From Dr. Frock’s Desk: The Power of Groups

In our new series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are exploring the power of group therapy and coaching, and how you can use groups to catapult your personal growth.

 


What defines group work when it comes to mental health and how does it work?  

In the mental health world, groups are typically structured with a group leader who has formal training in this realm. It’s not just a bunch of people getting together, it is a structured meeting with a frame, and guidelines on how things can operate, including things like some limitations, one person not dominating the time, making sure everybody gets a chance to participate. There could also be rules to help people communicate more effectively about themselves, and maybe avoid some topics that aren’t really why people are there. The interesting thing about group therapy and coaching is that it’s so customizable and each group is pretty different. Each group can be tailored to the topic and participants.

 

In your opinion, what makes group therapy and coaching so impactful?

Groups are like an exponential factor of the work you might be doing one-on-one with a therapist or coach. In a group, it almost seems like you can get a lot more done in terms of how you relate to other people. There’s always going to be somebody in the group that reminds you of someone else in your life. How they make you feel, based on what they’re saying, can provide a really good opportunity to identify and work on your own thoughts with your individual therapist or within that group- depending on the group structure and rules. Group leaders create opportunities that spark thought provoking conversation.

 

A lot of people are hesitant about group therapy or coaching, because of the fear of talking in front of others. What would you say to those people?  

If you’re really worried about talking in front of people, then this is a great opportunity to do it. Everybody that’s there is interested in a certain topic, and they’ve been accepted in the program with the goal of being vulnerable and learning from others. This isn’t just like talking to a stranger on a street corner, or like public speaking. It’s a very measured, checked arena. A safe space for you to grow. If talking in front of others really does worry you, it’s almost a stronger argument for you to go. Because there’s something there, and by giving in to that fear, you’re only strengthening the avoidance, making it harder for yourself down the road. 

 

 

Why are groups so powerful for the mom population, in particular? 

In my private practice, for example, I hear a lot about feeling the need to Keep Up with the Joneses. A lot of mothers are comparing themselves- seeing other moms who seem to have “it all together”, wondering why they can’t be more like that. Why it seems harder for them than other moms. I think there’s a big opportunity for moms to be with other moms who also feel busy and lost. Not only would they have comradery, but they’ll get a glimpse behind the curtain and see that no-one actually has it all together. 

Another thing that comes to mind is parenting burnout. Just feeling completely exhausted, which ties into self-care. This brings in a lot of societal themes that can be intense in terms of traditional gender roles in the household, or just digging into whether a partnership feels symmetrical or asymmetrical, and who’s contributing what. It’s very individualized for each couple, but I guarantee that there will be great opportunities for dialogue about that topic in a group setting with moms. Often, it’s very small things that come out in these kinds of settings, bringing insight into what is the true source of tension or burnout. 

There’s also the aspect of moms being able to share tips with one another, not from the perspective of judgment or unsolicited advice, but from the perspective of lifting one another up and making each other’s lives easier.

 

Why would it be beneficial to work on something like your authenticity and spiritual connection with yourself in a group setting? 

I think people will find some solace in the fact that not everybody else has figured it out. Regardless of where they’re coming from, if people are in the group looking for a chance to talk about what their purpose is, it’s very likely that everybody will kind of share some bewilderment about where to go next. I think it would be very helpful to a lot of people to know that they’re not like the only ones that are trying to figure it out. I could see people being inspired by one another’s breakthroughs and choices, providing each other accountability and a safe space to try ideas on, while setting aside material items and expectations while talking through their passions in an expansive way.

 To take a step into something that goes against expectations can be scary, but I’ve noticed that when one person in the group makes a seemingly small step, but that takes a lot of courage, it can create a ripple effect of courage that spreads to the rest of the group.

 

In The Happy Hour’s group series, we have a virtual platform that allows group members to stay connected between sessions. Do you see a benefit there?

 A lot of times with more traditional group therapy, you’ll meet once a week and be given a few assignments without much follow up. I just feel like the virtual platform would really enhance the efficacy of the work that’s actually done. Creating small, daily habits for group members to follow up on is powerful. I don’t hear about anything remotely close to that very often. So that, in itself, is pretty notable. It’s the real deal. People are going to get a lot more out of it. 

 

Would I still get individual attention in a group?

 Yes, as I mentioned before, that’s where the framework, structure and a skilled group leader come into play. With a good frame, everybody will get individual attention, particularly when there’s good dialogue, the leader can prompt individual attention. 

 

 Are there any downsides to being in a group? 

In more acute hospital settings there can be a downside. An example might be a suicide survivors’ group, where someone tries to go and it’s just too fresh for them. In situations like that, joining the group a month or two later might be a better fit. 

Regarding the type of groups offered here at The Happy Hour, I don’t think there’s much downside to group work. It’s a great opportunity for growth.

 

The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

Looking to Catapult your Growth with Groups?

We have two fantastic groups coming up this month, including Moms Group Series and our bestselling Discover Your True North group course.

