Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

The Sound of Silence

In 2005 I took a trip as a college credit across the United States in a 15 passenger van with 12 other students that I really didn’t know.  The purpose of the trip was to experience different cultures and create art in ways that I could not experience in my Midwestern campus life.  The most inspiring part of the trip for me, that has left a lasting imprint on my psyche was a hike down into Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.  Hiking down into the basin of the canyon was the only time I have every experienced true Oneness with the world.

I recall a specific moment during the descent in which I subsequently felt minuscule and gigantic…and immediately started crying! In this one moment, I remember seeing a small flower growing out of a rock.  I was so much more complex, large, and evolved than this plant AND at the same time I looked across this canyon and realized that I am a tiny speck on this planet.  The hike into the Canyon is 1 1/4 miles each way and I would estimate that I had this experience about 1/3 of the way down.  I hiked the rest of the way with complete awareness of the awe of nature.

This is the sound of silence.

 

View of Canyon de Chelly

 

How would you capture silence in a photograph? Is it a positive image like this one, showing a much-needed break? Or is it the opposite, revealing the lack of communication in a friendship or the dangers of not speaking out? Show us your interpretation in a new post.

Inspiration, mental health

Things I learned from my 5 year old daughter:

1. Tell other people they are beautiful if you think they are.

It never ceases to amaze me how kind-hearted and honest kids can be. The truth is, I am shy! My daughter doesn’t get her outgoing nature from me! And yet…even today as we were walking into a building, she turned to another little girl (a stranger, approximately 9 years old) and said “you’re beautiful!” to her….and the little girl smiled so big and said “thanks! you are too!”

IT WAS AMAZING! In what world would two adult women (strangers) exchange compliments like that!?!

Furthermore, she does this often…grocery stores, church, etc…If she thinks you are beautiful, she will let you know 🙂

2. Dancing is a guaranteed mood boost.

Again…shy mom…NOT SHY kid! She can dance and dance and dance…My child will hear the faintest music in a store and break out dancing to her heart’s desire! It has taught me to join in occasionally…and it ALWAYS cheers me up 🙂

3. Slow and steady wins the race.

Being the mom of a preschooler is hard.  There are a LOT of comparisons.  There are parenting books about which parenting books to read! At every turn it seems like your preschooler is falling behind because she doesn’t know 7 languages and can’t write her entire name in cursive… but what I am learning right along side her, is that comparisons are crap.  Kids all get there in their own time and no amount of stress is going to speed them up, if anything, it will slow them down.

 

So think about your own life, what would be different if you were vocally kinder, danced more, and stopped comparing yourself to others?

DBT, mental health

Thoughts, Feelings, Behaviors

ThoughtsBehaviorsFeelings

Thoughts, feelings, behaviors. They are all connected and the relationship is transactional.  This means that while one influences another, that change will in turn influence another factor.  None of the three can exist without the other two.

This begs the question, where do we make the change in our lives if we have suffering?  Do you change what thoughts you have, do you change your actions before or after the thoughts, or do you change how you feel about the situation?  The answer is ANY of the three will elicit change; however, I will tell you that I believe that it is easier to BEHAVE your way into thinking differently than it is to THINK your way into behaving differently.  Feelings will happen.

Think about it: You wake up to your alarm.  You are very tired as you didn’t sleep well.   You were up late crying, emotional about something that had happened.  Is it easier to get yourself to think “gee, I am so glad to be awake early! The fact that I have a headache from crying is no problem! I look forward to seeing people today who may ask me how I’m doing!” OR is it easier to get out of bed, turn on the radio to some upbeat music, and pour a bowl of fruity pebbles?  I imagine that if you try to change your thoughts, you may end up with anxiety, dread, sadness (and you may never get out of bed, at least not on time!)…whereas if you try to change your behavior, you may actually feel pride, competence and contentment.

We know it is one of the HARDEST things to do, to act differently than we may feel.  Think back to the last time you were feeling depressed, I bet it would have been REALLY hard to get you to go exercise!  The last time you were really anxious, I bet it would have been REALLY hard to convince you to go lay down and listen to a meditation.  And the last time you were fuming mad, I bet it would have been difficult to get you to go for a walk…and yet this is what I suggest! Why would I suggest something so radically difficult? Mainly because if you do, you will see how quickly it remedies the intensity of the emotion and thoughts.  I propose that if you do it a few times in a row, you will begin to trust the process…this is pretty much what all people with good habits say about how they stick to their routines!

So work on doing the opposite of your (ineffective) urge and see if the thoughts and feelings come along in a helpful way!

Inspiration, mental health

Rise Up

A new year has me reflecting on words that spark passion in me.  Words that make me want to do better, be better, try harder…(yes…a word can do that for me!). Today I choose RISE.

When I think of the word rise, here’s what comes to mind:

  • sunrise
  • bread rising
  • Jesus rising from the dead
  • the phrase “rise up”
  • people rising up against something
  • a mountain peak rising against the horizon
  • the phrase “rise and shine”
  • my grandma saying “early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”

Every single one of these associations has a positive connection in my mind! I think of the freshness, the renewed energy, the promise that is associating with something rising, and that makes me think it is a perfect word for January! January is the rising of a new year, the sun has set on 2017 and nothing can be done to change it.

For me, as I have shared, my goal this year is mostly centered on building my business Your Mental Restoration in an effort of achieving my larger goal of helping others optimize their mental health.  I see my role as being a hand that reaches down into the dust of the depression pit, into the chaos of an anxious mind and reaches through the brick walls of anger in an effort of helping even one person to have better mental health.  I know that as I work on this goal, it will also propel me to naturally work on others; as we know that helping others is  surefire way to help ones’ self!

I hope that you think of a way to help yourself rise against the strife that 2017 brought for so many.  I hope that you create a vision that inspires you as a majestic mountaintop inspires many.  I hope that you find habits that help you to rise and shine each morning much as the words my grandma shared with me have guided me.

Happy 2018! It’s not over yet so we can’t call it a loss, don’t dare have actions that make it seem like you think it already is!

Inspiration, mental health

New Years Resolution. Fact or Crap?

In general, I vow not to make “New Year’s Resolutions”; I find them to be laden with high expectations and low follow through which leads to disappointment, depression and shame.  I am not; however, anti goal-setting or anti intention-setting.  In fact, my strategy has been for the last few years, to choose a word or theme that I deem to be my word or phrase of the impending year.

In order to set an intention for 2018, you must first tread into the land of goals and resolutions.  You need to ask yourself several self-inquiry questions:

  1. What am I proud of accomplishing in 2017?
  2. What do I regret doing and not doing?
  3. What do I want people to think about me? What kind of reputation do I want? If people described me in three words, what words would I want them to use?
  4. What is going well in my family life? What would I like to see improve?
  5. What is going well for me financially and what would I like to work on?
  6. How is my self-care? My health? Am I taking care of my body? What is a realistic area that I could improve on?
  7. How do I feel about my connections in life? Spiritually? Relationships with peers? Family? Co-workers?
  8. Am I living according to the values that are important to me? What do I feel passionately about?

I would encourage you to journal long and hard on these topics.  Research the ones that stand out to you.  Ask (trusted) people in your life what they think about your functioning in each area.

Once you have explored what went well last year and what areas you would like to grow in 2018, start looking for commonalities in your answers.  Do you see a common theme? If so…that might be something you can boil down into a word/phrase! If not, that’s ok! Triage your answers into your top one or two areas for growth and work to find a commonality between those two.  Don’t be afraid to use http://www.thesaurus.com/ to find a word that really speaks to you.

That’s it! That’s the hard part…once you have your word or phrase for 2018, shout it out, what is yours?!  I would encourage you to make it public so that your are more likely to achieve results.

 

My word for 2018 is BUILD.

DBT, mental health

Smile

DBT has a skill called the “half smile”.  Even the name brings on a smirk from people; however I want to take a moment to really explain this one…

Half smile is NOT about faking a smile or having a weird Cheshire Cat/Joker type cynical smile.  If I re-named this skill, I’d call it “pleasant expression”. Basically you are relaxing your facial muscles and then ever-so-slightly putting a pleasant expression on your face, almost as if you were recalling a lovely memory. When we use certain facial muscles, our brain is tricked into thinking we really are happy and it will send us the feel-good chemicals associated! It is so powerful and packs a big punch for being such a minor task.

Half smiling is similar to Tyra Banks “smize”.  If you actually watch WHAT she is doing differently between her normal face and her “smize”, she has ever so subtle crows feet appearing at the corners of her eyes, and the corners of her mouth are very slightly being tugged toward a smile.  These are minuscule details; however, your body will pick up on them and adjust accordingly!

