Supplemental Material: “Safe People”

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional with reading supplemental material outside of the therapy session. In my clinical work, I often suggest books, movies, video clips, and music to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles. I do not receive any benefits for sharing this supplemental material on my blog.

Title of Material: Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for you and Avoid those that Aren’t by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Type of Material: Self-help Book for teens to adults

How to Access it: Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for you and Avoid those that Aren’t is available for purchase on Amazon and numerous book stores. I also suggest checking your local library for hard or audio copies of this material.

Publisher’s Book Synopsis: “Too many of us have invested ourselves into relationships where things have gone wrong. You may have experienced being judged, manipulated controlled, or worse. The impact of being with an unsafe person can be damaging to your confidence, your trust in others, and even your health. And what’s more, we either repeat the same mistakes of judgment over and over, or else simply give up on trying to have great, authentic relationships again. We get busy instead. Why do we choose the wrong people to get involved with? Is it possible to change? And if so, where does one begin? Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from family to friendship, romance and work. They help identify the healthy and growing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize twenty traits of relationally untrustworthy people and discover what makes some people relationally safe, as well as how to avoid unhealthy entanglements. You’ll learn about things within yourself that jeopardize your relational security, and you’ll find out how to develop a balanced approach to relationships.”

How I learned about this material: This book was mentioned numerous times throughout my Masters program as material frequently referred to with clients.

Why I suggest this material: Building strong, supportive relationships makes a huge impact on my clients during their journey through therapy but having that kind of relationship isn’t a given. I have personally been impacted by this material and believe it reveals a lot of truths about who is safe and who is not.

Who may benefit: Anyone who is relationship with another person. Seriously, anyone.

 

 

Supplemental Material: “Braving the Wilderness”

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional with reading supplemental material outside of the therapy session. In my clinical work, I often suggest books, movies, video clips, and music to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles. I do not receive any benefits for sharing this supplemental material on my blog.

Title of Material: Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Type of Material: Self-Help Book

How to Access it: Braving the Wilderness is available for purchase on Amazon and numerous book stores. I also suggest checking your local library for any of my resources.

From Brene’s Website: “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness in both being a part of something, and standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”

How I learned about this material: Brene Brown’s work has been incredibly impactful in my personal life. Her work is authentic, direct, and real in a beautiful way. I strongly suggest all of her written material to clients, family, and friends.

Why I suggest this material: I believe very confidently that we are social creatures, created to live life in meaningful connection. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. Braving the Wilderness outlines four personal practices of belonging that push the boundaries of what we’ve been taught through our families, social structures, and culture. True belonging asks us to be vulnerable, take risk, and be brave. I suggest this material because she communicates the how and the struggle in a way that encourages readers to step into the unknown with hope.

Who may benefit: Those who feel that their relationships lack a sense of safety and authenticity; those who would like to be apart without sacrificing who they are and pretending to be someone they are not.

 

 

Motherhood in the Wilderness

When I was in the 6th grade, my class went to a nature retreat for the weekend. The intention of this retreat was to teach us wilderness survival skills: how to start a campfire, read a map, find the north star, identify dangerous plants, etc. Heading up north, I felt pretty confident about my abilities as I am a lifetime tent camper whose mom was her girl scout leader. Even with all my experience, however, when dropped off in the middle of the woods with a friend and a compass, I got seriously lost. So lost that when we finally found our way out of the forest, we were over 30 minutes late to the “meet up” and they’d already sent out throngs of adults to look for us. We had whistles to alert camp staff to our location, but we’d gone so far away, they couldn’t hear. And honestly, that was not the last time I would get lost in the woods while holding a compass and blowing a whistle.

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been lost in a forest but it is a strange experience. One minute you’re enjoying a peaceful stroll down the unbeaten path, the next minute you’re feeling a cold tingle down your spine and the thought pops into your head: “I have no idea where I am right now.”

My personal experiences as a mother and a lost hiker are alarmingly similar. Most days I feel confident about my ability to successfully lead my children through the day unscathed and dressed in pants and shirts that actually match, then there are other days where I feel out of my depth, even with a few solid parenting tools. Where is that damn whistle?!

Then you add the additional pressure of a job to get to, a house to clean, meals to make, and a partner to snuggle; motherhood becomes more like running through the forest being chased by a bear, you dropped the compass a mile ago, somehow you managed to step in a puddle of mud so your feet are wet and dirty, and you’re developing a side cramp.

And there’s bees.

But no whistle.

