"I have always believed that when you have a voice, you have an obligation to use that voice to empower others." - diane von furstenberg
"Don't cause a scene."
"Don't speak too loud."
"You don't want to make her mad."
Many of us have been taught that speaking our opinion, using our voice, or sticking up for our beliefs and ourselves is something that is looked at as socially unacceptable in our world, especially for women. Some of us have been so afraid to share what we are thinking or stand for what we believe in that we have forgotten what our voices actually sound like.
It is common to feel nervous when speaking up for yourself or even thinking about having the hard conversations with people; however, it is completely acceptable and necessary when done in assertively and respectively, of course.
Four years ago a significant life event in my life happened that completely knocked me off my feet. In that, I felt like I had lost my voice completely in more ways than one. I didn't believe that my voice mattered. I didn't trust it. I didn't believe I was worthy of using it. Standing up for myself meant that I had to love myself more than the opinion of the person who was listening--which was something I couldn't do then.
It took time to heal, time to practice, therapy, and a great group of friends to push me to use my voice. The more I used it, the easier it became. I began telling the waiter that I ordered Pepsi, not Coke. I sent back food if it wasn't what I had asked for. I said "No" to activities that I didn't want to go to. I wore my favorite shirt even if someone else didn't like it. I didn't stay at events if I wasn't having fun. All of these things may sound like small victories, but it was in these victories that I was able to use my voice for the bigger things.
How to use your own voice
Take some time to think about ways that you can start using your voice. Is it sending back something you didn't ask for at a restaurant? Is it saying "No" to the multiple tasks your boss asks you to do that is not in your job description nor that you are getting paid for? Is it wearing your favorite shirt even if your boyfriend doesn't understand why you love wearing a shirt with avocados on it?
Using your voice with people of power
No matter what type of industry or profession you are in, you likely encounter at some poit someone who runs the company, is higher up on the totem poll, is completely unapproachable, or someone who doesn't give you the chance to get a word in.
The reasons why people of power stay in power is because they often feed off the control they have being in power. They have the choice to let you go, let you stay, increase your pay raise, etc. and that's why we often feel uncomfortable using our voice. Speaking our voice in the face of a bully can be unsafe, anxiety-provoking, and intimidating.
If you're in an environment where using your voice is unaccepted, put down, belittled, or brushed under the rug, evaluate if this is a place where you really want to be and an environment that you can really thrive in. Toxicity breeds toxic stress. If the answer is no, create an "escape plan". It may not be realistic to quit today or even next month, but planning how you're going to leave that environment if there is no way to make it better, can help give you the motivation, encouragement, and drive to look forward to something better.
In all situations, remember that your voice is your biggest strength. You have opinions, ideas, education, and experience that only you can offer. Be open to feedback but careful to what you let soak through your skin. Your voice matters. You matter.
If you struggle with finding your voice or using it, seeing a counselor or coach can help develop it, practice it, and empower you to believe it's worth using.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
The exclamatory in the title of the book caught my eye and I had to pick it up to see what it was about. “Unfu*ck Yourself” by Gary John Bishop is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon and for good reason. He clearly doesn’t believe in sugar coating things and the way the Bishop wrote the book it allows you to read each chapter as a completely separate piece or the book as a whole.
Right out of the gate he asks his readers a heavy question: Are you willing?
This question really resonated with me because it can really help re-evaluate goals and allow yourself to let go of some blame around ones that you haven’t been able to achieve. Are you willing to get up at 5AM to workout? Are you willing to work 60 hours a week to start up your own business? Are you willing to pass on the birthday cake so that you don’t feel like crap later? Are you willing to get uncomfortable and ask for that raise? Are you willing to take the risk and leave the job you hate?
We often tell ourselves that we don’t have the time, that we ‘just aren’t morning people,’ that we are lazy, or that we simply can’t achieve the the things we want because we don’t have the skills. When really we just aren’t willing to make the change and maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Maybe you aren’t willing to sacrifice time with your family to grow your business further. Maybe you aren’t willing to give up your favorite foods to lose that last 10 pounds. Perhaps you know that you would have to compromise your morals to grow in your current agency and you just aren’t willing to do that. The key is to point out that willingness, or lack thereof, so that you can free yourself of the blame of not achieving those goals. It isn’t that you can’t achieve those things in this life, it is that you have made a choice to prioritize other things.
If after getting honest with yourself about what it will take finally gain control of your health or get that Tesla you decide you are willing to do what it takes, then write that down. “I am willing” should be your new mantra. Post it on your bathroom mirror and be open to what it takes to achieve your goals because I promise if you are willing to do it, you can build the life that you want.
