Real Talk with Hortencia
"Life can still be beautiful, meaningful, fun, and fulfilling even if things don't turn out the way you planned."
~ Lori Deschene
~ Lori Deschene
A friend gifted me a book by Brene Brown, “Braving the Wilderness.” It quickly became one of those books I became addicted and obsessed with and she became a researcher I’m currently obsessing over. Brene’s work is like that one missing puzzle piece of life. Personally, I can say I’ve overcome some intense stuff in life but there’s always that one nagging things I just couldn’t put my finger on. I’ve always claimed to be an introvert but I’m discovering that there’s a difference between being an introvert and that ugly feeling of not feeling good enough, smart enough, liked enough. It’s weird, because if I look back at myself in social settings, I don’t look like I’m struggling to belong but if you could hear my thoughts you would be able to hear the negative and insecure whispers that take place in my head.
Brene has compiled, through years of research, this amazing definition of belonging:
“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
It’s the last part of the definition that keeps playing in my head – it’s common sense! I am imperfect! Not that this is news to me, but it’s taking on a completely new meaning. I am perfect precisely because I am imperfect, because we are all imperfect, because life is imperfect! The mistakes I’ve made in life are not a sing of stupidity or me being an awkward person or because there’s something wrong with me. The choices that I’ve made in life are because at that moment in time it was the best that I knew to do…but that’s material for a future post. What I’ve discovered is that if I can be brave enough to present the imperfect me then I present the transparent me the real me and in doing this I learn to accept and love myself for all my imperfections and qualities.
I invite you to be vulnerable and imperfect … it’s not as bad as it sounds – it’s actually transforming.
The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old,
but on building the new.”
So here we go again - new year, new goals, and many “this year is going to be different” statements. What sucks about this is that, for most of us, it’s not going to be different because we don’t know how to do “different.” We want a different outcome but we go through the same motions. We want to hear a different answer but we continue to ask the same question. As if we’re standing in front of an apple tree and get pissed or hurt because we can’t find oranges on the apple tree in front of us - what the heck it wrong with this picture?!
BUT, what if this year we focus on learning how to move from the problem to the solution. Hear me out, recently a very good friend of mine gathered a group of us for dinner and drinks. When the food was brought out the server didn’t have my plate, long story short, an hour and a half later my food still hadn’t been brought out. By this time, I’m hangry and some in the group had already finished eating. As I’m sitting there I’m thinking what are my options? Well, I had the option of going to confront the server and/or the manager but this wouldn’t guarantee my burger would have been brought out any faster and it had the potential of changing the mood of the night OR the restaurant was offering a pasta bar and I could switch my order and have pasta instead of my original order. The server was nowhere to be found so I got up and found my way to the pasta bar (from problem to solution) as I was enjoying my pasta the restaurant manager brought out my burger, I informed him I didn’t want it anymore and he offered to box it for me. By the end of the night I had enjoyed delicious pasta, had a burger and fries to go, and my meal had been comped - not a bad deal. What I’m saying is, when we get stuck in the problem it’s difficult to find a solution and often times, like the great Albert Einstein said, “… we do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.”
If we want a different result, maybe, after acknowledging the problem we need to be able to make a conscious decision to move from problem to solution. I admit, this is easier said than done but it can be done. With a little bit of help, or a lot if your anything like me, we can learn how to identify thoughts that influence our behavior and our feelings which in turn influences what comes out of our mouth.
If you're looking for change and you're having a hard time doing it on your own - reach out for help because this might be where the change you’re looking for starts.
Suicidal thought and behaviors are very damaging and dangerous and should always be taken seriously. I’ve come across people that have said, “she’s just looking for attention” and I’m not going to sit here and argue with you – you might be right. But here’s the thing, if she’s just looking for attention WHY not give it to her? What I’m trying to get to is, we don’t know when a thought crosses the fine line to action. The person with suicidal thoughts might be looking for attention but they might also be looking for a sliver of hope and that’s where our actions become critical. Knowing what to look for is very important, below is a list of some of the things to keep an eye out for:
Know The Warning Signs
If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts PLEASE reach out for help. Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911. You matter. You really do – and you are why people like me do what we do because you are important.
Mental health professionals are trained to help people understand their feelings and identify troubling thoughts. Psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, validate troubling feelings, and learn coping skills.
We have come to accept “challenges” as a part of our societal norms. Some challenges, I will say, are stupid and dangerous but others contribute to a greater cause and give to the well being of others. TODAY, I challenge you to give to you – that’s right – I’m calling you out on a challenge.
I’m challenging you to a lifestyle change, a change in which you condition your mind to focus on the positive, on the part of the glass that’s half full, on the pleasant conversation, one that person that held the door open for you, and on all the things that have made your day great. This lifestyle change starts in your mind and once you have conquered your mind your body will follow. Your mind and your body will reconnect and will find peace and harmony.
Step 1: you must believe that in the crappiest of situations there is a positive – FIND IT AND FOCUS ON IT!
Step 2: do not allow a day to end without looking in the mirror and parsing yourself for a job well done. It doesn’t matter if you must stand there for a while because you can’t find what to praise yourself about – REMEMBER STEP 1.
Step 3: make it a point to surround yourself with positivity, did you already make up the excuse that this isn’t always possible? – REMEMBER STEP 1.
Let’s make this the challenge that creates the energy we’re hungry for – that positive energy that feeds our mind, body and soul.
"Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success."
~ Shiv Khera
Just like many other people, I too struggle with change. I’m not sure if it’s fear of the unknown, having to adjust to something different, or fear of failing. Whatever the reason might be – change is definitely uncomfortable for me.
However, I’ve learned to shut my eye and dive into change (figuratively speaking). I think of it like when I was a kid and I’d stand at the edge of the pool wondering how cold the water was going to be but back then I didn’t wonder for too long, eventually I just dove in. Sometime the water was so cold that it would knock the wind out of me and I’d gasp for air until I adjusted, other times I’d jump in and all was find.
Change in life is no different. Think about it – you jump into change be it leaving or starting a new job, ending or starting a relationship, buying a house or ordering a new/different meal at your favorite restaurant. It will either knock the air out of you and you will gasp for air until you adjust or nothing happens and the change is seamless. The thing is, we won’t know until we’re actually in it. And the longer we contemplate something the more excuses we find to put it off or simply not do it at all. I can speak for myself when I say that in spending too much time contemplating whether or not change should happen I’ve missed opportunities.
As you can see I’ve made some changes to my website and I now have a business name: Toltec Therapy Services. I contemplated the change, I fought the change, and I gave in to change and now I make it work (gasping for air until I adjust). So I guess this is my long winded way of inviting you to witness and enjoy my change. WELCOME!
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
As a therapist sometimes, well, just a little bit more than sometimes, but who’s counting, I have bad days, mad days, sad days, angry days, rude days and even depressed days, Yeah, I’m a therapist but I’m also human. And on the days that I can’t seem to get anything right or on the days that “nothing” seams to piss me off I try to remember to ask myself – What went right in this very ugly day? And the image of my grandson’s beautiful face comes to mind, I remember the positive conversation I had with my supervisor, or I think about the friend I ran into and how nice it was to see her again – and in remembering the nice things that happened I stop focusing on the negative things. And in talking about the good things I realize that maybe my day wasn’t all bad.
If from time to time you find yourself going through an off day, or two, ask yourself “What has gone right” and make it a point to focus some, or all, of your attention on the positive. However, if you find yourself stuck with more bad days than not for more days than you care for – feel comfortable to reach out to this therapist how also has had some crappy days of herself.
"Very little is needed to make a happy life;
it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."
~ Marcus Aurelius
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that are less than fair, in situations that we didn’t ask to be in or did nothing to cause it, but yet, here we are, having to deal with it.
At times there’s nothing we can do to change a situation and feeling hopeless and pissed-off is all we think we have left. But that’s not always true. Hear me out for a minute – we may not be able to control the situation BUT we can control how we choose to react to the situation. And if we’re able to decipher between what is within our control and what is out of our control we can say we have won half the battle. Ridiculous? Not so much and here's why. I can’t change that someone, for whatever reason, has chosen to act like a jerk with me but I can control how I choose to react to them. I can choose to allow the jerk to bring out the worst in me or I can choose to control my reaction and work on being a better person. I can choose to engage or I can choose to walk away, I can choose to yell back or remain calm. I can choose to fight back physically or destructively or I can choose to fight back intelligently and actually accomplish something. Notice something? Not once have I mentioned changing the situation because that may be out of my control. However, my entire focus has been only on how I choose to react.
