Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

Radical Acceptance

Unprecedented: Crisis.

This word captures the magnitude of the impact of the COVID19 health crisis has had on every area of our lives. The impact is both intensely personal and at the same time being experienced by our entire global human community. 

For many of us, worries about the immediate and long-term future have reached a tipping point, with fear of the unknown threatening to overwhelm our ability to manage it. For those who have previously struggled with anxiety and depression, the sense of overwhelm is compounded.

Unprecedented: Fear, Anxiety, and Uncertainty. 

Having unlimited amounts of time socially isolated, without our usual routines has been unsettling. Economic uncertainty is a threat to our livelihood. Our instinctive response to a threat is to become hyper-vigilant; a stress-based state of readiness. Many of us have taken heed of the safety precautions necessary to stay safe while out in the world, such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing our hands. 

However, this constant physiological state of stress is counterproductive to maintaining a strong immune system. Studies have shown that stress impacts our immune system negatively, due to the release of stress hormones which take a toll on our bodies.

In order to truly maintain our health, we are encouraged to look within; to learn more about how to create wellness in our inner world—our true selves.

Unprecedented: Opportunity. 

As uncomfortable and disrupting as it is, this crisis has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to slow down, and to connect with our selves in a way that may not have been possible while we were engaged in our busy daily lives. We have an opportunity to become mindful – to consider where we are, how we got here—and if desired— make adjustments or start over.

Research over the past several decades validates both the short and long term benefits of mindfulness in shoring up our immune system. As you learn to regulate your emotions and develop mindfulness, you will also be providing a boost to your immune system. 

Radical Acceptance and Mindfulness are two practices that can be cultivated to reduce stress to our immune systems and ground our selves in a more beneficial psychological mindset—offering an unparalleled opportunity for development of personal stability. 

Simply understood, radical acceptance means we acknowledge that things are “as they are.” This is a first step, not the end game. It is simply an acknowledgment of the reality of what has happened or what is currently happening, both outside and inside of us. 

Radical Acceptance

Let me emphasize: Radical acceptance is not the same as “agreeing with” or passively allowing unacceptable situations or behaviors from others. It simply means you fully face reality “as it is” so you can see clearly without distortions and take appropriate action as necessary.

Once we accept reality as it is, we can then consider if and how we’d like to change it.  Rather than judging what is happening, and spending energy on objecting and telling stories about it; we acknowledge  “OK, this is happening.” Then we ask, “Now, how do I want to handle it?”

How does this help us? Objecting to reality actually intensifies our emotional reaction and clouds our ability to think clearly and make the best decisions. Caveat: Developing Radical Acceptance is not necessarily easy. Change rarely is. Adapting our patterns of behavior requires focused attention and effort, but it is within our control and the benefits are immediately realized.

Consider the following scenario, which demonstrates two approaches to a circumstance

Let’s imagine a typical situation befalls two women; I’ll call them Maggie and Sarah. They get into a traffic accident while driving on the highway. 

After the initial shock, Maggie becomes angry because she believes the accident was caused by Sarah’s error. This causes her to get out of her car and confront Sarah, putting herself in danger. She then calls her husband and spends time and energy retelling what happened and defending herself – forgetting that she needs to call the insurance company to report the accident. 

Maggie is stuck in a mental loop. Maggie is adding suffering to what is an unfortunate circumstance. She also misses the opportunity to feel gratitude for the fact that she was not harmed. She is making a bad situation worse by objecting to the reality of the situation. 

However, Sarah is more mindful. Rather than objecting to reality, Sarah moves more quickly from shock to accepting what is — which is that she has been in an accident. She doesn’t focus on whose fault it was; she knows insurance will handle that. Instead, she focuses on the here and now, and is grateful that both she and the other driver appear to be unharmed. Because she is less emotional, Sarah can see things from a wider perspective. She was shaken from the accident but remains in control of her emotions, she is not rejecting or judging reality. When Maggie approaches her, she remains in her car and keeps her cool. She avoids a potentially heated exchange. She has the where-with-all to call her insurance company and the police from the safety of her car. 

This example illustrates in a simple way how radical acceptance allows us to face reality as it is, and make the best decisions we can. Neither woman was able to change the reality of the situation. They were both in a car accident. However, the event was much more draining for Maggie, and impacted her well being more negatively.  This is an example of how radical acceptance can help us to reduce our suffering. 

Radical acceptance is well expressed in this well-known excerpt from The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Applying Radical Acceptance to the Moment

If there is one thing this global pandemic has made abundantly clear, it is that no matter how well we plan (and yes we should plan) there are many things out of our immediate control. In light of this fact, we can use radical acceptance to discern what it is we do have control over within our circumstances, and how to make best use of our energy toward the well being of others and our selves.  

