Are your children experiencing increased anxiety right now while being forced to stay at home...? In this video, I share with you some ideas about how to support your children's mental health needs during this COVID-19 pandemic.
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Monday morning. 8:30am. It happened...
Our first major collision.
Up until then, at least to that point, my family had been handling the quarantine fairly well, working around each other and understanding that these are unprecedented times that require extra patience and understanding.
That lasted until Monday morning, the first day of work for both of us under “official” quarantine.
It was like we were sudden enemies, jockeying for power, control and space, while desperately trying to cling to some semblance of “normalcy” for a work day, pre-COVID19.
Gone was the patience, understanding and gentleness from before.
Now, our home looked much more like the scene of a car accident, where both parties involved were vehemently trying to get the other side to see our point of view. Whew.
My partner and I both lost our minds for a minute as we came face-to-face with our newfound reality that we will now be sharing the same space, both of us trying to do our jobs as thoroughly and professionally as we can, while displaced from our everyday work routine and environment.
We’re gonna be in the same space.
OH MY GOODNESS.
It feels almost like being in a snow globe that is still shaking.
At least the “work from home” part does.
I am a homebody by nature, so being forced to stay home isn’t that much of a stretch for me. Perhaps it is my “introverted” personality or perhaps it comes from growing up in a small town where there wasn’t a whole lot to do.
Either way, being forced to stay at home isn’t a huge challenge for me.
But being forced to negotiate space 24/7 with my family, for an indefinite amount of time, while trying to work my job (and do it well!): well, yea, that’s a whole new ballgame.
It’s really difficult when the natural boundaries that come from everybody going their own way during the day to work, school and other activities, are completely erased.
This sudden and huge change in personal space is forcing all of us to wade through the necessary process of renegotiating boundaries with our children, partners, spouses, parents and even pets.
Yes, even our pets.
I notice that even my cats are a bit thrown off from having their humans around all day long, sitting in their favorite spots, making noise and just generally taking up space.
They sure don’t mind the extra treats though!
Face it folks, in these strange times, pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.
Thankfully, after a few minutes and some deep breaths, my partner and I were both able to back up and remember that these are unprecedented times that have thrown everything in our world upside down.
We started over.
We love “do-overs” here in my house...you know, being able to “start over” and try it again a second time based on what we learned from the first time.
We remembered that these are unprecedented times. And that we’ve never been here before so we are NOT expected to know how to do this perfectly, really how to even live this situation at all. And that we are on the same side in this. We’re #alonetogether.
And that it’s going to be a HUGE experiment in sharing space a different way.
And that to the best of our ability we are going to be patient with each other and when we cannot, be sure to come back and repair the connection when we feel ready.
So, we basically gave ourselves permission to live this as best as we can, not perfectly.
This is the grace that we all need right now.
You’ve never been in this situation before, so you are not expected to know how to live it.
Right now, discomfort is inevitable. That’s what happens at the edge of our comfort zone and ‘boy howdy, this COVID-19 outbreak is stretching all of us right now!
Do the best that you can. Reach out for help negotiating when you need to.
Let yourself be human right now and avoid perfection or high expectations for yourself and everyone else.
We all need gentleness and compassion right now as we work through this strange new normal.
I am grateful that you are a part of my community and am here to support you however I can. I am just a phone call, a message or an email away.
We’re all in this together. Keep your heart close and you’ll get to the other side. I promise.
(What strange times these are…!!!)
I can remember just a few days ago when the idea of having your therapist in your house was not only odd, strange and uncomfortable, but highly unethical as well!!!!
Well, folks...what strange times we are living in!!!!!
This is the new normal now… online mental health therapy through video and phone sessions.
I guess in some ways, this is one of the wonderful benefits to being such a technologically advanced society: we can maintain connection even in the midst of a pandemic sweeping the world.
Even better: we can still get the emotional help and support that we need, especially during trying times like these. (How cool is this!!!!)
I’ll admit: seeing my therapist by video each week is NOT the same as being with her in person. But you know what… it works!!!!!!! Every. Single. time.
I am undoubtedly amazed each time in session, when I experience an incredibly huge piece of growth or release around something painful- it really confirms the power of connection and how essential support (in any form) is if we are going to keep growing and healing.
Not to mention that by now, my therapist giggles at my bed-head with me each week. (Sometimes I put on a hat, sometimes I do not. Depends on the day.)
And here’s the best part: most days I do therapy in my pajamas with a sweatshirt for good measure. And a cup of coffee and a cat or two photo-bombing my sessions.
In fact, one of my cats has now officially earned the name “Therapy-Cat”. He just seems to know when to join me in my session at the exact time that I need more safety and comfort. It’s uncanny. (It’s really not though...animals are BRILLIANT!) Especially Gus.
Did I mention that my partner and I occasionally even do couples’ sessions by video with a therapist out of town…? We do and it is amazing!
It really is a delightful way to get what I need emotionally, when geographical distance (or a pandemic!!!) gets in the way of being together in person.
So to those of you who might be struggling with this adjustment to this new way of being in therapy: I hear you. It is different. It really is.
It’s going to take a little bit of time to adjust to this new way of being together. I want to invite you, though, to give it a shot.
If there are ways that I can support you during this adjustment, reach out. I’m only a phone call away.
Video sessions are a powerful way to connect with others, especially your therapist, when we are being required to social distance, quarantine and “shelter-in-place”.
Again, I want to let you know: I’m still me. I’m still with you. I will just be with you in therapy via remote, online sessions.
Oh, and if you’re lucky, Gus will join too. He’s a pretty wise cat.
I am grateful that you are a part of my community and am here to support you however I can.
I’ll see you online!!!
You may or may not know this about me: I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I’m talking about the original trilogy, A New Hope / The Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi. I have a deep fondness of them.
I remember going to the movie theatre (movie theatres were not NEARLY as fancy as the theatres today) and getting my 1 box of Jawbreakers (remember those tiny little sugar pellets that could break your tooth if crunched down in the wrong way…?) and crunching my way through the movie. Inevitably, I remember that one of my siblings would accidentally spill their jawbreakers out onto the floor (sometimes it was me) and we would hear them all drop, one by one, onto the floor of the theatre and roll down to the front of the theatre, disrupting every single person whose chair they rolled underneath, until they finally came to stop at the front of the theatre.
Ah, those were the days.
I am not so much a fan of the newer movies that came out that are actually prequels to the original trilogy released in 1977, 1980 and 1983, but still watched them as a dedicated and loyal Star Wars junkie.
After recently seeing the latest release, The Rise of Skywalker, it was hard to believe that I had watched the final movie. So, I decided to watch The Mandalorian to see what the buzz was about.
And afterall, I love Star Wars so what’s a little more storyline…?
I have two words. Baby Yoda.
Did I say, Baby Yoda??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
I had been hearing about Baby Yoda on the internet and in the news, but didn’t understand the appeal until I saw this series and fully understood. Not with my head, but with my heart.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched this series yet and intend to watch the series, then stop reading here! Come back after you’ve seen it and finish the article!
The storyline follows a bounty hunter who had been hired to kill an “asset” that was a “threat” to the order. This bounty hunter, the Mandalorian, who has his own profound storyline of transformation and softening, found the asset and upon seeing that the asset was actually a very young baby, could not bring himself to kill Baby Yoda.
This started out a beautiful attachment process between this soldier and this vulnerable Baby Yoda, during which they both saved each other’s lives in a variety of different ways.
As it happens in “good bonding”, there grows a bond between an adult and a child in which the child’s needs, especially their need for safety and protection come first.
The child begins to know (not in their head but in a much deeper internal place inside) that they are “safe in this world” and that this caregiver would put their life on the line to protect them if needed.
This series illustrated this process of bonding and attachment beautifully when time after time, the Mandalorian found himself in the middle of a battle or changing his plan so that he could come back and rescue Baby Yoda from the bad guys.
The story shows the Mandalorian lovingly making a space for Baby Yoda in the cockpit of his ship, and gently redirecting Baby Yoda whenever he tried to chew on pieces of the spaceship as toys.
It was a beautiful and heart-touching example of the love that underlies good bonding, between a parent, who had a hard time opening up to his feelings and heart but not being able to resist the pull of this child and its dependence, and a sweet, complex, vulnerable Baby Yoda.
I mean after all, Baby Yoda is not full-grown yet; he’s only 50 years old...he’s just a baby!!!!
I finished watching this series feeling myself doing work around Baby Yoda in my own therapy process and what this character touched inside of me.
And here’s where the story gets really incredible.
The other day, I was talking to a nephew of mine about Baby Yoda (in fact, I had my Baby Yoda hoodie on and he saw it) and he immediately said “Aunt Kate, wait!!!!” and proceeded to pull up a video on YouTube about… you guessed it… BABY YODA.
Check it out here: Baby Yoda YouTube Video
Oh my gosh. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I felt a strange mix of admiration, heart break, wonder, sadness as I listened to the song.
People are going nuts over Baby Yoda!!!! I am mesmerized by it and I love it!!! And I’ve figured out why this is happening.
Baby Yoda represents the Inner Child inside each of us.
What makes Baby Yoda such a sensation is that he is a “safe” symbol for people to soften and feel tender towards. I mean again, after all, he’s related to Yoda. It’s acceptable to show heart in this way.
Even the hardened bounty hunter, the Mandalorian, softened and supported a connection to Baby Yoda.
So, I want you to go back and listen to the song again. This time, listen to the words that this person sings in this song. Imagine that he was talking about his own inner child.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
This is why we love puppies, kittens, babies...anything young and vulnerable. And is also why some people absolutely cannot stand the idea of puppies, kittens, babies and anything young and vulnerable.
Our relationship to the child inside of us is a direct mirror for how we were supported for our own heart, vulnerability and softness from the world, society, family, and caregivers in our life.
When we received support for our softness and vulnerability, it makes it easier in the here and now to support this part of us.
In the ways that our heart, softness and vulnerability were met with painful experiences, we try to stay away from this part of ourselves too, unconsciously, as a way to avoid further pain.
And when we live in constant disconnection from the child inside of us, we become disconnected from our inner strength, our inner wisdom, our inner power.
In a nutshell, we ensure that we will stay disconnected from our own inner Baby Yoda.
So here’s the deal folks… go look for Baby Yoda. Watch the series. Google it. You might just find that you end up bumping into your own inner child along the way.
This child needs your fierce protection and deep presence. It’s time.
And here’s the best part about that: you’ve got a wonderful example of how to begin bonding with your inner child- the Mandalorian gives you a spectacular roadmap for how to begin building better bonding inside for this part of you.
Thanks for reading.
It’s true. The relentless pursuit of happiness is a tricky thing. This is because happiness, itself, is fleeting.
In order to really get to a place of deep satisfaction (not just temporary happiness), we have to be able to go back and reconnect to our spirit. We need to work through all the old places of trauma and wounding that keep us stuck in a place of dissatisfaction.
If we want to experience this satisfaction, we have to work through these places of suffering, sadness, and hurt. It’s not easy work – and it’s oftentimes uncomfortable – but it’s what is necessary to create lasting impact in our lives.
In fact, when someone is longing for happiness, it often signals that person is in a place of spiritual impasse. They can’t quite get there, but they also don’t have the internal supports needed to really begin healing the wounds of their past. When those internal supports aren’t in place, they simply won’t be able to ever get to that feeling of satisfaction.
When we do have enough emotional supports inside, we move towards happiness, satisfaction, and growth. It organically unfolds inside of us, and that’s a beautiful thing!
I recently sat down with my friend and colleague, Valerie Kolick, to further discuss this idea of Spiritual Bypass or the “Happiness Myth.”
I think it’s a discuss you’ll really enjoy, so I encourage you to check it out!
Head to the podcast episode here: https://valeriekolick.com/healtotransform/56
And if you’d like to continue this discussion, join us over in my Facebook group. We dive into ideas just like this one – all centered around healing, growth, and satisfaction. We’d love to see you there!
Recently, I was talking with one of my nieces over the holidays and she was sharing what it felt like to be her in her family and community. She said to me “Auntie, I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong in my family.” In that moment, my heart broke both for her and for the child inside of me.
I knew what she was talking about. I know how it feels to be an outlier in the family group.
I am talking about my experiences growing up not only in my family, but in the world in general. I have always felt absolutely and totally on the periphery of everything.
As if there was not really ever a place for me. Like I was a part of things, but didn’t really belong. Most anywhere.
And here’s why...
I have always been able to see what’s not is not obvious and often no one wants to talk about.
I’ve always felt the undercurrents of emotional energy in other people and in the outside world experiences, and have always been able to recognize when what someone is saying doesn’t quite match up with their energy.
I’ve always been interested in depth, meaning, authenticity and connection. And in kindness.
Even when the rest of the world around me was downplaying, disregarding and dismissing these experiences as unnecessary for everyday living and functioning in the world.
I have always needed gentleness, calm, vulnerability and protection. I’ve needed caregivers and communities that were committed to consciousness, realness and responsibility, to kindness and regard for everyone.
I’ve needed openness and welcome for differences in opinion, structure, ideas and beliefs. And not just tolerance, but true, unabashed welcome.
