a Resource for Clients & Therapists
2019 Tidbits & to-Do's - morsels to spark curiosity
Whether you are a family with a preschool-, elementary- or high school- age child, this time of year can be a big transition for everyone. Your carefree summer becomes a more regimented fall. Lifestyles change just as the seasons change. Making it through this transition may well feel like a mammoth venture, like raking a yard full of wet leaves. There are, however, some things you can do to help manage the transition back to school.
Finally, keep in mind “this too shall pass”. We will always get through to the other side of these transitions, and we get better at doing so with practice. Each age transition will present new challenges. Approaching these with openness to possibilities will prove most beneficial to the outcomes. Good luck!
Recomprised article published in The Westport News, September 12, 2003
August 2019 Tidbit:
Our family history is a rich and valuable resource to better understand our experiences in present day. How and what we learned about emotions and behaviors, our family work ethics, spiritual beliefs, and much more, have informed who we are and what we experience today.
We, of course, cannot change the past, but we can change how we are applying what we learned in our life today. Yet, how do we make sense of today's experiences in the context of our past? How do we see our past experience for its role in our development, and consider that perhaps we are who we are "because" of our story, not just "in spite of" our story?
August 2019 To-Do:
Consider earlier posts this year where we were exploring the patterns of interactions, and the interdependent "motion" of emotions. Reflect on things you have noticed in your exploration over the months. And now, when was an earlier time in life when you might have had similar experiences, behaviors, or these emotions before? What is familiar about them? How young can you recall?
These are open-ended questions meant to spark curiosity, opening space to consider how our upbringing may at times contribute to our present day. As we explore these areas, we find our history isn't such a mystery in our life after all.
As always, I invite your questions, comments, and if I can be of assistance exploring these connections, please don't hesitate to reach out.
May 2019 Tidbit:
Continuing our exploration, in April, you began to consider the thoughts and feelings underneath your behaviors, and some of the interdependent patterns that are created with others in your life. And now, let's see what we can understand more about your experience.
I trust that you have very logical reasons for thinking and feeling the way you do. Our task is to explore and understand this logic, as this will be a new resource available to you for change. If we know what is at the heart of the matter, we then focus on that piece, and how it is manifested in our behaviors will then change.
The Irish have many wonderful sayings. There is one that resonates here…paraphrasing, it is something to the point that most people “focus on the drinking instead of the thirst”. It isn’t about the behavior; it is about what motivates the behavior that needs attention.
May 2019 To-Do:
As always, please feel free to contact me via email or through this post for questions, comments or more direction.
April 2019 Tidbit:
In March, we learned about the interdependent patterns that exist in relationships ... for every action, there is a reaction, which triggers a counter-reaction, and so on.
This month, let's take a look at these behavioral actions, and attempt to understand more about them, from the attachment significance, the human need to feel safe and secure, and feel good about ourselves in the context of our relationships.
We all know about the Fight-Flight-Freeze reflex, right? That nano-second survival maneuver that we make without conscious awareness, but that keeps us alive. It is an important and necessary survival strategy, very immediately adaptive when threatened.
Well, do you understand what you are actually fighting for/fleeing from/freezing about? We usually think it is about the other person doing something wrong or hurtful to us, but take a moment, if you will, to consider that the move you are making is more about you than them?
These adaptive strategies are our brain's way of handling the distress, the threat, in order for us to survive, therefore in the basic form, they are protecting us from how the other person is making us feel. Additionally, the move is protecting us from how we begin to see ourselves in the context of the relationship, and our ingrained need to feel good about ourselves with this other person.
There is also another aspect that people aren't always aware of ... our attachment strategy is a way we regulate ourselves, a way we soothe our limbic system, when the emotional centers are activated. So, if we are leaning in and trying to problem solve and talk it out when in distress (presenting more anxious), we are more calm than if we don't do anything.
If we pull away (presenting more avoidant), we are actually trying to stop things from getting/feeling worse. We step away, things quiet, we feel more calm than if we stay in it.
Freezing is somewhat the "deer in the headlights" distress when shame comes powerfully online... the shame feeling associated with the thought pattern that I am a bad person, unworthy, undeserving. When shame first hits us, our brain freezes. Inevitably though, freeze then moves into fight or flee.
For further understanding, let's bring this closer to home.
April 2019 To-Do:
Returning to your exercise from March, consider the behavior you identified when you are in distress. Did you get angry and yell, try to problem solve, reach out, or, did you turn away, and attempt to end the encounter? Did you try to make it better by trying to fix or change it, or by trying to end it?
