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Guest Post By Camille McDaniel, LPC, CPCS

I didn’t know exactly which topic I wanted to share with you initially. I wanted it to be relatable and at the same time hold your attention. Then it hit me. A voice said, “Just write what you see.” So I’m listening.

This is something I’ve helped so many people with over the years and this is a road that I travel regularly. Logically, you may know that you need boundaries with friends and family in order to keep your emotional and mental wellness intact. However, it can be difficult to put these boundaries into action when the time comes. Why? Why can’t we just do what we know we need to do and say what we need to say in order to maintain emotional and mental wellness? It has a lot to do with our perception of what it means to be assertive, how we want people to see us, and how we feel about ourselves.

Today, I want to give you three tips for creating the foundation of healthy boundaries. I also want to provide support for that part of your brain that may hold tight to the idea that it’s not worth the risk to try these three tips.

  1. Give yourself permission to be okay. Everyone is not interested in being healthy emotionally and mentally. Sometimes staying in what is familiar, even if it’s toxic, is more comfortable than trying to change for the better. When you decide to start creating a healthier space for yourself, some people may try to use manipulation as a way of getting you to just accept their poor behaviors, as if you’re the one who is wrong for trying to create boundaries for yourself. My advice? Don’t try too hard to make them okay with your changes. Let them own their own feelings. Boundaries are okay and YOU are okay for wanting to create a healthier life for yourself.
  1. Let people know how you feel when it happens. When you don’t advocate for yourself by speaking up, something happens. You sit and think about the event over the next few days and instead of actually saying what is wrong, you may let your body language speak for you or you may act like everything is fine and start resenting the person for “not knowing better” than to act that way. Letting the person know how they affected you will give that person an opportunity to learn more about you and understand how their actions are impacting you. What if they don’t care you ask? Well let me refer you back to the last part of #1: “Boundaries are okay and YOU are okay for wanting to create a healthier life for yourself.”
  1. Know when to let go. Sometimes you just have to love people from a distance. It’s not because you don’t care about them. It’s because you care about them and yourself enough to know when to stop toxic cycles from continuing in both of your lives. In time, that person may change or maybe they won’t. Either way, you must know when it’s time to put space between you and them.

Cam Headshot

Camille McDaniel, LPC, CPCS is the founder and director of Healing Psychotherapy Practices of Georgia, LLC in Kennesaw, Georgia.  She is also the creator of an online business called The Counselor Entrepreneur. You can find more about her work at http://www.CamilleMcDaniel.com.

A few years ago I was at the store looking for something unique to hang on the wall in my counseling office. Scouring shelves of artwork, I finally came across a piece with a butterfly near the top and the words “Patience in the present; Faith in the future; Joy in the doing.” I thought it was perfect for the type of work I do so I bought the piece and it has since been hanging in the office.

From time to time I’ll catch myself looking at the quote in between my sessions and wondering if I myself am having patience in the present, faith in the future and joy in the doing. The answer is sometimes, “no.” In a world where expectations are high and we have technology which we allow to keep us working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, having patience can be particularly difficult. We want to get things done. We want to achieve. We want what we want when we want it.

So, how can we teach ourselves to slow down and have patience when life is whipping by at lightening fast speeds? Here are three steps that can lead us back to the present, build our patience and help us to get more accomplished.

1. Breathe deeply!

How many times have you caught yourself feeling so rushed that you get dizzy or disoriented? It’s not uncommon for those who are impatient to subsequently experience heightened levels of anxiety and shortness of breath. Being on the go continuously, we can fail to notice that we’re not breathing appropriately. The number one skill I aim to teach my clients is to breathe! Deeply! Taking the time to slow down, breathe air deep into the lungs and out again, has been shown to lower the heart rate and can decrease levels of anxiety. I usually then ask them to try the following two steps…

