The other day I was reflecting on something that had happened that rubbed me the wrong way. As I played it out again in my mind, I noticed how little time it took before I went down the “I can’t believe how wrong this is” rabbit hole.
And I mean it.
I was hell bent on coming up with 100,000 ways that this thing that had happened
TO ME was just plain WRONG. Awful, in fact.
Which of course (from this perspective), meant that the person involved in this interaction with me was also VERY WRONG. Not just wrong though.
Undeniably, insanely wrong. Defective, flawed, a hopeless case.
So wrong in fact, I could feel with 100% absolute certainty in my body, that this person was not fit for society.
Talk about a raw nerve being touched.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long down this rabbit hole to recognize that I had emotionally slipped back into my childhood. I quickly realized that the intensity and irrationality of my reaction was more about some historical experience than what was happening in the here and now.
I mean, I did not like what had happened to me, but that didn’t automatically qualify this person as bad or wrong.
Something was obviously amiss for me and the last thing that I needed was to be harsh or judgmental towards myself for something this unconscious getting touched inside of me.
So, I took a deep breath and stayed gentle with myself as I breathed into my discomfort.
Later, as I reflected on this experience, I began to consider how many people make things that they don’t like, things that are different or even dissatisfying to them, bad or wrong.
I imagine that the number of people who do this is probably astronomical.
It’s a simplified way to try to make some sense of feelings happening in the here and now that feel intense or maybe even a wee bit irrational.
And it happens so fast, far below your radar of consciousness.
The confusing part is that although these feelings have been triggered in the here and now, your irrational reaction to what is happening, really isn’t about now.
This kind of reaction towards someone or something else is always a clue that you’ve emotionally reverted back to your childhood.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
Nowhere in all of nature and mankind does right/wrong exist, other than in math. Nowhere.
For sure, there are things that happen that you like a whole lot more than other things that happen that you find offensive or don’t like.
That’s what personal preferences are all about.
Each of us are wired differently, need different things or approach the world differently based upon our unique characteristics, our life stories. And yes, people very often have different preferences than you.
That doesn’t mean those things (or people) are bad / wrong.
It simply means that they’re different from you and want something other than what you need to be satisfied with life.
It means that you have a preference for some other choice or type of behavior than what is happening.
It means that you prefer to be treated differently than what they are capable of doing.
It means that you have a different approach to life, loving, or managing your affairs than them.
It means that you would choose a different way to communicate or talk to someone.
But all these differences do not mean bad or wrong for the “other” and good and right for you..
It just means something different.
Sadly, our world does not do a fantastic job of supporting individuality and uniqueness. Here in the United States of America, our country prides itself on rugged individualism and “going for what you want”.
Yet, the minute someone deviates from the “norm”, they are vilified and made “extreme” or radical.
How sad and confusing then, for those brave people courageous enough to “go for their lives” especially if doing so looks different than the rest of the crowd.
I mean face it, who’s going to stay connected to their own “true north” if that means ostracization from society and those they love and depend upon for support and survival?
What I have come to learn in my work as a therapist is that in many cases, “different” touches fear inside of people.
People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Whether that happens inside or outside of them.
It’s a survival approach to life, an old vestige from our early ancestors who had many more threats to their literal existence and often only could survive if they made quick conclusions about their primitive encounters.
It was very effective then, but today leaves little room for connection and understanding.
It’s hard to move towards something that you’re afraid of, even if it’s not a scary thing. No wonder so many people feel disconnected from each other.
I realize how counterintuitive it is to consider that your way of operating and understanding the world might not be as evolved as you’ve been led to believe.
It is difficult to consider this. Especially when someone or something so different than you is standing right in front of you.
You might ask yourself though, the next time this happens, is this person or experience really bad or wrong or am I afraid of what it is about them that I don’t understand?
It’s worth a shot.
Making room for “other” does not mean that you have to change or give up who you are.
It simply means moving over so that the other person can have a seat too.
I often like to say that all growth has a gas pedal AND a brake pedal.
What I mean when I say this is that most emotional growth is not a linear, straight line. Nor does it follow standard rules of time.
Emotional growth is a non-linear process that has starts and stops, side turns, detours and even sometimes can just seem to stall.
Yet everything that happens along the way is crucial and has to happen exactly the way that it happens, in order for you to find your way back to your spirit, you know, the “who” you were supposed to be when you were born.
Way back before the world got ahold of you and said “do this, do that, don’t go there, why would you want that, feel this way, don’t feel this way and so on”.
To be sure, some of these messages are helpful along the way, for a functioning society, however, many of them end up having a gigantic effect on our ability to stay connected to our heart, and to our vulnerability. Most of all, though, to our needs and feelings.
And this is usually the point at which people find their way to my work, asking me to help guide them back to their aliveness, back to their heart.
One of the concepts that I believe is so difficult for people to grasp, along this journey, is that most everything happens for an important reason, whether we are aware of that reason or not.
I do not believe in coincidences. I gave those up a very long time ago.
That said, it can be difficult at times, to ascribe to the idea that every experience that happens in your process, is essential and brought to you, as another opportunity to find your way back home to yourself.
Especially if you’ve lost connection with emotional support inside.
This can be really, really hard to believe, in the midst of difficulty and conflict, discouragement, disappointment and the sense that you are stuck in an endless loop of despair. This is usually a sign that you’re in a place of impasse.
I believe that the place of impasse is a very important and essential part of your growth process. It is the in between place where you cannot go back to the old ways, yet the only ways you have at your disposal to cope emotionally with what is going on either are not working as well or are not at your disposal. Nor do you have enough supports yet to have a different response.
Impasse is like a mountain climbing base camp for your soul; its the place where your emotional molecules are adjusting to the depth and intensity of the emotional experiences around you.
Without going through impasse, you would plunge into emotional experiences that would overwhelm you and be destructive for your growth. You’d fall into the death zone without a tether to keep you alive.
Impasse allows you the time and opportunity to grow more emotional supports for taking the next step into your emotional experiences.
Impasse is a very sacred experience of “no”.
When you can learn how to support your “no” for taking another step towards growth, this process creates the support inside to allow the next step to organically happen whenever it is in your highest good to move.
We cannot get there, if we cannot be here.
And what is beautiful about this process is that moving forward towards something because it is organically time and we are deeply drawn to it, is a very different and energizing experience than moving forward towards something in order to get away from something else.
So, that’s what today’s experiment is about: learning how to bring support to the places in your life where you might feel stuck or idling in neutral. This place of impasse is how your own beautiful spirit is protecting you from moving forward before it’s time.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
On the heels of 2020, and still in the midst of COVID surges amongst the unvaccinated, we all have endured a lot over the past 18 months.
There’s only so much people are able to endure, before eventually you're going to run out of emotional support inside for being able to handle any more.
As I am writing this, it dawned on me that four months ago today, I was fully vaccinated from COVID19, including the extra two weeks after my second shot.
In the past, this would have been such an odd thing to have put onto a calendar as a reminder, yet if we’ve learned anything over the past 18 months, it’s been anything but “normal” and we have to consider things that we would never have dreamed of two years back.
Keeping track of vaccines, shots, quarantining, who’s been vaccinated and who has not…will this event be outside or inside… did I forget my mask... considering all these things became our new “normal”.
COVID19 and all its trappings has consumed our minds, our bodies, our time, our energy for way too long now..
And I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling weary of this and ready to have some fun and put energy and focus into restoring myself.
’m going to confess something right now about myself though, something that makes “emotional restoration” challenging sometimes for me……
Sometimes I struggle with powering down.
I have a hard time sometimes with doing less, with relaxing, with being easy.
My modus operandi is to power ‘through’ most things, complete one more task, accomplish one more thing, create or develop something.
I tend to stay pretty busy.
My experience though, is that after eighteen months spent supporting others through a very intense emotional experience on a global scale, I’m weary.
And I need a break.
I used to joke that before I started this deep emotional therapy, I used to get so much more done on a daily basis. I laugh as I say that because “getting more done” is
not necessarily a good thing.
Fortunately, I’ve also grown enough in my own process to be able to live more embodied. Which basically means that I feel my limits more quickly. Much more quickly. And this makes it incredibly more difficult to ignore my weariness and fatigue like I used to.
This is a good thing though because these experiences are experiences that show up to communicate that it’s time to make some changes, power down, rest for a while.
And that’s what my goal is for this summer.
Take some time to create more room for relaxation, restoration and fun, so that I can spend more time doing those things that feed me and fill me back up.
It’s time to do less, so I can feel more.
The “old” me I wouldn’t have ever considered doing this in the past. Now it’s imperative that I do.
I am ready to give bandwidth again to, you know, things that are “fun”.
I do hope that whatever brings you joy and fills you back up, that you make lots of room to do that over the summer..
And that if you find yourself struggling to give yourself permission to relax and restore, well, then, I hope that you have someone you can reach out to that can help you get unstuck.
You deserve it..
Let’s make Summer 2021 a summer of restoration and fun!
I’ll see you around.
I continue to be humbled by the constant lessons for how to deeply be alive, that come from nature. You don’t have to look too far in nature, to see mirrors and parallels in the outside world, for the process of growing and evolving inside.
It delights me that still, in mid-life, nature touches me deeply in this way. I am grateful for this.
One of the examples of nature’s parallel for growth is how some animals and organisms can sustain an injury or wound and grow back stronger for it, regenerate a new body part.
It’s so astounding!
Earthworms, star fish… when hurt or wounded, despite losing an appendage or part of their body, they grow it back over time as they heal.
What a parallel for what emotional healing is like on the inside!
I heard someone once say, that we get broken open over and over and over again, until one day, we finally decide to stay open.
What a concept. At first, I had a huge reaction to this, much earlier in my life, when I hadn’t worked all that much on healing my deeper wounds. I thought this was one of the most ridiculous things in the world: “who would deliberately support themselves being impacted over and over like this and think it was not only necessary but a good thing?!?!?
Now, I understand so much more fully, the deeper meaning behind this. When we are broken open, over and over and over again, and each time grow and heal back stronger, we do become more able to live more open-heartedly in all that we do.
Difficulty precedes growth, paid leads to rising back again stronger.
Like a piece of weathered wood, life bumps against us, nicks and scratches you over and over again, creating a new visage of who you are with each passing time of your life.
Isn’t this wonderful?
What an idea to consider that your difficulty, your distress, your pain and discomfort are actually sacred parts of your deepening and reconnecting to your heart.
Amazingly, if an earthworm is cut into two, each cut half becomes a whole again.
And one day you’re going to arrive at the place where you stay whole and open-hearted in all that you do, if you can learn how to integrate and grow from your cuts and wounds.
So, that is what this month’s experiment is all about: honoring your wounds and cuts as the sacred experiences that they are in your emotional healing process.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
Did you know that the energy of “right” and “wrong” does not exist anywhere in the universe, other than in the subject of math?
Many people get hung up around whether something they want or think or feel or choose or have said is actually “right” or “wrong”. Trying to sort this out inside (especially with your brain), is a debilitating experience sometimes for many people.
It can also often be the source of a lot of mental health distress, ultimately leading to things like depression, anxiety, addictions and so on.
And yet, I’m here to tell you a little secret:
There’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong”. Only in math.
There certainly are options or choices that might be more satisfying, feelings that you have that you are more accepting of, but that does not mean they are right or wrong.
There might be ways of showing up in the world or of treating others that you feel more satisfied with than others.
Right and wrong are constructs that are learned over the course of life, in response to contact and connection from the environment. It’s a classic case of classical conditioning: a child does something that an adult approves of and they are rewarded; however, when a child does something that an adult does not approve of, they are punished.
Overtime, a child begins to be shaped by someone else’s internal guidelines of what is “right” or “wrong”, whether that fits for them or not.
Sometimes this guidance is helpful in terms of learning how to be a functioning part of society, connect with others in loving kinds of ways.
Many times, it’s not. Instead, it’s dis-spiriting.
The problem becomes when choice is erased from the equation. Instead of presenting an option or solution, a belief or a feeling as just that, “one way of having this experience”, these dualistic interpretations of the world get presented as dictates.