Jen Nobo, LMSW, Wellness Advocate
Holistic Health Coach
Certified Personal Trainer
"It helps her to feel confident, increasing her self-esteem yet continuing to struggle with the underlying self-deprecation." - Allison kidd
What do you picture when you hear the word “depressed”? Often the responses are stereotypical: someone crying all the time, can’t get out of bed, hygiene is lacking, unable to maintain relationships, and the visualization continues. She looks “fine” is what we tell ourselves and each other.
She looks put together. Her hair is done, makeup pristine, outfit polished. She doesn’t show up in sweats, looking a mess. The thing is, she thinks that if she looks the part, she’ll feel it. Sometimes this works. It helps her to feel confident, increasing her self-esteem yet continuing to struggle with the underlying self-deprecation.
She looks social. She goes out with friends, participates in school activities, attends family gatherings, converses with coworkers, goes to community events. She isn’t that girl sitting in her room crying like we might expect. She thinks that if she’s surrounded by others, she’s not left to deal with her own thoughts. Her social engagement helps to distract her from the loneliness and boredom. It can be a way for her to manage her depression, gaining energy from others.
She looks happy. Her Snaps and Instagram pics show her laughing, having fun, and making jokes. She doesn’t allow others to see her raw self, because that isn’t as appealing to others. She shines her smile, portraying to everyone she’s happy. It protects her from people asking questions or worrying about her, causing her to feel more uncomfortable. At times, the flattery she receives from others hitting the button “like” helps her to feel accepted and normal.
Depression isn’t always that obvious. In fact, it often can be referred to as the “invisible illness”. Just because she looks happy on the outside, doesn’t mean she feels that way on the inside, or even all the time. People that experience depression are often very careful to hide their feelings, putting a mask on to protect themselves.
We then tell ourselves, "If she doesn’t look depressed, then she must not really be". How can you recognize if someone is struggling with depression?
Allison Kidd, LSCSW works with teens to help reframe their negative thought processes, increase motivation, and find hope for change. Studies say that 15-20% of teens will experience depression before adulthood and depression can worsen if not treated. Now is the time to start working towards looking and feeling happy.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown
1. It is not my job to fix others.
Relax and let go of the need to take responsibility for other people’s pain! We have enough of our own pain on our plate, it is important to set the boundary of not adding the pain of others’ to our plates. It is also important to remember that you need to make a realistic decision about where people fit in your life based on who they are, and not who you want them to be! You have to stop treating people like you owe them something; you owe the attention to yourself!
2. It is okay if others get angry.
You can’t control this, nor should you feel that this is your responsibility. People are going to react to things in their own chosen way, and it is impossible for you to be in control of that! I know I know, if you are the reason that they’re angry you feel responsible to undo that anger, but I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. If someone is angry about something, that is their responsibility! Your responsibility is to maintain the boundary of not taking on their anger.
3. It is okay to say "no".
This one is my favorite! If you take anything away from this post please let it be this: it is okay to say no. You are only one person, and even though we all like to think that we can, we cannot single handedly take on the world. We cannot single-handly attend every birthday party, family reunion, wedding, or any other celebratory event. It is okay to say, "No, I cannot make it this time." The same goes for taking on new tasks. How many times do friends or family ask if you can do them a favor? If you don’t have time, SAY NO! If you do not set this boundary, you will burn yourself out and have no energy left for the most important person: yourself!
4. It is not my job to take responsibility for others.
Don’t you think that it’s hard enough to take full responsibility for your own actions sometimes? You cannot take responsibility for others because that is their responsibility. So often we want to help others and guide them in the right direction, but then we become frustrated when our guidance is not accepted or appreciated. If a person doesn’t want to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, then it is not your job to take that responsibility! Nothing others do is because of you, what others say and do is a projection of their own reality!
6. It is my job to make me happy.
Your only job right now is to set goals to be happy; genuinely, intensely, and consistently happy, regardless of what that looks like to others. When you become a happier human being as a result of letting go of certain people or things, that’s the universe’s way of letting you know that you made the right choice.
7. Nobody has to agree with me.
Don’t take things personally if someone does not see eye to eye with you on something. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. You don’t have to agree with a person to earn their respect, and they don’t have to agree with you to earn yours, you don’t always need someone to agree with you!
8. I have a right to my own feelings.
Just as we do not have control over the way that someone else feels about something, nobody has the control over the way that we feel about something. It’s not someone else’s job to decide if they hurt you or made you feel some type of way! Your feelings are valid. You have the right to feel whatever you feel. You aren’t exaggerating. You aren’t being too sensitive. You aren’t being dramatic. You’re hurting, and that’s okay!
