You Are Not Crazy

You Are Not Crazy

Crazy: mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way; mad, insane, deranged, demented, unhinged.


As women, we have been told that we’re crazy for millennia. Men have told us we’re crazy. Women have called themselves and one another “crazy.” For thousands of years, if our responses or feelings or desires or problems or pain or authenticity were inconvenient or contrary to someone else’s agenda we were labeled “hysterical.” We were called witches and burned at the stake (translation: “Women are evil and need to be killed.”), crazy and handed over to institutions (translation: “Women are fragile and manipulative and need to be locked away for everyone’s protection.”). The earliest record referring to women’s “hysteria” was found in ancient Egypt. Its documentation date is circa 1600 BC. Behaviors deemed problematic were attributed to the spontaneous movement of the uterus. There is documentation that supports a high percentage of female mental health clients, the pathologization of women and subsequent treatment in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance period, and the Modern Age. By the Contemporary period, more information about differential diagnoses had been discovered. Clinicians organized symptoms into groups and categorized them.


Many of us are aware of the diagnoses commonly given to women during the Contemporary period such as Neurasthenia, Depression, Anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder. The trend continues. Across the ages, it’s clear that women account for a disproportionately higher number in the consumption of mental health services than men. This is due both to the traumatic impact of gender bias (sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, toxic masculinity) on women and the pathologization of women and our experiences. Not only do women suffer higher incidences of violence, abuse, and disparate rights in our communities; research also shows that clinicians are more likely to diagnose depression in women than men, even when we have similar scores on standardized measures of depression or present with identical symptoms.


We need to continue to ask questions that hold our groups and systems accountable:

“Who is more marginalized in our community?”

“What’s happening to these marginalized groups?”

“What are we/am I not seeing? What are we/am I seeing, but not addressing effectively enough?”

“Why is there such a disproportionately higher number of women consuming mental health services?”

“How can we/I be more supportive?”

“How can we/I improve our systems and women’s experience of our systems?”


To any woman and girl, genderfluid person, however you identify, you are not crazy. You are not crazy for having feelings, for having trauma and responding to it or for getting activated in certain situations. You are not crazy for having Post Partum Depression or Depression or for self-injuring. You are not crazy for getting fed up with being undervalued, being seen as fragile because you have emotions or being seen as a bitch because you don’t seem fragile enough. You are not crazy for simultaneously wanting to fit in and wanting to be respected. You are not crazy for trying to navigate between being seen as nurturing enough, goal-oriented enough, sexy enough, ladylike enough, professional enough, dependent enough, independent enough, smart enough, nonthreatening enough… The system is rigged. And it can be crazy-making, but you are not crazy. You are operating in an impossible situation designed for your failure. Keep going. Keep fighting.


There is a sea of us out here who can and will listen, support you, help you to understand what’s working for you and what isn’t, and plan the next individual and collective action steps to take.


I’m with you.


Love and Be Loved,

How to Stop Living in Scarcity

How to Stop Living in Scarcity

The feeling of scarcity is alive and well in our culture. Advertisers use it to make us feel like we need their products to be happy. Politicians use it to exploit our fear of not having enough, marginalize us, and look to them to give us more. We tell ourselves that there isn’t enough time and money to go back to school. We tell others that we don’t have enough time to call or see them. We tell ourselves that we have to work more, earn more, do more, acquire more, achieve more.

We are not telling ourselves these things because we feel driven to fulfill our life’s purpose. We’re telling ourselves this because we are coming from a deep place of fear and lack. And we are looking for a way out. We tell ourselves this because we’re afraid we don’t or won’t have enough to be happy- enough money, enough stuff, enough accomplishments, enough praise, enough status, enough respect. And if we don’t have enough of these things we’re not happy; we’re unfulfilled. If we don’t have enough of these things we’ll have to pay more attention to why this feeling of fear and lack is surfacing in the first place. So we run ourselves into the ground trying to get money to get more stuff.

The bummer part of all this is that the more we tell ourselves we don’t have enough, the more we don’t have enough. It creates an even greater imbalance. If I’m afraid I don’t have enough money, I’m going to work more which means I’ll have less time to spend with loved ones and do things that nurture me. If I feel like I don’t have enough stuff, I’m going to spend more money consuming the things I think I need or want. Time spent consuming will also cut down on time I could be spending with loved ones, working on a cause about which I am passionate, or doing things that nurture me. I’ll need to work more to make sure I can both pay my bills and consume more stuff. Pretty soon, I’ll be tired from all this working and consuming, more isolated because I miss my loved ones. I might spend more time watching TV or going online. I might eat and drink more. It’s kind of a rough cycle.

