Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fish, House Guests, and Destructive Emotions....After 3 Days They Need To Go!

I have a good friend that has a saying, "House guests are like fish, after 3 days they need to be thrown out".  Now I have to add that I'm very lucky that I have great relatives and house guests.  I'm actually usually sad to see them go.  But, I do think it could be a good rule for destructive emotions. 

In Eastern philosophies we are challenged to not ever have negative emotions (anger, resentment, jealousy, etc.) but for most of us we're not quite ready for that level of enlightenment :-) But I do think it is very attainable to set limits for ourselves for how long we'll allow those negative emotions to interfere with our lives.  Let me give you an extreme example that just happened for me. 

You guys may not know but I recently lost my best friend.  My dachshund dog who had been by my side for almost 10 years passed away Sunday a week ago.  When this happened I was overwhelmed with grief.  I am lucky that I have a schedule that I can adjust and was able to take some time off to really grieve.  During this time it wasn't pretty and I had a lot of VERY strong emotions.  I cried, I got mad, I blamed myself, I blamed others and I cried some more.  But after a couple of days I forced myself to start living again.  I went to work, I made dinner, I returned phone calls and emails.  While I was still sad for sure, but I used tools so that it wasn't overwhelming and interfering. 

I know some people can't relate to the loss of a pet but maybe you can relate it to any situation that brought up a strong negative emotion.  Maybe a betrayal by a friend, an injustice at work, or overwhelmed with a situation.  Whether the emotion is sadness, anger, betrayal, or something else, the idea is that don't let it hangover you for too long.  Dont' let that negative emotion take root.  Acknowledge it without avoiding it but also making a conscious effort to move forward.  Grant it some losses or circumstance may take longer (and small things like traffic shouldn't take you three days) but the concept is the same.  You don't want to be still feeling that same negative emotion over an incident 2 weeks later, a month later, a year later.

So next time you feel yourself "stuck" with a negative feeling, ask yourself "Have I given myself time to deal with this situation?" and if so, make a plan to move forward.  Today is international day of happiness.  Though I continue to grieve through my loss, I am able to identify a multitude of things that bring me joy (including the opportunity to know and work with so many cool people).    Have a great week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't Run Out Of Toilet Paper

I like the idea that there is no problem without a solution.  Might not be a easy solution, might not be one we're excited about, but a solution none the less. 

I recently bought a small charcoal BBQ pit.  I was absolutely terrible at using it.  I couldn't quite get the timing right.  Coals were either not hot enough or too hot.  I either put things on too soon or not quick enough.  After several raw or over-cooked meals I decided grilling just wasn't for me and put the grill away. 

When discussing different ways to problem solve with a client, I challenged that if someone ran out of toilet paper they didn't just say "Oh well...guess we'll never have toilet paper again.  No.  They would go out to the store and buy more toilet paper".  Then I realized I hadn't really made an effort to problem solve the grilling challenge.  With the help of my 13 year old son, I researched on You Tube how to grill with charcoal.  I'm proud to say we had our first edible grilled meal last night.

If you have a problem that is hanging over your head.  Whether it's a little thing that is like a pebble in your shoe, small but bothersome, or a big life challenge, I encourage you to brainstorm some solutions.  Spend as much time seeking answers as you do worrying.  Remember, you wouldn't just allow yourself to run out of toilet paper!

This therapist doesn't live in Utopia

I was shocked when one of my clients said "You use your own tools?".  Well, yes I do.  Why would I provide tools that I don't believe in?  How would I know they are helpful if I don't use them myself?  Hence the beginning of  this blogging journey.  I thought it might be helpful (funny if nothing else) to show how I see positive thinking, creative problem solving, and mindfulness being used in my life or the lives of my clients. 

I think sometimes we think of therapist kind of like children think of their school teachers.  (I remember my son being surprised when he saw his teacher having margaritas at our local Mexican restaurant with some friends.).  I think sometimes there is a perception that somehow therapist live in some peaceful, Utopian reality where we sit around meditating and we don't bounce checks, spill coffee on ourselves or yell at traffic jams.  I'm here to burst that bubble, at least for this therapist.  But I want this blog to be a place of encouragement too. 

In the midst of my own chaos, I often find ways to combat stress and live with purpose and meaning.  If you want to learn more about me you can visit my website at Thanks for visiting my blog and hope the stories, antidotes, and experiences I write about can be a source of support to you!