Motivation Answers

Is therapy going to be worth it for me?I don’t know how bad do I need it . I’m financially strugglin

Hi there Loly,  Thanks for your question. I think a lot of people wonder if they really "need" therapy. There may be questions about whether or not someone has enough serious problems and if they don't, are they taking services away from someone who really "needs" it. I think a lot of people also wonder if they should do therapy if they aren't at the rock bottom place. It sounds like you are in a good place at the moment, but have still been thinking about therapy because you want to have some improved coping skills. That is totally valid and understandable. I personally think that everyone can benefit from therapy... even therapists. Therapy is a place where you are able to talk about things with someone who is a an impartial listener. Someone who doesn't take sides in a conflict, and someone who is there to support you. Also, if you are at a time in your life where things are going well, you are in a good place to work on skills. This is the best time to learn coping skills is when you are in a moment when you are not in crisis. I also think it might be important for you to look at any internal bias you might have around therapy.  Learning skills while not in a crisis allows you to practice them so that when you are experiencing a crisis, those skills are there and they are almost second nature, and that is what you want.    Also, it is alright to go to therapy just to talk things out. It is likely that you will feel better if you are able to express yourself to someone out loud.  I would say that if therapy is something you have been thinking about for awhile, you should give in a shot. I will also add, it is important to find the right therapist.. and sometimes that can take some time. You have to find someone who you feel comfortable with and one that understands what you are needing.. and what is bringing you to therapy. Thanks again for your question!!
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I figure out what I really want in life? When n no. of factors are clouding my decision?

Reya,   I went through a similar dilemma earlier in my life. I want to share it with you to help you understand how it can be resolved and why therapy might not work, but there might be another way to get the answer you want. Now typically a mixture of therapy and self-exploration, learning to trust your instincts, building self-confidence can work very well. When I did my Ph.D. in biostatistics I was wondering if I was doing it for my dad because he had a doctorate degree and I was his first born. I was not able to study well while I did not know why I was there. In my case, I knew my mind could do the work but my heart was not into it at all. So it was confusing to me. You ask a similar question: "Am I doing medicine for my mother or for myself?" I went to therapy to figure it out but it did not help as they either weren't asking me the right questions or there was no way to really know cognitively. This kind of knowing that you are doing something that is right for yourself may come more from your intuition or from your heart than from your mind. What ended up happening to me was that I had a dream that showed me bypassing my therapist's office when I was supposed to meet with her. Instead the dream showed me being invited to graduation with others in my field of study. And then I saw myself going in a different direction and being congratulated by people dressed in business suits. So I knew to stop therapy. I knew I would graduate. But then I would do something else and be successful. From then on I was motivated to finish the program. It took a while and different life events guided me being the counselor I really wanted to be. I wanted to understand human nature to be able to help others, not to learn from books. So the way it worked out for me was by studying yoga, mediation, and the body-mind connection. That took a long time. So I needed an other job while I was getting all these experiences. It made sense in retrospect, but it did not know all this when I was in graduate school for biostatistics. What I learned from that experience was that no matter what others around me would say about whether I should or not continue my degree was never satisfying because it never helped me know whether it was right for me. So the answer had to come from within me somehow. I share this with you 1) to let you know you are not the only one who needs to know whether you are doing something for someone else or for yourself, and 2) that your answer needs to come from you because otherwise you will never really know for sure and not knowing will prevent you from being motivated. So you can hope for a dream like I received that would clarify everything for you.... or you can use another strategy. When you don't really know what is the right path for you, you can close your eyes and ask yourself if life feels alive or dull if you do medicine, or some other options you may have. If you feel alive, it is the right path for you especially if doors open easily for you. When I went into biostatistics everything was easy: getting scholarship, getting to the right school, finding my advisor, even getting publications. If you find that your path into medicine is not so easy then you need to ask yourself what your fears are. And then confront them. Doors did not open to me so easily when I finally got my degree in counseling because I was scared. That field mattered so much to me that I was scared to fail at it. I needed to build self-confidence. You mention for instance not know if you are doing medicine because of your mother. Are you experiencing a lot of pressures from her? or what other reasons make you think you might be doing it for her? You have to explore all the things that appear to be blocks. And ask yourself how to overcome the blocks. Usually life's obstacles help make you a stronger person, a person who knows better what they really want because they make the effort necessary. Take some time to think about your options, feel how each one make you feel alive or not. trust the ones that make you feel alive. Then it does not matter if you think it might be for your mother you do something as long as you have good feeling about doing it. 
(MSMHC, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I take control of my life

Hi KJ and thank you for your question. It sounds like there is a lot going on right now and you feel like you are not in control of your life. While there are many things that are out of your control, you are always in control of yourself and can escape the situation you are in.   There are a lot of times we say we 'can't' do something or that we have no control, but that is really just a mind set we have developed by fear. For example, a lot of people may dislike their job and say the "can not quit." However, unless someone is physically forcing them to work, they do have the choice. Every day they choose to go into work. Constraints of society and obligation make it often seem like we do not have a choice but that is an illusion we have created.    You always have control of what you do, but you also have to accept the repercussions that come along with your decision. In the example I mentioned, if you quit your job tomorrow, you will have a loss of income. You may have bills that you cannot pay. This is where you weigh the pros of quitting with the cons of quitting and you ultimately make a decision to either leave your job, or stay. However, it is ultimately your decision.    When it comes to relationships with others, you are in control of how much time, energy, and power you give them. As children, we are grown up with a major power differential where we don't have a lot of free-will because of our parents. However, as adults, we are in the drivers seat of our lives. If you decided to cancel plans, and disregard the advice from family, and move to a remote country with just a backpack, then that is your choice. However, again you have to deal with the consequences of those actions. You are constrained by your means, but even there it is often a choice between things you are making.    What I would suggest you do is ask yourself what is your goal. If you have a specific goal, look at what you are doing and ask yourself if your actions are aligned with that goal. from there you can begin to move forward and feel empowered in your life. I would love to give you more specific advice and discuss the issues you are facing but I only can speak in general terms. I would recommend connecting with a therapist to explore the idea of control and aligning yourself with your goals. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

Why can't I find the motivation to do anything anymore?

