betrayal, forgiveness, expression.  So I’ve been asked to write about this topic some more. 

There was a rough patch in my life awhile ago that caused me to have some serious anger issues.  I didn’t like experiencing  that emotion and sought out counseling and read many, many books about the subject.  I would like to share some of the tools I’ve learned. 

Know your triggers

For most women, our triggers are around issues of power, justice, and responsibility.  We  become angry when we cannot meet our own expectations, when we cannot change frustrating circumstances from work or home, and being treated unfairly or disrespectfully.

The self-esteem factor

Venting anger is even more harmful than keeping it in.  Labels like bitch, shrew, ball-buster mean to undermine self-esteem.   To enhance self-esteem people need to feel loveable, and competent, and venting anger does neither of these.  Having low-self esteem makes people more likely to be easily provoked and to express their anger in volatile ways.  When we are angered we  tend to regard innocent acts and words as personal affronts, further undermining self-esteem. 

Another counterproductive response to anger (this one was so me) is a tendency to ruminate and brood about the precipitating event, construing it as unfair and deliberately provoking said rumination only worsened angry feelings.

When we have high self-esteem we have fewer anger symptoms and are much less likely to brood about the events that provoke anger.  We also have a less propensity to become angry or to keep anger in, or to vent it. 

Rather than suppressing anger or negatively expressing it, women with high self-esteem tend to discuss their anger in a problem solving way, either with a confidante, or with the person who provoked it, or both.

Women with high self-esteem also do not have to busy themselves with protecting a fragile sense of self, but can identify the salient aspects of the anger producing situation and approach it from a problem solving stance.

Women who suppress their anger also suffer from low self-esteem, because they’d allowed themselves to be treated as doormats or punching bags.  Occasionally after prolonged suppression, their anger would erupt in a way that was out of proportion to the triggering event, making  them feel guilty and worthless, further lowering self-esteem( this was me too).

 

The difference between venting and expressing

*Analyse what makes you angry with out walking around it.  Without blaming or reaching for complaints.  Recognize it.  Validate it by writing it down. 

*Admit your anger, feel it out.  Exercise, yell into a pillow.  Go running.  Tear apart old phone books. Depending on the intensity of the emotion this may not always be necessary, some may prefer to draw, paint, or write in a journal.  Expressing anger in this way is so positive and healthy, and it is not venting out, hurting people.  Regardless of whether or not they make sense our feelings are an essential part of who we are – no longer allow repression.  With expression there is no room for it!

* Understand the deeper meaning.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to really feel it and you are aware of where or who it has been directed to.  There is almost always another feeling behind anger. 

* Set boundaries!  Plan ahead.  Say what you want.  Hold yourself responsible for your own happiness.

* Know your limits.  Recognize those triggers.  Find the roots of them.

* Value yourself and forgive.  Forgive others for not always getting it right.  Forgive yourself.

On a side note, any emails sent to me will absolutely, positively be private.  I do not share emails or names, and do not discuss private conversation with anyone, ever.  Privacy is a huge issue for me!  If there is anything you would like to discuss or comment on in private please email me at thereflectiveself@hotmail.com

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