There are plenty of times in our lives when we feel capable and grounded in our ability to manage scarcity, times when this cycle isn’t a problem for us because we can keep our feelings in check. But sometimes we find ourselves more vulnerable, less able to evaluate what’s happening for us. We have more difficulty identifying what we need and the healthy steps it will take to get there.

We might fall into this scarcity cycle when we’re feeling insecure about something- our relationships, our economic status, a failure we’ve recently experienced (or a failure we are trying to avoid), the anticipation of a major discomfort. Sometimes stuff/emotional burden might pile up over time. It’ll sneakily cloud our judgment. We might not even notice we’ve fallen into this cycle until we realize how unhappy we’ve been for the past few months.

Getting out of the pit of scarcity-living isn’t easy, but it’s worth the challenge. People just feel better when we’re not dominated by this fear of not having enough. And it’s much more satisfying to uncover how we came to believe that there isn’t enough than to keep throwing clothes, food, money, substances into a sieve.

I often suggest a slow start:

  • Identify cravings, impulses, compulsions.
  • Identify thoughts and feelings of scarcity
  • Be curious about how you feel before and after engaging in craving/impulse/compulsive behavior
  • Exercise self-compassion. You’re definitely not going to judge your way out of this so, just be gentle with yourself.

This will be a good start. If you need further help, let me know and we will set up a time to talk.


Love and Be Loved,

What Gets in the Way of Self-Care?

What Gets in the Way of Self-Care?

We hear a lot about the importance of self-care. It’s become a pretty big industry. It’s even commonplace to be asked what we do to take care of ourselves when we are applying for certain jobs. We know it’s good for us. We want to do it, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Self-care is incredibly personal and defined on a case-by-case basis. What I might consider self-care you might consider a chore or a waste of time. When we finally figure out what self-care means to us, we run into other obstacles. We don’t have the time or the means or the motivation. Sometimes we feel that we have such a deficit of self-care that we’re overwhelmed by what we need and don’t know where to start. We just keep slogging through life because it’s what we know how to do and what we’ve always done.

Let’s take a break from all that slogging and look at some of the common issues that get in the way of self-care:

A lack of understanding of what self-care is: A good way to find out what feels like self-care to you is to explore. Ask yourself what you need and want more of in life and what you need to do to get it. For some it might be more play time. For others it might be more work time. Some of us might need more massages and nights out with friends while others might require more time to prepare meals and quiet time. Sometimes it’s more specific. Someone might want to self-advocate more in relationships needs to create a self-care plan around that. Some of us need many hours of self-care per week and some of us need a lot fewer. And it’s subject to change from week to week and age to age; what we consider self-care at 25 might be different at 35.

Defining ourselves based on what other people think: When we define ourselves and our worth based on what others think we imprison ourselves. We either deprive ourselves of the self-care behaviors we know we need or we engage them in secret, surrounding ourselves with guilt. We feel we have to steal that time instead of owning it. I know how hard this is. We live in a culture that encourages us to define our worth by how busy we are, how overworked and exhausted we are. If we have anything left to give at the end of the day we haven’t done enough. We’re not as worthy as someone who doesn’t make time for themselves.

Low self-worth: The lower our self-worth the less we believe that we have the right to self-care. We’re on a hamster wheel just running to try to reach that coveted status symbol of worth. We run ourselves into the ground. We work around the clock. We don’t say “no.” We don’t hold limits with other people. We people please. We try to fit in.

Perfectionism: We eat into our self-care time with work, chores, favors for other people. It’s hard for us to stop something mid-project or before it meets our unattainable measure of satisfaction. Sometimes it’s a little more subtle; we don’t want to start a self-care routine until we (are in a relationship, move, lose weight, are sure we have the job, etc.) This is dicey because there will never be a right time to start the routine. There will always be something that prevents us from taking care of ourselves. We’ll just keep running on that hamster wheel.

Inability to ask for help/define needs: When we introduce self-care into our lives it usually requires a change somewhere else. We need to restructure our time and this can impact other aspects of our lives and relationships. When we can’t ask for what we need we stay stuck. Not asking for help when we need it is a great way to make self-care seem like a chore. It becomes one more thing we have to get done instead of something that feels restorative and nutritive.