Hello,   Motivation can be a very diifcult thing to muster up especially during challenging and difficult times. During these difficult time in our lives we may also be epxeriencing depression. Lack of motivation can be one of the hallmark signs of depression that lead a person into spiralling furhter down into a depressive cycle and often lead to more significant challenges. Some of these challenges can be financial stressors and eventually homelessness due to lack of ability to find the motivation to get out of depression and help oneself. Seeking therapy for depression along with an antidepressant may the best way to lift the symptoms along enough to look at the root caueses behind the depression. If you have access to medical care and a primary care doctor it is highly recommneded to seek out a diagnosis for depression and psychiatric medications if that doctor finds that appropriate. Once medications are on board then the client can work in therapy to look at the causes for depression as well way to increase motivation. This can be done through allot of different therapeutic techniques that are geared specifically towards the needs of the client and the client's situation. Some of these may be self esteem work, therapuetic goal setting, coping skills for depression and cognitive behavioral therapy skills to combast irrational, anxious and negative thinking patterns. These are just a few of many techinques to work on motivation and depression to help lift a person out of cycle that may lead to further challenges in life. Seeking therapy may be hard when depressed as well so understanding that reaching out for help is the first big step is huge. Also seeking support from resources like calling 211 for assistance may be helpful and also support from family and friends if homelessness is really looking like a reality before it happens. Once a person is homeless it can be even harder to find and seek resources so now is the time to act and reach out for help and support as was asking this important question. There are also crisis hotlines that a person can call to seek help as well and agencies out there like nonprofit mental health agencies that are low cost that can help people on a walk in basis with no appointment needed. 
(LMHC, CPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to I stay motivated in work?

I am not sure what line of work you are in, but this is a wonderful and quite relevant question at this time.  In March 2020 the earth closed in every way.  Those who were able to keep their jobs during the pandemic were overworked and underappreciated.  Not only that, people were unable to decompress in the ways they have been accustomed to.  People were unable to participate in recreational activities as normal, such as going to restaurants, movies, live music, dating, and general entertainment.  Although the recreational climate has improved, it has not returned to normal.   Unfortunately, the expectations in most work places have remained the same, and in service industries have increased to unrealistic levels.  Those who have maintained their jobs throughout the pandemic have had no breaks and very little incentive to continue to work at the same level they have previously been expected to perform. Many health and safety expectations have also remained the same.  People are asked to continue to wear masks in public.  Social distance is an expectation in public in most public venues.  Many employers are requiring vaccines and booster vaccines.  These expectations are not what we are accustomed to and are difficult to maintain, even after 18 or more months. The best antedote to finding motivation for many of the clients I have worked with is creating small (and large) events to look forward to.  Take a friend to get manicures.  Find someone with whom to go to dinner.  Invite a friend to watch a movie (either at home or at the theater).  Take a painting class on the weekend.  Plan to go on a hike with another person.  Go for a drive to look at the beautiful leaves.  Find someone with whom to go on a picnic.  With winter coming, plan a skiing or snowboard day.  Ask a friend to go on a short road trip to somewhere you have never been and explore the area.  Go with a friend to buy a new pair of winter shoes.  All of these activities have been normal in the past, but they can be rewards at this point in time. Most importantly, take time to rest, relax, and be kind to yourself.  If you are underperforming at your job, have a candid conversation with your supervisor about your struggles with the current work climate.  There is a good likelihood your supervisor already knows you are struggling, and not only is the role of a supervisor to help find solutions but part of the role is to engage in the problem solving process when and employee is struggling. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend.  Being kind to ourselves takes effort, but is so worth the work.  Good luck!
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can one live as a Black person in America, when society doesn’t accept Black people naturally?

As a black woman, there are stereotypes that precede me, but I try not to give ammunition to the the cruel things that others believe. Yes, I am hurt at times by the assumptions of others, but I refuse to live under the microscope of acceptance. I have learned that I cannot control anyone's actions except my own and I definitely can't control their thoughts. My strength and confidence come from the fact that I am a proud, successful black woman who is working to achieve goals, and treat others with respect. The lack of acceptance by others is something I've experienced for so long but I deal with it as it comes, and I will not allow anyone's thoughts to hinder my progress. Sometimes it is draining to deal with the backlash and other times I respond as if I am not fazed (like second nature). I have learned that I cannot allow the actions of others to change who I am but I can continue to be my best self. Talking to people you trust is important when you don't feel accepted. Sometimes, if you are open with someone else about what is bothering you, you may feel less alone. Have you looked into joining a group that is like minded? Surround yourself with positive people. The people you spend time with influence your thoughts and emotions about yourself more than you think. Our feelings must be validated so we will feel as if we are taken seriously or don't feel alone. Having high self regard goes a long way. Believing in yourself can enhance your resilience to bounce back from challenges or adversities you face. In expressing your naturalness, you are being yourself so don't compare yourself to anyone else or allow the fact that others who copy you are accepted although they are not authentic. How many times does a designer come out with a product that's not accepted and then someone else develops the same product and it is accepted? Be kind to yourself and practice positive self-talk so you can manage your frustrations. Instead of telling yourself "I can't handle this," or "this is impossible" try reminding yourself that you can do it or all I have to do is try. Although you don't feel accepted for who you are, remind yourself of your own strengths and successes. Don't let anyone dim your light, be the light. 
(Licensed, Professional, Counselor, -, LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What type of therapy is best suited to someone stuck in a rut?

