Therapy: It’s More Than That

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I’ve been wanting to write a blog on this for the last few months, but I’ve been struggling on where/how to begin.

But it weights on my heart and mind because therapy has changed my life and because of this, I decided to change my ENTIRE CAREER CHOICE in order to become a therapist myself (one day, still working on that degree).

I understand there are still people out there who think therapy is bust. I understand there are people out there who are surprised to hear you don’t have to fight this battle in your head on your own. I understand there are people out there who would prefer to grin and bear it. But I didn’t realize some of those people were also the closest people to me.

“Don’t therapist just listen? Thats all they really do, right?”

“I don’t need someone to ask me, “how does that make you feel”, I know how it makes me feel.”

Ouch. 

See, at fist these comments made me angry. I wanted to scream: “Do you think I paid $100s of dollars a month for someone to just “listen”. Do you think I’m paying thousands of dollars to get a degree to just ask “and how does that make you feel”?!

But then I had to take a massive step back. I’m making this situation about me and its 100% not about me. Not only do they genuinely need informed, but they might not be personally ready to change or reach out for help. And in that sense, I am called to support them and be there to educate them.

So after I was asked one of these questions for like the 3rd time by a loved one, I decided, I really needed to find a way to explain this. But its hard! I referred to my school books and even read articles online and they were super helpful! But so full of clinical lingo.

So I’ve decided to share about my own personal experience, which leads me to explain a few other things before I get started:

1.) I went through 3 different therapist before I landed on the therapist I truly connected with. This means not only did we get along and I felt comfortable with her, but her approach to therapy worked beautifully for me.

Meaning, there are so. many. approaches. to. therapy. When looking for a therapist, keep this in mind! Just because you visit one and don’t feel it, don’t give up! Also, share this with them, they may be able to try a different approach with you. They are learning you too!

I thrived with a pyschoeducation heavy approach. For some reason, learning the “why” behind everything helped me tremendously. I also wanted a therapist who was based in faith. I wanted to grow closer to my Lord and Savior during this time of pain and suffering and she was able to support me in this.

Not all therapist do this and thats okay! I just wanted to share because I wanted you to know there is a type of therapy out there for you!

2.) My therapy and experience is solely based off of generalized anxiety disorder. That being said, if you have another disorder, or if you’re just looking  to get your thoughts straight (also 100% acceptable) your therapy may look different 🙂

3.) I did not start off on medication and my therapist did not push me to medicate. However, she did explore this option with me when therapy alone wasn’t helping. THIS is because my brain was so full, I couldn’t calm it enough to take in what my therapist was teaching/telling me. This doesn’t mean you will need medication! But if you do, it is helpful.

When I started mine, not only did I FINALLY get the relief I needed, but I was then able to take in everything I was learning in therapy. I was able to practice the skills she was teaching me and I was finally able to fully present in sessions. Medication was just a buffer so I could learn the skills I needed. CURRENTLY I am cutting down (after 4+ years) and I love that I am able to refer back to my skills I learned in therapy as I am coming off.

4.) I chose to have therapy once a week in an office with my therapist! But y’all, there are so many options nowadays! You can to it twice a week, once a month, every other week, in person, via skype/zoom, via telephone, anything!

Okay, let’s begin on my experience.

How did a typical session work for me?

I always began my session with my therapist checking in. She would ask me about my week and time was since our last time together. This never changed. This is how she always began out therapy. Sometimes I would word vomit everything. When this would happen I noticed that she would focus in on the one topic that affect my body language. Whether that be me telling a sad story while laughing, or start fiddling with a hair bow when a certain topic came up.

As therapist, we are trained to focus in on the small body cues. Body language is huge in therapy and noticing it is important.

This always caught my attention because 9/10 I never realized I was doing it. She would notice this with me. Which would get me to think, why am I reacting this way? This would become a discussion. One I always led.

Therapy is always client led. Which, yes, meant some session were a lot more silent than I would’ve liked, but I learned in that, that silence makes me uncomfortable. That was also something I was able to unpack and learn about myself.

One thing we always practiced in my sessions was being able to speak up. Believe it or not, I’m not great at that. My therapist would have me pretend a certain someone was in the room and she would have me practice having the conversation I never got to have. This was oddly anxiety fueling because even though the actual person wasn’t there, I was pretending they were. But why was this helpful? Because my therapist was there to fully support me. I wasn’t alone in this scenario and she would help me find the words. She was also there to bring me out of that heightened state of anxiety, and process how that went before I went home. I never went home heightened.

Talk therapy worked best for me. I guess because I love to talk.

(This scenario is an example of what was used best for me. I am not saying this will be used in your therapy. I’m giving examples to show that therapy is WORK, not just listening.) 

My therapist was also great because she allowed and even encouraged me to bring my husband in on our sessions. These were some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my husband because we got to truly learning each others hearts. Not that this wouldn’t have had happened without therapy, but we did have a third party there, supporting both of us. We learned about the infinity wheel, and how sometimes couples get stuck in certain fights and have the same fight over and over. As newly weds this was important because we were experiencing this. She explained to us that in order to move past our “stuck-ness” we needed to dive deeper. WHY was this topic so important for us to constantly come back to. In our situation, we learned our fight was deeply routed in fear. After working through this, and learning this about ourselves, we were able to see each others thoughts differently…with more understanding and empathy. It was no longer surface level arguing over something we THOUGHT was minimal.

One last thing before I wrap up, therapist don’t give advice (at least not without permission). When I first started therapy back in the day, I thought I’d get all of this lovely advice on how to fix my life. But that is not what therapy is about. Therapy is about learning YOURSELF and working through your own demons, traumas, and/or roadblocks. Your therapist hasn’t always experienced what you’ve experienced, so they definitely can’t give you advice. But they can help you in a PROFESSIONAL way.

You don’t have to do this alone. I know thats the new fad right now. This growing fad of wanting to be independent and save yourself. But friend, you are just going through so much extra suffering than you have to. Believe me, I tried that. I tried to do it on my own via yoga, praying, good eating habits, and a routine. And that may work for someone, but listen to me, you can not “healthy routine” your way out of anxiety. Is it a good addition? 100%. It will definitely help. But you NEED someone.

WE NEED PEOPLE. God did NOT create us to be alone.

You may have the most supportive spouse in the world, I know I do, but I can’t expect him to carry my burdens. They are too heavy for me, and they are going to be too heavy for him.

A therapist is trained to hold your burdens, to help you hold them. They are trained to not carry them around. They are trained in boundaries.

You yourself may not need therapy and thats great! But please help spread the truth about therapy because chances are, someone in your life would truly benefit from it, and they just have the wrong information.


“Some many people are locked inside themselves, wondering why the can’t feel, can’t get out of their own way, or can’t make a decision. It’s because when they shut down the dark or discomfort, they also shut down the light and love. You can’t live your life in the space of indifference, addiction, or numbness. It’ll keep you locked away from the world you inhabit but won’t or can’t even feel or know.” – Victoria Erickson 


Currently Reading: A Praying Life by: Paul E. Miller

Currently Listening: Relatable. Podcast by: Allie Beth Stuckey

Flawed. & (Still) Worthy.

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Flawed. & (Still) Worthy. 

I got this tattooed on my body on a whim.

Literally.

I was at church.

Sitting in a high school gymnasium one Sunday morning thinking, “I mess this up every time.”

We all think that don’t we? We all think we are on such a good roll…a streak really! And then all of a sudden you fall flat on your face.

Anywho, one Sunday Brent Beckett was speaking about…something,…

I truly can’t remember, but all of a sudden he gets real passionate. Tears come to his eyes and he says “you are still worthy through Jesus Christ.”

That. 

That is all I needed to hear for my heart to break wide open.

I need this reminder daily.

I went that evening and got it tattooed on my body.

But even with the physical reminder on my body, I forget.


Today, I was listening to new book and the author is telling the story of the prodigal son. She mentions that the older son was angry because his brother was a reckless person but when he comes home he gets celebrated, but him…being the older son, he worked hard day in and day out and didn’t receive a celebration. At first, my thought was “Well yeah! The older son worked hard! And the younger son got the celebration, and all he did was come home after failing.” I know, I know

Up until today I truly thought I related to the prodigal son…messing up and then running back to the Father. But today, today it dawned on me…I am the older son. Rather than sitting in love because I am loved (like the younger son), I try to earn my love through good works…through perfectionism(the older son).

I know, I KNOWWWWWW. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a recovering perfectionist but man…recovery is never ending.

I pray.

I go to therapy.

I take the medication.

And I still struggle day in and day out with perfectionism.

Why?

Why is it so hard for me to rest in the love, just knowing I’m loved?

Why is this so hard for me?

I spend my days trying to earn love from everyone I know.

I know, they would love me even if I didn’t try to earn it.

Sure.

I know that…but I don’t think my nervous system knows that.

My nervous system tells me:

“You’ll be loved if you don’t have any more treats.”

“You’ll be loved if you walk your Christian walk perfectly.”

“You’ll be loved if your house is spotless.”

“You’ll be loved if you get straight A’s.”

“You will be loved and be happy if you’re successful.” 

“You will be loved if you look flawless.”

“You will be loved if you speak flawlessly.”

So I take the role of older son. I work hard, hard.

Day in and day out.

And I sit down at the end of the day, exhausted, a bit frustrated because I didn’t do it right and think “okay, tomorrow I will get it and earn ever lasting love!”

But tomorrow never comes.

I always trip. I always fall. And I think dag on it, I’m TRYING.

I WANT SOME CREDIT. 

But I’m looking for credit in the physical. 

I’m not looking for credit in the spiritual. 

Jesus is sitting up there watching me wear myself out going,

“Just come to me and rest.” 

But I keep responding,

“Okay, but let me just do this one more thing.” 


I wish I were writing to say some great advice on this. I wish I were writing to tell you that I’ve worked through this and I’m not tired anymore. I wish I were writing to tell you that this struggle is behind me. But it’s not. But I haven’t left this behind me because I’ve been trying to do something about it. I haven’t been laying it down to God. Every time I do, I pick it back up again and think…”wait I just want to hold it a little tighter.”

But why? 

Jesus took all of our pain, sadness, hurt, anxiety, depression, everything, on himself when he died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to carry it. At least not alone.

So why do I insist of trying to carry it alone?


 

Recommended reading: Fake or Follower by: Andi Andrew

Recommended listening (podcast): Coffee with Andi

Fighting the Never Ending Battle: You Are Still Strong When You’re Tired

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Caution: Honesty Ahead.

I didn’t post yesterday. I will be honest, I couldn’t shake my anxiety and depression yesterday. I felt like every time I tried to change my way of thinking or thought process it just got worse. So I went home and slept from 4pm to 5:30 this morning. Was that the best answer? I honestly don’t know. But I feel better this morning.

Things have got to change.

At least, I need to change things in my life.

I read all of these interesting facts and I learn about all of these incredibly useful tools but in the moment I utilize none of them.

WHY

However, it’s not all bad. In group this past week we discussed the first of the three components of self compassion.

  • Self Kindness

– we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Actively soothing and comforting oneself.

Does anyone else think “that sounds amazing, but I haven’t deserved that yet, once I do this or achieve this or get here then I deserve that.” I’m sure you do. But I guess in a way that is a step in the right direction because we are recognizing something within ourselves.

At group we learned about a loving kindness meditation that we are encouraged to use daily. Well, so far its been three days since group and I haven’t look at it once.

Ugh ugh ugh

Why am I so bad at meditations? And to be perfectly honestly, its short and simple and I don’t have an excuse to not use it. But in the same breath I think a part of me deep inside has the following thoughts

  • It’s not going to work for you
  • You aren’t there yet, but once you achieve this this and this you will be able to sit, relax and meditate.

That last one makes no sense to me, but it’s something I truly struggle with. I go through most days feeling like I’m not reaching some point. I’m not being productive. That is my biggest battle every day.

Every. Freakin. Day.

I feel like I’m never doing enough.

I spend all day fighting in my head about doing enough or doing this and once I am here I will reach this peace and happiness within myself but until then I need to fight with myself in my head until I am utterly exhausted and I sleep all day and really, I’ve done nothing to be exhausted for in the first place.

This week has been so hard for me.

There has been a lot in the media/news that I’ve been keeping up with that is also weighing me down.

I’m just sad this week.

And instead of fighting it and being angry with myself for feeling that way maybe I should just accept it.

But does anyone else get afraid that if they accept the sadness that it won’t go away?

That or I get so angry with myself because seriously, what is my excuse for feeling this way? I have an incredible husband who loves me, two beautiful cat babies, a fabulous job doing what I enjoy, a loving family, like seriously, what/why?!

Sometimes I think I’m just doing it to myself. I’m bringing it on myself.

But the strong part of me knows that is not true. I literally research the brain constantly and know that these things aren’t just “you doing it to yourself”.

So the point of my blog today?

Letting you know you aren’t alone in your struggle.

You aren’t doing this to yourself.

You are still strong when you’re weak.

You are loved. You won’t loose love.

I need to hear those words today, which leads me to believe that someone else also needs to hear those words today.

All emotions come with a message. Sad’s message is “reach for someone safe”, so today I am reaching for Shelley, when you are sad, don’t be afraid, reach for someone safe.

As for asking for what I need? Prayer.

Until next week:


May You and I be filled with loving kindness

May You and I be safe and feel protected from inner and outer danger.

May You and I be well in mind and body.

May You and I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

May You and I be free from suffering and pain both physically and emotionally.

May You and I be healthy and strong, and know it is okay to be vulnerable.

May You and I be at peace and know joy.

May You and I know love. The love of God, the divine, of others, and of self.


 

Book Recommendations: The Body Keeps Score by: Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Listening Recommendations: Podcast: My Favorite Murder

 

 

You Are Not Your Thoughts

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“You suck.”

“You’re fat.”

“You’re gross.”

You’re stupid.”

“You talk too much.”

“You don’t talk enough.”

etc.

We all have these thoughts, and if you don’t have these particular thoughts, then feel free to add in your personal thoughts.

However; I am here to tell you today that you are not your thoughts.

That was the title of my self compassion group therapy class yesterday, and the title (yes, the title) was oddly comforting to me. I am not my thoughts, I am not what I tell myself I am  in a state of panic.

And neither are you.

And I am here today to (attempt) to tell you the science behind why you are literally not your thoughts!

Let’s start with the brain, hello brain. Our brains literal only goal is survival. It doesn’t care how we survive or what it has to do or tell us to survive, it’s just going to survive. Therefore, when something unsafe happens (a car crash, a dog attack, an F on your exam, or you embarrass yourself in front of a crowd) your brain takes that in and your brain stem lights up.

HOLY CRAP THIS ISN’T GOOD I NEED FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE.

So you react. Then you store it. And your brain says,

OMG OMG That was awfuuullll I am going to do EVERYTHING in my power to make sure TAHT doesn’t happen again.

So let’s meet our next friend, the limbic system. This is where the emotions and feelings are kept (at least that’s how I understand it). SO our limbic system feels our pain and feels our joy, well encodes it. So our brain stem goes over and talks to the limbic system and says

Aye, yo, that sucky thing that just happened was so awful. We need to make sure it never happens again. So I need you to avoid pain and seek pleasure.

Limbic system says:

Can do, brotha! (or sista!)


For the limbic system to avoid pain and seek pleasure, it actually is in a constant state of scanning for potential danger.

“Our survival system is hard-wired to be on alert, scanning the environment for potential danger.”

Basically, our brain is saying “I can’t afford to not know the bad things that may come to me.”


So here we are, basically on alert at all times for something to happen. And then it does. Maybe it’s not as bad as a car crash, or a gun being held to our head, but our brain doesn’t know that, all it knows is that it feels just as scary. So we automatically move into the red zone (brain stem) and we mentally and emotionally fight, flight, or freeze.


Let’s get sciencey for a sec. So we have the sensory information (whatever just happened to us) and it goes to our Thalamus, which sends it to our amygdala and it figures our whether or not this situation is dangerous and if we’ve seen it before. Let’s say yes, we’ve seen it before, our brain shoots out cortisol and adrenaline. (Think of the situation like a trigger.) Our body then shuts down our organs (digestion for example) and focuses on pumping our blood and expanding our lungs to fight, flight, or freeze.

* Most people live in a constant state of being triggered, which means cortisol is being shot out a lot, and at high levels, cortisol can be toxic (hint hint this is what causes belly fat) (also can be a factor in heart disease because your heart is beating so fast all the time.)*


“The brain is programmed to quickly and powerfully move into the red zone at the slightest hint of detection of threat and danger. The brain powerfully stores experiences involving pain and fear; red zone experiences leaves a deep impact.”


Now what we want to try to do is not stop at our brain stem and limbic system. We want to take that experience to our pre frontal cortex and make meaning our of it. (This is where our executive functioning is).

So…why don’t we naturally do that anyway?

Well, because first of all, the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until 25 andddddddddd if someone has endured a large amount of trauma, it may not even ever develop for them.

So this is where the work comes in. This is where I don’t have an answer, because this is where I am still working. But I can tell you this. It can’t be done alone. Research state: “It takes 60% more glucose (think of it as energy) levels in the brain to calm ourselves than it does when we reach out for someone else and they help soothe us. (This is why we reach for so much high calorie food and surgery drinks when we are in stressful situations (aka: brain stem).)

We need to create new experiences for ourselves (and our brains) and we can’t do that without a safe person.

Your trauma counts. The brain can’t tell the difference between the loss of connection to a loved one or friend and the loss of a life. The same areas in the brain light up.

You aren’t dramatic.

You aren’t overthinking it.

You aren’t your thoughts.

It’s scientifically proven.

You just need to experience new experiences to know you are safe. And that’s a brave step to take. To reach out when you’re scared. But there are safe places, and safe people, and you never have to go through anything alone. There is no measurement of trauma, because it’s the emotions we connect by not the event.

You are worthy.

You are enough.

You are loved.

Currently reading: The Body Keeps Score by: Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Currently Listening: My Favorite Murder (Podcast)

 

To suffer with…self?

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Hi, remember me? I don’t blame if you if you don’t…I can barely remember the last time I blogged, but its definitely been longer than a hot second.

So let me catch you up: veganism is out the window, because I just can’t… but I can be more mindful. So happy eggs from my sister in laws farm it is! And I don’t intake much dairy anyway, so yeah…compromise.

Anywho: anxiety.

Yeah, it’s still here. It goes up and down. Right now its up, but I did something very brave (at least my therapist says its brave). I’ve started going to a self compassion group therapy class. It’s weird in the sense that other people get to see me vulnerable, rather than just reading about my vulnerability. And let me just tell you, I’d rather you read about it all day long than me actually have to admit it to you face to face. But alas, we’ll get there.

But I’ve been going through all the information I’ve received in the literal two times I’ve gone so far and I’m struggling to process it in the sense of taking it in for me and applying it to myself. I just want to take all the information I’ve learned and create a training out of it and share it with the WORLD (or at least my eight surrounding counties in West Virginia…).

But that’s not the point of this group.

The point is that I have to apply it to myself. I have to let myself feel vulnerable in front of others but especially in front of myself and wow, that’s hard.

Compassion literally means to suffer with… so does self compassion literally mean to suffer with…myself?

I suppose so.

I struggle to separate the two: self compassion and self pity. When I even think about being self compassionate, my mind goes straight to “I NEED TO STOP WALERING IN MY OWN SELF PITY LAWD“.

Yesterday, I was told these are different. I guess it makes sense. When a friend is suffering, to show empathy for them we must reach inside ourselves to feel that same pain and to suffer with them to show them they’re not alone. So, when we are suffering, we must reach inside ourselves and suffer with ourselves to show ourselves empathy.

Easier said than done.

Self Compassion honors:

1.) All human beings are fallible. (We all mess up! Not just you, not just me.)

2.) Wrong choices and feelings of regret are inevitable. (We made the best decision we could make at the time.)

3.) Feelings of disappointment and inadequacy are shared by all. (We are not alone.)

Let me repeat that for those in the back,

We are not alone.

You are not alone.

I am not alone.

Even when you or I feel like we are suffering so deeply within ourselves and can’t get a freakin thing right and are the dumbest thing that’s ever walked the earth and we stand up just to stumble again and we are disappointing all the people we encounter and you are a lost cause…you, YOU are stillnot alone.

