You do not have to be good…

You do not have to be good.

you do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert,

repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your

body love what it loves

Tell me about despair,

yours,

and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun

and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are,

no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imatination,

calls to you like the wild geese,

harsh and exciting-

over and over

announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Mary Oliver

 

Living life isn’t about repenting (though I know some religions that disagree).  It is about learning from our mistakes, not making them again, and learning to cherish that which can be cherished.

 

 

Take risk

I wish I had.  I don’t like closing doors in my life saying “I wish I had”.  I wish I had said this. I wish I had done that.  I also know that I am not the only one that doesn’t like closing doors with “I wish” on my head.  I wish I had traveled more.  I wish I had loved more.  I wish I had stood up for myself.  I wish I had tried harder.  The I wishes aren’t for desires to hurt people, or to get revenge, it is about taking risks.   It is about not settling back into the simple, but stepping into the scary and the uncomfortable to be able to look back and have no “I wishes”.  These wishes risk shame, heart-break, and pain.  They also risk love, happiness and joy.   There is a difference between comfortable and happy.   We can’t grow when we stay comfortable.

What is something you wish could be in your life? I wish I had taken that job, moved to that place, asked that person out,  gotten that tattoo…. I wish I could lose weight, travel more, or climb that mountain.  I wish I could find peace, I wish I could find joy.  I wish I could let myself be loved  What is the risk that you are required to take in order for that to happen?  Is it worth it?

The first thought that comes up is “Am I making a mistake?”  Mistakes can be great.  Failure builds muscle, and we can’t grow without mistakes and failure.  Any choice you make could be the one that is a big mistake.  Risks should be calculated not crazy.  If you have $4000 in savings, don’t blow it on the trip to Africa and set yourself up for difficulties later when your car breaks down, or your basement floods.  The joy and the experience of the trip won’t be worth the stress and difficulty after.  For some people walking out of their door is a risk.  Going to the gym for is a risk for some, as they open themselves up to their fears of ridicule and shame.  Work to make sure the possible mistakes are minimal and not colossal and things will be OK.

The next thing we do is stop making excuses.  I’m too busy.  I don’t have the money (at times valid, but something to work around).  It would bother my partner, friend, or dog.  We generally start making excuses to avoid the fear of the mistakes, or shame, or embarrassment.  The excuses are ways to avoid stepping outside of the comfort zone, growing, and changing.  As a therapist my job is to confront the excuses, but if you don’t have a therapist, you have to confront your own.

I want to know that I have explored this world.  I don’t want to close the door on this life without exploring the world as much as possible.  I have made mistakes, and they have helped me learn and grow stronger.  I will continue to make mistakes as I continue to explore.  I look forward to learning more about me and the world I live in.  I won’t live in fear.  I also know the courage it takes to look at the gulf in front of me and take the leap into the unknown.  Find friends and supports that can keep you motivated and accountable.  Find the strength that you have inside of you, that even if you haven’t been successful you’ve seen other people be successful and know that it can be done.  Find that place inside of you that doesn’t want to close the doors of your life saying “I wish”.

Letting go of perfection

We have standards and expectations, both for others and for ourselves. We have a concept of what should be, how things should be, how you should be and how I should be. The funny (funny ironic, not funny haha) thing is that the expectations and shoulds we have for ourselves is often far more stringent and exacting than the expectations and shoulds we have for others.

It’s OK for other’s to get laid-off, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to get divorced, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to be depressed, but not me. It’s OK for others to have a bad day, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to be angry, but not me. I can’t have a bad day, hurt, be scared, struggle or to not be perfect in general.

The expectations we set for ourselves often reach the level of perfection. A level of achievement that is unachievable. It’s OK for other’s to be good, I have to be great. The expectations and shoulds we have for ourselves often lead to judgment, frustration and anxiety.

There is a balance between having high standards for yourself and giving yourself room for mistakes, difficulties, and room to not be perfect. In a previous blog I discussed how failure builds muscle. We have to learn to give ourselves room for imperfection. So what does it take to give yourself space to not be perfect? Start by validating the facet of you that wants perfection. He or she wants for you to do your best, to fit in, and to be loved. Trying to find perfection has probably gotten you pretty far in your life so far. Then begin to look where that desire for perfection has held you back. Where has it caused anxiety that has made life just that much harder? Where has that part of yourself made you look with doubt on the places where you have done a good job, and eaten away at your confidence? And where has that side of you kept you from even trying because of that fear of failure?

Start to see where giving yourself some room will actually let you expand, grow, and learn faster. When you have permission to fail, then you explore different territories than you have before, experimenting and finding new ways to be great, to fit in, and to be loved. Striving for great isn’t horrible. Not giving yourself room for mistakes keeps you from trying in places where you may not succeed. It limits you, creates judgment that undermines you, and ultimately creates anxiety that holds you down and holds you back.

If no one else is required to be perfect, then neither are you. Giving yourself that space actually lets you be better in life than when you don’t. There is irony there; I understand that. In order to be great I have to be OK with failure.  Find the place where it is OK to not be perfect. Then try your hardest, have fun, and go love the life you live instead of dreading it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Sacrifice

In every relationship; be it work, friends, a personal trainer, partners, children, even pets there is a bit of necessary change and sacrifice that each party must make. There are times that you will need to give up what you want, or a part of who you are to make the relationship work. The fine line to walk is finding what to sacrifice, and what to make sure to keep for yourself.

Many different couples counseling programs point to a concept called differentiation. Dr. David Snarch, the Gottmans, Imago, all of these work to help couples move through differentiation and navigate their relationship. When one person’s identity and the other person’s identity bump in to each other, difficulties arise. Instead of negotiating and finding a middle ground that both can work from, often one person willingly sacrifices, or a partner demands a sacrifice (intentionally or not) and the identity of one is pushed aside. This doesn’t just happen with partnerships, but in friendships, at work, in all the places mentioned above.

When you find that you are losing yourself start by working to answer some questions. First, what is your dream? Have you clearly identified what you want to have happen, what you wish or need? If you aren’t able to clearly identify this to yourself then it can’t be expected for your boss, your dog, your friend or your partner to know what you want or need either. Next, look at what about your dreams, wants, wishes or would-likes are important to you. Is there a fear, or a desire?  Is there a story behind why they are important to you? The Gottmans found that examples of dreams are; a desire for a sense of freedom or peace, exploration of self, adventure, justice, honor or finding unity with one’s past. Others are having a sense of power, finding forgiveness, being able to relax, finishing something important, saying goodbye, or love. There are many stories behind dreams and wants. Be able to identify the story behind the want, wish or would-like.  They create who you are.

Be able to identify the deeper purpose or goal in your dream or wish. What would your ideal situation be, if you could wave a magic wand and everything could be the way you need it to be? Is there a deeper purpose or goal? Is the purpose or goal something that can be met, is it realistic? For example; if you have young children the desire to go to the bathroom alone in peace, the dream of peeing in silence is a valid want and dream, but unfortunately unrealistic.

Look at the values or beliefs that lie behind the desire. Is there a fear of something bad happening if the desire or dream isn’t met? Self awareness about the desire, what it is, what it means to you, and what it means to you if it isn’t met is important. If you can’t quantify these things for yourself, then the people around you can’t know or understand them either.

The next thing to do is to understand that the whole process that I just put you through, identifying what you want, why you want it, what it means to you, etc; your partner, boss, dog all have the exact same thing. Within any conflict they all have a want or a fear with a story behind it, with values and meaning.

Then find the areas within your dream that you just cannot give up. And then find the places where are the areas in which you are flexible. What are your core feelings, the ones that just can’t be negotiated about the situation.  And where do you have breathing room?  This can be difficult if you have been in a tense situation in for a while.  Even the breathing space becomes a hard line that just can’t be crossed, and there is no middle ground between the two parties when the fight has been going on and on.  When you’ve engaged in the emotional equivilent of trench warfare for years,  finding middle ground can be difficult.   Find that middle ground.

If you know what their back story is, and why the situation is important to them and you still can’t find middle ground, then you are closer to parting ways.  Be it your job, your dog, your partner, or your friends, if there is no middle ground without sacrificing your identity then it may be time to part ways.  I had a dog that could not be left alone with my cats.  I was told that I would come home to find a dead cat if I didn’t keep the dog contained and the cats separate.  Well, my cats had been with me for over 10 years, so the new dog had to find a new home. The middle ground was a life with her in a cage at night and when we weren’t home, and the house divided to where she could be and the cats could be.  It wasn’t OK.  She wasn’t a bad dog, there was just no middle ground.

If you walk to the table with breathing room and a middle ground then you have a place to start.  If you are able to walk to the table knowing what their frustration and back story is, and why it is important to them, then you are even further down the road.  Ninety Percent of situations have a middle ground that can be found if you are willing to lay aside your ego, and they are willing to lay aside theirs to find that place where both of you can be OK.  The ten Percent is heartbreaking because it doesn’t matter how much love there is, it can’t be found and neither person is at fault.  Overall though, there is a middle ground.  If you both follow the above recipe, then with patience and understanding you can find shared peace.

The change that I want

We all have something in our life we would like to be different.   Be it our child, our sibling, our boss, our spouse, our weight etc we want it to change.  One of the most difficult things we have to realize is that for change to happen, be it internal or external, we are the ones that have to change first.  I often work with parents of difficult children. When I ask “What are you willing to do to make the situation different?” I hear a variation on the theme of “They need to”.     In one of my firsts posts I used one of my favorite quotes.  “If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got”.  If I want the world around me to change, I have to change too.

A treatment method I utilize in my practice is Solution Focused Brief Therapy.  The primary focus of this therapy is approaching the solution of the problem as though it were already solved.  How would you act, treat the person, do for  yourself, if the change you wanted already happened? What is one thing you could do that could bring you 1/2 a step closer to your goal of change.   The difficulty people have with this is they often find things that the OTHER person is able to do to make things better, and often have little concept of what THEY are able to do to effect change in the situation.  People often want the world around them to change, they want the end result without having to do their own work.

For any change to be permanent, our own behavior must change long term as well.  If I want to loose weight I CANNOT change my behavior short term only until the weight is lost and return to old habits without expecting to gain the weight back.  All parties in the relationship are required to change for the change to be maintained.  I cannot expect my child’s behavior to change while I treat him / her the same.

So, since my behavior and responses have to change no matter what, what would happen if I changed them first?  If I alter my behavior, the system around me will eventually shift to accommodate that change.  In the short term the system, no matter how much it wants that change, will work to maintain the status quo, but long term the system will move.

Say I want my brother to treat me with more respect.  Because he does not respect me I do not treat him with respect, and often display passive aggressive behavior toward him reinforcing his disrespectful behavior.  If I were to treat him with respect, especially when he isn’t actively disrespecting me (he can’t be disrespectful 24/7, there has to be a moment in time when he is pleasant), after he unconsciously works to maintain the comfortable status quo, he will eventually shift his behaviors.  If he DOES shift his behavior and I return to my previous attitudes and behaviors toward him he will not maintain his change.  If I don’t change my behaviors when he does show positive behavior toward me I don’t reinforce (training anyone?) his behavior and he won’t be encouraged to continue.

No matter what the problem the first question to ask is “What do I need to do differently to make this change happen”.  Willingness to alter my view, perception and behaviors in a situation will not only help my frustration in the situation (I at least know I am doing what I can), but will eventually help to affect change in my environment. It is always better than waiting around for things to change around me.

Anger ain’t that bad!

With all of the talk of Anger Management, and Letting of anger, and quotes like “holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal and expecting the other person to get burned”, anger has gotten a bad rep.  While yes, long term anger is damaging to the body in the way long term stress and long term anxiety are damaging to the body, every emotion we have has a purpose; including anger.  In dangerous situations anger fuels the protective instinct and helps provide the energy to protect ourselves and others.  In overwhelming situations anger gives the fuel to keep going when the odds seem completely against you, and helps push for change.  It is one of the emotions that lets us know that something is wrong that may need to be changed; possibly how you think of a situation, or the situation itself.

A recent study  has shown that anger can actually help people make firm decisions when they may have waffled before.  It can help people think critically about a situation in which they would have felt confusion about before.  With everything, if we let the anger get too big it can get in the way.  A candle can be beautiful and provide light, a campfire can provide warmth, a forest fire can provide incredible devastation.

Anger can be a wonderful protective agent. Feelings such as fear, shame, sadness and powerlessness are painful.  Anger helps manage those feelings from being as painful.  This can be a good thing in small doses, of course.  Anger can also be a distraction keeping us from being present with the true struggle. We need to look at what anger is able to give is in the moment we are using it. Is the anger giving us the courage to fight a fight that we need courage for? Is the anger helping keep motivation up in a situation that seems helpless? If so the anger is beneficial and helpful. If the anger is distracting from the true needs for yourself or a situation, or if it is just providing a cover-up so that you don’t have to be present with painful emotions then it is not helpful but possibly detrimental.

