Yup, times have changed. What used to be considered a cute duet between a couple sharing a winter evening together has a wee bit of an uncomfortable feel these days. I heard about this new version on NPR and thought it was worth a share in case you haven’t heard it yet. Merry Christmas!
This quote (one of my favorites) is all about avoidance and procrastination. Avoidance and procrastination, the twin demons of my psyche, generate anxiety and guilt. Dr. Brown offers the antidote to anxiety driven by guilt in her concise, direct way. If I were a tattoo kind of girl I’d tattoo that quote into the palm of my hand so I could see it everyday. Choose discomfort over resentment.
“But I don’t want to be uncomfortable!” I whine. Uncomfortable sucks. Is it really better than resentment?
Yeah. I’m afraid so. Discomfort is a moment to work through. Resentment is forever. Discomfort is like a sleepless night before confronting a task at work or presenting a report to the boss or picking up the phone to say “No” to the latest request from a friend, the kids’ school, a cause you really believe in. Oh my God, my heart is beating faster just imaging this! Does yours?
When we push through the guilt and nerves, we make the phone call and keep our promise to ourselves to say “No”, we feel relief, maybe even pride. No resentment; anxiety gone. What’s left is an eye blinking moment when we admit to ourselves that that wasn’t so bad. We sleep like babies.
What if the stakes are higher? Starting a new business, taking the first step in breaking up a relationship, facing those monstrous obstacles that get in the way of our happiness… The higher the stakes the greater the discomfort and the potential resentment.
We all know people who have “If only” syndrome. “If only I did this when I was younger,” or “if only I did that when I had the chance.” If we’re lucky we know a few people who did choose discomfort over resentment. They say, “Yup, I quit that soul sucking job, one of hardest things I ever did, and then I did something I’d been wanting to do all my life.” Or…”When I finally left him I was scared to death, but here I am free to make my own way and I’m so excited for the adventure of it all.” Often they are the same person, which can be very cool.
The Explore What’s Next logo represents a hill which itself represents a well-loved metaphor about confronting anxiety. The thing we avoid is at the top of the hill. The hardest part is putting one foot in front of the other, believing in your worthiness and strength even when every cell in our body wants to turn around and run back down. Therapy is often about learning that you’ve got what it takes to lean into that discomfort, get to the top of the hill and enjoy the view.
Waking up a little draggy this morning I turned to RuPaul. She perked me right up, so of course I had to share!
Five more Inspirational Quotes from Momma Ru:
- “True wealth is having the knowledge to maneuver and navigate the mental obstacles that inhibit your ability to soar.”
- “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.”
- “Rise up and be a Masai warrior. Stake your claim in this lifetime. Remember who you really are. Unleash the dragon and let these bitches have it!”
- “…You are none of the superficial things that this world deems important. The real you is the energy force that created the entire universe!”
- “Biggest obstacle I ever faced was my own limited perception of myself.”
And one of the best positive calls to find a good therapist I’ve ever heard:
“Learn to love yourself, ’cause if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Did I miss your favorite RuPaul-ism? You must share, too! Click on the Comments button above the post to pass on the wisdom. <3
“He is a wise man
who does not grieve for the things which he has not,
but rejoices for those which he has.”
~Epictetus, Greek philosopher and a very wise guy
There are lots of reasons not to be crazy about this holiday. Putting up with kids that aren’t yours, in-laws who have an uncanny ability to push all your buttons, license to over-eat and over-drink, conversations that are either too intense or too boring and, my personal favorite, a lot of tongue-biting just to get through the day in one piece.
I can only imagine that for many of us this post-election 2016 Thanksgiving may rise to new heights of stressful. The confusion, grieving, fear and anger are still raw. For the sake of the children, and our own state of mind, let’s refocus. Thanksgiving is a time of healing, bringing together and above all love.
Give yourself permission to feel OK. Allowing yourself to be happy does not mean that you’ve accepted a situation you do not like, or that you are done trying to figure out your place in a changed world.
Here are some articles for you because there may be people who aren’t as wise as you are and won’t know when to shut up…
In therapy, when a disaster strikes it’s usually not my disaster. Usually it’s my patient’s crisis that we address. Usually I exercise my empathic superpowers to identify with them so that they are assured I understand what they’re going through. Therapeutic empathy means identifying feelings in oneself (the therapist) that nurture the working relationship while keeping clear boundaries. Your feelings are yours, not mine. The ‘Not Mine’ part keeps me emotionally detached enough to help you.
In graduate school, professors drilled into us how important it was to keep a proper clinical distance from our patients, the same way a surgeon learns to cut in and muck around in a person’s insides without feeling that person’s pain. If we don’t, our ability to do our best job to help people with their distress is compromised.
This election of 2016 made many of us feel as if we were hit by a huge Mack truck; the same Mack truck many of our patients were hit with. What do we do then? What does a therapist do when there is little if any distinction between the trauma their patient is experiencing and their own?
First, we do not bring up any Mack truck trauma unless our client does. That’s important. If our client does not suffer from *PTSD and is feeling perfectly comfortable and satisfied with the state of the world we focus on what is important to them. But if they do, and you are having a hard time yourself, try this:
1. Be human. A little self-disclosure can be a gift to the patient, a way of saying I get it because I’m there. The therapist has to be skilled to do this with just the right touch, not too much, not too little; but when does right it can be powerful. After she disclosed her panic, I told one patient that my brain was running away with me, leaping from “this is going to happen, then this, then that, until nuclear holocaust.” She opened her arms to me in a gesture of inclusion and said with a grateful exhale, “Yes! Thank you for saying that! That’s exactly what happens to me.”Read More...
