Seeing Successes During Difficult Times

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Failure. You may wake up one morning and think “I am a loser” or “I am never going to amount to anything”. You might also think “No matter how hard I try, nothing gets better!” It’s easy to get caught up in the endless tape of negativity. You can have one negative thought in the morning and the negative thoughts can continue throughout the day. By the time the end of the day comes, you are exhausted and emotionally drained. Where did your day go? How did it get this far? It is all about changing your thoughts and moving towards positivity.

 

So what is failure? Merriam Webster defines failure as: 1) Lack of success and an unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing; 2) The omission of expected or required action; 3) The action or state of not functioning.

Even though the definitions may or may not apply to you, definitions are subjective to the person. It also involves your definition of success. Success is the opposite of failure. Failure cannot be present when there is success. Others may see you as successful but you see yourself as a failure. You hit all your milestones but one and then the focus falls on the failure. Successes and failures are subjective. How can you be positive when you have setbacks?

 

Setbacks are a part of life. You and someone you know may experience a similar setback, but respond to it differently. Setbacks can be painful. Being present in the moment and acknowledging your successes is a way to stay positive. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that in order to accept the positive you need to sit in that feeling for 7-10 seconds. For example, if you receive a compliment from a colleague, instead of brushing it off, sit in the positive feeling for 7-10 seconds. You might also repeat the compliment during the 7-10 seconds. This helps to change the neural pathways of your brain (Hanson, 2013, Hardwiring Happiness, Harmony Publications).

 

It is easy to focus on setbacks and “failures”. It is very easy to allow yourself to ruminate and beat yourself up. Instead, focus on your successes. Focus on what you have accomplished thus far. You have already accomplished so much. You are alive. You are breathing. You have today. Start today on a positive note.

 

Do you need help implementing some of these steps and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss you and your family's specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

Loving Your Body Through Pain

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It is hard to love your body through the aches and pains that we humans endure over our lifetime. Especially if you are one that works out and takes good care of your body. You might see posts on social media about how your body's  “A temple” and hear from others that“This is the only body you will have in your lifetime”. But what do you do when your body is in pain and under the weather? How do you manage patience and compassion when your body doesn’t do what you want it to do?

I know this struggle first-hand. I was an athlete starting at the age of 8. I played basketball and wanted to play in college. During my freshman year of high school I injured my shoulder. I continued to play on it until it would dislocate. I had to go to a couple of doctors to figure out what was wrong with it. Finally, a shoulder surgeon repaired my shoulder when I was 16 years old. I endured rehabilitation for 6 months before I was able to be released for normal activities. I never played college basketball but continued to value exercise and being in shape.

I am now 31 years old and my shoulder is in pain. I have no idea what has caused this pain but I am angry about it. I am sore in the morning and in the evening. I don’t feel the same as I did 6 months ago. Instead of being compassionate about my rehabilitated shoulder, I think about all of the things I have done wrong over the years. I think about how I haven’t worked out like I should. I think about how I sit for long periods of time and don’t move my body enough. I tell myself that I am fat. I blame myself for my shoulder hurting. I am mad at my body for not responding the way I want it to. And this tape goes on and on without stopping.

When I pause and breathe, my wise brain kicks in. I realize that my shoulder was never going to be the same after surgery. I think about how my shoulder might be sore after all the years of activity post surgery. I then feel more compassion for my body, particularly my shoulder. I hear my shoulder telling me to stretch and do light yoga. When I do stretch, I listen for cues of release and satisfaction. I image my shoulder going “ahhh” as I stretch it. Instead of taking medication, my shoulder is able to heal on its own. It is able to relax and release the tension it has. I can sense the sensation of pleasure. All is well.

Our bodies are unique and wise. If we listen, we can hear what they have to say. Your body knows what it needs. All it needs is for you to pay attention.

Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

 

The Power of Forgiving Yourself

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We have all been there. The moment when we realized that we said and/or did something that is out of character. Whether it was that heated discussion with family members about politics that led to name calling or avoiding the friend that just went through a bad break-up, you are not alone. We are only human and by being human, we make mistakes. When we makes mistakes, we either feel shame and/or guilt or put blame on the other person. Either action deserves some forgiveness towards yourself. We tend hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and beat ourselves up when we don’t meet those standards. Our society also teaches us that if we beat ourselves up for our mistakes, we learn from those mistakes and do better. Unfortunately, this is not true. Pioneers in the field of vulnerability, shame, and forgiveness like Brene Brown (“The Gift of Perfection”) have found that beating yourself up only causes you  to feel more shame and less likely to allow yourself  to be vulnerable among others in the future. Forgiving yourself is the key to making lasting changes and being happy.

