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You Are More Than Your Brain

My father and I share a common trait – intellectual curiosity. Lately this has led us to reading books and discussing topics on the nature of the soul, self-awareness, and higher consciousness. Dad often challenges me to read a particular book. The most recent challenge is Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E Tanzi. Dad claims that if I want to stay mentally alert and active into old age (he’s 88, and is as sharp and alert as ever) then this book is a must-read!

Dutifully reading Super Brain for an upcoming visit with my father, I was intrigued by one subheading – “You Are Not Your Brain.” It stresses that many of us don’t realize that we are our own ‘reality makers.’ For instance, when suffering from a cold we tend to say, “I have a cold.” But when we are suffering from depression we tend to say, “I am depressed.”
“I am (whatever…)” is a powerful statement. It means you identify with whatever condition you are experiencing. In other words, your mood colors your world. So when you identify with being depressed, then the world reflects how you feel. The world can literally lose its vibrant colors and seem gray, lifeless, humorless and lacking in joy.

Yet it’s not your brain that is in charge of your identity. If this were true then it would make as much sense to say you are a yellow lemon, or a tree, or a grey rock as it would be to say you are depressed. What’s really going on has to do with brain electrical chemistry and how that is intimately connected to your emotions and perception.

Researchers have found that by applying a small electrical charge to a specific part of the motor cortex that the arm will move. When the patient is asked what happened, the response is, “My arm moved.” Yet when instructed to move their arm, the patient’s response is, “I moved my arm.”

This indicates that there is another element at play that impacts the brain. It’s the “I,” or your mind, which is linked with the brain, but is also separate from the brain. The “I” is what controls the brain, and is much more powerful than you may recognize.

Many of my clients suffer from depression, anxiety, or troubling negative thoughts. One of my goals is to help them separate the “I” from their reactive unconscious functioning. My mantra is “Your mind is a muscle. You are the one in charge.”

Most often we don’t realize that we are in charge. We let our reactive unconscious perceptions of the world control our actions. This is why we erupt in anger, act on our jealousies, give in to our greed, are obsessed with control, sink into depression, and the list goes on and on.
Super Brain lists some pointers on how you can take control of your mind, and thus your life, by transforming your perception.

  • Take responsibility for your own experience.
  • Be skeptical of fixed reactions, both yours and anyone else’s.
  • Confront old conditioning. It leads to unconscious behavior.
  • Be aware of your emotions and where they come from.
  • Examine your core beliefs. Hold them up to the light, and discard beliefs that make you stuck.
  • Ask yourself what part of reality you are rejecting. Freely consult the viewpoint of the people around you. Respect what they see in the situation.
  • Practice empathy so that you can experience the world through someone else’s eyes.
If you pursue these steps, then you can progress from unconscious behaviors to being more aware, to self-awareness. The goal is to become self-aware. This is the place of self-mastery from where you can create your reality. It is remarkable how changing your perception can transform your life!

If you feel your life is controlled by depressive or negative thoughts or anxiety please email me or call 415-819-8769 TODAY for a complimentary consultation to find out how Transformational Life Coaching with Hypnotherapy can help YOU become the maker of your reality.

 

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Is There Wisdom in Anger?

So much is transpiring in the political arena that it is hard not to be swept up into the emotionally charged chaos. Personally I am finding it challenging to stay balanced with an open heart and open mind, to release anger and upset, and to stay centered. This is why I was so grateful to receive this email from my spiritual mentor, Terry Attwood. I felt her message was so helpful to me personally that I wanted to share it with all of you …

Terry’s Message: It is very important to realize when we are so upset about the current events going on in the country that we are in the ego.  It’s a signal to move to higher ground and use that energy to stay centered and take action from a base of non-attachment to our personal beliefs, but to come from the place of what is right.  So, what I have been doing is to keep in my mind that my protests are coming from a place that supports the truth of what this country is about… from the basic values that define America.  I am attaching a great writing (Buddhist) about this. – Terry

The Wisdom of Anger

 

“The buddhas are not just the love-and-light people we like to think they are. Of course, their enlightened mind is grounded in total peace, but in that open space compassion spontaneously arises. It has many manifestations. One is the pure energy of anger.

Anger is the power to say ‘no’. This is our natural reaction whenever we see someone suffer – we want to stop it. The buddhas say ‘no’ to the three poisons (greed, hatred and delusion) that drive injustice. They are angry about our suffering and they will happily destroy its causes. They aren’t angry at us. They’re angry for us.

… There are times when the compassionate thing is to destroy. To say “Stop!” to suffering. To say “Wake up!” to the ways people deceive themselves. To use the energy of anger to say “No!” to all that is selfish, exploitative, and unjust.

In its pure, awakened form, when it is not driven by ego, anger brings good to the world. In our personal lives, it helps us be honest about our own foibles and have the courage to help others see how they are damaging themselves. On a bigger scale, anger is the energy that inspires great movements for freedom and social justice, which we need so badly now. It is a vital part of every spiritual path, for before we can say yes to enlightenment, we must say no to the three poisons (greed, hatred and delusion).

The energy of anger is an inherent part of our nature-we can no more have ‘yes’ without ‘no’ than light without dark. So we need a way to work with the energy of anger so it doesn’t manifest as aggression, as well as methods to tap its inherent wisdom. We need a profound understanding of where aggression comes from, how it differs from anger, and a practical path to work with it. That path begins where all healing begins.”

If current times are creating worry and frustrations that are causing you to spend more time being anxious and depressed, then give Joy a call and ask for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how you can start being more positive and happy. Contact Joy today by phone 415-819-9769 or email.
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Chaos in the Political Arena! Should I Worry?

With all the recent news about the current political chaos surrounding us – doesn’t matter whether you’re red/ blue or somewhere in*between – it’s difficult not to fall into the mass consciousness habit of worry. Yet worrying is the worst thing to do. Worrying keeps your mental focus on what’s not working, or what you don’t have, or what may not be working in the near future. From this place it is easy to fall into the victim role. And victims are rarely successful.

When your mind is occupied with worry, it leaves little room for creative problem solving. Negative thoughts can actually suck you into a low mood, expanding those feelings of lethargy when you feel unmotivated and unproductive. Then your subconscious mind reinforces your low mood by offering up negative thoughts and memories that compound the worry. This is how a person gets stuck in low moods, which can then spiral into depression. Health professionals have become aware of the importance of a person’s mood. It is now commonly accepted wisdom that a positive, calm and happy frame of mind promotes healing. Today, hospitals (including some on the Bay Area) make guided visualization tapes for surgery patients that include positive imagery in order to facilitate their healing and speed recovery.

Worry also creates feelings of lack, limitation, or indecisiveness, generating an inclination for greater caution. Caution can then curtail your willingness to take risks, or try something different, or even explore new or innovative possibilities. These are the very traits you need during challenging times!

In addition, individuals who are worried tend to complain more, seeming to get stuck in worry, which can cause them to be perceived by others as experiencing “hard times,” or not being able to successfully cope with challenging, even chaotic times. This is not a good image for a professional in any career or growing business. Worry, therefore, is not only a useless endeavor, it wastes your time and energy, and it can literally be dangerous to your health, happiness and success.

So how do you not worry? One way is to create a vision of what you want to achieve. In reality YOU create your environment. As a matter of fact, you are in charge of your reality. You can choose to be off-kilter and let circumstances and the chaos of life take charge, or YOU can choose to be the one at the helm.

Take time to focus on what you want to create for yourself. Do you want to be focused and on top of things? Then decide what will help you to do that. If it’s turning off the news, or deciding not to get engrossed in politics, then maybe that is your best strategy for now. Or maybe you’d like to focus on getting involved in a social action group, or signing all those petitions, or getting involved in your local politics. Or you might want to refocus on your business and career instead and put a strategic one-year action plan in place. Or you might want to focus on your own personal growth, or take up that hobby that you’ve always wanted to schedule time for.

Rather than complaining about the chaos, start focusing on what you want to create – whether it is for your community, for the nation, or for yourself. Share your vision and dreams with others and talk about what you are creating. When you start to worry, shift your thoughts to what you can do, or create, or want to improve. Find a friend who you can call to help you stay positive and creative, and don’t hesitate to call them when your thoughts start to go south.

Also, it’s important to remember that everything on earth is cyclical, and that all phases and cycles are temporary. Just like the tide, every ebb is followed by a flow. And the only constant is change! By staying positive you will find it’s possible to be even more creative and innovative than you ever imagined. And you will be more flexible and adaptive to the flow of change. These are challenging times, but you have what it takes to ride the wave and come out on top!

