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Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Based on the title you may be thinking that these things are totally un-related, but you’re here, so thank you!  I lead a group therapy session a couple of times a week with about 10 attendees and the topic of animals and our connection to them recently came up.  We discussed different kinds of therapy approaches, like dog therapy, or equine therapy for example.  The same day I had a friend bring this topic up, which I figure is enough for me to write down some thoughts, since this is something I have experience with.   The interesting part is corporate training, personal development and equine therapy, are in fact, connected.

A few years ago I went through the process of getting certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  This association is the international leader in equine training specifically for mental health and personal development purposes.  What this means is that they certify psychotherapists and horse professionals, to work together to facilitate different kinds of experiential learning. These experiences can be for the purposes of individual development, individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy or corporate/group training.

So the question may be, what one thing has to do with the other?  For someone that has never seen this process unfold, it may not seem like a relevant fit.  The way horses and horse professionals can help to work through challenges with individuals or a group, is essentially through observation.  For example, a typical Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) session, consists of the facilitators (therapist and horse professional) giving the individual or group a task to accomplish with the horse.  This task could be to help move the horse through a gate, move the horse around an object or help a horse move in a direction without touching it. There are many activities/tasks that can be implemented but they are all ground activities, not requiring the participant to ride the horse.

During and after these activities both the therapist and horse professional make observations of how the person or people are engaging with the horse and each other.   What shows up here is powerful.  Just like in experiential education, when giving a group a task to accomplish together there are markers that form organically – personality styles, communication style, natural leaders/followers, conflict and/or resolution of conflict etc.  What is most interesting about the EAP/EAL process is that the horse acts as a mirror for behavior and engagement.

During my time training as an EAGALA practitioner I was astounded by how fast things came to the surface through this process.  For instance, when watching a family interact with an animal and attempt a task, it became immediately obvious what kinds of challenges the family had in their communication with each other.  In this example it was easy to see which member wanted to control and override the input from other members of the family.   This created conflict of course and made it more challenging for the family to accomplish the assigned task.  Part of the feedback came from the horse as it experienced the intensity from one individual.  Part of the feedback came from other members as they became frustrated with the challenge of the task, which the horse also reflected.  It was powerful to watch.

So how did their communication styles come up you ask?  This is the value of working through an EAP/EAL program. The response you get from a horse is authentic, immediate and not bound by the same kind of bias that people have.   In addition, the horse professional helps to make observation of behavior of the horse while the therapist observes how the person is engaging.

Horses are able to pick up on the subtleties of behavior and intention because they are sensitive prey animals.   So this means that if there is fear, anger, ease, curiosity or frustration – the horse will give feedback to these emotions/behaviors.   Because the horse is so sensitive it gives immediate clues and reactions to the behaviors and intentions of individuals and groups.  Some of these behaviors would be easily recognized while others are more subtle, which is why it is helpful to have a horse professional present. In the therapeutic context, understanding and processing behaviors and emotions can impact personal development and resolution of some of the challenges.

At this point you may be asking if this type of intervention has any credibility from research. The answer is yes, it absolutely does.   For example, one study found that well-being and reduction in psychological distress immediately improved after EAP and held stable after six months.   For a more detailed look at research as it compares to traditional therapy approaches, consider this article that acts an overview and comparison.

So how does this therapeutic approach have anything to do with corporate training or leadership?  This is where EAL enters the picture.  EAL differs from EAP in that EAL focuses more on education and learning rather than a therapeutic approach of resolving mental health issues or challenges.

In an EAL setting valuable skills can be obtained that would certainly impact the effectiveness of an organization.  For example, often times EAL is done with teams on an organization in order to improve communication skills, leadership or team building.  This process is still facilitated by a mental health professional and horse professional, but the intention is different.

In an EAL session with a team of professionals for instance, a simple task will be given to the team to accomplish with the horse.  This task results in emerging behaviors and communication styles that will then be valuable for the team to later process.  For instance, within a given task there may be leaders that emerge, communication that happens (or doesn’t), response style of collaboration or anger. In addition, there may be partnerships that naturally form on the team that previously did not exist or resentments that manifest that perhaps hadn’t previously.

