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

Innovation360-Dallas

Responding to the reality of failure: Part 1

“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?

Asking these questions led me to think about our lives – the big picture. Let’s face it, as fallible human beings living in a world in which, to a great extent, people, events and things are outside our realm of control, defeat and failure are a part of our reality. Yet, we discover a passion. We set a goal. And then we put all of our effort into striving to reach that goal. Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we are not.

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:

1. For What it’s Worth – Resilience. It’s the ability to recover readily from adversity. When it comes to responding in a positive way to failure, this is what we need. Would you say you are resilient? Or, do you have a general sense of personal inadequacy, that when triggered by external things, sends you in a downward emotional spiral of depression and worthlessness for extended periods of time? If it is the latter, you may be living as though your self-worth is contingent upon your performance and success, or upon the approval of others. The good news, however, is that it does not have to be that way. The reality is that a person’s worth is not defined by external things or people, but by the inner, core self. That core self is unique, precious and of unconditionalunchanging value. I understand that for some (I’m including myself in this group) this reality is easy to grasp, but very difficult to accept at the core, believe it, and live it out. In this case, I suggest investing some time and resources into your own personal counseling. There are possibly some deep-rooted issues that may be hindering your movement forward in this area of your life. It may be painful to face these hurtful things, but speaking from my own experience in therapy, it will be time, energy, and money well spent, and you will be giving yourself the opportunity to experience a greater sense of self-worth, the resilience to overcome mountains you thought were previously unscalable, and the ability to live a more fulfilling life.

2. Setting Goals – Every goal has smaller steps to achieve in order to get you there. Be intentional. Set short-term, achievable goals for yourself that will help you realize your dream. Achieving these short-term goals along the way will provide encouragement throughout the process.

3. Reframe the Defeat – Ask yourself the question, “How do I view failure? What comes to mind? Do you like your perspective? If not, listen to Michael Jordan’s perspective on failure:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. Never fear failure; fear not trying, fear not giving your best, fear losing focus, but never fear failure. Failure is the path to success. Failure is the sign that you’re headed in the right direction. To succeed twice as fast, fail twice as much. Fail often, fail daily, and soon you will succeed. I’ve never been afraid to fail.”

When you fail, you learn. And when you learn, you grow and mature. So try something different today. Begin to practice taking risks. Of course this does not mean throw caution to the wind and be reckless with your safety or the safety of others. But, instead “try on” Jordan’s perspective. Take ownership of it, and have some fun. When you believe there is a benefit to failing, it makes taking risks easier. And the more you risk, the easier it is to get back up after a defeat.

Click here for the rest of the ideas in a blog entitled PART TWO.

Written by Mitch Isle, LPC