blog

On Resentment

moon.jpg

Our emotions can carry a lot of weight. Lately, I've been thinking more about the emotion "resentment." The Merrriam-Webster dictionary defines this as "a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury." I have personally had a few moments recently sittin' pretty with it and I have found that it leaves me feeling like crap afterwards. I may find myself dwelling on something someone said, a situation, my own negative internal monologue, and suddenly I am aware that I'm feeling resentful. 

After a recent episode of ruminating, I asked myself, "what purpose is this serving me right now?" (you all know I love that question!) Basically, why am I feeling this so sharply? What is it doing for me, or not doing for me?

Resentment appears to have a purpose: it may validate us, it may make us feel more confident or better than someone, it may make us feel strong and vindicated.

However, resentment also makes us feel insecure, jealous, frustrated, depressed, ashamed, guilty, and so on and on and on...

One part of why resentment can be activating is frustration with a lack of authenticity in someone or something; another part is an insecurity within ourselves. Eeek, gross, right?! But it's true. As much as we may feel annoyed by something external, there's something within us that we wish to improve or change. When we experience this feeling, it's also important to remember it is our opinion and an emotional reaction we are having

We must acknowledge that an emotion can serve a purpose and identify how it's serving us; we then have the option to use it or release it. We can accept it as valid, but it will not serve its purpose until we dive deeper by exploring the what and why of it. This can create meaning and offer a lesson, if we are open and nonjudgmental with ourselves.

So how can you actively turn ugly resentment into something beautifully positive? Go inward. Something in you is being activated by someone or something and that is stirring up this negativity inside of you. Set aside some time to really ponder this feeling; think about what is causing you to experience it...this will lead you to why you are experiencing it. Sit with that what and why and muckiness in a nonjudgmental way, knowing this is merely a reaction. Know that this reaction is fleeting, the emotion is temporary. Let go of what isn't serving you and your soul. Nourish the part of you that feels insecure, the part of you that reacted.

Tonight is a waning crescent moon and the Summer Solstice, so take a moment to think about what you may need to release. What are you holding onto that isn't serving you? What are old habits you wish to stop? Nourish your soul tonight to prepare yourself for the energy the new moon will soon bring.

Oh, and maybe do a couple stretches since, ya know, no big deal, it's International Yoga Day!

- S

Wellness Wednesday

I've been thinking a lot lately about living authentically. As you all know oh-so-well, with yoga I've really started to dive deeper into my being and developed more of an understanding of who I am, what my needs are, my dislikes, my goals, and so on... I'll be taking another trip around the sun in about a month and therefore I've been reflecting more on my life. Facebook also forces me to do this on a daily basis, with those "memories" that pop up...I have so many thoughts on this but will refrain.

Turning another year older is a privilege; each year we learn from our experiences and cultivate more awareness about ourselves and the world around us. It's beautiful, but can also be heartbreaking, if we're gunna get real with it. 

I remember being 15 and thinking, this is the person I am and will be forever. I remember being 18 and thinking the same thing; I remember being 20 living in Paris thinking the same thing; I remember getting married at 27 and thinking the same thing. 

However, the reality is that we are ever-changing and not fixed. We are constantly molded by our experiences, whether they be day-to-day events or rock-you-senseless-to-your-core moments. Feelings and goals and passions and thoughts can change on a daily basis...

Thus, living authentically is living in the present moment. It's honoring your being, your soul, in each present moment, without judgment. It's allowing yourself (with respect to others) to be yourself. 

It cannot be influenced by others; I'm a romantic existentialist, and I believe we are inevitably alone - as they say, we are born alone and we die alone. Our experience is only our own, therefore our authentic selves can only be shaped by ourselves and our perceived experience, not by anyone or anything else. 

Make the time to take a moment to be present, to breathe deeply and engage your five senses and come into that sweet present moment.

Immerse yourself in_this is it,_without expectation or searching for meaning..png

...in this moment is where you'll find your authentic self.

- S

On being a therapist...

One of the more difficult conversations I have with my clients is about discussing possible diagnoses. This is directly linked to the perpetuated stigma in society on mental health; people have such a negative connotation with diagnoses and are often misinformed. But to also be perfectly transparent, it can be pretty scary when your doctor tells you that you have a diagnoses, even if it's treatable. Most people immediately go to the reaction of  "something is wrong with me," when in reality that is truly not the case.

Mental health issues (I mostly prefer this term over 'mental illnesses') are so much more common than people realize. As a therapist, I'm privy to working with people that may (or may not) have a mental health issue with which they are struggling; I'm also trained to detect when someone may have a diagnosis. That is not to say that I run around diagnosing people - I don't! It takes time and a lot of information gathering in order to make a diagnosis, although sometimes there are hallmark traits that I can spot more quickly due to my years of training.