The same question may emerge regarding efficacy of this particular kind of experiential education.  One of the more interesting pieces of research on EAL has to do with Emotional Intelligence, a current point of focus in many leadership and team building approaches.   This research is a great review of the field of EAL as well as Emotional Intelligence. The research found positive results for EAL as an intervention for improving Emotional Intelligence.

So, as we’ve seen, horses, therapy and leadership are in fact related!  For more information about EAL and EAP, I recommend visiting the EAGALA website – http://www.eagala.org/.  For more information on Emotional Intelligence as it relates to leadership, consider this article by Daniel Goleman.   If you are interested learning more about this topic or discussing a potential workshop to build team or leadership skills, please contact us!

Keep Learning,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

 

Welcome to my first Vlog!  I may be experimenting with these more in the future.   I was recently featured on an article via Askmen.com titled Ways Relationships are like Business.   I thought this was interesting and a good tie in to the idea of the human side of business, which I often reference.

Please see three tips below on how relationships are like business.

 

I would love some feedback about your experience with the dynamic of relationships and business.  As a spring board for comments, consider answering any of these three questions below –

 

How have you seen the human side of the business you are involved in impact the success or struggle of that business?

What other examples can you provide regarding the commonalities between business and relationships?

What is one thing you would change about the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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The Best Way to Improve Productivity

 

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

There are an endless amount of resources out there for how to improve productivity.  In my search I did not find a definitive answer to the best way to improve productivity.  I think there is an answer to this question though.  The best way to improve productivity….is your way.

Finding out ways to hack your own laziness, distraction or “busy” lifestyle is tricky.  But the most effective way to improve productivity will be the one that is most connected to you.  A place to start when identifying what kinds of practices to experiment with may be the endless lists online, such as this one on – boosting productivity in real life.   As you may notice, I even wrote one of these tips.  The tips and strategies are definitely good to start with.

Experimentation and practice is where the rubber hits the road.  The next step is exploring the strategies in a way that answers the question of – how does those strategy resonate with me?   Using strategies that are most connected to who you are will yield the best results.

There are certainly some exercises and strategies that are more about self-exploration than others.  Here is a short list of strategies that may help to improve productivity, but more importantly offer the opportunity to explore what’s holding you back, and who you are.

Personal Development and Productivity

Take a vacation 

This may seem counter intuitive since taking a vacation is not necessarily the most “productive” of activities. However, letting go of some of the demands and hustle for a few days can help you to re-identify what is truly important, as well as give you a boost of energy when you return.

Create a daily practice

When looking at habits and common traits of successful people, one thing is usually consistent, they have some sort of regular practice. Having a daily practice helps to create mindfulness, discipline and routine – all things that impact productivity.

Practice discipline, everyday

Similar to the daily practice, focusing on ways to practice discipline can help to build routine and productivity in many areas in life. Discipline can be practiced in a number of ways through fitness, healthy eating, work duties, behavior in relationships, self-reflection and many other aspects in life.  The practice of the discipline itself may be just as important as the goal related to it.

Get up and move

You may have heard the recent commentary about sitting being the new smoking. There is substantial research to back up the idea of sedentary lifestyle greatly impacting health, wellbeing and productivity.   Exploring ways that help you to enjoy regular daily movement will make these little breaks easier to commit to and more likely to stick.  Again, this is about personal exploration of what works for you.

Explore your passions and purpose

Understanding what you are passionate about will help in building strategy around all of the previously mentioned tips. If you aren’t sure, that’s ok, start experimenting.  Start with these two questions –

  • What would I love to do every day if I had an unlimited amount of money?
  • If I had unlimited resources and I could only do one thing to help the world, what would it be?

How have you enhanced your own productivity? 

Thanks,

Michael

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Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

 

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

In my experience in working with individuals dealing with depression and anxiety or both, there has been a consistency I have seen.   I hesitate to use the term “always” but certainly often, taking a mind-body approach to depression and anxiety seems to yield positive results, in my experience.   In my own life I have found this to be true also.  I have always felt better when exploring challenges from multiple lenses.  This is not necessarily surprising that long lasting change would be achieved through tackling multiple components of the human experience.

I’m certainly not alone in this belief either.  According to an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, it was found that a multi-modal treatment approach including mindfulness meditation, yoga movement and breathing exercise helped to reduce anxiety and depression in Japanese cancer patients.   In addition, in The Canadian Journal of Psychotherapy there was a study showing the efficacy of using Yoga as a complimentary treatment to psychotherapy in treating depression and anxiety.  These are just a couple of examples of how a mind-body approach can be an effective treatment philosophy.