If current times are creating worry and frustrations that are causing you to spend more time being anxious and depressed, then give Joy a call and ask for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how you can start being more positive and happy. Contact Joy today by phone 415-819-9769 or email.
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Tips for Staying Centered During Turbulent Times

2f894562-4450-4785-84e5-06f22aa0ee1aDaily each of us is becoming more aware of just how polarized our country has become. Some are applauding our national leaders’ actions; others are horrified and taking a stand by signing petitions, calling State and US Representatives, or are out there protesting. There are also many of us who are just upset, angry, fearful, depressed or anxious on either side of the deep political divide that is daily becoming even more polarized.

No matter what side you are on, these intense polarized states are harmful for you, your community and our nation because polarization knocks you off your center, interfering with your ability to think clearly, stay emotionally balanced, and to act with wisdom and compassion. All of these low vibrational feelings of fear, anger, rage and hate are feeding the mass collective consciousness. It doesn’t matter what your politics are: the negative vibrations feed into the same mass collective consciousness, and this has a negative effect on everyone.

All of this has become very personal because I’m feeling all of these emotions and turmoil myself. I’m trying to stay centered, but recently it has been very hard. That’s why I was grateful when my friend and spiritual mentor, Terry Attwood, shared these following tips from Wall-of-us Weekly Actions on how to stay centered when things get difficult. I needed these tips – and I thought you might benefit from them too.

I’ve re-worked some of the following suggestions with the intention of making them accessible to both sides of the divide that’s polarizing our nation. Please read them. They were prepared by a licensed therapist. We all need a little self-care right now. While the world around us may seem unpredictable, you still have the ability to ground yourself by building predictable and safe habits.

1) Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself breaks from ruminating about the actions of our national leaders and the people’s response about what is to come. Sit on the floor with your cat. Lie on the ground and look at the clouds. Or blast some music in your home and dance your butt off. If you don’t have that kind of time, or space, give yourself a minute to think of all your favorite movies, or songs, or the best kisses you’ve ever had. (I personally like this last one. I’ve had some great kissers in my life!)

2) Air your concerns. Talk to like-minded friends about your fears or worries. Make a pact that whenever something happens on the national platform, or someone says something seemingly insane, you can be each other’s sounding boards. Make a pact to not escalate into a heated, hate-filled discussion, but to listen and empathize.

3) Get physical. Walk, run, swim, play soccer, skate, or whatever suits you. Get out of your head and into the sensations of your body. As you exert energy, see if you can expel negativity that you are carrying from the latest news.

4) Use mindfulness techniques. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Slowly take in a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. Try to relax your shoulders and muscles as you do this. Close your eyes and notice the thoughts, feelings, images, and bodily sensations that emerge. If you notice that your mind wanders, name what it’s wandered to (your shopping list, to do list, etc.), then see if you can redirect your focus back to your breath. Allow any emotions (for example: joy, sadness, fear, excitement) to be present without judgment. Let the feelings move through you. Return to your breath.

5) Be grateful. Every day talk to a friend or write down something(s) for which you are grateful. Being grateful is a way of having power. No one, not even our national leaders, or parents, or friends, or colleagues, or an angry populace, can take away our genuine gratitude.

6) Pray to your higher power and to the guides and masters who are working with our national leaders. Ask that our leaders be blessed with the wisdom, discernment, compassion, and insight to make the best decisions that will serve the highest good and be of the greatest benefit and joy for our nation, the people, humanity, and our great mother, the Earth.

I wish you balance, centering, discernment, inner peace, love and compassion as you walk your journey on this earth plane during these turbulent times.

If you are having difficulty staying centered, positive, and hopeful, then call Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Learn how Joy can help you maintain balance, clarity, and a positive attitude so you can be the most effective YOU possible, even during challenging times. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

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Rehabilitate Your Inner Bully

Have you ever been on a walk on a beautiful day or sitting in your car stuck in traffic with your mind in neutral when all of a sudden you’re plagued with an unpleasant memory? The kind in which you did or said something stupid, or made a mistake, or didn’t perform as well as you should have. One minute everything was OK. The next moment you are filled with shame, guilt, regret, etc. I call these negative memories the ‘bloopers.’ We all have them – memories from our past that dredge up conflicting feelings and old hurts. These memories can be quite debilitating if we don’t know how to turn them around.

Buying into the Story
I remember one college student who was placed in a ‘learning challenged’ program in high school. I quickly realized that his real challenge was less about him being ‘learning challenged,’ but rather that he had bought into the story and, at his core, now believed he was ‘challenged.’ This label created feelings of inadequacy and of ‘not being good enough’ which progressed into states of anxiety and overwhelm whenever he was in a learning situation. This included everything from simple studying, to class participation and actual test taking. His own inner dialog was now bullying him into staying self-identified as ‘learning challenged.’

