Finding hope in healing from trauma

Finding hope in healing from trauma

Do painful experiences from your past keep coming up and interfering with your current life, leaving you feeling weighed down, numb, depressed, or angry? You know deep down inside that you can’t continue living like this, barely making it through each day, feeling miserable.

You recognize you’re ready to make some changes, to start LIVING your life, to heal from past painful experiences, to experience happiness and calm in your daily experience and to love yourself. But where do you start?

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How to Control your Self-Doubt

Self-doubt.

That nagging thought that burrows into everyone’s minds at some point or another.  It comes in many forms, but usually sounds like “I’m not good enough.”

Maybe it’s when you have a major presentation for work, in how you feel when you’re around your in-laws, when you question your parenting abilities during your two-year-olds tantrum, or when trying on bathing suits for summer. We all doubt ourselves at times.

Changing our thoughts, feelings and actions is a challenge. There are literally thousands of books written on the topic!

There is a strong connection between our thoughts, feelings and actions. Picture a triangle where each of the three points are interconnected and flow back and forth.  Creating change in one area will impact the others. Our thoughts, feelings and actions flow and interact in all directions.

If you change your behaviors, your thoughts and emotions will follow suit. You’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it” right?

This is probably easiest to visualize this interconnection with physical exercise. If you commit to working out several days a week for a few weeks, you will eventually start to notice changes in your thoughts (improved self-image, more confident), feelings (more upbeat, better mood) and actions (craving healthier foods, feeling more toned, higher energy levels). This creates a positive cycle that will help you continue working out because you enjoy the benefits.

In general, it takes about 21 days to create a change in behavior.  Which means it may take three weeks of working out before you start to notice changes in your thoughts or emotions.

And for some of us, it may take longer than 21 days. I mean who really likes getting up before dawn to work out?

This change works in all directions of the triangle. If you change your thoughts around an activity, it will be easier and more enjoyable to do that activity.  If you change your emotions, your thoughts and behaviors will follow along.

So you’re asking: what does this have to do with self-doubt?

Self-doubt is a thought.  Now that you know the formula, you can change your thoughts easier!

Let’s look at ways you can approach self-doubt from all directions of the triangle.

Here’s an example: imagine you’re questioning your parenting skills. Say your toddler has thrown the largest temper tantrum of his life in the middle of the grocery store check-out line. You see other people whispering and staring at you. It’s difficult to focus and finish checking out; you know you can’t just leave the basket and head home because you need those groceries for tonight and tomorrow. You’re feeling like the worst parent in the world.

If any of this is connecting with you, let me reassure you, you are not alone.  This happens to the best of us!

Changing your behavior in this instance might mean:

  • taking a deep breath,
  • bending down to your child’s level and speaking with him calmly,
  • being clear and directive in setting limits,
  • possibly ignoring the tantrum while you check out.

Remaining calm will help you finish the chore at hand and you can get to the car and address the tantrum in a more private setting. Keeping your behavior in control will also help you feel confident that you are making the right choices in handling the tantrum. Sometimes the right choice in parenting is to ignore the behavior (even if others look and stare).

To change your mood around in this situation you could try:

  • taking a deep breath,
  • reflecting on what other feelings you’re also experiencing in the moment (besides frustration/irritation at your child),
  • reflecting on times when you feel proud and strong as a parent will help you recognize your skills don’t always correlate to your child’s behaviors and may help you shift your mood around,
  • expanding your focus to more than the self-doubt and frustration to also incorporate other more positive feelings. Maybe you’re excited for the latest episode of your favorite show tonight, happy for a friend who just announced their pregnancy , or relieved because you finished a major project at work.

This broadening of your ‘feelings spotlight’ to experience more than just the frustration in the moment helps integrate the fact that sometimes challenging things happen that create self-doubt, and you can still be happy.

Changing your thoughts around self-doubt in parenting can start with:

  • finding ways to change the meaning you attribute to your thoughts.

It’s possible that your automatic thoughts are: “My child is throwing a tantrum in public = I’m a crappy parent.” Identifying things that are accurate and also true about your parenting can be helpful to start to change your thoughts: “My son skipped his nap today and is very tired, of course he’s going to melt down when I say no to him having chocolate.”

These shifts away from negative self-talk to understanding the bigger picture will help you begin to see yourself and your parenting skills in a new light. Shifting to this mindset may not change the situation, but will help let go of your self-doubt around your parenting skills. In turn, your mood will lighten and your interactions with your child will be more at ease.

Just like heading to the gym every morning, taking a deep breath during your child’s tantrum or reframing your thoughts of self-doubt may take a few (or 21) tries to stick and become a habit. And the result will be a calmer, more confident you.

 

If you find that you would like extra support in changing your thoughts, feelings or actions, or gaining confidence in your life, I’d be glad to help. Click here to find out ways to get in touch with me. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.

Hurry! Blow off your New Year's Resolutions Now!

As you approach the end of the year it’s a natural time to reflect.

A time to evaluate your life, relationships, career, education. A time to look at the goals you made and kept this year, and those goals you didn’t quite reach.

The concept of New Year’s resolutions dates back to medieval times when people would use the winter religious holidays to recommit to their faith.

In our current day and age, around 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions.  Typically things like “Quit smoking” “Lose Weight” “Work Out More” “Save Money”.  Sound familiar?  Have you made one of these resolutions in the past? I know I have!   How long did your resolution last?

Research shows that only 8% of people actually succeed at their resolutions.  

Not great statistics for success.

So why do we keep setting ourselves up for New Year's resolution failures?

I want to encourage you this year to take a different approach.

Yes… I said it…blow off those New Year’s Resolutions!

 

Instead, I want to challenge you to create intentions to live by for 2016.

Isn’t that the same thing, you ask?

Well, no, it’s not. Let me explain.

Most people choose a large broad resolution that feels unattainable, is difficult to implement and means creating radical changes in your life. If you want to go from a sedentary inactive life to working out five days a week in the gym, you’re going to have to shift gears pretty fast. It’s also going to be difficult to maintain. 

You’re creating an expectation that you will go five days a week and there is no flexibility for weeks that you’re busy at work, get a cold and are wiped out physically, or have family obligations taking priority of your extra time.

Once you feel you’ve let down your expectation, why continue. You feel like you failed.

Shifting your thoughts to seeing your goals as a possibility that you will reach helps you create an intention.

When a goal is a possibility it’s easier to get back into the routine if life gets in the way of you meeting your goal for a day or a week. When you don’t complete a task that’s only a possibility you’re still able to maintain a positive attitude, restart again tomorrow or next week at working toward your goal, and there isn’t the sense of failure around skipping a day or two.

Say you really want to travel internationally in 2016, but recognize that you don't have the vacation leave or money to do so. Instead of setting a resolution of traveling (which requires money and time that may not happen), set an intention to be open to travel. 

You can join a Meet-Up group that travels on weekend trips throughout California, seek out new friends that share your passion for travel, or look into opportunities for freebies or extra income that involves travel. By setting an intention to be open to more travel experiences it's shifting your mindset.

This year, create an intention around a small and meaningful activity that you would like to incorporate into your life.  Find ways that naturally fit into your life that help better you and get you to your goals.

I’d love to hear what your intentions are for the New Year! Share with me here or send an email to adrianajoynermft@gmail.com

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from trauma and abuse, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.