Shame: When we carry beliefs that we are defective, not enough, unworthy, or intrinsically bad it’s difficult for us to believe that we deserve to take care of ourselves. We’re usually too busy trying to prove our worth by taking care of others to give ourselves care. This is an insidious issue that has many faces and can show up in various aspects of our lives. It can feel nearly impossible to take care of ourselves when we’re carrying around shame.

The list looks like a pretty tall order of change to address, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s challenging. We’ll have to be willing to look at our patterns and narratives and do some uncomfortable work. It’s better than the alternative, though. It’s better than staying stuck in the pile of shame and resentment and exhaustion. Let’s get to work.


Love and Be Loved,

5 Things People with Self-Compassion Do

5 Things People with Self-Compassion Do

Dr. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as having three elements: “self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.” In order to engage self-compassion, one must observe the suffering, “feel moved” by or honoring it, and find a way to comfort and care for ourselves in the moment of suffering. It is an essential resource.  And it can be elusive. We often take the well-travelled roads that we hope will lead us there- dieting or losing weight, cleanses, seeking an intimate partner relationship, applying for a job promotion, looking for ways to earn more money, effecting some huge life change. None of these are bad; in fact, they can bring us a lot of joy and satisfaction and benefit us. They just aren’t enough to improve and maintain our self-compassion.

When we have low self-compassion, we often seek out a lot of external validation, need to be liked at any cost, employ escapist tactics (substances, technology, food, shopping, etc.), accept disrespect or mistreatment from others, and are either critical of ourselves or are narcissistically defended against our own flaws. The lower our self-compassion, the more we engage in these behaviors and the lower our self-compassion plummets. It’s a real bummer of a cycle.

There are five critical behaviors to help improve your level of self-compassion. They are usually avoided by people who have trouble respecting themselves. If you suffer from a lack of self-compassion, you might read this and think, “Well, I don’t engage these behaviors precisely because I lack self-compassion. Then what?” It might seem impossible to unstick yourself from that catch-22.

I urge you to take a risk. Just try it. Try doing what people with self-compassion do and see how it feels. Just see if you feel any difference. If you hate it, and you decide you are happier with things as they were before, then that’s fine. I think you might like the results, though.

So, what are some of the tricks used by people who have self-compassion?


  • They set boundaries. They say “no” to things that don’t work for them. They don’t accept disrespectful treatment. They let people know the terms that are both acceptable and unacceptable to them and hold that line. They’d rather live in integrity with themselves than be liked and accepted by others.
  • They forgive themselves. People who have compassion for themselves don’t rake themselves over and over the coals if they slip up. They learn from it. They understand that mistakes are par for the course and that it’s ok. They know that they are not their mistakes.
  • They allow themselves to fail. They allow themselves to be wrong or fall flat on their faces or come in last. They understand that this means they took a risk, put themselves out there, made an attempt at something. They gather the information from the failure and try again because they know that this time, they’re approaching the task with a better understanding. (This doesn’t mean they’re happy about the failure. It might still feel shitty. It can still feel totally frustrating.)
  • They apply self-discipline. They set boundaries for themselves, too, tell themselves “no.” People with self-compassion know that they feel better about themselves when they balance fun with responsibility, health with decadence, relaxation with work. They know that they’ll feel shitty about themselves if they watch too much TV, eat too much garbage, and go to bed too late. They have a good understanding of what their effort will get them, so they apply it.
  • They honestly identify their short-comings. People who have self-compassion are honest with themselves and others about their flaws. They know that to identify where they fall short means that they are less likely to take on more than they manage. They are more likely to work within their scope of competence, setting themselves up for a better chance of success. If they make a mistake, they’re more likely to hold themselves accountable for it. People with self-compassion don’t dwell on their flaws or invisibilize their positive attributes while highlighting the negatives. They use the information about their flaws to apply themselves in their endeavors.

I know that to some this list looks daunting. I get it. Patterns are hard to break, and we engage them for a reason. If you’re dissatisfied with your level of self-compassion and would like to come up with a plan together about how to troubleshoot this, I would love to talk with you about it!


Love and Be Loved,

Why Do I Keep Doing That?!

Why Do I Keep Doing That?!

Sometimes we feel stuck. And it’s not always about feeling stuck in a job, a town, a daily routine, or a relationship. Sometimes we feel stuck in the way of being, stuck drinking too much, stuck in an unhealthy eating pattern, stuck in technology and devices, being passive aggressive when we would rather self-advocate, doing everything for everyone else and not having enough left for ourselves, stuck in anger, in fear, in anxiety, stuck in insecurity. We know living like this makes us unhappy, and we want to change, but it feels insurmountable, and we’re not sure where to start. When we do make moves to change, we find it hard to maintain the behavior. And when we finally learn to maintain it, as soon as we feel start connect with the belief that we can accomplish our goal we find ourselves self-sabotaging or it seems that life suddenly takes a turn and prevents us from forging on toward our goal.

