Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the most critical of them all? In the fairy-tale of “Snow White,” the evil queen was obsessed with being the best in the land. Perhaps she was just a perfectionist with an overly critical inner voice? Sometimes we give in and listen to this evil inner voice that is constantly telling us we are not good enough. Could this be why we can’t get out of our own way, feeling like we are on a roller coaster of self-worth? How can we teach this evil inner voice to be kind and more forgiving?

If you think of your inner critic as the evil queen, you will notice a few things. The inner critic is not the nicest, it will tear you down, and it can be exhausting to keep up with its demands. Furthermore, the inner critic is trying to protect yourself from danger. The danger could be looking awkward in front of others, saying something wrong, or making an honest mistake. Be compassionate to your inner critic because it “thinks” it is helping you stay away from danger when, in truth, the critic is giving you false information and expectations for yourself.

We can all learn to love ourselves and nurture our self-esteem more! In other words, it can be exhausting to fight the battles in our own heads about our own high expectations. These perceptions of our self-worth could have emerged from past trauma, unhealthy relationships, family conflict, or might have developed because it’s part of human nature.

There is strength in understanding ourselves a little better and recognizing patterns in our thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes we need extra help in this area, at Turning Stone Counseling we are here to help you with that piece of the puzzle!

Begin with the end in mind – what is your own happily ever after?

Where do you want to be? What is your best life? NOT the life that society, your parents, or others tell you to want, BUT what do you truly want? Maybe you are having a hard time figuring this out. Think about when you have been happy, what did you have?

What did you like as a kid? Forget about what is “realistic” right now and allow yourself to daydream for a minute about what your perfect life would be. Think of it as your own little fairy-tale and allow yourself to fantasize a little. Now, write it down!

Although life is not always as enchanted as we would like it to be, we often have limiting beliefs of what we are capable of. We can do SO MUCH MORE than we give ourselves credit for. Therefore, you are stronger and more talented than the person you see in the mirror. Once you get that picture in your head, visualize yourself as you want to be.

Show yourself a different highlights reel of your life by using a guided meditation or picturing yourself accomplishing your goals. Visualizing where you want to be can be very powerful!

One way we can be more satisfied with where we’re going is to remember to relish the journey. You may stumble along the way but take pride in the strides you do make. This could start with accepting, recognizing, and appreciating where you currently are. In the journey, make peace with your starting point, and your movement toward something new will feel much more peaceful, worthwhile, and satisfying.

Once upon a time… I thought I had control

Often, we try to control everything in our lives, even the things we can NOT control. An example of something we can’t control is the weather. If the weather is bad then we start to think about it constantly, especially if it will interfere with something important we have planned. What good does this do us? Does it change the outcome of the weather? Unlike a typical fairy-tale, you probably don’t have magical powers to control these kinds of events. So how do we take control of our need for control? If you find yourself overthinking a problem or upcoming event, then it’s time to look realistically at what you can do to change the situation.

 Try this activity to help with your sense of control:

  • Write down what you are worried about.
  • Put everything that you truly have the power to control on one side and put everything you don’t have power to control on the other.
  • Focus only on the things you can control.
  • Brainstorm how you can best handle the areas of the situation you can control.
  • Remember, we can’t control other people! This can be a frustrating but useful life lesson!

Look in the mirror and embraces the changes!  

Change is a scary thing. It takes us many years to get into the patterns that we have created for ourselves. Therefore, we need to realize it will take some time to change those patterns and adopt healthier ones.

Help is out there if we start to feel paralyzed in our everyday lives by the need to be perfect.

Try this activity:  Do one thing that scares you every day! This will throw you out of your comfort zone and force you to try few things. When you try new things, you are rarely perfect!

Try this activity:  List five people you admire. Do they make mistakes? Do you think they would try again if they did make a mistake? What are their imperfections? Is this what makes them unique?

Question your inner critic – What would Snow White say to herself?

