Hello, Creatives. In addition to working with Creative People one of my clinical specialties has been working with anxiety disorders- and for many reasons it is not uncommon for creative people to be anxious. So, in this week’s Creatively Blog, I bring you a self-coined term I have identified from working with anxiety to help you understand some ways you may be compensating.
Let’s start with some basic information about anxiety. Anxiety indicates a physiological aroused state where your body- to varying degrees- is perceiving and preparing for a threat. Anxiety is an emotion that activates your limbic system- some of your more basic brain functions live here- something I talk about in session as “lizard brain.” More or less, anxiety acts as a switch, either activated or inactivated. The prevailing psychological model for reducing anxiety is exposure response prevention, or, gradually reducing sensitivity to physiological arousal to perceived threats. Anxiety can be summarized as how sensitive our body is to activating emergency response mechanisms when a threat is perceived- and this sensitivity is largely inherited but also can be impacted and changed by life events (eg trauma). A frequently used set of terms in anxiety treatment are “triggers” (what makes you anxious) and “coping skills” (how you manage that anxiety). Some of these are fairly universal and some are more individualized. A coping skill that I see a lot, and that is frequently subconsciously used, is increasing the level of control (type A, much?) to offset the feeling of anxiety. An exacerbation of this relationship can be seen in classic OCD presentations. Anxiety is not always bad and in fact evolutionarily the emotion functions to keep us prepared and safe. Unlike many other emotions, it is not an emotion that you can “stop” from doing- in fact trying to “stop” anxiety may worsen it. Ultimately the best anxiety strategy is to not over-attend or feed into the cycle; allowing it to run its course, and reducing its overall severity and disruption is key. For more about anxiety, reference the “Pet your Inner Cat” blog post about self soothing and self care- a place I usually start treatment with most of the anxiety diagnosed clients that I treat. For more about anxiety and creative people, reference the “Creative People, Anxiety and Intuition” blog post.
Now that you have some basic information, let’s move on to the phenomena I started to observe. Like many things in clinical work, I noticed it together with a patient during a breakthrough in session, which allowed me to see it again with another patient, and then another, and so on. Before I knew it, there was a behavior or series of behaviors I was watching my anxious clients engage in as a way to cope with their anxiety, which ultimately once labeled could serve them to identify the worsening or a change in their anxiety symptoms. What I noticed I began to call the “Control Perceived Imbalance Correction” or “CPIC” (pronounce see-pick). In my overview to anxiety I said that subconsciously many anxious people balance or offset their anxiety with control- they believe- usually erroneously- that by increasing control over something they can also increase control over a different thing. Often we feel excess anxiety about things we cannot control, and to offset this it feels good to take control of something else. For example- a person may be feeling anxiety about increased tension in their marriage- a perceived loss of control- and so to correct this imbalance they binge eat- an over use of a coping skill psychologically used to restore control or correct the imbalance. Sometimes there is a sense of self-fulfilling prophecy or self-sabotage- someone may be feeling a loss of control of personal finances, and to correct the perceived imbalance of control go on a shopping spree. On a psychological level they are taking control by doing what they want with money, but in a literal way of course worsening the stressor. CPIC is one, driven by the emotion of anxiety and not by logic, and two, is usually subconscious, and this combination can be problematic. Once I see this relationship with a client, I can help them identify the imbalance correction (eg overspending, overeating etc) and this can be used by the client to pinpoint the source of stress in the future and change course sooner. This is one reason why in therapy I will usually ask you about your week- anything unusual? How have you been sleeping, eating, etc? I am looking for evidence of changes in your life.
CPIC is a bit more of a cerebral concept, but, I have found it very useful to my clients once applied. It is certainly something easier to unravel individually by example and through deduction and fact rather than hypothetically and conceptually in writing- and so I invite you to come sit on my couch and learn about yourself, Creative! Come start creating your best life.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
This week’s post is again inspired by clinical themes I have been seeing this month.