Here are some practical tips for how to apply radical acceptance to the moment:

Ground yourself in the present moment. – Often, much of our anxiety is based on fear of the future. When anxiety threatens to overwhelm you, try focusing your attention on what is coming through your 5 senses: What do you see, what do you hear, what are you feeling in your body, do you have a taste in your mouth, can you smell anything. Breathe into these sensations. Doing this for one or two minutes will significantly reduce your anxiety and allow you to solve problems with more clarity.

Move your body – Check in with how your body feels; do you feel tightness in your chest? Is your breathing rapid, or shallow? Do you feel tension in your neck? Once you have determined that these bodily sensations are not related to sickness, try stretching, going for a walk nearby, or put on some music and dance around the living room, joy in movement is a great stress reliever!

Limit media exposure of the news – While it is important to stay aware of the most recent updates, try to limit your intake to that which is actionable, and will actually make a difference to your day-to-day functioning. Once you have the information you need, turn off the news, and seek other forms of relaxation and entertainment. Perhaps finally binge-watching that TV show you have never had time for, or maybe find a good comedy special. Laughter is the best medicine!

Develop mindfulness – Mindfulness means paying attention to what is happening inside of you and outside of you, in the present moment, without judgment.  Mindfulness is not necessarily quieting your mind, although that may happen as you cultivate this practice. Rather, mindfulness lets us widen our view of any given moment, so that we see ourselves within what is happening. This small shift in perception can help us avoid getting absorbed in thought and anxiety. It’s like putting a wedge between you and your thoughts and emotions, which allows you to realize that you are NOT your thoughts or emotions. With practice, you come to see that your awareness is constant, it is the thoughts and emotions that come and go. This space is where the magic happens and where freedom from the grip of anxiety may be possible.

The ground we gain by tending to our internal experience will serve us both now and all the days of our lives. In a life full of uncertainty and the inevitability of change, the ability to ground and regulate ourselves in our Self is an opportunity to become familiar with a truly constant and stable place. 

Developing these mindfulness practices requires practice. Working with a life coach or individual therapist can help facilitate the development of these skills. The best part is, when we are better able to cope our selves, we help others we are in contact with to become more grounded as well.

Warm Wishes, 
Roseann Pascale, M.S., LMFT

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Roseann Pascale, M.A., LMFT is an empathetic and intuitive couples counselor, therapist and coach. Through authentic connection and a down to earth demeanor, Roseann can guide you in developing clarity and cultivating well-being. Using the practices of mindfulness and values-driven action, she helps individuals and couples overcome their challenges and create fulfillment in all aspects of life.

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Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

Authentic Antiracist Action Starts With You.

BECOMING ANTIRACIST: Many people around the country and around the world are feeling a renewed sense of hope that making much-needed societal changes to fight racism may be possible. People are protesting, showing support of the Black Lives Matter movement, speaking out about social injustice, taking antiracist action, and feeling very motivated to be a part of the solution.

This is a great thing. It also needs to be said that true, meaningful change will require us to go much deeper than saying nice things or taking superficial action. True change will require all Americans — and specifically, White Americans — to take this fight on as their own. In order for lasting, systemic change to happen, White Americans need to take on the emotional burden of racism, break the silence of complicity, refuse to accept the status quo, and shine the light of inquiry into all the spaces that racism hides and festers. It is vital for White people to do this work because…. going to say it… White people are actually the problem. Not all White people, but enough White people are collectively involved in systemic racist policies and institutions to make these systems very difficult for people of color to change from the outside in.

This is an inside job. White people need to be looking around themselves (and inside themselves) to see what’s causing so much harm to others and take meaningful antiracist action to change what they can change. This sounds simple, but in reality, it’s much harder to do.

Becoming Antiracist

Well-meaning white people are often eager to leap into action for the antiracist but do so without first having done the foundational personal growth work that allows them to genuinely understand racism, and be confident activists in pursuit of change. Instead, White people often feel intense feelings of guilt and for the abuse that people of color experience, shame for their own White privilege, and intense feelings of anxiety about doing or saying “the wrong thing.” While these feelings are all understandable, not knowing how to work through them and get past them can stop a White person from being the effective agent-of-change that the world so desperately needs.

Before meaningful change and social activism are possible, there needs to be a growth process of self-awareness and healing. This is hard to do, and there are not many sign-posts to guide you in this work. Most White families never talk about race, much less provide their children with a roadmap to develop a healthy, White racial identity. As such, White Americans struggle to cope with the emotional reality of racism and injustice. Defensiveness, silence, denial, tone-deaf “action,” and / or paralysis can ensue.

(Healthy) White Racial Identity Development

The good news is that while White culture does not generally speak of such things openly, there actually is a map. In the ’90s psychologist and researcher Janet Helms built on the work of William Cross (racial identity development in people of color) and Derald W Sue (Counseling the Culturally Diverse) to develop a White racial identity development model that outlines the process through which White people can shift away from color-blindness and denial, work through paralyzing shame and guilt, take responsibility for understanding racism, and then use their authentic awareness to be part of the meaningful solution.