4 Tips for a Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind your body We now have extensive research to show how lifestyle has such a great impact on our body and mind.  When considering how to care for your body and mind, the basic tenants remain – eat whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.  If someone is experiencing anxiety and depression these lifestyle factors may be harder to work towards. However, when you follow these principles often times there is symptom reduction.  For more information on nutrition, wellness and some great insight into mindset I recommend – The Model Health Show.

 

Talk to someone – If someone is having a particularly hard time it may be valuable to call a therapist or doctor for consult. If you already have a therapist, there may be value in seeing them more regularly during more challenging times.

 

Have compassion – Be patient and have compassion with yourself. During times of depression and anxiety this may be difficult. Remember that there are resources available to you.  Remaining present, compassionate and patient when working towards reducing symptoms is an important strategy.   One way to exercise compassion is doing an exercise in gratitude.

 

Self-Care – Engaging in some sort of regular practice is very important.  This practice can be different for everyone.  However, usually the focus of the practice is related to self-development.  Self-care could be related to physical fitness, meditation, time with loved ones, reflection, intention or any combination of activities that help to de-stress or remain present.

What mind-body practices have you found to be effective in your life?

Be well!

Michael

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The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

I was recently asked to speak about the power of blogging to a group of fellow colleagues who also have private practices.   Upon reflection of my recent history with blogging, I have definitely found it to be very beneficial, in a number of ways.

First of let me say that I am a relatively new blogger.  However, I have done my research.  For instance, I recently read Pat Flynn’s article on how to not be a newbie blogger, and determined that I had been following most of these best practices.   I definitely recommended reading content by people like Pat Flynn to understand how to build a blog.   I have found that there are many strategies, suggestions and best practices when it comes to blogging.  I have also discovered that the power of blogging for me has been somewhat related to my business and some just related to my own personal development.

Consider these aspects of blogging that may be powerful for you and your business –

Blogging to keep up with your specialty and serve your clients

Blogging is a great way to hone your own specialty as a clinician or coach…..or in any industry really.  Blogging can apply to any field because it can be a way to research, keep up on trends and practice explaining concepts.  Blogging can be an additional way to serve through your own self-development as a researcher, writer and communicator.   Blogging helps to push limits of understanding within any concept and continue to dissect and explore ways of communicating particular practices or philosophies.

Hone your writing skills and ability to communicate through blogging

Blogging can help to improve your own ability to communicate.   According to an article in The Journal of CyberPsychology and Behavior, a study showed that blogging has a positive impact on well-being, particularly in perceived social support.   In an article in The International Journal of Information and Educational Technology, it was found that blogging is a potential tool for the development of linguistic skills.

Connecting on social media through blog posts

Connecting on social media can be a little tricky if you don’t have a place to start.  Blogging regularly can be a wonderful conversation starter as well as a way to engage with your friends/followers/audience etc.  Posting regularly on social media about topics you are writing about and engaging in conversations about these topics offers up a way to build an audience and ultimately your own brand.

Blogging for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated thing.  One of many strategies for this is blogging.  Having lots of content on your website around a particular theme can help you to rank higher in google searches and help you reach more people in the long run.  Here are some very basic SEO tips –

  • Adding subheadings
  • Research around specific keywords or phrases and including them in your post
  • Adding pictures, video if an option ( I recommend using Canva for picture alteration)
  • Tagging words and phrases

For a more comprehensive list of tips and SEO strategies I again recommend following Pat Flynn.  Here is a great webinar to get you started. Pat is great!

Guest blogging and feature opportunities

Writing does not have to be limited to your own website.  There are many opportunities to guest blog or be featured on someone else’s website.  Connecting with others within your niche or related niches or fields may lead to blogging exchange and an opportunity to write more and expand your audience.  For instance, I recently met with a health coach and after some discussion we determined that her audience would benefit from an article on How Therapy is Keeping you Stuck.  Even though this person wasn’t in the same field directly, there was still an opportunity to collaborate.