Sign up today – both groups start Tuesday September 20th!

Finding Authenticity and Purpose

 

“When was the best time in your life?” When someone recently asked me this question, I found myself nostalgically wandering to the past, searching for the exact right answer. But, of all the joy-filled eras that I’ve lived, I realized that those times pale in comparison to RIGHT NOW

 

Just a couple years ago, I finally gave myself permission to show up as my true, authentic self. This wasn’t something that simply happened one day, it was the result of 1) my mental exhaustion from striving to be perfect, and 2) lots and lots of self-work to figure out who my authentic self actually was. When this door was unlocked, everything became richer – my relationships, my work, previously mundane experiences, etc. I finally began to feel like I was living my purpose, without doubt, and felt it deep into my bones. It was liberating. 

 

“This timeline isn’t adding up,” you might say, “You started The Happy Hour 5 years ago, so you were living your purpose for longer than the last couple measly years.” Well, let me let you in on a little secret…you can’t live your purpose without knowing who you truly are, and you can’t live your purpose without loving that person. 

 

Want another confession? When I first started putting together plans for this business, I was embarrassed to tell people about it. I had wrapped my identity so tightly around my former title and fancy corporate job I worked years to achieve, that I would strategically go out of my way to avoid talking about this concept. This concept upon which my heart and soul was completely sold. I didn’t want anyone to see me differently than all the ways for which I had previously been praised. I didn’t want to be seen as anything but predictably perfect. 

 

Sure, I had all the usual self doubts, “Should I concentrate on my kids and stay at home with them until they’re older?”, “Should I go back to a more stable and steady job that might not have as much stress?” (There is nothing wrong with those options, btw). But, I had always known since I was a kid that I had a gift in helping people and I needed to use that gift. But I didn’t truly believe in myself or that I could live out my purpose, until I started my journey to authenticity, did my own hands-on research, and started training to coach others. You can’t give (or guide) what you don’t have, and that lit a fire in me to let down the 34-year old walls and commit to living authentically. 

 

Through therapy, coaching, reading, writing, listening, meditating, praying, learning and living by mindfulness, and exploring my spirituality through so many mediums, I came to redefine myself, but this time without using any labels. I’ll never forget the day I sat on my therapist’s couch and said,

“I don’t even know who I am anymore, but I feel like myself for the first time in my life.” 

 

Getting started on this journey isn’t easy. And, in my experience, it works best if you come at it from many different angles, receiving information from multiple viewpoints, then putting it all together in a way that feels true to you. For me that meant doing a 180 on my long-held beliefs, and learning about myself in an honest way that pushed me out of my comfort zone. This leap of faith led me to some spiritual healers and health professionals that changed my life through giving me a variety of tools to support my mental health that covered all the bases: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Here’s some wisdom I learned that I’ll carry with me forever, and I invite you to try on: you are more than your title(s), you have everything you need within you already, and you are loved no matter what. 

 

The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

 


Are you ready to find your authenticity and purpose?

 

We’ve re-vamped our best-selling workshop series, Discover Your True North, to help you catapult your growth and discover your fixed point and baseline in a world that can at times feel out of control.

Topics in this 6-part series include: 1) uncovering your authentic self, 2) creating your story, 3) defining spirituality on your terms, and 4) removing roadblocks. We’ll peel back the layers to reveal who you are at your core. This unique internal compass will ground you, teach you ways to find inner-strength through a storm, and set you on your journey to your most fulfilling life. Get ready for lots of ‘a-ha’ moments!

 

LEARN MORE + SAVE YOUR SPOT HERE

Finding Calm with Active Meditation

For many of us, the thought of sitting alone with our thoughts and having to be still for more than 5 minutes doesn’t sound too appealing. Sure, we’ve all heard that there are benefits to meditation and mindfulness practices, but who has the time and the patience? There are better ways to decompress, like watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through social media… right?

What if we told you there were ways to practice meditation that don’t look like that of an experienced yogi? If the mold you think you should fit into isn’t working for you, find what does. Believe it or not, you can be meditative during your everyday tasks or hobbies. Have you ever attended a workout class, listened to your favorite artist, participated in a workshop, or even just taken a shower  – and felt that clarity, bliss and sense of comfort afterwards? Congratulations, you’re already a pro at meditation! If it’s helping you relax, clear your mind, and evade distraction, then you’re on the right track. Ultimately, meditation is whatever you want it to be and however it works for you. BUT – like many things in life, to get the most out of it, you need to be intentional and practice. If you need some help, or ideas – that’s where we come in. 😉

 

GET OUTSIDE

Whether it’s taking a walk, or attending one of our mindfulness classes at the beautiful Cheekwood Estates, being outside is a great way to practice meditation. During a traditional meditation practice, although you’re to sit criss-cross-apple-sauce and remain still, you’re also welcome to observe your surroundings and take in the present moment rather than dwelling on your thoughts. You can do this on a hike or while swimming outside too! Being outside is a great way to be mindful of the beauty around you, while also getting some much-needed vitamin D and fresh air. Give it a try yourself!

