A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

Giving Yourself Permission to______(Fill in the Blank) and other Adventures in Self-Esteem

You guys may not know this about me, but I am a total wuss when it comes to speaking in groups. Not in front of groups, but actually in groups. When I lecture at a conference or teach a class, I am master of my domain–strutting around and laying down some funky knowledge for everyone in attendance. But, you put me in the middle of a random, humdrum meeting and force me to decide when to speak and whom to interrupt…well, lets just say I have to fight the temptation to run for the door. The only grade I ever got that was lower than an A in all 5 years of graduate school (yes, I’m a nerd) was a B from a professor who thought I didn’t spontaneously speak up enough in class. Boy, was that vexing.

Image

How odd is that whole thing, right? Actually, research done by masochistic social scientists who want to know how to make us all squirm, has confirmed that this is a pretty common phenomenon. The crux of the matter has to do with how we decide to give ourselves permission to communicate. If one is hired to stand up in front of people and speak, as I do at a conference, then the permission has already been explicitly given from an external source. However, if I decide to speak up in a meeting, there is nobody to give me permission for that except myself. I have to ascertain the worthiness of my contributions minute by minute during that experience. Some days, the play-by-play reporters in my head are negative nellies.

This basic struggle to decide if you rock or if you stink is at the heart of all our self-esteem wrestling matches. This is true of all kinds of settings in which we need to speak our truth and offer our wisdom–work, couple relationships, family relationships. Some of us come into the ring armed with a lifetime of family or friend support that helps us decide that our contributions are valid and enriching. When our interior voice jumps in to naysay our abilites, we have a frame of referemce that allows us to dismiss those fears. But what if you haven’t had that blessing? What if experiences in the recent or distant history have eroded your confidence in the goodess of your choices? Here are some things to remember:

Image

1) You have a ticket to ride: A wise professor once told me that thoughts are like taxis in NYC; there will be a new one along any second. If the first thought that comes into your mind when your boss offers you the lead on an important project is, “she’s crazy; I can’t handle that,” you don’t have to take that ride. You can acknowledge it, wave it on, and step right back on the curb and wait for the next one. When you recognize that often your thoughts are just knee-jerk reactions that can be reconsidered and changed, you will begin to be able to do this more often. It is the key to higher-level performance in any area of life.

2) There is widsom in problems: I have seen clients for most every problem I can imagine, from sex offenses to agoraphobia to eating disorders. What is common among all those very different things is that the problem they are coming to see me for (the behaviors or symptoms) is often a solution attempt gone far awry. For instance, cutting releases endorphins, and call dull or heighten a person’s bodily sensations when he or she is in the throes of an anxiety attack. Since the behavior worked at least once, we might do it again. Since this solution is also destructive, we now call it a problem. Have you given yourself permission to really examine which of your current problems make sense when viewed from a problem-solving lens? Have you been able to get at the root issue?

3) We get by with a little help from our friends: When we enter into partnerships with other people, no matter what the nature of the relationship, we recieve subtle and not-so-subtle messages from them about our worthiness and goodness. What feedback are you getting from the people with whom you have chosen to share your life? Is it constructive (which is not the same thing as positve, by the way)? When it is negative, does it help you grow or break you down? It’s important to realize that we are living in concert with other people who constantly shape the ways we define ourselves.

In what areas of your life to you need to give yourself permission to shake off old habits or build up new resources. Why don’t you give me a shout? I would love to help you get started.

Your Partner in Healing,

Dr. Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in the Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to see how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com.

 

1 Comment »

Lend a Hand

Every now and again I come across something so touching I need to share it. This family has endured so much and is asking so little. In November of 2011, Danny O’Keefe prevented an attacker from murdering his big sister during a home invasion. This young man was stabbed 19 times in the brain and needs a variety of intensive therapies to address the devestating after effects. I just donated and I hope you will too.

Here’s the link to their blog:
http://helptheokeefes.blogspot.com/

Your Partner in Healing,

Dr. Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in the Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to see how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com.

No Comments »

Resist the Obvious

I have habit of taking notes. It’s a small pleasure of mine really. I don’t mean lists–I would rather muddle through attempting to recall everything from schedule to grocery lists. No, I mean those little missives to yourself from yourself about all the interesting, rare and sometimes confounding things you observe.

Once every few months or so I journey out to one of the big box office supply stores and roam the isles looking for tiny notebooks that I will then use to record ideas and dreams. But mostly, the ramblings contained in those notebooks are snippets of ideas that someone else has generated–a line from a book or a song that I will use as a jumping off point for some contemplation of my own. Often, I don’t write down where these little jewels come from, or who authored them first. I kind of like it better that way. It becomes a line direct from my subconscious. Whatever attracted me to that line in the first place is buried somewhere–and without context I am allowed to fully examine why this saying made sense. Of course, the downside of that is when I write blogs about someone else’s genius I don’t know whom to attribute it. Sorry very smart man/woman who provided me with this morning’s mediation.

Today, as I was cleaning off my desk I found a piece of paper shoved into a notebook and on it was written simply “resist the obvious.” Now, this could mean many things for me as a therapist. For instance, it could encourage me to help clients dig deeper into themselves rather than settling for pat answers. Or, it could discourage me from summing someone up before I have really checked in with how he or she is interpreting the interior landscape. But, that doesn’t feel to me like why I wrote it down. I think it’s a call to action to remember something more important to my existential musings.

I’ll say it again: Resist the Obvious.

How many times in life do we ignore the richness of possibility in favor of what seems predictable or logical? Now, I’m not talking about anything too new-agey. Rather, I am suggesting that the older we get, and the more choices we make by virtue of our age and life circumstances, the more boxes we build for ourselves. We construct a smaller and smaller maze of possibilities until there is no longer room for joy or creativity. And, I would suggest that without a sense of personal creativity in authoring our own lives, there can be no joy.

Image

Here are a few questions to answer in your own journaling time:

1) In what areas are you no longer making active choices because you feel all the choices are obvious? (Health, Career, Friendships, Hobbies)

2) When called upon to make take a new direction, do you examine all the possibilites or just the ones that seem to fit with your current trajectory? Why or why not?

3) Are you worried about what others will say if you step outside the boxes you have constructed (or co-constructed)? How might you talk about searching for more meaning and joy?

Your Partner in Healing,

Dr. Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in the Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to see how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com.

No Comments »

%d bloggers like this: