"What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing"
By: Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D and Oprah Winfrey
Wow! This book is an EXCELLENT primer on trauma! Written in interview form between Oprah and Dr. Perry, this book is super readable and easily digestible despite being packed with research and neurobiology. Although many of the Worth It therapists read the book, it would make an excellent listen for those who prefer audiobooks. Let's dive in:
"Breath" By: James Nestor
"Breath" was an excellent and fascinating read! Dustin and Rebecca particularly enjoyed learning more about the incredible impact that something as seemingly simple as breathing has on so many of our necessary physical functions - and how many things can go awry when breathing is ineffective.
Anniversaries matter. And that, my friends, is why a bag of almond M&M's has me crying in the Target parking lot. Let me explain: About one year ago, I made my last indoor visit to Target (aka my happy place). I wish I could say I didn't know it would be my last visit, but the frightened eyes, the empty shelves, and the smell of bleach made it very clear that something was very different. I knew I wouldn't be back for some time. That fateful visit happened to coincide what what I consider to be one of the happiest times of the year: The arrival of Easter candy. Specifically, those beautiful pastel colored almond M&M's. Glorious! I'm obesssed. So, recognizing the cultural shift and being the indulgent human being that I am, I bought several bags. Several. Throughout that that first month or two, pastel almond M&M's were my life line. I joked that my quarantine was being sponsored by the Mars Corporation. And then summer came, and those beautiful pastel bags were gone. I briefly switched to regular colored peanut M&M's but it wasn't the same. Like many I hopped on the baking trends. I went through healthy and unhealthy periods, I indulged in many different ways and I forgot about my pastel friends. Until today. I wandered back inside Target because I needed something specific, and I needed it now. And then I saw them - those beautiful pink bags with the the pastel eggs - calling to me from the end cap. I bought bags for every one. I bought a secret bag for my home office. I got to my car and I remembered those early quarantine bags. And I cried. You see, in the stress and the strain of the past year there have just been so many losses. Big losses - lives, jobs, securities, touch - and the small, everyday losses that continue to compound. It all hit me in that moment and I had no choice but to allow it all to flow through. I turned toward the sadness and allowed myself to feel the reality that the return of the Easter candy signifies: One year marked by loss, grief, and fear. Eventually my tears subsided, I felt calmer. And do you know what I did next? I took myself to a favorite park, sat in the sunshine, and ate that whole damn bag of M&M's. Because anniversaries matter.
Please, in whatever way is meaningful to you, take a moment an recognize and reflect on what the past year has meant to you. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that this last year has fostered within you - the good and the bad. Turn towards your experience with kindness and curiosity. Breathe and feel. The next chapter awaits...
As the year comes to a close many of us find ourselves reflecting on what was and beginning to imagine what is coming. This is an excellent use of your quiet time. However, another thing we often see at this time of year are big commitments to lofty, often unattainable goals that can increase feelings of shame, lack, and unworthiness. Rather than setting yourself up for disappointment heading into the new year, I would encourage you to consider choosing a word or phrase representative of how you want live out the new year. You can then use this word as a mantra, a grounding tool, or even a decision or boundary setting guide.
Last year my word as STRETCH. And boy, did 2020 make sure I did!
A friend recently share with me her word for 2020 and it’s just too good not to pass along. She chose the word “WITH”. I cannot imagine a better intention for this crazy year because it encapsulates what I call the “both-ness” that is such a part of life, especially this year. She points out how in 2020 she has learned to experience grief WITH gratitude, hope WITH fear, and routine WITH unpredictability. Gosh, ain’t that the truth!
In the spirit of new year goal and intention setting, I’d like to share with you my word for the year: ALIGN. I choose this word after time meditating on how I’m currently living and how I’d like to experience my future. What I discovered is a need to realign with my values; a need to prioritize the things that hold the most meaning for me in order to become a truer version of myself.
If any of these words speak to you - use them! If not, I hope you’ll spend some time meditating on a word, phrase, or intention to guide you into the new year.
Goodbye 2020, thank you for all you’ve taught us. Be well, friends.
