Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: Out with the Old, in with the New

Well, it is just about over. The wonderful, the horrible, the forgettable and the memorable, all are about to be bundled up and tucked away for another year.

And that is when it hits you.


The New Year. It is almost here.

Oh boy. Here we go again. Another set of resolutions. Another New Year’s diet (after all, more than seventy percent of women nationally resolve to lose weight each New Year, and you don’t plan to be the only one still clunking around in her size-larger holiday wardrobe come next July.)

Another whole year to (take your pick) dread/look forward to.

You would really like to look forward to the New Year, but you have so many regrets. You don’t feel done with this year yet. All those resolutions you made last New Year’s, and here is a new New Year staring you down, and you still haven’t finished last year’s list yet!

What to do?

The good news is, you have spent the last several months studying Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) in a group study setting, and you are learning a lot from the four DBT principles about how to stay present for your life as it is, and how to choose peace over chaos.

You wonder if you can use the four DBT principles in this situation as well – it is a big situation, with a whole year’s worth of joys and regrets attached to it – but maybe DBT can help you sort it out.

First, you start by observing mindfulness through practicing radical acceptance – the total, unresisting acceptance of what is. You observe to yourself that today, the New Year has not yet arrived, but you are aware that it soon will. You observe that your mind is telling you there is lots of unfinished business to attend to – business you will never finish before this year ends and the next one begins. You notice that your mind is kicking up a whole pile of “should haves” and “ought tos” that it thinks you need to pay attention to.

You then decide not to care. You can’t control any of that. Today, your job is to live in the present moment, with what is. You remind yourself that what happened even one moment ago is no longer within your control…and that what happens in the next moment is not yet within your control….but what happens in THIS moment IS in your control. You decide that in this moment, you choose acceptance. Peace. Focus. Baby steps. Small steps forward.

You start to feel better.

But then your mind kicks up another round of thoughts, and this time your emotions go haywire. You are feeling, well, everything! Sadness. Rage. Loss. Grief. Hope. Excitement. Anticipation. Resentment. Fear. You remember that the DBT principle of emotion regulation has taught you to maintain objectivity by naming each emotion and witnessing it before choosing whether or not to engage in it. You catalog your emotions, but then choose to allow them to continue on by after you have given them names…like clouds making their way across the blue winter sky.

Simultaneously with this process, you are practicing the DBT principle of distress tolerance, as you use your skills in emotion regulation to name and then release your feelings rather than hanging on and becoming overwhelmed by them. With your newfound skill in distress tolerance, you simply allow the day’s events and emotions to unfold, focusing on the moment, remembering the bigger picture, and refraining from getting unnecessarily caught up in the temporary ebbs and flows of daily life. You are also, slowly but surely, releasing the present year’s old unfinished baggage by recognizing it, accepting it, then releasing it – as you do so, you are realizing that in the very acknowledgement of each stressor also comes its release.

Finally, you bring your new skills together in interpersonal effectiveness, interacting with yourself and others with respect, hopefulness, a degree of detachment, and yet the assertiveness to include yourself and your needs in the mix of any interaction you are having. You feel a burgeoning respect for yourself – no, this past year did not go perfectly according to plan, but yes, it did go, and yes, you are managing just fine in releasing what is unfinished and accepting a new gift of a whole year of life, love, and new experiences yet ahead.

You are proud of yourself. You are ready for the New Year. You are looking forward to today, and also to what lies ahead. And in this, the final, unexpected gift of the holiday season, you discover that you have turned your biggest holiday woe of all into an even bigger New Year’s wonder.

If you are finding that you are struggling this holiday season to find the wonder in the midst of the woes, Southlake Counseling can help. Our compassionate and skilled staff has more than two decades of experience with guiding individuals in how to effectively use the DBT principles of mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. Learn more by visiting us at www.southlakecounseling.com.

Be Well – and happy New Year!

Kimberly



Wednesday’s Weekly Inspiration: A Promise Is As A Promise Does

We probably wouldn’t dream of breaking even the tiniest promise we make to our child, our spouse, or our best friend. We know how much it would hurt them – the pain it would cause when our words say one thing about how much they matter to us, but then our actions show them another.

Yet we often think nothing of breaking promises to ourselves – the little promises like “I will take more me-time when I need it” and the big promises like “I will take better care of my body so I can grow old with my loved ones.”  We honor those we love by keeping our promises to them.

Isn’t it about time we show ourselves the same honor and respect?

Today’s affirmation

Today, I will honor and respect myself by keeping the promises I make to myself.

© Kimberly Krueger- Meditations for Recovery

Wednesday’s Weekly Inspiration: Defining and Experiencing “Beauty” is Up to Me

We have all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

But how many of us have spent any time trying to figure out what image of beauty is in the beholder’s eye?

If we look at ourselves and attempt to fit the unique portrait of beauty that we present into a cookie-cutter image in our mind’s eye, we miss perceiving the truly unique beauty we actually possess!

So before we can behold beauty, we have to ask ourselves some simple questions, “What does beauty mean to ME?” “Do I think I/she/he/it is beautiful?”

It is very self-respectful to allow ourselves to choose whether to see beauty in a person, object, or experience.

And our own answer just might pleasantly surprise us!

Today’s affirmation: I get to choose my own definition and experience of beauty!

Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: Who are you calling a “people pleaser?”

