Posts

fatal flaws

Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships with People who have Disorders of Personality & Character

I have noticed how frequently these days that folks are seeking help for people in their lives that they suspect are “narcissistic” or have a personality disorder.  The symptoms and behaviors that accompany these conditions can be debilitating to the families, friends, and even co-workers who interact with them on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that so many are reaching out for help in search of how to cope and heal these complex and painful intersections in their lives.

In my work with those seeking help and clarification with these experiences, I have often recommended an excellent book for those looking to shore up and expand the work they are doing in their individual/family sessions.  The book is entitled Fatal Flaws by Dr. Stuart Yudofsky.

Personal, accessible, and penetrating, Dr. Yudofsky’s work provides a comprehensive approach to navigating the complex world of personality disorders. Dr. Yudofsky weaves real-life experiences from his work in ways that will likely resonate with those who have had similar encounters in their own lives. The book also utilizes several scales to assist in determining whether or not a personality disorder exists.

Proper assessment is crucial in this area. I really encourage those who are struggling with someone they suspect may be “narcissistic” or to have a personality disorder to seek out a therapist to help them wade through the many variables that influence these conditions. Doing so can provide clarity and the establishment of strong boundaries that are crucial in restoring relationships and individual health.

rewire the brain

Rewire the Brain: A 4 Week Guided Meditation Course

Are you looking to experience more joy and peace in your day-to-day life? Are you seeking to be more present in your relationships? Do you ever want to “get out of your own head” and start living more for the moment?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the questions, then this 4 Week Guided Meditation Course is for you!

While utilizing affirmations and attempting to re-structure negative thoughts can be a great practice, sometimes we may feel that we need more to truly manifest what we want in our lives and get more space from negative and harmful thought patterns.
This course uses the power of meditation to help rewire our brain and create new neural pathways so that we can more readily access joy and peace and break out of patterns no longer serving us!

Meditation with others can also help you give and receive the energy from the collective if you’re feeling especially isolated during this time! This course may also be a great practice to help build resilience, peace, and strength before the holiday season is quickly upon us.

All 4 classes are $40 and each session lasts 45 minutes. These sessions will be virtual and held over Zoom Thursday, October 14th & 28th and Thursday, November 4th & 11th from 7-7:45 pm.

Class is structured such that there is an introduction to the mediation. Then I will facilitate a guided mediation for participants. Afterward, the group will process the mediation as a whole and share any insights, feelings, or experiences if they choose! This will also be an opportunity to add additional skills or use the accountability of the group environment to problem solve barriers to consistent mediation practice.

I will be utilizing practices from Eriksonian hypnosis, self-compassion, re-parenting the self, increasing resilience and nervous system regulation. Meditations will be focused on retraining our nervous system. This is to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are a result of developmental trauma, or complex PTSD. This course is meant to help clients re-parent themselves. Participants will experience less emotional deregulation, and access positive, self-affirming, and self-compassionate thoughts more readily.

Click here to sign up!

 

 

optimism

Harnessing the Power of Our Mind Through Mindfulness

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that research has shown to better our mental, emotional, and physical health. But there is new exciting data coming out that tells us mindfulness is a tool that can enhance our performance in athletics, our career, or anywhere we may need to perform at a certain level.

In order to perform at our highest level and reach our potential, we need to achieve a flow state of mind. This flow is proven to enhance performance in learning, athletics, creativity, and leading. A flow state of mind is a mental state where we are completely involved and focused on what we are doing. It’s a type of trance we can get in where barriers and ego fall away. Mindfulness can develop a healthy brain structure to keep us in the flow state of mind.

Our brains have a default mode network that is designed for survival. However, when we stay in this mode during our performance we are vulnerable to pressure, anxiety, and an inability to focus. Mindfulness can get us out of this mode and into a flow.

It is so important to develop resiliency and performance in high-pressure situations. Just like we can train and command the body to be strong and flexible for athletic performance we can train the mind to be calm and confident.

