"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
“That’s life: starting over, one breath at a time.”
The start of the New Year is a natural time to set resolutions. It’s a “fresh start”, the beginning of a “new you.” I’m pro-resolution, and encourage people to set attainable goals, but there is an important step to take before you can make a change. I am suggesting as we wind down another year and anticipate a “fresh start,” that we take a moment to be mindful of the moment.
Too often we set out to make changes to ourselves or our situations without being present in the moment. Missing this crucial step can set us up for repeated failure. Being mindful before making change is like taking a deep breath before diving underwater. Mindfulness is the ‘ready’ in READY, SET, GO!
Mindfulness can impact our physical, mental and emotional health. Being mindful helps with our attitudes and connections to self and others. It can relieve stress, reduce blood pressure and even ease gut issues. Mindfulness can also help us cope with worry, grief and regret. As we become better at being present, we can then work towards change or acceptance.
Here’s a quick exercise to tune into being present. Take a look around you and see if you can notice all the orange items in the room. This simple exercise helps you be what counselor’s call ‘here and now’ or present. It kicks us out of auto-pilot and forces us to be mindful of our surroundings.
A more challenging exercise is to check in with ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. Ask yourself, how do I feel physically? What’s going on from head to toe, inside and out of my body? What emotions am I experiencing right now? Mentally, is my mind in a 100 different places?
One example is the morning shower. As a mom, the shower is a rare opportunity to relax with minimal interruption. Except, relax is the last thing I do. While I condition my hair and attempt to shave my legs, I make a mental ‘to-do’ list for myself, a list for my husband, and plan out a crucial conversation I intend to have with a co-worker later that day. I also take time to look at my body and think of all the ways I intend to diet and exercise to lose my baby weight. Oh, and if time allows I usually end up cleaning the shower while I’m in it. My peaceful time has suddenly become a jumble of thoughts, intentions, and interruptions.
In contrast, a mindful shower is one of focus and singular intention. Focus on the water hitting your skin and running past your feet down the drain. Let the thoughts, anxieties, and self-criticisms of the day rinse away with the soap suds. Feel the massage of your fingers on your scalp as you wash your hair. Take deep breaths in and out. Without judgement, or multi-tasking, just be mindful of the present physical, mental and emotional state of your being.
As we start a new year, I challenge you to be present. Be mindful of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Check-in with yourself and take a deep breath. Now you are READY to SET and GO!
Jessica Nickels, Level 2 Counseling Intern
"Accepting the notion that each person has some form of genius will not solve all the problems of life, but it can give more people the courage to develop a life of meaning and find ways to contribute to the world. everyone already has some talent or vision; what is rare is to find the courage to follow one's vision all the way to the destination to which it aims." -Michael mead, The GENIUS MYTH
Take a minute to remember your childhood. Think about the way you learned about success, about your purpose, or about your place in the world. Think about the ways in which you were taught about how you were supposed to behave, to act, to grow, to learn, and to be in different settings. Were you allowed to be yourself? Were you supposed to fit into a mold of an expectation?
Think about those expectations now. Do you still try to fit into the mold of who you think you should be? Did you reach the successful job, the house with the picket fence, the kids? Did you reach the expectation of having good friends, a stable income? If you have reached these, you may be happy. In all actuality, you’re expected to be happy once you’ve achieved these milestones in life. But what if you’re not? Happy, I mean. What if you’ve achieved all these things that you were taught you were supposed to have to be happy, and yet, there still is a part of you that feels missing?
Many of us confuse the need for achievement with the need for fulfillment. Achievement is more of a measurable concept. You set measurable goals for yourself, such as reaching $60k per year, and once you reach it, you’ve “achieved” that goal. At the same time, you may have set this goal for yourself with the idea that once you get there you’re going to be happy. What many people find is that they are achieving their goals, maybe even surpassing them, but it’s never enough. Once you hit $60k, you shoot for $100k and THEN you’ll be happy. Once you hit $100k, you shoot for $200k and THEN you’ll be happy. See a pattern? It’s a never-ending ladder that you’re always trying to get to the top to, except there never is an end.
Fulfillment comes from using your inner gifts. Fulfillment comes from knowing who you are and knowing what you want, the person you want to become, the purpose you were created to fulfill here on earth. Fulfillment is the feeling that of peace--that you know there is meaning in your actions, in your beliefs, and in the way you think. Many people have spent so much of their life reaching toward achievement that they have neglected what would fulfill them--what it would mean to live a life of meaning and purpose.
