The Importance of Self Gratitude and How to Practice It

 




Gratitude gets an extra boost of attention during the holiday season. From going around the table at Thanksgiving to exchanging Holiday cards and presents, gratitude is simply in the air. But, when we think of gratitude it is oftentimes directed towards other people or things. But, have you ever stopped to be grateful for yourself?


Self gratitude is a practice where you affirm things about yourself that you appreciate and it is an incredibly important habit to nurture. This practice can include noting things that you like about yourself like your personality, skills, talents, knowledge, accomplishments, and more.


Practicing self gratitude comes with all of the same benefits as practicing gratitude except it is focused specifically on you and your relationship with yourself. It can help you feel more positive emotions towards yourself, relish good personal experiences, build a strong internal relationship, deal with adversity, and even improve your health!


Beginning the practice of self gratitude is simple. Here are three easy ways to start practicing self gratitude in your daily life.


  • Morning self affirmations - Start your day with one or two self affirmations. These are true statements about yourself that focus on the positive impact you have on yourself and the world. Write them somewhere prominent and read them out loud to start your day.

  • Write down compliments you receive - Having a hard time figuring out where to start with self affirmation? Let others start for you! Start writing down every compliment you receive and reading it back to yourself throughout the week. Soon enough you’ll be an expert at coming up with your own compliments.

  • Start journaling - I’ve written time and time again about the importance of journaling and the benefits that come with it. Journaling is a wonderful way to start your self gratitude journey as well! Spend 5-10 minutes each day journaling about your day and focus on ending your journal entry with an acknowledgment of something that you did well that day.


Self love and self gratitude may sound easy but for some it can prove difficult. Breaking down years of negative self talk and false perception of self can be a long journey. If you find yourself having a hard time finding self gratitude in your daily life and need help to uncover why, please reach out to schedule an appointment.

The Winter Blues: How to Cope with Less Sunlight after Daylight Saving Times Ends


Winter is officially here! Snow is on the ground, the Holidays are right around the corner, and Daylight savings is officially over. That’s right, we all rolled our clocks back by an hour this month putting an end to the long sunny days of the Summer and Fall and stepping into early evenings of Winter.

While many people love getting that extra hour of sleep a lot of individuals dread the time change as it can often come paired with the “winter blues”.


“Winter blues” is a general term for the increased feelings of sadness and low-level depression that often accompany the shortening of daylight hours. A few common symptoms are:

  • Sadness or feeling down most of the day
  • Sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feeling hopeless

It’s important to be proactive if you know that you have a tendency to feel more depressed in the winter. There are many things you can do to cope with less sunlight, below are a few easy steps to try this Winter to combat those winter blues.

  1. Soak up the morning sun - to compensate for the loss of light in the evening, take a walk first thing in the morning to soak up as much sunlight as you can before you start your day.

  2. Improve your sleeping habits - prioritize getting a good night’s rest by getting to bed early and avoiding electronic devices before bed.

  3. Stay active - studies have found that regular exercise has as much of an effect on mood as antidepressants. Try to stay active and exercise for 30 minutes a day at least 5 times per week.

  4. Socialize - stay in touch with friends and family and get together in person. Socialization helps elevate your mood and keep you from falling into those winter blues.

While the winter blues are normal and nothing to be afraid of, there is a more serious condition that is associated with the shortened daylight hours called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If your feelings of sadness or depression are not improved by any of the suggestions above or get worse over time then you may be dealing with more than just the winter blues. If you find yourself in that place please reach out to me or another mental health professional for support and guidance to talk with you and put together a plan to help you get through this winter season happy and healthy.

Outgoing Introvert

 



There is so much to be said about categorizing ourselves. Sometimes, there can be very beneficial tools such as Meyers Briggs, the Enneagram, KOLBE Assessments, etc. which can give you vocabulary to describe the inner workings of your mind. Yet, even these can all fall short to explain the multifaceted unique nature that is YOU.


One thing I hear a lot from people is “I’m an introvert so I just really need my alone time to recharge” or the other end of the spectrum “I’m so highly extroverted I need to be around people to give myself energy!”


Yet, did you know that introversion and extroversion isn’t completely polarized? There is a middle ground that many people can find themselves in where they aren’t completely in one box.


The one I want to address today is the outgoing introvert.


Do you get worn down after being at a party with people?


After a weekend at the beach with friends do you need to be home alone in complete silence before you want to see others again?


Does the thought of going on a work trip with coworkers give you a stomach ache?


Most importantly, would those around you be SHOCKED to hear that is the case? You may be used to others projecting onto you that you are recharged by being with others because you are so social and outgoing. Being socially inclined may not be a litmus test on whether you are an introvert or extrovert.


Those two are all about where you draw your energy from? To put it in simple terms: do people exhilarate you or drain you? Do you feel the most recharged from being at home in your own peace and quiet? You may be the life of the party but still need your down time at home.


You may not fit in a perfectly crafted extrovert box because you want alone time. You also may not fit into an introverted category because you enjoy being with people too.

These perceptions by others can often make us feel misunderstood, misjudged, or miscategorized by others.  If you feel this way, and it negatively impacts your sense of wellbeing, please reach out to a professional who will be able to help you make the necessary changes to improve your confidence and self esteem.

Guilt vs Shame


 

Oftentimes these terms of “guilt” and “shame” are used interchangeably, but did you know there is actually a very big difference between the two? The National Library of Medicine differentiates the two by explaining “Guilt is indeed concerned with one's responsibility for a harmful attitude or behavior. By contrast, shame implies a nonmoral negative self-evaluation.”


Guilt may sometimes be helpful when incorporated correctly and can help you make necessary changes in your life to get better. While shame can cause you to go into an internal spiral with few ways to truly get out and get better.


Here are some examples of shifting from internal shame to healthy recognition of wrongdoing:


INSTEAD OF
: “I cannot believe you are lying again. You told yourself you weren’t going to do that anymore. You are trash.”

TRY THIS
: “I see how hard it is for you to tell the truth in this scenario. You feel as if it will cause a disconnect in the relationship and you will be abandoned if you come clean. I understand that. It is important to be honest though, and that is what you said you were going to try to do more of in the future. So, why don’t you make the first move here?

OR


INSTEAD OF: “Why can’t you just be more patient? What is wrong with you? You continually lash out and then cause so much damage.”


TRY THIS: “I get it. It is really hard to wait sometimes for things you want and you can get flooded with emotions in the meantime. Try taking a big, deep breath. 1… 2…3…4… Now remind yourself, you are working on this and getting a little better every day.



Exchanging internal shame for healthy remorse can be a hard pivot to make, but it starts from the inside with your self-talk. Try to be gentle with yourself as you are learning this new skill. Just like a baby doesn’t go from crawling to walking without some missteps, it will take time. But, just like anything with consistency you can retrain your thoughts.


If you’re finding this too daunting and not sure even where to begin, please let me recommend you start therapy with a licensed professional. We can help you sort through these messy emotions and thoughts to find what is true/helpful/of value to you. You can call my office and book an appointment anytime.

Are We There Yet?



Do you remember the feeling of being a child stuck in the backseat of a car on a never-ending road trip? It can feel excruciating to not have control on not only where you are going, but when you will get there!


Do you ever feel that way in life? Wondering “am I there yet?” Or even the underlying question of “where am I going?” and “do I even have any control over where I am going?” It can tap into those visceral, childlike feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.


Sometimes we can have in our mind a picture of starting a business at the age of 30, then selling it for a ginormous profit at the age of 40 and traveling the globe like you always had dreamed of. Or, perhaps you thought by now you would be married with a family and it just hasn’t panned out that way.


Having goals and things we are reaching towards can be so beneficial, yet when life has other plans it can be hard to let go of the expectations we have set for ourselves.


Please, take this moment to hear me say it is never too late to make small adjustments to help get you where you want to go.


I’m not saying it will all pan out exactly as you picture it, but you can make small, incremental changes over time that will have lasting effects on your future. Do you want a healthier lifestyle? Try starting by drinking 3 more glasses of water a day than you normally would. Do you want to have a long-lasting relationship? Ask your trusted friends if they have anyone like-minded and aligned on your values they can connect you with.


These changes can help you feel a bit more power over your life and put you in the trajectory that you’re looking for. Now, if these feel too overwhelming to start with or you don’t know where to begin, it may be time to speak to a licensed therapist. We can help you sort through what is bogging you down and initiate some small, practical changes to help you move in the direction you’re hoping for.


The Cure for Toxic Positivity



“It all works out in the end”

“There is definitely a silver lining here we can look out for”

“God always has a plan”

“No bad days!”

“Everything happens for a reason”


Have you ever been going through a tough time, shared it with somebody, then they respond with something similar to the messaging above? It hurts, doesn’t it? On the surface it can seem redirecting with a hopeful spin, but the underlying feelings you’re left with are possibly even more loneliness than before.

There is even a term for this: toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is defined as involving “dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false assurances rather than empathy. It comes from feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions. It is often well-intentioned but can cause alienation and a feeling of disconnection.”

What is the cure? Giving space for “negative” emotions.

All emotions are welcomed and a part of the human experience - they are all informing you of greater things below the surface. Your anger may be showing you that somebody is crossing a boundary you may have. Your jealousy at someone’s new car could be a clue that you have ambition and want advancement in your career path. Your sadness and grief can show you how deeply you are capable of loving.

It can be easier said than done to invite uncomfortable emotions into your everyday world. That is in part why therapists exist - to help you process through situations that may feel foreign, messy, and “bad.”

I’m happy to talk through a scenario you are facing as a non-judgemental thought partner, should you be looking for a licensed professional. Feel free to reach out to my office to book an appointment. In the meantime, be gentle to yourself and know that “negative” emotions are completely natural, normal, and healthy!

Don’t Be Careful

 



Do you remember your mom yelling this across the lawn to you growing up “Be careful!!!”


Did that ever work to stop you from doing something dangerous? Did you every think “Huh, this thing I’m doing could have a gnarly consequence physically, so glad my Mom called out to me so I can slow myself down to recalibrate and adjust?” No? Me either.


So, maybe you aren’t climbing trees or running quickly around a wet pool anymore, but what is a better thing to say when you see someone behaving in a dangerous way that could hurt themselves and others?


Try using these phrases to someone next time instead of “be careful.” This works for physical and emotional scenarios as you help someone reach their own conclusions.

  • “What is your plan?”

  • “Listen to your body."

  • “Do you feel safe?”

  • “If X happens, how might you Y?”

  • “Notice how…”

At the end of the day, people are going to do what they are going to do. But, if they value your input as a friend, these open ended offerings can help them reach a thought process they otherwise might not have! If you need someone in your life to help you gauge circumstances with an outside perspective, might I recommend seeking a licensed therapist. We are trained to view things without judgment and can help you identify self-destructive patterns as we discuss together.