How do you measure perfection?

How do you measure perfection?

Walking along the beach in Northern California in June is a pretty amazing experience.  Bright blue sky, deep blue-green ocean water, crisp white caps on the waves, soft sandy beaches sprinkled with shells. 


I walked outside for a couple hours this morning picking up shells, rocks, and sand dollars. For a bit I was caught up in the trap of finding the ‘perfect’ shells. 

It got me thinking about what I deemed as ‘perfect’ versus ‘imperfect’ …

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Is your mindset helping your life? ... or hindering it?

An interesting thing happened to me while I was out on a walk.

I used to run long distance, but due to various injuries and a surgery over the past two years, I’ve been limited in the types of exercise I can participate in.

But the other weekend I decided to go for a 3-4 mile walk. It was a beautiful day outside, cool and sunny.

About half way through, the walk gets hilly and a bit more challenging. I’m out of breath. Muscles starting to feel tired. Pretty exhausted in general. Questioning what the hell I’m doing outside when I have a perfectly good couch and Netflix at home. My mind was talking me out of continuing. Pointing out that I can bypass the hills and cut the walk short. That’s when my internal dialogue got real nasty: “You’re so out of shape, how could you let yourself get this way?” (and this is just a mild example).

It spiraled down pretty quick; it caught me off guard.

Here it was a beautiful day outside, and at the first experience of physical discomfort my mind resorted to put-downs. It has been a while since I’ve actively and consistently worked out, so it was tough to get out there. It’s also difficult knowing your body can’t do what it was once capable of. 

However, there was no reason for the negativity popping up in my brain.

So I did what any therapist would do (well at least the ones that try to practice what they preach) and started working on shifting my mindset.

I started giving myself credit for what I was doing. “Good job on getting out here today. You’re a trooper for continuing when you want to quit. You’re going to feel good tonight, better than if you just watched Netflix.” And I started smiling (at first by force, then because I started paying attention to the beauty around me). And I finished the walk. I even went a little farther than I planned.

Shifting your mindset is all about perspective.

You get to choose the perspective that will benefit you.

In my walk today I had two options: criticize myself for struggling or praise myself for trying.

Considering the two options, I shifted and choose that option that was going to feel good, help me succeed, and motivate me to try harder.

I can’t think of anything that putting myself down would have accomplished. Honestly, if I would have indulged in the criticism I would have taken the short cut and ended the walk early.  Then I would have felt regret and shame at not finishing the walk I had set out for.

Can you think of any time that harshly criticizing yourself has served a purpose?

I talk a lot of choosing joy. And I realize that sometimes it can come across as trivializing.

Choosing to shift your mindset doesn’t change your reality.  My reality was that I was exhausted and struggling on a fairly easy walk. This would stay the same no matter what option I chose to focus on.

What did change was my attitude, my perspective, my mindset.

When I suggest to people to choose joy I don’t mean it to be trivializing. There are some realities that will continue to exist, including depression, anxiety, trauma, or ending relationships.

But what shifting your mindset can do is for just one moment, one minute, you can shift inside of you. You can feel a sense of control, no matter how fleeting, over your thoughts and mood.

It’s really all about perspective. 

If you have two options, why not choose the one that will be helpful to you and bring something good to your life?

Be bold,

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives.  Adriana’s most passionate about supporting individuals exploring their gender and sexuality, and advocating for 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.

 

How to Train for a Marathon (and Stifle your Inner Critic)

So it’s the New Year and everyone is talking about resolutions. I’m not a big believer in resolutions (I much prefer creating intentions), but in case you decided that you want to do something exciting like, say train for running a marathon, here’s a tip:

It’s easier than you think.

Don’t get me wrong. Running a marathon is tough. I’ve run a couple marathons and several long distance races and have loved every minute/every mile. In December I had the opportunity to cheer on a few friends as they ran California International Marathon.  The looks on the runners’ faces were that of determination, commitment, and exhaustion even at the half way mark. Marathons are hard work.

 

Want to know the “magic” trick for crossing the finish line of a marathon?

Practice. That’s it.  Running a marathon takes practice.

 

I am pretty confident that most anyone, with the right training, can finish a marathon. 

Training involves physical practice in the form of weekly runs with increasingly longer distances, caring for your body in between with rest, eating the best foods to fuel your body, and using the right equipment (shoes, hydration packs, etc.)

The mental game to marathon training is the harder part to practice. If you ask most long distance runners they will tell you it’s not the physical aspects that make a marathon challenging, it’s about the barriers your mind will create. The part of your head that tells you to give up when you’re cold or hot, or in pain, or it’s dark outside, or you’re tired.  Crossing and overcoming the mental barriers is harder than any physical wall you will hit.

I’m sure you’ve experienced mental barriers before. The part of your brain that tells you you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you can’t succeed and should just quit.  Let’s call that your inner critic.

What runners know is that you can overcome your inner critic with practice.  Try this exercise to squelch your inner critic:

  • Pay attention when your negative talk comes in. Listen to what your inner critic is saying and write it down. Make a long list of the crap your inner critic says.
  • Step away from your list for a minute and come back with a fresh mind. Try to look at each statement from an outsider’s perspective.

  • Take each phrase and identify ways that you can modify the statement to be more effective/less negative for you.  For example, if you hear in your head “I won’t ever get a promotion at work because I don’t have the training/experience in XYZ,” find a new way to look at the situation. What about: “I have many strengths and attributes that make me an excellent employee and I’m willing to work hard and learn.” 

  • Check in with yourself about how accurate you believe the new statement to be. Does it feel true to you? Can you connect and buy into it? If not, rewrite it. The statement has to feel truthful to you. It may take some thought and time to identify an alternate statement, but you’re worth the time. Keep thinking and rewriting until you feel confident in what you are saying.

Mastering the mental game during a marathon takes the steps.  When you’re on the trail, have been running for two hours, feel exhausted and want to quit, you find ways to overcome the negative critic. You tell yourself “I’ve trained hard and I’m prepared” or remind yourself “I’ve got this, I can make it” or “It doesn’t need to be pretty, but I’m going to finish this race”.  Because next time will be better and easier and more enjoyable. Because with practice things become easier.

 

So practice stifling your inner critic. Practice it every day.  The only way to make it to a goal is to practice.

 

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.