I recently listened to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation podcast with Gretchen Rubin, author of the best-selling book “The Happiness Project.” In the talk she highlights the eight guidelines she has come up with to increase happiness in her own life and she shares tons of great insights and reminders of practices we could all adopt to feel more whole and happy. If you’re like me and have a hard time carving out time to buy and read the whole book this podcast is a great summary of her ideas. Listen here and let me know what you think:
Here’s today’s featured article: Boundaries For Empaths at the Huffington Post
Oftentimes when I bring up “boundaries” for the first time with someone they noticeably flinch. Many people tend to hold a negative view of the word and may think that boundaries keep our loved ones at arms length or could lead to rejection. I think of boundaries as a set of guidelines to keep a relationship safe, for all parties involved! Boundaries help protect the dyad, encourage it to grow stronger, and are a necessary part of all relationships.
That being said, setting healthy boundaries can be really, really difficult for some people. It takes time, patience, and dedication to the final outcome to stick with it. For people leaning towards a more empathetic personality type, setting boundaries can bring on even more challenges but are so helpful once they’re set. Being an empath, or someone who can feel easily for others, is an amazing quality. But as I say, learn to use this quality for good and not “evil.” This article from the Huffington Post highlights one empath’s journey to finding her own safe route through life and she brings up some great points and tips for others that may be struggling with boundaries in their own life.
As a practicum student a wise supervisor of mine shared the following story with me, a story that she regularly shared with her own clients to illustrate the internal battles we all struggle with. Not only does it normalize the internal battle we all struggle with but it also gives us the empowerment to choose our path and manage where we send our energy.
A Native American Cherokee Story; Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil; It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good; It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
What does this story bring up for you? What are your thoughts?
I’ve always loved the idea of looking for the function of our emotions, a common skill taught in Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT). If we can better understand our emotions and their motivators the more insight and management we can exercise within ourselves. I came across an article which declares that some researchers now believe depression serves a higher purpose in its sufferers, and for me this felt both hopeful and empowering. Researchers concluded that depression may have the positive purpose of directing an individual’s energy towards self-reflection and problem solving when the need arises. While the idea that depression serves as a productive function remains a hypothesis I believe it’s something to consider for both the therapist and the client.
Read the full article here: Psychologists Think They Found the Purpose of Depression
My clients (and their parents) often get stuck on the question of “Why.” For example, “Why am I so depressed?” or “Why can’t I just be happy?” And the unsatisfactory answer is that we don’t always find the key to why someone has the struggles they do. More often than not it’s a perfect storm of environment, biology, and their own personal psychology. For many clients this is even more frustrating if they had what they described as a “perfect” childhood and as a parent myself I know I’m guilty of working perhaps too hard at times to protect my kids from discomfort. If any of this rings true for you or a loved one please take a look at this article put out by The Atlantic. It’s a longer read but well worth the insight. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I believe that the therapy process requires us to be open and vulnerable with our therapist, but I know for most of us this doesn’t come naturally and can be intimidating, maybe even to the point of backing out of the process or perhaps not starting at all. To get the most out of your therapy process, and maybe this is part of why you’re seeking support, we need to be aware of what holds us back and why we need to keep pushing through. I regularly find myself recommending the following talk to my clients in order to shed more light on the subject and to start the conversation of vulnerability in our work together. Whether these ideas get you started in therapy or push you through a plateau in your progress I’ve found “The Power of Vulnerability” is a valuable tool. Please take a look at the video and feel free to leave a comment or to bring up any of the themes at our next appointment.