Resolutions or not

A long time ago I decided that resolutions were ridiculous. They are a way to help you look ahead and feel good about yourself and your future, for a minute. Today, the first Monday after New Years, has been deemed “Blue Monday,” the most depressing day of the year. Is it the blustery, cold and dark weather, the loss of the holiday excitement, return to work after vacation, or disappointment in your resolution failure?

Resolution means “to resolve, a strict determination toward action!”  That sounds pretty great.  I WILL _____.  You have every intention and purpose to do what ever it is you resolve to do.

Why is this ridiculous? It usually doesn’t work. Once a year people sit down to make a list of things they would like to change about themselves without addressing how to make that change.

  1. A special day is not necessary to make a change
  2. Focus on the negative repels change
  3. There is no way to measure the outcome
  4. There is no method for change

Resolutions should be the beginning of your goal setting. Goals can be made at any time, for any reason, they are measurable with steps, actually achievable and relevant to you.  You can stick to, alter, and adjust goals. Goals should work for you, not against you.

Once you set a goal, you outline your steps to attain that goals (what does it look like). For example, you want to be in better shape (resolution). Your goal might be to start with walking twice a week. Move up to 3 times a week plus 2 days of weight lifting. Perhaps you want a goal to run a 10K. You find a program for training (or a trainer). You set your goals for each step of that training. You figure out how that is going to fit in your schedule.

Sometimes goals require research, time and outside help. Like I mentioned above, you may need a trainer to get in shape, a dietician to help you with a diet. Professionals are out there for a lot of different areas. Look at your community education classes too. You will always need support from family and friends.

Look at your resolutions again. Are they relevant to you? Do you really want to do these things? How will you accomplish them? Create steps to attain the goals and celebrate your accomplishments.

How you see yourself matters

We are our worst critic. We scrutinize ourselves relentlessly. We spend more time thinking about how we look and portray ourselves than anyone else. Yep, how much do you think about other people’s appearance, behavior, etc. (That does not include comparing yourself to them) That is about how much they think about you. Usually, fleeting.

How you see your self matters. It is directly related to your self esteem and confidence. It correlates to how much time, effort, and love you think you deserve, from yourself and others. One of the most common symptoms of low self esteem is the fear that if others Truly knew you, all of you, they would leave you, hate you, despise or pity you. So, you keep parts of yourself hidden. You act in a way you think they want from you, not how you might really want to. You withhold things from your self that you deserve: love, attention, nurturing, time. You criticize your decisions, behavior, words and reactions. You give up to others what you should have.

It is a lot of effort for minimal impact. You work very hard to avoid a perceived threat. Believe it or not, people care and love you for who are. No matter what your perceived draw backs are. By giving up the effort for others and giving some back to yourself, which includes giving yourself some slack, you will gain some confidence. One of the hardest parts is figuring out what are doing for yourself and what do you give up. Where is the line? Well, how does it make you feel? Are you resentful and empty after or feel a sense of pride?

Give yourself some slack on the criticism. Give yourself some props on what you accomplish. Give yourself some time and attention. You deserve it.

Trauma and your afterlife

I read a beautiful, troubling excerpt from a fiction book about what trauma does to a person. I thought “Only someone who has been traumatized would understand this.”

We call them survivors, but once the [bad guys] get you, the person you were dies, like any traumatized part of you never leaves that room, that car, that moment, and you walk forward a ghost of your former self. You rebuild yourself over the years, but the person you were isn’t the person you become. The great bad thing happens, and you become a ghost in your own life, and then you become flesh and blood and remake your life, but the ghosts of what happened don’t go away completely. They wait for you in low moments and then they wail at you, shaking their chains in your face and trying to strangle you with them.   
~Laurell K.Hamilton, Affliction

 

The trauma after effects, of any degree, can impact you at any time, with any reminder 635960697083632130-1100041933_fearof the moment, people, places, smells, times of day. Those “shaking of chains” are those sneaky fears, troubles, anxiety, depression, panic. Those inexplicable moments of irrational thought. Trauma can impact your sleep, your appetite, your belief about yourself, relationships and your life. It can hit you big or small. Do not under estimate the impact of trauma. Like the excerpt stated, you can rebuild your life and yourself, but those ghosts hang about.

Overwhelmed!

I have been feeling this way lately, work, school starting, home projects, weeds. There is a lot. The to do list is never ending. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? This could be the to do list, dealing with another person, managing your own emotions. There are many ways to feel overwhelmed.  overwhelmed

What are your symptoms? Do you start to forget things, become more irritable, sleep less, more headaches, body aches, feel sick, yell, throw things, cry? Anytime you notice your behavior changing due to external circumstances, it would be a good time to reign it in and examine it. What is going on?

Write it out. What is going on that is causing the feeling of being overwhelmed? Do you have too many things to do? Have you taken on too many responsibilities? Is money or time too tight? Are you taking on the responsibility for too many people? Perhaps you are allowing someone to take advantage of you, hurt you, use you or someone you love.

