Getting Unstuck For a Dynamic 2018

 

Getting unstuck for a dynamic 2018 enables fresh energy and motivation. It clears away subconscious negativity and makes room to live fully in the present. It allows us to have a clear vision for meaningful goals.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana Click To Tweet

Getting Unstuck: Wisdom From Technology

For example, an unfinished past is like issues I had with my iPad. All of a sudden a small white pinwheel in the middle of a blank screen kept going around in a rhythmic fading/returning circle over and over again. I tried clicking a combination of buttons hoping to turn it off and reboot. Nothing worked. It was slowly draining the battery and becoming useless at a time I needed it most.

Since I was traveling, I found the nearest service store. After the technician asked a few questions and clicked the home screen button twice, he showed me the hidden apps running in the background. Many were duplicates several times over.

“Oh, I didn’t know those were there,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Every time you open an app on the iPad, you’ll need to swipe it away when you’re finished.”

He showed me how to swipe each of those no-longer-needed apps away. Once I did that, my iPad worked fine.

Getting Unstuck: The Apps of our Lives

Our lack of awareness about the unfinished business of our past is like those apps taking up valuable energy. It’s human nature to move toward pleasure and away from pain. But our pain and pleasure is meant to flow in and out of our lives. Yet our obsession with avoidance keeps us from taking inventory of what’s slowing us down or keeping us stuck.

A daily inventory can be as automatic as brushing our teeth. For example, a practice such as praying The Daily Examine Prayer or writing in a Five Minute Gratitude Journal are great ways to swipe away those apps. Weekly and quarterly inventories may include participating in your place of worship or gathering with an accountability group. I’ve known some happily married couples ask each other things like, “How full is your love tank today?”

In addition to daily and weekly inventories, consider quarterly reflections. I’ve taken spiritual and personal retreats every 90 days for several years. It’s a time to be aware and reflect on the previous 90 days and be intentional for the next 90 days.

When clients go through a series of counseling sessions with me, I encourage them to schedule “booster sessions.” We can maintain our relationship health like we do our dental hygiene as we visit our dentist for six-month cleanings and yearly X-rays.

With a practice of regular inventory, we gain wisdom, awareness, and movement. As a result, we get unstuck.

The lessons of 2017 are catalysts for transformation in 2018. Click To Tweet

The journey through our past wasn’t meant to be forgotten. Our life experiences have meaning and valuable lessons for us.

Getting Unstuck: Deeper and Freer

Getting unstuck means going deeper and becoming freer. Therefore, a small percentage of people actually accomplish their New Year’s goals.

When we don’t take inventory and learn from the past, those who know us best experience us as moody, irritable, and cynical. Consequently, we’re easily triggered. The criticism/defensiveness patterns are like synchronized dance steps in the Tango of our marriages.

It’s the subconscious disappointments, anger, trauma and grief that keep us frozen. In addition, we forget even the highlights of the previous year. We don’t take time to celebrate and we miss valuable lessons.

Is it any wonder why most don’t bother to take inventory of their past year or plan for change in the New Year? The apps running in the background are blinding us from from fresh beginnings. Our unfinished past takes up wasted energy and slows us down. 

Let’s take inventory of the good, bad, and ugly of our lives.

When we share our unfinished past with a professional counselor, compassionate minister, or a wise friend, we begin to notice the lessons. We make room for the present when we swipe away the unnecessary apps of our lives.

Your Next Step to getting unstuck

  1. Consider a daily practice of the The Daily Examine Prayer or a Five Minute Gratitude Journal
  2. Schedule a free 20 minute consultation 
  3. Ask about the Professional Women’s Focus Group

Professional Women’s Focus Group

Join me for a live Q & A webcam call about a 90-day plan for online group accountability, focus and clarity. For other free resources, go to judycounselor.com.

 

Best Year Ever

When Your Best Year Ever Starts Out Wrong

Some of us are naturally optimistic when it comes to anticipating the New year. After all, it’s a blank slate except when your best year ever starts out wrong.

I drove two and a half hours to Nashville to meet 600 of my new best friends who also claim Michael Hyatt as their virtual mentor. It was the live event for his “Five Days To Your Best Year Ever” program. It’s actually cognitive therapy as we’re challenged to recognize limiting beliefs and begin to believe in possibilities for the New Year.

