trauma

What is a Trauma Trigger?

You have probably heard the term “trauma trigger” but you may not be comfortable saying what it is, or if you have them. In this video we discuss what we mean when we say “trigger”, some ways to identify if you have some and what they might be, and some coping skills to deal with them.

I hope this is helpful for you! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

10 Things to Know About Therapy Before You Decide if it's for You

Let’s spend some time today unpacking the idea of therapy and what it is. I have noticed that for many people, there are too many unknowns for them to be fully comfortable seeking it out, and this is a shame, because therapy is an incredibly powerful tool that we can use to live our lives more fully.

I hear it all the time! “What do I need therapy for when I have friends and family who love me and want to hear what’s going on?” There’s a misconception that therapy is supposed to meet the same need that friends and family do. Having a strong social network is incredibly important, and frankly, even the most skillful therapy cannot replace these connections. But the opposite is also true. Regardless of how kind, and loving, and present your friends and family are, they aren’t a replacement for therapy.

But that doesn’t really answer our questions. What is therapy? What will it be like? And what is a reason to go to therapy? These and so many others are the ever present questions that prevent us from accessing all of the tools available to live the life that we want to have.

Think about the last time you were having a hard time. Maybe you were having issues in your relationship and you were trying to decide if you were going to try to make it work or move on. Sure, you talked to your friends and family about it! But your mom never liked him anyway. You’ve been together for 3 years and your mom still hasn’t moved past her first impression. You talk to your best friend about it, too. And it’s not that she isn’t helpful, she definitely lightens the mood. It’s just that drinking mimosas made the conversation veer off course. You felt a lot better after hanging out, you just didn’t have any answers. So you’re left to sort through all the fighting and the feelings by yourself, and you’re just as lost as you were a week ago.

The thing is that therapy isn’t just for people who have experienced trauma or have severe anxiety (although it helps for them, too). It’s also to help us learn more about ourselves so that we can make decisions that feel more authentic and move us closer to the life we want to have. Everyone, at some point or another, has a hard time sorting through confusing and often conflicting feelings. Even the best of relationships will have moments when you consider walking away, and every breakup, even those that are the healthiest comes with grief. Life is messy. And we don’t always take the time, or even know how, to sort through our feelings.

Therapy may feel like a big, scary thing, but it’s actually meant to help you feel more like yourself and make decisions that fit what you want out of life. Whether it is trauma, anxiety, life stress, or relationship challenges getting in your way, therapy can help you feel good about the direction you’re going. Here are ten things about therapy that can help you make a decision about whether or not it’s for you.

Keep reading for these ten things to know about therapy to help you decide if it’s time to try it.

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CAN’T MAKE A DECISION

Therapy certainly isn’t for everyone, or for every situation. But it helps a lot of people with a lot of different issues. If you don’t know what it is then how can you determine if it’s the right thing for you in that instance? I’m a big believer in having enough information to make the right decision for you.

CONFIDENCE TO KNOW WHAT YOU NEED

The idea is to give you enough information that you can confidently move forward with your decision about how you want to move forward. Let’s get you enough information to be able to make a decision that is right for you, either to engage with therapy or not, but also to find a therapist whose style will really meet your needs.

TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THERAPY

Therapy may seem a bit too mysterious for you to comfortably engage in it when you are struggling. The key to making solid decisions about when and how to engage in therapy is to know what you’re getting into and what you want to get out of it. So let’s take a look at ten things to know about therapy to help you make good decisions about if therapy is right for you right now, and if so, what you want it to do for you.

Check out these 10 things about therapy to help you make your decisions.

#10 You will build a relationship with your therapist

The thing is that therapy doesn’t work if you don’t feel safe with your therapist. They will be there while you are struggling. They will support you in learning about yourself and making sometimes uncomfortable perspective shifts, and we just aren’t open to this type of change if we don’t feel safe with the person in the room.

This may sound kind of strange, but often you will see your therapist for one focused hour a week. That’s more than you’ll see most anyone else in your life. Building a relationship will happen one way or another. If the therapy is going to be productive for you, it’s important that you basically like and trust the person guiding you through the process.

#9 Therapy should be uncomfortable, but not painful

This is so important. Therapy is not just idly chit chatting for an hour. There may be some chit chat in there, but it is punctuated with moments that are intense, or uncomfortable and challenging. There should be a good balance. This is part of what makes therapy different from just leaning on your friends and family. A therapist is going to find the spaces where you can grow, but not shove you into those spaces without your permission. Hence, therapy should not be painful. . .at least not for extended periods of time. If you trust your therapist, then you know that they are going to gently guide you through the hard stuff and get you back to a space where you feel back to yourself before you leave the session to do your life.

