This post is by Hugh Willard, LCMHC. Hugh is now practicing at Carolina Counseling Wellness Associates, and we are excited to have his expertise and knowledge on hand. This post came at such an appropriate time, as so much courage is needed for many of us as changes unfold. Check back soon for more!!
"Choose to see me as I choose to see you” Marianne Williamson penned an often cited phrase, “Our greatest fear is not the fear of failure. Rather, it is the fear of success”. It is an act of courage to expose ourselves to the scrutiny of our peers, or to the larger society. Standards can be unrealistic and often only elevate with early success.
We can unwittingly bear the hopes and dreams of others who can remain anonymous while they vicariously rise and fall with our performance. When in this dynamic, we need to remain cognizant that we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. Success, in the eyes of the general public, can be fickle.
Champions are beloved, but not as much as the underdogs, and also-ran . . . well, what have you done for me lately. Envy and resentment can build into the equation. I believe the degree to which we have tolerance for our own successes and failures, will reflect the level of acceptance we also shall have for those around us.
Hugh Willard, LPC
See more of Hugh's work at http://www.willowwaycounseling.org/
Lindsey Pratt, psychotherapist in NYC, has graciously offered to weigh in on a topic I find near and dear, anxiety and fear!
Read the full post here and visit her site for more info www.meetlindsey.com/
If you're one of the estimated 30% of Americans who suffers from anxiety, you know that the accompanied and often uncontrollable fear that goes hand-in-hand with anxiety is what seems to be steering your ship away from shore. And sometimes, it just feels best to hide below deck or try to outrun the fear. But if your body is the ship and your symptoms are the waves, you may know deep down that riding out the storm is the only possible option.
I am here to tell you that to face the fear is to find your lighthouse.
Anxiety is often described as the "fear of fear itself." You may worry, "I'm okay this time, but am I going to feel like this again tomorrow?" "What if my next panic attack is while I'm in class?" "Is the next one going to be even worse?"
These are all questions generated by fear, rather than the initial thought that may be causing the anxiety. And even if you cannot place the initial anxiety-provoking thought, focusing on the fear itself may offer some relief.
Address the storm ahead. As those first sneaking symptoms of anxiety begin to creep into your body, stop and process each and every one. "Okay, I'm starting to get that feeling in my stomach." Turn your attention to it and sit with this thought for a moment, rather than pushing it down deeper. If there's a possibility of someone hiding under the bed, how much better does it feel when you finally get up the courage to flick on the light and check? Sleep only returns when you have addressed the fear head-on, to see that nothing is really there. "I have this feeling in my stomach again, but it will go away...it always does. It's probably a 4 out of 10, and I've survived a 10 out of 10 before."
Learn to tread water. Let's look at the worst-case-scenario: You have a panic attack in public, or someone you're with realizes that you're struggling. Onlookers see you...and then they go about their day. Think of the last time you saw someone crying in public. Can't remember when it was, who they were, or the face they were making while sucking up air? Me either. We are all humans! By immediately going to your own worst-case-scenario, you beat "fear" there. Fear wants to tell you that having a visible panic attack will be the worst thing that could ever happen. Take a minute to tell fear that you know this is not the case.
Find your lifeline. Dealing with symptoms of anxiety often requires a strong inner dialogue, and it may not be the type you are used to. If your inner dialogue typically consists of, "Okay, here we go again...why do I have to feel like this today? Why can't I just be "normal?" Why did I wake up anxious, anyway? I went to bed last night feeling fantastic!" then you are letting the enemy take over. (That enemy? It's fear! In case you were wondering.) Develop a mantra and tell yourself the truth. The truth sounds something like this: "I'm anxious right now, but I might not be later. I'm about to get up, get dressed, and go to work, because I'm capable. This feeling is bad, but it does not define me, and it will not last forever."
Address the anxiety dead-on whenever you can. Be your own lighthouse. You know better than anyone the scope, symptoms, and solutions to your anxiety. Access them, examine them, and keep them close rather than bobbing in the distance. Own your fear, and then dive in.
I promise you'll know how to stay afloat.
Lindsey Pratt, MA
NY Mental Health Counselor
Nationally Certified Counselor
We are opening in three weeks. There was a lot of change on the way, which always gives me "Life Energy". Some might call this anxiety, although I take that feeling and shift it into the framework "time is changing". Energy is needed, call the reinforcements! Things are shifting in the air, you can see it in the sky in this picture. It is magically beautiful with sparkles of hope. It is not scary, like some view change. It is perfectly beautiful and peaceful...
When we go with change, with grace, with faith, shift from anxiety into "Life Energy" we find peace and abundance. When we take time to stop and notice each day, we will find calm in the storm.
When we go with change, and view the anxiety against it as "Life Energy" we get strength to be brave and embrace what we are given. When things need to be done, we use this energy to do it in a concise direct way.
Now life is settling in after the shift of change, and in reflection I learn more about the world, myself, the people I meet with everyday. We are all shifting, flowing, fighting it, and learning along the way. When we embrace the beauty that comes with change, we are able to be open to the joy within.
Jaclyn Fortier, LCMHCS
Hello couples and anyone in a relationship...! Less is the new more. Quality is the new quantity. Lowering expectations about what healthy couples "should" do together is today's topic.
In my experience with counseling family issues, I see a lot of similar problems come through the door. Too many arguments, not enough "me" time, kids changing the relationship dynamic. I hear couples saying:
"I didn't expect it to be this way"
"All of my other friends marriages are not this way"
"We never spend time together anymore except doing things with the kids"
"I have nothing to myself anymore"
All valid emotions and experiences. Although the common aliment from this is two fold. One EXPECTATIONS and the second is RESENTMENT.
I expected something different than_________...
I resent my partner for not________...
We never do________...
I never get to do_________anymore...
There is also a lot of comparing to others, what we think others are anyways. We build these "perfect" couples and what they probably do all the time..Stop right there, they don't exist! Maybe there are healthier couples, although they still come to therapy I promise.
So what is the measure for healthy? Each family is different, although when you reduce and seek to limit the expectations of time having magical wonderful experiences together, and enjoy the few moments of peaceful time each month together, and stop having resentment for the other person, you ENJOY the moments so much more. Mindfully connecting when possible and letting go of the time you are not able to with peace. See it as a complement that you want to be together, not an insult if it does not happen.
Love is the ABSENCE of judgement. Do not judge your beloved for needing time away from you. Do not judge them for asking to have their own space. Seek support from others, a coach, therapist, or dear friend who has mastered the art of being one with themselves in a relationship.
In the meantime, less is more. Take time to yourselves and allow it with grace.
Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder after all.
Jaclyn Fortier, LPC