Vulnerability

Fantasy, Dreams, and Falling in Love with Yourself

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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

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

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

Walking My Talk…Dreaming Big

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As a woman, wife, mother, psychotherapist, supervisor, and business owner, practicing self care is a must. Over the past few years, I have worked to align myself with my values with much gratitude to The Daring Way community, the metaphysical teachings of Tosha Silver and my Jungian analyst for this. Cultivating practices that are embedded with vulnerability, courage, connection, integrity, rest, play, awe and wonder keep me honest, grounded, and real. I #walkmytalk and this has changed my personal and professional life beyond my wildest dreams. I live into heart-mind-body-soul wisdom in daily practices and decisions, as well as big huge vulnerable leaps (like writing this blog post). My vulnerability is guided by aligning with my values and a force much larger than me. This way of living and showing up in the world is an imperfect process that I wouldn’t have any other way.

When working with women in psychotherapy, art therapy, sandplay, urban retreats, supervision, consultation, or practice building, I support them through the lens of walking their own talk. My clients learn to source themselves from the inside out into their deep confidence. Each woman’s flow, process and outcomes are unique, but what they have been seeking or felt blocked by (fear, shame, failure, impostor syndrome, heartbreak, loneliness…) dissolves through through this work. Witnessing their transformations is the most profound work of my life and of the deepest honor.

I have taken the leap to share more about how I work today because I’m on the brink of taking one the biggest professional leap’s of my career. Tomorrow, I am headed to Costa Rica for a business retreat filled with all things wanderlust, sisterhood, yoga, big dreaming, horseback riding, surfing, waterfalls, and beyond. My intentions are to recharge, replenish, reconnect, surrender, and be open to receiving. I hope to return to pay forward this experience by offering my own retreat later this year.  I will be fully unplugged for the next week.  I would love to connect with you for a free 20 minute phone consult when I return on 3/10.  Email me amy@amytatsumi.com to schedule your consult.

~In walking my talk & dreaming big,
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
~goosebumps

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

Should We Share Our Relationship Stories?

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Whether you are single in the city, dating, partnered, married, or divorced, you most likely are an expert storyteller about your relationship(s)or lack their of. With friends, some family members, and even choice colleagues, your relationship stories may be sprinkled with a mix of humor, sarcasm, and disbelief. While the laughter or shock factor keeps things light, this level of storytelling doesn’t reveal any fears about relationships, intimacy or you. Part of us holds onto the idea that “this (experience) will make a good story.” This notion protects one from feeling or thinking about why your relationship isn’t working or why you’ve been on endless OKCupid,match.com, Tinder, JDate.com, eHarmony, or speed dates without finding any lasting connections.

At some point during the ups and downs of being single, dating, or partnered, most of us will have had our fears about life, others, or ourselves exposed. Our inner dialogues, banter and stories about our relationships are most likely too painful to share.

Many people tell the story that all of the data points in their life reveal a singular – capitol “T” – TRUTH. The data points show that they are (the only one) not worthy of a being in or having a real relationship. Our inner stories are often not shared because we believe that everyone else around us has it figured out or is doing it better than we are.

When we want to reach out for real support, sometimes we are at a loss. What we are wanting is be met with empathy to be seen for our humanness. However sometimes, we are judged, blamed or shamed for our struggle or story.

Learning who has the right to hear our story is an invaluable skill. Below, I share a few tips of when to share or not share your story.

When Should I Share My Story?

Consider friends or family in your life. Out of this group, who takes you as you are, accepting or loving you for all of your strengths or struggles. Often, there may be 1-2 people in our lives, who fit this description. You trust them. These are the people, who are able to hear your story or your struggle and respond with empathy. When you do choose to reach out to them to check in about the inner story you are telling, you feel more connected because they meet you where you are. They may not know your specific relationship struggle, but they connect with you from a deeper place of knowing a painful struggle in their own life but they don’t make the conversation about themselves. The offer feedback when you request it. Their feedback is nonjudgmental. They are willing to sit with you in your struggle knowing they can’t take the pain away, but they share that they will there for you. Practicing reaching out to this type of person can be helpful to manage the pain and disappointment that comes with relationships. This takes both vulnerability and courage.

When Shouldn’t I Share My Story?

Think about the people in your life you have been sharing either the internal version or external version of your story. If after sharing either version of your story, you were met with unsolicited: feedback, solutions, advice, sympathy, sarcasm, judgement, blame, or shame, you may want to consider not sharing with them in the future. Those responses are disconnecting on many levels. We feel disconnected from the responder, from ourselves and even at times from our sense of worthiness. It often time unsolicited feedback and responses further fuels the data points that detail our inner story, tapping into our worst fears around feeling unlovable or that we will never belong. Learning to set clear and healthy boundaries is essential. This will support you in not sharing your story or struggle with people who judge, blame or shame you.

