3 Steps to Self-Compassion

March 10, 2020

Why do we say such mean things to ourselves? “You can be so stupid.” “Why would he be attracted to YOU?” “You’re just going to screw this up.” Most of us treat ourselves far more harshly than we would anyone else. Our inner critic says things that we would never say to another person. This often contributes […]

3 Steps to Self-Compassion

March 10, 2020

Why do we say such mean things to ourselves?

“You can be so stupid.”

“Why would he be attracted to YOU?”

“You’re just going to screw this up.”

Most of us treat ourselves far more harshly than we would anyone else. Our inner critic says things that we would never say to another person. This often contributes to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Practicing self-compassion can help you change this internal relationship and make you feel like you have a supportive friend with you instead of just a critic.

This might sound weird, uncomfortable, or impossible at first. Please keep reading to learn some simple but profound ways you can begin to practice self-compassion. Over time, you will be able to connect in a loving and supportive manner with yourself.

1. Become More Mindful of Your Feelings

Self-compassion is a pathway to emotional healing. To begin, practice being more aware of your own emotions, especially as they relate to yourself.

Try to be more aware of when you have an uncomfortable emotion. Perhaps you are feeling confused, desperate, or inadequate. These are moments that your inner critic may strike. Now, try and offer yourself kindness and understand instead. Like you would do for a good friend.

You may say something to yourself life, “I know you’re disappointed. I also know you did your best and I am so proud of you for trying.”

2. Monitor Yourself

Until you become used to being compassionate toward yourself, you’ll want to be very aware of the language you are using. Just like all habit changes, you are likely to fall back into old patterns until the new one becomes routine. Criticizing yourself will be the automatic choice and don’t expect yourself to be perfect at self-compassion. When you notice the critical voice has taken over, be aware and make a compassionate correction. This can even include being self-compassionate about self-criticism! “Wow, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. It hurts when I talk to myself like that, but everyone makes mistakes.”

3. Get Physical

There’s a phrase that says, “get out of your head and drop into your body.” This is a perfect way to engage with self-compassion.

Begin to use kind physical gestures with yourself. This could be gently stroking your cheeks and temples when you’re stressed, holding your hand over your heart when you’re sad, or holding your own hand when you feel lonely. Any physical gesture, so long as it’s loving, will help you show yourself true love and kindness in those moments.

For some people, showing themselves compassion may prove to be incredibly difficult. It can be helpful to work with a therapist to help you understand your blocks and learn to practice self-compassion in a healthy and supportive way. If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please contact me to schedule a free consultation session.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

February 28, 2020

We all want to have healthy relationships, right? However, if you grew up in a household that was unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries, you may not know how to build healthy relationships. Many people with this type of past, find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people […]

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

February 28, 2020

We all want to have healthy relationships, right? However, if you grew up in a household that was unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries, you may not know how to build healthy relationships. Many people with this type of past, find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity.

If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:

Identify Your Limits

You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Use your emotions to help you determine your limits.

Don’t Be Shy, Communicate Your Needs

People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what you mean as you explain your new boundaries. Other people, especially those who have different cultural backgrounds or personalities, may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct with what you want and don’t want.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.

You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.

If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to minimize your exposure to further interactions with them and/or have a self-care plan to help you recover.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.

Speak with Someone

If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please contact me to schedule a free consultation session.

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

December 23, 2019

What does it mean to have healthy self-esteem? Is it feeling good about how you look? Or accomplishing something big in your life? The reality is, having healthy self-esteem means you like and appreciate yourself faults and all. Good self-esteem can be the difference between being a happy, resilient individual, able to face life’s challenges head-on […]

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

December 23, 2019

What does it mean to have healthy self-esteem? Is it feeling good about how you look? Or accomplishing something big in your life?

The reality is, having healthy self-esteem means you like and appreciate yourself faults and all. Good self-esteem can be the difference between being a happy, resilient individual, able to face life’s challenges head-on and someone who suffers from depression and anxiety and is often overwhelmed with life.

If you have struggled with self-esteem issues, there are some things you can do to free yourself:

Face the REAL Reality

Are you someone that generalizes your lack of self-esteem? By that I mean, do you make generalities about yourself such as, “I’m an idiot,” “I’m not pretty enough or smart enough?” The truth is, we all act like idiots from time-to-time, and most human beings on this planet can find someone who is smarter and more attractive than they are.

If you’re going to work on your self-esteem, you need to first recognize that you often lie to yourself with these generalities. It may be a very convincing lie from your point of view, but it’s still a lie.

To become familiar with reality, make a list of 10 of your strengths and 10 weaknesses. If you have a hard time coming up with your strengths, think about what others have said about you: you’re a good listener, you are thoughtful, you cook a mean burger.

When you’re done making this list, you’ll see there are plenty of things you are really good at. Of course, you have weaknesses too.  Look at that list again. Which weaknesses do you want to work on changing over time? Which are things that are really fine, but you are putting unreasonable expectations on yourself? Which weaknesses are things that are both vulnerabilities and strengths depending on the situation? Like being sensitive, it can be a source of pain and also a great opportunity for connection and creativity.

Forget About Perfection

Perfection doesn’t exist. Now you may think all of those Hollywood A-listers that are on the cover of magazines are the epitome of perfection, but even they are air-brushed, photoshopped, and have a team of people following them around so their hair is never out of place.

Stop spending your energy trying to have the perfect face, body, bank account, career, children or relationships. None of that exists. Focus your energy on achieving attainable goals like finishing a project, making time for an important relationship, and enjoying your hobbies.

Get to Know Your Authentic Self

We spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to others that we don’t really take the time to get to know ourselves. Beyond strengths and weaknesses, who are you as a person? What makes you happy or excites you? What hobbies do you enjoy? What kind of friend are you?

The more you know about yourself, the more chances that you’ll find things out you really like.

If you would like to speak to someone about your self-esteem issues, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

September 23, 2019

When we talk about our mental health, we’re not just talking about dysfunction or a clinical diagnosis. Your mental health refers to your overall psychological wellbeing. We can all benefit from caring for our mental health, just like our physical health. Life is full of unique challenges and stresses, and a healthy mental state can help […]

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

September 23, 2019

When we talk about our mental health, we’re not just talking about dysfunction or a clinical diagnosis. Your mental health refers to your overall psychological wellbeing. We can all benefit from caring for our mental health, just like our physical health. Life is full of unique challenges and stresses, and a healthy mental state can help you take challenges in stride and reduce your suffering.

1. Positive Affirmations

Repeating an affirmation can help you focus on the positive and create a mental outlook that will be a driving force in your life. Use a search engine to look up “positive affirmations” and you’ll find several ideas of words and phrases. Look for one that resonates with you and things you struggle with. You can also try searching for something more specific, such as “positive affirmations for women” or “positive affirmations to improve self-esteem”.

Try repeating your phrase or phrases during meditation, either out loud or in your mind. You can also repeat your phrase to yourself throughout your day for a gentle perspective shift and internal mental health support. This practice can help you shift out of a pattern of negative self-talk and negative focus, which will greatly improve your overall mental health.

2. Gratitude

Practicing gratitude will also shift your attention to the positive aspects of your life. By focusing on what’s good, you’ll start to notice and appreciate more positive aspects of your life. Gratitude is more than just a feeling; it’s a choice to prioritize and value the good in your life. By choosing to be grateful, you also reduce the focus on negative thoughts.

3. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is a vital part of positive mental and physical health. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will help you maintain stable blood sugar. This creates a consistent level of energy that won’t leave you feeling tired or sluggish or give you the temporary “sugar high” and crash.  Eating healthy supports a stable mood and will also provide a mental boost because you’ll feel good about your healthy food choices.

4. Sunshine

Sunshine is a great way to boost your mood. Put on some comfortable walking shoes and take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood or a local park or even sit outside for a few minutes on your lunch break. Exposure to sunlight will help your brain release serotonin which will boost your mood, and help you feel more calm and focused.

5. Get Some Sleep

A good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. When you’re well-rested, you’re naturally energized and have a stable base from which to maneuver the day’s ups and downs. Regular sleep also boosts your immune system as well as your cognitive and mental health.

By making some healthy additions to your daily routines, you can develop regular habits that will improve your overall mental well-being.

If you need some help getting into a good self-care routine or dealing with anxiety or depression, therapy can help. Contact me today to set up a consultation session in my office or by secure video to discuss getting started.

