720.370.1800 - Intl 844.331.1993
Select Page
Stress Management Tips To Regain Your Inner Peace

Stress Management Tips To Regain Your Inner Peace

Teena Evert is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed addictions counselor, a career and leadership coach, and a certified holistic coach with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She specializes in helping individuals grow personally and professionally, and become empowered to create positive change that improves their life satisfaction. Learn more about Teena

Take a Break From Stress

Take a Break From Stress As a life coach I hear a lot about stress. Whether I’m sitting with my clients in my office in Denver, or working with people for online life coaching the same themes come up: work, traffic, time, kids, family, money. When you think about stress, what do you usually think about? Same?

Let’s make a quick distinction. These are things that cause you to stress, but they aren’t stress themselves. Stress is what happens inside of you, as a result of these triggers. It’s normal to think of stress as something that is outside of us. The truth is, there are a lot of things in this world that can cause us stress.

 

 

However, when you learn skills and strategies to manage stress on the inside you can live through the same life experiences but feel much differently about them. Believe it or not, it is possible to learn how to manage yourself in such a way that you can maintain your inner zen no matter what is going on around you.

 

 

You Don’t Have to Live in Stress

Here’s some advice from a life coach and therapist with many years of experience in helping people develop more life satisfaction: you don’t have to feel this way. I believe that we are more stressed than ever before. Our lives tend to be overloaded and overstimulated, so much so, that we begin to feel like being stressed out is normal. We are being bombarded with constant stimulus and take very little time to recover and rest. Simply put, being stressed stinks, so making time to relax and relieve our stress every day is more important now than ever!

What is stress? Stress can be experienced physically, mentally and emotionally. Physical stress can be experienced as tight muscles, trouble sleeping, racing heart or fatigue. Emotional stress can be experienced as overwhelmed, irritation or frustrated. And mental stress can be experienced as having difficulty concentrating, forgetting things or an inability to quiet your mind at night.

 

 

Stress Management Tips

1) Develop Self-Awareness

Learning how to take a break from stress can improve your life satisfaction. The first is to develop self-awareness around your stress patterns and learn ways to relax your mind and body each day by using mindfulness skills.

 

 

This is a challenge for many people because our minds are used to being overloaded and busy, therefore, it can take some time for our mind to get used to a more relaxed way of being. You might feel like you have a hard time sitting still and just relaxing, especially if you and your mind are used to being on overdrive all the time. In this case, you might feel more stress come up as you pause and take a break. This is because you’re becoming more aware of your stress in these moments. Also note that when you have a lot of stress built up inside, it can take some time to unwind.

 

 

2) Notice How Stress Shows Up

Stress can mean something different for each person and if affects everyone in different ways. By noticing how stress shows up for you, you’re developing self-awareness. Without this self-awareness, chronic stress can just become our way of life.

 

 

Some people notice that their stress pattern is mostly physical. They can’t sleep, they have headaches, back pain or fatigue. Other people notice that their stress pattern is mostly emotional. They are anxious, short-tempered or may even feel numb. While others notice that their stress is mostly mental. They can’t focus, they procrastinate or they make careless mistakes. (Learn more about how to manage your Body, Mind, and Emotions in our Happiness Class, Love Your Life: The Happiness Class.)

 

 

Whether stress shows up for you physically, emotionally, mentally or all three, the first step to relieving stress and managing it, is to have self-awareness around your stress patterns. No matter how it shows up for you, I want to encourage that you take a break from your daily life and slow down and relax the mind and body.

 

 

Mindfully and intentionally start to notice how stress shows up for you over the next several days. Simply having an awareness of these things is the first step to feeling less stressed. Notice how your body feels in stressful moments. What emotions come up for you? What thoughts distract you from what you’re doing?

 

 

Sometimes stress can be a general feeling that you want things to be different than they are right now. We can get caught up in negative thoughts and feelings associated with stress and often times we don’t even notice that we are stuck in that pattern. This is just one reason why I encourage my Denver therapy clients and online life coaching clients to learn mindfulness skills.

 

 

 

Mindfulness and regular meditation practice can be so helpful in reducing stress. You may already be aware of how stress shows up for you and what triggers you. If this is the case, continue to observe and be aware of when it happens. Developing the skill of catching it when it starts to happen is very important.

