Pros and Cons

Many times during therapy sessions I ask clients a question, “What do you want?” It seems simple, straightforward, but in fact it is quite the opposite. The answer is tangled up in emotions, the past, fear, low self esteem, and much more. It can be very difficult to come up with what you want, with what you want to happen or change, with what your goals are. But deep down everyone knows them, fear usually prevents acknowledging what they are and accepting what will have to happen in order to obtain them.

When I talk to clients about what they want, I ask if they have ever made a list of the pros and cons for each one. Usually the answer is no. The only way to weigh them out is to truly see them. Writing is one of the most therapeutic ways available to all of us to analyze different parts of ourselves and our stories. Write out the pros and cons of what you want, what you want to happen or change, and your goals.

For example, if you want to remove yourself from a toxic relationship, what are the pros of that and what are the cons. You may be thinking, how can there be cons when removing something toxic from our lives, but every choice has consequences. Some are good and some are not. Pros – You might be happier, safer, freer, gain more self esteem, find better relationships, not be abused by that person, start a new life, protect others, etc. Cons – You might be alone for some time, you may lose family or people that are important to you but toxic, you might feel badly for the other person’s emotions if you leave, other people may blame you for how the toxic person reacts, you might not be happier or feel safer being alone, you might fear the changes that come with ending a relationship, etc.

But what is your ultimate goal in wanting this change? And if you don’t change will you ever be able to reach that goal? Can you continue the same as you are now and have anything change in yourself, for yourself? Remember we cannot change anyone else. So it is only you in the decision to change.

Fear will be the greatest enemy when weighing the pros and cons. Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ~ Jack Canfield Acknowledge what you fear and continue with the pros and cons. Acknowledge the cons, and proceed with the pros. Do not let fear keep you from what you truly want.

Until next time,
Deborah

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Boundaries

Setting and maintaining boundaries is one of the most difficult things for many people to do. Most of the time, it is because they have been taught by others that having boundaries is wrong. Why would anyone want someone else to feel that setting boundaries is wrong? Because they benefit from the other person NOT setting boundaries as it gives them whatever they want from that person without resistance. That is also why those very same people are the most angry and upset when we decide to put boundaries in place where there have been none.

As we are taught to believe that we have to please others in order to gain their love and friendship, we are taught to believe that we have to always say yes to them. Always be doing things FOR them. Always be giving of our time, our money, our feelings, our effort to make them happy so that they will care about us. This is a false relationship. What they care about is what you are doing for them, giving them, allowing them to take from you….it is not you the individual that they care about.

We can have no boundaries for years of our lives. We can come to believe that this is how we have to live. We can come to believe that this is necessary for any relationship we have. All the while, we are pouring from our cup until there is nothing left in the cup for ourselves. We are drained, tired, angry, sad, and empty in our efforts to fill the cups of others.

To examine your own personal boundaries have a look at this set of questions BoundarySigns Take some time to really think about and answer these questions. Think about all of your relationships from early in your life forward. What do your boundaries look like and why do they look that way?

After you have spent some time examining your boundaries and why they are the way they are, sit down and really think about your life priorities. Some examples of priorities are Work, Family, Health, Relationships, Recreation, Self-Care, Personal Growth, or Sports. There may be others that are priorities for you. Once you have your priorities, write down how you can focus on those for yourself not others. Again, for yourself and not others.

Doing these two things will provide you with more clarity about the state of your boundaries and what is really important to you. Then, you have to implement the changes necessary to start maintaining the boundaries necessary for your priorities to be realities.

Until next time,
Deborah

Growth Hurts

growth

Growing is a painful process. Change hurts. Fear of both keeps us stuck.

We fear the unknown. The situations that we have experienced in the past and the situations in which we currently allow ourselves to live – are familiar. We know them. We know what they will cost us. What we have to give up to stay in them. What we have to tell ourselves to be in them. These are things we know and so we do not fear them. Change and growth on the other hand are things we know nothing about and we are terrified of them.

If we grow what happens? What will change in our lives? Will it be better or worse than what we have now? Will we be alone – lose our relationships or our family members if we change or grow? What will this growth cost us?

There are no easy answers to those questions. There is no way to know what will happen. I am not sure there is even a way to stop the fear of growing and changing. But there are some other questions you can ask that may have an answer.

Are you happy reliving the past? Are you happy in the present? Do you want to keep living in the trauma of the past or the trauma of the present? Can you see yourself in the same place in a year, 5 years, 10 years? Do you want to continue to live the way you are living? Is a different life worth the risk of the pain of growth and change and the risk that you may lose people in the process?

Only by honestly answering these questions can we begin to pursue change and growth which is a process. Growth and change are not immediate. It takes time. Each person’s time is different. It is often painful. It is hard and we often want to give up because the familiar is so much easier, we think.

Do you want change and growth and what cost are you willing to pay for it?

Until next time,
Deborah

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Laughter Is The Best Medicine

The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” has been spoken for years and even though there may not have been a whole lot of science behind it long ago, there is now. Laughter is one of the most healing therapeutic tools that we all have access to.

Laughing especially an “old fashioned belly laugh” or “laughing until you cry” can cause the release of endorphins from the brain into the blood stream. Endorphins act as pain and stress reducers in the body. They are often referred to as a natural analgesic. Endorphins are released during exercise, when you eat chocolate, and when you laugh.

Some studies have shown that laughter decreases the stress producing hormones of the body including cortisol (a stress hormone very prevalent in women), epinephrine (which increases anxiety reactions), and decreases the effects of some dopamine repressing acids. Other studies have shown that laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity, thereby causing a decrease in depression symptoms.

If you have ever laughed so much that it made you cry or your face muscles or stomach muscles hurt and then right after noticed how you feel – it is almost an anesthetic type of euphoria. I know for myself laughing like this has made me feel completely relaxed afterwards almost as if I had exercised for 30 minutes. It was the same effect on my mind and my body.

Opportunities for laughter can be found all around us. The Internet is quite a resource for finding things that make us laugh in pictures and videos. Movies offer another resource of laughter. Books another. And personal interactions provide some of the best opportunities to laugh.

Laughter truly can be therapy and this book offers some insight into how laughter can help.

Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn’t Really Funny

Until next time,
Deborah

Color Yourself Calm

Coloring as therapy has grown exponentially in the last few years. Coloring books, pencils, markers, and coloring apps are some of the best selling products currently. Everyone is jumping on the coloring bandwagon, but what are the benefits of coloring on mental health? Depending on whether you are an adult or a child they can differ slightly, but some of the benefits exist for both groups.

Let’s start with the benefits for children and coloring. They are not all mental health related, but they all build skills and provide tools that help with both mental health and learning. Ten benefits for kids are: Improving motor skills, prepares them for school and school work environment, stimulates creativity, contributes to better handwriting, color awareness and the nuances of colors, improved focus and hand to eye coordination, structure and spacial awareness, improved confidence and self-esteem, and stress relief. Coloring with kids offers a wide range of learning, motor, and mental health benefits. Coloring can be used to help children learn focus and to calm down when frustrated. Coloring can be used to express feelings. Remember it doesn’t have to stay in any lines or shapes to be helpful. The actual act of coloring in any manner – even angry coloring – is beneficial.

For adults, the benefits are mainly related to mental health, but even adults, especially the elderly can benefit from the motor skills benefits of coloring. Some of the benefits for adults and coloring are: Coloring produces a meditative state in the brain, Stress and anxiety levels can be reduced, Negative thoughts are replaced as you create positivity through coloring, being focused on the present activity creates mindfulness, if you color without an app unplugging from technology allows for less screen dependence, you don’t have to be an artist to color, it expands the creative parts of your brain, and it is something you can do anywhere. Since it is portable you can have it with you where ever you are and whenever emotional issues arise. You can use it to gain mindfulness. Meditation mantras or affirmations in your mind while coloring boost positivity and increase the meditative state.

Coloring is not about being perfect, always inside the lines, or needing to look a specific way. Coloring can be completely abstract. It can be messy. It can be quick or very slow. It can be whatever you need and however you want to do it. The focus should be just that – focus. The coloring allows you to focus – your mind, your emotions, your energy in a specific area instead of having these things be out of control. Transfer thoughts, emotions, energy through your arm into your hands and onto the coloring surface. Visualize this happening as you color. If your thoughts and emotions wander, notice it, let it go, and bring your focus back to the coloring. Mindful meditation through art therapy with coloring.

Here are a few coloring books to get you started:

Happy coloring!

Until next time,
Deborah

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Mindful Motivation

mindfulmotivation

We all need a little motivation at times. Everyone has days that they struggle to be positive. Things that are difficult come to us all. In those times, it is sometimes helpful to have a little mindful motivation to use as positive affirmations to get us through the hard times. I hope that you find some helpful mindful motivation here today.

I hope you found some mindful motivation for your day here. If you feel you could use some other skills and tools for mindfully motivating yourself, I am accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. You can schedule an appointment by calling 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Until next time,
Deborah

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