Innovation360-Dallas

How play can change your life!

“The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression. Our inherent need for variety and challenge can be buried by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Over the long haul, when these spice-of-life elements are missing, what is left is a dulled soul.” – Stuart Brown, M.D.

Play is an integral part of every child’s development. Through trial and error, imagination, and creativity, play provides a safe process for children to learn about themselves, how the world works, and how to engage in relationships. They test limits and begin to understand how to set and respect boundaries, and learn how to work through conflict. They experience failure at reaching an objective and begin to grasp the life lessons of determination, endurance, and resilience. Something changes, however, as we grow up. Many of us think to ourselves, “I’m an adult—adults don’t play.” “Fun, who has time for fun… I’ve got work, the kids, and I need a couple of hours to zone out in front of the TV before I go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow.” I’m guilty of that last one.

Recently, I read the book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, M.D., and it has inspired me to re-prioritize play and fun as a value that I seek to pursue on a daily basis. In the book, Dr. Brown makes the case that even though there is a purposelessness to play on the surface, there are serious benefits for children and adults. On the National Institute for Play’s website it states that play has profound benefits for all stages of life: “play is the gateway to vitality. By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.” Through activities like sports, creative writing, painting, traveling, board games, and movies we can in turn impact other areas of our lives like work, relationships, and physical, mental and spiritual health.

At i360, we hold a value for play. We are intentional to play together as a staff, always looking for creative activities to do together to develop the team’s bond. We’ve been indoor skydiving, played trampoline dodge ball, and even ridden a donkey… don’t ask, you had to be there.

As part of our holistic approach with clients, we also want to help clients discover play again. For someone struggling with anxiety, depression or addiction, therapy can be a helpful tool to gain insight, self-awareness, and healthy coping skills. We provide individual, couples, family, and group therapy. However, we also realize that therapy is limited. As a co-worker once told me, “knowledge or insight is great, but if you don’t make actual changes in your life to meet your stated goals, then what’s the point?” In addition to the traditional therapies, we also offer a service called Life Development. Through Life Development, we walk with clients outside the office and in their everyday environment to help them translate their insights into behavior change. One benefit of this program is to practice the value of learning how to enjoy life again through meaningful relationship and healthy activity.

In his book, Dr. Brown describes the following 8 different play personalities. He states that typically each of us connects with a mix of a few of these and sometimes it depends on the environment or situation. Take a look below. Which types do you identify for yourself?

    • The Joker – You enjoy making people laugh, crack practical jokes, and engage in nonsense.
    • The Kinesthete – You are happy when engaged in physical activity, but not for competitive purposes. You feel alive pushing yourself to physical limits.
    • The Explorer – You love exploring the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual world through traveling, researching, listening to music or meeting new people.
    • The Competitor – You enjoy games with rules and play to win. You strive to be the top dog.
    • The Director – You live to plan, organize, and execute scenes or events.
    • The Collector – You desire to have the best of particular objects or experiences.
    • The Artist / Creator – You find joy in making unique things or experiences.
    • The Storyteller – You use your imagination through acting, dance, music, or teaching to tell a story.

 

Now that you’ve identified with one or more, take a moment to reminisce on that time of your life when that part of yourself thrived. How was that time? What activities did you enjoy? What was your mood like? How were your relationships? Finally, how can you incorporate these activities back into your life on a consistent basis? I encourage you to take play seriously, and learn how to have fun again. It just may change your life.

If you’d like to learn more about play and its benefits, check out the following resources:

Written By: Mitchell Isle, MA, LPC, CSAT – Clinical Coordinator and Therapist

unlock-lasting-change

Working From the Inside Out: A Key to Unlocking Lasting Change

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

It’s one of those unique qualities of being human — even if it doesn’t always look like this to others: The majority of us have a deeply-rooted desire to improve, to get better at something, to transform an area of our lives. Whether it’s related to work, relationships or our health, there’s almost invariably some things we need to stop doing and some things we want to start doing. Change is one of the key ingredients that allows us to grow and mature.

It’s only taken me about 20 years to get that idea settled into my life. I’m embarrassed to admit what I originally thought about change when I first started working with people as a therapist: I actually thought that if someone took the time out of their schedule and paid me to talk about the difficult things in their lives, that meant they were ready to change. I began to realize over time that seeing a therapist (meaning me) actually told me very little about their desire to change, their motivation to change or even their belief about the possibility of change.