Through repetitions of practices and ways of thinking, the mind can harness optimism. Optimism explores protentional even in times when we may be stressed or anxious. Optimism is much more than thinking the best will happen, it’s a practice that opens doors and helps our minds find our ceiling.

recovering serious person

Hello My Name is Megan, and I am a Recovering Serious Person

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

I love to laugh. Being a recovering serious person, that wasn’t always the case. 

I think I really started to lighten up when I was in grad school to become a therapist in my mid-twenties. By then I had moved from Seattle to Tucson and was now in Louisville, KY. My adventurous spirit transformed my anxiety into excitement. My cohort helped as we collectively had to find some levity in the midst of darkness and heaviness.

Then I met my husband, who has had such titles as “University Mascot” and “Professional Mascot” and “Improv Comedian.” While he brought levity to my life, I also found myself digging into my old ways of seriousness in an attempt for him not to have too much of an influence over me so I wouldn’t subsequently “lose myself” in the relationship.

Then I became a parent and was in a tension between not wanting to be a rigid, overthinking, anxious person and wanting to do things the “right way.” (As if that is possible.)

Ultimately I realized flexibility was the key. Of course, I opt for a “flexible structure” so that I have a bit of a plan, but am not rigid about it. The more flexible I am with myself and others, the better I feel. And the better others feel around me.

And this flexibility does not mean getting walked all over. I love me some boundaries! I am very clear about what works for me and what doesn’t and I readily speak up for myself.

This brings me back to laughter. I’m realizing laughter is a wonderful medicine. We feel lighter when we laugh.  And perhaps it’s that lightness that helps us become more enlightened. 

trust yourself

Trust Yourself

“When you look around, feel insecure, and wonder who you can trust, know that you can trust yourself.
We often stand like little children, holding out our hands, waiting for someone to lead us somewhere, anywhere. We hope that someone can show us what we need to do next…Trust and respond to your own heart. Trust the wisdom and guidance within you.” ~Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart

Did you know that you don’t have to wait to see where/what the Universe/God/Source wants you to go or do?

Nope. You get to say, “Hey! Let’s do this! This really excites me and brings me joy!”
I know, I know, you may not know what it is that you want to do or what brings you joy. Or you’re scared and feeling unsure. We all are! Courage is doing something even though you are scared! We are all making this thing called life up as we go! All of us!
Be curious and prompt yourself often with, “Wouldn’t it be nice…” and see where that takes you. Perhaps you commit to using this prompt daily for a month or multiple times a day for a week!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all trusted ourselves?
overthinking

Free Time: Overthinking It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

When thinking about Free Time and “being” rather than “doing,” I am reminded that I am not only a “do-er,” I am also a “thinker.” A pretty deep thinker at that. My mind can go to places that are seemingly quite unnecessary. I’ve learned over time that this is one of my greatest strengths and one of my greatest challenges.

Now don’t get me wrong, thinking is wonderful.

Over-thinking is what is the issue for me. It’s the thoughts that I can’t stop thinking. The what-ifs and the should-haves and the panic and fear that I’ve done or said the “wrong” thing. This was a prison I felt I was in for a very long time. The prison of anxiety kept me from fully and completely expressing myself in the fullest capacity possible.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that fearlessness is a theme for me. If you watched my Creative Mornings Louisville talk on Silencing Fear you know about my stint with improv comedy and how it brought me to tears.

What I realized about fear and anxiety was that it was a prison that I was putting and keeping myself in. What was the key that would unlock the door to the prison?

The phrase, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart,” was my key. I thought this was what a yoga instructor said in class once. When I asked her after class who wrote that saying, she responded, “That’s not what I read, but maybe that’s what you needed to hear.”

As I began trying new things like improv comedy in my “free time” I chose to place myself outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t about succeeding at improv comedy. It was about doing something that scared the shit out of me and sticking with it. After 9 months of classes every week, it became less scary. I still didn’t enjoy it, the actual performing that is. What I did enjoy and was “in joy” with were the friendships I had made, following through with a challenge and commitment I made to myself. and proving to myself that I could “do hard things” (“Untamed” reference!).

