Coaching and Therapy

I have recently started a success coaching practice in order to help people get to the next level in their careers, relationships, and life fulfillment. Below, I wanted to explain a little about my theory behind this new program and my attraction to coaching.  

People usually seek out a therapist or a coach for different reasons: They may go into therapy because they feel like they need to be fixed, whereas they may go into coaching in order to build upon their strengths.

People are innately good, with a natural desire to be productive and the ability to be successful. When we are not creating the kind of life we want, it is not because there is something inherently wrong with us, it is because we have not yet figured out how to tap into the potential already present within us.

As a therapist, I have helped people tap into that potential for ten years. I have noticed that people often arrive with a presenting issue --“I have panic attacks,” “I am unable to get along with my spouse,” “I do not like my job”-- that we are able to quickly fix.

But my clients stay with me after the "problem" is fixed because as soon as a level of inner peace is attained by getting rid of the "problem," a whole new level of aspirations and desires open up.

Do you notice that whenever we achieve a goal in our careers, relationships, or recreation, our minds immediately come up with a new goal? So sometimes we don’t take the time to appreciate what we have achieved.

Because humans are naturally productive, I never worry about directly motivating people. Instead, I help people get clear about what they want in life, uncover the blocks that prevent them from achieving their goals and help them stop to reflect on the progress they are making. They take the time to feel great about the life they are creating, which fuels the passion inside of them to reach their next set of goals, hence maximizing their motivation and sense of fulfillment simultaneously.

My new role as coach is really no different than what I have been doing for my entire career. As a coach though, my clients get the added bonus of a structured curriculum, a focus on success and achievement from the start, and my passion as their partner to help them live better.

How to Deal with Transitions

1) Accept that you will have some feelings.

Every transition brings with it a multitude of feelings including fear, but we tend to resist our feelings of fear by talking to ourselves negatively or denying that those feelings exist. The way to move through feelings is to identify them, accept them without judgment, and then they begin to move through us.

What are the feelings you have about the next phase of life?
 

2) Have a positive outlook.

Our mind tends to focus on our weaknesses and what is wrong with our life, in order to combat this we must gently redirect ourselves towards a positive outlook. (The fatal mistake in this step is to beat ourselves up for not being more positive instead of having empathy for ourselves that is step is extremely challenging).

What are the qualities you have that make you more confident that you will succeed?

What are you grateful and excited about for the future?
 

3) Identify the worst case scenario.

When we are having a big moment of fear, it is helpful to take that fear to the ultimate end in order to know we will be okay no matter what.

What is the worst case scenario and how will you work through it?
 

4) Look for the next growth steps.

Instead of viewing the parts of ourselves that we are not done growing yet as weaknesses, take a proactive role in becoming the best version of yourself. We all have stuff we can become better at.

What are the skills you are worried you don’t have yet?

What are the small steps you can take to develop them?
 

5) Ask for help.

It is important to surround yourself with people that will lift you up and support your goals and dreams. You might go to different people at different times depending on what you need in each specific moment.

Who are the people in your life that help you to achieve your goals?

What does each specific person in your life give you?
 

6) Define what success is.

We cannot achieve success unless we have defined it in great detail.

Define what success is for you, so that you can give yourself credit when you have achieved it.

SHOULDS & HAVE TOS...

As a teenager I spent a large part of my day hating life. Everything seemed pointless and hopeless, and I could not imagine ever feeling different. 

I often fantasized about suicide. I was prescribed sleeping pills by a doctor and instead of taking them every night I saved them in case I got to the point where I wanted out. But, the truth was I did not want to die, I wanted the power to be free. 

I felt trapped by life's shoulds and have tos. I had to wake up and go to school every day. I had to do my homework. I had to hang out with kids my own age even if I thought I couldn't connect to any of them. I had to spend time with my family. I had to get a job. The things that I felt I should and had to do were not horrible, but I felt the rest of my life was going to be a forced march towards a meaningless, stressful, depressing existence. 

My parents sent me to group therapy. One day we did an exercise where everyone wrote down on a piece of paper what they thought the person needed to know to make his/her life better. When it was my turn, everyone wrote down the exact same thing: you are a victim of your life! These words hit be like a ton of bricks; I had survived all of these difficult experiences in my life, and considered myself strong, not a victim. 