10 Signs You Might Be a “Highly Sensitive Person”

July 8, 2019

Do you hate hearing, “you’re just too sensitive?” Well, maybe you are more sensitive than the average person, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing and you are not alone. It is estimated that roughly 15 to 20 percent of the population fit in to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) category. In fact, […]

10 Signs You Might Be a “Highly Sensitive Person”

July 8, 2019

Do you hate hearing, “you’re just too sensitive?” Well, maybe you are more sensitive than the average person, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing and you are not alone. It is estimated that roughly 15 to 20 percent of the population fit in to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) category. In fact, scientists now believe there is a gene behind this trait.

What does it mean to be highly sensitive? The HSP is generally defined as someone with “acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli.” So, really sensitive to everything inside and out.

Being highly sensitive can make many “normal” life situations feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. However, there are some real perks to0, so make sure you read the whole post!

Signs You May Be a Highly Sensitive Person

If you are curious whether you may be part of the population that is highly sensitive, here are 10 signs to look for:

  1. You are quick to feel negative emotions, such as sadness and anxiety.
  2. You often feel physical symptoms with your emotions, such as headaches and muscle tension.
  3. You become overwhelmed with sensory stimuli such as sound, light and smells.
  4. The energy of the crowd easily overwhelms you and you feel tired after social outings.
  5. You become very emotional over the injustices of the world. (For example, you cry or become angry at the thought of children or animals being harmed).
  6. You often worry what others think of you.
  7. You often take things personally.
  8. You have a hard time letting things go and receiving critical feedback.
  9. You’re often tempted to avoid most social situations and prefer to stay home alone.
  10. You startle easily to loud noises.

Benefits of Being a Highly Sensitive Person

As I mentioned earlier, while being a HSP can cause you to feel awkward or overwhelmed at times, there are some definite perks to being highly sensitive. For starters, you are someone who can enjoy subtle sensory detail that a majority of the population misses. You’ll notice subtle shades of color and texture and feel immense pleasure at the complexities of your sensory experience with food and art.

You’re also someone people like being around because you are aware of others’ feelings, needs, and emotions. This natural empathy, makes HSPs make great teachers, managers, and leaders.

HSPs are also incredibly creative. Many artists, musicians, and famous actors are highly sensitive people who have gifted the world with their talent and insight into what it means to be human.

As you can see, if you can cope with the difficult aspects of being a highly sensitive person, you can reap some pretty great rewards.

If you or someone you love suspects they are a HSP and would like to explore treatment options to manage the challenges, please contact me to set up a consultation.

5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

April 15, 2019

Self-care is important, but while anyone can tell you should do it, only you can do it. The first step is recognizing that you deserve to be cared for, just as you do for others. So, how do you do this? By noticing the need for self-care by looking at the ways in which you are […]

5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

April 15, 2019

Self-care is important, but while anyone can tell you should do it, only you can do it. The first step is recognizing that you deserve to be cared for, just as you do for others.

So, how do you do this? By noticing the need for self-care by looking at the ways in which you are currently not taking very good care of yourself.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t practicing enough self-care. If any seem familiar, it is time to make more time for yourself:

1. You Get Sick More Often

When we don’t take proper care of ourselves, it shows in our overall health. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to an overworked immune system, which in turn makes you vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

2. Increased Moodiness

What happens when a child does not get the care and attention they deserve? They begin to act out in order to get any attention. In much the same way, a lack of self-care and treating yourself as unimportant, can lead to increased irritability. This in turn, can result in negative effects in personal and professional relationships.

3. Unpleasant Physical Symptoms

What can start out as unpleasant (and even scary) physical symptoms, can be a sign of poor self-care. Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, headaches, and fainting spells. All of these symptoms should be taken seriously and checked out by your healthcare provider immediately. However, if a physical illness isn’t found, you need to look at your overall physical and emotional self-care for the remedy.

4. A Feeling of Isolation

When you feel you can’t take the time or don’t deserve to care for yourself, you naturally cut back on enjoying other aspects of your life. Socializing and connecting with friends and family can end up getting pushed out of the priority list too. This can lead to a detachment of others and a sense of isolation.

5. Depression

Feelings of worthlessness can snowball into feelings of hopelessness and depression. If you have noticed yourself slipping farther and farther into a depression, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you recognize where the darkness has come from, and how to break through back into the light.

If you or a loved one is experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, or would simply like some help practicing self-care, please contact me. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

3 Signs Social Media Is Hindering Your Happiness

May 21, 2018

How long has it been since you checked your Facebook, Twitter, or Intragram account? If you’re like most people, you probably use social media many times throughout the day and may even have notifications set up that prompt you to check even more often. While social media can be fun, studies have suggested that it […]

3 Signs Social Media Is Hindering Your Happiness

May 21, 2018

How long has it been since you checked your Facebook, Twitter, or Intragram account? If you’re like most people, you probably use social media many times throughout the day and may even have notifications set up that prompt you to check even more often.

While social media can be fun, studies have suggested that it can take a toll on our emotions. One such study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user. A co-author of the research, Professor Margaret Duffy, noted concern about social media from the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”

Other studies have revealed that most people tend to edit photos and only show the ones that make their lives seem more attractive to others. That makes sense, who would post the worst pictures of themselves?  However, we often forget this when we are comparing ourselves to our “Facebook friends.” It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes the grief and suffering. It is the not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others through comparison.

If you are wondering whether maybe your happiness has taken a hit from social media use, here are 3 signs it has:

1.  You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good

We all love feeling appreciated and valued. It feels great when a friend tells you that you look good or gives you positive feedback when you share something about your life. However, if you feel that you need to get “likes” on your pictures and posts, and only have good days based on getting that positive feedback online, you are too dependent on social media.

2.  You’re an Instant Gratification Addict

With such easy and constant access to technology, we have become a society of people who seek out instant gratification. While it’s okay to sometimes want fast food and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy and good through social media is very harmful.

If the promise of instant gratification is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent on social media.

3.  You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again

Adults can be just as susceptible to getting caught up in caring about how many “Facebook friends” and “likes” they get as teenagers. Anyone can struggle with putting down their phone to eat dinner or go to bed. Social media has created the opportunity to feel that we are constantly reliving the high school popularity contests. At the end of the day, are all of those “Facebook friends” really your friends?

True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough on whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem. We all need connection, but think quality not quantity.

The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. You “Facebook friends” are just as caught up in wanting to look good and feel that they measure up as you are. Struggling to feel worthy is something we all have in common, so see if you can take a step back to try to feel compassion for yourself and others as you watch this struggle play out on social media.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time with self-worth issues, therapy can be very helpful. I offer a free consultation session to discuss how I may be able to help.

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day

May 9, 2018

Does this happen to you? You sit down with a bag of chips or pint of ice cream intending to eat only one serving, but before you know it the entire container is empty. You have no real recollection of tasting what you just ate, much less enjoying it, as your attention was focused elsewhere. Just like […]

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day

May 9, 2018

Does this happen to you?

You sit down with a bag of chips or pint of ice cream intending to eat only one serving, but before you know it the entire container is empty. You have no real recollection of tasting what you just ate, much less enjoying it, as your attention was focused elsewhere. Just like coming home from a familiar place and not remembering the drive, you seem to have eaten the whole thing on autopilot.

This is mindlesseating is how many of us eat every meal of every day. Consuming our food without any awareness of what or how much food we are eating.  This reactive, thoughtless process is part of the reason for much of overeating and weight gain in this country.

What is Mindful Eating and How Do I Do It?

Mindful eating is exactly that– it is a practice of staying present as you eat. It is noticing what and how much food you are eating by focusing on the sensory experiences of fueling your body. What are the colors in this meal? What textures are present and how do they combine in each bite?  What flavors do you notice both in individual foods and bite combinations?

Mindful eating is not a fad diet which promises quick results and then sends you on to the weight and self-esteem roller coaster. Instead, mindful eating is about changing your relationship with food, so that  you don’t feel controlled or afraid of it. When you eat mindfully, you practice sustaining your attention, you taste and experience food more fully, and you feel more satisfied after you eat.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, here are four ways you can begin practicing mindful eating every day:

1.  In Sight – In Mind

You know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Well the opposite is also true – the food we see and have readily available is what we tend to want to eat. Try putting away (or throwing out) any foods that you don’t want to eat impulsively and instead put out a bowl of fruit and/or nuts on the counter for when you have low blood sugar and your body says “feed me, now!”