So while you may choose to do an actual activity with your free time, perhaps something other than improv comedy, I wonder if you are also avoiding free time like I can find myself doing.

For those of us who have a tendency to run a bit anxious or are constant do-ers, sometimes it is the quiet of free time that scares us.

This week, I challenge you to embrace the solitude of your free time, to sit with yourself, and remember that, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart.”

worry

Worry Too Much?

Anxiety, we all have it from time to time. Though rarely welcomed, it can be a healthy response to life’s challenges and is a natural human response. In fact, anxiety acts as our body’s alarm system, allowing us to anticipate when we are in danger or in harm’s way. But if left unchecked, anxiety can be an overwhelming, never-ending cycle of worry that keeps us from understanding important parts of ourselves.

If you experience anxiety, ask yourself this:

If your mind wasn’t full of these current ANXIOUS thoughts, what would you think about? Although not necessarily pleasant, anxiety can serve as a distraction from dealing with what really needs to be addressed at the core.

Here are some signs that worry might be problematic in your life:

  • Chronically on alert and thinking about potential future dangers or threats.

  • Consistently making negative predictions about the future.

  • Tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen.

  • Repeat worried thoughts over and over again in your head.​

How can I tell if my anxiety is normal?

Anxiety is problematic when it is constant and goes unresolved, interfering with your lifestyle and relationships. An anxiety disorder can keep a person from coping with life’s ups and downs and make a person feel anxious most of the time, sometimes without any identifiable cause.

If this sounds like your current experience with anxiety, perhaps it’s time to change your relationship with anxiety by altering your perspective on it.

You don’t have to go it alone. Seeking professional care for your anxiety can provide hope and clarity on how to best navigate it.

untamed

Untamed Joy

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Somewhere along my journey it happened.

Quietly, imperceptibly, almost without my having knowing it.

I relaxed.

Got comfortable with myself.

I began enjoying myself, accepting myself, accepting life.

Liking life.

I found joy.

Somewhere along your journey, it will happen to you…

Don’t worry about finding joy.

Because somewhere along your journey, joy will find you.”

-Melody Beattie “Journey to the Heart”

Are we there yet?

(I write this thinking of the laughing/crying emoji I’d love to post right after it!)

Have you arrived at this destination of joy? Is it an actual location, or rather a state of mind? Do we take residence in it or are we just here for a quick visit, perhaps a vacation from reality? Are these questions making you feel anxious or stressed, perhaps with the pressure of needing to accomplish this? Or perhaps you think and feel, “AMEN! Done!”

I am right here with you!

I’m riding the rollercoaster of life, just like you. I still wrestle with the “shoulds” that still reside in me from my family of origin and societal pressures. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. Frankly, I’m done with trying to be perfect. I don’t have the energy for that anymore. And yet it still creeps in, in moments of stress, illness, quiet, like a little leak of air through a window. Just enough to catch my attention.

I allow myself to give it a touch of attention. I notice a frank conversation happening inside my head starting, “Ok, I’m feeling pressure to do the ‘right’ thing here.” And I tell myself gently, yet firmly, “There is no ‘right’ thing here.” And I respond gratefully, “Oh right, thanks for that reminder, I needed that.”

Then I ask myself, “How long do I want to give this attention? How much energy do I have to give this?”

The second answer gets me and I say, “Zero.” I refocus my attention away from the pressure of perfection and follow up with, “What is it you really need and/or want (to do, think, feel) right now?” Sensing that the best thing for me in this moment is some quiet, some reflection, some “me time.” I know I have options because I’ve been here before and I know what helps. I could read, take a bath, make some tea, get a glass of water, reflect, write, go for a walk, watch Netflix. I think, “Wow! Those are a lot of options!” And I wait a moment to see which one feels like the best option in this moment. I know I can always change my mind and try something else.

One place I find Joy is in the quiet whispers of my heart asking to be cared for, nurtured, and nourished. I know that no one knows me as well as I know myself and that I can nourish and nurture myself in many wonderful ways. This feels freeing to me. I’m not relying on someone else to notice I need something and come to my rescue and give me what I’m needing. I rely on my own strength to go ahead and give it to myself.

Oftentimes mid-life is about reevaluation.

We look back on the last forty (or fifty!) years and assess if we want to continue doing life the same way for the next forty-plus years.

The first forty-plus years have offered us a wonderful foundation of life lessons full of newness and loss. These first forty years have primed us for this moment of reevaluation. We may not have known that we had a choice in how we did those first forty years. Now we are old enough and have been adulting long enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. We know who we are and what feels best to us. And we’re beginning to not be afraid to speak our truth.  This is exactly where you find Joy. In the speaking of your Truth. The freedom to own your wants and needs. The embracing of “Not giving a Shit” what people think of me. And it feels wonderful.

Our free book giveaway this month is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It addresses this very theme of speaking one’s Truth and taking all the responsibility and ownership of what comes with that. It speaks for bravery and freedom. And reminds us, “We can do hard things!”

the subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

The title of this book caught my attention recently while I was at the airport. Working with many people who have anxiety or feel stressed out I thought it could be an interesting read. I like things that make us question the status quo and may be a bit provocative. The subtitle drove home my decision to purchase it: “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” Even cooler!

I was curious about the author and what his credentials are so I looked on the back cover and discovered he was a well-followed blogger. Hmmm… Not your typical (potentially dry) self-help PhD? Not surprising with a title like this. My graduate studies had taught me to be leary about non-scientific based information, but I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m usually willing to let things speak for themself. As I read I realized Manson has no specific education or credential as a therapist or in the mental health field. What he does have is his own personal experiences, which he shares freely in the book (which is different than most PhD, self-help authors!). He’s likable and seemingly very open, which is a plus for me. Essentially what I found is a very direct and easy-to-understand and assimilate way to communicate mindfulness (without really talking about mindfulness!). Even cooler!

I have many clients who are not “readers” and I’m always on the lookout for books that may be interesting to the uninterested reader. This book fits the profile. I have recommended it to several people and they *loved* the title and were willing to give it a whirl upon my recommendation.

A few of the premises in the book that caught my attention:

  1. We can never really avoid being in pain and discomfort (he uses the word suffering), so choose what you want to be in discomfort about.
  2. Choose what you want to give a f*ck about rather than giving a f*ck about everything.
  3. Your emotions are there for a very good reason – to give you feedback, to get your attention. So PAY ATTENTION to them!
  4. Make sure you are aligning with your values and priorities. Are the people you surround yourself with people you strive to be like? Are the decisions you are making assisting you in being the best version of yourself?
  5. Failure is to be expected! Welcome it. Learn from it! Perfectionism can keep us from living in reality… I mean really, at what point is “perfection” achieved?! Or are you always telling yourself you’re STILL not good enough.
  6. It’s ok to say “No.” Again, choosing what you do and don’t want to participate in establishes appropriate boundaries.

I found it to be a very enjoyable, humorous, entertaining read, and am glad I read it.

Intrigued?! Give it a whirl for yourself!

 

setting the bar

Setting The Bar Too High

Our expectations for ourselves are often far higher than our expectations for others. Why couldn’t we see into the future about how that marriage would end? Why did we say the wrong thing in that interview? Why can’t we find the motivation to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G….the list goes on.
It’s like someone told us that we are supposed to get everything right the first time and that we are off the rails if our life map involves various stops and starts.
The more people I meet, the more convinced I am that this is all an illusion. The truth is we all crash down only to rise up again. And again. So my message to you is this: The next time you hear that self-critical voice in your head, pause. Notice it. Grab on to grace. Hold it against your chest. Breathe it in. Listen. Let go of the judgment. And give yourself some rest.
You don’t have enough information to do everything right the first time. Give yourself some grace.