Mental Health Apps

cbs2

I recently had the honor of adding my two cents to a local CBS news station report on mental health apps. Here’s a link to the clip:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/06/29/mental-health-apps-for-that/

Although they’re not for everyone, especially when someone is in crisis, apps can help us become aware of what needs adjustment in our thinking and perceptions. When we pay attention to the emotional noise going on in our minds and make adjustments to our thinking and behaviors, we are one step closer to supporting our healing.

Why Look at the Past in Order to Heal?

As a therapist, I often hear the question, “Why should I spend time on things that have already happened?” It’s a valid question, based on how we have been taught to understand time.

Time, according to our academic learning, is on a timeline, where today is a physical spot on that timeline, and something that happened when were four years old, let’s say, is a certain distance away from where we are standing today. That is how we have come to measure time—that we can have a measurable physical distance from an experience we have had.

But in consciousness, in our psyche, that’s not how time works. Within us, our mind/brain/body connection, we carry all of those experiences around with us in this moment. All of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and more, that we have ever had are stored in our amazing system we have as a soul living in a human body. We don’t gain a physical distance from those experiences; they are with us all the time.

For example, when we learn something, that new knowledge stays with us. In first grade, I learned that one plus one is two. I didn’t leave that knowledge back at my six year old self in time. I brought it with me, and it was reinforced over and again. I learned and used that knowledge as I grew, experienced, and learned more about numbers.

We do that with all experiences. We experience, and gather information, make decisions, have feelings, and create beliefs around those experiences; then take all of that with us moving forward. Sometimes those decisions, information, and beliefs are erroneous, but they are temporarily stuck in our programming. When we look at past experiences, we can uncover those faulty thought patterns, and be more able to consciously reprogram ourselves today.

We address our past in so far as it is getting in the way of our present experience and expression. What tools have you used to heal from past experiences?

Here’s a link to Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul that has the iceberg image that I mention in this video: http://cfenlightenment.org/store/free-downloads-mp3s-and-e-books/6986974 Be sure to practice good karma and leave a donation if you choose to download the book!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part III: How to Forgive

Let’s talk about how to forgive! In this video, I give you a few specific processes for how to work your forgiveness need, covering the steps from previous videos in this series: Acceptance, Compassion, Release.

You can find the Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties worksheet that I discuss in the video, as well as that for the Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, on this page.

My websites for my spiritual mentor, Jane Elizabeth Hart :
Center for Enlightenment
Soul Evolutionist

Other Seven Steps resources:
Web radio podcasts

Free downloads:
Seven Steps workshops, CD/mp3
Spiritual Power Tools – Support for Your Soul (pdf, ebook) (Contains detailed explanation of each step in the Seven Step process.)

Please share your questions and reflections on forgiveness from your own experience. It’s an important topic!

Thanks for watching!

 

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part II: Redefining Forgiveness

In my previous video post, we took a thorough look at what forgiveness is not; this time we are going to look at what forgiveness is, in a way that is healthy and palatable.

Forgiveness is the process of Acceptance, Compassion, and Release.

The first part of forgiveness is the acceptance that something has happened. If someone has hurt me, for example, I can’t do anything about that fact; it is what it is. I don’t have to like it, approve of it, or try to get anyone else to see or understand it.

When we’re dealing with the facts of what has happened, we are willing to be honest about those facts overall, not just the facts about what the other person did, or what the circumstances threw at us. Maybe I lashed out when I was hurt by another person, maybe I withdrew for a while, maybe I stood up for myself in the moment, maybe I was the one who screwed up first. All these are part of the facts that we accept.

Why is acceptance important? If we deny the facts of a situation, we’re not fully able to deal with our responses or the other person’s behavior, or process the forgiveness need. We know what really happened, even if our thoughts—or those of people around us–try to turn it into something else.

For example, if someone was sexually abused, but their family members are giving an alternative reality to that situation, it becomes difficult for the victim of that abuse to make peace with their own internal experience and reaction, which affects the healing process–which in turn has lasting side effects. When our experience is denied, by others or ourselves, we don’t have the clarity necessary to deal with the otherwise heal-able trauma around the event.

We must give ourselves permission to acknowledge facts. That goes back to what forgiveness is not, right? It is not denying ourselves the truth of what happened, or pretending nothing happened. Working with the facts helps us through our own emotional responses more efficiently.

Forgiveness is acknowledging the facts of your experience.

The second part of forgiveness is compassion, being able to look at the whole situation beyond our own emotional experience of it. This is where we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to try to see what they might have been intending or going through in that moment. We also try to see where we were coming from in the moment. We look above the facts in this step, to try to see the hurtful experience within the context of the time it happened, as honestly as possible.

