In my last post I wrote about the importance of checking in with yourself emotionally; however, emotions are only one piece of self-awareness. “Know thyself,” asks a bigger question. This bit of wisdom from ancient Greece is often attributed to Socrates, but is likely even older, and was reportedly carved into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Does self-knowledge still matter?
Knowing oneself has always mattered. But a lot has changed over the past 2500 years, so this desire shows up today in ways that Socrates never could have imagined.
Consider the smart phone. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 77% of adults in the United States own a smart phone. Only fifty years ago, we all talked into identical black telephones with cords, without Caller ID or voice mail. In contrast, the smart phone’s ability to make mere phone calls isn’t the secret to its success. These palm-sized devices often become a miniature hub-of-self, comprising a person’s entire identity.
No part of the smart phone better represents our interest in self-knowledge than the camera, with which one can snap, save, edit, and then inevitably share, a selfie.
We have the ability to curate an endless number of carefully crafted images that shape the identity we choose share with the rest of the world. Selfies represent how we want to be seen by others. They do not show that we truly understand ourselves. We need look no further than the popularity of Snap Chat filters (even the puppy one) that smooth skin and widen eyes to prove this point.
I’ve got nothing against selfies. They’re fun. But they direct the desire to be known outward when it can go inward as well.
Self-reflection: a selfie for the soul.
The wish to know oneself becomes less daunting if you admit you don’t need to have all of the answers. Sometimes acknowledging mixed feelings about a life choice is a necessary first step to make if you want to make a change such as drinking less coffee or getting more sleep.
Whether you tackle self-reflection alone or work with a therapist, begin the process with a few simple questions:
What am I thinking right now?
What emotions do I feel?
What physical sensations am I experiencing?
How do these three answers affect my behavior?
These questions riff on Dr. Aaron T. Beck’s cognitive behavioral model. Asking these four questions in a variety of settings, from the everyday to the singular, generates important information about how you respond to life’s ups and downs. Slowing down long enough to answer them creates an opportunity to learn, grow, and hopefully make the kind of decisions worthy of authentic celebration.
A celebration which will, of course, be captured with a selfie.
Photo credit: Roderigo Olivera
Being a therapist for 25+ years I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why people don’t go to therapy. Here are the top 5 reasons I hear people say they don’t go to therapy.
- I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious, fill in the blank.
- I know what’s wrong with me. I should be able to deal with this myself.
- It’s embarrassing.
- It costs too much.
- It’s too hard find a good therapist.
Do any of these sound familiar? I thought so. Continue reading to hear my gazillion years of experience refute these reasons!
5 Reasons *Not* To Go To Therapy
I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious
1. I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious, fill in the blank. What drives me crazy is when I hear people say, “Wow, I should have come in months ago.” Yeah, I want to say, so why didn’t you? OK, well, that’s what this article is about. We feel stuck, like life is hard work, but that’s just life, right? This blah feeling is normal, isn’t it? Doesn’t everyone feel this way?
What is depressed enough? What is anxious enough? This is hard to say, in part because we’re the frogs in the pot so sometimes the worst judges. The first time I went to therapy it was at the suggestion of my dad. I was insulted! I was doing fine. To humor him I went and my therapist said, “You are depressed.” Still incredulous I heard him rattle off my symptoms, like, feeling lost, lack of motivation, listlessness, emotional flatness, no great sadness but no joy either. I did not like the image in the mirror he held up to me but he was right and something about how he talked to me, listened to me, sparked a long dormant hope.
I know what’s wrong with me
2. I know what’s wrong with me. I should be able to deal with this myself. All I need to do is work harder, write in my gratitude journal every day, stop eating too much, drinking too much, stop being lazy, get a new job, exercise more, be more positive… So yeah, this is all great and if we can do it we do feel better for a while. Then for some weird reason we go back to the old habits, not writing in our journal, eating and drinking too much, loosing motivation and the negative thoughts creep back louder than ever.
If we’re lucky, we know what we need. We may even know how to do it. So what stops me from doing what I know is good for me? A good therapist is like a good architect. You’ve got the tools, materials and desire to build a bridge. You can see the shore on the other side of the river where you want to go. The architect listens to you, gets behind your vision, sees the spot on the other shore where you want to go and gets to work with you to build the bridge to get there.
It’s embarrassing to go to therapy
3. It’s embarrassing. Stigma is alive and kicking. Except for some neighborhoods in New York City, announcing that you see a therapist may be greeted by the sound of chirping crickets. Or worse. The culture we live in may be accepting and encouraging which would be great, but too often it’s really not. Embarrassment is a close kin to shame which is toxic to growth.