 

 

3) Get Back To a State of Calm

Being in a calm and relaxed state is the opposite of being in a highly stressed state. When we are highly stressed we’re in fight or flight. As a result, the mind races and cortisol and adrenaline pump throughout our body. We might shut down, get angry, or feel dull or helpless.

 

 

When we are calm and relaxed our mind feels quieter and we feel good, safe, and content. It’s important to know that we’re not creating a new feeling within us, we’re simply reminding ourselves what it feels like to be calm and relaxed. This is a natural human state that we can always return to when we want to. Sometimes it takes longer to find our calm state and sometimes we forget that we can even be in this state at all, especially when stress takes over and becomes the norm.

 

 

So whether you’ve been aware of your stress patterns for a while or you’re just starting to notice what they are now – you can begin to observe when they start to come up sooner. You might start to feel a headache coming on or feel parts of your body tensing up or feel irritable or sad, or find yourself worrying more or obsessing over things that are outside of your control.

 

 

The good news is that you can begin to catch these stress patterns before they spiral into a full-blown stress response and become overwhelming. You can learn to bring yourself back to this state of calm sooner and with more ease. Take a moment right now to check in with how you feel. By checking in on a regular basis, you can start to notice what state you’re in and catch stress creeping up on you and shift yourself into a state of calm. By increasing your self-awareness around stress you can begin to relieve your stress much earlier so that it doesn’t grow to be overwhelming.

 

 

4) Change Your Focus

Take it from a therapist: The best way to manage your stress in the moment and shift away from stress and towards relaxation and calm is to change what you’re focusing on. We can quickly get caught up in stressful thoughts and feelings. When this happens, instead of dwelling on these thoughts or feelings simply take a moment to do this simple exercise.

 

 

Here’s a quick mini-meditation practice you can do anytime and anywhere: Pause. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, letting your focus rest on the sensation of the breath slowly moving in and filling up the lungs, then slowly and gently moving all the way out. If your mind keeps jumping back to the stressful thought or feeling, just be aware that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to the breath each time, breathing deeply, for 30-60 seconds. You can do this multiple times a day. The more you practice the easier it will become to shift back into your natural state of peace and calm. Once you’re in a more relaxed state you can better deal with whatever caused you to stress in the first place, instead of just being stuck in it.

 

 

As you develop this awareness, remember not to judge yourself in any way and just observe. The truth is, stress is not likely to go away completely, but as you increase your self-awareness and practice shifting from a state of stress into a state of calm you’re helping yourself shift into a more empowered state of well-being.

 

 

Sometimes in life, there are moments where something triggers us into a highly stressed state. Although the state of calm and relaxation is a natural state that is always available to us – in a moment of high-stress nothing can seem further from the truth. The best way to shift out of a stressed state is to first simply observe that you are stressed then to change what you are focusing on. It’s very easy to stay engaged with stressful thoughts and feelings. When we stay stuck in that pattern, it continues to get worse. Take a moment to pause, Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and take 30-60 seconds to breathe and tune into the sensations of the breath.

 

 

5) Get Comfortable Slowing Down

I want to encourage you to get comfortable with slowing down and relaxing a bit more so that you can take a break from stress. Once you have the awareness that you have become stressed you can catch it sooner and then practice shifting your focus away from stress and towards your breath and body. As you do this, your state shifts and you see the external factors differently and can more easily deal with them or accept them. As we grow and improve our life’s problems will never go away, they will simply become higher quality problems. The good news is that we can change how we perceive these problems so that they don’t cause so much stress inside of us. See if you can find once or twice today where you can do 30-60 seconds of conscious breathing, especially if you have a particularly stressed moment. Then after notice if you see the problem differently.

 

 

Much of our stress is caused by problems that are out of our control or inconvenience us. Problems will never go away no matter how much we improve ourselves or our lives. We have this idea that if we just fixed each problem that everything would be okay, but when we fix one problem it doesn’t take long until another appears.

 

 

When we learn to focus on what’s happening inside of us, how to pause and shift our state away from stress and into a state of relaxation it becomes a powerful tool to manage how life affects us and how we affect life. Look for opportunities to remind yourself of this so you can experience a natural state of relaxation on a regular daily basis.