When you make a mistake or do something you soon regret, follow these steps below towards forgiveness of yourself:

  • State outloud to yourself the mistake you made. Don’t place blame on the other person for your choices

  • Once you admit your mistake, share your acknowledgement of the mistake with the person or persons it affected. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and be present with the person you are talking to

  • After you acknowledge your mistake to the person, apologize. Don’t expect anything in return. Just apologize

  • Lastly, sit with yourself in your favorite chair or in a safe place in your home and allow the emotions to come up with your mistake. You may cry, want to hit a pillow, or yell. Allow yourself to do that. Then place your hands over your heart and say out loud “I forgive myself for _____. I know better and I will do better.” Say this 3x. Once you complete this, breathe deeply while your hands are over your heart. Then, let it go

Holding onto our mistakes only cause us suffering. There is no need to punish yourself. Move on and choose to do better in the future. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “The weak never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Forgive yourself and choose to be happy, rather than right.

Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

Raising an Empowered Daughter

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My heart goes out to all of the mothers of young daughters in the current society we live in. As more stories break about women being sexually assaulted and raped in our culture, it is hard to believe that we can keep ourselves safe, let alone our daughters. You may be asking yourself “How can I teach my daughter to keep herself safe and to stand up for herself?” You might get on Google or ask some of your friends. The advice I have is different than what you might find on Google or from a friend. I invite you to look at yourself and ask “Am I empowered?”

We women are role models for the young women in our lives. How we carry ourselves and present ourselves in the world are mimicked by the young women we come into contact with. If you are not a mother, you will most likely come into contact with a little girl or young adolescent in your life. Non-verbals are very important. Children and adolescents are more in tune with what is not said then we give them credit for. If you want to raise an empowered daughter or young girl, you have to look at yourself and pay attention to the areas in your life where you don’t feel empowered. Below are some tips to help with this process.

  1. Identify the areas in which you feel your power has or is being taken away. This can be a journaling prompt or a question you can meditate on.

  2. Think about the communication you have with your female friends. Are the conversations around diets, foods, and/or physical appearance? If so, I invite you to direct the conversation to moments of inspiration, rather than moments of disappointment around physical appearance.

  3. Engage in Self-Care. Most women, especially mothers, put self-care on the back burner. They think “When everyone else’s needs are met, I can rest.” Unfortunately, this is an unrealistic goal and will set you up to fail. In order to take care of your family, you have to take care of yourself. Also, the young girls and women in your life will see the benefits of including self-care in your routine.

  4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. We women believe that we have to do it all. When we can’t do it all, we blame ourselves and tell ourselves that we are not good enough. The young girls and women in our lives take note of this and make perfection a priority. Ask for help when you need it. Allow yourself to cry and share how tired you are. It will strengthen your relationships.

  5. Have honest conversations about body image and worthiness with your daughter. Share moments when you felt like your value was how you looked, rather than who you are as a person. Share what you learned and the growth that came with it.

  6. Pursue your dreams. Your daughter may find you to be a hypocrite if you tell her to follow her dreams but you verbalize every day how you can’t. Start out with following through with a small dream, such as running a 5k or starting a blog. You are showing your daughter that dreams can become a reality.

The change really starts with us.

Do you need help implementing some of these steps and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss you and your daughter's specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

My Body Rocks

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I know the feeling of dread when you are trying on clothes in the dressing room with all the mirrors. You poke and prod at all your "flaws" and feel defeated. By the time you get done trying on that swimsuit or pair of jeans, you want to crawl into a hole and cry. Or go to your nearest pizza shop and pig out.

I am no different. I don't even own a pair of jeans because of prior dread in thinking about going shopping. Instead I wear lots of dresses. I felt exposed for the world to see when trying on clothes. In reality, I was becoming exposed for my true self to be seen.

Today I am celebrating my love for my body. I think about my curves, cellulite, broad shoulders, stomach, and legs and I think about how beautiful I am. I have done so much work in extracting the negative beliefs around worthiness and body size and replaced them with realistic and body loving beliefs. "I am beautiful no matter what size." "Who says being over a size 10 isn't sexy?" "I am perfection, cellulite and all."

It's all about challenging those beliefs. It's all about knowing your worthiness, regardless of your size. Stop believing society's idea of beauty. Know that you are a child of the universe, so therefore you are worthy and beautiful!

Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

Mindful Eating is Sexy

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When I became single for the first time in my young adult life, I feared eating alone. I was concerned that people would stare at me and wonder why I was by myself. I imagined the older women on a business lunch seeing me in my booth all alone and whispering how sorry they felt for me. "Poor girl, all alone for lunch" is what they would think.

Well how naive was I? Eating lunch alone is fantastic! You get to be on your own without having hold a conversation with someone else. As a therapist, this does not come very often in my usual work week. A mistake that people can make when they dine alone is to be glued to their phones. Well, stop it already! Below are things you can do instead of playing on your phone when dining alone.

1. Read a book: Yes, a book with paper pages and a cover. It is a great way to enjoy your time while waiting for your food.

2. Do some writing: Yep, going back to paper and ink people! Instead of texting, why not write the person a note? It is more personal.

3. Practice breathing: As you sit in your chair, you can bring awareness to your breath. You may even notice that you seem to feel anxious, hyper, lethargic, etc..doing some belly breathing can help. Practice bringing air down to your abdomen by your belly button. Notice if it is easier to take in air or release. No judgment is very important!

4. Give gratitude for your meal: When you receive your food, take a moment to thank the people and places/things that were involved in preparing this meal. Think about the soil, fertilizer,  water, seeds, animals, farmers, chefs, etc..This gratitude allows for the food to fully nourish your body, mind, and soul.

5. Practice mindful chewing: What? I am supposed to chew my bites 25-30 times before swallowing? The answer is yes. This allows you to really savor your food and nourish your body. Practice it!

See, eating alone is sexy! Healthy alone time is not only sexy but healing! I hope you feel inspired to eat alone and practice these things.

Namaste

Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email

Loving Yourself, One Day At A Time

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I am not sure if it is because the world feels chaotic currently, but insecurities are coming to the surface all of a sudden. Insecurities that I have worked through for many years. An insecurity I have become fully aware of is the dreaded body image insecurity. As a recovering bulimic, body image has been a large part of my young life. I would poke and prod at my body, making sure to acknowledge every flaw I have. I would engage in discussions with my friends where I would look for holes in the conversation to ask if I look fat. Of course, my friends would tell me that I look great or that I look like I've lost weight. To be honest, it didn't matter what they said because I would continue to believe that I'm fat and ugly. No amount of validation outside of myself would be enough.

When I began to heal from my body image insecurity, many beliefs needed to be reassessed and challenged. My idea of beauty had to be recreated. My beliefs around worthiness had to be changed. What I have now is an open mind and heart to what is beautiful. I don't seek validation from my friends and family. I accept that I am beautiful and worthy no matter what size I am.

With that being said, here I am, after all this work, and I feel like I am starting over. It is normal and natural for this to occur. In order to get back in a place of body love, I need the activities that helped me get there before. Below are those body love activities I use. I hope they help you find the love your body needs.

1. Putting lotion on after the shower: I am guilty of skipping this if I'm in a hurry. But it's what your body needs, especially in the winter months.  When you do this, make sure to pay special attention to the areas that you "don't like" and spend longer on those areas. Tell those areas that you love and appreciate them.

2. Eat Healthy: There is no better way to show your body love than to feed it good food. When I say good food I mean fruits, vegetables, nuts, antibiotic free meat, and other natural food. Staying away from processed food is the best. Go for a smoothie packed with fruits, veggies, protein powder, and nut milk. Yum yum.

3. Write down your negative thoughts: Writing down your negative thoughts is a good way to see them on paper. Once you do that, rip them up and throw them in the trash. Burning those negative thoughts are also an option. Just practice fire safety and remember only you can prevent forest fires :)

4. Don't engage in negative body talks with friends as family: I can only speak from the perspective of a woman, but women are notorious for sitting around and engaging in fat-shaming dialogue.  When I hear discussions like this, I call it out. I tell my friends that we are beautiful and have better things to discuss.  It's amazing how powerful this exchange feels. It also helps others recognize what this dialogue does for one's self esteem.

5. Write love notes to yourself: Who doesn't want a love note? I enjoy writing love notes to myself and telling myself how sexy and intelligent and awesome I am. This way I'm not seeking out validation from others, but rather giving it to myself.

We are all on this journey towards loving ourselves and knowing our worth. No journey is without rough paths and rocky waters. Coming back to these body love activities give a person what they need in that moment.

Know that you are enough. You are an incredible being here on this earth to know love and learn about yourself. I end with a quote from the Buddha:

You yourself, as much as anyone else, deserves your love and affection. 

Namaste.

Do you need help implementing some of these ideas and live in the Kansas City area? I would love to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. To make an appointment, you can reach me by email