Over the years I’ve seen a change. Thank God. Younger adults are more apt to see going to a therapist like going to any professional for specialized services, an attorney, accountant, medical doctor. Where is the embarrassment in getting your teeth cleaned every six months?
Therapy costs too much
4. Also, I don’t have time. Going to therapy is an investment there’s no way to get around that. You invest more than money. You invest your time and energy. This is all about priorities. If we know the value of something, whether it’s a pair of shoes or new car, we find a way to pay for it. If we really want to do something, like attend a rock concert in Cleveland, we find the time to make it happen. Why is it so much harder to prioritize our own well-being?
It’s too hard find a good therapist
5. Too hard find a good therapist. This one is the easiest because you’re here. At EWN we do our best to get you to the right therapist for you. If we don’t fit what you need, that’s OK, we have the experience and know-how to help you find the best therapist for you. Call us.
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
“I don’t know if it’s a function of age or temperament, but I’m no longer seeking those major exclamation points of pleasure. I want a life that has pleasure contained within it.”
Your teen’s smartphone may not be as smart as you would like it to be. Teens today are presented with a world that did not exist that long ago. Giving your child a smartphone can introduce risks that you may not anticipate.
When teens open various apps such as Kik, Meetup or even Facebook, they could be inviting predators into their lives without realizing it. This can introduce cyberbullying, sextortion, blackmail and relationships that can become lethal. Yes, that means it could threaten their safety and ultimately their life.
Recently I was interviewed by a reporter who knew of my work with adolescent girls. In the article ‘Sextortion’ of girls can make smartphone as lethal as a gun, I’m quoted:
“It’s a very vulnerable age. They need attention. They are trusting. They want to feel loved,” Maleski said. “They also may feel like they’re in an adult relationship, so they feel mature and that they can handle it.”
Yoga class. Downward dog. As my hands push into the floor and my legs quiver in response to a deep stretch, I begin to wonder… Am I doing this right? Are my legs and arms where they’re supposed to be? In an instant my attention is off my mat. My eyes and mind wander to the others around me in the room. I begin comparing their postures to mine and wiggle around my mat to make what I think are the adjustments I SHOULD make.
Before I know it I am no longer gently working on myself but rather beating myself up! Becoming aware of this, oddly enough, I start to judge my judging! “Wow what a cycle!” I thought as my confidence began to dwindle.
Then I remembered the intention I set for my practice that day: “Listen to your body.”
Gathering my thoughts, I gently escorted them back to my mat. Refocused, I coached myself through letting go of all of my high expectations, the things I thought I should be doing. The object of my attention became just sensing my body, awareness of my pose. My thoughts shifted to “I can do this. I will do my best.”
Soon my self-doubt and uncertainty faded. A sense of calm and stable confidence replaced it. As I leaned into the stretch of the pose with my breath and attention focused, my downward dog not only felt more comfortable but it was in a deeper position than before!
Only a few minutes worth of thoughts on my mat but, oh, how they represented my daily life struggle. Always striving to be better, to meet high expectations and to do what I “should” be doing, it took a long time to see how these thought patterns keep me anxious and feeling guilty. Now with the power of my “I can only do my best” mantra, I can feel confident and therefore more at ease. Who would have thought!
Here’s your gentle challenge: Turn a curious eye to how often you put a “should” or “must” on yourself today. Instead, be kind. Remember that who you are and what you’re doing is your best in this moment. And that is good-enough!
Nicole Newcomb-Chumsky practices mindfullness and cognitive behavioral therapy at Explore What’s Next. Contact her today to learn more.
Whoever said being a 14 year old girl is easy probably hasn’t been a 14 year old girl! The struggle she has to go through to find her True Self and still be accepted can cause many a teen girl to lose her voice.
The article How Can We Help Young Girls Stay Assertive, describes research on adolescent girls “losing their voice” resulting in low self-esteem and lack of assertiveness. This phenomenon can cause teen girls to feel like they don’t belong, leading to isolation, even self-harming thoughts and/or behaviors.
Anyone who is a parent of a teen girl, a counselor or teacher accepts the job to help them feel more secure and to speak up for themselves! Here are some suggestions to help. The first five are from the article. The last four are from my work with teen girls:
1. Encourage her interests. Support her in her pursuits, whatever they are. Linda Hoke-Sinex, Indiana University Bloomington, says, “When she [the teen] has an area in which she feels confident, it can act as a touchstone to build confidence in other areas of her life.”
2. Point out pressure from social media. Unrealistic media images and the pressure on women to look and act in certain ways is constantly in young people’s faces. Girls may be subject to brutal criticism or bullying on social media because of how they look or act. Unless parents monitor interactions on social media they might miss communication that contributes to corrosive self-doubt.