 

 

6) Have a Plan and a Practice

These are just a few of the stress management tips and ways of coping with stress that I teach my private therapy and life coaching clients. While trying out a few of the ideas I suggested is a great start, remember that managing stress is a lifelong practice. I encourage you to have a plan and a practice in place to relax and relieve your stress so that you can get comfortable with taking a break from stress to improve your overall life satisfaction.

 

 

If you would like some support and encouragement to help you manage your stress and improve your life satisfaction, I’m here to help. I specialize in stress resiliency and life satisfaction. You can always meet with me for a free consultation session to talk about how we can work together to help you conquer stress and create the inner peace you deserve. 

 

 

Warmly, Teena Evert, M.A., LMFT, LAC, PC

 

 

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

Does your partner trick you into believing everything is your fault? Does your relationship make you feel worse about yourself, instead of loved and respected? Warning. Signs. Learn how to recognize gaslighting, and put a stop to it. Read More
gaslighting in a relationship online life coach denver therapy signs of gaslighting

How to Increase Self Confidence (Part 1)

How to Increase Self Confidence (Part 1)

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.

How do you feel about YOU?

How to increase self-confidence: Self-confidence means having a belief in your own competence to handle things, a belief in your ability to shape your reality and a belief that you are worthy of love and respect.

The feeling-state of self-confidence is elusive for many people. As a therapist and life coach, I often talk to people about how they feel about themselves. Believe it or not, even people that seem like they have it all — intelligence, attractiveness, success, and great relationships — may still also struggle with feeling self-confident. They doubt themselves, and always feel like they need to do more or be better in order to feel “worthy.”

It’s exhausting. It’s also unnecessary.

What I have discovered over the years through my work as a therapist and life coach is that people step in and out of feeling confident. Sometimes we feel more confident than others. I often explore with my clients the times that they feel better about themselves and their lives to see what common elements there are.

This has been an interesting experiment, as I’ve gained insight into specific skills and practices that can help us all feel more consistently confident. Here is one of the core skills I’ve learned over the years about how to cultivate self-confidence and keep self-confidence with you more of the time.

Choose Confidence-Inspiring Thoughts, Intentionally:

When you are feeling the opposite of self-confident (insecure, anxious, incompetent, powerless) it’s likely that you have some core beliefs that are supporting those feelings. For example, you may believe on some deep level that you can’t handle a situation, you’re going to fail, or that you’re not good enough. These beliefs may be so old and automatic that you are not even aware that you are having them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you decide to take your power back by choosing confidence-inspiring thoughts. Here are some of my favorites:

– “I am strong and resourceful, and competent to handle whatever life throws my way.”

– “My actions in the present moment create my future outcomes. Today I can make choices that lead me to success.”

– “I am a good person. I am worthy of love and respect.”

I know that this may feel goofy, like some seventies-style “positive affirmation” practice, but this is based on decades of research showing that practicing the thoughts that support your desired mood state is a really effective way of helping you achieve it.

As I teach in my Happiness Class, our brains are plastic. The thinking patterns we indulge literally create neural pathways in our brains.

If you are feeling fearful and insecure, it’s likely that there are neural pathways of automatic thoughts carrying you into that bad feeling place. Deciding on, and practicing, new thoughts feel hard at first, but the practice re-organizes your mind. It establishes new automatic beliefs in your competence, power, and worth that will lead you to better feeling moods.

Even more importantly, when you decide to take control of your inner narrative, you become more empowered. 

Now I have an assignment for you: Write down a thought that, if you were to believe it, would make you feel stronger, more powerful, and more confident. You don’t have to “feel like it’s true. Bonus points for making a public declaration in the comments section. I’ll be reading your answers!

I’ll be back in touch next week with step two of this process. Do your homework and meet me back here next Tuesday, and we’ll move forward together.

 

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

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.

Who Do You Trust?

“Gaslighting” is a term that originated from an old movie, where a woman lived with a man in a home with old-fashioned gas lights. The man was trying to drive the woman crazy.