The Inner Bully
According to Webster, a bully is “a quarrelsome, overbearing person who badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” This is exactly what our inner bullies do – they badger us into staying small. Real life bullies can be spiteful and mean. Our inner bullies just don’t know any better. No one has ever given them a larger vision of who they can become. Our inner bullies strive to keep us small because that is what is familiar and feels safe – what one of my mentors and colleague, Megan Wagner, calls our SMALL self. In reality, during our life journey upon this planet we develop lots of skills, talents and abilities that can help us grow into a much bigger version of our self -our BIG self. This larger vision of who we can become, however, can end up frightening us. Then we can become so intimidated that we end up working double time to keep us small. That part that beats us down is the Inner Bully!

We can stop this battle with our Inner Bully by rehabilitating them. Each experience in our life has the potential to be a valuable lesson. Unfortunately our Western culture is too focused on results, perfectionism and ‘doing it right.’ We don’t give enough credit to the valuable lessons that come from our mistakes. Instead they become the ‘bloopers’ that keep us cycling back into our SMALL selves.

It is time to change the story!

Rehabilitation Process
Next time one of those bloopers encroaches on your mental space – STOP and take a deep breath. Then step back and, from a larger perspective, look at that memory that has triggered your feelings of guilt, shame, regret or hurt. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” or “What can I still learn?” View it as an opportunity to learn something valuable, as a gift of insight.

Then, once you have gleaned all you can from your reflection, send a little love and forgiveness (or ask for forgiveness) back to both yourself and whoever else might be involved. This process, though focused on the past, will help you heal in the present! It will help you stop the self-battering so you can begin appreciating yourself and your life lessons.

You may want to know what happened with my student. I taught him some anxiety reducing tools, gave him some self-esteem enhancing visualizations, and helped him understand and appreciate how his mind processed information. It took some time, but he was able to change his story and step into a larger vision of himself, ending the semester with 3 A’s and 2 B’s!

If you need help putting down your battering rod and rehabilitating your inner bully, please contact me. I offer 30-minute free consultations and would love to help you step into your BIG self. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

 

For more information, visit my website here.
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5 Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

It’s easy to make those New Year’s Resolutions. Keeping them is a totally different matter. Too often by February many of us are back to the same old habits and behaviors. There are millions of pounds not lost, thousands of gym memberships lying fallow, and way too many cigarette packs being sold. Some of you may be thinking “why even bother with those New Year’s resolutions this year.” In the battle of wills, we always seem to be on the losing side!

So, what if you knew that there was a way to keep those New Year’s Resolutions?
 
Are you curious?

IT IS POSSIBLE to keep those resolutions and change your life! You just need a new strategy that will help you stay on track. Here are five tips on how you can make your New Year Resolutions stick.

Visualize

It’s hard to make any kind of change if you only rely on your conscious, rational mind.  You can have all the right reasons, but if you don’t engage your subconscious, then long lasting change will be difficult.

Think back to the last time you were able to make a significant change in your life. You may have daydreamed or fantasized about what it would be like before you even took action to make that change.

Our habits and behaviors are stored in the subconscious, and the subconscious is resistant to change. Logic and rationale alone aren’t enough. You must communicate with your subconscious using both images and your imagination if you want change to happen. This is the very same stuff our dreams and fantasies are made of!

So when you are working on your New Year’s resolutions, allow yourself to delve into your imagination! Take time to create vivid images of those things you want to change.

Empower Your Resolutions with Desire

Visualizing is important. But you also have to fuel your resolutions with the proper emotion.

Incorporating emotions is like adding color to a black and white movie. It fuels your goals with depth and power which will help bring your intention into form.

For example, if you want to increase how much you exercise because you think you should exercise more, your resolution will be short lived. This is because there’s no internal fuel to keep the desire alive through the boredom, distractions, and the busy lives we all seem to be leading. However, when you imagine how much better you will feel, how much more energy you will have, and your improved self esteem – then you’ll have the inner fire that will guarantee success.

The Importance of Passion

My grievance with The Secret is that it infers that manifesting simply involves visioning what you want, feeling the emotions of having it, and sitting around waiting for it to happen. WRONG! – Envisioning your intentions and fueling them with emotions is central to successful manifesting! But doing the work, and taking action, is a must!

Self-discipline, however, is not about ‘banging your head against a wall.’ It does require, however, that you are committed to doing the work, being consistent, and following through.