Imagine how Snow White would talk to herself. I bet her inner voice is encouraging and often looking for the positive in everything. How can you do anything but think positive thoughts while walking through the forest and sing to birds, right?

The first step is to recognize when you hear your inner critic tearing you down, telling you that you are not good enough, perfect enough, or a failure. Be your own best friend and rewrite the script. Tell yourself that mistakes are normal, growth is based on failure, and every day is a day to learn something new.

“Striving for excellence motivates you; Striving for perfection is demoralizing” – Harriet Braiker. So where is that fine line between motivating yourself and beating yourself up mentally? Typically, we all want to improve ourselves and move forward in life.

This takes some motivation and often this motivation comes in the form of critical self-talk. The key to defeating perfectionism is to learn when it’s holding you back. This task is difficult because a perfectionist can hide behind a mask of hard work and enthusiasm.

Some key things to look for if you think your perfectionism is getting out of control:

  • You avoid taking risks unless you are sure of the outcome
  • You fear, or get defensive about, receiving feedback
  • Often having feelings of guilt and fear rejection
  • You are not only critical of yourself, but you find yourself very critical of everyone around you
  • You believe being perfect is the path to success

So, when your inner critic tells you that you are not good enough, question it, show it the evidence that you are good enough, and make sure the critic understands that you are changing. Each day you will start to reach the most authentic version of yourself you can be by doing the things you love, trusting that hard work will pay off, and learning from your mistakes.

When you become compassionate with yourself, satisfaction will come from within.

Whistle while you work on being imperfect!

They say “practice make perfect” so try being imperfect! Make mistakes on purpose and see what happens. Set your intention to make insignificant errors and see what happens. Does your world fall apart, or are people forgiving towards you? If this exercise gives you hives just thinking about it then you may really need to add this to your “to do” list. This exercise will help you desensitize yourself to the fear of making the mistake in the first place.

Some good examples of simple mistakes you can make in front of others would be to drop a spoon, saying the wrong information when talking about an upcoming event, or order something that is not on the menu at a restaurant. Is the reaction of the other person what you thought it would be? Can you even add some humor into your mistakes and develop a sense of humor with yourself? For example, when you order an item not on a menu, simply say “oh that’s too bad, I was really in the mood for that!”

Try this activity: Start small with risks! Here are few ideas for baby steps you can take to start getting out of your comfort zone:

  • Order something new that you have never tried at a restaurant
  • Drive home a new way
  • Try to make a stranger smile

Don’t keep eating the poisonous apple… You are enough!

Your inner critic may keep showing up but after taking one bit of the poisonous apple and realizing it’s sour, don’t keep eating it. Don’t feed your negative thoughts – change direction, abort the mission, and say something nice to yourself and allow yourself TIME to make changes.

Next time you come across a mirror, ask it this… “Mirror, mirror on the wall who the most authentic of them all?” When it responds… “You are!”, look, smile, and know that you are growing, changing and becoming perfectly imperfect!

Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information!

What is on your Energy Menu?

What is on your Energy Menu?

It’s fair to say most people have heard the importance of a healthy diet, right? It’s important to eat healthy foods so our bodies get the nutrients we need to thrive.

What about the importance of a healthy “energy” diet? What’s on your energy menu every day? Do you have toxic energy, positive energy, or perhaps a lack of energy all together?  You wake up with energy to spend each day, but have you ever checked to see where you are expending this precious commodity?

We have all had those days where we are drained of energy because of a bad night’s sleep or when events in our life have become overwhelming.

There are some things that are unavoidable in our lives that will rob us of the good energy we need to thrive. If you are in a place where your energy is low, then it’s important to recognize it may be a time for important self-care, a time when you need extra support.

When we recognize that our energy is low or negative, we may just need to reconnect with the present moment.

To hit the reset button, sit down and take a few deep breaths to connect with yourself. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, then take a minute to smell it and truly taste it. Step outside and breath in the fresh air. These are things that can renew your energy, reclaim your mood, and set the tone for your day.

