Tag Archives: change

Go Ahead–Trust Your Inner Wisdom

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Here’s a Coping Skill Ready for Use Now!

Amazingly, the wise inner self, with its personal growth answers, may lay dormant for long periods of time. You may need to develop confidence in your own abilities to find solutions to life problems, empowering yourself. An optimistic attitude will push you forward, and help overcome anxiety.

Building confidence means trusting yourself to come up with answers. You may even be

Whooooo but you!

Whooooo but you!

telling yourself that other, wiser people have the answers for you, without even
listening to or trusting your inner voice.

You may never have considered that you have strengths beyond the obvious. When under pressure, it is common to forget inner resources that are available and accessible with practice. Perhaps you have been so resistant to developing inner resources that the idea of turning inside for help is too foreign. Maybe you are so dependent on others that you wait for a “magic answer.”

Perhaps you have been too traumatized, and need professional therapy. There’s not just one answer; you can strengthen inner resources along with professional help. Indeed, that is the perfect solution.

Answers That Materialize, Much To Our Surprise

Have you ever tried to figure out a problem or remember a name or solution, only to draw a blank? Finally, just letting go, continuing on with the day, or sleeping, suddenly you are aware that the solution pops into your head? The mind is forever a source of wonder. Evidently, we have to be relaxed to access our strongest resources. The all-knowing inner strengths are usually there for the asking and believing. We have to cultivate our access, though, like you would plant and nurture a beautiful garden.

As you embrace building inner wisdom in your personal growth and development, the process may be hampered by periods of trauma or upheaval. Patience will be your helper. Meditating or just sitting quietly fosters self-confidence, and often turns up the level of self-knowledge.

Practice Makes Growth Solid

As with learning all new abilities, these skills and intuitive senses need practice and work before they are reliable. The added value is that as you practice, you will be learning and accomplishing relaxation. The practice will require sitting quietly, centering yourself, focusing on developing expertise for yourself, and quieting your mind.

If you find little success, take a walk in nature and focus on what your senses bring, for example, the blue of the sky, the sound of distant birds, or sit on the beach and feel sand trickle through your fingers. When you have achieved a relaxed state, put a question to your self. What are you trying to solve? Don’t throw away any answers that bubble up. End by giving thanks, and return to your day. You will be turning over your dilemma to your inner wisdom. Watch and listen carefully in the days to come for new answers.

Grow Your Zest For Retirement Life

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Do Your Beliefs Limit the Good Retirement Life?

Retirement can be great or “not so much”, depending on how much optimism you feel and what you have to enjoy. Many times what you enjoy is entirely dependent on MINDSET. Throughout our lives, what we believe sets the tone for our quality of life and our personal growth. You can change your mindset and live your life passionately.

Often seniors don’t realize that with practice, you can improve and do more than you dreamed! An optimistic view-point always drives more happiness.

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Stanford Psychologist, reveals her years of research into mindset in her book “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success”.


Do You Keep a Tight Rein on New Adventures?

The “growth mindset” allows you to reach your potential by not being afraid to cultivate the person you want to be, hence the person who can accomplish the things you value and have the experiences you value. The importance of effort plays a big part in the growth mindset.

In contrast, the “fixed mindset” leads you to feel limited to permanent abilities, that you can’t change. Hence needing to prove yourself over and over, but not believing that you could get better in such characteristics as intelligence, artistic talent or sports ability.

Take The Test

Dr. Dweck offers a quick check about your mindset with a set of four questions for you to decide if you mostly agree or disagree with each one:

1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

Questions 1 and 3 are the “fixed mindset” questions; questions 2 and 4 reflect the “growth mindset”.

The book is a quick and easy read with helpful personal growth suggestions throughout, and it is not expensive on Amazon. Tips for grandparenting and mentoring others are many; the trick will be to master them yourselves first! Love of learning and resilience form the basis for great accomplishment and just plain fun.

Brain Changes Aid Personal Growth

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Improve Coping Skills at All Ages

Awareness and learning about the brain can be a scary topic. Many people, including seniors, just opt out of neurological information as too complicated to spend much time exploring. Not so! Continue reading

Life is……PASSION!

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Adapting to Change Need Not Limit You

OK, as a senior, I tried the retirement thing. It is a no go. So, I resorted to taking my own advice: if you don’t live your passions, there’s not a lot of living going on.

When it came to retirement, I thought I’d like to live with less stress and fewer demands, and I needed to tend to my health. Hence I retired from my psychology practice, stopped writing my blogs, and, in essence, thought I would develop new interests that would replace the focus of my life.