9. I am enough.
Repeat 10x’s every morning that you wake up, because there is nothing more true. No matter what, you are always enough! You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously, and that’s the great thing about being human! Brene Brown said it best when she said that authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are!
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal that we MISS the life! - ROBIN HELGET
Our realities are formed by the thoughts of how life should be in our head.
The thoughts in our head can make or break us. For years, many of my clients and practically everyone I've had an honest conversation with, have struggled with something I call the “inner critic” or for some, “inner demons”. This critic is the voice that tells you how things could be better, creates expectations of how life or circumstances should be, or tells you that you are consistently missing the mark. It tells you that you can’t yet rest or be happy because you have to get “there” first--wherever “there” may be.
This critic is often a primary player in depression, anxiety, and trauma. If we listen to it long enough, the words of the critic start to become our truth. We believe what the critic tells us so much that we become unsatisfied with our lives and constantly beat ourselves up for making small mistakes, eating the cookie, yelling at our kids, or snapping at our significant others.
Have you ever been really excited about something? Something that you have been looking forward to for a long time? Maybe it was an event, a date, seeing a person or saving and buying an item. Or, maybe it was getting married, buying a house, having a baby. You created so much hype around this particular thing, envisioning what it would be like, how you would feel, and what you maybe would say. However, you quickly found yourself disappointed or frustrated. This was going to make you so happy! So why do you feel worse than you did before?
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal: of the event, of the day, of the baby, of the man, of the marriage, of the house, of the job, of the life--that we MISS the life! Focusing on the destination often leads to lack of fulfillment. Why?
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Therapist & Coach
A GOOD RELATIONSHIP STARTS WITH GOOD COMMUNICATION.
Couples argue. They fight and disagree. Life throws numerous, inevitable stressors their way that can divide the relationship and position each individual against each other. Arguments have a tendency to become irrational, emotional, and focused on throwing blame at each other.
Next time you find yourself in a heated conversation with your partner, ask yourself: “Are we fighting against each other or against the problem?”.
Alex and Sam are arguing about finances. Alex believes each penny should be allocated for in the budget, while saving for retirement, vacations, and children’s education. Sam has a more relaxed approach, wanting to have more flexibility in spending decisions. The argument quickly becomes each partner defending their position on finances and attempting to convince their partner why their belief is superior. Suddenly, the content of the argument transforms into past hurts, wrongdoings, and irreversible differences among partners. The problem caused Alex and Sam to separate and lose sight of the beauty in their differences.
Alex and Sam could have avoided an emotionally exhausting and damaging argument if they caught themselves fighting against each other rather than against finances. They may have been able to have a rational, calmer conversation in which each partner voiced their opinions and concerns. The couple would have then had the opportunity to reach an agreement about finances that met both of their needs.
Warning Signs in Unhealthy Conflict Resolution
There are three elements present in an argument – partner A, partner B, and the problem. Some of the most common argument starters include finances, parenting, sex, and extended family. When fighting about these topics, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of partner A versus partner B with the problem in the middle.
Give your relationship the opportunity to thrive by asking yourself, “Are we fighting against each other or against the problem?” when you recognize these warning signs:
Elise GriggCounseling Intern
"The more I begin to know, the more I realize HOW LITTLE I know." - Robin Helget
A few weeks ago, I met with a new colleague who is quickly becoming a good friend, Dr. Michael Brown with Nature's Path. During our existentialist conversation, he told me of this study where a scientist looked at the molecules of water. Now, typically, I would have zoned out at the word "molecules", but as he began explaining, he shared that this Japanese scientist took images of the molecules of water as they were freezing. I know what you're thinking, "Ok, so?"
He explained more in that when the scientist, Masaru Emoto, put words next to the water such as "Love", "Evil", "Grace", "Discomfort", etc., the water molecules photographed completely different. When he played Mozart compared to rap music compared to hip-hop, the molecules looked completely different.
Research suggests that our thoughts are physically impacting the brain. We know these thoughts impact how feel, but Emoto suggests that our thoughts are impacting every single thing in our life, including the water we drink and ingest. I know, I know. Mind. Blown. Need more information? I did too.
To see photographs of these images, please visit www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html
Our world is compromised of 70% water. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60%. Water is all around us. If our words, our thoughts, and our prayers or actions can impact something so complex like a water molecule, wouldn't our brains be impacted? Wouldn't it matter how we think or how we respond to other people?
What does this mean to me?
The more I begin to know, the more I realize how little I know.
Everything interacts with each other. Our words are powerful. This test has been done in multiple languages from multiple water sources, and the results are the same.
We are bigger influences on people and ourselves than we think.