He would consistently turn the lights dimmer and dimmer in their home but denied that it was dimmer and pretended that the light was normal — and the woman began to doubt her own senses. Over time, she went insane.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting, in modern parlance, refers to being made to doubt your own feelings, thoughts, intuition, and judgment when they are, in fact, reliable sources of information that you should trust.

The classic example is in the case of infidelity. One partner will start to become suspicious of their spouse’s late nights working, unavailability during work trips, or odd calls to their phone.

However, when they confront the straying spouse, they’re told things like, “You’re insecure,” or “You’re crazy,” or “Just because your father cheated on your mother you think all men are dogs.”

Or my favorite, the righteously indignant, “How dare you suggest something so horrible, I’m trying to earn a living for our family and working my tail off, and now you come at me with this?!?” 

The net result is that when someone is actually being victimized by their partner, they are made to feel not just that they’re being ridiculous, but wrong. This leads people who are being gaslit not just to doubt themselves, but to feel ashamed of how “crazy” they are. (When, in fact, their own judgment is actually a more reliable source of trustworthy information than their partner is.)

Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship

1. Feeling like you’re always wrong. The ringer for gaslighting is when you attempt to check something out, (i.e., “Were you drinking tonight?” or “You’re home three hours late, where were you?”) or express your concerns about something, and your partner gets very angry with you and turns things back on you so that you feel ashamed and inappropriate for having asked.

2. The sudden onset of really bad feelings. If you begin feeling uncharacteristically anxious, depressed, ashamed, or stupid after starting a new-ish relationship it’s a big red flag that emotional abuse is happening.

Feeling increasingly bad about yourself, or more doubtful of your own judgment is a sign that you’re in a toxic relationship where gaslighting is happening. Many times, people in these situations feel increasingly anxious, and even become depressed.

They begin to believe that it’s their own mental health issues that are the source of the relationship problems, as opposed to the toxic relationship that they are having bad feelings about. (Pointing out your oh-so-many-and-very-serious “mental health issues” is a go-to weapon of many gaslighters). 

However, once these “mentally unstable” people  they leave these manipulative relationships they often discover that they’re just fine. It was the relationship that was making them feel anxious and terrible about themselves.

3. You’re defending your partner, a lot.  Another important sign that you’re being gaslighted by your partner is when you tell your friends or family about something that you’ve been made to feel is “abnormal” for being concerned about, but they react in the same way that you did originally before you were led to believe your feelings were wrong or disordered in some way. (That your partner is actually in the wrong).

If this is happening and you find yourself frequently defending your partner from family and friends and explaining to them that no, really, you were the one in the wrong (again)… you may be the victim of gaslighting.

 

Gaslighting is a Form of Emotional Abuse

Gaslighting is not a quirk; it’s abusive behavior that cannot continue if the goal is a healthy, sustainable relationship. For example, to the great frustration of domestic violence counselors, victims of domestic violence have a very hard time leaving their abusers. Many times, they go back.

The reason for this is that, as a rule, the victims blame themselves for the abuse they are experiencing because their abuser has made them believe they are at fault.  Their own feelings and judgment about their worth, what love should look like, and how they should be treated has been gaslighted out of existence by their abuser.

Furthermore, the hallmark of abusive relationships is isolation. The reason abusers must isolate their victims is that effective gaslighting requires that the person being made to doubt themselves is looking to their abuser for “the truth.” If independent third parties start weighing in to support the perspective of the gaslight-ee, the abuser loses power and control over their victim.

Gaslighting often commonly happens in situations where one partner is actively abusing a substance or has a behavioral addiction. In addition to hiding and lying about their attachment to unhealthy substances or behaviors, addicts will often counter-attack when confronted. They blame their questioning partner for being out of line to question them or their “lifestyle choices.” This leads their partners to doubt their own judgment and start believing they are “too controlling” or “too uptight,” etc, which allows the addict more freedom.

Stop Gaslighting From Happening in Your Relationship

If you’re in a relationship where you’re being gaslighted it’s critical that you get the support of other people. A great therapist, a supportive friend, or even better, a good support group can help you get the outside perspective you need to reinforce your own good judgment.

