Growth: Better By Monday

“Tolerating the pain involved in growing; mobilizing yourself toward growth you value and aspire to; soothing your own hurts when necessary, without excessive self-indulgence; supporting rather than berating yourself.” –Dr. David Schnarch

Differentiation, as Muray Bowen described, is the ability to recognize “self” with realistic dependence on others, having thinking which is “rooted in a careful assessment of the facts.” The choices are based on a thoughtful process not a reaction to pressure, it is not pushy or wishy-washy but oriented by a strong sense of self and relation to others.

To be more differentiated is to know yourself very well. Because you know who you are, you know what you accept. This orientation helps you reject being controlled, manipulated, or bullied into a decision by others. It also helps you not over-function for others or be overpowering.

We live in a social context and therefore get to know who we are by the ways we are different from the people around us. An important aspect of differentiation is personal growth, as defined by Dr. Schnarch in the quote at the beginning of this article.

He includes: not avoiding pain (such as the emotional pain of learning you hurt people sometimes), pursuing growth within a belief you value, self-soothing when things don’t go your way but not dropping into a victimized narrative, using positive self-talk instead of harsh criticism.

One Thing to Do: Think about what helps you with your growth goals. Use the following questions to self-assess your hesitancy or readiness to take action towards personal growth.

  1. Is my fear keeping me from taking action?
  2. Am I accountable to myself for the actions I take or don’t take?
  3. Have I let others change my plans?
  4. Does the action I want to take add value to my life?
  5. Can I handle the setbacks which might occur once I take action?
  6. What words can I use to stay realistic and motivated?

 

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

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Growth: Better By Monday

“Tolerating the pain involved in growing; mobilizing yourself toward growth you value and aspire to; soothing your own hurts when necessary, without excessive self-indulgence; supporting rather than berating yourself.” –Dr. David Schnarch

Differentiation, as Muray Bowen described, is the ability to recognize “self” with realistic dependence on others, having thinking which is “rooted in a careful assessment of the facts.” The choices are based on a thoughtful process not a reaction to pressure, it is not pushy or wishy-washy but oriented by a strong sense of self and relation to others.

To be more differentiated is to know yourself very well. Because you know who you are, you know what you accept. This orientation helps you reject being controlled, manipulated, or bullied into a decision by others. It also helps you not over-function for others or be overpowering.

We live in a social context and therefore get to know who we are by the ways we are different from the people around us. An important aspect of differentiation is being able to “hold onto yourself” through personal growth, as defined by Dr. Schnarch in the quote at the beginning of this article.

He includes: not avoiding pain (such as the emotional pain of learning you hurt people sometimes), pursuing growth within a belief you value, self-soothing when things don’t go your way but not dropping into a victimized narrative, using positive self-talk instead of harsh criticism.

One Thing to Do: Think about what helps you with your growth goals. Use the following questions to self-assess your hesitancy or readiness to take action towards personal growth.

  1. Is my fear keeping me from taking action?
  2. Am I accountable to myself for the actions I take or don’t take?
  3. Have I let others change my plans?
  4. Does the action I want to take add value to my life?
  5. Can I handle the setbacks which might occur once I take action?
  6. What words can I use to stay realistic and motivated?

 

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S, LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Intimacy: Better By Monday

“Sex, for instance, is contact par excellence. At its best, two bodies intertwine and two souls join as one. But the sexual encounter can also exemplify non-contact. Two bodies move and touch, but the two souls remain distracted and estranged.”  – Piero Ferrucci

Intimacy (Into me see) can be a shared expression between lovers of self-awareness. To be seen by your partner is to see yourself too. To be safe with yourself, while being seen (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) by your partner, is to offer a safe place for your partner to be seen.

A client and I discussed this idea in session recently. A metaphor using an albino cave-dwelling fish which has lost its sight surfaced during the counseling session. It was useful as a way to understand how someone could be blind to their behavior when it is obvious to others.

The eyesight of the fish hasn’t been used and therefore the capacity for vision in the fish atrophied. The fish still have eyes – they just don’t see anything. I believe we all have a capacity for self-awareness but that it can be lost (atrophy) without regular use. Self-awareness is a kind of inner sight or insight that only I can have about me – the same goes for you.

In Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages the work of developing an identity (Identity versus Role Confusion) comes before the work of intimacy (Intimacy versus Isolation), as life stages, knowing self comes before sharing that knowledge with someone.

When I am important enough to myself to learn all about me, I can see what is important about human beings. Then I can connect with others at a deeper level because my awareness of me makes me more aware of you.

One Thing to Do: Start a self-map. Ask yourself how you think about things. Write down what you think about something interesting to you like; power, poverty, pain, or playing. Then write about how you came to think that way. This helps in discovering the origins of your way of thinking.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Not Do List: Better By Monday

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Steve Jobs

Many of my client’s talk about having a To Do List, for therapy, to achieve personal growth. Talking about dreams, goals, and progress is common in counseling. Adding order to the path a client wants to take makes sense because writing something down can make it feel more present and obtainable. When lists of what a client hopes to accomplish get made – there is an opposing reality that hits.

Sometimes, we don’t move towards the things want on our To Do List because one or more of them oppose things that are on an unwritten “Not Do” list. The Not Do List is short but serious, and it contains a rigid rule or a requirement of loyalty.

Your Not Do List is the one running your choices more than the To Do list can. Because every step you take towards an item on your To Do List is measured by how aligned it is with what is on your Not Do List. Any goal you hope to achieve can’t move against a family/social rule you know not to break.

If Connie has items on her To Do List such as climb a mountain, start weight lifting, and move to Nepal with her best friend; but she fails to pursue the goals, it may be because the Not Do List has an item written on it (from her mother) which sounds like this in Connie’s mind: My loyal daughter will always be here for me. Therefore, she won’t take risks.

Whatever is on your Not Do List may be a rule you have been conditioned never to break. It can be a fear based statement or one which requires loyalty to someone wanting power in your life.

One Thing To Do: Make a list of the goals you hope to achieve in the next ten years. Then ask yourself what would make pursuing those goals most difficult. Go with your first idea and jot down the reason next to the goal. Ask yourself if there is a rule underlying the reason you can’t pursue that goal.

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Your Insight Can be Better by Monday

Better By Monday“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” Henry D. Thoreau may have written this statement to broaden our personal perspective but I am going to make a guess that the miracle he mentioned is to really know difference. Seeing is believing.

What difference would be made if we could see through each other’s eyes?  I hope that instant would be filled with empathy which can make way for simultaneous kindness. That instant feels miraculous whenever it is experienced by both givers and receivers because both are creating space for the reception of difference and self.

I am unable to look at the world from the eyes of someone else but I can listen to how the world looks to someone else without interrupting their gaze. This is the closest to the Thoreau “miracle” as I can get. I get to see life through the eyes of my client while listening to how differently each of them moves through their world – and gets through the pain in their world.

Attending to the perspective of others without mine interfering with their worldview is a skill I learned in my Counseling and Guidance program. I am grateful for this skill every day because it opened my eyes first and my heart followed.  William James wrote, “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall inhabit.”

Listen with the intention of allowing others to share freely and safely without impeding progress or directing the pace or style of their story and hearts open. The peaceful presence you both experience may only last an instant but more of those instances between more people will make a big difference.

One Thing To Do: Listen to someone this weekend without internally narrating the right or wrong of the story. Listen to learn about how that person navigates their world.

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.