I’ve learned a few things about the process of change from therapy and research (I’ll share more about that in the blogs to come). But the first thing that needs to happen if we want to change, in big ways or small, is that we need to be more honest with ourselves. We have to start the process of change with where we are, not where we think we should be. Take, for instance, New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people think they need to get healthy at the start of a new year, in part because of the excessive eating and lack of exercise during the holidays. So every January, every health club is packed. But most of those newcomers at the gym don’t really want to change; they just feel bad about the choices they made over the previous couple of weeks (or even the previous months or year). Rather than over-committing to work out, say, five times a week for an hour at a time, it would be better if they started walking or jogging for a short time once a week.

 

Compliance vs. Change

It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between compliance and change. Usually, compliance is somebody trying to change us. I often joke, “I’m not sure where in the city my wife is right now, but if she’s talking to a friend about something that she thinks I need to change, I can feel that conversation 20 miles away and I’ll start my resistance.”

People hate being forced to change, and compliance — giving in, agreeing to do what’s asked of us — is simply a strategy we’ve all used to get someone to quit talking to us about what they think we should do. But the truth is, if I’m open to change and if I’m the one doing the work, then I just might end up starting a change process that lasts. So compliance and change are two very different things. While compliance usually originates from someone else or something else, change, on the other hand, must become personal to us if it is grow. Put another way, for lasting change to happen, at some point there has to be something that happens internally, not just externally.

Even though therapists and researchers are well-versed on the subject how change happens, it’s still both fascinating and mysterious to not only observe the process in others, but to experience it first-hand. If you’re willing to risk changing yourself from the inside out then you will never be, as Teddy Roosevelt once said, “a cold and timid soul that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

–Written by Kevin Gilliland, PsyD for the Addiction.com website. For more from their expert bloggers, please follow this link.

engage-in-motivation

Engaging in Motivation

How many times have you felt unmotivated to do something? Or have used the phrase “I’m just not motivated to do that right now”? We tend to use a “lack of motivation” as an excuse for not acting. Could it be that by not acting we are actually removing any opportunity for motivation?

Often times we can think of motivation as something that one either has or does not have. When taking this view in the context of treatment, we can be quick to dismiss people on the basis of a lack of motivation. According to Dr. William R. Miller and Dr. Stephen Rollnick, motivation is not a trait or something that one either has or does not have; however, it is an action. “Motivation can be understood not as something that one has but rather as something one does. It involves recognizing a problem, searching for a way to change, and then beginning and sticking with that change strategy. There are, it turns out, many ways to help people move toward such recognition and action.” -Dr. William R. Miller

I love this! With this redefinition we can now empower people with motivation instead of it being a prerequisite for treatment. 

This is one of the great benefits I have found in i360’s Life Development. Many times people have the desire to change but struggle with actively engaging in the motivation to make those changes and stick with them. Life Development helps people participate in that motivation by reflectively listening and helping to identify goals. It also aids in processing through current behavior to see if that behavior is helping the individual move towards those goals or away from them. With our clients, we work through conflict and confrontation and continue to focus positively on the ever constant opportunity we have for impactful and meaningful change.

It is my personal opinion that for anyone to engage in motivation that will lead to sustainable change, one must have another individual to participate with in the process. Whether it’s resisting the urge to take a drink or going to the gym to work out, it is easier to obtain continued favorable outcomes when we are actively involved with others to achieve motivational success.

To read more about Motivational Interviewing refer to http://store.samhsa

Written by Matthew Green

Innovation360-Dallas

How to Care for those Experiencing Grief during the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it certain nostalgia. The cooler air is filled with memories of family gatherings, friendly meetings and a general coming together with those we love. There is an expectation of sorts to be merry, to be carefree, to be whimsical. Yet, for those of us dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holiday season often amplifies the pain and sadness already lingering in their absence. As we move through December and into the new year, be mindful of those near to you that may be struggling through this season. Here are some specific ways we can extend care for those experiencing grief this year:

·Reach out and remember: Sending a card, extending a phone call, sharing an invitation to coffee all serve as fairly simple ways to communicate you care and haven’t forgotten about the person’s loss during the holidays. Offer to help bake or decorate or shop for gifts. These tasks can be overwhelming for someone that is dealing with raw emotions. Especially if time has passed since the loss, you may unintentionally forget that the holidays can be hard.

·Do not avoid the topic: It can be uncomfortable to inquire about difficult situations, yet leaning into the discomfort can help someone who is grieving talk about the event, and the gesture relays that you are truly interested. Questions such as, “How are you doing?” “What is difficult right now?” “What do you need during this season?” can open the door to conversations someone may not bring up otherwise.