 

Half smiling can be done at any point in your day for a mood boost, it works faster than caffeine and sugar! I would especially challenge you to half smile when you are irritated, it really takes the edge off! Mona Lisa is another great reference, she has the look perfected!

monalisa

 

Researcher Paul Ekman has in depth research available on his website that covers the science behind the half smile if you are interested on a deeper understanding! https://www.paulekman.com/

mental health

Float Loft

Float lofts are popping up all over major cities, in Cincinnati I am now aware of four different locations where you can “float”.  Floating is described as a type of meditation, pain management and stress reduction strategy.  Of course, I had to try it so that I can report back to you!

Upon arrival, I was given a brief introduction to floating.  The attendant described floating as “Flying” if medication is like “driving across country”.  I was ushered into my room where there was a float pod and a shower.  They suggest you put ointment on any cuts you may have as the salt content in the water is very high.  The buoyancy of the water is the key to floating.  There is a salt content is the same as that of the dead sea.  It allows the human body to float on top of the warm water within a sensory deprivation pod.  The pod had some soothing music playing for the first few minutes before it faded into silence.  The lid of the pod can be open or closed; you get more of a sensory deprivation effect with it closed as it is PITCH BLACK.  I am grateful that I do not experience any claustrophobia!

I agree that I felt like I was in a meditative “happy place” much quicker than I am typically able to achieve with meditation; however, after about 30 minutes, I lost my focus and was unable to regain it.  Observing the pod environment became distracting: my hair swirled around and tickled my arm, I bounced off the sides, my arms were coated in crystalized salt, I scratched my nose and then the salt burned…at that time I knew I was done!

After floating, a shower is mandatory due to the saltiness of EVERYTHING in that room! I had to use a ton of shampoo (which they graciously provided) to help clean my hair and I think I used a gallon of conditioner! They also provided a room with hair dryers and mirrors to get yourself re-ready for the day. 

I enjoyed the experience and would highly recommend it to anyone who is stressed out or experiencing chronic pain.  There are discounts at many of the float locations if you have documentation from a medical doctor about your potential pain issues.

Happy Floating!

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Validation to Improve Relationships

Validation is the ability to communicate to another person that they, their perceptions, their feelings and/or their opinions are valid.  Our world tends to be quite Invalidating, in that we are berated with the message that we aren’t enough and we don’t make sense.  It reminds me of the teacher that we all had, that would correct your response even if you read from the text the exact answer.  Validation is a skill that will instantly improve relationships, especially if you learn to validate and then STOP.  The STOP is about not jumping into problem solving.  Think about how it feels when people hurl solutions to you (have you tried____________??) without taking time to understand the problem or communicate to you that the problem is anywhere near valid.

Validation requires you to find the truth in another person’s point of view.  This means that no matter how ___________ (dumb, pointless, absurd, irrational) you deem their experience to be, if you want to expedite their calming down, it is necessary for you to validate something. Validating is not the same as agreeing with them if you truly do not.  You could say something like “I can see that you are really passionate about this” or “It sounds like you had a difficult day and it has you feeling really depressed”.  If you agree with them, you can be more validating by saying “I think it makes sense that you feel that way” or “given your background, I understand why his statement bothered you”.  Letting someone know that you hear them will aide in their ability to calm down and thus problem solve.

Some tips for validating

  1. Make eye contact, stop what you are doing and put your phone down. Communicate to the other person that they are important enough that you can give undivided attention
  2. Pay attention to their body language and whether it is congruent (think slumped teenager saying “I’m fine” and attend to the one you believe is more authentic
  3. Be open to correction. If I think you have your head down because you are disinterested in what I am saying, I need to remain open to you correcting me and telling me you have a headache
  4. Communicate to them with your words, that you think the make sense either because of their history or because ANYONE would feel that way given their circumstances
  5. In unique situations, share the feeling with them (not one-upping them, not taking the focus off of them) ie: when they get REALLY good or REALLY bad news

 

I have a feeling that if you reflect on who you like to spend time with, they are a fairly validating people! If you can channel that person, it may be easier to validate by thinking “what would _________ say?” Take time to practice!

Inspiration, mental health

When The Head and The Heart Don’t Align

DBT individual session.jpg

I saw this photo recently and it moved me.  It was from Burning Man a few years ago (2015 I believe) and shows that even when two adults are at odds, pushing each other away, their inner children (the innocent, naïve inner self) can still be yearning for the comfort of the other.

What do you think? Do you take a different message?