This is where passion comes in. Doing the work can be grueling if you aren’t passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish. A runner can feel lukewarm about running, but will run anyway because they know it will help keep their weight down and build sustaining power.

On the other hand, a runner can feel passionate about running because they love the feel of strength in their legs, the speed of gliding over the land, and the ‘high’ of stretching their endurance to capacity. It’s the passion that fuels long lasting change. It’s like adding HD to a movie.

Achievability and Believability

Sometimes our New Year’s resolutions fall short even though we visualize the outcome, feel the success of having it, and energize it with passion. This is because deep down inside we don’t believe it’s possible.

When this happens we’ve usually taken “the sky’s the limit” track, rather than making our resolution achievable and believable. Maybe you won’t win a triathlon. But, maybe you can find a running buddy who inspires you to get out and run several times a week. Maybe you can’t run five or ten miles, but you can start with a mile or two.

Doing what is believable and achievable is enough. It helps you overcome the self-defeating thoughts of “I’m not good enough, so why even try.”

Stay Positive

Implementing new behaviors can bring up a lot of emotions.  Believe it or not, there is a part of us that assumes keeping everything the same is in our best interest.  So even when you really want to change you may feel tired, bored with the effort, irritated because you aren’t doing it right, or it’s taking too long, or you may even feel anxious. These are resistances, and they are normal. But they don’t need to stop your progress!

Cravings, resistance, and negative self-talk … it’s all going to happen when you’re trying to make a change. So when you have these thoughts or feelings, just acknowledge them as old behaviors and habits. Then focus on how good you’re going to feel when you achieve your goal, or succeed at putting into action your new behavior or habit. I’m focusing on losing those 6 pounds I put on over the year. I already know how good I’m going to feel when I can zip up those pants again! That’s what is keeping me on track.

By implementing these five simple tips you’ll find that you can keep those New Year’s Resolutions with greater resolve.  Remember to:

  1. Visualize
  2. Empower with desire
  3. Infuse with passion
  4. Make your resolution achievable and believable
  5. Stay positive
If you find that you still lack the motivation to accomplish your goals, please contact me for a free 30-minute consultation to see how transformational life coaching with hypnotherapy can help you achieve success in 2017.

Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me at joy at joyreichard dot com today.

For more information, visit my website here.
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Be S.M.A.R.T with Planning Your Goals for 2017

With all the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season who has had time to focus on goals for the New Year? I barely got my shopping and gift wrapping done before the big day. How about you?

With the big push for Christmas out of the way it’s now time for reflection, assessment, wrapping up of the old year, and gestating ideas for the New Year. Now I finally have time to review what I’ve accomplished this year, and to begin setting goals and objectives for next year. Yep! I’m finally making plans for 2017!

As busy as the Holidays are, taking time out for reflection and assessment helps me end the year with a sense of completion. It helps me stay grounded and focused during the whirlwind of activity and fun with family and friends. Then when New Year hits I can truly celebrate because I’ve already been gestating my goals and objectives. I know where I’m heading and what I need to do in 2017.

I highly recommend this introspective practice of making plans for the New Year. The benefits you reap are much greater than the time it takes!

If you’re curious about the process, I’d love to share what was given to me by one of my mentors.

First, find some quiet time where you do nothing but reflect and think. For me, the best time is during meditation. You might prefer a leisurely walk along the beach or hiking trail, or sitting quietly with a latte at a local coffee shop … Whatever works for you is great, but the idea is to set aside time to be alone with your thoughts.

Then let your mind float over what you have completed this year and fantasize about what you’d like to do next year. I’m reaching a point that if something feels too hard, or too much work, I pass on it. Instead let your mind float to those things you feel excited and enthusiastic about. You can tell what they are because you’ll start feeling energized and the juices will start flowing! I find that when I reach this stage I can’t wait until I can sit down at my computer, or with pen and paper, and start jotting down ideas!

This leads to the third step in the process. Now it’s time to start putting those goals, projects and ideas on paper. Don’t worry about the order or time frame. At this point just do a ‘brain dump.’ Sometimes you might get it all down at once. Other times you might find that you’re updating, revising and expanding your list over several days. It’s all good. Your primary focus is to get down all the ideas and goals that feel exciting and energizing.

Once you have all your ideas down, then start organizing them into goals and the steps, or objectives, that need to be completed in order to achieve them. They should be S.M.A. R. T. goals.

What’s a S.M.A. R. T. goal?

