“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
"as a society, we have to shift our perspective when things are rough to 'i am hurting and that's okay' from 'i'm broken and no one will love me'." - Robin helget
For the last week, I have been trying to gather my thoughts into something that would be helpful for the public regarding the recent passing of Kansas City native Kate Spade and soon following, Anthony Bourdain. There are many directions I could take this blog post. As a child therapist, I thought about taking it to what conversations to have with your kids. As an adult therapist, I thought about taking it to talking about mental health and continuing the fight to end mental health stigma by simply being honest about how you're doing within your family and friend groups. However, as a young professional, I decided to take it another way.
We are dying of loneliness.
In a world of connection, we are completely disconnected from the things that bring fulfillment to our lives. We are the richest, strongest and most resourceful we have ever been in America, yet we are the most unhappy group of humans thus far. Everything that we have been told to work for, milestones reached, or the number on our bank statements have been check boxes on a list that our culture has prescribed for us. Though, like many prescriptions, this one prescription doesn't work for everyone. It provides temporary solutions at times but only rids us of symptoms and does nothing to the underlying cause for the symptoms: loneliness, disconnection, and fear of not being accepted.
Depression yields the type of loneliness that you may think of when hearing the word; however, it also yields feeling alone within yourself. We may be surrounded by groups of people and feel like the only person in the room. Disconnection, too, yields this kind of loneliness.
Every human longs for connection. We want to be heard, liked, loved, a part of the group, and in the process of this, we learn scripts on how we should behave, how we should feel, and what we should be doing to fit in, so when we experience something that may threaten this connection to others, we disengage. We may isolate. We may hold secrets. We may be fearful to show what we are experiencing because we are afraid of the response of others.
We have it all together.
At least, that's what we show in public. For example, no one knows that while posting the most recent glamour shot, the working from home picture, the going out on Friday with friends picture, all were posted while underneath the covers finding the perfect filter and forming the perfect caption that would let the world know how awesome my life is and how secure I am.
They have it all together.
At least, that's what we think when scrolling through social media accounts and seeing the person next to us in the stop light in the recently washed Range Rover. That's what everyone said about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. No one was looking at the person underneath the portrayed masks that were shown on their brand or television shows. Did anyone know Kate's attempt at coping with depression with alcohol? Did anyone see the pain between Anthony's jokes and sense of humor?
Like many other people who we deem "have it all", both Kate and Anthony suffered in silence. As powerhouses in their fields, a "boss babe", a mother, a husband, a father, a sister, a magnificent chef, an icon, an entrepreneur, a do-it-aller: Kate and Anthony did what many of us do daily: we wake up, put on our fake clothes and fake smiles, get in the fake cars and go through the motions.
As a society, we have to shift our perspective when things are difficult in our lives from "I'm broken and no one will love me" to "I am hurting, and that's okay." To understand that we are not broken because we have had a string of bad days or can't get out of bed or because we've suffered a gut-wrenching trauma is the biggest power we can have over our lives. When working with people, I believe it's fundamental that we, as humans, are showing others and living our lives to teach the following:
1. It's okay to not be okay.
You know the conversations that go like this:
"Hey! How are you doing?"
"I'm good! How are you?"
"I'm fine! Thanks for asking."
We're all guilty here. Either we've been the culprit of always saying "I'm good" or "I'm fine" or my personal favorite, "I've been good! Just really busy!" or we've accepted the answer from others as truth. Somewhere between the messages we've received and our experiences, we've come to believe that not being okay--not saying "I'm fine" or "good"--makes us a burden to others.
Challenge: Check the facts and your perspective bias. We are the most important people in our worlds. Because of this, we see things only from our lens. If you think you have no friends to talk to because everyone else "has it all together", ask yourself, "Have they really never been through hardship? Are they really incapable of understanding where I'm coming from or is it my fear from stopping me?" Do you generally help people when asked? If your friend came to you with the same problem, would you think they are a burden? Doubtfully. People, in general, like helping each other--like connecting with each other.
2. Real connection is a vital part to the human experience.
It's imperative to our well-being that we have relationships with others. Although we are constantly connected online, this is not real connection. Connection is sitting down with someone to have coffee, to get to know someone else. Connection is sharing beliefs, experiences, hardships, wins, and values. Connection is knowing you are not alone and that you have others to do life with. It's being loved and liked for your authentic self--for who you really are--not just what you show others.