At this point I have published enough yummy articles on my blog that they gorgeously cross reference and complement each other- in this way this topic is related to many others- so when it speaks to you and emotionally connects with you, I encourage you to pull the thread and browse some of the other topics and past blog articles.
Today we are going to talk about the psychological concept of distress tolerance. In simple terms, this is our ability to stand still in a certain intensity of stress. I don’t mean change it, avoid it, or do anything with it- simply tolerate it. This underused but powerful skill allows our emotions to communicate their vital messages and naturally dissipate- freeing us to stand empowered in our lives to make better choices for our own happiness. It takes the power from variability and the unexpected and allows us large scale emotional peace and freedom.
(I will give you the caveat that if you are in crisis, severe stress or worse, then tolerance is not your course of action. If you are unsure how this topic applies to your levels of stress, give me a call and let’s talk).
In several past articles, I have referenced the biological function of emotions to communicate chemical signals and messages between the brain and body. In an ideal biological and natural sense, whenever we have an emotion we would fully express it and allow our brain and body to absorb its lesson (interested in the topic of the biological functioning of various emotions? Browse those past blog posts!) What happens instead is we feel emotions with an intensity we don’t like and avoid or bottle up, we absorb sociological lessons about which emotions we are allowed to express or not (different for males and females traditionally), we lose touch with what are emotions are, what they are telling us or how to feel or express them. This diversion has the unintended consequence of weakening our distress tolerance.
What I am saying to you is our sociological adaptation to avoid emotions has weakened our ability to handle stress. This is unfortunately not to our advantage. Think about exercise as a parallel here. What we are doing is avoiding exercise because we don’t like it, which has the unintended consequence of making it harder for us to take the stairs when the elevator is out. Just like we build our muscles by slowly increasing our physical activity, we can regain our ability to tolerate stress by acknowledging and feeling emotions when they happen in smaller ways, and doing nothing else with them.
Ultimately what our emotions “want” from us is to be felt without resistance. This allows them to fulfill their function. Emotions, as the communication signals they are, naturally crest and fall. If we don’t feed them, fight them etc, they communicate their signal in whatever intensity, then fall away. If we simply acknowledge and feel them they naturally dissipate.
To begin repairing and strengthening your distress tolerance try a version of this exercise: pick precipitating events of small emotional weights and allow the accompanying feelings to crest and fall while you simply experience them and survive.
As your distress tolerance builds in strength you begin to experience stronger and stronger stressors without becoming overwhelmed or destabilized. You are free to make choices about action or inaction and how you can better shape the variables in your life. The end consequence we are going for here is (as always) empowerment to create a life that is happy and fulfilling.
How strong is your distress tolerance? What are your personal patterns of emotional avoidance? Want to regain control and build towards more peace and happiness in your life? I can help!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Today I want to tap into what I affectionately call in session “the lizard brain” or petting the cat: the natural, organismic, animal part of you. This is the part of you where instinct and body knowledge live, untampered with by your mighty prefrontal cortex. It is a set of natural drives and signals that most living things live by, and in many ways we have evolved away from. For better and worse, we bring in the “intellectual committee” when making decisions, sometimes overriding our organismic needs. There are certainly times for that. There are also certainly times when it is less useful. Ideally, I want you to be able to identify both your natural instincts and your “committee” decisions, and make a choice as to which you need to follow. Since I think human beings are evolved and accomplished at doing the latter (“the committee”) I want to dedicate this blog post to the former (“the lizard brain”). So- let’s take some time and space to check in with yourself: how are you at listening to your instincts?
You may connect with this notion of instincts by one of its many names in today’s society- body knowledge, Mommy instincts, protective instincts, gut feelings, initial reactions, first impressions, etc. It is a visceral screaming of “yes” or “no” inside you. If you have to “decide” about something, then that is probably not your instinct about it.
