Setting Down Your Emotional Baggage.... For Good!

Years ago a fellow colleague of mine likened therapy to flossing your mind. She believed it’s a way to clean out the emotional clutter that gets tucked away, but really does no good in your life.  She advocated that everyone should have therapy ‘check up’s’ at least every six months to purge the emotional stuff.

While not everyone needs a therapy session, a regular check-in with yourself to purge the unwanted emotional baggage isn’t a bad idea!

Step 1) Identify what “baggage” you are holding onto.

It may be that there are things in your life that are draining your energy (a job that is unsatisfying or extra responsibilities that take away instead of add to your day). Possibly you’re experiencing emotional pain because of a loss (a breakup, death, or separation from a loved one).

Spending some time getting really clear on what it is consuming your emotions in your life is important. For many people the act of actually writing it down is vital.  Describe the events/ experiences/ interactions that fill up your mind. Put in details.

This clarification may feel unnecessary, but it can be eye opening to how you're investing your energy. You may find that you’re focusing on one topic more than you expected.

With this list be sure to include all the emotional energy you spend, both positive and negative. You’re probably not going to want to decrease the positive experiences you have, but list anything that consumes your thoughts/emotions even if it brings happiness.

Step 2) Identify what doesn’t need (or deserve) your energy right now. 

Ask yourself: Looking back on this list how does it fit for the life you want? Does where you are focusing your energy match with your priorities in your life? What would this list look like if things were more in balance in your life?

When you’re able to shift your thoughts around an event to remove the judgments or expectations we have (either toward yourself or others) it will help you to release those thoughts from your mind (a.k.a letting it go).

Removing the judgement is tricky and challenging. It’s one of those “easier said than done” tasks.  One trick that might help is to recognize that you did the best you could in that situation, given the circumstances, limitations, and your knowledge and skills at the time.

Simplifying your emotional life means making choices that will remove unneeded stress. If you skip the unnecessary errands you will have time to engage in those activities that build energy, instead of draw from it.

Sometimes what we need do to simplify our lives most is changing our emotions and decreasing the amount of time we worry, stress, feel angry, or sad.  In doing your emotional inventory you may identify a source underlying some of your emotions; if so, make those changes. You have two choices if you want to create change in your feelings:  change the situation so you no longer feel that way, or “let go/accept” the uncomfortable energy-sapping feelings.

Getting mindful of our feelings is a great way to identify what is underlying and the source of our feelings.

Step 3) Take time to reflect and reevaluate.

Ask yourself what’s working and what isn't. Creating your emotional inventory hopefully opened your eyes to areas large and small that you can start changing, shifting, modifying. This is an ongoing step that takes patience.

Creating balance and caring for yourself as you’re simplifying your emotional spaces is also important.  Nurturing yourself as you identify and strengthen your self-worth and self-assertion can come in many forms. If you’d like some ideas, I created a free downloadable Self-Care Checklist that you can use to make sure you’re nurturing your body, mind and soul!

Be bold in being you!

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and 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 adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.

The power of telling the truth (to ourselves)

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Why do we lie to or keep secrets from others? 

And, more importantly, why do we lie to ourselves? 

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ll tell you why: I had an experience a few weeks ago where I lied to my doctor. It wasn’t a big lie or anything that would impact my healthcare. It was a lie to make myself feel better.

My doctor and I were chatting about long-distance running (a former obsession of mine). About a year ago, I was part of a running group and ran some very long training runs, but never in fact ran an ultra-race. He asked what races I had done and I mumbled about local ones and quickly changed the subject.

Why did I lie about something so seemingly inconsequential?

There are reasons why we keep secrets from others and ourselves.

Looking back, I believe there were several reasons: I wanted to feel validated that I was serious about running. I wanted him to think highly of me. I wanted to feel like I was a ‘real’ runner, even if I can’t run long-distance any more.

When I think back to that incident, I was really lying to myself. I was having a hard time admitting to myself that I’d never run in an ultra-race; saying the lie let me believe it for a nano-second and that felt good. I wanted to validate myself that my years of long-distance running meant something, even if I can’t run any longer.

I know I’m not alone in this. If you’re a human being you’ve lied to someone, probably multiple people. You’ve even lied to someone you love. This doesn’t make us bad people.

Some questions to consider: Is this how I want to live my life? Do I feel right lying/keeping secrets? Is this truly authentic to the person I am in my life?

Think of a secret you’ve kept or lie you’ve told, big or small. Imagine what it would be like if you told the truth to others. What would it be like admitting the truth to yourself?