The experience of gaslighting is being made to doubt yourself (when you’re actually spot on). The antidote is to have other people around you who can look, with you, at the situation and say, “No, you’re right, it is actually dark in here.” With that outside perspective you can begin to trust yourself again, and also view your partner’s manipulations for what they are: Efforts to mislead and control you, by making you mistrust your own judgment.

The answer is not couples counseling. The path forward is not changing your partner; it’s strengthening yourself.

Trust yourself, and do not make excuses for other people’s bad behavior. Your love and patience will not heal anyone — only they can do that. If you’re in a relationship and feeling bad about what’s happening but being made to feel that you’re wrong for feeling that way, run the situation past some friends or your therapist to get outside perspective.

Remember that you deserve to be treated with love and respect and to surround yourself with people who make you feel better about yourself — not worse.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

More on the Blog

How to Tell if You Have ADHD

Ever wondered if you have Adult ADHD? On today’s episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast we’re talking about how to tell if you have ADD, as well as practical tips for how to get in control of your sparkling mind and channel all your wonderful energy!

read more

Resilience: How To Adapt to Change

Change and challenging things are part of life and often beyond our control. However, learning how to cultivate resilience allows you to bounce back from adversity, and adapt to changes easily. Here’s how…

read more

Signs You Have a Bad Therapist

Not all therapists, marriage counselors and life coaches are effective. Some are even unethical. Learn how to spot bad therapy on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

read more

The Path of Personal Growth: Self Discovery, and Self Acceptance

The Path of Personal Growth: Self Discovery, and Self Acceptance

Who are you, really?

Are you the person you feel like you are?

Are you the person that others see?

Is the real you partially unknown, even to yourself?

Heady questions, I know, but worth considering if your goal is to become a happier, healthier, fully self-actualized person. Many of our life coaching and therapy clients begin their journey with us in a place of frustration. They’re here because they want something more for themselves and their lives, but can’t even get a handle on what “the problem” is that they need to address. They just know that they don’t feel good, and they don’t like the results they’re getting. They’re often asking themselves questions like these: (Can you relate?)

“Why can’t I follow through with the things I know I should do?”

“Why do these things keep happening to me?”

Why can’t I get over my Ex?

“Why can’t I be more organized and on top of things?”

“What am I doing that’ contributing to the issues in my relationship?”

“Why can’t I just be happy with myself and my life?”

“Why do I keep falling into these types of relationships?”

“Why do I get so stressed out?”

“Why do I react this way?”

“Why do people treat me this way?”

Why can’t I get ahead in my career?”

“Why am I always worried about something?”

The Core of Motivation: Frustration + Hope

We could go on and on with the questions. However, at the core of all of these questions is the essence of motivation: frustration + hope. People who ask these questions of themselves, and others, are trying to crack into understanding “the problem” because they hope that self-awareness will then allow them to overcome it. They’re saying, “I’m frustrated wth the results I’m getting, but I know I can be happier, do more, have more satisfying relationships, and get better results from myself and my life — just show me how.”

These “questioners” are so smart, insightful, and correct: Understanding why they do what they do — consciously or subconsciously — is often the very first step in breaking old patterns and launching new ones. If you don’t know what you’re doing that’s creating bad outcomes, how can you ever fix it?

That’s why the first step in the personal growth process is self-discovery. This involves figuring out who you are (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and then using that knowledge to build on your strengths — and even develop new strengths. When we know what we’re doing that’s getting in our own way, then we become empowered to cultivate the positive aspects of ourselves that can help us overcome our limitations, as well as try out the new skills and strategies that will get us better results in every area of life.

What Self Awareness Looks Like, In Action: An Easter Story

Let me give you a very simple (silly, even) example of what I’m talking about: At the time I’m writing this article, it’s shortly after Easter. Like many kind and loving Easter-celebrating parents, since Sunday I’ve been secretly eating my child’s Easter candy while he’s away at school and unable to defend his stash from my chocolate-smeared fingers.

Of course, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons: Aside from making me feel guilty, at my age and activity level I really don’t need to be eating an extra 500 junk-calories a day. I might as well just glue Almond M&M’s and Reece’s cups directly to my thighs, as that would create about the same effect on my body as eating them. Yet every time I walk through the kitchen, there’s that darn Easter basket… with the open bag of candy… uuuuhhhhh. Before I know it I have a mouth full of chocolate, and as I’m giving myself a stern talking to about why I shouldn’t be doing this, I still reach for another handful. What to do?

