Tag: psychotherapy

​Want to Know Yourself Authentically?

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Want to Know Yourself Authentically?

Blog by Darcia Belizaire, LMHC at Agape Therapy Institute

Being “authentic” has seemed to become a universal cultural buzzword that many people are taking a more serious look at. Yet, it is probably one of the most difficult journeys a person will endure with a yet defined or measurable end. However, it has the best and most beneficial outcome and lifetime effect once achieved, and many of my clients who come for various issues have found that their lack of their authentic presence has played a role.

What is being authentic or authenticity you ask? To put it simply, no matter your setting or the people you are around, you are the constant. Now the reality of that is, it is much more complex when put into action, but these tips that you will get in this 4 part series hopefully helps you get a step closer to being your authentic self and say “I love me!.”

In part I, take a look at the level of attention to who you are and what matters to you. Oftentimes the basic components of self are overlooked or become adaptive based on roles and who we surround ourselves with. Getting back to the basics and taking a look at what matters without those things will help develop a clearer sense of self. Here are tips on how to explore that by asking yourself these questions:

  • Describe Yourself: Stick to character traits. It’s important to understand how you currently see yourself, and the difference between who you are now and what matters to you. 
  • What do I value?: Now this is where you look at what matters to you. Not always will how you describe yourself will be exactly the same to what you value, and in some aspects that’s okay. If unsure on how to begin answering this, you can simply google personal values to help you get an idea, but refrain from just choosing ones that sound good. When choosing, ask yourself why you value that.
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?: To refrain from overwhelming yourself, start with two each, and use them as your foundation to build on discovering others, and make the necessary changes. 

You should be proud of yourself for taking a step towards self exploration and authentic growth. This journey can be hard to sift through and lead to more questions, and if that happens, that’s okay.  Seeking a therapist is a helpful and a beneficial option as they can guide you and break down potential barriers that arise. 

In Part II, look for tips on how to healthily assess what we have now become more aware of in ourselves!

To book an appointment with Darcia, click here.


Photo by Furi from Pexels

Tags:

  • counseling
  • existential therapy
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • resilience
  • self help
  • self-care
  • solution focused
  • telehealth
  • yalom

Comparative Suffering

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Comparative Suffering: How Silencing Your Own Pain Hurts Everyone

Blog by Rebecca Gallardo, GSCI at Agape Therapy Institute

This has been a tough year. Disappointment and hardship seem to surround us. Last week my heart ached as a friend shared her struggle to manage a full-time workload while overseeing her two young children’s virtual education. Yesterday, I consoled a neighbor who hasn’t been able to visit her father in a nursing home for over 6 months. And just this afternoon I heard from a friend who had lost his job when his company was forced to downsize. Each of these friends is suffering in a very real way, but there is another thing they have in common. They each expressed shame for having shared their feelings, saying: “But I shouldn’t complain. So many people are suffering more than I am.” 

Despite feeling the very real stress of the current pandemic on their own lives, their inner narrative was that of comparison. They are not alone in feeling this way. When we are suffering, most of us feel triggered to compare ourselves with others. Without thinking, we rank our pain and suffering, and we use the results of that comparison to deny ourselves the permission to feel. We tell ourselves that we are not in enough pain. Our experience wasn’t as bad as someone else’s experience, so our pain doesn’t matter as much as theirs does. We can always find someone else who is suffering more than we are, and that comparison inevitably leads us to decide our feelings aren’t appropriate.

But this is not how our emotions work. Pain is pain, no matter how it measures up against someone else’s. Our feelings will not go away simply because we decide they are unjustified. Instead, we begin to feel guilt and shame about having the feelings, and our unattended suffering grows. When we feel ashamed of our feelings, we don’t honor them, and we don’t honor ourselves. And here’s the most surprising part: when we don’t honor our own feelings of pain and disappointment, we can’t honor the pain of others either. The mistaken belief behind comparative suffering is that our ability to express empathy is finite. We believe that if we show ourselves empathy by allowing our feelings to surface, we won’t have enough empathy left to share with others. 

In reality, the way to healing is just the opposite. When we practice empathy with ourselves, we create space for more empathy. The surest way to nurture your reserve of compassion and empathy for others is to attend to your own feelings. Everyone deserves to feel their feelings. When we’ve attended to our own feelings without shame, we open our attention outward, and become more emotionally available to others. When we honor our own struggle by responding with empathy, healing results, and that healing affects all of us. Until we can receive empathy with an open heart, we are not able to give with an entirely open heart. 

We collectively hurting. Most of us are carrying extra burdens right now, and yes, some of those are heavier than others. Let’s honor each other by releasing ourselves from the shame of comparative suffering. We can have gratitude for our blessings, while still acknowledging that our hardships exist. We can keep our pain, fear and frustration in perspective, but permit ourselves to express those feelings. 