 

TIDY UP

As you can probably guess, a cluttered mind can be directly tied to a cluttered environment. If you look around at your bedroom and realize clothes and dishes have been piling up without you noticing, you’re likely going through life on autopilot rather than approaching it mindfully. It may seem difficult to start viewing laundry day as self-care and time to yourself rather than a chore, but your body and mind will thank you for it. 

 

TAKE A SHOWER

We know what you’re thinking: how is something as simple as bathing a form of meditation? It’s kind of like the cleaning thing. Any mundane task can free up your mind just enough to be meditative. Next time you’re in the shower, try tuning into your senses — noticing the smells of your shampoo or how it feels to scrub your skin. Be gentle with your body and give your mind a break from everything else.

 

GET MOVING

I’m sure your mind immediately went to yoga, and we don’t blame you. Meditation is basically built into the practice, so yes, yoga is a great option, but it’s not the only one! Any form of exercise requires you to focus on your breath and be present, or otherwise risk falling, pulling a muscle, you get the idea. Not to mention the endorphins aren’t a bad way to forget what’s stressing you out on the day-to-day!

 

BE CREATIVE

We can’t all be Picasso or Shakespeare, but that shouldn’t stop us from getting creative! It’s the same idea of busying your hands and the technical part of your brain with an activity that frees up the rest of your mind for mindful thoughts. Tune into what you’re creating and spend some quality time with yourself. You could try coloring, playing an instrument, or writing in a journal. The possibilities are endless, and who knows? You might be proud of what you come up with.

 

Is meditation feeling any less intimidating yet? Good! That’s the goal. There are so many ways to practice being mindful — so many that you’re probably already doing, but just didn’t realize could be made into a meditative practice! Join us for Meditation off the Mat to discover the purpose of meditation and learn how to connect with the nature of it. This workshop will give you tools that you can use to immediately improve your overall mindfulness and reduce your stress response. Say “so long” to meditation frustration, and “hello” to feeling grounded in the present moment. 

 

Are you ready to make meditation a habit, no matter what that looks like, and start reaping the many benefits: better sleep, increasing self-awareness, chronic pain, anxiety and stress management skills, and more? You got this!

The Beauty of Mindful Moments

Your alarm sounds and autopilot kicks in. You get out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, jump in the shower, get dressed, grab a bite to eat as you hurry to start your work day. You get into a flow, working through your endless to-do list, relying on coffee to keep your battery charged. Doing everything you can to feel good about being devoted to “the job”. At the end of the day, when it’s time to check out, you feel too mentally exhausted to do anything that fills you up before you fall asleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

 

Let’s take a second to think about this. Our current state of navigating constant change and uncertainty has left us feeling consumed and stressed by expectations we’re supposed to live up to. Simply making it through the day feels like an achievement in itself.

 

Do you experience this kind of reality? How do you shift to bringing life and purpose back into your days? By giving attention to self. Mindful moments allow us to channel productivity and progress in the direction of wellbeing, by focusing on small, present moments of time, versus adding another thing to your to-do list.

 

Ask yourself this question, what do I want to experience today? If your answer is calm, peace, quiet, and de-escalation, then these precious moments called mindfulness are for you. Now ask yourself, am I open to something new, different and enlightening? If your answer is yes, then light up your day today with a little something for yourself that will only cost you moments. Here’s how we do it.

 

Take some time to think about what you truly enjoy, you can make a list or just apply thought. (examples:  sunshine, music, favorite colors, scents, sports)

 

Reflect on what your day-to-day is like, and come up with the best time or way to have your mindful moments. (examples:  mornings before starting your day, before bed, during a lunch break).

 

Then begin. At your desired time, intentionally bring into thought that which you enjoy.  Allow yourself to be in a comfortable or stable position whether standing or sitting.  Visualize this or physically look at it, touch, taste or smell, depending on what it is.  Allow yourself to dwell upon it, notice its nuance with direct attention. Does it shine, is it soft, is it cold or warm? 

 

As you engage that favorite color, melody of sound, calming scent, allow yourself to breathe, noticing the inhale and exhale while engaging something that brings subtle joy and feels good. Just for a moment, allow the presence of subtle joy and breath.

 

The more we do this, the better we get at receiving calm. Quieting the constant chatter of our thoughts and dimming the escalation of the hustle and bustle of our environments. Instead of rushing back to your to-do list, take a pause to experience calm and quiet. Finding the joy in present moments, appreciating the little things.

 

Give yourself this stop, this pause, as often as you can throughout the day and allow it to grow into your personal feel good moments.

 


Need Help Developing Your Mindfulness Practice?

Join us for Meditation Off The Mat, where you’ll learn to bring meditative moments into your day-to-day, no mat, fancy poses, or app required!

