How Difficult Emotions Lead to Growth

How Difficult Emotions Lead to Growth

How Difficult Emotions Lead to Growth

Feeling “Triggered?” Lean In…

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS OPEN THE DOOR TO GROWTH: 2020 has really given us a run for our money, and if nothing else, has led many of us to take a good hard look at our lifestyles, relationships, and our country as a whole. 

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the focus on socio-political issues such as systemic racism and police brutality, we are all confronted daily with images and content that may make uncomfortable feelings arise. Many of us are feeling upset, and feeling emotionally triggered. You are then presented with a choice: to sit with and examine those feelings, or to avoid them and turn away. 

I’d like to challenge you not to turn away. Embrace feeling triggered. Use it, to facilitate your personal growth.

Emotions Reveal Your Beliefs and Values

Why is it important to understand and sit with our feelings? Because feelings are the top layer of our belief system. When we have big feelings about something, it provides a clue as to the underlying values and core beliefs that just got challenged. By understanding where this emotional response is coming from, you get clarity about the values, belief systems, and attitudes you hold. 

This can happen in many aspects of life, often in your relationships or interactions with others. But lately, you may also have been confronted with new ideas or information (or even more conversations) related to equality, systemic racism, and social justice. As you think critically about socio-political issues, you may notice anger, pain, or even defensiveness arising within you or others around you — especially if you are feeling personally attacked, or that your core beliefs about the world are being attacked. 

All of these feelings can be hard to sit with, but it is extremely important to be able to explore and entertain a wide range of ideas. If you’re feeling attacked, offended, or triggered, it’s an opportunity to ask yourself, “why am I feeling this way?” It also gives you an opportunity to try to understand the perspective of the person or situation that feels triggering to you. This doesn’t mean you agree with them but is a valuable skill to master if you want your thoughts, values, and behaviors to align. 

The Road to Alignment of Beliefs, Values, and Feelings

The first step in using your emotional triggers as a growth opportunity is figuring out what you are reluctant to consider or even entertain as an idea in your mind, and why it feels so painful for you. Taking a moment to examine our emotions around specific issues doesn’t mean you have to or should change them, it is about getting to the root of what you believe and what is important to you. 

You may find that you have deeply held beliefs about why things are the way they are and that those may not be compatible with the new information you’re being confronted with. For example, if you believe that the arc of people’s lives are determined exclusively by “how hard they work,” or whether they “make good choices” it may feel very threatening to be confronted with the realities of systemic racism, implicit racial bias, and white privilege. Any information about how difficult it can be for people of color to get ahead — regardless of their work ethic or lifestyle choices — can elicit feelings of anger and defensiveness, and voila, you’re feeling triggered.

It is exactly this uncomfortable feeling that we all need to pay attention to. 

How to Use Your Feelings to Clarify Your Values

If you notice yourself feeling triggered, here are some skills that can help you begin to better understand your values and beliefs that are triggering your big emotions. 

  • Allow yourself to momentarily suspend judgment, and be curious about where this feeling is coming from. Is it tied to a value? Or a core belief? 
  • Curiosity is key here, as this will diffuse defensiveness and create a safe emotional space to explore why you hold certain beliefs and judgments. 
  • If you uncover a core belief, it’s worth thinking about where it came from. Who’s belief is this? Yours? Your families? Who taught you to believe this?
  • You might think about other aspects of this belief: Is it always true? Sometimes true? Do other people believe something different? If so, why? What changes if you look at the same situation through this different perspective? Stay curious, and open.
  • Remember that defensiveness is a response to a perceived threat, either physical or emotional. If you feel yourself starting to get defensive, it simply means that you’re feeling attacked, or persecuted, or threatened. We can use this as an invitation to explore ideas further and deepen your understanding of your emotional response to it.

These skills are also useful when having conversations with other people, as well as ourselves. 

Identifying Uncomfortable Feelings: Now What?

Explicitly identifying your values and what you hold as important to you will be critical in knowing what to do with those thoughts and emotions. There are multiple ways to do this, you can make a list and rank values based on how important they are to you or you can use a more structured activity using value sort cards. I like to use a value card sorting activity in my work with clients, and when you do this think about what each value means to you, and if it is important, not important, or very important to you. 

