Thoughtful Therapy

  Helping women find freedom and peace



January 2017 Goal Check-In

Posted on 10 January, 2017 at 8:00 Comments comments (12277)

It's been a week since you set goals for the new year. How is it going so far?

Do you find yourself as excited as you were when you first decided what you wanted to achieve? Or is your interest already starting to wane?

Don't give up! Take it a day at a time and just keep going. Revise your goals as needed, and set yourself up for success.

Remember: set SMART goals.






Welcome, 2017!

Posted on 3 January, 2017 at 8:00 Comments comments (2992)

The new year is here! Welcome, 2017! Many are excited for you to make your entrance. I have heard and read many people say they are glad to see the back of 2016. It was quite a year, both positively and negatively, depending on your perspective and personal experiences.

A fresh, new year is a great time to start on new goals or make progress on old ones.

The SMART system of goal-setting can be a helpful way to increase your success at goal-meeting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Specific: Ask yourself questions such as

Who is doing this? (Presumably, you)

What do I want to accomplish?

Where will this happen?

When will it happen?

How will it happen?

Why is it important? (Benefits, purpose, or reason for accomplishment of said goal)

Some of these questions also address the other elements of SMART, which is okay, and just means you are a little ahead of the game.

Measurable: How will you know when you get there? How much or how many is/are required? Setting target dates or small milestones, in addition to a big finish, can give you boosts of satisfaction along the way and help you stay on track.

Attainable: Is it possible for you to achieve this goal? Is this goal about yourself? It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make someone else responsible for meeting your goal. They don't have nearly the attachment to it or control over it that you do.

Realistic: Is this goal something you are willing and able to work for? Your goal should stretch and motivate you, but not overwhelm you. An unrealistic goal sets you up for failure instead of success, and when you don't achieve what you wanted to, your self image takes a hit, often causing you to feel lower than you did before you started. Take care to accurately assess your commitment to your goal.

Time-bound: What is your time frame for accomplishment of this goal? When do you aim to be finished? "Someday" is unlikely to be a strong enough motivator to help you meet your goals. A deadline helps you narrow your focus and adds a sense of urgency to the mix, meaning that you are more likely to reach your goal!

Some sample goals:

Vague: I will get in shape.

SMART: I will join a gym and work out four days a week to lose 10 pounds by April 1st.

Vague: I will increase my business contacts.

SMART: I will attend two networking events per month, follow up with the people I meet there within one week of the event, and continue to build relationships with them by contacting them once a month.

Vague: I'm going to be a better person.

SMART: I will volunteer at the animal shelter for two Saturdays a month, and speak kindly to the people I meet there refraining from making snarky comments that hurt people's feelings.

Five Benefits of Counseling

Posted on 18 August, 2015 at 9:00 Comments comments (3461)

You've had some issues come up for you recently. Maybe they are things you haven't thought about in a long time, or maybe they pop into your mind a lot. But, you're tired of living this way. You're tired of thinking this way. Something has to change. You are thinking about talking to someone. You feel like you have worn your friends out on this stuff already and don't want to be a "Debbie Downer." Or you have kept it all inside because you don't think anyone will understand. This is a time when talking to a counselor may be helpful, but you wonder what the benefits of counseling are.

Below are several benefits of counseling. This is not an exhaustive list.

Confidentiality. When you talk to a counselor, your conversation remains confidential. While there are certain exceptions to this (a main one being threat of suicide), it is rare that a counselor must break confidentiality, and in that case it is for your safety. Behind this closed door you can feel free to share whatever is on your mind, whatever is bothering you. This is a safe place.

No Judgment. Your counselor will listen to you without judging you. I find that clients are often concerned about what I will think of something they have done or something that happened to them. It's safe to share even those things you don't want to tell anyone about. Counselors have heard many, many stories and situations, and are used to surprises from clients. Sometimes it takes a client months to decide they feel safe enough to share, but when they do, they find it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.

Active Listening. Your counselor is actively listening to what you say. They are paying attention to you and processing what you tell them. This is so they can validate your feelings, or even help you name feelings you weren't sure of or aware of. This also helps your counselor make connections in your story, pointing out patterns and themes in the narrative of your life that can give you insights and raise your awareness. Some clients have told me that a counseling session is the first time they felt like anyone was listening to them.