LEARN MORE AND SAVE YOUR SPOT

What life coaching can do for you

If you are looking for a space to process your past, understand the effects of an experience, dive deeper into an emotion, or heal from a trauma, then therapy is the exact right place for you.  But, I have found that often, people use therapy for everyday obstacles, like decision making, communicating, navigating relationships, life transitions, or even for a non-judgemental place to talk with someone. Let me be clear, therapy is a vital and necessary resource for many people. I just think that sometimes people go to therapy as an automatic choice, without even considering coaching as an option. So I am going to give you a breakdown, using examples, to show you what life coaching can do for you. 

 

Let’s start by understanding what coaching is. Jill Manaco absolutely nails the definition of what coaching is:

“Coaching is set apart by the way a coach approaches a conversation with a client. Coaches do not teach but help you through a process of discovery by using active listening skills, asking powerful questions, expanding thought processes, identifying limited beliefs, designing action steps and following up. 

  • Coaches don’t talk, they listen.
  • Coaches don’t give information, they ask questions.
  • Coaches don’t offer ideas, they generate ideas from clients.
  • Coaches don’t share their story, they tap into the client’s experience.
  • Coaches don’t present solutions, they expand the client’s thinking.
  • Coaches don’t give recommendations, they empower clients to choose.”

 

Now that you have a clearer idea of a coach’s approach, you might be asking yourself “How do I choose between therapy and coaching?” When deciding what avenue to choose, the first question I encourage you to ask yourself is: What am I hoping to get out of this session or sessions? 

 

Here’s an example: a work decision might be really stressing you out. Maybe you are plotting out your small business’ marketing plan for the upcoming year. This sets the tone for the rest of the year. You don’t know how to navigate it and the whole experience is causing immense stress, causing you to lose sleep and affecting your day to day.  You might think– “I should go to a therapist.” Right? 

 

Welllll maybe… it depends. Your therapist can help with your stress response, but ultimately is not going to take the situation away. While stress management is totally within the wheelhouse of a therapist, marketing planning and strategy is not. This is where a coach would be PERFECT. Like Christa Booker, she is an absolute WHIZ at business coaching and has years in consulting for marketing and planning. She also is an expert at mindfulness practices, tools that you can use in the moment when a stressful situation occurs. Working with a coach in this case would look like being empowered to make decisions that are both strategic and authentic. That means that the coach would work with you to generate ideas rather than telling you what to do without your input. All of the coaches at The Happy Hour believe that you have the answers within you. Sometimes it just takes a conversation to dig in and find them.

 

See how asking yourself what you need is ultimately so helpful?

 

Just like therapy, the frequency at which you go to coaching matters. When going to coaching, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can recommend is avoiding the “one and done” approach (lol, we aren’t that good). Similar to the mindset of going to therapy, working with a coach is a process. Yes, you will walk away with your compass pointing a little more north, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have the whole thing mapped out. 

 

Example time.

Let’s say you had a brutal break up 6 months ago. After some time and self healing you are finally ready to date again, but you have no idea where to start. You want to get back out there, but you want to do it in the right way. And let’s be honest, your friends have given you terrible advice up to this point. 

 

A coach (ehem, yours truly) can guide you through learning about your values in a relationship, deciphering what you are looking for in a partner, how attachment styles can cause relationships to thrive or die, how to set and honor boundaries, how to put yourself out there, heck, how to even set up a dating profile that actually represents who you truly are. The areas in which a coach can help you are numerous. But let me say, we are not going to get through all of this in one session. What we will do in the first session, is set you up on the right path, one that involves all of the resources and support you need to take the first step. This is where being a part of our Whole You coaching program would establish and encourage massive growth. By having that wrap around care, you are truly supported in mind, body, and spirit during a time when all three of those are being put to the test.

 

Maybe you’re ready for a big life change. Possibly you’ve just gone through the transition from working full-time into retirement, or you feel restless or unfulfilled in your day. Authenticity coaches, like Clara, have years of experience guiding individuals through the process of discovering their passions, mapping their values, learning to trust and listen to themself, and ultimately uncovering their truest self. Coaches like Clara, can actually walk with you through the process by sending you resources throughout the week and checking in to help you stay accountable. This is another example of where Whole You is the best fit (next cohort starts in June!). 

 

So those were three fairly specific examples, but what about getting help with the everyday stuff? Well, all of our coaches are uniquely qualified to help with this because they operate from the present moment to help orient you and help you discover what step is next. Like Erin, she has worked with people on how to make friends as an adult, navigating a tough conversation, learning to make decisions that feel good in your body and your mind, and understanding how to prioritize your schedule in order to find greater fulfillment in your day. I think that one thing coaches are really good at is understanding the importance of the first small step . It is really easy to get wrapped up in the big picture, but the tiny, small actions that happen everyday, is the difference in becoming who you want to be. Or as I like to call it, ‘showing up’.