Do good things.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t take.”- William Bridges
Life is ever-changing, but there are moments in our life when the transition can seem a bit more substantial than others. Graduating college, changing jobs, getting married, having a child, moving out of your parents house, these could all be classified as “big life transitions” and are defining moments in our lives. Many of the above mentioned transitions are also highly stressful and disrupt the established patterns we have created in the rhythm of life. That being said, big life transitions also give us the amazing opportunity to re-evaluate our day to day patterns and begin determining what was working for us previously as well as what we may want to incorporate into the new life we are creating.
Take a moment to pause and reflect
Our daily patterns, from where we buy our coffee to when we check our phones, often become habit by the third or fourth time we have done them, and we are slow to ask ourselves why we are doing things a certain way. When we change the scenery of our lives, with a new home or relationship, we get the opportunity to see our daily routine in a new light. Utilize this big life moment to step back for an hour (or even just ten minutes) and think about the pieces of your daily life that were life-giving and the pieces that were life-draining.
Write it down
After reflecting, spend some time writing down the things that were working well and those that aren’t working currently. Create a positive and negative list that helps you see whether a majority of your time is being spent. Once you have created this list, see if there are any behaviors, actions, or relationships that you would like to eliminate and those that you would like to see more of.
Imagine a Miracle
Imagine that a miracle has occurred and everything in your life is exactly as you would want it. What would you be spending your time doing? How would you start and end the day? Who would you hang out with? Use the information you have gathered from your positives and negatives list along with your miracle day to create a plan of action.
Create a plan of action for integrating these new ideas:
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LCAC
"If we are more focused on our smart phone than our children, we may be pushing them away from us and encouraging bad behavior without even realizing it's happening. " - lori cull-deshmukh
At the beginning of the month, I went on vacation with my daughter. Our first stop was Atlanta, Georgia. She has been wanting to visit the Coca-Cola museum for over a year. The first morning of our trip, we were walking to our first destination (the Coca-Cola museum was not going to happen at 9:00am for this parent). I open my purse to get my cell phone, not sure why, and I dropped my phone! The phone lands glass down on the concrete sidewalk and shattered so bad that I could feel the cracks in the glass.
My first thought “what am I going to do without my phone for 8 days!” I didn’t make a big deal about it, but my daughter asked me the same question, continually, the entire day, “What are you going to do without your phone?” My reply each time was, “I’m going to enjoy my vacation with you.” Honestly, I was shocked at my reply and my calm demeanor.
Because this vacation turned out to be the most relaxing and one of the best trips we have had together, I started thinking about how much time I am using an electronic device and what that is teaching my daughter. I found that when I have a few seconds of down or wait time, I grabbed for my phone or iPad. I caught myself replying to work emails after ordering in a restaurant. I caught myself grabbing for my phone while I waited for the traffic light to change.
After a few days of this, I was feeling frustrated that I had allowed an electronic device take away time from my daughter--time that will someday be gone. I then decided to take it one step further. I went places to observe other people with children using electronic devices in the same manner as I am guilty of using them. These are my observations:
As parents/adults, are we so focused on our electronic devices that we forget what message this is teaching children? If we are more focused on our smart phone than our children, we may be pushing them away from us and encouraging bad behavior without even realizing it's happening.
In fact, parents may react negatively when their kids try to pull them away from their phone, leaving the child struggling to compensate for attention. Some of us adults have become so engrossed in smart phones, they're making us less "smart" as parents. The children are acting out with bad behavior when they need to compete with a device for attention. Kids are saying 'pay attention to me!', so I challenge all parents to at the least, take a day to turn off the cell phones and iPad, and interact positively with your kids.
Putting down the cell phone and interacting with a child face-to-face is a way for parents to show kids how important they are in a world filled with technological distractions. This shows a child they are important enough that you would rather not be checking business or other social contacts--that you are interested in them. Our children must feel important and this is a memory and feeling they will have for a lifetime.
So, take the challenge. Pick a day, free of electronic devices, and show your child they come first.
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
"Most of life is showing up. you do the best you can, which varies day by day." - regina brett
I want you to know they are not alone. I am here to connect: to hear your story and to help support you through the highs and lows of life.
As a counselor, I have the honor of being present with the hesitations, the fear, the need for answers and guidance in your first session. I also see the bravery, courage and self-belief gained through being vulnerable and sharing your story. I’m full of gratitude each time someone shows up because it means an opportunity to connect and see the world through a new set of eyes. It shows me that my clients believe in themselves, or they wouldn't be brave enough to show up in the first place.
A note to my future client...
Thank you for showing up.
I feel your exhaustion.
Take a breath...in...out. You are not alone. Your courage does not go unnoticed.
I look forward to working together,
Counseling Intern, Level 2