Is there a part of this secret that has been difficult for you to admit and recognize? What are the underlying feelings that come up when you think about it? Try sinking into what your experience is like as you openly acknowledge the truth to yourself.

For me, as I left the doctor appointment I felt some guilt and regrets for telling the lie. When I looked under that, I connected with how sad I am about not being able to run long-distance anymore. It’s a hurt in my heart that hasn’t quite healed; I haven’t fully made peace with this fact yet.

As you speak the truth to yourself it can be uncomfortable, even painful. And, if you choose to tell others about times in your past that you have lied or kept a secret there are some things to consider… there may be backlash.

Depending on what the situation was, others may be angry, feel betrayed, and lose trust in your relationship. It’s vital that you carefully evaluate the impact of telling the truth.

If you believe that there may be backlash, please get some support. Finding a trusted friend, confidant, or therapist to explore the situation will help you gain perspective and make a choice about moving forward that is authentic and genuine to whom you are.

Ultimately, when releasing secrets that you’ve been holding on to for a while you may feel a profound experience of relief by telling the truth. A weight lifted from your shoulders.

When you hide parts of yourself from others, you are not being authentic to you. There may be some very valid reasons you’re hiding something. It could be that you haven’t settled into what is your comfort is around this area. It could be that you’re fearful of others’ reactions. Possibly you’re worried about what it would mean if you said it out loud to yourself. Maybe you’re like me and wanted to feel validated and significant.

It’s taken me several weeks to write this blog post. Opening up about a lie I told is tough. It’s humbling to admit; but as I reflect, it’s not who I am at my authentic core. I can be proud of myself for my running past even if I never ran an ultra.

I encourage you to also look at the secrets you’ve kept and identify if any need to be released. If you would like some support exploring this, please reach out to me. I’m here to help.

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and 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 adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com

 

 

 

What the Whos down in Whoville can teach us about forgiveness

In my house, one of our holiday traditions is curling up on the couch wrapped in blankets watching Christmas movies. Last night “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” was on our playlist.

As the movie finished, my twelve year old son asked “Why didn’t the Grinch go to jail? Why did the Whos let him into their celebration after all he had done to them?”

As we continued to cuddle and discuss the Dr. Seuss movie, we came to the answer: forgiveness.

The Grinch is not a nice guy. He maliciously plans and carries out the theft of all of the Who belongings. More so, he did it with the intention of emotionally hurting the Whos by taking away their Christmas joy. 

The Whos don’t hold this against the Grinch. In fact, when the Grinch brings back all of their belongings (after having a change of heart) he is welcomed into the village with open arms and invited to celebrate Christmas day with them.

What an amazing capacity for forgiveness.

They didn’t need time to reflect, they didn’t question that the Grinch had maliciously acted against them, they didn’t hold anything against the Grinch (his intentions or his actions), they simply asked him to join their day. They showed him love and compassion. They forgave.

What if we all took a piece of the Whos capacity for forgiveness and took a step toward forgiveness in our own lives?

How would we experience holidays, family gatherings, friendships, workplace interactions and life in general differently if we held onto less pain and forgave others for the hurts we experienced?

 

“Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.” Harriet Nelson

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Forgiving means making a conscious effort to move forward in your life. The things that have happened in your past remain in your past and will always be there. In many ways they add and contribute to the person you are today. It’s likely that the challenging experiences you’ve had helped you develop some pretty amazing qualities like strength and courage.

If you’re filed with anger and hurt there is no room for positive feelings. Letting go of past hurts allows a space that can be filled with joy, happiness, peace, and contentment.

 

Are there things you can forgive in your life?

Connect:

  • Take a few moments to reflect upon things that caused you pain that you’re holding on to.
  • Be mindful of your experience, recognizing the differences between your thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions.

Reflect:

  • How is holding onto this hurt helping you in your life?
  • What would you gain by letting go and forgiving?
  • How would your life be different if you didn’t have this pain or hurt anymore?

Take action:

  • Try saying out loud “I forgive ….”
  • Try writing a letter of forgiveness (this letter does not need to be sent, the purpose and benefit is gained by the act of writing and in you forgiving).
  • Try a LovingKindness Meditation.

 For the Whos, forgiving the Grinch allowed them to experience the happiness and joy of Christmas Day without resentment and pain. They could have let the experience ruin their day, they could have chosen to be angry and resentful even though they got their belongings back, but they didn’t.

And the people who benefited most from the act of forgiveness were the Whos.

Forgiving others in your life will allow you to fully live in the moment, be open to experience amazing things, will allow you to let go of the past and worry less about the future.  I wish you the best this Christmas!

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who provides counseling to 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.