Specific – This means you should have a clear understanding of what it is that you will do and what the end product will look like. For example, last year my goal was to do a weekly e-zine providing useful information to my following. A weekly e-zine is a specific goal, and the e-zine itself is the end product.

Measurable – This means you should have some idea as to whether you will meet the goal or not. For example, I’ve been about 75% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine. Considering I’m human and have a busy schedule, I feel pretty good about this success rate for the first year of trying to execute this kind of an aggressive goal.

Achievable – This means that there is a high probability that you can be successful at achieving your goal. For example, since I’ve been about 75% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine, then it was an achievable goal.

Relevant – This means that your goal should serve a purpose, or have an impact. For example, my purpose was to share useful information. Frequently I receive positive feedback from my readers which validates that my e-zine has relevance.

Time-Oriented – This means, “When will you achieve this goal? What is the start and end date?” For example, the time-bound goal for my e-zine was ‘weekly.’

Evaluating your goals to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. will help you stay practical and reasonable about what you can accomplish so you don’t fall victim to overwhelm and burn out, get sick, or give up!

Once you’ve evaluated your goals, then start organizing them into 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals. Now it’s time to begin identifying and scheduling weekly steps or objectives. At this stage I tend to drill down the weekly objectives for just 3 months at a time. I always keep the larger perspective in mind, but I’ve found that ‘life happens while we’re busy making plans to do something else.’ Goals and objectives often need to be fine-tuned and re-evaluated as the year progresses. One year I had knee surgery, another year I fell in love (not a good excuse for getting knocked off track, but I had fun!), and another year the recession hit. It’s important to keep some flexibility in your schedule so you can adapt and re-assess as needed.

Set a time to review your goals and objectives weekly. This will help you stay on track with the little objectives so you can hit your targeted big goals in a timely manner. Mondays are a great day to do this. It’s the first day of the week. A quick review of what’s on your schedule on Mondays will help you stay on track so you can have a productive week, and a prosperous year!

With everything else that you have on your schedule, I can hear many of you groaning about having one more thing to do! But I promise you. If you take time to do this, not only will you complete your year on a high, but you will ensure that you have a more successful, prosperous, and happier New Year.

Next week I will be giving tips on how to manifest for the New Year, so stay tuned.

If setting your goals and objectives for the New Year feels too overwhelming, then give me a call and schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to find out how I can help you get organized and on track for a prosperous New Year. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!
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Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Blues – Part Two

For many, the holidays bring up nostalgic memories of family fun and good cheer. For others, it can be a time of loneliness, sadness, and depression. Unfortunately, the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon.

Here are some of the risk factors of holiday depression, and how you can avoid them!

Comparing Your Insides to Someone Else’s Outsides
Both in real life and on social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around Christmastime. If you have a less-than-perfect family, a past trauma from this time of year, or just a less-than-full holiday dance card, comparing your holiday experience with those of others is a recipe for increased sadness and isolation.

Often, these comparisons tend to be skewed — and they tend to make us feel bad about ourselves. That’s because a person’s basis for comparison is not based in reality. Why? Because – bottom line – most families have issues! And most people didn’t have the perfect Christmases that they would like to have had, or even remembered that they had.

Slacking on Self-Care
For many people, December is the busiest time of the year. When work pressures pile up and the calendar gets full with social obligations, the routines that normally keep us healthy and happy — yoga class, morning runs, healthy home-cooked meals, a meditation practice — are usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.

In addition to increased stress, eating poorly and drinking excessively can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

Take care of yourself and don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:
  • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
I would like to emphasize the importance of avoiding binge drinking. Alcohol is everywhere during the holidays! If you’re struggling with feeling down, it may be wise to avoid drinking as much as possible because alcohol is known to worsen, not relieve, symptoms of anxiety and depression.

No “ME” Time
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Some options may include:

  • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
  • Listening to soothing music.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Reading a book.
Experiencing Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
If you tend to start feeling down when winter approaches each year, and those negative feelings don’t go away after the holidays are over, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Many people who think they are suffering from a case of holiday blues may actually be suffering from SAD, a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. Many people miss the exposure to natural light and can sink into sadness. But SAD shouldn’t be dismissed as mere “winter blues” — talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder to find a treatment that works for you. Also you might look into full spectrum lighting. Full spectrum lighting duplicates the visible wavelengths of sunlight at noon and uses both high clarity and balanced color phosphors. It has helped many people overcome SAD.

Family Grievances and Conflict
The holidays are a great time to be tolerant and set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations.

Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend for whom you feel past resentments. It’s seldom helpful to tell your relative about every resentment on your laundry list of grievances, especially during the holiday celebrations. And don’t let your relative do that to you, either!

Try to be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

If you know there are going to be conflicts, prepare a neutral response, such as, “Let’s talk about that another time,” or, “I can see how you would feel that way.” Then escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or go hang out with the kids. And it always helps to call a good friend if you need a sympathetic ear.

Post-Christmas Credit Card Bills that Put You in a Tailspin
To avoid the after Christmas sticker shock create and stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:
  • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  • Give homemade gifts.
  • Start a family gift exchange.
I have a large extended family. Years ago we decided to have a family Christmas get-together the Saturday before Christmas with a family gift exchange. We set a price and it’s been working great ever since. It’s made my life easier, and we still enjoy the Holiday fun!

Missing the Holiday Action

Feeling like you are under-scheduled or under-planned for the holidays?

This is a great time to help others, and make some friends while doing it. Volunteer to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Work with any number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children at the holidays. Sing in a choir that visits hospitals or senior residences. There are many opportunities for doing community service. No one can be depressed when they are doing community service. Helping others can be a great high, and it builds self-confidence too.

If the holidays are challenging for you, please contact me at 415-819-8769, or email Joy@joyreichard.com for a complimentary 30-minute Consultation. Find out how Healing with Joy can help you have a merrier holiday season.

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Face the Fear and Do It Anyway!

Awhile back I had to set a boundary. It was with a colleague whom I liked and respected. Setting that boundary was really tough!

Here I was, a ‘mature’ business woman with lots of life experience, who runs her own practice, and is a leader in her community… and it was still very challenging to set that boundary!

How many of you experience similar difficulties when having to confront someone for whatever reason?

Well… I ended up setting the boundary, but then spent a sleepless night stewing over it. What came up in the stew was that I felt guilty because I had ‘dared’ to set a boundary!

As I ‘unpacked’ my feelings attempting to get at the source of why this had me in such turmoil, I realized that, somehow, I felt wrong for setting the boundary. As if it wasn’t OK to protect my space and my right to be treated with respect.

It finally come to me that I had been living by an old story about how I should show up in the world. It went something like this: “Be nice, accommodating and understanding of everyone else. It’s your job. It’s OK if others take advantage of you. They will like you for being so nice and accommodating. You must be liked. The world won’t be safe if you aren’t liked.”

Wow! Where did this come from? I had been giving everyone license to walk all over me. Where was my backbone? What happened to my power?

As I dug deeper I realized that as a preacher’s kid with a stern father, I had quickly learned that as a child being very “nice” was expected. It became the ‘role’ I took on and played all my life. When I set that boundary with my colleague, I confronted the role of “be nice and accommodating.” I stood up for myself and said, “NO! I deserve to be respected.”

Even though I did the right thing, I still went through quite a bit of inner disturbance. This showed me how challenging it can be to change an old story about how one should show up in the world. Even if I was ready to change that old story, it still created a lot of inner conflict!

We all have our stories that define the roles by which we live. Some build confidence by flooding us with confidence and inner strength. Others are self-denigrating and self-sabotaging. They keep us stuck in being small, limited, and filled with self-doubt.

Changing these old stories can be challenging, especially when it generates fear or panic like it did for me. Some of these stories might go like, “I’m not good enough so I’d better not take on anything too big.” Or “It’s not safe to be seen so I better play it low key.” Or “I have to work really hard to make it. There’s no time for play or having fun.” Or “Why bother to try? Somebody else will do it better.”

These old stories go on and on simmering just under the radar in our subconscious keeping us from living to our potential. When we try to stretch ourselves, our fear of actually doing something outside the norm yanks us back into staying ‘safe’… but small.

It’s time for you to start living as your big self. When you feel that sense of fear or panic, gather up your courage, then ‘Do It Anyway.’
The rewards of standing in your truth and changing those old stories are much greater than staying stuck in a role that has grown much too small for the potential of whom you can be!

So, what happened with that colleague with whom I set the boundary? She realized that she had overstepped her bounds and was apologetic. She made appropriate amends. The result is that our friendship and collegial relationship is stronger than ever. I feel more empowered because I took a stand and claimed my right to be respected.