From there, do your values and your thoughts/beliefs/attitudes match up? For example, if you believe kindness is important when you engage with someone who holds different beliefs than you, do you treat them with kindness? To take it a step further, if you believe in helping others – are there times you turn a blind eye to injustice? This is where alignment in your values, thoughts, and actions is important.

You first need to be able to recognize where you have gaps in self-knowledge, and this is a clue of where personal growth is needed. If you don’t know where to start, implicit biases tests can help identify where your biases lie (and I say where on purpose, as all humans have biases). You can also purposefully and intentionally engage with various media sources or invite loved ones to share their views with you. This is also a great way to strengthen and deepen your interpersonal relationships!

This kind of inner exploration and challenge isn’t easy work, but it is worthwhile to tolerate the discomfort as it allows you to feel more confident in your values and sense of self. If your values, thoughts, and actions do not align you may begin to feel the effects of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when someone has inconsistent or contradictory beliefs, attitudes, or thoughts, especially as it relates to behavior. Cognitive dissonance may present as feeling uncomfortable, avoiding conflict, a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, feeling irritable, or experiencing guilt or shame but not knowing why. 

One thing I really want to emphasize is that examining our emotions and beliefs is something everyone does or needs to do. This is just part of being human and living in an ever-changing world. Please be kind, patient, and compassionate with yourself as you do this work. It is not helpful to beat yourself up if there is some dissonance present, and the good news is these things are within your control and have the potential to change. It is okay to grow and change, even if that means changing your opinion or standpoint. It is okay to make changes and begin to cut out people, ideologies, and activities that do not support your new growth. 

If your thoughts, values, and actions do align, that doesn’t mean you’re done! Everyone is continually growing, changing, and learning. We are all lifelong students, and personal growth is not linear. It is not a destination we arrive at, but rather a journey where we challenge ourselves with love, kindness, and respect.

Wishing you the best, 
Josephine Marin, M.S., MFTC

Josephine Marin, M.S. MFTC

Josephine Marin, M.S., MFTC is a warm, kind, and direct therapist and couples counselor who specializes in communication, compassion and connection. She can help you reach your goals and create positive change in yourself and your relationships.

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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.

 

 

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

 

 

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

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Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

How to Stay Mentally and Emotionally Well in an Unsafe World

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Fight Racism, Part I: Hope, Healing & Empowerment

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

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Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP is a positive, strengths-based therapist, marriage counselor, and life coach with a knack for helping people get to the root of their issues so that they can establish strong foundations for long-term change. She helps couples, families and individuals heal, grow, and feel good again.

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How To Love Yourself

How To Love Yourself

How To Love Yourself

Yes, you really do have to love yourself first.

Here’s why… and how.

How to Love Yourself

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

“You have to love yourself first.”

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

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

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

I didn’t get it. I do now.

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

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

Malignant Self Love

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

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

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

Using “Self Love” as Another Way To Judge Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Love: Love For Yourself, and Love For Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Love For Others

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

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

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

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

True Love For Yourself

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it works:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Loving Yourself Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Love Yourself

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

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

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

What to Do When You’re Feeling Trapped

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black and white thinking severely limits available options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

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

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

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

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

One of the characters asks this reasonable question:

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

“Skyhooks,” said Mr Wonka.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I could break up with this person.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break Free: You Are the Author Of Your Life Story

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

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

You can. No one is stopping you.

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

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

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

What could you do?

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

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How to Get Unstuck When You're Feeling Trapped

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.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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To support you in rebuilding yourself and your life after loss, I’ve asked two of my colleagues to join me for a very special episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. I asked them to talk about the nature of grief and loss, what you can expect when you’re grieving, how to cope with the feelings, and ways to compassionately navigate the healing process ahead of you.

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Similarly, Lisa Jordan, M.A., LPCP is an online therapist in Illinois who has years of experience providing grief counseling online, and also through her role as a hospice grief counselor.

They were kind enough to generously share their wisdom and grief counseling advice for things like:

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We offer all this information with a sincere hope that it provides you with comfort, compassion and direction that supports you in YOUR journey of healing.

With love and respect,

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Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Life After Loss

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

Spread the Love Happiness & Success

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

iTunes

Stitcher

Google Play

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

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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