Alternatively, there may be opportunity to get featured on someone’s website.  This may take a bit more collaboration, but certainly possible. For instance, I have been following a consultant for the last eight months or so and implemented some of the strategies that he has recommended which have been really helpful! If you have a private counseling, coaching or consulting practice he is definitely worth checking out and can be found at Practice of the Practice.  At a conference recently he offered to do a write up featuring my practice and how I’ve used some of his suggestions.  Of course this benefits both of us!  He gets to show how his audience is being impacted and I get to have more exposure to a larger audience.  However, I’m not sure I would have been as comfortable submitting the writing sample if I hadn’t been practicing regularly through blogging.

Here is a list of sites that you can pursue guest blogging opportunities through  –

Connecting with the media

Blogging takes regular practice and if it is a successful blog there are posts regularly.   One way to practice, outside of writing for the blog, is to get featured in the media.  This has been an easier thing to do then I expected.   A resource called Help a Reporter Out has been a great tool for getting featured in the media, in addition to being an avenue to practice the craft of writing.   Basically this avenue allows you answer questions from reporters on topics that you have a specialty in.  Reporters post questions and if you feel you can contribute, you write about what they are requesting.  When submissions are not “picked up” to be featured in the media, these submissions can be repurposed into a blog post.

Blogging for your own personal development

Writing and blogging can be a great way to exercise your own development as well.  Here are some areas I have noticed that have been impacted through regular blogging –

  • Builds discipline
  • Improves productivity
  • Pushes me to be more scheduled
  • Helps me to explore areas that I am interested in and blog about them
  • Allows an avenue for some self-reflection through including my own insights and stories through blog posts

 How has blogging been helpful to you?

Best,

Michael

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Dealing with Uncertainty

 

Dealing with Uncertainty

Dealing with Uncertainty

This week as I was searching for a topic to write about, I felt uncertain.  It’s not like there is a lack of things to choose from in the personal development, counseling or consulting arena.  There are a ton of topics to choose from.  However, I was feeling uncertain.  So, why not just write about it.  I think as a culture we are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis.  Having access to 1,000 choices in every avenue of life will do that.   However, there are strategies to battle this uncertainty.

Feeling stuck is common.  We often are wanting a change from a career, a hobby, a relationship or a habit.  In my experience, getting caught in the weighing out of which decision to make can sometimes be exhausting. So how do we deal with uncertainty?

I was talking with a friend recently about a new relationship they are in.  We were talking about the draw to this new partner, the things they have in common, the fun they have etc.  When the idea of how or if to move forward came up, I had thought to ask the question – what is the motivation to be with this person?  Obviously we feel connected to others, we fall in love or we have a connection that isn’t so strong.  So my curiosity is about where this connection is coming from.  Understanding our motivations may help us to deal with uncertainties and move on from a place of “stuckness.”  Understanding what motivates your direction is a good starting place, below are five more tips to resolve uncertainty.

Five Tips to Resolve Uncertainty

Learning to Follow Your Gut – This may seem obvious but there is lots of power in understanding what our instincts tell us.  Since there are so many options in most things we come across, this may distract us from our own wisdom. Practicing ways to reflect on our own thoughts or feelings like journaling, therapy, meditation or some daily practice may help in learning to follow your gut.

Take a Break – It’s easy to get caught up analyzing a choice to death.  Analysis Paralysis.   Walking away from a decision or giving yourself a temporary break from deciding may offer up some new clarity in which direction to choose.

Unbiased Third Party – Speaking with an unbiased third party like a coach or counselor can be an effective way to work through a decision.  Having someone who does not know your situation may be able to offer questions or insight that a friend or relative may not see.   Sometimes when we are asked a unique question this helps to switch our perspective and make things clearer.  

Meditate – Meditation is a great tool to help with staying present.  More and more we see the benefits of meditation in reducing stress, anxiety and even have an impact on us biologically.  Being present is another way to tap into our own understanding of what is the best decision for us to make, and what our own intuition tells us.  In addition, meditation may also offer relief from dealing with the discomfort that often accompanies uncertainty.

Get Up and Move – The mind/body connection is present in everything we do, even when we are dealing with uncertainties in life.  When we are unclear about what decision to make, this creates a particular stagnation in the mind, and perhaps even in the body as we sit and weigh all the pros and cons of our decisions. Getting involved in some kind of regular exercise or even simple movement may trigger a new way to look at the problem.

What will you decide to take action on this week?

