I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Courage is a large and powerful word. It is defined as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Courage is a major trait that people need to use in order to make changes in their lives. In my office, people need a great deal of courage in order to improve the quality of their lives. In fact, the entire journey is filled with many courageous steps. Let’s examine the process.
Almost all prospective clients start their counseling process by either calling or emailing. They inevitably state three words that are hard to say “I need help.” They schedule an appointment. They need to show up for the appointment that they scheduled. (You may or may not be surprised, that there is a percentage of people who cancel that appointment and do not reschedule.)
During that first appointment the person now says out loud and face to face, what their particular struggle/ problem/difficulty/ is that they are facing. The person describes it in full detail, the duration, the intensity, the consequences and implications of this issue. On one hand, this is overwhelming disclosure; on the other hand there is relief. Someone now knows.
To illustrate how much courage is required, here is a small sample of some of the issues that came up in my office this past week:
- A person who wants to stop drinking.
- A person who wants to get out of a marriage.
- A person who is dealing with an abusive ex-spouse.
- A person who is dealing with family issues and lots of family dysfunction.
- A person who is going to their first 12 step meeting.
- A person who shares about a traumatic event. I am the first person to hear the details.
Yes I get to meet with some very courageous people!
The question that comes to mind is how do people find the courage and perseverance to make these changes? Some people would say that they are just motivated to improve. And while that is obvious, the bigger question would be how did they get so motivated to improve?
Tony Robbins states “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Courage to change would then occur when there is no way out; I will have to do something better than what I am currently doing. Although immensely scary, the path of change has to be better than the path that I’m on. If I keep walking on the path of change, I will recognize that the pain gets smaller, the intensity and duration are less. Does this happen instantly? Of course not! Nothing worthwhile is ever fast and quick—fast food may satisfy your immediate hunger, but won’t help you in the long run. Your commitment to change will require a constant re-evaluation of your courage.
Two other components of courage, are a dedication to change and a hopeful belief system. At times during therapy, there were opportunities where it would be easy for my clients to stop coming due to the myriad of life stressors (kids, jobs, cars etc), but they kept coming. When they were asked how they managed to keep coming in spite of their pain or fear or discomfort, they expressed the hope that they could and would be better. This belief about their futuristic change combined with their dedication led them to quality of life changes.
It seems to me that when you find your courage to change and believe that your changes are indeed possible, you change. Find your courage today in order to make the changes that you need to make!
Change is possible.
With the New Year approaching, it’s a good time to take stock of last year.
- Did you have a good and healthy year?
- Did you make all the changes that you hoped to make?
- Did you follow through on the goals that you had planned?
If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, let me introduce you to something which may help you answer “yes” to the same questions for 2018.
Through the use of hypnosis I have helped people make the following changes:
1) Anxiety–dramatic decrease.
2) Sleep–more restful.
3) Sexual Performance–A dramatic increase.
4) Depression– significant decrease.
5) Physical Pain– significant decrease in the intensity.
Many of these changes occurred in just one or two sessions.
Hypnosis is an amazing and powerful treatment. For some people it has been a great addition to the “tools” that they needed to be better. For some people, it was their only treatment .
I would like to introduce you to this powerful change agent. On the first Saturday of every month, starting on January 6, 2018, I will be facilitating a small group demonstration of hypnosis. You will get to see if hypnosis can work for you. The cost is $20 per group session. Registration is required since space is limited.
To register go to: http://www.changeispossible.org/event/new-year-new-you/. You can pre-pay at the Pay Pal link on the website.
If you are not much of a group person, but are interested in discovering the benefits of hypnosis, feel free to contact me and we will schedule a private consultation.
This can be your year of change–it can be a New You, New Year!
Change is indeed possible!
Do you have Stress?
Do you have Anxiety?
Do you have Difficulty Sleeping?
If so, watch this video, you will learn more about hypnosis. In addition you will get a preview of what hypnosis sounds like.
Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future,
but from wanting to control it
If you live in NJ and commute you know that you will drive in traffic. You will stop and go and stop and go. If you have to do one of those jug handle turns in order to turn left, you typically race to make the light. Did you ever think what would happen if you didn’t make the light? What would you miss? Would you get a better song to listen to, would you make one more phone call?
