DBT Skills for the Holidays

Join us Monday nights at 7 pm CST to discuss DBT Skills and their adaptations for all those uniquely fun holiday triggers!

Head over to the THRIVE TOGETHER 2020 Facebook group to join!

DBT Skills for the Holidays Series 2020 Schedule

💥November 16 – Vulnerability Factors🍻

🧠November 23 – Cope Ahead💪

💵 November 30 – Financial Cope Ahead 💲

🙀 December 7 – Emotional Overload, Values Driven Time Management & Self Care⏰

🎁 December 14 – Expectations, Black/White Thinking & The Middle Path 🛣

✉️ December 21 – DEAR MAN 📜

🥺December 28 – Post Christmas Blues😞

I’ll also be doing random drop in topics on substance use triggers, boundaries with families, adapting traditions for COVID, and MORE!!!

So come join us. HERE ⬇️

Previous weeks videos are still up! Plus there’s a totally bomb free workbook download to go with it! That you can grab HERE ⬇️

#dbtskillsfortheholidays #BPDawareness #Depression #anxiety #ptsd #cptsd #trauma #healing #recovery #cyclebreakers #dbt #neabpd #holistic #mentalwellness #skillfulliving #holidaytriggers #family #intepersonalskills #dearman #copeahead #thrivetogether2020 #transformationcoach #middlepath #dialectics #emotions #emotionregulation #brainhacks #dialectical #mindfulness #mindfullife #intentionalliving #yourbestlife #lifeworthliving #blogger #freedbtvideos #connection #growth #rethink

Weighted Blanket for the Win

Sleep – a physiological state of rest during which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes are closed / postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness is suspended.

Ask anyone who struggles with depression, anxiety or PTSD about their sleep quality and they’ll likely disclose a litany of issues:

Insomnia – difficulty with falling or staying a sleep

Nightmares – frightening & unpleasant dreams

Sleep terrors – episodes of screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep – often are paired with sleepwalking, interacting without conscious awareness

Fatigue – a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and reduces your energy, motivation and concentration

Sleep disturbances and mental health issues go hand in hand.

The processes that occur during sleep are similar to those a phone or computer goes through when you power it off to restart. When we are asleep our brain codes memories – basically moving experiences from short to long term storage and freeing up space for new experiences to be stored the next day.

When we don’t get enough sleep (or the right type of sleep), then our brains become overloaded with old data. This leads to slower processing – just like that old overloaded desktop! In sleep deficit we are more prone to confusion, brain fog, + getting stuck in thought loops. We have less psychic energy to commit to our sympathetic (fight/flight) and parasympathetic (emotion regulation) nervous systems.

Of course if you aren’t sleeping well, it makes a lot of sense that you then struggle to control your anxiety during the day or find pleasurable activities no longer appealing (hello depression!).

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I I have a fairly reactive nervous system. It takes very little stimuli to catch my attention plus it takes my body a long time to down regulate from awake to sleep states. Sleep has always been a struggle for me. I remember being 5 years old and laying in bed for hours at night telling myself stories to try to get to sleep. The slightest of noises and I was wide eyed and fully awake.

I received my first weighted blanked for Christmas 3 years ago. Let me tell you – it was a game changer immediately for me! The first night I got the most amazing deep night of sleep I had ever had. And then it just kept happing, night after night after night.

The feeling of being encompassed in weigh is incredibly soothing. The pressure allows my hyper alert system to feel safe enough that it can down regulate. I fall asleep quicker (15 minutes vs 2.5 hours), enter deeper sleep states & it helps me easily get back to sleep after a mid-night run to the bathroom.

Last week, I snagged my original blanket on the edge of the bed releasing a cascade of tiny glass beads. This was the second time I had ripped it recently and this one was beyond patching. Even with Prime, it took a couple of days for my replacement to arrive. Those nights were awful!! I was immediately reminded of the horrific sleep quality I had lived with for years.

Most retailers recommend choosing a blanket that is between 8-12% of your body weight. My initial blanket 12%, I actually ordered up to 13.5% (22lb) on my replacement and have to admit it’s probably a tiny bit too heavy. You want it to be enough that you feel the benefit of the pressure, but not so much that you feel smother or claustrophobic underneath it.

