Stuck

I am a forward thinker. I am always looking for the next adventure, be it a sports event, family outing, vacation, or how to improve my practice, home or relationships. I need to be moving forward. I have been stuck before. It is the feeling of nothingness, blah, lethargy, ho-hum-itude that is slightly uncomfortable, like sitting in the same place for too long. Yeah, stuck. There are lots of ways to get stuck, in your job, relationship, financial situation, etc. I will be talking about your life. Well, I guess that actually includes everything else.

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A lot of people are what I call “survivors.” Survivors are people who merely tolerate life. They have whatever job they can get (if they have a job), put minimal effort into their surroundings, relationships or self. They are just wasting time until it’s over. There is little meaning in life. If you are reading this, you are not one of those people or would like to not be one of those people. You are looking to make a difference! How does that happen? How have I not been on vacation for 5 years, eaten at the same restaurants, same meals, same activities, same, same… You might be bored.

Getting unstuck

Getting unstuck can be tricky. You are in a rut in life, one you created. So, examine the situation. How is my life? Do I like my job, my relationships, my home, my friends, my hobbies? Literally list it all out. What is good and bad and just okay. What might make things better? Is there something I can do today, or plan, to make some changes? Do I need to shake up the routine, reorganize, plan some different activities, make new friends?

One of the most important questions you might ask would be “Am I in control of my life?” Many people take whatever life throws at them, letting it control them instead of them controlling it. Are you making choices that are yours or do you just roll with the punches? I  have an excellent example. A man who never finished high school. He took several construction and manual labor jobs and finally ended up with a home repair gig. He married the first girl he got pregnant, because she was pregnant. He went to work, came home, watched the kid, went to bed. He was miserable. Though, he pretty much has never been much else. He changes and makes decisions when it is forced upon him, like a pregnancy, job loss, etc. He never made a proactive decision. He is not in control.  He has no idea what might make him happy, because it just hasn’t happened yet. This is as stuck as you can get.

You might need some help figuring out how to get unstuck. I see a lot of people in my office complaining of feeling nothing. They think they might be depressed because they don’t sleep well, have little energy, are uninterested in doing things, have no motivation and generally unhappy. It might not be depression, you might just be stuck. Find someone to help you out. I have noticed a lot of self help books on the subject too.

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.

Change of seasons can change your mood

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People are effected in all kinds of ways with the change of the seasons. Today is blustery, windy, cool, dark with the promise of rain, lots of rain. It’s fall. That means there will be less sunlight in the day, more cold weather, more darkness. I don’t mind the fall. I love Halloween, the change of colors, the cooler temperatures.

Some people dread the fall. It means the beginning of a season of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), now called Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern in the DSM 5, is the onset of depression at the beginning of a specific season, like fall or winter, which disappears at the onset of a specific season, like spring or summer. Yes, it could happen the other way around, though rare. If you start to feel more sad, irritable, sleepy or anxious and your desire to do your usual activities wanes in the shorter days. You might have SAD.

Like “regular” depression, the brain chemicals that regulate mood, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine, seem to dip during the shorter days. The theory is the decrease in sunlight impacts circadiam rhythms, causing sleepiness, disruptions in sleep and drop in serotonin. Therefore, theoretically, using a UV light should help! Light therapy has been demonstrated to work well for people with seasonal patterns of depression. I have seen it work with clients who used it properly. Getting an at home UV light can be tricky. Not all light therapy boxes are created equal. Be sure to get one with full spectrum UV/UB lights. One that won’t burn you like the sun, but will give you the advantages of the light.

Depending on the severity of one’s depression, light therapy and being active socially and physically, can make all the difference. Some others may need medication to alleviate the seasonal sadness. Some people just head south and spend the winter in warmer climates.

Here is some information from NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) on SAD.

http://nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Seasonal_Affective_Disorder_(SAD).htm

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.