We gathered from around the world. I met an educator from South Korea and medical doctor from South Africa. Most were from across the United States with a potpourri of creative professions: artists, writers, musicians, financial planners, life coaches, professors, pastors, and ministry leaders. I was hoping to meet more than two other mental health counselors. It broadens our perspective to learn from those outside our professional disciplines. And the energy was contagious!

My seat was just a few feet from center stage to keep me from distractions. Right there in the third row smack dab in the middle. Our chairs were close and I connected with my beloved writing mentor, Jeff Goins.

It was the last day of the conference after a restless night at my Airbnb. Now wasn’t the time to get sick. I was counting on a jump start to my Best Year Ever. I was ready to put 2017 and all it’s discouragements behind. Struggling to find a box of tissues, I almost cried waking up with a stuffy head and runny nose. The dialogue in my mind went something like this:

Do I stay in bed until check out time?

Yes you can, but you’ll miss the most important part.

Do I just pack up and drive home?

Yes, but you’ll miss the energy and people you’ve met.

Oh well, just get ready and see how you feel. Take your time. Pack up. Decide later. . . .

My head got stuffier and my cough got hackier.

When your best year ever starts out wrong, there’s three impulses to avoid.

  1. Catastrophic thinking
  2. Cynical attitudes
  3. Stagnant feelings

Catastrophic thinking goes something like this:

All this money and time I’ve spent is now wasted. This will be the worst year ever. I’m never doing this again.

Cynical attitudes go something like this:

I knew this program wasn’t for me anyway. There’s nothing I can do about it now. It wouldn’t work for me even if I felt well.

Stagnant feelings of negativity and discouragement go something like this:

I might as well go home and forget about it. The people I met won’t remember me anyway. I won’t do this again.

It’s always helpful to take time to breathe deeply and tune into what your body needs rather than get caught up with those impulsive threats to our minds.

A time a meditation and prayer gave me the clarity to tune into what my body and mind needed. I chose to rest until check out, pack up, and drive to the nearest drug store for the best over-the-counter relief for my symptoms. I felt better. Determined not to shake hands or sit close to anyone, I returned to the conference.

Meditation and prayer gives clarity to tune into what the body and mind needs. Click To Tweet

I gave up my front seat and tuned in from a distance and made sure I stayed hydrated.

After returning home I cancelled other commitments to get the rest I needed. Still a bit behind on the year, it’s possible to get back to the momentum of anticipating the new year.

Although our expectations get derailed, we can still get back on track. When your best year ever starts out wrong, it’s possible to make it right. Take deep breaths. Stay away from the catastrophic thinking, cynical attitudes, and stagnant feelings. You can still make it your best year ever!

Make it your best year ever

Find out more about Professional Women’s focus Group to jump start your first 90 days. Join me and other prospects this Friday at 2:00 Eastern Time for a free webcam Q & A.

Group

3 Empowering Reasons to Be in a Group

I was full of fear and uncertainty leaving the familiarity of the place I worked for ten years. It was time to branch out on my own in private practice as a licensed counselor. Up until that time, I hadn’t concerned myself with marketing or setting up my business. It wasn’t natural for me to think like a business owner. . . or that’s what I thought. That’s when I learned three empowering reasons to be in a group.

While learning to rebrand my practice, I began to hang out with entrepreneurial-minded therapists and like-minded professionals beyond my mental health colleagues. We became mirrors to each other’s blind spots. We experienced light-bulb moments as we grew in trust and relationship with each other.

Three different focus groups have impacted me in the last year. One is the Peer Therapist Group which met face to face in my office on Main Street. The other was a Focus Group of women writers whom I met through Jeff Goin’s Tribe Conference. The third was Andy Traub’s online coaching group. All three groups have given me feedback and confidence to grow beyond my comfort zone. They’ve influenced me to write and make a difference beyond the four walls of my counseling office.

We became mirrors to each other's blind spots. Click To Tweet

Consider three empowering reasons to be in a group.

Group Reason # 1 – Energy

Each group provided different energy for me. Some were directive and while others zoned into certain topics. With each group, I learned more about myself and felt connected with others.

