Every blog that I write lately, I want to begin with both - how is it already August but also, what a long year 2020 has become. It truly has just been such a challenge for all of us and while each of our storms is slightly different, we have all certainly been in a storm of some kind these days. For many of us, we may be trying to cope by using various methods of self-care like exercise, sleeping, baking, cooking, hobbies, cleaning, etc. Some people may be wondering why they are doing all of these things if they don’t seem to have lasting change and results in terms of “feeling better.”
The layers of challenge that we have all been faced with are so immense that I think it is worth mentioning that while self-care can help us tolerate and get through and cope with our situations, it is not going to alleviate all of our suffering and emotional discomfort or pain during a situation like this.
The truth is that while self-care has been touted as the new “be all end all” of solutions to help us cope, it is a term that seems to also be synonymous with “not feeling upset anymore, not struggling, not being so darn tired, etc.” Unfortunately, while coping skills and self-care strategies are helpful, they are band-aids when the real problem we are dealing with is living lives that are not sustainable for one reason or another.
Unfortunately, no amount of self care will take away the discomfort we feel from living lives that are not sustainable. The unsustainable status of your life might be because of impossible expectations of yourself or others, the heaviness of our current social and political climate, declining health of yourself or a family member, or living without an alignment of your values and actions.
Coping skills and self care are a bandaid meant to reduce intensity of symptoms so that you are able to do the work that is needed to make real change in your life. This is the thing that many of us get entirely wrong about self-care or coping strategies - they are not the solution in and of themselves. They are just there to help the pain you are in be less acute so that you can address the root causes of the pain.
If you’ve been trying to fix things and feel less through self care or coping skills, you’re not doing it wrong. But you’re not feeling better because you’ve got more work ahead of you. The work is in the incredibly intense and sometimes painful but also keenly rewarding work of taking a deep, long look at your life and exploring what is working for you and what is not. This requires exploring yourself, your patterns, how you cope, what you react to, and what your underlying beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and values are both of yourself and of others.
While this process is intense and difficult, it is no less intense or difficult than repeatedly trying to push away feelings that come up when our lives are out of balance and alignment. In order to try to figure out what is going on for you, it helps to take some space to either journal, meditate, or maybe take some time for personal reflection through reading personal growth journeys or books. You could also do this kind of work with a therapist. Often, our job is to help our clients communicate and identify their beliefs and values and hold up a mirror to help them see their life with more clarity. With that clarity and a judgment free space like our office, our clients are better able to make changes to help them feel better longer term.
If you're reading this and wondering how to gain clarity about your values and how they are influencing your choices, try out the following activities:
The more we can learn to connect our day to day choices with our values and how we are living our lives, the more we can either notice that we are living consistent with our intentional values and goals or that we are not. If you aren’t finding your values line up with your choices, this consciousness can help you find small ways to make changes.
If you feel frustrated often or like you are being too hard on yourself or your loved ones:
I hope this is helpful to you! I know it can be difficult to put a lot of effort into trying to cope differently and more effectively but to also not actually feel that it is helpful. I am hoping these strategies will be more beneficial in the long run even though they take more time in the short term!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."