Know Thyself, and Prosper

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I have a terrible memory. Really. While I aspire to be a super-together person who gets things done, one of the things I need to work around in order to achieve this is my memory.

When I first realized I was different from other people in this way, I felt bad about it. Who wants to be the spacy, forgetful person, right? I would be endlessly frustrated with myself for forgetting appointments, losing things, getting side-tracked, being late to places. If I wasn’t looking at it, I’d forget it existed. I annoyed myself as much as I annoyed others.

I didn’t want this to be true about myself, so when I was younger I avoided the truth. I’d always have an excuse for being late or losing something. Alternatively, I’d just hate myself and beat myself up about being so forgetful. (As if that would help).

But the interesting thing is that as soon as I accepted that I don’t have a very good memory, and that this is just part of who I am — without judging myself for it — I was then empowered to do something constructive with my affliction instead. (This really does relate to Easter candy-stealing. We’ll get there.)

Self Acceptance = Empowerment

Many people believe that “self-acceptance” means settling for mediocrity in themselves. They believe that if they keep beating themselves up and hating themselves for their shortcomings it will somehow encourage them to improve. The opposite is true. Self-awareness and compassionate self-acceptance actually leads to humility, personal responsibility… and consequently, more useful options.

So, for example, when I let go of the delusion that I could rely on my memory to keep track of myself, I had to find new tools if I wanted to have a good life.

I now carry a planner / notebook with me everywhere (here’s my latest personal-organizational tool crush), and if something is said that I need to remember I immediately write it down. On the rare occasions I am notebook-less and something comes up I know I need to remember, I will send an email to myself with my phone.  If I need to take something with me somewhere, I will literally place it next to the door (immediately, while I’m thinking about it) so I’ll see it on my way out. If I need to remember that I need to be somewhere at a certain time, I must set a timer to remind me when it’s time to go. And if I put my keys anywhere else besides on the key hook on my kitchen wall, I might as well have mailed them General Delivery to Argentina. I’ll never see them again. I have about 87 more specific strategies that I use each and every day to keep myself on track, but I won’t bore you with all of them.

BUT, you know what? Because of my heavy reliance on all these compensatory strategies… I actually am a super-together person who gets things done. I’m also pleased to report that I’m no longer embarrassed by this “shortcoming” either. In fact, because of learning about myself, and embracing who and what I am, I’ve actually learned how to turn this quirk of mine into a strength.

Back to the Easter candy: So here we are, in my kitchen, as I’m trying really hard to stay away from my kid’s Easter candy. I run through my self-redirection strategies to see if any of them will work: “I could eat an apple.” “I could drink some water.” “I could imagine my thighs getting lumpy and gross.” Yeah, no. I still wanted the chocolate.

Then, remembering my forgetfulness superpower, I realized that If I put my kid’s Easter basket on top of the refrigerator where I can’t see it, I would forget it was even there. So I did that, and then left the room… and here it is like five hours later and I have not even thought about the candy once until I sat down to start writing this post for you. Super. Power.

I know this is a simple example about one small frustration. However, this is also really what self-awareness looks like in action. Like you, I have many things about me that are true (some strengths, and some liabilities), and I use this knowledge and assorted “hacks” every day to help me be my best self, and get better results in my work, my relationships, and life. I want the same for you.

How to Uncover Your True Self, and Use Your Self-Awareness to Grow

Here’s my point: YOU also have superpowers. You have things that are true about you that you either may not fully know about yet, or that you may know about but want to be different. There may be things that you do without understanding why you do them. You may have automatic reactions to certain situations, and not even know why.

You may feel one way about yourself, but seem totally different to others. (You’d be amazed at how many clients I have who feel so badly about themselves, and yet who are objectively lovely people in every way — beloved both by me and others in their lives.) You may be putting things out in your relationships that others react to, without even being aware of it.

Worst yet, you may judge yourself harshly for the quirks you have, rather than learning how to embrace them, work with them, and even use them to your advantage.

