Anxiety

#BADASSWOMENCONFESS

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I must confess…. I too am in fact, a BADASS WOMAN. And I am PROUD OF MY BADASSERY.

I never pass up a good opportunity.
I don’t play dumb.
I am active.
I work very hard.
And I like a challenge.
I make decisions in my life based on what is right for me.
I follow my intuition.
I am a warrior goddess.
I live in the world of reality, work, recreation, creativity, and the soul.
I devote time to me and those I love.

I do not let people walk on me.
I gracefully (and sometimes not so gracefully) love people, but I do not let people take advantage of me.
I am genuine, no bullshit, strong.
My morals are high and I am honest to a fault.
I have tattoos.
I rock climb.
I enjoy getting my hands dirty.
I am real, and I am a BADASS WOMAN.

And, I am imperfect. My life can be messy, my mind can be messy, and my heart can be messy.

In my first few years of college I struggled greatly with anxiety. Fear consumed me and left me hopeless and exhausted. Despite my BADASSNESS, at times I struggled to make it through the day. I spent many days isolating and avoiding. Until I began to do my work and recover. It took all my determination to move forward.

At 26 I was married after a 7 year long relationship, and at 27, I was divorced. My world crashed around me, as I released the life plans I had made and ventured into my new reality. While I knew I did not want to end my marriage, I could no longer sustain my heart and soul energy in that relationship. I made the brave and terrifying decision to leave. I promptly planned a party with my closest friends to celebrate the separation. And I moved on.

Many tears later, here I am. Braver, stronger, smarter, and more content. What did it take to get me here, to a place of more stability and contentment? A few key elements helped me survive these difficult periods in my life.

I believe that walking towards fear and depth is one key element to my growth. When I am fearful, I know it is an indication of an attachment I have to the world or life.

Reaching out to friends and family for support has also been invaluable for my heart and soul. I am eternally grateful for the unwavering support of my friends and family.

Mentors and spiritual experiences along the path have guided me to remove the limits I place on myself.

And my own personal work has been the most important aspect of my growth. I have worked with therapists, coaches, and supervisors throughout my life. I would not be able to show up for my clients without doing my own work. I know my shadows and my light. I practice self-care and self-compassion.

Being a BADASS WOMAN means stepping up to the challenge of self exploration. It takes bravery and determination to delve into your own depths and know your shadows and light. Being a BADASS WOMAN means feeling your emotions and following your soul’s path.

To living into the fullness of your badassary,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows badass women in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

5 WAYS #BADASSWOMENRELAX

 

 

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For part two of my blog series on my favorite kind of women – the BADASS WOMAN – I thought I would write a little about how to incorporate relaxation in to the badass woman lifestyle.

Badass women are women who function highly in many different areas of life and career paths. If you are a BADASS WOMAN, you refuse to take shit from others and stand firm in your beliefs, ideals, and life choices. You are not afraid of climbing the ladder, telling someone what they think, and being successful. You know what the line between right and wrong and you make sure others follow in the lines. You almost never choose the easy road, you chose the road you want. You are polite and caring, generous, yet, no one can stand in the way of what you want. You may be in a high powered position or perhaps you have chosen an alternative career, but you are most definitely great at what you do and an invaluable worker.

For all you badass women out there, you know how difficult it can be to really take time for yourself to relax. You are set on “DO” mode and may find it a struggle to just “BE.” Perhaps you relax with TV series, netflix movies in solitude and/or spend free time socializing. Your socializing includes time out with friends drinking or using substances to relax and you feel like you have to be “ON” all the times, maybe even as if you are the entertainment for the crowd.

You wear a mask and seldom feel as if you are yourself while out with friends. In your solitude, you may fill the hours with entertainment and while it is relaxing to numb out in front of a screen, you feel as if you there is something missing. You may even try yoga, running or other sports and still feel disconnected from receiving benefits of the activity. You feel inauthentic, as if you are acting a part, a fraud. You want to DO SOMETHING, but you are not sure what. 

As you tune into your body, you come into the awareness that you often feel either angry or anxious. It feels like this fluctuation is present almost constantly. At times you may rage out, only later to come to the realization that you overreacted and likely regret your behavior. In times of anxiety, it is difficult to settle, to sitstill and think clearly. You hide from others the distressful state of your internal world and push through the day. You cannot seem to just relax anymore.

The real trouble is that you feel out of control of your internal world. You can’t believe it has gotten to this place and you are ready to do something to ease the pain and struggle. 

The great news is that you did not chose to create this internal world for yourself, it has happened over time and you can recover. Your behaviors, while no longer serving you, are protective in nature and have kept you safe.

Here are some places to start to relax. 

  1. Gratitude.  Thank your mind and body for protecting you. Anger and anxiety are animal defense mechanisms. When they arise, your mind and body are trying to keep you safe. Remember to be thankful for your body and mind’s protection rather than beating yourself up for having these reactions. Adding a layer of guilt and shame to your worries can further exacerbate your overall stress level.
  2. Breath.  Breathing is a powerful mechanism for turning on the self-soothing chemicals in your mind and body. Breathing in 3 counts and out 6 counts can turn on soothing chemicals in your body, turning off the stress response. Try breathing in the 3 inhale, 6 exhale count about 4 times and notice how it changes your body state.
  3. Progressive muscle relaxation. Before going to sleep, spend five minutes tensing and then relaxing each muscle group of your body, one at a time. Or if you prefer, just relax and don’t tense muscles. Start with your toes and move to the top of your head, relaxing one muscle group at a time with each exhale.
  4. Connection. Humans are wired to connect for survival. It is important to spend time connecting with people while doing calm activities. Yoga, meditation, hiking, making art, and attending religious services all can be very soothing. Spending a few hours of your week participating in these activities can improve your mood and help you feel relaxed throughout your week.
  5. Solitude. Spend some time in soulful activity on your own. Explore meditation, mindful walking, making art, dancing, or any other soul nourishing activity for just one hour a week on your own. Notice how that one hour a week can affect your week.
  6. Reach out. Because connection and relationship is such a large part of our functioning, reaching out for help and receiving help may be the most powerful tool for overall relaxation and mood stability. Often dysregulation of your mood and mind is a result of very old wounds in our relationships. Repairing these wounds with a therapist is powerfully healing. The great thing about this is that it does not necessarily mean sharing traumatic stories, instead the focus is on the limiting beliefs you may have.

Much love and gratitude to you in your journey,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows badass women in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

FROM GRIPPING TO EMBRACING FEAR

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Today I take a step towards embracing fear and releasing my grip on fear.

You may not believe this….. but guess what? I am an imperfect psychotherapist.

I am on my own journey, weaving in and out of the depths and surface of this life. I delve deep and stay for a moment, in solitude, attuned to my inner goddess. Shortly after, I get in my car and drive around Washington DC or listen to a stand-up comedian and exist on the surface. The next day, I show up to hold the space for my clients, walking with them in their own journey in and out of the depths of soul and surface. I show up for different people in the place that they feel comfortable, accessing the different levels and parts of my being. At times the chameleon-like process feels like whiplash, though well worth the disorientation for the experiences and souls I have the pleasure of encountering. 

Today, I acknowledge my fear.

I journey in and out of depth and consciousness, lack of awareness and forgetting, surface living, and reaction.

At times the fear feels consuming and my body tightens in response to the fear. My breathing constricts, my palms sweat, my heart races, and my gut feels unsettled. As I notice the reaction has already occurred, I recognize that I did not intervene before it had a hold on me.

I acknowledge the hold of my primitive reptilian flight response
and begin to take breaths. 

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

I notice my body loosen, my heart slows. My mind slows and becomes more at ease. I see that fear again but from a more objective place. I see that my habitual response around this fear is to grip, grasp, hold on for dear life. Yet, my life is not at stake.

I REMEMBER my baggage, the internal space I continually have to go back to and challenge myself on. The attachments and expectations I created long long ago as a small child to have the illusions of control and certainty.

Today I release certainty and embrace my fear. I REMEMBER that fear is part of the experience. It informs but does not have to cause suffering. I lovingly embrace fear as it returns and listen in to what it has to tell me.

To remembering in this breath and moment,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work on anxiety & fear in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Materializing Intentions

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My mind is swirling with energy and ideas. I can feel the pull of planetary and cosmic energy that Amy Tatsumi spoke with me about earlier in the week. I show up in a mixed up state in meeting with Amy, describing the same confused yet inspired energy that my clients and those close to me show up with this week.

The beginnings of transformative energy – of the spring, of the planets, and of the collective unconscious. I struggle to pinpoint where this energy is headed, I do not have clarity. Inevitably, with that lack of clarity, my instinct is to grasp for certainty and rituals, anxiety. Yet, I am reminded by signs and those around me, of my trust in the path I that I am on and choose instead to surrender rather than grasp certainty. 

The energy in the universe, having both the possibility for destruction or creation, swirls around us all. I choose to revel in the open energy, the creative energy and the possibilities. I do not close my body and foresee negative futures. The power of my intentions, along with my faith, and the support of reverberating energy drives me forward to a place of peace, contentment, and abundance. My body smiles as I embrace my heart on my first jog of the springlike weather.

Like Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her book “Big Magic,” I catch creativity from others as some of my creative energy is passed on to others.

I own the concept for a time, embrace it, understand it on a deep level and then it moves on to a friend, client or colleague.

I am reminded today of the transformative energy of the seasons, new growth through intentions, and the power of intentions and meditation.

I am grateful for the moments of grace in which I experience this wild creative energy flowing through me.

As such, I feel the pull to share the possibility of setting intentions with you, inspired by a soul sister – Abby Kase. 

Consider a long term intention you have. Allow it to take shape from your creative center in the moment, whether is arises from you gut, heart, soul, or elsewhere. Let it materialize and take shape, perhaps not fully formed into words, in the form of an image, mantra, or abstract and felt sense. Allow it to be authentic and connected to the depth of your inner knowing. Meditate on it for a short time or a long time, imagining living as if the intention was already integrated into your life.

When you feel ready, represent the intention on paper in whatever manner you wish. Name it to the universe with words if you like, say it out loud if you can. In a safe space, maybe even in the moonlight, light the page and allow the ashes to be blown away in the wind.

To materializing your intentions,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to explore energy or intention materialization in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

STEPPING OUT OF THE STORY

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I know my old story.

It is :: I AM BROKEN.

And even before that it is :: I AM NOT WORTHY.

The stigma of having been divorced, the first of my friends and in my age group to do so, often bites at my heals, begging for me to pick it up and ride the downward spiral of WHAT IFs and SHOULDS. 

What if I tried harder to make the relationship work?
What if I wasn’t tolerant enough of my husband’s behavior?
What if I had staged an intervention?

I should have been able to see it sooner and leave…I wasted so many years.

I should have known, as a therapist, what my husband’s issues and my issues were.

I should have been able to help myself.

I should be married with children now.

And then the WHYs come parading into my brain in an endless stream of existential confusion.

Why have I been given this life?
Why must I go through these trials?
Why can’t I have the family I dreamed of as a child?
Why do they teach us fairy tales as children if that is not the script of reality?
Why didn’t anyone see what was wrong and tell me to leave the relationship?
Why can’t I get it right?

How long have I held this belief of unworthiness? Where did it start? Why is it so hard to shake?

I get lost in the story and forget to breathe. I look at the clock and I see how much precious time I have wasted trying to figure out an answer to the uncertainty of life. The unsolvable.

Then I melt into the embrace of unknowing and uncertainty, gratitude towards my path, trusting that I am headed in the direction I am supposed to be going. The anxiety and groundlessness ends as I sink into my feet, allowing the energy to disperse throughout my limbs and trunk, loosening my grip physically and mentally. I take a few moments to notice the peace I am currently surrounded by, the smell, the image, the sounds. I send an energetic bow of thanks to the universe for giving me the journey I am on, appreciating the highs and lows, the experience as a whole.

To say it no longer hits me would be a lie. I can, with strong conviction, assert that it hits me much less often and for short increments of time before I identify it, kiss it, and say goodbye. I trust my path. Only with time and practice have I learned to tune into this power, my power, my own intuition drawn from my feminine divine energy. 

I invite you to tune into your feminine divine energy to step out of your story when you can. To end the cycle of rumination over the unsolvable and unknowable and instead to tune into and be grateful for what you have now.

To tuning into the Divine Feminine in you, me & us,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute consultation for art therapy, talk therapy or sensorimotor psychotherapy to begin the process stepping out of the story, email kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Waiting…

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Sometimes I forget this little nugget of wisdom.

And every single time I encounter it again it feels like a slap in the face.

The moment of shame passes as I notice the possible suffering I could put myself through by focusing on what I did not do right. And as I step out of the sticky grasping hands of shame, I lift my head up in gratitude to the universal energy that granted me this wisdom once again. Thankful for the chance to let go of another layer of limitation I have subconsciously placed on myself.

I wait.

I wait to feel happy.

