In the type of therapy I practice, there are three main tenets by which client and therapist work:
These are definitely not easy to engage for most people, but with constant, gentle reminders they truly hold keys to allowing the work to unfold, for the client to get exactly what they need from session to session.
Working in this way offers a release on the layers of stress in the nervous system. We come to rest in this invisible place of trust, peace and listening to the wisdom of what the work itself is about, with that curiosity, non attachment and non-judgmental head space. In essence, we make friends with the trauma and offer an opportunity for alchemy to take place, allowing space for the work to guide the client where the greatest healing resides. Dropping judgement can allow one to make friends with oneself and with others.
Judgement aka "the critic" sees but a very narrow, separating view from a fear-based perspective. The critic keeps us alone in our corners because the critic is scared of not belonging, scared of connecting, scared of not being good enough. The critic chooses not to see the full picture because the full picture is SCARY. It's safer to hide and not connect, no? But then what can happen? Isolation, loneliness, depression, etc. That's no good!
So how do we get there when that's all we know? Setting a conscious intention to release judgement is a great place to start. First thing in the morning say out loud or to yourself something like "Today during (this visit with my sister, dinner with parents, trip to the mall…) I utilize my power of choice and practice releasing any judgement." See if you can do it, catch yourself when you do, just notice with curiosity, and let it go. This is the internal process of bringing what's unconscious to the conscious. Once things are brought out into the daylight, they can be healed.
Speaking of daylight, this summer I have found a great place to practice non-judgementalism, THE SWIM PARK! Wow do our scantily clad human bodies create an opportunity for the good 'ol inner critic to leap forward and take over. At the swim park we are complete strangers walking around in undergarment-like clothing, displaying our cellulite jiggles, hidden tattoos, bulging bellies and funny-looking bare feet. It's a paradox of sorts, as we are all in the same boat in our bathing suits baring our skin, so what good does a judge do at a swim park? But no doubt it's there, draining our somas of energy as much as the day in the sun. Practice releasing those separating, lower vibrational thoughts that the critic holds. What do we know about the journey of a stranger? What do they know about ours? Is there really room for divisive criticism in your precious head space? Simply put, nope, there's not.
My point here is this: when the inner critic is gone, we then may fully experience the full meaning and richness that the interaction holds. The practice of letting that go can open us up to a smorgasbord of opportunities and a buffet of possibilities. Notice the shift in your energy as you make this choice. There is freedom in living a critic-free life. Let the swim park show you the way.
So maybe you know in your heart of hearts that it's time to ask for help in handling your day to day stresses. Maybe your anxiety level has become paralyzing, or your panic attacks are more frequent. Maybe your depression isn't lifting as fast as it used to, or you feel like you're doing the same thing expecting different results, and continuing to get no results. Maybe your energy is depleted and you're tired on emotional, physical, spiritual levels and things are not getting better as the days go on, they are getting worse. Maybe big life events have happened that are the source of your stress, or maybe it's just in general getting harder and harder to BE, to stay committed to your promises, to face the world at all. Maybe its all just too much to carry alone.
Then a tiny voice inside of you says "maybe I should get help" and then maybe that louder, leader voice enters your thoughts and says "therapy is for losers" or "therapy is scary" or "therapy doesn't work" or "only sissies get therapy" and this voice blocks any action toward reaching out for that help. Then maybe you go back to doing nothing about it, and now years are passing and the cycle continues…and here you find yourself reading this blog and something resonates with you.
Taking any step to getting help is a mixed bag. Stepping into the unknown IS scary. Facing the shadow of ourselves and bringing to light what has been kept in the dark can be intimidating and overwhelming. It can also be like going on an excavation, exciting and full of adventure. Beginning the soul's journey of healing old wounds and facing patterns that no longer serve us is a process that mingles with internal bravery, compassion and a warrior-like attitude. The stigma around getting therapy holding that "therapy is for sissies." It is quite the opposite. Therapy is for warriors, therapy is for wisdom keepers, therapy is for the strongest of the community, and definitely not the weakest.
Notice if your internal voice communicates a message of shame around seeking help, or a message of curiosity. Chances are, shame is there from outside forces - from culture, community or old family rules. A lot of us are from a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality as that was a strong family trait from generations past. There is truth to this message, no doubt we all must find the strength to go on when the going gets tough. Yet when it comes to mental and emotional health, having a fresh perspective and someone to really listen, someone who sees you and offers professional support, shining the way like a flashlight on the darkest days, can be just what the doctor ordered.
As far as I can tell, there isn't one human being who hasn’t been profoundly affected by Covid 19. Work changed, home life changed, even the way we got groceries changed for a little while. It became a naturally introspective time, and even if it was initially driven by fear of THE BUG ON THE LOOSE, there was certainly some beauty that unfolded.
I invite you to consider your own "before and after" SELF as people are getting vaccinated and places are starting to come back to a sense of normalcy. Taking inventory can be a valuable part of personal growth. It offers a road map of sorts. We know where we've been, but where are we going? More importantly, how do we know when we’ve arrived?
Taking inventory helps us look more closely at the choices we make in our lives, from what or who stokes the fires and propels us forward to what or who dampens our drive and brings a dreary feeling. For some, issues around our gender or sexual identities and how we choose to show up in the world have surfaced. What about income? Is our career path feeding us or draining us? Do we love where we live, or do we feel called to establish new roots? Considering your age, you know that time is ticking, how long will you wait to step into your truth and really live in alignment with what makes YOU tick?
We all have hopes and dreams. What are you doing to create the life you want? Has the isolation and fear from the pandemic evoked a sort of pressure cooker inside of you, like it has so many others? Are you now ready to expand from that pressure into the diamond that you are? What kind of guidance do you need to take your first step?
The offerings at New Beginnings are created to support you as you take your deep dive journey into personal exploration.
We are over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and the majority of us have lost the thrill of working and schooling from home. In this "United States of Home Depot's America" where we take pride and ownership of rugged individuality and DIYing our dream home environments, we have come to realize the validity of the truth "you don't know what you've got until it's gone."
As much as we love to cocoon at home, in our healthy, resilient state we desire an interdependent existence through community, a sense of energetic connection, an awareness of co-existence and a basic relating between self and other. Even if in the deep recesses of our brains and bodies there is a younger aspect of ourselves who is secretly loving the "hide" aspect of a pandemic lifestyle, the novelty is clearly wearing off. Nowadays even that younger part is ready to step in to the brave new world of in-person social interactions! LET'S DO THIS, they say! I'm READY!
In order to provide these in-person experiences whether individual or in groups, New Beginnings has layers of Covid-aware precautions in place, impeccable cleanliness, ample space and an organized structure to meet this goal of safely reunifying our community. Check out our IN PERSON healing environment at New Beginnings today! And of course, all of our therapists are still offering Zoom meetings into the foreseeable future.
Let's step forward together, and reclaim our natural human desire of relating, belonging, and feeling present with one another through all of our supportive offerings at New Beginnings. We welcome you with open hearts.
The Ventura County Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (VC-CAMFT) is a non-profit organization of mental health professionals (https://vc-camft.org/about-us/) . We were honored to be featured in their latest newsletter. The full-page "Spotlight" article focused on the services we offer, particularly during this time of physical distancing. Also highlighted is a summary and "unpacking" of the recent "Neurobiology of Trauma Healing" webinar from our very own Co-Owner Susan Richter, LMFT, CEDS.
Our country is having a national discussion about systemic racism and oppression that is long overdue. None of us have all the answers alone. At The New Beginnings Center we do not have the all the answers, but seek out being proactive, starting conversations about privilege, white fragility, systemic racism and oppression, so we may learn from each other. Below you will find a list of resources that will help us all learn and grow together.
Surgery Redesigned produced this helpful flow chart to envision the process of becoming anti-racist. We thank them for producing this graphic and for making it available for sharing.
Anti-Racism Resources Document to Share with Family and Friends
This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.
Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla Saad
Thousands of people from around the world were galvanized by the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge, examining and owning responsibility for the ways in which they uphold white supremacy. Over 80,000 people downloaded her guide to the movement, Me and White Supremacy Workbook in the space of just six months. And now, that guide is a published book.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin J. DiAngelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
An insightful article on the Medium platform which outlines helpful steps that each person can take to steer our lives and our world toward racial justice.
We join George Floyd’s family, friends, and community in mourning his death at the hands of the police. We also remember Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and the countless other people of color whose lives were brutally taken by the violence resulting from centuries of systematic racism and oppression.
We, at The New Beginnings Center, are grateful for the thousands of people from every facet of society who have marched in the streets and called for an end to the scourge of institutional racism. We join our voices with other justice seekers in demanding that those in power recognize in real, visible and demonstrable ways, that Black Lives Matter. It is our deep hope that the current voices of protest will not fade with the news cycle and that meaningful and lasting change results from this overdue national dialogue.
It is in a time such as this, that each of us are called to use our voices, resourcefulness and creativity in order to create a more just and equitable world. None of us alone have the knowledge, experience and resources to end centuries of racism or heal the pain and trauma that has resulted from the hate, prejudice and white privilege woven through our governmental and societal structures. It is going to take all of us speaking out, listening up, advocating, creating and joining together to pave a future that closes the racial divide and heals the wounds of oppression.
Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University, Dr. Cornel West said,
“None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.”
We have used this concept as the framework for our discussion about how we can be of service during this extraordinary time:
With deep sorrow for the injustice that has been, determination for a present full of voice and action, and commitment to a more loving and just future,
~The New Beginnings Center Staff
Our brains and bodies are designed to manage stress and even trauma and be able to recover and heal if given adequate support. That support is both external- good selfcare, food, sleep, working on something productive, play, connecting with others, and also internal- talking to yourself like you would to someone you care about, deep breathing, using creativity and imagination to feel better when stressed.
Notice feeling anxious and attend to it proactively. Don't let the scared little kid inside drive your vehicle (body). Pay attention to the signals your body gives you of early warning signs of anxiety- racing thoughts, tension in jaw, back, chest, urge to fight- get mad, urge to flight- numb out, run away, avoid feelings.
Use your ability to direct your attention away from distress triggers and towards what feels better. Deep breathe, imagine someone who loves you unconditionally (Jesus, angel, mother nature, ancestor, totem or spirit animal) offering comfort and wisdom to you. When you pray, remember to listen for the unconditionally loving messages from these Beings who love you. Read poetry, sing, play music, use your creativity to tap into the part of your brain that can transcend the present moment distress and rest in feeling held in a larger perspective.
Reach out for help to develop these self-support skills if needed because chronic stress creates wear and tear on the body and mind that is harmful if left untreated.