Knowing who you really are, and understanding yourself, is the key to personal development. When you compassionately understand and accept yourself for who you are, all of a sudden you have the chance to develop new strategies and use your strengths to help you balance out your weak spots, in order to help you get the results you want.

If you would like to have a better understanding of yourself so that you have the opportunity to learn and grow, here are some tools to help you get started on this journey of self-discovery:

Keep Asking Those Questions… But Answer Them Too.

We started this post together with a list of “Why” questions that many people ask about themselves. I’ll say to you what I invariably say to my counseling or life coaching clients sooner or later, when they’re trying to figure out the answers to these self-mysteries: “Well, why? What’s your best guess?”

And you know what? When given time, space and opportunity to reflect… they always have remarkable insight into themselves. YOU can do this too. If you have a “why” question about yourself, grab a journal and write down the answer.

If you don’t “know” the answer, write down the possible possibilities. I bet you’ll have at least a few nuggets of useful truth fall out of your head for your trouble.

Get Feedback From Others

There does come a point when self-reflection has limits.

For example, it’s really, really hard to identify something about yourself that legitimately lies outside of your awareness. It’s hard to know what we don’t know, you know? When it comes to deeper self-discovery, it’s essential to have feedback. Here are some possibilities:

Friends: Do you have any friends or family members who don’t just know you really well, but who are insightful and wise, and also brave enough to be straight with you? (In a compassionate, emotionally safe way?) If so, and if you’re ready for honest answers, it might be time to have a sit-down with them.

Challenge yourself to be vulnerable, and say, “You know, I’m not feeling good about this specific part of my life, and I wonder what you see that I might be doing here that are contributing to this situation?” If your friend is brave enough to say it (emotionally mature enough to make you feel safe and cared for while they do) and you’re open enough to receive it, these can be life-changing conversations.

[Caveat: This one only works with someone whose judgment you trust, who knows you well, and who cares about you. Don’t try this with just anyone!]

Counseling or Life Coaching: If you want to dig deeper, you might also establish a relationship with a good counselor or life coach who can help you see yourself more clearly. We are professional versions of the wise, caring, trustworthy and brave friends who will be straight with you, in an emotionally safe way.

A good counselor or coach will also have ways of helping you crack into your own truth, through knowing what questions to ask you, helping you make connections, and using their knowledge of psychology, development, systems and more to help you understand yourself.

An advantage of this approach is that a good counselor or life coach won’t just stop with the “Aha moment.” Self-awareness and insight is only useful if you have a follow-up, “Okay so now what do I do about this” conversation.

For example, my just knowing that my memory doesn’t work well is not particularly helpful to me. My strategies and workarounds are. You deserve the same type of action-oriented roadmap that will lead you forward, and enable you to take positive action to get better results.

Group Therapy: You’d be amazed at the speed and depth of information you can get about yourself from a good group therapy experience. There are different kinds of groups, and not all of them lead to the type of self-awareness we’re talking about here.

For example, support groups (the most common kind of group) are for people who are all having a similar experience and give them a chance to give and receive compassion and advice from each other. Some support groups are run by a therapist, and also offer an educational component as well as compassion and camaraderie.

Other groups are peer-led (meaning they don’t have a professional therapist mediating them) and are simply opportunities to share with caring others, who “get it.” [Side note: We do have an online breakup support group here at Growing Self, that is totally free. It’s a private peer-to-peer Facebook group — get in touch through Facebook to be added to the online breakup support group].

However, a process group is a type of group therapy that’s all about getting feedback, as well as support and encouragement from the group.

A good process group is led by a therapist who is able to ask you the kinds of questions that help you get clarity about yourself, and you’ll also be with other people who are talking about themselves in a similarly honest and authentic way. You’ll have the opportunity to share your feedback of others, for the purpose of their growth, and also receive honest, empowering feedback in an emotionally safe environment.

Especially if you are feeling frustrated by the results you’re getting in your relationships, a good group can be a marvelous way to shine a bright light on the blind spots that you may have. We do have a great process-oriented therapy group here at our practice in Denver. Click here to learn more about our Denver group therapy.

