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How to Let Go of Past Mistakes

Do you ever find yourself thinking back to a not-so-proud moment in your life? Maybe you got in an argument with a loved one and said something terrible? Maybe you drank too much and did or said something you regret? Maybe it’s something that happened during  childhood, and you’re not even sure why you feel shame about it? It’s not on your mind all the time, maybe even just a couple times a year. But every time it is…you get that feeling. That heavy, sinking feeling of shame, regret, and embarrassment.

I, too, catch myself doing this. (Perfectionists are particularly prone to this affliction, though it does happen to everyone.) I caught myself engaging in this type of self-misery the other day, and very quickly went into a shame spiral. Then, I paused and thought to myself, “What would I tell a client to do right now?” (I wish I did this more often!!!

The first word that came to mind was compassion. I would tell a client to offer him/herself some compassion. Now, you might be thinking, “Well if I did that, then I would just turn into a psychopath. I would do regrettable things, then look back on it and think, ‘Its fine! I’m a beautiful person!”

K, a little dramatic, but I hear your point.

Well, here’s my point: you’re not a psychopath. The fact that you feel shame, regret or disappointment in the first place is a fantastic indicator of your non-psychopathness.

Shame is used as a why to control behaviors. We see it everywhere, from religion, to teaching in schools, to parenting, to leadership. Shame is used as a motivator for change, sometimes it works! But as we’ve learned from research like Brene Brown’s and countless others, shame is not a good motivator for behavior change. In fact, it usually just makes us feel shitty, without changing our behaviors. 

Perhaps shame/guilt is helpful at first. The next day, maybe you should feel bad about a mistake you made. But feeling shame about something you did five years ago? Two years ago? 6 months ago? This kind of retroactive shame does nothing but crush your soul. Your soul does not need to be crushed girlfriend. Not today. Not neva’. 

What to do instead 

Instead, what if we offer ourselves forgiveness? What if we offer ourselves compassion? What if we say the things we would say to a friend who made a mistake?

“Its okay, you made a mistake. Everyone does!”

“Your past doesn’t define you!”

“One incident doesn’t make you a bad person!”

Why can’t we offer this kind of compassion to ourselves? 

The Exercise 

What’s done is done; it’s in the past. The only thing we have control of now is how we view the past, specifically our past selves. With this exercise, we are going to try and reduce the shame, regret, and other negative thoughts that come up when we think about what we did/said/didn’t do…you get the point. 

The most important part of this exercise is to visualize it. If the THOUGHT of THINKING (don’t worry, that makes sense) about a particular painful/shameful memory makes you cringe, that’s exactly where you need to send compassion.

When you’re imagining the incident, first try and disassociate the negative feelings that are attached to it. This will take practice. Try to observe it like a non-judgmental outsider; like you’re just watching a movie clip.

Then, send it compassion, love and understanding instead. I mean that quite literally: send compassion over to it. Imagine waving a wand and sending compassion. Imagine raining down love on it. Say things to yourself like, “You weren’t in a good place when this happened” or “This is not indicative of the person you are today.” Visualize yourself consoling the past you, the person who made this mistake. Think about forgiving him/her. Think about giving her a hug instead of a lashing and a side-eye. Take some deep breaths. Breathe in the negative, and breathe out compassion.

ANYTIME the thought or memory comes into your head, do this.

Pro tip: I wouldn’t sit down and purposely think about something that’s uncomfortable to practice this exercise. Rather, when it comes up naturally (it will, no need to rush things!) practice it.

Guys, it really works.

When we engage in self-sabotage in our heads, we are essentially reliving the event over and over again. Not the events themselves, but the emotions associated with those events. If we change the feelings attached to them, they will no longer have such a strong negative quality, and perhaps won’t even come to our mind as often.

I’ve been doing this for a little over two weeks now, and let me tell you, I can ALREADY notice a difference.

We can’t change what we’ve done. We cant change bad decisions. But we CAN change the emotions, thoughts and beliefs about ourselves surrounding the decision. This is what will live on forever through us, not the decision itself. 

 

Let me know how it goes for you! 

xoxo, 

Peach 

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We’re hardwired for negativity, here’s how to beat the odds.

If you go to Yahoo.com, or any other news landing page, 99% of what you see will be negative. The latest serial killer mystery, a horrible story about a parent neglecting their child, or perhaps (definitely) something disgraceful happening in politics.

Even if we go outside the realm of current events: have you ever noticed that when someone says a negative comment about you it sticks for days, or even months? And yet, the compliments we get seem to slip out of our memory immediately after entering?

There’s good reason for this, and unfortunately the reality is a bit grim. You see, there’s this thing called the negativity bias. We all ascribe to it. We evolved this way in order to avoid harm. At our very core, all we are trying to do is survive.

Thanks, Ancestors

That’s right, we can all thank our cave dwelling great-great-great x1000 grandparents for this. You see, back in their day, the ability to think negatively was simply a means to keep themselves safe; optimists back then didn’t last very long. For example, if Susan the optimist thought the lion outside looked like a particularly friendly lion and tried to pet him, Susan likely wouldn’t make it back to the cave in time for dinner, and therefore wouldn’t be able to pass on her less-than-stellar genes. Thinking negatively didn’t make our ancestors Debbie downers, it made them survive.

The negative stuff also has a tendency to stick in our memory better than positive stuff. For example, if we have a great day with someone, but they say one off-hand comment that bugs us, we tend to categorize/remember the whole experience as bad. Again, our ancestors are at fault. If they ate an apple from a tree and got violently ill, they are more likely to remember that tree, and therefore not get sick (or die). They are less likely to remember all the good trees with the tasty apples.

Research backs all this up.

Psychologist Dr. Rick Hansen from the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, says that the amygdala (part of our brain that looks like an almond and regulates our emotions) uses almost TWO-THIRDS of its neurons to look for bad news. Negative events also get stored very quickly in memory, while postitive experiences need to be held in awareness 12 more seconds in order to be put in long term storage. This is PROOF that remembering positive crap is harder and takes more effort.  (This is a statement by me, not the actual researcher)

K, are you all ready for some good news yet? 

GREAT! I have good and…sorta good news.

Good news: We can overcome this tendency!

Sorta good news: You’ve gotta WERK. 

Listen, we can’t overcome thousands of years of evolution with a snap of our fingers. It’s going to take time, and it’s going to take conscious effort. Here are some tips to get you started, but remember: YOU MUST PRACTICE THEM AMAP (as much as possible.) 

Tip #1: Pay attention. 
  • What are you paying attention to in your life? Are you giving equal effort to the both the good and the bad? Remember: the bad will come easier. It’s easy for us to dwell on a crappy work day. It’s harder to be grateful that we can afford to get a drink with a friend after the crappy day to blow off some steam. 
  • Pay attention to your inner dialogue. How are you categorizing your experiences? Remember: the experience itself is not what sticks in your memory and has an impact on you, it is the way you perceive the experience. We have control over this! We can give certain aspects our attention, and we can choose to let others go. 
Tip #2: Be purposeful in what you do, say and watch.  
  • What you do: Who are you around? A bunch of debbie downers? If you’re having a tough day or week already, don’t go to dinner with your friend whom you know will just bitch the whole time. Find someone to laugh with. Find someone who you can celebrate joy with. 
  • What you say: While I am always a fan of a necessary vent, don’t drag it on and on. Say or write down what is frustrating you, then move on. Research shows that you more you complain, the more likely you are to have negative experiences. Make sure you taking time to celebrate the good days, not just lament about the bad ones. 
  • What you watch: Staying up to date on current events is important…in small doses. The news, as we discussed, is mostly negative stories because those are click bait and get the most views. (Except for the last 3 minutes of the program where they tell a story about a dog and a turtle who are best friends. Maybe just watch the last 3 minutes?)
Tip #3: Write it down 
  • If you are having a hard time simply thinking about the positivity in your life, try writing it down at the end of the day, or the end of the week. Some call this a gratitude journal, some call it jotting notes in your phone in the dark before bed (my personal favorite). 
  • If you have a negative experience, work through it on a piece of paper. This will take some of the load out of your brain. Also, maybe after you work through it, you’ll end up with a new perspective on the situation entirely. 

 

You can do it guys! We’re not in caves anymore, let’s try and be positive!!! 

 

xoxo, 

Peach 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The BEST Way to Self-Care

Self-care is all the rage these days, but I don’t think trendy articles on Buzz Feed do it justice. Self-care isn’t just taking a beautiful, Instagram-worthy bath with a glass of wine.

chandler

Self-care has different forms, and all of these forms are necessary. It’s not just about “feeling good” for a brief moment. (Though that is one form of it!) It also requires doing things that maybe don’t feel good in the moment, but will reduce your stress in the long term. 

The most important part of self-care is the “self” part. When we engage in self-care we are prioritizing the SELF. So many of us tend to ourselves last, particularly those who are parents or caregivers. In reality, this is the pool of people who need to practice self-care the most. 

Let’s say you’re not a caregiver? You still need self-care. Maybe you’re a workaholic? Maybe you’re a people pleaser and tend to everyone else’s needs before your own? Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re not taking care of yourself, even though you have all the time in the world? Everyone needs self-care because everyone, at some point, puts their needs last.

I’ve found that the best way to make sure you are self-caring is to make a list to have on hand. After all, when we’re overwhelmed, the last thing we want to do is think of a self-care idea. Instead, we tend to go for the quick fixes, like grabbing the wine bottle, a cigarette, a whole pizza…etc. 

I’ve designated three main types of self care. Grab a pen and paper, or whip out your phone (LOL, like it’s not already in your hand). As we go through them, I want you to list AS MANY types of self-care that are UNIQUE and SPECIFIC to you under each category. At the end, I’ll tell you what to do with them. 

Self-care type #1: Things that are enjoyable

  • Not only are things in this category enjoyable, but they require minimal effort. For example, while going on a cruise is very enjoyable, it requires a lot of planning and effort, so this would not qualify for this type of self-care type.
  • I want you to be VERY specific, and think about things that are unique to you. Don’t go with the tried and true “take a bath” or “read a book” unless you truly enjoy those things, and you will truly do them. Like, right now I’m renting an apartment where the bath tub drains one tbsp every second, so taking a bath would not make the cut on my current self- care list.
  • Make sure that you have a variety of things to do. You should have available options no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing. If you’re driving, if you’re traveling, if you’re home alone, etc.
  • Examples: 
    • Take a drive through the countryside. 
    • Call a specific friend who lifts yours spirits. 
    • Go for a walk.
    • Window shop downtown.

Self-care type #2: Things that will reduce your stress

  • These won’t be super enjoyable in the moment, but they will be helpful and practical in the long run. I think examples will explain these best: 
  • Do three SMALL things on your to do list.
    • I’m talkin’ SMALL. Call and make an appointment somewhere. Mail that card you’ve been needing to mail. Heck, get the mail! Write them down, do them, then cross them off. 
  • Set boundaries.
    • This can be as simple as saying “no” to a social event you really don’t want to go to, or something bigger, like telling your mom she can’t come over and walk in your house without calling first.
  • Give yourself time to relax without feeling guilty about it.
    • That last part is REALLY important. Dedicate time for you to just…relax. To literally do nothing. Allocate time during your day when this is possible.
  • Journal
    • Word vomit your thoughts, stresses, to-do’s on to a piece of paper
  • Clean your space
    • If you’re in your car a lot commuting, clean your car. If you have an office, clean your office. If you are a stay at home mom, pick one room that you know would put you at ease if it was clean. Don’t clean the whole house! Pick one room so you don’t get overwhelmed. 
  • Get the idea? Write down ideas that will take a little initial effort, but in the long run will decrease your load. 

Self-care type #3: Things that are good for your physical health 

  • These also need to be very specific to you. For example, running would have been on my self-care list a few years ago, but I’ve been struggling with an injury, so perhaps I would put yoga instead. But…then I realize I don’t belong to a yoga studio at the moment. So I probably won’t do this, so it shouldn’t go on my list. Catch my drift? 
  • Examples: 
    • Exercise (specify what kind, where, etc). 
    • Make a healthy meal or meal plan for the week
    • Drink water right when you wake up, or make a goal for how 
      • Beyonce drinks hot water with the lemon in the morning which means SO SHOULD YOU. 
    • Get a massage.
    • Make a wellness check appointment with your doctor.
    • Incorporate one vegetable into every meal for a week. 
  • Taking care of your health works in two ways:
    • 1. You feel physically better because you’re taking care of your health
    • 2. You feel good about yourself because you’re taking care of your health. 

Since you’ve been taking notes like the good little student that you are, take some time to go through them now and edit or delete as you see fit. Then make a final, pretty copy to keep with you at all times. If it’s on paper, fold it and put it in your wallet or purse. Save it to your notes in your phone. Just make it’s easily accessible! 

The number one reaction I get from people when we talk about self care is “I don’t have time!” Which can be true, but the thing is you need to MAKE time. You need to BUILD this into your schedule. Block off thirty minute chunks throughout the week in your planner and leave them blank, these will be your self-care times. Put an alarm on your phone for a start and end time for self-care. You need to make it as much of a priority as a doctor’s appointment. If someone asks you to go to lunch and it’s during self-care time, you say no.

Lastly, 

Don’t wait until you’re STRESSED to practice self care.

Practice self care so that you don’t GET stressed. Preventing stress is so much easier than trying to get rid of it! 

 

xoxo,

Peach

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A Conversation with Intuitive Eating Expert, Soshy Adelstein

As we nestle into our chairs in a cozy, modern coffee shop and sip on our respective lattes, I can already tell this interview is going to be good. It’s 10:00 am on a dreary Friday in Boulder, CO, but the energy in the cafe is buzzing. Within three minutes of sitting down, Intuitive Eating expert Soshy and I are somehow in deep conversation about communicating your feelings in a relationship. THREE MINUTES! Verdict: Soshy Adelstein is my type of people

I met Soshy not long after moving to Boulder, CO, and right away I could tell our energies would mesh well. She is intuitive, smart, and has a no-BS approach that I appreciate immensely. (She also has a wicked Brooklyn accent that is so endearing, I sometimes try and steal it.) She is a mom of an impossibly cute 2.5 year old, and recently quit her day job to pursue her dream of being an Intuitive Eating expert and coach. 

After 30+ minutes of conversation most people wouldn’t touch on with a friend of 5 years, we settle in and get down to business: 

A: I think a basic place to start is: what is Intuitive Eating?

S: So Intuitive Eating is a style of eating that helps you tune into hunger and fullness. It’s about eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full, eating food that you love and what feels good, and most importantly listening to internal body cues.

A: My understanding, and TBH why I’m a fan, is that it’s more of a lifestyle change than a diet?

S: Exactly. It’s accessible to everyone at any point in their wellness journey. Our purpose to get away from diets and harsh guidelines.

A: So what’s the purpose of Intuitive Eating? Like where did it come from?

S: It’s essentially an answer to the diet culture that is pervasive these days. Diets usually don’t take into account who we are as humans, as a person. They’re good short term fixes, but most women find that they don’t last.

A: They get caught up in the Yoyo dieting?

S: Exactly.

