Do you find that you cannot stick to that diet even after it was working? Do you feel out of control like your life is controlling you instead of the other way around? Do you just want to be successful but find it hard to do so? You may find that your life is actually a lot like water. If we can learn some lessons from how to properly channel water, we can apply these lessons to our lives to properly “channel” it.
Life, like water, will always follow the path of least resistance and will always settle at the lowest point if you are not guiding and directing it. When water has no structure to follow and nothing to push it is just settles and sits. It becomes worthless. Our lives act much the same if we don’t have effort, expectations, difficulty, pressures, structure, management, and goals.
If I want water to move up hill and be useful I need two things; structure and pressure. If I need water to get to the top of a hill I need to build a structure guiding the water up the hill to the spot needed, that structure would likely be a pipe. Then in order to get the water to move up the pipe I would need something to apply pressure, like a pump. Then the water is channeled correctly and becomes useful to me.
This same analogy applies to our lives. If we create sufficient structure we can direct our lives to where we want it to go. This structure would include setting goals, sticking to a routine, taking the path less traveled, and managing our lives on a regular basis. All the structure in the world won’t help you with out some sort of pressure.
Life’s pressure is expectation. Expectations could come from yourself, family, friends, coworkers, God, or society at large. These expectations should be realistic and challenging. Let those expectations push you to become better. In summary structure your life and allow expectations to push you. If you do this you can accomplish anything.
What happens when the water arrives at the top of the hill? Can we take away the structure? What happens if we lose the pressure? Without either of the two elements the water will again run down the hill following the path of least resistance and settle and the lowest point. Once you have achieved your goals don’t stop doing the things that made you successful in the first place! There are no quick fixes if you want to be successful it must be a lifestyle change of continued structure and expectations.
Losing weight, being healthy, and staying in shape can be hard. That is why there are thousands of weight loss options, diets, gyms, and career paths dedicated to helping us live physically healthy lives. Most people struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle and consider the options of turning to a professional to help them with the knowledge necessary and how to apply that knowledge into real life.
A therapist is essentially a personal trainer for your emotional and psychological well-being. Our goal is to give you the proper knowledge to understand and deal with emotional and mental issues. Then we teach you how to apply the knowledge in your life. Therapy is not just for those with mental illness or emotional disorders just as personal trainers are not just for the over weight or unhealthy. Everyone can benefit from some professional training on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
In our physical lives we cannot eat healthy once and go to the gym for an hour and expect to be “ripped”. The same holds true for our mental health. We cannot go to therapy once and meditate for an hour and expect to be mentally healthy. Becoming mentally fit is a lifestyle just like being physically fit. We want to train you to live an emotionally healthy life and change the way you live. I am not saying that you will need a therapist for the rest of your life in order to be healthy just like I would not say you need a personal trainer for you whole life to be healthy. What therapy can give you is the knowledge and skills to apply that knowledge so you can manage your own healthy lifestyle.
Have you ever thought, “I don’t know if I am ready to get help for my trauma”?
Do you find yourself wanting to get help for your trauma but feel that it is just too scary or too hard?
In order to be able to work on trauma you must be properly prepared for it. Come get prepared for your trauma counseling with EMDR. If you feel scared to start working on trauma that is normal and natural. In fact it is a good indicator that you need to develop some skills before you will be able to process your trauma.
I always begin EMDR therapy with a preparation phase. This beginning phase is to completely and entirely prepare you and give you the skills necessary to process your trauma. In this phase we talk about healthy coping, typical reactions to trauma, how to manage your life with trauma, specific techniques for panic attacks, how to deal with anxiety, flash backs, etc. After learning these skills you will be coached on how to develop them. We will not start processing trauma until you feel you have successfully developed the necessary skills and feel ready.
EMDR is a lot like scuba diving. I would never hand someone scuba gear and ask them to dive hundreds of meters on their first dive. First you must obtain the gear and second you must learn how to properly use it. Once you have the knowledge and practice you would then be ready to take those deep dives. With EMDR we start by giving you coping tools for trauma, PTSD, and the anxiety that comes with it. Once you have those tools we teach you how to use them properly. And then we start diving into the depths of your trauma.
If you feel apprehensive about getting counseling for your trauma please come in and talk with me about your concerns and worries. With EMDR I will never force you to go somewhere you are not ready to go, instead I will spend time getting you ready to go there. When you feel you are ready we’ll dive in.
Article by Tycen Sigler, CSW; therapist for Family Solutions Counseling
In life we experience many events, they are then stored in our memories. When we recall a memory we tend to experience them like we do a photograph. We take the picture out and can look at it but we are detached from the experience. When a traumatic event is experienced our brains sometimes store it incorrectly. Instead of storing it like a photograph it gets stored more like a dream.