#8 Therapy should be focused

There might be some veering off in different directions, especially if you have a particularly difficult week that is unrelated to the issue that brought you in in the first place. But for the most part, there should always be a pull towards working on the issues that originally brought you in. Otherwise it’s hard to make any real, focused progress.

#7 Therapy is directed by you

Many people don’t realize that you are actually the boss in the therapy session. I am there to guide you and I will gently nudge you in a direction if I feel like it will be helpful, but you have veto power. We are there to talk about what is going to be the most helpful to you. Also, you know yourself and your family better than I do. You are the boss of your life. I’m just here to support you in uncovering what you already know about how to move forward.

#6 Therapy is best when you can be consistent

Typically your sessions will be scheduled for one hour a week. There are limited instances where you and your therapist may decide that sessions might be spread out a bit more or less than this depending on your specific goals. Your consistency in coming in to sessions will make a big impact on the speed of your progress. If there are sometimes multiple weeks in between sessions, there can be a lot of time spent just catching up about what has happened in the meantime, and that’s not a good use of your time.

If you are able to come consistently to your appointments, you will be more able to be consistently building on what you have been working on in previous sessions, and you’ll find that you are able to see more change more quickly.

#5 There are a lot of different types of therapy and therapists

You’ll hear this a lot. Therapy works the best when you find a therapist and a style of therapy that fits your personality and your needs. My personality and style works beautifully for a lot of people, but I am certainly not the best therapist for everyone. The way I think about mental health and relationship health heavily colors the way that I work, and this is true of all therapists.

For this reason, you may choose to try talking with a few therapists before you settle on the one that works for you. Most therapists will offer an opportunity to ask them questions and get to know them before you commit to sessions, and this is a great way for you to learn more about what does and doesn’t work for you.

#4 Some challenges take a long time to deal with, but others can be very short time

Every so often someone will ask how long they will need to be in therapy. And the answer to that is actually rather complicated. Honestly, it mostly depends on what you are trying to get out of the therapy. Do you have a stressful situation you need help navigating? That might take a few months. Are you trying to sort through a pattern you’ve noticed in your relationships that isn’t working for you? That might take a bit longer to sort through. This leads me into my next point.

#3 Therapy can help you make decisions, but your therapist isn’t going to tell you what to do

You are the boss. This is your life. You know more about your family, your life, and your feelings than I ever will. I will listen and be engaged. I might even have opinions (I’m pretty opinionated), but therapy isn’t about me telling you what to do. It’s about helping you get to a place where you can confidently make decisions that really serve your interest.

#2 Your therapist won’t judge you

Really though. If you feel judged by your therapist that is a problem. Everyone has weak moments. Everyone has aggressive impulses. Everyone has dark thoughts. Everyone thinks and does things they are not proud of sometimes. Therapy is about being really honest about what you are feeling and doing and identifying how to move forward in the way that is going to help you feel better. There’s no room for judging there.

#1 There is a therapist who will work with your schedule

I know you’re busy, and it can be hard to set aside the time for yourself. I get it. It can feel like the time might be better used doing something else. I would argue that if you took the time to take care of yourself you’d be able to make better use of the rest of your time.

But that aside, therapists work all kinds of weird hours. It is super likely that you will find someone who can work with your schedule. I mean, this is part of why I do online therapy. No one has to drive anywhere, and it allows for a ton more scheduling flexibility.

Making the decision to try therapy is a big one. It can take you some time to identify who would be a good fit, and get through the fear that might be stopping you from moving forward. Hopefully having some more information about what therapy is and what to look for might help you feel better about making a decision for yourself.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, let’s schedule a consult. I’d be happy to brainstorm with you about what you are looking for in a therapist, even if I’m not a good fit.

Email me today to get started.

How to Know When it’s Time to Talk About Your Feelings

I’m sure you expect that as a therapist, my advice is always going to be to talk about your feelings. But honestly, there are times when that just becomes exhausting and unhelpful. I’m a huge believer in talking about our feelings! When it’s going to be helpful. And a lot of the time it is. But how do you know if it isn’t?

Unfortunately, most of us don’t talk about our feelings enough.

And that’s definitely not good either. If you are upset about something or your feelings are hurt, it is 100% going to affect the way you interact with that person if you don’t hash it out. And I know, I know, saying 100% is quite the claim, but I feel confident in that assessment. Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen otherwise. . .maybe I’ll say 98% to be safe ;-).

So it makes sense that the majority of the time therapists are screaming from the rooftops to talk about your feelings with your loved ones.

Most of the time that is probably the right answer. It’s just that sometimes it isn’t.

Take this story as an example. Imagine that you had a really long day. Work was so busy that you barely had time to pee, so naturally, eating was out of the question. You drive home through traffic and you can almost feel your blood pressure rising. You breathe through your frustration, but despite your best efforts, you can tell that your nerves are fried.

By the time you get home you just want to shovel food into your face and sit down. But when you walk in, your husband doesn’t move from the computer. What you really want is for him to acknowledge your presence, and make some pretense of giving a shit that you may have had a hard day. But he doesn’t. He grunts from in front of the computer. Doesn’t even really turn his head. You feel a burning pit of resentment get stoked deep in your chest. Silently, you stomp your way into the kitchen without so much as grunting back, and find snacks. Halfway through the bag of pretzels, you realize that actually your husband is kind of cute. And now he is talking to you and asking about your day. Suddenly you realize that you may have been more hungry than genuinely resentful. Would it have been nice for him to be a bit more responsive when you walked in? Probably, but it certainly isn’t something that you feel you need to gripe about. Your day was already long enough, and he’s being pretty solicitous right now.

This is a prime example of a time that it would not have been helpful to talk about your feelings (especially not in the moment). You were able to move through the feelings quickly and easily, and while it might be helpful to say a quick sentence about greeting you when you come home, before you’ve eaten and after a long day probably isn’t the ideal time to do it.

And honestly, this is just one of many examples of times that talking about your feelings isn’t really going to make anything better.

So yes, most of the time talking about your feelings is the right thing to do. But if you’ve ever opened a can of worms that made things worse than when you started by trying to do the “right thing” and talk about your feelings, then you know this isn’t always the best thing to do. If you follow these steps, you will have an ironclad grasp of when it makes sense to say something, and when it might make more sense to just hold your tongue. When we figure this out, you will notice that when you do choose to talk things out, it makes much more of an impact, and then the rest of the time you can enjoy way more of the time with your people.

TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS FEELS LIKE A CHORE

The thing is, if you keep talking about every little emotion that flits across your consciousness, you are eventually going to burn out. For a while you might be able to keep it up, but it won’t be long before you decide that it’s too much work, and although it may be the “right thing to do”, you just don’t have the energy. The upside of this is that things that genuinely need to be talked about end up getting ignored because you used all your energy talking about how the dishes need to be placed in the dishwasher in a more organized fashion. This gives the real issues more time to fester, and no one wants that.

COMMUNICATING WHAT MATTERS

If you can talk about the stuff that really impacts your quality of life and relationship, you get to expend your energy on conversations that really matter. This means that you get to enjoy more of the time with the people in your life, and don’t develop festering resentments. You can feel closer to the people in your life, and feel good about the way you are standing up for yourself, too.

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LEARN HOW TO TELL WHEN TO TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS, AND WHEN TO LET IT GO

You may be feeling bogged down by the pressure of always talking things through. . .always trying to be open and vulnerable, and frustrated that you aren’t getting the results you want in your relationships. The key is to use your energy purposefully. That means learning when it makes sense to talk about your feelings, but also when it might make more sense to work through your issue on your own. Read on to learn easy to follow steps to determine when to talk it out, and when to wait it out.

ASK YOURSELF THESE FOUR QUESTIONS

The main issue here is that we are telling people to talk it out, regardless of the circumstances. Even good advice is bad advice if we aren’t talking about when and how to use it. It makes sense that you’re feeling exhausted by emotional discourse if you have no qualifiers to indicate that it’s the tool you want to use. So let’s talk about how to make sure that the energy you expend on being emotionally communicative actually increases your quality of life and relationships.

Question #1: How upset am I right now? Am I capable of having this conversation productively?

Here’s the thing, when we are the most upset is when we feel the most urge to talk things out. But there’s a problem. Maybe you can spot it. When you are the most upset is the exact time that you are the least capable of having a productive conversation. If you ask yourself how upset you are, and the answer is very, please, postpone this conversation for a time that you are going to be more emotionally available.

With my clients, we spend time identifying the signs and signals that we are beyond being able to productively communicate, and then we identify skills to initiate these conversations later on.

