Your Weekly Meditation: There is Always a Moment of Pure Innocence

There is always a moment of pure innocence.

Sometimes we do things or say things that we regret. Sometimes we don’t say things or do things that we wish we had said or done. We are not going to live perfectly – nor will anyone else around us live perfectly. But we can always find that moment of our own innocence. We can know that we are doing the very best that we can do in that moment as we live. We can learn from less-than-perfect experiences and carry that wisdom forward with us. We learn to forgive. We learn to embrace the present moment. We learn to love. We truly learn to live through our moments of imperfect innocence.

This week I resolve to: find my moment of innocence when anxiety, pain, fear, anger, regret, or loneliness lets me know I am judging myself for any action or decision I can no longer change.

Your Weekly Meditation: This Too Shall Pass

This too shall pass.

It’s not clear whether anyone ever claimed that life would be easy, but somehow we are often tempted to believe it nonetheless. It is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be life. These are not one and the same. Part of life’s job is to produce challenges. From these challenges, we get to learn valuable things about ourselves – like how strong we really are, how caring we can really be, how much compassion we truly possess for ourselves and others. Through times when the most we can say is “this too shall pass” we are given the opportunity to fall in love with who we truly are….and pass it on.

This week I resolve to:  notice how much I learn and grow from the hard times in my life, and thank myself for being willing to endure temporary pain and hardship so I can become a better friend to myself and others.

Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: The Importance of Following Your Dreams

Marianne Williamson once wrote, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

A few years ago, I received a note from a former client. In her letter, she wrote to me, “Kimberly, thank you for following your dreams, therefore providing me a safe place to recover.”

When I first conceived the idea to use my own experiences recovering from an eating disorder to open a treatment center to help others heal, was I a bit daunted by my dream?

Absolutely.

Were there days I thought, “what was I thinking – I must have been crazy. I just can’t make this work.”

Of course.

Did I quake in my own shoes a bit as I commenced to learning what I needed to know about choosing a location, hiring and managing staff, learning about financials and recordkeeping, marketing and public relations, and designing the kind of program I would have wanted to attend when I was in the midst of my own healing journey?

Without a shadow of a doubt.

Yet today, Southlake Counseling has been in existence for more than 12 years, and we have helped literally hundreds and hundreds of people reach for their dreams within the safety and support of our walls.

It is important to follow our dreams. We all have dreams, and in those dreams, we see the very pinnacle of who we can be, expressed as that stretch-goal we call a dream….the one we think is very nearly impossible but which simply will not go quietly away.

Our dreams show us who we really are, and what we are truly capable of.

The only obstacle standing in between us and the culmination of those dreams exists in our own minds, in the place that insists, “But that is impossible. You can’t do that.”

To which we eventually must say, “Oh really? Says who!” if we want to ever have the opportunity of a lifetime to live out our own vision for who we are.

This is why we are so addicted to reality television. We see other people going for it, succeeding, crashing and burning, getting up, trying again. We see that their motivation, be it money, fame, self esteem, health, love, self expression through the arts, seeing the world, is so powerful that they are willing to expose their innermost intimate thoughts and fears in front of us all in order to reach for their dreams…..just so they can know if it was really possible to be all they can be or not.

This is also why we are alternately horrified or inspired by their example, depending on where we are in our relationship to our own unexpressed dreams.

It can be such a rush to celebrate a hero, but at some point our longing awakens to be the hero we are celebrating.

This is why the note I received from that former client was so meaningful to me. It is why I love the quote from Marianne Williamson, because I can look back and see that all the courage and perseverance it took to follow my dream of opening Southlake Counseling has not only liberated me to embrace my highest vision for my own life as truth, but has liberated others to follow in my footsteps in their own lives, as I have followed in the footsteps of Marianne Williamson and others who came before to inspire me.

You never know who is watching – your spouse, your children, your best friend, your boss, your colleague, the homeless person on the corner, your own self – when you take your dreams by the hand and say “lead me there”.