I was listening to a book (still listening to Caroline Casey) who quoted a zen master on this very topic- she said this zen master described the concept of zen to her as “when I am hungry, I eat, when I am tired I sleep.” What a basic and beautiful example of meeting simple organismic needs. Yet- how often do we neglect to do this? We eat when we aren’t hungry, we don’t sleep when we are tired- yes, I know there are many reasons why- but we can’t deny that the overall effect is neglecting our animal self.
When we neglect our animal self, or “basic needs” in hierarchy of needs psychology, there is a fall-out. One of these is that we lose sight of and connection with that part of ourselves. If we aren’t giving our body what it wants, eventually we stop listening to what it is asking us for, until we finally block it out altogether and aren’t even sure what our instincts are. Another cost of this behavior is- we are in a contestant state of alarm or stress. If, again, you think about an animal without regular reliable food, water, shelter, safety, routine, structure, exercise etc, what you get is a stressed out, unhappy, neurotic animal. For human beings it is the same. When we neglect our basic needs we are constantly plagued by an undercurrent of anxiety and stress.
I want to take a minute and address the difference between instincts and hedonism. In other words, needs vs wants. All livings things also have a survival instinct that drives us to excess (hedonism). It says- “this is good- more!” and is not the same as meeting basic needs. This is something for you to keep in mind as you tease apart what your natural self is asking you for- for now, remember that these two things are not the same.
I said earlier that one of the modern-day society names for these instincts is “body knowledge” and in fact this is a concept touted in psychology (especially related to trauma). Essentially what it means is- your body stores experiences and knows what you need on a visceral level. This means you can trust that your instincts. If you are listening to them correctly, they are giving you an accurate picture of your needs. Instincts know when you are suffering, when you are well, and what you need to stabilize. Your body stores your own individualized instruction manual for the recipe to your peace and happiness. Sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it?
To strengthen this natural force within you, you need to tap into it and listen to it often. If you haven’t done this much, or even at all, I want you to start by “petting the cat.” Consider your most basic organismic needs (do a simple inventory) and make sure that they are met. Drink enough water. Eat enough good foods. Be physically active. Be social. Get enough sleep. Adhere to a routine. Eliminate toxicity and poisons. Do this diligently for at least two weeks and record your anxiety and stress level as you go. I promise you will feel more grounded, safe and calm. By “petting the cat” you are getting back in touch with your instinctual natural self by giving it what it needs.
A second step: once you are meeting your basic needs, begin to notice when your “lizard brain” is asking you for something. You will begin to notice fatigue when you deviate from a routine, miss a meal, etc. Begin to make the connection with these natural and basic patterns of cause and effect in your body. Strengthen the connections by noticing them and meeting the needs they are asking you for. As you continue in this work, you might add a meditative practice to quiet your thoughts (eg consciously telling the committee to stop talking to you) and access your instincts. Begin to notice the answers to questions like, what “feels right”?
Over time, my goal for you is not to lose you intellectual capacity, but to supplement it with your strong instinctual knowledge. When making decisions I want you to have access to both an intellectual and visceral information source, and when these differ an ability to choose between them.
Did you know this skill enhances not only your overall sense of wellbeing, but also your artistic practice? Give me a call and let’s talk more about how.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Why is your creative teen self harming?
Self harm is a scary thing to see, hear or talk about, but it is nonetheless prevalent among today’s teens. If your teen, one of their friends, or other young people you work with have talked about it, you may feel unsettled, unsure and alarmed. In today’s blog post I want to dedicate some space to starting to demystify this behavior and talk about why it exists, the purposes it may serve and how to address it.
Let’s start with some developmental psychology to set the stage of why the classification of behavior known as “self harm” is so prevalent among teens:
Teens are children who, due to the natural societal progression in age milestones, have more stressors. They are more socially aware of friendship dynamics, they are beginning to question, identify and build independence and self-esteem. They have demands at school and are becoming aware of learning strengths and weak points. With all these things at play, their stressors have increased. However, they are still children, and their ability to handle the added emotional response to these new stressors may not have grown with them yet. In other words, they have lots of feelings, without necessarily more ability to deal with them (think an older stage of toddler temper tantrums).
