The Power of Acceptance

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Hello Friend,

The issue of acceptance comes up a lot for me in my own life and during my sessions with clients. The idea of accepting whatever is happening in our life at this present moment. If you're like me, when I first heard about the concept of acceptance I thought it meant to somehow condone whatever was happening to me or around me no matter how offensive it is.  

This meant, if someone was treating me in a way I found to be disrespectful, I had to tolerate it. Or, if I was watching a story on the news about atrocities against children, I had to take the position that what was happening was “okay”.  And, of course, with this interpretation of the meaning of acceptance I felt extreme resistance and an outright rejection of the concept. How on earth could I "accept" these types of injustices? 

However, what I have come to learn about acceptance is that it has nothing to do with condoning or pretending like something you dislike is “okay". Instead it has to do with truth. If you bring truth to a situation, ‘real raw honesty’ - you can respond to any situation from a far more empowering place. So, what does this mean? Well, in the example above where a person may treat you in a disrespectful manner, a common reaction may be to get defensive and become angry because we think to ourselves that “this should not be happening”, alternatively, we can deny that it is actually happening and begin to minimize the experience by talking ourselves out of what we are feeling. By responding in these ways, we are essentially resisting what is actually happening. 

If we respond with the truth we can actually bring acceptance to the situation. By being honest, we are able to access how we feel about any situation, what the situation is triggering in us and where these feelings originated from. With this information we can dig deeper into what the situation actually represents for us and then respond accordingly. 

Applying this process to the above example with the disrespectful person (who may be my boss), if I were to respond with acceptance, I can say to myself:

  1. What is happening for me - I am finding my boss is acting disrespectfully towards me; 
  2. Why? Because his/her actions remind me of the way my mom used to speak to me when I was in trouble, and I do not like it; 
  3. Bringing myself to the present moment - This is not my mom speaking to me and I am not a child, therefore, I am not ‘in trouble’, so…
  4. What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this situation right now – Well, this is my boss and I do not want to jeopardize my job, so I don’t feel yelling back is an appropriate response. Okay, is there a way that I can still speak up for myself? Yes, I can respond by saying something like – “I sense that you are really upset by what happened. I want you to know that was not my intention. From my perspective, I did what was right. Nonetheless, I would like it if we could discuss how you would prefer I address the issue, so we can find a mutually satisfactory resolution.” 

On the other hand, sometimes the most empowered response we can have towards a situation is to walk away from it, let go and turn it over to the power of the universe to support us in working it out. Either way, we give ourselves the chance to be guided by love instead of fear. By bringing acceptance to any situation you are able to defuse your emotions so you can access your inner wisdom to know how to transform a situation and bring an empowered response to it. This goes back to the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer (particularly the first part):

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.  

I would love to hear from you about how you are able to practice acceptance therapy. Please comment in the section below. 

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult. 

Looking forward to connecting!

Best, Sandra xo

5 Ways You Can Transform Negative Emotions

Hello Friend,

If you are anything like me, for a long time I believed that negative emotions were to be avoided at all costs. And, the fact that I was having them meant there was something wrong with me. As a result, all my efforts were focused on suppressing these emotions and when I couldn’t seem to suppress them, I spent a lot of energy beating myself up about it.

It took me many hours of therapy, training, reading and reflecting to realize that negative emotions are a necessary part of life, and (if you let them), can be your path to living a happier life. So, I hope this post adds some value and assists you in transforming your negative emotions into something empowering:

Step 1:             Stop and Breathe

When you notice yourself moving into a negative feeling – i.e. a place of feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, misaligned, distressed – stop and take 3 deep, deliberate breaths. 