But back to my point: many people may be struggling with a behavioral health issue and they choose to keep it private or they seem quite functional, or appropriately so they seek active treatment to help manage their symptoms. Bottom line is that it is something many people deal with. We've seen celebrities come out over the years stating they have struggled with mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, Depression, self-injurious behaviors, etc. For some, this is seen as empowering and comforting; it helps people feel less alone with something that can perhaps make them feel ostracized and isolated.

So where am I going with this?

I wish to be a voice that normalizes mental health issues and struggles.

We are all human. Our bodies and brains are very complex and individualized. We do the best we can, but sometimes things are out of our control.

For some people, having the label of a diagnosis offers concrete evidence for their struggles; it's a name for the chemical imbalance/stress/sadness/anger etc. It also offers hope that there is a way to manage it through treatment.

For others, it can feel devastating. They may go to the place of feeling helpless, as if they are broken, as if they have done something wrong and thus earned a negative label. It feels terminal.

It's not!! Remember, so many people battle mental health issues every day and we don't even know about it. There are so many supports and studies and treatments (and meditation and wellness and yoga!!!) for the many diagnoses that exist, and researchers are working daily to find new ways of assisting those in need of more support. 

To be diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder is not a death sentence; it is not bad, YOU are not bad. It can be an answer; a sign of hope. 

To be diagnosed with a behavioral health issue is not a death sentence; it is not bad, YOU are not bad. It's an answer; it's a sign of hope..png

(And, to be more transparent/concrete/honest, it's also a way for providers to bill insurance companies. Just sayin'!)

You are still you; the only difference is that now you have an increased awareness of how your brain functions.

I hope this is helpful for even one of you reading. Take care and be well!

- S

On being a therapist...

The past few weeks has probably been one of the more difficult times to be a therapist, no matter for whom one voted. The air is thick with intense emotions, and people are visibly deflated or inflated.

There has been a palpable shift in the world.

As a therapist, I am trained to avoid making a session about me, therefore I share very little about myself, usually only small surface-level bits for anecdotal purposes. Since November 9th, I've found it difficult at times to hold back my reactions, specifically when someone shares with me a hate crime that they've witnessed or had against them. My background in Feminist Therapy allows the therapist to be genuine and authentic; having emotions and showing I too am human and I feel isn't a bad thing or inappropriate. Where people get stuck and have trouble, though, is when their biased opinion comes out.

As a therapist, I monitor my opinion constantly within a session - I'm thinking, "What's my purpose in asking her/him this? Is this something I'm curious about or will it allow her/him deeper introspection?" I'm careful to not ask a question that is for my own benefit, it must always be to enhance the client's thoughtfulness. However, sometimes the conversation becomes just that, a conversation between two humans. Lately, the conversations are different than discussing fun video games or new songs, they're grounded in a reality of which many people have become fearful.

As a therapist, I do not share my political beliefs. I will, however, engage in a conversation about the political climate with a client accordingly. I focus on emotions and feelings versus opinions. I'm careful to not use political party names or politician's names, but with this election, let's be real: sometimes it's obvious what 'side' I'm on. As an ethical practitioner and a feminist therapist, as a woman, it is my clinical duty and human responsibility to promote the wellbeing of others, to embrace diversity and apparent differences, to empathize with and unconditionally appreciate every human being.

As a therapist, I do not need to have lived through whatever my client has lived through in order to offer support. We don't have to share the same beliefs for me to offer support, for me to empathize with them. People have opinions and beliefs and their perceived reality is just that, their perceived reality. I don't have to understand their [perceived] reality to appreciate them as a fellow human being; I do not have to understand their opinions.

The past few weeks have been jarring, shocking, hurtful, confusing, demoralizing, hopeful, eye-opening; I cannot pretend that this has not been a labile mashup of all of the above. I am processing like everyone else. On Wednesday November 9th, I allowed myself space to grieve, to feel, so go inward and close up and feel all the feels. I slept, and when I woke up I felt again a call to action: I will acknowledge my fellow humans, even those who have opposing beliefs; I do not have to agree with you or understand you to still offer you human decency. I respect all human life. I remember that we are all connected. 

As a therapist, I model ethical behavior and offer different perspectives. I refrain from bringing too much of myself (e.g., my opinions), into the room, but I am very much myself in those 45 minutes.

As a therapist, I ensure my office is a safe place for anyone to discuss their feelings openly without fear of being judged.

As a therapist, I model acceptance of differences, without condoning hatred or fear or violence or ignorance.

I will focus on each day as it comes, not the next four years or the first one-hundred days. 

I will continue to help and peacefully fight for what is right and what I believe to be ethically valid. I will do my best to discourage cruelty and promote kindness. I will offer ways to maintain good self-care during this difficult time, and I will listen with an open heart and an open mind...

...as a therapist, it's my job.

- S