Boundaries

Many of the problems humans suffer are as a result of unhealthy boundaries. These unhealthy boundaries start when we are very young by the way we allow others to treat us and make us feel. We are made to feel inadequate, or less than, by other people. We are in unhealthy situations where we are expected to be caretakers of others because our caretakers cannot function appropriately. We are made to feel as though we should be doormats for other people’s feelings, unresolved anger and trauma, or piled upon with heaping doses of guilt that are not ours to carry.

Regardless of how we come to allow people to treat us, we then start to believe this is how we should function in every relationship. We will always act as a doormat or a caretaker or that our needs mean nothing or our feelings are unimportant or we have to avoid making other people mad to avoid conflict or abuse. There can be many, many ways that we allow unhealthy boundaries and they can be very difficult to overcome.

How then do we move away from unhealthy boundaries? First, we must believe that we deserve to be treated better and that having boundaries is necessary. Second, we must love ourselves enough to implement boundaries regardless of how it makes others feel. Third, we must be willing to hold the line every time. Fourth, we must be prepared that the people we care about most will be the ones who push back the hardest when we enforce our boundaries.

If we have spent our entire lives allowing people to treat us in certain ways and expect that we will behave in certain ways when they do, we cannot expect that they will not be upset when we no longer comply. They will be very upset. They will take it personally. They will become angry with us. They will push back and want to reinforce that you have no boundaries. It will be very difficult to maintain the line. But if you are to be happy, to love yourself, to embrace what you deserve, you must hold the line.

We must start to draw our boundaries one event, one relationship at a time. We must find our voice to say no. We must express our feelings without anger yet filled with the truth. We must reinforce to ourselves daily, sometimes by the second, what we deserve, how we want to be treated, and that we love ourselves enough to have our relationships with others changed or abandoned.

Where do you need to start holding the line in your life?

Until next time,
Deborah

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. If you would like to schedule a FREE initial consultation please call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

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Right Now

Most people and their minds spend time in two places – the past and the present. Very few, spend time in the right now. Even when they think they are in the right now, what they are thinking, feeling, and doing is informed by their continued issues with the past or their fear of the future. The right now is rarely separated out, alone, to become their focus, their only focus.

When we feel overwhelmed it is usually because we have allowed events, feelings, memories of the past to “infect” our present. We have not processed these things and we continue to carry them with us making them our reality. They all have a starting place usually not one of our own making but we make them our truths. And we are convinced that everything we are experiencing right now is a result of the past. We unpack the bags we carry all that stuff in and start attaching the stuff to everything going on in our lives. Sometimes consciously sometimes unconsciously. It just becomes who we are. We become accustomed to the pain of things and afraid to live our lives without it.

We also pretend we are psychic and can see into the future. We predict the outcome of everything that is happening to us. We make it bigger, more scary, more upsetting. We go to worst case scenarios. We believe our lives will always be the way they are now. We predict everything including death as we make catastrophes at every moment of our lives. And we believe that this future we create is actually going to happen as if we have some magic machine to make it so. Guess what? We don’t and we can’t. It’s all made up.

What if we lived in the right now? With nothing added. Trimmed down to the barest essence of this moment. How would we change our stress or depression or anger? In any moment ask yourself the following:

What am I feeling right now? Name it, acknowledge it, examine it, do not grow it, entertain it, live in it. Do not make it about the past or future. If you are upset, why right now are you upset, what happened exactly right now? What can you do about it, anything,nothing? Let it go.
What am I doing right now? Standing, sitting, walking, driving, working. Name it describe it notice it. Notice your senses right now what do you see, smell, touch, taste, hear right now.
Breathe slowly. In through the nose out through the mouth. Breathe in hold for 4 seconds breathe out for 7 seconds. Notice the breathe, notice your body, notice your feelings.
Do not unpack the baggage of the past or predict the future. Stay in the right now.

We suffer first because of what we experience due to either our own choices or the choices of others. We experience thereafter because of the way we live in the past and predict the future. We extend our own suffering and become used to it, sometimes even comfortable with it. We can even become afraid not to have it because we feel we deserve to be angry, sad, scared in order to be who we have come to be. If we let that go, who will we be then without it?

If you want to find out who that person is, live in the now. Only the right now. Once you do that, it is easier to look at the past objectively and work through it and it is easier to see a future that is a blank slate waiting for you to write on it.

Live right now.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. For a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Change

Expecting someone else to change is one of the biggest issues humans struggle with. Believing that someone else will change because of something you do or something you say or because of how you feel is one of the biggest causes of unhappiness with many people.

We believe that if we behave in certain ways the other people will be happier and will therefore change to give us what we think we need or want. If we serve all their needs then they must in return serve ours. If we allow them to treat us as doormats or even to abuse us emotionally, physically, or verbally and we do nothing, they will automatically read our minds and know what we need from them and give it to us. If we allow them time and space to work out their own issues at our expense, surely they will one day change because they love us. None of this is true. No one changes unless they want to change.

We think that if we give them everything, not just emotionally but materially. If we buy our kids or our partners everything they want, they will see how much we love them and will change. If we get married, then they will change. If we have children, then they will change. If we tell them how badly we feel, then they will change. If we do everything for them and nothing for ourselves, surely they will change. If we stay with them no matter how much we suffer, they will change. One day they will change. But they will not unless they want to. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make someone else change anything about themselves at their core.

