The Ultimate Toolbox

Today I’m going to spill some knowledge that I paid tens of thousands of dollars to acquire. I’m going to risk being hated by millions of therapists who rely on people coming to them weekly to discover this very information. It’s the cure to everything you suffer from, the ultimate toolbox to repair, improve or recalibrate your inner world. What I’m going to unlock for you are the secrets to happiness, success, health, and connection. It is the hammer to your nail and the wrench to your bolt. It is the number one, most effective, readily available source of strength, might, will and joy.

Maybe you have wandered through your life constantly attacked by fear and self doubt, reaching out for people all around you craving their approval and affirmations to give you a tiny little glimmer of hope that you can be ok. Maybe you have played a safe game doing what everyone around you says you should because breaking out on your own is just a terrifying idea. Maybe you have created defenses and reactions to a world you didn’t feel able to navigate safely otherwise. Maybe you are looking at the day in front of you feeling overwhelmed, ill-equipped, unsafe, unhappy and incapable.

Time for the secret.

The answer is in you. Right now, inside of you, while you’re reading this blog post, exists a packet of supplies. Picture an old green scout pack filled to bursting and buckled shut. In this pack is every ounce of courage, willingness, and intention you need to become exactly the person you envision in the deepest corners of your heart. We are like Ikea “people kits.” Everything you need to construct the person you want to be comes in the box. You only have to have the insight to look and find it.

I can see some of your faces getting red with disdain at my grievous error. You want to argue with me. Your experience, religion, or your mother taught you differently. You are no hero, you are a mess. People are flawed, broken, and helpless. We get constantly taken advantage of and cannot possibly be trusted to navigate this life without significant assistance from a higher more complete and perfect power outside of us.  Well friends, your mom was wrong, you are enough. You have enough strength, courage, curiosity, compassion and inner peace waiting inside for you.

What is this sorcery I speak of? What is this humanistic Godless ideology I’m spewing forth!? Simmer down folks, it’s not like that. We’re just talking about self-esteem. What a tired old term, self esteem. You were hoping for something fancier I know. But consider this old idea of self esteem.  Self-esteem says I am enough to handle what comes to me. Self-esteem says, my opinions are worth hearing, my needs are worth being tended to. Self-esteem means that when you look back on life you see hard times, good times, scary times, exciting times and you realize that you survived them all! Self-esteem believes that you are valuable. It acknowledges that you deserve your turn. It inspires you and it celebrates you when you do a good job. Self-esteem is in the moment when you dig deep and find the stuff you didn’t know you had. When I say, “You were made to do good things, to stretch beyond your perceived limits and reach new heights. You deserve love, family, and kindness. You can be vulnerable and accepted. You are as valuable as everyone else.” It is the part that whispers, “yes.”

Do you know how to access this place in you? Do you experience a strong kickback to this idea and want to fight about it? Do tears fill your eyes wishing that this idea was true but you just can’t see the evidence in your own life?

If your answers lead you to believe you need help with this and you live in or around the Aiken area of South Carolina, feel free to contact Jennifer to schedule an appointment today.

 

Shy much?

When I was little I didn’t like people. I liked my Mom’s leg. When we would be approached by anyone I would hug her leg tight and bury my face.

I. did. not. like. people.

As I grew up I was taught about stranger danger. Ahhhh yessss, stranger danger. Strangers are bad! Never tell them your name! Never tell them your address! Never get in a van!! Everyone preached this. Teachers, preachers, neighbors…even strangers.

I remember at one point I was in my late teens still being pretty shy and I realized, I can’t live this way. I can’t keep being shy. I have to figure out how to talk to people.

I graduated high school with my picture under the heading “Funniest student.” Mission accomplished.

Before you think I’m rattling on about how great I am, let me make this point, at some point in our development most of us overcome our childhood shyness. We develop into what professionals and other kinds of nerds might call “Introverts.” Introversion is different than being shy, its about feeling recharged when you’re away from people. It’s about feeling exhausted after too much time in public or with a crowd.

