1 Commitment – 6 DBT Skills

Last February as part of my healing journey, I reached out to a couple of local martial arts studios. Two years into active engagement in my shadow work had brought me to a new level of personal understanding. But I was still struggling to let go of the grip the trauma had on my body.

The Dialectic: I was aware I needed a physical outlet to work through this residual trauma energy AND as a person who has struggled with weight and body image issues my entire life, the gym has never been a place that is comfortable/safe to me. (Though believe me I’ve belonged to quite a few in my never ending quest to gain control over my body!).

I chose a location about a mile from my house based on the vibes I got in response to my email. Years of tuning in & I will say – my wisemind is good at picking up the energy of people who fit in my tribe! So last February I walked into GMA and met Jimmy for my first session.

For the first two months I worked with him, and it was exactly what I needed. A physically draining session where I was expected to show up and do my best. It was hard. And I dreaded going. But I went to every session because that was what I agreed to.

At the beginning of the summer, Jimmy switched things up & I began training with his wife. (I’m pretty sure he was tired of my lack of athleticism😆) Yet again, it was the universe giving me exactly what i needed, when I needed it.

My first session with Hope coincided with the anniversary of my business venture closing the year before and the termination of my relationship with my mentor/business partner (a little cherry on top of that loss sundae).

In my initial email, I had requested to work with a male. It took me until now to realize I had spent that entire year completely closed off to all women in my life. The painful split had been a final straw at the time – the last mentor I’d ever allow to stab me in the back. The easiest way to protect myself – not to trust & not to be vulnerable.

Letting this amazing human being human being in to my life was exactly what my spirit needed. She gave me a safe place to show up and work through my stuff and know that I wouldn’t be judged. It’s what I know works because it’s the same environment I create with my clients And it’s exactly what I needed!

She waited a whole year to pull out the “Kickboxing is Cheaper than Therapy” shirt…
We both got a good laugh. Though my suggestions for a better shirt would be:
Kickboxing is Cheaper & Better for you than Antidepressants!

So how exactly does 1 hobby illustrate the practice of 6 DBT skills?

Build Mastery – Build mastery is the obvious go to for any physical training experience. As adults we have often “mastered” the tasks of our lives and have few actives where we actively work to gain or improve our skillset. As children we are constantly absorbing new information and working to become better. Engaging in the processes of learning and development not only help keep our brain young (neuroplasticity), but can also increase self esteem.

Opposite Action (Anxiety) The action urge typically associated with anxiety is avoidance. The first emotion I experience when walking in any place occupied mainly by “fit people” is anxiety & the easiest way to ease that anxiety is to avoid that environment. Unfortunately that doesn’t get you any closer to your life worth living!! One of the simplest steps to beating anxiety is just to “do the thing” over and over again. I showed up the first time, and then I just kept going even on the days when my thoughts tried to get in the way.

Reducing Vulnerability PLEASE (Exercise) Multiple meta-analysis have concluded that moderate exercise (30-45 min / 4+ days per week) is as effective as antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of depression. Every time we choose to engage in activities that move our bodies, we are taking care of our mental health needs as well.

Values Driven Life Healing is really important to me. I was aware I had stalled in my own work and that I needed a physical way of processing trauma energy. Kickboxing was one of multiple options I had looked into. In the end I chose it because I saw that it was a single behavior that could the largest breadth of positive impact in my life. (Other options had been reiki, acupuncture, massage & ketamine).

Modeling As a mental health coach & consultant, it’s important to me that I not only “talk the talk” but I also “walk the “walk.” I strive to live a life that is healthy, balanced, and wellness focused. Prioritizing physical well-being was especially important last year. I’d be a hypocrite if I sat on these phone sessions and told all my clients to figure out how to take care of their bodies while ignoring my own.

Connection This was a *bonus* benefit I wasn’t really expecting to gain. Which is silly because there are so many similarities between a trainer and mental health coach. We both become actively invested in your life & we want to see you do your best. True connection (when we can be authentic and vulnerable) is the antidote to shame. 2017-2019 had left me bathing in my own shame. This relationship was an important step on the path to me crawling out of the cave of shame I had made home.

That is how it is when we are living a life of alignment!!!! The behaviors we choose and how we invest our time benefits us on multiple levels & across different domains of life. I was looking for a certain outcome when I began this. But I’ve gained so much more than I initially thought because I put myself out there and I stuck with it.

I want to wrap up by encouraging you to do the same. Show up even when it’s scary. Put yourself out there and try things you think would be good for you. And notice how the universe rewards you.

Shameless plug – for y’all who are local to Houston – I highly recommend check out one of the classes at GMA or schedule a session with my girl Hope!

How are you actively engaged in your healing journey? I’d love to hear about it! Share your stories of mastery, connection, opposite action & PLEASE skills in the comments 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

DBT in 5

Introducing my newest project for 2021 – DBT in 5!!

DBT in 5 are short (admittedly slightly longer than 5 but always less than 10 minute) videos. Each video gives a brief (a la Cliff Notes) introduction to the skill.

While I don’t cover the skills in as much detail as I would in a class or individual instruction session, if you’re looking to dip you toe in the water with the skills, this is a great place to start!

I’m going through the skills manual from the very beginning & I will be adding 2 videos each week.

As of 2/1/21 Lessons 1 – 6 are uploaded! Check out the first video below:

Hope y’all enjoy & find them educational / beneficial to your journey.

It would mean the world to me if you liked, shared, subscribed and commented!

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

Functions of Emotions

Why do we have emotions?

Have you ever taken time to ponder that question? Emotions are universal – we all experience them. And yet, they aren’t something we tend to put a lot of thought into.

Unless they are creating problems for our lives. Then we head to the therapist office to unpack our emotions and learn all sorts of fun facts about them.

Like why do we experience emotions? What they do for us from an evolutionary standpoint? What is the difference between primary and secondary emotions? What makes an emotion justified?

All of these questions can be answered factually. DBT provides a simple and straight forward response to each of these questions in the introductory section of emotion regulation. In fact, the first 6 lessons of this section are dedicated to providing a general framework for understanding emotions.

And yet – for the most part the general population remains in the dark when it comes to their emotional experiences. I’ve had client after client sit in my office and say “This is so simple, why didn’t anyone ever explain this to me before?

Why don’t we teach Emotions 101 – say middle school, around 7th grade? Give everyone access to some basic facts about this integral part of the human experience. This way they feel prepared with tools when life hits them with an inevitable “whoop!”

I get it – the American model doesn’t promote preventative care even in the form of basic education. It’s a shame though. I believe it could be a simple way to reduce suffering. Providing students with beneficial factual information about health.

Anyways…. I digress.

Back to my first question. What is the function of emotions?

In DBT we believe emotions have 3 primary funcitons

  1. Emotions motivate us to action. Many emotions set off hormonal reactions in our bodies to prepare us for quick and potentially life saving action. We are wired to respond to some emotional cues before we can even consciously process them – as a way to increase our likelihood of survival.
  2. Emotions communicate to and influence others. We are social creatures. Emotions allows us to participate in the interactions that make up our complex social systems. The most basic emotional expressions (smiling for happiness, frowning when sad) can be found across all humans regardless of cultural exposure.
  3. Emotions communicate to ourselves. Emotions are signals to ourselves that we need to be aware of what is going on. Unpleasant emotions may mean there is an actual threat or they may be a sign we need to adjust our behavior to be in line with our values (or our culture).

Each primary emotion also has a specific evolutionary purpose:

Fear – keep us safe
Anger – motivate us to act/protect
Disgust – protect us from contamination
Sadness – focus on what is important, align actions to values
Shame – maintaining in-group status
Guilt – maintaining values driven behaviors
Jealousy – protect relationships when threatened
Envy – motivates us to work hard to gain
Love – reproduction & survival
Happiness – reinforces behaviors that increase time in optimal functioning

For another beautiful DBT info graph poster : When Emotions Fit the Facts.

#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

If you’re looking for DBT Skills Instruction or DBT Transformation Coaching
head on over to my business site ⬇️

If you’re feeling disconnected and looking for a safe and loving environment to plug-in, join us in the Thrive Together 2020 facebook group. We’re an awesome community of growth minded individuals who support showing up as your authentic self ⬇️

Just Do the Thing

Did you know that humans tend to be fairly inaccurate when predicting future emotional states?

Take anxiety for example. We can spend hours or even days obsessing over a task that needs to be done. Maybe an unpleasant email or phone call – a task that in and of itself will consume less than half an hour.

For those that struggle with anxiety – avoidance loops are a common occurrence. In our heads we build up how displeasurable it is going to be for us to engage in this future task- so displeasurable in fact that is it now something we need to fear.

And the cycle looks something like this:

I don’t want to do this thing.

It’s going to be awful.

I’ve put so much energy into avoiding this thing, I must have been right about how awful it is.

I’ll push it off a little more.

And so on & so forth.

And the emotion builds. And the urge to avoid the task increases. And before you know it, you’ve managed to spend an entire work week avoiding a 15 minute phone call!!

At what cost? Hours of your thoughts held at hostage – to yourself. Thinking of all the reasons you don’t want to and listing the litany of ways things could go wrong and spiral desperately out of control. If you struggle with anxiety this pattern probably feels super familiar to you! Here’s a simple trick to help you break the cycle.

Your new mantra:
JUST DO THE THING.

If you are feeling anxious about something (and you have the opportunity to put if off or do it now), it is always better to go ahead and get things over with. Heres why:

  1. If by chance your worst case scenario does occur – then you’ve got as much time as possible to enter the problem solving stage. Because you didn’t waste valuable time – you have more opportunities to get things back on track when they do veer off.
  2. Exposure therapy. When we avoid things we are scared of, we reinforce fear pathways in our brain. This makes it even harder for us to approach the next time we are presented with that stimulus. Engagement gives your brain an experiential way to check the facts and prove to itself that the fear is unjustified.

So when you notice yourself wanting to avoid a task or having thoughts about how awful something in the future will be, just go ahead and tackle it. Do it and be done with it.

This is super simple application of the Emotion Regulation – Opposite Action skill. If it isn’t hanging over your head, there’s way less reason for it to steal time in your thoughts. Which gives you space for a more mindful day 🌻

Do you struggle with the anxiety / avoidance loop? What skills do you use to help you keep these urges in check? I’d love to hear about your journey – drop a message in the comments & let’s start a dialogue!

If you’re looking to make changes this year and interested in hearing more about the DBT Skills or my signature DBT Transformation Coaching – I’d love to share information with you! Use the contact form to get in touch! Check out my coaching site ⬇️

Join our Thrive Together 2020 (new name coming soon!) group to be part of an amazing atmosphere of connection, support, positivity & love! Plug in and get connected today ⬇️

#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

Practicing Radical Acceptance with the “Little Stuff”

Yesterday, Radical Acceptance was my personal theme from the Universe. I started my work day by reviewing this skill with one of my individual DBT clients. During our discussion of her homework practice, she shared an Ah ha! moment she experienced over the weekend:

This skill that isn’t only for the big stuff! It can be very helpful in the smaller situations of day to day life as well!!

I was impressed how quickly this had clicked for her!! Since we teach RA as part of the distress tolerance module, we tend to focus instruction on applying it to situations where there’s big emotional investment.

Radical acceptance is a skill we use when :
there is little hope for change
&
non-acceptance of the facts causes further distress

(on top of the original situation)

For many of my clients radical acceptance centers around accepting their family members as they are & letting go of fantasies that one day this important person will change.

For clients who struggle with substance abuse, radical acceptance is an integral part of their step work. Acknowledging the relationship they have with substances and the lack of control of their use is the necessary first step to breaking the habit.

But what about the little things? How can we apply radical acceptance in the small moments day to day to reduce suffering?

Here’s my perfect example! When I woke up yesterday morning, I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted to accomplish. I had clients in the am & pm with a 4 hour block of downtime during the afternoon. I had a manageable amount of tasks on my to-do list and was feeling a good bit of momentum from a productive day on Monday.

The morning did not get off to a great start. I had email issues first thing. I noticed something I thought I had sent to a client the night before, had hung up in my outbox.

After a quick reboot, I believed I had addressed the issue and moved on with my morning. Low and behold – come time for my session and my client says they don’t have their Zoom invite (which I double checked had cleared the outbox before I closed my laptop this morning!! Uugghh!).

Ok so after session, back to problem solving. Which turned out to be a much bigger problem than initially recognized. All afternoon I spent problem solving. Attempting fix after fix: clearing cookies & caches, downloading the operating system update, virus scans, you name it!

As the hours passed, I observed I was getting more and more frustrated🤬!!

I wanted to day to go differently than it had. Hello NON-ACCEPTANCE 👋🏼 The roadblocks I had faced and the unaccomplished tasks definitely gave me the formula for justified anger and sadness.

It made sense to feel both of these emotions AND they weren’t going to help me solve the problem.

In fact my anger urges of throwing my hands in the air and giving up would have only gotten me further from my goal point. So I applied radical acceptance:

This is not the day I wanted/had planned for AND right now finishing this unplanned task is the most important focus of my energy.

Instead of fueling my negative emotions, I accepted the facts of the situation at hand. I validated the situation and that I had every right to feel frustrated and disssapointed in how the day had turned. And then I moved on to actionable problem solving.

By the end of the day I was able to remedy the problem on my own. All in all it took about 5 hours of my full attention and time investment. Plus I endured those few tech oops!! moments with my clients. Embarrassing moments I don’t love to have, but I remind myself they are teachable in too. We show up the best we can and sometime we have to problem solve on the fly.

Those are life necessary life skills which have been exceptionally necessary in 2020 – when adaptability & radical acceptance hav been key!

How do you use Radical Acceptance in your life? Do you find it more helpful for big situations or do you use it in the moments of day to day life? How has it helped yo reduce emotional suffering? I’d love to hear your skills tips in the comments below!

Radical Acceptance is just one of the DBT Skills that together provide a framework for understanding and controlling your emotions in any situation. If you are looking for DBT Skills Instruction or DBT Transformation Coaching head over to ⬇️ for more info about my coaching practice.

Or if you’re feeling disconnected and just want a cool place to hang with other growth-motivated, emotionally sensitive individuals. Check out our FB community ⬇️

Check out my YouTube Channel for DBT Skills Videos & #DBTSkillsForTheHolidays series ⬇️

#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 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!

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