Non-biased feedback. Your counselor can help you draw conclusions from and make connections in your story. They can help you see another perspective and consider how others involved may have felt in the same situation. They can also offer challenges to your own behavior that help you gain insight into how you might handle things differently next time. Because the counselor is not emotionally involved in your story, they are able to see things through a different lens, not colored by any one person's point of view.

Feel Better. It can feel so good to talk something out. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to process it. Other times it's nice to have someone else agree with you or challenge you. When you work through the issue you are dealing with, a weight lifts off your shoulders. You begin to understand more about yourself and others. You clean out wounds from the past that are festering and throw off problems that are holding you back.

The point of living life is to move forward. We frequently (constantly?) encounter obstacles that impede our forward momentum, but we still have to go on. Often we may have to stop and tend to wounds before this can happen. How can you run with an infection? You can't. At least, not very well. That's where counseling comes in. Counseling can help clean out the wound so you can go on, go forward, like you are meant to do.

I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No

Posted on 11 August, 2015 at 9:00 Comments comments (1777)

Remember the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma!? It's one of my favorites. Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie sings a song near the beginning of the musical called "I Can't Say No." While the song is really about saying no to kisses from boys, the first few lines could apply to quite a few of us is many other situations:

I'm just a girl who can't say no,

I'm in a terrible fix!

I always say, "come on, let's go!"

Just when I oughta say, "Nix!"

Does this describe you? Do you say yes when you know you should say no, just to keep the guilt from setting in? Do you frequently find yourself agreeing to some task or another, a volunteer opportunity, one more [carpool, bake sale, PTA meeting, fundraiser, etc], when what you really want to say is, "NO!"? Do you envy others who seem to be able to turn down one of these "opportunities" without feeling guilty? Do you worry about hurting someone's feelings by turning them down?

Good news! You, too, can set boundaries and say no without guilt! Just imagine: You agree to tasks you enjoy. You spend more time with your family. You still help others, but you do it when it works for you. You don't have to overschedule anymore.

Place a high value on your time and schedule it.

Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's. You are allowed to be in control of your schedule. Make a schedule of all the activities you participate in each day and each week. This includes anything you are involved in, such as lunch with a friend, carpool, meetings, date night, work, time with the kids, etc. This will let you see any pockets of time that may be available, as well as when you are overscheduled. Use this information as you consider whether or not to join in, commit to, or add on.

Remember that saying no is not personal.

You are setting appropriate boundaries when you turn down something you don't have time to do well. It's not a personal attack or slight to anyone else, and it doesn't have to do with anyone else. This is how to walk away without feeling guilty or worrying about hurting feelings. Don't let yourself take on the responsibility for how someone else feels or what someone else thinks you should do. That is about them, not you.

Don't give in to peer pressure.

Just because Debbie and Susie are helping doesn't mean you have to do it, too. If you think it sounds fun and you have time, great! Go for it! But if it's just one more thing to fit in between carting the kids to soccer practice and getting dinner on the table, maybe it's okay to sit this one out. There will always be a next time.

Let your no mean no.

When you agree to do something, commit, follow through, and do it. But when you say no, don't later give in and say yes. If you do this, people will not believe you when you turn them down. They will think they can coax you into a yes if they keep asking. Because it worked in the past. Be kind, but firm when you abstain.

Try the broken record technique.

If you find that you have difficulty getting others to accept your no, use the broken record technique. Come up with a phrase and repeat it until the other person stops asking. See example below.

Super Pushy Person: We really need another volunteer for this weekend's school fun fair! Can you help out?

You (already knowing the weekend is half booked with activities, and planning to use the other half to relax with the family): No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

SPP: But it's only all day Saturday! Can't you come for at least a little while?

You: No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

SPP: But we really need you!

You: No, I can't help this time. We already have plans.

Hopefully, by this point, SPP is getting it that you are not giving in. You can change your tone of voice as needed, from, say, wistful regret, to matter-of-fact, to kind and firm, but don't give in after already saying no.

Saying no when you need to can change your life. You can stop feeling guilty and being disappointed with yourself for not following through. You can take back control of your schedule. You can feel powerful making good decisions about your time.