Have you every woken up from a dream and were sweating, or out of breath? That is because you were experiencing the dream both physically and mentally. You were, in a sense, actually in the dream. When trauma is stored in the brain incorrectly and we remember it, it is re-experienced with all the emotions and even physical sensations of a dream. This is called a “flashback” or being “triggered”. This can be very troubling for someone with traumatic memories stored in their brain. Every time they remember the trauma they have to re-experience it over and over again. People who suffer from trauma get really good at avoiding that “black hole” of pain and trauma.
Today we have a treatment called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) that can help an individual reprocess the memories of trauma correctly so the memory becomes like a picture of the past and not experienced like a dream. With EMDR we stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, similar to the REM cycle while sleeping, simultaneously we process the traumatic event. This allows the brain to heal itself and store the memory correctly thus taking the emotion and physical sensations out of trauma.
Our bodies are hardwired to heal. If I get a cut on my skin my body will heal it self. The brain is no different. If we use EMDR to help you reprocess your trauma your brain will heal itself and take the pain out of trauma. Instead of spending your life avoiding the “black hole” of trauma from your past, we will dive into the “black hole” together. You will come out the other side so you never have to avoid it again. Don’t worry you will be adequately prepared before we dive in and you wont have to do it alone. The greatest thing about EMDR is it takes the burden from the shoulders of those who carry trauma so they can freely live their life.
Happiness can feel like this unattainable goal that everyone seems to be striving for but few actually achieve. Why is happiness so hard to achieve? What is the secret? What am I doing wrong?
In our society and culture we tend to see happiness as an achievement. We have this formula for happiness that goes something like this:
Work Hard → Be Successful → Be Happy
This is flawed and wrong. For many they find they simply struggle to work hard in the first place. Others work extremely hard with little to no “success”. Still others find that they work hard, are very successful, and yet still are not happy. This formula is flawed and wrong because it makes happiness a goal. The problem is when we get to the goal; there will always be another goal that needs to be achieved.
For example the thought of the student, “once I get my degree life will be so much better and I’ll be happy”. The problem with this thought is once you graduate you realize, “now I have to get a job, then I’ll be happy”. Then you get a job and realize, “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, once I get promoted then I’ll be happy”. Then inevitably there will be something after that like buying a house, getting a second job, or making enough to afford another car, etc. As you see from this example we continue to push happiness off because there is always another goal of success to be achieved. So if happiness only comes when we achieve a goal then happiness only lasts the brief moment between accomplishing this goal and the time it takes us to realize we need a new goal.
It’s time to learn the true formula for happiness it looks like this:
Be Happy While → Working Hard → and Striving for Success
Happiness is a state of being, it is a choice. We must choose to be happy in the moment, while working on our goals, and we can also have happiness when the goal is achieved. Joy is in the journey, not in the outcome. The point is that happiness is not a result of our environment, circumstances, or luck, but rather happiness is a choice.
I know from experience that choosing to be happy even when life is hard or stressful is powerful. It makes me better at coping with stress; it fills me with hope, and gives me energy to continue to work hard at life. Like anything else, choosing to be happy is a skill. And the only way to develop a skill is to put in into practice. The more we exercise our ability to choose happiness the stronger it will become and the happier we will be. No matter where you are at in life, choose to be happy now; life is too good to choose anything else!
Author: Tycen Sigler, CSW
To direct means to organize, manage, and take control of. In order to have direction in our life we must organize, manage, and take control of our life. How do we take control of our life? By setting goals and creating structure in our lives. Structure is to construct or arrange according to a plan, give a pattern or organization to. You need to keep your life organized and on track to achieving your goals and improving. We can sometimes be too hard on ourselves if we fall short, or have an “off” day. What is important is that we are better today than we were yesterday, and if you have a day where that isn’t true then there is always tomorrow to be better. Don’t get caught up in comparing your life to others, it has never done anyone any good. Instead, compare yourself to your past self. Following the principles in this blog series you should see how far you’ve come. Just be better.
Purpose is the reason for which something exists. I hear people tell me that they are waiting to find out what their purpose is, like they are waiting for the universe to tell them who they should be or that they are trying to “discover themselves”. This is just not true! The purpose of life is to give life purpose. We must determine what we want our purpose in life to be and make it so. For me, part of my purpose in life is to help people to feel better about themselves. Because of my desired purpose, I went to school to get a degree that allowed me to be a therapist. Now I can fulfill my purpose of helping people feel better about themselves. Your purpose will be different and heavily influenced by your morals, values, and standards.
Having direction and purpose gives our life meaning. When we have meaning we feel valuable because we are not only improving ourselves through direction we are living according to our purpose. When we feel valuable it is hard to not love ourselves. Don’t give yourself an excuse to not like who you are, start making changes today.
Good self-care means taking care of ourselves. The truth is we take care of the things we love. If we want to love ourselves more, we need to take better care of ourselves. We do this in four different areas of our lives: Physical, psychological, social and spiritual.
Staying Positive in the present moment can change the way we view the world. We must view stress and the challenges of life as opportunities to grow and become better. Without opposition in our lives there would be nothing to make us stronger. Stress, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.However our view of stress can make it a bad thing. According to Kelly McGonigal, it’s our negative view of stress that makes it unhealthy. We should not avoid stress, but rather become better at stress. The way we do this is to simply view stress as a positive force that is driving us to overcome a challenge which will ultimately make us stronger; similar to the way a hurdler looks at a hurdle, or a rock climber sees the mountain. The best and most entertaining stories in life tell of someone overcoming some major difficulty, why should our lives be any different! Let no failure hold you back, but continue to stay positive and work on becoming better. And remember, nothing in this life that’s worth anything comes easily. (Making Stress Your Friend, TEDX)
Loving the Past, Present and Future You: Your Guide to Improving Self-Esteem
We often hear how it important it is to have high self-esteem. Yet, hearing about it and understanding how to achieve high self-esteem are very different. As a therapist, I’m often amazed at the incredible people I meet who admit they do not like themselves. I want to share with you what works in improving self-esteem, as I have seen it help so many others achieve their goal of loving themselves. This three part blog series will teach you to change the way you see yourself in the past, present, and future.
Positive psychology teaches us that the way we view our world affects 90% of our happiness. Only 10% of our happiness is determined by our actual environment. While living in Mendoza, Argentina I found this principle to be true. The people there have no middle class. You are either extremely wealthy or extremely poor. I found that the poor people were very happy even though they were living in mud brick houses, without cars, and eating the same few simple meals everyday. People in Argentina may even be happier because they are less focused on wealth, prominence, and power. Instead they are focused on relaxing, spending time with family, and enjoying life. They have much less than we do yet they are quite happy.
If you have a poor view of yourself the solution is to change your perception and then change your behavior. If we won’t allow ourselves to be happy until we achieve a goal, then we never really become happy. The reason for this is because when we achieve a goal we set a new goal and start working towards that goal. If we are only happy when we achieve a goal we only experience a brief moment of happiness. For example, if I think to myself, “I won’t be happy until I get a good job,” then the day will come when I will get a good job and inevitably someone will have a better job. At this point I might think to myself, “I have to get a better job.” The problem with this logic is that there will always be someone with a better job. We cannot put off happiness until we achieve our goals. Instead we must choose to be happy in the present while working on our goals
PART 1: Embracing our Past Self
1. We must accept our past for what it is. It does not matter what we may have done in our past, good or bad, it’s a part of who we are. If we are judging ourselves or feeling guilt or shame because of our past, then we are not allowing ourselves to progress and improve in the present. If you want to love yourself, you must accept what you have done and experiences you have had. We must only focus on what we can control and we cannot control the past. We can only view it as an opportunity to to learn from the experience and use it to become a better person.
2. We must forgive ourselves and others. Forgiveness is freedom and healing. When someone offends us or hurts us, naturally we want to retaliate; or at the very least hold a grudge. However, if we cannot forgive we hold on to all that hate, shame, fear, or anger. These feelings will eventually consume us and change our world view to a negative one. In the end this only hurts us further.
Elizabeth Smart once said, talking about the man who abducted and raped her, “Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. If I hold on to my anger for them [kidnappers], it takes away a part of my soul.” Now, forgiving someone and letting them back into your life are two completely different things. You may forgive someone and never see them again and they may never know you have forgiven them. Forgiveness is also a choice we have to make multiple times. We do not simply say, “I have forgiven you” and then everything is fine. Instead we must choose every time to forgive knowing that it will allow us to heal.
Forgiveness analogy: Being offended is like someone having stabbed you with a knife. You have two choices; take the knife out and allow yourself to heal, or leave the knife in. If you leave the knife in, it will become infected and eventually the infection will consume you and take your life. However, if you remove the knife you can allow your body to heal. There may always be a scar, but you will not become consumed by infection. Removing the knife is like forgiveness because it keeps us from continuing to be hurt. Leaving the knife in is like holding a grudge. Eventually the pain, grief, anger, or resentment will consume you. The person who hurt you may not deserve your forgiveness, but you deserve to forgive them.
3. We must forgive ourselves. If it is important for us to heal by forgiving others, how much more important would it be to forgive ourselves? When we are the ones who have offended or hurt ourselves, it is imperative that we learn to forgive. If we cannot forgive ourselves then the hate, anger, and resentment we hold towards ourselves will keep us from loving ourselves. Ultimately, this keeps us from improving and becoming a better person.
What's the next step? Check back next week for Part 2 of this series.
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