As you look at this behavior, consider what you were thinking right before you wanted to move in or away (i.e., he doesn’t hear me, she is so unreasonable). Now, consider the meaning you put to how you were seeing yourself in that moment, your core belief about yourself, in relation to your partner (i.e., I don’t matter to him, I’m never enough for her). How did you start to feel, and what did you believe about yourself, in that moment?
This month, spend some time with yourself, reflect and journal, how am I feeling about and seeing myself in this relationship, right before I move in or away.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts here or through email.
March 2019 Tidbit:
March 2019 To-Do:
February is National Heart Month! How's your heart?
February 2019 Tidbit:
Emotions ~ depending upon where you read, there are 6 primary emotions - happy, sad, fear, shame, anger, confusion/curiosity. Each of these emotions is a reaction or cue to an experience, whether fueled externally or internally. And each emotion elicits a reaction or response from other people. Additionally, as we learned in Disney's movie, "Inside Out", each emotion has an important role for us.
February 2019 To-Do:
Consider these primary emotions and what messages you might have received growing up about emotions. What emotions were "safe" or ok to show? What emotions were not safe or ok to show? How did people respond to you when you were sad? How did people respond when you were angry? What did you learn about emotions from your early experiences?
Understanding the foundational messages received early in life will greatly help you understand patterns that may play out in your life, past and present. I will post more on relationship patterns next month.
As always, I invite you to journal privately and/or share your reflections, questions, or comments here or through email.
Welcome to a New Year!
I have often heard that days can be long, while years are short. And each January, I reflect on how true that seems! How did we get here already, another January?!
For 2019, I am very excited to update this blog, now a place for both clients and colleagues to reflect and explore!
Welcome to Tidbits and To-Do’s ~ a monthly post with Tidbits of information about human nature or concepts, followed by a thought-provoking To-Do. I hope you will feel encouraged to reflect on and enhance your life in 2019 in some small way. Enjoy!
Suggestion – journal your reflections each month. Observe how your thoughts evolve over the course of the year. For more personal ideas on these or other life experiences, please feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text (203-856-9555) to schedule a consultant by phone, video or in-person.
Here’s to a wonderful 2019!
January 2019 Tidbit:
January 2019 To-Do:
As always, I invite your conversation here, or privately. Please let me know how I might help you achieve all you hope for in 2019!
Once we have explored and expressed the deeper aspects of our sense of self in the context of our work, it is time to return to the original issue presented and be curious about what evolves in the work. I often suggest that we have no expectations at this point, other than simply being curious. Perhaps there will simply be less pressure, less angst, or there may be a significant shift in knowing how to handle the situation in a new way. Any outcome is welcome.
Summary of this phase:
Questions for exploration:
I’m Back!! Sorry for my short break. With holidays upon us … well, you know how it goes!
Continuing along with our process…
As you reach out and receive responses to your exploration of your challenge in your work and connections to your own story, consider the impact the responses have on your experience from three perspectives: what do I feel about myself, what do I think about myself, and what do I then want to do when I feel/think this way.
Additionally, doing a body scan from head to toe, notice changes in your physical experience as you receive a response from a loved one. Imagine colors, shapes, experiences, and perhaps a metaphor that will capture this experience. Really let yourself into the experience in a “felt” way.
Reading Reflection: make notes in your journal on above experiences and share these with one of your safe haven friends.
This is a shorter posting, however this piece is incredibly important, as it is the positive, transformative aspect to reach and response.
Next Up: Phase 3: Integration into the Work
As you are considering exploration and expression of your inner self, please consider:
For many of us, we work in private practice in isolation; we are in the room with our clients on our own. So then what?
I have grown to appreciate that the more secure I have become in myself, in the responses of trusted colleagues/family/friends, I have grown more secure, capable and able in my work with clients. Trusting I am in the hearts of my colleague family of friends, the more I am able to hold onto the truth of not being alone in my life, the more secure I can be when I am on my own. It is distinguishing feeling alone versus lonely sometimes. Our work can be very lonely and isolating. Holding onto that sometimes people can’t be right there at the very moment you reach out, but knowing and trusting they care, and will respond when they can, helps soothe us when we are on our own.
Reading Reflection: Consider the above questions in your personal journal, reach out to a secure attachment figure, or share here.
Next Up: Phase 2 – The Felt Experience in Reach and Response
Hi and welcome to my blog! I am excited to have this endeavor underway. It has been many years in the making.