A New EWN Group: Women Empowering Women In A Changing World!



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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

Don’t you love that quote? I don’t know how many women I’ve met who say this quote is an all time favorite. Why does it speak to us?

Because change is scary. Because it takes a lot of guts to face the change instead of avoiding it, to take charge of our own story instead of handing it over to someone else to tell for us, to take center stage and be the star of our show instead of sitting on the side lines!

Yup, it’s all risky. ‘Cause who can tell us how it’s all going to turn out?

We have fooled ourselves into thinking we can handle it all! Society and our own perfectionistic-y egos tell us we should be able to handle it all! Yet despite all our resources we begin to get frayed around the edges. Exhaustion, sleep troubles, emotional eating, irritability…

We become the frog in the pot, cooking ourselves slowly into shadows of our former selves.

During times of transition we can all use a little help from our friends to remind us how awesome we are!

That’s where our new Explore What’s Next group comes in!

Why go it alone? Transition can be overwhelming! It’s OK to think that, even say it out loud. Coping with aging parents and children’s needs, empty nesting, illness, changes at work or in a relationship and more – sometimes all at once!

Our new group is designed to give you support on your path of change. Our goal is for you to grow out of Overwhelmed and into Empowered! We provide a safe, comfy place where you can just be you, inspired by new ideas and perspectives, validated and encouraged.

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Robin Williams, Depression & Suicide



I will not judge Robin Williams’ death. In my work I see what severe depression does to a person’s cognitive functioning, the self-loathing and hopelessness that are its hallmark. Substances are often turned to in a desperate, and yes, misguided, attempt to lessen the pain. We all know what good that does.

Suicide is *not* a selfish act. It is the horrifyingly logical conclusion of a devastating illness that takes every ounce of our self-worth away. The “selfish” act is to listen to the healthy voice, inside us, however weak and tiny that says, “Live! You deserve life’s gifts.”

If you are worried about a loved one or are suffering yourself from thoughts of self-harm call 800-273-TALK immediately.

5 Ways To Avoid Procrastination – Get Started!



My friend, Carolyn Thomas, of Heart Sisters, posted a comment on my recent article 3 Ways To Avoid Procrastination. She wrote:

Hello again Dr. A!

Sisyphus and his rock had nothing on me. This week is my daughter’s second wedding anniversary. I’m embarrassed to admit that for two years, I’ve had two (empty) photo albums I’d offered to complete for her (plus 600+ wedding photos) sitting in a big basket full of (expensive!) wedding-themed scrapbooking embellishments in the corner of the living room, all of it reminding me every time I pass that corner of the room that this task is HOW long overdue?!?!

I know, I know, I know – if I would only pull it all out onto the dining room table and just get started (as you point out in #2), I could polish off this creative project in due course – and probably actually have fun creating it.

I do have a beaut of a procrastination excuse, however. On her wedding day, her Dad became very ill. He managed to walk his only daughter down the aisle before one of our guests (a physician) insisted that he needed to go straight to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and stayed in Intensive Care for over two weeks, seriously ill. So instead of leaving on her honeymoon, our daughter sat vigil with her new hubby at her Dad’s bedside for those two weeks.

As you can imagine, when we look at those wedding photos now, it brings back a nightmarish memory of a day that started off so beautifully but ended with such high drama. Hundreds of photos of her smiling a frozen little pasted-on smile, trying bravely to get through the reception, the dinner, the endless speeches, the party afterwards – when really all she could think of was her Dad who wasn’t there. I dread looking at those photos of her – and let’s face it, she’s in almost every one!

The timing of your post is near-perfect – just the boot in the bum I need. Thank you for this!
regards,

Dear Carolyn,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I sincerely hope your daughter’s father is well and able to enjoy her second wedding anniversary with the family.

What a doozy of a procrastination excuse! That’s how sneaky and devious that Anxious Avoidance Voice can be. It can hit us where we live so that we’re convinced that avoidance is the right thing to do. Reading your story, anyone with a heart would say, well, of course you don’t want to look at those photos! Put them away! Don’t suffer looking at them. A lot of us can identify with your situation. I spent well over a year avoiding cleaning out my father’s clothes closet after he passed away and felt terrible about it every time I walked by.

I am so happy that the Avoid Procrastination article inspired you! It sounds like you’re determined to get your project done now! I came up with a few more suggestions (see below) that I hope will make your Sisyphean task a bit easier, not just for you but for any of us who are faced with a similarly painful, long avoided project.

Warmest wishes, Elvira

~***~

1. Know that getting started is the hardest part. There’s this thing called entropy. It’s a physics thing but I believe it applies to emotional energy as well. When NASA needs to blast a satellite into space, it takes massive amounts of rocket fuel to push out of the pull of Earth’s gravity. That huge effort then dissipates once the satellite is in orbit. Procrastinating anxiety wants us to think that the same huge effort it takes to get started will be needed throughout the execution of the task. That is just too much for anyone to bear! The truth is that once you are out of the sticky pull of doing nothing, the energy needed to keep your momentum, to keep on course, is nothing compared to the initial, getting-started effort.

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3 Ways to Avoid Procrastination



What if Sisyphus wasn’t being punished by the gods? What if he was an avoider? A chronic self-saboteur? What if Sisyphus rolled that huge boulder almost to the top of the hill and thought, “Screw it, this is just too hard!” and he steps back and lets it go?

Unhappy Sisyphus

He’d feel instant relief. “Oh, man, that feels so much better!” He’d stretch his back, roll his neck, maybe sits down to enjoy the view from the top of the hill, watch the glorious Greek sunset.

Then, when he walks down the hill, all la-dee-da, whistling, he sees the dreaded boulder, waiting for him at the bottom of the hill, mocking him.

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When something makes us anxious, avoidance works to lower anxiety. All procrastination is avoidance. And it’s a damn hard habit to break because avoidance works to lower anxiety. So is thinking everything else is more important than the thing that makes us anxious. We’ll do anything but not the thing that makes us anxious.

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Anne Lamott (my latest girl crush) On Perfectionism



anne_lamott_credit_sam_lamott_final_small_custom-7e5d0b9ab1f825f3b80131f7594ab88e8c3f9039-s6-c30Sometimes you run across a quote or a passage that makes you stop, read it again, maybe one more time and think, ‘That’s it. That says it all.’

Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, is full of bits like that. The paragraph below opens her chapter entitled ‘Perfectionism’. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or not, if you are reading this blog I think you will find what Anne says here totally relatable.

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3 Steps To Self-Care



IMG_1977Self-care is essential for any care-giver. Vacation is wonderful but it’s usually only a once in a while thing. We all need time to float, by ourselves, on a daily basis. Whether it’s simply time to take a nice long, hot shower, which for the new mother is nothing short of heaven, take a walk or finding respite care for aging parents so that you can take a day to go to a spa or just sleep-in. These are not selfish indulgences. Self-care is essential like food or oxygen.

What it boils down to is giving ourselves permission to be alone to do what is meaningful for us alone, permission to drink from the well by ourselves. Permission to take care of ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us.

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5 Questions to Help Figure Out: Who is My Family?



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While we do not have a choice of the family we are born into, we can choose the people we call our family.

And that is okay!

Last night I was at dinner with my Dad and he introduced me to a man who he has known for a long time. As I talked with this man I noticed that he seemed sad. He was not sad about his life choices, he was sad about not having a relationship with his family. He felt betrayed by his family.

This left me thinking: What is family? Is it your “crazy” Uncle that makes everyone at dinner squirm and leaves you with your anxiety jumping from a 2 to a 10 within a matter of seconds? Or is it your best friend who calls and leaves you a voicemail, knowing you won’t pick up, because they know your day is filled with stress, but just wants you to know they are there for you.

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“He ignored me. He must think I’m fat!”: Eating Disorders & Cognitive Distortions



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Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by EWN psychotherapist Nicole Newcomb.

Eating disorders are plagued by twisted thinking. In my business we call this twisted thinking cognitive distortions. You know, those thoughts that all sound right in your head but you would never say them to someone else. These distortions can tear down self-esteem, chip away at our identities and lead us to believe we are failures.

How many times have you told yourself you “should not” eat anything above 100 calories or you “should be” exercising multiple hours daily? How many times has someone given you a compliment and you say something to deny it like “Oh thanks but I’m really not skinny, I’m fat.” Thinking errors like these can lead down a dangerous road to anxiety, depression and possibly an eating disorder.

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5 Ways to Make a Decision Despite Anxiety



?There are so many reasons why we get anxious that sometimes I get anxious trying to decide what part of being anxious I should write about. How nuts is that?!

Doing the very thing you are afraid of is what reduces anxiety. Somebody said that. Probably Eleanor Roosevelt because she said everything cool, but I digress…

Everyday we are faced with decisions from the seemingly mundane, “Do I get out of bed today?,” (seemingly, because for some that is a major decision, no joke) to the life changers, “Do I take that job? Start a company? Have a baby? Move to a new city?”

Those of us who tend toward anxiety too often find ourselves going around in circles, towards a decision then backing off, only to go towards it again and backing off once more, like a toddler who can’t decide if it wants independence more than it wants to be with mommy.

Why do we get anxious about making decisions and what can we do about it?

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The Buzz on ‘Bossy’ and that other ‘B’ Word!



When was that Moment of Truth for you? When you realized there are certain words in our culture used almost exclusively to keep us down. Words like ‘Bossy!’

For me it was when someone I love and trust called me that other word that starts with a ‘B.’

Many, many years ago when I was in graduate school, I took a road trip with my brother. We were driving from Kansas where my parents lived, back to the East Coast. We are only a year apart in age, pretty opinionated and, shall we say, vocal. Being cooped up in a car for over 12 hours can be a dangerous environment for siblings who don’t always see eye to eye no matter how much you love them.

I have no idea what the topic was we were talking so heatedly about. All I remember is we were arguing about something passionately when he said, “Why are you always such a b*#ch!”

Whoa! Talk about conversation stopper!

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