"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Overdress to Impress
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Coach & Consultant
“maybe, if you put your disbelief aside, roll up your sleeves, take some risks, and totally go for it, you’ll wake up one day and realize you’re living the kind of life you used to be jealous” - Jen SinCERO
The new year is here, and many see this as an opportunity to give up negative habits, such as unhealthy eating, overworking, or self-destructive behaviors. For those that like to make ritualistic New Year’s Resolutions, they often set themselves up for failure from the beginning because of three reasons: they set unrealistic goals, don’t create a strategy for these changes to occur, and don’t change their mindset.
Although it is refreshing to make little changes in our lives, it’s also an opportunity to let go of something less concrete: our own worst enemies, or our negative thoughts. Change, in general, is difficult, but if you try to change your behaviors without altering they way that you perceive them, lasting progress won’t occur.
6 Things to Let Go of in 2018:
1. Your self-defeating talk: “You are your own worst enemy.”
Often times, it is the negative assumptions that we create in our mind that prevents us from following through with change. We tell ourselves over and over that we “can’t do it” or “it won’t work”, thus altering our personal ability to try. What would happen if we encouraged ourselves? Would it boost our self-esteem and likelihood of making the effort, and then improving us to acknowledging success? Start the new year off by having more positive self-talk. Remind yourself of your amazing qualities, take credit for your efforts, and mentally encourage yourself to meet those goals.
2. Your need for control: We all desire a sense of control in our lives.
It gives us standards, boundaries, and comfort. However, the problem with focusing on this control is that you lose sight of what could happen if you were to just let loose. For many, this can be scary because the unknown may not turn out how we would have preferred and may challenge us in other ways. What’s the worst that could happen? It opens you up to seeing the positive or “silver lining”, allowing you to learn from mistakes or see things from a different perspective. I encourage you to just let it be sometimes. Allow the universe to work its magic and you might be surprised at how much easier or more satisfying this can be.
3. Your fears: Fear is an unpleasant emotion that we personally associate with something.
We categorize it as being scary, uncomfortable, or dangerous. We often worry that we won’t be good enough or won’t meet our or someone else’s expectations. What would happen if we let go of the dread that we have toward something and challenge ourselves? Could we overcome the fear? I wonder what is holding you back? Identify your fears, analyze why they are there, and what they are preventing you from doing. Then, adjust your mindset by using that fear to fuel your energy into doing it.
4. Your excuses: “I’ll start it later, now’s not the time, I already messed up, I don’t have time.”
These are common excuses we use to not follow through with change that they ultimately desire in their lives. Making an excuse is just you defending your fears that you won’t succeed (or in your mind – fail), that you can’t handle life without it, or that you aren’t capable of making this change. Make the time! If it is ultimately important to you, why not prioritize it? It might make you feel more accomplished and give you a sense of pride if you were to stop justifying why you aren’t doing it. Stop and notice when you make these excuses and ask yourself why not?
5. Your past: “Our past doesn’t define us”.
This is a common saying and although it can often be nice to see it from that perspective, it can also be a good thing that our past has gotten us to where we are now. In changing something, it can be helpful to reflect back on our past experiences, trials and tribulations, and what we learned in the process. The problem arises when we allow those past experiences to prevent us from moving forward. The goal is to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and use that to make it different in the future.
6. Your complaining: What does complaining do for us?
We rationalize how hard a change can be by psyching ourselves out and not actually following through. This is just a stalling tactic so that we can continue to put off the inevitable. It’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we tell ourselves how hard it’s going to be, the harder it will feel, and ultimately proving our initial prediction correct. We waste a lot of time and energy complaining about something when we could have just done it. Turn your complaints into positives. When you notice yourself whining about something trivial, use that energy to motivate you to “Just Do It” as Nike would say.
If you saw yourself in any of these six conversations, remember that to assist in your successful changes, you need to do three things: set realistic goals, create a strategy for a change to occur, and examine and alter your mindset. If you, or someone you know, needs assistance in letting go any of these automatic thoughts, schedule an appointment today to get started on this process towards change.
Allison Kidd, LMSW, LMAC
Be Aware of Your Mental Health
In order to maintain both your mental and emotional health, it is important to stay in touch with your own needs and feelings. When counseling clients with depression and anxiety, one common thing I see is that symptoms come after letting stress and emotions build up over time. These are some simple ways to stay cognizant of what is going on internally, both emotionally and mentally, to help prevent large explosions or meltdowns later.
Mindfulness is essentially intentional focus on a single situation or object. An example of this is to pick an object (like a painting or an object in nature) and intently see it. You can be mindful using all senses by asking yourself "what do I see, what do I hear, what do I smell, what do I taste, and what do I feel." This is like meditation and it helps to bring our focus inward and on the here and now. While doing this you might notice different thoughts or feelings pop up. Don't try to suppress or judge these thoughts and feelings, just notice that they are there and then bring your focus back to what you are being mindful of. Many clients report feeling more relaxed, grounded, and calm after doing this activity.
Doing a body scan means to turn your focus inward and scan from head to toe. Notice what sensations you are feeling. Are your eyes feeling strained or heavy, are your shoulders tightened, is your stomach feeling sick, are your hands shaking, are your legs feeling fatigued? Just notice whatever comes up without self-judgement. All you are doing is noticing "what is" in the moment. Many times simply bringing awareness to something helps to alleviate it, but if we start to judge it and ourselves then it can perpetuate the problem. For instance, if you bring awareness to your tight shoulders you might notice them start to relax; however, if, when you notice your tight shoulders, you start to think about how anxious you are, then blame that one someone or something that caused it, then start to ruminate about that situations, you will probably just cause the anxiety to increase and your shoulders to tighten more.
What is this telling me?
In both of these activities I discussed noticing without judgement. Emotions and thoughts aren't good or bad, they just are, but we tend to place judgment labels on them. So, you might ask, what are we supposed to do with what we notice. The answer is to ask yourself, "what is this telling me." If, while practicing mindfulness, you notice feelings of anger come up, ask what those feelings are telling you. Is it that someone wronged you or someone else? Is it that you were hurt by what a loved one said but that hurt quickly hardened into anger? If you noticed your chest felt heavy and you were taking short breaths, what might be causing that tension? Is this telling you that you need to stand up and step away from your desk for a few minutes, or step away from toxic conversations? If these are telling your to do something that is within your control and aligned with your values then take action! This could be to speak to someone, to apologize or verbalize a hurt you experienced, it could be to help someone, to volunteer, it could be to simply get up and move. The key is to notice the feeling or thought, see what this might be saying to you, and finally see if the action is within or outside of your control.
Lastly, feelings and thoughts are just a reflection of the moment in time, something that can't be changed or controlled. Just as you can't get mad at a mirror for reflecting back what it sees, you can't get mad or wish away thoughts or feelings that are doing the same. However, many of us try to block and judge these thoughts or emotions, leading to residual pain later. So in these situations, allow yourself your emotion or thought and accept it simply as a reflection of time, which will itself pass. You can choose to not hold onto these thoughts and feelings by simply acknowledging and accepting them, then mindfully and purposefully bringing your attention to something else.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS