Moving Forward

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

Moving Forward: The Path of Personal Growth

MOVING FORWARD: A Love, Happiness and Success Podcast listener (and taker of my online self-esteem quiz) recently asked me, “Dr. Lisa: I’m dedicated to moving forward and I want to achieve personal growth, but HOW? How do I breakthrough?”

Fair question! On this episode I go behind the scenes from my viewpoint as a Denver therapist and online life coach, and longtime practitioner of “breakthrough counseling” to give you the inside scoop.

I reveal the  the internal workings of the personal growth process so you can see what a successful “personal growth plan” really involves. Listen and learn the actual process for moving forward (whether in therapy, life coaching or on your own) and how to transform what feels like a breakdown into a breakthrough.

Specifically, we’re discussing:

      1. TIMING: Why this particular “pandemic” time (believe it or not) holds many opportunities for personal growth and change that are not as easily accessible when things are normal.
      2. CATALYSTS: How to use a breakdown in order to achieve a “breakthrough,” and why having a personal crisis is so often transformational.
      3. SELF-AWARENESS: The importance of learning how to tap into the wisdom of your dark emotions.
      4. MOTIVATION: Why things that feel like obstacles are often actually are the path forward in disguise.
      5. EMPOWERMENT: The key turning points of the personal growth process, particularly shifting out of victimhood and into empowerment.
      6. BREAKTHROUGH: The life changing experience of having new recognition of (and refusal to continue) old patterns.
      7. TRANSFORMATION: How the hard-earned personal growth process culminates in feelings of confidence, clarity and self worth.
      8. VICTORY: Why moving forward and achieving authentic personal growth is not an easy path, but a worthy one (and yours to keep!)

To help you take in this information in the easiest and most enjoyable way for you, I’m including access to both the podcast link and the full transcript so you can either listen or read though. (You’ll find the full transcript by scrolling all the way down).

Wishing you all the very best on your journey of growth!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Moving Forward: The Path of Personal Growth

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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Moving Forward: The Path of Personal Growth

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you’re listening to the Love, Happiness & Success podcast.

 

[There’s a New Day plays]

 

There’s a new day. That song is by Staffan Carlén, not Stephen, Staffan Carlén. And I thought it was a good mood setter for our episode today. Because today we’re talking about moving forward, what it really involves and how to turn what may feel like a personal crisis into a vehicle of personal growth. Today, it is all about turning a breakdown into a breakthrough so that you can feel good, and achieve the love, happiness and success that we both know you deserve. That’s what we’re doing today on the show. 

And I wanted to do this, I actually had something else planned for us today. And as you may or may not know, if you are a regular listener and caught last week’s show, last week, we were talking about self-esteem and I launched a new activity for you guys, which is a little self-esteem assessment. It’s an online assessment, you answer a few questions, you get a self-esteem score that kind of measures how you’re feeling about you these days. And I’ve had a bunch of people take this and I get an overview of the results. And I looked at this the other day and I realized that many of you are not feeling that good right now, at least some of those of you who have taken the self-esteem assessment. And I also have a little place in my assessments where I make a space for you guys to ask questions or share things. And in looking through those, I saw that a number of you had questions about where to go from here, and I wanted to address those on the show today. 

If you are interested in participating in this activity, you can access the self-esteem assessment by texting the word esteem to the number 55444. Or, of course, you can cruise on over to the blog at growingself.com and you’ll see a link to that self esteem quiz as in addition to other ones if you go to, I think it’s under the Free Resources tab on the website, there’s a little drop down and you can access that assessment in addition to others. 

So, that’s what I wanted to talk about with you guys on the show is when life has kind of thrown you for a loop, then what? And in service of your growth, I thought that I would share my perspective of what growth, and evolution, and healing really involves and really looks like from the perspective of being a therapist and coach who has walked with a lot of people on this path and witnessed many people doing this successfully. So I’m going to paint you a picture of what this looks like from the other side, to just kind of give you a roadmap for what this might involve for you, too. So that’s what we’re doing today on the show. 

If this is your first time listening, you’re probably wondering what in the heck you have just stumbled into. And, of course, this is the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast. I’m Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, I am a psychologist. I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I’m a board certified life coach and the founder and clinical director of growingself.com, and the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast. It’s all about you. So, welcome. I’m glad you’re here. 

Your Questions About Personal Growth

So, let’s turn our attention to our topic today. So a couple of the questions that trickled through from this assessmentand there were othersand if you were one of the many who asked a different type of question, never fear, I will address those in time as well. But a couple stood out to me. One person asked, “How do I cultivate feelings of worthiness? Combat my inner critic? Develop self-compassion?” Another person asked, “How do I break through and take the next step towards my dreams?” Yet another person said, “What are some ways to work on self-love? Or undo the effects of childhood emotional neglect while isolated this year due to COVID?” You know, “What are some things we can work on by ourselves without a relationship or a partner?” So, and there were many more, but these are just a few that stood out to me as really being an example of you guys thinking, “Okay, yes, but how?” 

 

So, first, I will share my perspective, my bird’s eye view from you know, I mean, I work with my own clients, I also manage a practice and I supervise 35, 40 different counselors and coaches at this point. And so, I have an involvement in many of their cases. And so, what I have experienced from my own work, my own life, my own clients, but also being part of many others’ growth is that, right now, in the midst of what feels like a world on fire with pandemics, and job losses, and very unusual circumstances and difficult times, in many ways, is that right now seems to be, interestingly, a very ripe time for growth and personal developmentmeaning that there are life circumstances that many people are experiencing right now that are perhaps not pleasant. And that, in some ways, makes it easier to do very deep and meaningful personal growth work that is not always possible when we’re kind of doing our usual status quo running around, act, you know. 

 

So for example, right now a lot of people have time and space to get in touch with you. We are not running around, and going to activities, and hanging out with people in the same way, and attending events. And there’s just like more time that people have, either at home or with their families, but solitude time. And this is actually a really important ingredient if you are serious about personal growth work. Many, many things can get wallpapered over by dizziness, and running around, and errands, and social engagements. I mean, I think a lot of people under normal circumstances just kind of flit around from thing to thing. And like there’s almost a dragonfly quality to it, they kind of like land somewhere for a little bit, then they zip off to the other thing. And being deprived of the ability to do that is pushing people into contact with themselvesfor better or for worse. Without those distractions, people are finding that their inner thoughts and feelings are often more readily accessible. And, again, that is not always comfortable, particularly if you’re going through something hard, but it is necessary if you’re serious about growth. 

 

Another thing that is currently happening that is very conducive to personal growth, to the point where I would say that like when I look back at the successful growth work that I’ve seen people do over the years that I’ve been part of, many of the time my clients have had their eventual breakthroughs and ‘aha’ moments after experiencing a pretty significant loss or disappointment. It can be a lost relationship, a lost job, maybe both at the same time. But like being confronted with life circumstances that they do not like, they feel disappointed by them, they feel upset by them. And going through that, what feels really like a personal crisis or a big thing, brings up a lot of feelingsbig feelings, I mean. Everything from shame, insecurity, grief, loss, I mean all kinds of stuff. 

 

And because oftentimes the big events are so big that, again, people have to deal with the feelings. Of course, there are always exit ramps if you want to. You can get high, you could get drunk, you could do something else entirely, be addicted to porn. I mean, there’s lots of ways to avoid, right? But many times if a crisis is big enough, even our usual numbing strategies aren’t quite enough to protect us from all those feelings. So, they need to be dealt with. And those experiences will lead people to oftentimes, you know, with the support of a good therapist or coach be like, “Okay, why do I feel so bad? Why was this upsetting to me?” And just begin using that as a doorway to understanding themselves more deeply. 

 

And what I’ve learned over time is that many times when people really go into that exploration, they can come away with realizations about themselves. With their core values, recognition that may be the job that they were so attached to and so devastated by when it ended, maybe that wasn’t actually their perfect ideal situation. Or a relationship that ended and they felt gutted that it ended, maybe sometimes during that exploration, they come to this realization that wasn’t actually good for me, either. I wasn’t really getting what I needed. And like being able to re-evaluate some of the things that they’ve been doing, and realizing that maybe the things that didn’t work out were not truly an alignment with who they were and what they wanted, after all. 

 

But, so it’s through these difficult experiences and difficult times that people kind of like go through a dark valley, or dark tunnel, or have this inner inner experience where it’s really focused on understanding themselves, “Why am I feeling the way that I’m feeling? I feel angry. Why is that? Why does it make sense? Why do I have every right in the world to feel as angry as I do?” Or, “What am I feeling ashamed of right now? What is that about?” And like, going into those dark emotions for the purpose of not pushing them away and making them go away, but understanding them. Like, “Why does this make sense? What is this telling me about me?” And through that exploration, it helps people get really clear about themselveswho they are, what they want, what they need, what their core values are, what their hopes and dreams are, like all of this. And many times this level of self-awareness and self-knowledge is only available to us through our dark emotions. 

 

I use the term dark emotions instead of negative emotions because I don’t believe they’re negative. In our culture, things like anger, grief, pain, guilt, shame, frustration, rage, even, I mean, you name it,have gotten a bad rap because we often believe that these are feelings that we shouldn’t have. That when these feelings are active, we should do things that make them go away, which eventually certainly is one of the goals because it’s not helpful for you to stay stuck in bad feelings that are unproductive forever and ever, but your dark emotions are a treasure of insight, and self-understanding, and the doorway to clarity. 

 

When you’re able to understand them compassionately, make friends with them, absorb the wisdom that they are attempting to share with you. And that requires a lot of strength, I think, a lot of courage to be able to do that. Oftentimes a lot of support, you know. I mean, can you get there through like journaling, or thinking about things, or you go on long walks? Yes, you can. And for many people, it is also through conversations with a good therapist or a good coach where they’re saying like, “Okay, why are you so angry?” Not in a judgy way, but like, “Let’s talk about why this makes sense kind of way.” That people finally have the permission to say like, “Okay, maybe this does make sense. Why is that?” And so, that is really an important part of the growth process. 

 

Then, when you understand what is going on that is creating so much painsometimes it can be a misalignment with your current circumstances, sometimes there can be a lot of clarity around your own inner dialogue, or limiting core beliefs, or ways of thinking that are creating a lot of pain and suffering. Then that leads to an understanding of what you need that maybe you didn’t know before. Perhaps, it is making some life changes. Perhaps, it’s changing the way that you relate to yourself or even others. But it becomes linked to this, “Okay, this isn’t working, so now what? Given what I’ve learned about myself, then now what?” part. Because as I’ve mentioned many times, insight is not enough to make it different. Just being like, “Okay, this is why I am angry,” does not change it. That’s like step one, and then we need to move into, “Okay, now what?” part. 

 

One of the things that I have observed over time in walking with people that are doing this work that is a pretty consistent common element here is an emerging sense of personal empowerment that is not that superficial, artificial. Like, “I am empowered. I deserve, you know, whatever.” And shewomanI don’t know. There’s so many life coaches on Instagram right now with all this like, what to me feels like kind of superficial sort of calls to empowerment that do not address what is actually happening on the foundational level for people who attain genuine authentic empowerment. But I’m going to tell you what that really is. 

 

When people make contact with their feelings, legitimize their own needs and rights, and start behaving in ways and treating themselves in ways that support their wellness, and when they start feeling better and stronger through these activities, they will then arrive at a point where they begin to cultivate and acquire a sense of personal power that is rooted in realistic responsibility. Let me explain what I’m talking about.  

 

So when people are feeling really fragile, and don’t feel good about themselves, feel disempowered, feel powerless, they tend to displace blame. They blame other people, they blame outside circumstances. They focus on how they were victimized or wronged. Because thinking about how they participated, knowingly or unknowingly, in the trajectory of a series of decisions, life circumstances, step by step that they said yes to, that culminated in their having experiences that they were unhappy with. People who are in a fragile place cannot tolerate that. Those ideas feel so threatening and overwhelming. This idea that they were participants in the decisions, or choices, or, you know, even unconscious, walking towards something that they didn’t know was going to be that did not end well. That’s hard to do. And when people have begun to do the work of growth and healing, they come to a place where they’re like, “Oh, yeah, I did actually not know what I was doing at the time that contributed to me getting the outcome that I got. If I had to do that over again, these are some things that I would do differently knowing what I know now.” 

 

Because true empowerment is a core belief in your own competence, and ability to be an author of your life, and to make changes, to make decisions that lead to good things for you. And a basic sense of self-efficacy. That is empowerment. It’s not necessarily as, “I deserve this just for being me.” True power is, “I have the ability to create the reality I want, and to keep myself safe from things that I don’t want. I am empowered.” 

 

The opposite of empowerment is disempowerment, which is having no control over what happens to you. Being victimized over and over again, unconsciously sort of stumbling into one bad thing after another. I mean, that is the definition of disempowerment in many ways. And there are situations where people are disempowered by others. There are disempowering, systemic, racist systems that people actually do have to deal with and that are contributing to disempowerment on a systemic level. And yes, we as a society need to try to change those systems. And on an individual level, empowerment happens for individuals when they become aware that they have more control than they thought they did. And maybe it’s not total control, there are always going to be some things that are outside of our control. But having a commitment to controlling what you can and feeling able to control certain things—controlling yourself, controlling your choices, being able to understand when I’m doing this is helpful, and productive, and leads me in a good direction. When I am doing that, it is not good for me. And so, I am going to avoid doing these things because I know this doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. 

 

So that’s that kind of internal empowerment that is, in my opinion, very authentic. Because again, when people know what to do, they feel confident in their ability to get different results in the future, and then they can go do that. So, that is simply an observation of watching people who have grown, and healed, and moved forward. That always happens sooner or later. And it can be understanding, “Okay, when I was in this job, I was getting into power struggles with my boss. And that didn’t end well for me. So in my next situation, here’s how I would like to handle that.” Or, in that relationship, “I actually walked past a number of waving red flags because I didn’t realize they were red flags at the time. I just thought he was really excited about being in a relationship with me and that felt great. Now I know.” You know rushing into a relationship, it’s a really bad sign. You know, live and learn. But it’s like taking that on and feeling empowered by it as opposed to victimized by it. 

 

And when people start thinking about themselves and their lives in this way, there is this huge release of shame and self-blame. Because it turns into, uhm, okay, let me backup. When people are not in a good place, when they’re feeling disempowered, when they’re feeling bad about themselves, when they’re in the midst of all these terrible feelings, and do not know how to use them productively, there’s often a lot of shame and failure messages. And feeling badly about why things are the way they are. “It’s all your fault.” And they might happen again because you don’t know how they happened. But when people do the work that I’m describing of moving into a place of empowerment, they really see very clearly. Like, “What happened? Why did it happen? Why doesn’t it make sense?” And instead of perceiving their past life experiences, or maybe things that they did, that they would do differently going forward, there’s not a sense of failure or shame. As much as there is a, “Oh,

I just learned something really important about me, or about the way relationships work, or about the way the world works, that I didn’t know before.” 

 

And so instead of feeling shame for not knowing everything about everything, people that are really on a growth trajectory instead will, believe it or not, enter the space of gratitude for vital life lessons that helped shape their understanding of themselves and the world. That provided these like, school of life kinds of learning experiences that you can’t get any other way. And that because of all the work they were able to do, because of, honestly, being thrust into such a not great place because of their setbacks. Like I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people say to me, “That right there was the worst experience of my life and in some ways, I’m so glad it happened. Because otherwise, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be in the place I am today. I would not have grown and evolved so much as a person if I hadn’t been blown out of my little orbit by what happened. And so, I don’t need to go through that one again. But I’m grateful that I did.” 

 

And I know that when you are in the grips of a really bad lifespace that is not easy to connect with. Because it’s like down the road of growth, you have to do a lot of work to get to that place. You have to have the experience of learning, and growing, and evolving in order for that to be true for you. So you can’t like leapfrog over that middle part and be like, “I’m so grateful for the terrible thing that happened to me.” But if you do the work, that experience can be yours. 

 

And the other neat thing that I’ve seen happen when people get there is that by developing a new appreciation for when things don’t go quite the way you want them to, it really supports this growth mindset that is so incredibly helpful just in an ongoing way. And a growth mindset goes back to the idea that none of us know exactly what to do. And when we are confronted with a situation where we aren’t being incredibly effective, or we’re not “good at something yet,” all this is an opportunity to understand, “Oh, I need to work on this.” And then put in time, and effort, and learn skills, and practice strategies. And that over time, if practice and skills and strategies are consistently applied, that you can work towards mastery. 

 

And a growth mindset is essential for students in school. A kid might come home and say, “I’m bad at math, it is all or nothing. Either I know math, or I don’t.” People can take that attitude towards relationships, “I’m not good at relationships. Or this relationship isn’t working.” It turns into this all or nothing kind of thing that is incredibly disempowering. Because if you’re not good at math, like, where do you go, you know? Instead, a growth mindset is, “I don’t know everything about this yet. And let me see what happens if I learn, and practice, and try, and apply myself a little bit every day.” A growth mindset also doesn’t look towards absolute success or absolute failure. It says, “How am I doing compared to where I was a month ago? Or a year ago?” And you’re not comparing yourself to other people and other people’s definition of success, but you’re saying, “How have I grown and evolved because of my deliberate efforts over time?” That is what I mean when I talk about a growth mindset. 

 

And that’s really important to cultivate. And when people have had the experience of taking one in the face, and going through the process, and described feeling dreadful, and figuring out why, and figuring out what they need to do to help themselves feel better, and feeling like the foundation is back under them again. And then looking at, “Oh, why did that happen? What did I maybe not know that now I know?” And identifying what are the skills and strategies that I now understand I need to have more of or increase in order to really become truly empowered and in control of my results going forward. And it’s a long game. And a growth mindset is, and I’m not going to like attain perfection and stop, this is something that I’m going to have to be working on, and trying, and paying attention to pretty much every day from now on. And that is okay, that’s what this looks like. 

 

So when people are in this space where they are empowered, and they’re understandingnot just new things about themselves, but like, knowledge gap almost, or skills gap, and feeling empowered to create changes, then there comes a super exciting time where people take all of this good stuff and actively begin breaking out of their old patternsold ways of being that they now understand we’re not good for them. And it is like people have described to me as having been colorblind their whole lives, and now they can see in color. Or like, I don’t know, I mean, I know that I had the experience of being prescribed glasses when I was probably ten. And prior to that, I didn’t know that a tree didn’t look like a green blob, like you put on glasses and like, “Oh, look, there’s all these separate leaves that you can see.” Like it’s that kind of clarity that people describe, seeing things in their old patterns, or in their relationships that they didn’t see before, or in their self-talk, their ways of relating to others. This absolute clarity, about their feelings, and their values, and their core beliefs. 

 

And also a really newfound commitment to legitimizing all of these things. Like there just comes a point where people are done participating in things that they now know are not good for them. And it can be like, not tolerating people treating you badly that maybe before you achieved all this growth you might have, setting boundaries with people, editing some people out of your life maybe. But also like, what I see is a lot of newfound commitment to being really assertive, appropriately assertive, helpfully assertive with other people where they say, “This is how I feel. This is what I need. I have done a lot of reflection around this and I know, in my heart of hearts that this is very legitimate. And I have the right to expect this and to communicate this need to other people in a way that helps them understand me more deeply. So that my relationships feel more satisfying to me.” So it’s not like a reactive like, “Don’t talk to me that way.” It’s like a really heartfelt, productive, authentic assertiveness that all of a sudden feels relatively easy when people have done this level of work. 

 

But I think even more excitingly, when people have arrived in this space, things that used to feel really hard to do, all of a sudden feel easy. And particularly when it comes to things like self-care, or healthy habits, or mental hygiene. There’s just this recognition in people. Like, “Yeah, I am not actually going to beat myself up for this.” Or, “I wouldn’t let other people talk to me that way. I am not going to talk to that myself in this way.” And there’s just like this, “Yeah, I know. I’m not participating in that crap anymore.” And it’s so neat to be a part of. 

 

And it’s also really interesting to see people be in relationships that have been unsatisfying to them for a long time, and all of a sudden feel really empowered to do something completely different in those relationships that they would not have been able to do before. And for some people, it is a recognition of, “You know what? This well is dry and I am not getting my needs met, and I am actually not doing this with you for one more day.” That’s fine. Or it could also be, “You and I need to do better than what we have been doing. And here’s what I am going to be doing to improve my relationship with you and keep my side of the street clean. Because I know that this is who I need to be. And I would love it if you would do this with me. So let’s see what we can do about getting involved in couples counseling. I would like for you to have the same tools and growth experiences that I have benefited from. So let’s get into some growth work together.” That can be another outcome. But the big phase here is that people are no longer participating in their old patterns. 

 

And as a result of this, everything that I’ve described, I mean everything from the beginning stagesmaking friends with our dark emotions, getting clear about who they are and how they feel on what they want and why that is legitimate, and moving into a place of authentic empowerment that is earned by taking responsibility and establishing a sense of control, and by learning and applying new skills and strategies so that they start getting some different results, releasing any shame and instead welcoming all the learning experiences life has to offer, and breaking out of old patterns where they stop doing the things that perhaps they had once done that were disempowering or contributing to outcomes that made them unhappy or refusal to do that anymore, then people start feeling really good about themselves.

 

And I would like to stress this last point. People do not feel better about themselves before they start doing all of these things. They have to start doing all these things and working their way piece by piece through these stages in order to eventually feel differently about themselves. And when they have done that work and earned this, it is effortless to feel good about themselves. Because it’s unquestionable, it is not hard to feel good about yourself. When you have demonstrated to yourself through experience, that your feelings are valid, that you are a powerful person, that you do actually have control over yourself and the things that happened to you, that you do have the ability to learn and grow and do things as well as anybody else could, and when you are actively participating in being your own champion and not engaging in things that aren’t good for you anymore, all of those things are really what it takes to feel good about yourself.

 

And if, you know I think, again in pop psychology there are these ideas that you can skip over all the work and just, you know, “I love me.” But like that, “I love me,” doesn’t have its roots attached to a, “Why do I love me?” That is like coherent, and authentic, and makes sense. It feels fragile. It feels superficial that the love that I have for me is based on these superficial qualities and not grounded in, “I love me because I know that I am fundamentally worthwhile as a person. And I am a powerful, competent person. And I am worthy of love and respect. I know this. And I am able to shape a world that feels good to me, and that honors me, and what I need.” And in that kind of space, self-worth is not just unquestionable, no one can take it away from you. 

 

And so, I wanted to talk through what I have seen this journey involve for many, many people and I also want to say very, very, very clearly so that everyone knows what I’m talking about and hears this, it takes a long time. Like years for some people, for many people, honestly. I have worked for many months, sometimes years with clients who have, bit by bit, chapter by chapter, gone through all of these stages. And there is no magic pill, there is no online course that you can use my four magic strategies, and have all of this. All of these stages are challenging. All of these stages require time, and energy, and commitment, and oftentimes support. And I think courage, and faith, and understanding that you are on a path, you are on a journey. And that working through these pieces is valuable. And that overtime you will be able to reap the rewards, and that you can’t skip any of them. They are all important. 

 

Some people can do these faster than others. You know, I think last time we talked about the reality that if people have underlying mental health stuff, or are trauma survivors, this is going to be harder than it is for people who were not dealt with that particular hand biologically or circumstantially. And it is attainable for everyone. And I hope that hearing this message and just kind of like me painting a picture of here’s how to get from, where maybe you are currently to where you want to be, has offered some hope, and some direction, and guidance. And illuminated how we make the sausage in therapy or in coaching, right? Because I think people on the other side make it look easy, but we don’t know that they’ve actually done all of this work that has been hard won. They’ve earned it and you can too. You can too.

 

So, to recap. Elements of growth, time and space to get in touch with you. And stop avoiding, or minimizing, or distracting yourself away from yourself and your feelings. Pay attention. Also, using a major loss or disappointment as a vehicle to get into deeper contact with your dark emotions, and shifting into a core belief that your dark emotions are actually incredibly valuable. We do not push them away. We are also not victimized by our dark emotions. We have to use dark emotions productively, but dark emotions are your friends. Then, through a process of exploration, understand what your dark emotions are trying to tell you about you. And legitimizing those things, learning about yourself, understanding your values, your needs, rights, feelings, and getting clarity about why that’s okay. 

 

Then, being able to look back at the life experiences that you have had. And look for ways of empowering yourself, shifting out of a victim mindset into a, “here’s what I know now that I didn’t know then,” in a very brave and honest way that allows you to then map out what you need to do and, or the skills that you need to cultivate in order to get different results. Then developing a growth mindset where you are practicing things that are a work in progress. And allowing yourself the opportunity tonot be perfectbut get better over time. 

 

And then feeling that empowerment, feeling that competence shifting out of a shame, blame, failure mindset into a “here are all of my learning opportunities and I’m so grateful for them” kind of mindset. And then using all of those experiences and learning moments to say, “Now, I know. I know what I want. I know how to get it. And I know what is good for me, and I know what is not good for me. I feel like this is important for me to create. Therefore, I am not engaging in any of my old patterns anymore. They are no longer attractive to me.” And being really clear, and appropriately assertive, and committed. And actively, actively challenging all those old, unhelpful thoughts, and ideas and patterns that had contributed to your feeling disempowered, and bad about yourself in your life. 

 

And through all of that hard work, and commitment, and dedication, coming to a place where you feel so good about you. You feel proud of yourself. It’s not just that I deserve good things, but I trust myself to create good things because I love me. I am just as important as anyone else. And I’m going to prove it to you. That’s the destination. 

 

All right. I hope this discussion was helpful to you and Godspeed. I will be watching for your any other comments that you have, of course on the blog, or through the self-esteem assessment, or any others that you’ll find at growingself.com. If again, you’d like to take the self-esteem assessment, you can text the word “esteem” to the number 55444. Go to the growingself.com, and take advantage of that or assessments that we have there for you. And I will look forward to addressing any other questions or pain points that you share with me. But, again, I hope that our discussion today was helpful to you. And I will be back in touch with you next week for another episode of the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

 

[There’s a New Day plays]

Breakthrough Counseling

Personal Growth Plan

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs Of Low Self Esteem

And How to Overcome Them

Signs of Low Self Esteem: Do you struggle to feel good about yourself? Do you compare yourself unfavorably to others? If you make a mistake or experience a setback, do you assume that it’s because of your personal flaws or shortcomings? Do you assume that people don’t like you, and anticipate rejection at every turn? 

These are just a few of  signs of low self esteem, and if they’re present in you, it’s hard to feel confident in your own abilities, and generally secure around other people. As a Denver Therapist and online life coach I’ve worked with countless clients over the years who struggled with low self esteem. I know that this is an exhausting and disempowering way to live, but the good news is that with the right support you can start to feel good about yourself again. 

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, we’re talking all about self esteem in order to provide you with insight and direction about how to achieve healthy self esteem and stay confidently connected to your self-worth through the ups and downs of life. 

Specifically, we’re discussing:

The importance of Self Esteem

Self esteem refers to your basic trust in yourself, and your sense that you are worthy of love and respect. People with healthy self esteem are usually able to take setbacks in stride and cope with disappointment, set healthy boundaries with others, take guidance from their feelings, be appropriately assertive, and trust in their ability to be effective and make good decisions.  

People with healthy self esteem typically feel good about themselves and, more importantly, are able to support themselves compassionately when they don’t. (Instead of beating themselves up and judging themselves when they’re feeling down.) When people with high self esteem experience inevitable rejection or disappointment, they have a realistic understanding of all the factors that may have contributed to their negative experience — not just singular focus on their own shortcomings.

Perhaps most importantly, people with healthy self esteem tend to be effective in relationships. Because they have a strong sense of themselves, they are able to stay calm(ish) when their partner or loved one is upset. They’re also able to have empathy for their partner’s feelings and perspective without feeling that their own is being attacked or criticised. Because they do not need approval or external validation to feel okay about themselves, they are able to tolerate moments when their partner is not at their best without becoming over-reactive. 

Because people with high self esteem trust their feelings and have a general core belief that they are worthy of being treated well, they tend to talk openly about how they feel, ask for what they need, and swiftly set healthy boundaries with people who are being abusive or disrespectful to them. 

Low Self Esteem Symptoms

If you don’t feel like you are a fundamentally “good enough” person who is worthy of love and respect, you may blame yourself for many things and have a vicious inner critic berating you from the inside out. People with low self esteem often feel inappropriately guilty and ashamed, and are often consumed by negative thoughts about themselves. 

One of the hallmark signs of low self esteem is a tendency to compare yourself to other people, and often feel that you’re not as good as others are. Particularly for young people, feelings of low self esteem can be amplified by social media use, as they compare the curated images and “highlight reel” of others to their own life experiences… and feel like they’re falling short.

If you’re suffering from low self esteem it’s difficult for you to trust yourself. This often takes the form of minimizing your own feelings — particularly dark (and protective!) emotions like sadness and legitimate anger. When you feel guilt or shame for feeling upset, it is difficult to set healthy boundaries with other people, or talk about how you feel or what you need with others. This, in turn, has a negative impact on relationships. (And having difficult relationships, contributes further to your feelings of low self esteem). 

