Posts made in July, 2013

Breaking Through

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Musings, Skills Building | 0 comments

Breaking Through

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

The past year has been extremely painful. The most painful of my life. I lost a friend, who is family to me, and experienced a grief like I have never known.

As a counselor who has walked through grief of various sorts with innumerable  clients, I know that’s exactly what it takes – walking through it.

I also know it comes in waves. And I spent the last year in the undertow.

A few weeks ago, over lunch with a dear friend, she said “I have a sense you are on the verge of a breakthrough.” The word break echoed in my mind. I responded, “Indeed, I am broken.”

It’s not my nature to be sad. I’m one of those people who could  always imagine the silver lining, without being Pollyanna. The past year has been uncharted territory for me. I’ve been unable to see another side – an end to the suffering.

Yet over the past two weeks, since that lunch with my friend, I’ve begun to realize I am breaking through.  Like a seedling, breaking through the earth, I can see a glimmer of light. I can feel its warmth embrace me, as if welcoming me home.

The love, the loss, the grief, they will always remain. Nevertheless, I am breaking through. I can see a silver lining – that I can be released from the undertow, the grief can occupy a different place in my life, and that this experience can benefit my work with clients for years to come. I can break through. I will break through. I am breaking through.

If you are going through your own version of hell, remember to keep going! You will break through, too.

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Considering Wiring

Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Musings, Skills Building | 0 comments

Considering Wiring

I have been considering wiring lately. Not of the electrical sort, but of our personalities. Specifically, I’ve been wondering to what degree are we able to modify the ways in which we’re wired.

We all have a default manner through which we experience the world. Let’s call these thinking, feeling, behaving/body (I know some folks will cringe at my combining those two. I’m doing so here for simplicity.), and observing. The first three are a bent toward noticing what’s going on with you. The last – observing – is a tendency to be more aware of what is going on in one’s environment.  Input from each of these areas provides useful information. In my work with counseling clients, I help them investigate those typically outside of their awareness, in order to gather more information and thus possibly gain a better understanding.

Here’s an example. I have worked with many folks who are keenly aware of what is going on in their surroundings. They can recall in great detail all the “he said’s” and “she said’s” of a conversation. Listening to their account is like being a fly on the wall. And just like fly, I can “see” (imagine) the conversation that took place, but I have no clear idea what’s going on inside my client. All I can do is assume, guess, or ask. So I’ll ask my client such questions as, “What did you think when they said that?” “What (emotion) did you feel?” I’ll admit, I’m not as good about asking what was going on with their body at the time. Was their body relaxed or tense? Were they clenching their jaw, rolling their eyes, or kindly looking directly at the other person?

Again, while we all have a tendency to notice one of these areas more than others, each provides its own unique information. Thus, we can benefit from practicing increasing our awareness in these other areas, even if it’s after the fact.

Another example. I have worked with numerous folks for whom anger is an issue. Some have described it as being “red hot” or “explosive.” They feel like they’re going to burst and at times cannot contain the intensity. The best way to manage anger is to catch it when it’s small. A “cub” instead of a “lion.” We may start by identifying a recent situation in which they experienced intense anger.  I’ll walk them back through the events – very slowly – seeking to identify as many “links” as possible in the “chain” through which the anger developed.  I’ll ask them to identify thoughts, feelings, behaviors, as well as people present, their words and behaviors, and other contributing factors in the environment. Through this process, clients learn about their early, middle, and late warning signs, which they can use as cues that they need to disengage the anger-building process. Again, the sooner the better.

It takes intentional effort over time to develop greater awareness of the information provided through these other perspectives. It will take practice. It’s a worthy endeavor.

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Celebrating Independence

Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Musings, Skills Building | 0 comments

Celebrating Independence

As we celebrate the independence of our nation, I’m also reminded of those who are celebrating independence from addictions and destructive behavior patterns. Today, I celebrate and give thanks for their courage to leave abusive relationships, say No, that does not work for me, extend forgiveness and grace to ones who have caused them pain, decide just for today not to drink or get high, no longer procrastinate self-care via dietary changes and physical activity, risk saying “I love you” even when unsure how it will be received.

Just as men and women have and do battle for the freedoms our nation enjoys, making significant, meaningful changes in one’s own life is a battle. To those who take up this fight – I celebrate you today and every day.

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