REAL TALK

7 Tips on How to Be There for People in Crisis

7 Tips on How to Be There for People in Crisis

Like so many, my thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey. As the catastrophe continues to unfold people are wondering how to help.

Offering your home, blood, money, time, effort and positive thoughts are all invaluable. Many are also wondering how to be there for their loved ones or strangers in the wake of this catastrophe.

As a psychotherapist and former domestic and sexual violence crisis response advocate, here are the top suggestions that come to my mind.

read more
Power Over Versus Power With

Power Over Versus Power With

As a trauma therapist so much of my work is centered around power. Expanding the idea of power and cultivating personal power.

Power Over: The Dominant View of Power

Too often, when we think of power, we think of it in terms of power over. Power over resources. Power over the workplace. Power over the environment. Power over other people. Essentially, how we typically view power is through the lens of domination and control.

It’s not a personal flaw that we view it this way – we as a culture reinforce this kind of power.

People who have a dominating posture are often seen as “competent” and then handed positions with a great deal of power over others.

We say, “Nice guys finish last” and thereby reinforce the idea that you need to be not nice to get ahead in life. Unfortunately, not nice tends to translate to bullying others in practice.

Despite the fact that there are numerous organizational structures to choose from, we heavily rely on a vertical hierarchical organizational structure in most workplaces. And, vertical hierarchies reinforce the notion that one must have power over to have power.

These day to day expressions of power over may seem insignificant, but they are far from it. This line of thinking contributes to oppression and violence. It fosters an environment where rape and domestic violence can thrive. An environment where the formation of groups that believe that power is so scarce that they have to marginalize other people in order to have power, like white supremacists, can thrive. The violence we saw this weekend in Charlottesville has roots in the notion of power over.

Taken from this view, what happened this past weekend is not new at all. Furthermore, it demonstrates the need to shift our cultural attitudes toward what we praise as power.

read more
Stress + The 3 Sisters of Your Brain

Stress + The 3 Sisters of Your Brain

For better or for worse, when we get stressed out so many of the activities we associate with being human are out of reach.

We can’t seem think straight.

Or connect the dots between ideas.

Focus? SQUIRREL!

The inner taskmaster? She’s clocked out for the day.

What’s really going on is that your body directs energy to the more animal side of your brain. The energy goes where it’s perceived to be needed.

Let’s break this down.

read more
Boundaries as Structures for Freedom

Boundaries as Structures for Freedom

Helping clients tune into, create, strengthen and maintain boundaries is a big part of my work. However, we may actually need to reframe the word “boundaries” to be effective at creating them.

According to Merriam-Webster, a boundary is “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.”

Often, when we seek to create a boundary we do think to “limit” a particular interaction or experience. Generally, the goal embedded is protection. For example, if someone makes you feel crummy, then you may want to limit hanging out with them to protect yourself from further harm.

However, for many of us, the idea of boundaries may feel harsh or abrupt. Further, if we have experienced abuse, then we may feel that we “should be” tough enough to withstand another person’s abuse. Or we may feel that we are not worthy of protection (because that is often the message that gets sent by the experience of abuse).

read more
Selling Self-Worth

Selling Self-Worth

A couple weeks ago, I was having a bún bowl with my pal, Lauren of Hope and Humor Therapy. Between noodle slurps, we got to talking about how many businesses tell you to buy their product as an “investment” in yourself. They might say, “you’re worth it” or “put yourself first.” Through our conversation, we realized how gross this can be.

Despite the positive framing and positive intentions embedded in these lines, when you see this message over and over by a wide range of businesses it starts to feel icky. One can’t help but wonder how many times they are saying “No” to their own self-worth, self-love, self-care, or self-development when it’s framed this way.

The guilt of this can be a bit much…and it’s unnecessary guilt in the first place. The mental gymnastics we have to go through to navigate a landscape constantly telling us to BUY this in order to BE that is exhausting.

read more
Sorting Your Needs Through Ice Cream Goggles

Sorting Your Needs Through Ice Cream Goggles

Sometimes life’s a shithead. Handing us one thing after another. Not letting us catch a break. It becomes hard to keep up with basic things — like laundry. If we were to run a contest to determine the best ways to measure stress, laundry piles would surely be in the top 5.

We’ve all been there in those times when everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control.

When things slow down we often aren’t sure which issue to prioritize and attend to first. That sense of not knowing where to start can become a stressor or trigger itself further derailing us from moving forward.

By all means, we all possess our own unique ways of getting things calm again. And, if you already have your go-to methods — you do you!

However, if you are totally unsure, here’s a potential starting place for you.

read more
Resilience through Baby Moments of Connection

Resilience through Baby Moments of Connection

From Malta, my partner and I headed to Friuli, the region my partner is from, to visit family and attend a wedding. We had to take two planes to get to the Venice airport. Then it’s about an hour’s drive to his parent’s house.

My partner’s brother, sister-in-law, their infant and toddler agreed to pick us up from the airport in Venice. However, my partner inadvertently told them the flight departure time instead of the flight arrival time.

Thus, not only did the two little ones have to endure two hours of being in a car, but also another hour waiting at the airport.

read more