Share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

 

15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

In my experience in relationships, with others and myself, I have found many qualities that stand out.  In those times when I’ve felt successful or times when I’ve looked up to others, I have seen particular qualities stand out.  These qualities seem to shine with importance.  I  have found that these qualities are ones that are present in those that I look up to or consider to be true leaders.  There may be some cross over here and a bit of redundancy, but that’s probably because those points are especially important.  Follow these tips to build a path to greatness in your life.

  1. Don’t Quit–When you think you are ready to give up, keep pushing yourself. You are capable of more. Need some more motivation? See these five key strategies on authentic motivation!

  2. Be Kind – Remember when you were told this in Kindergarten? It still applies.  This is such a basic principle that we often lose sight of. Remember that there is opportunity for this everyday – hold a door, leave a tip, express to someone their importance to you or offer a compliment.

  3. Don’t Assume – You know what they say….I hope. Our assumptions often prevent us from truly connecting with one another. Check them when they come up to see if they are really based on a current perception or something from some other time and place.

  4. Push Yourself Further Than You Think You’re Capable of Going – This is how you can build your own self efficacy. Try this in multiple areas of your life to boost confidence in relationships, fitness, finance and career.

  5. Be Uncomfortable – I had a professor in graduate school, one of my best mentors to date. He ran a class on group therapy that focused on being mindful of your present experience and expressing it authentically.  He said something once that has always stuck with me – “If you are not on the edge of your seat sweating, you are not working hard enough.”  His point was that these times of discomfort, uncertainty or insecurity are the times for action and areas we should move towards, not away from.  It’s OK to be uncomfortable, this is where we grow.

  6. Take Risks – Similar to being uncomfortable, taking risks is important. We cannot predict the future or know how are decisions will impact us, until we act! Taking risks towards growth in business, career or relationships is important.  Of course understanding the risk is important too.  Prevent “paralysis by analysis” through taking action.

  7. Take on Your FearsHow are your fears getting in your way? Challenging your fear and moving past it means facing it.  Moving towards your fear through embracing it in whatever way you see fit, is a road to development.  For example – if your fear is of never getting a raise, then maybe the opportunity is to make a case for why you should have one, and bring it your boss.

  8. Embrace Your Passions – Do you know what you are passionate about? This is part of what defines who you are.  Don’t let your passions come second, build a life around them and watch yourself flourish!

  9. Focus on Building Your Strengths – We often think we need to improve our weaknesses.  While there may be some good insight in understanding our challenges, improving our strengths is a greater predictor of success.  According to research by Gallup, identifying your top strengths and building them offers the greatest return on investment.  This is found to be true in many areas in life including work, hobby and interpersonal relationships.

  10. Lead by Example and Be Congruent – Take time to understand what your truly value. Let Your Values Show in how you live your life.  If you are unsure, consider working with a therapist or coachHave you ever dealt with a boss, teacher or mentor that seemed to act in a different way than they promoted?  How did this sit with you?  I imagine that it was harder to take them seriously.  Should you want to be a better partner, leader, boss, parent or mentor – it is necessary to be an example of what you state is important.

  11. Take Action – Our intentions, thoughts and plans are a great step but only part of a change we seek. Knowing is NOT half the battle. Remember this quote –“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – C.G. Jung

  12. Challenge Authority and Ask Questions – I think I have my mother to thank for this one. This lesson was ingrained in me at an early age, which I am grateful for. Remember that just because someone is in a position of authority that this doesn’t mean that they are in a position of truth. If something doesn’t resonate with you then ask questions, do your research and discover for yourself.   Remember that it is OK to ask!  If you don’t understand something or want to challenge it, then do so.  Staying in a frame of mind of uncertainty or ignorance puts you at a disadvantage.

  13. Stand Up for Others – There are injustices all around us. We see this on a large scale when we watch then news, witnessing hunger, war, manipulation and other forms of chaos. However, we see this in our daily lives too.  At work when someone is isolated or picked on, in our social events when someone is not included or in our family’s when someone is scape-goated.  These are all opportunities to stand up for others.

  14. Ask How You Can Support Others – Want to become more successful? Start asking others how you can help them instead of how they can help you. Just like building any relationship, supporting others builds rapport and a sense of trust. Not only will this come back to you but you get the chance to see others do well (see numbers two and 13).