You never know who you will inspire and liberate. You never know who you will meet – outside and within yourself – when you switch off the reality television show and jump in to live it for yourself.

At Southlake Counseling, we have a personalized “Say Yes to Life” Wellness Program that encompasses all facets of life from body to mind to heart to spirit. At Southlake Counseling, we define “wellness” as the pinnacle of your ability to say Yes to the challenges, choices, opportunities, and relationships in your own unique and unfolding life. Saying “Yes to Life” means saying Yes to placing your health and wellness goals first in your own life. When you are living in the presence of your own remarkable wellness, you can also fully enjoy and be present for your loved ones, your colleagues, your peers, your community, and your world. If you are dreaming of a life lived fully, contact us today to find out more about saying “Yes” to your dreams through a personalized wellness plan designed just for you. www.southlakecounseling.com

Be Well,

Kimberly

Wake Up and Smell the…Snowflakes?

Not every one of us lives in a region of the world where it snows. For those of us who are accustomed to snowfall, we may be so used to seeing this phenomenon that we turn an un-wondering eye to the infinite variety of snowflakes as they fall. And for those of us who rarely see snowfall, we may be too caught up in our wonder of the snowdrifts themselves to notice the role of each individual flake.

But each single snowflake is utterly unique. Each snowflake does its part to create a winter wonderland, and without any one of those flakes, the snowfall would be incomplete. In the same way, each one of us looks, feels, acts, and lives in our own unique way. Were we even for one second to choose not to play our part, to participate in the grand snowfall of human life happening all around us, all of humanity would be the poorer for it.

Today’s Affirmation: Today, I take time to appreciate my uniqueness, the necessity and rightness of my beingness, and the wonder that there is a ME in this world, and that I get to play that part!



‘Tis Always the Season for Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be an un-gentle topic – especially in a time of year when we are striving with extra-special effort to feel charitable towards others and ourselves. We can be tempted to hurry ourselves along through the process of forgiveness in order to exude the kind of good cheer we think the season requires of us. But forgiveness takes the time it takes in any season of the year. So this week, take some time to identify relationships or situations that carry with them some unresolved stress, and remind yourself that you are entitled to feel your feelings, to process your pain, and to engage in the five stage grief process of denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and letting go until forgiveness flows naturally rather than feeling forced.

Today’s Affirmation: I don’t have to rush myself through the process of forgiveness just because it is the holidays. I can take my time, feel my feelings, and let go of un-forgiveness as I feel ready.


Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: The Help We Need…and the Help We Don’t

This month, we have been discussing the process of asking for help. So far, we have broken this process down into three discrete events – noticing when we need help, asking for the help we need, and accepting that help when it arrives.

The fourth and final facet of asking for help comes as we learn to discern the help we need from the help we don’t. So in this final blog post in our “asking for help” series, we will examine what to do with offers for help we don’t need.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve been lost in the desert. You have been wandering around, looking for water. Everywhere you look, what appears to be a water source turns into yet another mirage. Finally, after days of wandering, you at last see a source of genuine water up ahead. You walk closer, closer, you break into run…..only to pull yourself up short when you realize….it’s the ocean.

You’ve found water, just not the right kind.

Accepting offers of help we don’t need is like drinking salty ocean water to quench our thirst. It is not only unproductive – it can be downright dangerous as well.

Furthermore, it is disrespectful to ourselves, because if we have made it this far in this blog series, we have earned our “asking for help” stripes, and we know when we need help and when we don’t, and what we need it for. We may even be starting to get comfortable with accepting help when it arrives.

But what do we do with help we simply don’t need? And why might we accept help we don’t need?

Let’s take an example. Let’s say that last weekend you had your pre-wedding shower. This afternoon, your soon-to-be mother-in-law with the illegible handwriting offers to help you write your wedding shower thank you notes….and you don’t know how to respond. On the one hand, you don’t want to do anything to damage a new family connection that will be in your life for years to come. Yet this will double your workload, and with all you still have to do to prepare for the wedding, you can already visualize yourself spending precious free time surreptitiously re-writing dozens of thank you cards and sneaking out to the mail box to pop them in when your mother-in-law-to-be isn’t looking.

