If you’ve been on a path of personal growth for a while, I’m guessing you’ve hit at least a few speed bumps along the way. If you’re anything like me or anyone else I know (if you are, in a word, human) you’ve probably felt frustrated at times, or wished that creating the change that you want to see were a faster, easier, process.
Of course, in some ways we all know that change can take time. No one has ever lost a significant amount of weight, built a profitable business, or written a book literally overnight – but in a culture that fetishizes quick solutions and immediate results, it’s almost as if discussing it has become taboo.
I guess I’m just the skunk at the party for being willing to talk about it.
The bigger question though, is why changes takes time. Why does it have to be such a struggle?
From my vantage point there are a few reasons. The first and most basic one has to do with our personal history. The brutal reality is that we’re all products of the lives that we’ve lived up to this point, and changing ourselves often requires a deep excavation into the beliefs that we hold and thoughts that we think that are a result of our previous life experiences.
For example, if you were ever made to feel like you wouldn’t amount to much in life, it can be very hard to overcome that internal conditioning even when there’s a huge part of you that no longer believes that it’s true.
I know that what I’m saying probably contradicts things that you’ve read or learned about elsewhere. I’m sure you’ve heard many times before that your history doesn’t matter – that you get to decide who and want you want to become.
Well, that’s true to a certain extent, but it’s also not the whole story, and I have a hunch that you know exactly what I mean by that.
This brings me to the second major reason why change can take time:
We can’t solve a problem if we aren’t willing to admit that it exists, and we are – in many ways – encouraged to hide from our truth.
We’re already built, internally on a psychological level, to push difficult thoughts and feelings away. Mechanisms like depression and denial are part of our standard operating system – but healing our lives (and becoming the people we want to become in the process) requires grappling with these internal forces so that we can truly see ourselves and our lives with clarity.
Sadly, many of the lessons that we learn in life teach us to do the exact opposite of this.
For example: If you’ve ever felt depressed, perhaps you’ve gotten the message that you shouldn’t admit it out loud, because saying so is an “affirmation” that will manifest more depression.
Frankly, I find that kind of thinking to be really destructive, but we live in a culture that’s come to fear emotion. We bury ourselves in media and technology – dodging negative feelings in favor of the brief dopamine hit of a new incoming message. We drink and shop and eat to numb ourselves to our discomfort, and we lie to ourselves about where we currently are, out of fear that we won’t be able to evolve to someplace new.
Our emotions contain valuable information, however. They exist for a reason, and shouldn’t be cast aside.
You’ve probably been told that your thoughts create your reality, and that if you’ll just think differently, you’ll feel differently. There’s some truth to that as well, but what gets left out of the conversation is what we you should do if it isn’t that simple.
What do you think, am I on to something? If you think so, please join me here.
Written by: Dr. Leslie Carr is a licensed clinical psychologist (PSY 25306) and author of the eBook When Change Takes Time. She offers therapy and coaching, both in San Francisco and via Skype. More information can be found at www.lesliecarr.com, and you can follow her on Twitter: @DrLeslieCarr.
Photo Contributed by 7 Cups Listener: Pieta
Have you experienced a trauma and then after an extended period of time noticed you have experienced symptoms such as re-experiencing the event through flashbacks or nightmares, had fear of danger and been hyper-alert to your surroundings, felt numb, avoided people, places or things that remind you of the trauma you experienced, felt angry or even guilty? You may be experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
These symptoms can turn your world upside down, and make everything feel out of control.
Recovering from PTSD is possible! There are successful treatment strategies available, and therapists/psychologists who specialize in trauma treatment.
Some of the things you can do as a survivor to help increase the success of treatment, is to see the strengths that you have. First of all, you survived the trauma! Seek support of others, either friends, family, or support groups, avoiding isolating which can intensify the symptoms. For some individuals, seeking spiritual support can be helpful.
Talk with your doctor about the symptoms you are having. While there isn’t a medication for PTSD specifically, there are some medications that reduce some of the symptoms. Utilizing your talents and hobbies for distraction and even for intentional purpose of accomplishment can be helpful. Try as much as possible to keep your thoughts in the moment, rather than in the past. Let your time with your therapist be a safe place to explore the trauma.
As a survivor of trauma myself, I know first-hand the struggle of working through trauma and PTSD. I also know how much my life has changed for the positive, and how much healing I’ve experienced. At the beginning, I never thought I was going to make it through. I was scared, overwhelmed and felt hopeless. My therapist and an inpatient trauma unit assisted me in learning the skills necessary to manage my symptoms until I was able to process the trauma that caused them.
No matter what happens in the process of recovery, don’t give up! You are worth the fight for your healing.
People don’t ask for trauma to happen to them – whether war veterans, survivors of abuse or sexual assault, disasters, or terrorism. Some survivors blame themselves for the trauma or think they could have done something different to have stopped the trauma. Blame needs to be placed on the appropriate person or situation, and that is not on the survivor. For example, for the survivor of childhood sexual abuse, there is nothing you did to ask for it, or to cause it. The perpetrator chose to be abusive and to violate you. Ask for help from those who can help, and don’t be afraid to make your needs known.
It is okay to “shop around” for the right treatment team for you (therapist, psychiatrist, family doctor, support group, etc.).
Be your best advocate – you are so worth it!
For more information on PTSD, consider visiting the NIMH website.
For a list of therapists who specialize in trauma treatment visit the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation website or Psychology Today Therapists by searching for therapists in your area by specialty, Trauma and PTSD.
I believe in your ability to face your trauma and the PTSD. There are listeners here who have experience with Traumatic Experiences and can be a supportive network for your healing journey. We’d be honored to be part of your team.
By 7 Cups Listener,
Photo Contributed by Listener, Pieta
Chronic Pain is not something I talk about very often, because it is my life and I have accepted it as such.
I have Fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes mild to severe chronic all over pain with no known reason or cure. The treatments for it are limited and none of them have ever worked for me.
Chronic pain takes a great toll on a person emotionally.
Before I started experiencing it and even the first few years of symptoms I was a VERY active person. I am really social (as most of you probably already know :)), and have always prided myself in being a really hard worker. As the years went on and the pain got worse I was unable to keep a job anymore and ended up nearly bed bound.
However, I have never been one to sit around and feel sorry for myself. Bad stuff happens to everyone. This was just another part of my story and I needed to find a way to build a life around it. And I have for the most part. I am still working on it and take life day by day. And even second by second if I have to.
Chronic pain can be caused by a myriad of issues. Injury, Inflammatory diseases (arthritis), Cancer, Multiple sclerosis and Fibromyalgia are among the most common causes of chronic pain.
The Spoon Theory
One of the first things a person with chronic pain has to deal with is trying to get the people around them to understand. This is not easy if these people haven't experienced it. I found this article to be the best way to explain my pain to anyone.
My family now asks me how many spoons I have each day, or I tell them that I ran out of spoons.... and they understand. Finding The Spoon Theory and giving a printed version of it to everyone I knew was life changing for me. No longer did people expect too much or even too little.
This is an excellent resource to give out and to discuss while in a chat with someone with chronic pain. Though it is written by someone with Lupus, anyone with chronic pain can identify with it. They can use it to help the people around them understand and this could very well make their lives better.
Quality of life
Depression, anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness... We can almost all identify with those emotions, but with someone with a chronic incurable illness these emotions take on a life of their own. With injuries or even cancer, there can be an end to it. But with other illnesses and syndromes there isn't an end game. As far as we know, we are stuck like this forever.
Acceptance is something that comes with time and a lot of work. We have to figure out ways to live our lives as best as we can. Yes we have to skip a lot of things we want to do so that we can do the things we NEED to do. But there is a place a person can get to where they find balance. Changing priorities are a big one. Like letting someone else do the laundry so that I can go to the store. I know me, and know that I can't do both in a day. So accepting that I have limitations and leaning on others is something I have had to learn.
Suggestions to give to someone who wants to know what they can do to give them better quality of life:
1. Journaling their pain. Keeping a pain journal is so important. Documenting when the pain is worse during the day, what activities trigger it, what activities are helpful and everything they have tried to relieve the pain.