When you learn to discuss important issues only when you are emotionally available you will notice that your discussions (notice I didn’t say arguments) are shorter, less frequent, and more productive. Seriously. Do this.

Question #2: Who is this person that I’m upset with? Who are they to me and what is the nature of our relationship?

This one is a bit more complex to discuss. But the major point stands; if this person is very important to you and you have a close and important relationship, then they are worth more of your energy investment to keep the relationship healthy. If the person is not as close or important to you, it might be more of an energy drain to try and discuss the your issue. You may choose instead to either cut off the relationship, set boundaries that protect you without discussing the emotional information behind your decisions, or to change the nature of your interactions moving forward. As you can see, there are many different ways to handle a situation where you are upset by the actions of someone else. But here is the most important thing I’m going to say about it: not everyone is worth your openness, and not every relationship is owed your emotional vulnerability. I can’t tell you how often people try to have healthy, purposeful communication with people who just aren’t an important part of their lives. And usually it is not particularly cathartic or productive.

Together with my clients we identify what we want out of the relationship, and we do thought exercises about how useful we feel different types of communicating would be. This often helps my clients to hone their communication to be most appropriate to the circumstances. This helps my clients to feel confident and empowered when they are entering challenging conversations or handling uncomfortable situations.

Question #3: How long am I actually going to be upset about this?

One of my personal rules is to wait a good 24-48 hours before I talk about things I’m upset about so that I can determine if the thing still matters to me or not. If you are going to be upset about something for only a couple days, having a conversation that lasts hours might not be a good use of your time.

On the flip side of this, if you don’t talk through something but you still notice a shitty feeling every time you think about it, this is definitely not helping you or preserving your relationships.

Getting to know your unique “tells” for when something is going to bother you for a while versus when something is really just a minor inconvenience is something we can make some real progress with in therapy.

Question #4: How are you going to feel if the conversation doesn’t go well? What are the consequences?

Guys. . .this is so important. This isn’t even really talking about when it would or would not be advantageous to the relationship for you to discuss an issue or not. It’s more about taking care of yourself and making sure that you are going to be okay no matter what happens.

This is what I tell my clients. Consider your emotional state. Now walk yourself mentally through the experience of having an unsuccessful encounter. How are you? Are you angry and disappointed but you’ll take a bath and drink a glass of wine and get over it? Or are you devastated? Is this the kind of feeling that you will be able to process through in a matter of hours? Or is it going to take you days or even weeks to bounce back?

The thing is that even if it is the right thing to have the conversation, it doesn’t make sense to talk about it unless you know that even if it goes to hell you are going to be okay on the other side. That doesn’t mean that the outcome doesn’t matter to you. It doesn’t mean you’re going to feel good if it goes to shit, it just means that you’re going to be okay even if the conversation doesn’t. You can’t control the other person. That means you can’t control the outcome of the conversation. Having these talks is only the best option if you are in a place of strength inside yourself and you will be able to get through the hard stuff.

Learning when and how to talk about your feelings is honestly quite the task. Talking about things too much can be exhausting and unnecessary, while keeping your feelings inside can be really destructive both to your sense of self and also to your relationships. Learning how to differentiate is as easy as asking yourself four simple questions. Therapy can help you explore your feelings and relationships so that you can feel good about your choices to engage or not.

If you feel lost in how much to share in your relationships, I can help you sort through it. Email me today to schedule your free consultation.

Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Imposter Syndrome in Check

Like it isn’t hard enough to do the things you need to do and juggle all of your responsibilities, doing all of those things while feeling like an incompetent fraud definitely doesn’t make it easier.

Impostor Syndrome can get in the way of success at work, cause issues in your relationships, and cause you to miss out on opportunities.

When we live our lives trying desperately to hide that we don’t feel good enough, or that we don’t feel we deserve the trust that has been put in us it makes everything harder and makes us feel more isolated. We start to feel like we need to fake our way through and just hope that no one catches on.

When you feel like you have to hide from the people around you it gets really hard to build close relationships and communicate openly and effectively with the people who love you. You end up feeling like you can’t share anything about yourself, especially not anything that might make you feel vulnerable; you know, like feelings. And I don’t know if you’ve had this experience but it’s really hard to build relationships and get our needs met when we don’t talk about feelings. They’re kind of a big deal.