If you are plagued with negative thoughts and old stories of how you should show up in your life, then give me a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation and find out how you can live the life you were joyfully meant to live. I offer in-office, video conferencing, and phone consultations and sessions. Call me TODAY! 415-819-8769 or email me.
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Healing Yourself with Active Imagination

Two weeks ago I wrote about shame and the many ways that adults live with deep rooted feelings of shame. I pointed out that the shame often comes from the abandonment of the child by a parent. Last week I wrote about how, when shame combines with loneliness and a need to numb the pain, it can fuel a compulsive and/or addictive lifestyle.

In efforts to psychically numb themselves, many often tend to focus on more money, more sex, or food, or booze, or drugs, or the next adrenaline rush, or entertainment, or possessions, or ecstasy so they won’t feel how lonely, hurt, mad, or sad they are. Then they bring all this stuff into their relationships – with co-workers, partners, families and children.

Underneath all this shame and addictive compulsive behavior is a wounded child that is still hurting. Many don’t realize it and are excessively hard on themselves when what is really needed is more compassion, acceptance, and reassurance.

Active Imagination to Heal Trauma
Carl Jung, a famous psychotherapist, used active imagination to help people connect with buried trauma so it could be brought to consciousness and healed. Active imagination consists of imaginary dialogs between you, the conscious part of you, and the wounded unconscious part of you that needs healing. It’s extremely helpful in releasing old trauma.

Active Imagination Process
It’s best to journal the active imagination process because you will want to review your comments later. In addition, the act of writing will help you stay focused and not drift off during the process.

The best time to work with this process is when you have been triggered by a person or a recent event. Begin by focusing on the emotion that is being re-triggered. (If you are practicing active imagination, then think of a situation in the past that has a lot of charge to it.)

Take a few deep breaths to help you relax. Then shift your focus to the person or situation that triggered you. Once you can recall the situation, focus on what you are feeling. Once you are experiencing the feeling, then you can let go of the story and just focus on the feeling. You may notice an achiness, constriction, or tightness somewhere in your body. Just notice it. Once you have “anchored” into the feeling, then remember a time in the past, possibly in your childhood, when you had a similar feeling.

By feeling the feeling, and linking it to a past memory, you will be connecting to your younger self. Notice how old your younger self is. Then begin to ascertain what was going on for your younger self that was generating that same feeling.

This is when you begin to dialog with your younger self. Say “Hello,” and begin to ask questions as to what is going on for her that is causing feelings of distress, anger, shame, sadness, fear, etc. You might ask questions like:

  • What’s happened?
  • Why are you feeling so_________________?
  • What do you need right now?
  • Can I help you?
Notice – Be observant and notice what you can about your younger self: her dress, the condition of her physical body, her appearance, the environment, her mood. These will all be clues as to the emotional, psychological, and physical state of your younger self.
Attune – Attune to your younger self. Let her share her story. Let her have her feelings. Be sure to validate them.
Understanding – Understand how and why she feels the way she does. It doesn’t matter if it seems trite or irrational – these are her feelings. She has a right to them. Try to understand the reasons for her feelings.
Connect to the present – Remember what you can about the present situation that caused you to be triggered. What in present time caused a re-triggering of past emotions?
Connect to past – What happened in the past that caused negative memories, feelings, or thoughts?
React – React to the past event with sympathy and understanding. Validate the feelings of your younger self.
Reframe – Offer a new perspective of the past event.

  • Does she need to be rescued? – Send in the SWAT Team
  • Does she need to confront someone so she can speak her truth? Then help her do so. This will help her reclaim her voice and her power.
  • Does she need comforting? Then comfort her. Or bring in someone like Mother Mary who can.
  • Does she need reassurance that everything will turn out OK? Then give her reassurance.
Concern – Show her you care and treat her with gentleness and compassion. Let her know that she is not alone anymore; explain that you are now aware of her and will come to her when she needs comforting or protection.
Close – When it’s time to bring the interactive imagination session to a close, give your younger self a big hug and let her know that you will be there for her from now on. Then bring yourself back to full consciousness.
Journal – Write down all that you remember of the experience if you were not actually writing down the dialog as it happened. Make notes of any insights or ‘Ah Ha’s’ you had. (From experience, if you don’t write it down you may lose some of the important nuggets that come up for you during the active imagination session.)

You will find active imagination sessions with your younger self to be very revealing, full of insight, and extremely healing. Enjoy the process and re-acquaint yourself with the younger YOU who is always precious and deserves your love and compassion.

If you are afflicted with feelings of shame or have an exaggerated inclination to feel guilty that is interfering with your personal life, performance, or relationships, then contact Joy for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to learn how you can let go of shame and step into your full potential. Email Joy or call 415-819-8769.
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