Worried? Pissed Off? Sad? I’m here!

Worried? Pissed Off? Sad? I’m here!

We have choices during times of trial: shrink, stagnate or grow. I recognize this is an intense time. It seems now, more than any other time that I have been alive for, we need help. We need reminders to take care of ourselves, to have healthy outlets, to be as emotionally cared for as possible. That’s something I can help with.

  • For starters I have over 250 posts on this blog primarily written to help readers grow in their emotional care and resilience.
  • I am posting live on my Facebook page daily. For now, they have been short videos of something simple you can do to care for yourself.
  • I will be offering Live Facebook Groups for about 30 minutes to equip you with more detailed ways to help you thrive during this pandemic. All of the live recordings will be posted on my Facebook page so you don’t have to see them live, you can check them out anytime.
  • I am creating a downloadable workbook specific to the pandemic including one for kids. I’ll post when these are done.
  • I have moved my counseling practice online using Zoom. If you are in need of counseling, please don’t hesitate to contact me (karen@journeyforward.net) or another mental health professional to set up a session.
  • If you are experiencing emotional distress or having thoughts about suicide please call the National Suicide Hotline 800-273-8255

I’m with you! We can grow through this and end up better on the other end. It is possible to Journey Forward! 🙂

How To Deal With Worry

How To Deal With Worry

There’s lots to worry about right now and if we aren’t careful those worries will swallow us up. The run on toilet paper got me thinking about humans’ thinking process. I have toilet paper. Not a stockpile, the leftovers from my last purchase several weeks ago. But now, I WANT toilet paper. I feel the fear settling in, “Oh my gosh there’s no toilet paper! Will we run out?” and I want more toilet paper. I want to be sure I don’t end up without it. If I let this scarcity/panic side of my brain take over I will become animalistic in my search for toilet paper. I really don’t want to sink to that level. I have paid far too much money for therapy to literally flush it down the toilet. So what do we do? For starters, recognize your thoughts and walk yourself through the following thought and emotion processing technique:

  1. What are you thinking?
  2. What are the accompanying emotions?
  3. Identify your thoughts that are based in reality and those that are based on a created story.
  4. Throw out anything that isn’t beyond-a-shadow-of-reasonable-doubt true.
  5. Now what do you feel? Acknowledge the emotion for a few minutes.
  6. Take a few deep breath cycles, look at nature, and let the emotion go or just know it’s there but not let it capture all of your attention.
  7. Regarding the situation, where do you have control that is healthy, legal and wise?
  8. Do what you can.
  9. Get in some good, healthy, legal and wise self-care.

For my toilet paper scenario, here’s what I did (and am doing as it tends to crop up now and then…this isn’t a once and done practice, it’s a rinse and repeat practice):

  1. I’m thinking I don’t have enough toilet paper because there’s none on the store shelves and everyone is talking about a toilet paper shortage.
  2. I feel anxiety about not having enough toilet paper and confusion about why this is happening…where did all the toilet paper go?
  3. The true and real thoughts are: There’s no toilet paper at the stores I have been to or online. Even the horrible but eco-friendly Who Gives A Crap toilet paper is gone. (I bought a case of that awhile ago. I’m so sorry. I really want to be good to the environment but that is the worst toilet paper ever!). The made up, not true, future-tripping, created story thoughts are: I’m going to run out of toilet paper. I don’t really know this will happen. It could happen but hasn’t and likely won’t for a few weeks. If it does happen we can figure something out.
  4. I don’t need to focus on the coulds because they aren’t in the present and it’s not going to help me at all to focus on this particular could. I’m throwing those thoughts away – figuratively of course!
  5.  Now I feel a little nervous about toilet paper but not panicky.
  6. I’m breathing in “It’s going to be ok” and breathing out “Let it go” (the toilet-paper-fear that is)!
  7. My healthy, legal and wise control is to use our toilet paper responsibly, let go of the toilet paper panic, don’t get caught in the herd mentality, stay aware of my thoughts and keep shushing the crazy-making toilet paper voice.
  8. I’m doing it right now, #7 that is.
  9. I’m going for my daily walk as soon as I finish this post.

If you want more resources check out my Workshops & Courses page!

Stay Away From Panic

Stay Away From Panic

The stock marketing is taking a dive and COVID-19 is spreading. It’s easy to get caught in the panic. Panic has never made anything better. It doesn’t feel good internally, it doesn’t help us think clearly, and it doesn’t have the power to change anything. When you find your thoughts ruminating on one topic that sends you into anxiety, it’s important to take control.

There’s another approach when bad things are happening and that’s to ignore them completely. I like to think of this as sticking your head in the sand and pretending everything’s fine. You are completely disconnecting from reality and it’s not a healthy response either.

We have panic on one end and ignoring on the other. The best place to be is somewhere in the middle. You are aware of what’s happening but not owned by it. You prepare as you can without going overboard. Don’t spend all day watching the news or reading everything you can get your hands on. Check on things now and then, but spend most of your day doing what you used to do like work, study, be with friends and family, read something enjoyable, go for a walk, prepare and eat meals, clean, shower, sleep. In general, take care of yourself and don’t get swept up in the panic.

Have you heard the phrase “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off”? When I was young I had friends who lived on a farm. One time when I was there they butchered a chicken for dinner. They chopped its head off and it ran around for awhile without any direction what so ever. It’s a visual of panic. We’re running around in a frenzy but the rational part of our brain is not engaged. We are controlled purely by the emotional part.

Put your head back on. It’s really hard and sometimes impossible to do on your own when you reach full panic mode. It’s best not to let yourself get there. Start practicing now. When it comes to things that are not completely within your power to stop, find out what you can do that is healthy, legal and wise. Take time periodically throughout your day to breathe deeply a few times. With each exhale feel the tension in your muscles loosen. This will allow more oxygen to get to your brain so you can think more clearly and stay away from panic

Unravel To Be Who You Were Meant To Be

Unravel To Be Who You Were Meant To Be

Sometimes we must unravel so we can be properly knit back together, the way we were meant to be. Prior to going through therapy, I was generally an easy going person, at least on the outside. As a child I learned to appear “perfect” so others would like me. It wasn’t a sustainable approach and by my late 30’s I completely imploded, shattering the perfect image I unconsciously worked my whole life to maintain. When I embarked on my healing journey, I noticed I wasn’t so agreeable anymore. If someone offended me, I would speak up in a blundering hurtful way. I didn’t know how to have a productive, healthy voice. I was practicing skills I had not used before. In my “perfect” state I brushed away offenses, “No problem, I ‘m fine.” But I wasn’t. I was just shoving all that hurt deep inside for the sake of being liked. Practicing speaking up was hard at first, then it got easier and more productive.

Now, I’m noticing a new development. I don’t always desire to say anything. It takes more to offend me. I’m noticing that times when I used to be easily hurt I am now not so bothered. I’m not shoving the hurt away, it’s just not there. I have an increased capacity to stop and understand this other person is not likely trying to hurt me. That perhaps their sharp edges are unhealthy ways of protecting their tender parts and they don’t know another way yet to deal with that.

I am certainly not saying this like, “Oh, look at me! I’ve got it all together.” Oh heck no! Anyone close to me knows all to well that I still have work to do. I am not tooting my own horn but rather the horn of the power of dealing with your inner garbage. I’m noticing as I go through this healing journey a sense of becoming who I was meant to be. The me I thought I was supposed to be was a very messy and hurtful product. 39 years worth of knitting together was unravelled to begin anew. 15 years later I am still seeing the benefits of the journey. I have a long way to go. I am not fixed, just well into the process. I am so grateful we can change. I am grateful we can unravel and be reknit into the creation we were meant to be. Healing is possible. Wounds from the past do not have to dictate who we are forever.

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Come and join me on this wonderful Journey Forward!

Every Day Brings Another Chance

Every Day Brings Another Chance

I believe we can take the dawn of a new day and apply it to every moment. Each fresh start brings another opportunity to do something better, change a behavior, or try again. Sometimes we need that reminder as we step into a new year with intentions to change something that we don’t like about ourselves, our job, our location…

Sometimes we get stuck thinking we must be perfect or don’t bother, but as Yoda says, “Failure, the teacher is.” We learn so much when we pick ourselves up and get back in to whatever it was we were trying to do differently. Add friends, supporters, and encouragers to the equation to create a beautiful mix of grace and connection that can exponentially increase our chances of creating true change.