In this part of the forgiveness process that we can learn what we need to about ourselves, about the other person. We see what we need to about our part in the situation, and what the event triggered in us. We see what we need to about the other person, and learn how to adjust ourselves given the new information we have gathered. (See my video post on Discernment versus Judgment for how to see behavior for what it is without getting all judgy about it.)

I’m not saying this is easy! Often it’s harder to have compassion for ourselves than it is to generate it for others. And sometimes we don’t want to have compassion for the other person; we want to hold on to the anger and resentment. But that’s why forgiveness is a process, right? We work at it until we are ready to rise above our emotional response. We don’t forget what happened, remember? We simply work with forgiveness process so that we can come to this point of compassion, and the next step, release.

Forgiveness is working toward compassion for the other person and yourself.

The third part of forgiveness is release. This is the point at which we are willing to release the emotional pain created by the hurtful experience. That pain is going to come up over and over and over again until we release it, so this is a vital step! We won’t forget to do our work, because life will remind us that our work isn’t done by those little triggers from the past. They poke at the emotional pain like when you poke a bruise on your arm and it hurts a little. That means the bruise hasn’t healed, right? Our emotional body is the same way. It will keep feeling sore until it is healed. But unlike our physical body that heals itself, we have to put conscious effort into the healing of our emotional pain.

When we have done the work of the first two steps, Acceptance and Compassion, the Release step is the action step of being aware when the emotional bruise gets poked at, or triggered, and reminding ourselves, “Oh yes, there it is. I am letting this go now.” And we pull ourselves back to a peaceful state of mind, not indulging in the pain or the story. This is the step where we choose Acceptance and Compassion as our reality moving forward, instead of holding onto resentment and emotional pain as our reality.

Release is the step where we choose acceptance and compassion as our reality instead of resentment and emotional pain.

And that is what forgiveness is.

In my next video, I’m going to talk with you about how to forgive. I have a couple tried and true processes to share with you to help you with your forgiveness work, so stay tuned, and thanks for watching!

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness – Part 1: What Forgiveness Is NOT

Hi, Lynn Barrette here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor.

I want to talk with you today about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be a heavy topic sometimes, so this is going to be a several part series to help us break down this concept and make it palatable and accessible, because if we can’t forgive, we get stuck, and we don’t want to do that, right? So we’re going to take some time on this one.

Anytime I bring up forgiveness with clients or in workshops or classes, I always like to clarify what forgiveness means because there are so many ideas and misconceptions about what forgiveness is.

When I help someone define forgiveness, I start with what forgiveness is not. And that is what this video is about: What forgiveness is not.

First of all, forgiveness does not mean “forgive and forget”. Our brains aren’t made up to forget things unless we get a severe head injury or some other brain trauma, like a stroke. We are simply not biologically wired to forget things. We have beautiful memories, and whether you are more spiritually-minded or more scientific, we are created like this for a reason: those memories are there to ensure that we learn from our experiences and evolve as a species and in consciousness. So how can we be expected to forgive and forget when we’re not wired to do so?

Forgiveness does NOT mean “forgive and forget!” It means that we learn and grow.

Another misconception that comes up is that forgiveness means everyone gets a fresh start, even the person who did wrong, and we pretend like nothing happened. That’s not it either. If we are learning from our experiences, we take our new understanding with us every moment, and apply that new understanding moving forward. If someone hurts me, I have learned something: Sometimes this person is hurtful, and she certainly has been hurtful to me in this situation, so I need to adjust my mental, emotional, and sometimes physical behavior so that I can either deal with being around her, or make sure I am not around her anymore!

Forgiveness does not mean to pretend like nothing happened. It means adjust your internal and external behavior to support yourself, your safety.

A final myth I often hear about forgiveness is that if we forgive, we’ll be letting the other person get by with something. That’s not it either. Once we have taken care of our part of an interaction with someone—either by confronting them, adjusting ourselves internally and externally, or staying the heck away from them—our part is done.

There is a law that is scientific both in our physical and spiritual realm that states that whatever energy we put out comes back to us. And that is true at the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our existence. This doesn’t mean we turn that into some kind of superstitious curse on another person, as we often hear that “Karma will get them”! If we are saying that about someone, our forgiveness is not done! When we forgive, we are releasing ourselves from having to be a part of this person learning what they need to be learning. We don’t have to be responsible for seeing that “they get theirs”; we are only responsible for our own behavior, and what we are putting out at those physical, mental, and emotional levels. That’s a big job in itself, isn’t it?!

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that anyone gets by with anything; but it does mean we don’t have to worry about it.

So if all that is what forgiveness is NOT; what is forgiveness? That will be in my next video for you, so hold tight, it’s coming!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info

https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Generate the Motivation to Reach Your Goals


Do you ever wonder where motivation comes from? Do you have goals that go by the wayside because your motivation seems to have waned?

This is definitely goal-setting season! There is a process for reaching a goal that I put into a graphic a while back that helps to define where we are in our goal-achieving process—and waning motivation is simply part of the process! It is also where our work really begins.

process-for-taking-a-spiritual-step

I call the process, “Process for Taking a Spiritual Step”, because any goal or change we are working on is a spiritual step within itself! The steps are: Commitment, Resistance, Strengthening, Triumph, and New Energy. The more we understand this process, the more readily we can cooperate with it, and do our part to generate the motivation to make it happen!

Commitment The first thing we do, obviously, is to define and commit to a goal. This is the step where the motivation energy comes in to support us. We feel excited about our commitment, we are enthusiastic about taking steps towards it, and goal-achievement seems easy!

For example, let’s say my goal for the year is eating healthier foods. I may feel energized by thinking about how to incorporate healthier foods in my diet everyday: what I’ll buy at the store, what recipes I’ll try out, what I’ll add to my diet and what I’ll keep out—all those might be fun to think about!

Resistance  …for about three weeks. Then the novelty wears off, I don’t feel the new energy of my commitment as strongly as I did at first, and the new behaviors I need to incorporate just aren’t as fun anymore. This is the resistance stage. It is where our new behavior runs up against our old behavior, and we hit what I call the “Wall of Status Quo”. This is where the real work begins.

We are status quo beings. Our bodies are designed to maintain functioning at a status quo level, and our minds and emotions operate that way as well. In my example, eating poorly might have been my status quo at the time I set my goal. That status quo was built on thousands of small choices that created a thought-form in my mind, brain, emotions, and body, that made eating poorly the automatic mode of behavior. When I try to change that behavior, I am going to naturally run up against these systems that have been used to a certain way of being. That is the Wall of Status Quo, and it will start talking to me in ways that could pull me back into that old behavior. That resistance talk might sound like, “I’ve tried this before and failed, why bother?” Or, “I really don’t want to do this anymore; it’s not fun now.” Or, “This is too hard.” Often, it will turn into the critical voice we all battle, and get really nasty with us.

But when we can see it is just the old behavior trying to maintain itself, we can impersonalize it a bit and stand up to it. We could say, “No, I understand that you’re just the old behavior talking. I am making new choices now.” Or, “Oh, I see you, silly Wall of Status Quo! You can’t fool me!” Or, “My excitement doesn’t feel as strong, so I have to make my new choices even when I don’t ‘feel like it’”.

Strengthening  Many times a day we have to redirect ourselves back to the new behavior. We make those little choices to withdraw from the old behavior and reinforce the new. It takes time, persistence, and patience.

Triumph  But eventually we win out. Eventually, our new status quo is created and becomes part of who we are.

New Energy and Insight  We begin to see things in new ways. In my example, it might be easier for me to choose kale over cookies, fruit over sugar, salad over bread. I can remember that it used to be hard to make those choices, but now it seems easy. Why? Because I have created a new status quo for myself!

The process then starts over and repeats with the next commitment we want to make for ourselves. It’s a process! And we can cooperate with it and generate motivation through our awareness and moment-by-moment choices.

What goals do you have for the new year? How are you generating your motivation?

Goal Keeping

goalkeepersNo, I’m not talking about soccer. Or rugby. Or quidditch.

I’m talking about those goals you made last month for the new year. How are they going for you?

Committing to a goal is exciting. It brings with it new energy, new hope for happiness, and…change. Uh-oh. There it is. Change. Our commitments require us to change. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need to commit to something in the first place, would we? We often secretly expect new year magic to come in and make us different so we can have the outcomes of our new year’s goals…which come from the awareness that we need to change. See? Tricky!

Let’s look more closely at what our resolutions really require us to do. Run one of your goals through the following questions to see what you are really committing to:

1.     What is my goal? (Keep it simple, realistic and attainable.)
2.    What would keep me from achieving this goal?
3.     What do I have to give up in order to make this goal happen?
4.     What do I have to begin doing in order to make this goal happen?
5.     What would support me in achieving this goal?
6.     How can I break this goal down into manageable steps?
7.     What is a good first step toward this goal?

Knowing what we are in for when committing to anything helps us know how to be prepared and advocate for our success. You are an evolving soul that embraces change. Cooperate with that metamorphosis!

Watch for tomorrow’s video on generating the motivation to reach your goals!