Wow, a naïve assumption! My inner wisdom took a serious dive. I can’t believe I actually even wanted a new focus, let alone leave my whole life’s essence in the dust. Aha, adapting to change was my mission.

Finally, I Woke Up

What finally got my attention? I discovered how lost I am when I am not helping others, and when I don’t write, especially if I don’t write for others, and when optimism lacked strength.

There’s very little stress when you engage in what you believe and what you truly enjoy doing.

I do love that my retirement gives me more time to enjoy all the interests I have spent a lifetime developing, plus a few more. I can rockhound every day if I like, I can travel to my grandkids’ house and stay as long as I want, at least the parents say I can. (I don’t believe them.)

But then for active people to get trapped into one favorite activity is not the idea. Being retired just gives you the luxury to live the dream, then still live all the other dreams you have always immersed yourself in.

Your Essence Doesn’t Change

Whew! The reality is that all those parts of you that made up your essence are still within, even if you retire or have health issues that require a slow down. Just because I don’t daily practice professional psychology, does not mean that I am no longer a psychologist. I will always be a psychologist.

If I had not loved every minute, and if I didn’t feel I was always riding the crest of the tallest wave, then I might have wanted to step away.

But that wasn’t the case. I lived my psychology passion all those years; it is still one of my greatest joys. I just experience it now in new ways. And I still want to share with you.

Reducing Stress–Mindfulness Meditation

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Reduce Stress and Leave Unwanted Thoughts Behind.

Mindfulness cultivates a mind-body connection, as well as knowledge about how unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It helps you to center on the present moment, reducing stress and leaving unwanted thoughts and damaging worries behind.

Mindfulness is popular in programs that teach stress reduction and has a wide appeal among health care practitioners who advocate Mind-Body Health.

Finding its roots in Eastern religions, Mindfulness was popularized by Dr. Jon Kabot-Zinn in his stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the late 1970′s. The practice is a meditation technique that can be broadened to stop intrusive thinking and to bring thoughts back when they “run away.”

Stop the “Thought Merry-Go-Round”

Most of us have had unwanted thoughts intruding on the day and keeping sleep at bay. Mindfulness is a way to restructure the brain, so old patterns can be dislodged and replaced with more adaptive ways of thinking.

Neuroscience and brain imaging labs are showing that brain changes occur with meditation and with cognitively training the brain. The plasticity of the brain is well accepted in neurological research. In a discussion about compassion leading to physical brain changes, Howard Cutler, M.D. states “the brain’s plasticity allows recruiting new nerve cells and changing neural connections (“The Art of Happiness”, p.45).

Learning and practicing Mindfulness as a commitment requires some effort. For an introduction and guidance, check out Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Intrusive thinking ranges from severe obsessional patterns to occasional bothersome thoughts about a stressful event that has taken up residence in our heads. For severe obsessive disorder, treatment involves a psychiatric medication evaluation and intensive psychotherapy.

Worry and thought intrusions can be conquered by combining relaxation and Mindfulness to bring new perspectives, and hopefully new coping skills that really work. You need not remain a captive of your mind.

Begin, as usual, with your breath, bring your awareness to the sensations of breathing. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath sensations. Now expand your practice with suggestions by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Commitment to meditation is often difficult. However, even with daily small exercises, the mind can be trained to deal with stress more effectively, and thus begin to control the intrusive thoughts. For more information, Google rewiring the brain/neuroscience.

The least you need to know:
1. You can escape old thinking patterns by teaching the old dog (you) new tricks, like Mindfulness.
2. Don’t expect to change your distress without some work on your part.
3. Mind-Body practice helps release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.

Should you decide to accept this assignment, you must
1. Engage in your own healing.
2. Take charge of and responsibility for your health by committing to practice change in your everyday behaviors.

Tips for Caregiving Communication

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Listening is the Magic Key

When you are caregiving, the skills that professional life coaches use will enhance your efforts. Pretty basic communication skills are effective in improving the quality of your patient’s life, and will make your caregiving easier.

Coaching is a process that leads the individual to decide what efforts and solutions he/she will bring to his problems. Help the elderly and disabled identify what the main problems are, how it affects their outlook, and what might make things better. A well-trained life coach never provides instant solutions.

Empathy is Not Your Only Communication Skill

The real help a caregiver offers is the process of exploring thoughts and feelings. Empathizing can be very good, up to a point, but may only make the “patient” feel worse, if that is all that is done.

No feeling is bad, a feeling is a feeling. However, remember, thoughts drive emotions. Helping to “reframe” negative thoughts when possible or encouraging a more positive “spin” will ultimately work better. That takes time and perseverance.

Ah, you say, she doesn’t know my Dad. You are right, but having someone really listen to what he is feeling will prompt better coping than denying those feelings. Remember, it is a process, a marathon, not a sprint!

Get started small; you can’t change a whole lifetime or dissolve the trauma of disability. However, you can be a light in the dark forest that may make all the difference in the world. More Later.

The least you need to know:
1. Care giving involves emotional as well as physical needs.
2. You are not expected to solve problems that cannot be solved.
3. You are a role model for learning how to adapt to challenges.

The mission should you choose to accept requires:
1. Getting your own emotional and thinking house in order. Negativity breeds negativity.
2. Talking and listening–without judgment–is magic!
3. Remember the marathon, not the sprint; this will be a lifetime of persistence.

Complexities of Depression

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To Take or Not To Take Antidepressants is the Question

Here’s a no brainer–antidepressants are widely prescribed. It’s been described as a national epidemic! Research has provided both pros and cons of taking the medication, including serious side effects, like weight gain.

Researching antidepressant medication vs. psychotherapy is easily accomplished with your health care providers and on the internet. The National Institute of Health offers a particularly extensive review. The more we delve into depression, the more obvious the complexity of treatment and diagnosis.

A Therapist’s View

Clinical depression is far more than being down over life events. Diagnosis goes beyond short periods when things are not to our liking. Often, it takes professionals to see the difference. Some symptoms may be a matter of degree and extensiveness. Here, the discussion is not intended to address the popular “Bipolar” diagnosis. Clarity in diagnosis is critical, and therapy is also a good adjunct to Bipolar treatment. It is true that depression suggests a biochemical change. Remember, changing thoughts can change the chemistry, too.

This author’s mind body proclivity leans toward not taking a pill to solve life’s problems, and using cognitive and behavioral resources before jumping into medication. Mind body research and supporters tout that the body can heal itself by immersing in emotional and mental resources and making changes. Meds relieve symptoms, but don’t cure the problem.

Inevitably, a therapy client shows up who actively tries cognitive/behavioral treatment to resolve a downward spiral, only to find no relief. Or the fight has been carried on for so long by the client that the detrimental effects of stress and problems have settled into permanent physiological–and negative– changes and clinical depression. Then, the body may need medical help (medication) to reduce the symptoms of depression while learning new coping skills.

Easy Answers May not Come Even to Professionals

Treating Depression is not so simple. Professionals must juggle much information and come out with clear understandings and treatment decisions. That takes experience and insight. Among health care providers, the dilemma of helping clients change emotional reactions by medical (medication) vs. cognitive/behavioral means has brought healthy debate for many years. Research supports the efficacy of both cognitive therapy and antidepressants equally, although only therapy leads to future prevention.

Some of us read the research against or for meds and rally behind it because of the scientific/measurable effects. Then, there are we practitioners who struggle with helping clients, put our hearts into therapy change, encourage, cajole, challenge clients to making actual changes and, voila, depression is conquered!

Or we may, after much angst, find medication as an adjunct and see results, too. Medications may make the immediate symptoms less intense, while the client is learning new behavioral styles.

As I see it, there are so many physiological and behavioral variables. When in doubt, it’s appropriate to direct the client to a physician or prescribing psychologist for a medication evaluation. Two heads seem better than one. However, if cognitive/behavioral change is working, don’t fix something that isn’t broken!

A Window of Opportunity

Always, the hope is that 6 to 12 months on a medication will provide a window of opportunity during which the client makes significant behavioral change while the devastating emotions are held at bay by the antidepressant. However, some clients may need much longer treatment with medication.

Again, the mind body focus. Take away the nose to nose madness of depression and anxiety long enough for the person to find new directions and coping skills which will prohibit depression in the future and uncover joy as a way of life now. Cognitive/behavioral therapy does have a good record with maintaining treatment gains vs. medications, because of the healthy lifestyle and cognitive changes that therapy requires.

We Must be Ever Vigilant!

Therapy: such hope, such a pragmatic view, the only real “cure”! At times, such a risk to not seek medication evaluation when keeping symptoms at bay with meds needs to be part of the treatment! The ravages of depression may have gone on too long. Suicide lurks and pushes in during the darkest moments when we as therapists or loved ones can’t reach the mind. Or, the thinking has deteriorated so badly that the client’s brain is not rational, maybe the mind is obsessively preoccupied with death. Suicidal thoughts and irrational thinking are always big red flags for getting mental health providers in the mix immediately.

