December 26, 2019

New Years Resolution: Change Things That No Longer Serve You



I need to connect with people and disconnect from my screens.

I want to keep this post simple. Life is complicated enough without a complicated post about how you can change your life.



I can let work and life distract me from really being present and fully enjoying the people and experiences in my life. I know I am not alone. I find times with friends often interrupted or diminished by regular phone checking.

For myself, I'm working on being more mindful and less distracted, which usually means having clear boundaries with the things that distract me, like my phone and computer. I find myself regularly trying to multitask. This desire to multitask comes from the nagging feeling that I can never get everything done. The reality, however, is that multitasking actually makes me less efficient, less present, more anxious, and less capable of enjoying my life and loved ones.

This New Years, I am going to focus on changing something that no longer serves me well--being on my phone and computer too much. It's hard to completely disconnect from my phone and computer. I need it for my practice and to communicate with family and friends. But the fact is that being so connected no longer serves me well.


What have you lost by holding onto things that no longer serve you?

I think of times my daughter was trying to get my attention, and I was distracted by an email or social media. I am not doing either thing well. I think of those times that I check email into the evening and then have trouble sleeping because I am trying to problem-solve things right before bed time.

I am making a commitment to powering down when possible, to putting my phone in the other room, to starting my day with some deep breathing, meditation, or scripture instead of checking email as soon as I get up. I am making a commitment to prioritize things that are of value. And I will start to consider which relationships no longer make sense in my life, hoping to make room for other new relationships. Change is hard, so these changes are largely aspirational, but you have to start somewhere.

Sometimes you have to let go of something to make room for the things of value. 

You may be working really hard at things that no longer work for your life. Be willing to let them go in pursuit of something else that makes more sense for you. Continuing to work hard at things you don't love and that no longer give you fulfillment will only keep making you frustrated, even if you happen to succeed.

By letting go of these things in your life, it may make room for something that will give you joy and fulfillment. It will make room for the things that are the best use of your time and talents.

We only have so much space in our hearts and minds. Human beings are creatures of habit and comfort. We keep doing what we have been doing because it is easier than changing. That is a big part of how we get stuck and stop growing and feeling interested in our lives. If you are feeling stuck, it's usually a sign that it's time for change. You have to have the courage to pursue change before things will get better.

How can you let go of things that no longer serve you?

This New Years, think about what is not working in your life. It may be a relationship that has not worked in a long time, a habit or addiction, a goal that is out of date with your values, a belief system that is keeping you stuck, or obligations that stress you out but provide no real value.

Stop and make a list of everything that you suspect may not serve you anymore. What is one of those things that you are willing to change, remove, or replace? Place a Post-It note or a reminder somewhere to help you remember the thing you want to change. Remind yourself why it is worth changing that thing. Imagine how your life will be improved with this change. Imagine how free you will be without this thing, habit or person.




Getting rid of that one thing may be the change you need.


If you are struggling to make changes in your life, we have Houston counselor who can help. Please call us at 713-591-3612 or email us at Nancy @ wilsoncounsleing . org.

This blog is not meant to replace professional counseling. 

December 4, 2019

Empathy is my superpower, but sometimes it feels like my kryptonite


People can begin to experience healing often after just a single encounter of empathy

I would be a rotten therapist if I didn't have empathy. Empathy allows me to understand and feel the world of my clients. It gives me the ability to help clients feel seen, cared for, and feel normal. People can begin to experience healing often with just a single encounter of empathy.




If empathy is such a great thing, why does it sometimes feel so bad to be an empathetic person? When people suffer, empathy allows us to go into their world and hold some of their suffering. But there is a cost to that. If you really share in someone's pain, that means you may also feel that pain. You lighten their burden, but sometimes in the process, you take part of their burden on yourself.

As a therapist, I have generally been able to be empathetic and present for my clients without taking all of the pain home with me. I have had less success doing that in my personal relationships.

To lighten someone elses burden, it may make your burden heavier


I had a friend whose husband died in a plane crash. I was shocked when I heard about it, and I couldn't stop thinking about her and her children. I felt overcome with emotion. I thought about her son's upcoming graduation and his first day of college without his dad. I thought about how it must feel for her to go to bed at night and not feel her husband next to her. I thought about the feelings of hopelessness and regret that come when someone you love deeply dies suddenly.


  


I had another friend whose stepchild was killed in a heartbreaking and senseless act of violence. She sent me a text with her favorite picture of him, young and full of life. And she shared that his burial day was also his birthday. I sobbed thinking of the unspeakable loss of a child and the cruel twist of fate that had him buried on his birthday. I sobbed sitting there at dinner in front of my kids feeling so sorry for her, and so thankful for my loved ones surrounding me. 

I would like to think that being empathetic in this way allowed me to be a more caring person in her life. And for that, I would not trade empathy for anything, but the truth is, sometimes it's a gift I would like to give back.

You have to go into someone's grief to really have compassion...and it's hard and uncomfortable


It is not fun feeling sad, feeling heart ache, confusion, and crying through other people's suffering. When I asked a friend of mine for advice about how to help a grieving friend who had just lost a child, she said this, "You have to go into someone's grief to really have compassion...and it's hard and uncomfortable." It's hard and uncomfortable. That is gospel truth.

We live a life where we choose comfort and pleasure most of the time. I can't really even blame people for doing that. I do it. But there are times that call for something more than that. You can either ignore other people's pain, or you can walk with them as far as you are able and as far as they will let you. For me, I don't think it's really even a choice if I am going to do the work I believe I am created to do.

So, even though it means I am sometimes more emotional and fragile, I want to keep committing to being empathetic. It is my superpower and my kryptonite. And that is part of what makes it a gift. It is something given at a cost.
Empathy is a gift and part of our calling as human beings living in community.


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To those of you who are struggling with pain, professional counseling can help lighten your load. Please contact one of our Houston counselors at 713 - 591 - 3612 or email us at Nancy @ wilsoncounseling.org

This blog is not intended to substitute for professional counseling.