Step 2:             Name what you are feeling

Too often, we don’t even know what we are feeling or we limit the range of our emotions to happy, sad or angry. Take a moment to go a bit deeper and perhaps tap into a wider range of emotions. Below is a list of some negative emotions you can use as a guideline:

-       Indifferent                                     Boredom

-       Confusion                                     Frustration

-       Irritation                                        Impatience

-       Disappointment                            Discouragement

-       Pessimism                                     Doubt/Lack of Faith

-       Distrust                                         Grief

-       Fear                                              Anxiety/Worry

-       Lost                                               Insecurity

-       Loneliness                                    Emptiness/Disconnection

-       Resentment                                  Blame

-       Revenge                                       Hatred

-       Rage                                             Jealousy

-       Powerlessness                             Hopelessness

-       Guilt                                              Unworthiness

-       Shame                                          Depression

Step 3:             Notice where the feeling resides in your body

For many of us we live primarily in our heads and don’t pay much attention to our bodies. However, our emotions always express themselves somewhere in our body. It is important to notice how negative emotions show up in your body: 1) to help you get clearer on what you are feeling; and 2) to gain a better understanding of how this emotion is affecting you. For example, anxiety and fear can show up as a stomach ache or a tightening in your chest – so when you have that feeling it can serve as a cue to assist you in recognizing and acknowledging that you are feeling anxious or fearful.

Step 4:             Accept the feeling and listen to what it is trying to tell you

Negative emotions have gotten a bad rep in our culture. Many of us believe we are supposed to be happy all the time or that having emotions (other than happiness) is a sign of weakness or abnormality. As a result, we put more effort into not feeling the emotion and pushing it aside, than simply paying attention to it and finding out what it is trying to tell us. You will move much faster through a negative emotion if you accept that you are feeling it and then listen to what it has to say.

For example, when I am feeling insecure in a given situation, if I can accept this feeling I don’t have to waste anytime denying that I feel insecure or beating myself up because I feel insecure. Instead, I can ask the feeling of insecurity what it wants me to know. In most cases, it is a sign that I am living from my ego, which usually confines me to the limiting belief that my value is only measured by what I do, what I have and my roles in life. It indicates to me that I have forgotten that I am bigger than my circumstances, I am connected to a universal energy far greater than myself and (most importantly), I am worthy simply because I exist. When I stop and reconnect to that wisdom, my feelings of insecurity shift.

Step 5:             Ask yourself “What is the Most Loving Thing I can do for Myself in This Moment”

After you have figured out what your negative emotion wants you to know, you then practice self-love by asking yourself the above question. This act makes you feel better, in part, because it stops the self-judgment/inner criticism from taking hold of you.

In the example I gave above with me feeling insecure, a self-loving act I could take includes repeating an affirmation such as “I am enough” (check out Louise Hay’s work on affirmations). I could also ask the universe to support me in letting go of my ego’s need to be ‘all knowing’ or superior, and instead, allow my curiosity and wonder to guide me on how I can show up authentically in the experience and release feelings of inferiority.

Whatever the act of self-love is, this exercise helps you learn and practice how to lovingly meet your own emotional needs in any given situation.

What are your thoughts?

I would love to hear from you about what you have found helpful in transforming your negative emotions or if you have tried the above 5 steps.

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult.

Looking forward to connecting!

Warmly,

Sandra xo

The Myth about Relationships

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Hello Friend, 

Many of the people I work with come to see me because of challenges they are having in their intimate partner relationships. 

I have discovered from my own experience and others that most of us have grown-up believing in the myth of what the purpose of intimate partner relationships is about. For many of us, we believe that intimate partner relationships, especially marriage, are about finding a soulmate to live happily ever after with. This means that you are supposed to find a relationship (and ideally marry) someone who you are perfectly in sync with - therefore, the two of you never argue (or if you do argue, you make-up shortly thereafter, followed by a session of passionate love-making); you always meet each other’s needs because you are able to read each other’s minds to know what the other partner’s needs are; and, you can easily talk with one another sharing your intimate stories and feelings for hours. To put it simply, you just get each other – like two halves of a whole. 

If this in any way resonates with you, then I hope this post adds some value. 

The above was the picture and expectation I had, which seems a bit bizarre since I am a child of divorce. Nonetheless, I was naively in search of this. Surprisingly, none of my intimate partner relationships seemed to match-up to this dream. One relationship after the other was a disappointment. None of the guys I met or dated seemed to be sweeping me off my feet or perfectly in sync with me. Most of them had no idea what I was thinking or what I really needed or wanted. And while there may have been some laughing in the beginning - by the end there was mostly yelling or silence. 

Even when I met my now husband, from the beginning it was pretty clear he wasn't “perfect” and we were usually not in sync. For instance, he seemed to have no interest in spending hours sharing stories or discussing our feelings and we definitely argued, and even yelled, which more often than not didn’t end in us making passionate love.  So, if we weren’t two halves of a whole, what the heck was the point of this relationship? 

What I have come to learn and understand is that intimate partner relationships have very little to do with living happily ever after and more to do with assisting us with growing and healing. 

While it is certainly important to do our work on our own separate from others, the truth is most of our growth happens in relationships. It is very difficult to be at peace with yourself, when you feel you are completely invisible to your partner and they have no idea who you are or what you need. This is where the purpose of intimate partner relationships comes in - this person is giving you an opportunity to reflect on who you are and what this experience is really all about for you. Your partner has now given you a chance to learn what your triggers are and all the ways you feel you have been unseen, unsupported and ignored throughout your life. An opportunity to reflect on why you think another person should and can meet your needs, and whether or not this is a need you have to meet for yourself. 

Most of our wounds and brokenness stem from our unmet needs in childhood. And the reality is we pick people, partners and circumstances that will give us the opportunity to heal those wounded parts. So, when you find yourself being triggered by the person you are in an intimate relationship with, step back and ask yourself the following: 

·      What am I feeling? 

·      Why am I feeling this? 

·      When was the first time I felt like this? 

·      Who was the first person who made me feel like this? 

·      What am I trying to get from my partner? 

·      Is there a way I can meet this need for myself? 

·      What would be the most kind and loving thing I could do for myself in this situation? 

·      What would I tell my best friend if this was happening to her/him? 

By asking yourself these questions you are deepening the experience and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what your truth is. It can help change your perspective and reaction to the situation, and even change the outcome. You may realize that it actually has nothing to do with your partner and you no longer have that need from her/him. Or, that you have chosen a person who is incapable of meeting that need and you may have to make some different choices. 

I would love to hear from you about what your myth was or still is about intimate partner relationships. Please share your wisdom in the comment section below. 

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult. 

Looking forward to connecting!

Warmly, 

Sandra xo

5 Things You Can Do to Become Comfortable with Uncertainty

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Hello Friend,

If you are anything like me, the word “uncertainty” makes you feel very uncomfortable. Who wants to be uncertain? Don't we do everything in our life to try and avoid this (I know I sure do). We research, we predict, we plan and organize ourselves to avoid any negative possibilities. We do everything in our power to control our circumstances in order to avoid uncertainty.

Yet, uncertainty is inevitable despite our best efforts and intentions. We will never know what the future holds or what the full impact will be of whatever it is we are doing in this moment. So, if uncertainty is unavoidable, how the heck do we get comfortable with it? Here are some suggestions that I hope will add value:

  1. Let Go - Letting go means not to control. For a ‘control-freak’ like myself this is completely unnatural and usually only occurs when things are not going my way and I am forced to throw my hands up in the air and say “Okay, I give up!” So before being beaten into submission, try letting go of your investment in any specific outcome. It's okay to have a plan and to hope that things will go in a certain direction, but you have to let go of the need for things to go in the direction you want it to. 

  2. Be Open - This is tied to letting go - you have to be open to whatever the outcome may be. This is a tough one because the whole point of planning, organizing, researching and controlling is to assure a certain outcome. However, if you believe in universal intelligence or divine wisdom or something along those lines, then you can appreciate the possibility  that the universe has got this and knows much better than you and me what the right outcome is for any situation. 
  3. Bring Acceptance - Life is happening whether we want it to or not. For example, if I get stuck in traffic when I am already late for work, the traffic is happening and I am late. No matter how much I yell, scream, and curse everyone on the road - I'm still late and stuck in traffic. As a result, bringing acceptance to my situation is my only refuge. It enables me to not waste my energy in resisting what is happening but instead begin thinking about how I might be able to respond to the situation. Acceptance allows the creativity to flow, so I can come up with a solution or recognize that maybe it really isn't that big a deal that I'm late and stuck in traffic. Maybe the world will wait for me to get to it when I can.

  4. Have Faith - This is the most essential component to being comfortable with uncertainty. You absolutely, unequivocally have to have faith! A belief that no matter what, the universe has got your back and it will all be okay. You have to believe that everything that happens is happening for your well-being, even if it may not look like it at this moment. If you hold on to this kind of faith, the anxiety in being uncertain will begin to melt away because although you may not know what the outcome of a situation will be, you can hold on to the certainty that the universe is taking care of you, so you will be just fine!

  5. Hold on to Wonder – The truth is, life really isn't about planning the whole thing out or controlling the outcome of every situation. Instead, it is an adventure! Although control feels like it will bring us happiness, how many times can you look back on something you desperately thought you wanted but didn't get and instead life took you on a different path that was so much better. If you know what I am talking about, that is the gift of wonder. Always hold on to the possibility that the outcome will be so much better than you could ever imagine it to be!

I would love to hear from you about your tips on combating the discomfort with uncertainty. Please share your wisdom at the bottom of this post.

Helping people get comfortable with the uncertainty in their life is my passion. If there is any way you think I might be able to help you with this, please send me a message and we can schedule a free 30-minute-initial consult.

Warmly,

Sandra xo

In search of my soul…my journey to practicing psychotherapy

 At bell Rock Vortex in Sedona, AZ

At bell Rock Vortex in Sedona, AZ

Hello Friend,

In 2014, I began to have an existential crisis. The truth is, many events had been leading me up to that point, but in 2014 it got to a place where I could no longer ignore it. I was having great difficulty trying to get pregnant with my second child, I had started working at a new law firm and for the first time I had a boss that did not “really” like me and it was becoming increasingly obvious that something in my life was off. 

I was struggling to figure out “what the problem was”, “what was I missing”, “how did I end up here”. In response to this crisis, I decided to go away for a retreat weekend at Grail Springs. The keynote speaker was Bari McFarland, a life coach who is also a Passion Test specialist. Bari was conducting a workshop on the Passion Test. My thinking was that this would help me get clarity on what my true passions were, which would inform what direction I should be taking with my life.

The weekend at Grail Springs started me on a path of self-discovery that I could have never expected. It literally changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I would never have imagined. In a series of serendipitous events, I ended up enrolling in the part-time Spiritual Psychotherapy program at the Transformational Arts College. Despite my background in social work, I never planned on being a therapist. My intention in enrolling in the program was to work on myself and ideally get clearer on who I was and where I should be going with my life. This was a step on the path to finding my soul. The fact that I would also receive a diploma in psychotherapy was a nice bonus that satisfied my practical side. But, what I came to learn is that practicing psychotherapy is actually at the heart of who I am.

During this program, I delved deeply into my psyche and spirit. It was a journey of really getting to know who I was spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and even physically. And to be honest it was really f&*@ing tough! It was scary and challenging to get honest with myself about who I am - the good, the bad and the ugly. And to learn to bring acceptance to all parts of myself in order to use them for my well-being, instead of self-destruction. To learn to forgive my family-of-origin and ultimately myself for all the crappy things that have happened to me along the way.

For most of us, we go through life never examining who we are and how we got to where we are. We tend to be so focused on doing and pay little attention to being. Yet, being is at the root of understanding everything we do and every decision we make. Without knowing this, we are essentially cut-off from who we are and blindly moving through life.

On the journey of searching for my soul, I have come to believe that life is always trying to get our attention and to bring us back to the essence of who we really are. The more we try to ignore this, the more life tries to get our attention. That is why for so many of us it takes a life crisis to get us to stop and look within. A job loss, illness, relationship break-down – these are all examples of the way life calls us to stop and pay attention to who we are and what we are supposed to be getting out of this journey we call life.

With this new knowledge, I realized that I have always loved the journey to the truth – people’s truth and universal truth. I have always been fascinated by our stories and how we live authentically. This awareness connected me to my passion of supporting others on their path of self-discovery.

How is your life trying to get your attention? What is it trying to tell you? If you feel like you are ready to listen or explore, I would love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below or send me a message.

Warmly, Sandra xo