3 Tips to Accomplish Your Goals

July 23, 2014


 

I recently took a poll in the private group that accompanies my newsletter. I wanted to know where people were struggling and how I could help, and the results were overwhelmingly consistent:

People wanted to know how to overcome procrastination, transform “bad” habits, and move into action. This post goes out to all of you who are struggling in this department.

I have some “life-hacking” tips that I’ll share at the end of this article, but first, I want you to ask yourself a tough question, and I want you to be honest. Think about your goal for a moment – and hold it clearly in your mind. Center your attention on what it is that you’re aiming for, and then answer this question for yourself:

How badly do you want it?

Before we get into the tips and the tricks, I want to invite you to think about success through the following lens. Goals are most often accomplished when the following three conditions are met:

  • We want what we want REALLY badly
  • We feel like failure is not an option
  • We have a very clear sense of what our goals and values are – and we keep them in mind, daily, with focus and dedication.

So I’ll ask you again: How badly do you want it?

You will achieve your dreams once you decide that the alternative isn’t an option. 

So, let’s assume you’re there. You have a clear vision in mind and you’ve set your course. What can you do to make things easier on yourself, or to increase the likelihood of regular follow-through?

Here are a few behavioral tips and tricks that can help you to overcome procrastination, and to transition into action*:

1. We’re inherently motivated to do what feels rewarding. This fundamental truth of human behavior cannot be emphasized enough.

I’ll use exercise as an example here because several of the people in the group listed it as something that they’re struggling with. Exercise, believe it or not, eventually becomes intrinsically rewarding; once we get accustomed to it, the endorphins that are released when we work-out create an internal system of positive reinforcement. That said, until it becomes a habit, we have to create our own system of rewards. An example of this would having a really delicious meal right after a work-out. Establish a system of rewards that will give you the motivation you need to succeed.

2. Changing one habit tends to have an impact on others.

Otherwise put, if you want to change one habit, focus on changing a different one that will set the stage for what you really want to achieve. For example: If you’re trying to get exercise in the morning, begin by putting your sneakers on as soon as you wake up. Just do it – no questions. Eventually you’ll start to feel pretty silly wandering around your house in your sneaks without getting your butt on the trail [;)]

3. Whether we like it or not, human behavior tends to exist along an “all or nothing” continuum.

People who eat well and take good care of themselves nutritionally tend to also get more exercise, and vice versa. Research studies have similarly shown that people who make their bed in the morning tend to be more productive, and to excel in other, seemingly non-related areas like balancing a budget. If your goal is to (again) get more exercise, consider starting by applying more attention to what you’re eating and – you bet – whether you do things like make your bed in the morning.

I hope this helps! If you have further questions, or would like the support of me and the group, you can join us by opt-ing in to my newsletter at the bottom of this page.

*These tips have been adapted by Charles Duhigg’s book: The Power of Habit . It’s a worthwhile read if these concepts appeal to you and you want to go deeper.

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.

Tags:GoalsSupportProcrastination

Creative Journaling For Stress Reduction

July 18, 2014

Journals are there to receive your thoughts and feelings. I like to think of it as a written-out memory that frees the mind from having to hold onto a thought and allows it instead to be open to exploring new ideas and concepts. I’m an on-off journal keeper - it’s been almost 10 years since I started writing semi-regularly, and one thing I have come to accept is that it’s okay to not write anything down for a few weeks, or even months. Your journal is there when you need to vent, to explore options, to be distracted, or to document a thought just so you can forget about it!

Like most habits, journal-keeping can become monotonous if it is simply a routine that is repeated over and over without giving it a new thought. Here are some ideas to help you get started or to stimulate your mind to keep this learning process healthy and beneficial:

  • Write out uplifting quotes and lyrics
  • Sometimes I find words so beautifully strung together, I will write them out over and over again just to remind myself of them

Doodle

You don’t have to be an artist to try this out! I started out with just copying out drawings of owls - pages and pages of owls that all looked the same!

Use color! Rip out paper! Be messy! Write in the wrong direction!

Make a list of what you are thankful for - here are some creative ideas!

http://www.pinterest.com/goodthinkinc/gratitude-journal-ideas/

Do a word challenge!

http://mentalillnessmouse.tumblr.com/post/30543827639/30-day-self-esteem-challenge

http://whatsyourgrief.com/six-word-stories-statements-and-exclamations-a-journaling-exercise/

Journaling can help you on a path of healing by allowing you to clarify and refocus your thoughts, get to know yourself better, reduce stress, and resolve conflicts. It is a journey in learning to actively listen to yourself!

Written By Mentor: Jadie

Tags:journalingcreativesupport

Self-Worth & Accepting Help: One Listeners Incredible Journey

July 11, 2014

Over the last several months, I’ve found myself in a situation where I’ve had less and less control over my body.  I have needed to humble myself to ask for more and more help to function with daily activities.  This resulted in allowing people who assist with activities such as cleaning, showering and getting dressed into my home, and allowing them to help me.  My initial health issues had gotten better, and I was looking forward to returning to work, when my body became allergic to the medication I was on that managed my arthritis.

During this time, I’ve had to find ways to be comfortable with my situation that would allow me to find that I still had a purpose in my life.  Since I’ve no longer been capable of doing the things I used to do in my life, I went through a major struggle with my self-esteem and self-worth.  My initial response was severe depression with suicidal thoughts.  I couldn’t see any ways in which I had worth.  It was with very low and scary place in my life.

I talked with some friends and with my therapist about my worth.  I was so depressed I couldn’t think clear enough to even see anything positive about me and my situation.  My friend Kathy one day said to me, “Kristen, you help so many people by being there for them.”  She followed on to explain how because I sure couldn’t see how I could be helpful.  But that conversation was exactly what I needed to have.  It got me to thinking, which I further explored with my therapist.  How exactly can I still be worth anything when I don’t have anything to give?

In the end, I was able to identify that I’m a good listener, that I’m a great writer, and that I still have my mind even though my body is failing me.  So I got together with my friend Kathy, and a few of our other friends, and together we created a non-profit that offers support to those who are struggling.  That allowed me to utilize my writing skills in educational ways, and still be supportive to others through message forums.

Then most recently, I found 7 Cups which has been such a blessing.  When I can’t do anything else, I’ve learned I can listen – at weird hours even.  When I’m hurting too much to sleep during the night, I’ve found that it helps to log on here and listen with those who are hurting or lonely. I’ve found the opportunity to share through blogs here as well.  So in spite of my struggles, I’ve found hope that I can continue to help people, and can continue to have worth, just in different ways than I used to do.

I want to encourage you. If you’ve been struggling with seeing your worth, think outside the box. Your worth is in who you are – and even if your body betrays you, you still have something to offer to others.  When your job falls through, you are still valuable, and there is hope.  When negative things take over your life, you can get better as you find new ways to cope.

I’d be honored to listen to you, to help you look at who you are in spite of your circumstances.  Whether you are fighting to conquer depression or addiction, or you struggle with chronic pain or debilitating illnesses, I’m here to listen.  Don’t fight these struggles alone.  Allow myself and other listeners to walk beside you on this journey you are on.

Written By 7 Cups Listener: KristenHR

​Photo Contributed by Listener: Pieta

Tags:supportlistenerdepressionanxietychronicpain

3 Tips to Achieve Growth & Change in Your Relationships

July 8, 2014

People often ask me if I truly believe that people can change, and I always answer with the same response:

“If I didn’t, I’d be out of a job.”

I know for sure that people don’t change unless they want to, nor until they’re significantly motivated to do it, but I see people change all the time – every day, in fact.

We reach a new level of discussion, however, when we consider this in the context of romantic relationships: Can we expect our partners to change? Most people will empathically answer that with a “No,” but I wonder if they might feel differently if they considered it to be “growth.”

Can we expect our partners to grow? Of course we can – if you ask me.

People tend to make sweeping generalizations about life, and the notion that you “can’t expect your partner to change” is an oft-sung tune. In reality though, almost everything comes down to subtlety and nuance, and I believe that we’re making a mistake if we dismiss the possibility of growth in partnership out of hand.

In fact, it may be a necessity.

Having been in a relationship for about five years now, I have to say that I have no idea how my partner and I would have lasted this long if we weren’t growing and changing together – if we weren’t able to have conversations about what is or is not working for us, and then trying to adapt.