The Middle Ground Emerges as the Rational Choice.

If we can fight through to a positive result, don’t knock the means, providing, of course, therapy or medication do no harm. That is the essence of the debate–harmful effects of putting pills into your body or not using medical resources when symptoms need to be calmed.

It is important that we don’t base our medication decisions on Aunt Thelma’s reported experiences or that we don’t let friend John’s ideas prohibit a clear research into medications. Friends and family opinions should carry no weight compared to good health care advice.

Psychological and medication treatments together offer the best we have at this time. Often they should both be a part of the treatment regimen. Successful therapists know therapy is still an art that must respect meds when needed.

The least you need to know:
1. Depression treatment is complex, both therapy and antidepressants have research support. Cognitive behavioral therapy will give long lasting effects. Meds don’t “cure” the problem.
2. Always get advice from health care professionals.
2. When suicide is a risk, never take chances. Get help!

The mission, should you decide to accept, requires:
1. Exploring treatment options with health care providers.
2. Doing your own research on the pros and cons of meds, but let your physician make the medication choice.
3. Change is most always required of the person, but it doesn’t need to be that difficult. The need has probably been a long time coming, and therapy is the answer.

Yes, You May Be Angry–Don’t Ruin Your Life Quality/Health!

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Anger Can Destroy Your Quality of Life

When the rage hits, it can seem like you are being swallowed by it! As soon as you can begin to think straight, you know that you need to regain control.

Anger has a way of taking over your life, your thoughts, your well-being–if you let it. The worst time is when you truly feel wronged, when something happens that would make anyone lose their cool, or so you say to ease your pain. Now is the time to take good “selfish” steps to take care of you by breaking the pattern of anger, regaining emotional control, and stopping obsessive preoccupation with what happened.

Yet, it probably seems beyond your ability to gain control in the midst of the storm. This is the time to use all your power to halt negative, replay of events, and turn your energies into saving yourself, in spite of the unfairness, unbelievable events that have stopped you in your tracks!

Regaining Control Takes Relentless Attention to Your Thoughts

Those of us who are cognitive-behavioral therapists rely on you rediscovering the power of your thinking, and we work to focus you on “coming to your senses,” quite literally. Somewhere in your inner wisdom, you know the rage offers no solace, no answer. The quicker you can move from the incessant preoccupation with the circumstance of your rage, the quicker you can move from problem to solution. Take steps to begin using mind-body techniques and controlling tensions. Changing thoughts will require you to be in a mindfulness state; relaxation is a critical step in the process.

Time is on your side; eventually, the obviously destructive nature of rage becomes apparent. It is then that you can work on developing a plan for managing anger and turning it into a more productive endeavor. The starting place is positive thinking!

The Energy of Anger

Numerous well-known psychologists, counselors and physicians have presented dialogues focusing on emotional healing as the path to health. The “mind-body” approach to using your inner wisdom has much proven information to encourage you to take charge of your health and quality of life

Dr. John Rifken, a Boulder, Colorado psychologist, offers a different take on using the energy of anger to heal. He points out that anger’s energy can be used to transform your life and empower you. Granted, it will be necessary for you to get past the rage when it is consuming you and into a place that you can logically talk to yourself. Using cold logic on yourself is important in stopping the rage from taking over.

Dr. Christiane Northrup has long been a voice for womens’ health; however, the overall “mind-body” information she provides is easily applicable to both men and women. The answer to health is recognizing that thoughts and emotions impact your health.

If thoughts and emotions are positive, their effect on the body’s overall health and immune system is positive. Conversely, negative thoughts and emotions disrupt healthy body functioning. You influence your body’s functioning by changing negative thoughts to positive. Granted, the process is more complex; however beginning with awareness and stress relief techniques get the process started. See our last post for specific techniques to help you on your way.

Waste No Time

Call upon your inner wisdom; engage yourself in deciding your most effective plan of action. Spend time and energy in learning what are the triggers and negative thoughts that lead you off track, back into rage, and useless rehashing of the anger situation.

Begin with awareness of negative thoughts by writing them down for a base-line assessment–don’t let your assessment go on too long. Once you have your triggers and negative thoughts, replace them with a list of positive affirmations and force yourself to use your positive thoughts!

The least you need to know:
1. Repeating rage thoughts leads to no good.
2. You can make a change, do it now.

Your mission, should you choose to accept, requires:
1. That you to strictly forbid yourself to think negatively.
2. That you learn positive thought to replace the negative.
3. That you learn stress relief skills from last post.

Self-Judgment Lowers Self-Esteem

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“What Was I Thinking?”

