So recently someone asked me to explain how therapy is different from coffee with a trusted friend. The answer lies in the relationship dynamic. When you go for coffee with a friend, inherent in the experience is that both people are there to get their needs met. The needs could range from having fun to supporting one another through difficult times. However, you are both (ideally) mindful of what each other is going through and it isn't about one person or the other. This is the biggest difference. In therapy, the basic agreement is that both the therapist and you will be focusing on you and using the information that you each have to help you with your situation. You have information about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour from inside yourself that is fundamental and can only be accessed by you. The therapist has information from their training and life experience that they can impart to you about what coping skills, thoughts, resources or choices may be helpful in your situation that can help you to get to your goal. Often times decisions that we make as adults are about double binds that there isn't a 'right' answer. There is just the one that you think you can live with long term. When we talk to friends it is common for people to tell you what they think you should do. And what they tell you is what THEY would do if they were in your situation! Their recommendations are a reflection of their values. A therapist is trained not to project their values onto you but to help you to sort out and figure out what your values are. Your therapist is someone who is completely on your side and yet, not a friend. You are paying your therapist to challenge you and teach you and support you in the areas that are weaknesses so that you can be more empowered and happy in your life ....without having an investment in what you choose. Lots of times friends just tell you what you want to hear and it doesn't heal the faulty belief systems or behaviours that may be driving the problems in your life. Furthermore, some therapists are trained in accessing and healing trauma buried in the body using EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or Neurofeedback which you obviously can't do over coffee either!
Just in case you thought going for a cup of coffee with a friend might be the same thing....
Check out this awesome Manhattan Transfer version of Java Jive!
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! Sometimes the barrage of information, chatter and feedback externally and internally can be deafening! And, mostly, people are hardest on how they talk to themselves. If you want to make a huge difference to your self-esteem and stress, choose your words/thoughts carefully. Be mindful and take the word 'should' out of your vocabulary and instead replace it with 'could'. Notice how much more empowered that makes you feel. Or change 'but' to 'and' so that it doesn't discount either someone else's (or your own) ideas or feelings. 'But' tends to discount the first half of the sentence. Ya....BUT!!!....and then the 'real' point gets driven home as if the first thing that was talked about doesn't matter.
Here's a list of words that people commonly use and how to change them to empower yourself:
Should - Could
Ya But - And
Need - Want to
Can't - Won't, have decided not to
Always, never - Sometimes, frequently
Try - Intend to, commit to
I'm just - I am
Problem - Challenge
If only - Next time
Words form thoughts which connect to behaviour and feelings. Choose wisely and mindfully and you'll feel better.
Speaking of words....listen to this beautiful song by Chris Medina
Happy New Year!
So according to research at University College London, How are habits formed:, success ranged from 18 to 254 days. And while we are all constantly evaluating our lives and deciding what friendships, job, habits are working for us and which aren't, changing these things can be more difficult. The important thing to keep in mind is that intentions re: your spirit are deeper and more self-esteem building than goals.
I was talking with a dear friend this morning. Both her son and her brother died over Christmas this year. She told me that she went swimming this morning even though she felt like staying in bed for the next year. (No kidding eh?) She said she could hear her brother's voice in her head "Do it because you can and I believe in you". Staying with his love and those thoughts are what are driving her. to chose life and health over quitting and collapsing into her grief THAT is a good intention. That is different than saying to herself "I should swim 3-5 times a week". An intention keeps you fundamentally and radically okay at a core level. It is affirming of your self worth. Mindfulness keeps you on track re: your intentions, however, it is hard to stay with the positive self thoughts and behaviours when the neuropathways that have been in habitual are about negative beliefs and behaviours. Keep showing up. Keep getting up when you fall. Because you can and because you deserve it.
I'm presently taking a Yoga Instructor training course that is quite intensive so I am doing my own evaluations re: where I am spending my time. I'm wondering if these blog posts are still useful and relevant? Do you read them when you see them in your inbox? I am thinking of switching things up and running mindfulness check-in groups once a week instead. Would that be a more useful way to serve those of you that don't want or necessarily need to come in for therapy? Please email me your responses so I can get an accurate read on how I can be helpful. The mindfulness groups wouldn't start until March at the earliest because of the Yoga Training that I'm doing but I want to start planning now. I know that my office building has also been sold so I will be looking for a new location by July so that will also take some of my time. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
We're all on this human journey. No one ever knows what might come their way, good or bad. We can only decide....now what? Whether you are suffering from addictions and trying to get clean or you are managing your life well but would like to feel freer in your body by losing 10 lbs, I wish radical self-love to all of you (myself included!)
I encourage you to form some deeply held belief about yourself and THEN think about the behaviours that would change if that belief were true. Now THAT will make for an awesome year!!!
Enjoy Katie Perry's beautiful and poignant "Rise" music video.
Well this is it.....another year comes to an end and most people will be having holidays over the next few weeks. To focus your intention and make it the best that it can be pick 3 things that you want to help focus your attention on over the next few weeks. It could be to get outside more; have a positive attitude towards whomever you find yourself with; stay calm; eat/drink mindfully; begin the day with gratitude. Whatever it is I hope that you and your loved ones have a safe and happy time together.
https://youtu.be/M9BNoNFKCBI - We are the World!
Our culture encourages us to have the biggest house, the best dinner parties, the largest income yada yada yada yada. It can leave you feeling like whatever you do it is 'not enough'. When we compare ourselves to marketing images, TV shows and other people who are just telling the 'good' parts of the story it can be hard on our psyches. So to lift your spirits, here are some perspectives to help you have gratitude and appreciation for your life.
If the World were 100 PEOPLE:
50 would be female
50 would be male
25 would be children
There would be 75 adults,
9 of whom would be 65 and older
There would be:
14 people from the Americas
16 people who would not be aligned with a religion
8 people who practice other religions
12 would speak Chinese
6 would speak Spanish
5 would speak English
4 would speak Hindi
3 would speak Arabic
3 would speak Bengali
3 would speak Portuguese
2 would speak Russian
2 would speak Japanese
60 would speak other languages
86 would be able to read and write; 14 would not
7 would have a college degree
40 would have an Internet connection
78 people would have a place to shelter them
from the wind and the rain, but 22 would not
1 would be dying of starvation
11 would be undernourished
22 would be overweight
91 would have access to safe drinking water
9 people would have no clean, safe water to drink
Sources: 2016 - Fritz Erickson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ferris State University (Formerly Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay) and John A. Vonk, University of Northern Colorado, 2006; Returning Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison Wisconsin, Unheard Voices: Celebrating Cultures from the Developing World, 1992; Donella H. Meadows, The Global Citizen, May 31, 1990.
The little things like clean water, shelter, a job, people who love you. THOSE are actually the BIG things. I hope this blog post helps you to see and appreciate them more today.
I won't rant about December and all the ways that it can push people's buttons again. It gets old and boring and you've heard it all before. What I will do is tell you a little story about my week and the random acts of kindness that I have been a part of. It started with a Facebook thing. I read this online: to edit.
So this morning I tried a little social experiment....instead of going through the Starbucks drive through, I went inside.
As I walked in, I surveyed the scene. Almost every person was enveloped in their phone/computer and probably had no clue anyone new had walked through the door. I looked over my shoulder to see a line of about 10 people deep accumulating behind me. I got up to the cash register, ordered my drink, then asked for a $25 gift card. I quietly asked the barista to use the gift card for as many drinks as it would cover for the people behind me. I told her you can tell them I'm still here, but don't tell them who did it. She smiled...giggled...and said ok.
I got my drink...and took a seat in the corner to watch this unfold.
The first gentleman to receive a free drink demanded he pay, but the barista insisted it was covered...so he dropped his $5 he was going to use to pay for his drink into the barista's tip jar. Success. She turned to me and winked.
The second and third patrons in line were 2 old buddies having their weekly coffee date. They had to be pushing 80 and they were so confused at not having to pay that they just left their money on the counter and asked her to use it for the people behind them. It was a younger guy who then after receiving his free drink went over to the gentleman and shook their hands. Success.
I proceeded to watch 14 different people enjoy a "free" drink. Some people paid for the people behind them in line, and some people just took their free drink and scanned the room looking for the free drink fairy, smiling at everyone they encountered. Success.
But the best part about it: I also got to watch people step out of their normal robot-like morning routine and be human. They put their phones down. They picked their heads up and made eye contact with people in the room. They exchanged smiles and head nods, wondering if that was the person that paid for their drinks. I watched people be kind, courteous, and engaging. I watched people who normally would avoid eye contact, spark a conversation all because of a kind gesture. Success.
My favorite part was a little old man named Hank. I guess Hank comes in every day for his tall drip coffee with room for a splash of cream and sunshine (and that's exactly how he ordered his drink). I knew his name was Hank because everyone who worked there stopped what they were doing to say good morning to Hank. After receiving his free drink (the las drink the gift card covered), Hank took it upon himself to ask every single person in that starbucks if they were the one who got his coffee because he needed to say thank you. As I was sitting in the corner, I watched him go around the room, and knew he would eventually make it to me. As he got to me, I smiled. He just stopped and said "It was you huh? Stand up young lady." So I stood up, and as Hank balanced himself with his cane under one arm, he gave me the biggest, tightest hug he could with the other arm and said "You were that little ray of sunshine I seek every day. Today I am vertical, you woke up too, so be blessed not stressed." He tipped his hat, and hobbled away.
I packed up my stuff, and headed off to work.
Next time you can, pay it forward.
#whatdoyoudowhenyourehavingashittyday #trytosmile #ormakeotherpeoplesmile #itsnotthathard
I thought, that sounds like fun and I did it when I joined my friend for coffee at Vincenzo's. Now, I didn't set it up the same way. I was just happy to pay for people's coffee and then visit with my friend Lisa. And I didn't expect Vincenzo's to be a place that would have people who were particularly needy......my bad for that assumption after so many years in this business! So while we were chatting and catching up I had a woman wave and beam a big smile at me. I'll let you in on a little secret.....I often freeze and get scared internally because I have been in this business for SO LONG that I'm not sure if it's someone I don't remember and if they will be hurt or upset to not be recognized. Anyways, I found out it wasn't someone I knew. The woman came over with her walker and was visibly emotional and told me that it was so great to have been bought a coffee because she had been having a REALLY HARD day and it had bought her real joy. I was so moved by her sincerity......and I was reminded that simple acts of kindness are what we are CRAVING as a society. Just real human contact and kindness.