3. Watch your own talk. Dr. Mendez-Baldwin of Manhattan College says, “Sometimes, women inadvertently send messages to their daughters by focusing on their weight and their appearance. [They say] ‘Oh I need to lose weight’ or ‘I don’t look good’ or ‘I need to get Botox to remove these wrinkles,’ and then that sends a message to the girls that they need to focus on their appearance and that their self-worth is connected to their appearance.”
A few years ago I wrote this piece originally for PsychCentral. The message is still relevant today.
At the interview for my first professional job, my future boss asked me, “I notice you’re married. Are you planning to get pregnant?” After I picked my jaw off the floor I stammered, “Uh… no?”
It was a totally illegal question and the shocker was it came from a woman. What I should have done was run screaming for the nearest exit. But the job was offered, I took it and three years later I quit with a raging case of Post-Traumatic Boss Disorder.
Rule #1: How you are treated from ‘go’ is a good indicator of how you will be treated on the job. The first phone call, your interview, how an offer is made and how negotiations are handled…
My boss made me think I was her confidant. She gave me the plum jobs and ‘confided’ to me that everyone else was inferior. I was young, naive and, frankly, full of myself. For two years my feet hardly touched the ground.
It didn’t last. The Boss-zilla is a soul-sucking manipulator of narcissistic proportions. He hooks you in with compliments and seductive ‘let’s be friends’ invitations. First you are the golden child, held above all others and then he tears out your heart and shows it to you while it’s still pumping..… uh… Did I say that out loud?
Rule #2: Keep a healthy distance. You cannot be friends with your boss.
Into the third year, my work was bounced back to me bleeding red edits. My boss started calling me into her office for ‘feedback’ sessions that got more and more humiliating. How did I lose my touch? Answer: I didn’t. I was the same hard-working nerd I always was; it was my boss’s attitude toward me that had changed.
Rule #3: You are neither all good nor all bad.
My co-workers hated me. As long as I was the ‘good’ one I didn’t care. When things went south I couldn’t take being isolated anymore and I started talking with other staff. Generously they forgave me and shared their own horror stories of abuse from my boss. What an eye opener!
Rule #4: Keep open diplomacy among co-workers.
They don’t have to be your friends but you should be able to compare notes just like siblings do about their parents. Dysfunctional bosses often use the old divide and conquer game to keep staff malleable.
Once I realized it wasn’t me, that it was a sick, dysfunctional corporate culture that allowed my boss to be abusive, I had a decision to make. My moment of truth came when I realized I had become someone I didn’t recognize and didn’t like. Depressed, obsequious, timid, who was this person? I wanted my spirit back and the only way for me was to leave. So I quit. That sounds easy. It wasn’t. It took months to find a job that felt like a good move, not a big step backwards.
Rule #5: Learn to define yourself by who are, not what you do.
Or “Don’t forget to have a life.” A lot of us were raised to think our end-all and be-all is our occupation. The first thing we tend to ask each other after being introduced is, “So what do you do?” I’ve had clients, grown men miserable in their jobs, shrink from the idea of quitting primarily because they have no idea who they are without the job. Family and friends (my husband was great at this) help us remember we are parents, church and temple members, coaches, thinkers, readers, spouses, travelers, life adventurers and more. These roles are constant no matter what the job is.
Rule #6: Always remember you have options; quitting is only one of them.
If you think you don’t, you will become depressed, a burnt-out shadow of your former self. Find a psychologist, life coach or career counselor to help you regain the perspective you’ve lost in abusive boss hell.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one Boss-zilla story. A power-mad night supervisor at Taco Bell or a VP at a Fortune 500 company, it’s all the same. Post-traumatic Boss Disorder (PTBD) is no joke. It took me a good year to stop shaking every time my new boss asked me to his office for a conference.
Rule #7: Living well is the best revenge.
Giving notice to Boss-zilla was as bad as I thought it was going to be. She called me ungrateful; I was told my poor performance would follow me wherever I went. What kept me calm throughout her tantrum was knowing my new job was at a very prestigious institution, which had to be killing her. She didn’t need to know there was no salary increase.
PTBD struck again many years later. Older and wiser, I recognized the signs early and took action quicker than before. From then on I’ve been self-employed. Today I’m happy to say my boss is usually pretty reasonable.
Originally published on PsychCentral
Editor’s Note: Here’s Nicole with some ideas about how to selfie in a way that grows your self-esteem!