Bonus – recently weighted blankets have become mainstream & way more affordable (like 40% of what they cost a couple years ago)! Target, Wal-mart, Bed Bath & Beyond all stock them in store, there are plenty of places to find them online or if you’d like to support small check out Etsy for hand crafted ones.

Chronic sleep disturbances are a common problem of 21st century life. Weighted blankets are one of my favorite holistic approaches to symptom management. I recommend it to all my new clients during our intake process. When you can regulate your sleep, it is so much easier to gain control of your emotions and build a values centered life.

Do you have a weighted blanket? How has it helped your sleep patterns? What other non RX approaches do y’all use to improve sleep quality? Drop your tips in the comment section below!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Mindfulness as an Ever Evolving Practice

On a mission to retrieve an Amazon package the other day, I noticed these exquisite butterfly wings amongst the leaves on my porch.

In that moment, the end of this lovely being’s life had profound meaning to me. I felt connected to the entirety of the universe and the cycles of life/death & metamorphosis. In this moment I understood life.

I immediately recognized this acute awareness as the experience of a level of wise-mind that I had previously only conceptually understood. This is what it means to belly fully connected to the universe, in the present moment, on purpose and without judgment!

In DBT wise mind is the state of mind we strive towards. Wise mind requires the integration of both emotional and logical data to make the most effective decisons . It is a similar concept to intuition in that it is your truest sense of knowing. It can also be seen as the perception of your ancestors through your eyes devoid of societal conditioning.

In that moment, my wise mind felt stronger than ever.

They say a mindfulness practice is a lifelong journey.

From a biological standpoint, mindfulness is our default state of being. Unfortunately… We live in a society that glorifies multitasking & the grind. From birth on we are exposed to technology, advertising and all sorts of outside grabs for our attention. Over time our brains become shaped to only hold focus for short periods of time and to bounce rapidly between different topics. Simply because we’re more malleable as consumers (and thus more profitable for capitalism) when we aren’t focused on the here & now.

So how does one get started on the pack bath to mindful being? A mindfulness journey commences with the adaptation of beginners mind. Beginners mind is a willingness to approach things with the curiosity of a child. To accept that there are skills and knowledge deficits within you. To expect that you will need to exert energy and invest time to see measurable gains in this skillset.

The first step is to practice awareness. To make the transition from mindless, automatic living to deliberate, mindful engagement we must first become aware of the times when we aren’t present. We must practice observation of our thoughts, sensations & emotions to be able to notice that we are not currently on the mindful path. Bringing our attention to our internal experience, and practicing the process of labeling these things non-judgmentally is a good first step.

Pay attention to times when you feel stuck – in thought loops, emotional crisis or relational patterns. Being stuck is a symptom of a living in autopilot.

When you first begin practicing mindfulness it’s all about developing your observe and describe skills. The more you practice them the more you strengthen the neural pathways associated with mindful living. Instead being tossed in the winds of your emotions and thoughts – you gain control by bringing awareness to your internal states. When you notice and label thought loops that are occurring, you also begin to snip those old neural pathways they depend upon to control you.

In the beginning, being present can feel completely foreign. It is not typical for us to focus our attention solely on the moment at hand. With practice it becomes easier to access your wise mind and live in the moment. It is an ever changing journey – with clear cut final destination. No matter how long we have practiced – there will always be room for gaining more skill or a deeper understanding.

Where are you on your mindfulness journey? Is Observe & Describe part of your daily routine? When do you find it most helpful? I’d love to hear from you!

For more mindfulness tips, authentic connection & non-judgmental support check out the Thrive Together 2020 FB Group http://www.facebook.com/groups/thrivetogether2020.

Love & Light,
Jamie

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Looking Back – It’s All in Your Perspective

My 31st birthday was this weekend. Birthdays are always a time of reflection for me & thanks to technology (Facebook memories) its a point in the year that I always have lots of past data to reference back to. Looking at pictures from my 25, 29 & 30 birthday all brought back memories of a very different Jamie.

By all accounts the last two years have been the toughest and worst of my life. On Saturday, I caught myself spiraling into a pretty deep depression. I have nothing to show for the almost 4 years since I left the DBT Center. What is wrong with me? Why haven’t I accomplished anything? My self loathing critical voice was in full swing.

But after attending to it for a bit, I started to realize something. I have accomplished so much in this time. It just wasn’t what I was expecting to accomplish. And it sure as hell hasn’t been pretty.

At 25, I had earned the life I always thought I dreamed of. I finished my Master’s degree and landed a prestigious private practice position without having to do years inpatient or community clinic work. I loved the client population I specialized in, I loved my team, I loved getting dressed & driving into town for work.

In my mind, I had made it.

But 3 years into the job, I still struggled with imposter syndrome. My own anxiety greatly fluctuated with the demands of my clients and the CYA approach to managing suicidal patients. I had everything I had ever worked for, and yet I still wasn’t happy.

So when my then fiancé’s son came to live with us unexpectedly, I walked away to raise a child. That relationship has since ended and that was obviously not the path for me. But I realize now it was the needed catalyst for what became a prologued period of self examination.

In the time since then, my life has looked like a dumpster fire. But that’s what people who are actively in trauma work often look like. I spent a full year having night terrors. The cumulative lack of sleep alone was enough to prevent me from being able to build a steady life.

Once I opened the door to the work, I was in it full on & it took two full years of my life from me. I can tell, I’m closing up the wounds and beginning to move on. But I’m depleted from the work. Depleted from the embarrassment of what my life has looked life. Depleated from being unable to hold the type of full time job I trained for 8 years to do.

Some days it is hard to have hope – I just see how empty my coffers are. But I try to look at it from a positive perspective. The last two years have drained me. For sure. They have also made me stronger in ways I could never have expected to experience.

In this time, I did my trauma work. And if that is all I can say I accomplished for two years – that is OK. That is more than enough! Especially, since I believe that by doing this work I am creating the foundation for a beautiful life.

I know that I am different. I know how to find peace and contentment in myself. That is a skill that some never find.

My career has suffered. But money isn’t the be all end all for me. I believe that the lessons taken from this time have made me more capable of being a sherpa on my own clients’s journeys. So it is my responsibility to not get bogged down in self-shaming for my lack of “success.”

So for those of you in the trenches of your own work, I want to encourage you not to discount the WINS you are making. I know how long the war is, and that the little battles won may not feel like much. But I promise you the other side is worth all of the tears and pain along the way.

Stay strong in your journey &
remember it is always the hero who faces the greatest trials!

Namaste,
Jamie

Why Can’t I Bury My Head in the Sand? Willfulness, Willingness & Radical Acceptance

Last Wednesday I received news that I felt completely unprepared to handle.  Since then, I’ve spent a good bit of time stewing in a sea of negative emotions.

In an attempt to balance out those emotions, I’ve also focused my meditations this week on the concept of willingness.  In DBT, the willfulness/willingness dialectic is part of Radical Acceptance Skill.  This is a distress tolerance skill – and usually one of the most bemoaned when taught in class.  

Are you kidding me – you want me to practice acceptance in the middle of an emotional crisis? How the hell am I supposed to do that?

 First question I get – without fail.

And it’s true – the absolute last thing we want to do is ACCEPT when things aren’t going our way.  Willfulness is the opposite of acceptance. It is an unwillingness to see the moment for its truth or to engage with the facts.

For example – here’s what my initial (willful) reaction looked like:

This can’t be happening!!!!
My plate is already full – I can’t handle something as significant as this right now.
I knew what was going on – and this isn’t it!

All statements of complete non-acceptance.  I was fully prepared to engage in my favorite skill borrowed from the ostrich – bury my head in the sand and just hope the danger will go away. For a good long while.

ALAS!! This is not an effective technique – nor one I’d recommend.  Because let’s face it, problems tend to grow when we ignore them and pretend like they don’t exist.

Acceptance is the first step in problem solving.  We have to admit things aren’t going our way before we can even begin to formulate a plan on how to change them.   Willingness allows us to engage in the process that comes next.