I have always abhorred cruelty and violence, even when so much of this is in the ways that people interact with each other, the words that get used and the actions people take without care for another person.
And what makes being an “outlier” difficult is not because I am wired this way, not because I see, hear and feel deeply.
What makes being an “outlier” difficult is a direct result of how these parts of me were met by others when they showed up in me as a child.
It happens to everyone.
And most of the time we don’t even know that it is happening.
In these situations, our Enneagram defense system kicks into action to protect our vulnerability from being assaulted and exploited any more than it already is.
And the only motivation, the only pursuit of our Enneagram defense is “no more pain”. So, all its energy is geared towards taking the least amount of risk in order to avoid emotional pain. Our defense system does not concern itself about whether or not we feel satisfied.
And this all happens unconsciously. Beneath our radar. Most of the time we are not even aware that this is even happening. And because it is an unconscious process, we cannot “think our way out” of this place.
And this folks, is how we become depressed, anxious, lost, unfulfilled, end up in addictions and just generally learn how to “survive”, hold ourselves back, isolate, not live our life to its fullest.
This way of living in the world certainly does NOT encourage tapping into our infinite potential.
This just becomes about surviving our world and experiences, not really being alive.
The only way to shift this is to dive into the deep emotional work of healing these unconscious places that were hurt and humiliated.
This happens in a place far below words, thoughts and cognition. Cognitive work just isn’t going to work on these kinds of situations.
As I sat with my niece and listened as she talked about what it felt like to her to be an outlier, it was like she was speaking the exact same words I would have said, when I was her age, had I had someone that I could talk to about something like this.
Someone who could have understood me and actually seen me.
I sat with my niece for a while longer, until she finished sharing about what this meant to her. Throughout all of this, I gave her connection for her experiences, letting her know that I believed her and that it made sense to me. And that I could feel how painful it was for her to have to live this experience.
So here it is: our official club gear.
If any of this sounds like you too, grab yourself a shirt and come join our club. There’s a space for you here too.
Recently, I have begun exploring the relationship between our physical body and our emotional well-being. Our relationship to our bodies is complex and even more complex is our relationship with food and what we take in to fuel our bodies. In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor, I also am a certified massage therapist and personal trainer and deepened my knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology of the body through these experiences as well.
Being that I focus heavily on body-mind-spirit healing in my therapy practice, it only seemed natural to eventually begin to extend my interests into exploring how healing the physical body can also bring about healing for our emotional body as well.
A little bit about me: before becoming a private practice therapist, my background was in physical education and health. I taught pre-school through highschool for many years, which also included coaching a number of different athletic teams in a variety of different sports. A few things that I learned throughout my years as a Phys Ed teacher was that the variety in body type was endless, different body types excelled at different sports and activities (there wasn't "one" activity or sport that fit for everyone), paying attention to blood type and food choices was worth looking at, and that nutrition played a huge role in both athletic performance as well as mental health.
I will also add that sadly, I learned first hand how pervasive our cultural pressure is to conform to certain body types, for kids even as young as 7 years old! Yikes!
Over time and throughout all these experiences, I have come to learn firsthand how our gastrointestinal track is quite sensitive to our emotions and our feelings (anger, anxiety, sadness, elation, and others) can also trigger symptoms in our gut. I think that I knew this as a little kid when I would struggle with stomach issues, I just didn't know how it all connected. One of the things that I repeatedly see present day in my practice with clients, is that very often people will experience uncomfortable and noticeable physiological reactions in their body that seem to correlate with emotional reactions happening in their life.
Over the past several years, I had been wanting to begin participating in detox cleanses both from a health standpoint as well as from a place of curiosity about what kind of impact it might have on my health physically and emotionally. In about May of 2017, I purchased my first "detox cleanse", it was a 7 day program offered through Daily OM and was created by The Decadent Detox. I was excited, ready to go and couldn't wait to get started! I got a week scheduled on my calendar to commit to doing the program.
Then I cancelled that week and rescheduled it for a later week. I did this for just about a year, the whole time giving myself a hard time about why I wasn't doing the cleanse yet, every time I cancelled it on my calendar and rescheduled it for another week later in the year.
What I didn't know at that time was that it would take me just about a year or so to actually get to a place emotionally where I was ready to dive in and give it a try. I only learned this in retrospect after completing my first 7 day cleanse and experiencing the impact that this program had on not only my physical body but more significantly on my emotions.