If you’re reading this and thinking “That’s me”, know that you aren’t alone and that millions of people are feeling the exact same way. Instead of focusing on the fact that you are unfulfilled, think about some steps that you can take in order to work toward developing this in yourself.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
“What am I good at?”
“What do I enjoy doing?”
“If I could do anything in the world, with nothing stopping me, what would it be?”
Or maybe you need to start smaller:
“What traits do I have that make me me?”
“What makes me different from the person standing next to me?”
“What makes me unique?”
Some of these questions can help get you started to making the changes to start living a life of fulfillment versus achievement. Once you start making the changes and feeling the difference, you will likely reach a level of achievement you never thought was possible. If you are struggling with these questions and would like some support along this journey, seeing a coach to help you find your meaning and purpose may be helpful.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Coach & Therapist
It can be a scary thing to start something new in our lives. Even when we aren't happy with how things are going, the fear of failure or of the unknown can keep us stuck in place. I recently saw a quote that stood out to me by Henry Cloud. He wrote "a full life is one made up of many different experiences, thoughts, goals, distractions, triumphs and failures. If you have to fail, fail at something new, and learn from it." This is what it comes down to many times, to just try something new.
Anxiety will stand in our way; it will cause us to think of all the possible scenarios and ways something could go wrong, it will elicit the fear of the unknown or will tell you that you will fail, it will make you want to avoid any sort of change.
During my work as a counselor I have seen this fear of change surface in many clients. They come to counseling wanting to feel differently, but when the prospect of change being necessary to feel better they become anxious and resist. Ultimately, when you enter therapy you must decide if your desire to grow and improve is greater than your fear of failing at something new. Is the desire to be in a healthy relationship greater than the fear of being alone and leaving a toxic relationship? Is the desire to be in a fulfilling career greater than the fear of leaving the safe but soul-sucking job? These are questions that only you can answer. But if you don't like where you are and feel stuck, the only way to get unstuck is to move by trying something new. If you are ready to take that step, here is a way to get started:
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
Social and emotional learning, which previously have shown immediate improvements in mental health, social skills, and academic achievement, continue to benefit students for months and even years to come.”
Social and emotional learning is a trending term currently in school systems, but what does that
mean? The focus and belief of education has been academics that prepare students for college
and interaction with other children promoting development in social skills. In a world of
increasing complexity, this is no longer enough.
Impact of Emotions in Learning
Emotions and relationships affect how and what is learned. Emotions can be a motivator in learning and sustaining interest, but for some, unmanaged stress and poor regulation of impulses interfere with attention, memory and often result in unwanted behaviors; all which contribute to disruption in learning and difficulty forming positive friendships/relationships.
When a child has difficulty managing their emotions, are impulsive, lack self-confidence, lack
self-esteem, have frustration intolerance, are unable to empathize with others and perhaps unable to
establish and maintain positive relationships, they could likely benefit from social and emotional
An example is a 3rd grade boy, named John, who has difficulty reading social cues from his
classmates. He lacks the skills to compromise. He gets angry (often bursting into tears) when
a grade is not what he expected, or he struggles with an assignment. Paying attention and
focusing in the classroom is challenging for John. John doesn’t understanding why his
classmates make fun of him and hesitant to include him in groups. He is dramatic in his use of
language and behavior gets him in trouble with the teacher. John doesn’t understand why he
doesn’t have friends and why he is always in trouble.
John is an example of a child who would benefit from learning social and emotional skills.
These skills include improvement in self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-confidence; learning social cues; and understanding how to establish and maintain relationships. In the example above, John has several emotions impacting his ability to learn.
Research indicates that social and emotional learning for elementary and middle school
students is a strong approach to reducing problem behaviors, promoting positive adjustment,
and enhancing academic performance.
What Do I Do If This Is My Child?
The most successful way to obtain social and emotional learning skills is with a behavioral
specialist (therapist, social worker, psychologist or other professional trained in behavior
intervention) working closely with a child and the teacher. The key is to implement and teach at
the time of need, without delay. Not all schools have the staff to support this type of program,
however, outside collaboration between a school and a behavior specialist is possible.
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT