Category: Confidence

New Year’s Resolutions- Good or Bad Idea?

Every January, I get this question from clients:

Do you think I should do [insert goal] as my new year’s resolution?

My response: It depends.

We all know that goals can be a lovely thing. They help us experience our potential, give us the satisfaction of completion, help us grow and evolve, and often provide the opportunity for a really cool experience and to learn just how capable we can be. Focusing on a goal and working towards it not only helps our self esteem, it gives us meaning. And purpose. And meaning and purpose are a HUGE part of what makes us feel like this whole living life thing worthwhile.

You might be excited to go back to school, or run your first 5K or marathon! Perhaps you just want to read more, or get off of social media. Maybe you want to lose weight or make more money.

If someone comes to me with a desire for a goal — my first questions are to explore the WHY. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to go back to school? To me, this exploration of the origin of the desire is paramount to discovering whether or not the goal is actually something that will improve your well being and inner peace. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. Your doctor even told you it would be a good idea. Your internal WHY, and how you feel about yourself in relation to what that goal means to you, is not only going to affect your success, it will also affect something deeper- and maybe in not such a good way- something that is much more important than the outcome of the goal itself– your self worth.

The short explanation: Once you attach your self worth to a particular idea about who you should be and what makes you worthy, you become a prisoner to this idea. I’m sure your inner critic would love to argue with me here. But trust me, my clients show up with all different forms of outward success- professionally successful; in amazing shape and health; super organized; super mom capabilities; lots of education, etc. So if you think you’ll be happy, and you’ll be more worthy once you reach X… I hate to tell you this, but those accomplishments are not what make a person happy.

For example, I love to run. It makes me happy. But to set a goal with the idea that if I run 5 days a week I will be a better person, well, that gets a bit tangly. Running makes me happy not because someone else said it’s a good idea and will boost my ego/ sense of worth– but because the actual act of running- especially out there on our beautiful mountain trails, literally is FUN to me. It FEELS good, I can feel stress leaving me, and all kinds of other wonderful cascading consequences because of it. But missing a day of running does not make me a bad person. This might seem obvious saying it like that, but think about the things you think you have to do and be in order to consider yourself worthy of good self esteem.

Stop for a moment and think about a particular goal you have.

Ok, do you have it in your mind? Now, feel for a minute into what that goal feels like. What comes up? Are you excited about it? Does the idea of this experience feel good to you? Like it’s going to add to your life? You feel ready for it? Capable of it? If that’s your feeling response, awesome. However, if when you pause with that goal in your mind, and you feel a sense of urgency, or sadness, or like you NEED this thing, you lack it, and without it you feel bad about yourself, it’s probably a good idea to spend some time first with self compassion. If you have a negative voice in your head telling you “you have to be this, do these things, look this way, etc” in order to be worthy of love and respect, it’s definitely time to put the goal down and address that inner critic first.

A lot of people let their inner critic push them to accomplish things. And most people who do this think they couldn’t accomplish those things without the critic. But I’m going to tell you it’s a big fat lying trick in your head!

I’ll write more about the big fat lying trick of the critic soon, but in the meantime, take a moment for some self reflection on your goals and see if you can identify if they are coming from the negative self judgment voice in your head, or from that place of energy, excited about engaging in the experience of the goal. If you think you’ve got a pretty harsh critic in your head, let’s work together, or find a counselor in your area to get you some relief from that negativity, and in that peace and self compassion you’ll be able to set and reach goals that will add to your life, not define it as the conditions of your worth as a human being.



Sacrifice ≠ Love

“I don’t need to hurt myself in order to be loved.”                    

One of my clients said this today in session, and this powerful insight is paving the way towards her healing, towards the freedom to feel peace within herself, and to finally allow and demand her own self worth.

I had to write those simple and beautiful words down, because even though most people might assume at first glance the statement as obvious and rational, ironically, it is not what many people, especially women, actually believe deep inside.

As young girls, we are taught to be kind, nurturing, and empathetic. All beautiful virtues to have as a human being. After all, I still believe in my favorite words from the beloved Thoreau- “would not the greatest miracle be to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” These words and my belief in empathy as one of our most powerful tools are actually part of what guided me to become a therapist.

But it took me awhile, even in my own life, to see that it was also important to allow myself that same courtesy of empathy. Just because you can understand another person’s perspective, whether it be your partner, a friend, a family member, a stranger— doesn’t mean that your perspective, your EXPERIENCE of a thing, then has to be brushed aside and dismissed.