·Listen, listen, listen: As you engage in conversation with someone grieving, listen without preparing how you will respond. This is not a time where you have to be conversational. However, if you are comfortable, share what you are feeling as he or she continues to share, or even how you may relate to his or her loss. Try to connect with the feelings of hurt, the feelings of pain, and avoid attempting to solve or fix it. It is risky to share about a sad or difficult topic if you do not believe you will be heard. Letting the other person know you hear him or her and are ok with being with there in that moment of grieving goes a very long way.

It can feel scary to ask or inquire about a person’s loss. However, making the effort and expressing concern is often appreciated. Additionally, some folks may request to not talk about their loss, but still be thankful you asked. Respect where the person is in terms of dealing with that circumstance. Anger may accompany the sadness and often it is not personal towards you. As you offer support, honor how the person chooses to respond and trust that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays while navigating a loss.

When we go through difficult times, we often isolate and disconnect from the things in life we need. Maybe you are going through a hard time. Maybe a loved one is. Whatever the case, connecting with others can give us hope for a different future. Talk with someone, sit with someone and explore some possibilities to have a very different chapter in life. Reach out to us at i360 at 214.733.9565.

Written by Lindsay O’Connor, LPC – Client Advocate and Therapist at i360

Innovation360-Dallas

5 Things We Rarely Do That Would Make Life More Joyful

5 Things We Rarely Do That Would Make Life more Joyful

Disclaimer: As you read this, every single one of you will be able to conjure up multiple excuses about why the following actions can’t be possible for you or how out of touch with reality I am.

Recently when I spoke on the topic of marital satisfaction, a woman in the crowd stood up with a sly smirk on her face and tried to publicly invalidate the points I had made. “Do you have children? It sounds like you don’t, because there is obviously no way my husband and I could go on date nights with four children.”  She proclaimed this as if being too busy to spend time with her spouse was a badge of honor. I disclose this to set the stage in asking you to enter into this blog with an open mind, dwelling not on your limitations but on the hope of a fuller and richer life, even if you are already functioning at a high level. I challenge you to move towards embracing these FIVE actions.

1. Accept that you will never get rid of negative feelings. Read that first sentence again and let it sink in. The main reason so many patients come to see me is because they have been lied to. Other therapists have given them countless tips and tricks on how to get rid of bad feelings, leading them to believe they can magically eradicate all pain and suffering. They eventually exhaust themselves by failing to rid themselves of negative emotions and they come to see me. The foolish notion that we can “get rid” of bad feelings is a Western idea that impatient Americans dreamed up. We can improve our lives by taking action, but we will always experience pain and suffering. Big salaries, luxury cars, children and spouses can’t stop you from hurting.

My patients have also been lied to by churches and pastors who have told them that if they pray enough, have enough faith, engage in community, and stop sinning that they will magically feel better and be happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is filled to the brim with stories of Biblical leaders who lived agonizing lives filled with anxiety and depression. David, Elijah, Saul, Sampson, Moses, and many others suffered from the same mental disorders that we suffer from today. Even Christ wrestled with strong feelings of anxiety, so much so that many believe he suffered from hematidrosis (a condition that causes one to sweat blood from high levels of stress) near the end of his life. And during his most anxious moments, none of his friends told him, “Don’t be anxious Jesus! Why don’t you pray and petition God!” And we shouldn’t be telling people that either…

There are many things we can do that provide us opportunities to live meaningful lives, but we must ACCEPT that suffering and pain are inherent in life. Scratching and clawing and trying to push away the pain only intensify the pain. Release the notion that you can feel better by getting that promotion, praying harder, having children, marrying that guy that just won’t seem to ask you, making just a bit more money, buying that house, or any other “next big thing” that you know deep down won’t really satisfy you…

2. Explore your upbringing and heal wounds from family and friends. The most common phrase I hear during first sessions with new patients is “I had a great childhood!” And whenever I hear those words, I immediately think, “Oh. They didn’t have a great childhood!” It’s easy yet destructive to ignore our family’s failures. People often refuse to admit the ways in which their parents have wounded them because they don’t want to feel the sting of what really happened. But, unfortunately, if we don’t ever take a close look at the way in which our families failed us, we can never understand exactly why we are wired the way we are, how we move through the world, and how we relate to others.