I went home and thought, they don't understand all that I have been through. I am going to take my pills, and then they will see how they hurt me. But then as I calmed myself, and looked over my notes again.,I realized these people are my friends, and so they are probably trying to tell me something valuable...and then it came to me I DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING I DONT WANT TO DO, and I can do anything I want to do. I flushed my sleeping pills right then. 

I realized I did not need a death option to be free, I was already free. From this moment on I took should and have to out of my vocabulary. It was a challenging fight considering how deeply embedded these words were in my way of thinking, but I attribute this philosophy change with the joy I now feel on a daily basis.

The fear is that if we are not pressuring ourselves with shoulds and have tos, then we will not be living productive, meaningful lives. I have found with myself and my clients the opposite is true. The more we allow ourselves the freedom to choose what we want in our lives, the more motivated we are to become the best version of our selves.

PARENTING A TEENAGER

PARENTING A TEENAGER

A parent's anger at his/her teenager is often

1) Fear that her child won't get what she wants out of life and/or

2) A parent's anger/judgment at himself for not creating what he wanted for his own life (including fear about not being the parent he wants to be)

Parents often complain about not being respected by their teenagers, but teens are often not able to provide "respect" or empathy because they don't have a strong enough sense of self to be able to put themselves in others' shoes, especially their parents, who they are trying to separate from. If a person is not able to love/respect herself, she is not able to give that feeling to others.

If then, the anger is really the ultimate fear that the teenager will not be able to have ambition, follow through, be honest, empathetic (respectful), how do you go about creating that?

1) Be the example: go after things you are passionate about, learn to create joy in life no matter how small, learn to love/respect yourself (this where consistency as a parent comes in- don't draw the line often, but when you do pick something you can enforce, and tell him from a place of love and a desire for him to grow as a person versus as a threat for being a "bad" child) - and if you react in anger, don't be afraid to admit fault and show him what respect/empathy is.

2) Reinforce the positive things with her on a daily basis, have faith in her that  she has the ability to create a beautiful life, so when she looks in your eyes she sees a positive reflection of herself:

- The reason I say this is not to sweep the negative under the rug, but because every time a child is given positive feedback (if it is authentic) that part of her grows a little bit inside. Every time a child is given negative feedback that part of her is anchored inside (i.e. if a parent calls her child a liar over and over, liar starts to become part of her identity).

- Therefore, punishment is used to create a boundary to protect teens or to teach them something, but never used in a way that puts down their self-esteem- this is an extremely difficult task, which is why I say use it as little as possible.

3) Help him in whatever way he'll let you by finding him mentors, searching for programs he might be interested in, taking him job hunting, talking about your experiences and letting him share his.

 

Why do I encourage negotiating with a teenager?

1) It helps them to leave the power struggle and to think about what is best for herself versus how to beat her parent.

2) Teenagers are starting to prepare for being adults and living on their own. The teens that didn't have enough freedom and practice while living at home tend to be out of control and not know how to self-regulate when they start living in dorms or move out for the first time.

3) I don't believe negotiating with teenagers is giving up your power as a parent because in the end you always have the final say.

4) Giving teens the power to articulate what their needs/wants are allows them to begin looking inside themselves to see what's important and why, which is the beginning of having passion in life.

5) It demonstrates your respect for their opinion and desires, which is a characteristic desired in return. To create respect you must make your child feel respected and he will respect you back.

MANAGING ANXIETY & PANIC ATTACKS

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in America. Why? Because we have been taught to fear our fear. In our society, it is not okay to feel fear. We view being scared as a weakness and tend to talk ourselves, and others out of it.

Imagine a friend comes to you and is nervous about starting a new job, a common response to their fear is, "There is nothing to be scared about, you'll be fine." The message being given by this response is that there is something wrong with being afraid. This can leave your friend feeling invalidated and hence judging herself for having the feeling. If we allow our friend instead to feel the fear and ask her what she needs, she is more likely to move through her fear. 

Anxiety is the effect of being stuck in the emotion of fear and trying to keep it at bay. The more we try to prevent feeling fear, the more fear grows. The following are some steps that can help you deal with anxiety: 

1) Validate that fear is a normal part of human existence.

2) Bring yourself back to the present moment.

3) Figure out what you are actually afraid of. 

4) Calm the fears surrounding your anxiety. 

 

1: Validate that fear is a normal part of human existence

Fear is a normal part of human existence. Often what compounds anxiety, at times taking people to the level of panic attacks, is judgment about their own anxiety. People say things to themselves like, "I suffer from anxiety," identifying themselves as  anxious people. When we believe that our personality is anxious, every time we become the slightest bit fearful, we will over-focus on those symptoms instead of looking at the ways in which we can calm our fears. Conversely others may say, "I have nothing to be anxious about." This statement devalues our fear, not allowing us to be able to calm it. Not only is the person scared about whatever he is scared about, but he is also angry at himself for feeling this way. If you are mad at yourself for feeling anxious, it is impossible to cope with the fear, leaving you stuck in anxiety. 

 

2: Bring yourself back to the present moment.

Bring yourself back to the present moment. Once you have gotten rid of your judgment about your anxiety, the next step is to know anxiety is fear of the future. To immediately calm anxiety or a panic attack, bring yourself back to the present moment. It is nearly impossible to feel anxious in the moment because ninety-nine times out of a hundred what is making you anxious is not what is happening right now, but what you fear is going to happen. So how can we bring ourselves back to the present moment? There are a number of different ways, and it is important you experiment until you find what works for you. Some examples include: 

1. meditation (the art of clearing your mind of the actual thoughts making you anxious)

2. allowing your friends to distract you

3. concentrating on your breathing - inhale and exhale into the belly

4. doing an activity that gives you pleasure and forces you to focus (i.e. taking a walk, listening to music, stretching/yoga, dance, gardening)

5. working out

6. tightening and loosening your muscles starting from your toes and moving up your body

Furthermore, the greater the level of anxiety, the more simple the activity you choose to calm yourself with should be. For example, when having a panic attack start with trying to bring your body back to normal functioning: find the position that makes you the most comfortable (i.e. laying on the floor), focus on your breathing, count 3 seconds in for an inhale and 3 seconds out for the exhale and/or drink water slowly while in a crouched position (which will slow your heart rate down). Finally, keep telling yourself, "I will be okay."

 

3: Figure out what you are actually afraid of.

Figure out the thoughts creating your anxiety. Once you have brought yourself back to the moment and are in a calmer state, it is time to create long term coping strategies for the anxiety. In order to begin this process, you have to identify the thoughts that are creating fear for you. Most people say, "There are no thoughts, I'm just really anxious." However, it is impossible to have these feelings without thoughts about the future. Sometimes these thoughts can be hard to find because they have been ignored and /or denied for years, so it important to give yourself time and space to figure them out. One of the best ways to do this is to make a list of all the things that could potentially be making you anxious, then read through this list one item at a time, slowly, to see if your body reacts to any of them. Once you know what is making you scared, you can begin to cope with it.

 

4: Calm the fears surrounding your anxiety.

Calm the fears surrounding your anxiety. Once you identify your fear thoughts, it is important to validate them for yourself. Life is full of many scary things and in our society people often think themselves weak or vulnerable for feeling this fear. Actually, the opposite is true: if individuals are able to see what they are anxious about, not judge themselves, and then calm themselves around those fears, they move through them quickly. The trick is to talk to yourself as if you were calming a kindergartener's fears. We often know how to be loving and empathetic when it comes to others, but don't apply the same rule to ourselves. When we are little, it is our parents and the other adults in our lives' job to help us cope with our feelings. Some people have adults in their lives that are very good at this. When these people become older and it is time for them to calm themselves, the voice in their heads is already soft, sweet and caring. Others are not raised by people who know how to calm fears, and so when these individuals become older they have to spend time building a voice that is calming and compassionate. Most of us have a mixture of both, and the key to becoming a calm, centered and high functioning person is to work on figuring out what voices in our heads are productive and help us reach our goals, and at the same time to calm the voices that keep us stuck and fill us with fear.

BUILDING COMMUNICATION

BUILDING COMMUNICATION

Thoughts (Beliefs, Values, Opinions, Morals)

Feelings (Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared)

 

Open:

- active listening, reflect back thoughts/feelings of other

- ask other questions to fully understand their position

- empathy (feeling what the other feels. whether or not you agree with their thoughts, you can always feel what they feel)

- expressing fear, sadness, or happiness

 

Closed:

- arguing with other about their thoughts,

- waiting to say your point instead of trying to understand theirs or taking the ball and talking about self nonstop

- judgment (deciding what the other feels is not valid)

- expressing anger, frustration, or irritation

How to Choose a Therapist

Recently while sitting down for lunch with a friend, he asked me how to know whether he had picked a good therapist. I realized that for many years I have been advising my friends to interview multiple therapists before settling on one, but I had never elaborated on what the goal of that interview was…

Before I became a therapist myself, I assumed that if someone worked hard and met all of the requirements to become a therapist than she or he was probably good at the job. But then when I went to graduate school in Marriage and Family Therapy I was in for a shock. Honestly, I would not want to seek help from many of my classmates.

I realized that an important part of what makes someone helpful to others is their having worked through their own life struggles to become a centered, confident, compassionate, happy person. Unfortunately, some people are attracted to becoming therapists because for them it is easier to focus on other people’s challenges than their own.  In other words, if I focus on you, than I do not have to look at my own feelings of unhappiness and fear.  So how then can you tell whether a therapist has done his/her own work and is a good fit for you?


1) Feeling Understood is the first thing to look for when choosing a therapist. Not all therapists are going to give you spectacular life-changing advice in the first session, but if the therapist is the right fit, you should feel listened to and empathized with early on in your relationship. A person cannot help you to grow if they do not “get” you first.


2) Therapist Adaptability is a sign that the therapist has done their own emotional work. As a client, you should be able to ask for what feels good to you in the therapy sessions. Some people like concrete advice, others like to be asked questions that help them come up with their own answers, other people just want to be listened to, and still others like to feel connected to the therapist by knowing a little about their personal life. Some don’t want to know anything about their therapist’s life. You should be able to verbalize those preferences and be able to ask for changes as your relationship progresses as well.  As you verbalize your needs and preferences, it should feel as though you and the therapist are collaborating, each offering your own perspectives to create the best potential for growth within you. 


3) Intuition is the most important assessment tool you have in deciding who you want to be friends with, who you want to do business with, who you can trust with your secrets, and who can babysit your children. It is also the final and best tool for deciding who is helpful to you in becoming the best version of you. Clients don’t always leave therapy sessions feeling “better,” because sometimes emotions that are not yet worked through are brought up, but overall your gut should be telling you that you are growing and seeing a greater perspective about your life.

How does the Law of Attraction REALLY work?

A movie called "The Secret" came out several years ago. The premise of the movie was that putting your desires out into the universe attracts those objects or achievements to you. You can manifest what you want in the world. Many people, including me, created a "dream board" based on this premise. A dream board is a collage of all the things that you would like to attract into your life, such as a trip to Tahiti, or a fit body, or a boyfriend. 

However, in spite of creating my dream board, and repeating over and over that I would like to have more money and meet the love of my life, nothing happened. My desires did not manifest. Through investigation and reflection, I realized 4 things...

1) The process of manifesting is happening all the time, not just when you stop to consciously do it.

So if I spent 90% of the day worrying about money problems, and 10% of the day envisioning more money coming to me, I would unintentionally repel money. To avoid this problem, I learned to keep myself in a positive thinking state by being grateful for the life I already had. The more I felt fulfilled by my current life, the less dependent I was on it changing, which allowed me to be excited for the future.

2) It is important to dream things that you actually believe can happen and to be specific.

Instead of saying I want more money, I pictured myself on my dream surf vacation. I imagined how excited and free I would feel, how I would meet new people and would be filled with confidence and laughter. Specificity helps the process because…

3) The key to manifesting is to really imagine the feeling of having whatever you are trying to attract to you.

So, if I wanted a boyfriend it was important that I spend time imagining feeling the love I would receive from that relationship. When I became anxious about not getting what I wanted, I unintentionally interacted with men from the fear that they wouldn't like me. But as I practiced bringing myself back to a place of excitement to meet the man of my dreams, many more opportunities to meet him presented themselves.

4) It takes action to make things happen.

Instead of just daydreaming about having more money, I looked for opportunities to build my business. I consulted a business coach, I updated my website, and I talked to everyone I met about my goals and dreams. Instead of waiting for Mr. Right to show up, I online dated and said "yes" to every social event I was invited to. Each week I put energy into what I wanted to create.

In the end, I got everything I wanted and more. I went on an amazing surf trip in Bali; I was handed money that I did not expect; it became easy for me to motivate myself to work out, and I fell in love with the man of my dreams.

Those things were all awesome, but looking back, I realize that what I really wanted was the feeling that came from working to achieve the things I was trying to manifest. The process of manifesting-- feeling grateful for what I already had, being specific about what I wanted, imagining the feeling of having my desires, and taking real action-- made me feel at peace, grateful, confident and hopeful.

How to meet the love of your life

How to meet the love of your life

A teenage client requested that I write a blog about how to attract the opposite sex, and so this is my story and insight gleamed from years of being in the dating world.

I was someone who was always fantasized about the possibility of love but was petrified that I could never have it. I would say things to myself like, “I am too shy to meet anyone; I don’t look like what men are attracted to; there is no one out there who is going to get who I am as a person; I don’t like going to bars so how can I possibly meet anyone,” and the list went on and on. After years of alternating between putting myself out there and shying away from the idea of ever meeting anyone, I met the man of my dreams. He is smart, successful, funny, compassionate and, he completely loves and adores me. I am writing this blog because I want to instill hope in all of you doubters out there; I truly believe that by taking a few simple steps, love is possible for all of you.

A good friend of mine once described falling in love as the experience of falling in love with yourself, and I would argue that this is the true. We can only expect to feel another’s love as deeply as we love ourselves. Therefore, the key to opening yourself up to falling in love is to learn to truly love yourself.

STEP 1: 

I started this process by making a list of my strengths and the qualities that I could bring into a loving relationship. I then proceeded to read this list on a daily basis to reinforce my good feelings about myself.

STEP 2: 

I looked in the mirror every morning when I got out of the shower, and made the decision to appreciate the beautiful parts my body instead of picking apart what I thought was wrong or imperfect about it.

STEP 3: 

I then made a list of all the things about me that could be potential problems with my future mate. With each thing I wrote on this list, I had compassion for myself, just as I would any friend (because everyone has their stuff). Then from a place of love and acceptance for myself, I picked one thing to work on for a specific period of time depending on how big it was. I started by working on my shyness. I made it a goal to start conversations with people I met in the world. I noticed the more I pushed myself to work on these things, the less scared I was that these things would be an issue.

STEP 4: 

I set the goal to become the best version of myself and to open myself to the possibility of love. I decided when negative thoughts came into my mind about the impossibility of love that I would redirect them to focusing on the beautiful parts of me. As I loved myself more and more, I realized that I could create an amazing life with or without a romantic partner. The reason this last part is so important is that others can sense desperation, and when you walk into a situation needing love versus wanting it, others can feel your fear, and it can prevent them from seeing the whole, confident, unique you.

STEP 5: 

I knew there would be a higher likelihood of meeting someone, the more I put myself out there. I said yes to practically everything I was invited to especially if it was a) something I would not normally do, and b) I had the potential to meet new people while doing it. I also signed up for online dating which gave me the opportunity to practice connecting to all different types of people. I showed up to these events and dates with the goal simply to have fun and connect to new people.

Through this process, I discovered not only the love of my life, but even more valuable a deep love for myself, and I hope it can do the same for you. If you have any questions or comments feel free to write me at jesseg333@aol.com.

Better Than, Less Than

Do you ever notice how we are in a constant state of comparison?

“She is better than me at dressing fashionably.” 
“I am smarter than him.” 
“I would never talk to someone using the tone of voice she did.” 
“I am different than other people, I am not shallow.” 
“Nobody has difficulty expressing themselves like I do.”

These are just a few examples of the kind of running dialogue in our minds all of the time.

