Growth

When a Superwoman Falls

945665_10101888341006338_1640891431_n

If a superhero falls in the forest, is she still a superhero?

So many of us are in pain, lonely pain. When we feel pain, we are taught to hide it as it might be shameful to share any perceived flaws or struggles. We take on blame for the pain and isolate ourselves from those that care for us the most. Our culture emphasizes independence as a source of personal value, rather than interdependency.

What would a superwoman do if she fell into a depression or a loss? Would she share her struggles and reach out for help? Would her imperfections cause her to be seen and valued as something less than a superhero? Would she do what she could to recover in her own space to shield herself from others’ judgment and her own shame?

I have to imagine that she would be hesitant to reach out given how tied her identity is to her image to the public. Her profession makes it difficult for her to appear anything less than perfect. In fact, if she lost to a villain in a fight, she could probably loss her superhero title, right?

And aren’t we all – us women – just a bunch of superwoman wannabes? We’ve been taught to do it all and don’t forget the smile. Conquer the masculine world of success and achievement in careers, have family, support partner, take care of parents, learn and grow all the while. All great things, and so is superwoman’s fall.

Truth is we all fall at times and I believe that not only is the fall a good thing, it is actually an important part of our feminine nature which fuels feminine growth. Our descents into the abyss of our emotions and our shadow can sometimes take years and seem like they will never end. Fortunately, they eventually pass and when we arise from the ashes of our previous selves, we have taken an enormous leap forward in our spiritual maturity and wisdom. In order to come out of our isolative descent, we must realize the importance of our feminine tribe. We must trust that the women (and men) that care about us in our lives want to be there to help the superwoman in each of us. Reaching out to them will not change their opinion of your superhero status, in fact they will remind you of your superpowers. And someday they will return the favor by sharing what their kryptonite is, if they haven’t yet.

I am not suggesting you share with everyone what your personal kryptonite is, just with a few close friends that you know will support you no matter what. If you don’t have them, make them! Join a church community, a community service community, a support group, or a workout community. Intentionally pick out your superhero support team and reach out. Trust that you need them to help you out of the descent and they will be there best as they can be.

Perfect is being brave enough to reach out for support in our struggles and to reach our for celebration for our successes. Even superheros need support.

To the superwoman in us all,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, EMDR, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows how to support your inner superwoman in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Why Polar thinking is a gift

10668988_10104228134466488_4431771166084684262_o

I can feel it coming with my clients and myself. When clarity begins to emerge from pain, suddenly energy will begin to cycle. This is inevitably when thoughts race around and around in circles and can’t quite take an alternative path forward through the next threshold of awakening – or aha moment. As pain subsides, polar thoughts and emotions emerge regarding the meaning of the experiences.

As painful as this stagnate process is for clients, it is an indication a the proximity of their next big forward leap in healing or growth. Often their are some very limiting behaviors that are reactions to this stickiness. Once the polarization is resolved, poof, limitations are history!

I look for these polarities in sessions with clients. We identify and name them and then explore them. Our brains struggle to allow two polar thoughts or emotions to coexist in our meaning making categorizations of events. When you can allow for both polars to exist – co-exist, then you can move on. Hold them together, love them both, they are both truth. Give yourself the gift of polarized meaning and you will notice limitations begin to release.

One the clearest examples of polar thinking is around fault and blame. I should premise this example by saying that releasing the concept of fault and blame altogether is important to emotional and relational health. Our example will be a woman who would like to be free of obsessions around a recent break-up in a relationship. Her partner was not very nice to her, called her names and blamed her for the issues in the relationship. He was unwilling to get help to resolve the issues as he felt she was manipulative and she needed to be more secure in herself in order for their relationship to succeed. She would become emotional and reactive when he was not willing to work out conflicts. She would cry for his attention to their ailing relationship.

She is stuck following the break-up. She wonders, “was I right, did he lack empathy and interest in an equal relationship, or was he right, am I insecure and manipulative?” She fluctuates between these polars constantly, trying to pick one as the truth. She needs meaning in order to move on and feel sure she is not repeating the same mistakes. And her brain cannot accept both of these at the same time as they are opposite truths. She earnestly pleas with her friends to get an objective view of the fault in the relationship and friends and family are defensive of her, condemning him for his behavior. She is left feeling lost and confused, her sense of reality and truth is shaken.

What then if she holds these polars together, he cares though is limited (for whatever reasons) empathetically and emotionally, AND she can improve her sense of security and self-esteem to keep from caring to control those she is in relationship with. Often when a partner is not responding to an emotional need, the individual will begin to use passive aggressive approaches to try to get the need met in another fashion, unconsciously attempting to manipulate the partner into meeting that need. These patterns are established much earlier in our lives with our caretakers and are repeated unconsciously because they are familiar relational dynamics – they feel like the norm and we know what to do with the norm. When the truth is clear around both polars being truth, she can begin to see that she cannot and will no longer try to control a relationship with someone that is not fully invested in the relationship’s growth – an unavailable partner. She can than be free to focus on her own well-being and accept relationships only with those that can show her emotional respect through their actions.

Voila! – she softens into truth and the energy is free flowing once again. Thank you polar thinking!

To polar thinking,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, EMDR, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows how to guide you through polar thinking 

in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Fantasy, Dreams, and Falling in Love with Yourself

13418468_10104643854081048_5118802501702350038_o

Artwork by Kim Ottinger 2013

 

Recently an article in the NY Times has been circulating, “WHY YOU WILL MARRY THE WRONG PERSON.” Check it out and let’s delve a little deeper.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html?_r=0

Major kudos to the writer Alain de Botton for having the bravery to write such a vulnerable and powerful piece. It has raised eyebrows in the DC area for sure! I am grateful to resonate with many of his points, one of which is the role of the FAIRY TALE in our concept of romantic relationships and marriages.

As children, us millennials grew up on movies about princesses and princes, knights in shining armor, damsels in distress and fantasy.  Our template for relationships is: the man and the woman fall in love and live a fairy tale life, happily ever after.

Shortly after I was separated from my first husband, I came to the realization that romantic relationships and life is not, in fact, a fairy tale. For quite some time I was angry and felt foolish for believing what I was taught as a little girl, that I too was a princess who would meet the one and live happily ever after. With the end of my marriage, I began to question my worthiness and self-respect. What had I done to deserve something different? Was my life always going to be a series of people hurting me and disappointing me? Why was I going through this and what did I need to change in order to deserve a second try at a fairy tale? Was this my path, that I was doomed to experience over and over forever? I spent all of my energy trying to figure out how to set up my next relationship to be my true fairy tale. I dated, I went to therapy, I talked my friends’ ears off trying to find a solution. Finally the truth hit me square in the face.

The truth: Life is not really a fairy tale. Duh, right? I know this logically. AND yet there is the little girl inside of me that insists that it is. She and I had it out, we spent months fighting about how to perceive love and what beliefs to live by. The battle went on until I stopped and began to embrace her pain. The little girl in me had been hurt and disappointed by the misinformation she was fed as a young girl, that life is all unicorns, rainbows, and happily ever afters. Once I grieved this loss, the loss of the fairy tale, I began to heal. I began to learn what living is really about, enjoying the process of ups and downs in relationships and life. Life-force returned to my body and mind as I opened up to new possibilities. I needed a place for fantasy, dreaming, escape and play that was not solely my romantic life. I stopped dating and began to explore other areas of my life where I could experience creativity and dreams. I started to dream about my hobbies and career. Suddenly space opened for me to give energy and love to my career, friendships, self, and recreational activities. For the first time in my life, I fell in love with myself.

If we idealize our romantic relationships, they will likely end in disappointment. Relying solely on romantic relationships for our dreams and fantasy also diminishes the opportunity for us to fall in love with ourselves and other domains of our lives. We can create more space for romance with ourselves and our other life arenas by releasing the energy focused on idealization in our relationships. We can then allow more focus in our relationships to be around realistic experience of present connections in our relationships. We can then work to communicate openly, be vulnerable, be brave, and respect our partners. We can enjoy the messiness and mistakes and even the repairs in relationships, not expecting perfection or romance to be the sole experience of love. We can love fully while clearly communicating the boundaries of our own needs. Romantic partnerships are more about compassion, compromise, and communication. As a friend called it, a never ending conversation.

So I am proposing we consider a more balanced use of play, fantasy, and escape in our lives, not solely focused on idealizing romantic relationships. Rather than idealizing any one domain of life, spreading the dreaming and visioning equally throughout.

Humans need to take time to escape, to dream, to vision, and to play. Fantasy and escape are an important opportunity to turn off anxiety and connect with our souls on a deep level. This is where growth happens, through creative process which enlighten us to new possibilities. It is where the light peaks in and illuminates and opens up more space. We can connect with new possibilities for a personal fairy tale beyond just romance by taking time to create, participating in rituals, imagining, playing, envisioning, and connecting to something spiritually. Meditation is a great way to dream and it can even be done through playful and creative means like art making, walking, dancing, and music. Let’s fall in love with ourselves.

To FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows what is like to fall in love with yourself in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

THE INCREDIBLE HEALING POWER OF EMDR

 

11209503_10103703668749988_3196154297101013811_n (1)

 

If you are looking for a powerful intervention to release haunting memories and release you from the grips of your history, look no further!

EMDR – If you live in the DC area, you automatically assume it is some sort of fancy government acronym. Actually it is a form of psychotherapy which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. My first experience with EMDR was as a client some 10 or 15 years ago. I sat in the therapist’s office mesmerized by this process which seemed to magically remove the distress attached to old memories that haunted my mind daily. The memories that seemed so palpable and painful became almost fuzzy and hard to remember, no longer feeling painful or anxiety provoking. It was then that I decided one day I would learn to be the magician behind the curtain, helping others heal and recover.

If you have tried other methods and they have not worked for you, I highly recommend this process, based on personal experience as well the many successes I have seen with clients. Often clients will leave the session explaining, “I don’t know why that felt so scary before” or with a renewed sense of motivation or freedom. This efficient process releases you from limiting beliefs and fears.

It feels a bit like a science experiment when you first try it. You either follow a focal point (a pointer, a hand, a light) with your eyes side to side or you hold alternatively vibrating squares in your hand or listen to alternating beeps from headphones, all while recalling a memory. You think, how could this possibly make a difference? The stimulation of your brain, both hemispheres and increased electrical current, along with the process meant to hone in on specific feelings/beliefs and memories seems to be the perfect recipe for healing. Just shifting your energy and attention in this manner can alleviate years of pain and suffering. Clients often have spiritual experiences and awakenings as a result of this relief. Life becomes easier to manage and energy becomes spacious. 

While this can be a very clinical protocol, I find that there is room for spiritual and relational experiences as well. When there is space to move and grow, your soul can align to its journey and live it fully.

Check the EMDRIA website for more information about the process, research, and the impact of this method https://emdria.site-ym.com/?120

 

To FREEDOM from HAUNTING memories and your history,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, EMDR, talk therapy, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows personally the healing power of EMDR and can guide you through recovery in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

The Myth of Laziness – 4 STEPS TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF IN YOUR CAREER LIFE

12819329_10104402271000478_2119856147631930854_o

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” 

– The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Do you often label yourself as LAZY? Do you feel like a FRAUD at work?

Do you find yourself needing to hyper focus for several hours a day at work just to get it done, and then you become distracted by social media, reading article upon article on news and entertainment, or better yet, Tetris.  As you count the hours you ACTUALLY WORK at work, you notice a trend of many many seemingly wasted hours. You feel that you should be feeling thankful for a job that is well paying and high up the ladder, yet you find yourself feeling lazy.

Perhaps you’re lack of focus and laziness is something else.

Maybe your bouts of hyper focus and laziness are more about a lack of interest in your work, need for a challenge, and a need to escape. Often, when we are not stimulated enough, we become uninterested, unmotivated. So we need more stimulation and challenge. If you imagine yourself in a job you love and are passionate about, do you see yourself often escaping to Tetris and social media, or will you be too busy and focused on building your dream to be concerned with time wasters?

Or maybe you feel motivated by your sense of self-worth. Very often we are driven by a need to feel “good enough” rather than a wish to be self-compassionate and live out our personal dreams. This wish to be “good enough” is integrated into our sense of self-worth at a very young age and is difficult to consciously see. Take a moment and notice, DO YOU TAKE ACTION TO FULFILL YOUR DREAMS AND NOURISH YOUR SOUL OR DO YOU DO IN ORDER TO FEEL GOOD ENOUGH AND AVOID FAILURE?

Let’s recategorize your laziness to domains a) lack of motivation and b) a need to escape some aspect of your work environment and c) a need for dreams, challenges, and stimulation. Filling the different domains of your life with fulfilling, soul nourishing activities are the seeds to growing joy and contentment in your moment to moment and lifelong path.

Here are some basic ways to start building motivation, taking steps towards a life in which you will no longer label yourself as lazy. A life in which it is possible to enjoy, be financially supported by, and feel fulfilled by your career. Listen to your heart space and intuition – embrace your dreams.