“That’s ridiculous! Why bring up the past? I refuse to blame my problems on my parents!” my patients aggressively say as they cling to a “pie in the sky” version of their mom and pop. They misunderstand the point of uprooting the past. We talk about these things not to bash family members, but rather to help them heal properly. Without exploring these familial issues, we will never heal properly and we will hurt others close to us because our wounds have never been properly cleaned and bandaged. Faith alone won’t take the wounds away. Community won’t. Your spouses and children won’t. Alcohol won’t. Working through them, not around them, in therapy properly heals the wounds.  When these wounds are healed, we can start to experience a peace we hadn’t known before.

3. Let yourself REALLY be known by others. Shockingly, only 1 out of every 5 of my patients actually have close friends, but 4 out of 5 think they do. “But Doug, there are many people that I’ve told very personal details of my life to at church, work, recovery programs, etc. But I still feel lonely…” I hear it all the time. Merely telling people personal details doesn’t connect you to them; however, consistently sharing life with them does.

How do you truly “share life” with others? Here’s a great test to see how connected you are to others. Are there 1 to 2 people (outside your spouse) who, if I called at the end of every week, could tell me where you are at emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Could they tell me about the insecurities you had that week? Do they know about the fight you had with your husband? Do they know how you are spending your money? Do they know how much time you’ve been spending with your children? If they looked at your Internet history would they be surprised? You can get by without these relationships, but your life can be so much more meaningful and joyful with them.

But deep relationships are risky, so we turn to social media for “faux friendships.” 99% of your Facebook and Twitter friends aren’t really your friends. Looking at someone’s Facebook timeline is like watching a highlight reel of his or her life. The bad parts are omitted and the good parts are amplified. If you were really having as much fun as you publicly proclaim, you wouldn’t have time to post “check ins.” The Facebook “Check In” button could be changed to a “Jealous of Me Yet?” button. Healthy, face-to-face interaction with others fulfills a deep need in us – the need to be known and know others. This is doing life with others. By failing to do life with others and by not permitting them to see all your insecurities and fears, you deprive yourself of something life giving…something deep and sacred.

4. Exercise and eat healthy. Here’s a shocking fact. I have never had a patient who committed to eating healthy and exercising 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes who didn’t report feeling much more joyful and content. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the amount of people who actually followed through. Many want to take action, but few do. Most really don’t have any idea how to start and make the age old mistake of merely joining a gym, thinking that it will jump start their work out routine. Here are some ways to own your new workout plans:

  • Set a goal based on what you enjoy. If you run, slowly increase the time you do so, or shoot for a certain number of miles. If you like elliptical machines or bicycles, do the same. If you like lifting weights, shoot for increasing weights or find new routines.
  • Perhaps try a new diet-like a vegetarian diet…which is amazing and incredibly helpful for our animals and our world. : )
  • Exercise with others. There are hundreds of walking, running, kayaking and cycling clubs found online. For most, the workout experience is heightened when exercising with others.
  • If you don’t like traditional exercise machines or weight lifting, find a sport you enjoy that gives you a cardio kick. Try something new. Try boot camps, jump in a pool and swim, try tennis, football, dirt biking, etc…
  • Find something to make the experience more enjoyable, like listening to music while you work out or attend a class your gym offers.
  • Give the routine time to become a routine. For the first few weeks, you will think of exercise as a burden. But the more you go and receive endorphin and adrenaline kicks, your brain will begin to long for that same reward and chemically, you can actually look forward to exercising. But you must give your brain a chance to do this by consistently following through.

 

5. Play. Remember the wonder of being young, waking up in the morning and feeling raw excitement in the pit of your stomach, knowing that you had an entire day to wear yourself out? It doesn’t have to stop now that you’re grown up! Some patients report that impromptu board games, soccer, football or ultimate frisbee games with their children or friends have been some of the best weekends of their lives! Break the mold and find new things to do with your children, spouses or friends that you’ve never done before. Don’t let your to do list stop you from saying yes to things that bring you joy. Approach the day with child-like excitement, take nothing for granted and appreciate again all that the day has to give. Play again.

The above listed are five actions over which we have control. There are many things that are completely out of our control, but these are actions you can take to create a more fulfilling life for yourself.  Take action now to add more color to your days.

Written by Doug Chisholm, LPC

 

Innovation360-Dallas

The 10 Worst Things You Can Say to Hurting People

It happens all the time. Maybe it happened to you at church. Or at work. Or school. Or maybe it even happened to you in the WalMart check out line. During a time of hurt and pain, someone tried to reach out to you in comfort. But instead of hurting with you, they unintentionally said something incredibly hurtful to you.