Living with imposter syndrome is like always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We start to feel like there is impending doom that we are barely missing. When things go well we say, “Phew! That was lucky!” and when things go to shit we say, “I hope this isn’t when everyone finds out what a fraud I am,” and we feel shame.

Maybe for you it’s the easiest to see at work.

You’re the person everyone comes to when they have questions, and you’re regularly lauded as being one of the best at what you do. You always turn in your projects on time, and they are always of exceptional quality. At least that’s what everyone else says about them.

You would think that being celebrated so often would help you feel more confident.

It seems reasonable that you could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that you are appreciated and valued by the people who work with you.

In the moment when you are getting the positive feedback it feels like a huge relief, like you got away with it.

But the pressure immediately starts mounting again.

What if you can’t pull it off next time? What if you can’t keep this up? Surely someone is going to find out that you aren’t as good as everyone seems to believe you are.

This just turns into a cycle where you hold yourself to higher and higher standards to meet what you perceive as the expectations of the people around you. It leads you to be extra critical of yourself and sometimes you find yourself taking it out on other people, too. The shot of adrenaline and level of fear that you feel every time you think about a deadline is dizzying.

You get to a point where you either throw yourself into the projects at the expense of everything else in your life in an effort to make sure it’s “good enough” or you procrastinate the hell out of it.

This is stressful not just for you, but it takes you away from your family and all of your other priorities. But you try not to think about that too hard because it just turns into something else to beat yourself up about.

The truth is that it’s not just you who feels like they always have to hide so as not to be found out as a fraud. This is actually a fairly common experience. We forget that often even the people we really look up to question themselves and don’t trust in their own capabilities.

Being able to accept compliments and feel like it really applies to you is not a function of your actual capabilities.

It’s okay to have a hard time accepting compliments, and it is okay to have a hard time trusting the way that the people around you see you. But the experience of Imposter Syndrome doesn’t have to take you away from everything else that is important to you.

Living with Imposter Syndrome is incredibly challenging, and can make even the smallest project you take on feel out of your depth. Luckily there are skills you can use to limit the influence Imposter Syndrome has over you so you can feel excited to take on new challenges instead of worrying so much. When you implement these skills you will feel calmer, more confident, and more connected to the people around you.

Keep reading to learn the top ten skills you can use to keep your Imposter Syndrome in check.

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When “fake it to make it” doesn’t work anymore

The worst part of living with unchecked Imposter Syndrome is that you can never relax. You are never going to feel like you’ve fully proven yourself and doing well actually makes you feel more pressure.

You’re in a double bind; you feel shame if you mess up, but you feel shame if you do well, also, because the positive attention feels undeserved.

At the very least you find yourself dreading projects and avoiding putting yourself in a position where you might be critiqued.

Living this way is just not sustainable. How are you supposed to find and invest in projects that are engaging and fulfilling to you if you are limited by avoiding putting yourself in a position to be seen by the people around you? But agonizing over the small details of your presentations long after your family has gone to bed doesn’t feel like a good option either.

Remain calm, confident, and collected

Although Imposter Syndrome has a hold on you now, you have the potential to feel confident about your abilities, and capable of engaging in each challenge as it presents itself without holding yourself to extreme standards.

When you use these top 10 skills, there is a possibility for you to feel calmer in the face of deadlines and presentations, more confident in your skills and abilities, and more capable to making empowered decisions about how much time you want to invest in projects and how much should be invested in other things.

You can absolutely experience compliments as sincere, feel calm and confident before deadlines, and trust in your own abilities.

Top Ten Skills to Feel Calm and Confident

So you may be feeling like you have to fake your way through and just hope that you don’t get found out right now, but you don’t have to feel that way forever.

The key to be able to feel calmer and more confident is to use these clear steps to keep your Imposter Syndrome in check

These changes are small and manageable, and not nearly as hard to implement as it may seem in the beginning.

Check out these 10 skills to keep your Imposter Syndrome in check, leaving you calm and confident.

10) Be nicer in the way you speak to yourself

You would be surprised how often you are telling yourself what a lazy piece of shit you are. If you really paid attention, it is probably happening close to constantly. We can talk more in future blogs about why we do that, but all we need to know for our purposes today is how important it is to practice noticing so that you can start to speak to yourself more kindly.

Although you may not be consciously listening to the litany of insults you inflict on yourself on a daily basis, they are absolutely affecting the way you experience yourself and your capabilities. If you can start to interrupt some of this negative talk, you can begin to chip away at your Imposter Syndrome.

9) Stop comparing your experience of yourself to the way you see everyone else.

