Make No Assumptions

Last week I was leaving the grocery store, with my cart packed and I was crossing the street to my car and a gentleman started honking at me.  I just assumed he was angry with me for walking in front of his car and I ignored him.  He began honking even more and started shouting at me.  “The nerve of this guy!”  I thought to myself.  What has this world come to?  Everybody is angry and on edge and the slightest mistake leads to rage!  I was very irritated but then finally he stuck his head out of his car and shouted “Your toilet paper fell out of your cart!”  OMG!  I was embarrassed and grateful and tried my best to quickly apologize for assuming he was just a jerk!  As I pushed my cart to my car, I thought why did I just assume he was an angry driver, without compassion and only out for himself and somehow, I got in his way?  Well, we all need a shot of compassion right now, even if we think we know or assume someone is “against” us.

This little incident was a small wake-up call for me to not get wrapped up in the hate and division that is occurring in our Country right now.  People can still be good people, even if we disagree with them.  My husband and I have talked about how it’s difficult to reconcile with others who may think differently than we do but when has one single view been the determinant of a person’s character?  Yes, there have been many injustices in our country and those have to be addressed and rectified. But I’m not going to disown some family or friends who have different points of view. People are more complicated than that and we need to take the time to listen to each other. By all means advocate for justice and what you believe in, but don’t assume because someone thinks differently than you do, that it has to be the end of your relationship.   Maybe you can’t agree on some things and you disconnect from that person but don’t generalize and assume everyone who shares a different view than you is a lost soul.

How do we talk to children about getting along with other children and not teasing those who are different than them?  We talk with them about cooperation and compromise and empathy.   Yet, this is so difficult for adults to do.  It’s painful to see what’s happening in our country right now and how people treat each other and worse yet, the ASSUMPTIONS they are making about each other.  Take it from me, those assumptions may be wrong and the guy vigorously honking at you as you cross the street may just be trying to help you.

How is the Coronavirus affecting You?

How are you dealing with the affects of the Coronavirus?  If you’re overwhelmed and uncertain, here are some helpful tips!

Unfortunately, many know someone who has the coronavirus or they themselves may have it. Whether you are directly impacted by the virus you may be struggling with shelter-in-place and on-going social distancing.  Below are just a few of the things you may be experiencing:

 

  • Grief and Loss: Life is no longer like it was before and won’t be the same again.  Although we can anticipate that we will edge back into life we are grieving what we had and the freedom to engage in life in a carefree way with others and our activities.   Our sense of security in our and our loved one’s health has changed and we feel more vulnerable.
  • Boredom and a loss of sense of purpose. Many are working from home now and even homeschooling their children, but our previous jobs outside the home, activities and outside associations have stopped and you may feel a loss of purpose and in a way, a loss of your identity.
  • A roller-coaster of emotions: On any given day or hour, you may feel grateful and then shortly thereafter be angry this is happening and then in an hour feel a sense of calm.  The bottom line is we are often cycling through a range of emotions as we try to deal with all of the changes.  In fact, we can hold more than one emotion at the same time…we may feel uncertain and scared but also grateful and playful.
  • Fear of the unknown: Many of us may have struggled with fear of the unknown before COVID-19 hit but now, uncertainty about if and when the virus will be fully contained and when a vaccine will be developed, can lead the steadiest of us to worry.

No doubt, there are many other common reactions to the Coronavirus and COVID-19 and you need to know they are normal reactions and you are not alone navigating through all of these thoughts, worries and feelings.  So, what can help us manage all of this?

  • Set and stick to a daily routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same time is very helpful not only to regulate our sleep but to also give us a sense of structure and control in our lives, especially when we may feel out of control.
  • Exercise, exercise and exercise! I can’t say enough about the benefits of exercise for our mental health and we know that those who exercise regularly experience less depression.  Even better if you can exercise outside to get that sunshine in!
  • Practice Gratitude: Gratitude is an important component of emotional well-being and those who endorse it find greater resilience in bouncing back from life challenges.  Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean we don’t identify and express any difficult emotions we have; it just means that part of our emotional expression includes not only what we’re struggling with but also what we are grateful for.
  • Let go of Perfection. Some people are using this time to get projects done, to finally start that food plan, or organize their homes.  However, those who do that don’t get some reward or trophy when they are done.  Yes, they may feel proud and accomplished and they deserve to.  However, we will not be able to live through a quarantine perfectly, just as we were never able to live our lives in a perfect fashion before the Coronavirus.  By all means, set intentions and goals but if you’re not able to meet them perfectly, it’s ok and actually a sign that you are human! Goals that are realistic and adjustable are most effective.
  • Lastly, practice mindfulness throughout the day.  I know this is such a common term but due to the nature of anxiety (focusing on the what if’s…) mindfulness is an important tool to get us through the day with less anxiety.  Pause in moments throughout the day, repeat to yourself “Be here, now”, take a long, slow walk, or practice meditation.  By staying in the present moment, without judgment we are better able to manage the uncertainty of this pandemic.

If you’re struggling with Coronavirus related anxiety or anxiety in general, give me a call at 916-517-6989 or e-mail me at tfsfree@yahoo.com. www.terrisearstherapy.com

This is a very challenging time and how we respond to it and to ourselves can make the difference in our well-being.

 

 

Creating and Using an Energizing Cue Word or Phrase for Sports Performance

Are you an athlete (at any level) who experiences fatigue, distraction or even boredom before or during practice or competition?  If so, I have some mental training tools that can help!  The activating power of words and imagery has been shown to have a very positive effect on performance so check out my 5 minute video to see how to get started!

Contact me if you want to learn more and receive an Energizing handout to track your progress!

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Is Sports Psychology for You?

 

My Journey in Sports Psychology 

 

Sports, playing sports, watching sports, loving sports were all a part of my upbringing from as young as I can remember.  When I realized I was good at basketball in 5th grade I felt exhilarated, like I was flying, full of passion and joy.  Competition agreed with me!  I have never stopped loving sports, watching or playing them.  I went to countless basketball camps in and out of my home state of South Dakota and then went on to play for two years at North Idaho College in Couer d’ Alene, ID.  I had numerous sports related challenges along the way and as a result not only did I take the South Dakota High School Athletic Association to Court while in high school and won but I shortened my college career by quitting the team after only two years due to a demeaning, punishing, harsh coach.  I often say that quitting college basketball (the plan was to transfer to a Division 1 school) is my main regret in life.   

Looking back on all of this many years later, I realize that yes, I did have some pretty challenging coaches and not only was I courageous as a young teen headed to Court and in confronting my college coach, I was also operating under the idea that I had to be the best basketball player on the court.  I was incredibly motivated to say the least, but what I missed was resiliency, confidence in myself whether I played a good game or not, and an identity outside of being an athlete.  I needed an identity as a successful athlete but more importantly as a grounded, balanced, happy human being. I do firmly believe that if I had those traits I would have been able to continue in college basketball, and even Division 1 basketball.   

I suffered emotionally as an athlete and wish I could have had a sports psychologist to have helped guide and educate me along the way.  How amazing it would have been to have a sports psychology advocate for me, my fellow team mates and our coach and parents!   I believe in pursuing athletic excellence but it must be combined with emotional wellness and an emotionally healthy attitude towards sports pursuit and performance.  I’d love to have the opportunity to help present-day athletes play well, love to play, recover from injury and pursue their passion with no regrets. 

I also offer a unique blend of skill with my current role as a psychotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA.  I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Montana in 1993 and later my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2000. I have been licensed since 2006 and have had my own psychotherapy practice for almost 11 years.  I love it and have been able to help many people address emotional and relational obstacles.  But I feel something is missing.  I want to help more, I want to combine my passion for sports, psychology and psychotherapy to offer services to adolescent and adult athletes.   

I’d love to give athletes the emotional and psychological support that I didn’t get.  If you or someone you know could benefit from mental skills guidance in the arena of sports, I’d love to hear from you!  

How to Begin Again after a Setback

How do you begin again after a setback? It could be a minor or a major setback or somewhere inbetween. After you take in what has happened, maybe a financial blow, an illness or a rejection, it’scommon to feel depressed. Maybe you made a mistake on something or maybe you were wrong and had to apologize. Whatever it is, make no mistake, it will serve to grow you, but first it will tear you down.

As a psychotherapist I believe in supporting people through times of stress, helping them with action plans and giving them hope. But I also know that sometimes life just sucks and we can only take it oneday, sometimes one hour at a time. We often ask why is this happening, what’s the lesson here? I don’t know about you, but for me the lesson isn’t always clear. Sometimes the clarity comes weeks or monthslater. I do know that we can’t bear these times alone. I hear people, especially adolescents say they don’t want to burden their family or friends with their stress or their “drama”. But isn’t that what arefriends and family for? Allow someone to be there for you, allow someone to listen to you because it helps them too. It reminds them that they are not alone and that everyone suffers. The great illusion is of course that some people have perfect lives, always having fun, going places….things come easy forthem. Well some people do have it easier than others but that doesn’t mean they are any happier. Thepersona may cover up their own pain. Try not to compare. I tell my clients to stay in your own lane.

During these difficult times we may just have to go through the motions until the clouds part. I do know that stopping your engagement with friends and family, ceasing exercise or your spiritual involvement,or stopping activities you’ve loved, won’t work out well for you. It just allows you more time to sit andruminate on what’s wrong or obsess about the stress you’re currently under.

By all means take care of yourself and say no when you have to but don’t stop living your life or doing things. You will get through this.

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Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver beautifully writes about life, loss, pain and the will to begin again.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created
Under the orange Sticks of the sun
The heaped
Ashes of the night Turn into leaves again

And fasten themselves to the high branches And the ponds appear
Like black cloth
On which are painted islands

Of summer lilies
If it is your nature
To be happy
You will swim away along the soft trails

For hours, your imagination Alighting everywhere.
And if you spirit
Carries within it

The thorn
That is heavier than leadIf it’s all you can do
To keep on trudging

There is still somewhere deep within you A beast shouting that the earth
Is exactly what it wanted

Each pond with its blazing lilies Is a prayer heard and answered Lavishly,
Every morning.

Whether or not
You have ever dared to be happy, Whether or not
You have ever dared to pray.