Until White people do this necessary personal growth work, it is difficult for them to be reliable partners in the fight against racism. However, the internal work of growing in their own racial identity and awareness lays the foundation for authentic anti-racist action that is motivated by a genuine desire for positive change, and a sense that the problem of racism is their problem too. In that emotional space, White Americans can shift away from being (even unconsciously) part of the problem, and into being part of the solution.

The Antiracist Personal Growth Process

In that spirit, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast, I’m diving into Helm’s White racial identity development model, and having an honest conversation about what the stages are really like. (Because I have lived them all!) We’ll talk about what the work involves, the obstacles and opportunities in each stage of development, and resources to support you in your anti-racist development. Specifically, we’ll address:

  • Why “color-blindness” happens, and why something so prevalent (and seemingly well-intentioned) is so destructive.
  • Why White people often feel so much guilt and shame when confronting race, and how to not let those feelings stop you from moving forward.
  • How to avoid the mental and emotional pitfalls that can derail the anti-racist growth process.
  • Why anti-racist action stemming from anxiety about “being a good White person” can be more harmful than helpful.
  • How to dig into the realities of racism, the impact of racial discrimination, and the fact of White privilege in a constructive way that facilitates growth and healing.
  • How White parents can raise anti-racist children.

 

Antiracist Resources

In addition to all of the above, in this episode, I mention a number of resources that have been personally helpful to me in my own journey of anti-racist growth. These are just a tiny drop in the bucket; a big part of the work of stage five is to read / watch / listen / attend / learn from anything and everything that adds another piece to the ever-evolving puzzle of your own understanding and empathy. A few resources mentioned in the podcast (know there are MANY more):

Antiracist Resources For Kids (Toddlers to Tweens!):

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

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How to Stay Mentally and Emotionally Well in an Unsafe World

We are living in historic times. In the midst of a global pandemic, our country is also fighting another battle: One that seeks to shine a light on injustice and systemic racism, end abuse and discrimination of Black Americans and other people of color and begin the hard work of healing.

Many people are connecting with strong emotions as they actively confront pervasive problems in our culture. Some are sitting with sadness, some are giving a voice to long-unspoken anger, and others are feeling hopeful — even exhilarated — that racism is being acknowledged and addressed openly.

While this is a time of hope and possibility, it is also a time of reckoning and recognition for the hurt, pain, and damage that has long been suffered by Black Americans in the United States. As old wounds are re-opened, and the horrors of systematic terrorism against Black people are dragged out into the light, it’s vital that we are also talking about the mental health and emotional wellness of people of color in our country.

Being the target of oppression, and the victim of unjust racist policies takes a toll. This reality brings up questions that need to be answered:

  • How can a person of color cope with feelings of anger and pain due to being directly impacted by (or bearing witness to) racial injustice in our society?
  • What are some strategies that Black Americans can use to stay empowered in their relationships, and to make informed, affirming decisions that honor their needs and rights?
  • Where do you turn for safety, support, and understanding in a divided and uncertain world?
  • How can people of color honor the reality of the past and present, and also remain hopeful about the future?

Growing Self therapists Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP, and Zachary Gaiter, M.S., LPCC tackle these questions and more, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

 

 

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Fight Racism, Part I: Hope, Healing & Empowerment

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How To Love Yourself

How To Love Yourself

How To Love Yourself

Yes, you really do have to love yourself first.

Here’s why… and how.

How to Love Yourself

++ Note: Learning how to love yourself is such an important, core topic that I decided to post this both as a written article and a podcast so that you can access the info in whichever format is most helpful to you. (Scroll down for the podcast link). I sincerely hope this information helps you cultivate the love and compassion for yourself that you deserve. With love — LMB ++

“You have to love yourself first.”

For many years, I would hear that and wonder — what does that even mean? I would hear the words, and think “Yup, that sounds like a good idea,” but how to actually create this state of self love was a total mystery.

I didn’t feel a lot of love for myself. And on some level I thought that it sounded sort of selfish and weird to think about being deeply in love with one’s self.

I imagined Narcissus cooing at his reflection in the glassy water of the river bank, and think, “People keep telling me I need to love myself. But how exactly is that supposed to improve my life or my relationships?”

I didn’t get it. I do now.

Here’s what I’ve learned on my journey of growth, and what I teach my online therapy and life coaching clients now about what self love is, why it’s important, and how to love yourself.

But first, let’s talk for a moment about what self love is NOT, and the traps people often fall into when they want to love themselves but don’t know how.

Malignant Self Love

This skepticism around “self-love” I originally had was not helped by my journey into becoming a therapist. I’d hear that phrase, “You have to love yourself first” get tossed around by therapy clients using it to  — quite frankly — justify all kinds of unhealthy things in the name of “self-love.”

People can use, “But I have to love myself!” to rationalize the worst kinds of self indulgence, refusal to accept responsibility, breaking of commitments, abandoning of values, displacement of blame, or breathtakingly insensitive actions towards other people. (“Yes, I stole the money and lied about it, but I deserve to be happy! I love myself!”)

