Entry 13- Basics of Trauma

Trauma changes everything, but you are able and capable of moving forward with the right supports, resources and clinical assistance. Please seek this, if you have experienced trauma. This entry is meant to only be informative.
When someone experiences trauma, their sense of safety and security is disrupted. Their “normal” is gone. At the moment of trauma, their lives have changed. Moving forward with trauma, is not an easy journey. Some cope with alcohol, drugs, self-harm to name a few, while others may cope in healthier ways. How a person responds to trauma and how to tell how a person will cope with trauma, includes many variables. Some things that can have a positive impact on a person’s ability to manage after trauma, are the coping skills they had prior to trauma, a strong support system and responsiveness, and ability to seek resources. Say a person experienced trauma and already had limited resources, supports and difficultly managing basic needs, this person may not fare as well as someone with the opposite situation. Trauma changes the way you perceive your world and those in it. It becomes difficult to trust others, to self-regulate, to seek help, to not feel guilt and shame, to even just breathe quietly. Trauma has led to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Trauma changes your mind and body’s response to each event, person, and day to day life. It’s been shown to literally, change the wiring of a person’s brain. If we reflect on all this, we can begin to vaguely understand that a traumatic incident can absolutely hinder someone’s ability to seek help. However, it doesn’t mean that someone can’t move forward and heal from trauma. There are evidence-based therapeutic models shown to effectively reduce the impact of trauma and assist in recovery.
Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.
Until next time!
Claudia Stanley, LCSW

Entry 14- Love Wildly

Love Wildly

 

Someone very wise shared the power of loving wildly. Love without walls, reservations or expectations. The thought of this is frightening, striking and cliché-y, but if you take a step back and actually absorb the impact those two words can have on your livelihood, you may finally begin to listen and ACT on it!

 

When we love wildly, we take things for what they are. We don’t try and mold and shape them to how we want them to be. We don’t try to fix, manage and control people. We simply reconnect to the present moment and embrace it with a big fat hug.

 

I mean, if you really think about it, do you recall the last time you sat in the moment and genuinely enjoyed yourself? Were you didn’t think about how to respond or act. Were you felt a second of gratitude for whomever or whatever was right in front of you? Living in the fast-paced society we live in, we’re somewhat trained to focus on the future. We become focused on how to improve, fix, and repair. How exhausting is this? Very.

 

Try to not let FEAR handicap your ability to vigorously live without hesitation. Maybe you get rejected or maybe you don’t. Don’t fear life’s setbacks. See them as opportunities or better yet, saving you from a possible regret. Maybe, it would be helpful to think, when you turn 90 what will you share when someone asks, “How did you live your life?” Don’t let life pass you by. Love yourself boldly and love others courageously. Just do it.

 

Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.

Until next time!

Claudia Stanley, LCSW

Entry 13-Solution>Problem

When a problem arises, you have two choices:
Focus on the problem or Focus on the solution.

It is so easy to get caught up in an overdue vent session. Venting about your work stressors, your finances, your relationship, your kids, your parents, etc., etc., etc. There is nothing unhealthy about unraveling after a long day. It only becomes unhealthy, when you get STUCK there. The difference? Unleashing doesn’t last 24 hours. Getting STUCK there does. Getting STUCK shifts your mood. It shifts your mood, into a not so great mood. The kind of mood that is irritable and difficult to be around. The kind of mood that is desperate to see a way out, but feels trapped. STUCK leads to difficulty managing whatever comes your way.

So how did we get to STUCK? Well there are many probable reasons, but one I know for sure is we tend to pull out our magnifying glass and zone in on the problem. We have a difficult time stepping outside of the box to take note on how these problems can actually change. We don’t realize that to most of our problems, there are solutions. I don’t blame you. This isn’t meant to stamp a guilt and shame tagline on your forehead. It’s meant to bring awareness to our ability to overcome our problems, if we could just shift our perspective. I truly believe everyone is equipped with tools. Sometimes they’re lost or heavily buried by a pile of junk, but they are there. It may take a helping hand to sort things out, but please know they are there.

One suggestion is to look back to a time that was particularly challenging. A time that created similar feelings of stress, anguish, disbelief, frustration and complete feelings of helplessness. Considering that you moved forward since then, what did you do then that helped you manage that stressor? Think small. Did you talk to someone about it? Did you run it out? Did you draw it out? Maybe you cried it out? What did you do? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Turn the wheel back to a time where you were able to overcome a challenging time and re-apply those tools.

There are a couple other things I particularly find helpful; gratitude and stepping back. When gratitude can be applied, a humbling experience can take place. Feeling grateful for the memories, or for the job that allows one to purchase a home, or children that so many others fight for, can help the stressor not appear as threatening. You see, when we run away from the problem our mind and body is protecting us from something it finds threatening. Our mind and body are running it’s natural course to protect. However, when we can meet that threat with a thank you, it can dissipate the intensity of the fear and so, we reduce that chance of getting STUCK.

Then there is stepping back. If you can put your magnifying glass away and step back to see the bigger picture you may be able to reframe and logically adapt to your situation. Instead of thinking, “I have to go to this horrid job,” you might say, “I get to own a home because of this job.” It’s simple once you get un-STUCK. However, it’s all about progress, not perfection. There will be many times our stressors will try to trap us, but please remind yourself of your inner and outer strengths, resources, and support that can help you to re-focus and problem solve.

Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.

Until next time!

Claudia Stanley, LCSW

Entry 12-Transitions

A gentle reminder entry.

Transitions can be exciting, hopeful and beautiful, but also stressful. Take care of yourself.

Transitions.

Exciting, right? Hopeful, right? Thrilling, right?

Scary, right? Nerve wrecking, right? Stressful? Heck yes! 

Transitions in a positive light can create those adrenaline feelings, and those feel great. But those same feelings can also create feelings of doubt, worry, and fear. Most transitions have some sort of unknown to them. And the unknown can create the latter feelings. Our mind and body can go into a state of fight or flight and tense up. It can go, go, go until eventually it doesn’t. And then you sit there questioning why you’re feeling stressed. Well let me tell you, when you are not caring for yourself you become your biggest rejection. You slowly stop doing all the things that nurtured your body and fueled your mind. You forget that you’re not some superhero, but instead human. Humans thrive off connection. Connection to self and others. 

So how do we keep up with all the changes in our lives? 

Well, we take care of ourselves daily and don’t allow a day to go by where we come second. Easier said, right? Wrong. It can feel that way, but honestly you can put down your notepad of to-do’s and take a quick minute to belly breathe. Take 60 seconds to connect to your body and calm your mind. When you’re constantly on the edge of your seat, how productive are you anyways? How present are you? You’re probably not. And guys, that’s what creates anxiety and stress!

Don’t let the moment pass you by. Take a step back, do something for you, and carry on!

Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.

Until next time!

Claudia Stanley, LCSW

 

Entry 11-Boundaries

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” -Brene Brown

Why are boundaries important to keep and how do they relate to the need to people please?

First, let’s start with what boundaries are. Boundaries are seen to separate, limit or define something. There are three primary forms of boundaries: rigid, porous, and healthy. I like to visualize rigid boundaries as a large brick wall. Rigid boundaries make entering and leaving difficult and may be too restrictive or permissive. Porous boundaries are the opposite of rigid. Someone with porous boundaries may become a “yes person.” Meaning there are no limits as this person will do and say almost about anything to please you. Then there are healthy boundaries. Which is normally a healthy balance between rigid and porous. These people place their needs first, but also know when to take off their suit of armor when appropriate.

If we ask ourselves, which boundary type would someone who enjoys pleasing others to the extent that they are compromising their well-being, be in which would you say? That’s right. Porous boundaries.

Let’s get into this a little more. There are many things that can lead to someone developing porous boundaries. It can be due to the type of parenting in the home growing up, it can be a teacher that had many expectations, it can be a strong need to be perfect, etc. Whatever the reason behind why an individual developed porous boundaries, there are normally a few common characteristics: overly-trusting, overly-open, have a difficult time saying no to others, overly-relating to other’s problems and fear of rejection.

With these  common characteristics in mind, transitioning from porous to healthy boundaries is not an easy journey. You may experience things like guilt, fear and anxiety which might keep you trapped in the cycle of people pleasing.

So why do it? Why add boundaries when it may cause icky feelings?

Well, because you matter. Your needs are important, your thoughts are important, your feelings are important and because you are important. If you constantly give, even after you resent or regret the giving, you are more prone to symptoms of anxiety and depression. You might find yourself stuck in a cycle of low self-worth, low self-esteem and high stress. It’s turmoil. But what if you had a choice to get unstuck in this cycle and just find better ways to manage the outcomes of being firm and saying no.  Would you be willing to try it then?

I’d like to think at the end of it, whether we make a choice to say no or continue to say yes, we end up with guilt. But if we begin to say no, we might be able to interrupt the cycle and become more effective in caring deeply for ourselves and enhance our well-being. Imagine if you had the time to say yes to yourself more often? What would that feel like? What would you do?

Here are 10 tips for incorporating healthy boundaries:

  1. Make a list of where in your life, with whom, with what, you would like to create more limits with. With that same list create a pros and cons list of doing so.
  2. Explore your values. What is important to you? How do you want to carry out your life? How will healthy boundaries help you get there?
  3. Practice affirmations that remind you of your worth. These can range from “I matter” to “I have the right to practice no.”
  4. Remind yourself of why you are setting limits. If you want to increase your self-esteem and worth, you need others to respect you as an individual. Unfortunately, when we allow all to enter our safe bubble, we are communicating that we don’t matter.
  5. Communicate effectively (try “I feel statements”, be direct, be consistent, be clear, be assertive).
  6. Offer compromises where possible. So maybe you can’t take your mom to all her medical appointments Monday thru Friday but you can take her on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and your brother can take her the other days.
  7. Practice saying no. Role play with yourself, your dog, etc. You can start by saying no with a safe person; someone who won’t reject you and make you feel horribly about yourself. Then reflect on the benefits of doing this.
  8. Make it a habit. Our brains are so used to pattern and we are by nature, driven by consistency. Like everything else in life, trying something new won’t happen overnight.
  9. Engage in daily “me time.” Have one task daily that you look forward to. Build self-compassion and assess the benefits of engaging in activities that make you feel good about yourself. This can help you deal with the backlash you might get from aunt Susie when you finally tell her you can’t come after work every-night to walk her dog.
  10. Create a self-care plan that will allow you to have balance for your physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being.

It’s time you started saying yes to yourself, and respectfully saying no to others.

Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.

Until next time!

Claudia Stanley, LCSW