Comparison Consumes Our Confidence

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Comparison consumes our confidence. This is the first segment of how we let the shadows of this world overtake our sunshine (confidence).
We are all guilty of playing the comparison game. In one way or another we have compared ourselves, our jobs, or our life to other peoples’. It doesn’t seem like this would have a huge impact on us, but the truth of the matter is it does. When we compare, we limit our thinking, our confidence, our authenticity, among other virtues in our life. When we allow ourselves to be swept over with the emotion of what we wish we had or what we should be.

The way the world is set up has made life a comparison game, always wanting more. There are ads and movies and systems that are in place that allow us to fall in the trap of comparison and wanting. Some of the most common avenues that we compare ourselves are:

  • social media
  • television
  • magazines
  • our friends
  • family members
  • neighbors

There are many different areas that are right at our fingertips that keep us wanting more. Comparison will be around for the rest of our lives, and it will be something we combat nearly every day. The goal is to help you become aware of how comparisons break you down, and to develop the skills to combat the comparisons that we are faced with.

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Social Media

Everything in life is gravitating toward social media, but the truth of the matter is that even though there are some great things about social media there are so very damaging influences produced by social
media. Some research states that people spend almost one-third of their time awake on their phones. This gives us tons of time to compare and envy over things that we want or don’t have. Social media is not always accurate, and sometimes it can put up a very false idea of what is realistic and what is true in peoples’ lives.

The first step is: start by becoming aware of how many times you get on social media, the amount of time you spend, and how you feel after. Change the way social media affects you, start following positive, helpful, and hopeful people to fill your screen with positivity, and begin weeding out the negativity that comes across your page.

Next challenge is: get off and get connected. Start building meaningful relationships that give you light into what true life really looks like. Not the surface level “everything is perfect in my world” kind ofrelationships, but the relationship you can sit down and say “you know what life is hard right now and here is why…” and you are met with compassion and care. Connection allows us to foster meaningful purpose in life and true in-person connection gives us a view of reality that social media cannot. This will help you feel more real, more authentic, and less likely to compare yourself to what is happening on your social media.

“Connection is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

-Brene Brown.

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Our “Shoulds” and Materialist Thinking

Our “shoulds” are another huge source or stress for comparisons. Our shoulds portray a way that we need to see ourselves, and it puts a large amount of pressure on us to be inauthentic. When we should ourselves it puts us in a place we are not:

  • “I should be skinnier”
  • “I should be married by now”
  • “I should be further along in my career”
  • “I should have it all together by now”

These among other things can trap us, and we need to learn to turn our shoulds into dreams and aspirations. Change the talk from:

  • “I should be skinnier” to “it is important for me to be healthier”
  • “I should be married” to “it is important for me to find the right person to marry”

It takes the pressure off and it puts things into perspective as to why you are where you are and why your situation aligns with you are at your core.

We need to stop looking at all the things around us that others have or that others are doing and stop
putting pressure on ourselves to be like them. Be YOU. You don’t have to be anything else other than what you want to be. Start turning that pressure of being like someone into the desire to be more of who you are.

Start building awareness around each time that you compare what others have around you. Start asking yourself: “Is what I am chasing after represent who I am or does it represent something I feel pressured to be like?” Start asking yourself that question and you will start to understand yourself a little better and relieve some of the pressure you have put on yourself. When you stop living up to other peoples’ standards and start creating and living by your own, your confidence in who you are and what you are doing will increase as well.

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We all fall victim to the comparison trap. This is not an issue that dissipates after a little work. The comparison game is something that is a life long battle. The best way to combat this battle is to build that inner self who is comfortable, certain, and courageous. This issue takes a special type of navigation and validation. If you are looking to start this journey of building your confidence and establishing a more solid framework of who you are contact me. I would be happy to navigate through this mucky waters with you as you begin the journey to a more confident you. Remember that sunshine is what casts out the darkness. We are the ones that have control of our own sunshine, and sometimes finding access to our sunshine is a bit more difficult than other times.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

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Confidence: The Sunshine and Shadows

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“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can look at many different things in this life as sunshine and shadows, but today I want to look at confidence. Confidence is our sunshine, and when we feel confident in our world, we feel like we can conquer and combat anything thrown our way. Sunshine is amazing and I think we can almost all agree that we all want to live in the sunshine, but when there is sunshine we can also find shadows. Shadows can be cast from various things in our life and they steal our sunshine of confidence. We all know there are outside factors that can get in the way of our sunshine, but there are inner factors to be aware of as well.

We all desire to be confident. We want to feel secure and strong in who we are, and we want to be able to be our true authentic self and feel confident in our identity. It seems like there are so many things that get in the way of our ability to portray ourselves as confident. Throughout the month of March I will be going into depth about the following points (in no particular order) and how they can become a hindrance of self-confidence:

  • Comparing
    • Social Media
    • Place in Life
    • Our Worth in Others
  • Authenticity
    • Knowing Yourself
    • Accepting Yourself
    • Knowing Your Worth
  • Perfectionism
    • Conquer the World
    • Pressure on Yourself
    • “Go Big or Go Home”
  • Getting in Our Own Way
    • Being Hard on Yourself
    • Compassion
    • Give Yourself Credit
  • Appearance
    • Inner and Outer Beauty
    • Exercise
    • Choices We Make
  • Self-Respect
    • Boundaries
    • Gratefulness
    • Our History

Each of these areas are ways that we sometimes (unknowingly) break down our self-confidence. These are the shadows in our life that once we introduce a little light to will no longer be strongly cast shadows, they can transform into sunshine. As you walk through these next few weeks discovering areas in which you find you are more confident and other areas where you find that you could use some development, please feel free to reach out and ask for tips or any other questions that you may have.

The most important thing to remember in confidence is we are the ones that allow confidence to enter and leave our lives. Circumstances or people may try to break us down and when we allow them to have that power to control our lives we lose a small part of who we are. If we do not allow them to have an impact on our lives, then we gain that power back in our lives. We are able to identify within ourselves the inner strength and the inner beauty that we have. Of course, people’s words and actions hurt, and they have an impact on us but the weight that they hold is determined by us.

There are many different responses that come when someone degrades or breaks us down. The emotions we experience can be: hurt, anger, sadness, rage, betrayal, abandonment, and helpless. It is normal and important to feel these emotions that come with the hindrance of our confidence. Feeling these emotions and working through them is key to being steady in our confidence as we move forward. Learning confidence is a process that takes time and work. Confidence doesn’t come naturally to people, and is typically a learned virtue that people. If you are looking to navigate through building self-confidence contact me. I would be happy to work with you to find and master the idea of what confidence looks like and feels like in your life.
The sunshine of confidence is always there at your fingertips, sometimes mastering confidence is really hard. The shadows in this life can cause us to only see darkness and fear, but that is not how it has to be. Our previous learned habits and attachments do not have to define who we are now. We have the power at our fingertips and it is finding a way to harness that power into our lives and become confident people in our own unique way. We can leave those shadows behind us and harness the sunshine that we deserve in our life.
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Finding Ourselves in Relationships

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Relationships can seem endless, and it can be overwhelming and, at times, very limiting. Sometimes it just feels good to be noticed, and we jump at the first person that looks at us. Relationships and life are some of the hardest things to face. We often struggle with  There are four very important ideas to consider when you are trying find the right person in your life:

  • know who you are
  • know what you want/need
  • know your boundaries
  • know your worth

Your relationships reflect who you are. We are often a mirror of what is around us. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, then how are you being reflected in your relationship and in your life? Simply put, you are not. If you are simply trying to “make it work”, then you are attracting the wrong type of person and life. We do not have to be defined by our circumstances and look around us and see the chaos, but we can instead see the chaos, stare it down, and overcome. We have to tap into these four ideas first.

Who You Are

You can’t be happy if you don’t know what makes you happy. This is the most important part in attracting someone the right person. Many times, you walk into relationships bending and shaping out of your comfort zone to make someone like you. When you bend and shape for other people to make them happy, you eventually lose your sense of self. Knowing who you are gives you the power to create a meaningful relationship. If you know who you are then you know the qualities you are looking for in a person. This gives you the influence to choose the type of person you want to attract. You have the power to say no to people who don’t fit…you don’t have to be the one to fit in order to make it work.