One day I will have a family, then I can be happy. One day I will have the finances to feel secure and stable, then I can be happy. One day I will be turning away business, and then I can be happy. One day I will be able to completely trust my partner, and then I will be happy. One day I will reach this goal, one day I will reach that achievement.

 

One day, one day, one day.

 

This timeline for happiness exists subconsciously in my mind. Waiting for a future date before it can be released. Because I am a work in progress I cannot be fully happy today.

 

And then I snap out of it.

 

Today! Today I will be content with who I am and where I am headed no matter the future. I unleash my full potential for contentment, love, happiness, release of fears, and I embrace the uncertainty of now. I will not wait until that magical date in the future when I have achieved that goal. I have the gift of this present moment and I will live in it fully, imperfectly, no matter the outcome.

What are your magical timelines for happiness?

When will you allow yourself to enjoy the present?

To snapping out of it,

Kim

If you would like to release the waiting, email me at kim@yoursoultherapy.com to schedule a free 20 minute phone consult.

LIVING FROM YOUR HEARTSPACE

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I would like to invite you on a journey with me. While it is my journey, it is also yours :: this is our journey. We are the divine feminine, and our collective souls unite in the still frames of our lives through whispers and symbols, images, songs, and energetic vibrations.

Over the last five years of my life I have been called to recognize my soul. I was propelled by a process which I could not stop, something so much bigger than my previous life agenda, that I was unprepared to accept into my life. Over the last five years of my life I have died and have been rebirthed many times. I went through the deepest of lows to encounter a contentment and attunement with life that continues to awe me in every moment that I receive it. While the feeling is not ever constant, the glimpses sustain my contentment throughout my day now.

And yet, I live among the hustle and bustle of the city. An energy chameleon, I shift with the vibrations that surround me, knowing I am unchangeable at my core. I sway with the flow of the creatures I encounter and love openly, spaciously, without limits. I do not presume to believe I have reached some level of enlightenment or have the knowledge necessary to impart lessons upon you. I only seek to live genuinely and connect.

I want to share my experiences with you, what brought me here, my path, and where continue to tread. I want you to share your journey with me and to have a community in which we might open our hearts and soul spaces and resonate with one another. With the new year, I invite you to start to follow your heart and soul into the depth of feminine experience and towards your own freedom.

My intention is to unite weekly to we explore the feminine experience on all levels equally and free from judgement, the superficial of embellishing our bodies to the depth of existential questions. We will touch upon science and spiritual, as well as the intersection of the two. We will listen to the speech of our bodies as a catalyst for discussion and change. We will use image to explore and join with the collective feminine. And we will celebrate and honor both the ups and downs of the journey.

Please begin this journey with me by suggesting what topics you may be interested in exploring.

What does the New Year bring up for you in your heart, how does your heart speak to you with the start of a new journey and cycle?

Connect with me by email kim@yoursoultherapy.com for a free 20 minute phone consult.

In Journeying,

Kimberly Ottinger  MA, LPC, ATR-BC
Your Soul Therapy Associate

Why Badass Women Come to Therapy

In our private practice, we see some of the brightest and most ambitious women in Washington. They are well read, highly accomplished, and typically have checked off most items on their bucket lists. Outside of a deep wanderlust, what is missing in the lives of these women who know how to fully live? If you’re their friend, colleague, acquaintance, it looks like they have it all. These women would agree that most of the time, their lives feel amazing.

One might wonder why are badass women coming to therapy? Relationships.

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Whether they are single, dating, partnered, or divorced, these women don’t feel like themselves in intimate relationships.   They feel anything but badass.

Exhausted, Frustrated, and at times Heartbroken by a Never Ending Dating Process

Many single women have no problem dating, but they have not found the one despite many dates or relationships. A number of these women date the same partner twice, for 3 weeks, or things end by month 4.

Each time they meet a new someone, they continue to walk on what feels like the tight rope of dating. Should I be excited on the first date even though it probably won’t lead to anything? Maybe I should take a break from dating because it all feels like too much? They have no idea why they continue to get the same results.

They can’t understand why so many women around them are happily dating or partnered. They feel that something is innately wrong with them.

Women Dating Unavailable People

This often starts with dating the most charming, passionate, or promise-you-everything man or woman. The initial dating process is mind-blowing on many levels.

Then a shift happens. The women see that their man or woman is unavailable in one or more ways. The partners live in different countries and won’t move or meet in the middle. They may be workaholics and prioritize work over the relationship.   They may be in the pull me close, push me away dance with touch, play, interest, and intimacy on many levels.

Where there previously was all passion, spark, and play, there can be equal amounts of disappearing, confusion, passive aggressiveness, or anger. These women find that most of their partners are not just emotionally unavailable but are not wanting to make any promises or commitments.

They don’t understand why the continually find themselves with the same unavailable partners and burned at the end of the short lived relationships. When they dig deeper, parts of them don’t feel that they know how to be close to a healthy partner.

Women Who Struggle to Believe that Their Partners Love Them

For many partnered women in our practice, they cannot believe that their partner could love them as much as they do. Their partners continually show up, believe in them, and love them even in some of the most challenging situations.

These clients struggle with receiving love from their partners.

No matter what they read or how hard they try, they don’t know how to let love in. They don’t know how to feel the love that their partners are consistently giving them.   They are blocked for many reasons from trusting themselves and the person that wants to be close to them.   Fear, longing, anger, and grief along with chatter laced everyday worthlessness can be some things that take these women down emotionally.

 

Partnered Women: Who Want More

These women are in relationships that aren’t working anymore. Often the relationship was what they needed for months, years or even decades.

In recent months or years, these women have experienced a deeper sense of self awareness about their needs and desires or may have even had a spiritual awakening. Their partners have struggled to pace with them or grow in their own ways.

These women are wanting more for themselves, their relationships, and lives. It is often complex because families, friends and even children are intertwined. Some of the women are torn between taking care of someone who isn’t fully able to emotionally care for themselves. The dance of overfunctioning and underfunctioning resentment is released with forgiveness and compassion with the work.

Other women are able to finally take a stand for themselves. They have learned that taking up space in a relationship is a brave and healthy decision.

Moving from the Fight to Being ALL IN

None of the decisions or paths is easy, but these women have walked through the one or more dark nights of the soul in their relationships and dating experiences. In our work together, they learn the meaning and purpose of suffering. They connect with themselves as not to recreate that path or dance as means of waking themselves into consciousness. They have taken their learning and stepped into deeper connection with life, themselves and the people they care most. This process of transformation is radical and subtle at the same time. Badass women might fight this quest at the beginning, but are all in by the end.

If you are wanting to be ALL IN in your relationships, connect with Kim@yoursoultherapy.com or Amy@yoursoultherapy.com

Having it All, Playing Small & Fully Showing Up

From the outside, others might think that you have it all. Part of you knows what it is like to get things done, what it is like to be good or having it all and still not feeling fulfilled. There may be a clear sense that this is all you have ever known or what you should be doing to keep things as they are. Your psyche may be all too familiar with the fear and self-judgement around having it all together, getting things done, not complaining, or being close to perfect. The voice of our inner critic may feel powerful, forceful and relentless in its quest for certainty and maintaing the status quo of keeping you small and disconnected aligning your life with your values.

Part of you may know that there is more to life than playing it safe and small, always being predictable for others, or denying yourself of things you long for. The internal battle between who you should be and who you would like to be can bring up mixed feelings in the heart, mind, body, and soul. Because so much of you has had the default setting of emotionally being small, controlled and good, taking action around what needs improvement may feel hazy both emotionally and intellectually.

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Letting go of playing small by tuning in

You may have dreams, wishes, or daydreams of what it would mean to be all in or fully showing up in your life or you may only have fears and self-judgment that block you from knowing your dreams or desires. The part of you that is curious about a different way of being may be ready to tune into what needs to be improved in your life. Baby steps are key. When we can commit to tuning in as we go, the baby steps will fell more aligned with coming into our own. If you feel hazy or blocked, facing the fears around change or what it would be like to fully show up or be all in can be a place to start. You can also allow yourself to be open to the possibility that you aren’t dreaming big enough into all of who you could be or haven’t found gratitude for all you have accomplished or who you have been. Journaling and making art about the fears or blocks can help get you out of your head or self-talk. When you put the fears onto the page you can take perspective and identify the baby steps for moving forward one decision at a time.

If you have been or are living in perfectionism, people pleasing or putting everyone’s needs before your own, you may be tempted to slide back into those ways of being while practicing the baby steps around what needs to change in your life, especially if you struggle with overwhelm, sitting still, having nothing to do, boredom, or feel like a martyr putting yourself last. If you find yourself being pulled back into your old ways of being, perseverance will become a mantra.