Like the importance of a good breakfast, we can start our day out right with an intentional focus of good energy. For example, when you are feeling jealous could you switch your energy towards gratitude and start to notice all the good in your life? Gratitude is a positive energy and starting your day by writing what you are thankful for can help you to see things in a fresh perspective. Include your family in this activity and have them say what they are grateful for as well.

Deeper Look

Take a deeper look at what’s on your energy menu.

Without judgement can you look at where you are spending most of your energy. Is it in a state of joy, apathy, resentment, or creativity? Do you have a range of emotions throughout the day, or are you critical of yourself and others?

Bobby Darnell was quoted saying “Negativity is cannibalistic.”

The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it grows.” What energy are you putting into your body? Like a diet, your body and mind will respond to what you are feeding it.

Blocks in your life can create energy that is consuming you in unhealthy ways. Some things need to be processed to help us move on with our lives, moving past the place where we are stuck. If you change your patterns, then you can start to change your life.

Like a healthy diet where we need to limit saturated fats, here are some forms of energy that need to be fully processed, or limited, to create space for good energy. Examples of these are: grief, shame, guilt, anger, apathy, fear, and jealousy.

There is good energy that can be thought of as the base of the food pyramid such as healthy grains and vegetables. We want to strive to have these in our energy diet every day! Examples of these are: love, gratitude, creativity, courage, healing, empathy, laughter, and connection.

Everyone can improve their diets and rework their daily menu, even Olympic athletes. So, progress not perfection is the goal. Some ways you can recognize if you could benefit from shifting the energy in your life would be if you are feeling stuck, or if you notice yourself complaining often. When you talk to other people do you find you point out negative things like events on the news or the weather? Take an honest look at your perceptions.

Menu Items

Here are some menu items you can sprinkle in to invite more positive energy into your life:

  • Start the day with a grateful mind and heart. If you see all the things you have, it’s hard to miss the joy in life. Write down these statements as the first thing you do each day.

 

  • End the day by writing three good things that happened during the day. Who or what is responsible when GOOD things happen to you?

 

  • Create a connection to the world! Close your eyes, imagine you are sending your good energy out to others, expand this energy to the world and anyone that needs it. Think of energy as a light that will spread to anyone that needs extra support.

 

  • Practice being non-judgmental. Take note of your judgments throughout the day. These can be judgments of other people or yourself. Take those judgments and re-frame them into positive statements. For example, if you think to yourself, “Why am I so disorganized?” Re-frame your judgement into a statement like this, “I was not prepared today because things have been a little hectic at home, but I can take this opportunity to figure out a better strategy.”

 

  • Invite joy into your life! Go play a fun game with your kids, watch a comedy show so you laugh, go on a hike, or do anything else you love.

 

  • Avoid things like the news, negative people, or TV shows that are depressing or violent. See where negative messages are coming from and try to push the pause button or turn them off all together.

These small tweaks in your energy menu can go a long way. Hungry for more? Simply think: React. Realize. Re-energize.

React:

Everyone has their natural reaction to events, we are all human! Take note of that reaction and see how it is impacting your daily happiness.

Realize:

Realize you have a choice. How do you want to spend your energy? For example, if someone is being negative on social media do you want to spend your energy arguing with them or do you want to focus your energy elsewhere?

Re-energize:

Switch directions and integrate positivity into your day. Where are your thoughts going – to what you HAVE, or what you DON’T have? Making a few changes can help you have more joy in your life.

Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information!

Balance – The Mythical Unicorn

Balance – The Mythical Unicorn

Here is a challenge for you… stand up, lift one leg out in front of you and balance on the other leg. How long can you hold your balance? Ten seconds? Maybe a minute or even five minutes?

You could be one of those rare people that can hold it for hours, but eventually you will wobble and fall.

Balance is something that I believe is unattainable in its truest form. The expectation that we can balance every aspect of our lives sets us up for self-doubt and frustration. Yet everyone seems to be seeking “balance” in their lives, right?