Causes of Low Self Esteem

If you’re wondering, “Why do I have low self esteem?” here’s an overview of some of the common causes of low self esteem:

  • Self Esteem and Depression:

    • Low self esteem is one of the symptoms of major depressive disorder. This is an important distinction, because if depression is present, it may be causing feelings of low self esteem. (Low self esteem does not necessarily cause depression!) If you get into mental health treatment for depression, ideally using and evidence based form of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, as your depression lifts it will also contribute to raising your self esteem.
  • Self Esteem and Trauma:

    • People who have experienced a number adverse life experiences including childhood abuse or neglect, or other significant, early rejections of traumas are often suffering from low self esteem as a result. Getting involved in high-quality, sometimes longer-term trauma-focused, evidenced-based psychotherapy will often help heal your self esteem as you work through the trauma.
  • Other Causes of Low Self Esteem:

    • While mental illnesses like depression or PTSD can create feelings of low self esteem, it is also true that many people who suffer from low self esteem (perhaps most!) have not lived through extreme abuse, neglect or trauma, nor are they suffering from symptoms of depression. Sometimes they’ve experienced a loss such as a breakup, divorce, or layoff that has been a gut punch to their self esteem. People who’ve been stuck in a toxic relationship will often feel badly about themselves. Other times, what causes low self esteem is simply a long-standing negative thought pattern that emphasizes personal shortcomings, and overlooks strengths and successes. Shifting that inner dialogue can help people start feeling better about themselves and their lives.

How to Improve Your Self Esteem

There are a number of effective strategies for how to overcome low self esteem. Generally speaking, passive, insight-oriented, traditional, vague “talk therapy” that seeks to create connections between life events and why you feel so badly about yourself (if not rooted in actual trauma work) will often just make you feel worse and more broken. Endlessly talking about how badly you feel about yourself, and why, will only amplify these feelings and make you feel increasingly stuck in them. 

A far more effective approach for how to overcome low self esteem is through a more positive, action-oriented approach such as CBT for self esteem. This type of therapy for self esteem does not keep you focused on the past, but rather teaches you new strategies to identify and shift negative, self-limiting thoughts. It also emphasizes empowerment, and encourages you to actively participate in behaviors that challenge you, and provide you with opportunities to experience your own competence. This strengths-based approach to self esteem counseling helps you correct the core beliefs about your “worthlessness” because it teaches you how to feel confident and effective in different situations. 

Another fantastic strategy for how to have high self esteem is through evidence-based life coaching that utilizes cognitive behavioral strategies. Particularly if your low self esteem is related to a recent loss or setback, like low self esteem after a breakup, or low self esteem after a layoff, this type of life coaching can help you feel better about yourself. 

Positive, future-focused life coaching can also teach you how to change the way you think, teaches you new skills for how to be more effective in common situations (particularly around communication and emotional intelligence). But good life coaching for self esteem will also help you set achievable goals and then take action to achieve them. Doing so, and creating a new reality for yourself, will help you feel positive, confident, and more trusting in your own abilities. 

Self Esteem Test

One helpful tool to measure your self esteem is our “How Healthy is Your Self Esteem Quiz.” This is an online self esteem test that explores whether or not (and to what extent) you have the signs of low self esteem. You can take this self esteem test online, and then get a report showing your results and recommendations for how to raise your self esteem. 

Self Esteem Podcast

For even more on this topic and a deep dive into the signs of low self esteem, the difference between “high self esteem” and “healthy self esteem,” an exploration of the causes of low self esteem, why traditional therapy can amplify feelings of low self esteem, and insight into the most effective ways of raising your self esteem, listen to this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. 

It’s all for you!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

The Signs of Low Self Esteem

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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Attachment Style Quiz

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How Do You Love?

Understand Your Relationship Attachment Style

Before you jump into taking the attachment style quiz, first understand relationship attachment styles and how they impact your results in life and love. Then your attachment style test results will be meaningful and helpful to you as you seek to grow and evolve within yourself and in your relationships.

Where does our attachment style come from? Our childhood affects us in more ways than we imagine. Because everyone is raised differently, we all have varying styles of connecting with others, communicating, and seeking emotional fulfillment. While your experiences in your family of origin can certainly set the stage for your attachment style, your early-life friendships and your first romantic relationships can impact the way you relate to others too. Knowing our needs in terms of approval and attention — and understanding how others are seeking to relate to you — is crucial, if you want to maintain a healthy and secure long-term relationship.

In this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, you’ll learn about different attachment styles, how they impact the way you relate to others, and how to figure out the attachment styles of people you’re in relationship with. You’ll also have the opportunity to take an attachment style quiz to better understand your own way of relating, through this relationship attachment style test.  

To begin, I’m speaking with dating coach and therapist Maya Diamond about attachment styles and how we all have different ways of relating to other people. She gives insights about how we can develop better relationships with those around us through self-awareness and being secure in our worth. Finally, she gives advice with regards to dating, particularly during the quarantine. (Learn more about Maya on her website, and check out her TexEx!)

Tune in to this episode to learn how our attachment styles affect our relationships. Then get the attachment style quiz emailed to you so that you can take the relationship attachment style test and learn about yourself, and where your growth areas are.

On This Episode: 

  1. Discover what an attachment style is and its different types.
  2. Learn how we develop our personal attachment style and how it affects our relationships.
  3. Gain insights about dating in the current pandemic situation.
  4. Get awareness about your patterns in relationships.
  5. Receive tips for how to avoid emotionally unavailable partners.
  6. Then, get the attachment style quiz to learn about the early experiences that shaped YOUR patterns.

What Is Attachment Style?

  • Attachment styles refer to how we’re organized around relating and how our primary caregiver related to us as a child.
    • This comes from our early childhood, from the moment we are born to five years of age.
  • There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

Secure Attachment Style

  • Secure attachment means your primary caregiver was emotionally responsive as you were growing up.
  • They also mirrored your feelings, which allowed you to understand your own emotions.
  • Having a secure attachment style allows an individual to develop emotional intelligence and empathy.

Anxious Attachment Style

  • Anxious attachment means your nervous system is often on high alert. You also have a tendency to put a lot of time and energy into relationships.
  • This can stem from inconsistent parenting, wherein you sometimes received emotional attunement and sometimes did not. It can also happen when you’ve had negative experiences in other relationships — particularly when your trust has been broken.
  • Anxiously attached people often worry about abandonment and can be jealous.
  • They frequently question their relationships and have general distrust of their partners.

Avoidant & Disorganized Attachment Style

  • Avoidant attachment stems from either neglect in terms of emotional attunement or engulfment and invasion of boundaries.
  • This makes an individual self-reliant and self-regulatory when it comes to their needs in relationships.
  • Disorganized attachment is a combination of both anxious and avoidant. Growing up, your primary caregivers were a source of panic and fear, as well as love.

Attachment Styles in Relationships

  • Most people have a combination of all four, with two styles being predominant.
  • Romantic relationships in adolescence and adulthood can also change or reinforce your attachment styles.
  • People with anxious and avoidant styles have such different needs. When these two are in a relationship, it could trigger a cycle of pushing each other away. 
  • You can become more secure in relationships by doing deep, healing work on yourself.

 

Why Understanding Attachment Styles is SO Important When You’re Dating

Some relationships can feel challenging from the start, when two people are coming together with very different needs and hopes for the relationship. For example, if someone with a more anxious attachment style is in a new relationship with someone who tends to be avoidant, a push-pull dynamic will quickly ensue. The more anxiously attached person will often experience their partner as being uncaring or distant, which increases their anxiety. Likewise, their avoidant partner will have difficulty in meeting their emotional needs and having compassion for them, and instead, will often experience them as being clingy, unreasonable, or demanding.

A much better pairing for someone who has a more anxious attachment style is a securely attached partner, who is better able to be emotionally responsive to them. Furthermore, a securely attached individual will be better able to tolerate an avoidantly attached individual’s desire for space, and difficulty with communicating.

How to Identify Attachment Styles Early

  • To find a secure relationship that meets your needs, ask yourself first what you feel when you’re with this person and when you’re not.
  • Because of Hollywood, people are looking for excitement in a relationship. However, the person who excites you can trigger your childhood wounds and trauma.
  • Be with someone who makes you feel safe, peaceful, and calm.
  • There are little moments where we bypass the red flags that we should pay attention to.

Things to Be Aware of on the First Date

  • Pay attention to how they treat waiters and talk about their exes, parents, and childhood.
  • Listen to what the person says they want in their love life right now. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to change their mind.
  • Understand if the other person is ready for a serious relationship and wants to invest their energy in you.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open and your blinders off.

How to Develop Security in Your Attachment Style

  • The basis of being secure is knowing your own value and worth.
  • We all want to be met. But when you are coming from a place of self-love and self-worth, it becomes easy to say no to the wrong fit and yes to the right fit.
  • For people with anxious or avoidant attachment, having guidance and support helps you feel secure and let love into your life.

Dating in the Time of Pandemic

  • The current quarantine is amazing for your love life because it’s making everything go slower, from dates to physical intimacy.
  • Being alone and isolated makes us crave connection and find love even more.
  • Utilize technology to connect with people.
  • Even on a video date, you can still fill the energy and excitement around you. Pay attention to that.

 

Understanding Your Own Attachment Style: Take the Attachment Style Quiz!

When you’re ready to take this to the next level, text “ATTACH” to 55444 in order to get your copy of the attachment style quiz, and deepen your understanding of your patterns in relationships. Note: this is not a “here’s-your-score,” superficial type of quiz, but rather an attachment style assessment that can help you uncover the early experiences that shaped you, and how your attachment style is impacting your relationships now. Disclaimer: This attachment style quiz invites you to consider early experiences, for the purpose of gaining self awareness. It may be most helpful for you to do this attachment style assessment under the direction of a great therapist or relationship coach who can help you use this activity as a part of your longer-term personal growth work. Self-awareness is often the first step of targeted work in shifting an changing old patterns, particularly when it comes to attachment styles.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“Something that I think is really significant that people don’t talk about as much as well is that in your adulthood, you have these different romantic relationships, and they can really impact your attachment style.”

“All the statistics don’t matter. What matters is knowing what you need and being able to really follow that and stick to that.”

“He is not everything on your list if he doesn’t want a relationship.”

“I think just listening, like just really keeping your eyes and ears open and not your blinders on. I think you have these blinders, which, again, are usually from our childhood.”

Healthy Attachment Mantra: “I can give and receive love freely, but I’m only going to do it with someone who is at my level of what I’m able to give and receive.”

Enjoy This Podcast?

Learning how you could create love, happiness, and success for yourself has never been this easy. If you enjoyed today’s episode of the Love, Success, and Happiness Podcast, hit subscribe and share it with your friends!

Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into this podcast, then please don’t hesitate to leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so that they can discover the power of healthy friendships.

Have any questions? You can contact me through our website or find me on Instagram or Facebook. You may also reach out to us and inquire about online therapy and life coaching. Growing Self is also on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks for listening! 

To finding love, happiness, and success

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

https://youtu.be/oGWCNSchj8M

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

What's Your Attachment Style? Take the Attachment Style Quiz

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

Music Credits: Torus, “Introspect”

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

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Know Yourself

Know Yourself | Being in a long-term committed relationship doesn’t mean that you lose your personal identity. In fact, the best partnerships are those that encourage personal growth in their significant other and vice versa. Let’s be honest, you being you is the reason why your partner fell in love with you in the first place! 

Falling in love and creating a life together is fun, challenging, and sometimes even consuming. It’s not uncommon that you may find yourself feeling a little lost in your identity from time to time. 

When you have been romantically involved with someone for a long period of time, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, dislikes, and passions often start to mend together. These mending moments are often beautiful and encouraging to a relationship that has worked so hard to be successful. 