2. Experimenting with different hobbies and how those hobbies effect their pain. It takes a while but everyone finds something they can do with minimal added pain.
3. Support groups. There are some in most countries, states, towns. A google search will help with that. There are also LOADS of online support groups. I really like http://www.mdjunction.com. It is a forum like website that has pretty much everything a person could ever need support for.
4. Herbal remedies. THEY WORK! A simple google search for pain relieving foods can help. I find that fresh cherries and adding tourmeric to my food is helpful with pain.
5. Finding exercises that work. This can take a lot of time and be very painful. Most exercise makes things like Fibro worse. I do yoga and find it to be relaxing and it keeps my muscles from tightening up, which makes the pain worse.
7. Learning to take time for yourself and give yourself a break.
9. Finding alternatives to pain medications. This also falls under herbal remedies but there are so many other things that relieve pain. hot/cold compresses, massages, fire cupping, acupuncture, etc. This is something a person has to experiment with for while to see what works
Note to Reader: This is actually very limited information on the topic of Chronic Pain. I do hope, however, that after reading The Spoon Theory, you can better understand the topic and thus be better prepared for chats with members dealing with it.
By 7 Cups Listener,
Photo Contributed by 7 Cups Listener,
One of the concerns for listeners is burnout. Burnout is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary (merriam-webster.com) as “the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time.” As burnout continues, you may find yourself in a state of helplessness or hopelessness.
Symptoms of burnout may be physical, emotional, or behavioral. Examples of these symptoms may be pessimism, sleep disturbance, taking on too much without balance in various life areas, being involved in over-demanding situations (listeners may find this to be multiple intense listening chats), lack of recognition for work done, and lack of support. There are several other symptoms that may be seen, but these are some of the most common.
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process.
Some of the ways to prevent burnout are recognizing the early warning signs. Those would be the changes in the physical, emotional or behavioral aspects of our lives. Addressing these as they present themselves can prevent further deterioration.
Some ideas for preventing burnout are as follows:
1) Do something for you each day – at least 15 minutes of relaxation or fun. You might take a hot bubble bath, watch a movie, or take a walk.
2) Eat healthy, get sufficient sleep by keeping regular hours, and exercise at least three times a week for optimal ability to manage.
3) Stop taking chats when you notice you are becoming tired or drained. Go away from the computer for a while or visit the listener chat for some fun and fellowship.
4) Take time to learn and practice stress reduction skills. There are many exercises that can be done as you notice the symptoms of stress, and can help to prevent this from becoming an issue.
5) Find an accountability partner to share concerns and issues with, and to help address balance. Connecting with this partner can provide an opportunity to review how you’re doing and to make any changes necessary at the time.
6) Try not to take chat stresses outside of the chat. Allow yourself to let go of the situation until they come back to chat with you again. Try to separate work from play. What you do at work, stays at work so to speak.
7) Make time for social support. Connecting with friends, family, and fellow listeners can provide distraction and fun that is needed to balance out the stress.
8) Ask another listener to chat to debrief from a very stressful chat, to help reduce the stress that may have been taken on from the chat.
Remember you’re not just a listener. You are a whole person whose personal life needs balance. This includes addressing the needs of physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and other areas of your life.
Step away when you need to. It is okay to say no to requests, or no more chats when you feel tired or stressed.
Tools online for reducing stress:
Coloring Castle – www.coloringcastle.com provides coloring pages to print off and color with.
JigZone – www.jigzone.com provides puzzles to put together online.
Fragrant Heart – www.fragrantheart.com provides free audio meditations to help with relaxation.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFwCKKa--18 provides a YouTube directed exercise.
Online Kaleidascope – www.zefrank.com/dtoy_vs_byokal provides a tool for artistic creation.
Above all, to prevent burnout, remember you are not alone in being a listener. Others have faced similar issues in listening and can be a great support. Use the listener chat, the forum, or connect with a listener yourself to help prevent burnout.
By 7 Cups Listener,
Photo Contributed by 7 Cups Listener,