Mindful eating starts with being prepared by meal planning and grocery shopping. Focus on stocking your fridge and shelves with healthier foods and snacks that you will feel good about eating. Having these healthy options readily available makes it easy to make a choice you feel proud of!

2.  Stop Multitasking

How often do you just eat and only eat? Most of us eat while watching TV, reading, doing homework, or checking our phone. Try making meal times a time for eating and only eating, so that you can actually be present with the process and enjoy your food.  If you absolutely must work through your lunch break, try alternating between tasks so you can focus on one thing at a time. For instance, take a few bites of your lunch focusing on the look, smell, taste, and texture, then put down your fork and write and send that email that has to get out. By switching back and forth you can eat mindfully and not rush your meal while still getting some work done.

3.  Slow Down

Unless you’ve entered a pie-eating contest, there’s no rush. Too many times we wolf down our food, then wonder why we feel sick or tired after eating. Take your time to notice the eating process. It might help to remind yourself as you chew, to slow down and take your time. Eventually slow, purposeful eating will become an ingrained habit, but like any habit change it takes practice.

4.  Assess Your Hunger

How hungry are you when you begin to eat? Are you even hungry at all, or are you eating for another reason, like as an emotional coping tool?

Before you dive into that large pizza with the works, check in with your real hunger level. On a scale of 1-10, if your hunger is a 3, one slice should suffice. If you’re not hungry, but in a bad mood because the boss is making you stay late, then pizza probably isn’t the best solution. Instead, you might try to lift your mood with a non-food treat like a funny YouTube video you know you like or thinking of something that you are looking forward to.

Try to incorporate these tips into your everyday life. You will be surprised how mindful eating can change your entire life, from the size clothes you wear, to your health, to how in control you feel in other areas of your life.

Therapy can help if  you would like support working on changing your relationship with food or the emotions that you are trying to manage with food.  Feel free to call me for a free consultation session to discuss starting therapy.

5 Ways to Raise Your Self-Esteem

February 9, 2018

Low self-esteem has become an epidemic in this country, and one that negatively impacts our quality of life. Feelings of being unworthy can begin at a young age and build up over time leading to depression and anxiety for some people. Finding ways to feel better about ourselves and our abilities is important part of […]

5 Ways to Raise Your Self-Esteem

February 9, 2018

Low self-esteem has become an epidemic in this country, and one that negatively impacts our quality of life. Feelings of being unworthy can begin at a young age and build up over time leading to depression and anxiety for some people.

Finding ways to feel better about ourselves and our abilities is important part of enjoying life. Here are 5 ways to increase your self-esteem:

  1. Quiet That Inner Critic

Negative self-talk is a common issue for people with low self-esteem. If you’re one of those people whose inner critic is constantly beating them up, it’s important you learn to turn the volume down or change the channel. The first step is to have awareness of the negative comments and then see if you can re-frame them to neutral or positive. For example, “I’m so stupid, I never do anything right” would feel better as “math is challenging for me, so I need to give my self more time and ask for help if I need it.”

Also, work on resetting the balance on where you put your attention.  We naturally tend to focus more on weaknesses, so make an effort to focus on your strengths and abilities.

  1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We are all so unique. Sadly, instead of celebrating what makes us individuals, many of us spend time comparing ourselves to others. Then, in the areas where we find we don’t quite measure up, we feel inadequate. When you recognize that all people have strengths and weaknesses, you can stop comparing yourself to others and instead concentrate on being the best version of you that you can be.

  1. Give Up the Quest to be Perfect

Being human means being imperfect. We all have flaws, we are all works in progress, and that’s okay. Striving for the impossible is futile and exhausting.  Even Hollywood’s A-listers are often photoshopped and many have been treated for depression and addiction. They are human and struggling like anyone else.

Stop setting yourself up for failure by trying to be perfect.  Instead set attainable goals for yourself and let yourself feel successful!

  1. Start Loving Your Body

Many people struggle with body image issues. Much of it is because of the perfectionism and photoshopping I just mentioned. It’s hard to love your body when you are expected to look like the people who grace the covers of magazines.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about your body, focus on being healthy. Be grateful for what is working and nurture you body and mind with healthy choices that make you feel good.