Perhaps you had just lost a loved one, had a miscarriage, or informed someone about a struggle you had with an eating disorder or a particular fear. Maybe your soul was aching, and you needed someone to love you well. And in your time of need, the person you told dropped the ball. They used the moment as a teaching opportunity…a chance to bless you with their powerful and wondrous wisdom, when instead they could have used the moment to connect with and encourage you. And chances are, you have also done the exact same thing to others. Or even worse…you’ve said the following things to yourself.

The following list contains 10 common statements that can be incredibly hurtful, dismissive, and invalidating while walking through dark times with friends, loved ones, spouses, or especially those struggling with addiction. Some of these statements might be true, but they are rarely ever helpful to say during difficult times.

1.“Everything happens for a reason…” How narcissistic of you to purport that you are certain there is a reason “why” something horrible just happened. Perhaps you feel the need to make sense of all the bad things that have happened in your life by believing that a higher power arbitrarily causes pain and suffering for random reasons that you will never know. While this view might comfort you and help you sleep at night, it can sound cold and unfeeling to a hurting person who needs you to be present with them. Your grandiose theology is not needed.

But, let’s assume hypothetically that everything does happen for a reason. Saying the phrase won’t magically make a hurting person feel better! Hypothesizing a reason for pain is an attempt at ignoring the feelings you feel. It is a way to put a positive spin on something that isn’t positive at all. Perhaps years later you might find some good that came from a bad situation, but conveying this to a hurting person won’t lessen their hurt in the moment.

2. “It could be a lot worse…” Most of you would never say this to someone else…but you say it to yourself all the time. By doing so, you devalue your pain and your self worth, as if your pain somehow matters less because you aren’t homeless or starving. You would never tell a friend, “Get over it. It could be a lot worse!” But you say it to yourself.

Treating yourself this way puts you at huge risk. You may constantly help and take care of others, when you should also be caring for yourself. Neglecting to care for yourself causes you to bottle up your frustration and pain, believing that you don’t have the right to feel sad. Bottling these feelings up eventually leads to “emotional explosions,” or seemingly random angry outbursts, high and overwhelming feelings of stress, or moments of intense weeping and sorrow.  Take care of yourself emotionally by finding safe people with whom you can regularly communicate your brokenness.

3. “I’ll be praying for you…” Disclaimer: While there is nothing intrinsically wrong saying this, it can be used as an “emotional stiff arm.” You might as well say, “I can’t handle being sad with you right now, but I might spend a small portion of some future day praying for you…when it’s convenient for me.” Saying this in the Bible Belt is often much like saying “See you later!” or “Have a great day!” And how much time do you actually spend praying for someone after saying you would?

4. “I know what you’re going through…” or “I’ve been there before…” Many people think that saying these phrases will connect them to others, but it often alienates them from others. While you may think you had a similar experience, you will never know what it’s like to be someone else or what they are feeling. Every person’s pain is uniquely bitter to them. To purport that you have felt what a loved one has felt severely minimizes their pain. While their are times when people with similar experiences can bond through sharing their stories, making presumptuous statements about knowing how they feel can be incredibly dangerous.

5. “Give it over to God…” or “Let go and let God…” This is one of the worst phrases you can say to someone struggling with addiction. Most alcoholics have unsuccessfully tried time and time again to give their addiction over to God but simply can’t. These phrases assume that there is a magic formula or action that will somehow transfer their frustration and hurt to God and that they will no longer be haunted by their choices. Addiction isn’t an old TV you can give away at a garage sale.

6. “You should do this…” or “Have you tried…?” During times of intense pain, our loved ones rarely want or need us to “fix” their problems or offer solutions that they are clearly intelligent enough to think of on their own. It can be highly insulting to make comments that assume your spouse is an idiot who is incapable of generating logical options about what to do. When you feel that light bulb turn on and think you might have the most amazing idea of the century, just be quiet and present with the pain and anguish. It is so much more meaningful to sit in tough emotions with someone rather than throwing out intellectual “quick fixes.” Your ideas might be Einstein like, but not necessarily helpful in times of pain.

7. “Everything will be OK…” or “It will all work out…” Thanks for your omniscient prophecy Nostradamus. Spouting off ridiculous one liners like this assumes that your listener is an utter moron who has obviously temporarily lost the common sense to know that things will be OK. In many of our darkest times, we know that we will eventually “be” OK, but we don’t “feel” OK in moments of pain.