Here are 3 healthy ways to attend to your own feelings:

  • Check in with yourself once a day. Ask yourself how you are feeling. Make space for your answer. This is not a place for judgement. Be compassionate with yourself. If you are not feeling well, accept that answer. Use a journal to record your response to your daily check-in. If you don’t love to express yourself with words, use art. Draw or paint your response. It can be as brief or as detailed as you like. There is no wrong answer to your question.
  • Choose a somatic healing skill that works for you. Calming your body helps to calm your brain. Take three deep abdominal breaths from the diaphragm, take a quiet walk in the woods or a park, soak in a warm tub, connect your bare feet to the earth outside, or do a gentle yoga practice. When your body feels calm and safe, your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that helps to calm you after stress) turns on to tell your brain that are okay. 
  • Offer yourself what you need. If you just need a quiet hour to yourself, take it. If you need a day off work, make the arrangements. If you need to turn off the news for a few days, turn it off. The world will keep turning. If doing any of these things requires someone else’s help (ie. childcare, etc), ask for that help. You are worthy of others’ time and empathy. 

We can all make this challenging year just a bit less difficult if we honor ourselves by acknowledging our own suffering, without comparison. Find ways to show yourself empathy this week. We will all benefit.  

*****

Want to learn more about comparative suffering? I recommend listening to Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us, episode “Comparative Suffering, The 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball.” https://brenebrown.com/podcast...

To book an appointment with Rebecca, click here.


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Tags:

  • anxiety
  • counseling
  • depression
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • resilience
  • self help
  • self-care
  • solution focused
  • stress

​National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Information and Support

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National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Information and Support

Blog by Ashley Simpson, LCSW at Agape Therapy Institute

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a month for survivors, advocates, activists, and loved ones to get together, to stay educated, and to spread information about services for folks to get help. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) researches the prevalence of domestic violence in each state and nationwide. They report “In the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually” and “1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime with ‘IPV-related impact’ such as being concerned for their safety, PTSD symptoms, injury, or needing victim services.” 

Some things to know about domestic violence:

Types of Abuse:

  • Physical - hitting, pushing, choking...
  • Sexual - rape, molestation, forced viewing of sexual material/acts....
  • Emotional - put downs, name calling, blaming,  shaming...
  • Power & Control - manipulation, gas lighting, see more below...

Power and control are often the most common, and most misunderstood, aspects of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence is about power and control. Ways that abusers maintain control can be: controlling who their partner is allowed to see or talk to, monitoring phone and/or internet access, controlling money, keeping identification documents, using children in fights (ex: “If you leave me I will take the kids and you’ll never see them again!”)

Getting Help:

Thanks to the Violence Against Women Act that was passed in 1994, there are more services and protections for survivors. Some resources are:

  • Call: 1-800-799-7233(SAFE)
  • Text: TTY: 1-800-787-3224
  • Specific for teens/young adults:
    Website: Loveisrespect.org
    Call/Text: 1-866-331-9474

**A SAFETY note here. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, be sure to clear your browser history after accessing any information about domestic violence. The most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is when they are attempting to leave. This is due to the abuser feeling a sense of loss of their power and control over you.

Support:

If you are a survivor, there are ways to tell your story, get connected with other survivors, and to get linked up with advocacy groups.

  • Individual Therapy - This is a safe place to process what you are going through, and/or what you have survived. There is power in telling your story and processing what has happened and what you have overcome. You may have symptoms due to the trauma you experienced and therapy is a great way to start coping with and alleviating these symptoms. We have experienced therapists here at Agape Therapy Institute and you can book an appointment on our website agapementalhealth.org. There are also therapists available on psychologytoday.com.
  • Support Groups - Support groups are a wonderful way to tell your story and to connect with other survivors and hear their stories. If the group is led by a licensed clinician you also have the benefit of learning some coping skills to deal with symptoms you may be experiencing due to the trauma you survived. There are many support groups for domestic violence and relationships on psychologytoday.com. Under “Get Help” there is a category on the far left “Talk to Someone”, and under that heading is “Support Groups”.
  • Advocacy Groups - Joining an advocacy group can be a way to use your voice and your power to help others. Helping others is a proven way to regain a sense of optimism, hope, and self-esteem. You can be trained to be a peer support person through thehotline.org. **Note: Make sure that before joining an advocacy group you have processed your own trauma. We cannot help others before we first help ourselves. Remember the oxygen mask metaphor. You must first put on your oxygen mask before you help another person to put on theirs. 

With the national and state statistics as high as they are, it is highly likely that we all know someone, or are that someone, who has experienced interpersonal violence. Being informed about the ways to get help is the first step towards helping yourself or someone else. Reach out, safely. There are people waiting and ready for your call. 

To book an appointment with Ashley Simpson, LCSW, click here.


"Woman Crying" Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Posted in:

  • National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Tags:

  • codependency
  • community
  • counseling
  • depression
  • domestic violence
  • healing
  • mental health
  • psychotherapy
  • relationships
  • resilience
  • self help
  • self-care
  • solution focused
  • stress
  • trauma

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