This is not healthy self love. Healthy self love does not make your needs, rights or feelings more important than those of other people. Just the opposite: Healthy self love makes you more empathetic and compassionate. More on that in a moment…

Using “Self Love” as Another Way To Judge Yourself

Here’s another thing that self-love is absolutely not: Judgment. Ironically, people will find ways to use the idea of self love against themselves. I can’t tell you how many times in therapy or life coaching sessions I’ve see lovely, beautiful people welling up with tears as they spoke their truth and said things like:

“I don’t love myself. I don’t like myself. The only love that matters is the love I get from other people. But I know I should love myself. And the fact that I don’t love myself is one more reason for me to hate myself.”

Looking at the level of self love you have and using that as just another way to beat yourself up, judge yourself, and feel like you’re failing.

I have therapy and coaching clients with the expectation that they should love themselves,  and that they didn’t feel that way was only more evidence that there was something terribly wrong with them. Is that true for you?

It is okay if you don’t feel like you love yourself. Being able to accept yourself — with compassion, as you are — is self-love. Bashing yourself for not being good enough or because you don’t feel like you love yourself is the opposite of self love.

Understanding Love: Love For Yourself, and Love For Others

But over many years as a therapist, a marriage counselor, a wife, a mother, and a person on her own even-winding journey of growth, I feel that the true nature of love is starting to become clearer to me.

Love does not hurt. Real love is never an excuse to do bad things to other people, and it’s definitely not anything that should result in more self-criticism or self loathing.

What I’m realizing about self love or love for others is that you don’t have to feel love to have love, and you don’t have to feel like you love yourself or that you love others.

Love is much, much bigger than any of the feelings that blow through us on a given day. Striving to have a feeling of love is not how love works.

People who love themselves may not feel the emotion of having love for themselves.

Here’s a secret: Love is not actually a feeling. Love certainly can be a feeling. Love can be a felt emotion. But love is really something that we do. Love is an action. Love is a choice.

Choosing to have tolerance, compassion, and acceptance for yourself as you are — even if you don’t feel like you love yourself — is, paradoxically, what self love actually is. 

Every once in awhile we might have the wonderful treat of feeling self love, but that’s just a warm patch of sunlight on a path that’s dappled with the subtle lights and darks of the emotion we walk though every day.

True Love, real love, is more like a state of grace that we can choose to live in: The energy that prioritizes the well-being of people over everything else. Love is compassion, empathy, support, hope, and help that is extended for the benefit of others… And that includes us, too.

True Love For Others

True love allows us to set our self-focus and ego aside and do what needs to be done for the benefit of others. Have you ever stayed up late to do laundry or gone to the grocery store in the middle of the night because your kid needed clean clothes or lunch for school the next day, even though you were tired? That’s the kind of true love I’m talking about. Simple prioritization for the wellbeing of another.

In that state of everyday grace, it doesn’t really matter what you’re thinking or feeling or wanting: You’re simply understanding what someone else is feeling and needing, and being of service to them.

Throwing someone else over the wall is the height of heroism. Good parents do that for their children without even thinking of it. And through our relationships we all get the chance to practice softening ourselves, choosing compassion over criticism, and showing others that their feelings are as important to use as our own.

That is how we love others. We may or may not have the feeling of love as we do what love requires. The fact that we do it anyway is evidence of the power of the love we have. It’s easy to do what you feel like doing. True love does the hard stuff, even when you don’t feel like it. That is the definition of love.

True Love For Yourself

But how do you love yourself? It’s easier to see how you can be compassionate, and tolerant, and generous with other people – but towards yourself? “Isn’t that the opposite of True Love?” You might be thinking. Or, “If love is about doing things for the benefit of others, and to help, support and lift up others, isn’t it taking away from them if I turn that compassionate energy towards ME? Isn’t that SELFISH???”

Loving yourself is not selfish. Loving yourself is the foundation of wellbeing that supports you in your ability to love others. Loving yourself means treating yourself with the same kind of compassion, support, encouragement and devotion to your health and genuine best interests that you give to other people.

What I’m learning is that being a healthy person who is able to give love to others means that you are having a “true love” kind of relationship with yourself first. Because if you refuse to love yourself you will be too unwell physically, mentally, and emotionally to be of benefit for others.

Note that I just said, “If you refuse to love yourself,” rather than, “If you can’t love yourself.” Remember, love is not something you have to feel. You cannot actually make yourself feel like you love yourself (or anyone else for that matter.) And you don’t have to feel that. You just have to do it. And that is 100% within your ability, all the time.

Here’s how it works:

Think of loving yourself is treating yourself as you would parent a cherished child:

1) You can choose to be an emotionally safe person, and speak to yourself kindly, compassionately, and wisely. You can offer yourself guidance, reassurance and emotional support instead of criticizing yourself, scaring yourself, or being negative towards yourself.

If you wouldn’t say it to a small child who needs help and support, it’s not good enough for you either.