Your voice matters. What you feel and desire matters. You have the right to say these things without fear of retribution, judgment or shame. How someone else feels about what YOU feel, is not actually YOUR problem. It’s theirs (and they are allowed to feel what they feel too). You are allowed to feel sick, tired, sad, unmotivated, irritated. You are allowed to want to be alone, or to not want to be sexual when you don’t want to. (I put this in here because the number of women who still have sex just to appease their partners is alarming and sad). You are allowed to be hungry for things that your own body craves. You are allowed to be interested or not interested in something. You are allowed to have an opinion. YOU are just as important as the person/people you are trying to please.

I understand that it feels good to make someone happy. We love that feeling of seeing a smile on a loved one’s face when we go along with what they want. I’m not suggesting you stop being kind. I’m suggesting you stop giving of yourself when you don’t actually have it to give. Especially when the cost is something that chips away at you. And even the kindest, most well meaning resilient souls can’t avoid the holes those chips create. If you’re doing it in a relationship, these chips slowly build into resentment, apathy, or loss of feeling connected to your partner. You might already know exactly what I am talking about.

So look for a minute at your own life. Your own relationships. What do you allow for the sake of your partner’s ease? What do you acquiesce to? The little things you think are harmless, you think are compromises for the sake of the relationship, they add up, and those little bits soon become a wall. Are you not expressing sadness, frustration, or some feeling you think might disrupt the state of things? Sift through your current situation- how do you cause yourself pain for the sake of being loved? Did your critic immediately retaliate with some rationale for this?

The woman who experienced this insight this morning was raised in an environment where appearance, attitude, grace, and handling everything with a smile on your face, never cause a problem or a stir, or bring any sort of negative attention to yourself, were the rules of living that now operate the voice of her inner critic. And just like the “rules” of the critic in your own head, they get in the way and wreak havoc on our self esteem, sense of peace, and even keep us from having authentic relationships, and authentic meaning in life. It is our responsibility to ourselves, to recognize that critical voice when it tries to shame you away from taking care of yourself. It is vital to recognize those moments when the critic tells you this other person’s feelings/ desires are more important than your own, and you acquiesce, hoping your sacrifice will be recognized somehow and will be paid back. The truth is, if you are never voicing your actual truth, the people you are sacrificing for will never actually learn what it is you really want, and will continue to expect this sacrificial behavior of you, not even seeing it as a sacrifice in the first place. Be true in your voice. From little to big. Stop saying you don’t care, and you don’t mind. What you want matters too. Ask yourself this question when faced with a decision— “is doing this thing going to cause me to resent this person? Even a little bit? Is it going to take away from me and make me feel worse, tired, or irritated? But if I just buck it up and stop complaining I’ll be ok?” If the answer is yes, try saying “no” to the thing, and yes to taking care of what you actually need in that moment.

All of this acknowledging your own feelings has a wonderful consequence by the way. You might be fearful that doing so and resisting your inner critic might turn you into a selfish monster, but the irony is, two beautiful things happen instead. One, by recognizing your own worth and valuing yourself, others will too. And two, when you stop hurting yourself in order to love others, you will actually end up feeling full of the love and energy you wanted to give in the first place.

Families that KEEP Trying

For years I worked with adolescents and their families, helping them learn how to understand each other in a way that would make everyone feel validated and life improved. To me the rules for this seemed simple enough. That was of course, until I had my own family! 

Learning how to navigate the tricky waters of being a parent, a partner, AND take care of yourself can be difficult. So how do we do this? How do you empower your children without feeling like you are powerless? The consequences of military style discipline without regard to individual feelings and personality have filled our therapy offices as well as the opposite- over indulgent fearful parenting styles with too much freedom leading to entitlement and lack of responsibility. So where is the balance? And how do we create that? How do we have a happy family?

The answer is- to keep trying

I really enjoyed this TED talk addressing just that. How to be ever flexible in your family. How to keep trying, how to give your children voice, while still remaining in the parental role. 

(On a side note, I also find it a bit humorous that he makes a crack at us therapists and “shrinks”- because ironically, the “agile” programming he speaks of is pretty interchangeable with the stuff we’re talking about too!) 

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

New Year’s Resolutions- Good or Bad Idea?

Every January, I get this question from clients: Do you think I should do [insert goal] as my new year’s resolution? …

Sacrifice ≠ Love

“I don’t need to hurt myself in order to be loved.” One of my clients said this today in session, and this powerful …

8 Week Challenge