A: I also feel like we are told things that often oppose one another. Like, one day dairy is the devil, then the next week we’ll hear it’s “okay in small quantities.”

S: Yes! We get so much confusing and conflicting information around diets.

Intuitive eating is about tapping into your own stomach instead of listening to the latest article with advice on what you should be doing with food. 

A: So how did you get into “Intuitive Eating”? It’s a relatively new term.

S: I had a fairly normal relationship with food growing up; there was no dieting in the house or anything. My mom took great care in making sure nothing was processed, and we were eating healthily. Then one day at 19, I saw a photo of myself and I wasn’t happy. Couple that with trauma at 17, plus moving out of my house (with no emotional or financial support) at 18 and going to college? A huge shift happened, and all of sudden I found myself stuck in a cycle of dieting and bingeing. 

A: Is that a common age for your clients? Early twenties?

S: I would say that it’s a common age where a woman’s journey with disordered eating starts, but I see women of all ages. I think something happens at that age, when you move out of the house you grew up in and go to college or elsewhere. Some sort of maturity shift. I tried my first diet at 19, and for six years I was chronically dieting, bingeing and over-exercising. Over that time, I gained and lost 30 pounds at a time. It equaled probably hundreds of pounds over time.

A: Wow. I think a lot of women can relate to the constant weight fluctuations. So I’m interested to know: when you lost 30 pounds, did you feel differently? Or were you in the same headspace as when you gained 30 pounds too?

S: I felt horrible no matter what I did, but society definitely inherently rewarded me when I was thinner. But on the inside, I felt like garbage.

A: Did it have an effect on you when you would get compliments, or positive feedback on how your body looked?

S: No. Never. The issue wasn’t what others were seeing, or even what I was seeing. It was how I felt on the inside.

A: So you’re in this struggle with yo-yo dieting for six years, then what happens?

S: I broke my ankle when I was 24 and couldn’t exercise, which caused me to become severely depressed. I finally had a conversation with a friend about how I was feeling, and it was then that I realized the past six years were a real issue. I started seeing a therapist, and from there learned about Intuitive Eating. Within 6 months, all of the issues I’d had with eating started to disappear.

A: SIX MONTHS!? That’s crazy.

S: I know. A lot of my clients see improvement in as little as six weeks.

A: What does a typical client struggle with?

S: Anything from binge eating, disordered eating habits, a loss of control around sugar and sweets, emotional eating, restricting,  and yo-yo dieting.

Intuitive Eating is for people who have unhealthy relationships with food.

A: Is there a point where you suggest clients seek therapy, or perhaps a more intensive treatment?

S: Absolutely. I help people with disordered eating, not eating disorders. I refer out if I feel it’s necessary.

A: What do you normally say about “bad” food? Like soda, donuts, etc? I can imagine it’s hard to argue against the fact that they are indeed “bad,” considering all the research that’s out on how terrible some ingredients or processed foods are for you.

S: We just have to look at what’s working. Does it actually work to tell people “stop eating this?” The research says no. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to help them stop harmful eating habits, not necessarily “harmful” foods.

A: That’s a good approach. It reminds me of “harm reduction” in mental health and substance use: if someone doesn’t want to stop drinking entirely, you ask them: “Can you cut down from drinking five nights a week to only two?” Essentially we’re just trying to reduce the overall harm. So in your case, perhaps you would encourage them to couple a “bad food” with a healthier choice? 

S: Yep, that’s exactly what I mean. Our goal would also be to reduce any shame or guilt around consuming foods, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with any food.

A: I’ve noticed you’ve avoided the term “bad foods,” during our conversation. I’m assuming that’s on purpose?

S: Totally. I don’t want to label foods as good or bad, or black and white. It creates extreme behaviors around food.

I’m interested in helping people eat in a way that feels good. Sometimes that’s a big salad and a small donut, sometimes that’s a small salad and a big donut.

A: OOOOh I like that last part a lot, definitely going to quote you on that.

What can a client expect to gain from working with you?

 S: Typically, my clients go through a 6 week or 3 month long program, depending on their needs. We’ll have a consultation over the phone where I learn what’s going on with them and see if my program is a good fit. If we agree to move forward, we’ll have a video session every week, and check in’s throughout the week.

A: Do you incorporate food logs?

S: Yes. I use them to pay attention to how they’re eating, as opposed to what they’re eating. It’s another good data point to use throughout their journey.

 A: I noticed that you’re quite vulnerable on your Instagram. Do you feel that this helps potential clients connect with you better?

S: Absolutely. I think the most important piece of it is hope. They’re able to see that I’ve gone through something similar, and I’ve come out on the other side. They need to see that someone has successfully dealt with disordered eating. I write a lot creatively on social media, but when I’m with a client I hold the space for them, it’s not about me.

A: I definitely see where you’re coming from on that. When I was practicing as a therapist, I often found that when I (appropriately and tactfully) revealed something vulnerable about myself, clients really responded. When a client is reminded that we’re all human – even the so-called “experts” – I think it reduces their shame tremendously. 

Thank you so much for letting me pick your brain, Soshy. Should we go get that donut now? 

If you’re interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating and/or working with the wonderful Soshy Adelstein, head to her website, http://www.embodynutrition.com, where she offers a FREE 20 minute consultation! 

OR

Head over to her Instagram, @bodyposimommy 

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Why the “gray areas” in your life could be the most significant

I woke up the other morning and realized I was in a funk. I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t angry. What was I? I continued my morning and did all of the things that usually lift my spirits (although, my spirits weren’t necessarily down…). I squeezed the daylights of out my cat, drank copious amounts of coffee, and chatted with my husband.

All morning I tried to figure out what was “wrong.” I couldn’t pinpoint the way I was feeling.

This got me thinking: Why was I so hell bent on being one thing or the other? (Just happy, just sad, just excited, just unmotivated, etc). I soon realized I spent more time, energy and frustration trying to correctly identify my feelings than just being in the feeling itself!

As humans, we tend to categorize our feelings into discrete little boxes, as if they aren’t on a spectrum. Indeed, examples of this are found everywhere within everyday conversation. Think about the last time someone asked you:

“How was your day?” 

We normally amount this to either “good”or “bad.” In reality, we: had crappy morning (woke up late and was rushed), a good mid-morning (coffee was delish and the barista told me my hair was pretty), an uneventful afternoon (bored to tears at work and counting down the minutes till I’m off), and an excellent evening (husband had dinner ready when I’m home, watched the Bachelor, went to bed early.)

“Are you happy or unhappy with your job?”

In reality: some days we wake up jubilant with joy to go to work, some days we would rather be stuck in an elevator with Donald Trump than go to work.

“Do you like being single or do you want to be in relationship?”

In reality: I don’t have answer this question, Aunt Carol.

When it comes to our feelings, we are often given choices of one or the other. In reality? We can feel a whole spectrum of emotions in a matter of minutes.

The dreaded “gray area” (is it grey or gray?!)

What this one particular morning taught me was how uncomfortable I (and many of us) are being in the gray area.

The truth is, 99% of life is lived in the gray area. We are not solely happy or solely sad for months on end. We do not see life through the lens of emotional binoculars. Rather, we see life through an emotional kaleidoscope. An ever shifting, ever changing cluster of emotions.

Living in the gray area means we can feel multiple, seemingly opposite emotions at once. It means we don’t have to wait to reach milestones before we allow ourselves to feel happy. It means we allow ourselves to work on goals, but also be happy (or unhappy) with what we have in the moment.

In fact, I would argue that personal growth requires you to live in the gray area, because it is there, in the murky waters, that change can grow.

A seed does not turn into a sunflower over night. It first must undergo intense, somewhat painful change. The seed splits open, has a bunch of crap grow out of it, and sets its roots, all while being in the dark, ugly soil. Then, it needs the help of water and sunlight to grow, finally breaks the soil and grows into its beautiful little self. (This is all VERY scientifically sound). While the end result of a sunflower is beautiful, all of the “gray” areas it had to go through to get there were the real source of power and change. 

Notice we don’t call this time of growth and change the “rainbow area,” it’s gray for a reason: it ain’t pretty. Just like that other morning I had, it can feel uncomfortable, annoying, confusing, and frustrating. Instead of trying to feel one way or the other, just take a deep breath and trust that your feelings will work themselves out.

When you’re feeling like you’re in the gray area, embrace it. This could be a time of growth and change that is necessary for you to turn into a sunflower happier human.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be so focused on personal growth that you cant enjoy and be proud of where youre at.

Don’t be so goal hungry that you cant relish in the joy of reaching milestones.

I think this is especially true for millennials or people iat this age. We’re all trying to grind and

 

Growth requires acknowledging the things youre grateful for.

  • Its kind of a catch 22, because in order to continue in your growth, you NEED to focus on the things youre happy with.
  • Personal growth requires to be able to do both.

 

In order to move on you gotta be happy with youre at

 

In an age where self help books line every shelf, and people are constantly working on their growth (Yes, I realize I am part of this phenomenon) its hard to ignore the fact that people are constantly trying to “better” their lives.

 

That got me thinking though, that perhaps this obsession with trying to do things better, (eating sleeping, communication, etc) that maybe we’re forgetting to enjoy where we are too. Life, my friends, does not need to be so black and white.

Society reinforces the need to categorize things, and humans already tend to focus on things as black and white. The need to make a distinction or decision on how we’re feeling about something forces us to make rash decisions.

 

Upshot: feelings aren’t permanent

Downside: feelings aren’t permanent

 

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Two Truths and a Lie about Jealousy in a Relationship

Truth # 1: It’s going to happen

People get jealous all the time, both inside and outside of a romantic relationship. Think about these examples:

  • Have you ever been hanging out with two other friends, and over time you notice that one person gets jealous if the other two are hanging out more, or have inside jokes they’re not a part of?
  • Have you ever witnessed a sibling being jealous because a parent treats another sibling better?
  • Have you worked at a place where someone gets promoted and jealousy ensues throughout the office? 

Jealousy and envy is everywhere; it’s an unfortunate fact of life.

There is an important distinction I feel I should make here in the context of a relationship. “Jealousy” doesn’t solely mean that you think your partner wants to cheat on you. It can come in many different forms.

Perhaps your partner is emotionally supporting someone else in a way that feels violating. Maybe they’re joking around with someone in a way that they do with you, and this creates some unease (after all, it’s YOUR thing! Not theirs!) While it might not be sexual, it can still feel invasive if your partner is somewhat “flirting” (flirting can be both sexual and non-sexual) with someone, however innocent it may be.

Or, perhaps you’re stressed and anxious about something ENTIRELY separate. But in a specific instance, your angst has decided to manifest itself in the form of becoming jealous over a seemingly innocuous situation. Maybe your partner is genuinely just talking to someone, but the mindset you’re in decides to distort it into something else.

Lie #1 : It means you’re insecure and have no self-confidence

Okay, I should qualify this as a half lie. Sometimes, your own insecurities absolutely distort your view. Sometimes, you feel threatened by someone else because you feel that they have qualities that perhaps you lack (this is almost NEVER true!) Sometimes, you ARE projecting insecurities from a past relationship onto a current relationship.

However, I think this is a really unfair and even dangerous blanket statement, as if jealousy always equals insecurity. When we hear this, we think our feelings mean we’re weak. We think we should be stronger. We think, “I shouldn’t be jealous right now because I am a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN/MAN.” So, we ignore the feeling, thinking that it will go away. We think that our self-confidence will steam roll right over any feelings we’re having. This. Doesn’t. Work.

Jealousy is a natural, human feeling. Like I said earlier, jealousy happens in all types of relationships, not just romantic ones. If you feel jealous, it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t mean you’re flawed. 

Unwanted feelings come up for us all the time. (Remember how I said we’re humans?) We’re all animals. We’re going to feel instinctual feelings rooted in a lot of years of trying to survive. However, the beautiful thing about being human and not a panda, for instance, is we can choose what to do with these feelings. We are evolved AF and have brains with superpowers.

The important thing is what you do with the jealousy. Do you let it build? Do you give it power? Do you try to understand it, and see if it can be changed or removed?

So what can we do if we feel jealous? Here’s an idea:

Truth #2: You should talk to each other about it

I know this sounds like the LAST thing you want to do, but if you feel safe talking to your partner about things, then you really should.

Before you do, though:

First, take some time to sort through what you’re feeling. What are some instances that have triggered your jealousy? Do you think you genuinely have to worry about your partner cheating, or is it something different? Don’t feel the need to act. Don’t feel the need to get angry. Sometimes, the feeling is fleeting and goes away, and you move on with your day. But, if it keeps coming back, or the same problem (or person) keeps creating these feelings for you, it might be time to bring it up.

Telling your partner what you’re feeling is important for two reasons:

  1. It gives them the chance to explain. Don’t forget, we have a very skewed lens from time to time, especially when we’re emotional. Give your partner the space to explain. OR, maybe they’ll immediately agree that they crossed a line, apologize, and make some changes according to your feedback.
  2. Sometimes, after you (calmly) say how you’re feeling out loud, you realize that it’s silly, not true, or rooted in something entirely different that has nothing to do with jealousy or your partner crossing a line. An added bonus? Saying something out loud takes the power away from it.

Talking to your partner about how you’re feeling doesnt need to be a screaming match, and try not to be too accusatory (unless you found something that incriminates them, in which case, GON’ head hunny). Calmly explain to them how you’ve been feelingLet them know where you’re at. (Remember: we’ve already thought through our feelings, weighed whether they’re valid/important, etc. at this point!) 

You’ve heard a billion times by now that communication is the most important aspect of a relationship. Moments of jealousy should be no different. Don’t deny your feelings beause you feel like you “shouldn’t” be having them. Not only does this not work, you also miss a vital opportunity for growth for between you and your partner.

xoxo,

Peach

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Let’s get real about therapy.

I’m a proponent of therapy, but it’s not just because I’m a therapist. Therapy has drastically changed my life. It’s helped me change my patterns of thinking. It’s helped me identify thoughts about myself that were incorrect. It’s helped me release pain and suffering. Therapy is part of the reason I am who I am today, and I’m happier, more confident, and more sane because of it (my friends and family would second this notion). 

Therapy is thankfully becoming less stigmatized, but there’s still a sense of shame around it. People think it means you’re weak or can’t handle life on your own.

And to that I say, You’re right guys! We CAN’T handle life on our own.

No one can! We’re social beings. We need help and support from others. In my opinion, the people that refuse help because of their own ego aren’t the strong ones, the ones who come forward, say “I need help!” are the ones that are strong. Getting help means you’re strong, and willing to go the distance to better your life.

Stop putting it off 

I’ve noticed that therapy is often the last thing on people’s lists. They will try every other method out there, THEN they will try therapy. Exercise, get drinks with friends, take a bath, go on a hike! These are all great modes of self-care, but they also won’t create permanent, lasting changes in your life. 