So what should you do?

You could certainly graciously decline her offer, and explain that you already have everything well in hand. But the truth is, you don’t. You do need help in plenty of other areas as you prepare for your upcoming wedding – yet clearly the task she has volunteered to help you with is not the right task for her. So how about finding something else – some other way that your new mother-in-law could be of service?

One strategy you could try follows a simple four step approach I have often suggested to clients over the years:

  1. Thank the offering individual sincerely for their offer of help
  2. Let them know you will think about it, and get back with them
  3. In the meantime (or on the spot if something comes to mind right away) decide if there is something they could do that would truly help you, and if so, let them know what it is and ask if they would be willing to offer that help instead
  4. If the answer to number three above is a simple “no”, communicate that to them with gratitude and let them know you will surely contact them if you need help with that task or others in the future.

As we learn and practice new skills for how to identify and accept the help we do need, and how to graciously redirect or decline the help we do not need, we can begin to feel truly empowered in our relationships with ourselves and others.

At Southlake Counseling, we offer a wealth of personalized individual and group support services to help individuals just like you learn to access the courage and power to navigate your need for help self-supportively and effectively. If you are struggling to say no and yes to offers of help in self-respecting, empowering ways, we encourage you to contact us at www.southlakecounseling.com.

Be Well,

Kimberly


Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: How to Accept Help

In the first two blog posts in our “asking for help” series this month, we discussed how we can re-activate our felt sense of needing help, and from there learn skills to ask for the help we need.

In this third post in our series, we will discuss the actual process of how we can get comfortable with accepting help when it is offered.

We may have allowed ourselves to get so wrapped up in our awareness of not being able to ask for help, or our belief that nobody around us is willing to offer help, that we have failed to recognize that we don’t feel comfortable accepting help.

Chances are, that is just because we have long since fallen out of practice.

But regardless of the reason, if we feel uncomfortable with accepting help, we may get all the way through the process of rekindling our awareness of when we need help, learning how to effectively ask for help, and then still not be able to actually accept the help we need when it is offered!

In my experience working with individuals who want to relearn how to ask for and accept help, this final phase is actually where many of us struggle the most.

As we make our way through today’s do-it-yourself culture, for many of us it truly is uncomfortable to allow ourselves to receive help! It doesn’t feel right, or normal, or natural, or comfortable – and women in particular may worry all the way through the process about imposing too much, asking too much, or being beholden to “return the favor,”  in the process adding so much extra work to our own plate that asking for help really does start to become as unproductive as we feared it would be!

So we have to start now – before we even ask for the help we need – to get comfortable with receiving it once it arrives.

We can do this in a number of ways. I have often found that visualization seems to work well as a tool to prepare ourselves for accepting help. It seems that when we feel prepared for the outcome of our actions, we are more ready to accept the end result when it arrives. So if we can visualize ourselves accepting help before it even arrives, we are more likely to recognize ourselves in that role when we are actually standing in the receiver’s shoes, and more likely to favorably experience what it feels like to accept help.

In this way, we can also give our imagination something productive to do. Our imagination is usually all too ready to dish out vivid mental pictures of how disastrous asking for and accepting help might be. With constructive, proactive visualization strategies, we can preempt its regularly scheduled programming and put it to work visualizing positive outcomes instead!

So this week, as you are building on what you have learned about recognizing when you need help, and asking for that help, also make sure to visualize yourself accepting that help when it comes. Visualize how you will express your gratitude (to avoid adding stress to the process, be sure to choose something simple, like saying a genuine “thank you” or sending a sweet short note). Imagine the process of how you will show the other person what you need, including giving them any instructions they might need in order to provide help. Think of what you will do with the energy and time you freed up by not trying to arm wrestle the problem to the floor all by yourself.