Hello Stan, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist who work with CBT to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  This is something I do work with and If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. Hello, We all know that these are very trying times and we often do not know what the future holds with it appearing that so many things are out of our control.  One thing that is not out of our control is our thinking.  But at times it is hard to stay positive.  Here is some information on how to do that and the power of positivity.  Please take a look at the list below.  You may find the information helpful during this difficult time.    The power of positivityHow we think plays a significant role in how we feel. The more you focus on the positive things in your life (close friendships, fun plans for the weekend, the things that are going well at school and with your family) the more likely it will be that you will enjoy a sense of well-being. Positive thinking brings positive responses in your body which can boost your mood and diminish stress.What is positivity?Positivity is the ability to meet challenges and situations in life with an “I can do it,” “I’ll figure it out,” “things will work out” attitude. People who use the power of positivity face the same disappointments, challenges and stressors in life that everyone else does – the difference is that they choose to react to these challenges by finding a productive and positive way to cope and respond.Ways to bring positivity to your lifeSurround yourself with positive people; it’s OK to avoid people who bring you down and who don’t bring out the best in you. Find the areas in your life that bring you joy, help you maintain your sense of humor and give you a sense of well-being – keep those things in your life as you go off to school, meet new people, face new stressors. Be familiar with situations or areas in your life that bring out the “negative” in you – when a situation can’t be changed, try to focus on the positive; if a situation can be changed, then do so! Find ways to give to others, help others, be compassionate and kind. Doing things for others is a powerful way to help you create positivity in your own life. Make an effort to keep a mental list (or write down a list) of all the things that are going well in your life, of the things that bring you joy and the things you are grateful for. Focusing on the aspects of your life that are going well for you can promote a positive attitude in the rest of your life.Make an effort to find a positive side in everythingYou can’t control what happens to you, but one thing you can control is how you respond. It’s up to you to look for the right side in everything and react most positively.For example, when you are waiting for your friend and he is late, don’t get angry, rather make it an opportunity to develop your patience level.What positive changes do you want to make in your life?●       On a scale of 0-10, how content are you with your life?●       Do you regularly set positive goals for your work life, your relationships or health, and relaxation?●       What is your attitude about change?●       What are these goals?●       What keeps happening repeatedly that frustrates you achieving them?Always be gratefulIt is impossible to feel depressed in life if you have so many things to be grateful. No matter how inferior things may turn out, you must realize that we still have things in our lives what most people on earth don’t have. The research found that your brain always focuses on the negative elements of life, like tragedies, failures, worries, etc. That’s why we need to focus more on good things. To do so, you should make a gratitude list and read them whenever you get a chance. It will attract more blessing, and you will feel much better in life.Create a positive environmentIt is vital to have positive people around you who will help you to stay positive in negative situations. Circle yourself with people who will support you and lift you instead of dragging you down.You can also spend time reading positive books, watching motivating movies, or listening to good music.Assess how you feel around people. One useful way to determine if people are toxic is to pay attention to how you feel around them.[3] You can "check in" at certain points while you are around people. Ask yourself the following questions:●     Am I feeling drained right now? Does it seem like the person is draining my emotions?●     Am I walking on eggshells? Am I afraid to say the wrong thing because they might react negatively?●     Am I ignoring my own voice? Is the person making it hard for me to listen to myself and follow my own values?●     Do I feel smaller and less important around this person?Express yourself effectively.[4] Since tension is bound to occur in friendships and relationships, it is crucial that you can express your feelings clearly. When you are owning and examining your feelings, you have the opportunity to handle this tension smoothly. And, speaking expressively will open space for other people to express how they feel, and work through these different feelings together.●     Start by listening. Make sure to acknowledge what the person is saying before you counter with your own views.●     Use "I" statements. A simple way to avoid being too confrontational is to tell people what you're experiencing rather than what they're doing wrong. For example, you can say "When you're late to our coffee dates, I feel like you don't value my time" rather than "You're always late and it's really rude." Speak firmly and assertively. This ties into effective arguing, but speaking assertively is something you can do all the time, whether you're arguing or not. Being an assertive speaker will help improve your communication and relationships.●     Try to figure out where you could use some improvement. Maybe you're easily intimidated and people tend to step all over you, especially if they have a toxic personality. Identify the problem area as a first step.●     Reflect on tactics for specific situations. Maybe your toxic friend asks you for money and you have a hard time saying no. What can you do in these situations?■         Could you rehearse a simple script for the next time they ask?■         For example, you could say "I care about you, but I'm not able to give you any more money."●     Practice responding assertively in your life. You can use techniques like the "broken record," where you simply repeat yourself if they argue about what you've said. Start small if this is difficult for you, such as saying no (when appropriate) to family members or non-toxic friends.  Exercise moreExercising daily releases good mood endorphins, which makes your mood better. Exercise has both physical and mental benefits. It will keep you in better shape and boost your self-esteem.Help othersVolunteering or doing charity can boost your spiritual health and give you internal peace. Buying a big house and cars will not increase your overall happiness in the long run. Contributing to the betterment of the people will also make you realize how much fortunate you are than others, this has a significant effect on our happiness. This is because our total focus will be on how you can give or be of service to others and paying less attention to negative people and things around you.Go outdoorsNature always gives us positive energy and helps us think positively. In today’s busy world and working from home or desk-bound jobs, it has become impossible to go out and spend some time with nature. Spending some time outside in good weather will increase your energy, boost your mood and help you work efficiently. If going out isn’t an option, you can always surround your workplace or home with plants.  With working from home can you take your computer outside or move your computer to a different location in your house to give yourself the feel of a different work space?MeditationMeditation will improve your focus, attention, clarity and will keep your mind calm. It keeps you from getting stressed out and keeps you happy in the long run. It is beneficial for both the body and mind. Meditation helps you to concentrate and pay attention to the present and accept it without judging. It is useful in forgetting about the past and not worry about the future.Get enough sleepWhen we don’t get enough sleep, negativity takes over our mind. Your body needs to recover from the day before stress. There are tons of natural remedies to help you sleep better. Sleep helps your mind to stay focus, be productive and happier. People who get good sleep tend to feel less anger and stressful.Express your feelingsThere is a lot of things keep happening in our life, which we hold inside ourselves. And when we express those emotions, we feel relief. You should always have someone trustworthy you could talk to and someone who can understand what you are going through. And if you don’t find that right person, you can just write it down.Step by step guide to avoid unnecessary conflict The first thing you should ask yourself is if your response is a reaction to something that happened? If so, why are you triggered? This is important because the way you initiate the communication will be different. If you are reacting to the trigger...you may want to assess your timing of the conversation.  Assess your timing○        Trying to communicate something at the wrong time can cause an unnecessary argument.○        How can you respond in a way that is non-aggressive if/when you are triggered Prepare your message ahead of time○        In the example you gave with dumping out the sand. You know now you have something you want to communicate. Prepare the message ahead of time and know what it is you want to say (be assertive)Be assertive (please review the worksheets on assertiveness and communication styles)○        Focus more on the message you are trying to communicate, instead of the response of the person○        Stay away from the words "you" and use "I" Statements○        I'm feeling overwhelmed. Be specific, what do you want "right now" (in the moment)○        What would be helpful in that moment of distress?Improving the communication (practice reflecting, and go to the worksheet on reflections)○        Reflecting listening and providing feedback○        Eye contact, body language○        Do not make assumptions○        Ask questions if you do not understand or if you are unsure○        If you already have a response immediately after the person is done talking, you were not listening? Why? Because you have spent the entire conversation preparing your message, instead of listening to the other person's message.○        It's not about being right or wrong (the war between being right and wrong ruins relationships) (dominance of power roles)○        Apologize if necessary Improving communication●        Attentive Listening: If by the time he is done talking, you already have your message, you were not listening. It means the entire time he was talking, you were thinking. Therefore you may not have the full understanding of the message.●        Questions: Ask questions to avoid making assumptions about what was said.●        Processing: Communicating back to the other person what you heard them say using the specific words they used●        Reflecting: It is hearing the message and describing what was said to you back to the person●        Assertive Communication: Using :"I" statements to communicate the impact of what was said to you to the other personReduce your worriesWorrying habit about anything is a powerful reason to destroy anyone’s thinking. Most of the thing you fear in your life never happens. They are just like nightmares of your mind. It grows stronger day-by-day and leaves you feeling stressed.Accept and find solutionsMost people are repellent and can’t accept the change in their life. They must learn to accept that change will happen. We continually go through changes, because this is how life is meant to be. You can experience the worst phase of your life, but you should look for the positive aspect and find a solution to your problem. When you train your brain for staying positive in all situations, even tragedy can’t destroy you, this maybe hard to do at first but with practice it is something you can do more often in your life when you are dealing with troubling things in your life.ConclusionIf you think that there are a lot of problems and responsibilities in your life and it’s too impractical to stay positive all the time, think again. It’s never too late to live a positive and happy life. I hope these were helpful for you and that you are able to try and implement them in your daily life.  Please remember to reach out to me if you need anything, I am a positive support for you during this process and hard time you can write to me either through the journal entry or through the dashboard to get your feelings and emotions out so that we can work together to work on how to implement the positive aspects in your daily life.  I look forward to speaking with you soon take care. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman or reach out to me on my email cwestman57@gmail.com to help you with any questions about how to get you support and help going forward. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 01/20/2022