So how do we handle non-acceptance and willful thinking?  DBT suggests these 4 steps:

  1. Use OBSERVE & DESCRIBE to label willfulness when it comes up.  Take a non-judgmental stance towards it & stick to the facts of the situation.  It could be as simple of a statement as Right now I don’t want things to be how they arethis is my willfulness.
  2. Practice ACCEPTANCE that you are currently in a state of willfulness.  Again, focusing on that non-judgmental perspective (it doesn’t do you any good to beat yourself up).  Willfulness is a valid emotion, and when we experience it there is a reason.  It just usually is not an emotion that leads to us being more effective.
  3. Actively TURN THE MIND towards acceptance.  Write down your personal acceptance mantra.   Each time you find willfulness sinking in, say your mantra out loud or in your head.  This is a repletion-based skill – expect to do it over and over. 
  4. Open up physically.  Use HALF-SMILE, WILLING HANDS, and correct posture.  By changing your physical stance, you are signaling to your brain that you are engaging the behaviors of willingness. 

By making the journey from non-acceptance to acceptance I’ve been able to gain a broader understanding of the situation.  To see the dialectic that in all situations there can be both good and bad.  I’m facing something I wasn’t prepared to face.  And yet, I believe that I can come out stronger on the other side.  Maybe this bit of bad news was the catalyst I have been waiting for in regard to some necessary personal growth.  

As with many of the DBT skills, it’s much simpler to talk about acceptance then it is to practice acceptance in the moment (especially when emotions are high). However, it is often the skill that best allows us to move out of a loop of negative emotions. The more attached you are to your willfulness, the harder it is to let go. Expect to use turning the mind A LOT!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

mindfulness, emotions, dialectical behavior therapy, counseling, DBT, borderline personality disorder, narcissist, distress tolerance skills, radical acceptance,

Walking the Middle Path during COVID-19

March 11th was the last day my life resembled normal. On March 12, I worked my final shift at my event gig, but the city was beginning to go into lockdown and a whopping 3 people showed up.

In the 7 weeks that has passed, life has been both everything and nothing like what I would have expected it to be. For me it has been a time full of unique challenges, anxiety, stressors, mindfulness, and growth. I had expected to write daily during all this (what else is there to do when you live alone?). Instead I have found myself struggling with focus and attention more than I have in years.

At first I was angry with myself. I kept thinking “The world has slowed down, this is your chance. Take advantage of this time and make something of it for your brand.” But that has not been where my heart or my brain has been.

Like many of my clients, the psychological effects of months of uncertainty doubled with the financial impact of the world shutting down has been triggering for my trauma sensitive brain.

From a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs standpoint – its hard to work on actualization goals when your brain is stuck in survival mode.

Logically I know I am safe, and we will get through this. I’ve still had to pull out all my DBT skills to get through this time with some level of sanity. Mindfulness, meditation, check the facts(hard to do when no-one can agree on what is truth), distraction, self-soothe, radical acceptance, the list goes on. I’ve relied more on Distress Tolerance this month than in the preceding 5 years.

The one skill I keep coming back to is Walking the Middle Path. This is a time more than ever where this skill is applicable. Some days I’m really productive. Some days I watch netflix for 10 hours straight. (My binge of this has been The 100 – I highly recommend). But the goal is to find a balance – to create some semblance of a normal life and to make small strides while also acknowledging that my brain & spirit are not at 100%.

The key is not to beat myself up for the days that I am unproductive (non-judgmental stance) while still being able to acknowledge the small steps I am making each day towards a better life. I don’t have to come out of this time with exceptional productivity. I do have to come out of it with my sanity.

Throughout I’ve tracked small behaviors that are important to me. I have used this time to build a foundation for some skills I want to make a regular part of my existence. Jogging has been one in particular. But again it’s a middle path approach. Some days I’m not physically able to (this time has re-triggered migraines). I practice self compassion on those days. When the headache does lift, I get back at it (though it usually takes a major internal pep talk). I don’t have to be ready to run a marathon when this is all over, but I would like to be able to call myself a jogger. That means making the behavior at least a semi-regular part of my existence.