2) Setting firm limits that support your health and wellness. Good parents who love their children help them stay healthy by going to bed at a reasonable hour, eating nutritious foods, getting some exercise, and and taking care of their health. Even when they don’t  feel like it.

You paying attention to what you need in order to be physically safe and healthy, and then making sure you get that, is self love in action.

3) Directing yourself to make choices that demonstrate your commitment to your own well being. Self love is self protection. Pay attention to what feels hurtful or toxic to you, and take steps to protect yourself. This might involve setting boundaries with others, listening to your inner wisdom, and avoiding harmful situations. Self love is also shown by taking positive action to create positive things for yourself, and going after things that you know will bring out the best in you (and staying away from the things that will harm you in the long run).

Loving yourself isn’t a feeling. It’s a commitment.

The key here is that, just like you don’t have to be overwhelmed with feelings of love in order to be a good parent, you don’t have to feel “love” in order to love yourself.

Your commitment to loving others is much bigger than anything you feel.

  • You can feel totally frustrated with your kid and still be kind and responsible.
  • You can be annoyed with your partner and still control yourself and be generous.
  • And you can not feel like exercising, or like beating yourself up mercilessly, and still decide to act lovingly towards yourself: Taking yourself for a walk, or shifting into more compassionate, self supporting language.

Why Loving Yourself Matters

Think about a child who is being mistreated by their parents: Verbally and emotionally abused (or worse), given junk food, encouraged to watch TV, chaotic or overly strict routines, no support with academics or friendships….

What would you expect from that kid in terms of his ability to maintain emotional stability and be a good partner or friend to someone else? Not a lot? Yeah. When you’re not loving yourself, not giving yourself what you need, not meeting your basic needs for health, self-care, nurturing, acceptance and compassion, you are basically abusing yourself from the inside out. When any of us are being abused, we are simply not going to be well. If you are abusing and neglecting yourself, you won’t have much to offer others either. How could you?

If you’re reading the above line and it resonates, let’s use this moment as one of self-compassion and self-acceptance instead of self-recrimination and another way to make yourself feel bad. Try this instead:

“Of course I haven’t been well and have not been at my best. How could I possibly be? I have not been treating myself with the love and respect I deserve. I’d like to do a better job of that, and I’m committed to learning how.” 

That language is accepting. It’s compassionate. It’s understanding. It’s also hopeful, and leading you towards something better.

Choosing to have a good, nurturing, responsible and compassionate relationship with yourself is what it means to love yourself. To behave in the way that supports your highest and best… even when you don’t feel like it.

Figure out what kind of support you really need, and then decide to give it to yourself. No matter what.

Also, know that learning how to love yourself is a process, and one that takes a long time. It’s also very hard to do alone. An enormous act of self love can be reaching out for help and guidance to learn how to treat yourself better. Everyone needs support, and sometimes before you can support yourself from the inside, you need to be supported and build up from the outside through a healing relationship with a compassionate therapist or coach who is devoted to your personal growth.

I hope these ideas help you find your way forward. For even more on the important subject of how to love yourself, I hope you listen to this podcast episode too.

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Love Yourself

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Spread the Love Happiness & Success

Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Career Growth: How To Set Yourself Up For Success!

Career Growth: How To Set Yourself Up For Success!

Career Growth: How To Set Yourself Up For Success!

Career Growth and Transition Tips 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. When it comes to talking about career growth and how to use this time productively, there is a lot you can do without making big drastic lifestyle changes. 

This is a great opportunity to take time to explore your options, make decisions, and prepare yourself to take steps towards your ideal future! As an online career counselor, I wanted to give you some activities that you could explore to help you find clarity about career growth and career transitions while also tackling that looming feeling of “Where do I go next?”

Take Your Time: Reflect

Whether you are out of work, working from home, staggering shifts, or continuing work as essential personal, create a space for you to tune in to yourself and reflect on your career beliefs. 

Be intentional while thinking and answering the below questions, taking note of the answers that you come up with or that feel scary to admit. This is a beautiful space to begin wondering about your career growth choices and figuring out what feels like the best next step for you.

Ask yourself:
Am I happy with my current employment situation?
What would I want to change about it?
What’s most important to me when it comes to career options?
What would I like out of my career? 

Think about things such as:
When would be a good time to pursue this?
What does it take to achieve this goal?
Where do I see myself in this job?

Write down the pros and cons of transitioning careers. Some things might be both a pro and a con! Go through and give each topic a point value between 1 and 5. With 1 being the lowest importance. 

By attributing a value system to your list, it can help you recognize what’s most important for you right now.

Do Your Research

So you’ve taken the chance to reflect on your beliefs and desires; congratulations! As a career coach and individual therapist, I view taking time to reflect on big life transitions as a huge area of potential. 

It takes a lot of courage to think about change and what might feel uncomfortable. 

Take a moment to write a list of 5 different career options that seem interesting to you. Remember, writing them down does not mean you have to pursue them! 