Okay, I've lost all the weight, which uncovered issues, how do you move forward.

Hi Slim, Losing 150 pounds is an indication of how much courage and confidence you have.  You've likely been in a process of change for a long time to be able to transform your physical body so intensely.  It seems what you are asking about is how to transform your emotional body so that your hard work physically is maintained.  This emotional "work" is VERY important.  Using your courage and confidence to explore who you are emotional can help you to maintain your new physique.  Moving forward through the emotional issues compassionately is very helpful.  This means to have compassion for the parts of you that carry pain and sadness.  Turning toward these "exiled" parts of yourself compassionately is how change can be maintained.  Connecting with the parts of you that have the "old habits" as a way to cope is crucial.  These parts of you that have coped in unhealthy ways likely still carry pain for you and can benefit from unburdening their pain so that they are able to cope in healthy ways.  This family of parts is our Internal Family System.  The internal family is just as important as our external family.  These internal family members yearn for our attention and support.  When we extend to them compassion, courage, curiosity, calm, and confidence they begin to trust us and feel better.  When our internal family of parts feels better WE feel better.  This connection to our internal family members provides support for lasting change.   Also, spending time focusing on our "emotional heart" provides physical and emotional stability.  The emotional heart provides intuition and guidance on a daily basis.  It also helps us feel emotionally and physically stable.  We can help our emotional heart health by practicing Heart Focused Breathing (from the Heartmath Institute).  The steps are as follows: 1) Place one or both hands on your chest or heart center. 2) Close your eyes if safe to do so. 3) Imagine your breath is flowing in and out through this area. 4) Bring your attention back to your heart center as often as you need to. 5) Do this for 1-3 minutes (or, longer if you want to).  This activity is like medication.  It only works if you use it.  This practice can also help you maintain your momentum in your new body to support lasting change.     Take good care, Heidi Beck, LCSW
(LCSW, MSSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can i focus on important things?

Hello Diana. I am so sorry to hear that things have been such a struggle for you lately but I am very impressed and very proud of you for knowing that you needed to reach out for some help and I hope that I can provide that to you.   It really sounds like you are struggling with poor motivation and feeling like you are wasting your time in school by being unproductive. It does make me wonder what the cause can be of this lack of motivation and without additional information from you, I will have to make some assumptions.   One reason and a very common reason is due to depression. You mentioned that you are in college and it makes me wonder if your transition from high school has possibly been a difficult one, which is completely normal.  It is important to utilize the supports for you in school through your counseling center, Resident Assistants (if you live at school when not dealing with Covid), social groups and friends, or professors. It is okay to ask for one on one help with your classes from your professors or request a tutor. Are you struggling more since you moved to online classes? I wonder if that transition for you has led you to realize that you need the accountability of being in person. Are you happy with the classes that you have chosen or the path that you have set out for yourself in school? Second guessing can definitely lead to low motivation and avoidance which just adds to your stress and negative emotions. Fear of change is also a very common thing that many people struggle with which leads to avoidant behavior and low motivation. This can be a general fear of University, a fear of "growing up," graduating and having to be an adult, a fear of your online classes, failing or just not performing to what you know your capabilities are. All of these can lead to this type of behavior and reactions.   Here are a few ways to help you increase your productivity and combat your lack of motivation. First it is important for you to try to identify what is standing in your way and keeping you from doing what you know you need to do. What causes you to feel paralized in these moments? Obviously therapy can help you through this but in addition to therapy, there are relatively small things that you can do to help yourself.   For one thing, you mentioned only finding enjoyment in exercising and eating healthy. You need more things  that make you laugh. This can be watching things that will make you laugh on your phone or Netflix or something like that. Try to be more social and go out of your way to do fun and active things with friends rather than sitting around and talking. Adjust your working environment to be conducive to you. Have it represent who you are and make it a place that you feel comfortable in. Do not work on the same things or the same class over and over again throughout your day or week if you can. Ensure you have as much variety to your schedule and routine as possible. Working on having better time management can also be something that helps. Plan out your day to consist of time to get some work done, time to socialize, time to eat, basic activities of daily living and sleep and see those goals as non negotiable. Do what is on your list or your schedule because you have to, not because you want to. And the more you are able to do what is on your list, the more you need to pat yourself on the back. You need to praise yourself and cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you are more than capable of doing this, even though in the moment it might be hard. Remind yourself that you are capable of success and that everything will be okay.    
(LICSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I accept that I am starting to go through menopause?

