Ways To Find The Good

photo of a woman standing on the sunflower field

Every day we are faced with a choice. The choice to look for the bad or to find the good. Whatever you look for it will be found.

Each day we can look for the things we want to find. Regardless of our circumstances, we can find the good. If we are going through difficult times, it can be hard for us to pull ourselves out of that space to look for the good. But it can be done, one thought at a time.

SLOW DOWN

The everyday stress we carry can sometimes be overwhelming. If you have added stress from relationships, physical or mental health issues, or unresolved past traumas, it can be even more overwhelming. Everything can seem to be moving at light speed. Slow your thoughts and emotions down. Practice deep breathing, just a few very big breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and give you space to think more clearly. Once you have slowed things down a bit, you can look around you for the good.

SHARPEN YOUR SENSES

In the same way that you would use your senses for grounding yourself during periods of stress, you can do the same thing when looking for the good around you. What do you see that is beautiful, magical, uplifting, etc.? What can you touch that is comforting, warm, soft, etc.? What can you hear that is calming, beautiful, uplifting, etc.? What can you taste that is calming, comforting, filling, warm, etc.? What can you smell that is calming, comforting, etc.? Use your senses to find the good around you.

GRATITUDE

Turning your mind to what you are grateful for rather than what you are not can have a profound effect on your thoughts and emotions. Gratitude does not have to be something big. Even the smallest thing that you are thankful for, that makes you happy, that gives you even the smallest joy, is something to be grateful for. Everyone can find something to be grateful for and once you begin to think about it, your mind will help you find others. Find the good in your gratitude.

SELF-CARE

Even if the darkest of times, self-care is still important. When you are overwhelmed, find one moment, one thing that you can do for yourself. Five minutes of decompression before facing something difficult. A short hot shower. A few minutes of meditation or deep breathing. A piece of dark chocolate or a cup of herbal tea. A few minutes smelling essential oils. Self-care can help you recenter and find the good.

Every day, even every moment, offers an opportunity to find the good. There is something you can find if you slow down, use your senses, practice gratitude, and self-care. Find the good in every moment to help get you through stressful and overwhelming times.

We find whatever it is we are looking for. Look for the good. ~ Al Carraway

How To Love Yourself More

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For many of us, so much of our time is spent in things we do not love about ourselves. Things we think are true about us. Things we think others think are true about us. The way others make us feel about ourselves through words or actions or the lack of them.

It becomes so much easier to live in the world of what we do not love about ourselves that it becomes automatic.

Contrary to what we may believe, there are things we like about ourselves and even things we love. We just have to ask our brains the question. What do I love about myself?

It may take some time for the brain to go through all the data in our minds and sift through what we do not love to find the things that we do, but it will find them. The brain hates questions and loves answers.

Before writing this piece, I asked myself the same question in an activity with clients this past week. I found that it was very hard at first to come up with things I love about myself, and I also found that quite shocking. I thought it would be much easier than it turned out to be.

At first, there were just a few things that came to mind quickly. But over the course of the week that I worked on this with clients, my brain found more and more things and presented them to me. Sometimes in sessions and sometimes randomly. But my brain did find them and it will also find yours.

Some of mine were my organization, my determination, my artistic side, my objectivity, my eyes, and on and on it went. My brain is still finding answers to the question and as long as I continue to ask the question it will continue to look.

It can be very helpful to write these things down and then use the things you have written down as affirmations. Placing the list where you can see it daily and reminding yourself of the things you love about you. Repeating them throughout the day. You then create new automatic thoughts of self-love.

Find some time to try it out and teach yourself how you can remind your mind about the things you already love about yourself. They are in there.

Love yourself and the rest will follow.

Losing Yourself

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Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

The more time I spend working in the trauma-focused world of counseling, the more I realize codependency is far more widespread than previously thought. Especially traumas that are experienced in childhood, which makes sense as that is where everything is set for future behaviors, beliefs, and choices.

Codependency most often stems from a childhood that contains either physical/sexual abuse, witnessed domestic abuse, addiction in parents, lack of parents, neglect, parents with mental illness, emotional abuse or any combination of these. Codependency also occurs if the child has no parents especially mothers in their lives.

The child will develop beliefs about themselves and an absolute need to try and contain, control, or cover up the situations they find themselves in. All while desperately wanting to maintain the relationship so their parent will love them or at the very least acknowledge them in some way.