8. “Stay strong…” or “Keep your head up…” Common phrases used by men who have no clue what to do with their own feelings or sorrow. They often see their friends hurting and rather than sitting with them in their pain and silence, they make blanket statements hoping to alleviate that pain. But there really are no magical words to make pain go away. Perhaps the last thing your friend needs is to “be strong.” Maybe your friend desperately needs permission to “be weak.”

9. Saying nothing at all. Perhaps you carry the false belief that acknowledging someone’s difficult situation might burden them further or that saying nothing will make the situation less painful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Asking questions about what your loved one uniquely needs from you is always a safe way to show that you want to be intentional and helpful in any way you can. Get curious!

10. Making jokes. Slow down funny guy. While humor can help in some situations, people don’t necessarily need to be “cheered up.” Using humor can severely wound others by refusing to acknowledge the hurt in the room. Every joke can feel like a knife, being pushed deeper and deeper into a gushing wound that needs healing.

Being present in the painful moments with your loved one is an invaluable way of relating to them in their grief. We might never have the right words, and it’s okay to say just that. Be supportive, without offering ‘fix-it’ ideas. Don’t put a timeline on their grieving period, and simply recognize their loss or pain. Extend a bit of comfort, show that you have not forgotten, and show that you care.

Written By Doug Chisholm, LPC

Innovation360-Dallas

Facing Difficult with Simple

I love the story about the ancient leader who had a really terrible case of leprosy.  Someone who worked on his staff knew of a man who could possibly solve his problem and heal him. The leader packed up gifts, food, and other “wow” factors to win the favor and wisdom of the man with curative skills. A slight problem arose when the leader who had traveled far and wide finally arrived in the town of the healer. Instead of meeting the healer himself, he was greeted by the healer’s administrative assistant. What?!  He was not going to walk outside of his office to greet this famous leader? No, he sent word instead. And the word was this: go to the local river and dip in the water seven times to be healed. This river was known for being filthy. The leader was furious and ready to head home disappointed, angry, insulted, and embarrassed.  This wasn’t at all what he expected. However, his staff member asked him if he would have done a more difficult task than taking a plunge into a river in order to heal had he been asked? Maybe he thought that just because it seemed so simple meant that it couldn’t further him along in his healing. After thinking about that for a moment, the leader made his way to the dirty river, dipped seven times, and came out of the water completely well.

How many things do we avoid doing because they seem too simple to effect change? In reflecting on this, I came up with areas where simple might be a great solution to difficult.

Take Deep Breaths

Getting a fresh dose of oxygen to the brain can be a helpful tool when learning how to stop distorted thoughts, change thinking patterns, and manage anger and destructive responses. When we get angry or scared we have a tendency to take shallow breaths or even hold our breath slightly. This limits the oxygen available in the blood supply and thus to the brain. Our brains need rich oxygenated blood to fire more efficiently and effectively.  It really is a simple way to help our brains function better as we process something difficult.

Connect and Join

So often we avoid connecting with or joining a group or friend for fear of being vulnerable. However, connecting authentically with someone creates an opportunity for empathy and deeper relating. Getting close to others can feel as though our fears and flaws are exposed. But avoiding community can hinder the change we desire in ourselves and in others. Connecting can be as simple as listening to someone’s uniqueness and finding a way to identify with them. As a mother of eight and grandmother to eighteen, I find that connecting to family members can be as simple as listening to their favorite song and talking about why they like that song. It is a pathway to communicating that is actually quite simple.

Shift Perspective

How we view a situation can be a simple pathway to healthier relationships. Recently I was delayed in the Denver airport with my daughter, her husband, and their nine year old, six year old, and four month old. Upon hearing about the delay, the nine year old burst into tears and began to fret about work that would be missed the next day at school. The six year old sat quietly for a moment while his brother worked himself into a frenzy. After about 15 minutes, the six year old announced that this was the “best day of his life!” He decided that the Denver airport was a GREAT place to have his next birthday. He wanted to entertain his friends at the smoothie store, the chocolate store, and the store where they sold bears, knives, and slingshots. He finished his party plans with the observation that the  “moving sidewalks” were far better than a bounce house! The nine year old knew he would have make up work, but the six year old’s perspective helped relieve the immediate attention on the negative.  Shortly after planning a fun birthday event, we all talked about the way to approach the work that would be missed. Perspective is a simple way to approach a difficult situation and begin the resolution process.

The next time something difficult presents itself, don’t hesitate to try a simple technique or tool to begin the journey to change. It may not be simple the whole way, but simple things can get us started and keep us focused on the big picture while we work to see change in our own lives and the lives of those around us. It only takes the first step, however simple the task may be….

Written by Lila Long Pond, M.A., LPC at Restoration in Fort Worth

Lila Long Pond is a therapist at Restoration in Fort Worth and Dallas. She and her late husband have raised eight children and blended a family over the past thirty-six years. She also has eighteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. As a mother of a blended family of eight, she is passionate about breaking the cycle of hurt that is so often generated in blended families.

Innovation360-Dallas

Today does not have to take second place to the possibility of tomorrow: Overcoming “Stuckness”

Will I ever change?

“I’m tired of always struggling with the same stuff. I’ve been working on these issues for over a decade of my life. Will it ever end? If the answer is no, then why even bother to work on it in the first place?”

It was with these pointed, rhetorical questions that a fellow therapist started our conversation the other day. “Oh, friend,” I thought to myself, “If only you knew how many times I have asked myself these very questions regarding my own struggles.” The truth is that these fleeting, nagging doubts occupy my mind more often than not.

  • Will I ever learn how to let go?
  • When will I be able to leave these past mistakes behind and no longer be constrained by them?
  • What will it take for me to give up these old ways of coping that I know without a doubt will not take me where I want to go?
  • At what point in life will I become the person I want to be so I can enjoy my own company when all distractions are gone?
  • When, when, when?…

As a therapist, I make my living helping people change, coaching them into this mysterious process whereby they are morphed into healthier, more satisfied, and fuller versions of themselves. And yet… Here I am confessing that I myself struggle with lack of change in my own life. Isn’t that like a driver who admits to not knowing how to drive or a carpenter who does not quite know how to build things?

Not quite so.

My clients have taught me that struggling with change is an essential part of the human journey. In our own way, we all long for the day when things will change—our circumstances, our loved ones, and especially ourselves. Craving change and feeling stuck is not something that automatically goes away based on one’s occupation, IQ, age, or even—dare I say it—bank account. Stuckness, as I call it, is an equal opportunity foe.

But here is the good news: we don’t have to wait until “it” changes (whatever your “it” may be) before we can start enjoying life or living it purposefully. This is, in fact, one of my utmost goals for both my clients and me—that we all learn how to live fully in the present even when situations outside of their control remain the same. To do otherwise is to neglect the present while waiting for a future that may never be. The mother of the alcoholic teenager can learn to find meaning and to take care of herself even though her son is struggling. The single young adult can pursue his interests and develop a rich life while still longing for a romantic partner to fill that hole in his heart. I can enjoy the close relationships I have now, at this moment, around me, even though I am thousands of miles away from my family and friends in Brazil.

Just to make myself clear: accepting the present does not mean that I quit fighting for a different future. To embrace my stuckness is not the same as settling or giving up.

You see, stuckness is OK. It’s just a feeling. And as with all feelings, it comes and goes. No feeling stays forever. The key to being able to move on and change while feeling stuck is this: learn to embrace the tension between letting yourself feel…while not letting your emotions control you. This requires learning how to live in two places at once. On the one hand, it is good for me to take a close look at my stuckness when it surfaces in my heart: What’s prompting it? What other feelings are connected with it? What is this stuckness telling me I cannot do? How is it trying to limit me? At the same time, while acknowledging the longing for what is not, I must also reconnect with my values and dreams: What kind of person do I want to be today, at this moment? What is important to me now? What values do I want to pursue today for my relationships, my life, and myself?

In the end, our options are really quite simple (though not necessarily easy). We can wait until things change before living the life we want… Or we can learn how to live said life even when we are feeling stuck.

When I become mindful of my present while still staying committed to my priorities, I learn that change happens even when there is no change. We can grow even when feeling stuck. Today does not have to take second place to the possibility of tomorrow. And if you are feeling stuck, I’d advise that you seek professional counseling which can help guide you down a more joyful and fulfilling path.

Written by Joa Braga, LPC-S

Innovation360-Dallas

“Buried Alive: Hoarding gets a New Diagnosis”

Reality TV has brought attention towards the obsessive-compulsive disorder known as hoarding. Often, people find comfort in retaining material possessions…and it takes everything in them to find the strength to throw a belonging away. It’s difficult for them to discard things that the next person wouldn’t think twice about tossing into the trash. Hallways in their home are blocked; every surface is covered. Just like when, with the addict in our family, loved ones often say “why can’t you just stop!?” — when it comes to hoarders, we think “why can’t you just get rid of everything!? Get a big trash can, a dumpster even, and toss it all out!” But when up to 15 million people in the U.S. may struggle with this disorder, we can’t just glance over it.