Getting in touch with a deeper sense of knowing and trusting yourself as you align with what is important to you will keep you on track with micro decisions and baby steps. Commit to tuning in from the bottom up in one area of your life or self that you’d like to improve at a time. If your psychospirtual root system is blocked or disconnected around moving forward, your first step will be tuning into understanding what the block or disconnection is really about.

Wherever you’re wanting to tune in during the coming weeks know that there is a sisterhood of women wanting to grow, improve, heal, or love alongside you in their own lives. Give yourself permission to take the baby steps to begin to fully show up and let go of being small. If you are considering therapy, give me a call or text 202.540.0796

The Fear of Being Boring: Managing Social Anxiety & Dating

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While many people take on dating as a or even a social experiment, for some the fear of being boring or awkward eclipse their ability to fully engage in dating or cultivate deep or soulful connections.  I have worked with many incredibly successful and engaging women who feel anything but that when it comes to dating or relationships.  Outside of their romantic life, they are all in.  However, they would state that one of their biggest fears is being perceived as or perceiving themselves as boring when it comes to dating.
These irrational fears trump their ability to have meaningful conversations or at times even go on dates or continue onto the 3rd date due to nervousness, rehearsing tragedy, catastrophizing, or daunting self-consciousness.  They stay small or don’t show up at all in many parts of their dating or romantic life.  Some people with these excessive or irrational fears in social situations have Social Anxiety Disorder.  This is very different from introversion or shyness because the disorder often disrupts the quality of one’s life.  There are strategies for managing social anxiety, and I share them as related to dating below.

Strategies for Moving Toward Connection and Out of Social Anxiety Therapy

Therapy

Getting counseling or psychotherapy  from a licensed psychotherapist or a credentialed art therapist to help manage your anxiety can be immensely helpful allowing you to work through the barriers that keep you feeling stuck, unmotivated or that you aren’t ______ enough in romantic relationships.  Various models are effective at helping people work through social anxiety (e.g., Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Expressive Therapies, Psychoanalysis, Shame Resilience Therapy).  Each model of therapy varies from symptom management to resolution to understanding the root cause of the fears.  Therapy can also allow you to get to know yourself fully, which is a huge asset in romantic relationships.

Perspective Taking

When you are in the midst fearing that you are the most boring date ever or whatever fear is coming up, learning to take perspective will keep you grounded and help decrease the anxiety. Perspective taking allows you to step outside of your thoughts and feelings and take the perspective of another. In this dating example, thinking of all of the people on dates in this moment who may be feeling awkward, other, or boring will allow you to see that you are not alone or the only one. This connection to our humanness often will get you out of anxiety, fear and disconnection from yourself and the date. With practice, perspective taking can connect you the humanness of your experience, rather than in the comments of your inner critic for not being perfect. Keeping an a sense of openness or curiosity rather than judgmental self evaluation can also support perspective taking and staying out of the tunnel vision experience of social anxiety.

Learning to Be Present

Whether you are fighting, fleeing or feeling the anxiety, you can access a calmer, more regulated, rational and functional place when you are present. One of the keys to being in the moment is to not fight, flee or judge your feelings or sensations. Our bodies reset to a neutral state when we have given ourselves space to feel the feelings. Many clients I see have anxiety about having feelings. With dating, they fear being boring or not enough even when they aren’t on an actual date. This creates a heightened sense of everyday anxiety and struggle. Their bodies can’t calm down because they having let go of the fear around the feelings or perceptions. Getting in touch with your breath can allow your body to know that you’re tuning and and ready to release. Rather than taking deep breathes, which is often a struggle with the shallow breathing that is associated with anxiety, give a long deep sigh with a audible tone. If you’re on a date, go to the bathroom and close the stall and sigh a few times until you feel the release (your shoulders dropping or feeling your breath regulate). Get in touch with the feelings of being where you are in the moment. You may feel more in control and relaxed and be able to enjoy the rest of the date. There are many other mindfulness techniques that can support you in managing and decreasing the overwhelm.

Social anxiety doesn’t need to rule you or your dating journey.  While you might not become the most amazing conversationalist in your romantic relationships, you could learn to feel like you are enough because you matter.  With support from therapy and cultivating practices of mindfulness, you can find your confidence and sweet spot in dating.  You will be able to own your romantic intentions rather than being pummeled by fears of being the most boring date ever.   You can learn to fully show up and have fun in the process of dating or in deepening your connection to someone whom you care about and cares about you.  This may even look like giving yourself permission to be you, curious, present, and whatever else you may in at that moment…be it all in or wanting it with your whole heart.

~Amy