The child will spend every waking moment trying to make sure the parent is okay or in their minds “happy.” If people are happy they won’t take their unhappiness out on them. They also spend their lives being small adults caring for parents who cannot care for themselves. Cooking, cleaning, providing alcohol or drugs, doing what the parent wants no matter what it is to keep them happy, taking care of siblings.

Always, always, seeking love from the parent, approval, even just being noticed is enough to keep the child repeating the cycle.

Through this behavior, the child develops a very low self-image believing they are not worthy of love. They develop poor boundaries and in many cases no boundaries. There is a constant need to save others or make others happy. They never consider what they need or want. There is a constant need for perfection so that they might be lovable. And an absolute need for control over anything that they can control because life with their parent is always chaos.

All of these things become set inside the child between birth and age 7. After this, these beliefs, behaviors, and choices become solid in the psyche and they are then seen as “normal” and they are not questioned. They are just repeated and repeated throughout their lives in every single relationship they have.

They seek out relationships with those who need saving. They never consider what they want or need or how they feel. Every relationship is the one they had with their parent or the one they didn’t have with their parent because the parent wasn’t there. They control their children’s lives because they couldn’t control their parents. They never say no in relationships because they need the other person’s approval for their own self worth.

Codependency can be extremely hard to change because by the time someone seeks out help it has been their norm for years and years. They have no concept of self-love or self-care. Boundaries are a foreign concept. Being alone is an all consuming fear. Children will always want their parent to love them no matter what the parent has done even when they are no longer children – it is genetic.

Learning to say no is one of the most important things codependent people can do to begin to set boundaries with others. Understanding the difference between saving people and supporting them without enabling their behaviors. Self-care and self-love are absolutely necessary to breaking the chains of codependency. Knowing that they have worth in themselves and do not need others to provide it for them.

Counseling can help codependent people see things more objectively and offer ways to start to change. The biggest thing that keeps people from letting go of codependent behaviors is fear. Counseling can help process through this fear and open the road to moving forward. Reaching out for help can be the first step to change.

Until next time,
Deborah

Do or Do Not

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Every day, even every moment of the day we are confronted with choices. So many of them we don’t even consider choices but choices they are. It truly is do or do not at the core, emotions are what makes it grey.

When the alarm clock goes off, we can choose to get right out of bed or we can hit the snooze button. The clothes we wear we choose what to put on. Do we eat breakfast or do we not? And what do we eat if we do? Choices all.

As we go throughout our day the choices are nonstop, every second there seems to be a choice that we are making whether we realize it or not. So automatic some of these choices become that it can seem as if we have no control of them as if we have no choice.

That, however, is the emotion of the choice speaking. Making us sometimes feel that we have no choices about what we do or how we live. If we are struggling financially and cannot see a way out, we can think that we have no choices about what we do in that situation. However, there are still choices.

Choices can be easy, mindless, automatic or they can be agonizing, painful, and traumatic. Many times we will avoid the ones that hurt and keep choosing the ones where we are comfortable – emotionally. But that is still a choice complete with its own consequences.

If we change nothing about our choices then nothing changes about our lives. There is no magic choice and change fairy to come and change things for us. Nothing changes without choices. But are we emotionally able and emotionally strong enough to make those choices?

Many times we have past trauma that causes us to be unable to make these choices. Other times we have become so conditioned to choose what we have always chosen that we cannot see a different choice.

One of the main reasons to seek out therapy is to have an objective, not emotionally involved person who can help us see these choices we may not be able to see on our own. To offer alternatives and paths for us to choose differently.

In choices, there is do or do not two options. The middle ground exists as a result of emotional turmoil, it is a creation of the mind built on past traumas and automatic negative thinking. We can believe with all our hearts and minds that the middle ground exists and use it to justify our choices. It is a false narrative.

Examining the why of our choices in an objective, unemotional light is the only way to see clearly outside of the grey.

Until next time,
Deborah

Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. ~ Robert Burns

Many times, we can start something, make plans, try to help someone else, and yet it doesn’t go as we had planned. In fact, sometimes it can end up as a huge failure.

Our intentions can be absolutely good and worthwhile. We can feel that what we are planning and doing is the right path. We can even convince ourselves that it is going much better than it actually is because it’s hard to admit we have been wrong.

In some of these instances, our well-meaning errors only affect ourselves. However, in other less fortunate circumstances, these best laid plans affect others and that is when we can feel even worse.

The effects on ourselves can still be costly. If not in money, in other ways such as on our emotions, which can affect our physical health and on our thoughts about our ability to make good decisions. So we can begin to question ourselves, our intelligence, our intentions.

The effects on others can be more costly. Best laid plans may seem the right path to us, even for others, but when we try to decide or guide the paths of others and they are unable or unwilling to follow them, the cost can be high. Anger, loss of trust, loss of relationships, and emotional turmoil. Even with the best of intentions, we have to remember that others need to choose their own paths.

So what happens when our best laid plans go wrong? Outside of the things mentioned above, we are usually presented with some choices. The choices of how to continue now that we realize our error and the choice to learn from making the error so as not to repeat it.

Choosing to continue isn’t really a choice, life goes on. Choosing in what way we continue, however, is a choice. We can continue with trying to be better and do better or we can continue with being angry or depressed about our errors.

Choosing to learn and not repeat is a full on choice that we have to make ourselves. We can choose not to learn and ignore our responsibility in the error and we can choose to continue to repeat it suffering over and over and possibly causing others to suffer as well.

The best laid plans with the sincerest of intentions can look and sound brilliant to us, but in reality our perceptions can be wrong. Errors are unavoidable in life. We humans are flawed and we make mistakes. But we are also able to learn and grow and that is the beginning of every mislaid plan.

Until next time, Deborah

Mistakes

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Mistakes come in two categories. Those we do not realize we are making and those we choose to make. Both can be life changing and education, if we let them.

The mistakes we do not realize we are making can be the hardest to manage. They sneak up on us when we think we are doing the right thing or making the right decisions. It can take time for it to play out and for us to see that maybe it wasn’t a good idea in the first place.

These mistakes can be sometimes hard to accept. The ones where we think we are being smart but it ends up that we might not be as bright as we thought we were or that we didn’t do enough research or moved too hastily.

These mistakes can also be the ones where we are unaware of the issues driving us to make them or that we have not acknowledged those issues. Getting into bad relationship after bad relationship out of a fear of being alone but wondering why we keep doing it.

These mistakes can teach us lessons and can provide us with the knowledge of what not to do again – IF we let them. Recognizing the mistake and why it was made and working towards not repeating it can be life changing especially if it’s one that we have made multiple times.

The other kind of mistake, one we knowingly choose, is much harder to manage. The one where we know it’s wrong, or we know why we are doing it and do it anyway, or the ones we make out of anger or sadness but we know we are doing it. These can make us feel worse about ourselves after. These can cause us to seek out self-medication for the guilt. These can hurt others as well as hurting ourselves.

Acknowledging our responsibility in chosen mistakes can be very painful and something we try to avoid. We can try to tell ourselves that it was not our fault and blame others. But the truth is in us and it can make us feel like crap about ourselves but we may not know how to stop repeating them.

Both types of mistakes require self examination. Really looking to see how these mistakes happened. Were they the first kind or the second? Why were they made? What is our responsibility in them? And how can we learn from them, not repeat them, and grow? If the mistakes are choices, how can we work through the things that are causing us to continue to make that choice?

Mistakes are not the end, but only the beginning of learning, growing, acceptance, and healing. IF we allow them to be those things. The next mistake you make, stop, examine, don’t blame yourself or others, learn, grow, heal and keep walking.

Until next time,
Deborah

The First and The Last

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Making the choice in your mind of what you think the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night can change your entire outlook and mood. One thought twice a day to change the direction of the rest of your thoughts.

How often do you open your eyes in the morning and say to yourself words such as – I slept terribly, my (insert body part here) hurts, I am still tired, I am in a bad mood, today is going to be a bad day, and on and on we go. These words are like the boot up for your brain for the day.

They turn on your system of thoughts and are the power source for everything that follows. If they are negative, everything that follows off of that power source will be negative.

However, if you open your eyes and say – I feel great, I am grateful for another day, I know today is going to be a good day, I am happy. The power source is switched. The boot up is positive. Endorphins are released. We are happier by default.

At night, it is the same patterns. We can end our day before going to sleep with all the negative things we experienced throughout the day. Or we can seek out the positive. Even if there is no positive to be found, we can end our day with tomorrow will be better, I am glad this day is over, I am grateful for sleep, I will dream of happy things. Visualize what you want to see in your sleep. Remember, what you input to your brain is what it will output to you.

Start to practice the first and the last words and thoughts of the day. If you find yourself defaulting to the negative, correct yourself, and insert the positive. Notice the output of your mind if you input the positive at these times of day.

The first and the last word and thoughts of the day can have a profound impact on your thoughts and feelings. Give it a try today and experience the change for yourself.

Until next time,
Deborah