There is a shyness that reaches levels more extreme than kiddie shy or basic introversion. It is called social anxiety, and it’s a special kind of hell. You might have social anxiety if you find that you canNOT talk to others. If you sweat, shake, stumble and panic when considering leaving the house to meet others. Your fear in those situations is mostly about other people judging you. You know they are going to just rip you apart. You’re especially afraid that they will know you’re afraid. So, you stay home. A LOT.

Social anxiety can be the result of an exaggerated childhood shyness, or of a trauma that happened to you sometime later, or a million other things that are individually true for you. The good news is, it doesn’t have to define you.

If you feel this way and have felt this way for more than 6 months, text me. You don’t even have to call. Just say, I think I have social anxiety and I would like to talk about it. You’d be surprised how judgment free my couch is.

(803) 761-0324

Worrying like it’s your JOB

Worry is a tough cycle. In some ways it’s soothing to rifle through your insides and check for the list of “things that need to be done” and worry about them for a minute. There is a calming safety in focusing on all the bad things that could happen and what you’ll do if they come true. We all do this to some extent. It’s natural, it’s normal and, in the right context, it’s beneficial. The truth is there are things for which we can prepare. It’s why we have insurance, see doctors, and have fire drills. Bad things do happen.

There are approximately a million and one reasons why people resort to worrying. Maybe they suffered a trauma that they never got over, maybe they were taught to worry by people raising them. Maybe they are scared they can’t handle things, that something bad is going to happen. The real question is, when do you know that your worry is more? When is worry really anxiety? I have some ideas.

 

If you lose sleep due to anxiety more than one night a week.

Sleep is very important. It is as important to the body and mind as eating, drinking water and staying out of the rain. Just a few days without sleep can produce hallucinations, paranoia and complete breaks with reality. If you are so worried about something that it is stealing this precious commodity from you on a regular basis, you might be doing more than just worrying.

If you lose friends because of your anxiety.

It is perfectly reasonable that the friends you drank and partied with in college stopped hanging out with you when you got all grown up and started placing more importance on things like paying bills and watching your cholesterol. Them telling you you worry too much might not be true. But if your anxiety has forced you into social patterns of isolation (if you’re desperately uncomfortable around other people, or you feel panicked when out of your normal routine) you may be dealing with something bigger.

If you lose weight because of your anxiety.

Or gain weight, or get diarrhea or acid reflux, tension headaches, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure or feel dizzy or nauseous because of Anxiety, you might need to talk it out with a professional. Here’s a good test: sit in a quiet place and take a few deep and relaxing breaths until your body feels calm. Then think about something that worries you and search your body for pains, tensions, or aches. If you find some, there is a chance that you’re suffering from anxiety and that anxiety is causing you pain.

If you lose control because of your anxiety.

When most of us picture an anxious person we might picture a pale, sweaty person with big eyes who twitches and talks fast or paces. Lol, I just made myself chuckle at that image. That is not the face of anxiety. Anxiety can look like a deer in the headlights, or a person stuck in their bed. It can look like someone screaming at their children for getting in trouble. It can look like rage. The truth is anxiety has many faces. If there are things that happen in your life that prevent you from controlling yourself (meaning you either can’t do what you want, or can’t stop yourself from doing what you don’t want) you might want to sit quietly and ask yourself if maybe you’re not deeply worried about something.

If it’s bigger than a “worry.”

If you have been reading this blog and getting annoyed at my use of the word worry and have wanted to yell at me and tell me that suffering from anxiety is so so so much more than being worried, yeah, you’re right, and I hope that you’re invested in talking to someone about it. Struggling alone with anxiety can feel like a battle you can’t win.

 

If you or someone you love struggles with anxiety or thinks their worrying nature might be out of control and you’d like you talk to someone, you can click here to reach out to Jennifer or check out Psychologytoday.com to find someone closer to where you are. Why waste anymore time?

50 Signs You Might Need Therapy

  1. More days than not it’s hard to get out of bed.
  2. If you have ever seriously thought “what is wrong with me?
  3. If anyone in your life has ever said, “maybe you should try therapy.”
  4. If you sleep, or really want to, a lot.
  5. If you find yourself fighting or arguing with a lot of people.
  6. If people closest to you seem to be avoiding you.
  7. If you just can’t seem to find a partner.
  8. If it takes you longer than an hour to fall asleep at night.
  9. If you’ve ever thought “I would be ok if I didn’t wake up tomorrow.”
  10. If everything you touch seems to fail.
  11. If you have ever been so upset that you have gotten an ulcer, a migraine or your heart skips beats.
  12. If going to the grocery store seems overwhelming
  13. If the thought of someone saying, “it’s going to be ok,” makes you tear up.
  14. If you have lost someone important to you.
  15. If there is something you want to get, do, or be and you can seem to get, do, or be it.
  16. If your life is about to significantly change and that scares you.
  17. If you have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
  18. If you feel trapped.
  19. If you can’t remember the last time you had sex with, laughed with, went out with, been grateful for, or even liked your partner.
  20. If your kids are getting a lot of notes sent home with them.
  21. If you have ever punched someone and didn’t mean to.
  22. If you only eat privately.
  23. If you throw things when you’re mad, and you always seem to be getting mad.
  24. If your partner lays their hands on you.
  25. If there is something you can’t live without and it’s ruining your life.
  26. If you’ve got secrets you can’t tell
  27.  If you feel like the devil is on your back a lot.
  28. If you have talked to your friends and don’t feel like they understand.
  29. If you feel stuck.
  30. If while you’re reading this you are bouncing your leg, and you didn’t even notice.
  31. If you snapped at your spouse for not putting the lid back on the cookie jar.
  32. If you sometimes get black out angry.
  33.  If she died years ago and you can’t stop thinking about her.
  34. If you are missing work because you don’t feel like getting out of bed.
  35. If you found out your daughter was sending pictures of her boobs on snapchat.
  36. If you have had more than three boyfriends, jobs, or mailing addresses in the last year.
  37. If you feel alone.
  38. If you wait for everyone to be asleep before you eat.
  39. If you only have sex with people you don’t care about.
  40. If you have trouble focusing on things
  41. If you recently moved to a new place and are having a hard time leaving your house.
  42. If the body you see in the mirror feels like it belongs to someone else.
  43. If you’d be ok with not waking up tomorrow.
  44. If you stare at your body in the mirror and criticize yourself.
  45.  If the police have been called to your house recently.
  46. If you have thoughts in your head that you feel like you can’t say outloud.
  47. If you stay because of the kids.
  48. If you take the long way every night because you just can’t stand to go home.
  49. If you were pregnant, but lost your child.
  50. If you don’t trust ANYone.

If you or someone you love experiences one or more of the above, please go here and schedule an appointment, or check for licensed therapists in your area.

Professor Pain

We all have a favorite teacher. I have several. My favorites were always those that I felt especially connected to for whatever reason. It seemed like the more I cared about them and felt they cared about me the better I did, the more engaged I was. I had always reasoned that teachers who were nicest and most caring were helping me learn best.

This is not actually the case.

There are other teachers, teachers and coaches with whom I had a love/hate relationship. GAH, they were so ANNOYING. Always pushing and sending work back, making me run a lap again, giving me bad grades or demanding that I do better. BLAH!!! This is STUPID!! It’s just a PAPER!! I HATE THIS!

It is with reluctant honesty that I now finally admit that I grew more under the teachers I loved to hate instead of the teachers that I just plain loved.

At the beginning of life, we see teacher as a person in front of a class. As we graduate school and move on into “regular life” the term teacher gets wider and bigger to include some rando on a train during our commute to work or a persistent life problem that we cannot shake. Just like in school, the teachers and professors we love to hate persist. The ones that help us grow the most are the ones who will not let us go no matter how belligerent we get. Those persistent professors are a pain in our ass.

 

Wait, let me re-arrange that…

“Our ass in pain is a persistent professor.”

 

A good teacher won’t let us go until we learn. A good coach won’t let us quit until we master the skill. What is the persistent pain in your life trying to teach you? Have you learned the lesson yet?

~Jennifer

 

If you have an area of persistent pain in your life and you could use some help learning the lesson, please reach out to therapy resources in your area. If you live in or near the Aiken, SC area, check the contact page to schedule a session with Jennifer.