Doctor, heal thyself.

Welcome to Format Free Friday and to the very first blog post on my REDISGNED blog – made better because I built it myself!

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Deciding to build this site was a miserable process, mostly because I’ve always been terrible at technology.  And it’s not just my opinion: Give me a new shiny gadget and within minutes of touching it, the machinery will malfunction in a way that no one has ever experienced. It’s a family curse, actually. The same thing happens to my sister, which alternately makes me feel validated and condemned to my technology handicap.

Now, if my clients could weigh in here, they would 1) confirm that I suck at technology, and 2) call me out on allowing this limiting belief to hold me back in life. See, I spend hours every day challenging my clients to distance themselves from disempowering beliefs and to align themselves with beliefs that will move them forward in life. Even though you can’t hear my clients’ voices, I heard them in my head, and I made the decision to test my own tools. Here’s what I did.

Identified the limiting belief: This wasn’t hard for me because I’m painfully aware of my inner bitch and what she says to me. You, however, may have to dig deeper to get in touch with the negative loop that plays in your head.  My primary limiting belief went like this: “You suck at technology. You’ll never be able to build a website so you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you. It will cost thousands of dollars, so forget about clothing and cabs for the next year.”

Flip the belief (without bullshitting yourself): “I’m going to start with a clean slate, a beginner’s mind, and allow for the possibility that I can learn something new which may have been historically difficult for me. I’ve grown a lot since I last tried to build a website. I’m going to allow for new possibilities.” This is the mantra I repeated each time I logged into the website builder.    

Pattern interrupt: I hit roadblocks. Every day. The website builder that I used offers 24/7 tech support, however, it’s via email. I would send out an email and it would often take an hour or longer to get a reply – a timeframe during which I was waiting, impatiently, because I couldn’t start the next step until I got an answer to my question. And then, the mother f^@k#&s would sometimes fail to answer my question in their response or misunderstand my question, requiring me to begin the email process all over again – because they don’t offer phone support - which made me angry, and rendered my little mantra USELESS. So I needed a more powerful intervention: The pattern interrupt.

I customize pattern interrupts for each of my clients because what works for one person doesn’t work for another. The basic principle behind a pattern interrupt is to remove yourself from the triggering situation, pull yourself out of your amygdala (the part of the brain that wants to fight, flee or freeze), and activate your prefrontal cortex (yourright mind). I do this by employing as many of the senses as I can (sight, smell, touch, and sound) and by engaging in hardcore exercise for 2 minutes. Here’s what I did:

1.     Stepped away from the computer (removing myself from the triggering situation).

2.     Ran down and then up 10 flights of stairs (hardcore exercise).

3.     Ran the steps while listening to a playlist of songs that always makes me smile (sound).

4.     As soon as I was done with the steps, came back inside, sprayed some lavender, which for me, is very calming (smell).

5.     Grabbed an animal (I have 4 to choose from) and began petting him or her (touch & sight).

This entire process took 5 minutes. Using a scale from 0-10 (0=neutral, 10=postal), it consistently took me from 8+ down to 0 or 1 (1, only because I knew I had to go back to building the fucking website).

So there you have it, folks. It’s amazing what I can do when I just follow my own advice. Happy Friday. If you haven’t already subscribed, please show me some love!

Here’s The Thing…

Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

I received an email this week from a woman who found me on Twitter. Apparently she was interested in working with me but was concerned that she might not be able to get past how “hot I am.  She apologized in advance for any offense that might be taken, knowing I’m married, and asked me for a referral for a therapist in her state. I emailed her to tell her that I don’t know of any therapists in her area and she wrote back to inquire why I declined her as a client.

Here’s my response:

I didn't decline you as a client. I presumed that since you asked for a referral for a therapist in your area, working with me would have proven to be too difficult for you. I'm not confused by what I look like, and I find myself thinking that if I was disfigured in some way, you wouldn't feel entitled to say, "I can't work with you. You're too difficult to look at." That said, if you think you can engage in a professional relationship with me, I'd be willing to try - but I take what I do very seriously and I won't tolerate having our work distracted by discussions about my physical appearance. Let me know your thoughts.

I then received an email from her informing me that she’s read my blog posts about a type of transference which occurs between a client and a therapist and that she believed that it was appropriate for clients to disclose erotic feelings for a therapist – that often it is such issues that catapult clients into therapy in the first place.

Yes and No.

Yes, it is appropriate for a client to discuss any such feeling with their therapist, and I have encouraged clients to enter that dialogue when such issues have presented in the past.

The thing is, this woman’s not my client. She’s a stranger who saw my picture and thought it would be appropriate to comment on my physical appearance while simultaneously inquiring about entering a professional relationship with me (she’s since informed me that she’ll have to sort out financial issues and will reach out in the future when she’s able to pay for therapy).  Some people call this flirting. Others call it sexual harassment. Here’s what it’s not: Clinical transference.

You need to be in a clinical relationship to have this type of transference. Short of that qualifier, her comments aren’t that different than making catcalls to a woman on the sidewalk (though admittedly more classy).

So here’s the takeaway: Don’t bullshit yourself. If you’re flirting, call it what it is. Own it. Take personal responsibility for it. But don’t tell yourself stories. And if you’re going to play games, I’m definitely not the shrink for you.

The Gift of Asking For Help. Why We Resist – And Shouldn’t.

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Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

I am both amazed at how resistant humans are to ask for help – and guilty of it. Who can blame us? We live in a society that places enormous value on self-sufficiency and on taking personal responsibility (likely to be my Ted Talk topic one day). Just walk into a bookstore (if you can find one) and compare the amount of space dedicated to self-help in comparison to other topics. It’s not called the “Ask For Help” section. And if you’d been a fly on the wall of my living room during the month of July when my niece lived with me, you would have witnessed a familiar dialogue between us:

Her: Aunt Darcy, how do you [insert question here]?

Me: Google it.

It’s not that I didn’t want to help. I often knew the answer. But she’s going to college at the end of the summer and I want her to have the skill set to answer her own questions. So in essence, I’m creating the exact double bind in her that I want to address in this post: I want her to have equal ability to solve her own problems and to request help in solving her problems. Here’s why:

Asking for help is vulnerable stuff – and that stuff is the glue that bonds us, that solidifies friendships and attachments. It tells the other person that we trust them enough to show up for us and that we trust our bond enough to make a small withdrawal in the form of a favor. And it gives the person permission to ask for help in return.

Remember the last time you helped someone? Remember how that felt? Every time you don’t ask for help, you rob that person in your life of the opportunity to feel that way.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that we become a society of lazy people who look first to others before doing things for ourselves. But I am suggesting that it’s a balancing act. And when you demonstrate the strengthto ask for help appropriately, it’s actually an act of kindness. And that’s the gift in asking for help.