Let’s be real: motherhood is amazing and it can be tough. One moment you’re being smothered by kiddo kisses, the next you’re scraping poop off of numerous surfaces. They love you. They hate you. The scream, “go away” and “come back” in the same breath. And this doesn’t even begin to tap into the guilt we feel when we’re trying to get some extra work done as they ask us: “Hey Mom, can you help me with my homework?”. Or the guilt we feel for cleaning our house instead of sending that email or writing that report. You stay up way past your bedtime just to finish the last of the day’s tasks…tasks which never end, they are simply completed for a moment then return to the top of the list the next day. Sure, we have tools to help guide us through but sometimes when we’re tired, stressed, and our teenager just got sent home from school for behavioral issues, tools don’t seem to cut it. Exhaustion, annoyance, and frustration can creep in and make an already challenging day feel isolating and hopeless.

Whatever the age and number of your children, whatever work you do, in home and out, whether you do it alone or with a partner, whether you buy all organic and cook your meals from scratch or hit up the Chik-Fil-A drive thru more than you’d like to admit: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Many of us are stumbling through motherhood like a lost hiker in the wilderness, hoping that we find someone else who can help us trudge through the remainder of our journey.

As a clinician, one of the most impactful things I’ve observed in a client’s journey of change is their support system: the larger and more connected it is, the more movement they experience in a shorter amount of time. If this post struck a chord in you, I’d encourage you to take some time to self-reflect: why do you feel this was impactful to you? How do you feel you’re doing as a person, as a partner, as a parent, or as a friend? Have you felt a little lost and alone lately? Do you have a support system that you can tap in to for companionship in your own journey? For me, when I’ve felt my most alone, I reach for those who will sit with me in my hopelessness and just be present. If you read this paragraph and thought, “Well, I don’t have a support system to lean in to”, I would encourage you to look for a local mom’s group. Often times they can be found by searching on social media, calling local churches and community organizations, or even contacting a local mommy and baby store.

If you are local to Kansas City,  a fellow therapist, Teressa Thurwanger, and I are hosting a workshop for mothers titled Motherhood in the Wilderness. If you’d like to join us, you can sign up here! Want more information about this workshop? Check out the information page on my group website for additional info or contact me through the contact page.

Was this piece impactful for you? Feel free to leave a comment! I welcome comments on my posts and encourage open, respectful and purposeful dialogue. I reserve the right to delete comments that insult, degrade, or shame other commenters.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

My Mommy Moment

Today began a lot earlier than I thought it would. My toddler woke up to the sounds of my teacher husband getting ready for work. Teachers start their day pretty early. I should have walked straight to the french press, but got caught up in toddler breakfast, then the next thing and the next thing and then the next.

About two hours into our morning, I felt frustration as tightness in my chest and instinctively shouted at the top of my lungs. This scared my daughter, obviously, and suddenly I was back in the present, drowning in shame for losing my cool. It hit me: I had spent so much time regulating my daughter’s emotions that I neglected my own. So rather than stay in the house, battling it out all day, I decided we would go on an adventure. When I started backing my vehicle down the driveway, I had no idea where we were going to go, but I knew it needed to be outside and involve coffee.

After making a split second decision, we headed to Parkville, MO, to walk around downtown. Having only been to Parkville a handful of times, I wasn’t incredibly confident in my decision, but I knew there was a coffee shop and a playground.

We walked up and down the streets, learned a little about trains, met a few new people, and I got my glass of iced coffee. She held my hand as we walked along the sidewalk and she listened when I told her she needed to stay close. When we braved an antique shop, the only time she struggled to listen to me was when she saw a package of gum. She didn’t climb on any of the furniture or pick up any breakable items. She honored our family rule: use only one finger to touch.

By the end of our adventure, I knew that I’d made the right decision in getting us out of our home and in a new environment. I needed a change of scenery to help me regulate my own stress and internal, shame-filled, dialogue. I needed a cup of coffee to take a deep breath. I needed a space that allowed me to get centered again so that I could connect and parent in a meaningful and intentional way.

My reason for sharing my story is this: as parents we sometimes forget our own needs because of the needs of our children. As much as I’d like to think that doesn’t impact my ability to parent my daughter, sometimes it does. There are times when I can white-knuckle it to bedtime but some days I can’t. Taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my children.

If you’ve experienced a parenting moment like this one: I HEAR YOU! Take some time to consider how you process your own emotions. Is it pretty easy for you to do manage your own anxiety in the moment or is it challenging? If you’d like more information on how to develop greater awareness around your own personal emotional landscape, I’ve written an article that may be helpful to you: Just Do the Dishes: Self-Awareness.

Was this piece impactful for you? Feel free to leave a comment! I welcome comments on my posts and encourage open, respectful and purposeful dialogue. I reserve the right to delete comments that insult, degrade, or shame other commenters.

Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash