Archive for July, 2009

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Quote of the day

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

Will Rogers (1879 – 1935)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Great quote

I recently came across this great quote by Joseph Conrad:

Facing it, always facing it. That’s the way to get through. Face it.

As a therapist, sometimes my job is to be with my clients as they ‘face it’. Which I take to mean looking at one’s situation in a cold hard light. That can be hard to do – but necessary. Because we all delude ourselves by telling little white lies. These lies can come in the form of:
It’s not that bad.
It’s not my fault.
Things will get better without me changing…I can just wait it out.

Through careful and kind counseling, I work with my clients to strip away the falsehoods and look reality in the face. And when one begins to ‘face it’, it’s good to have someone there to urge us on with encouragement and support – knowing that we are not alone. This is the gift of therapy.

Only by being honest and true, can we take a full assessment of our lives and then begin to make real and concrete changes. If we don’t, we end up just ‘doing what we’ve always done and getting what we’ve always gotten’.

Life’s too short. Change and personal growth can be difficult. But the alternative is stagnation. And a stagnant life can be full of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, etc.

Are you ready to face it?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Mourning for a celebrity

With all of the grief surrounding the recent celebrity deaths, it has made me think of an incident that happened to me a few years ago.

I used to work with a woman who was obsessed with People Magazine. She would pour over each week’s issue and revel in the lives and problems of Brittney Spears, Cher, Madonna, etc. You know the type. She lived vicariously through celebrities and would tell anyone who would listen about how she worried about these people.

One day I overheard her talking about how anxious she was about the problems facing Brittney Spear’s younger sister who had recently become pregnant. Now, mind you, I had worked with this woman for over 3 years. We sat beside each other in very small cubicles. And finally I had enough. (Everyone has their limits.)

I turned to her and casually said: “Do you know my sister’s name?”
She stared blankly at me.
Why do you ask? she’s says.
Well, you seem to know everything about Ms. Spears and her family…I was wondering if you knew anything about me and my family?
She admitted, that she did not know my sister’s name.

Childish of me? Of course. And I regretted it.

But I think there is a lesson there. Many times we become overly involved in the lives of those who entertain us, forgetting that there are REAL people in our lives who might also be interesting, and who might actually be interested about us in return.

I will mourn Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and all the other celebrities who have recently passed away. Each in their own way, touched my life. But they reached out to me from a distance. They did not know me – but I am grateful for their contribution to my life.

But it makes me wonder. Does my doorman have a sister? Maybe I should ask.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

A tip for dealing with Anxiety

Many people come to me complaining of overwhelming anxiety. They complain of worry, fear, a sense of overwhelming dread. They describe how their mind spins like a hamster in it’s wheel…living and reliving the possible negative outcomes of their worry.

I’ve noticed that they are able to describe their fears in vivid detail. This is usually because they have spent so much time dwelling on it. And here in lies the problem. The more time we spend relishing our fears the bigger they become.

A nice technique that I give these clients begins with a question: What if? What if you DIDNT feel like this? What would that be like?

Imagining a different way of thinking breaks the cycle. It allows the mind to create something different. In therapy, I work with my clients to see what life would be like without the anxiety and fear – and it is this imagined reality that we work to make more vivid and real. We make that image very clear, and the more clear it becomes the more we can begin to embrace it and perhaps allow it to become an option.

I often say imagination is our strongest asset. We must begin to use it to our advantage or our natural tendency will be to use it for our destruction.

Try it today. What have you got to lose? You may have spent hours and hours making your anxieties and fears and worries as large and vivid as possible. Try using the mind’s wonderful tool of imagination for the opposite effect.

Now clearly, I’m not saying that just by doing this your problems will be solved. That would wishful thinking. But it does allow balance – and that is what good mental health is all about.

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