Between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others, navigating relationships can be challenging. I highly recommend the following books to support you on your relationship journey.

Beattie, M. (1987). Codependent no more: How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself.

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.

Chödrön, P. (2000). When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times. Boston: Shambhala.

Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little, Brown & Co.

If you are ready to create a new story around relationships or need help navigating them, call Amy at 202.540.076 or email her at amy@amytatsumi.com for a psychotherapy free 20 minute consultation today.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost – J. R. R. Tolkien

I have always been a wanderer.  From an early age, I wandered in the garden and forest.  By my late teens, I began traveling to many places inside and outside of the US seeking a myriad of things.  Through my 20s and early 30s, I continued to be a seeker of sorts in my personal and professional life.  Throughout that period, I didn’t know what I was seeking (even with lots of amazing adventures or thoughtful sessions with my own therapist), but my heart longed for something I didn’t know how to name or even imagine.  It wasn’t until I started to learn how to wander inside of my life and story (not matter where I geographically lived or worked) that I knew what I was seeking.

So what does belonging look like now for me-professionally? Until 2 years ago, I would have never imagined standing before my colleagues, mentors and well esteemed experts in my field presenting on my perspective because belonging felt so evasive an inaccessible to me.  Last week at the American Art Therapy Conference in San Antonio, I co-presented with Megan Robb and Lisa Thompson-Gibson on Building Relationships with Authenticity and Vulnerability from a theoretical lens (Relational Cultural Theory & Shame Resilience Theory) and in practice with clients and supervisees.  Presenting on vulnerability and sharing a part of my story and perspective with colleagues felt (by no surprise)  incredibly vulnerable for me.   How did I get through this presentation?  I was able to anchor myself to my sense of belonging.  I belong to my professional community even if what I was sharing was different or even radical.  It mattered because I was offering opportunities for relationship building for therapists with clients, supervisors with supervisees, and for therapist outside of the therapy room.

So many of us have a wanderlust or longing for something deep in our souls.  Most of the clients that I see have been wandering for much of their lives – wanting confirmation to know that they matter and are worthy of love and belonging.  Their studies, research, careers, love for travel, or relationships have taken them to many places.  Their intercultural experiences have transformed them, but no matter how much they enjoy the journey – they struggle to know how to really belong.

How do we learn to belong?  Some of the keys to trusting ourselves around  knowing how to love and belong can be found in cultivating practices of vulnerability and authenticity.  As adults and even teens, we have often lost touch with knowing how to trust our selves or what it means to be real, vulnerable and authentic in boundaried and meaningful ways with people that we care about most or even how this might look in our professional world.  Learning to trust ourselves through boundaried vulnerability and authenticity can be taught.  In learning how to trust ourselves, we can also learn how to belong even to our own hearts.

As this time of year lends itself to wandering, you may want to take time while you are wandering or at home relishing in your travels by journaling or making art to notice:
~Where your sense of belonging is (does it live inside or outside of you and your story)?
~How you are trusting yourself on your journey or in your relationships?
~How do your boundaries allow you to be more or less vulnerable and authentic?
~What are small steps you can take  or clearer boundaries can you set to support your sense of belonging?

Whether you are wandering or at home this summer, make time to navigate back to your own heart and sense of belonging no mater where you may be.

P.S.- If you’re looking to dig deeper this summer, I’m offering a 2.5 day weekend intensive on belonging.

Does the Fear or Worry of What Others Think of You Stop You From Living Your Life?

You are not alone if you fear or worry about what others think of you.  Even as early as middle school,  tweens can easily relate to what it means to the belong as compared to feeling like they fit in.  Adults, teens, and tweens alike know when they are free to be themselves in contrast to what and how they should talk, look, talk, and act in the various family, social, academic, and career arenas.

Why do we worry and fear about what others think of us?  When what we want most is to be deeply connected to the people that are most important to us and have an impact on the areas of of the life that are most meaningful and rewarding for us: relationships, parenthood, professional identity, health, and/or spirituality.   Part of the answer can be found in our fear of being and feeling vulnerable.

What is vulnerability?

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness ~ Brene Brown.

Everyone is susceptible to feeling vulnerable.  Most of us are going to great lengths to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable via perfectionism, people pleasing, and pushing through at any cost even with our health and at the cost of our own values and damaging relationships.  Even though people are struggling with vulnerability, it is rarely discussed along with its close partners in crime: shame and fear.