 

I don’t blame people for not knowing how coaching can help them. Let’s be honest, therapy has just started to be recognized and valued for what it’s worth. The great part about The Happy Hour is, both therapists and coaches work under one roof. Actually, therapy and coaching work great together. Using information from our past experiences can help us make more informed decisions for our present and our future. Our staff can help you when trying to determine what’s best for you, so you don’t have to decide alone. Most importantly, if you are talking to someone about your mental wellness, you’re doing the right thing. We just want to make sure that you get the most out of your time here.

 


Are You Ready to Transform Your Life?

Consider this: feeling grounded, confident and unshakeable by building a lifestyle that uniquely supports your total health. Encompassing the four areas of health: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual, the Whole You program will lead you through a 90-day lifestyle evolution.

LEARN MORE + SAVE YOUR SPOT HERE

The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

Dolly Parton once said,

Love is sent from Heaven to worry the Hell out of you.

Dolly, using her usual wit, is correct; love makes life worth living, but also can create pain. While difficulty in our personal relationships is an unavoidable part of life, it is possible to develop an understanding of healthy relationship dynamics and enact positive change in your relationships. 

So, what makes a healthy relationship? How do we recognize and understand our unhelpful communication patterns? What steps can we take to ensure that the relationships we are in can be as good as possible?

Luckily for those of us who decided to pursue lifelong partnership, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years studying couples and their dynamics. Through their incredible careers, they have developed Seven Principles that, when committed to and maintained, foster healthy and happy partnerships over the lifespan. 

 

Here is a breakdown of the 7 Principles we will discuss March 4th and 5th:

1 – ENHANCE LOVE MAPS

What in the world is a love map, you ask? It’s the familiarity and fondness you have and cultivate for your partner. The stronger and clearer our love maps, the more intimacy and care exists in the partnership.

2 – NURTURE FONDNESS

Your partner needs to know you actually like him/her! This is not groundbreaking news, but something we all neglect from time-to-time.

3 – TURN TOWARD

This is based on the idea of staying connected, and positively so.  It’s all about making positive deposits in our “emotional bank accounts.” If you are feeling connected to your partner, you’re better able to handle conflicts as they occur. 

4 – LET YOUR PARTNER INFLUENCE YOU

Do you always need to win in an argument? This may indicate that you’re not accepting influence from your partner- you just want to be right.  Unsurprisingly, this stubbornness is often met with harshness and withdrawal from the other partner, creating even more distance.

5 – HOW TO SOLVE SOLVABLE PROBLEMS

 This section focuses on understanding the types of conflicts. How can we solve the solvable conflicts and accept the unsolvable conflicts?

6 – OVERCOME GRIDLOCK

Every couple has that “hot issue,”- that fight that just keeps coming back up, over and over. Gridlocks happen when people‟s life dreams (hopes, aspirations, wishes) for their life are not being addressed/respected by each otherThis section will offer practical tips to work through that dreaded gridlock.

7 – CREATE SHARED MEANING – WHAT NOW?

Maintenance is just as important as learning the new skill.  The Gottmans teach us about the importance of creating “rituals of connection” and how to continually apply the principles in your everyday life.

 

I’m so excited about this workshop because I truly believe in its worth. Good relationships aren’t just built without effort, and problems just don’t “go away.” Join me in March to make a positive difference in your relationship!

 

Xoxo

Amy


Take a deep dive into building a stronger relationship with Amy Jackson, LCSW-MPH as she leads the groundbreaking 2-part workshop, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, on March 4th and 5th.

LEARN MORE AND SIGN UP HERE 

What Grounds Me as a Mother

I will never forget the feeling. I was sitting in the bathroom of the hospital room in a postpartum haze. I could hear my husband and the nurse talking jovially in the other room as they discussed discharge instructions for my newborn baby girl. I was quietly sobbing in the bathroom as hormones and fear took over. I didn’t want to leave the safety of the nurses and care team to attempt to keep this child alive. Alone. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. 

 

In the years after college, my big group of friends became career oriented, moved to different cities and ran in new circles in our 20’s. We saw each other occasionally at weddings as we started to marry, and at couples’ Christmas parties. At the end of our 20’s, we all started finding out we were pregnant within months of each other. The baby showers started and we all gathered and shared the excitement and nerves for what we were about to experience. The birth announcements via group text came and conversations about bottles and breastfeeding commenced. We were all simultaneously experiencing this new version of our lives, and all simultaneously experiencing the overwhelming need for connection and support. There was an unexplainable need we had for each other. We started Friday “play dates” while our babies laid (sometimes) quietly in our arms as we discussed and connected over the nuances of motherhood. As I went back to work, I found myself requesting Fridays as a work from home day with my daughter just so I could continue these play dates with these friends in the same stage of motherhood as me. I couldn’t imagine getting through my weeks without them. 

 

Life Coach, Christa Booker with her kids.

Life Coach, Christa Booker with her kids.