One day I got stuck at the traffic light. (For the record, I listened to more music) I waited and waited and waited for the light to change to green. As I made the turn on to my next street, I saw a police car, lights flashing, zoom past me. I kept on driving. I saw where the police car ended up. There was a serious car accident right down the street. I thought, “Wow if I had made that light could that have been me in that accident?” The thought shook me and I continued my commute.
After arriving at my destination, I began to think about recent world events. What would have happened if I was on that New York street the day the bombs went off in Chelsea, or I had been on the platform the day the NJ transit train crashed in Hoboken? How do you explain the randomness of these bad things happening? How do we deal with this? If you think too much about these questions, you will never leave your house again. Your motto will be “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
Staying home however isn’t the answer. I mean bad stuff happens in people’s homes everyday—accidents, falls, fires, robberies. That doesn’t sound any better, in fact it sounds worse.
What is the answer to the craziness of our world, a world where tragedies happen to both good and bad people? I mean we smile and smirk when karma comes back around and the bad people get it, but at the end of the day it’s hardly a victory. When the tragedies happen to good people, we are stuck, we are without words, we are without anything. There is nothing left to say or do.
Our lack of control in our life is frightening. We desperately want control. We want to know when people will die, so we can say our goodbyes at the right time. We want to know when we will be laid off so we can get our resumes out to land that new job. We want to know when our houses will sell so we can find the new house that we want. We never know any of these things in advance. We get upset, we get frustrated, and we get angry when we have no control.
We need to figure out how to handle our lack of control and how we can live our lives in a healthier, less anxious way. Here is a musical example of our fear and anxiety. The band Incubus, released the song “Drive” in 2000. It appears on their third album Make Yourself. Enjoy the song.
“Drive” gives us a clue for handling this fear and anxiety “I should be the one behind the wheel”. We’ll address this topic in greater detail in part 2 of this blog.
Remember change is possible.
It’s either sadness or euphoria
It’s a new year. People make all kinds of resolutions. People will say “this is the year that I get into shape, or lose weight, or improve my self-esteem, or improve my marriage. People make these plans in order to make themselves happy. Many of these resolutions fall off of the table early in the year. This lack of success indicates to me that people are apparently content with their misery.
One of the leading causes for misery is expectation. An expectation, according to Webster’s dictionary, is “a belief that something will happen in the future” If it’s garbage day and my partner is in charge of garbage I expect that he or she will take out the garbage. When this occurs, everything is great. The problem occurs when I expect my partner to do something and it doesn’t happen. This expectation often leads to a variety of negative feelings. Let’s look at the following example:
Marie and Steve are married for 10 years. They have two children. Steve has an episodic alcohol issue—He doesn’t drink regularly, but when he does, he binges for days at a time. Marie has communicated her frustration, anger, hurt, disappointment to Steve about his drinking. She assumes that her communications will lead him to “get it” and he will stop drinking. Marie and Steve are having family over on Saturday night. She expects that after all of her conversations, that there is no way that Steve will drink. When she wakes up Saturday morning, she sees Steve passed out on the couch with a bottle of vodka nearby. She is livid, and screams at him at concert hall volume.
There is no doubt that Marie’s feelings are valid—hurt, anger, resentment, disappointment, fear, embarrassment. The problem however lies in Marie’s expectation—“we are having a family party, I’ve spoken to Steve many times, he shouldn’t be drinking” It is the expectation that creates her feelings.
Expectations are the things that we have the most control over, yet the thing that we want to change the least. It is way more fun to have a “you fest” …”you did this, you did that, you always do this etc”. It is much harder to look at our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors. We live in a world that we think is governed by the ways things should be. People should always stop at stop signs. People should wait on lines in grocery stores, airports, department stores. People should be courteous drivers. People should follow all of the rules of our society. We know however this doesn’t happen all the time. We get upset when these rules are bent, broken or destroyed. In relationships, we have the same rules. We expect our partners will follow these rules. (In the above example, Steve should not drink when Marie is having company) When partners don’t comply with OUR EXPECTATION, then we are justifiably hurt, angry etc. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#00008b” class=”” size=””]We then then blame our partner. It is MY expectation that is the problem, not my partner’s behavior![/pullquote]
In order to change expectations we are going to invoke my favorite six letter word, “accept”. For more on acceptance (manny being manny blog. Acceptance gives us power over our thoughts, feelings, and behavior and produces the ability to let things go. If I accept the fact that people will not stop at stop signs, will cut lines, and will drive erratically, I will be less upset. Since no one decided that I was in charge to enforce these infractions (a scary thought if I was), I can just accept that people will not always act in ways that I like. They can break all the rules they want. In relationships the same concept applies. In our earlier example, If Marie accepts the fact that Steve drinks episodically, and that in spite of all of her lectures and discussions, he will drink again, she will not be as angry. (In fact if she changes her behavior, she’ll be more compassionate, and won’t take his drinking personally, but that’s another blog entirely!)
Marie gets to choose if she wants happiness or misery. If she looks at life with high expectations and very little acceptance, she will be hurt, angry, and resentful. She will have a great deal of misery which she is causing for herself. If Marie decides to make changes and work on being happy, she can have few expectations, and lots of acceptance. She has the power to do.
Change is possible.
Dedicated to LC who didn’t live very long but inspired many
Many years ago Linda was a client that I was working with. She was a very complicated young woman. She had chemical addictions, eating disorders and an assortment of other significant issues. Her chemical addictions were getting out of hand and she needed to go to detox. Linda agreed and assured me that she would go on Monday. On Monday, after she didn’t arrive at the detox, I called her and the conversation went something like this:
Me: What happened?
L : You know
Me: You took a detour?
Me: Ok, (pause, pause, pause,)but really you need to go to detox
L: I know
Me: How about tomorrow
Me: So you’ll call them now so you can get in tomorrow?
Me: So you are going tomorrow?
Me No detours?
L: No detours
Linda did arrive at detox the next day, she looked like, someone who was on the highway to hell. She completed detox, but soon her multiple issues and continued detours led her to her final highway. She died way too young, unable to deal with many issues that she could not even speak about.
Linda’s detours sadly led to her undoing in a permanent way, but many people that I see don’t listen to their internal gps settings. They appear to be on the verge of getting better only to get off of “Healthy Road” and make several turns on to “Self-Defeating Avenue” or “Self-Destructive Boulevard”. These detours tend to last way longer than necessary and ultimately lead to lots of guilt, shame, remorse, and self-loathing. When people drive back and find “Healthy Road” they generally have to clean up the messes they made from their detour. As people start to clean up those messes they begin to ask themselves the following questions:
• Why did I do that?
• What’s wrong with me?
• Why can’t I succeed?
• Am I doomed to always do this?
• Can I be healthier?
When people bring these questions to my office, we need to do some probing for the answers. We need to look at how their detouring behavior is “wired”— that is what causes this behavior? Is it something from their past? Is it a long standing issue with their self –esteem? Is it from some traumatic event that has occurred? There may be hundreds of hypotheses about the reasons this behavior exists and the mechanisms that keep this behavior going. Once we have an idea about why a person may detour, then we need to identify how to change this. This can be a very painful process because some the issues have never been addressed. It takes great courage, patience, and trust to work through the pain.
Linda never got the opportunity to do this. Her detours to hell, ultimately led to her demise. Her fear and shame led her to take her secrets with her to her death.
As we head for the New Year, we can work to stay on “Healthy Road” with frequent turns towards “Self-Improvement Street” and “Feeling Better About Myself Avenue”. Whatever the issues are, they can be identified, and healed. No one needs to keep detouring from the right path.
Change is possible
There is a light flashing on the answering machine. Wow. Could it be a referral? Is it someone I can see? Is it someone I can help? Will our schedules match up? I impatiently go to the message “Hi this is Lois, I got your name from Dr. Don Henry at St. Paul’s medical center. He said you specialize in couples therapy and addictions. I’d like to make an appointment” My heart races, my breathing increases. I’m a specialist? I am, I guess. I call Lois on the telephone. We discuss some of the clinical issues, insurance, and scheduling. I feel awkward trying to communicate the key points. I have to remember to tell her my address, give directions to the office, and tell her where to park. I successfully accomplish all of this and Lois and her husband Bill come in. I get to share my “expertise” with them. There are so many issues—Bill’s drinking, Lois’ control, and the impact on the relationship. Where do I start? Can I help these people? I’ve helped hundreds of people like Bill and Lois when I worked for someone else. But this is about my name, my reputation, my career, my future.
I see Bill and Lois and their multiple problems. They get better. My initial fears get smaller. Week after week, the phone keeps ringing. There are more messages. A man with an angry sounding voice named Tom, calls saying “I gotta come see you; my boss is such a jerk; he’s gonna fire me if I don’t come” He comes in, and over time, he’s not so angry. A sweet, soft sounding woman named Joan, calls to get help for her panic attacks. She comes into my office and is not as sweet as she sounds. In fact, she’s quite angry, in fact about everything. People continue to call and ask interesting questions “Can you see my son and not tell my ex-wife that he’s coming for therapy even if she calls you”? “Can I tell you a secret that my husband doesn’t know”? “Do I have to be honest during therapy, I mean tell you everything?” These questions and their answers all test my therapeutic skills and challenge my knowledge of both ethics and the law. (if you are scoring at home, it’s no, yes, and no)
Among the other new challenges is the business part of the practice. This includes billing, collecting, marketing and advertising I listen to my colleagues who share the ongoing debate ” I have too many clients to be part time, but not enough to be full time” I wonder ” Will I suffer the same fate?” “What if I do too good a job, and all of my clients get better?” “[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#9370db” class=”” size=””]What if the phone stops ringing?”[/pullquote]
What if the phone stops ringing? (It actually did once for a period of 12 days). Will I be like other therapists in private practice, here today, closing up shop tomorrow?
Over time, my fears get smaller, and more clients attend. I begin to realize that as a result of information that I learned from continuing education classes and from reading journal articles, that prospective clients want to find a therapist who has good clinical and interpersonal skills. They want to find a practitioner who is also human. They want to find someone who has the following characteristics:
Characteristics of desired therapists:
• Shows empathy
• Non judgmental
• Keeps good boundaries
• Good interpersonal skills
• Is human
• Open to other viewpoints
The above characteristics seem obvious to me, but many clients have reported that they have had poor or unsatisfactory experiences with previous therapists. Some are robotic. Some are non-communicative. Some only care about getting paid. I’m glad that’s not the feedback that I have received over these many years of being a therapist.
Time has passed; technology has given us new ways of communicating. We now have voice mail, text messaging, and email, all direct ways for new clients to begin their journey towards change. Over the last few years I have discovered that two trends have started to happen. I have been receiving calls from second generation clients. These conversations usually start the same way “you saw my mother/father some years ago and I would like to make an appointment.” It’s funny to see the adult version of a person who their parent once described to me. The other interesting trend is the returning client. This is a person who I met with more than ten years ago. Those conversations too have a familiar sound to them “Hi my name is Sue and I don’t know if you remember me but I saw you 15 years ago. You helped me so much then and I have some issues that I know you can help me with again.” These two trends are very gratifying to me because they demonstrate my beliefs about change. If two people work together on a problem, and there is good “therapeutic chemistry”, change will occur. This has been proven over my entire career. I am grateful to be a part of that chemistry.
If you are looking to find a therapist, use the “characteristics of desired therapists” list to find your person.
Change is possible.
There are some interesting things to note here:
1)It states that people are 26 times more likely to drink and drug and 13 times more likely to become alcohol dependent–If you look at the data on sexual addiction Carnes 1998 cites 81% of sex addicts in treatment were sexually abused.
2) 1 in 7 women report abuse/28% or men were abused–interestingly these numbers are probably UNDER-REPORTED.
3) note the list of symptoms listed for abuse–these are very common presenting issues that people start therapy with. In addition note that anxiety/depression diagnoses are 3 times more likely
if you or some one you know fit the descriptions listed on this info graphic, PLEASE GET HELP
although it will be painful and scary, you can improve your life……
change is possible