Take the list you’ve created and search them individually at both of these sites: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/ and https://www.onetonline.org/

These sites are helpful in providing details such as; demand for the job, pay range, qualifications, as well as other related positions. Give yourself permission to go down a rabbit hole and explore things that look interesting to you!

Update Your Professional Information

Think about what resources need to be updated to appeal to your ideal or prospective job. Some jobs use social media more than others, some are more focused on your resume and cover letter

Put yourself in a hiring manager position and think about what they might want to see out of a prospective applicant. Linkedin, Indeed, and even Instagram and Facebook can be media sources your future employer might want to review (depending on the job of course). 

Keep your profiles up to date to reflect YOU! Let your personality shine through. Yes, employers want to see your accomplishments but they also want to see who you are! 

Go through and tailor your profile for the job you want – cutting out redundant content, elaborating on your accomplishments, and creating uniformity throughout your profile.

Your Resume Matters! 6 Useful Resume Tips

Updating and keeping up with your resume is critical to pursuing the job you want. Most jobs are looking for a one page ‘summary’ on your professional experience. Make sure your resume looks clean, consistent, and easy to read. [If you want to work with a professional, view here is information on connecting with an expert resume and interview coach: Resume Writing Services in Denver | Online Resume Consultant]

  1. Keep important information on your resume that applies to your ideal position while omitting information that might not be completely relevant. I like to keep a ‘full length’ resume that I can copy and paste my experience in and out of.
  2. Highlight aspects that might be important to the job. For instance, if the job you are applying for is in education, it might be important to highlight your academic accomplishments. (If you are applying to jobs in several fields, it might be handy to keep a couple of different versions of your resume like, professional, service industry, education, etc. on hand.)
  3. If you are looking to apply to a specific job, look through the job description, and incorporate keywords into your resume. Hiring managers are looking for those keywords and this can help you organize your experience.
  4. Use concise summaries of your experience using bullet points and action words that match the tense. For example, if you are currently working as an office assistant you might use: “Organizes specialized data spreadsheets.” If you are not currently working there, go back through and change ‘organize’ to a past tense verb.
  5. Formatting should be consistent throughout your document including font, text size, punctuation, dates, etc.. Keep an eye on small things such as; are there periods at the end of every sentence? Is the date format consistent throughout (03/2020 vs March 2020)?
  6. Find someone you trust such as a mentor, professor, or career coach to review your resume and give you feedback.

Some positions require a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or you might have the option to submit a CV in place of a resume. 

A CV is an extended version of your resume that expands on your life accomplishments and academic pursuits. Unlike a resume, which typically is only 1 page, a CV can be as long as you would like. 

Keeping an up to date CV allows you to track your accomplishments, awards, certifications, and projects that you’ve worked hard to accomplish. Here’s a good guide to writing a CV:

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/job_search_writing/resumes_and_vitas/writing_the_cv.html

Time To Upskill Yourself

Due to the pandemic, companies know there are a lot of people with more time on their hands. Take time to think about what skills your current or next job is looking for. If you have the time and means, take a course or a training to update or learn a new skill that will contribute to your career growth. 

These could be courses from your local college, classes taught online through your field’s board, or one you found through Google. This can be valuable information when going into an interview or preparing to get a new job. 

Financial security is also important to consider during this time. There are ways to upskill yourself for free. Khan Academy offers free courses on several subjects. Plus, there’s no harm in looking! 

Many public libraries have opened up their online databases and have made it more accessible to read Ebooks. Look at your local library and find a book relating to the subject you’d like to learn more about. 

While reading, take notes. It might seem silly but taking notes can help you retain information. 

Youtube can also be a great resource for free information and techniques. Make sure you are looking for credible information in whichever free course you choose. 

It might seem like the world is in a standstill in terms of employment. Although there might be a freeze currently, this pause creates a great opportunity to reflect and spend time with your thoughts about career growth. 

Our professional life is always changing and developing and sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of that. I want to encourage you to be kind to yourself during this time and give yourself permission to explore those ideas that may have gotten tucked away.

Wishing you success,
Megan Brice, M.S., LPCC, NCC

 

P.S. If you have recently lost your job, you’re not alone. For helpful tips and encouragement read: Coping With Job Loss and article focused on self-care, career-care, and hope. 

Denver Career Coach Online Career Counselor Therapist in Broomfield Online Therapy

Megan Brice, M.S., LPCC, NCC is a career counselor, life coach and therapist who creates a warm environment for you to explore the depths of who you are, so you can grow. She challenges, encourages, and empowers you to embrace transition in order to create future fulfillment.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped By Life? Learn How to Set Yourself Free…

 

Do You Feel Trapped By Your Circumstances? If so, you’re not alone. I see it all the time: People who show up for growth-oriented online therapy and life coaching often do so because they feel trapped, they feel stuck, and they do not know how to move forward.