Selfie: Noun: an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks (Merriam-Webster)
Imagine that you just spent an hour trying to take a selfie in your awesome new outfit. You did your make up just right, your hair fell just like you wanted and after 30 different poses you got the perfect selfie for your new online profile pic. Trying different poses, lighting and facial expressions to make everything look just right took time and energy. You are so excited to post it and see what compliments you get. After posting and waiting a while the comments start to flood in. There are some compliments about how great you look but in the mix of comments a friend posts that you don’t look as good as you used to. Instantly, your flame of excitement burns out and turns into a self-critical mind warp. You are left being self-conscious all day.
It seems most profile pictures these days are selfies and the word has even made it to the dictionary. For a while I was nervous about this new trend where the intent was to portray yourself (seemingly in promiscuous ways) to appeal to others. As the trend caught on and selfies became more about making memories, I began to be more open-minded. I even started taking a few of my own! However, I could not stop my brain from analyzing the pros and cons. I began wondering if this trend was something that would benefit or hurt me.
Like anything you do too much of, or do irresponsibly, selfies can have negative consequences. They can open the door to:
- Attract attention. Not all attention you get on social media is positive. It is important to be prepared to handle criticism or unwanted attention. Knowing how to handle these situations before hand can help create a more positive online experience.
- New preoccupation with looks. If you were not already concerned about the way you look, you might all of a sudden find yourself worrying about it. Don’t forget, life is not about your looks but rather the way you interact with the world!
- Worry more about what others think. If you are posting a picture of yourself and choosing how others see you, it is normal to think, “What will my friends think about my new tattoo.” However, it is more important what you think. Be proud of what you are promoting in your selfie!
- Over sharing. As stated earlier, it is important to be responsible with what you decide to share on social media. Letting people know where you are and who you are with at every second leaves you vulnerable. Not every one needs to know you are “out with your whole family and the poor dog is home alone.”
Making a presence on social media has many risks. It has a very well know link to cyberbullying. But what about the positives? Let’s face it, social media is not going anywhere. Used responsibly, I can see where it can have benefits such as:
- Build your own identity. You get the chance to decide how you want people to see you. We are not talking photo shop here! You can portray your artistic, fun loving or adventurous side. Your selfie has the capacity to communicate a lot more than your looks.
- Gain confidence. It’s ok to show off your strengths! Let people see that you can do a headstand or that you won an excellence award. Why strive for growth if we cannot share it?
- Spend more time with yourself. I cannot sit here and say that you won’t think about how your physical appearance looks in your selfie. So, turn it into time for self-care: primp, wear outfits that make you feel good or practice your smile! These self-care tips promote higher self-esteem and make for a good selfie!
- Make more memories. By taking selfies, you are not always the one behind the camera.
So how do I choose whether or not to selfie? Ask yourself, “Does posting these pictures making me feel better or worse about myself? Is it safe?” If it makes you feel truly better and you do it responsibly, selfie it up! If you feel worse or are being risky with your behavior then it might be beneficial to hold off and talk to a therapist about your experiences.
Give Nicole a call at 585.737.4564, find her on Facebook, or email her at email@example.com to schedule your fee-free initial consultation!
Many people complain that whatever they do it isn’t ever good enough. Then they get a rash of “I get so angry at myself” –itis. Who is their harshest critic? You guessed it. They beat themselves up with what amounts to verbal self-abuse.
Boy, do I know how that feels:
“Why did I get an 89 on that report? It should have been 100. I’m an idiot!”
“What was I thinking when I called in sick? I should have gone into work anyway. Now my boss will think I’m a bum. I am a bum!”
“Why did I eat that pie? Why did I eat two pieces of pie? I’m fat and out of control!”
A lot of us are guilty of being mean to ourselves in a way we would never tolerate form anyone else.
It has got to stop! Here’s how:
1) Tune in, like you would a radio dial, to the voices in your head. How are they sounding? Supportive or nasty? Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how cruel we can be to ourselves until we detach just enough to listen as an observer. Write some of it down. Let that help you realize the extent of the verbal self-abuse you’ve been sustaining. During an episode of depression I did this and was surprised to learn how unkind I was to myself.
2) Whose voice is it? It isn’t yours. Your genuine voice is thoughtful, even when you legitimately need a kick in the butt. Trust me on this. Often that harsh voice you hear is a parent or other adult who had an impression on us when we were kids. Back then our brains were sponges that soaked up and internalized everything, including repeated criticisms.
Isolate and defuse that negative voice. Identify where it came from and realize its origin was outside of yourself. Take another moment to filter through the ‘noise’ of the mean voice. Underneath all that muck is your genuine voice or your ‘gut’. That voice is reasonable and supportive. Listen to it.Read More...