Wednesday’s Weekly Inspiration: Are You Choosy About Offering Your Support?

As women, we often assume that we must bear the relational weight of the world on our shoulders. We are so accustomed to supporting everyone – from kids to pets to neighbors to colleagues to spouses to friends to family – that sometimes we forget we never gave up our right to say “yes” or “no”!

As you go about your day today, make a mental list of everyone you offer your support to. Then make another little note beside each person’s name about why you offered your support. Did you want to? Did you instead do it because you felt obligated? Did you offer support just because you were worried about what they would think or say about you if you said no? Or was it a joy to reach out a hand, speak a kind word, offer a hug?

Today, remind yourself that you have the right to be choosy about whom you offer your time, your energy, your strength, and your heart to.

Today’s affirmation: Today, I will be choosy about saying “yes” and “no” to requests for support

© Kimberly Krueger- Meditations for Recovery

 

Creativity and My Note Cards

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” ~ Albert Einstein

Hmmm…Einstein was a genius, so perhaps we could learn something from him about solving our own problems. But how can I use a different mind, when obviously I only have one?

One way is through creativity – stepping outside of our usual way of thinking. According to the IFS model, creativity is a quality of Self, and it’s one that is often stifled during our development into adulthood. We develop parts to protect us from being admonished, embarrassed, or left out, and these parts can become extreme and also keep us from being creative. In other words, many times it may have felt unsafe for us to express ourselves creatively if that expression caused us to be punished or separated from our peers, so we learned to “fit in” by conforming. If we continue to conform to what we believe others expect of us, we can develop extreme parts such as perfectionism and people-pleasing. As we work with our extreme protector parts, Self comes forward and creativity returns, little by little.

I recently had a burst of creativity that amazed and entertained me. I had made a note card on my computer with a picture of a beautiful waterfall on the front, and sent it to a friend as a thank you note. He liked it so much that he asked me to make 50 more for him to use as personal correspondence. As I started to print them two to a page, I noticed that the picture on the right side of the page was off-center. I was not happy with this, as these would be given to someone else, and I never wanted him to think I couldn’t make something perfect! (my part that didn’t want me to be embarrassed or seem “less than”)

So I tried everything I knew to fix the alignment on the right side – I reread the directions on the template, reset the margins, copied and pasted the picture again, manually moved the picture, reduced the size – and all I accomplished was wasting more paper (which I hate!) and becoming more frustrated. I felt like screaming, “I am smart!  Why can’t I figure this out?!” But you see, I was stuck because I was trying to solve the problem with the same mind that created it – my analytical, thinking too much, read the directions and stare at the screen over and over until I get this right – mind.

With nothing else to try, I gave up. I let go of trying to “fix” the problem by centering the picture on the right side of the page. I decided I could just print the note cards one per page, on the left side only, and leave the right side blank rather than waste ink printing that side off-center. So I fed the first page into the printer and printed out the first note card, beautifully centered and on the left side of the page. As I took it out of the tray and started to tear off the blank side, WHAM! – the creative mind said, “Turn the paper over, feed it through again, and the perfectly aligned note card will print on the other side of the page.” I absolutely laughed out loud, sitting on the floor of my office. Such a simple solution, yet I could NOT get there until I let go of my old way of thinking.

Admittedly, the extremely distressing problems in our lives involve something more serious than printing perfect note cards, but the path to the solution is the same – original, creative thoughts and ideas. Many times in my life when I have stopped struggling with trying to perfectly solve a problem in the way I believe it would be best, the solution has come to me in a completely different manner, usually a much simpler and better idea than the one I struggled so hard to use. So the next time you feel overwhelmed by a problem and frustrated by your lack of ability to solve it, try letting go of fighting in the same old way. Perhaps some creativity will be sparked, and you will be able to “think outside the box” into a different and better solution.

At Southlake Counseling, we can help you discover and get to know the parts that may be keeping you stuck in the same ways of thinking and behaving, in all areas of your life. To learn more about how this process of self-awareness can work for you, schedule an appointment today and start your own journey out of frustration and into creativity and freedom!

Be well,

Debbie

Your “Say Yes to Life” Monday Motivator: Dealing with Distress

This Monday finds us kicking off week three of the New Year. For those of us who made New Year’s resolutions or intentions, this is the week when we may be starting to see cracks in our resolve, chips in our optimism, doubts where just a few days before, confidence was our daily companion.

Enter “distress tolerance”. This technical-sounding term comes courtesy of Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Distress tolerance is commonly defined as an ability to refrain from resorting to impulsive behaviors to manage strong emotions.

Picture this: you are at home minding your own business, when all of a sudden your friend calls with some very disturbing news. She starts to cry, and before you know it you are tearing up with her. Her emotions continue to spiral as crying turns to sobbing, and by the time you get off the phone all you can think of is that you need a glass of wine. One glass turns to one bottle….several hours later you wake up on the couch and realize you have forgotten to pick up your son from daycare. You are overcome with shame at your behaviors, followed by fear for your son’s wellbeing, and then a growing anger and frustration directed at yourself. Again.

Worst of all, the painful and sad emotion you drank the wine to avoid having to feel and deal with has come back tenfold – and this time it has returned with several of its best friends in tow.

In this hypothetical scenario, we can see a classic pattern of distress-avoidance emerging:

  1. A situation arose during the course of your normal day which triggered strong emotions
  2. You perceived the emotions as intolerable
  3. You impulsively turned to alcohol (other impulse decisions could include substance abuse, binging/purging, spending, etc.)
  4. You experienced a reliable and thus “trustworthy” short term payoff from your retreat to the impulsive behavior
  5. You ultimately emerged from your attempts to elude your own emotions feeling even more out of control than before

This is just one of many scenarios in which cultivating improved distress tolerance skills can literally save the day. With distress tolerance skills training, you can learn to manage, feel, and release strong emotions without resorting to destructive behaviors.

DBT’s distress tolerance skills are designed to build resilience in the face of intense emotions we perceive as intolerable. There are four core modules of distress tolerance skills-building that are carefully designed by Dr. Linehan to build in positive copings skills where self-destructive tendencies used to rush in.

However, distress tolerance does not in any way translate into distress avoidance, and it is important to recognize that building your skill at tolerating emotion still requires that you feel and deal appropriately with emotions as they enter your sphere of influence.  In this way, you can think of distress tolerance skills-building as the safety net you need to begin to learn how to feel and deal appropriately and self-respectfully without fearing your own destructive tendencies.

At Southlake Counseling, we have more than two decades of experience teaching and guiding individuals and groups in learning to implement the powerful principles and practices of DBT. We are the foremost provider of DBT-based individual and group services in the Lake Norman area, with a full range of services for females and males of all ages and from all backgrounds and walks of life. If you are determined not to greet one more New Year fearing what emotions each day may bring, contact us at www.southlakecounseling.com for more information about how DBT can help you say “no” to distress avoidance and YES to distress tolerance – and your own wonderful LIFE!

Be Well,

Kimberly