Of course the kicker in all of this, is just about the time we settle into our new routines everything changes again. And from what they are predicting it will likely be this way for several cycles as we adapt to this virus over the next 12 -18 months.

So please be kind to yourself during this period. Our brains don’t like being out of their routines. Expect your spirit to have days when it just needs to rest. But also don’t allow yourself to fall into the cycle of doing absolutely nothing either. While rest is good for the soul – too many days of rest just mimics depressive behavior.

Love & light in these trying times,
Jamie

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

DBT Skills for COVID-19

The world is feeling an unprecedented amount of anxiety.

Everyone’s life has been turned upside down.

Many are struggling to deal with negative emotions.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills provide a framework for understanding and managing emotions. So as the world is rapidly changing (and I have felt absolutely zero inspiration to blog at this point), I do feel that I can be helpful in this time by sharing what I know about DBT and how it fits in with our unique emotional needs.

This first video covers Emotion Regulation – Model For Experiencing Emotions. The info graph breaks emotions down into 5 main components, each of which can be “hacked” with a different skill set – giving you a variety of ways to help feel more in control in these trying times.

While I have logged thousands of hours teaching DBT skills, I’ll admit I’m a little rusty currently and I much prefer talking to a live class than YouTube (I bet I’ll feel like a pro by the time this is all over!) So I urge you to focus more on content than presentation (and please be kind). I promise you there’s lots of really helpful info throughout!

My goal (that i’m sharing with y’all for accountability) is to have next video up by Tuesday. Topic –
reducing vulnerability to emotion mind via build mastery skill & behavior/emotion tracking.

Stay safe and sane in these trying times my loves. We’re all in this together, we’re all a little frazzled and anxious. Practice compassion with yourself & others.

#covid-19 #strongerapart #alonetogether #selfquarantine #skills #dbtskills #copingwithcovid #anxiety #emotions #emotionregulation #helpfulhints #lifehack #vulnerabilityfactor #selfcompassion #cognitivedistortion

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Missed Opportunities for Growth

It’s no secret 2019 was not good to me…

I got stuck in a trauma loop,
I felt like the rug got pulled out from under my feet &
I am now in a place of completely rebuilding.

I’m currently two months into my phoenix moment. As I go through my days, I find life presents me with little cues. When strong emotions arise, I look for the connection the the events of the previous year and try to find healing in the current moment.

This morning while jamming to reggaeton on the radio, I realized one of my biggest bummers of the year is a situation where I totally let myself down.

I completely didn’t take advantage of one of the opportunities life offered me!

I have always had a yearning to be bilingual. I’ve got the customary high school & college Spanish courses under my belt and actually have a decent breadth of vocabulary. But education doesn’t make you conversationally capable. Practice does.

Living in Houston, this would have practical benefits for my life as well. There are plenty of opportunities to interact in Spanish on a daily basis & many jobs offer additional pay for bilingual hires.

(Unfortunately with current immigration practices there is also an increased need for bilingual trauma informed therapists to volunteer.)

So why did I not practice my conversational skills the 9 months that I lived with a native speaker?

In the beginning, I let my perfectionism and embarrassment get in the way. I didn’t want this guy who I was head over heels for to think less of me for my pronunciation mistakes.

As the months went by, I let my walls down in so many other ways. I never really did get past this hangup though. And for some reason my goal was no longer important enough to ask for him to help me with.

Maybe it was our dynamic. Everything was so chaotic and intense. On the days when I believed we were always going to be together, I’d tell myself there would be plenty of time later:
Let’s just get settled down in our life.
or
I know we’re going to the family reunion in July, so I’ll ask him to start working with me after the beginning of the year.

Well guess what?!?!? Spring is here. But our relationship is no more…

I squandered an opportunity to acquire a skill that I have always wanted and would have benefited me for the entirety of my life!

Because I was scared to be vulnerable in front of this person I cared for. Because I got consumed by the patterns of an unhealthy relationship. Because I didn’t prioritize my growth. Because I lost sight of me.

In any situation, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Change is the only constant. Let me encourage you today, to take that first step on learning something new.

How amazing would you feel about yourself, if you looked back a year from now and had a 365 days worth of experience doing THE thing? You know, the skill you’ve always wanted but for whatever reason not given yourself the time, education or practice to develop.

9 months would have been more than enough time for a person with my knowledge level to become conversationally fluent. I’m disappointed in myself that I let my insecurities get in the way. I may never have an opportunity to learn so organically again.

I am committing to myself and you guys that I won’t miss out on the next opportunities life gives me – in any arena!

Go out! Be the person! Live the life! Take the chance! Don’t be too scared to ask the person you’re with to help you grow! I’d love to hear what steps you are taking today – drop them in the comment section below 😊

Happy Monday Guys!
🌻Jamie

p.s. Want to know why learning new skills helps fight depression? Check out my Build Mastery to Battle Depression post!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

What kind of change do you need?

Understanding the difference between 1st & 2nd order change.
Originally published January 5, 2019 on jamieschmidtlpc.com

With the New Year upon us, many of us find ourselves in a time of self-reflection and intention setting for the upcoming year. While some find it cliché, I love using the New Year as a distinct starting point for a self-improvement project or two –especially since there a several factors that contribute to it being an ideal time for me to regroup and refocus in on some personal goals.

I come from a traditional southern family. Holidays are big events for us that involve lots of family time, heavy meals, and activities out the kazoo for three months on end. By January, I am always completely out of my schedule and yearning for routine, stability (and meals that don’t involve heavy cream)! I’ve enjoyed the time to play, but I am motivated by the idea of a fresh slate for and ready to create the systems that are going to be most helpful to me this year. 

As I look at my goals for the upcoming year I like to use this time to reflect and refine. Many of my goals stay the same from year to year – make healthy choices for my body and mind, live a life that is in line with my personal values, continue to develop my business in a way that feels authentic and sustainable for me. It is important to spend time assessing what did and didn’t work in the previous year, so that I can adapt my approach for even more success in the upcoming year. For me this means spending time in my journal logging my “Wins” for the year as well as my “Oops!” 

After I’ve got a clear picture of the previous year, I am ready to develop my plan for the upcoming year. When thinking about goals for myself and my clients, I like to borrow Amir Levy’s conceptualization of change used in industrial organizational psychology. When you modify an organization, change can occur in two distinctly different ways – 1st and 2nd order change. I think these concepts also translate to individuals- just think of yourself as your own mini-system. 

First order change involves modification to a current system. Making small changes step by step, to create cumulative differences over time. Think switching a soda for a water, or going for a walk on your lunch break instead of FB scrolling. We know that for many things this type of small swap can be a helpful approach to take. For example, dieters who begin by making small changes are much more likely to stay committed and return to their programs after missteps than those who make crash dietary changes across the board. 

Much of the mental health model and the process of therapy is linked to 1st order change. Therapists and clients work together to make behavioral / cognitive /emotional changes (while processing for insight) in the goal of seeing life improvements over a period of time. Major growth can be achieved this way; however, it can be slow. 

There is also another downfall to this way of adapting. Because we are making small changes to the system at a time, the original foundation is still in place. If we let our guard down, it can be fairly easy to slip back into old patterns and habits we are trying to avoid. Specifically in times of high stress we tend to default to that which we know best (or longest!)

Second order change is more radical – a complete transformation of the system. Like the reality TV show where an expert steps in and helps a business completely restructure over the course of a week. It involves eliminating systems that are ineffective and creating new systems that are specifically tailored to that organization’s needs. It is change that is multidimensional & multicomponent. When fully committed to, 2nd order change can result in a new worldview and experiencing a new state of being. 

Many, many people are looking for big changes in their life. They want a life that is different, more fulfilling, and they can be proud of. AND they want to be able to move forward in such a way that there is no possibility of going back. Most even know the steps they would need to take to get to this dream self. But fear holds them back from fully committing and investing in the changes that would make this possible. If this feels like you, I would encourage you to think about the approach you have been taking. 

