Tag Archive | therapy

Managing Emotions during Turmoil

Are you tired of dealing with the pandemic yet? Join the club! Yet, here you are, so how are you supporting yourself?

Being aware of your internal reactions to what is happening is essential to staying current with your mind/body system during this time. Perhaps one day you are acutely aware of what is happening, another day you feel distantly removed from the moment-by-moment impact the virus is having on our planet. Perhaps you are staying blissfully positive about the healing that will take place from this global “pause” that is happening. Perhaps you want to stay positive but are also feeling worry or even fear about potential outcomes.

All of these are valid responses—and any other reactions on that continuum. To deny either is to miss an opportunity to be present with and support yourself during this unique experience. Observing your ups and downs can be simple (even if not always easy!) if you keep in mind this cycle:

Body sensation, emotion, emotional thoughts, rational thoughts, new perception.

When you’re paying attention, you can often notice your emotions as body sensations. Sometimes the emotional thought comes first, then a body reaction happens. Either way, when emotions come up in the body, the body needs to be calmed before you can reach a new, calming way to hold your experience.

To calm the body, first have compassion for whatever thought or emotion is coming up for you. Remind yourself that this will pass. Ground yourself by going for a walk, focusing on your breath or a bit of nature outside of your window. Ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling?” This question starts the movement from body to mind process.

The next step is validation of the emotional thoughts coming up. I call this the emotion’s “story”. Once you name the emotion, ask, “What is this emotion’s story?” What is it saying? COMPASSION is again necessary! Try not to judge the feeling/emotion, no matter how irrational it seems. Journal, talk to someone, or say it out loud to yourself. By listening to your inner reaction, you are being a good friend to yourself!

The next step is asking for a new perspective, moving up to the rational thinking mind. Ask yourself, “What is a new perception I can take that will be calming to me?” Journal your options, talk through them. What is in your control to do, say, change? Anything? Maybe awareness and validation are enough—and often, it is.

When you go through a difficult experience, having validation is important but sometimes hard to find. Self-validation far outlasts any validation you could receive from others.

This is the simple three-step process:

  1. What am I feeling?
  2. What is the story this emotion is telling me?
  3. What is the new perception or action I can take that will be calming to me?

Daily meditation is calisthenics for being able to manage your emotions. During meditation, you are practicing sitting with yourself, being aware of body (comfort, discomfort) as well as thoughts and emotions. You are practicing tolerating all of your mind and body stimulus – just BEING with whatever shows up, without judgment. The result is that you are able to be more aware, mindful, calm(er), of your whole self when something triggers you during the day.

Check in with yourself daily. Keep up with your internal process during this unusual experience we are all going through. Reach out for support or a listening ear. Find things to be grateful for and to laugh about. Most of all, be a good friend to yourself.

Visit me at Center for Dynamic Healing!

Spiritual School Is in Session, Every Moment!

Are you aware of the spiritual school of life that is teaching you all the time?

Every day you wake up is a new day in spiritual school. Your life is your classroom, and all those around you are your classmates! This spiritual school has structure, lesson plans, and homework!

What does spiritual school structure look like? Since you don’t have a specific, physical classroom to go to everyday, you have to create your own daily structure that supports the rest of your learning. Lessons are always coming your way; having a daily structure in place gives you the mental and emotional space to be aware, receptive, and ready to tackle the lessons that arise.

Do you have a daily prayer or meditation time? A 10 minute time set aside to journal about your day, what came up for you, what you learned, or what you’re grateful for? Do you make your bed in the morning as an outer ritual representing setting the intention to be responsible for what belongs to you in the day’s lessons?

A few years ago, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven shared with University of Texas, Austin, graduates that making their beds in the morning was the best way to start their day. Among chuckles, he reiterated that making your bed is “accomplishing the first task of the day”, giving you confidence and motivating you to accomplish your next several tasks in your day. One accomplishment leads to another, and each “little thing” you do for yourself supports the bigger things that arise.* Every step we take to be on target with your day, supports your spiritual growth as well!

Having structure holds the space for everything else you do during your day. If you don’t have at least an idea of how each day flows, you have to spend time each day figuring out your structure–with less time left to handle the lessons that are taking place all around you! You don’t want to be rigid with your structure either, however. Then you are spending all your energy controlling your structure, which also takes your focus away from what you’re really supposed to be doing–learning!

And oh, those spiritual life lessons! The major lesson in spiritual school is mastering yourself. There is a lot floating around in your mind/body system. Your job is to learn to sort out what is real and what is not.

There’s a saying that goes, “God made man in God’s image, and man returned the favor.” Everyone has a false “god”, or authority figure, in their minds that erroneously critiques along the way. Your spiritual school lesson is to kick out that negative voice and replace it with what is real and true about you. If you believe what created this universe is loving and wise, then so that must be true about you.

As a therapist, I can often sense that when people first come in to see me, they are expecting me to confirm that negative voice in their heads. “I’m disorganized, I don’t eat right or exercise, I yell at my kids…I’m a mess!” But what I see is a soul in evolution doing the best they can, while that critical voice in their heads is telling them everything they do is wrong. It’s lying to them, just as the negative voice in your head is whispering “alternative facts” at you throughout the day. Pay attention to it–then say, “NO!”

Spend some time daily “marinating” in the feeling of being 100% okay, even as you are learning and growing every day. Have a meditation practice as part of your spiritual school structure, and sit with the feeling of peace, even if you have to just pretend what that might feel like. Cultivate the opposite sensations of “I’m not okay”, and watch that new experience support you fully!