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When I start exploring these feelings and experiences with clients, I often share Brene Brown’s work.  She is a researcher, storyteller, and expert in vulnerability, fear, shame, and courage.  She has an incredible capacity to language people’s experiences and feelings, and people often deeply connect to her words.  My client is starting to talk around/about vulnerability, I will offer Brene’s first TEDx talk on The Power of Vulnerability.

After watching this TEDx talk, I would like to hear how you connected with it.  Tell me in the comments section below.

I am also being trained by Brene Brown and her Connections Team.  If you are interested in working with me individually or in group with me and Jen Kogan, please call 202.540.0796 or email me amy@tatsumiandjones.com for a free 15 minute consultation on how we might be able to work together.

 

Top 10 Recommended Books

My clients often appreciate receiving resources and homework as a part therapeutic process.  They are ready to continue moving forward toward their goals.  I provide book recommendations as one avenue for clients to maintain their momentum and support with self care between sessions.

           Top 10 Recommended Books

Top-10-Books 1.  Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brene Brown
Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.  Brene has a gift for languaging people’s experiences, and men and women alike can connect to taking different paths in their families, organizations and communities.

2. Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Dr. Kristen Neff
If you are able to extend kindness, generosity and compassion to others, but you often go to being self critical before thinking of showing yourself compassion, this book may be for you.  Dr. Neff  provides the research on benefits of building a practice of self-compassion to cope with life’s big and small challenges.  If you would like to learn more about Dr. Neff’s research, read more in this post.

3. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
Do you have a need to control people or relationships or put them before yourself or believe if they would just change, you would be happy?  Melody offers a variety of stories, exercises, and questions to help you navigate codependency.

4. Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood
Are you interested in emotionally unavailable men and do you find nice guys to be boring?   This book can help understand the roots of your patterns in relationships and is another lens to look at co-dependency.

5. The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Dr. Harriet Lerner
Anger can be a difficult and complex experience for many women.  For women struggling with anger, Dr. Lerner teaches you  how to identify the true sources of your anger and use anger as a powerful vehicle for creating lasting change.

6. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman
If your marriage is dominated by criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal, consider committing to reading this book and using Dr. Gottman’s four-step program as a couple for breaking through negativity and allowing one’s natural communication and problem-solving abilities to flourish.

7. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Dr. Daniel Siegel
No matter if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or trauma, Dr. Siegel shares his research around the non-spiritual practice of mindfulness based techniques as a means of managing symptoms, stressors and challenges to lead a more healthy and fulfilling life.

8.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. If you are an introvert or in a relationship or work with an introvert, this is a must read.

9. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Traditional Buddhist wisdom is offered with radical modern clarity and accessibility.  Most people try to avoid pain and discomfort, which only leads to more pain and discomfort.  Pema offers advice that goes against the grain of our usual habits and expectations that helps one to navigate painful and uncomfortable situations and experiences.

10. A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield
Another Western Buddhist master, Kornfield shares everyday wisdom for developing a spiritual practice of awakening.  He offers great insights around metta mediation or the practice of loving kindness, which can provide much healing.

Why Art Therapy Works When You Are Feeling Stuck

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. ~ Albert Einstein

unstuck-butterflies

When I tell people that I’m an art therapist, they often ask lots of questions about the field.  One of the most common questions I receive is, “Why Art Therapy?”  The conversation can unfold in numerous directions depending on who is inquiring about art therapy.  We typically spend at least part of the discussion exploring: Why Art Therapy Works When You Are Feeling Stuck.

In my work across settings in public mental health and private practice, I have seen that art therapy can be effective for adults, teens, children, and their families when they are feeling stuck.  This can occur in problems with identity, relationships, depression, anxiety, play, work, school, faith, community, and countless others.  Often, clients report that they have seen a problem from many different perspectives and tried various ways to address and solve it.  No matter how hard they try, stuckness seems to prevail.  Albert Einstein offers a great explanation of why people remain stuck: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Art therapy via the creative process offers access to untapped levels of consciousness.

When clients engage in the art making process, they start to see their problem and themselves from previously unknown perspectives.  Whether it is painting, drawing, sewing, building, or beading, the problem and its characteristics are being embedded in the art making process and product.  Once the client and I see it from multiple perspectives, the subsequent discussion can illuminate new levels of consciousness. From perspective taking to consciousness expansion, people begin to shift out of feeling stuck. What do these shifts from a new conscious level look like? People begin taking healthy risks from a place of authenticity, courage, compassion, and vulnerability, rather than making decisions from shame, fear, or unworthiness.