Tools & Techniques
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
When you are struggling with symptoms related to depression and anxiety there are several things you can do to manage these symptoms. In this section I will give you tools and techniques that can address your:
· Repetitive negative self-talk which may make you feel anxious and shameful
· Low self-esteem which keep you stuck repeating old patterns of behavior
· Inability to set healthy boundaries and have the kinds of relationships you desire
If you resonate with any of these struggles, you may benefit by completing one (or all) of these exercises.
Once you have completed these exercises, read The Power Hour (scroll to the bottom) which is a great tool to use when you need motivation to accomplish a big goal.
Combating Your Negative Self-Talk
Any habitual pattern of thinking is called a belief and beliefs determine how you respond to your perceived reality. Most of your core beliefs were formed when you were a child. This is because when you were a child you were unable to understand reason and, at the same time, were completely dependent on others. This combination puts us in a place of vulnerability which can greatly affects how we see certain situations.
We all struggle with a number of irrational beliefs about ourselves and the world. The most common ones are:
· If I don’t please people they may choose to reject me.
· I must always be completely competent and perfect in everything I do.
· I am not pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough…essentially I am not enough.
Here are some questions that I ask clients to help them begin to think about their own irrational beliefs. I recommend getting a journal or notebook and writing out your answers to these questions. Journaling is a powerful way to begin the process of getting your irrational thoughts out of your head. Once your thoughts go from the internal to the external you are able to examine and understand your thoughts in a new way.
1. First take an inventory of all of your beliefs about yourself.
2. Which ones are leftover from your childhood?
3. What is the basis of your current beliefs about yourself? Why are you maintaining these beliefs?
4. How does maintaining these beliefs serve you now?
Improving your Self-Esteem
The longest and deepest relationship you will have in your life is with yourself. It is amazing how kindly we treat other people all the while we talk negatively to ourselves. If you want to start feeling better about yourself, first you need to talk to yourself differently.
1. First begin to notice your thoughts. We have a thousand different thoughts each day. It is impossible to notice every single one but try and catch yourself when you notice your thoughts become negative or self-critical.
2. Tell yourself “stop.” (Probably best to do this in your head.) Don’t let these thoughts take anymore space up in your head.
3. When you hear yourself using the word “should” replace it with “could.” Your negative self-talk says you “should” do many things. “Shoulds” are based on what you think or assume other people think you should do.
4. We all fail but we are not failures. Mistakes, slip-ups, errors both big and small are a part of life and is what makes us human. These mistakes are not who we are as people. When you make a mistake, learn from it and let it go, don’t let it define how you see yourself.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries can be a very tricky thing. If your boundaries are too strict you risk never letting anyone near you and may miss out on authentic love, friendship and truly being seen. If your boundaries that are too loose you may feel taken advantage of, easily manipulated or let people into your life that wreak havoc and create stress.
Every new relationship we enter into, we need to set limits and boundaries. As we get to know someone we may decide to let down these boundaries or may create stronger boundaries to protect ourselves.
You cannot assume that others will be able to recognize your personal boundaries. There will be many times when you will have to be explicit and communicate your boundaries with others. If you do not communicate your boundaries with others, they will not be effective.
The first step is always to first determine your own personal boundaries. What are you comfortable with? Your boundaries are rooted in your personal value system. For example, you know that exercising 3x a week in the morning helps you feel calm, stress-free and productive. If a colleague wants to schedule a weekly meeting during your workout time, you have to decide if you are willing to give up that time for work. It may feel like the “right” thing to do to put work first but it is not honoring your value of good health – both physical and mental. By setting a limit with your colleague you are communicating with them that your exercise time is too valuable to give up. You can then ask your colleague if there are any other times that are available to meet that do not interfere with this time.
Here is an exercise you can do to begin setting your own boundaries:
1. Make a list of new boundaries you would like to incorporate into your life. Which ones would you like to establish right now?
2. Who is violating these boundaries?
3. Brainstorm the best way to establish your boundaries and, this is the hardest part, talk to that person about how you feel and what you would like to see change. For example you may decide to say something like, “name-calling is no longer acceptable to me. Will you please stop calling me a klutz, it hurts my feelings.”
4. Come up with alternatives to offer to those who are violating your boundaries. In the example above, you can suggest another time for the work meeting.
5. Make a direct request of others to respect your boundaries. I suggest starting with one boundary at a time, the easiest first with the person that you are 99.9% sure will respect and understand it and then work your way down the list. When you are learning a new skill it is always best to start with the easy ones, early success will give you the confidence to keep going and tackle the harder ones.
6. If someone persists on violating your boundaries you have the choice to terminate the relationship or walk away.
THE POWER HOUR: A SIMPLE WAY TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS
The Power Hour is a tool I suggest to clients who are struggling to accomplish a goal that feels too overwhelming and they struggle with feeling they have no time to focus on it.
The Power Hour is a structured hour you set aside for yourself each day when you work towards a particular goal. For example if you are in a job you are dissatisfied with but feel the idea of looking for another job or even trying to figure out your next career feels overwhelming, I would recommend “the power hour.” When we think about working towards a new goal the feeling can be overwhelming. We just want to get to the finish line and not have to deal with all of the difficult and mundane parts of accomplishing a goal.
The power hour is a way for you to begin to get a handle on those goals by setting a time limit each day that will move you one step further each day. There is a beginning and an end. It can feel overwhelming when you think about sitting down to work on a big goal. The best way to mentally wrap your mind around it is to break it up in small increments and do those increments consistently. The power hour will help you:
1) Carve out time for yourself and your goals
2) Break up your goals into small manageable increments, which will reduce your stress and make you feel more in control of your time and ultimately your future
3) Help you commit to working towards goals on a daily basis
For some of you the idea of finding an hour will feel like an impossible task. There are always aspects of our lives that will get in our way of accomplishing our goals. Maybe one day you get stuck in traffic or an emergency comes up, don’t abandon the power hour all together, let it become the power 45 minutes or the power ½ hour.
The goal of the Power Hour is not to write 10 pages of the great American novel each day or figure out every aspect of your life in this short amount of time. It is the practice of putting yourself first, managing your time more effectively and make a commitment to yourself.
If you found any of this helpful and want to learn more tools and techniques, feel free to contact me today for a FREE 1/2 hour phone consultation.