Not only is this ability vital to romantic survival, in my mind, if anything I’ve come to feel that it may potentially be the single-most important ingredient to a relationship’s success.

For me, knowing that he’ll not only listen to me but genuinely try to hear me when I’m distressed is hugely important. Likewise, I believe that he knows that I sincerely welcome his feedback, because self-awareness can’t be cultivated in a vacuum, and I genuinely want to understand the impact that my behavior has on him.

Not everything in life is malleable – and certainly a big part of being in a relationship is accepting the person you love for all of their plusses, minuses, challenges, and vulnerabilities – but the brutal reality is that we’re all growing and changing in life whether we like it or not. So in any partnership we’re either growing together – or we’re growing apart.

In the service of helping you to increase the efficacy of your relationship communication, I’d like to offer the following tips, tricks, or reminders:

Try to always focus on “I language” instead of “you language,” and talk about how you feel, not what you believe your partner did. For example, “I feel really disappointed when you put Sasquatch in his crate without grooming him,” will probably land better than “You didn’t groom Sasquatch!” The goal here is to increase the likelihood that the person you love will be able to hear your concern without feeling the need to get defensive.

Recognize that there’s no such thing as “winning” an argument when it has to do with feelings. Almost everything in life is subjective, and people often respond to things based on prior experience. The goal in relationship communication is not to determine the victor, but for both people to leave the conversation with a better understanding of how the other person interpreted the events.

Whenever possible, try to maintain a sense of humor. Fighting (as long as it’s not damaging or abusive) is a healthy part of intimate relationships. Remembering that can sometimes help to keep things in perspective. One trick from the world of couples therapy is to argue while speaking in a silly accent, or wearing a funny hat on your head. You can probably imagine that it’s hard to remain stuck in an argument when you’re talking like an Australian robot – and sometimes we all need to know when it’s time to call it a day [;)]

The bottom line is that any relationship that’s built to last needs to be able to adapt, and ideally both partners can maintain a certain amount of compassion for each other while we navigate the existential roller coaster that is life.

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.

Photo Contributed by: Listener Pieta

Tags:supportrelationshipspartnershiplove

PB Award Annoucement

July 7, 2014

Today is a special day because it is officially our 1 year anniversary. It is also a very special day because today we celebrate the PB Award, which is the highest honor a listener can earn. The PB award is named after the first big believer in 7 Cups of Tea – Paul Buchheit (PB). PB is mostly known as the creator of Gmail and the person responsible for their early motto “do no evil.” Most people do not know that he has the keen ability to see through to the essence of things. He often uses this ability to help make the world a better place.  He immediately saw the potential of 7 Cups and was instrumental in our initial success. For these reasons, and several more, today we celebrate the awarding of the PB badge to a very special person – Lukas Jahn.

I asked the community to describe Lukas. The response was overwhelming. A big thank you to Chandra and Pali for collecting these from our community. I can’t include all of them here, but wanted to select a few that I thought really captured Lukas.

Lukas is a wonderful and kind person. I see him around the forums and in the chatroom a lot, and I'm always amazed at how much he contributes to 7cups. It wouldn't be the same without him here, and I'm super happy that he's being recognized for the hard work and dedication he has for 7cups!
--Kane

Lukas, thanks for being an amazing listener, mentor, and ambassador! I really appreciate all the work you put into being available in the chat room, processing requests for listener level-ups, being active in the forums, and probably a whole ton more of behind-the-scenes work that we’re not aware of. Your dedication and energy is amazing, thank you for making this a wonderful experience for all of us!

--Jadie

I’d like to give a shout out to Lukas! He’s kind, caring and attentive. He’d never left one of my questions go unanswered, he tries really hard to make everyone feel welcomed and is really one of the faces I saw most often when I first joined. I cannot say how thankful I am for having him around but I’m pretty sure a lot of others can echo my words: Lukas, you are the living example of what this site stands for! Thank you!

--Iara

Lukas does so many things for this site that most people don't even know about! Lukas is such a humble guy that you wouldn't even know all the hard work that he puts into this site.

--Mark5

Thanks Lukas for being so engaged with the 7 cups community and for everything you do for all of us, you are an amazing part of this. I know how hard he works and it's very appreciated, we are not the same without him! I also have the pleasure of being his friend, he is a great, caring and funny person and its always nice talking with him. Always remember how awesome you are Lukas! Once again thank you! <3

--Pali

You can quickly see the themes and characteristics that readily emerge from these comments. Lukas is kind, compassionate, hard-working, thoughtful and humble. Iara captured it “Lukas, you are the living example of what this site stands for!”

Lukas, I remember when you first signed up to be a listener. I was so excited we had someone from Germany! You were one of our very first international listeners. During that time, we were still figuring out a lot of things. You kept stepping up and making recommendations. It was clear that you were really thinking – applying yourself – on how to make 7 cups better so we could help more people. That level of engagement has only grown. I’ve learned a lot from you. We all have. Perhaps the main thing we have learned is the power of being a kind and compassionate person. Thank you, Lukas!

Written & Compiled By: Glen Moriarty 

 

Tags:supportambassadorcommunitypbaward

Is Depression Really a Chemical Imbalance? A Psychologist Explains:

July 2, 2014


There’s been a little flurry in the news recently – perhaps a headline has caught your attention: neuroscientists from Tel-Aviv University have discovered the underlying “cause” of depression. That’s quite a find!

According to the research, instead of depression being created by a shortfall of serotonin in the brain (the hypothesis that many people have been operating with for decades now, even though it’s been met with controversy) this new model posits that it’s actually a lack of synaptogenesis (a failure in the brain to grow new synapses or generate contact between brain cells) that’s responsible for the lack of serotonin uptake that we previously witnessed. If this is the case, the argument has been made, then the true cause of depression has been discovered.

This reasoning has a few flaws in it, not the least of which is that it confuses correlation with causation. A fundamental rule of research science is that we should never assume, simply because we see a connection between two ideas or events, that one is creating or stimulating the other. What these studies have really revealed, if anything, is that synaptogenesis (at least for the neurons that play a role in serotonin transmission) appears to be diminished in the brains of depressed people. To imply that this causes depression is a step beyond its reach.

Another major flaw in the interpretation of these results (since the researchers were looking at the level of DNA) is that it seems to deny the existence of epigenetics - the notion that our life experiences can alter the ways in which our genes are expressed. When we look at the research through this lens, however, a new question emerges:

What’s causing the brain changes?

As a clinical psychologist and a psychotherapist, I have to admit that I’m unconvinced that our genetic material is what’s authoring our experience here – and I feel this way because I have never worked with someone who suffered from depression who didn’t have a *reason* to be depressed on some level. I’ve worked with people who didn’t know why they were depressed when they first walked in the door, because the human brain is a complicated instrument, and defense mechanisms like repression and denial are very real things, but I’ve never worked with anyone who didn’t eventually uncover an underlying, psychological cause for their sadness, their lethargy, or for the ache inside that turned the whole world gray.

Not to sound negative, but we happen to live in a very complicated world. Despite the urgent American insistence that we all get happy, immediately (sometimes it seems like everyone’s got the recipe), there’s also AIDS, war, and famine. I mean, honestly, if you want to know why many people feel depressed all you have to do is turn on the evening news.

By focusing on brain-based “causes” for an experience that appears to be endemic to the human condition, it sometimes seems as if we’re just acting in the service of denial. It’s as if to say, “There’s nothing to see here! Don’t look to closely!” but in reality, looking closer is exactly what we need to do.

Our emotional worlds contain information – information that tries its damnedest to hide from us. Disavowed anger. Stunted longings. Hidden vulnerabilities. There are so many things we try to push away because they’re painful, or scary – but if we can find a safe way to peel back the cover, we can find relief from feelings that have run amok. If there’s anything that I’ve learned on my path as a psychotherapist, it’s that salvation can be found through compassion and understanding.

I’m not blind to the fact that some people experience forms of depression that are debilitating without a pharmaceutical aid, and I am not suggesting that medication is the enemy – not at all. This new science may greatly benefit people who are suffering; it will likely lead to more finely tuned, more effective medication, and it should be readily available for anyone who needs it – but let’s not confuse correlation with causation. After all, our humanity is on the line.

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.

Photo Contributed By 7 Cups Listener: Pieta

 

Tags:depressionsupportgethelpbrainbrainchanges