Along with growing stressors and limited control over emotional responses, teens are in a unique stage of neurological development where the separate hemispheres of the brain, while still building connections separately, do not yet have many pathways that connect them (think dirt roads vs super highways between the spheres). This means limited executive function capacity. Limited multitasking. Slower neurological processing time. Slower to make higher level connections. Slower to see big picture and build insight. Still very much functioning in the “here and now” of children, they are simultaneously growing into the higher level intellectual capacities of an adult (you may see, for example, your teen is very smart but has limited “common sense.”)
Under these developmental pressures, teens may feel a disconnect between their strong emotions and how to handle them. They may feel a loss of control and an intense period of change personally and in terms of worldview. They are looking for ways to manage this discomfort and change. But why something like self-harming?
One reason is that teens subconsciously use self-harm behavior to ground themselves and assert control. In this capacity, self harming serves to take them out of their spiraling headspace, into the current moment, while giving them a ritual or routine that is all their own. In younger children, we may see behaviors like resistance or regression with toilet training serving a similar function. Remembering our teen’s limited executive functioning and “common sense,” asserting control over ones’ own body is the “low hanging fruit” to manage the chaos of change. They are not rationally selecting a coping skill- rather experimenting with cause-and-effect choices over their own body. Self harm, of course, is not an ideal or healthy coping skill, however it is unfortunately one of the most accessible (control using one’s own body) and biologically very rewarding.
Another reason teens self harm is for the biological reward. A natural response, especially in children, to change, chaos and stress is to dissociate or numb themselves. This is a natural built in survival mechanism, but one that most children find unwelcome and depressing over time. In an effort to “feel something again” a teen may turn to self harm. Unfortunately, self harm is very effective in fixing this problem because it causes a natural chemical reward in the brain- another built in biological survival tool- happy hormones are released to offset the physical injury. The combined effect is momentary pain, followed by a rewarding natural chemical rush and temporary relief from numbness. While again this is not a healthy way to reach these goals, knowing the motivations of the behavior can help you introduce the same rewards to your teen in better ways.
Some things you need to know about self harm and your creative child: creative kids feel emotions deeply. This can make them more susceptible to finding relief with coping skills that are more extreme (because they are feeling more extremely!) Creative personalities also have the tendency to romanticize suffering- and in a childlike way the self harm can feed into this. Adults have the benefit of life experience to offset some of the romanticism to pain and chaos that children have yet to experience.
So when should you worry? We need to remember and balance two important things when it comes to self-harm in our teens: one, self harm as such is not suicidal. If we are indeed talking about self harming behaviors as separate from depression and suicidal thinking, then the goal of self harm is not to actually harm onesself, especially permanently. However, the second thing to remember when it comes to self-harm in our teens is: teens and children are by nature impulsive. They have fewer protective factors, responsibilities, and less life experience to offset risk. As such, any talk of self harm should be taken seriously and immediately precipitate evaluation by a clinician, doctor or other licensed and capable professional.
I would introduce a discussion on this topic without also giving you some tools to help your teen. Assuming you have involved a clinician/doctor/licensed professional as part of your process, here are some other recommendations to support them:
1) Talk. To. Them. Ask them questions. Show them love and interest. Show them you are a safe person to go to with your feelings and that you will hold and support them through whatever treatment they need.
2) Creative kids have their best coping skills built in: make art! I have researched and presented on this repeatedly throughout my career and I cannot emphasize this enough: if you have a creative child, they NEED to be creative in order to stay well.
3) It is ok for them to make scary art. If your teen wants to draw, paint, sculpt, write, or otherwise express the intrusive thoughts of self harm or other strong emotions that they are feeling, it is ok and it is healthy. The images or words may seem disturbing to you, but your teen is feeling relief from expressing and communicating them.