We always have choices – they may not be the choices we want to deal with but they are still choices.
My go to prayer:
“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.”
Let’s start by taking a deep breath, imagine there’s a balloon in your stomach and when you inhale you’re inflating the balloon. Inhale through you nose and allow the air to flow down to your stomach, hold it for 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 and release through your mouth on the count of 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. Do this several more times – as many times as you need. I want you to notice that if you're focusing your attention on your breath you’re unable to think about anything else. This is something you can use on the days that you’re feeling emotional, overwhelmed, crappy or just need a break from life.
We forget that we have needs just like the needs of everyone else we care for; taking the kids to school, to practice, go to work and/or run errands, cook dinner, clean the house, do laundry and somehow still be in the mood for sex. We give, do and care for others and put ourselves on the back burner constantly. Before we know it we’re moody, tired and/or emotional, feeling unappreciated and we still keep on going. Oh, wait, I forgot to mention putting our finances in line – hell, we do it all and yet do very little for ourselves.
I’m going to ask you to stop just for one moment – just for the moment you sit in front of this blog. Take a deep breath – focus on your breath. Relax just for a moment and breath. Try to practice this several times during the day, think of it as recharging your internal battery.
Today, focus on the breath.
Why is it that I know I have more things to be grateful for than things to be unhappy about but yet feeling “blue” seems to overshadow every other feeling I could be experiencing? Falling into this blaah feeling is easy and it happens effortlessly, I hate it, and getting out of it takes work, which sucks. It should be as easy to get out of the “blue” feeling as it is to fall into it. But anyway, if you do find yourself feeling “off” there are some things you can do to fight off this feeling, it’s not easy, but it can be done. For instance, I can say that I allowed a petty disagreement with my husband to bother me longer than was necessary. When I realized why I was feeling down I took a trip down memory lane and thought of all the good times we’ve recently had. I thought of the dorky thing he said that made me laugh, I thought of the nice things he does for me, and I remembered that we don’t always have to agree, a healthy relationship also has disagreements. Before I knew it, I was feeling better and I was able to get work done. The thing to remember is, during the holidays it’s more common to feel “off” and not know why we’re feeling this way. If you find yourself feeling “off” try keeping a log of how you’ve been feeling, has it been a day, a few days or even weeks? Also, try to do things you enjoy, things that make you feel happy or at least “OK”. And finally, if you simply can’t kick that ugly feeling, consider getting professional help. Remember – life doesn’t have to be crumbling into a million pieces to speak to a professional, sometimes just feeling “off” is a good enough reason.
There’s this thing called the “All or Nothing Mentality.” Seems pretty harmless at first, but let’s really dig into this type of thinking.
If this “All or Nothing Mentality” is applied to relationships, any type of relationship, it has the potential to, at best damage and at worst destroy the relationship. I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all, at some point in our lives, heard the expression: “If you love me then you won’t … (you fill in the blank).” Personally, when I’ve heard this said to me I’ve rolled my eyes so far back into my head that I swear I’ve gotten a glimpse of my brain and the only thing the other person got from me was the best of my sarcasm. This phrase implies that if the other person does whatever is being discussed then they must not love you, but come on now, is this completely true? This is an absolute state of mind, it’s either black or white, no compromise, also not cool. But if this mentality has worked for you then don’t change a thing. However, if thinking this way hasn’t gotten you the results you’ve been looking for then come with me to the “gray” side.
Being in the “gray” side doesn’t mean that because I’m willing to hear you out and have a conversation with you about something that we don’t necessarily agree on that I’m weak or that I’m a push-over. It simply means that I’m going to respect your point of view and hopefully we can come to some type of understanding through compromise and negotiation. And if we can’t come to an understanding – then I’ve just learned something about you that you feel really passionate about.