  1. Cut Back on Social Media

Social media has its good points, but it can also set unrealistic expectations regarding relationships and lifestyles. It’s important to remember that online, people tend to only post images that make their lives seem awesome, but that’s only part of the story. How many of us post the picture that made us cringe when we looked at it?  Spending too much time looking at other people leading fun lives can lead us to spending less time enjoying our own.

If self-esteem issues have become a serious problem in your life, leading to anxiety and depression, consider working with a therapist who can help you work through your memories and emotions. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help in a free initial consultation to discuss your needs.

5 Ways To Overcome Co-dependence

January 29, 2018

Do another person’s wants and needs come before your own?  Do you find yourself trying to solve the unsolvable problem of changing someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors because you have accepted responsibility them? Are you constantly trying to please others even at the expense of yourself? Does setting healthy boundaries sound impossible and rejecting […]

5 Ways To Overcome Co-dependence

January 29, 2018

Do another person’s wants and needs come before your own?  Do you find yourself trying to solve the unsolvable problem of changing someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors because you have accepted responsibility them? Are you constantly trying to please others even at the expense of yourself? Does setting healthy boundaries sound impossible and rejecting to someone you love? Are you stuck in an unhealthy relationship because you just can’t let go?

If you said “yes” to some or all of the above questions, you have some of the symptoms of co-dependency. Co-dependent people tend to look to others to tell them what they should feel, need, and act like. While most would agree that sensitivity to others is a wonderful trait, people with co-dependent tendencies take it to an extreme and are hurt because of an inability to create healthy boundaries.

So why do we need boundaries? Just like the having walls and doors in our home, boundaries separate us from the outer world and allow us to choose what gets in.  They help us understand what is ours and what is someone else’s.  That way you don’t have to hold responsibility for other’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and get hurt and frustrated in the process.  Rather, you can be caring and supportive to others while letting go of the guilt and pressure to fix them.

While all long-term patterns take time and effort to change, there are things you can do to overcome co-dependency.  Just keep in mind that there is extra challenge, because the other person or people in your life might not like or support these changes, at least at first. Just remember that the hard work is worth it to build healthier relationships with yourself and others!

1. Recognize Any Denial

The first step to change is to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the problem. Our brains are really good at justifying what we are doing or want to believe.  “It’s okay if I have a second piece of pie, I had a really hard day and I’ll go for an extra long walk tomorrow.”  While it can feel scary to admit to being involved in a dysfunctional relationship, honesty is the first step toward healing.  Facing the problem allows you to build a better relationship dynamic or let go of people who can’t or won’t be healthy partners for you.

2. Study Your Past

The next step on your path to healing  is to take a look at your family history to uncover experiences that may have contributed to your co-dependency. What were relationships like in your family of origin? What messages or events led to you to disconnect from your inner emotions?  Who told you that their reality was more valid than what your inner voice told you?

This can be a difficult process and one that involves reliving childhood emotions. You may find that you feel guilty for admitting you were wounded in your formative years by people who you care about.  This type of work can be difficult and is best done in a safe therapeutic relationship.

3. Detach from Unhealthy Involvements

In order to truly work on ourselves, we have to first detach from what we are obsessed with. Personal growth will require giving up the over-involvement with trying to change, control, or please someone else.  While this sometimes means letting go of the relationship, it can also mean changing how we see our role in the relationship. Learning to differentiate what is ours or not ours and letting go and acknowledging we cannot fix problems that are not ours.

4. Learn Self-care

Giving up your excessive attempts to please others is a good start to healing, but learning self-care is absolutely necessary. It’s important that you first begin to become aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and needs.  Then learn how to communicate them in a relationship. This may feel selfish, but try thinking of it as putting on your oxygen mask in a plane.  If you put yours on first, you can help all of the people around you, if you don’t you will passed out in the isle. Self care not only makes us feel better, but it also gives us more resources to share.

5. Get Good at Saying “No”

One of the best ways you can begin to set healthy boundaries is to learn to say “no” to situations that are not healthy for you. This will feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.  It will also mean that when you say “yes,” you can feel good about what you have agreed to.

Seeking the guidance of a therapist will be beneficial as you work your way through these five steps. They will be able to help you safely explore your painful feelings and experiences and learn healthy ways of relating to yourself and others. If you or a loved one is co-dependent and interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today for a free initial consultation session.