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Death of a Cat and the Grieving Process August 2, 2012

Filed under: self awareness — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 4:34 pm

Recently my cat, Jack, AKA Agent Jack Bauer, Black Jack, or BG passed away. Now I have had this cat for a little over thirteen years. We started our relationship in 1998 when he was a little puff of fur and only a few months old. He was a gift from my parents over the Christmas holiday. Now Jack has never been a graceful kitty and to be honest he has been quite an odd cat. When I first got him he would fall of ledges, into toilets, and couldn’t quite make the jump to the bed. I have always found it enduring how I got the one cat that isn’t graceful. Even up until his death Jack was quite clumsy. Another oddity of this cat was he was more like a dog than a cat. He would come up to new visitors and jump on their lap insisting he be pet. He also enjoyed following me around the house. Whenever you turned Jack was there. He was constant in my life and when he died something was missing. I didn’t realize how sad the passing of my little buddy would be. After all he is just a cat right?

This began the process of thinking about grief and how it is continual process. Where death may be primarily reflected in grief it is not the only experience. This reminded me of other losses I have experienced throughout my life. Which include my sister moving away, the death of my father, the ending of a four-year relationship, and the change of several jobs. All of these experiences have brought me pain and sadness, some more than others. Loss and grief take several forms and as the saying goes “the only constant in life is change”. How do we cope with change? Do we allow ourselves the ability to grieve? How do we respond to others grief?

I found myself initially shocked with Jack’s passing. In the last week or so I keep thinking that I see Jack, as if I have forgotten he passed away. Currently I am in the classic denial stage. As Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler have stated there are five stages to grief. Which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is normal to have disbelief at first. It is also normal to go through the stages several times before acceptance. The interesting thing I have learned is that we grief many changes in our lives.  I have found myself in these same stages even when it wasn’t a death.  Do allow ourselves to grieve change?  I would say society encourages us to be “strong” and not succumb to grief. Hence, my initial response, “This is just a cat, why do I feel so sad?”.

What do others do when they experience a loved one grieving? Some of the responses I have include: “You will get a new cat”, “Do you want my cat?”, “A father is supposed to die before his child”, “You will find a new partner”, “Your sister will move back”, and “Time will heal all wounds”. Do any of these sentiments really help when we are in the process of grief? What I noticed in all of these comments is others trying to “fix” the problem.  Is grief about fixing? All I wanted in these moments was someone to listen, hold, and support me. I didn’t need anyone to fix it for me. Why is it that we find it necessary to fix? Can’t we just sit in our grief and be allowed to work through the process.

I encourage my readers to not only allow sit in grief but also provide the comfort for those around them in it. At times of grief nothing needs to be said. All I ever wanted in my times of grief was someone to hear me. Those that were the most comforting were the ones who just sat in grieving process with me.

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When Anxiety is Good May 24, 2012

Filed under: Mental Health,self awareness,Self Care — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 8:35 pm

 

In this blog I am going to argue how ANXIETY can actually be a good thing. One of the things I will often tell my clients is that without anxiety one does not change. It is anxiety itself that forces us to look within to determine that something is making us “uneasy”, “unsatisfied”, “unhappy”, or “stuck”.  It’s the driving force that often results in YOU sitting in my office.  As a therapist I will point out and emphasis areas that I know will increase the anxiety for my clients.  Does this sound contradictory to what a therapist should do? I would argue that it is my responsiblity to create anxiety in the therapy room.  As my role is to instigate change.  You wouldn’t be in my office if you didn’t want to change right?  Okay sometimes some of you want me to change your partner, but that is a completely different blog.  At a later date I can discuss how couples each have their role in a relationship and are equally responsible. But even in couples both will need to change for a more satisfying relationship and again it is anxiety that promotes the change.  if ANXIETY were not driving us we would not feel the need for change.

Now don’t get me wrong I have seen how anxiety can be debilitating and can hold one back.  My goal is for the client to have just enough anxiety to change and not to create anxiety that will result in being stuck or in panic.

What I will say is good anxiety is worrying about something we have control of where troublesome anxiety is worrying about something that we do not have control.  When you have anxiety is it something you can control or is it something you do have not control.  If it is something you can control can you do something about it now and if it is not something you can control can you let it go.

My hope is that my reader will understand that sometimes a little anxiety is good for positive change.  It is often the indicator letting us know something is not making us happy in our lives.

 

When did YOU last care for yourself? February 19, 2012

Filed under: Mental Health,self awareness,Self Care — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 11:14 pm

When did YOU last care for yourself?.

via When did YOU last care for yourself?.

 

When did YOU last care for yourself?

Filed under: self awareness — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 11:12 pm
Tags: , ,

When did YOU last care for yourself?

 

I have started to see a common theme emerge in therapy. Clients ARE NOT caring for themselves. When I reflected farther I realized that even many of my colleagues ARE NOT caring for themselves. This blog is not only for the client but for my fellow therapists. 

We as a society have started to believe that overworking, overachieving, and over functioning are a badge of honor.  I would argue that we are forgetting one of the most essential things, SELF CARE.

I challenge you to stop and reflect….WHEN DID YOU DO SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY FOR YOURSELF.  As I write I stop and reflect on my own life. In the last week I have worked 55 hours  in the office.  In the little time that I have been outside of the office I completed paperwork, organized my room, cleaned the house, did the laundry, and spent some time with friends and family.  So how much time did that leave for ME? Maybe an hour or two, not including sleep. WOW, Even I have fallen into the trap that overworking, over functioning, and over achieving are essential. 

So what happens when we don’t care for ourselves?  The research shows that accumulated stress can lead to physical and mental health problems and isn’t stress the accumulation of overworking, over functioning, and over achieving? As a society we have allowed STRESS TO BE OUT OF CONTROL.  This results in many individuals suffering from physical and mental health problems.  So then you may be asking so how do I correct this?  This is where SELF CARE comes in.  I like to use the image of a tank.  When the tank is full we can give more and provide more to others in our lives.  But if our tank is empty we have nothing to give.  As a result we become crabby, irritable, stagnant, and physically/emotionally sick.  When remember to fill our tanks WE CAN GIVE MORE and as a result we FEEL BETTER. 

I challenge my readers to think of one thing in the next week you can do just for YOU.  I along with you will challenge myself, as my tanks also appear to be close to empty.  Perhaps you and I might just find that when we CAN CARE FOR OURSELVES WE CAN GIVE MORE in our lives.

 

Why You Should Make Mistakes on Purpose November 8, 2011

Filed under: self awareness — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 1:03 am

We can confront our fears by making mistakes intentionally.

Published on November 7, 2011 by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. in Shyness Is Nice

Many of us with social anxiety hold ourselves to unrealistically high standards. We are terribly afraid of making mistakes, somehow believing that perfection is a requirement for being accepted as a worthy member of the human race.

Behaviorally, we can confront our fear of negative evaluation from others by making mistakes intentionally. In Dying of Embarrassment, my co-authors and I listed numerous examples of intentional mistakes, which are shown below. Some of these mistakes might not apply to you; you’ll need to think of mistakes that will target your particular fears. For someone with a fear of trembling in public, purposefully making your hand shake while signing a check would be a useful exposure. Read through the list and make note of any items that apply to you and your fears.

Intentional Mistake Practice List
  1. Trip in front of someone.
  2. Pay for something with the incorrect amount of money.
  3. Drop something (for example, a fork, a coin, your glasses) in front of others.
  4. Order something that isn’t on the menu.
  5. Greet someone by the wrong name.
  6. Ask for directions to a store, department, etc., in which you are already located.
  7. Have your hand tremble when paying for something.
  8. Take more than the allowed number of items allowed to try on in a clothing store.
  9. Underestimate the size of your feet to the shoe salesperson.
  10. Have some part of your clothing appear inappropriate such as a label showing, shirt-tail out, mismatched socks, uncoordinated clothes.
  11. Ask for an item that obviously is not carried by the store you are in.
  12. Ask an obvious customer for information as if he or she worked at the store.
  13. Ask for information or directions and then request that the answer be repeated.
  14. Ask a question of someone and either stutter or speak with an unusual accent or tone.
  15. Attempt to purchase something without having your cash or credit card with you.
  16. Purchase something at Wal-Mart and attempt to pay with your Target card.
  17. Approach and almost enter the wrong restroom in a public place.
  18. Hum or sing so loud that others can hear you.
  19. Order an item and change your mind at least twice.
  20. Greet or say something to someone across the room at a volume that is noticed by the other people there.
  21. Enter a door inappropriately (push when you are supposed to pull or vice versa), push on a door that is locked, try to open the hinged side of a door, etc.
  22. Buy something that you would ordinarily be embarrassed to purchase.
  23. Walk against the flow of traffic, stop suddenly, or in some other way bring attention to your self by how you are walking through the mall.
  24. Have yourself paged on a public address system.
  25. Bump into something.
  26. Tell a store clerk that you’ve lost something and ask if it’s been found.

One of the nice things about mistake-practice is that it doesn’t take a lot of time. These are things that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life. In fact, even if you have basically overcome your social anxiety, you can maintain your gains by doing mistake-practice on a routine basis. This keeps you from drifting back into your old perfectionistic beliefs that making mistakes will automatically lead to some kind of disapproval. What you learn is this: Most people don’t notice your mistakes. But, if they do, you can handle it.

Copyright 2011 Barb and Greg Markway

 

 

Mindfulness October 8, 2011

Filed under: self awareness — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 1:28 pm

Some people do not know the difference between mindfulness and concentration. They concentrate on what they’re doing, thinking that is being mindful. . . . We can concentrate on what we are doing, but if we are not mindful at the same time, with the ability to reflect on the moment, then if somebody interferes with our concentration, we may blow up, get carried away by anger at being frustrated. If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration. With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate not to do so.
Ajahn Sumedho

 

The Lotus Flower in Relation to Therapy October 7, 2011

Filed under: self awareness — Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT @ 11:22 pm

The Lotus Flower grows in the deep mud, far away from the sun. But, sooner or later, the Lotus reaches the light becoming the most beautiful flower ever.

The Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition: even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.  (original from Suite 101:  May 7, 2010: Thais Campos: http://thaiscampos.suite101.com/the-symbolic-meaning-of-the-lotus-flower-a234559).

The Lotus flower grows out of some of the dirtiest waters.  It originally forms in the muck and the mud before it pushes its blossoms above the dirty water.  Even at night the blossoms will close and the flower will sit below the water until the next day when the sun rises.   The Lotus has symbolized the process of self-awareness and enlightenment.  To meet self-awareness one must move through suffering before joy can be found.  I have found that the therapy process parallels the growth of the lotus flower.  To reach self-awareness one must move through the “mud” and “dirty water” before the “light” above can be seen.  

The therapy process starts in the “mud”, looking at the aspects of our lives that we have avoided and are unaware.    During the process of therapy the seeds of growth are found.  The therapist and client “fertilize” these seeds to grow.  Upon growth the self can push through the darkness and find full consciousness.  When full consciousness and awareness are made one can become in touch with the true self.  Through therapy one can reach his or her own enlightenment.  This provides the individual, couple, or family with the tools to comfort and care for the relationship or self.  But like the lotus flower one can never be constant in the light, one will dip under the dirty water.  But with the tools learned in therapy one can pull oneself back into the light, much like the cycle of the lotus flower.