Some things about food and our bodies. Our relationship with food is formed at birth and becomes primally ingrained inside of us; furthermore, many people’s early relationship with food became attached to reasons beyond just satiation and nutrition. May of you probably know this when you find yourself standing at the counter blindly eating beyond the point of not being hungry any more, yet you cannot stop.
Another fact about food and changes committed to cleaning up our eating, when we change the way that we relate to really anything in our lives (food, behaviors, addictive substances and experiences) it will stir up unconscious emotions and feelings. Every time. That's why it is so difficult, sometimes, to make changes that we know would be helpful or beneficial for our well-being. Somewhere deep inside, a part of us knows that we are going to have to deal with some pretty tricky feelings and issues that we just don't have enough internal emotional supports to deal with yet. We aren't emotionally ready.
And our brain doesn’t determine our “readiness” to make these kinds of changes, our defensive structure does and is primarily unconscious, so we cannot “talk” ourselves into being ready…it just won’t work. We have to have enough internal emotional supports to deal with these mostly unconscious and stirred up emotional issues or else we will “fail” whatever it is that we are trying to attempt (lose weight, stop smoking, quit sugar, etc..
Many people are unsuccessful with their attempts to complete a cleanse or diet, change their food chocies, incorporate a new food plans primarily because they simply are not emotionally ready, despite their brains determining that they are. In many cases, people may even be struggling from a health-perspective and really need to be ready, but if they do not have the emotional supports to drop into the feelings that will be stirred up, it won’t work. I see this all the time in my practice.
What ends up usually happening in these cases is that our self-esteem takes huge hit, we might even feel shame about not being able to complete what we set our mind on doing (this is especially true for Enneagram-3 types) and we end up drowning in a pool of frustration and embarrassment or shame which generally derails all further attempts.
So, the work then becomes about building up the emotional supports internally to deal with what will be brought up when you join a cleanse or a fast, rather than forcing yourself to do the cleanse, start the diet or eat differently. When you can focus on changing your life in this way, you will organically be ready to do the cleanse. Remember: it took me over a year to build up the emotional supports to be ready to participate in my first cleanse. I thought I was just being "lazy" or "scared"- little did I know that there was something else very important happening deep inside, that was preparing me to be ready when it was my time.
Often a skilled counselor or therapist will be far more effective than a doctor or nutritionist at helping people change their life, food choices, navigate problems and failures that emerge in this process and then stick with the changes long term. Changes that we experience through cleanses, fasts, "diets" and food plans often lead to the surfaace of emotional issues that only therapists are trained to deal with and when these, as well as the deeper, underlying issues are not addressed, they usually sabotage change.
So here it is in a nutshell:
I am offering this next step of emotional support for anyone who is interested in losing weight, keeping it off and changing their life in a deep and transformational way. Changing what we put into our bodies is a wonderful first step, now let's learn how to fundamentally change the way that we support our bodies on an emotional level so we can sustain these changes.
I am offering a way to detox not only physically but emotionally as well. A place where people can begin to live into more of who they really were designed to be in this lifetime, excavate the "real" you and begin to create a more deeply satisfying life. We only get one chance at this in this lifetime.
Kate Schroeder is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices to work with and heal childhood trauma. To learn more about gut health and how it affects your emotional well-being, you can visit her at Gut Health. To learn how to communicate more effectively and start changing your life download her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or join Kate’s Visual Journaling Group on Facebook for more support in finding your true self. To sign up for her newsletter click here.
By now, many of you have either seen or heard about the new movie on Netflix, Bird Box, which stars Sandra Bullock and is a compelling story about fear. This movie has even spawned a viral social trend called the “Bird Box Challenge”, in which live human beings attempt to engage in “challenges”. Blindfolded. To understand what a ridiculous and dangerous idea this is, you’ll have to watch the movie.
So, the holidays are upon us and again, it’s that “most wonderful time of the year”. Here we are. This is about the time that everyone’s stress levels begin to rise exponentially in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Gifts to buy, parties to attend. Kids acting out more because of stress and high energy and adults doing the same and calling it “parenting”.
Photo by Matt Lee on Unsplash
Hi again all, I am sure by now you would have read my initial thoughts, "Tapping into Your Strength Reservoir" on historical life perspectives and accomplishments which often change as they become outdated. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and pause to visit my Linkedin article on #PonderingTuesday. Pondering Tuesday is a thread from my Visual Journaling community prompt that ended up becoming a much longer piece than usual.