In my “You Are Enough” post I talk about the messages we receive in early attachment and how they help inform the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the way we live our lives. We integrate the messages into the stories we tell about who we are, and they become agreements we hold with ourselves. We are mostly unconscious of these agreements because they were made over time, from a young age, and often under some duress.

Feeling trapped in this constant state of stuck is often about the beliefs we have turned into agreements. Merriam-Webster defines belief as “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” The same source defines agreement as “harmony or accordance in opinion or feeling; a position or result of agreeing, the absence of incompatibility between two things; consistency.” Our behavior is predicated on the beliefs we hold about ourselves; it is the manifestation of the agreements we have made about who we are and what we do. Our behavior is compatible with our core self-beliefs.

Let’s say someone has a core belief in herself that she is powerless. We’ll call her Julie. Julie attended a self-improvement workshop three weeks ago and had set goals to be in a loving relationship, connect to her sense of purpose, and develop and maintain a self-care program. She has been keeping up with her routine fairly regularly, but lately, her boss has been asking her to stay late at work which has been getting in the way of the goals she set at the workshop. When she comes home, she’s tired and frustrated and just wants to relax in front of the TV eating her dinner. Julie will either have to learn to set boundaries with her boss at work or pick her routine back up when she gets home from work instead of watching TV. Because at her core she believes that she is powerless, these options are not only terrifying but in direct conflict with her belief. If Julie believes she is powerless any amount of struggle might disrupt her effort. She has learned that any amount of effort is moot because nothing she can do will ever be enough to get her where she wants to be. What’s the point? The pull that Julie is feeling is to give up because once again she tried and once again it didn’t work. Yikes, Julie. I feel you.

What agreements have you made with yourself? Have you agreed not to speak up for yourself because you believe that your needs don’t matter? Have you agreed to be busy at break-neck speed because you believe that busy-ness equals worthiness? Have you agreed to pick relationships in which you feel smothered because you believe that you have to choose between extremes of either being smothered or ignored?

Once we start to notice our patterns we can start making some sense out of why we do what we do and what we need to make sustainable changes. We don’t have to feel like life just happens to us. We can stop creating our suffering.

And if you haven’t already read a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I recommend doing it. The book describes in detail the impact of self-beliefs, the agreements we make with ourselves, and how to take steps toward changing our beliefs and agreements to reflect who we want to be and how we want to live.


Love and Be Loved,

You Are Enough.

You Are Enough.

As children, many of us received implicit (and often explicit) messages that it was not ok for us to just be. To some of us, it was communicated that sadness and anger are unacceptable feelings and that to be lovable and worthy we had to hide those parts of ourselves. Some of us were told to constantly strive for more and better, that we should never enjoy where we’re at or what we’ve achieved because someone else is waiting to take our place in line for the best. At some point, we might have realized that our needs and wants were not important.

As a result, we started to believe that we are not enough.

When we are bathed in a message from such a young age and for so long, it becomes woven into our fibers. Such a deep feeling of scarcity, of “not enough” can creep into many other parts of our lives. We feel there is not enough time, not enough money, not enough opportunity. We feel we are not good enough communicators, not good enough parents, not good enough partners, not good enough workers. This becomes the narrative we tell ourselves and we live by it. We have internalized the messages, the scarcity and made an agreement with ourselves that we are not enough, so we approach each situation with that belief. It informs how we participate in relationships, in challenges, at work, and in the rest of life.

It’s not that we want to live this way. We just don’t know how not to. When we haven’t been taught how to validate ourselves and our experience it’s pretty mystifying as to how that could ever work. And once we’ve been doing something for so long, it’s an ingrained pattern of thinking and doing. So, we live in various states of longing and fear.

We starve our needs and try to shape ourselves into what we think we need to be or do or look like so that we can capture the elusive feeling of being enough. We continue to do it until we are exhausted and hopeless.

If this post feels relatable to you and you’re wondering how you can start the process of breaking free from this painful cycle, read on.


  • You can observe. You can watch the feelings that come up and the chatter in your mind that tries to find ways to judge yourself and keep those cognitive distortions churning.
  • You can observe while beginning to reserve some judgment. Instead of following your thoughts of “Damnit, I looked like an idiot!” down the rabbit hole, you can put some space in between yourself and the thoughts. This looks more like, “Damnit, I looked like an idiot! …ok, the voice in my head is telling me I looked like an idiot.” That’s enough of a start. John Kabat Zinn devotes a whole method to finding and increasing this little bit of space. It’s called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), and you should Google it.
  • You can start sending little bits of compassion to the part of yourself that’s feeling inadequate. It can be in the form of thought, a feeling, words that you say out loud, or a mixture of any of these. It’s ok if it feels small and short lived. It will be at first because this is a new practice.
  • Notice as you see patterns emerge. Start tracking your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviors about particularly disturbing or problematic scenarios. See if you can gather more information to get a better understanding of what happens for you and what you can do to help yourself.


Remember that this belief that you are/there is not enough didn’t happen overnight. It took years of training for you to believe it and live your life by it. It will take time and training to learn a new way of being. Try to show yourself some patience and stick with it.


Love and Be Loved,

Stop Catastrophizing

Stop Catastrophizing

As I was finishing up grad school, I began diligently searching for jobs in my field. After a lot of cover letter writing interviewing, I finally found an entry-level position and set up shop. A little while later I was laid off due to budget cuts. I hadn’t been in love with the job, but I’d liked it well enough and the prospect of job hunting again and being unemployed for the first time scared me. One night, I was talking to my wonderful friend about it, and I was freaking out. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I recall verbatim her response. After I had painted us both a bleak picture of my future she paused for a minute, then said, “So, do you think you’re going to be the 80-year-old in the retirement home who just never found another job?”

She stopped me dead in my tracks, trained a spotlight on my thinking, and called it out for what it was- catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is worst-case scenario thinking. It’s pretty common and can be kind of fun when using it for affected theatrics or hyperbole. It’s much less fun when it feels more like a belief, and we’re just waiting for it to happen.

In my line of work, people catastrophize to me a lot. Sometimes they’re aware they’re doing it and sometimes they’re not. It’s my job to help them identify the behavior and get their thinking back into reality and under control.

Catastrophizing is a bit like a photo filter for our brains. And, oh, there are so many filters available to us. We can use the all-or-nothing thinking (or black and white thinking) filter, the discounting-the-positive filter, the mind-reading filter, and the blame filter. That’s not even all of them. There are countless ways for us to distort situations.

When we employ all-or-nothing thinking, we only allow for extremes. We invisibilize the whole picture, which means we invisibilize a lot of pertinent information. With this line of thinking, there are no positive outcomes for us.

Discounting the positive is a way for us to either weigh only the negative or weigh the positive in a negative way, either about ourselves, a situation, or someone else. It looks like this: “Why would anyone want to hire me? I’m young and inexperienced and don’t have a very impressive resume.”

Mind reading offers just about as much comfort. Here, we assume we know someone’s intentions. “She probably called me into her office because she wants to reprimand me for something.” “He told me he liked my presentation only because he feels sorry for me and is hoping his kindness will somehow make me believe in myself.” These are good examples of mind reading. With assumptions like these, we improve our chance at living in a state of interminable insecurity.

Using blame as a cognitive distortion is equally as useful as its sibling methods. When we use blame, we can either take none of the responsibility or more than our fair share. Something is either everyone else’s fault because they didn’t (fill in the blank) or because we didn’t (fill in the blank). “I shouldn’t have asked for that raise.” “I shouldn’t have said anything about how I was feeling.” “She shouldn’t have spoken to me that way.” “They shouldn’t have set the bar so high.” When we use blame as a defense, we don’t have to see a situation clearly which means we can stick to our patterns that have become so uncomfortable for us.

All of us fall into these distortions at some point. It’s important that we identify them and know how to handle them. We can combat them by asking ourselves questions that will help us with our reality testing. A useful question that I like to use both professionally and personally is, “What is the real evidence that this is true?” This is a good jumping off point. Any evidence we think we’ve found to support our distortion can be thoughtfully worked through and sorted. It’s best to enlist an ally when we first start challenging our cognitive distortions because we’ll likely fall into the same patterns if we don’t have a more objective outsider. Start with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. You’ll find that you don’t have to believe everything you think.


Love and Be Loved,

Break Free From Self-Doubt

Break Free From Self-Doubt

At some point, all of us doubt ourselves. We doubt that we are going in the right direction. We doubt that we are acceptable just as we are. We doubt that people will still love us if they saw certain aspects of us, found out about our past, knew what we were thinking, or learned about things we’ve done. We doubt that we are smart enough, or good enough. We doubt that our bodies, minds, and souls are enough. We doubt that we have enough, do enough, and are enough.

Self-doubt can be crippling. It keeps us stuck. We are too afraid to make a choice, to make a move. We stay at the same job, in the same relationship, in the same pattern that has caused us pain for years. Our comfort zone has now, somehow, become out uncomfortable zone, but to step even one foot outside the line feels too threatening, too overwhelming.

We start to believe that happiness is for other people, not us. Years go by, and we feel that, because we have been struggling with it, this should be as good as working on it. We grow increasingly resentful of the people around us who seem to get what they want without all the suffering we seem to experience. We are embittered, jaded, cynical, and now feel even further from our goals.

Then something happens. It looks different for everyone. But something happens. For some of us, it is a shift in our thinking. For others, it’s a slight change in our usual behavior. Either after years of striving or one day, accidentally, we allow a shred of hope to penetrate our despair. We’re still terrified, but not terrified into paralysis (or as much paralysis as before). We can still hear that voice telling us to turn back, that we’re going to be slaughtered, but we don’t follow its instruction. (This could be because we are learning that it’s just our scared little lizard brain trying to protect us from a threat that doesn’t exist.)

We start to realize that, while there will be many slips and falls along the way, we can’t be broken. We realize that the prison of self-doubt is so much worse than any slip or fall we could ever encounter. We don’t mind the trip-ups as much because we finally feel a sense of freedom, a sense of happiness that we didn’t think we would ever know

I want to walk with you on this journey. I want to talk with you about what keeps you locked in that tiny room of self-doubt and fear and anxiety and hardship. I want us both to find out what has kept you imprisoned for so long and what you need to connect to your courage so that you can emerge.

What will it look like when you stop living in doubt? Will you make any major shifts in your life? Will they be external or internal? Or both? What will you have in your life that doesn’t feel possible now?

Love and Be Loved,

Learn How to Change Your Thought Pattern

Learn How to Change Your Thought Pattern

Think about what you know. How did you come to know this?

Now think about what you believe. Is it different from what you know? Why or why not?

What we believe and what we know (and what we think we know) organizes our philosophy on life- our paradigm, our mindset. It is why we behave the way we do, have the kinds of relationships we have, and it informs our level of satisfaction with our lives. Essentially, our mindset is… us. And we are our mindset.

Within our mindset each of us has a set of assumptions, which creates our operating system. We have methods to address, work within, and challenge these assumptions. This creates the impetus for us to make particular choices on every level- how we behave in our relationships, what we do for work, how we interact, how we manage conflict, everything. It provides us with a motivation to accept or not accept.

When I ask people how they’ve come to know or believe things about themselves, they often tell me stories of interactions they have had with others, gains and losses they have experienced, and how they’ve interpreted such experiences.

It’s easy to see how some of us create a particular meaning out of the information we receive. For instance, if I experience a lot of mismanaged conflict with my family, I might believe/”know” that they don’t appreciate me. If I believe or “know” this to be true, it will impact most of our interactions, and I might begin to feel defensive around them. This might cause me to behave in an aggressive, hostile, or otherwise distancing way during our interactions. Our relationship will start to feel unsatisfactory, and that experience will fuel my belief that my family doesn’t appreciate me. At this rate, I will feel increasingly alienated from my loved ones. That mismanaged conflict will have taken a stronghold on my beliefs, my relationships, and my life.

What would happen if I start to ask questions about the conflict I am experiencing, if I wonder about the information rather than ascribe meaning to it? What if I allow myself to be curious about this experience, allow myself to challenge beliefs that I have adopted? This complicated pain will begin to shift to transparent contributing factors. I will have a better grasp on the information and what it might mean. I will be able to reorganize what I believe is happening within my relationships. My perspective will begin to change.

What if you became more curious about what you know and believe? What would happen if you challenged how shy you think you are, how smart, how needy, how sensitive, or how mean you are?

Eventually, you will feel less dependent on what you have incorporated as part of your philosophy on life because you will have begun to trust yourself. You’ll start to feel safer challenging your beliefs, less defensive when others challenge you. You’ll equate these challenges with increased learning and development. You will find that failure is not a threatening statement about your capabilities, but a chance for refinement. Where you once felt a sense of safety in defining yourself with various restrictive proclamations (“I’m… smart stupid, bad/good at relationships, a good athlete, shy, Type A, mellow, easy/hard to please, socially inept, charming,“ – whatever.), you will realize how dangerously confining they are.

You don’t need them.

Love and Be Loved,