2. Remind yourself that you are where you are for a reason.

There are so many times when I’m driving down the highway and I get behind someone driving well below the posted speed limit. I can’t always get around the vehicle and that’s when I may notice my impatience increasing. “Oh, come on!” I might exclaim as I’m forced to slow my vehicle. However, by shifting my thinking from “they are in my way” to “I’m right where I need to be in this moment,” I can focus on driving responsibly and having patience for the other person. I’ll also sometimes tell myself that I don’t know what is going on for the person driving the car slowly and that they may have good reason (new driver, difficulty seeing, car problems, a new baby on board, etc.). Once you remind yourself that you are where you are for a reason, then…

3. Bring your attention to only what you need to do right now, in this moment.

When we have demands coming at us from all directions, we can feel as if we’ll never catch up. This can lead to increased levels of anxiety and sleepless nights. If we pull our attention back to only what we need to do in the present, we can accomplish more and reduce our feeling of being overwhelmed. Something I ask clients who have trouble sleeping due to laying in bed thinking about all of the things they need to get done, is this: “What can you truly do about it at 11 p.m.?” I follow up by encouraging them to make a To-Do List during their day, mark off the things they complete, and when they lay down in bed at night, all they have to do is sleep. The rest of the list can wait until the next day.

The next time you notice yourself rushing around, unsure which end is up, try breathing deeply while reminding yourself that you are where you need to be in this moment. Then focus only on what you need to do right now. By practicing these three steps, you’re training yourself to become mindful and in turn can lower your level of impatience.

To Love and Be Loved

A friend of mine recently sent me a text about the connection between eating disordered behaviors and the lack of giving or receiving love. It got the wheels in my head turning and I had too much to say to respond via text. I decided instead to send an email with my thoughts. After re-reading my response, I decided to share a more fleshed-out version with the rest of you as it’s a topic that could be good for all of us to consider…

Heart“American psychologist Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs based on his understanding of what motivates people. He postulated that when needs go unmet, the desire grows. Motivation then increases as the person aims to get the needs met.

Within the category of social needs, Maslow places love. When we don’t experience love, we long for it. We want to know we’re the apple of someone’s eye; to know that we’re cared for unconditionally. Without this, we can convince ourselves we’re not worthy of ever being loved and therefore hold love back from others.

This is where an eating disorder (ED) can enter the picture. Those with EDs may aim to get needs met through the behaviors they use. EDs are often about what the person is not saying…rather, they act out thoughts and feelings via restricting, binging, purging, overexercising, etc. What others, and sometimes those themselves with eating disorders, can’t see is that they may be crying out. They may be trying to say, ‘Love me! I need you to love me. I need you to understand me.’ And they can become broken when others are not able to do this. Enter in more ED behaviors and self-defeating cognitions.

Love is complex, but it’s something we all want/need; even when we can’t or don’t admit that. We can convince ourselves we don’t need love (or belonging, or community, or security, or…), but as Maslow explains, that’s not necessarily true. We’re motivated by such a need. It’s not a matter of ‘Eh, that’s not something I’m really interested in.’ We NEED love.

Because people in our lives are just that – PEOPLE — sometimes they don’t have the ability to love us in a way that makes sense to us. They may not even be aware that their own life story has contributed to this. What we find, however, is that we can look at those people and assume they know and are holding love back purposely. We can assume that people are doing things on purpose and we’re asking ‘What is wrong with this person?’ But the bottom line is that sometimes, many times, people aren’t aware of how their actions are influencing others, nor are they always aware that others aren’t necessarily doing something wrong, but it’s perceived as such based on their own thoughts and feelings. It then FEELS wrong.

It makes a lot of sense that the lack of love contributes to the development and maintenance of an ED. The disorder can then become the thing turned to for the things that are lacking. Somehow the ED will give what is needed. This is a complexity of ED. It becomes an identity; a security blanket that wraps itself so tightly around those who have found it.

Love is something everyone needs and when that feels like it’s not there, it can be as detrimental as not having shelter, drink, sleep. At the same time, however, we can’t be so quick to assume we’re not loved at all…”

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