Especially with the Women’s Focus group, we each felt so energized after being together during our monthly meetings. It can be tempting to talk ourselves out of something we previously agreed to. When we made the effort to follow through, we heard comments like:

“I almost didn’t make it, but my heart needed to be with you all. . .” or “I’m so glad I came. I always feel better after our meetings.”

Group Reason # 2 – Creativity

When I realize what I’ve learned through participating in groups, I’m thankful for the ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise. It was Andy Traub’s coaching group who encouraged me to do Live Facebook videos. As you can see on my Facebook page, I have several “Ask a Therapist” Live Facebook Videos.

Group Reason # 3 – Courage

Especially with our Women’s Focus Group, we’ve felt like energetic cheerleaders as we encouraged Caroline Depalatis to write her book Jumping Out Of The Mainstream. Who wouldn’t be excited about Anne Peterson authoring 14 books in three years? And rejoice with Sohma Rae Hathaway as her Memoir, Finding Diamonds in Dungeons is now out in the world.

Being part of these groups have made it possible for me to move from fear and uncertainty into courage and creativity.

I can’t brag enough about the value of being part of a focus group.

Group Energy, Creativity, Courage

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a counselor like me, or a writer, or an entrepreneur, or an employee. You may be a stay-at-home mom or dad. Whatever your background and experiences, consider these three empowering reasons to be in a group.

Energy, Creativity, Courage. Don’t miss out. Find the group that’s right for you.

What to do next:

Share this article.

Check out Professional Women’s Focus Group. If you’re outside the Chattanooga area, ask about online support.

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How To Steer Clear Of Holiday Stress

 

Every Black Friday for several years, my husband and I spent time dressing up as Mr. & Mrs. Santa with our decked out 17 foot red Mohawk canoe. Red lights, Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and lots of adrenaline rush energized us as we paddled amongst fancily lighted yachts and cruisers. Hundreds cheered in rhythm shouting, “San-ta, San-ta, San-ta” as we honked the horn with the same rhythm. I may have missed shopping deals on Black Friday, but I’ve not regretted past experiences of creative events like this. Although any event or shopping spree can be stressful, we can learn how to steer clear of Holiday stress.

We can learn how to steer clear of Holiday stress. Click To Tweet

Here’s three tendencies to change if you’re overcome with stress.

Tendency to live with perpetual stressors

It’s easy to get used to our stressors without realizing the effect it’s having on us. Whether we’re overcome with finances, relationships, or household clutter, we tend to adapt it as normal.

We need to re-evaluate every 90 days to discover what we need to eliminate from our routines. For example, after years of decorating our canoe, we made a conscious decision to let go of the yearly tradition. We’re thankful for the memories, but have accepted our limits and energy at this season of our lives.

Tendency to be a harsh self critic

If we listened to our automatic thoughts out-loud, we may be shocked to discover how harsh we are with ourselves. We wouldn’t speak to our best friends with the same critical messages in our heads. Do you find yourself being critical when you’ve forgotten or failed at something? Thoughts like,

I should have done this or that or, I could have. . . or, I wished I would have. . . 

If we spend our mental energies thinking the would’a, could’a, should’a; we’ll perpetuate the stress awaiting our attention.

We perpetuate stress by using mental energy to ruminate on would'a, could'a, should'a. Click To Tweet

Tendency to think we can do it all

Many times we measure ourselves with others even though our physical energy and motivations are different. And we make the mistake of measuring our current selves with our past selves.

Although we’d dressed up our canoe and ourselves for the Parade of Lights for several years in a row, we began to realize our tendency to compare our present energy with our past. It took a lot of rowing and concentration along with risks among the larger crafts. It was okay to allow our experiences to become memories and relieve ourselves of the stress.

Each of us have specific situations when it comes to knowing how to steer clear of holiday stress. It’s important to re-evaluate and consider our tendencies to:

  • Live with perpetual stress
  • Be a harsh self critic
  • Think we can do it all

Our ability to steer clear of holiday stress takes just as much concentration, balance, and partnership as Mr. & Mrs. Santa rowing in a lighted canoe in the parade of lights.