It is so easy to look at the people around us and feel like they have it all together. They look calm and confident and capable, and everything seems like it comes easily to them. I can tell you with complete confidence that the people you are comparing yourself to have challenges and question themselves just like you do. They’re just not telling you about it.

When you notice yourself comparing yourself to someone else, take a quick moment to question the validity of your comparison. You don’t have to stop immediately (that takes some time and effort) but just gently wondering if your perception might be distorted will start to do the trick.

8) Allow yourself to question if everyone is really expecting the level of performance from you that you expect from yourself.

When you notice yourself putting the pressure on yourself to do the same level of performance as last time or to blow everyone out of the water again with whatever project it is that you are currently working on, take a moment to question who it is that expects that level of performance from you every time. My guess is that when you really sit down to think about it, you’ll realize it’s only you who expects you to be so good. Everyone else gets that you’re human.

This is an important step in order to start recognizing that your Imposter Syndrome is internally created and internally driven. You can’t lie to yourself anymore and say that everyone in your life just needs you to be perfect, because this is way more about how you perceive yourself than it is about how anyone else sees you.

7) Define “good enough”

Often people will tell me that they’ll quit being so hard on themselves once they are able to get to that magical place called “good enough”. I have never met anyone who has actually visited this mystical land. You know why? Because it’s a moving target.

If you sit down and actually try to define what “good enough” would be, you are going to start recognizing how impossible your standards for yourself are.

6) Schedule time for self care

I know. There are too many important things to do before you do that. I know. It feels like a waste of time, or you’ll do that after. But after what? I am willing to bet that you have said that to yourself before, and then something else came up.

It’s a trap! You have to take care of yourself now. This is when your life is. And I’ve said it before and you’ll hear me say it over and over again, your productivity will actually go up if you take care of yourself. I don’t like appealing to your inner perfectionist, but I’ll do whatever works!

5) Schedule time with friends and family.

This is not very different from scheduling time for self care, but I list it separately because it’s a different kind of important. Nurturing your relationships is not only good for you now and in the long run, but it will help you have fewer regrets when you get older. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.

Your kids are only this big for so long. Your friend’s lives are changing, too. They matter to you, and part of having a good work/life balance is making sure you get to be a part of the things that matter to you, regardless of anything else that may be going on.

4) Set your priorities

If you can sit down and really identify what is important to you, you can use your time more effectively and work towards giving yourself a pass when you don’t give it 100% in an area that doesn’t mean as much to you. You cannot give 100% in every aspect of your life. Something has to give and something will slip through the cracks. This is a really common problem I see, is people want to do exceptionally well in every aspect of their lives, and then the spread themselves so thin that they lose sight of what is really important to them and the things that really matter fall through.

That is not an encouraging experience. Take a moment. Write a list. Figure out what is most important to you, only one or two things. Then go after those things. It will feel more manageable and more possible right at the outset.

3) Talk more about your feelings

Especially to people you trust, who love you. Life is hard, and it’s even harder when we’re trying to do it alone. Talking about your feelings with people you trust can not only help you feel less alone, it can be really good for the people in your life to see that you’re human, too. Remember what we said about comparing ourselves to what we see in other people? Think what you’re showing your kids. Do they know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes, or are you teaching them that they are supposed to be stoic? Food for thought.

2) Practice mindfulness and relaxation exercises

I’m not going to bullshit you and say that moving through your Imposter Syndrome is always going to feel good. It’s not. The end result is worth it, but that doesn’t mean that not giving in to the compulsions to do more and do it better and make sure that you did it “well enough” is going to be comfortable. It’s going to be anxiety producing and you might even feel guilty for not “trying hard enough”.

Those mindfulness and relaxation skills are really going to come in handy to help you be strong enough to get through those moments without giving in to the temptation to just try harder.

1) Remember, you are not as good at fooling everyone as you’re giving yourself credit for.

I love this one. It’s probably my favorite, because it’s so obvious but none of us seems to think about it. If you feel like a fraud all the time, who is just masking his true ineptitude and shame, doesn’t that mean that everyone around you has been pulled into this sham? But there are people you love and respect who spend quite a bit of time with you, aren’t there? So even though they think you are awesome and smart and capable, you still think you’re just faking them out.

Something’s not adding up. Either the people you like and respect are easily made fools of, and they’re not as cool as you think, or you’re not as good at pretending as you think you are. Which one is true is for you to decide, but think on it.

Learning to keep your Imposter Syndrome in check can be liberating. You can absolutely learn to feel calm and confident. I can help you get there by implementing these skills, and taking it further by learning where the Imposter Syndrome is coming from and healing that.

Call me now at 888-242-9345 to schedule a free consult.

Yes, Your Past Does Still Matter. Here’s Why.

All that hard shit from forever ago should just stay there; forever ago. You already had to go through it once, why would you ever want to relive that?!

The problem is that you are reliving it. In your relationships, in your jobs, and at school.

Unfortunately, the shitty things that happen when we are younger don’t just disappear, they affect your everyday and the things you care about now.

When you try to pretend that all that past shit is behind you and it shouldn’t matter anymore, it’s a set up. This means you can’t acknowledge when you might be acting out some of those learned patterns. It means you can’t move forward, because the only explanation you’re left with if you can’t acknowledge that you are being impacted by your past is that you are “bad” or “lazy” or “mean”. And what can you even do about that if it were true?

If you can’t recognize the way that the past is affecting you now, then you’re left feeling like there is just some weird thing wrong with you that you can’t ever seem to put your finger on or do anything about. This is incredibly dis-empowering, discouraging, and frustrating.

This is what leads you to introduce yourself as broken, or beyond help.

So if you don’t give yourself permission to recognize and explore how you might be affected by the not so perfect stuff in your past, it will not only keep you just oblivious enough to not be able to change what isn’t working, but you might even notice yourself starting to give up. You’ve tried everything you know how to do to just be better, and nothing works.

Eventually you find yourself deciding there’s no point in continuing to try. It’s just too much energy that you don’t have.

Your parents weren’t really available. You get why, they were doing other things to take care of the family, you did need the roof over your heads. You’re not upset about it anymore, but you did decide that when you had kids you would be different. You’ve worked your ass off to be in a really good position in your work by the time you have kids. You are much more able to dictate your schedule and you make enough money to be comfortable.

You did everything right.

You were over the moon when you brought her home. She was just as beautiful as you thought she would be. You and your wife decided that you would be home by 6:00 every evening so that you could do family time. And for a while you were able to do it. But when you get home it feels like all hell is breaking loose. There’s screaming, and it’s messy and when you try to help it feels like you just make things worse. When you look at your daughter’s little red, angry face, you see all of your failures reflected back at you.

All you want is to be able to hold her and comfort her, but she feels awkward in your arms and you can’t get her to stop screaming.

Well, there’s a project at work that could really use your attention. At least at work you can be useful.

All you are at home is in the way.

Before you know it the beautiful little baby you were over the moon to take home is a child; with thoughts and feelings and opinions and. . .you don’t know how to interact with her. Your wife has been asking you to adjust your schedule so you can be home more, and you tell her (and yourself) that of course you would if you could, but work is just really busy right now.

Deep down you know that you are doing exactly the opposite of what you promised yourself.

Every so often you make a silent oath that you will start coming home earlier, that you will let someone else head the next project at work. But it feels so good to know what you are doing, and it feels so unsettling and aggravating to be told how to comfort your own daughter. Why can’t you just do better? What is it about this simple thing, showing up more for your family, that is just eluding you?

You have put the responsibility on yourself, decided that it should be an easy, simple thing for you to do, and haven’t allowed yourself to entertain the idea that there might be some unfinished business from the way you experienced your parents in your own childhood that might be affecting your current behavior and experiences.

This has kept you stuck, repeating the same patterns, re-living your past from the other end, and impotently beating yourself up for it.

What you’re trying to do is much more than simply doing a different thing. You are trying to fight years of conditioning and expectation setting. So much of this happens without us even knowing. It is normal to have a hard time making these changes, and if it were easy, then everyone would be able to do it.

It’s okay to struggle with making these changes that seem like they should be easy and simple. It makes sense to get frustrated when you find yourself just making the same mistakes over and over no matter how many times you tell yourself you’re going to do it differently.

Your past does still matter.

It is still affecting you, and that may not feel like a pretty realization. However, if you can learn how to recognize when you are being affected by old patterns and habits, then you can start to feel empowered to make changes in your life. When you know how to navigate this stuff from your past when it rears its ugly head, you can absolutely start to feel like you are in the driver’s seat in your life.

Keep reading to learn 3 ways to spot when your past is affecting your present and what to do about it.

You are stuck on a treadmill, repeating the same mistakes and patterns.

The worst part about not learning to identify when your past is creeping into your present, is you don’t get to interact with your patterns from an empowered position.

You end up just watching passively as the same patterns repeat against your will.

At the very least you will find yourself beating yourself up, constantly wondering what must be wrong with you that something so simple is so beyond your capacity to create change.

This will make you feel powerless and maybe even hopeless. You have worked your whole life to have a different experience, and you feel impotent to make it happen.

You can be empowered and excited about making changes in your life.

You have been frustrated with your inability to make the changes in your life that you can easily see would be helpful, but you have the potential to identify the barriers to making those changes, and begin to finally make some progress in building the life you want.

When you make the decision to recognize how you are being impacted by your past, you finally have the opportunity to feel more in control and capable.

You can recognize what has been keeping you stuck so that you can navigate these barriers differently and finally make the changes in you want to see in your life.

trauma heal past move forward

3 Ways to Know When Your Trauma is Acting on You So You Can Finally Be Free From Your Past

You may be feeling stuck and discouraged right now, but you don’t have to stay that way.

The key to being able to feeling capable of making changes in these patterns is to identify when you are being impacted by your past trauma so that you can interact with these pressures differently.

It’s not nearly as difficult to make changes when you give yourself permission to recognize exactly what the barriers have been for you thus far. Take a look at these 3 ways to identify that your past trauma is affecting you now so that you can have more power to make important changes in your life.

Take a look at these 3 ways to notice if your trauma is affecting you so that you can feel empowered and capable of making changes in your life.

1) You find yourself saying, “Here we go again!”

One of the reasons you are feeling powerless to make changes in your life, is that when you notice that you are having the same experience you have had over and over, you are acting as though this is something you have been “too lazy” to change.

This is an opportunity to identify what the typical pattern is (and where it came from), so you can enact a small change to interrupt it.

Instead of just deciding that this is how it is going to be for you from now on, or that you need to “just” change it, you can recognize that this is a form of re-experiencing trauma from your past, and that although it is difficult, you are going to make more progress identifying one small change to interrupt the pattern as it usually plays out rather than trying to change the whole thing at once.

With my clients, we will first explore the pattern, identify where it began and what caused it, and then what small, manageable changes can be made to start to change the way the pattern plays out.

When you do this you will notice that small changes on your part will teach you that you are capable of making change and you’ll feel empowered to do more.

2) You have a sense of impending doom.

An experience of impending doom, or that your life is crumbling around you and you are hanging on by a thread is such a common experience for people with trauma. It can cause you to feel frantic and like you have to act now, rather than taking time to consider what you want your next step to be.

It makes sense that if you are feeling like the world is falling out from under you, you wouldn’t feel like you have the time or emotional energy to understand how your past trauma might be creating this experience for you. You’re too busy dealing with it.

Practice noticing when the impending doom experience is strongest, and develop a small voice that can say, “This is trauma; it’s not telling me anything real.”

Instead of letting the doom dictate your decision making, I’m asking you to start teaching yourself what the doom feels like, and that it is not an accurate description of your life or environment.

Together with my clients, we practice identifying this feeling, and we explore how to engage with it differently.

If, when you feel the impending doom, you choose to recognize that this is a trauma response, suddenly you are not stuck enacting the trauma. All at once you start to have a choice about how to proceed, and that is likely a very different choice than what you would likely have done impulsively from an urge to just get through the experience.

3) Your response is disproportionate.

Trauma is tricky. It isn’t going to tell us outright that we are re-experiencing. If you don’t know what is happening, you might feel crazy, or ashamed of your reaction after you lose your temper.

If you don’t know that this is a response to your traumatic past, you may start thinking you are volatile or that you are crazy.

Learn the indicators that your response wasn’t proportionate, so that you can learn your triggers.

Instead of beating yourself up or letting yourself settle into shame, you can use this information to learn about what your triggers are.

When you schedule a session with me I will be able to help you learn what your triggers are so that we can start healing the wounds that are still impacting you.

If you are able to use these triggering and challenging experiences as opportunities for healing, you will notice that you are triggered less and less often, and that you will feel more and more capable of making changes.

Finally giving yourself the permission to recognize that your past is living on in your present can be a freeing and empowering experience. You absolutely can use this information to make small and important changes in your life that will allow you to watch yourself creating the life you have always wanted. I can help you identify what specific aspects of your past are still affecting you, so that you can heal and make the changes that are so important to you in your life.

Call 888-242-9345 today to schedule your first session.