Assessments: Finally, an interesting, fun and often low-cost way to cultivate self-awareness is through assessments. These may take the form of online quizzes or tests. Or if you’re working with a professional therapist, they may have a variety of questionnaires and activities that you can do in order to “get under the hood,” and discover new things about yourself, your strengths, your growth opportunities, and your personality.

One assessment I really like is the VIA “Strengths and Virtues” Inventory. It was born from the strength-based Positive Psychology movement, which places emphasis on growth and change on what’s right about you, as opposed to what’s wrong. This assessment is free, and will show you what your top strengths are so that you can build on them.

Another assessment that might be useful for you is my “What’s Holding You Back” Quiz. This is a free tool that I have developed for you as part of my Happiness Class, and is available on this site. If you want to take it, start by watching the short video to learn about the domains it assesses, (towards the bottom of the page), and then you can take the quiz. Then come back to the video, and l’ll talk you through what your results mean about you.

I sincerely hope that the ideas I’ve shared today resonated with you, and gave you some direction for next steps on YOUR personal journey of growth and change. Do you have questions or comments about anything I’ve shared? Let me know in the comments below — I read them all!

 

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

 

 

Schedule Your Free Consultation Session

Meet in Person

Colorado • California • Texas

Meet Online

Across the US and Internationally

Embracing Growth: Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

Embracing Growth: Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

Want to Make a Change? You May Need to Get Uncomfortable.

As a life coach and therapist, I often talk to people who feel stuck in situations that are not ideal, especially in their careers or their relationships.

Why? Because even though they are not “in love” with their current circumstances, keeping things as-is feels safer and more comfortable than the idea of making a big change. Even though they know they can do more, or have more, they resist embracing their full potential because change can feel hard. Even scary.

Remember The Matrix? How our hero Nero / Keanu had to make a choice between staying in the comfort of the life he knew, or waking up to the uncomfortable truth of what was actually happening?

 

online-life-coach-transformation-comfortable-uncomfortable-how-to-change-your-life-redblue_pill.

 

Do you stay comfy? Or do you grow?

We’re all faced with that same choice. Do we stay in our comfort zone and pretend that the life we have is all that is possible? Or do we wake up to the anxiety-provoking truth that we can do more… but that it will probably require being less comfortable for a minute, while we create our new reality.

Sometimes simply recognizing that the life we are living is not in line with who we truly are can bring on a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Some of us feel better when we just keep doing what we are doing, in order to remain comfortable. It’s easy to lay around and not exercise. It’s easy to avoid tough, but necessary conversations with our partners. It’s easy to punch in and punch out at a mediocre, unfulfilling job that pays the bills.

It’s hard to push yourself to do more.

Herein lies the majority of the problem: we are ALL conditioned to be satisfied with “comfortable.” Many people feel so threatened by the possibility of discomfort that they create “reasons” (aka, “excuses”) for why change is not possible, or blame others for the condition of their lives. While feeling helpless is not a great feeling, believe it or not, being the victim can feel less threatening than the possibility that you actually are in control of your life… and that you do have the power to change it.

What I’ve learned as a life coach who specializes in helping people get motivated is that there’s tremendous opportunity in discomfort. The truth is, we do NOT often progress, grow, and/or accomplish great things by remaining comfortable. If the early American settlers wanted to stay comfortable, our country would have stopped in Pennsylvania. If Susan B. Anthony stayed comfortable in the early 1900’s, when would women have been able to vote? If Martin Luther King Jr would have stayed comfortable, we may all still be using different water fountains.

If you want to change your life, you must learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. How appealing does “being comfortable” sound if it’s synonymous with “mediocre and stagnant.” The truth is that feeling uncomfortable can push you towards great things. That is how we grow! We learn to make fire because we are uncomfortable with cold. Imagine what it would be like if we just learned to be comfortable with the cold. Burrr.

Embrace the feeling of knowing that you NEED to do something else with your life — don’t avoid it. If you are brave enough to entertain the idea that what you are doing might not be enough, then you are uncomfortable in your current situation. That is the starting point of growth. Don’t lie to yourself, or those around you, as a way of playing it safe. Be uncomfortable with your situation. Embrace it. And BE the change that you need to see in your life.

Zachary Gaiter M.A.

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
Loading...