Have you found yourself staring at the same list of goals year after year and not making much progress? Or maybe you start the year of great but always fizzle somewhere in the middle? This could be because your first order approach always leaves you vulnerable to old habits and ways of thinking.

Are you willing to do something more dramatic to get the changes you have always wanted? 

We are all capable of radical transformation. Any change we want to make, we can commit to fully and make in a way that it is 2nd order. Due diligence should be spent on research and preparation + finding the right support network to assist in your major transformation. Then it just requires facing fears and trusting that when we make the right decisions for ourselves, the universe will support us and have our backs. 

What would that revolutionary change look like for you? Would it be leaving a job you hate? Maybe ending a relationship that you know is unhealthy? Taking a risk you’ve always dreamed of? What would it feel like next New Year, to be a year into building the life of your dreams? Make 2019 the year of no return!!

Love & Light

Jamie Schmidt, LPC

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Build Mastery to Battle Depression

Yesterday morning I repaired my broken vacuum cleaner.

I purchased it in May of last year & it had quit working in October.  Unfortunately I had lost the receipt during the craziness of last summer.  So even though it was still under warranty, I knew I would have trouble getting it replaced/fixed.  I asked my ex to take a look at it, but he said it just needed to be thrown away. 

On Monday, I used my best DEARMAN skill to email Hoover and ask them to send me a replacement.  They declined.  Bummer!!!😖  A lot of times, the confidence and clarity I can convey with a DEAR is enough to get my needs met.

Life had a better lesson in store for me this week. 😊

Hoover did assist me by sending a list of possible problem-solving techniques.  So yesterday morning I grabbed my screwdriver and went at it.  It took about an hour of my time, and there were 4 different clogs that I had to find.  But find them I did!! 

How proud I was of myself when I plugged it in and saw the dirt whirling in the canister.  I did that!!  I took something that I was told was trash (that the man in my life was unwilling to even attempt to salvage) and made it work.  Plus I saved myself over a $100 on a replacement.

What a surge of pride! I was capable of doing this thing.  All it took was a little bit of research ➕ willingness to get my hands dirty ➕ letting go of my preconceived notions that “fixing appliances is a man’s job”.  

This is what the BUILD MASTERY emotion regulation skill is all about.  Located in the reducing vulnerability to emotions section of the workbook, this skill is about deliberate engagement in activities to raise your sense of self-competence. 

DBT defines Mastery as “doing things that make you feel competent, self-confident, in control & capable of mastering things.” 

As young children we constantly build mastery because life is always presenting us with new opportunities to explore.  As we age though, stagnation tends to sit in.  By our mid twenties many of us have settled into careers & fairly stable lives.  Each day we wake up, follow the routine, and then repeat the cycle the next day.

When we do reach that place where we have finished our formal education, it is important to continue to make learning an important aspect of our lives.  Learning should be fun – a lot of times we forget that because we have experienced so much “forced learning.” We were wired to be curious about our surroundings to want to explore and develop understanding of novel experiences. Plus aquiring new skills across domains can help you increase balance in your life.

Mastery is a major buffer against depression. If you have found yourself in that stagnant space lately, how can you reintroduce mastery to your life?  Maybe it’s starting a new hobby or reengaging in an old favorite that you have let go by the wayside.  The focus is not on learning everything or becoming an expert.  It is all about being able to observe and acknowledge the little wins along the way. 

When we accomplish a task that is hard (especially one that is almost out of our zone of capability) our brains get a boost of all the feel-good chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc.). Combine the bio-hack effects of this with self-esteem gains of mastering something you could not do before – its no wonder this is one of my favorite skills!

When we are engaging in a growth-based life, we are constantly building mastery.  The more capable we feel in our abilities to handle the environment around us, the stronger protective buffer we build for moments when we find ourselves vulnerable. 

I’d love to hear how you’re building mastery in your life today!

Namaste,
Jamie🌻

P.S. After I finish typing this, I’m off to another build mastery task – a Saturday morning bootcamp class I can’t believe I committed to. Wish me luck!! I know it’s going to kick my ass AND I’m going to feel great 💪 about doing it!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey