Perfectionism

FEELING GOOD ENOUGH

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When you don’t feel good enough it can color your daily life, from your career to your romantic relationships to your mood. Everything can be impacted by this one belief about yourself – I am not good enough. Inevitably it comes up with each and every client I work with. In some way, we all feel not good enough. Some space in us feels deficit – we aren’t funny enough or pretty enough or smart enough, the list goes on. What do you do with deficits? You fill up the holes with something positive right? Let’s talk about filling your not-good-enough deficits with something positive.

Not-good-enough comes from our childhood experiences. Often we know logically and have evidence that we are good enough in whatever deficit we are feeling and just can’t seem to shake that belief. For example, Helena may be a highly successful lawyer and still feel like she have no value as a person and still feels she is not achieving enough. This comes from a childhood emphasis, from her parents, on the importance of achievement and deficit in the value of other needs. Perhaps this her parents were stressed the importance of financial stability and power, always being right. However, her parents spent little time playing with her or spending time on vacations. Likely Helena will grow up to be a high achiever and will spend little time doing recreational activities. When she does go take days off she feels guilty and depressed. No matter how hard she works, she still feels she needs to work harder. Whenever she makes a mistake, she feels shame.

Children need many things to be role modeled and taught for them. It is almost impossible for parents to meet every need for their children, especially in this achievement and independence driven culture. Additionally, some people are just better at certain skills and have a higher capacity for certain things. Some parents cannot provide enough attention for some of their children’s needs due to their own limitations.

Inevitably, each one of us has unmet needs that benefit from being addressed. What unmet needs do you have? Perhaps you didn’t learn about finances, you needed more physical attention; maybe you needed more positive encouragement in order to feel confident; maybe your parents were not well attuned to your emotional needs. At times we adapt to these missing needs with resiliency and find beneficial ways to cope with the unmet needs. Other times these missing needs lead to us limiting ourselves because we do not know how to meet that need or even self-sabotaging due to fear of failure or feeling as if we don’t deserve to meet the need (based on implicitly receiving this message as a child).

Addressing this in my work with clients involves three steps:

  1. Identify the missing need
  2. Process and grieve the pain associated with the missing need
  3. Find a new way to meet the need now

Once we find the missing need, we can process it. It is vital to experience the pain and grieve the associated losses in order to move forward. That is where the therapist can come in to provide a safe space for that process.

Finally, we can then find a way for you to meet that unmet need. If you didn’t get to play as a child, we will play and you will have homework assignments to play. If you didn’t learn about finances, we will discuss finances. If you learned that value is based on achievement, than we will experiment with meditation and activities that are about just being and not doing. We get to explore and learn together. Often this process can be very spiritually enlightening as an adult. Getting to learn something and take ownership of your own abundance as an adult is a powerful and nurturing experience.

To feeling good enough,

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 how to guide you to feeling good enough in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

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

4 Ways to Connect with Desire & Let go of Should

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Can you remember a time or a part of your life where you walked your talk, dreamed big, or even believed that things could change for the better?  For some — that sense of hopefulness, longing, or desire is present in one or more parts of our lives.  However, many people have dampened that inner voice that connects us to our values, hopes, and dreams because of insecurities, shoulds, no, or stuckness. We have become disconnected from our fire or desire for living life with meaning or from our soul’s deepest longings.

The voice we hear instead is the clear and sometimes harsh or demeaning sound of the inner critic.  The voice of the inner critic may have been around for years or decades of our lives.  This voice of self-criticism often dictates all of the shoulds in your life and plays off of our biggest insecurities. How you should be: eating, exercising, working, numbing, avoiding, pretending, pleasing, performing, perfecting, changing…the list can go on. The voice of should keeps us small or in perfectionism and doesn’t allow us to take up space in our own life or relationships, keeping us stuck or disconnected from the people or parts of our lives or relationships we care about most.

Many clients that come to see me want to live more fully in their relationships. The desire to be fearless, have clarity, cultivate self-awareness, and to find the one. They want to let go of living in should and are exhausted from having it all together all of the time. They want to not have to care for everyone else but themselves and are tired of putting their wants, needs, and desires last.

So how do you start to connect with desire and let go of living in should? This can feel like a huge leap into the unknown. Here are 5 ways to start living the life that was meant for you.

1. Give yourself permission to savor small decisions in your daily life.
Rather than defaulting to having a non-opinion (e.g., It doesn’t matter to me; You pick; I really don’t care), let yourself be curious about you really want in small moments. Whether it is about what you’re eating for lunch or what shoes you’ll wear for the day, listen to the voice inside you that says, “YES!” in any way shape or form. Give yourself permission to feel grateful, compassionate, joyful, or even giggly about tuning into what works for you in what may have used to have been a shut down space.

2. Tune into your body for directions around what step to take next

Our bodies do not steer us in the wrong direction. It is often the chatter of the inner critic or should that propels us into a catch 22 frame of mind (e.g., we know ourselves, know the problem, but we can’t get past it). Start taking time to listen and feel what sensations are happening in your body when you want something. Notice if your body is giving you feedback without label emotions. Starting places to tune in:
~temperature change
~heart rate pace
~heaviness in heart, throat, or gut
~spaciousness
~wanting to move or walk
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3. Follow the breadcrumb trail
This process reflects learning to trust your intuition or highest self to continually guide you. Trusting this part of you to guide your decision making process, rather than listening to your inner critic or should. This can feel like synchronicity when the world reflects pieces or parts of your hopes, dreams and desires around decision making.

4. Practice Self-Compassion
If opening to desire, longing and/or authenticity feels simple yet radical, you may want to cultivate a practice of self-compassion. Learning to nurture yourself while learning you are worthy of amazing things and relationships can stoke the fire of the inner critic and old ways of living in should can resurface. Practicing self-compassion can allow us to be open to allowing others to give to us and for us to receive. Kristen Neff‘s work on self-compassion and Tosha Silver‘s work on balancing giving and receiving can be wonderful resources, especially if you struggle with boundaries or have codependent patterns or relationships.

If you are ready to let go of living in should or staying small, you can learn to courage to live authentically one decision at a time and stoke your internal fire for deep meaningful soulful connection and living.

To dreaming big and living fully,
Amy