1 Identify a Long Term Vision. 

Create a list of all the career goals you want to achieve in your life (as we are talking about career aspirations, we will focus on this, though you may substitute career goals with other types of goals and/or values). Examples include helping others, leadership roles, owning a business, charitable donations, discovery, traveling, financial stability, creative endeavors, etc. Take no more than 5 minutes to narrow your goals to no more than 3 using your gut. Write out your 3 top goals on a piece of paper.

2 Vision and Visualize

Place your goals in a place you can see daily and every morning allow your mind to come back to this vision and further flush it out. Take time here and there to meditate on it and visualize the details and concrete vision of this future career path. Perhaps it lines up with your current career, or maybe it is very different.

3 Materialize your Vision

Create a plan for action. What steps will you take to work towards this goal? Networking, workplace interviews, research, consultation calls? Daily life will continually try to get in the way of your dreams, you will have to make some time and space to materialize your vision. Allow the plan to be loose yet be committed. If you are unable to meet deadlines you set for yourself, be compassionate and continue to work towards your vision. Notice your blocks, pursue support to move past blocks, ask for help rather than self-sabotaging.

4 Check in with your Self-Talk 

Notice how your self-talk has changed now that you are working towards a dream. When you feed your soul – the energy resonates, and reverberates. You will see the difference this makes in your internal world as well as your external, your soul nourishing energy will magnetize to those with similar presence. You deserve to make your dream a reality.

I know this plan works because it is my reality. With some dreaming, visioning, hard work, and trust in divine power, I am now living my dreams and more. I love my work, I feel joyful when I arrive at my office, financially stable, and feel highly fulfilled by my work on a soul level. I share my experiences with my clients, generosity plus boundaries breeds joy. I am honored to help you manifest your dreams. 

 

To dreaming & living big,

Kim Ottinger

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

Synchronicity

12365947_10104194790138788_950704362234342885_o

Is it me or does there seem to be a lot of buzz around the concept of “synchronicity” lately?

Coined by the late Carl Jung, the term refers to concept of an outward occurrence coinciding with one’s internal state of being with no causal relationship. I find myself experiencing synchronicity in regards to my experiences of synchronicity! And I find if this is an experience I am having, there are inevitably numerous others with similar occurrences happening in their lives.

Today I had a wild energetic alignment around the idea of baby steps towards growth and setting intentions, healthy patterns of behavior, and creating positive future memories. I know, POSITIVE FUTURE MEMORIES, pretty fantastic idea, right?!!! This idea was introduced to me by a recent trainer, a strategy employed in therapy to begin to create and then reinforce positive possibilities in your brain.

In the car as I drove to my office, listening to story on personal finances, something I rarely spend my energy learning or paying attention to, I was struck by the similarities between the teachings of this financial guru and those taught in the many lenses of strength based psychological treatment. While I did not catch the name of this financial guru, I am grateful for the synchronistic universal reinforcement of these new concepts into my life.

Here are the tenets that keep showing up regarding building a healthy future; I am hopeful you have the opportunity to gain and discuss these tenets as well:

  1. Small Consistent Steps – long term growth in whatever arena of live is best done in small steps rather than leaps and bounds. Consistent small steps towards positive change is bound to create growth over the long term.
  2. Positive Future Memories – Set intentions towards a positive future memory. Keeping your focus in the present on decision making that will lead towards positive change in the long term is key. Every moment can contribute to overall good health, whether it is physical, emotional, career, or financial health.
  3. Confidence – confidence is only built by repeated experiences of success. You have to gain knowledge and learn in order to be successful. Be curious, educate yourself, so that you can build the confidence you need to take steps towards growth.
  4. Front Loading – Long term success often involves a difficult period of front-loading. You have to put in the work in the beginning to reap the benefits. Expect and appreciate your hard work in the beginning part of any process. There is always a learning curve.
  5. Process Over Product – and finally, enjoy the process. No matter how difficult it is, you will gain more from enjoying the process, the ups and the downs, rather than agonizing over perceived losses or downs. After all, we are only guaranteed the present moment. Building attachments to outcome can potentially lead to great disappointment and losing sight of the gifts you have in the now.

What ideas and signs have been showing up for you lately?

How does synchronicity expressed itself in your life?

To welcoming synchronicity,

Kim Ottinger

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