SO, step one: meet inner critic.

mmm, okay…

At group we are told that our inner critic isn’t necessarily bad and to think of them as a passenger in our “car”. They are there to keep us safe, but they have no business in being the driver.

Mine drivers a lot..

Yours might too.

We were asked to: notice when you are being self critical (uhm, almost always…), and think about what you’ve said to yourself. Try to be as accurate as possible. So here we are:

  • My self critic is driving:
    • When I decide not to work out
    • When I do workout and it is not up to my personal standards
    • When I eat something I consider bad
    • When I don’t understand something
    • When I feel upset
    • When I’m tired
    • When I eat too much
    • When I don’t drink enough water
    • When I don’t finish my to-do list
    • When I don’t pray/devotion/go to church
    • When I have a lazy day
    • When I’m sad
    • When I’m anxious
  • What you say to yourself:
    • “You’re going to get cancer at a young age.”
    • “You look gross.”
    • “I’m disgusted with myself.”
    • “Why would you do/say that?”
    • “You’re an idiot.”
    • “You’re going to get overweight and loose your husband.”
    • “Get yourself together or you’re going to loose your husband.”
    • “You’re flakey.”
    • “You don’t care enough.”
    • You’re a terrible Christian.”
    • “Stop being so dramatic.”
    • “Stupid.”
    • “You’re being a baby.”
    • “You’re overreacting.”
    • “You’re overthinking, again.”
    • “Do you even know what you’re talking about…”

My self critic tends to refer to me as Caitlyn, which as most of you may or may not know is actually my first name.

We were also asked to notice the voice of our self critic, is it female or male and does it remind you of someone in your past…

I struggle with this because I don’t picture it as anything, I guess its my own voice.

It’s me.

I blame myself for so much, that I can’t even begin to picture my self critic as anything or anyone else besides myself.

Which is difficult when it comes to deciding what it looks like because I see it as me.

Now for the hard part: “make an active effort to soften the self-critical voice, but do so with compassion rather than self-judgement.”

Therefore… talk to yourself as you would a close friend or family member who is hurting.

Today, I am committing to this.

I am committing to being compassionate with myself.

Thank you, thank you for reading through my process.

I will take any tips, if I have any readers who have figured out self compassion.

Current Read: December by: Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop (Its fabulous)

Current Listen: Coffee Convos (Yes, don’t judge.)

“Incline your mind towards kindness.”

What if we didn’t label it…

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You know what I really love to do?

Write about my therapy sessions.

But it’s because Shelley always blows my mind with perfectly valid comments and suggestions!! I feel like I need to share her amazing advice with the world!!!

Plus it helps me process.

Anywho

So the mind is an incredible thing, and when given the freedom to do what it wants, it can take over your life. Which is amazing and terrifying at the exact same time. Well, my mind has been driving me lately, since January really. And you know what triggered it? (Gotta know those triggers, y’all)

  • The amount of school shootings in one, one month of the new year.
  • Shameless (Okay, I know its the craziest show ever but it can be kind of soul sucking after a Netflix binge. I wouldn’t recommend this as a binge worthy show to anyone who takes things to heart.)
  • Friends/ Connections
  • Not wanting to do Jiujitsu anymore
  • Calvinism/Church

So for the average person this is like, okay thoughts that you have and that filter through your brain and move on. But no, not for Mrs Elyssa Burch, I obsess. Then my mind is a whirl wind, and I’m tired, and I can’t put words to how I feel because I just feel “off” and I want to lay down or be left alone or sleep.

So I go into Shelley’s office and explain this to her. I explain to her whats been weighing on me and that I truly don’t feel like doing anything and that this isn’t me and I’m afraid I’m going down a big black hole and I continue talking in run on sentences before she’s finally able to stop me with:

Shelley: “I’m curious why these things make you feel sad or anxious.”

Me: “I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it.”

Me, the queen of analyzing never thought to stop and wonder why these surface level things gave me such anxiety. So we dug deep with a one of them, the one most weighed heavily on my mind lately.

  • Friends/Connections

I explained to Shelley that some days I have to make myself talk to the people in my life. Whether it is going downstairs at work to talk to my coworkers, joining in during a conversation at life group, or even talking with a yoga instructor when I go to yoga classes. I told her that I’m more content just watching things go by than engaging in real deep, vulnerable conversation, but then in the same exact breath I am urning for those deep,  vulnerable connections with people. It’s hard for me to have a type of discussion thats not surface level, and that frustrates me about myself. I can type all day long behind this screen to share with the world, but to have this face to face conversation, is hard. I sweat. My eyes tend to dart. My mind drawls blanks. Then Shelley says:

“So, why is it a bad thing that you struggle having vulnerable conversations? You’re protecting your heart. You are still getting the feel of  people that are new to your life. You’re seeing if they will be a safe person in your life. I think that’s brave and strong that you don’t just have vulnerable conversations with just anyone. You still have a lot of trauma surroundings relationships you are working through. What if you just didn’t feel like talking today? Not labeling it as bad or wrong but just as you don’t feel like talking right now, maybe later.

Oh. Hah.

Now that’s difficult, not labeling emotions/feelings as right or wrong and just letting them be.

But I love it.

And honestly, its something I say all the time!


For those of you that don’t know,  I’m a behavior consultant and during every recommendations meeting I’ve had this far I’ve said “Being angry isn’t bad, and we need to show these children that this isn’t a bad way to feel, and we need to give them an appropriate way to cope with these big hard feelings.”


Yet, I label my own feelings as right or wrong/ good or bad all the time.

So what if we didn’t label it?

What if it is as it is and we work through it?

We all have some sort of trauma we are working through, everyone.


Which is why mental health is SO important and it’s something we look over all the time (but this is for another blog session, I will step off my pedestal now).


So what if things just happened and we didn’t label it?

What if feelings just happened and we didn’t label it?

How would that change our outlook on life?

How would that change our day to day activity?

This coming weekend and week I encourage you to not label anything as good or bad, and I will try it too. We will support one another in this challenge. And I’m excited to see how our outlook changes ❤ 

We are changing the wiring of our brains by changing the way we think about things, how beautiful is that! 

Book Recommendations: The Alchemist By: Paulo Coelho

P.S. I will try to blog more in 2018

 “Self discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.”

The Best Advice I Ever Got Sitting on a Love Seat

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Soooo this is exactly why I will never be able to actually make a career out of blogging…I’m literally not even a little bit consistent, but it’s the Holidays! That counts as an excuse right?

Everyone is busier around the Holidays!

Except to be completely honest with  you guys I’ve started two other blogs prior to this one and finished them about half way and overthought whether they were good or not and now they are in the deep dark draft file. We’ll see, maybe one day they’ll get published.

“Published”

Ah hem, anyway, with Christmas being twelve – I repeat 12 – days away, my mind has began thinking about New Years… and New Years Resolutions.

Guys, I’m the worst at New Years Resolutions. I am all like:

I am going to give up sugar and workout everyday and loose five pounds and drink water and give up coffee and literally be so perfect.  This year is my year! I will never make a mistake again!”

And then January second rolls around and I’ve had three cups of coffee, a candy bar, and I skipped a workout, and I overslept. Then I am all like:

“Okay, maybe next year.”

*Insert annoyed emoji face here*


So about two weeks ago I am sitting on this very nice love seat, twiddling my thumbs, starring at the ground, and explaining to my saint of a therapist that I am a bit frustrated with myself. I explain to her that my current mind obsession has been food/working out (anyway who knows me at all, knows that this has been my current obsession for a couple years now).


Note to reader: I don’t pick my obsessions, they come on quick and they take over my thoughts. I pride myself in learning new ways to change them, but I’ve learned that trying to fix the thoughts, just makes them worse. Because any thoughts that are pushing you towards perfection are absolutely impossible to appease.


I explain to her that sometimes, all I focus on for an entire day is what I’ve eaten, or what I’m going to eat, or what I should’ve eaten to meet the standards. I went on and on about how I don’t really know if I’m working out right or hard enough or enough period or if I’m having too much sugar or if I am going to gain weight or if this or that. Then I take a deep breath: “I feel like I could go so much farther in life and in my career if I can get rid of these nagging thoughts. I feel like I could let my passions soar if I wasn’t weighted down by these nagging thoughts!” And just like any good saint of a therapist she looks at me and says, “What if you created some boundaries for yourself around food and working out that were manageable, rather than placing these unrealistic expectations on yourself that you struggle daily to reach? What if you decided what was best for you instead of what you think you should be doing?”

 

Hm, good point Shelley…

All of a sudden this beautiful bright light bulb went off in my head. Of course!


I can’t reach the expectations I place on myself. I can’t reach the New Years Resolutions I dream up in my head.

But I can do what makes my body feel good. I can create boundaries to keep myself safe, happy, and healthy without making them so rigid that I wear myself out everyday trying to reach perfection. So this year I am going with intentions.


Intention: Noun: an aim or plan

Resolution: Noun: a firm decision to do or not do something


I can intend to do something. I can make a plan, I can aim towards boundaries. When I intend to do something, I can mess up, and come back to my intention , forgive myself, and try again.

However, I am a human. I can not make a resolution. I can not make a firm decision to stop drinking coffee tomorrow, because I have been drinking coffee since I was twenty years old. I can’t break a habit like that. But I can make a plan, I can aim to reduce my caffeine intake.

I can’t make a resolution to stop eating sugar. Because February will come around, and my husband will buy me chocolate, because I love chocolate. But I can intend to cut down on my sugar intake, and eat the chocolate he buys me.

This year I am going with intentions, and the main one, to be gentle with myself.

Easier said than done, but we’ve got to try.

“Today you are you, that is truer than true! There is no one alive who is youer than you!” Dr. Seuss


You know what else is just incredible? God made this entire magnificent world, and decided he needed to place you in it too ♥ You are loved by the creator of the entire universe.

Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year Y’all!

Recommended reading: Uninvited By: Lysa Terkeurst

(I still haven’t finished it, but it’s very good thus far)

Life changing…television?

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Okay, so for the longest time I refused to watch How I Met Your Mother. I had tried to randomly pop into a few episodes here and there and I just couldn’t manage to find it humorous. I claimed it was because the actors were “trying to too hard” but I think it was  deep down in my heart I didn’t want any television show to replace my deep passionate love for Friends.

But then I married my husband.

Mark loves to watch How I Met Your Mother and he thought it was practically heart breaking that I didn’t find it funny, so he made it his personal mission in life to change my heart on the matter. But he also knows my incredible attention span and how amazingly short it truly can be. So he just picked out the best episodes from every season and picked out the episodes that I would need to see to understand all of the inside jokes.  Then he lead me to the final season in which we are watching episode by episode. And I’ll admit it… I really enjoy it. I love the connections and the sense of humor during the entire thing, plus I’m a sap at heart and enjoy a good love story.

But I know what you’re thinking…

Okay that’s cool for you but what is the actual point of your blog…?

WELL GUYS, AN EPISODE MAY HAVE ACTUALLY CHANGED MY LIFE!

*read this next run on in one breath as quickly as possible…trust me it’s fun.

Its the episode where the mom is sad because her boyfriend died and her friend convinced her to go out on the town and she runs into her old orchestra teacher and invites him over to give him an instrument and he takes it the wrong way and she comes out of her bedroom and BAM he is all nakey nakey in her living room and she’s all like freaking out?!?!

*and breathe after the run on sentence.

Well fast track past the awko taco part and she is talking to him about how she doesn’t know what she is supposed to be doing with life and he gives her the best life advice ever:

Pick what you want to accomplish/what you want to do…now every decision you make should reflect that. 

I’m just gonna let that sink in for you like it did for me.

Is it weird that I think God may have spoken to me through a television show? To each there own, but I really think so. I needed that. I’ve been in this constant struggle with the fact that I know what I want to do but I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing it.

I even started to get frustrated with myself.

It’s like I know what needs to be changed, I know what needs to be better but how the heck am I going to accomplishing that.

My passion- like many of you know- is to make a change in the field of early childcare. I want people to know/understand/care how amazing and important these little guys are and how vulnerable they are. I want people to realize that these children are incredibly smart and their brains are literally going insane with connections and synapses are firing and we need to support their growth as they flourish!

I want parents to know that their babies brains are recording at the time of conception.

I want adults to know that children are feeling, seeing, and hearing everything for the first time! It’s our job to teach them how to manage all of these big emotions, take the time to admire what they have found, and watch what we say. Even when they can’t talk they are taking in what you are saying.

Okay okay, I’m jumping off my pedestal or this blog post is going to be too long and you’ll loose your attention span.

In a nut shell,

I want to create quality care. I want to create the most beautiful and encouraging childcare center.

But I’m not in the place to do that right now, and that bothered me a little bit  lot.

At the same time though, I didn’t feel like I was making the difference I wanted to make in the classroom because that was just one room, I want all children to get the care/education/love/support they deserve! But mainly I want states to care more about a child’s education from birth to preschool than test score later in life.

But after hearing that quote I realize now that I’m headed fiercely in that direction. I’m in the position to educate myself, to educate providers, and to educate my state. And every decision I make from here on out will be to pursue that dream even more, and one day, when I’m in the right place in the right time, I will work to open that childcare center I dream up in my mind.

That quote made me realize my potential. It rekindled my passion and excitement.

I hope it does the same for you.

Whatever you dream of is not out of reach, even when it feels like it, even when you feel too old, too tired, too uneducated, too poor, it’s not and you’re not.

Every decision you make should reflect and bring you one step closer to reaching your dream. 

Mission

I know– I am almost a week behind on my “Monday blog post” but this October is officially named “Where in the World is Elyssa Burch?” because I have about 2348971234 different places I will be going to that are out of town this month.

BUT ANYWAY

This past Monday I went to a three hour training on Core Values/Personal Goals/Personal Mission Statement. If you know me then you know what my first thought was…

3 hours sitting in one spot……….

Where is the closest coffee shop so I don’t fall asleep….?

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But guys, hear me out…it was an eye opening experience.

Think about the following questions, like really think about them.

What do you value?

Out of all the things in the world can you pick 7-10 things you truly value?

Out of those 7-10 values do you have a personal mission statement for your life?

What are your goals for your life? Do they reflect your mission statement?

…….

*Crickets*

Okay guys, to put it bluntly, this was freakin’ hard for me. Some things I said I valued I realize I rarely practice in my personal life and I had no idea how to pick a mission statement to reflect my core values.

I mean, I value healthy food, but at the same time I’m eating 2 cookies and a slice of cake whenever offered…I value a healthy lifestyle but given the chance I typically choose to avoid a good workout…I value mental strength…but I don’t actually take the time to give my mind a rest and meditate.

Sometimes I worry or wonder (some days I just think…some days I just think until I’m in a panic! It’s great, really!) that I am just going through the motions. Because as much as I hate to admit it, as a 25 year old recent college graduate and newly working adult in a career I enjoy, I can’t think of any personal goals I have for myself.

Don’t judge

I focused so much for seven years on getting through college, and getting that degree so I could CHANGE THE WORLD OF EARLY CHILDHOOD FOR THE BETTTTTTTTTER!

(we all have big goals when your biggest complaint is an 8am Biology lecture)

Now I have that (those) degree(s) and I have that job that puts me in a position to make Early Childhood Education better by offering support and resources to teachers, but what about me?