 

I cannot begin to describe the importance this group of women has held for me. We are now almost 11 years in, and the experiences we have had together have formed a bond that I never knew was possible. There have been incredible times like holidays, birthday parties, first days of school, adoptions and births of 2nd, 3rd and even 4th babies. We have had Monday night mommy dance parties, lunch dates, Christmas parties, birthday celebrations, and even a girl trip to Vegas. We have also experienced tears over kindergarten, kiddo broken arms, behavioural issues, car accidents, marital problems, cancer diagnosis, the death of parents and even the death of one of the children. And through it all we were all just there – for the good, bad and ugly. 

 

Throughout the years things have changed. We all have evolving careers, kid sports, new friends and different life paths. Some relationships grew stronger, some grew apart. We still share the occasional group text, lunches and celebrations. We are all busy with life. But on the occasional times that we are able to get together, it is like no one has missed a beat. This group of women will forever take up real estate in my heart and will always be a gift that I never knew I needed, but I am immensely grateful for.  

 

Whenever a new mom asks me for advice, I always say the same thing. Find some other moms to connect to. Ideally find the group that shows up with messy hair and tear streaks that will be truthful about how hard and beautiful the role of motherhood is. The support and compassion of another mom is invaluable and priceless.

You actually DON’T have to do it alone. 

 

The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

 

Starting September 20th, we are offering a 7-session Moms Group Series with Christa. Feel free to show up with messy hair and a tear streaked face if that is where you are.

We will be guiding you through discussion topics such as parental burnout, perfectionist parenting, and much more. Most importantly, we will just be there for you to hold space – for the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Learn more and sign up here

 

Attachment Styles

‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out
You’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right
It’s black and it’s white
We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up

— Katy Perry, Hot ‘n Cold

 

Katy’s struggle with her inconsistent partner, while a catchy tune, is an all-too-common problem in the dating world, and a perfect example of a partner with an Insecure Attachment Style. Katy’s partner is unable to communicate their needs clearly, leaving Katy spinning.

 

Wait…  what is an attachment style?

Attachment Theory (developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth) is based on the idea that we are born needing others. Babies depend on their caregivers for security and love in order to survive, and generally, if their needs are met, develop secure attachments. Securely attached people are able to determine their values, voice their needs in a relationship, and regulate their emotions during conflict. They can trust others and reciprocate love to their partners.

 

So, what happens when a baby and caregiver do not develop a secure attachment in those first few years?  Can attachment styles change along our lifespan?

Researchers say that insecure attachments from an early age can negatively impact an individual’s ability to find and maintain a healthy partnership. More recent research suggests that harmful romantic relationships as an adult can shift a previously secure attached person to an insecure pattern (Levine and Heller, 2021). The types of insecure patterns for adults are Anxious-preoccupied, Dismissive-avoidant, Fearful-avoidant, and Disorganized.

 

How do I know what style I have? Is there any hope if I’m insecurely attached?

There are many validated Attachment Style Quizzes available (links below), and yes, Secure Attachment can be grown through personal work and exploration! In our “How to Rock Your Relationships” course, we will take a deep dive into your personal attachment style and how it has impacted your dating life. We will work through the negative patterns that have held you back from the connection all humans deserve.

 

New beginnings start with knowing how we create the trap that we are caught in, how we have deprived ourselves of the love we need. Strong bonds grow from resolving to halt the cycles of disconnection, the dances of distress.

— Dr. Sue Johnson, leading researcher on Adult Attachment.

 

Let’s break down your traps and start a new beginning together!

xoxo,

Amy


Further Reading:

Books:

Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and
How It Can Help You Find-And Keep-Love, by Levine and Heller.

 Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson

 

Quizzes:

Attachment Style Quiz: Free & Fast Attachment Style Test (attachmentproject.com)

Attachment Styles Test: Attachment Style Quiz from Dr. Diane Poole Heller

Relationship Attachment Style Test (psychologytoday.com)

 

Instagram:

The Secure Relationship (@thesecurerelationship) • Instagram photos and videos

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Five

That’s a wrap! What an amazing month it has been! Our guests have blown us away with their insights, honesty, education, and openness, and the last week was no exception.

grace-goodwin-dwyer-web.jpg

Grace Goodwin Dwyer

Grace is a registered dietitian and lactation expert here in Nashville. She helps women to prioritize when it comes to nutrition.

On Intuitive Eating

She gave us some wonderful advice on how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine. Intuitive eating is based on the idea of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Simple right? But in today’s culture of a million diets, intuitive eating promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image. She gave us some wonderful advice on satiety and how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine.When it came to wanting sweets after a meal, Grace had three suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself if you are still actually hungry and you need more of the meal that you just ate (remember eating slowly and with intention will help you decide this!)
  2. If the answer is no and you are satisfied, but still can’t get rid of that sweet tooth, then Grace suggests satisfying that craving in a manageable amount so that later on you don’t over do it because you denied yourself for so long.
  3. Move on sans guilt! (We love this)

On Mental Wellness

As with many of our other takeover guests have recommended, Grace recommended getting recommended getting that a daily dose of fresh air and moving your body in some way as a simple way to manage stress and boost your mental wellness each day..is important for mental wellness.