My first suggestion would be to take some time to list out your responsibilities and essentials. Often people feel overwhelmed when they are not managing their time well.  Using a calendar, schedule and making appointments (even for exercise, meals, and cleaning). If you make time for your duties and things you want to do, it can be easier to figure out where to put it all.

checklist.jpgThe important and urgent items would need to be first. Those with specific dead lines (work, kids to school, bills, meals). Many things are important with no specific dead line (exercise, grocery shopping, cleaning, family time). Start with those important things. You need to focus on your self first. If you find that there are several items still on the list, not under important, what should you do with them? Get rid of them, move them to a later day/date when you have more time, delegate to someone else?

If you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated you will not be effective. You might need to give yourself 5 minutes to do some deep breathing, take a short walk on your break at work, get more rest.  Take care of yourself first so that you can think clearly and calmly about what needs to be accomplished. Some things might not be necessary, but feel important to you. What is really important?

Treat yourself as you would others

I know, the Golden Rule. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”  When I hear this I think, be kind, courteous, patient and understanding. Generally, other people will also treat you that way. If you are a jerk and rude, people will be rude to you.

What I am talking about is self care. I am a mother. I tend to put my family first. I put the things I want to do at the end of the list. Sometimes. Sometimes, it’s important that I do certain things. I also try to take care of myself as if I were my own child (or husband). That means, if I am hurt or in pain, I go to the doctor. I get regular check ups at the dentist. I get enough sleep and eat healthy. There are all the things I make my children do to be healthy and happy. Plus, love, affection and fun.  How many of you don’t do these things for your self?o-kindness-facebook

I have encountered numerous clients who treat themselves as non-entities. What they need does not matter. If they are hurting they do not seek assistance. They suffer. If they are stressed, they don’t take the time to manage it or deal with it. Rest, food, clean living space, kind friends, etc are not priorities. They just don’t deem themselves worthy of proper self care.

Would you allow a child to go without any of those things? Someone you LOVE? If your (or any) child was hungry, would you not do what it takes to get him/her fed? Make sure they were safe and cared for? People outrage over neglected and abused children. We are all children. We all need the same kinds of basic care. We should do more than shove our needs to the side as if they do not matter.

They matter. YOU MATTER. Take as much time for your self as you would to care for someone you love.

You attract what you feel you’re worth

Do you ever wonder why a certain kind of person always finds you? Why is it the same kind of guy/girl that you always end up dating? You don’t have good friends, they are flaky, non-commital, never pay, etc.  Do you feel like you have a sign on your head that says “I love losers!”?  Well, it really is your fault that all these people show up in your life. They literally seek you out. I will try to explain this from both sides.

You attract to you what you feel worthy of 

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That means that whatever you feel you deserve in a relationship, job, money, life, youwill attract that to you. Wait! That is not the same thing as wanting something really, really bad. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you think you actually deserve to have it. Listen to yourself very closely after you say out loud that you deserve something your really want. What happened? Did you sigh, snort, “yeah, right” “like that will happen”? Perhaps you don’t really think you deserve it.

Like attracts like

I have worked with all kinds of people. I spent several years working with sex offenders. Sex offenders, manipulators, abusers, violators of all sorts have some kind of internal radar. They can walk into a room of 20 people and find the ONE person who will “take the bait.” Some can not explain how this works, they just know. Some can spot the body language. They can just tell. Abusers tend to stay away from confident people because they stand up for themselves. They don’t allow other people to hurt them. It’s not okay. So, they gravitate to the people who thinks it IS okay to be hurt and manipulated.

EVERYONE deserves love, affection, kindness, empathy and understanding. NO ONE deserves pain, violence, betrayal, loneliness and heartache. You reap what you sow. If you hand out kindness, you should receive it. Unless you hand out kindness to sociopaths and manipulators. Then you get nuthin’. If you want to be treated the way you treat others, you must believe that you deserve it.

This kind of belief system fits with the self talk, affirmation, and visualizing your goal. You create the life that you feel you deserve. Make it better by believing in yourself and your worth. You can start globally with the belief that everyone deserves happiness and love. Include yourself in that “everyone.” List what you want in life, being realistic about what it really is that would make you feel content. Tell yourself, constantly, that you deserve those things. Put it out in the universe (as The Secret might tell you). It will come.

Self Talk. It’s what you make it

Self talk is a common phrase in psychotherapy.

self-talkIt is about attitude, affirmations, self confidence and esteem. How you talk to yourself,about yourself, situations, life and future, directly corresponds to how your life feels, shapes, and becomes. If you are a negative talker, with a negative outlook, either about yourself, your situation or other people. That is how your life will be. It turns out exactly how you think it will.

This idea is related to several posts I have already done, Affirmations and Thinking Patterns. It is a pattern with how one conducts their life. I can spend a lot of time with a client working on self talk. It will be what continues on when therapy is over.

One of my favorite parables is about an old man sitting on his porch. A couple pulls up in a car.  “We are thinking about purchasing a house in this town. How are the people here?” The man says “Well, how were they where you lived before?”   He suggests that how they believe people to be, in general, they will be. Your own attitude toward people is how you create relationships.

How do you talk to yourself? Pay attention to what you say, out loud and in your head throughout the day. I find this easy since I have a small children. They pretty much repeat what I say and parroters of my own attitude. My kids have a great sense of humor about things, can laugh at themselves and will try until they get it right. They focus on things they do well and support others. They do not get discouraged easy.

Many people are hard on themselves. “I can’t do that.” “It’s too hard.”  “I will never get it” (job, relationship, home, money). One I heard recently was “BUT, it has never happened before, so why should it happen now.” This followed all the positives of “I deserve it. I am worth it. I worked hard for this.” BUT negates all those strong positives. It just crosses it out.

Keep the self talk positive. If you hear the negative creep up on you, especially in the form of a but, turn it around. That big but can be followed up with “That doesn’t mean it won’t in the future!”  Your future is what you make it.

Fake it ’till you Make it

This post goes right along with my Affirmations post. Affirmations are about creating a road map to where and who you want to be. Start where ever you are and figure out where you want to go. Then you can act that part until it sticks. That may sound easy. It’s not really.

A trainer at my gym talks non-stop about how we create who we are, we have to believe in ourselves to make it work, our minds make our bodies…. He is trying to affirm that we have control of who we are, what we look like, how we act, think, LIVE! It’s true and frustrating. It is easier if it’s everyone else’s fault, or in our genes. Then we don’t have to change. We can just wallow.

His challenge this week was to continue to repeat to yourself, over and over (affirm), that “I am beautiful. I am strong. I am capable.” Even if you don’t believe it. Just keep saying it until you do. I call this

Fake it ’till you Make it

Sometimes, when you really want something to be true, you have to make it so. That means hard work, determination, and a positive mind set. The positive mind set is the push behind it all. If you don’t believe it will happen, it really won’t. Sometimes, you just have to fake like you really believe it, until you really, really do. You have to repeat it over and over and over until it sticks. Much like how you learned everything else in your life, it was repeated to you until it became a part of you.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  What do you want to see?

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Try this

Write what ever pops into you head, without hesitation. Don’t think, just write. Keep going until you hesitate:

I AM _____________

Yikes, what happened? Did you know you thought all those things about yourself? How many are positive and how many are negative?

Now, write down what you want people to believe about you. What you want to believe about yourself. Be as specific as possible. You can think about this one.

How can you remind yourself to be that person, the future you, every day? I recommend the affirmation. Kick out the old and in with the new.

No quick fix

There is no easy way, fast recovery, magic pill, or other method to make everything right overnight.

It takes work and time.

I know, I know. We would prefer the quick fix. We are raised to envy those who seem to have it easy, to want it all, to be everything and be happy. The half hour sitcom should be our life!

It’s not. Therefore, I deal with the frustration of clients often.

“Nothing is better”

“It still hurts”

“When does it go away?”

“It happened again”

“I am so tired of feeling like this!”

Psyches are not scarred easily. We are resilient by nature. We are made tough, to fight, scrape, and have a strong will to live. It is nearly impossible to drown yourself. We are born with some innate genetic qualities, personalities quirks, intelligent quotients, etc. Mostly, though, it is the nature of becoming that makes you who you are. You can be raised to be even tougher, more resilient, strong in self, confident in your abilities and worthiness of love. You can also be raised to give in, give up, be a victim, take whatever is thrown at you because you believe that you have little or no value.  Or anywhere in between.

If something happens to you, that nature takes over. You will maintain your will, or lack of, in your recovery. That recovery may even be from your own childhood. Depending on how long your psyche has been abused, the time it takes to heal is relative. IT IS POSSIBLE! It is always, always possible. It does take time, strength, determination, will, support, and fortitude.

YOU are not broken. You are still here. You are willing, able and determined to make it, however that is. Take the parts, paths and pasts of you that need some love and understanding and do just that. Give yourself that time and determination to do the work. It is worth it.

Lies and Liars

I am reading a phenomenal book, The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout (everyone should read this).

Cover of "The Sociopath Next Door"

She was talking about the 13 signs of sociopathy, which everyone should know. Sociopaths take advantage of people in any way possible because they have no conscience. They appear to have empathy and emotions like everyone else, but they don’t. People are players in their world. They only care about themselves. Really, truly, they only care about themselves.

#3 on the list was about lying. You can apply to this rule anyone, not just sociopaths. Lies hurt people. Lies hurt, betray, hide secrets, and steal love and trust. They are no good! Liars only use lies to get out of trouble (for the most part). The after math is irrelevant.

3. When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibility he or she has. Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy.      One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But THREE lies says your dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Cut your loses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier now than later, and less costly.    Do not give your money, your work, your secrets or your affection to a three-timer. Your valuable gifts will be wasted. (Stout, 2005)

Leave the Liars to their lies. Nearly all of you have had some experience with a liar on some level, friend, spouse, coworker, neighbor, even family member. I don’t think that all liars are sociopaths, but they are liars. The lying won’t stop because you ask or you are special or they get caught, arrested, humiliated, anything. They will just keep lying. Save yourself the heartache (over and over) and just leave….