The second story is something someone did for me. As we age we all walk with different kinds of grief or complications in our lives and my life is no different. So I went to church on Sunday to have my spirit lifted. Prior to the service the lovely and brilliant Rev Jessica Rodela came to me and said that she was passing along to me the BEST PRESENT she had ever been given at Christmas. It is an advent calendar. I'm only on Day 5 but each day it has beautiful stories or instructions about how you can lift someone else's spirits and thereby lift your own. Stuff like 'donate a lightly worn pair of shoes', 'write a card to someone's boss telling them what a good employee someone is', 'think of someone who has lost a loved one and give them a Christmas decoration with a pic of their loved one in it'. And while I have been following through with it the natural consequence is that I have ended up feeling better because I am focused on what I have control of and not focused on the things in my life that I can't change anyway. (I know.....something I'm always talking about but putting it into action can be harder to remember when you are busy!)
When I wrote the card and gave it to the manager of the coffee shop that I go to about what a lovely employee she has in Taylor, she cried. And then Taylor thanked me and told me that she cried when the manager showed it to her. I think it's because kindness is so rare nowadays. (Except in a corporate way which feels more like branding than true kindness anymore.) Love and kindness are all that matter and all that we need at the end of the day. If you are having a hard day then that is the medicine. You won't regret it I promise!
Hear is my favourite Christmas song that sums all of this up. Thanks Amy Grant!!!
Have you decorated? What kind of tree do you get? Are you going to the church potluck? I'm buying my kids the latest gadget and I'm so excited, are you getting one for your child? There is Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday now as well as the typical Boxing Day knock downs. All of this marketing and these messages impact upon our psyche and have one common theme 'BUY, BUY, BUY'!!!
It can be a lot of pressure and exhausting. So the best way to cope with it is to have a plan. It is no different than someone who is dieting going to dinner with a large group of people at a buffet. You have to plan ahead to be able to enjoy it and feel good about your choices. And you have to know who you are. Who do you want to be as a person in December? Someone who is giving? Calm? A family person? The life of the party? Some people have decided to adopt a minimalist attitude where they simplify everything. We can't be it all so it is important to decide ahead of time so you don't get defined by the culture about what IT wants you to be. (Psssst.....a hint..... often marketing just wants you to be someone who opened their pocketbook more than they wanted to and without thinking!) Don't worry. There is no judgement....that's the essence of mindfulness......there will just be an experience of joy and being in charge of what is happening and your experiences reflecting who you are or passivity and inundation or overwhelm and an experience of 'getting through it' without knowing what you wanted to get out of it in the first place. One person I know decides each year what will bring her joy and then cuts out or simplifies all of the other streams. So between decorating, buying presents, hosting parties, going to parties, Christmas day, church activities and time with family she decides each year which will be the focus. This year she told me she is focused on decorating and she bought all the food pre-prepared and shopped online for gifts for her kids. You choose who you want to be and how you want to manage Dec. It's up to you. We are all ok and we are all different. I'm just suggesting that deciding who you want to be in December, then making a list and having a plan all help towards the outcome!
Well I was in the grocery store on Sunday and heard the piped in Christmas music. For some I know it signals dread for this season full of well .....more of everything! Food, drink, work (for some), gifts, decorating, traditions.... and conversations about all of the above. Which means more triggers. As we age, I would say ....this is true for most people. (Although it is not acknowledged by very many.) So the salvation will be in going into this time with intention re: what you can control and what you can't. And then doing what you can to create the results that will work for you. So be mindful of your grief and your joy and try to infuse joy where it is authentic for you. Find comfort for your grief. And remember that you have choices as an adult and that can be a hugely empowering fact re: trauma triggers. That's all I got......culturally this ain't gonna change and complaining isn't going to make you feel better for very long. If this is a hard season for you then remember that this too shall pass. Check out the tips at the end of this blog for ideas about how to get through. I'm holding you in my heart.
is' the season......and I don't mean the gift giving, building up to December celebrations. I mean that when the seasons change people tend to have and exchange more colds and flus. I too have a cold so I will keep this short. Best things to do are keep your immune system high by getting lots of sleep and exercise. Washing your hands regularly so that you don't get other people's germs and you don't transfer yours. Listen to your body. If you believe in flu shots they are free through the pharmacy at many drug stores. Drink lots of water to flush toxins from your body and take extra vitamins and immune system boosters. (Vitamin C, Echinacea, Cold assist) Fist bump and cough into your elbow to prevent the spread of germs. And don't go to work if you think that you are contagious. You matter and taking that time to care for yourself when you are not feeling well is how you tell yourself that you matter.
And on that note, I think I'll go and make myself a cup of lemon, ginger and honey tea.