  15. Embrace Abundance – I could easily do an entire post on this….maybe I will. Our focus on what lacks, what isn’t working, what we are scared of, what isn’t available to us; is all a mindset. This can be countered with a simple shift in perspective.  What if we believed in collaboration instead of competition?  What if we were convinced that there is plenty of opportunity, clients, resources, love, support, money etc. out there?  Try it out, give yourself a challenge, and see what happens.

Thanks!

Michael

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The Pace of Change

 

The Pace of Change

Maintaining change takes time, and you will probably experience some hiccups along the way.  As you may have heard, change is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  But what does this mean?  To me it means that to be successful with change there needs to be regular diligent practice over longer periods of time.  This isn’t the only key to maintaining change, but a key component.  Remember that to reach a change of pace you need to understand the pace of change.

I recently entered into a 100 day challenge, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.   This challenge is around being very intentional with my mornings.  This has proved to be an effective strategy in implementing a new change.  I have learned a lot about my strengths and challenges and what things push me back towards old habits.  I have taken an approach of diligence and curiosity though, not embracing failure when things didn’t go the way I expected.  This took some getting used to though.  Today is day 85 and by now my routine feels pretty normal, I’m enjoying it.

Any change in behavior or pattern takes time.  To help drive home the point of maintaining a successful change over time, I’ve created a reminder.  The reminder is to pace yourself.  To help you remember, consider this device –


P.A.C.E.

P – Patience

A – Acceptance

C – Control

E – Empathy


Interestingly, the terms patience, acceptance, control and empathy are all very important should you want to be successful with a change. Let me explain –

Patience – Since we know that change takes time, patience is of the utmost importance.  Often time’s changes are not successful because we don’t practice long enough, or wait out the new pattern long enough for it to truly set in.  Being patient in your process as you create a new way of being will lead you to continue on and not give up prior to completion.

Acceptance – In the midst of a new lifestyle, some days will be great, others not so much.  Accept this.  The fact that you’re having a bad day or that your practice in implementing a change was not as great as yesterdays, does not mean failure.  Some challenges may get in our way when we are in the midst of a change.  It is important to accept what may be out of our control.

Control – Very connected to acceptance, knowing what is in our control and what isn’t, is an important part of the path towards change.  However, the reason I separate acceptance from control is that ultimately we are in control of perception, just not the event that precedes it.  What this means is that when we are faced with challenges, we always get to control our own perception and interpretation towards the situation.  We have the choice to be victims or masters of our challenges.

Empathy – Times of change can be hard.  Having empathy for yourself through the process of change is crucial.  So what does self-empathy mean? It means staying connected to yourself in the process and allowing yourself to make mistakes along the way and knowing that it is ok.   Allowing yourself to make mistakes along the way and not giving up is a recipe for long lasting change.  For example, there will be times when you plan to implement a change or practice a new behavior and you get set back by old patterns and ways of being. Its ok to have setbacks, just don’t let those setbacks be translated into a quitting mindset.  Having empathy towards yourself will help to increase the likelihood of not giving up at setback and ultimately reaching your goals.

So next time you are facing a change or working through a goal, consider pacing yourself.

Questions to consider

What changes are you working towards?

How can you implement the PACE acronym in making your desired change successful?

What holds you back from taking action?

Please feel free to comment below with any answers to these questions, new ideas or other questions.

Best,

Michael

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Self Care

Self Care

 

Self care does not often come up as being a priority in our world of high expectations, busy schedules, constant distractions and technological bombardment. However, there is a shift happening with the awareness about the importance of self care.

As we build our understanding about the biology and neuroscience behind behavior, emotions, productivity, focus and fatigue we continue to bridge the gap between body and mind.  Some research implies that self care not only has an impact on one’s ability to perform but also an impact on organizations as a whole, as it relates to overall function.

Often times stress leads to conflict.  When we are stressed our patience is more limited.  So when we have conflict with loved ones, co-workers or the general public, our ability to respond appropriately is reduced.  The solution to this may be to take time out to care for yourself, so that you can reduce stress.

This is not surprising news.  When we feel better, can think clearly and are less stressed, we are more effective human beings.   So, regardless of what you do and what industry you are in, consider making your own care a priority.