When we use Anger as a cover-up for painful emotions we don’t lose the emotions, we are hiding them from ourselves. Like when we were children and our parents told us to clean our rooms, and we just shoved everything under the bed. (I know very well that I am not the only kid to do that, I work with too many teens and adults.) Eventually the mess under the bed grows until there is a huge mess that will take a monumental amount of time and effort to clean. We can go on hoping that we never have to worry about it, but that day always comes. Out of sight may be out of mind, but it is still there. If there is trauma added to the mess it festers, like shoving food under our metaphorical beds. It starts to stink up the whole place. Using anger to cover this up just causes more pain and hurt that has to be shoved away and covered up, creating a cycle. Being able to let go of the anger and having the courage to face the pain and hurt that has been ignored is the first step to emotional (and sometimes physical) health.

It is important to be able to see your own true motivations behind the anger. Many motivations that lead to anger are a desire to be heard, a desire to be respected, and a desire to be seen as valuable. A feeling of lack of skill or lack of knowledge can lead to fear and anger. As discussed above, anger in these situations, in small doses can be helpful. It can help focus and add direction. In big doses it leads to rash decision making with verbal and possibly physical aggression. Learning the skills to feel comfortable in multiple situations can limit the anger as you feel confident instead of afraid.

Anger is no better or worse than any other emotion. It is useful and necessary at times, and in moderation can be beneficial. As with all emotions it is important to be able to harness the anger without letting it overwhelm you and your actions. It’s OK to be mad, it’s not OK to be bad.

What “I can’t” really means

What do you really mean when you say “I can’t”?  “I can’t”, or “I cannot,” truly means “I am unable to.”   If someone were to ask me to do a basketball lay-up, I would legitimately be able to say, “I can’t”.  I am unable to coordinate myself and the ball to do an official “lay-up.”  Were someone to ask me to learn to do a lay-up, if the words “I can’t,” should happen to come out of my mouth what I would really mean would be “I won’t”.  I am perfectly capable of learning to do a lay-up, though I honestly have little interest in doing so.

A good deal of the time when we utter “I can’t,” we really mean: I won’t, I don’t want to, it is too hard, or it’s to scary.   One of the worst things we do is convince ourselves of the “I can’t.”  This often comes into play when change is needed.  One of my personal “I can’t” moment came about 8 years and 70 pounds ago.  As I struggled with my weight I was referred to Gary Avignon, LPC.  After an interview and assessments he dropped the news.  I already knew I was over weight, but I didn’t know that my adrenal system had essentially shut down leading to depression, anxiety and type two diabetes.  Now for the good news.  In order to combat all of these problems I would need to completely change my lifestyle.  I would need to remove all non-complex carbohydrates from my diet.  This included most wheat products (bread, noodles, cereal), rice, sugar and potatoes.  No french fries, no bread, no spaghetti, no ice cream…Could you do it?  Veggies and fruits were a necessary part of this lifestyle, but even things like Special K cereal for breakfast was out.  As I was being told this, my first thought was, “I can’t.”  And as I thought these words I was informed that this lifestyle change would not just be until I lose the weight, but permanent, if I wish to keep the weight off forever.

In this “I can’t” moment I had to decide what was more important.  French Fries, or my health?  Bread, or my health?  But making this sacrifice was overwhelming.  Food as comfort,food is an important part of our life.  In that moment, though, I made a decision then and there that I could.  Many times in the next year or two after making the decision I didn’t want to, but “I can’t” changed to “Oh my goodness this is HARD, but I CAN!”

When working with addicts and offenders (violent, sexual, what have you) one of the most frequent thinking errors is “I can’t,” (next to “it isn’t fair”).  When working with clients facing a large change, the most frequent thinking error is “I can’t.”  “I can’t leave my partner,” “I can’t leave my job,” “I can’t leave my home,”  “I can’t exercise,” even though I am miserable.  The justifications for all of these are many, and at times surprisingly few.  Often there are reasonable justifications for the “I can’t:” “I can’t leave my job because I can’t afford my apartment without it.”  “I can’t exercise because I have (various physical problems).”  Okay, then let’s figure out what you CAN do.

The moment we become honest with ourselves and use “I won’t” or “I don’t want to,” or “I’m scared,” or “that’s really hard,” we take a step forward.  You can leave your job.  It will make life very difficult in some cases, and will be very scary, but you can make that change.  You can’t do certain exercise, but you can find exercises you CAN do.  Anneli Rufus wrote a book called Stuck, Why We Can’t, or Won’t Move On.  While I disagree with some of her extremes, generalizations, and some of her “all or nothing” thinking, her concepts are sound.  She covers the concept of “I can’t” very well.  People come to me when they hit a point of stuckness they don’t want to tolerate anymore, but are often not ready enough to do the things they need to do, or admit the things they need to admit to themselves, in order to become unstuck and move past “I can’t”.

Next time you use the words “I can’t,” be honest with yourself.  Are you truly unable to, or is it too hard, scary, or difficult?  This admission is incredibly difficult to make, because the next step is to admit that you CAN.  You may not have the resources (emotional, financial, physical) but often you are able to obtain these things, if you look.

Are you ready?

 

Jealousy

“You can’t expect someone to love you when you can’t love yourself.” That’s the quote anyway. Well, there are times that I struggle to love me, and I’ve worked at it for years. But I have learned my value as a person and as a partner. I have learned that I am a pretty darn good catch, and anyone that doesn’t agree with that isn’t someone that I need to hang around. What knowing this, believing it in my heart, does for me is allows me to avoid jealousy.

Jealousy is the belief that you aren’t good enough. There is a fear that your partner will eventually see this, and start to look for the BBD. The Bigger Better Deal. Jealousy is the belief that everyone out there is better than you, and you aren’t enough to be faithful to. Jealousy has little to do with the other person, and a good deal with your belief that you aren’t good enough to be loved, let alone the other person. The way to kick jealousy is to find confidence. Letting go if insecurities and recognizing that everyone has crazy in them that needs to be worked on increases confidence. Learning to see that you aren’t the only person out there that doesn’t have their ducks in a row as much as they would like lets you be able to see your partner’s imperfections and not feel so bad about your own.

If you are confident in your worth, 3 things happen. First: you feel confident in your partner’s attraction to you, you feel confident in your ability to attract and pick a good person, and you have no fear that they will be looking elsewhere. Second: If they do happen to have a wandering eye, you recognize this as an indication of who they are, and not who you are. Third: you feel comfortable allowing yourself to shine through without trying to be someone you aren’t.

When you feel confident in your partner’s attraction to you, you don’t mind if they look. I know I like my car, and at the same time if a Ferrari or a decked out classic car goes by, I’m going to look and admire. It doesn’t mean that want to drive or own the car, I just want to admire it for the beauty it holds. The same is often true for people. We feel attraction on many levels. The areas of attraction are a person’s physical beauty, a person’s sexual beauty, emotional beauty, intellectual beauty, and humorous beauty.   My attraction to a Ferrari is attraction to it physical beauty (and maybe sexual. Yes, a car can have a sexual beauty / energy) with the knowledge that it is a high maintenance car. That makes it instantly overall less attractive on anything other than an artistic / physical level. For a relationship to be healthy and last there must be attraction on all levels. The least important is actually physical attraction, as a person becomes more physically attractive to a person as a deeper friendship is built through shared interests, humor, and life goals.

When I can recognize that a person’s wandering eye is an indication of who they are instead of who I am, I stop taking responsibility for the other person’s actions. People don’t cheat on their partner because of who their partner is, they cheat because of who they are. If someone is in a relationship they are unhappy in and they use that as an excuse to cheat, it is just that; and excuse. If you’re unhappy in your relationship do something about it; either try to fix it or leave, nothing gives you an excuse to cheat. When I recognize that the wandering eye is the other person, I become more discerning in the people I pick. I make sure that I’m not choosing people with a propensity to wander and then fear that they will do it to me, I pick people I know are good people, giving me more confidence in the relationship.

Someone once said “How I see you is none of your business”. When you let go of trying to impress other people and trying get them to see you as a certain way, and instead focus on being the person you want to see yourself as, you will instantaneously become more attractive to the people around you. It also means that you don’t have to contort yourself to be who you think the other person wants you to be. For example; You don’t have to lie about liking sports; if you don’t like sports, you don’t like sports. All you have to do is give your partner that does like sports the room to like them and you will be all set. Your partner will like you for you. If the only reason he likes you is because he thinks you like sports when you don’t, there is always going to be a fear that they will find out and stop liking you. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t in an effort to make yourself more attractive. Be you, if they aren’t attracted to that then you shouldn’t be with them anyway.

Jealousy is about fear and insecurity, not about the other person and their actions. If you are with a person that you legitimately need to watch all the time because they have cheated in the past or are known to have a wandering eye, then you should probably re-think your relationship. Otherwise it’s time to look deep and figure out what your fears and insecurities really are. Unless your partner is a complete and total ass (and they do exist), they are with you because you are just who they need. They are with you because they decided you are perfect for them. Work to keep from proving them wrong by turning on the crazy.

 

The soccer game in your head

Have you ever watched a kid’s soccer game? One with 6-year-olds? You watch two teams of kids and every single one of them wants the ball. There is no organization, and if a goal is made it is by luck more than skill because everyone is trying to be the one in charge. Now think of all you wants, wishes and would-likes. The want to play and have fun, the want to be seen as responsible, the want to be accepted and acceptable, the fears of failure and the desire to be successful, the want to tell the world exactly where it can go and how it can get there, the desire to make the people around you happy, the desire to make yourself happy, the desire to let your hair flow free and the desire to be professional. Imagine all of your wants, wishes and would-likes, and all of your fears as the players of the game. All of these players want the ball and think they all know best what to do with it and how to score a goal.

When you go watch a soccer game with anyone over the age of 12 the game changes. There are organized positions, each player knowing their role and knowing that if they play their part it increases the chance of winning the game. No-one is fighting their teammate for control of the ball, everyone is working cohesively for one purpose.

Most of the people I work with have yet to get all players working together. They are fighting for control of the ball and the one that is the strongest grabs control, picks up the ball and runs whatever direction they want to go with it. You, the coach, are no longer in control. The trick is to get each player to stop thinking they have the only way of reaching their goal. Most of them have similar goals; happiness, peace and safety. They just have disagreements on how to get the ball there. If they start to work together you won’t feel pulled in so many directions, or as out of control.

We want to think that our brain is in control of our actions. Though people can recognize that their heart can take over when they are in love, and people often feel butterflies or knots in their stomach when stressed. Many people have known the place where their heart is leading them on while their stomach is in knots. The heart wants connection and the zing of love, and the stomach wants to avoid the pain of rejection. There may also be a place even lower down that has it’s thoughts on some more carnal desires as well. This sounds like a bunch of players all fighting for the ball, doesn’t it.

The first step is to listen. If you ask your heart what it wants, it will speak to you, you just forgot to listen somewhere along the way. For some of us we had to stop listening because if we followed our heart we would have gotten in trouble. Our stomach knows how to stay safe, but sometimes what it wants is to go home, shut the door, close the curtains and eat ice-cream forever. It usually wants to avoid getting hurt and avoid rejection. When I can listen to the different faces of myself, and hear what they want I can start acting as a coach. When my heart wants connection and love, my stomach wants safety and to avoid pain, my throat wants to avoid talking about my embarrassing truths, and a little lower down wants…well…you know, I have to manage the wants and desires. I have to guide each player, pushing some forward, pulling some back, and working with each to use their strengths for the benefit of the team.

In any given situation we have many players wanting game time, for different goals and different reasons. As the coach, we have to sort through them, find the players that are best for the situation at handle, and play them to their strengths. As the coach, working to avoid judging the players that want things that are less than helpful or less than healthy is important.   In the above situation I work with my heart to allow me to find connections, while using my anxiety to keep me aware and safe, hopefully avoiding a problematic situation with a partner that is less than safe and less than healthy. My heart would have me leap before I look and my stomach would have me be lonely. If I can get them to work together neither feels neglected and both feel as though they are part of something bigger.

A kiddo that I work with is struggling because she wants to be loved and accepted, she wants to be seen as fun, and she wants to stand up for herself and not take any shit. Her wants are pulling her in separate directions and causing anxiety. We are working on being able to give each of her wants a job, and letting each want see that they are not opposite of each other. The more confident she is the more she will be comfortable around people and the more comfortable she will be being herself. The more herself she can be, the more accepted she will be by others in general. The keys are to get each or the parts to quit fighting the other, and to see how they can work together to achieve both goals.

When you learn to listen to your anxieties and angers, your wants and desires, you can learn to start using them and directing them. You can get them to work together and stop feeling as pulled apart. You are the coach, and you have to take control of the players. Let them play to their strengths, and make sure each of them has a part to play. If they feel ignored or neglected, each player will revert to taking over and hogging the ball. Each part of you has valid wants, and ultimately wants the best for you, even though the way they try to get those needs met may actually set you back. Giving the players set tasks and letting them see how you are helping work toward the goals will lessen the anxiety and increase feeling in control and confident.