Are You Willing To Do What It Takes?

I had an interesting conversation with a guy I know at a bicycle shop the other day. We started talking about my bicycle seat options and what might be more comfortable for me, so I asked him if it makes a difference that my pelvis healed into an uneven position after a car accident about 20 years ago. This led to a further discussion of lower back issues…neck and shoulder tightness, and he asked me if I have any chronic pain as a result of my injuries. I hadn’t really considered this in a while, so I shared with him that I had been a chiropractic patient for nearly two decades, visiting several times a year, anytime I felt a flare-up in my back, neck, or shoulders. However, I have been able to stay out of the chiropractor’s office for about the past two years, despite doing more physical activity such as cycling, which can exacerbate back problems.

“How do you explain that?” he asked. The answer was easy, “I practice yoga.”  He agreed that yoga is extremely helpful in developing what people need to stay active – balance, strength, and flexibility – and as a trainer he recommends it to nearly all his serious cyclists, but added that most people just won’t take the time to practice it. Hmmm…so this made me think.

In my work with clients, we quite often discuss ways that they can feel better – coping skills that they can use when they feel distressed, instead of returning to their old patterns of using food, alcohol, sex, self-injury, isolation, purging, or any other maladaptive trick that they have tried. The problem with these patterns is that, although they may temporarily “numb” us from feeling what is causing emotional pain, they end up causing harm and making things worse. So, like I tell my clients, when you take what you have been using away, you must learn to replace it with something that works…and here is where many people have a problem. Although we make a list of many other ideas that they can try when they start to feel uncomfortable, and they even admit that the new coping skills actually work, they fail to practice the willingness to continue to do what they know will help them…so why is that?

In our DBT groups, we learn about willingness vs. willfulness, and specifically how these concepts help or hurt us. Willingness is when we know what will help us feel and function better without making things worse in the long run, and we actually put those skills into practice in our daily lives. Willfulness, on the other hand, is when we know what would be the most effective way to handle a situation, what would work the best for us, and we choose not to do it.

There are many reasons why a person willfully chooses not to do what he knows will work. Sometimes people are familiar with and comfortable being in a constant state of chaos, and don’t believe they deserve anything better or different. Other times the pain of the harm they are doing is not enough to motivate them to change. Until that balance shifts and their suffering becomes worse than the discomfort associated with doing something new, many people won’t make the effort to help themselves.

In my own life, self-care is something I must stay willing to practice in order to be the best mom, daughter, friend, and therapist that I can be. It’s often difficult for me to carve out time to practice yoga, ride my bike, spend time with friends, read, and pray/meditate, on top of all my other responsibilities. But I have found that the more demanding my schedule is, or the more stressors I am experiencing, the more imperative it is that I take care of myself by doing all those things. It requires willingness on my part to make the effort, and the results are worth it in my happiness, stability, and peace of mind. I know what makes me feel better, so it’s my fault if I choose not to do those things.

Ask yourself today, “If I am unhappy with the way things are in my life, am I willing to do what it takes for me to feel better?” If your answer is Yes, and you need some guidance in figuring out what might work for you, schedule an appointment at Southlake Counseling and take the first step toward being in charge of your own happiness.

In good health,

Debbie





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

Lessons and My Yoga Practice

“…each moment of my day offers me the opportunity to choose between pain or peace.” ~ Rolf Gates in Meditations from the Mat

People who know me are aware of my passion for yoga, and specifically for the lessons I learn on my mat that I am able to transfer into my life. One such lesson started last summer and has recently revealed itself to me in a new way.

I began practicing at a different studio early last year at the suggestion of a friend, who had no idea the depth of my personal struggles at the time. I immediately found a sense of peace and calm with this practice that I had not experienced through my intermittent yoga practice before. Like I’ve heard…when the student is ready, the teacher appears…and I was ready.

On the 4th of July, I went to an early morning class and was not surprised to find a nearly empty studio. I was spending a lot of time up in my head those days, so I welcomed the opportunity to spread out my mat and practice without the distraction of other people inches away from me. I settled in to my usual spot by the window, and was somewhat shocked when a man put his mat down directly behind me on the otherwise empty back row. Again, I was up in my head saying, “Why couldn’t he get in one of the nine other spots on that row instead of RIGHT BEHIND ME?”…and it was downhill from there.

As soon as the teacher led us into child’s pose to start the class, I felt a tap on my arm, something I had never experienced before in yoga and haven’t since. I turned my head to see the guy from behind me squatting beside my mat, “Excuse me, but I’m going to have to ask you to take off your watch.” Appalled, I responded, “Are you serious?” “Yes,” he said. “It’s going to distract me for the whole class.”

Now remember, this guy had about 40 other spots he could have been in for this class instead of right behind me, so I was furious. I jerked my watch off and tossed it over by the wall, giving him the “Are you happy now?” look, and clearly I wasn’t.

So for about 87 minutes of the 90-minute class, I stayed mad. I went over and over in my head how awful it was that this guy had violated my personal yoga space so HE wouldn’t be distracted. I mulled over how it would have been different if he had said we don’t really need to know what time it is in yoga, and wondered why he didn’t ask the teacher to take off her bright ORANGE watch, when mine was only flat black. I allowed this guy to steal my practice from me, gave him the power to keep me in my head instead of on my mat, and obviously I haven’t forgotten it. The lesson I took away from that day was that I often give people power over me by resisting them, taking things personally, when it would be much easier for me to say, “Sure…I’ll allow you to be You. It’s not a problem.” It would not have hurt me to take my watch off, let it go, and get on with my life…

As is usually the case with my yoga practice (and my life!), things continue to unfold and be revealed, and these epiphanies are now a source of great delight for me. This past weekend, again at an early morning yoga class, the “watch guy” walked in to the studio. Although I practice several times a week, I have never seen him since that day in July, 2009. This time he put his mat in the middle of the front row, and since I was two rows back, he was clearly in my line of vision. I try very hard to keep my practice and my focus on my mat, and some days I’m more successful than others, but I couldn’t help noticing what this guy was doing every time I faced forward. In nearly every pose, he turned his head left and right to see what the people on either side of him were doing. At first I thought it was my imagination, so I became curious and watched more closely. It was obvious that he knew the poses, he didn’t need a model for what to do, he was simply checking out the pose of the woman on his right, and the man on his left…hmmmm.

Although I believed I had long ago moved past the watch incident, a new feeling of compassion rose up in me for this man who appeared to be more concerned with what was going on around him than what was going on within him. I have no way to truly know what he was thinking, but it seemed his focus was purely external, and I felt sad for him.  Aha…two new lessons for me. #1. I can have compassion for someone, even when I don’t understand where they are on their journey, and #2. I am grateful for the times when I’m able to shift my focus to my own internal point of reference, instead of gauging myself based on something external…and how much happier and healthier I am when I stop comparing myself to other people.

If you are struggling with finding your internal point of reference…your true Self…or are having trouble letting go of resistance and control in your personal relationships, perhaps we can help. We offer unique therapies to help you uncover and access your Self, with or without a therapeutic yoga practice. Make an appointment today to begin your own journey…

Namasté,

Debbie