I know that in my work, the better I feel the better I am at my work and relationships.   Since I initiated a more regimented self care routine, I have gained more clarity, productivity and a calmer presence.  But you shouldn’t take my word for it, or the research available.  Experiment, and see what you find when you start making yourself a priority!

Ways to Take Time Out for Yourself

Physical – Lifting weights, running, walking, snowboarding/skiing, surfing, take a class (spinning, cross fit, yoga, martial arts, Zumba etc.), hike, bike and sex.

Relational – Spend time with your family, partner and friends, go to a concert, get involved in a regular hobby or group oriented activity or sport.

Reflective – Journal, meditation, listen to music, go for a walk, deep breathing exercise, read.

General Health – 8+ hours of sleep per night, drink lots of water, eat nutritious whole foods.

What other ways can you take care of yourself?

Challenge of the Week!

  • List out your weekly self-care routine or goal.
  • Tag someone on social media that you think is interested in the challenge.
  • Share this post with the person you tagged.
  • Feel good about expanding awareness of why we should be taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of each other!

Cheers,

Michael

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How to Reduce the Stigma of Therapy

 

How to Reduce the Stigma of Therapy

During the last 100 years or so there has been an interesting evolution regarding the helping professions.  The stigma around seeking help for guidance is a somewhat unusual cultural phenomenon.  In most cultures, seeking guidance is a relatively accepted and supported endeavor and has been for many years.   For a more detailed exploration of stigma as it relates both to mental health as well as stigma towards seeking professional help, see this article on Help Seeking from the British Psychological Society. In this article there are many examples of sited research, as well as interventions, to help to reduce stigma of seeking help.  Some research suggests that normalizing issues that people are facing may help to reduce stigma for seeking help.  So the purpose of this post is to provide some anecdotal information from my own experience to help normalize seeking help.

Here are some reasons I have seen in my own practice that may impact how seeking help becomes stigmatized, as well as how to reduce the stigma of therapy.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater –

I have come across many people over the course of the last decade who say that they tried therapy and didn’t like their therapist.  Not having a connection to the therapist is an important factor to consider.  Research shows that the goodness of fit or “therapeutic alliance” (how well you connect with your therapist) is one of the largest predictors for change.  So if we know that the connection experienced between therapist and client is so important, then this should be a focus.  Unfortunately, often time’s people will see a therapist that they don’t connect with, only attend briefly and then assume that therapy is not effective. This may be due to the therapist not checking in with the client or the client not having the understanding of the importance of this dynamic, but it does happen.  If you are looking for ways to explore the “goodness of fit” in more detail, see this article on How to Choose a Therapist.   An important thing to keep in mind when looking at therapy is that therapists are like many other professionals, there are great ones, good ones and ones that may not be the best fit for you.  To offer a comparison – if you hire a plumber and they do a bad job, would the assumption be to discount plumbing altogether or call a new plumber?

Therapy doesn’t work –

Sometimes people go to therapy once or twice or maybe three times and then assume that nothing is happening, so it obviously doesn’t work.  I often have the conversation with clients about how to get the most out of a therapy.  My hope is that these conversations take place in most therapy offices.  The truth is that when you have meetings with a therapist they are typically only one hour.  This also means that whatever is discussed in therapy may take implementation and practice outside of the therapy office.  For change to occur, practice and patience are important.  There may be times where someone continues to attend appointments even though they feel that nothing is changing for them.  Whatever the feeling is, bring it up with your therapist and see what is missing.   Remember, if something is not working, try to identify why, and fix it.

These problems aren’t bad enough –

We all have similar problems, to a certain extent.  We definitely all have things we are stressed about, are scared of, are hopeful for, are insecure about etc.   Therapy does not have to be only for those struggling with something that society deems “serious.”   Fortunately many people see therapy as an opportunity to self actualize, seek understanding of one’s self, process something confusing, determine what is most valuable to them or many other reasons outside of the context of exploring pain, trauma or dysfunction.  Therapy is not for sick people.  Therapy is an open platform to explore whatever you decide is important.  I repeat, whatever YOU decide is important.   People seek guidance and empowerment for a variety of reasons and the depth and importance of those reasons only get to be decided by the individual.   Reducing the stigma of therapy can be accomplished through recognizing a few simple statements:

It’s OK to take a look at who we are.

It’s OK to explore what is working and what isn’t working.

It’s OK to want to make changes to better ourselves.

Best,

Michael