Change in life can be hard so please give yourself some grace. Taking life one day at a time is a start and facing the change with an attitude of gratitude helps. I love that you own you are 47 and say you don't look like it or feel like it. That is wonderful! Like you were bold to state you are 47...own it! You are beautiful just the way you are and aging is inevitable. It will happen and continue to happen, but the more you accept it and love who you are where you are at in life will help.    I encourage you to find someone who is older than you whom you admire. There are so many women who are in their 50's, 60's, 70's and so forth who are thriving. Ask them how they accepted where they are at and what is their secret. Aging is a blessing and the more we embrace where we are at and who we are will help us enjoy life each day. Think positive and write down all the positives at where you are now versus where you have been. There are so many positive things to embrace about growing older such as less worring about what we do and more about who we are and loving the ones around us.  Perimenopause, Menopause is hard. I know all too well, but know that all women will be there, are there, or have been there. You are not alone. Be empowered for who you are and all that you've learned in life. Choose joy and know you will get through this. You are a blessing and have so much to offer. You are a mentor to those whom are younger and a young lady to those who are older.  It will get easier and you will love who you are at every age you are as long as you own it, accept it, and choose joy in the process. Attitude is everything and an attitude of gratitude will help you learn how to accept each phase of life you are in. You've got this!
Answered on 01/20/2022

what should i do with myself ?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with losing interest in things and continuing to make mistakes.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have around keeping up with school.     Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of guilt and loss of interest.     As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I find motivation in my day to day process.

I often get asked this very question. How do I find motivation to do things when I don't feel motivated to do anything. Some victories is still a victory. Focus on what your feeling and what you can do, big or small, just for the day. Is it as simple as changing out of your pijamas? Taking a shower? I have worked with both youth and adults and adding an extra layer of substance use contributes heavily when trying to implement new behaviors. I know AA/NA speak about "One day at a time", but sometimes chaning your mindset to "One hour at a time" can help when feeling like the thoughts are overwhelming and you don't know where to start.  Some recommendations I have would be to reach out to support around you. Starting on this platform is a good start but expanding it if possible, is ideal. Be active. Whether it is around your home or at an outdoor space, going for a walk can improve mood and be rejuvenating. You also mentioned that you have become recently unemployed and I'm sure that might be contributing to potential stress or negative thoughts. Don't let those negative thoughts control you. Challenge them and replace them with positive ones. You may not have it all figured out right now, but focus on the positive. How much time of sobriety? Did you go for a walk? Simplicity removes excess stuff that might be out of your control. Make a gratitude list. What are some things that you are grateful for? How do you express gratitude to yourself? If you don't, consider starting? How do you express gratitude to those that you interact with? Increasing your gratitude will in turn, impact your mood. Sometimes it feels good to do good and be recognized or have others recognize you for the smallest exchange.    What brings joy to your life? Or a smile to your face? Do that. Everyday. Make small goals and accomplish them. No one is watching but you and you are all that matters. Keep your eyes on the prize, continue to work on yourself and get the support you need to make your goals happen one at a time. 
(MA, LPCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I adjust to a loss that I want but that is something I'm so accustomed to?

Thank you for sharing your feelings about your chronic pain. Pain can be draining, relentless and constant. You have had this pain for over a decade, and now they might have found the right combination to help. You are nervous. You are unsure about the outcome of the new treatment. The fear is that the treatment may not work, or if it does, you may loose something, although painful, that has been with you constantly for over a decade. Chronic pain can shape the way we view our life and ourselves. It would be great to be free of such debilitating pain, on the other hand, the pain has been your constant companion.  Having fear of the unknown is part of the human condition. Ask yourself what is your worst fear about the chronic pain. Then attempt to see yourself overcoming that worst fear. Picture yourself acheiving your highest goal regarding the chronic pain, and tell yourself that you will satisfied with the outcome.  Is there any meaning to be found in the chronic pain you endure? How has this chronic pain allowed you to appreciate things in life that you might have before overlooked? What has this pain taught you about yourself? Do you see yourself as a fighter, as strong in character due to being able to live with the chronic pain? What lessons could you teach others who do not suffer chronic pain?  Channeling the courage and the kind of strength that comes from our heart and soul to take a step into the unknown in order to achieve a higher good will aid you in this circumstance. In life, we must take educated risks to move a step forward, knowing that both not making a change or taking the risk may have both positive and negative consequences.  I would like to encourage you to make the choice to move forward with the pain treatment,  and to take steps to resolve the chronic pain as much as possible although you may loose a constant companion or the treatment may not work, you had the courage and bravery to take that step toward better health, and a better quality of life. 
(M.Ed., LPC, LMHC, MHP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What the way you can help me

With all of the stressors in the world, it can be hard to find our passion and spark again. Therapy can be a great tool to get that satisfaction in life, from relationships with friends, family, and the work environment. We can work together to hone in on what your values are, how to incorproate those values into your everyday life, and how to navigate aspects of life that contradict what we love. As we prioritize what's truly important we can find life gets easier. We find contentment. We let go of toxicity. Let go of negative relationships. Place boundaries with those difficult people we "need" to engage with. Reduce our negative thinking and scary intrusive thoughts. Increase time with the people we love. Find that self care that helps us cope. Communicate better and be understood by others. When we feel we are no longer "in love" with lfe and work, we need to look at our faitgue and burnout. How intensely are you fighting to care about something when you haven't had a moment to breathe and reconnect with your inner voice? Your inner child? Explore your thoughts and feelings for a moment. What brought you to your job? Was it money and survival? Was it a love for a career? Can we reconnect to what we loved about the work? Do we need to explore something new to give us meaning instead of just a paycheck? Do we need a satisfying hobby to balance out the grind? As we explore these questions, we chip away as the barriers and pain to find hope and fulfillment again.  What about our disatisfaction with life overall? Are we dealing with unhealed wounds? Are we struggling with a familial or societal expectation that is too overpowering? We need to heal the pain to help with our thoughts. We need to find our triggers and how to manage and react. Maybe it's avoidance of a trigger until we can increase our exposure. Do others have unfair expectations of us in terms of our life and future? Then let us find peace in what we are doing, explore our desires, not the desires of others, and move towards our own dreams.
Answered on 01/20/2022