Then give yourself a hug and a warm smile full of gratitude for being willing to accept the gift of help when it is offered! This is a courageous act, and you deserve your own gratitude for stepping out of your comfort zone to notice when you need help, ask for that help, and accept it when it is offered.

If you notice you are struggling with accepting help, and you feel uncomfortable allowing yourself to accept help even when it is offered, please consider contacting Southlake Counseling. In more than two decades I have personally assisted hundreds of people to learn how to accept the help both easefully and gracefully. If they can do it, you can too. Southlake Counseling’s staff of caring, highly trained professionals can help you begin to say no to the exhaustion and frustration of withholding help from yourself, and YES to joyfully embracing the help you need and deserve. Visit us today at www.southlakecounseling.com

Be Well,

Kimberly


Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: How to Ask for Help

In the last blog post, we discussed how we can re-activate our felt sense of needing help, and from there begin to identify what kind of help is needed. In this second blog post in our “asking for help” series, we will discuss the actual process of how to ask for help.

Asking for help can be problematic. Should we ask? Who should we ask? How should we ask? When should we ask? All of these questions and more jump in line ahead of the actual action of asking for the help we need. Each question demands our attention and detailed consideration before we can move a muscle or utter a word to say, “Help me.” Understandably, by the time we wade through the emotional and mental clutter these complicated questions cause, we are often too weary or discouraged to actually do anything about trying to locate the help we know we need.

I have lost count of the number of times I have discussed with someone at Southlake Counseling about their need for help, and after explaining the whole issue, analyzing it from every angle, and even working together to come up with a plan to address it, the person says, “but it would probably just be easier to take care of it myself after all.”

My question then becomes – easier on WHO?

Definitely, it would be easier on the recipient of the request for help…at least in the short run. But when we factor in resentment on the part of the party who has decided asking for help is not worth the hassle, and confusion on the part of the party who is aware of resentment building but not of its causes, it is clear that un-asked for help has a limited shelf life, and the fall-out later on can be disastrous for any relationship, whether it is romantic, family, friendship, career, or community-related.

So let’s spend a few moments right now simplifying the complex web of questions lying in wait just around every bend where genuine help might also be found.

Should we ask? I have observed that those who wrestle with the question of whether or not to ask for help are rarely the ones who will ever be guilty of not taking enough personal responsibility to do with they can on their own, the answer to this question is almost always a resounding YES.

Who should we ask? This question is best answered once we have identified exactly what type of help we need. Once we know what type of help is needed, the right person for the job becomes much clearer as well. So the answer here is – we should ask the person who can offer the type of help we are seeking.

How should we ask? Rejection is always a potential risk factor in any request for help. However, again in my own years of working with individuals who have been struggling with asking for help, I have also noticed how rarely the person they eventually work up the courage to ask actually rejects them. It seems we all like to feel needed, useful, and valuable, and it is harder than we might assume to turn down someone who sincerely approaches and says, “I need your help.” (NOTE: If you are still doubtful, think of how you would respond if someone walked up to your right now and said to you, “I need your help.” What would you say? Probably, “how can I help you?”!)

When should we ask? Ideally, within a few moments of becoming aware of the help is needed and identifying the appropriate party who can help. However, it is also important to be aware of our own inner state as well as the situation of the other party when we ask. Are they in the middle of a meeting? Did they come home announcing they’ve just had the worst day ever? We should approach the other person when they are free to talk, and ideally when they are calm enough to be attentive to our request. There is no reason to set ourselves up for reinforcement of the belief that no one will help us by choosing to ask at a moment when the other party cannot give any time or attention to our request.

So take some time this week and try these ideas on for size – don’t tackle all the areas where you need help at once. Just pick one area where you’ve been trying to deal with an issue or situation on your own and it is not yielding the desired results. Think of who you can ask for help. Journal about how you want to ask. Then pick a moment when the other person can talk, simply say, “I need your help” and describe the issue you need help with.