To a certain degree, we all struggle with the desire to please others who are in our life. While usually our eagerness to please aligns more closely with achieving an advantageous compromise that benefits both the other party and ourselves, there are times we may find that, in the choices we make, the benefits to the other party far outweigh our own.

When this happens on a consistent basis, we may be struggling with a common syndrome known as “people pleasing.” “Who me?”, we might catch ourselves thinking…or saying…when the subject arises. Yet while it can be painful to discover that we have been engaged in a habitual focus on others’ wants and needs to the exclusion of our own, what is more important is that we develop that awareness so we can make a different choice going forward.

If you have ever caught yourself worrying about what to wear, how to act, what someone is thinking about you or how you can change what someone is thinking about you, you have a taste of what people pleasing feels like.  

Let’s take a common example – you have just come home from work and you are looking forward to your one free evening of the week to rest, relax, and just take good care of yourself for a change. But when you get home, your daughter asks if her friend can please stay the night. Then your spouse informs you that he is no longer able to take your son to baseball practice because he has scheduled a guys’ night – and he knows you will understand even though this is the first you have heard of it. Your daughter is begging….your husband is looking at you with expectation that you will graciously pick up the ball he dropped.

Appalled at yourself even as the words come out of your mouth, all you hear yourself saying is, “Yes, of course – no problem. I’ll take care of it. Have a good evening, honey!”

This is people-pleasing at its finest. And it probably doesn’t feel very good either while it is happening or after it has occurred.

In Internal Family Systems (IFS), we would call this the “People Pleaser Pattern.” IFS is a unique and powerful therapeutic model that assigns these different aspects or parts of our being different names and encourages the IFS therapist and student to work together to discern the roles each of these parts play in our lives and how we can work with instead of against them.

So in IFS therapy, we might look at the People Pleaser within and start trying to discern how it works in our lives by asking ourselves, “Does this happen all the time, with everybody, or just with a certain person or just a few folks?” “Or does it perhaps happen only in certain situations under certain conditions?” “What is triggering my desire to say ‘yes’ when I want to say ‘no’, from agreeing when I really disagree?” As we begin to seek and hear our own answers to these questions we are already on our way to understanding and then transforming our people pleasing behaviors into something more self-respectful.

Using the IFS therapy model, you will work to first understand your specific behavior, and then identify the motivation(s) you have for encouraging or at least allowing that behavior to continue. Next, you will begin to trace the behavior backwards to possible origins. Where did you learn that it was not safe to say “no”? Who rejected you because you stood up for yourself or expressed disagreement with their opinion? Did you lose a valuable opportunity because you were too vocal in a team-based setting about an important group decision? Rejection always hurts….and it will continue to hurt until you recognize it, acknowledge it, and begin to heal from it. IFS gives you this chance to identify and heal from past wounds that are still driving current choices and behaviors.

Next you will begin to learn how to work with your People Pleaser part so that you can understand how it is trying to protect you. The People Pleaser is not out to get you – it is simply looking out for what it has come to believe are your best interests. The more you can allay the fears that part of you carries within it and reassure it that whatever the outcome, together you can find another way to deal with life without having to people-please, the less that part will be inclined to go rogue when it feels you are in danger.

Finally, having established a more collaborative relationship with the People Pleaser part, you can begin to finally regain the power of decision in your own life. IFS offers you a powerful way to hear and respect what each part of you is trying to do to help you while still reminding them that in the end, the buck stops not with any one of them, but with YOU.

At Southlake Counseling, we understand that discovering and befriending all of the various parts of yourself can feel like a handful – when attempted alone. We want you to know you are not alone – we are here and we can help. Our caring, experienced and professional staff has more than two decades of experience in guiding individuals in their exciting journey to self-transformation. If you want to learn to say “no” to allowing past pain to overshadow current gain and say “YES” to all the fantastic possibilities that are yet ahead of you, contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com

Be Well, 

Kimberly



The Power of Self-Respect

Over the years, I have thought long and hard about why I “do what I do”. First, I fought through my own eight-year battle with an eating disorder, and the anxiety, depression, body image disturbance, and low self-esteem that came along for the ride. Next, I committed many years of my life to earning the professional education and clinical experience required to help others recover from their personal battles with mental illness and emotional disturbance.

As of today, I have eighteen years of  personal recovery history and almost two decades of professional clinical experience under my belt.  And today, I still feel just as passionate and committed to the work I do as I did on the day I first opened my practice.

Why?

For this one simple reason – I know that if I could heal, if I could overcome what held me back from saying YES to life, then I know that you can too!

As long as I have legs to stand, eyes to see, ears to listen, and hands to help, I will be honored and humbled each time I watch a new person walk into The Southlake Center with their head hung low, shoulders stooped, face dim, and heart heavy with hopelessness… because I know it is just a matter of time before I then get the privilege and joy of watching them walk OUT again with their head held high, shoulders squared confidently, face open to the joy of good days ahead, and heart light with hopefulness and excitement.

How do I know this will happen?

Because my own recovery journey has taught me about the power of self-respect.

Self-respect is only possible when we are able to look ourselves in our own eyes and say, “I am going to get through this, but I can’t do it alone. I need help, and I deserve help, and I will ask for the help I need so that one day I can turn around and help someone else who needs to know that they aren’t alone and that recovery is possible.”

Saying yes to getting the help you need is the first step to saying yes to your own self-respect. And saying yes to self-respect is the first step to saying YES to life!

Here at The Southlake Center, we celebrate the power of self-respect.

And we celebrate YOU.

Be Well.

Kimberly