I don’t knoooow?!

I thought the hardest decision was supposed to be picking your major in college! I mean, heck, it took me a year to settle into a major! And now I’m a college graduate and I have to decide my personal mission statement for my life that reflects my core values? Personal goals?

Oh, heck.

I like focusing on things other than myself.

But why is that?

Surely I’m not alone in that thought…

Do you ever wonder why you agree to do some things?

I never thought about this either until it was brought up at said training. Is your “yes” reflective of your personal mission statement?

Or non existent statement if you’re like me and have never heard of this before.

So this weekend I’ve decided I’m really going to focus on my values (err learning my “core values”) and I encourage you to do the same!

I found this neato Core Value Assessment online.

Go through and do it, but I challenge you to only pick 7-10 of the core values that are offered. Really think about it!

I welcome you with open arms to join me on this journey of learning ourselves and our core values!

I would really love to hear from you and your process if you choose to join me!

Connect with me:

Facebook: Elyssa Burch

Instagram: @Elyssa_burch

 

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God bless this hot mess

Above all else, love

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“It’s tempting to live as though life will go on forever. Because of this, we forget to appreciate each and every moment.”

As I was laying on the couch last night I was mulling over some ideas for my Monday Blog Session… I came up with some good ones and I even heard a quote last week that I wanted to base my post off of, but all of that will have to wait.

This morning while making a cup of coffee I was skimming through Facebook and noticed the first post…

“Prayers for Vegas”

I didn’t think much of it until I continued scrolling…and started seeing more news stories:

“At least 20 dead, more than 100 injured after shooting at Las Vegas Strip music festival” Posted around 6am..

“At least 50 dead, more than 200 injured after shooting at Las Vegas Strip music festival” Posted just an hour later…

I couldn’t really wrap my head around it, all I could really think was…

dang.

wow.

why?

As I was driving to work I listened to an interview of a mother who was at the festival with her 11 year old daughter. Of course she talked about the chaos, and how scary it was. She mentioned how traumatizing the event was for her daughter, especially it being her first experience at a concert. The guy then asked the mother, “Out of all of this bad, can you find any good?” My ears quickly perked up, curious of what her answer could possibly be…

“Everyone banded together in that moment. It didn’t matter what your race was or what your religion was. In that moment we united as a nation and the entire crowd worked together to save as many people as possible.”

Hearing that come from a woman who just experienced possibly the worst/scariest night of her life truly sent a chill down my spine. 

I began to imagine all of the concerts I’ve been to- never expecting it to be my last, all of the places I have traveled to with my husband- always expecting to make it back home, and all of the times that I hug people goodbye- expecting to see them later.

Two weeks ago I heard of a mother who passed away from years of battling cancer, leaving a husband and two children under the age of 10 behind.

Last week I heard of a father who passed away from a sudden heart attack while on vacation, leaving behind a wife, kids, and young grandchildren.

We always say we aren’t promised tomorrow, but it’s difficult to really let that sink in.

As of right now (1:40 PM) the last article I read was titled:

“At least 58 dead, more than 515 injured after shooting at Las Vegas Strip music festival”

58 people who expected to show back up to work. 58 people who kissed a loved one goodbye as they went to the concert, 58 people who expected tomorrow.

I’m not saying this to be gloomy, and I’m not saying this to bring anyone down.

I am saying this as a reminder to slow down, notice, and love.

We all have the mind set to rush, to get the week done to bring on the weekend, to get through this semester to get to graduation, to get through the day so a nap can be taken, to get through a family dinner so a TV show can be watched, to get through the next few years, because then life can really start

No.

I want to challenge you (and myself) ((again)).

Starting today,

right now,

to begin to notice.

Slow down and notice.

Slow down and appreciate.

The next hug you give, sink into it.

The next time you laugh, really feel that laughter in every inch of your body.

The next time you argue with someone, forgive them.

The next time you leave for work, pray over your spouse.

The next time you are with your family, your spouse, a child, put your phone down.

The next time you look back at a picture, relive that moment.

The next time you take a picture, take it of something you’re grateful for.


I would absolutely love to see your grateful pictures! Post them in the comments, on facebook or instragram! Tag me: Elyssa Burch (FB) or Elyssa_burch (insta)


When your child wants to play, stop and play.

When your spouse wants a kiss, stop and kiss.

When your mom and/or dad want to see you, go see them.

And even though your brothers will roll their eyes at you and come off with a smirky comment, tell them you love them. (okay, maybe that one was mainly for me)

Who cares about debt, put down payments, and be happy.

Who cares if you’ve changed your major a million times, keeping exploring your options, change it a million more.

Who cares if you aren’t exactly where you want to be living yet, live to your fullest right where you are while you work towards your goals.

Who cares if your kids favorite word is “No”, at least they are learning communication skills.

Don’t wait until ________ happens to be happy or feel complete. Be happy now. Be grateful now. Thank Jesus now for He completes you.

 

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understandings.

Proverbs 3:5

Book Recommendations: This week, I’m going to have to say your Bible, because everyone (including myself) needs to remember to lean on the Lord during hard times ❤

Keep doin’ you, and until next week 🙂


** I would love to hear feedback on how “Next time I will…” went for everyone!!**