They say, in their first online coaching session, “I feel trapped in my job,” or “I feel trapped in my marriage,” or “I feel trapped by my life.” What they’re saying is, “I’m unhappy, but I do not see a path forward.” Although they desire change very much, it really feels like in every direction there is a barrier or an insurmountable obstacle. It’s like they have no good options. They are paralyzed.

So they sit on my couch (if we’re meeting for life coaching in Denver) or on my computer screen (if we’re meeting for online life coaching), feeling beaten down, helpless, tense, and often certain in the futility of any effort to create change.

Then, we talk. And we often talk a lot about the obstacles. The many, many obstacles:

  • A career coaching client talks about how much they hate their job but can’t find a different one for various reasons. Or not one that pays as well. Or that they don’t have to go back to school for. Or they’d be totally starting over.
  • A life coaching client might talk about how they want to change their habits but haven’t been successful yet so therefore they can’t ever be. Everything they try to do fails. They have stopped trusting themselves to implement changes, and do what needs to be done to create positive change. They have tried it all. Nothing works. They can’t xyz and have so many reasons why. They are stuck. S T U C K
  • A relationship coaching client needs me to know their relationship feels acrimonious, toxic, not emotionally safe, and not satisfying. Communication is terrible.  They want so much to love and be loved but feel helpless because their partner won’t change. But on the other side, getting divorced feels signing up for a whole new set of terrible problems. And the kids. And the money. And the heartbreak. They feel stuck in a bad relationship that they can’t fix, and they can’t leave.

What to Do When You’re Feeling Trapped

In all of these situations — while the specific circumstances leading these folks to feel trapped are different — the result is the same: It feels like the door to their ideal path has just slammed shut and now they are facing a wall. A high, high wall.

Emotionally, they feel helpless and that their problems feel too big to overcome. Every opportunity quickly becomes a snarl of more problems and negative outcomes, and paralysis takes over.

“Being stuck” becomes a purgatory, and as you can imagine, fertile ground for depression to sink roots and wrap them up in tight black vines of hopelessness. It’s hard to go through, and even as a therapist or coach (hi), it’s hard to watch.

Why does this happen? Most importantly, how do you move past feeling trapped and set yourself free?

Why You Feel Trapped: The “Black and White” Trap

The truth is that when I sit with my therapy or coaching clients, I become very, very aware that 1) their adverse circumstances are very real 2) they may not have great options, and they do have to make hard choices and — here’s the important part — 3) they have more options than they think they do.

If your immediate reaction to that last part was, “NO I DO NOT!” Please, hear me out.

In my experience as a therapist and life coach, and an empathic observer of humans, I have learned that there is a very specific way of thinking that inevitably intensifies feeling of being trapped, and will always make you feel helpless and overwhelmed by obstacles: black and white thinking.

Black and white thinking severely limits available options.

If you’re feeling paralyzed, stuck, or helpless there is a good chance that, at the core, and without even realizing it you might be engaging in “all or nothing” / “yes or no” / “this or that” /  black and white thinking.

When a black or white thought process is active, everything becomes an “either / or.”

“I need to get into this graduate program, but I can’t afford it so I’m destined stay in this unhappy career forever.”

“I’m going out on dates but not meeting people I feel a connection with so I’m going to die alone.”

“I must feel better in order to do something differently.”

“My partner needs to change or I can’t be happy.”

All options are starkly opposed in black and white, and have the power to either save or crush us completely. Words like, “Always,” “Have To,” “Can’t,” swirl inside your head. It’s exhausting.

Whenever someone gets into a stuck, helpless place its almost always because they perceive too few options. Things become polarized: Black and white, yes and no, good or bad.

They have more options than they think they do. It is actually never black or white. Even if they have to choose between two options, they still have a great deal of opportunity to cultivate differences in the way they think about those options, and the way they feel about this options.

But when people are feeling trapped, they do not see that. They can’t. And we’ve all been there: Stuck, disempowered, and feeling trapped.

The black and white mindset that underpins feeling trapped is why people so often need the support of a great, growth oriented therapist or a dynamic life coach to get unstuck. They are not trapped so much by their own circumstances, as they are by their own mental process. However, because we are all limited by our own perceptions, the mental walls we unknowingly create are very real, and very high. It is nearly impossible to scale them alone, without outside perspective.

Great therapy or coaching can sometimes reveal different options and solutions. But what it always does is help you create inner flexibility and a fresh perspective that sets you free from the inside out.

Many decades of research into cognitive-behavioral therapy have shown that the basis for much human suffering can be found in unhelpful ways of thinking. Also, that when people can cultivate more helpful ways of thinking they feel happier, more content and more empowered, whether or not they change their circumstances. (Though often, feeling better mentally and emotionally helps people create actual change).

This is important: Psychological health and happiness is found through mental flexibility, creativity, and openness.

There is always a middle path. When you tap into your own inner power and resources, you will find it. Then, you have so many more possibilities.