On What to Eat

Finally, Grace gave us some killer ideas for wholesome meals. Her key: eat food that makes your body and mind feel good. Here is one of our favorites, simply pick an item from each of the 3 categories and you have an easy, balanced and satisfying snack:

Category 1

  • dried apricots or figs
  • cherries, berries
  • sliced apples, pears, peaches, melon
  • cucumbers, broccoli, celery, pickles

Category 2

  • toasted bread
  • pita chips
  • seed crackers
  • tortilla chips
  • flatbread crisps

Category 3

  • nut butter
  • guacamole
  • yogurt dip
  • edamame
  • sliced meat (deli or leftover)
  • tofu cubes
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • spreads (pesto, tapenade, hummus, babaganoush)

For more, visit Grace’s website.

 

amanda-bell-web.jpg

Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell is the owner and manager of Bend and Zen Hot Yoga Nashville. She shares why yoga has been so pivotal to helping her maintain mental wellness.

On the Ripple Effect of Yoga

Originally, Amanda was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits, but as her practice continued to develop, she began to notice a ripple effect. She started to gain mental endurance, learning non-reactiveness and resiliency, and taking those lessons and applying them “off the mat”. She learned how to use breathing techniques as a source to calm and realign herself with the present moment. And most importantly, she learned how to connect with her emotions.

On Movement and Emotions

Yoga has given her a safe space for her to experience and show her emotions. As a business owner, she had often felt that she needed to keep her emotions under lock and key. She has found that during her yoga practice, she is able to tap into emotions that she has been storing her body.. Sheshared these insights for deeper emotional connection:

  • By moving your body you are changing hormone levels. This endorphin release can help to bring about an improvement in mood.
  • One does not always need to maintain a  tough and strong persona. Allow yourself to show a softer and more vulnerable side in order to create depth in your emotional range. Doing this in a safe space is a great place to start.

On Where to Begin with Yoga

  • Studio hop! Explore each of the studios in town to find a place that feels like home.
  • Give yourself permission to let go of something that isn’t serving you, knowing that you can show up however you need to the class.
  • Show yourself some love and grace when starting your yoga practice.

On Meditation

  • Meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way – all you need is a quiet space.
  • Taking a moment to breathe can help you move forward from a place of anxiety.
  • It is not about not thinking, but controlling what you are thinking about, choose one single touchstone as your focal point.

Decide what takes real-estate in your head.

For more, visit Amanda at Bend and Zen.

 

ali-schaffer-web.jpg

Ali Schaffer

Ali Schaffer is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in reframing and helping clients find a new perspective. Reframing is not about simply putting a positive spin on situations, because we’d miss the lessons from big emotions and difficult conversations by doing that. Reframing is about creating a new view or experience of something so that we can arrive at new solutions that we might not have seen before. Remember, some situations don’t end in a solution, but a new ability to exist in an elevated level of understanding.

On Big Emotions

Ali reminded us that big or heavy emotions have value. The ability to experience these emotions improves the depth and the richness of our human experience. In fact, trying to avoid, run away, or diminish heavy emotions could be taking more of a toll on us than we realize.

On Comparative Suffering

Comparative suffering can be explained as “This isn’t as bad as someone else’s situation, so I am not justified to feel this way”. When we experience emotions through comparative suffering we:

  • Set ourselves up to discount or diminish what we are experiencing, creating an unhealthy view of the emotion or experience.
  • Put a value or judgement on the emotion.
  • Set ourselves up in a place where we can’t move forward.

Instead, Ali suggests taking a “both/and” approach

  • Both aware of your own experience and acknowledge the experience of the other person/people.

On How to Approach Therapy

  • Think about what you are looking for? What is going on in your life, can you name it? If you don’t know the answers specifically– that is ok!
  • Schedule an intake phone call. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation with a therapist to see if they are the right fit for you.
  • Go to a session!
    • You don’t have to be an expert at “going to therapy”.
    • You can let the therapist know that you need help navigating the experience.
    • Virtual sessions are making going to sessions even easier.
    • Try out a few sessions, the first few might feel a little awkward, but you are learning about yourself and the process.
    • If it is not a good fit, most therapists will help you connect with someone who is a better fit for you.

For more, find Ali on Instagram.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Three

We’re more than halfway through Mental Health Month and our brilliant guests keep bringing the wisdom! Here’s the recap, you might want to get a pen and paper to take some notes. 😉

kenya-raymer-web.jpg

Kenya Raymer

Kenya blew us away with her outlook on the connection between mental health and spirituality. Kenya is a spiritual guide with a masters in social work, a combination that allows her to deliver a unique service called Spiritual Therapeutic Sessions, which are spiritual readings that incorporate therapeutic theories. This interview was filled with so much wisdom and light, that we really don’t know if we’ll do it justice here. But, you can check the recording out for yourself here.