The other punishment we give to ourselves is that when we realize they are not going to change, ever, and we get angry because they are not changing. It’s almost as if we can’t believe after all we have done, sacrificed, given, they aren’t changing. As if we truly believed they would. And it’s because we do believe it, we convince ourselves that it is true. And when it doesn’t happen we get mad about it and we start pushing back. The other person, who never intended to change, then gets mad that we are pushing back and not continuing to give them everything they want. And this is where relationships go sideways. When the person who isn’t changing is confronted by a person who is finally tired that they are not changing things get messy. As long as you are going along like someone else wants you to, they have no reason to be upset with you. They are getting everything they want and you are giving it to them.

If you find yourself in a relationship, any relationship, where you have convinced yourself the other person will change, you need to start looking at yourself and not them. Looking at them is a waste of time – they are not changing. So that only leaves you. You have to change. And you have to realize that if you change they will change – but the change will only be in how they react to you. They will blame you for their being angry about you not doing everything the same way you have always done FOR them. They will be angry that you expect better for yourself and that you are doing it to hurt them or that you don’t love them. They will be angry in exactly the same way as a 2 year old is angry when you have a toy they want and you won’t give it to them. It is no different.

The truly hard part will come when you have to make a decision about the relationship. It is almost always going to be extremely difficult because the other person will be your parent, your child, your partner, your friend. They will be people you love. They will be people you share your life with. But the decision is either you change and you start managing your own happiness or you stay in the same place and quit wishing for them to change and be miserable. It’s just that simple and that difficult. If you choose yourself, you may be upset and sad for a while at losing that relationship, but eventually you will be happier with yourself.

Change or stay the same – the choice is yours – not someone else’s.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. For a Free initial consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Free Your Mind

Most of the time, our minds are on automatic pilot. The every day activities we repeat over and over are done without thought. Even in the doing of them, we do not think about WHAT we are doing and HOW we are experiencing it. Have you ever been driving from place to place and you cannot remember anything about the drive – the other cars, buildings, signs, traffic signals? Taking a shower, eating, getting dressed, cleaning the house, cooking, being on electronics are just some of the examples of automatic pilot living. We do it, but we experience none of it.

The other way our minds exist most of the time is trapped in our own thoughts, especially negative thoughts. These are also automatic or they become automatic over time. They take up all the space in our minds and we have room for nothing else. We experience nothing in our daily lives outside of these thoughts. They keep our mind full and prevent us from being MINDFUL.

Mindfulness is not the absence of thought. Mindfulness is not a single thing such as meditation or breathing. Mindfulness is not a religion. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a particular way and doing it on purpose or by choice (action) in the right now (this moment) without making judgments. Paying attention in a particular way can be using breathing, muscle relaxation, grounding, eating, and many other ways. Doing it on purpose requires that a choice be made to do it and action done for the experience of it – a conscious effort. In the right now, is this moment in time, not backwards or forwards, now, this second. Not making judgments means that thoughts come and go, emotions come and go we do not hold on to them, we do not form judgments about them positive or negative, we notice them and we let them go.

Mindfulness does not have to be a time consuming process. But it does need to be done regularly. If you are mindful once a month, it will make little difference to your overall state of being. If you want to change certain things about your life, you must change what you do. Mindfulness can be incorporated every day, little by little, starting with a single automatic pilot activity. Change starts with a single choice, repeatedly done, until the change becomes our automatic way of being.

These links can help you get started with becoming more mindful, living in the present moment, and being less judgmental about yourself and your thoughts/feelings:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Grounding Techniques

1 Minute Mindfulness Exercises

Remember it is about being MINDFUL not MIND FULL.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation please call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

You Are My Sunshine

Living in the northern latitudes, such as Montana, means that we are exposed to far less sunshine than other parts of the United States. The lack of sunshine exposure especially in the winter months, with much shorter daylight hours and lots of cloudy, snowy days, we get a lot less Vitamin D than many of our southern neighbors.

Many studies have been done on this lack of Vitamin D and the connection to depression and depressive symptoms. Montana has a very high rate of depression and suicide and this can be one of the reasons why. It is not the only reason, but many of the people I have worked with over the last few years have been very deficient in Vitamin D. Some when having their blood work done, have found that they had almost NO Vitamin D in their bodies and all of them had depression and depressive symptoms.

One study Depression and Vitamin D Deficiency: Causality, Assessment, and Clinical Practice Implications talks about the various causes for this deficiency and ways of possible treatment. It lists many foods from which we can get Vitamin D and unfortunately many of them are not foods that a lot of the people I see eat, such as liver, sardines, tuna, salmon, swordfish. Other causes are insufficient sunlight and malabsorption diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and others.

Anyone can be Vitamin D deficient. The only way to know for sure is to have blood work tested. Correction can be made in several ways adding Vitamin D2 or D3 supplements daily, increasing certain foods in your diet, and getting sunlight either outside or by using a seasonal affective disorder light.

I am NOT saying that a Vitamin D deficiency is the ONLY cause of depression nor am I saying that taking Vitamin D will cure all depression or that anyone should take Vitamin D instead of prescription medications. I am saying it can be an additional cause of depression and depressive symptoms and in some people a significant cause depending on the level of deficiency. If it can help then it is a very easy and natural way to boost how we feel.

If you or someone you know living in northern areas of the country has depression and/or depressive symptoms, it may very well be worth the time to have some blood work done to see about Vitamin D deficiency. It could be of a great deal of help to know and then to work to reduce it.

Here are some other articles for the link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression:

Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?

Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. To set up a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com