However, when you move forward together in your partnership, it’s also important to continue to grow in your self-identity and to truly know yourself – developing your own personality, likes, and dislikes in order to continue contributing to your relationship and its success. 

The happiest and most successful couples do these five things to strengthen their relationship. Here’s how to develop your self-identity and experience personal growth in a committed relationship.

Learn Something New

Life can feel like it’s moving at a hundred miles per hour when you’re busy balancing work, family, friends, home, pets, health, and your relationship. And when the whirlwind of everything and everyone occupies all of your time and energy – it’s hard to see much further past the present moment that you are in (or attempting to catch up to). 

This idea of furthering your education may feel unrealistic or at the very least, impractical with current life events. 

The awesome thing about education is that you don’t have to “go back to school” or even enroll in a class (unless you want to and have the time to do so). All you need is to find a topic or area of study that you are interested in furthering your education. 

Then, support yourself in this learning journey by subscribing to a podcast, purchasing a book, signing up for a newsletter, or even meeting with an expert in whatever field you’re interested in learning more about. 

Then, while you are driving to work, running your weekly errands, or running the kids between afterschool activities you can listen to a podcast, read a chapter while waiting for swim lessons to end, catch up with a weekly newsletter over coffee, or grab lunch with someone who can speak to what it is you are interested in. 

Alternatively, if you struggle to find something that you are interested in learning more about – maybe connecting with an online life coach could help shed some light on areas of interest and beneficial pathways to your personal success.

This simple (and sometimes passive) way of learning will encourage personal growth and personal understanding while you continue to balance all that life throws at you. Not only will you be developing the way you see yourself and the world, but you will also open up new conversation between you and your partner. 

Have a Hobby That’s All Yours

You and your partner may have EVERYTHING in common, and that’s okay…but I promise you, if you take the time to find something that is ALL yours – it feels super rewarding. 

I’m not saying that you have to keep this new hobby from your partner but the more you treat it as your you time the more beneficial it will be. 

For those who have been in a long-term relationship (and I mean a relationship that literally feels like for-ev-er) it can feel intimidating and even difficult to find a new hobby that’s all yours. Try a few things out, if you decide you hate it – try something else. 

The more effort you put into finding that perfect you hobby, the more you will enjoy it and look forward to it. Remember, the whole point of this experiment is to fall more in love with who you are and to continue growing as the awesome individual that you already are!

Make Your Friendships a Priority

Yes, I’m looking at you →  “Well, I have friends but I only see them once a month if our schedules line up, and the kids are away at someone else’s house for the night, and my partner is also friends with my friends’ partners.” ←  Stop overcomplicating your friendships!

Making your friendships a priority is extremely important in any relationship. You need your gal pals or dudes who have completely different and often similar walks of life to challenge you, encourage you, comfort you, and keep you on your toes. 

If Finding Friends You Can Count On feels like a challenge, then it might be a good time to reassess your friendships and begin working towards healthier, more sustainable relationships. It’s important as adults that we prioritize our friendships, here’s more on:  The Importance of Healthy Friendships.

While your partner might be your best friend, don’t forget about your besties. They need you as much as you need them in order to grow as an individual and even flourish in your partnership. A good friend can offer support, accountability, and help you know yourself (or at the very least, remind you who you are when you need it the most).

Develop Your Idea of Art and Culture

For some, the love of art, music, and culture comes naturally. However, a lot of us are a little more generic and may find it difficult to stay interested or appear so at the dinner parties of our most artistic and culturally savvy friends. The thing with art is that there is SO much of it. There are so many fantastic forms of it – painting, drawing, live-action, music, graphic design…the list goes on. Art stems from cultures, lifestyles, fantasies, and often tragedies. Knowing not necessarily the history of art but knowing how it makes you feel is important. 

There is so much that we can learn about ourselves by the music we enjoy, the pictures we take, the food we cook, and the way in how we share these experiences with our world. 

Developing a keen sense into what you enjoy and why you enjoy it will not only promote a greater understanding of the self but you will also have a deeper understanding into areas of you that your partner fell in love with. 

I think we often get swept up in keeping up with the …… (insert your play on this here) and we forget all the little and big things that bring us joy and make you, well…you! If you have ever heard a song or watched a movie that you proclaimed “I use to LOVE this song/movie!” Then you know a little of what I am talking about. 

I encourage you to keep chasing after those passions that may even feel a little juvenile to you now with the chores, employment, family, and general life obligations. The thing is, this passion is still inside of you. Maybe playing guitar for that punk band in high school didn’t end up in a successful music career – but the art of playing guitar, appreciating music, and the drive to be better (or even the best) at whatever it was you were in love with at that time is still a part of who you are. Let that side of you show more and encourage yourself to grow in these areas as it ultimately created a big part of who you are today. 

Set Aside Time For Self-Care

I know you have heard this probably a million times (no exaggeration), but self-care is one of the BEST and MOST IMPORTANT things you can do for you and your relationship. Setting time aside to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually will help set you and your relationship up for success.  

It’s easy to say “yeah, yeah, I get it…self-care, I got it – thanks!” It’s a lot harder to follow through with it and meet yourself where you need it the most. If you are finding yourself needing a little emotional vacay, check out: Emotional Self Care When Your Life is Falling Apart.

Self-care may be a habitual event for you – like drinking coffee and having quiet time before the family wakes up. Or it might be a little less traditional and change week to week. Whatever your body, heart, and mind are telling you, be sure to listen. Your ability to take care of yourself ultimately affects your ability to take care of others. 

If you find yourself getting irritable, depressed, angry, stressed-out, overwhelmed, or even just complacent – that’s your cue that it’s time for a little me time

Self-care doesn’t mean that you have to spend time alone. Self-care is different for everyone and if that means a weekend (or couple hours) to yourself, awesome. And if it means something entirely different, that’s great too. 

Here’s to YOU and the awesome individual you are in and out of your relationship. 

Xo, 
Lisa Marie Bobby

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

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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

Online marriage counseling new york florida online couples therapist

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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Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

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

 

 

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