What You Want/Need

If you don’t know what you want in a relationship or in life you are setting yourself up to attract the wrong kind of people and circumstances. By knowing your values and needs from your relationship and your life you are able to shape your mental picture of who and what it is that you want in your life. When you know what you want you typically get a well-balanced result that wholly reflects who you are through your wants and needs. When you express your wants and needs in a healthy way it sets you up to create successful and meaningful relationships and lives.

Create Boundaries

Know your boundaries walking into a relationship. If you continue to find yourself in situations that are uncomfortable and uncertain you are probably not setting or holding boundaries. When we attract the wrong type of person, we often find ourselves trying too hard or being suffocated. Boundaries are something we have the power to create and enforce. Boundaries tell you “what is ok” and “what is not ok”. This helps you create stability and security in relationships which helps you create strong relationships. Setting boundaries could be anxiety provoking because there are costs and benefits to boundaries. People who respect your boundaries are the people who can stay. People who do not respect your boundaries are also not respecting who you are, what you want, or your worth.

Your Worth

When you know what you are worth you stop attracting the wrong type of person. When you know your worth, you know the things you deserve. Many times your experiences with others shape the way you view yourself and what you are worth. We develop attachments  to ourselves and to others through our previous relationships and experiences, and it is hard to separate yourself from those experiences and develop a sense of worth that is all your own. If you want to stop going from bad relationship to bad relationship you have to start loving and respecting yourself. Sometimes you have to be more choosy about the people that do enter your life. When you start seeing yourself as worthy, you are able to find a person who respects who you are, what you want/need, and your boundaries.

You need to gain your power again in your relationships and in your life. You can’t give your power to the person you are pursuing, because when you give them your power they have control to use, manipulate, and control you. When you are a person who knows who you are, what you want/need, your worth, and your boundaries then you know that the person that you meet reflect the qualities that you are put out there. They will know who they are and what they want, they will have boundaries and self-worth.

Each of these areas take time and preparation to develop, and finding the right counselor to help guide you through some of these areas may be beneficial to your overall well-being. These areas do not come natural to most of us and we have to take time to develop a sense of identity, understand what we want, create boundaries, and find the courage and strength to know our worth. Contact me, I offer a free twenty-minute consultation to see if we would be a good fit to walk through this journey together.

The Importance of Attachment

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The Importance of Attachment

Have you ever noticed yourself struggling with the same thing over and over again in your relationships? As we grow up, we develop a style of relating to people from our experiences and upbringing. These relational styles drive our sense of developing meaningful and fulfilling relationships. The styles we develop from our early experiences and upbringing are called attachment styles. Attachment has been researched for many years and has been proven to play into the context of our lives. There are four dominating attachment styles:

  1. Secure Attachment
  2. Avoidant/Ambivalent Attachment (Insecure)
  3. Anxious Attachment (Insecure)
  4. Disorganized Attachment (Trauma/Unresloved)

Each of these styles is unique in what we learned growing up through our everyday encounters with our caregivers. Some of the encounters are at the forefront of our mind while others are buried deep in the back of our mind. Our brain holds the key to our survival, and these attachment styles were developed to protect us in our relationships and our connection with people. Our attachment style has a huge impact on our mind, brain, and relationships. Each attachment style holds patterns and behaviors that are acted out in different ways in different people. A description of the attachment styles are as follows:

Child Attachment Styles

  • Secure Attachment (58% of population)
    • Developing a secure attachment style typically means that parents were: attentive, caring, nurturing, attuned with child’s needs/emtions, and predictable most of the time.
    • The belief that a child creates when their parents follow these patterns consistently is “help will come”, “I matter”, and “I can depend on others and myself”.
    • Some traits that are developed with this style are trust/safety, connection, resilience, and empathy.
  • Avoidant Attachment (Insecure) (23% of population)
    • Developing an avoidant attachment style typically means the parents were: dismissive, inattentive, non-nurturing, unavailable, and rejecting for much of the time.
    • The beliefs that a child creates when their parents follow these patterns consistently are: “I don’t need you”, “I don’t matter enough to deserve your attention”, and “I am alone in the world”.
    • Some traits that are developed with this style are distrusting, independent, distant, and critical.
  • Anxious Attachment (Insecure) (19% of population)
    • Developing an anxious attachment style typically means the parents were: inconsistent, intrusive, noncommunicative, over nurturing, and unpredictable most the time.
    • The belief that the child creates when their parents follow these patterns consistently are: “I must work consistently to get what I want” and “I must control everything to make it predictable”.
    • Some traits that are developed with this style are clingy, controlling, untrusting, and low self-esteem.
  • Disorganized Attachment (Insecure) (18% of population)
    • Developing a disorganized attachment style typically means the parents were: unpredictable, abusive, noncommunicative, neglectful, and chaotic.
    • The beliefs the child creates when their parents follow these patterns consistently are: “the world is not a safe place” and “the way to survive in this unpredictable world is to be unpredictable”.
    • Some of the traits developed from this style are aggressive, unaffectionate, extreme, and distrusting.

It is easy to see how attachment can have an impact on our adult relationships. Now you ask, these are all attachment styles that I developed as a child, what does that mean about my adult relationships? Our attachment styles typically carry over into our adult relationships unless there is an intervention. The adult attachment styles and descriptions are as follows:

Adult Attachment Styles

 Secure – For most of the time people are: able to regulate themselves in stressful situations, comfortable in relationships, able to seek help from others, resilient, and empathetic.

Dismissing – For most of the time people are: greatly independent, often do not seek out relationships, highly critical, emotionally withdrawn from others, and intolerant of others.

Preoccupied – For most of the time people are: fearful of rejection from partner, desire extreme closeness, controlling and blaming behavior, anxious, unable to regulate self (often need others to do it for them), codependent in relationships, and living in extremes.

Unresolved – For most of the time people are: chaotic, insensitive, aggressive, unpredictable, unable to regulate self, abusive, and explosive.

**All listed qualities are not a must in every situation. These are general researched characteristics for each attachment style**

Adult attachment styles are important to understand because it is how we relate to those around us. Whether it be friends, significant others, coworkers, bosses, or acquaintances. Our attachment styles also tell us about how we think about ourselves and the relationship we have with ourselves.  It impacts our self-esteem, our self-worth, and our self-love. Attachment styles do not have to remain the same forever. It is important to understand and build awareness around our this issue because through awareness we can begin to develop a healthier sense of self and connection with people. Attachment work takes time and effort to work through. Our brain has created these patterns to help keep us safe because when we were young all we had to rely on was what our parents conveyed to us. The one thing we understood was: we had to do what was needed to survive. If you are trying to break these patterns, but find yourself repeating the same behaviors over and over again, please contact me. I work directly with people who struggle with attachment to help them build the sense of self, safety, predictability, and consistency in their lives and relationships. We develop emotional regulation goals, relationship goals, “self” goals, parenting goals, and other life goals.

4 Fundamentals You Must Know About Emotions

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“Danger! Danger! Emotions approaching! Run, hide, push them away, do anything, just make them go away!”

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I know I have had this dialogue in my head more than a few times. Have you ever experienced the previous panic or something similar before? Emotions can be a scary and hard thing to handle, but hopefully I can help you see emotions in a new light and clear up some misconceptions for you.

Today we hear about all the mental health diagnoses related to emotions. Depression and anxiety are the two diagnoses that we hear spoken about regularly. Diagnoses are typically emotions left untreated. Yes, diagnoses are real, and no, I am not here to minimize the impact they have on people all around the world. Emotions are made out to be a very scary idea, and we are taught that to be strong we are supposed to suppress emotions and show the world that we are “happy and productive”. Emotions get a bad rap, and what I want for you to understand is: emotions are important and essential to living a well-rounded life. Here are some reasons why emotions are fundamental in life:

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  1. Emotions help create purpose and meaning: When we allow emotions to surface and take time to experience them, our body, mind, and world come alive. In this state we are able to make meaning out of what is going on.
  2. Emotions create connection between ourselves and the world around us: When we allow emotions to show we are able to connect with people on a deeper level. This gives us richness and fulfillment in our relationships.
  3. Emotions help us adapt to varying situations: When we allow our emotions to surface we are able to explore areas in our life that may need attended to. Areas that are lacking or areas that are too full and need to be cut back in.
  4. Emotions offer an understanding of our inner working: Every experience we encounter leaves us with an emotional imprint. That emotional imprint can either help or hinder our growth, and it will help us understand that experience and how to move forward from it.

Emotions communicate very important messages that we need in everyday life. Sadness, fear, anxiety, loneliness, anger, and hurt, all represent some need that our body wants us to interpret in the moment. Each individual will have a different interpretation of emotions based on past experiences, current situations, and genetics. Here are some reasons why we should explore emotions instead of push them away:

  • Having emotions (even the “bad ones”) is a good thing (it allows us to do the previously mention fundamentals).
  • Emotions tell us what we need in the moment.
  • Emotions help fight off danger.
  • Emotions help us feel alive and connected when we acknowledge them.
  • Emotions provide a sense of stability when they are understood.

We have been taught to push emotions away because it is what society says is needed to be “lady-like” or a “manly-man”. The problem with suppressing our emotions is our body is not able to get what it needs and therefore typically goes into survival mode. Many times, due to suppression, emotions become overwhelming or we learn to turn them off. People then typically start to create maladaptive coping skills (which then creates symptoms) that can call for a mental health diagnosis. Sometimes people turn anxiety into repetitive behavior, fear becomes panic attacks, sadness becomes isolation, loneliness becomes thoughts of suicide. It is when we get stuck with overwhelming emotions that the world tells you that there is something “wrong” with you.
Here are some effective coping skills to help you work with current symptoms:

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  • Grounding– grounding is a skill that utilizes our five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). It can help slow down the emotional side of the brain and pull into the logical one so that our full brain can begin to work so we don’t get swept away by emotions.
  • Deep Breathing– deep breathing is a skill that has been proven that when practiced consistently over a period of time changes the chemicals in the brain to maintain a more level state of being. Deep breathing also offers us time to gather our thoughts before we react to our emotions.
  • Nature and Exercise– There have been studies that have shown getting out in nature releases good chemicals in the brain, and in turn give us a more positive sense of well-being. Exercise does the same thing, and if you make these things a habit you will start to create more level states in the brain.
  • Tolerance- This refers to making emotions more bearable. Emotions can be difficult to handle, but learning the skill to sit with emotions will help with becoming familiar, understanding, and building tolerance. When we build tolerance, each time we encounter the emotion the sense of overwhelm becomes less intense and the emotion becomes more bearable. Learning to build tolerance in long-term helps us build resilience to specific situations that used to create intense reactions.

Our body works endlessly to protect us from the outside world. Emotions are just one way that our body alerts us to what is happening around us. Sometimes, when we leave emotions unattended to our body kicks into overdrive to help us understand the importance to what is happening around us, and we develop unwanted symptoms. If you would like some help with where to go next, mastering skills, understanding the importance of your emotions, or how to move forward after you have explored the previously held ideas then please contact me. Understanding, knowledge, compassion, connection, and love are what makes the world feel complete. I offer each of those critical components into my time with you in order to help you find the passion you want for your world.

 

Authentically Alive

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Life is all about who you should be! Right?

So often we hear what we should be in our families, with our significant other, with our friends, in our work place, among other areas of our lives. I named this blog ironically because it isn’t about who you should be, but rather who you are that truly makes a difference. Authenticity is the quality of being genuine or real. When we try to live up to what we “should be”, we sometimes lose touch with who are are at our core.

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Be the Light Shining in the Darkness

There are many people who often bend and shape in different roles of their life. Whether it be work, friends, significant others, or family, I am sure we can all relate to one area. We put on these “masks” of who we believe other people want us to be, who we think we should be, and what we believe others want from us. We spend our life trying to fit into these unattainable expectations or we turn our cheek and become angry that these kinds of expectations exist.

The concept of an authentic-self is built on who we are at our core. My latest blog, “3 Ways to Increase the Understanding of ‘Self’”, enlightens people in ways that they can start exploring the person they are within the context of their lives. It can help reveal some of the experiences and circumstances that may have had an impact on us as we developed early in life and how our experiences and circumstances created and continue to create our personal world. We create defenses that help protect and hide parts of ourselves that we fear being exposed in the unforgiving nature of the world. Peeling back the layers of the who we are through each experience, relationship, and circumstance helps us see the core of who we are beneath the debris in our world.

The authentic-self is often hidden because there is a fear about facing what others think of who we are. There is a fear that, if we are authentic, people will not see us as “good enough” in their world. There is no miracle cure for facing the judgments that other people have held against us. It is about learning to be at peace with who we are at our core, and not falling victim to other people’s judgments. We must learn to build a strong sense of identity in self-love and resilience.

A photo by Joe Beck. unsplash.com/photos/NbUokuw0BQI

“Courage is taking that first step even when we can’t see the path ahead”

Authentic living is a process in which we must come to peace with who we truly are by learning to accept things others don’t see as “fitting in” and by better knowing and understanding ourselves at a deeper level. This first step is a long process and creating self-awareness in areas of our life can be difficult. When moving toward authentic living it is very important to consider the following aspects of yourself to better understand and reach the core of who you are:

  • Know how your history impacts you
  • Understand your defenses
  • Know your mind and body
  • Start with people you trust
  • Start small and work big

Each of these aspects will maximize your growth authentically. We sometimes may need a little more support in figuring out the whole concept of authenticity, and how it is safe to grow without allowing others to determine our worth. Choosing to live authentically does not mean that we are perfect or we live a life better than others. Authenticity is about being real and accepting parts of us for what that are: not perfect. In a perfectionistic driven society, it is scary to admit that we are not perfect and that our lives are messy. Living an authentic life allows us to: address what is happening in the moment, be genuine, put away the masks that we live behind, connect with people on a deeper level, and strengthen our identity in who we are at our core.

If you are ready to start living an authentic life that allows you to be more free, more empowered, and more certain of who you are then contact me. I hold a non-judgmental space to help you navigate through the process of living a more connected and heartfelt life. Take the step toward freedom in who you are and learn the peace that comes in that freedom.

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3 Ways to Increase the Understanding of “Self”

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought to yourself “who am I?” This is a questions that plagues every generation and it takes no preference to a particular gender, race, orientation, or age. The question of self or identity is what makes each individual unique in their journey.

Some people believe the self can be narrowed down to certain attributes that get to the core of humanity. They say the self is made up of:

  • empathy
  • courage
  • curiosity
  • calmness
  • compassion
  • connectedness
  • creativity
  • drive

We all have the capacity to reach these areas in the self, but each person will reach them at an individual level. Every person is so complex and unique that it is impossible to narrow down the core qualities of what makes up every self. Each person is uniquely made up from so many different experiences and relationships that each trait is going to be a little different in the person sitting next to them.Pu9MTKTuWOi7dDqIyZqA_urbex-ppc-062

We were all born with a certain temperament that developed from genes within our family. Our temperament helps shape our responses and our adaptability to the impact of our environment throughout our upbringing, our relationships, and other external forces beyond our control as children and adults. The combination of temperament and nurture can determine the way we look and perceive certain situations in our life.

Exploration is the key to understanding the self, but it is difficult to know where to begin to see who you are and how you got to where you are now. Here are the three major pillars in finding who we are through all of our experiences and genes that has shape us:

  • Past & Present Experiences: We all have a past that shapes us into the present versions of who we are. It helps shape how we look at situations and how we cope with certain complexities of life. When we explore the past we start to see how it links (positively or negatively) to the present, and this can be an indication of who we are currently. Every experience and every encounter impacts the way we see and create the world we are moving toward. Each past experience correlates to a present decision and each reaction allows us to tap in a little further to the world we have created around us. It can be a difficult and frustrating process to sort through all of the experiences that shape us, but this can give us a better understanding of what is happening inside of ourselves.
  • Attachment & Relationships: Attachment is the bond that we create with our primary caregiver as a young child (before age one). This specific attachment shapes the relationships we create throughout our life. Temperament does play a role in this as well, but the way our primary needs are met as an infant provides us with the understanding of how we can trust, expect, and relate to the people/world around us. Our brain registers that the people/world are either dependable and trustworthy, or sporadic, scary, or untrustworthy. This also correlates to how the past shapes our world that we create, but relates more specifically that the relationships we have throughout our life. Once we recognize our style of attachment, it does not mean this can never be changed, but awareness increases our understanding and from this understanding we can build and shape the relationships that we have.
  • Purpose & Meaning: Purpose and meaning are what drive us as human beings. It seems like we are always looking for something, whether it be work, an invention, a test, friends, family, the list could go on and on. There is a force that drives us to be happy and to create meaning in and throughout our lives. Purpose and meaning pull us to a place a positive self-esteem and self-fulfillment. Each person is given this opportunity to be unique in their passions and their desires, and our opportunity to choose can be shaped by people in our lives, by experiences, by dreams and hopes. There is very little limit to what we choose for our purpose in our lives. Where we find our purpose and our drive can say a lot about who we are as individuals. These drives can say a little about our strengths, our weaknesses, our desires, and our fears. Tapping into this area of our lives can give us deeper understanding of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

The self is such a hard concept to define and there is so much to understand and know. The journey to self-discovery is always continuous and things are always changing, thus we change.

“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life” -Dr. Joyce Brothers

As we start to unfold some of the traits that we have, we may notice some discord with what we have uncovered, but this does not mean it is who you have to be. There are many circumstances in life that leave us wounded and broken and those pieces are still scattered. We develop certain habits or traits that protect us from all of the bad things that we encounter. These parts all serve a purpose in protecting us and allowing us to live, but these parts should not run who the core self is.

IMG_5144Maybe you have experienced some pretty difficult times and those three areas of understanding have been tainted by bad experiences, defeating messages, hurtful people, and those emotions run the compassionate and driven person you were before that incident. That core self is still there and is still shaped by all our experiences, but it has to learn to maneuver around all of the debris from our bad experiences. Bad experiences leave wounds, when left unattended to, that fester and begin to wreak havoc in our lives.

When exploration leads to struggle it is an opportunity for growth, and growth is difficult to do on your own. I encourage you to reach out and find someone trusted who will walk with you through this difficult journey. Whether this person be a family member, friend, or significant other. It is important that this person will walk with you through this and not allow their problems come in the way of your growth. If there is no personal connection that  It is always my goal to create a safe place to come in and talk about the hard stuff. If the people above are not able to provide the support you need a professional may be appropriate whether it be a counselor, church member, or a coach. I strive to provide a safe space where you can start this journey toward self-discovery and growth. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about moving forward.

This is just the beginning to getting a better understanding your“self” and these three pillars can provide some insight on certain behaviors and certain personality traits acquired through all of the years. Exploration is the hard part and life can become strenuous when moving through these different areas toward growth. Keep moving forward, each step may be difficult, but the journey of self-growth is worth the travel.

How To Overcome Fear

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Have you ever wanted to take a leap of faith, but chose not to because that little thing called fear took over? What is this idea of fear that holds us hostage in so many areas of our everyday lives?

Fear is defined as this: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or threat.

Fear is something that can be experienced physically and psychologically (also seen as anxiety). In today’s society, there are many ways to experience physical fear (poverty, war, etc.) and there are so many psychological experiences of fear (news, appearance, shame, criticism etc.).

Living in fear is exhausting, fear always keeps our dreams at an arms distance and it causes us to question our ability every day. Fear is something that everybody encounters, and I know for myself, fear has been something I have dealt with my whole life:

  • fear of failing
  • fear of not being good enough
  • fear of not being loved back
  • fear of being alone
  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of humiliation

All of us deal with fear on a daily basis, whether it be getting into a vehicle, walking down the street, being divorced, getting laid off, failing, or having that tough conversation with someone you love. Fear lingers around every corner, and I hope I can offer you some relief in saying that it is ok to be afraid.

Fear is a normal emotion, and without fear our lives would be messy and chaotic. Fear is an emotion that keeps us in check with reality and keeps us alert to what is going on around us. I think the last thing this world wants is a ton of people who have no sense of fear in their lives. Fear keeps people from driving their car off a cliff for an adrenaline rush (most people leave that to professionals for fear of our getting hurt or losing out lives), and fear keeps people from committing crimes for fear of being caught or getting in trouble. A certain amount of fear in life is healthy, but the problem with fear with when it becomes an overwhelming force that alters the way we live from day to day.

How do we break free from fear that controls our every move and motive?

Recognizing fear for what it is and what it represents is the first force in moving toward a happy and whole life. Recognition is key to overcoming fear, because without recognition of being afraid we have no grounds to move forward. Recognition includes asking questions such as:

  • What are the things I am most fearful of?
  • Are these things hindering the way I am living my life?
  • Do my behaviors around these fears need to change?
  • When we are afraid of certain things, what does that tell us about ourselves?
  • What can you learn about yourself when you explore fears in your life?

Once we are able to recognize some of these factors and process these ideas or behaviors we will free ourselves to move onto the next step of breaking free from the grips of fear: exploration.

Exploration of fear can open up doors to growth within ourselves. Exploration entails the idea that once we recognize the fear within us and understand the impact it has on our lives. It is then that we are able to journey further into where the fear comes from and this allows us to see ideas that may have been brushed under the rug in the past. We then have the opportunity to identify if the fear is rooted in our past or if it is a current stressor that is causing the fear (or a combination of both). This opens so many doors to self-love and self-understanding. If we understand the things that make us work and make us unique we are then given an opportunity to love ourselves in a whole new way. When we do this we are able to understand fear for what it is and what it represents in our life, and this gives us power to control this fear in our day to day lives.

Recognition is the first step and exploration is the next step. What happens after we recognize what our fears are and the deep meaning behind the fear? We learn to must learn to live with fear, and sit fully and safely in the experience of feeling fear. This can take different forms and each form is unique for each fear and each individual. This will be different for every individual and the process will look different for everyone as well. This is something that no one can choose for you, you have to choose and allow a trusted individual to walk alongside you through your journey of taking on fear. It is then, that you can start to experience joy in ways that you never thought possible.

How do we look at fear in terms of self-worth and being good enough?

Fear is an emotion that keeps us from trying new and exciting things because of possible repercussions of being laughed at, mocked, or failing. Fear is at the root of perfection, and let’s face it, perfection is at the root of society. Fear can be tied into our identity and our need to be good enough for others around us and ourselves because fear is what keeps us safe from ridicule. If we stay in the “safe zone” no one will be able to laugh and we will not be able to fail if we don’t try. If we stay in the “safe zone” we remain perfect on the outside because no one will see our “imperfections”. Staying in the “safe zone” is dangerous to our identity because we all have beautiful and unique minds that have so much to offer to the world.  Fear hinders our minds ability to create and share due to society’s demands on being good enough and fitting in. Self-worth is different for every person but is often tied to fitting in and being accepted (which are ideas within themselves to be discussed). Many people tie acceptance to who they are and what they are worth.

The big question to ask yourself regarding your self-worth and identity are:

  • What do I find my identity in? Is it to success and failure, or is it to family and friends, or to my career, or does it relate to something deeper within me?

These are questions that only your unique mind can answer because no person’s answers or journeys will ever be the exact same.

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Why is fear always surfacing in and around counseling?

Fear is entangled with counseling and it typically all starts at the beginning when we reach out for help and follows us through the whole journey. Reaching out for help from a counselor is vulnerable and it elicits fear for so many reasons. For each person, it is going to be different. For some, it may be fear of judgment by others, by the counselor, or shame of self. For others, it may be fear of the unknown and not understanding how it works or if it will even work.

Once we get past these fears in the beginning, we ride into the next set of fears within the counseling process. There is fear of not being good enough in counseling and fear of not being understood or seen. There is fear of change and with that change fear of what happens after, or whether it was right. These are all things that produce large amounts of fear for people, and it takes courage to overcome fear. It takes a large amount of courage to look at fear head on and say you know what, I am going to do this anyway. When we find courage to overcome fear, we find ways to better love ourselves and better understand ourselves.