I'm depressed and unmotivated and do not know what to do

You do show some degree of motivation in that you are not happy with the way you are presently living your life.  You can build on that motivation.  One question you could ask yourself is why you feel unmotivated.  From what you have written it seems that you are focused on the barriers to getting a good job and moving forward after you finish your degree.  You mentioned some of these barriers are the small town with few job opportunities, no friends, lack of money, family with fears of you leaving the house.  I can understand why you are questioning why you should study so hard.  You don’t see how working so hard for a degree will make a difference.  You are unmotivated because you don’t see how completing the degree will make a difference in your choices for the future.  The truth is that you do have power to change your circumstances, you might need to realize the things you can do rather than focus on your limitations.  Many things are out of your control, so you need to focus on what you can control.  For instance, you have been taking classes in a subject area that highly interests you.  One of the reasons that you are losing motivation to complete the degree is that you feel trapped by your current living situation and by what others (mainly your parents) think.  It would be great for you to talk with a counselor about the possibilities that you do not see right now in the place you live.  You might be given ideas that you never thought about before.  You might even begin by contacting your professor or your school about job options after you complete your degree.  You probably have an online community board for your classes.  You could begin to interact with other students about their plans and how they will go about getting a job in this field.  Since I don’t know you personally, I’m not sure where to direct you but these are just guesses from the limited information you have shared in your question. It is normal to get fearful as you move closer to completing your degree.  Your parents may not realize how their concerns are negatively affecting you.  They have many fears about you being in the world that may or may not be realistic.  As you talk to a counselor you could discern how to take in their advice while respecting them and acknowledging that they care deeply about you, but their own fears may be holding you back.  Since you like social media, you could use it to explore jobin your field as well.  This way, you would not be wasting your time on social media but using even those skills to help you make new connections for your future.  You have made it this far.  Don’t give up now.  There is a future out there for you.
(D., Phil., LPC, LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Lacking motivation and stuck on bad habits

I am in a certain mindset where I don’t feel like doing anything but pursue the things that don’t help me in life. I don’t feel depressed but I am not happy either Thank you for your question regarding motivation.  I would encourage you to evaluate the current thoughts and feelings you are encountering at this time.  Assess your experiences to determine if this is something significant and having a notable impact on your day to day functioning.   Does your level of motivation impact your social, occupational, or personal functioning?  How many days of the week do you have these thoughts and feelings?  What is your behavioral response to this lack of motivation?  What thoughts are you telling yourself during these experiences? In what areas are you feeling a lack of motivation (school, work, personal relationships, etc.)?   I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions and gather more information and then act on what you discover. A start could be to figure out what you mean by ‘pursuing the things that don’t help me in life.’  Weigh the pros and cons of doing things that help you in live vs doing things that don’t help you in life each time you make that choice.  Consider what you would like to be doing right now in life.  What are your goals?  What do you hope to accomplish in your life?  What are your hobbies/interests and things you do for fun.  Things that generally do not help are using drugs/alcohol and/or engaging in other toxic habits (hurting self or others and/or procrastination). I would also encourage you to start small as you move in a positive direction.  One suggestion would be to do some self-reflection and get the momentum moving in a positive direction in your life.  Consider the following: 1.       Take a 15 minute brisk  mindfulness walk (focusing on being in the moment) at least 3x/week. 2.      Brainstorm to develop a list of positive qualities, traits, and/or attributes about yourself that you are proud of and enlist the input from others in this activity (friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, etc). 3.      Do a self-care activity at least 1x/week.  This can be any activity that brings you and/or boosts your spirits. I hope that this information helps as you move forward towards your goals in life.
(M.S., LPP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I find the discipline and motivation to stay focused on productive tasks?

Thank you for reaching out Quicksilver, it's never easy and I appreciate it.    So, how do I do what I want to do, but don't do because I'm doing something else.    It's a great question, but we really need to delve into it way more before we find an answer.    Some people sometimes are scared of the new endeavor, and so do whatever they can to not fail, which includes not trying.  Some people don't have the skills needed in order to get started, so instead of facing that [which I guess is another variation of fear], they avoid the skill they're missing.  Some have the voices of failure in their head from family or friends or TV, telling them that it's very hard and only a fraction make it. It's easier to stay on my phone than to face those demons.    I guess it all sounds like it would boil down to fear, but with the unique nuance of what you yourself might be scared of.    Now what if it's not fear based at all? What if this just isn't the time. You need to save your emotional energy for something else (surviving corona, new relationship, paying bills, favorite actor died... could really be anything). And if that's the case, than it's wroth saying out loud, that this isn't the right time for the project, since you need your emotional space in different places.    ---   All of this to day, I haven't yet met a person who didn't do something, because he was 'lazy' or just generic 'procrastinated'. There are reasons we avoid certain situations, but there are hundreds of those reasons, and I don't want to peg you with one of them just in case it isn't true for you.    So to summarize, I guess it's time to have an honest conversation with yourself. And assuming you could get to the bottom of why you're not working on your project, it will be much easier to come up with the antidote for it.    For example if you're scared of failure, teaching you how to run an Excel document wont work, and vice versa.      So I wish you all the luck and enjoyment with your self exploration! I'm here if I could help with anything! 
Answered on 01/20/2022

Can I ever be better or normal again, as I used to be, free to choose what I wanna do?

Hello Zar, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others. I wanted to send you skills and tools on how to Find Happiness within yourself and for your life as I feel that once you are able to identify what happiness means to you than you can set up what your happiness is going forward.Happiness and emotional fulfillment are within your grasp. Happiness is and will always be the most cherished, yet most elusive, of all human desires. Day in and day out, many search for happiness, but end the day empty handed.Happiness isn’t something that someone gives us, nor is it something that we have to have permission for. Happiness is a state of mind that is created from within. We all want to feel happy, and each of us has different ways of getting there.  Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let rub off on you. Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to feel as happy as the person next to you? Do you ever feel that you are on the sidelines looking in on a party you were never invited to? Maybe you seemingly have everything you could possibly want materialistically, but still can’t quite feel that elusive internal contentment?Maybe you wish you had more, and not satisfied with your current life circumstances and believe that if you just get that ‘perfect job’ you can then be happy. Or maybe you’ve lost a love…maybe you’ve never had one… and feel that your life is not complete without a significant other to bring you the happiness that is so rightfully yours, but seems to be just out of reach. Regardless of your personal circumstances, it is possible to find internal happiness, that form of happiness that feeds on nothing, except your own desire to find it.PIES is a common acronym for the complete package to ensure happiness. P – physical exercise, I – intellectual stimulation, E – emotional stimulation, S – spiritual stimulation. And with this in mind, I have completed a list of things that we all can do to bring out our own internal happiness that is non-reliant on any other person. 1.   Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.2.   Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.3.   Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.4.   Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.5.   Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.6.   Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.7.   Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.8.   Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. Change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.9.   Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.10.            State your achievements“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry FordIt’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and never take the time to reflect on the things we have accomplished. Each of us has done plenty of awesome things in our lives.So what if life isn’t perfect at this exact moment. It’s okay that it’s taking a tad bit longer with your fitness goals. Don’t worry that you haven’t reached the pinnacle of your career just yet.The most important thing is that you are moving forward and you’re in a better position today than you were yesterday.Start a journal listing accomplishments, milestones, and breakthroughs you’ve experienced. After writing this list, take a moment or two to reflect on all you’ve done.11.   Include the little things you love into your day-to-day life“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert BraultI’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” The little things are the small and often underappreciated aspects of life that truly make us happy. Rather, it’s your favorite cup of Joe, your morning walk along the beach, attending your favorite yoga class, or wearing that outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.Schedule your life around the small details that bring you happiness.12.  Do what you loveAs Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”People who do what they love for a living tend to live a happier and more productive life, have higher self-esteem, and better health. 13.  Paint your perfect day“To accomplish great things, we must first dream, then visualize, then plan…believe…act!” – Alfred A. MontapertEveryone has the power to live each day exactly the way they want to. We all have the same 24 hours to work with. It’s up to you to decide how to fill up those minutes.Ask yourself, are you wasting time watching reality TV, sleeping late, complaining about your job, and wishing for a better life? Or are you going after your goals and dreams, and doing whatever it takes to reach them?Take these 3 steps to achieve your perfect day:Realize you have the power to achieve anything you’ve ever wanted and no one else can do the work for you. Figure out what your perfect day looks like. You must believe 100% that your perfect day will become a reality.14.  Put yourself above everything else“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world.” – Lucille BallIt’s time you put yourself first and become selfish. While it’s admirable to help others, don’t forget to show yourself some love. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a weekend trip where you can disconnect from the noisy world you live in.Block out your time and let no one cut in.15.  Tell yourself today will be awesome“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce BrothersHappiness comes from within. Happiness starts with reshaping your mindset to be positive and eliminating all negative thoughts.Be positive and believe in yourself, no matter the obstacles that might stand in your way.16.             Forget being perfect and accept yourself as is“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo TolstoyPeople often act confident and secure around others but deep down, they’re insecure.Realize we live in an imperfect world and stop comparing yourself to others (it’s not worth it to play ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, life becomes simpler and more peaceful.17.              Surround yourself with the right company“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higherYour friends should bring out the best version of you and help you strive to new levels in life. Think of your company in terms of quality instead of quantity.It’s more important to have a few quality friends who inspire you, than tons of friends who leave you in a negative state of mind.18.             Stop worrying and keep it moving“Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain.” – Author unknownLife is full of what ifs and endless possibilities. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, whether you worry or not.So, why waste time worrying when some things you have no control over?If what you are worrying about isn’t within your means to be solved, then move on and don’t let it put a damper on your parade. Embrace the uncertainty that life brings us and get to enjoying life.  19. Get out of your comfort zone and become bold“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian TracyWe cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DepreeNothing worth having comes with a 100% guarantee of success, nor should it. Being willing to take risks is what life is all about.Living in your comfort zone shrinks your world and gives you tunnel vision. Instead of thinking, “If only I had…,” take a leap of faith and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover the life you always wanted.20.             Have a feel-good song“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip HarburgEveryone needs a go-to song when they need to brighten up their day. It’s been proven that music can make us happy even on our worst of days.21.             Eat HealthyThe first steps one should take in making internal improvements is acknowledging your food choices. I know you’ve heard the cliche ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, a corny cliche that it is, but there is an element of truth to this age old saying!Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with necessary vitamins and minerals to energize your body throughout the day, providing your various body systems with oxygen and energy that can greatly impact your overall mood and sense of well-being. Junk food will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling sluggish for the bulk of the day.So often when we’re busy we forget to eat, and will then grab the quickest snack available without thinking of the impending effects of unhealthy eating. Snacking on a bowl of grapes, or some refreshing watermelon can bring an amazing boost to your morale and energy level. And don’t forget…along with all this healthy eating, keeping hydrated is also very important.22.             ExerciseAlong with healthy eating comes exercise. It needn’t be strenuous, this post isn’t about improving one’s bicep ratio!  A simple increase in heart rate will increase your endorphins giving you a natural feeling of happiness, and I do believe it’s the endorphins that give many avid exercise enthusiasts their momentum for endurance. Physical exercise and the increase in those endorphins can naturally increase mood positivity. Just 20 to 30 minutes each day should keep your spirits right at par with your endorphin level!  23.  Treat Yourself WellSo now that the technical stuff is out of the way, ie healthy eating and exercise…it’s time to work on the internal stuff.  I was once told by someone during a very difficult time to wrap myself in a comfortable blanket, make myself a hot tea, or hot chocolate, (I guess wine could work too…. but only in moderation, as there is no happiness in a hangover!) and keep that blanket wrapped around you and treat yourself as you would treat someone else who seems to be under the weather.  Maybe when you were young, someone would make you homemade / or store bought Chicken Soup?Well, this is similar, the comfort of the soup or hot tea and blanket provides warmth and will put your body into a relaxing mode, and therefore release certain chemicals in your brain that will give you that comfort that you once believed could only be received from a significant other. We’ve all heard of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’..well this collection of ‘good-feeling’ books is similar in nature to sitting back and treating yourself well. This was honestly my first step to internal happiness.  And it was a small piece of advice that I’ve carried with me for quite some time now, and it always works during times of unsettlement.24. Take a Break from Social MediaAs you’re relaxing, you may think to yourself that it is the perfect time to check in on social media, but you might want to try and resist, and depending on your cohort, this may prove to be more difficult for some than for others!  Remember, this time is about yourself and really not about your friends. It’s time you dedicated solely for yourself!When you’re not at your happiest moment, seeing other’s perfectly portrayed lives on social media is enough to bring even the happiest person into a non-showering, non-hair brushing, stay in bed all day slump. If you are feeling depressed or down.. avoid, avoid, avoid..social media and watch a comedy or an intriguing drama instead!25. Set that Movie Date Night for YourselfSpeaking of movies…. I have found that a dedicated night to just yourself and a really good movie can do wonders to your morale. Prepare some healthy snacks..and okay….maybe some popcorn too, and settle in for the night with one of your all time favorite ‘turn-to’ movies when feeling down, or a movie you’ve been just dying to see and never did.With the digital age the way it is now, thousands of movies are right at your fingertips, and these movies can sometimes give you a greatly needed boost that can actually carry onto the next day. I personally find movies can be incredibly therapeutic and motivational, depending on genre.26. Go out and ExploreThis is my favorite tip of all, probably because it has always worked for me during times when I was feeling down. I have a few places that I like to walk to, and these walks lead me to places that are serene, peaceful and just down right relaxing. If you have a waterfront, seawall, beach, or just a favorite park, I recommend bringing a blanket, a well-loved book or magazine and just submit to the inner peace and happiness that is lurking from deep inside. Don’t allow negative thoughts or external problems to enter into your mind.Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, be it nature, trees, the sea, or an urban paradise, and treat yourself like you are dating yourself. Enjoy this time, and enjoy the fact that this is YOUR life, and you are in charge of allowing yourself to be happy. And if you don’t have a time issue, then take your time there, pretend that you are taking a child or a pet to the park, you would do it for them right? Then take this time and do it for yourself. This is one of the most sure-fire ways of finding happiness.27. Take Pictures of Beautiful ThingsSo you’re taking in the beauty around you, and taking advantage of all this free enjoyment, so why don’t you pull out the phone, or camera and snap a few photos? You never know…. you could find joy or even a hidden talent that you never knew you had! I personally love buildings, I take photos of them all the time…perhaps a little too many photos!Maybe you like the rainfall, or puddles, flowers, landscape, or focus on your creative side and take some unique photos of whatever you fancy from various angles, and see what you come up with. Creativity is in all of us, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to remind us to go find it. If drawing is more your thing…then draw and draw some more… really let your creativity just take over.28. Write it all outSpeaking of creativity, have you ever thought of keeping a personal journal, or even a not-so personal journal, say your own blog perhaps? Writing can be cathartic, it can be a vessel to release pent up emotions, or frustration. If you write out all that is bothering you, it keeps your mind more organized and transfers your negative thoughts onto that paper, providing you the freedom to focus on positivity.While you’re at it, if you have problems that need solutions, this is also a good time to brainstorm and throw ideas onto that paper that can offer a solution. I’ve often felt that my alone time and list writing have relieved ill feelings leaving more room for my new ventures into that space for internal happiness.29. Declutter and PurgeLastly, if you’ve made it this far, then you are ready to make some serious progress. And this progress starts with completely decluttering and cleaning your home, donating or recycling anything that you don’t need. A clean and clutter free home is a clean and clutter free mind. At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sorry…yes another cliché! Be warned though… this may prove to be more challenging than it appears because if you are still feeling unhappy, and low on energy, then this step may be difficult to overcome.But can you imagine how simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing a clean home can be? Pump up on those fruits, drink some water, juice or splurge on a beverage of your choice…turn on the tunes and get cleaning!  You will feel better once you start, and even better once you’ve finished!ConclusionSo now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I found it. These are the steps I took, and I hope you can find the happiness you deserve as well. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often. I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 01/20/2022