Can I just say it? The holidays are HARD. Even under the best of circumstances the holidays often involve increased stress, struggling with priorities, and navigating family dynamics. These struggles are especially real in 2020. And you know what that means: Hard decisions and boundary setting. So, how do you know what's right for you and your family? Be still and ask your Wise Mind for guidance. Our Wise Mind is the sweet spot between our Logical Mind and Emotional Mind; it is that beautiful middle of the venn diagram that holds the best of both sides. You see, we need a balance of Logic and Emotion to make our best decisions - ignoring one side in favor of the other means leaving out important decision-making data. When you find that balance you can be confident that your choice fits the facts of the situation while honoring the emotion of the moment. And most importantly, you can rest assured that your boundary is aligned with your personal values. Here's a trick for accessing your Wise Mind: Sit still and focus on your breath. Allow your mind to settle on your internal experience. As you sink into yourself bring to mind that situation you are considering. Now, play a little fill-in-the-blank game. "I feel ______ (accessing emotional mind), and I know ______ (accessing logical mind), so I will _______".
And if that doesn't work and it all feels overwhelming, well... in the wise words of Anna from Frozen II, just do the next right thing.
Let's be honest, we all hit a collective wall when the 6 month mark of the Covid Pandemic arrived. Despite becoming more accustomed to the "new normal" of wearing masks and social distancing, feelings of fear and loneliness persist. The evidence shows overwhelmingly that human beings are wired for connection with other human beings. We literally need other people to survive. So how do you meet that need when you literally can't safely interact with others? Lean into loneliness with this beautiful video from the National Film Board of Canada. Those Canadians just seem to get everything right (Right, Jen?).
Boundaries are kind. No boundaries are unkind.
Boundaries can be hard to set for many reasons. Sometimes it can feel like rejection or abandonment. Sometimes we see boundaries as walls, something rigid, when boundaries actually allow for permeability. The greatest challenge we have with boundaries, especially when we are new to it, is to make the boundary for ourselves, not for someone else. In their most basic form boundaries are; “What’s okay for me?” and “What’s not okay for me?” Using “I statements” when we set boundaries can help to keep the focus on our ability to hold space for ourselves vs trying to get someone else to hold space for us.
While it can seem counterintuitive, boundaries allow for healthy interpersonal connection in all of our relationships. It operates on the principal of ‘We can’t give what we don’t have’. If we are kind to ourselves we will be kind to others.
Boundaries are kind; first to ourselves so that we can be kind to others.
Happy. Sad. Mad. Glad. Angry. Jealous. Scared. Hurt. Worried. Ashamed.
We’ve all felt these emotions – sometimes even in the course of a single day! We are complex humans with complex emotions, and sometimes that can feel really overwhelming! When our emotions get uncomfortable it can be really tempting to push them away, ignore them, or stuff them down. We THINK that doing this will lessen the hold that these emotions have over us – but the OPPOSITE is actually true! When we avoid uncomfortable emotions we actually feel them MORE energy and make them stronger! That’s why it is so important to feel your feelings – ALL of your feelings. Sitting with distressing emotions can be really uncomfortable – here are your step by step instructions on how to ride the emotional tide:
1. Observe the emotion and notice where you feel it in your body
2. Call the emotion by it’s name (“This is anxiety”)
3. Accept that it’s there without judgment
4. Get curious about is (“I wonder what triggered this feeling”)
5. Let go of need to control and watch how even overwhelming feelings ebb and flow
Feeling disconnected from your feelings OR having trouble managing difficult ones? Worth It Therapists Jennifer and Rebecca are here to help!
Mindfulness is one of those buzz words that seems to be everywhere right now. But with everybody talking about it, no one really seems to be able to explain what it is or why it is so important. So what is Mindfulness, really? Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now, on purpose, without judgment. Simple as that. When we are practicing mindfulness we are bringing the present moment into our full awareness. We are observing our senses, our physical sensations, and our emotional landscape, and being present with whatever we notice – good, bad, or ugly. Sometimes that is very pleasant, sometimes it is can be very uncomfortable. But why is it important? Practicing mindfulness is one the best ways to engage your brains plasticity – it’s ability to stretch and change itself. It is plasticity that allows our brains to rewire in order to learn new patterns and unlearn old ones. When we are chronically stressed (and who isn’t!?) our brains remember that and respond reactively according to old patterns. Practicing mindfulness allows the brain to focus on the here and now rather than reverting to old, stressed out patterns. What does this mean for you? It means mindfulness can actually help your brain create new neural pathways to experience CALM. There are lots of helpful tools and techniques out there to help you build your mindfulness practice. Need some help building or fine-tuning your mindfulness practice? Schedule an appointment today!