 

What is the problem with that?

The problem with constant comparison is that it creates distance instead of closeness. It keeps us from genuinely connecting to others and to ourselves. The times when we stop comparing ourselves to others are the times we are able to relate to others, feel our similarities, and empathize with them. Love is true acceptance of ourselves and the people we are trying connect to.

Is it possible to motivate ourselves to reach our full potential without constant comparison?

When we give up constant comparison and simply ask ourselves, from moment to moment, who we want to be, we can connect to others and accomplish practically anything.

WHY MEDITATE?

WHY MEDITATE?

I used to cringe at the idea of meditating. My mom began meditating during my teen years, and since I had the mindset that whatever she believed was beneficial I was going to do the opposite, I decided meditation was for hippy dippy weirdos. Also, the mere idea of meditating made me extremely anxious. I felt like if I was told to sit in quiet for even 5 minutes, my mind would take over and I would combust. Then over time the more I read about finding fulfillment and peace, the more meditation came up as a necessary tool. So one day when I was having an anxious day, I called my mom and she happened to be on the way to a meditation class. She said, "why don't you meet me there and we can have lunch after." In my desperation I got in the car, and while in class, I sat with  my eyes closed and cried the entire time.  As someone who had difficulty letting go and letting the tears flow, I felt like a weight was lifted. I started attending the class weekly. Even though it still caused part of me anxiety to think about meditating, another part of me liked the idea of having quiet time set aside every week to sit with my thoughts and feelings. I began controlling my mind instead of my mind controlling me. Getting this control didn't come easy. My mind would say to me: "I don't want to sit still and do nothing for an hour,"or "I have a lot of work to do," or "this isn't helping me I still have no control." But the more I resisted going, the more I felt like making the commitment to go. Anything that was so simple to do, but scared me so much felt like it needed to be conquered. Over time, meditation felt good. My mind talked to me less and less. And the less my mind talked, the more control over my life I had.  I thought that if I stopped listening to my mind, I would be less productive and centered, but the exact opposite occurred. Through meditation I found that I could focus for longer periods of time; tasks that felt difficult to start became easy to complete, and most of all the sense of fulfillment and peace I felt in my life grew to a magnitude that I could never imagine attaining.

MOTIVATION

MOTIVATION

For the decisions we make in our lives, both big and small, many of us are motivated by the desire to avoid pain. We may think, for example:

"If I don't make a lot of money, I will feel worthless."

"If I do not quit smoking, I will get cancer."

"If I do not visit my family, I will feel guilty." 


    But motivation from the negative is a recipe for unhappiness. 

    Many people wonder, though, “If I give up my feelings of obligation, how will I motivate myself to get anything done?” One approach is to re-contextualize the source of your motivation. Instead of making decisions based upon avoidance, begin to envision positive outcomes related to those choices. For example:

    "I want to work hard at my job because I am excited about going on the vacation of my dreams."

    "I want to quit smoking because I love to feel in great physical condition."

    "I am going to have dinner with my family because I like feeling close to them."

    Making decisions based on how our actions will benefit and better us actually increases motivation. We become more loving to ourselves and to those around us. We talk to others and ourselves from a calm, loving place. Motivation from the positive gives us permission to breathe deeply and become excited about the future.

    Sometimes people hesitate at this point and say to me, “You’re right. I should talk to myself in a more loving way. I should want to connect more to my family. I should want to be healthier. But I just don't feel it.”

    It is important to be careful with this kind of thinking. Guilt tripping oneself is a trap. People may flip back and forth between feeling upset at the world for obligating them to do things, and then feeling bad themselves for not wanting to do them. This process replaces one negative thought with another.

    Let me let you in on a secret: The old way you were motivating yourself is not wrong. In fact, it was very useful. It got you to this point where you are in life right now. And now you are ready for change.

    What are the things you like about your life? You created them. When changing a motivational system, first acknowledge and appreciate the way you operated before. It got you where you are today. Then, tell yourself in a loving tone, “I know that making choices in order to avoid pain has gotten us to where we are, but I am ready now to reach for more happiness in my life. I want to try this new method of coping, okay Self?” And with your own permission, you begin to change, one decision at a time.