Challenge: Put your phone down. When waiting for a bus, for a doctor's appointment, in the grocery line, make an effort to create a conversation with people. Life is happening all around you. You are more surrounded with people than you think. Make yourself open to communicate with those around you, and you will likely be met with acceptance, not resistance.
3. You are not alone.
No matter who you are or what you are going through, there are always going to be the people who are going to have judgments around it. One of the most vulnerable and brave things we can do is show others our true selves, while the fear of being judged or rejected for these selves lurks in the background like a stranger in the shadows. These judgments are from those who may not understand what you are going through and have no idea how to appropriately respond, from those who have been through it but don't want to show vulnerability themselves, or from those who are incapable of empathy. The judgments are not a direct implication of you--it's of them. Remember that everyone else is doing the same thing as you: walking around with the pretty masks on, pretending, hiding, and faking. They are likely experiencing or going through something you are, but sometimes you have to be the first one to show vulnerability. Often times, you will be met with support..with words of "me too" or "I understand"...with words, more importantly of, "You are not alone."
To the hopeless: there is a way out of the darkness.
To the lonely: someone understands.
To the brokenhearted: it does get better.
To the grieving: it's ok to have happy moments.
To the suicidal: you & your life matter.
To those who've lost a loved one to suicide: it's ok to hurt.
Compassion is not a political thing. It's not a religious thing. It's not an industry thing or mental wellness thing. It's a human thing. Be kind to one another. Have authentic conversations. Tell people how you feel. Be willing to listen. Don't just read this and think "Oh that's a great idea" - do it. And when you do, post on social media about it so that others know they are cared for, loved, and that kindness does exist with the hashtag #dogoodkansascity
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at:
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Life Coach & Therapist
For more articles written by Robin, click here.
"i hold the belief, hope and confidence in you when you can't quite find or grasp it."
“You’re a therapist. You’re supposed to say that.”
I recently had a client tell me these two sentences after I attempted to provide some encouraging and uplifting words. At first, I found myself frustrated that my message wasn’t well received, but as I began
reflecting, I wondered if and how many people related to that sentiment. I couldn’t help but ask, "Why should they believe me?"
As a therapist, I play many different roles. I can be the challenger of thoughts and beliefs, the shoulder to cry on during depression, the teacher of basic brain functioning, the bird’s eye view for anxiety, the cheerleader when accomplishing goals, the accountability partner in sobriety, and the last resort before divorce. Despite the wide array and variety of roles, one theme remains constant: my belief in you and your capabilities.
“You’re a therapist. You’re supposed to say that.”
I wouldn’t be in this role if I didn’t genuinely believe in each person’s ability to grow, heal, and achieve their dreams. However, I also believe that because no one is immune to life’s stressors, we all can come lost, hurt, lonely, and in need of some guiding help, myself included. We all can lose belief, hope, and confidence in ourselves.
That’s where the most important roles as a therapist lies: to hold the belief, hope, and confidence in you when you can’t quite find it or grasp it.
So to revisit my question of why should anyone believe me, it’s less about believing me and more about discovering the belief, hope, and confidence within you for yourself.
“Without the human community, one single human being cannot survive.” -Dalai Lama
In modern times, frightfully, we have the ability to go through an entire day without actually interacting face to face with another human. We can work remotely, get our groceries delivered, pay someone to pick up our laundry off of our front step and can text our friends and family members instead of inviting them over. We have all struggled with staying connected in a world that facilitates disconnection- scrolling on our phones when out with friends, not saying hello to our neighbors and forgetting to call our family members on their birthdays. Sometimes our days are too hectic or packed too full of to-do’s to stay connected, but as our autonomy increases our human connection decreases and we oftentimes find ourselves isolated and lonely.
Loneliness not only makes us feel blue, it can also shorten our lifespan. According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General to the US, weak social connections and loneliness can reduce a persons lifespan at the same rate as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Murthy also stated that, “During (his) years caring for patients, the most common pathology (he) saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
The antidote for loneliness is clear: its connection, real life, face to face, genuine connection. And not just connecting with anyone who is around but connecting with your “tribe”. Your tribe is a group of people who you have carefully picked to be a part of the intimate parts of your life, the people who support you and whom you support. They may or may not be your family, your neighbors, your high school friend or your co-workers.
Below are some steps to cultivating and maintaining your tribe:
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LMAC