4) It is ok for your teen to cry intensely. Again- think of the toddler temper tantrums. Your teen is learning how to manage their growing stressors and strong emotions, and natural releases of emotions will help them be more successful with their coping skills. I know it is hard to do, but allow them a safe space to cry and emote, then be there for them afterwards to support them.
5) It is ok for them to talk about it to others. In the same vein as the emotional expression, talking about it with you, with friends, with other safe people gives your teen a way to make much needed neurological connections to deal with stressors better.
6) Help them find other emotional outlets. This may look like music. Arts. Sports. What helps them feel control over releasing some of the emotions that they are carrying?
7) Give them some control. Find ways to help your teen have control in appropriate ways in their lives. Is their a volunteer project they can participate in that will allow them to feel control and success? Can you let them choose something about their daily routine? Get creative.
8) Teach them mindfulness and grounding. This one, if you aren’t familiar, is a good one for you both to learn together. Try meditating. Try sensory practices together (cooking, hiking, swimming). Help them use soothing objects (pets, blankets, foods, music). The idea is to come out of the racing thoughts in the mind and be fully present in the moment.
These are just some ideas and there are many others. The best approach is one collaborative between you, supportive people in your teen’s life, and seasoned professionals to make a diversified team effort that is catered to their individual needs. So, in summary: don’t panic, get help, and with good support better coping skills will be learned to replace this unwanted behavior.
If you have concerns about your creative teen and self harm, don’t wait- give me a call- I can help.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
You’ve Done Enough Coping
This is the antithetical post where your therapist tells you to stop coping with things. Today I want to reflect upon a clinical observation I have made in practice over the years, as well as in the world around me. I want to debunk some of the most popular psychological advice and offer my own based on my own clinical readings, learning and experience. I do, of course, caveat this with- if it doesn’t feel right or healthy for you, don’t follow it- and- consult your therapist about it before making any radical changes to your behavior. That said:
I want you to stop coping. I will say it again: Stop. Coping. Stop distracting yourself from your problems, numbing yourself to your pain, filling up emptiness with things. Creatives, these things are not meant to be permanent solutions to your problems! They are, at best, temporary survival mechanisms that do not (I repeat NOT) serve you well in the long term. If you want to heal, and you are truly ready and able to do the work, it is time to feel the feelings you are protecting yourself from. There is no other way to move forward.
I want to acknowledge that it is not always the right time to do this, and coping mechanisms are survival skills when life comes at us too hard, too fast and too harsh to deal with. They are good for that for awhile. Sometimes you can cordon off some of your pain to coping skills and take out smaller things to feel and deal with- and this is an important accompanying skill (read: emotional boundaries!) and so we see evolutionarily coping skills and protective mechanisms have an important function- but they by definition are preventing you from dealing with your emotional baggage, which, by definition is weighing you down. So: stop. With. The. Coping.
The reality is this will mean pain for you. The reality is, this will mean struggling. But that is life! Life is struggle and survival and emotional ups and downs. They give us perspective, meaning and allow us to grow. As long as we continue to protect ourselves from it, we are staying stagnant and not allowing ourselves to come into living our fullest, best lives.
And that’s it for today, Creative! Another parsimonious nugget to let roll around in your brain. Assuming you accept this idea with me, the logical next step is: “how do I do the work?” Luckily for you, you know a therapist! Let’s talk about some strategies for you in session.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Hello, Creatives! Finally, some warm weather with the promise of Spring in Maryland. I hope you are getting outside and feeling inspired (remember the “Getting Inspired with Mindfulness” post? Worth a re-read). This week, I want to help you capitalize on the powerful impact nature and weather has on us and our creative process.
Remember, Creative, you are sensitive, and you are sensory. You have strong emotional reactions to many things, and are very impacted by information coming in to your sensory system (sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes). Change is very powerful because during a time of change our senses are very heightened to absorption (think jumping in a cold pool on a hot day- those first few seconds are potent!) All totaled, you have a powerful stream of energy to tap into during a seasonal change. And- the best, most mindful way to capitalize on this energy, is to go get in it- get outside!
I want you to physically put yourself into this energy stream and take what nature is offering you- like the plants stretching and unrolling their leaves into the warm sunlight after a long winter- absorb the energy and refill your stores. Biologically it is needed and healthy, emotionally it is restorative and creatively it is regenerative. This is so powerful!
Here are some ideas that might help you in your efforts:
And finally, of course, come to counseling! Let me support you moving forward and creating your best life. You are worth it. The life you will live when you do the work is worth it. Natural periods of potent energy like this are an ideal time to start working changes in your life, and I’m here to help!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
As artists, we have a unique way of viewing others and the world around us. We communicate this through our work, and it is as cathartic and fulfilling for us as it is exciting and enjoyable for our audience. As a fellow artist, I am interested in exploring this with you. As your therapist, I am also interested in how you view yourself in relationship to the world and others.
In psychology, we talk about a “mental map” as a sort of extension of cognitive mapping. In simple terms, we each have a mental map which we use as reference for how we interact with the world. It is comprised of rules, routines and rituals built from lessons we have learned, people we have interacted with, experiences we have had, and things we have gleaned throughout our personal histories. It is sort of like your personal belief system, but all encompassing, advising how and why each of your behaviors is chosen.
I want to take the concept of our unique mental map as a springboard for today’s concept- which I want to call a “referential self.” What I mean by a “referential self” is a version of yourself at a point in time in your life which is significant, and by which you define yourself. You may frequently go back to this version of yourself to assess progress, changes, relationships, decisions and other aspects of growth and development throughout your life.
These “referential selves” are frozen in your mind visually and characteristically. In fact, this is a good starting point for identifying what referential selves you may have. Without looking at yourself, imagine yourself. Not what you look like today necessary, but just “you.” How old are you? What are you wearing? Feeling? Can you pinpoint other details about this version of you? You may have more than one mental image which may mean several referential selves.
I wonder 2 things for you about these aspects of yourself: 1) what signifies the storage of this version of yourself (eg why this version of you?) and 2) how do you use/judge/see this reference? Take a moment to think about these questions. Is one of your referential selves captured at a moment when you fleshed out important pieces of who you are? Does this version of you have insecurities and flaws that you continue to cling to, even though they may be many years behind you? You may consistently judge yourself or identify yourself as this version of yourself no matter how much you have changed since then. I call this being “stuck” and it is a good concept to explore in therapy.
May I suggest the following exercise, as a continuation of self-portrait activities we have previously done together: use your chosen creative modality to explore one of your referential selves. Truly express who this version of yourself was- the good, the bad and the ugly. When you have finished, take a step back (musicians and dancers- you might record your work so you can replay and examine it fully). As objectively as you can, pick apart why this reference is captured and stored (question one above) and how you continue to identify yourself by this version of you (question two above). Go deep. Pull the thread. What did you find?
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
This week’s post centers on mindfulness, and in that spirit, is parsimonious:
“Sailing through”- an expression depicting something someone has done easily, without resistance.
This week’s practice: Put things down. Do less. Say no. Immerse yourself in simply being. If you don’t know how, try a guided meditation.
Enjoy moments of intentional peace, silence and mindful absorption.
If your life is too full to allow for this, identify some things you can put down for awhile. You may be missing life’s beautiful moments by going too fast and trying too hard.
While sailing, you use the powerful forces of wind and water as they exist naturally. You harness them to go where you want to go. You are not fighting the elements. You are taking them as they are and using them to arrive at your destination.
“Sailing through:” Mindfully embracing the forces of your life fully to direct yourself to a peaceful and fulfilling future.
Harness your power, for you are mighty.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
All human behavior exists in each of us, on a spectrum. Not unrelated to our gene expression, some of us experience some behaviors more than others, but all have the capacity in a biological sense for all behaviors. Let this set the framework for a discussion about the topic of becoming too insular.
We are all creatures of habit. Habit breeds security and comfort from routine and reliability. We biologically relax and are our more natural selves in known circumstances; less so in unknown. As biological organisms we are “pre-set” to tend towards situations we have identified as easier and safer, in this case, by familiarity.
We are also social organisms. Historically, Homo sapiens live in groups that over time evolved into societies that are co-dependent and mutually beneficial. Our natural “setting” is to regularly interact and exist in a society with others, to survive the stressors of life. Throughout history, around the world, this model has successfully repeated itself.
Fast forward to modern day society in the United States. Making sweeping cultural generalizations, here is what we find: family units each in their own households, working long hours to support themselves (children, spouses, etc) each living parallel to each other, rather than in a network. Frequently, we are so dominated by providing for our immediate needs we no longer have time to expand and attend to our social needs. We are also turned inward by our addictions to technology, social media, instant gratification and convenience. Really, in today’s world, no one is fully immune.
Combining our default setting to what is familiar, the societal pressures putting us in isolated lanes, modern living, and our biological imperative for social interaction, we often find ourselves today unable to meet all our needs. We end up becoming insular: closed off to other experiences around us and entrenched in the demands and routines of our daily lives. Long term it is not healthy for us, and in fact, this sort of isolation is a hallmark of depression.
Let’s return to the “digging the hole” analogy from a few posts back. If we are creatures of habit and routine, and remembering neuroplasticity capabilities of our brain we have also previously discussed, then it follows our best choice is to awkwardly demand ourselves to be more social, until it feels more integrated, natural and safe to us. We have to swim against the current in which we find ourselves today with technology, financial demands and societal expectations to meet this basic need of interaction.
We have talked about building support systems in posts before and this is not very different- expanding the network and making human connections is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. The ways in which we might do this today have changed from even a decade ago- but the opportunities are there if you risk them.
Come to my couch and talk about obstacles you face that isolate you. Let’s talk about how to identify safe opportunities to end your loneliness and bring you more support!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Like begets like. Positive energy attracts other positive energy. This is the concept I am interested in today. Though there are many different lenses, we are going to think about this idea as a series of good decisions.
As a therapist I will always tell you to “do your best” and most often, this is enough. I am not alone in this advice- D.W. Winnicott famously explored the “good enough mother”- I am telling you that if you consistently do your best it will probably be enough to reach your goals. When I am telling you this, I am relying on “your best” not being a singular event. As a therapist, I am relying on one “best” choice being connected to many others, with the ultimate goal of “right place right time” experiences. I believe life can be how we create it to be- not just a series of coincidences, though it is also that.
Here is an example of what I mean. Often I work with my patients on building better/healthier/stronger support systems. Let’s say this is your goal. You make one good decision to follow your local neighborhood group on social media. From following the feed as part of your good decision to stay dedicated to this goal, you see a thread where you have something in common with some other neighbors which in turn leads you to a group chat. You determine based on the content of the thread this is safe and looks promising to pursue. From the group chat you find some of your neighbors with whom you have much in common have a regular get-together that also is safe and something you decide to try. You go to the event and feel good about it. One of the members invites you meet some of their friends and attend something in the community. You accept. At the event you feel synergy, support and safety. Over time this grows and you have added significantly to your support system.
It is a simple chain of events, but in each decision above you did your “best” to make the right choice towards your goal, each time picking a pot of variables that are healthier, and more likely to therefore present in a combination that is good for you (the part that is “chance”). In this way you can control, guide and create your outcomes- by always doing your “best.” You are making a series of good decisions that serially change circumstances and probability in your favor. It is working with, not against, chaos, nature, fate, destiny- whatever forces you believe are at work in your life. How you direct the flow of choices matters!
And it starts internally. We behave based on what we believe. So, in therapy work on what you tell yourself, your inner belief system, and what is true. Open your mind to what you can create as true. Create some new possibilities and change in your life.
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.