How To Liberate Yourself Mentally and Emotionally, When You’re Feeling Trapped

I am going to tell you a secret. I will preface this by saying I’m aware that what I’m about to say can feel impossible when you’re trapped in black and white thinking. If you can’t do this on your own, it’s a good call to connect with a therapist or coach who can help you do this. But here it is:

If you don’t like the options you currently have, insist on more.

Whether you believe this to be true, it is: You have more options than you know. Some of your options may be a bad idea. Some options may be fantastical. Some of your options may go against your core values. Some of them may be so ridiculous they are not even worth entertaining.

But under the heap of terrible, dumb, unthinkable options, there may be a few that are worth entertaining. But you can’t get to those options, unless you give yourself permission to be creative, be weird, think about things you don’t usually think about, and insist on more.

This openness to any and all options is the psychological process of liberating your mind from entrapment. Only when you can set yourself free psychologically, are you able to move forward literally.

Here’s an example:

Did you ever read the story when you were a kid about Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator? (It’s the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I know you’ve heard of).

Anyway. At the end of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, if you remember, Willie Wonka has made Charlie the heir to his magical candy empire, and is going to take him on a tour of his new dominion.

They get into the Great Glass Elevator, which Charlie assumes, sanely, will carry them up or down to different levels of the factory. (Up or down. Black or white. Sound familiar?)

However, the wall of the elevator is covered with buttons. Strange buttons. Buttons indicating that this elevator will go not just up or down but diagonally, in circles, side to side, and more.

Willie Wonka gleefully pushes the big red “Up and Out” button which sends them crashing through the roof of the factory and into outer space. OUTER SPACE! What kind of elevator goes into outer space??

One of the characters asks this reasonable question:

“And what keeps it up?” said Grandma Josephine.

“Skyhooks,” said Mr Wonka.

Skyhooks. Skyhooks, as far as I know, are not actually a thing. Perhaps they will be (I have not personally rummaged around in Elon Musk’s desk drawers to look for the notepad with the “List of Things to Think About” I’m sure he keeps.)

But the point is that you, too, get to make it all up as you go along.  We all get to design our own reality. Just like Willy Wonka, nothing exists anywhere — certainly not in your life or mine — unless we think about making it happen first.  The rules that govern our lives are largely our own construction. You have many, many options — we all do.

Getting Unstuck: Cultivate Creativity And Mental Flexibility Like it Was Your Job

Here’s what getting unstuck from the outside in actually looks like, when you do it.

The next time you’re feeling trapped, try taking out a piece of paper and writing down as many alternative options as you can think of. Make them as zany and wildly unrealistic as you possibly can, just to loosen up the thin-lipped British governess that has taken up residence in your head— the one holding two alternatives out to you on a silver tray. Slap them out of her hands and get weird. Brainstorm with abandon.

“I could sell all my possessions and move to a little village in Armenia. In three years I will be mayor.”

“I could quit my job and live in a tent in my next-door neighbor’s backyard.”

“I could make [insert goal here] the sole mission of my life and number one priority every day.”

“I could stand up in the middle of my next team meeting and scream cathartically, throw a chair at my boss’s head, and walk out.” (Not advised. But you could.)

“I could apply to a different school, or change my major.”

“I could break up with this person.”

“I could read some books and learn how to do this thing that seems so impossible. Other people can do it and I can too.”

“I could make it a goal to meet four new people every week.”

“I could save x amount of money every month for the next year, and do the thing I really want to do.”

“I could get rid of my television and use all that extra time to pursue [something important that you feel you don’t have time for].”

Operant point: Start every sentence should start with “I could.”

Of course you will immediately hear the snarky voice of the uptight, uber-rational British governess telling you all the reasons that you can’t.

The correct response to her is, “Shh. Skyhooks.”

Break Free: You Are the Author Of Your Life Story

The truth is that you can actually do pretty much anything you want.

You CAN decide to take out a massive loan and spend every cent riding motorcycles around Australia for the next six months. You could simply stop paying the mortgage on your house and use the proceeds to finance a diet of nothing but the most expensive chocolate money can buy every single day.

You can. No one is stopping you.

Of course, there are consequences to every decision that you’ll have to sort through, obviously, but just getting in contact with the fact that your options are immense is enough to break through the paralysis that is choking your life and creating the stuck-ness that you’ve been feeling lately.

In addition to some foolish ideas that might very well destroy your life if you followed them, your creativity and openness to new ideas will also generate some reasonable, healthy, fresh and exciting new options for you too. Trust me.

What are the skyhooks that could lift you up-and-out of the tiny little cognitive box you’ve been stuffed into?

What could you do?

 
I know that this article and the podcast are not in any way, shape or form a substitute for working with a therapist or life coach (which is what most people who are profoundly stuck really do need). However, I hope this conversation helps you find your way forward, even if it’s just to take the steps to get in touch with a great therapist or coach who can walk with you, help you break out of black and white thinking, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and cultivate the inner strength to transform your life from from the inside out.
 
That is what you deserve!
 
 
 
xoxo,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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