The next chapter to that lesson in mastering yourself is to practice forgiveness. The need to forgive is all around! Parents, kids, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, other drivers on the road, pets… Ev. ‘Ry. Where.

Our family dog has had issues with his ears since he was a pup. My job was to put medicine in his ears, a process he actively hated early on. We had some pretty serious tussles. We struggled and growled at each other, but I never bit him back. I did, however, realize that there was a very thin line between “I’m not a violet person” and “Worth it”. I finally realized that since I am the more evolved species of the two of us, it was up to me to do a little forgiveness work on this canine so that at least one of us was mature and calm. After that, I was able to take less personally his survival instinct struggles and administer his ear medicine. Today, he is patient and happy to get his bribe, er, treat afterwards.

There are a couple tools that I like to use, both personally and in my practice, that help master emotions. So here are handouts for your spiritual school assignments!

The first is the Spiritual Thermometer. Here’s a link: http://www.spiritualpowertoolssupport.com/free-chapter.html

You can use this graphic to measure where you are on the emotional mastery scale at a given moment. A “5” on the thermometer is a neutral state. Anything below a 5 is emotional overload, whether the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, or ecstasy (read: mania). Above the 5 is your clear-thinking state. The higher you go, the more intuitive connection you can experience. When you feel yourself in your emotions, or below a 5, don’t take action. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask, “What emotion, if any, is running me right now?” Use the emotion to discover, process, and release what you need to as part of your spiritual school homework. Lighten your load!

Another handout for this spiritual school lesson is called the “Agitated Energy Process”. I use this simple, three-step process frequently in my practice, as well as with myself. It goes like this:

1. When you feel agitated (stressed, tense, emotional), ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I am feeling?” (Use emotion words to label what you are feeling; i.e., anger, hurt, sadness, fear, frustration, etc. This is a brief one or two word response. Take emotions one at a time and keep it simple.)

2. Then ask, “What story am I telling myself that is causing me to feel this way?” (What is the emotion telling you/saying? Remember, sometimes this story has some facts to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always telling the truth about those facts. Even when it is telling the truth, the awareness that the “truth” is agitating you means that there’s a perspective shift that needs to take place.)

3. Then, “What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?” (What comes up as your new way of looking at the situation?)

Do you feel calm once you’ve walked through the process? If so, you’re done! If not, repeat the process until you feel relative peaceful and calm in your body. This is a great daily emotional/mental/spiritual hygiene practice!

Spiritual school is like a Montessori-style classroom: No matter where you are, there is someone you can help along the way; and, there is someone who can help you take your next step. Spiritual service to others is part of our spiritual school homework!

When you wake up in the morning, spiritual school is in session! Set your intention for the day. Make your bed and say, “Okay, Universe, help me see my lesson today, and give me the support to master today’s lesson!”

Happy new school year!

 

*You can watch a portion of the Admiral’s speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6OoCaGsz94

Mental Health Apps

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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/

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!

Using Emotions for Awareness and Healing – A Three Step Process

When it comes to working with emotions, I hear from a lot of people, “I don’t want to feel _________” (insert tricky emotion here). While we certainly don’t want to get stuck in an emotional experience, emotions are there to help us resolve whatever might need to be resolved within us.

Neuroscience tells us, “Name it to tame it”. When we can label our emotion, it instantly becomes more manageable than when it stays at a somatic (body sensation) experience.

In psychology, Carl Jung taught us that making the unconscious conscious is our way to healing. This is certainly true in our spiritual expression as well.

In this video, I teach you a three step process that I’ve been using for over two decades, and frequently use with my clients and in classes that I facilitate.

The steps are three questions to ask yourself when you become aware of an emotion:

1. What is the emotion I’m feeling?
2. What is the story this emotion is telling me?
3. What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?

Here is a link to the handout: http://www.dynamiccounseling.info/handouts.html

If you would like more information on Explorer’s Odyssey: Up a Spiritual Creek without a Paddle, contact me here: http://www.dynamiccounseling.info/contact.html

Thanks for watching!

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

Increase Body Awareness, Increase Intuitive Sense

Did you know that your body awareness has a great deal to do with your intuition?

Intuition is a higher expression of our emotional sensation and perception. While emotions are mixed in with our contradictory human issues, our intuition is free and clear, always speaking to us!

To increase our awareness of both our emotional and intuitive bodies, we can practice being aware of our physical bodies.

Here are a few ways to increase body awareness:

1. Physical movement: yoga, martial arts, walking, exercise of any kind

2. Mindfulness body scan

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breath)

Work with one or two of these daily to increase your body awareness as well as intuition!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/
Links to Body Scan and Breath exercises:
http://mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html

For more on Soul Evolution and intuition:
Center for Enlightenment
http://www.cfenlightenment.org
http://www.soulevolutionist.com

Commitment-phobe or Intuition?

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to write an article for Love Evolve and Thrive, a website dedicated to helping women with their relationships, personal growth and wellness. Click the paragraph for a link to the article:

Relationships, by nature, are going to push our buttons, trigger our insecurities, and demand that we get out of our comfort zone. How do we know when our fear is telling us to leave a relationship, and when it is a sign for deeper work?

love

Five Tools for Inner Housecleaning

IMG_5332

Spring cleaning is not just for Spring, or for your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!

1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.

2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive. Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind, and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.

4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.

5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

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