How will I know that therapy will benefit me?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with being in your own head and therapy can definitely help with that.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have around changing paths.   Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of uncertainty around the path you are on.            As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I manage myself to achieve more

Hi Georgia,  Thank you so much for reaching out with this question. I know a lot of people right now are wondering the same thing. "Why can't I just do what's on the list?" Most people think that by making the list they will be motivated to cross stuff off, but that may not work. There are two main things I'll talk about in this response that you will want to look into that can help you figure out a way forward.    The first thing is the impact of our mental health on our ability to complete tasks. People who experience depression can attest to the extreme difficulty they experience when in a depressive episode. Part of depression can incude difficulty caring for yourself and your activities of daily living, like doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, brushing your teeth, and showering. Another prominent issue is ADHD. Many folks with ADHD find it nearly impossible to complete tasks they find uninteresting but may spend a huge amount of time working on a project they are interested in. There may be this wide gap of not doing some things that "need" to get done, and hyperfocus on things the person is prioritizing. How can you tell if you have either of these issues? If you have never been diagnosed before, you can seek a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, your general practitioner (sometimes), or from a therapist. Addressing the root cause, if a mental health disorder is a root cause, is really important.    Another thing to consider is why you are avoiding whatever it is you are avoiding. Social media is quite addicting. We keep scrolling and checking even though not much is really going on. If you're following the news you may have heard that leaders of these platforms are aware of the negative impact they have on people's lives. As with any other compulsive behavior, making a conscious effort to reduce your use is important. You can set a notification on your phone to tell you when you've used an app a certain amount of time in the day or make it harder to use the app by hiding it in the field of apps on your phone. You could even take the app off your phone altogether and only access the site through the use of a computer or laptop. After the initial shock to your system (about a week), you'll find that you don't really miss it and your relationship to the app can change.    While social media is addicting and one reason beneath the avoidance, I often encourage my clients to look at what emotions they are trying to avoid, and/or what the procrastination is doing for them. For instance, many people procrastinate writing papers for school or studying for a test and think they get their best work done under pressure. That's not actually true. What happens when we procrastinate when there is a deadline is that we get a burst of energy as the deadline approaches. That energy is actually more connected to anxiety and fear of not getting the work done on time. When the paper is done or the exam is over most people feel relief, and they do fairly well on the assignment which actually reinforces the idea that they work best under pressure. Its like they're saying, "well I got this A, so I must be doing the right thing."    Procrastination can also tell us a lot about ourselves and our values if we are willing to listen and explore. Sometimes we dread doing something and avoid it because the thing is related to the anxiety we have. For instance, many of my younger clients often avoid making phone calls because it gives them anxiety. Procrastination may be telling you that you aren't enjoying the tasks of your job or school assignments. It may be a way that your body is telling you to make a change to something you're more passionate about.   Maybe you can refresh your lists and organization tactics by getting inspiration from Pintrerest. If any of the above issues sound familiar you may want to invest some time with a therapist who can help you identify ways to help you from procrastinating and getting at the root cause of the problem. 
(LMHC, CSAC)
Answered on 01/20/2022