Therapists are loath to publicly disclose their political leanings. Tradition from Freudian times has held us to the blank slate standard. Generally we see it as unprofessional to let show anything that smacks of personal opinion. It’s key to give people the opportunity to trust us not to be judgmental. Non-judgment is a fundamental platform of a good, trusting, working, therapeutic relationship. Therapy is about you not me.
The presidential election season of 2016 turned that standard on its head. Many well-respected psychotherapists across the country and the world felt they had to say something. This election was like no other in so many ways; this was on of them. Therapists spoke their truth out-loud due to their sense of civic duty.
I did this quietly one person at a time. If someone asked me a question directly, “Who are you voting for?” I told them. Hillary. Often the talk, regardless of which candidate my patient was for, quickly turned to anxiety. Everyone expressed worry of the outcome. There were plenty of stories in the news media about anxiety being the dominant mood in the electorate. So much, in fact, that I chose not to write about it here, on this blog.
I’m sorry about that. I feel like I let you down.
No more. We need to live on. We have people who depend on us. We need to take care of our kids. We need to work. We need to take care of our homes and parents, our clients and businesses.
To do this under the weight of the unbelievable becoming real, we need to take care of ourselves, too. I want to help. So I will share with you my recovery plan which I am sort of making up on the fly.Read More...
The New York weather was perfect. The autumn sun back-lit the golden leaves, the air just cool enough for a sweater. I’ve never seen so many people crowding the church hall. The positive energy in the air made me hopeful.
It was the antidote to election stress and anxiety I needed.
I love my polling place. The people who run it are wonderful, efficient, well-organized and so nice! This is where I’ve always voted ever since moving to Western New York. It’s where my children learned about voting. They would crowd into the voting booth with me, help me click in my choices and pull the lever together with one final satisfying ka-chunk!
My neighborhood is suburban so you might be surprised to hear it is also amazingly diverse. My neighbors are African American, East Indian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Daughters of the American Revolution, hunters and gun owners. They are parents, grand-parents, care-givers, teachers, doctors and business owners. We are Democrats and Republicans. We all get along and we all love our country.
So when I entered my polling place to see the crowd I was so happy to feel the excitement, the sense of unity and goodness in together doing our civic duty. I pray it is this way across the country.
Afterward, I went to the bake sale in the room next door. The church where I vote always has a bake sale going on Election Day. What better or more American way to treat yo’self after voting than with some cookies and an apple pie?
From Dr. Aletta: EWN continues to grow! The latest member of our team, Dr. Amy Brook, brings with her seasoned knowledge and experience helping people who fight the demons of depression, anxiety and trauma. Her new workshop “ACT on Depression” provides a model for anyone who has recovered from a major depressive episode and want an effective and kind way to maintain a healthy perspective.
Here she is in her own words:
“I believe that sometimes healing involves telling your story to a compassionate, skilled listener, and that sometimes being stuck in the story is part of the problem. I meet each person I work with where they are in their process and offer skilled collaboration and support in deepening their awareness of their own internal experience in ways that facilitate healing and living a fuller, more satisfying life. I have a general practice with a specialty in trauma treatment and am happy to consult to other professionals.
I draw on mindfulness based approaches to treatment ranging from the skills-based, behavioral strategies of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to the values-driven approach of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Somatic Experiencing offers a powerful way to access the body’s organic intelligence and restore balance after trauma.
My work at Explore What’s Next will focus on groups and workshops rather than individual therapy. In early November I will be starting an exciting new group, ACT On Depression, based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with a focus on teaching skills to heal from depression.”
For more information or to schedule a thirty minute screening session with Dr. Brook, please contact her directly at email@example.com or 307.278.9040.
A note from Dr. Aletta: I am so happy to introduce you to Dr. Alla Andelman. She joins the Explore What’s Next Team as a seasoned psychologist with in-depth knowledge and training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Her passionate caring for her patients, appreciation for the fullness of life and good sense of humor fits right in. So that you can get to know her, I asked her a few questions…
Why did you decide to become a psychologist?
I got into psychology for two reasons. First, I attribute my love of understanding people to a children’s book that I read in 2nd grade. It was called “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by A. Wolf.” This little book tells a story we know very well, but from the point of view of the villain, who, in this story, is not a villain at all, but rather a reasonable character who shares reasons for his actions and how they were misinterpreted. The concept of figuring out the other side of the story blew me away! From then on, I argued for the villains in various books and movies in debates with friends. More importantly, I think it began my development of empathy, which is such an important part of being a psychologist, which is to say, being able to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand their experience from their eyes.
The second reason for going into this profession was somewhat of a fluke. My love of understanding people led to my continued love of reading and writing stories. I was in a Humanities program in high school which required taking extra English and History courses. I chose AP Psychology because I thought it might be interesting and would get me out of Physics! I missed the deadline for applications, but my advisor put me into the class anyway. Needless to say, my mind was blown for the second time in that class. This led to my struggle of choosing between English and Psychology for my college major. Ultimately, real life stories won out over those on the page.
Who do you like to work with?
I love working with a wide range of diverse people. This includes adults and teens who are in a transitional stage of their life. I work with anyone “in between” trying to figure who they are in the new phase they find themselves in. Every phase of life comes with its own challenges. Depression or anxiety often accompanies the confusion and stress of going through puberty, starting college, launching into adulthood, figuring out gender identity or transitioning. Same goes for older adults, looking for a career change, recently widowed or divorced, retirees who are seeking to redefine their lives, all kinds of situations.Read More...