In the revised, 5th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that will be published in May, “hoarding disorder” becomes a separate diagnosis, characterized by a “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value” according to this article.  This should lead to more people who struggle with this psychological condition being able to receive appropriate treatment, and possibly medications that would help with this diagnosis.

At Innovation360, we work with families who struggle with hoarding and look forward to a shift in the mindset towards this condition. Just like the alcoholic who struggles with putting the drink down, the hoarder is challenged by their constant desire to save and acquire. They need support, community, and healthy relationships modeled for them, just as those that struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance use issues need that same support and encouragement. Our life development team walks alongside our clients helping them translate insights into behavior and plug back into life in a healthy way, whether that client may struggle with mental health, chemical dependency, emerging adulthood, or compulsive-obsessive behaviors. Change is easier to make when you don’t have to do it alone.

 

Written by Lauren Barnett, Marketing Director

Innovation360-Dallas

Responding to the reality of failure: Part 2

The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well…

– Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee and father of the modern Olympic Games.

I recently had the opportunity to go to London and watch a close friend compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. She was 1 of 10,000 athletes competing. While the honor and most of the media attention is deservedly given to the victors, I could not help but think of the other athletes who left London failing to realize their dream. Only 962 medals were awarded during these games. That means more than 90% of the athletes did not medal. How did this overwhelming majority respond to defeat?

How about the countless others from all over the world who train for years, and some almost their entire lives, yet fail to make their respective countries’ Olympic team? How do they respond to the disappointment?

Here at i360 one of our goals is to help our clients respond to success and failure in a way that leads to vibrant, fulfilling lives. In order to do this, we must each ask ourselves, “How do I respond to failure?” Where do I find the will and determination to move forward in a positive direction?

Here are 6 ideas of how we can face and respond to the reality of failure in our lives in a way that will help us find the fulfillment and joy that we are all seeking:

(For the beginning part of this blog, and the first of the 6 suggestions on how to best respond to failure, please visit our previous blog by clicking here.)

4. Stop “Should-ing” on Yourself When we experience defeat its easy to focus on the negative—what I did wrong, what I should have done differently. The problem with should-ing is that it perpetuates the distorted thoughts about yourself and reality. If you find yourself doing this often, ask yourself, “do I have unrealistic expectations for myself? Do I spend a great deal of time dwelling on what I should have done or what I should be doing? If so, practice identifying the times you do this and replace those distorted thoughts with a more realistic assessment of yourself and the situation, e.g. “Nobody is perfect; it’s ok to make a mistake. I learned something new about myself, and how to improve my performance today. The next opportunity I get, I’ll know exactly what to do.” Take 1 day this week and keep track of your “shoulds.” The more you become aware of it and attack those pesky varmints, the less should-ing you will do.

5. Share Your Dream – Surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who will walk with you through best and worst times, and people who will never give up on you—even when you want to give up on yourself. Prioritize these people in your life. Invest in your relationship with them, and share your journey with them. Then you’ll have a supportive ear to listen after a defeat, or someone to celebrate with after a success.

6. Discover Yourself Daily – What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We are human beings living in a constant state of change. Take time each week to discover something new about yourself.

When top tennis player Novac Djokavic was just 5 years old, tennis coach Jelena Gencic discovered his gift. She knew he would be a star one day. She immediately began coaching and mentoring Djokavic. As part of his training, Gencic insisted he listen to classical music, learn at least 2 foreign languages, and recite poetry. When asked why she did that, Djokavic responded, 
“It was her educational method. And the music served as a form of relaxation after the stress of training. Actually, it still does that today. I like to listen to classical music.”

Even though, Djokavic trained for hours and hours everyday, Gencic required him to discover himself daily. To learn about what he likes, and doesn’t like. What helps calm him down in times of stress, and what doesn’t. This week try listening to a new genre of music and check out a live band. Try that exotic food that you always tell people you hate, but secretly never tried. Try white water rafting, stand up paddle boarding, or a new book. Doing this for yourself will not only be fun, but will also help you find balance in your life.

These are only some ideas. What works for you? We at i360 would love to hear from you about this topic!

Written by Mitch Isle, LPC