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Turkey

How Not To Be A Turkey On Thanksgiving Day

 

Some of us dread gathering with extended family on Thanksgiving Day. Rather than focus on gratitude and enjoying the meal, we end up feeling like roasted turkey. But it doesn’t have to be that way when we learn how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Holidays are strong reminders of the way things used to be. We gather with those who know our quirks, history, and points of irritation. Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don’t realize our part in creating the mess.

Even the anticipation can be stressful. We’re uncomfortable with reminders of loss. Divorce, death, or manipulative relationships can make the tradition of gratitude difficult for some and unbearable for others. We think thoughts like, I wished we could just skip these next six weeks.

Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don't realize our part in creating the mess. Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving can trigger our grief and negative thoughts. Emotional and mental energy depletes us from the warm fuzzies of gratitude.

Here are six practices you can do to make Thanksgiving a time of gratitude.

1. Practice adequate rest

Most of us disregard the basic foundation of our mental, emotional, and relational health. We push ourselves to make things just right to impress our guests. Our ability to handle stress is depleted without a consistent habit of seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Adequate cycles of sleep provide our brains the fresh charge of energy for clarity and awareness. Without proper sleep, we’re not able to cope well in stressful situations.

2. Practice deep belly breaths

Slow deep belly breaths help calm impulsive words and actions. It only takes ninety seconds of deep breathing to slow the fight/flight/freeze area of the brain that lights up when we’re triggered. We’re able to access rational thoughts when someone says a mean or hurtful comment. Ancient wisdom teaches us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. (New Testament – James 1:19)

Most people unintentionally harm others because of their own unhealed emotional wounds. With rest and deep breathing, you can control your reactions. You can stop your part of a charged incident.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. You create neuropathways in your brain that opens up awareness. You’ll be aware of your own body reactions. Emotional triggers affect both our bodies and our minds.

Quiet the racing thoughts and stories in your head that may not be true. Even if they are true, deep belly breaths slow you down enough to gain insight into yourself, the other person, and the incident.

Make it a point to process later through journal-writing or an appointment with your therapist. Your well-being depends on you keeping resentment from building.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. Click To Tweet

3. Practice your smile

We have mirror neurons in our brains that aid our social connections. When we interact with others, we reflect their gestures, tone, body posture, and behaviors. They reflect us. We smile back when they smile at us. It’s like looking in a mirror.

A smile has the power to disarm another’s frown. Some of us were born smiling while others naturally have stoic faces. A person who looks grumpy might really be concentrating. Or they may be unaware of how they appear to others. Be conscious of how others see you. Practice smiling around those who frown. See if their frown softens with your smile.

A smile has the power to disarm another's frown. Click To Tweet

4. Practice accepting change

Any change is difficult as we thrive on comfort and security. When our loved one has died, or we’ve experienced divorce, or we’ve moved our family across the country, it’s important to grieve. How we accept change is unique to each of us.

We are meant to grow and change throughout our lives. People, relationships, and circumstances are continually changing. Welcome the reality that our lives will never be stagnant. They’re not suppose to be. It’s part of our humanity to grieve the loss of a loved one and celebrate the birth of new life.

5. Practice what belongs to you

It’s important to know what’s yours and what belongs to another. Your emotions are yours alone. All of us are responsible for our own resilience, emotions, and decisions.

  • Avoid fighting another person’s emotional battles.
  • Let go of another person’s loneliness, anxiety, or uncomfortable feelings.
  • Recognize when others take on the victim role expecting you to be their savior.
  • Spend less time with those who drain you.

Give yourself permission to let go of others’ expectations of you. You were only meant to handle your own emotions. Others are responsible for themselves.

6. Practice the present moment

When you practice the present moment, you’re living that moment to it’s fullest capacity. This could be the single most empowering advice for us all. Hyperfocus on the unfinished business of the past or continuous worry of the future steals away the only time we have in the moment.

Imagine yourself standing still in the middle of a stream. You’re aware of the past like the water flowing toward you from upstream. You’re aware of the future like water flowing beyond you downstream. You feel the cool stream flow around you. Yet, you’re standing still in the present moment.

Don’t be the turkey

You now know how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving. Begin your six practices of gratitude.

1. Practice rest
2. Practice belly breaths
3. Practice smiles
4. Practice accepting change
5. Practice what belongs to you
6. Practice the present moment

Your next steps:

 

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