You could try other therapies, but they won’t work. Therapy works.

therapy image

I know there are a lot of “unknowns” surrounding therapy, so here are some common myths/questions that I’ve debunked or answered:

“You need a disorder for therapy” <—WRONG 
  • The requirements for therapy are very specific though, are you ready for it? In order to benefit from therapy you need:
    • TO BE A HUMAN BEING.
    • For real. That is all.
  • If you feel that you are struggling with something serious, getting therapy should definitely be in your wellness plan. But, there are plenty of other reasons you should get therapy that don’t involve a DSM diagnosis (<– big book mental health clinicians use to diagnose peeps), such as:
    • Divorce or break up
    • Moving to a new place
    • You’re frustrated that you get nervous around new people and miss out on social opportunities
    • You noticed that you’re engaging in negative self-talk often
    • You have a tendency to blame yourself for everything
    • You’ve developed a pattern where you consistently pick a partner that isn’t right for you
    • You hate your job and don’t know what you’re going to do with your life
    • You’re a person who lives in this world and life is hard sometimes
What HAPPENS in that room?!

TBH, whatever YOU want to happen. The first session, and every one thereafter, should be dictated by you. Remember, therapy is a collaborative process. A good therapist should not be just telling you what to do, or doing all of the work for you. The reason therapy works is because of the work you do. It’s better if the answers come from you and not someone else. (Want to learn about different types of therapy? Ask me here

Do I have to talk about the scary stuff?
  • While a therapist isn’t going to force you to talk about anything you can’t handle, I will say, the dark and twisty work is the most important work you need to do.
  • If you have some REAL dark and twisty things happening, let your therapist know that you would like to start slow. Maybe once you get a couple sessions under your belt, you’ll build up the courage to go deeper. Or, maybe once you develop a good relationship with your therapist you’ll WANT to tell them (I remember specific sessions where I just burst out with something I’d been holding inside for awhile. Like, literally walked in the door and yelled it. Ya never know how it will happen, just roll with it.) 
  • I will say, therapy requires vulnerability and the willingness to be uncomfortable. (By uncomfortable, I do not mean scared, panicked, or afraid of judgment. I mean the kind of uncomfortable that happens when we talk about deep rooted issues that are tough to say out loud.) But, this is where the most important work is done. 
What if I don’t like my therapist?
  • FIRE THEM. Okay you don’t need to literally fire them, but you can absolutely switch therapists. Just let your therapist know that it isn’t a good fit.
  • Therapists do not take this personal. I’ve been fired. Shoot, sometimes I was happy when clients fired me (we usually know if it’s a good fit, too). I told my clients in our first visit that if they don’t feel like we’re clicking, please tell me and I’ll help them find someone else. My goal is not to be the one who changes your life, my goal is for your life to change. If finding you a new therapist will get you there, I’ll do it.
  • Therapists have different personalities and approaches to therapy, (For example, most clients LOVED my humor and sass. Some didn’t get it. Some wanted a more gentle, soft spoken approach. Totally valid! Totally not me.) Don’t stop until you find someone that clicks.
Alphabet Soup

So, what do all the letters mean behind therapists names? Are they something you should pay attention to? Answer: yes and no.  

Because I am an amazingly weird human and thoroughly enjoy making tables, see below for a breakdown of the confusing alphabet soup that describes therapists. There are many more (unfortunately) and vary by state, but these are some common ones:

  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
  • LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family therapist
  • PsyD or PhD: Psychologist
  • MD: Psychiatrist
Therapy? Prescribes meds? Master’s (2+ years ) Doctorate (4+ years) Medical School?
LCSW X X
LMFT X X
LPC X X
PsyD or PhD x X
Psychiatrist (some, not all) X X

Some random things: 

  • You can absolutely get prescribed meds from your primary care doctor, but I HIGHLY recommend going to a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists have been to medical school, but also have specialized training in mental health (meaning more than a psych. rotation during medical school or residency)
  • There are definitely helpful, empathetic wonderful psychiatrists out there, but in my experience (and many of my clients) they are not plentiful. If you go to a psychiatrist, expect them to be doctors, not therapists. They are assessing which medicine will work best for you and your symptoms, not giving you advice or therapy (although some of them are therapists too).
  • Don’t think that the more schooling (i.e. PhD or PsyD) necessarily means you’re getting a better therapist. In fact, some of the best therapists I’ve come across are LPC’s, LCSW’s, and LMFT’s.

Therapy is a big step. It means you’re willing to look inward and work through some things. It’s not easy. But, like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Also, like most things, you will only get out of it what you put into it. You can have the most fabulous, educated, wonderful therapist on the planet, but if you aren’t willing to do the work, nothing will change. 

You can do it. I KNOW you all can do it. If humans didn’t have the capacity to change, my job wouldn’t exist. Make the first step. Start calling around to some therapists, make a few appointments. Let 2019 be the year you take control of your mental health. 

Does this help? I sure hope so! I know many of you are going to have questions that aren’t answered here (TBH I could have written like 8 more pages, but that’s boring) so if you do have ANY questions, ask me here!

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Are you impatient? It could be something deeper

Patience

Patience is a funny thing. He and I have a love-hate relationship. (By that I mean, I hate being patient, and I love being impatient.

My dislike of patience knows no bounds. For example:

  • I don’t enjoy walking places. If you ever ask me, “Want to go for a walk?” I will ask you, “Why?”
    • If there is a faster means of getting somewhere, I wish to take that means. I would ride a Razor scooter to the park before walking there. For real, give me a helmet and some elbow pads and I’m zoomin’.
  • I skim through books. Not just boring books, but books that I’m quite interested in. I will assess a paragraph for importance, then either read it or skip on accordingly. (How I got good grades in school, I’ll never know.)

I trick myself by saying I like to be efficient; I’m all about efficiency! (This is true, but not an excuse.) But efficiency doesn’t equal happiness. Efficiency doesn’t equal inner calm.

So, I decided to take a deep dive into why patience is not only a virtue, but necessary for a balanced life. Here is what I found, and why you should start practicing patience:

  • Heart disease
    • You think I’m kidding?!
    • In a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reported that the more impatient and hostile the 18- to 30-year-old study participants felt, the more likely they would develop high blood pressure later in life.”
    • To give this some color: imagine a Buddhist monk versus a guy in a suit from Wall Street waiting in line at the DMV. Imagine that happening every day for a year. If we monitored their vitals, I wonder who would be healthier? 
  • You’re missing good stuff
    • When you and I skip over seemingly “unimportant” parts, like walking to the coffee shop instead of driving, we miss small things. We miss the birds chirping. We miss seeing kids laughing and playing in the park. 
    • You’re also missing a great opportunity to slow down. You’re missing the opportunity to do something with intention and purpose, rather than just doing it as a means to an end. 
    • This is why mindfulness is such a hot topic right now; being in the moment cultivates happiness. 
  • Being impatient doesn’t make the world go faster
    • Being impatient wont make your life more efficient. You will not get more things done in a day by being an impatient person. Rather, you will get exactly the same amount of things done, but will be unhappier and more stressed.
  • Self-control
    • Patience requires self-control, so this is another chance to strengthen that muscle. Self-control is hard for everyone, so any chance to practice it should be FULLY taken advantage of. Perhaps not reaching for that 3rdcookie or glass of wine will be easier.

When something that makes logical sense (see all reasons above) doesn’t come natural to me, it normally means I need to take another look at it. Usually, the reason I’m avoiding something, in this case patience, is connected to something bigger. 

I’m sure there are different reasons for everyone, but for me, slowing down freaks me out. I genuinely get a little twinge of anxiety, it’s not just annoying. After some careful thought, I’ve come to realize that my impatience is being pushed by my fear of not doing enough. I feel that if I’m not being productive and using every millisecond of my time wisely, I’m not worthy of ________ (fill in the blank). 

“If I’m not being productive, I am not worthy.”

For example, if I’m waiting in line at the grocery store forever, this means I am more than likely “missing out” on getting more accomplished in my day.

Cue: INTERNAL FREAKOUT.

“I NEED TO BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW! HURRY UP! THIS IS LOWERING MY WORTHINESS BY THE SECOND!”

Interestingly enough, now that I’ve identified the reason behind my disdain for patience, I clearly see how silly it is. My impatience is creating more anxiety than being patient would. My anxiety is NOT stemming from waiting in line, but from something else entirely. 

Do you have times when you’re impatient? Could you practice slowing down too? Try and think about the reasons behind the impatience when you’re in the moment. Literally ask yourself (preferably in your head and not audibly in the DMV line), “What is causing this? Why am I agitated? Where is this coming from?” Maybe your reason won’t be a reason at all, and you’ll be able to talk yourself into becoming more patient over time. 

 

xoxo, 

Peach 

 

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Are you enjoying yourself?

Hey girl. HEY, GIRL! Are you enjoying yourself? Maybe not right now, in this exact moment (Idk, maybe you’re at the gynecologist or something), but like overall? Are you enjoying yourself?

Because guess what? We can control that. We can control A LOT of that. If you’re not enjoying yourself and it’s something you have the ability to change, DO IT. At least, take the first step in doing it. This type of change doesn’t happen instantaneously, but you can at least tip over that first domino.

If you can’t change your circumstances quite yet, what can you change about the way you perceive them? If you’re having a hard time right now, what else can you channel your pain into? Remember: pain and suffering are NORMAL parts of being human; but don’t waste ’em, use ’em! Turn that crap into fuel to make you better, or stronger, or resilient, or productive, etc. etc. 

Woe Is Me 

On New Years night, while everyone else in my cabin was peacefully slumbering after an awesome NYE playing board games and being merry, I was WIDE awake in bed heading toward an anxiety-fueled pity party.  

My tooth (or lack there-of) got me down guys, got me real down. Not just the not-having-a-tooth part, but the feeling that this almost 2 year struggle wasn’t going to end.  Like, ” Wow. I am going to be dealing with this for the rest of my life.” (I clearly didn’t know if this is true or not, but in the moment it felt VERY TRUE.) The longevity of the problem + the correlating issues that accompany it (feeling self-conscious, in pain, not being able to eat freely in a restaurant, etc.) finally took their toll. Also, my sexy Invisalign-like retainer broke IN HALF in an airport bathroom on the way to CA for Christmas, so that was, like, a really great cherry on top.

I laid awake for THREE HOURS having the Golden Globes-after party equivalent of a pity party.

“Why me? Why isn’t this working? Why won’t my body heal itself? WHYYYYYYYY?”

See below for accurate portrayal of yours truly, at 3 am, on Jan 1, 2019. 

img_2885
Me

I finally fell asleep after two melatonin, deep breathing exercises, and sheer pity-exhaustion.

WOKE IS ME 

The next morning, I woke up. Not just in the literal sense (luckily that happened too), but I WOKE THE HELL UP. I WAS WOKE. I decided I was done letting my circumstances control me.

Was this due to the fact that I allowed myself to feel all the pity party feelings I’d been bottling up by saying things like, “It’s fine, everything is fine!” in my head for so long? Maybe, since I had finally let myself embrace the suck instead of denying how I was feeling, I could see the picture a little more clearly. (For explanation on this, see Life Sucks Sometimes, And That’s OK)

Maybe. Or, maybe it was because I rang in 2019 in bed with a solo pity party looking like a sad llama in a children’s movie, and that felt less than stellar. 

Why it happened, I’m not sure. But I WOKE up and made a decision to not have another pity party again.

Instead, I decided, I was going to throw myself into something else, into other things. I was going to create some goals for the year, and I was going to achieve them. I was going to write more. If I got pissed about my health, I was going to go to the gym and use it to fuel my workouts.

To circle back to my original point (you thought I wasn’t gonna get there huh?), I realized I was letting this damn tooth issue keep me from ENJOYING myself. It was bleeding into other parts of my life, because I was allowing it to. I was making a choice.

Will I have bad days again? Absolutely. But the next time I feel a pity party coming on, I’m going to recognize that pain as something else: fuel. I’m going to make the choice, change the course, and hit the domino to send that energy towards something that will ultimately make me feel more fulfilled.

This way I’m still recognizing and acknowledging how I’m feeling, but choosing to do something else with it besides dwell on it. 

We have choices in life. Sometimes, (albeit, rarely) those choices lead to instantaneous change. 

However, more times than not, they are the first domino in a set of 100, and we won’t see change until that 100th domino falls.

But if we NEVER change our perspective, if we NEVER make that choice, the dominoes go untouched.

Then, before you know it, you’ll be ringing in NYE with a solo pity party wondering when you stopped enjoying yourself.

Don’t be that gal. Hit the domino. Start the process. Make the choice. 

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New Year’s resolutions CAN be achieved, here’s how:

It’s resolution season, which means many of us are putting pen to paper and writing down goals we want to achieve in the new year.

Isn’t it funny how amazing it feels to just make the goals? Like, half of the fun is planning how amazing and fun and productive your life is going to be!

img_2815

….Then there’s the other half. You know, the part where you actually have to keep up

with all your resolutions? 

  img_2826

 

Goals can be scary. I avoided goals for a long time, because, HELLO! that means you HAVE TO DO THEM! But if you don’t set a goal, you don’t HAVE to do anything, which means you probably won’t.

You NEED to make a plan for how you will achieve those goals. You NEED to start a dialogue with yourself about how you’re going to stay motivated.

Below are some tips to get you started. You can apply these methods for New Year’s resolutions specifically, or goals you set for yourself throughout the year:  

Assess your level of accountability

Some people (HI!) do better when they are held accountable to something/someone else.

For example, when the alarm goes off for a 5:30 am workout I’m planning on doing alone…..you better BELIEVE I’m pressing that snooze button.

BUT, if there is a class I’m already signed up for, or if I’m meeting someone at the gym for a work out, I’m up and out the door.

Don’t beat yourself up for being one way or another, just use the knowledge of your personality type to your advantage!

Make your goals SMART

Mental health professionals, business professionals and others ascribe to the SMART goal method. The SMART method says that in order to be successful, your goals need to be:

  • Specific: Make sure you are as specific as possible!
  • Measurable: How are you going to measure your goal?
  • Attainable: With the knowledge and resources you have, is it possible?
  • Realistic: Is the goal realistic for you?
  • Time constrained: Set a time limit and schedule if you can for your goal.

The best way to understand this is through an example.

Maybe one of your resolutions is: “Get in Shape”

  • Well…what the hell does that mean!? “In shape” enough to run a marathon, or “in shape” enough to walk up a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat?
  • How will you know you’re “in shape?” Will you look in the mirror one day and say, “YEP there’s that shape I was looking for!”
  • This is also missing HOW you’re going to get in shape.

If we were to going to transform this into a SMART goal, it would look something like this:

“I will decrease my body fat percentage by 2% a month by going to bodypump classes three times a week for the next 6 months.”

You don’t need to put yourself down to build yourself up

Shaming yourself won’t help you reach your goals. On the contrary, you are much more likely to fail.

  • This is especially pointless if you are a perfectionist or have the tendency to beat yourself up as it is. Reminding yourself of small “failures” like not getting up in time to work out won’t motivate you to do it the next day. In fact, you’ll more than likely keep pressing the snooze button, because why not? You’re a failure anyway, might as well keep it rolling!

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for toughness and grit. I mean, “JUST DO IT” is the phrase of a multi-billion dollar business for a reason. However, there is a difference between talking down to yourself and motivating yourself. Something like, “C’mon Alyson, you can do this!” is different from “Just GET OUT OF BED YOU LOSER! YOU ALWAYS DO THIS! IF YOU DON’T GET UP YOU’RE A FAILURE!”

Keep your goals all around you
  • Write it on the walls (aka bathroom mirror, etc., don’t go crazy with it) or leave sticky notes for yourself on places you know you’ll see, like your coffee maker, make-up bag, car steering wheel, etc. Guests might think you’re a little weird, but guess what? You don’t care because you’re too busy CRUSHNG YOUR GOALS.
  • Set a timer on your phone to remind you of a goal.
  • Keep a weekly goal journal where you chronicle how it’s going or tweaks you need to make.
Don’t burn out in the first month

If you have a fitness goal and go to the gym every day for a month straight, come February 1st, the last thing you’re going to want to do is go to the gym again. Remind yourself that you’re in this for the long haul! Try not to expend all your energy at once. 

Remember: the goal is about the lifestyle change, not the goal completion itself.

Meeting your goal is a marker that you have done really good work, it’s not an indicator that you’re finished. 

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Life Sucks Sometimes, And That’s OK

2018 has been a great year for me, though it has not been without some challenges. Two of these challenges have been rather pesky health issues. (“Rather pesky.” LOL, can you tell I’ve been watching The Crown on Netflix?) 

Health Issue #1 

If you follow me on Instagram, have eaten with me at a restaurant, or have been in my presence after a few cocktails**, then you know that I was #blessed enough to be born without an adult tooth in my jaw, wait for it…RIGHT next to my big tooth. Rather than live my life as a toothless gal, I’ve chosen to get an implant. The implant was supposed to be a straight forward, few month process. Instead, it has been hell on earth (2+ years and enough money to buy me a new car), and I wouldn’t wish the process on anyone. 

**(After a few cocktails, I feel brave enough to take out my fake tooth and freak people out. GREAT party trick. Doesn’t get a lot of drinks bought for me at the bar though…)

Health Issue #2

The second item of business is my butt. More specifically, my sacrum. I fractured it whilst snowboarding for my first (and last) time in January 2017. It’s been a roller coaster of highs (“YAY, I can do a squat without wincing!”) and lows (“Hey, its Alyson. Do you have a pair of crutches I could borrow?). I have been down every road of recovery (physical therapy, chiropractic, whiskey, dry needling, stretching, foam rolling, rest, angry tears, prayer to healing gods, etc).

It’s not that bad…but it’s not that great 

Some days I think, “My health issues aren’t that bad.” And in some ways, this is absolutely true. So I have a tooth missing from the front of my mouth? So I haven’t been able to run or do anything that requires a lot of exertion in two years? Things could be worse! 

Then, other days, I’m overcome with thoughts like,

  • “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”
  • WHY DID THE UNIVERSE CHOOSE ME TO BE THE TOOTHLESS BROAD?”
  • “WHY DID I HAVE TO GO SNOWBOARDING? I HATE THE SNOW!”  

My tooth implant issue may seem like a small deal but to some, but to me it is a rather large deal. You see, I am missing a TOOTH. In the FRONT OF MY MOUTH. My uber-sexy retainer causes strangers to say, “DO YOU HAVE INVISALIGN?!” leaving me with the options of either lying and saying that, yes, I indeed have Invisalign or telling the truth about being toothless to the cashier clerk at Trader Joe’s. 

My sacrum is now healed, but it has caused a host of other issues in the areas surrounding it. I can’t run. I played soccer for almost 20 years, running has been one of my main coping skills. And it got ripped out from under me in the literal form of me falling on my ass on a ski run. THE IRONY.

At least I don’t have (fill in the blank)?

I noticed myself reverting back to an old adage that I think many of us are told and/or tell ourselves. We do the thing where we say, “Well, yeah, I’m in pain, but at least I don’t have X?” Some examples:

“Well, at least I can walk?”

“Okay you’re missing a tooth, it’s not like it’s your nose?”

“You can walk! You can talk! (With a bit of lisp, but most people don’t notice.) Why are you complaining?”

“People have been through MUCH worse and have been fine. You should be fine too.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see the value in this logic. Compare your problems to bigger problems so yours don’t seem so terrible! If we keep our focus on the things we DO have instead of the things we DON’T have, we’ll find immediate relief. 

The problem is, it doesn’t work 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way most of the time. Usually it works about as well as me going to Nordstrom Rack to “just buy a sports bra.”

Comparing your misfortune to that of others does not magically make your issues suck less. The truth of the matter is, humans are inherently egocentric; we are programmed to think of our own problems first (you know, survival of the fittest and all that.) So, while logically and reasonably I can see that my problems are not as dire as someone else’s, on a spiritual level it does not help. It just doesn’t stick. 

Also, who is to say what is “worse” for one person vs. another? 

Is there a worldwide standard for you to gauge how shitty your life is going right now? Is there a suck-o-meter out there that we all need to ascribe to? If so, where is it kept? Is it updated regularly? Does it follow the metric system? Must we always judge how were feeling against what we “should” be feeling, relative to the status quo?

Maybe if we admit it sucks…it will stop sucking? 

Similar to how someone appreciates when you validate their feelings, you need to validate your OWN feelings. It’s okay that some things suck. If there is no way around it, you gotta just embrace it. Maybe after you embrace the shittiness of the situation, you’ll be able to move on with your day and possibly enjoy yourself? Instead of spending 24 hours a day fighting with words that are foreign to you and don’t fit your mood like, “But I have so much to be grateful for!”, maybe vent to someone about how you’re feeling. Let it out. Write it down on a piece of paper. Unload on your mailman about your day (joking). Just… GET IT OUT.

 Yes, you do have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, things could be worse. But this still sucks. 

The key here is to not dwell in the suck. Don’t get coffee with the suck. Don’t take the suck shopping with you. Acknowledge the suck, then move on and do something to make yourself feel better. Ignoring the reality of your feelings does not make them go away, they just go gather their sucky friends and come back even stronger. 

 

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The Spiritual Awakening of 2008

If you’re sassy and you know it clap your hands 

I’ve been sassy for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’m sure of when it happened.

Birth.

It could have been a perfect blend of genetics and perhaps an environment in which my sassy self could thrive. But boy, has it thrived.  

My sassiness revealed itself in various ways when I was a child. When I was a baby, some mornings when my father attempted to retrieve me from my crib, I adamantly refused. I would instruct him that this arrangement would simply not do this morning by saying, “I! WANT! MY! MOMMY!” and folding my arms for good measure.

When I was 4, I had a best friend named Jacob. Jacob and I did amazing things together. For example, I would tell him things to do for me, and he would do them.

During one of these play dates, I grabbed my purse and said to Jacob, “C’mon loser, were going shopping,” and proceeded to get into my toy car. I then pointed to various places in the cul de sac in which we lived, indicating to Jacob my desired destinations. Poor Jacob huffed and puffed his way around the court, while my precious feet never touched the pedals. (So as to keep my integrity of being a princess. A princess never dirties her tender tootsies.) 

I was told often as a child that I was “bossy.” (Enter here: research done where boys are told they’re “leaders” and girls are told they’re “bossy.”) Although, looking back, I realize I wasn’t bossy. I just always knew what was best for everyone, and I cared enough to lend them my opinion.

As I matured, so did my sass. I soon discovered wit and sarcasm, and began to feel more at ease around adults for this very reason. They got me. I would make a joke about some current event or the DOW dropping, even though I had no clue what it meant. Sometimes (many times) I liked my friends’ parents more than I liked my friends. I studied the way people talked and moved and did my best to imitate them. (I tend to do this without realizing it, so people think I’m making fun of them. I truly have very little control of it, it’s a blessing and curse. A blessing because it’s funny, a curse because people think I’m an asshole.)

The Spiritual Awakening of 2008  

When I got to college I was thirsty AF to start anew…to reinvent myself! I told myself that this needed to happen in order to heal any and all pain/angst that blossomed after high school. 

The first step I took was shortening my name from “Alyson” to “Ally.”  (Why did I add an extra “L,” you ask? My reasoning was that “Aly” felt unfinished. Like, it’s only three letters?)

Ally. Yes! The shortening of my name and the addition of a letter would surely heal my trauma! 

Once I recognized that this ultra-chic name change did nothing my for injured psyche, I decided I needed to look a little deeper, a little further under the surface this time.

When I did so, I came to the conclusion that I was a bitch.

I decided I had been a bitch my whole life, in fact. Upon this realization, I began to hate myself. Why was I such a bitch? Why did I have so many opinions? Why couldn’t I be like those southern women who always had a fresh batch of sweet tea ready and called you darlin’?

I decided that the best way to deal with this issue was to really OWN my self-hatred; just really lean into it.

*Truth be told, I was depressed. I’ll spare you the details, but sprinkle some trauma and a dash of a very unhealthy relationship and you’ll have the secret recipe for depression success.*

Operation De-Bitch

After this revelation, I was on a quest to complete a personality overhaul. I began observing and noticing people who were just “kind” and “quiet” and unassuming and thought, “Well that seems safe. I want that!” I decided I wanted to be one of those people who were blissfully unaware of shit. Just go along with the flow. Just stay out the way. That should work, right?

For years this continued, and while I never completely changed my ways and became quiet and unassuming, something else happened.

I sort of became…a fragile, anxious little shell of the powerful “bitch” I once was.  

Turns out guys, a personality overhaul/spiritual awakening fueled by self-hatred and shame is not the way to achieve happiness.

Instead of just becoming less sassy (let’s be real that will never leave these bones), I started blaming myself for everything that went wrong. In deciding that I was a bitch, I believed that the core of me was wrong.  I started to feel that things were my fault. I took ownership for others’ mistakes. I began to absorb the worst traits of others and take them on as my own. This was (is) a nasty pattern that began to shift my self-hatred into something even worse: zero low self-worth.

My sass is me so why change it?

Another spiritual awakening happened a few years ago. I was meeting with my favorite therapist when she said that she loved how sassy I was. I said, “Excuse me could you repeat that please?” So, she said it again like people will do if you ask them to repeat themselves.

I was blown away. Someone who knew me better than possibly anyone (I mean, she was my therapist, ain’t nobody been down that road with me but her) told me the part that she loved about me the most was the part of me I hated the most. 

Mind you, this was not the first person who had told me they loved my sass. People said it to me all the time! But, I wasn’t in a place to receive it. I would twist it in my head into something else like “What they really mean by that is they think I’m an opinionated bitch” or “They’re just being passive aggressive” or “They’ve been drinking I could tell them I’m Chrissy Teigen and they would believe me.” 

But on this day, during this therapy session, it clicked. 

I was transported back to when I was a kid…when I was sassy and people would laugh. When I could bring a table of adults to laughter with a witty remark. When I would volunteer to be the leader in any group situation in school because it felt comfortable for me and awesome.

The bottom line is this: while yes, at points throughout our life we need to make small tweaks to who we are and who we want to be, never get rid of the foundation of YOU. Sass is a pillar of my identity. It is who I am. It is the reason I wrote this blog. It is the reason my husband fell in love with me (don’t be an asshole and fact check this with him, I’m pretty sure it’s the reason).

Trying to change the core of my being was a disaster from the start. I didn’t have a reason to change. I was me. Am I for everyone? Absolutely not. But will I ever be the “nice” girl who is quiet and unassuming and has sweet tea at the ready? Absolutely not.

And that is totally, fucking okay.

 

 

 

 

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Eight Things Women are Allowed to Complain About

1. The patriarchy

  • Need I say more? 

2. Our bodies constantly changing

Why do they change so much, you ask?

  • Well, to name a few: Hormones and babies and aging and the time of year and your zodiac sign and the moon cycle and the weather outside and whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his GODDAMN shadow?! 
  • The chemical compositions of our bodies are always changing and we’re always desperately trying to keep up with diet, exercise, night creams, face masks, etc. It’s exhausting. 

3. Society’s standard of what our bodies “should” look like constantly changing

  • Am I supposed to be a pencil? Am I supposed to have Nicki Minaj curves? WHAT IS THE DEAL HERE?!
  • Society has a tendency to cycle between fat shaming and skinny shaming and it’s SO much fun for all of us! Gotta make sure we don’t leave anyone out!  

4. Birth control

  • To anyone who says, “What’s the big deal, don’t you just take a pill every day?” LISTEN UP.
  • First of all, do you know how hard it is to remember to take that crap EVERY DAY of your LIFE? And if you MISS it you could bring a HUMAN BEING onto the planet?
  • Birth control isn’t just taking a pill. It’s getting acne. It’s getting mood swings. It’s the possibility of getting all types of crazy cancers. It’s expensive. It’s shutting down a natural process in our body. It costs money. IT’S NOT FUN.    

5. Men leaving the toilet seat up

  • This doesn’t take much explaining, but if you don’t understand please go to your nearest toilet facility and take a look at the rim of the toilet. It’s disgusting.
  • I have a question, how do men have “bad aim?” The desired target is within three feet of you, why is this so difficult?
  • Perhaps this is a course they should take during adolescence? Kind of like how in P.E. we have to learn tennis or golf? Why not make “aim practice” every boys’ 5th period class? 

6. Any part of the menstrual cycle, for example:

  • Cramps: The existence of cramps is the only evidence I can find that God is indeed a man.
    • If you have never had the honor of experiencing cramps, the best way I can explain it is: it feels like gravity has superseded the anatomical structure of your body and is pulling your uterus towards the core of the earth.
    • No. This is not an exaggeration
  • PMS: People need to understand, being around someone who is PMS’ing is just as horrible for the person who is PMS’ing. 
    • It’s also sort of confusing. Sometimes it feels like you want to rip off everyone’s faces, but sometimes you would really like someone to swaddle you in adult-sized swaddle cloth. Sometimes, you feel both of those emotions concurrently!

7. Yeast infections

  • Ask any woman and she will tell you there is nothing more glamorous than a yeast infection. Promise!  
  • I’m pretty sure men don’t have to worry about the pH of their private parts.
  • Yeast infections are especially common after you take anti-biotics, which is perfect, because the only thing I want after fighting off the common cold is a yeast infection!

8. Having to work out ten times harder and eat ten times less than men to achieve the same look as a man 

  • Ladies, just imagine a world where you are naturally born with a propensity to build muscles. You have chemicals (what up, testosterone) INHERENTLY in your body that create muscles. You are created with the intention of building muscle. 
  • My husband treats eating like it’s a sport. Like, its fun for him. He can eat a fat ass burger and feel great. I’m over here nibbling at my quinoa vegetable bowl wondering if it’s going to my ass and not my love handles.

 

I feel better, don’t you? 

 

xoxo, 

Peach 

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The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need to Reach Your Dream Career

Ah, to be young again

Remember when you were 7 years old and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? As if it was this very linear, structured route?

Like, if you answered “I want to be a firefighter!” you would grow up, go to firefighter school (LOL, is that what it’s called?), become a firefighter, then retire and spend the rest of your days sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch? Ahh yes, the American dream.

Well, as we all inevitably find, life isn’t very “linear.”  First, you go to college with 7,000 different degrees in mind and a lust for the life that you have been dreaming about. “I’m going to change the world! I’m going to make a million dollars!” After you graduate, you wait for the career you chose when you were 7 to magically appear at your door step and say “We’ve been waiting for you, Alyson! Hop aboard the career train!”

The Millennial Dream  

Us millennials have this urgency to pick ONE career that we will love and be fulfilled by, and will make us six figs’ by the time were 28. Then, we will go home to our amazing loft apartment downtown to wind down with an expensive glass of wine and eat gourmet meals in our chicly decorated dining room.

(Reality:We leave our entry level job to go home to our apartment with two other roommates to drink TJ’s $3 wine ((Remember the good ole days when it was “two buck chuck”?)) and drunk-buy face cream on Amazon).

I think many of us have an all-consuming fear that we won’t ever find our “dream job,” and we convince ourselves to settle wherever we’re at. Like that life just isn’t for us. Sure, maybe other people can find their dream job, but it’s not going to happen for everyone, right?

But guess what? We don’t need to do that.

There is, however, ONE scenario where you are guaranteed to not reach your dream job. I literally guarantee it. QUOTE ME ON IT.

What’s the only way you can never reach your career goals, you ask?

Doing nothing. Getting comfortable. Playing it safe.

 

That’s it! And here’s why:

Life is a constellation of our small, seemingly innocuous decisions. Each choice you make: meeting someone and getting their number at a work luncheon, applying to a job you don’t think you’re going to get, or even browsing the internet for other opportunities, these are the small decisions that will add up to big life changes.

If your current 9-5 feels, “Okay. It’s fine. I’m pretty happy,” and you NEVER take small risks or put yourself out there, you will indeed stay in that comfortable job for the rest of your life. I guarantee it. (Anyone else read that in the Men’s Wearhouse guy voice?)

Before you get depressed, here’s the great part: wherever you are right now, that is where you are supposed to be. There is no such thing as “wasting time in life.”

The crappy part-time waitressing job was necessary. Quitting the entry level job because your boss was an asshole was necessary. Being comfortable in a job for a few years and then waking up one day thinking “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE” is necessary. Embedded within the crappy parts, the messy parts, and the boring parts, are lessons. You need these lessons to get to your ultimate destination.

The path you took to get where you are was all NECESSARY. Take me, for example. If I hadn’t gotten my degree in Psychology, then my Master’s in Social Work, I wouldn’t be writing this very blog. I needed that education in mental health in order to have the backbone for this blog. It was all necessary. (Expensive, but necessary.)

Just because you got your degree in Finance, doesn’t mean you need to work in finance your whole life. Just because you have experience in one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this requires risk, which requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable is pretty scary. Imagine posting your writing on the internet for everyone you know to read and see and judge from behind their smart phones?! (Who has two thumbs and started a blog? THIS GIRL.)

Case-in-point

This year, I decided to quit being a therapist and pursue writing and my blog. It was a pay-cut. Hell, it was an ego-cut. Some people were really supportive! Some people were really confused. Why would you give up such a cool job? Don’t you love helping people? Aren’t you worried that not getting your license is a bad idea?

The answer to all of these questions is of course a resounding YES. YES, I AM TERRIFIED. 

But, I also knew that being a therapist wasn’t fulfilling, I’m not even really sure why. Maybe it was because I couldn’t be creative, maybe it was because I was working in community mental health and felt overworked. Maybe it was a combination of a lot of things. What I do know is, writing my blog lit me up inside. I was excited. I was passionate. I knew I needed to pursue it, and had this small voice in the back of my mind telling me that if I followed this passion, it would lead me somewhere. Where? Who knows. But somewhere.

Now, its only been five months since I’ve made this decision, so I’m not quite the success story you all would love to hear about. BUT, it feels right. I’m gaining traction. People are reaching out and telling me how much they love my writing and how it’s helping them through something. And right now, that’s all I need to keep going.

Was there a shorter route to me pursuing this path? Probably. But here I am, and I’m equipped with life lessons and an education in mental health and the passion to spread what I’ve learned to as many people as I can, all while being able to be my complete, sassy self. It feels really, really good.

If you don’t feel fulfilled with what you’re doing right now, there is a reason for that.

It’s because you’re not fulfilled with what you’re doing right now. The only way you can change that is to do something, anything, and it doesn’t need to be drastic! You don’t need to quit your job and up-end your life. You can start with small, manageable decisions. You can trust the process. You can reach out and ask for help. You can be vulnerable and take risks.

The only thing you can’t do, is nothing.

 

 

 

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4 Small Changes To Help You Crush Your Goals

  1. Start with small, easy, accomplishable goals 

Use human nature to your advantage!

 Basic behavioral principles say that when we are rewarded for something, we are more likely to keep expending effort. Keeping this in mind, set some PURPOSEFULLY easy goals in the beginning. I’m talking minuscule, here. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, set an initial goal of going to the gym twice in one week. Seriously.

How it works

When you don’t achieve a goal, what usually happens? Do you pat yourself on the back and say “it’s okay” and tell yourself you’ll try better next time?

Well, some of you do. But, for the average person, this is not the case. Usually we have the tendency to beat ourselves up if we can’t reach a goal we’ve set for ourselves. This is especially rampant right now, since we have millions of people to compare ourselves to on social media!

Example:

“God Alyson, you seriously can’t make it to the gym 5 times a week? @FitislifeSarah on Instagram does it twice a day YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS TOO.”

If you set your initial goals small, you will achieve them with some ease. This will lead to, “YAY I achieved a goal!” Since you’re feeling so darn good about yourself, you’ll likely set another goal thats slightly bigger or more difficult, and so on and so forth.

Or, even better, you will supersede your small, early goals, which will lead to you feeling even BETTER about yourself.

2. Work within your limits (at first!) 

You know that saying “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars”? This is a very sweet sentiment. However, what if we shoot for the moon and end up not even leaving planet earth? If you shoot for the moon, but life circumstances, hardships, your job, your relationship, whatever, gets in the way, sometimes you have trouble taking off altogether.

The F word comes to mind.

No, not that one. FAILURE.

This means that you will not land amongst the stars; rather, you will be in your spaceship feeling deflated and will want to drown in the nearest wine bottle.

Anything is Most things are possible, so absolutely go after your goals. Just make sure your goals are reasonable.

Shoot for the moon, but make sure the moon is within reach. Don’t shoot for the moon if all you have right now is a Prius. Take all the small steps first to build a spaceship!

(I’m done with the space puns, promise.)

Working within your limits is important, but this doesnt mean your limits can’t change! As you work toward your goals, you will learn and improve, and that is when you can extend that goal post a little bit further. 

3. Stop “Should-ing” Yourself  

How many times a day do you tell yourself, “I should be doing XYZ.” Who says you “should” be doing…anything? “Should-ing” yourself creates shame because you’re telling yourself what you are doing right now is not enough.  

“But what if it’s true? What if what I am doing right now isn’t enough?”

Okay, I hear ya. If you’ve been on the couch all day and you have a million things that need to get done, maybe you do need to talk yourself up. But, what’s the point in beating yourself up about all the things you aren’t doing? Instead of saying “should,” practice replacing it with “want” or “need.” 

For example, “I should be eating healthier.” Change this to, “I need to start eating healthier” if you want to to lose weight. If your goal is to lose weight, then eating healthier is an actual necessity. 

“I should be exercising right now.” –> “I want to be exercising right now because I feel amazing after I do it.”

“I should go to therapy.” –> “I want to go to therapy to figure out my life.” 

The other way switching “want” or “need” for “should” is “need” and “want” imply action. You can talk to yourself all the live long day about all of the things you “should” be doing, but this doesn’t mean you’re going follow up on it.  

This may seem like a simple substitute of one verb for another, but if you continue to practice it, you’ll start to notice that not only are you accomplishing more of the things you WANT or NEED to do, you’ll feel less shame about yourself along the way. 

4. Compare yourself to yourself, not to @FitisLifeSarah

Stop comparing yourself to others. 

STOP. COMPARING. YOURSELF. TO OTHERS. 

If you compare yourself to the person you were six months ago, is she better? Is she more focused? Has she learned? Has she overcome fears and obstacles? 

Comparing yourself to others is not just bad for your emotional health, it’s a waste of your damn time. Why is it a waste of time? Your start line is the not the same as @Fitislifesarah, and neither is your finish line. What kind of f***ed up race is that? Not a very fair one. And TBH not a very fun one, either. 

You are running your own race, there are no other participants. Set your own mile markers, and crush them. This will lead to more success and less stress along the way. 

 

xoxo,

Peach

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Five Signs You’re Stressed and Just Don’t Know it Yet

(Photo from Instagram, by @kate.lavie)

This may sound a little counterintuitive, but sometimes I can’t even tell when I’m stressed out. (I know, it’s one of my super-powers.)

For some people, it is instantly apparent to them when they are overwhelmed or stressed out. This is not the case for me. My stress has more of an insidious onset, slowly and over time. I think it’s party my fault; I may have conditioned myself to do so.

For example, when stressful events happen, “I keep telling myself, IT’S FINE, EVERYTHING IS FINE!” Until one day, it is clearly not fine anymore. 

I think a lot of people share this “all or nothing” mentality with me. I am SO emotionally healthy for a few months. I’m a goddamn pillar of emotional stability. I’m journaling, challenging irrational thoughts, communicating with my partner like a boss, etc.

Then I’ll fall off for a couple weeks…which turns into a couple of months. Then all of the signs start reappearing… and one day WHAM. Oh, what’s up panic attack?

The reason this is a problem is: if I’m taking each stressful event in stride and properly handling it, there is no build up. No build up = no crash.  

In order to avoid this super fun stress-crash, one must be in tune with their body (physically and mentally) and have the ability to stay present. This is hard sometimes. We’re all busy, bad things happen, great things happen, we move, we change jobs, etc. (How can we practice mindfulness? See this blog) 

Here are some clues that you’re stressed and need to engage in some serious self-care: 

  • 1. It doesnt take as much to upset you 
    • When frivolous things start to bother me that I would normally be able to shake off, this is a clue. My emotional tolerance plummets. This can the form of me feeling rage over something seemingly innocuous with my husband, or maybe getting offended by what someone said when normally I could just brush off. 
    • Are you being particularly road rage-y lately? Did you just get pissed off at the grocery lady for taking too long to bag your groceries? Are you picking fights with people you love? 
    • Chronic stress = chronically being on edge.
  • 2. You’re noticing changes in your body  
    • I’m a stress under-eater. Instead of stress eating, I stress don’t-eat. Over time, my body is like “WHOA, where is my nourishment?” and I don’t feel as strong and healthy. Also, my immune system isn’t able to fight off small things, so healing takes even longer. 
    • Stress can also take the form of weight gain or weight loss, so if you’re noticing a weird trend on your scale, it could be a sign that you’re super stressed. 
  • 3. Having to make decisions becomes an enormous task  
    • When I’m stressed, something as small as picking a shoe to wear seems like an insurmountable task. 
    • When we’re stressed, we don’t know which way is up or down. We have so much internal stimuli that it’s difficult to sort through the fog and see things for what they are. This makes us anxious that we will make the wrong decision. Therefore, we just make no decision at all! (Not advisable).
  • 4. “I just can’t” becomes your favorite phrase  
    • Small tasks that would usually require very little effort suddenly seem IMPOSSIBLE. 
    • Doing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, putting air in your tires, paying bills…all of the things we NEED to do that normally don’t require a ton of effort are suddenly verrrrryyy easy to put off.  
    • When you’re really stressed, even doing things you enjoy or spending time with people you love becomes a burden.
      • Attn: Introverts – Humans are social creatures, and being an introvert doesn’t mean you would rather spend your whole life in your apartment alone for the rest of your life. If this sounds appetizing, something’s up. 
    • The main thing to remember here is this: If the reward of doing something you love no longer outweighs the effort it takes to do it, you’re out of whack. 
  • 5. Wine bottles keep getting better looking 
    • We all (myself included) like to indulge in something that allows us to let off some steam from time to time, whether that’s a glass of wine, a joint, chocolate cake…pick your poison. 
    • While this isn’t necessarily advised, most things in moderation are okay. 
    • If you’re “letting off some steam” nightly, with reckless abandon, you’re stressed. Essentially, you’re subconsciously believing that you can’t handle whatever life is throwing at you without a substance to numb yourself. No bueno. 
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The Secret to Happiness

“So, Peach, what is something we do have control over, that can lead to a healthier, more content feeling, more often?” 

If you read my last blog, then you have been DYING over the past week to get your hands on the answer to this, right? RIGHT!? 

So now that we know happiness is a choice (but not always an available one), what is something we can consistently choose no matter the circumstances? What is available to us 24/7? What has been shown, time and time again, in different studies to lead to more joy and contentment?

Gratitude.

Think about it. Try and think of a situation where you can’t be grateful for something? Even in the direst of circumstances, we can find things to be grateful for.

Gratitude is available at all times, and it actually leads to happiness! Why?

Because Science

Countless studies have shown strong correlations between gratitude and happiness/fulfillment.

Two professors at Indiana University found that when participants wrote gratitude letters to someone in their life, they reported significantly better mental health compared to a group that did not write letters. (This was still true after 12 weeks!) They even found differences in these people’s BRAINS after doing fMRI scans. (Practicing gratitude can rewire your brain. Cue brain exploding emoji). 

In a different study,  researchers instructed three different groups to write sentences regarding specific topics for ten weeks. One group was instructed to write about things they were grateful for, one was to write things that had annoyed or bothered them during the week, and one was to write about whatever “affected” them that week, positive or negative. As you can guess, the group that wrote down things they were grateful for turned out to be more optimistic and pleased with their lives. Even further, they were less likely to see a doctor and exercised more frequently! (Who knew, the latest diet is just being grateful?)

Because Spirituality

Did you know that religious people tend to be less depressed, less anxious, and are better equipped to handle the stresses of life? (**runs to the nearest synagogue**) In my graduate and undergrad education in psych and mental health, we talked about “protective factors” for mental health, and religion was always at the top of that list.

This is for a number of reasons, one of the more obvious ones being the incredible community support that tends to accompany spirituality. But think of something else: what is one of the basic tenets of religion?

Giving thanks.

The notion of giving thanks is LITERALLY everywhere in every religion.

How do we do this?

So, now that I’ve convinced you with this litany of data that gratitude is the way to go, how can you incorporate it into your life?

  1. Say it, sister!
    • This can be done in the more traditional sense of prayer, but you can also just silently say five things you’re grateful for each night if you’re not the spiritual type.
    • PS: Try to mix it up and personalize it, instead of the old tried and true, “Thank you for my health and for thy bread on thy table…..etc.” We’re not in the Renaissance, let’s get innovative. 
  2. Small reminders: Personally, I like the idea of saying thanks throughout your day as opposed to one big “chunk” at the end of the day. I feel like it’s more beneficial for me to constantly have it in my mind. Mostly because I have horrible memory and will forget at night. 
    • Gratitude stone at the bottom of your purse: Grab a smooth stone, or even a crystal that you like and plop it in the ole’ purse. The next time you’re digging in the bottom for the ever-elusive chapstick (It’s amazing how many chapstick shaped things we have in our purses.), you’ll come across the stone. When you do, don’t even take it out of your purse. Just take a second and think of something your’e grateful for.
    • Sticky notes: This is a little less discrete, but if it’s in the privacy of your home, why not!? Put a note on your mirror. Put it on the coffee pot. Put it in your underwear drawer. Each time you see it, think of something you’re grateful for.
  3. Gratitude journal
    • This is essentially praying or saying thanks, but instead you’re writing them down. There is something about writing and seeing something in your handwriting that really makes it stick.
    • Also, it’s great to look back and see all the different things you’ve written down at different times of your life.
  4. Talk to yourself throughout the day about the small things
    • The weather, the tastiness of your coffee, the fact that you can drive your car to work and not take the bus, the great sex you had the night before, whatever. Find gratitiude for the small stuff, not just the big stuff.
  5. Be grateful for your challenges
    • This is sort of gratitude-expert status, but you can do it! Challenges are what help us grow and learn. Instead of lamenting about how horrible it is, try changing your mindset to being grateful for the challenge and the ways you’ll be better after. 

 

Lastly, remember this:

Happiness is fleeting, gratitude endures

 

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Is Happiness Really a Choice?

You know the saying “happiness is a choice?” Personally, I’m a little skeptical of the phrase. 

People talk about happiness like it’s a static state of mind. But, like most things in life, it’s quite temporary. Happiness comes and goes. So while we can choose happiness in one moment, the next moment we may not have the liberty to choose it again. 

For example, if someone you love passes unexpectedly, happiness is not only unattainable (for a period of time), but also…kind of an inappropriate reaction. 

The point I’m trying to make is that happiness will not always be an available choice. And that’s okay. 

I think this is an important distinction for a few reasons: 

People are afraid to feel negative emotions. This is an epidemic in our society. People FREAK out when they feel something negative. But it’s a natural part of the human experience. 

    • Not only is it natural to feel negative emotions, it’s necessary. Actually feeling our feelings is how we ultimately heal. (Ask anyone who has gone through a successful bout of therapy, they will tell you this.) You need to go through the dark and twisty in order to fully experience the light.

It makes people feel inadequate. Let’s peak inside someone’s head if they are in belief that happiness is a choice. Let’s call her Tiffany. “Okay, happiness is a choice. I’m choosing happiness. Today I choose happiness. Here we go. Annnny minute now…….I’m CHOOSING IT WHERE IS MY HAPPINESS.”

    • If you take this phrase at face value and you fail to feel happy even though you say it to yourself EVERY SINGLE morning, you are going to feel like there is something wrong with you. Like you’re not trying hard enough. Like you are different from others who can simply “choose” to be happy. 
    • Well, Tiffany, the reason you can’t feel happy even though you are trying to choose it repeatedly is because you just got fired from your job. And getting fired from your job blows. It just does.
    • So, instead of forcing an unnatural response of happiness, let yourself be sad or mad or whatever negative emotion you TRULY feel. The trick is: you can’t dwell in this feeling forever, because who wants to be pissed off their whole life? 

The Silver Lining 

So, yes. Sometimes you will be sad. Sometimes you’ll suffer. You will have painful moments. You will get angry. 

But, just like happiness, these things are also temporary. Over time, pain will lessen, anger will fizzle out, and you’ll finally forgive your husband for the stupid thing he did.

The human experience is not one, static emotion over decades. It is the delicate weaving of the negative, positive, and everything in between that creates the fabric of our lives (Yes, this article is sponsored by Cotton.) (Just kidding.)  

If you’re thinking,

So, Peach, what is something we do have control over, that can lead to a healthier, more content feeling, more often? 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I answer that question head on. 🙂 
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How Open-Mindedness Can Improve Your Life, According to Psychology

I don’t know about you, but sometimes keeping an open mind for me is nearly impossible. (It is especially impossible for those of us who have a tendency to believe we’re always right.) If I have an expectation about how an experience is going to go down, I have little reason to change that expectation. (After all, I know everything!) ((I know I am working on this))

However, countless studies have shown that having an open mind can have a drastic, positive effect on the human experience.

Contrary to popular belief, having an open mind doesn’t mean you need to be ultra-positive all the time. (Trust me, if that were true, yours truly would never open her mind.) Let’s first define open-mindedness:

“Open-mindedness is the willingness to search actively for evidence against one’s favored beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evidence fairly when it is available.”**

So, open-mindedness doesn’t mean you need to tell yourself you’re going to have an AMAZING time at the party you don’t want to go to. Rather, it means you are OPEN to the idea that maybe, juuuuust maybe, you’ll end up having a good time.

I like this. I like this very much. Whenever I try to convince myself of something I truly don’t believe, it doesn’t end well. With open-mindedness, you’re not saying your outcome isn’t going to happen. You’re just saying there are other outcomes that could happen as well.

Going against nature  

None of this is easy. In fact, we’re hard wired against being open-minded.

As humans evolved, we developed mental shortcuts in order to help us make snapshot decisions so that we could…well… stay alive.  This may have served our ancestors well, where their problems were less about going into a dreaded social event with an open mind and more concerned with avoiding death-by-saber-tooth-tiger. Every day they had to assume the worst possible scenario because this was their method of keeping safe.

Alas, times have changed over the past million or so years.

The self-fulfilling prophecy  

One way that open-mindedness works is by the self-fulfilling prophecy. The self-fulfilling prophecy is everywhere. It serves as the basis for the “law of attraction,” it reinforces your beliefs about yourself and the world without you even being aware of it.

The self-fulfilling prophecy works like this: Let’s say you go into a party expecting to have a terrible time. You’re worried you’ll be weird and awkward and just would rather avoid it altogether. You then enter the party, and immediately become a wallflower. Your body language says I “DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.” You feel as though you’re trying collapse inside of your self and disappear. People feel this energy, and aren’t necessarily drawn to talk to you. So, you’re ignored. You carry on in this way, reinforcing in your mind how much you DON’T want to be there.

After being ignored for two hours and avoiding social contact at all cost, you leave thinking, “See? I knew this party was going to be terrible.”

BUT IT WAS YOU THAT CAUSED IT TO BE TERRIBLE!

See where I’m going with this? Now, lets say you had an open mind. You walk in somewhat optimistic and maybe even eager to go at the prospect of accidentally having a good time. You smile at people. They smile back. You laugh, which draws people in. Your body language signifies you’re open to conversation, as opposed to crawling inside of yourself.

By simply opening your mind, you have shifted your entire experience. That’s all! No fluff, no false motivation, none of that. Just by allowing the OPTION of having a good time, you end up having a good time.

Not just for parties

Think about all of the different scenarios you can apply this to, it’s not just for parties. Job interviews, relationships, new friendships, etc. are all places where you’ll find the self-fulfilling prophecy secretly at work.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Having an open mind does not guarantee that things will always go your way. But, think of all the possibilities that will open up by you simply acknowledging that something could go better than you thought. Your body language, actions, and words will act accordingly, and you’ll be proving yourself wrong time and time again.

**Source: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/newsletters/authentichappinesscoaching/open-mindedness

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5 Ways to De-Clutter Your Inner World

Photo from Instagram, @nest.out.west

Stress and Clutter, Sittin’ in a tree 

Clutter and stress go hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to pinpoint which comes first.

(Is my house a mess because I am stressed? Or, am I stressed because my house is a mess?)

Regardless, organizing and de-cluttering your life will decrease stress in your life. (Does anyone else get a strange high after their house is clean and they light a candle? No? Just me?)

I say de-cluttering “your life” because you can apply this principle to many different areas, not just your laundry room.

De-cluttering is an obvious way to help maintain an efficient, orderly home or office. So, what if we apply that same principle to other, more personal parts of our lives? I’d be willing to bet we’d find the same joy and peace we get from re-organizing our junk drawer. 

Whether you’re de-cluttering your inner or outer world, the most important thing to remember is this: start SMALL. One of the biggest reasons people don’t even attempt to de-clutter is because they get overwhelmed and can’t find a place to begin. Starting small will ensure this wont happen.

De-cluttering your inner world
  1. Add some structure 

This can be as simple as going to bed at the same time every night, or you can get real freaky with it and schedule out every hour of your day.

If both of those sound overwhelming, start with just buying a planner or adding things to the calendar in your phone. Like, a few things. Just jot down anything, really. Remember, start small!

2. Journal

I should rename my blog, “The Honest Peach Wants You to Journal,” because I feel like I talk about it in almost every blog post. It’s because IT WORKS.

Sometimes, emptying your thoughts onto a piece of paper is all you need to maintain a sense of calm.

If you really want to take the whole de-clutter idea and run with it, burn the piece of paper after! (Or for a less dangerous proposition, just throw it away.)

3. Say no to something you don’t want to go to

We’ve all gone to social engagments we’ve dreaded, but I have some exciting news… YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO! You don’t owe anyone… anything! (Unless it’s your great grandmother’s 85thbirthday, don’t be an a**hole. Just go.)

Deleting events from your calendar that you aren’t even looking forward to will help your life feel less cluttered (HINT: if you want to go to something, you probably wont think of it as “clutter” to begin with.)

4. Delete people on social media who don’t add value to your life

This is a no-brainer. If you roll your eyes every time you scroll past Brad’s douchey gym selfies or cringe at the thought of reading another political tirade from your mom’s friend Carol, then just unfollow.

Imagine…just enjoying and being interested in every post you see on social media. I’m calmer just thinking about it.  

5. “Clear your head”

After you’ve had a terrible day, what do you do to “clear your head?”

Some examples: Going for a walk, listening to music, working out, reading a book, etc.

The other day, I got some real sh*tty news. Instead of wallowing in my misery on the couch, I went on a bike ride and listened to Mumford and Sons radio. It was melancholy and hilarious; I felt like I was in some sad movie where the character runs out and cries on her bike. (I came close to tears, but I think it was due to the wind?) In the end, I felt sooo much better.

Get out there and de-clutter, people! You brain and your soul will thank you. 

 

 

xoxo,

Peach 

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5 Things I Wish I Knew While Planning a Wedding

It’s that time of year again! Proposal season is among us. (Did you know that 40% of engagements happen between November and February?!)

Our social feeds are soon going to be littered with engagement announcements, girls taking pictures of themselves driving or drinking coffee with their new rings, etc (Not hating, pretty sure I did this.). 

Since I am a seasoned professional (by “seasoned professional” I mean that I’ve been engaged before), I figured I would share some valuable insight, things I wish someone had told me when I was engaged. Enjoy!

1. It’s okay to hire alllll the help, or ask for alllll the help. 

In true perfectionist fashion, I was certain I could do it all. In hindsight, this was an insane idea. I was in graduate school, my fiancé was deployed, and I was living alone in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, my wedding venue, family, and most of my bridesmaids were in Northern California. Oh, and did I mention we only had 8 months to plan our wedding?  

Hiring a wedding planner crossed my mind, of course, but my perfectionista self said,  “No way. Women do this all the time on their own! I can totally do it!” 

This was a mistake. I’m not the type to haggle with people, be pushy, be persistent with vendors, etc.; basically all of the things you need to plan an event, get the cheapest price, and have everything run smoothly. I am an alpha female in any situation that doesn’t involve ME. If this was my best friend’s wedding? WATCH OUT B*TCHES she is getting EVERYTHING she wants and I won’t stop until the job is finished. 

Now, this isn’t to say my wedding was a nightmare. It actually turned out really beautiful and was an amazing day. HOWEVER, the amount of stress I was cowering under for six months was really unnecessary. It didn’t feel fun and exciting to plan a wedding…it felt like a chore. 

**This tip won’t apply to everyone. I know some women who LOVED planning their wedding and wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to be in charge, that just wasn’t the case for me! 

2. It’s not going to look like Instagram. 

Let me say that again, “IT IS NOT GOING TO LOOK LIKE INSTAGRAM.”

The reason it is not going to look like Instagram is simple. In order to do so, you would need: 

  • The same camera used to take the picture 
  • The same photographer
  • The same angles
  • The same venue
  • The same decor
  • The same lighting 
  • The same season
  • The same editor for the pictures 

Get where I’m going with this? Remind yourself while you’re getting *inspriation* from Pinterest and Instagram that it may not end up looking like the fairy tale expectation that’s building in your mind.

The photo you’re looking at on Instagram or Pinterest didn’t even look like that in real life! Photos are curated, life is not. 

3. Steal little moments with your soon to be husband/wife as much as you can.

This may sound crazy, but I really didn’t spend that much time with my future husband in the days leading up to our wedding. 

The day before the wedding, all of the boys golfed then came directly to our rehearsal. From there, we went our separate ways and got ready, then met at the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner is amazing because you get to see all your friends and family for the first time. However, you’re so busy with other people that you really don’t have alone time. Once the night is over (if you follow tradition, which not everyone does!) you sleep apart from one another.

And the day of your actual wedding? It’s basically DEFCON 1.

Your bridal party is transformed into the Secret Service, sneaking around and making sure you and your future spouse don’t cross paths. I was sequestered into our “getting ready area” for most of the day (which was fine because it literally takes 5 hours for everyone to get ready). 

The takeaway here is: I wish we would have snuck away at some point and just….sat. Just checked in. Had a drink…alone. This day is about the two of you, make sure you feel connected even if you’re not with one another the whole time.

4. Take as many pictures before the wedding as you can.  

Once the ceremony is over, your bridal party’s focus will narrow to the point where it is very difficult to lasso them all back in.

I imagine the feeling they have after the ceremony is synonymous to the feeling you have once you take a final in college: you want to throw your papers and pencils in the air and run to the nearest bar. The bridal party has been rehearsing and prepping for literally months, and now their job is over. From here on out, their only job is to have fun…and they would like to start that as SOON as possible.

I honestly don’t blame them. But I will say, trying to keep their attention to snap photos while they can see the rest of the wedding downing champagne and attacking  charcuterie boards is VERY difficult. 

5. The little things TRULY don’t matter. 

I added that “truly” in there because you will hear this sentiment many times from former brides. Each time I did, I had the tendency to say, “Yeah, yeah. Now, WHAT am I going to do about the color of these cheese markers!??” 

Please listen to these brides. The little things truly don’t matter. I’m angry at myself for spending so much time trying to find a damn pair of shoes, and shoes are somewhat important! I wore them for the ceremony and barely any of the wedding, then promptly switched them out for Target sandals. No one saw any of my shoes that evening…because I was wearing a GOWN. 

I think the reason I spent so much time worrying about the small things was because I was too worried about other people. I was worried about the guests, my bridal party, my parents…way too much.

I won’t say you shouldn’t care about your guests, after all they did travel and spend quite a bit of money to come and celebrate you. Just remember the only thing they care about is having fun. If they are fed and there is alcohol, you’re pretty much good to go. I’ve been to weddings where the food was less than stellar, but I didn’t care. I had free wine for a night, ate seven pigs-in-a-blanket and danced like I was in high school again. 

 

Xoxo, 

Peach 

 

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ASK PEACH: I have trouble expressing my feelings and needs in a relationship. Any tips?

Photo by: Wild Jasmine Photo (@wildjasminephoto)

I have trouble expressing my feelings and my needs in a relationship. Any tips?

This is SO common, and the number one reason why is because of the V word…

Vulnerability. (What did you think I meant????)

Talking is hard. Talking about your feelings is H A R D.

Talking to your partner about your feelings is scary because it feels like there are no take backs. Once you say what you’re feeling, it’s out. (Remember: this is normally a good thing.)

The first thing I would do is some introspection. Assess why it’s difficult for you to open up.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I feel like my partner is a safe person to open to?

  1. If the answer is yes, skip #2 and continue.
  2. If the answer is no, consider the reasons why.
    1. Has this person hurt you considerably in the past? Have you opened up to them before, and didn’t feel that they cared or listened? In this case, consider the relationship as a whole. A relationship can’t survive without a basic respect for one another. Consider bringing this worry to your partner, or consider finding a new partner.

If you’ve thought about it and decided your partner IS someone who is safe to open up to…

  • Then it’s the dreaded answer we all hate: it’s time to look within yourself about why it’s difficult to open up. Here are some prompts to get you thinking:
  • Are you projecting insecurities, worries, or doubts from a past relationship?
    • This isn’t fair to your current partner. This doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person, but it’s time to do some internal work to figure out how to move forward in your current relationship and leave your baggage in the past.
    • While finding a therapist to help would be my recommendation, I realize that may not be attainable for everyone. Try writing in a journal, taking some time to yourself, or talking to a trustworthy friend about what’s happening.
  • Consider your upbringing.
    • Were you raised in household where emotions were discussed? Or was it filled with silent treatments and unresolved arguments that just fizzled out over time?
    • Our childhood has a profound effect on our romantic relationships. Consider how your childhood shaped you, and if you carry any negative coping styles.
    • Again, a therapist would be the best way to work through this, as understanding how your childhood has affected you is perhaps some of the most challenging work to begin.
  • Are you prioritizing your relationship?
    • Are you staying late at work? Do you have too many commitments? Is this keeping you from considering your own emotional needs?
    • If you have kids, are you so consumed by their needs that you don’t even have time to consider your own, let alone your partner’s?

Once you feel like you’re ready to try to talk to your partner, use these helpful tips.

  • Timing
    • If your partner is someone who likes to fall asleep as soon as his/her head hits the pillow, don’t bring up your inner most feelings at bed time. This will frustrate them.
  • Consider your partner’s mood.
    • Are they late coming home because there was an accident on the freeway and they sat in traffic for an hour? àWait to chat.
    • Did they just get back from a run and are feeling great and energized? àCapitalize on these endorphins.
  • Consider writing down your feelings first.
    • Are you one of those people who has an amazing speech planned, and then loses it all the moment you sit down to talk to someone?
    • If you write down your thoughts before hand, or even read directly from a piece of paper, this ensures the right message will come across to your partner.
  • Focus on your feelings, not your partner’s.
    • This ensures it doesn’t feel like you’re putting words in their mouth (every person on the planet hates that).
    • Use the word “I” as much as possible.
  • Consider starting the conversation by acknowledging how hard it is for you to talk about your feelings.
    • As I always say, honesty is the best policy. This lays a solid foundation so your partner has realistic expectations.
    • Something like, “I need to talk to you about something, but I’m reallllllyyy bad at saying how I feel, so I would appreciate your patience.”

 

Saying how we feel is always scary until we actually do it and see the positive results. Practice opening up to your partner with smaller, more manageable emotions and work up to the big ones.

 

You can do this!

 

Xoxo,

Peach

 

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Therapy Hacks

Welcome back for Episode 2, y’all! *not from the south, just a really handy word I enjoy using.* 

Today’s episode covers negative self-talk. I define it, give active steps you can take to challenge it, and give some examples to help you grasp it. 

So hold on to your hats, people! (I’m not really sure what that means, but it felt right to put it there). 

First, what is negative self-talk? 

Negative self-talk is pretty self-explanatory; it’s the inner dialogue we have with ourselves that happens to be…not-so-upfliting. NST is made up of both conscious thoughts (thoughts we’re aware that we’re having) or unconscious beliefs and assumptions about ourselves that tend to go unnoticed by our conscious mind.

(An example of an unconscious belief is being told as a child that you weren’t good enough in some way, and that belief following you around in your adulthood.)

Self talk is non-discriminatory 

Someone who is depressed is more than likely engaging in negative self-talk for the better part of their day, but depression is not required to engage in negative self-talk. 

All day long, we have thoughts running around in our brain. Sometimes they are positive (I can’t wait for vacation this weekend!) or mundane (I wonder who discovered cheese?)

Other times, they can be downright mean. 

  • “I’m never going to pass this test.”
  • “I’m never going to get the job I want.”
  • “I’m the worst.” 
  • “Why did you say that? No wonder no one likes you.” 
  • “You’re so ugly.” 
Now, how does one stop this nonsense, you ask? 

Here are a few steps that incorporate the first blog post of the series (if you haven’t read it, go read it NOW! –> Therapy Hack: Reality Testing) mixed with other principles found in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). 

Step 1: Start noticing/keeping track
  • The easiest way to recognize negative self-talk is to pay attention to your moods. When you’re in a bad one (angry, annoyed, lonely, anxious, etc), try and focus on the thoughts that come up (in the therapy world we call these “automatic thoughts“).
  • If you feel comfortable/have time to write some of them down, GREAT. If not, just take a mental inventory. 
  • Even doing just THIS step is helpful, but finishing the steps is what will give you the greatest success. 
Step 2: Assess the validity and truth of the thought 
  • Here is where reality testing comes into play. Take the thought and pick it apart. Ask yourself questions like: 
    • Is this accurate? Is it a fact? 
    • Would someone else (an outsider) say the same thing about me? 
    • Is this me talking? Or is this something I’ve heard from my parents, ex-boyfriend, bad friend, etc. that I’ve taken on to believe? 
    • Consider alternative interpretations: Are there ANY other possible outcomes for the situation, that don’t necessarily reflect negatively on you? 
Step 3: Replace with more appropriate, realistic thoughts 
  • Once you dissect your negative self-talk, try and come up with alternative thoughts for those that you’ve found to be irrational or inaccurate. 
  • IMPORTANT!
    • The thoughts that replace your negative thoughts MUST be R E A L I S T I C. 
    • Often my clients would replace their negative thoughts with fluffy, ultra positive ones, hoping this would help. Welp, it doesnt. 
    • It doesnt help because in order for you to believe the thought and your subconscious to take hold of it, it needs to be within reason. 
    • For example, if you have a negative thought of, “I can’t find a job anywhere. I’m never going to work anywhere again,” don’t replace it with, ” I AM GOING TO BE THE NEXT ELON MUSK AND INVENT SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY!” 
Here’s an example:  
A: “I have no one in my life. I am alone and will be forever.” 
  1. Do me a favor: Write down a list of all the people in your life. If you get ONE name down on the piece of paper, this statement is no longer valid. 
  2. How do you know you’ll be alone forever? Are you a fortune teller? So some relationships haven’t worked in the past? This doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever.  If this were the case, everyone would be alone. We’ve all had breakups. They don’t define you and certainly don’t mean you are destined to be an old lady/man with 12 cats. 
  3. Now, the reality here MIGHT be that you truly feel lonely rn. So, how can we create a new thought that is both REALISTIC and truthful? See below.
B: “I just broke up with someone and I’m hurt and feeling lonely. This may go on for some time. BUT, I know that there are plenty of other people out there to date, and I know that this feeling will not last forever.”

 

You can imagine how replacing Statement A with Statement B could alter your mood. Instead of dramatic, all-or-nothing statements, you’re thinking realistic, kinder thoughts.

With time and practice replacing your thoughts, you will find that it will no longer require active effort, it will just happen.

Be kind to yourselves. There are enough people in the world who will try to tear you down, don’t add to the list. – Peach 

 

 

XOXO, 

Peach 

 

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Mindfulness explained…

Mindfulness is IN people. 

Mindfulness is as trendy as a tapered pant (Are those still in?). Everywhere you look people are stuffing it down our throats.

  • “BE MINDFUL IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!” 
  • “Depressed? Just be mindful! Anxious? Practice mindfulness!
  • “How Mark Zuckerberg uses mindfulness and why you should too!” <— These are my personal favorite, as if when we use mindfulness we TOO will become billionaires! 

But what does it REALLY mean to be mindful? 

  • Does it mean you have to sit in solitude in a zen den?
  • Does it mean you need to be a monk in a monastery? 
  • Do you need to take deep breaths and completely empty your mind of all thoughts?
  • Do you need to sit cross legged? In downward dog? Cat-cow? 

Short answer: NO.

Mindfulness is not just for hippies, or therapists, or yogis. In fact, many of you are probably mindful throughout your day already and don’t even know it yet.

Here is one example (of many) of how mindfulness can help improve your life. No yoga mat or zen den required! 

How being mindful can help us see the small victories 

Life is made of tiny victories, not huge accomplishments.

It is the sum of these tiny victories that equates to contentment.

For example, contentment doesn’t come the minute you get married. Contentment comes with each healed conflict, kiss goodnight, “I love you,” and all the other tiny idiosyncrasies that happen throughout your day. 

Life itself is a gradual process, so it makes sense that success, happiness and contentment would follow suit.

Here is where mindfulness comes into play, and why it is so important! One aspect of mindfulness is keeping yourself in the present everyday so you don’t miss all of the tiny victories.

How does one do that? I have a couple suggestions: 

Try to look out for what I call the “if, then” mindset.

  • “IF I get this job, THEN I will finally feel fulfilled.”
  • “IF we get married, THEN all of our problems will be fixed because we’ll be dedicated to one another.” <—- ( I HIGHLY advise against this notion, btw)
  • IF I could spend more money on clothes, THEN I would feel better about myself.” 

Listen, I’m not saying to not have dreams. Dream big! But, don’t forget to celebrate all the tiny steps you take toward your goal. 

Instead of waiting to be happy with yourself once you finally get the body you want, why not congratulate yourself for going to the gym that day?

Instead of daydreaming about having the perfect job and all the money in the world, why not congratulate yourself for killing your presentation that morning? 

If you’re so focused on what life will look like once you’ve “made it,” you’re:

A. Never going to get there. If we are too focused on one single, all-encompassing goal, it’s really easy to just create a new, even better and shinier goal once we get there. You will find yourself on a never-ending quest to fulfill bigger and bigger goals.  
B. Going to miss the good stuff along the way. TINY VICTORIES PEOPLE. 

Mindfulness in this context simply means paying attention. Bring your thoughts back down to the present. Take your head out of the “If, Then” cloud and look around. 

That’s it! There are countless ways to use mindfulness, and each person benefits from it differently. If you are able to sit and meditate for 20 minutes a day, GREAT! If you practice mindfulness on the yoga mat, GREAT! The point here is you don’t need to be a pro or take a class to start incorporating mindfulness right NOW.

Life is made of tiny victories. Don’t miss them looking for the big win.

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How to Embrace Authenticity and Your True Self

This post is particularly relevant to me, because creating this blog was a large question of authenticity.  When contemplating creating a blog and being my “truest self,” there was a considerable amount of questioning. Would my vulnerability pay off, I wondered? See below for a running transcript of my thoughts:

  • “Who the hell do I think I am? Why do I think people are going to be interested in what I have to say?”
  • “I’m probably (definitely) going to cuss in my blog posts. Is that tacky? Or being myself?”
  • “Do I cuss too much?”
  • “Am I hungry?”
  • “There are going to be haters. There are going to be people who don’t get me, or don’t want to get me, and will probably troll my website. Will I be able to live with that?”
  • “I think I am hungry?”

Living authentically has been one of the greatest challenges in my life. I’ve measured my success through the eyes and opinions of others from a young age. It’s tough to let that go. It is a P R O C E S S. (And at times, not a very fun one). I’ve been inspired by Brene Brown’s work, my education/career in mental health, and my own therapeutic process to try and embrace authenticity every single day. 

Living authentically is sort of a catch-22. ALL humans, at some point, have felt that they need to act a certain way in order to be accepted in a group. We tend to shape-shift according to our perceived “role” in a group, or how we THINK other people want us to behave. 

But, the strange part is, we are most often attracted to people when they are NOT accepting the status quo, rather, when they are embracing authenticity. Think of some of the people you admire in your life, whether they are friends or acquaintances. For most, these are people who are radically and unapologetically themselves.

When you exude your true self, your confidence is palpable. It naturally gives off an energy that attracts others, and all you’re doing is being yourself! 

I know, I know, it’s harder than it seems. Here are some helpful hints to help get you going:

  • Recognize times when you are being your true self. How can you tell? 
    • Deepak Chopra does an amazing job of differentiating the true self from what he calls the “every day” self. 
      1. “The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion.
      2. The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.
      3. The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of “I, me, mine.”
      4. The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed.
      5. The true self is love. The everyday self, lacking love, seeks it from outside sources.”

Once you begin to understand when you are being your truest self, try to repeat it.

Try not to imagine this as “self-improvement” or as a process of “creating” a new you.

Think of it more as peeling back the layers that have been added from societal pressures, past relationships, trauma, or anything else that has held you back from unearthing the “core” of you. The core of you is beautiful. The core of you rules. 

  •  Double check your surroundings.
    • Who do your friends like: the real you? Or the “you” you’re pretending to be? Do you feel like you need to alter yourself to appease them?
    • What about your workplace, home, or even the city you live in? Is it in accordance with who you are and what you want?
    • Try to cultivate an environment that is suitable for you to be YOU. 
And last, but certainly not least: 
  • Stop giving a crap about what other people think. 
    • THIS IS SO HARD. I KNOW. 
    • Human beings are social people, and we tend to compare ourselves to others in order to judge our own worthiness. This will NEVER lead to you being comfortable with your true self (or let alone even discovering him/her). 
    • The only person you should be judging yourself against is YOU. 
    • How can YOU be better than YOU were yesterday? Or five years ago? 
    • No matter what you do in life, people will be there to criticize you. There is no possible way for you to please everyone you know.
    • Statistically speaking, the same amount of people will like/dislike you when you’re being your true self, so why not be authentic and free while you’re at it? 

I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Chopra, because he is much more wise than I and speaks with more eloquence than I could muster in a lifetime: 

“The greatest spiritual secret in the world is that every problem has a spiritual solution, not because every prayer is answered by a higher power but because the true self, once discovered, is the source of creativity, intelligence, and personal growth.”

– Deepak Chopra

 

xoxo,

Peach

Quotes from Mr. Chopra came from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-discover-your-true-self-deepak-chopra-md-official-/

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Therapy Hack: Reality Testing

Today I’m testing a new series I’m calling “therapy hacks,” where I breakdown a technique that is quick and easy to implement starting NOW.  

Let me start by saying this: there is nothing that can replace therapy, and this is not meant to. However, I think there are TONS of tips and tricks one can do on their own to help quell anxiety, improve negative mood states, and strengthen relationships.

Today’s topic: Reality testing

Reality testing is exactly what it sounds like, but it’s more difficult than you think.

Every day, we interpret millions of situations from the external world. However, our internal interpretation does not always match reality.

You may be sitting there thinking, “Well, if I’m SEEING it or FEELING it, then that means it IS reality, right?”

First of all, watch your tone.

Second of all, not necessarily.

We all have pre-existing biases about…well…pretty much everything. Our past experiences, our upbringing, our insecurities; all of these can cause us to misinterpret a situation or feeling.

I understand concepts a lot better when I see them applied to real life, so let me give you an example:

You walk into work one morning and smile at a coworker, who promptly looks the other way and continues walking. Your brain goes to these places:

  • “OMG, is Stacy mad at me?
  • “Why would/could/should she be mad at me?”
  • “Is it because of the comment I made 6 weeks ago about croissants being bad for you? I mean they ARE bad for you but I don’t want to make her feel bad for eating one?”
  • “Am I a terrible person?”

You see, we usually try to search for an answer that involves US, because humans are naturally self-involved. However, rarely do we pause and think of other possible, less dramatic scenarios. 

If we applied reality testing to this situation, it would go something like this:

  • Maybe Sarah is on her way to the restroom after her morning coffee and croissant, and isn’t’ feeling like making eye contact with someone right now?
  • Maybe Sarah got in a fight with her boyfriend and is so wrapped up in her feelings that your face didn’t even register?
  • Maybe Sarah forgot to wear her contacts today and she’s just a blind bat manuevering around the office?

Making sense?

Reality testing requires taking a step back and analyzing a situation as if you were a third party. Putting yourself in this position takes away those biases we discussed earlier, and you’re able to see the situation more clearly (and more often than not, for what it ACTUALLY is). 

You can imagine how picking a scenario from the second set of bullets above would have a drastic effect on your mood. Instead of panicking all morning about whether someone is upset with you or not, you simply chalk it up to Sarah have a tough morning, and move on with your day. 

Other examples: 

Thought: “I failed this exam, so now I’ll probably fail all of my other exams this year.” 

Reality: Failing this ONE exam does not mean you are doomed for all exams for the rest of your days. In fact, maybe failing this one will cause you to study more, and you’ll actually do BETTER on the next one. 

Thought: “My boyfriend stared at that girl, that must mean he thinks she’s pretty and I look nothing like her so I’m not pretty”

Reality: 1. Some people have staring problems, whether they stare at males or females. Maybe your boyfriend thought she looked like someone he knew? Maybe he thought she had weird hair? 2. The fact of him staring at someone says NOTHING about his feelings toward you, or your beauty. 

Practice, practice practice

This may seem like a very small, possibly insignificant change in our thoughts. However, with practice you will strengthen this particular thought process, and soon it will no longer require concerted effort. It will just happen. 

Something amazing I learned through working with patients on this: Every single person was able to come up with a HIGHLY plausible, realistic thought to replace their negative or anxious thoughts when asked to do so. Every. Single. Time.  

So get out there, people! Start challenging your thoughts. Eat a croissant while you’re at it.

 

xoxo,

Peach

 

 

 

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How to Stay Rooted When Your Life is Insane

Do you ever have times in your life when days or weeks seem to fly by, stuffed to the gills with projects, social events, vacations, etc?

Its easy to get lost in the chaos of it all, whether that chaos is good or bad. My life has been I N S A N E lately (See previous blog post concerning my vagabond lifestyle this summer), and I noticed that when that happens, I have a tendency to desert myself.

By that weirdly-worded phrase, I mean I forget to take some time and connect…with myself.

I’m naturally an extrovert, so I have NO problems connecting with other people. However, plenty of therapy + paralyzing fear every time I’m alone has taught me that the most important relationship I have is the one with myself.

Relationships need to be nurtured. Friendships take work. Marriages and romantic relationships take a LOT of work, so it follows that your relationship with yourself also requires dedication, understanding and empathy.

I’ve compiled a list of techniques I’ve learned through becoming a therapist, scanning self-help books, and good ole’ trial and error. Test some out! Or, if you already do some of these things, challenge yourself to do them a bit more than you are now. There is no such thing as too much self-care, folks. 

  1. Journal
    1. I cannot stress enough how valuable journaling has been for me. If you’re not a writer at heart, I can understand how this seems daunting.  A lot of my clients were terrified at the thought of writing about their feelings. BUT, there are SO many ways to journal! Examples:
      1. Write something down then rip it up and throw it away. A lot of my clients liked this idea. The thought of having to read about their feelings at a later date give them anxiety. Also, the physical act of throwing it away is good for negative feelings; many clients felt like they could move on from the feeling afterward. 
      2. Jot down random things in the “notes” on your phone.
      3. Sing a song in the shower about current events in your life. Bonus points if you actually create something that rhymes. 
      4. Write out a long text message about how you’re feeling lately and send it to a random number. When they ask “who is this?” say you’re Miley Cyrus and just needed to get some things out of your system.
  1. Take “you” time
    1. This can pretty much take any form; the key here is to be A L O N E. What recharges your batteries? What gives you peace? What helps you reconnect to the inner you?
      1. Read a book
      2. Walk into Sephora without any makeup on, sample all the make-up until you look amazing, leave Sephora. 
      3. Watch a TV show that puts you in a good mood (my personal fave is Friends). The key here is not to binge watch a show (that usually doesn’t make us feel great about ourselves), but rather watch an old favorite that will feel nostalgic and give you the warm fuzzies.
      4. Meditate! Meditating can be tough at first, but there are countless benefits in practicing (more on that later).
      5. Exercise! 
      6. Nap!
      7. Exercise then take a nap! 
  2. Practice saying “NO”
    1. Throughout my blog, you will find the idea of SETTING BOUNDARIES with people being reinforced. I have found this to be one of the main pillars of my life, both personally and professionally. 
    2. Setting boundaries lets people know where you stand, and saves you from having to cancel something you agreed to do *knowing* you had no intention of going. 
      1. When you agree to something because you don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings, you’re really just putting off “disappointing” them. Plus, cancelling last minute instead of saying “no” on the spot causes a lot more stress and anxiety for all parties involved.  
  3. Keep (somewhat) of a routine
    1. While planners work GREAT for some people (If you take the time to write everything in a planner and keep up with it, kudos), I just can’t get into them.
      1. Every time I’ve owned a planner it goes something like this: Fervently notate my plans for the week, smile at myself for being so responsible and tidy, find it in a random place a month later, again meticulously plan my week, see it again in a month, hate myself.
    2. Do it your own way. For example: I have a pad of paper where I haphazardly scribble down lists, important dates, appointments, ideas, etc. Its not pretty, but I understand it, and know where to look if I need to double check something. 

 

What are some things you do to stay rooted? How do you nurture your relationship with yourself? 

xoxo

Peach 

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Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis

Have you ever been sitting on the couch, thinking about all of the things you should be doing, but there are so many things that you get overwhelmed? You begin to feel, sort of paralyzed. Then, as you continue to sit there, you enter a self-loathing stage about the fact that you aren’t doing the things you “should” be doing? It’s almost like the more you think about the things you need to do, the more overwhelmed you get, and the more likely you are to continue to sit. And the longer you sit, the crappier you feel about yourself.  

Or, are you the type to start a research paper the day before it’s due, because every time you’ve tried to start it in the last month you’ve stared blankly at the page, gotten overwhelmed, and put it off longer? And the longer you put it off, the more you beat yourself up for being “lazy?” 

Yeah, it’s a thing. Let’s break it down. 

The phenomenon is known as Perfectionism, Procrastination, Paralysis.

Perfectionism 

Ahhh yes, the dreaded word. “Perfect.” As women, we are semi-programmed to strive for it (watch this amazing TED talk for further explanation  http://bit.ly/2soAV6S) since birth.  As humans in general (yes, guys, I know you experience this too!), we strive to be perfect. We crave approval and acceptance, and we believe that we are only worthy of these things if we are perfect. 

When we’re given a task, we naturally envision how we want the finished product to look. What does it look like? You guessed it, its PERFECT! The research paper we’re about to write is going to be PERFECT. Our teacher is going to make an announcement in class about its greatness! She’s going to ask to keep it as an “example” to show other students!   

Then, when it’s time to actually start the task…a litttttle voice in the back of our perfectionist minds creeps in. The doubter. The inner critic. We start to have thoughts like, “Who the hell do I think I am?” or “This is crap, no one will like this.”  You type and delete sentences. You start an art project and crumple it up within 30 minutes. That little, inner critic consumes you to the point where you are overwhelmed and need to give up the task entirely. You can guess where this leads to…

Procrastination

This is a no brainer for those of us that suffer from PPP syndrome. Why should I do something now that stresses me out, when I just cram it in at the very last second?

Non-sufferer’s of PPP syndrome will say, “Doesn’t it stress you out though? Knowing the due date of something is looming and you haven’t even started?” And to you we say…

OF COURSE IT DOES.

Which leads to…

Paralysis

While we’re busy procrastinating, that little inner critic comes out again. We think, “Why can’t I do this?” or “I’m so lazy” or “I can’t even do this simple task” or “I’m never going to be able to succeed.”

As you can imagine, this negative, inner dialogue does not make us feel super motivated to try the task again. So we do nothing. For as long as we possibly can, right up until the last second. That way, we have NO CHOICE but to accept our work the way it is. If a paper is due tomorrow, we literally have NO TIME to second guess ourselves, which equals no time for anxiety, either. 

Case-in-point: THIS. BLOG.

I recently found a note in my journal where I talked about starting a blog. Want to know what the date was?

2014

I have so many unfinished or barely started blog posts in my “Blog” folder on my computer. I could win an award for “Most Word Documents Saved on a Computer That Don’t Even Contain a Paragraph.”

A great idea will come to me like a strike of lightning; A quick moment of brilliance! I’ll run to my computer, start to write it…and then…the critic comes:

“Is this even something people are going to care about?”

“Why would people want to listen to me?” 

This leads to me getting “distracted” by something else, like watching a show, suddenly NEEDING to go through all of the crap in the bathroom cupboard (“I forgot I had this lotion from 2006!), or some other chore that I invent to distract me from the initial task. 

I would like to give you some all-star advice on how to cure yourself of PPP syndrome, but the truth is I’m still searching myself. 

Does anyone else feel this way? How do you overcome your own PPP Syndrome? 

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How Honest is “Too Honest”?

This may come as a surprise (sarcasm), but for me honesty really is the best policy.

There is a time and place for honesty, trust me. However, one must be judicious. If you take honesty and run with it, you may end up being an honest jerk, instead of an honest peach (See what I did there?). 

Thankfully, I came across a quote that may save you from being an honest jerk.

“Honesty without tact is cruelty”

 TBH, the first time I heard this was when Kristen Bell mentioned it on a talk show. Sidenote: I’ve decided that Kristen is my celeb-best-friend-crush. Look up her reaction to sloths on YouTube and you’ll see why. 

I happened to see this show and hear this quote during a period in my life where I felt that honesty was ALWAYS necessary. ALWAYS. It became integral to my personality, part of my core set of values. Talk to Alyson, hear the truth. 

I was on an absolute rampage; a quest to forever be truthful, no matter the cost! I thought I was doing the right thing. No one likes a liar, right?

However, I came to find that at times I was sacrificing kindness for honesty. 

Sometimes, being honest is the selfish thing to do

 If you are so steadfast on being honest due to your own moral compass, you are now thinking more about yourself than someone else.

You see, I found that my obsession with being a strictly honest person became more important than another person’s feelings. If you think about it, sometimes being honest is a little selfish. You are essentially prioritizing your discomfort with lying over someone’s feelings.

Maybe little white lies here and there are actually less harmful than pure, unabridged honesty?

 Here’s an example: Let’s say that your friend comes to you with some baby names that she LOVES, but can’t decide between.

Imagine her ideas are something ridiculous, sort of along the lines of “Chicago,” or “Apple,” or “True,” or “North.” (Damn, the next generation of Kardashian’s are literally just a bunch of nouns and pronouns?)

Now, maybe your initial, internal reaction is:

“Wow. These names are horrendous, and she needs to know about it.”

But, then you remember your friend already said she loves all of the names, she just can’t decide between them? And these are her kids? And she’s really excited?

In this scenario, being a supportive friend and just choosing the least terrible name of the bunch is probably the better call. If she names her kid something ridiculous like “Hammock” or “New Orleans,” then she is to blame for the bullying her children will endure, not you.

As the quote says, by all means be honest; but be VERY tactful about it. If you are too honest, it may result in you (accidentally!) being pretty cruel.

 

  

 

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Confirmation Bias and the Toilet Seat

I recently walked into our master bathroom and was IMMEDIATELY annoyed at my husband (poor guy, it doesn’t take much).  The conversation I had with him after went something like this:

“SHAWN. THE TOILET SEAT.”

“Huh? What about it?”  (he knows exactly what I’m talking about).

“Babe, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I come into the bathroom, the toilet seat is left up! It really isn’t that hard to just put the thing down.”

**and here is when my husband had a stroke of genius that sparked this article**

“Dude it’s not fair. You only notice when I leave the toilet seat UP, and you forget about ALL the times I Ieave it down.”

Hmph. I sat and thought about it, and (unfortunately) he had a point. He also reminded me of a very basic, psychological tendency called the confirmation bias.

The confirmation bias is the tendency for humans to search for, interpret, or favor information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs about something or someone. Essentially, people are naturally prone to attempt to confirm their beliefs, rather than look for evidence that contradicts it.

Socially Anxious Susie 

A good example is a person with social anxiety who walks into a crowded restaurant. Let’s call her Susie. Susie has a ton of social anxiety and always thinks that people are judging her in public.

As Susie walks in to the restaurant, a number of people’s eyes are naturally drawn to her. Immediately, Susie thinks that everyone in the restaurant is judging her. “I knew it!,” Susie says to herself.  However, there are many other reasons that people’s eyes turned toward her. Maybe they felt a breeze when she opened the door? Maybe they just noticed movement and looked up? Maybe Susie reminds them of their psycho ex-girlfriend?  Of course, none of these options go through Susie’s mind because she has a pre-existing belief that she will be looked at and judged in a social setting. Susie does not look at the situation rationally without bias. If she did, she would realize that only 6 people out of 50 actually looked at her. Those 6 people had more of an impact on Susie than the other 44 because they fit with her pre-existing belief.

Making sense? So how can we use this little tid-bit of info to better our relationships with our spouse, or even a roommate?

In my case, the image of our toilet seat up immediately resonated with me, because somewhere in my subconscious, I was expecting it.

Once I saw it, the alarms went off and I was mad, instantly. So, the next time you realize they (partner, room-mate, co-worker) did something, AGAIN, that bothers you or fits your own little hypothesis, take a second and try and find any evidence that doesn’t fit with it.

When I saw the toilet seat up, I should have paused and reflected. Then, I would have realized that I have walked into the bathroom at least 20-30 times and he hasn’t left the seat up.

The secret here is to pause and reflect, most of us act emotionally rather than logically. Pausing is a great way to check yourself and make sure you aren’t falling victim to the confirmation bias.

 

Author’s note: This will be the only post you will see where my husband is right.