Self-esteem can take a big hit if we are dissatisfied with our current lives and look back with disdain on early decision-making. Hindsight is so easy that we forget we made the best choices we could for that time. We never get out of bed thinking “I’m going to make the worst choice I can today.” Our judgment about what was best earlier may have been warped, but the decisions likely fit with the abilities available at that time.

Later, when we find ourselves in situations that we don’t like, the temptation is high to go back and criticize our decisions or become lost in remorse over our choices. At this point, self-worth and self-esteem take yet another hit, and negative feelings about ourselves wrap us in self-degradation, hopelessness, poor confidence, and deciding to give up.

Regaining Control Of Our Lives

Recognizing that earlier choices had a foundation in our needs, perceptive abilities, and knowledge at that time can free you to make better choices now! Most of our lives are not locked totally in stone, and we usually can find some way to make positive changes. It will be hard, and motivation to grow and weather more storms can be intimidating.

Inner Wisdom Plays A Big Part

Accepting the growth that has been made is a beginning. You had to come a long way just to admit your earlier struggles with value clarification or possible superficial rationalizations for why you did what you did. Perhaps, it will become more clear that there were insurmountable challenges at that time; you may even recognize that you would do it differently, if you had another opportunity. Perhaps your inner wisdom led you to make choices in order that you would be ready for different paths now. (Good perception re sowing wild oats in the past.)

No question, personal growth has been made or you wouldn’t be reading this now!

One of the strongest regrets often is not having taken a more positive step in education. We are very fortunate we live in a time that technology allows for second chances. It’s not too late, even if you’ve tried before. Try it again.

What a great way to spend time, if you’re not working! Google on-line education.

As for lost relationships, you have more knowledge and stronger abilities now and/or more avenues of help. Try therapy.

If finances are your bugaboo, fix your credit. You now know how to curb impulses. Choose only for your best interests!

The Least You Need To Know:
1. Give the past it’s due and move on. You were essentially a different person then with different needs, perceptions, & abilities.
2. Revel in your growth.

The mission, should you choose to accept, requires:
1. Look to the future, not what was and the stuck places you were in.
2. Step out with action to seize opportunities. Make positive self-esteem a part of you.

Raising Self-Esteem By Breaking Old Habits

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Continuing From The Last Post

In the last post, a client writes about finally being free of her damaging behaviors that allowed a man to repeatedly hurt her. In this post she explains how she changed her behavior patterns for the good. She definitely will benefit from not being a slave to a person who used her. While this is written from a female perspective, plenty of men can raise their self-esteem to claim independence from being used and subsequently, raise their self-worth.

The Courage To Change

“l’m not sure how I really got over him; talking to you definitely helped me. I just think when I was overseas it finally clicked and I realized there are other people out there that like me, and he’s not the only fish in the sea. Time helped, but I think I finally had to realize for myself that I’m too good for him, and I need to stop beating myself up. If you had told me that I would be feeling this way about “user friend” when I first came to see you, I would have never believed you. I still can’t believe that I am so relieved from him. He was like cancer. I just had to cut him out. I’m actually at my job right now and he is here. I haven’t bumped into him, but I’m strong now, so I’m not worried about him.”

“I did meet 2 other people while I was overseas, so that helped me know that I can still attract other people. (In her encounters with these men she quickly saw a similar pattern developing and was able to stop from getting back into that hurtful pattern.) She goes on to say… I deserve a lot more than what he’s giving me and, if he can’t meet me halfway, then I’m done.”

“I also decided that when I do meet someone, I am not going to get intimate with them, at least until it’s something concrete like a real relationship. That will weed out the guys that are just looking for a good time, and I am not willing to do that any more. I’ve also decided to stop trying too hard and take care of me. I’m trying to be okay with just being me, even if I don’t have anyone, and to enjoy life. I know I’ve said it in the past, but I’m going to really try this time. I’ve already deleted my online dating account.”

“Take Care and keep in touch.”

Finding The Right Ground

Demanding respect and not allowing old habits to restart will take some juggling until it feels right. There may be many different starts and stops. At times, the tendency will be to withdraw, but somewhere in the middle as you work through all the feelings, a comfortable cadence will be reached. The important lesson here is that you deserve to not be used and only you can prevent a user from taking advantage of you.

The least you need to know:
1. Until you feel positive about yourself, it is easy to fall into old, destructive patterns.
2. Realizing that you are worth more than being used comes from deep within.

This mission, should you choose to accept, requires:
1. Examining your feelings when being used and finding them distasteful.
2. Belief that mutual respect is an integral part of a good relationship