If you find that you are having a hard time with the process of asking for help, we invite you to contact Southlake Counseling. Our compassionate, knowledgeable, and experienced staff can support you as you practice asking for, and accepting, the help you need and deserve. If you are ready to say “no” to wearing the weight of your world on your shoulders and “YES” to sharing your burdens with others who can and want to help and support you, then contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com

Be Well,

Kimberly

Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: How to Know When We Need Help

In the more than two decades I have spent assisting courageous individuals who come to me seeking help for how to transcend challenges and embrace opportunities, I have noticed over and over again how hard our culture makes it for us to ask for help.

We may think that it is hard to accept help when it is offered, and that is often true as well. But that difficulty is nothing compared to how hard many of us find it to reach out and ask for help when we need it.

In fact, I have also noticed that the difficulty only sometimes lies with an actual inability to ask for help. For many of those I have met in the course of my life and work, the true challenge seems to be even knowing for sure when help is needed!

So I thought we would spend some time this month discussing how we know when we need help and how we can ask for help when we need it.

When we were little, we probably asked for help by crying. We had a limited emotional vocabulary, and tears were one of the few reliable ways we could communicate a felt need – even if we did not have a clear understanding of what that need was. We just knew we needed….something….we cried….and someone noticed and offered assistance. If necessary, we figured out what kind of assistance was needed together, but the presence of the tears was enough evidence in and of themselves that help was in order, and enough to send it running our way.

As we got older, however, it became less socially acceptable to literally “cry out” our need for help. As our tears went underground, our ability to sense our felt need for help went with it.  We learned that there was a cutoff age by which we could unselfconsciously ask for help without fear of ridicule, rejection, or censure. Once that cutoff age had been reached, we were deemed “old enough” to figure out how to help ourselves and we were on our own.

It was at this point that we most likely withdrew permission from ourselves to ask for help, or accept it when it was offered, or both.

However, even if it has been awhile since we have used it, we have never lost this ability to sense when we need help. Rather, we are just out of practice with tuning in.

This week, spend some time tuning in again to that innate felt sense of when you need help. As you do this, suspend any learned adult requirement that you must question your own felt sense of needing help, regardless of whether your need is small (lifting a heavy bag out of the car) or big (addressing a difficult relationship or work situation).

If necessary, pretend you are small again, and your felt sense of needing help is pure and trusted. Allow it to come up. Notice if it is preceded by a sudden feeling of sadness, anger, fear, or other emotion. Notice how you feel as you begin to translate a wave of previously inexplicable sudden feeling into a need for help. Do you feel fear? Resistance? Reluctance? Relief?

Being able to tune in to when you need help is the first step to being able to ask for help – we simply cannot ask for what we do not know we need. Knowing we need help is also the first step towards trusting ourselves enough to ask for it – if we cannot admit to ourselves that we need help, then we cannot allow ourselves to accept it, even when it is freely offered!

If you notice you are struggling to tune back in to your felt sense of needing help, or you are struggling against admitting to yourself that you are worth receiving the help you know you need, Southlake Counseling can help. Our professional staff is compassionate and experienced in helping individuals of every age and from every walk of life to relearn how to ask for and accept help. To find out more about how you can begin to say no to “going it alone” and YES to accepting and embracing help, visit us at today at www.southlakecounseling.com.

Be Well,

Kimberly


Wednesday’s Weekly Inspiration: A Mountain is Just a Series of Steps

A mountain is just a series of steps.

It feels so daunting to write a book, plant a garden, climb a mountain. Most of us let our own preconceived ideas about just how hard our big dreams will be to achieve talk us out of even trying.

But a book is just a group of long articles. A garden is just a collection of strategically-placed seeds. And a mountain is just a series of steps.

 

Viewed this way, each of these big goals seems more manageable. Our anxiety recedes. Our energy level rises. Our enthusiasm returns.

We realize – we CAN do it. We really can.

Today’s affirmation: Today, I take one small step at a time toward my big dreams.

 

© Kimberly Krueger- Meditations for Recovery