This misconception about balance is that you are supposed to give each part of your life equal attention and energy. Unless you are an undercover superhero, it’s probably not possible.

There are times in people’s lives where their family needs them more due to illness or other factors. There are times when work is busy and important projects need your full attention. Balancing family, school, and work (among other things) can feel impossible. You may wish you could clone yourself so that you can give all aspects of your life the proper attention.

Being overwhelmed is common these days and can make us feel that our lives are out of control.

Getting control back and choosing our intentions is not as easy as it sounds and requires deliberate focus. Be kind to yourself, we all get derailed and are doing the best we can. It’s not easy.

Start by recognizing that you are not alone and that progress over perfection should be the goal.

Seeking balance in all aspects of your life is like chasing a mythical unicorn.  Life is fluid, there are times when our priorities shift or we get pulled strongly in one direction. The idea that we need to be balanced all the time is most likely causing too much unnecessary stress.

Let’s drop the balancing act and instead work on focus. Where are you sending your energy? Where do you want to focus your time and energy that will give you joy and grow the relationships you want to grow?

Start practicing focus throughout your day.

When you are talking with your kids, put away your phone or close your work laptop. If you are driving in the car, focus on driving and look and see what’s around you. Picture your mind as a muscle that you must strengthen. Building the muscle of “focus” will help you gradually get more out of each important area of your life.

Think about it, if just focused on one thing in your life, then you would eventually become an expert at it. Let’s take work as an example. If you put all your time and energy into work, then most likely you would get promoted and it would pay off in a rewarding career. Let’s say you also have a family, how can you be a super parent and partner? Would you have to move all your friends and hobbies to the back burner?

Instead of seeking balance, it helps to get some perspective about where you’re getting a return on your energy. Ask yourself, where does my time disappear, and I get nothing in return? Distractions are all over the place. That urgent work email, or a text from a friend, or a million other interruptions.

Some of the people in our lives demand our energy but are not our priorities. We should all want to feel passionate about something in our lives, it can be your job, your family, or a hobby. We all deserve this!

What we should ask ourselves is, “what and where are our priorities?” Is your priority work? Family? Your social life? Maybe they are all important to you! The fact is we must choose everyday where to focus our energy and time.

Do you make a conscious choice where you want to focus? Is there an area of your life that needs the most attention right now? For example, if you have job that gets busier during a certain time of year, recognize that other priorities may shift temporarily.

Our time is limited, we are imperfect people, but we do have a choice every day. I challenge you to make the choice that is best for you. To make the choice that makes your heart sing. Say yes to the things, you really want to say yes to, and say no to the things that will distract your energy to something you do not want to focus on. What do you have the power to change? If you can’t change it, can you change the way you look at it?

Here are three ways you can focus your energy. Remember, don’t chase the mythical unicorn. Get comfortable being off balance.  This will be different for everyone and it’s okay to give yourself the space to fail and try again.

  • Slow down to speed up – Take a time out to think about your priorities, write them out, and rank them each week and month, because things in life shift. Practice focus, so that you can be in control of your day. Give each priority your full attention. Focus is not an easy task but with practice you will get better. Build that “focus” muscle! Take some time to really think about where you want to spend your energy.

 

Make a list of all the areas in your life that are important to you. Start with the most important and go down from there in order of importance. Be vocal about your intentions at home and at work so that you establish expectations to those around you.

If you let your boss know that you will not be answering emails after a certain time, then you will set yourself up to be more focused during the time you are at work. If you are working on a project at home for a certain amount of time, tell your family when you will be done so that you can give them your full attention.

 

  • Schedule regular dates with partners, family and friends – Organization is key! You often must write it down to make it happen. Play around with your schedule, think about which areas of your life need more or less attention and when you can best focus on each. Maybe you would like to be more present for your kids or spouse. Set aside 30 minutes to put away any distractions (phones, work emails) and plan an activity where you are truly present.

 

  • Recognize quality over quantity – When you do have time with loved ones, really be there. It’s hard to ignore the guilt, as a parent when you must work long hours. However, it does help if you have distraction-free quality time with the people that are important to you. Technology often rules our lives, but we have the control to change the habit of using our phones while being with others. This is not helping grow our relationships, so if you can set aside time to be phone free while with your family in the evening it will make a difference.

Finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself! Patterns are hard to change and things that are worth working for take time and effort! If you going to perform your best balancing act, remember if you wobble and fall, it’s just part of the process. Things are rarely in perfect balance, new tricks are hard to master, and sometimes you just need both feet on the ground.

Check us out at www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information.

The Comparison Trap

The Comparison Trap

Theodore Roosevelt had it right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Do you compare yourself to others and the feeling of inadequacy starts to creep into your everyday life? If so, you are not alone. It may seem like your friends and neighbors all have it together… their house is clean, and their kids are well behaved. Why do you feel like such a mess, and are barely holding it together?

Work, family and responsibilities seem non-stop and it feels like you just can’t catch your breath. How do you become one of those perfect families you see on social media? Is it really possible that they are that happy all the time? What am I doing wrong? How do they seem so carefree and flawless? 

Everyone seems to put the best version of themselves on social media. You see the amazing trips people take, the in-shape friend that looks amazing, the happy family moments, and the list goes on. The fact is most people are not as picture perfect as they look.  We don’t post messy stuff like the fight we just got into with our husband or the stress the unending bills are causing us.

Sometimes people are so caught up in taking the perfect picture they want to share with their followers that they miss the true joy in the event. Look past the filters that people place on their public “social media” life and you will realize most are struggling in some aspect of their lives. People often don’t post about their horrible commute to work or how boring the party they went to ended up being. All we see is that they have the perfect job or social life.

Moving Past

How do we move past comparison and use it in a healthy way? Comparison can provide direction in your life for what you want to work on. So, don’t let comparison steal your joy, but ask yourself why you feel like certain aspects of your life are lacking. Do you look at your friend who travels and wish you had that exotic lifestyle? Or do you wish you had a relationship more like your friend who always seems so happy with her husband?

Most real people have budgets, must work, and need to take care of their families. If it’s travel you crave but find it hard to have the budget or the time for it, maybe you can start planning for something big in the future and set you goal for two years down the road or a realistic time frame. Maybe trying a new trip right in your area will help you get a taste for travel without the big price tag. Maybe it’s just variety you crave.

Why do we compare ourselves? Part of it is just human nature that we are using a yardstick against others to see where we should be in life.  We can better control our emotions and relationships with our thoughts by gaining a better awareness of our internal experiences and reactions to others in our lives.

Our minds are constantly working and generating new thoughts. We can give less weight to the thought that hold us back by practicing mindfulness in our daily lives. We then start to learn that some thoughts don’t produce anything meaningful, then we can start to disregard them and choose new more helpful thoughts.

Still feeling overwhelmed and trapped in comparison? Here are some tips to help:

  • Take a break from social media, maybe a few days, maybe longer. Delete the app so you are not tempted to look at it.
  • Invest some time into being truly present in your own life. Practice concentrating on one thing at a time. For example, if you are eating lunch then taste every bite, chew up your current bite before taking the next one, truly enjoy the experience.
  • Start a journal and write down what you want to accomplish, with a road map for how to get there. Write about one step you take each day, or each week, that will get you closer to your goal.
  • Be grateful for what you do have. Write down things you are grateful for before bed each night. Go a step further and write a letter to friends and tell them why you are grateful for them. Maybe they are struggling also, and hearing something like that from you would make a difference in their lives.
  • Create a self-care plan by including one small activity a day to do that you enjoy. It could be as simple as listening to music or reading a book for the fun of it. You can plan one or two bigger events a month that may include things like a yoga class or coffee with a good friend.
  • Nature has a way of calming us. Do you have a local park by you? Take a walk in a local park or find a way to be outside with your kids or a friend. You will get moving while enjoying company or nature.

Check us out on www.turningstonecounseling.com for more information.