On Spirituality

The spiritual journey is two-fold. The first part requires you to connect with yourself and your gifts (btw “gifts” don’t have to be something supernatural. Think about what you’re good at and what comes naturally to you). This is where the deep dive into your self-awareness comes in, and this part of the journey brings you meaning. The second part of the journey is to connect with Spirit and use your gifts for the collective. This part of the journey brings you purpose.

The way Kenya defined spirituality had us levitating, it was so inspiring. She defines spirituality as “getting to know myself at the most authentic level, so that as my awareness of self deepens, my ability to experience the world expands.”

On Embracing Discomfort

As Kenya says, “you can’t Love + Light your way through healing or to wholeness. You MUST do shadow work/ego work/inner child work.” If you don’t get honest with yourself about what’s bugging you, you’ll always be out of alignment, regardless of what positive mantras you have. You must address the root of the problem and sit in the discomfort of those feelings before you can truly move through to be your highest version of yourself. Pro tip: never go to bed out of alignment.

On Going to Therapy

Kenya talks about therapy as an investment into your life, and something that everyone should do at some point. Obvi we couldn’t agree more. In her spiritual work, she helps bring people into awareness of past traumas or issues through which they need to dive more deeply. When you intentionally avoid those traumas and issues, it stays in your body as energy, and talking through these things help move the energy around and release it, so you can move past what’s bringing you down. Preach.

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on therapy or readings yet, grab a journal and start to get curious. Here are some questions to get you started: “Who am I?”  “Who am I without a connection to other people?” “What is freedom?” and “What is my truth right now?”. Those might keep you busy for a while.

On Balance

Do away with it. It’s not realistic to be 100% in all areas of your life at all times. It’s so important to carve out dedicated personal time to check in with yourself and understand what you need. Honoring what you need in the moment is critical. When you set boundaries and organize your day/week/month into different areas – me-time, family time, work time – you can be more present in each of these areas vs trying to be all things at all times. Understand when you are spreading yourself too thin, and above all, give yourself grace. “Seek to pass all words, actions and thoughts through Unconditional Love, Universal Compassion for all, Grace for yourself and others, and your Truth.”

On Truth

You are the absolute authority on yourself, so “don’t seek externally for something that only exists internally.” Know that your truth can change. When you get to know yourself more deeply, your awareness expands and allows you to experience the world differently, thus what we know to be true evolves with us.

“Be more like the moon. She only shines once a month. The rest of her time is spent resting and evolving. Cycles are necessary for alignment.” 

Continue to follow along with Kenya’s story on Instagram.


paul-nyhart-web.jpg

Paul Nyhart

Speaking of truth, Paul Nyhart spoke to us about finding purpose with a refreshingly honest and passionate insight. Paul is many things – an author, producer, Podcast & TV host, and marketing pro – but his most precious moments have been advocating for communities who can feel unheard and ignored. Paul’s latest project, a podcast called “The Story of Bao,” highlights the experiences of individuals defining the moment in their lives when they realized what was precious to them.

On Telling Your Story

In general, people undervalue themselves. As a society, people have been trained not to share their truths, and because of it, we often don’t even realize that we’ve gone through life changing, and often inspiring, experiences. Telling your story is so important, regardless of the audience – you could share your story with the world or simply share it with a friend – you’d be surprised who you might inspire with your words. Plus, it’s a super helpful way to process your experiences.

On Finding Yourself

It can be so easy to bury the interesting things that are going on around you right now because it’s hard to be present in the moment. We’re not trained to think in moments, but rather, we tend to think in vague chunks of time, like “past” and “future.” Without even realizing it, we miss out on the joy that’s right in front of us.

But, what if you don’t know what brings you joy? Start by trying five new things, dive into them, and actively think about which of those really click with you. For example, through his work as a TV and Podcast host, Paul found that what made him tick wasn’t the idea of being behind the microphone, but rather from hearing other people’s stories – those who have typically been ignored in the past. This led him to continue this outside of the studio – advocating for the homeless and mentoring the incarcerated. It was through these experiences that Paul found happiness, purpose, and a deeper understanding of himself.

Finding joy is a journey, so don’t shame yourself if it feels like you don’t know! Similar to “Part 1” of the spiritual journey that Kenya discussed, Paul believes that “happiness is discovering who you are.” Anyone else have the chills?

What’s Precious To You?

Well, what is it? This is Paul’s signature question to help people dive into their self-awareness and ultimately happiness. We turned the question back on Paul, and his answer was all about connection with others and finding inspiration from unlikely places. This reminds him that people are inherently good and strong, which inspires him to do the same.

“If you can connect with a person, that makes you precious to them. By being who you are, you can inspire someone that you don’t even know. Both the beauty and the curse of life is that you’ll never know who you are inspiring.”

For more, visit storyofbao.com.