And yes, this always ends up turning out badly somewhere down the line.
“Right” and “wrong” preclude “other”.
They preclude a “third way”.
They preclude “another”.
They preclude “different”.
Sadly, the world becomes much smaller for everyone as you eliminate the possibility of another experience showing up that might teach you invaluable lessons about yourself, the world, your needs, etc.
Right or wrong, black or white, fast or slow… these kinds of dualistic mentalities always indicate that you’ve regressed back into a younger emotional self inside.
They’re simplistic ways of trying to manage the world.
So, the next time that you begin to operate from this right or wrong way of thinking, see if you can catch yourself doing this. It might not be until after the fact, but hey, growing satisfaction in your life means growing awareness, even after the fact.
That’s the beauty of mental health and emotional wellness- it doesn’t know time.
So, if this happens, you might take a step back and recognize that this is a sign you’re regressed and no longer are quite the emotional adult you that you might hope to be.
And this is a fantastic time to begin to explore what’s happening deep inside so that you can grow.
If you begin to focus on what feels right, as opposed to what ought to be right, you’re going to end up right for you far more than you can possibly imagine.
It’s always time to grow.
Let’s go. It doesn’t matter where we’re going. It’s enough to know that we’ll find that out along the way.
I am privileged that in the summertime, there are a flock of Mississippi Kites that migrate into my neighborhood and entertain us overhead.
One of my most favorite things to do is to float in our pool and watch these beautiful birds flying, high in the sky. What is so amazing about them is that sometimes they fly so high, they are only specks in the distance.
Then a short time later, they return down closer to the earth and I can make out the outlines of their bodies again, their narrow, pointed wings flapping as they soar over air drafts. These birds are so graceful that it almost appears as if they are floating in the air.
They take to the skies with no destination in mind, other than to fly. The aerial show, from the ground, is breathtaking. It seems that for these birds, flying, being aloft, is the ultimate goal. Not where they are going.
So often, we as humans, confuse our time on Earth, with obsessions about what we’ve accomplished, where we are going, and what purposeful thing we are going to do next.
We get hyper focused on outside world results and silence our inner needs to love, to be loved, to learn, to know the truth of our spirit, until we can somehow be assured that these efforts will take us somewhere.
We put all our life force into making sure that these endeavors will result in tangible and productive results, so much so, that by the end of our days, our weeks, our months and our years, we are exhausted and feel disconnected from meaning.
All of these conditions, hesitations, yes-buts and what ifs completely turn our human journey upside down, never letting the heart, wing that it is, truly unfold.
It’s so interesting, because as I observe the birds, they respond into flight, only and simply by the presence of light that stirs them to flight and to song. They don’t consider concepts such as holding back or only investing if the return seems certain.
In this, humans are some of the only creatures that seek out guarantees, certainties, and in doing so, work against our hearts. We snuff out the spark of our aliveness in each of our denials of what draws us closer towards it, energizes our experience of need, whether from a place of curiosity or necessity.
Try as much as you might to imagine, construct direction, to plan and know what this life ought to be, it is the pulse of our heart itself that connects you higher into your spirit.
In truth, the wings of birds don’t grow any differently to fit north, south, east or west. Our deepest frequency of aliveness inside each of us, is more fundamental in showing our true direction than any direction of worldly ambition.
We, like the birds, are meant to fly and sing- to love and to be loved- to evolve into a higher place than when we came into this world. That’s all. All the rest: our plans, visions, goals, and schemes are like the twigs of the nest that once outgrown, we leave for bigger things.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
Some of you may already know this, but for those of you who do not, May is Mental Health Awareness month!!!!
I always love this month, not only because May is historically quite beautiful here in Saint Louis, MO, but also because mental health is my ‘jam!!!!
Mental and emotional health is my thing; it’s one of the things that I most love to give
energy too in both my personal and professional lives!
And I didn’t know this, but Mental Health Awareness month was started in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization and has consistently been celebrated since then, in the month of May.
So, this has been happening for a very long time. Way cool.
I guess it’s just only becoming more noticeable as mental health is becoming less
I was talking the other day about mental health diagnoses, and how, as a licensed mental health clinician, I believe that people are often mis-diagnosed with mental health illness as a result of the limitations of our western approach to medicine.
Let me explain.
In the western approach to medicine, there is an over-emphasis on pharmaceutical
intervention and treatment interventions based upon what the managed care driven
systems *deem* evidence-based and they are willing to reimburse.
Providers want to deliver the outcomes that insurance companies recognize as
legitimate for reimbursement.
What this means is that insurance companies are dictating clinical treatment and
interventions based upon evidence based outcomes in order to receive reimbursement.
And because of this limitation, sometimes there is no language to apply to situations
where a person might not necessarily have mental illness, but they are struggling.
Especially if it is not of an evidence-based type of struggle.
I tend to agree wholeheartedly with Carl Jung, who believed that most of people’s
distress was related to the fact that they had lost connection with their spirit.
Unfortunately, one losing their connection with their spirit is difficult to quantify or speak
about in any sort of evidence-based way that an insurance company would recognize.
That said, it looks a lot like depression, Bipolar, anxiety and can manifest in a myriad of
ways such as through addictions, adjustment disorders, low functioning, hyperactivity,
difficulty concentrating or following through, forgetfulness and so on.
Bottom line, when you’ve lost your connection with your spirit, you are going to struggle.
And the longer your struggle goes on, i.e., the longer you miss that the real issue is
disconnection from your spirit, the more intense the difficulty in your life becomes.
It happens this way because that’s the only way you’re going to recognize that something important needs to happen if we’re going to find the peace and satisfaction that everyone is looking for in their lives.
Sadly, our mental health care system does not have the language or perspective to
understand this and so instead uses mental health diagnosis to dictate how a person
must be clinically treated in order to “manage” their symptoms and have a functional life.
To be clear, I’m not saying that mental health diagnoses are a bad thing.
I know that for many people, having a paradigm or a lens through which you can
understand more about what’s going on in your life, can help you feel less alone, less
overwhelmed. It can bring you relief.
Part of being human is to crave certainty and information in order to understand.
What I am suggesting is that rather than quickly putting a mental health diagnosis label
on your struggle, what if you were not mentally ill, but rather undergoing a deeper
evolution in your essence?
What if your struggle was about growing into the next dimension of your aliveness?
You know the story about the caterpillar and why it’s so challenging for them to get out
of the chrysalis, right? It’s because the struggle to get out of this tightly enclosed space is
exactly what has to happen to get the blood flowing in their wings so that they can fly...…..into the next phase of their life as a butterfly.
What if that is what your struggle is really about?
What if you’re really starting to become a butterfly right now and you are breaking out of
your own emotional chrysalis, that has been very important and necessary for you to get
to where you are at this critical moment in your life?
What if instead of breaking down, you are actually breaking open?
And that this breaking open has to happen in this way, at this time, for reasons that your
brain may never, ever know. Your heart will and does though. I promise.
All growth is counterintuitive. It’s going to look and feel exactly like the opposite of what
you think it will be.
Trust me, I know from both personal and professional experience on this one.
Even though this struggle is the next step in your growth, and the exact thing that has to
happen in order for you to find your way back to who you were designed to be in this
lifetime, you still get to have feelings about it for sure.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, scared, anxious, confused, uncertain, uncomfortable, stuck, irritable, or just downright agitated, it sure as heck sounds like it’s your time to grow. Reach out.
Each of us has to have connections in our growth process. That’s the only way you’re
going to get to where you need to go in order to reconnect to your spirit.
It’s in finding your way back to your spirit, in this next phase of your growth, that your
peace and satisfaction will follow.
#timetogrow #caterpillar #butterfly #transformationcounselingllc
I often say that how we care about others is closer to the kind of emotional care and support that we needed in our lives as children. And the ways that we care about and give ourselves attention around the very same kinds of issues, is much closer to the kind of emotional support that we received when we were small.
Interesting idea, huh?
I believe that most parents and caregivers want to do the very best that they can, it’s just that they often come up short in their attempts to provide for their children’s emotional needs. Especially if that was not something emphasized in their own childhood.
It’s not a judgement, it’s merely a common occurrence, that sadly, for many people, has a long-standing impact on their ability to find satisfaction in their lives and relationships.
Remember: perception is reality.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not a parent wants to show up emotionally for their child; what matters most is whether or not they are open and connected enough to their child to make sure their child feels supported.
So that when their child is not getting what they need, the parent / caregiver is open enough to receiving that feedback and adjusting accordingly.
That’s what matters.
So for those of you who would like to know more about this, I have an experiment that I’d like for you to try that will help you learn more about how it felt to be emotionally supported in your childhood.
Remember, there’s no “right or wrong” way to live an experiment. The whole purpose of an experiment or challenge is to have an experience and learn something about yourself in the process.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
I am tired. Not as in a “I need more sleep” kind of way. I’m tired in a “I’m tired of learning new things” kind of way.
I mean it.
It’s been over one year since the pandemic closed down society “as we knew it” and we’ve been constantly adjusting ever since.
Adjusting to new routines and schedules.
Adjusting to a new way of working.
Adjusting to a new way of “not” working for some who have lost their jobs.
Adjusting to the loss of life.
Adjusting to illness.
Adjusting to the potential threat of illness all the time.
Adjusting to putting life back together after the loss of a loved one.
Adjusting to a new way of connecting with others.
Adjusting to not connecting with others in person.
Adjusting to how to attend to the daily tasks like grocery shopping, putting gas in the car, maintaining a household.
Adjusting to new technology.
Adjusting to new ways to access doctors, health care and therapists.
Adjusting to just about everything as we knew it.
And, honestly, I am tired of learning new things.
I am tired of adjusting, pivoting, troubleshooting, breathing through disappointment and frustration. I’m tired of not feeling the “ease” as I go about my life.
I’m tired of having to think through going out into the world, to determine what’s safest, do I have my mask, will I be able to socially distance?
Questions like, who’s got the vaccine? Who’s got two vaccines? Who does not?
You know, having to be concerned about literal safety all the time. I mean, it’s what all of us are doing all the time, unconsciously, when it comes to our emotions. This alone can be exhausting.
But to have to constantly think about and manage the balance between safety and satisfaction in such a conscious way regarding going out into the world, trying to work, getting my social needs met...I’m tired from doing this 24/7.
I am calling this “learning fatigue”. I’m tired of having to attend to and learn so many new things.
I am ready for routine.
I am ready for “ease” again when it comes to thinking about safety in the day to day kinds of things.
I am ready for finding the groove again, which often motivates curiosity for me and compels me to begin learning new things and often, some new way to “get out of the box.”
Honestly, I am kind of ready to be bored.
I’m tired of living at the edge of my comfort zone when it comes to adjusting life inside and out, in response to the need to socially distance amidst the background of a pandemic.
I understand why we’re doing it and the need to continue to be vigilant for a while longer.
I plan to continue to do so in order to do my part to speed up our recovery as much as I can.
I also need connection for my learning fatigue. And I would imagine that there are others who might benefit from this as well.
Sending each of us lots of love and support as we continue to navigate our way each day.
Stay safe and be well.
Welcome to my monthly self-care “experiment”. I'm trying something a little new and I hope that over time, you'll join me in this practice.
Each month, I plan to share with you an exercise that will help you deepen your understanding about places in your life where it's time to emotionally grow. That is, if you want to.
The purpose of this practice is to give you an experiential way to build a deeper awareness around places that your aliveness gets stuck inside and needs your deep and loving attention to shift.
Head's up though: don't participate in these if you don't want to feel something!
This month's growth experiment focuses on learning how to recognize the synchronous growth opportunities that life is always offering, usually in the most unexpected places.
One of the most wonderful things about life is that our teachers come from the most unexpected places. For many, in order to receive them, there is work that has to be done to cultivate an open heart and willingness to recognize these opportunities for growth..
What a thought, huh?
I have an experiment that I’d like for you to try. There’s no “right or wrong” way to live an experiment. The whole purpose of an experiment or challenge is to have an experience and learn something about yourself in the process.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
Kate is an INFJ-3 on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Enneagram.