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instincts

Trusting Your Instincts

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Be willing to trust your instincts, especially if you cannot find answers elsewhere.”~Brian Koslow

This means listening to your gut and your heart. You are the expert on yourself. No one knows you or your situation better than you. So trust yourself.

Many of us have a hard time trusting ourselves. This is to be expected when we are surrounded by others placing their expectations for us on us. Our loved ones love us AND they manage(d) their anxieties of being a parent by “parenting” us in ways that sometimes didn’t feel great for us when we were young (and perhaps even today as adults!).

Were they wrong or bad for doing this? Not necessarily. They likely didn’t know better and saw others doing the same.

What we can do now is offer ourselves new options.

Pretend we’re re-parenting ourselves. We all still have the little 7 year old in us who is still needing something they haven’t gotten. Ask them what it is they are needing. I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you. And likely you already have a good idea.

Then allow your adult self to help get your 7-year-old self’s needs met. You likely do this easily and willingly for others. Now do it for yourself. You deserve it, even if you’ve felt perhaps you didn’t.

Perhaps you also allow this to have an impact on your own parenting?

Notice when you’re managing your anxiety by expecting certain things of your children rather than just allowing them to show up exactly as they are. Don’t get me wrong, there is a fine balance between guiding/teaching/parenting children and allowing them to be themselves. However, perhaps this is a reminder that we all just want to be loved and accepted for exactly who we are.

We all deserve that.

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.

gratitude

Gr-Attitude!

I was reminded recently about how powerful and magical it is to live life from a place of gratitude. Gratitude shifts our focus from negative to positive. This is not to be confused with Toxic Positivity. “Good Vibes Only” is not realistic. We are not robots.  We are humans and humans feel emotion.

Emotions are watery.

What are you feeling right now? How might you feel in 10 minutes? Emotions ebb and flow, come and go, get stuck and unstuck. Allow your emotions to remain in motion. You may find they move along fairly quickly! Experiment with waiting 5 minutes and see where they go.

Feel all the feels.
Notice them.
Name them.
Then, let them go…like clouds in the sky floating by.

Even when you get disappointed, irritated, or upset, perhaps you will start to notice a theme or lesson that’s being presented in that situation. Perhaps you’ll notice feelings of Gratitude for your noticing, for the lesson you’re actively learning, for the movement of emotion (remember, they’re watery like ocean waves) that prevent you from remaining static and stuck

Where have you found Gratitude recently? Not feeling it lately? Perhaps be curious about where it will show up later today, over the weekend, or in the upcoming weeks…
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. 

stories

The Power of the Stories We Tell About Ourselves

Written by Jennifer Komis, MAMFT, MDIV

Every night before my niece falls asleep, she makes one request: “Tell me a story.” Of course, I proceed to weave together tales of strong little girls who can fly, save the world, and do anything they put their minds to because that’s exactly who I hope she becomes.

My niece’s request reminds me that stories are the dominant language of our lives. We use them to make sense of our world and ourselves. And how we talk about ourselves in this world really matters.

Consider this: Do you see yourself as the hero of your own story?

The survivor? The overcomer? Or, in your story, do you write yourself as the disappointment, the “not enough,” the unworthy? Can you imagine how your view of yourself and what you are capable of might change if you dared to write a story in which you ARE worthy and lovable, just as you are, no matter what?

Perhaps it’s time to ask this question: Are you telling your own story, or someone else’s?

Is the story you’re telling made from a memory, institution, or belief? Are you stuck in a story you are desperate to get out of? Are you sitting, pencil poised, nervous, staring at a blank chapter, and unsure what to write? Do you feel that quiet little voice of excitement saying, “You can be anything, you know that, right?”

Whatever story you find yourself living today, just know, this is YOUR story. You can always add a new chapter, change the plot, or continue it the way it is. You can mourn your tragedies in one chapter and celebrate your triumphs in another. If nothing else, life is always changing. How lovely it could be to explore the dynamic possibilities always around you. Won’t you join me?

forgive

How To Forgive

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“How do I forgive? How can I let go? When will this feeling go away? How do I get over this?”

These are phrases I hear daily. These are phrases I’ve asked my own therapist.

The best advice I was given is to find compassion for the person or the behavior as well as for myself. I had no idea what this looked like. I wasn’t even really open to the idea at first. It seemed that if I was compassionate, I would be excusing the person and the behavior. It took me years, if not decades, to allow that compassion to slowly become more present in my life and feel it make a home in my heart. It was DEFINITELY not an easy process.

The more compassion grew inside of me, I finally understood why it is so important. I thought of all the years I spent (perhaps wasted) in anger, fear, and anxiety that hurt me much more than it hurt anyone else.

Be open to compassion. If not for someone else, at least for yourself.

When you are compassionate with yourself, you model for others how to treat you. When you are compassionate with others, you invite them to be compassionate with you.

You deserve it. You are worth it.

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?
roses

What Roses Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Aaaahhhh roses…. Such a beautiful flower with such wonderful feelings and meaning associated with it.
And yet, with all their natural beauty, vibrant colors, velvety soft texture, and delicious smell, they also come with thorns on the stem should we grab hold of them. We sometimes forget how vicious those thorns can be if we’re not actually growing and cutting them ourselves.
And yet in their natural state, roses have thorns. That is just how they are. With the wonderful, we also have to accept the not-so-wonderful.

What would it be like if we could do this with ourselves?

To honor and celebrate what’s positive, while accepting our challenging areas and holding space for them just as they are? Not needing to be in a rush to change them or make them different.
When given a bouquet of roses, we don’t put them in a vase upside down so we can highlight the thorns. We focus on what is wonderful about the roses and make sure we can see the radiant blooms.
Rather than beating ourselves up for having thorns, let’s experiment with being excited about what’s wonderful about ourselves!