4 Tips For Overcoming Rejection

By Kacie Mitterando, LMSW

Researchers have spent years trying to pin down exactly how many emotional experiences we have a day and it turns out… it’s pretty tough.

One study shows that there are five basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, joy, and sadness (1). This study has prevailed throughout most other research and is even the basis behind the Pixar movie Inside Out (if you haven’t seen it’s a must!). If you’re one of my clients, you’re pretty familiar with these emotions- mainly because of my “emotions list” (a colored wheel with a variety of different emotions written down) that I hand out when someone is trying to describe the reaction they’ve had to an event. Not everyone likes this wheel and for the most part this makes sense because dealing with our emotions is hard and can trigger many different conditions. In handing this emotion wheel over, something kept popping up for my clients and my clinical skills tell me “if something pops up more than once, there’s something deeper there.”

Rejection

I’m not sure if there’s another emotion that feels more like a gut punch than the emotion of rejection and it doesn’t help that we normally feel rejected with situations that mean the most to us: relationships, our careers and dream chasing.

Interestingly enough, rejection has a physical reaction that can cause physical pain. In a study published in 2011, the pain of seeing a picture from an ex-relationship that was unwanted is similar to the pain of spilling hot coffee on oneself. Additionally, the brain regions that are activated when we experience physical pain – such as being punched are the same brain regions activated when we are turned away in a social setting or a prospective career (2).

It makes sense that you’re hurting when you’re rejected.

Some reminders that can hopefully be emotional medicine for your rejection pain:

1.     Embrace avoidance and use it productively:

Did you get turned down from the job of your dreams? Remind yourself of your goals and even make a list if needed. Ask yourself some questions such as “why did I want this job?” “What is the job of my dreams?” and “How can I get myself to this goal?” Sometimes after a rejection it can be easier to avoid feeling vulnerable in the future, however, using this moment to fuel productivity can help you find something that may be even better.

2.     Reframe your thoughts:

When feeling rejected it makes sense to fall into a thought pattern that can be harmful, as you are feeling hurt and negative self talk can thrive in this state. Be mindful of these thoughts, embrace them, nurture the part of you that created them and then reframe. There are many reasons why you may have gotten rejected that have nothing to do with you and are in fact a result of where the source of the rejection is in their current life. Maybe a potential place of employment was looking for someone with less/more experience than you had. It’s possible that your romantic interest is simply in a relationship, or going through a tough time and can’t give you the attention you deserve romantically right now. The outlining factors are endless and spending some time thinking about what they may be can help ease some pain (3).

3.     Use this time to practice self-confidence:

One of the most important times to practice confidence is when dealing with rejection. Make a list of all the positive attributes you have and read that list to yourself a few times throughout the day. Text a friend and ask them what their favorite quality about you is and add that to the list. When you’re feeling rejected, it’s a crucial time to be your own best friend and lean on the supports you have to help you with this.

4.     Give yourself a time limit:

Let yourself be sad, hurt and experiencing the range of the “emotions list” when this happens. It’s important to validate and embrace these emotions as they come. While doing so, give yourself a time limit on your grieving. For example, “I will give myself three days of feeling this way and then I will apply to three new jobs (2).”

 

If the feeling of rejection is something you’re struggling with, as always, we’re here to help.

 

1.     5 Basic Emotions - Motivation and Emotion. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/emotionmotivationtutorial/emotion/5-basic-emotions

 

2.     5 Ways to Shake Off the Pain of Rejection. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understand-other-people/201512/5-ways-shake-the-pain-rejection

 

3.     How to Conquer the Fear of Rejection. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smashing-the-brainblocks/201812/how-conquer-the-fear-rejection

 

 

A Snapshot of Brené Brown’s Study of Shame and Resiliency

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs 3 things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it cannot survive. The two most powerful words in a time of struggle are me too” - Brene Brown

Brené Brown, an American researcher, professor, author, and inspirational speaker, has spent two decades studying difficult emotional experiences such as courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Brown’s extensive research has helped us understand how these emotions relate to each other, and how to work through difficult emotions like shame. In her recent book, I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn’t) , Brown illustrates the power of shame and helpful tips to work towards shame resiliency. Whether its relationships, parenting styles, work environments, family dynamics, you name it, Brown demonstrates that shame impacts all of us,  it’s an unspoken epidemic, and the less we talk about it, the more power it has over our ability to feel connected.

Brown defines shame as “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Shame creates feelings of fear, blame, and disconnection.” She goes further to describe the gender organization of shame, in which “women most often experience shame as a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations that dictate who we should be, what we should be, and how we should be.” Brown’s definition highlights that shame is part of all of us, and is often impacted by the environment we live in and our gender identify.

Brown shares in her book that we often confuse shame with guilt because these two emotions can seem similar in the ways they impact us and our relationships. Yet, she helps us understand the important difference between shame and guilt: shame is focused on ourselves while guilt is focused on our behaviors. Some common thoughts below illustrate the differences between shame and guilt, and the impact shame has on our identify, self-confidence, and connection towards others.

 

Guilty Thought                                                          Shameful Thought

“I did something bad”                                                  “I am bad”

“I made a mistake”                                                      “I am a mistake”

“I made a stupid choice”                                             “I am stupid”

 

When we experience guilt, we have a strong desire to take accountability and ask for forgiveness from the person or people we harmed, which involves empathy, compassion, and courage. However, when we experience shame, we feel hopeless, isolated, and unforgiving. Brown describes how this harmful self view has been a leading cause for addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, and eating disorders.

Shame is not a hopeless epidemic though. How do we build strength to work through some of our most shameful experiences? Brown shares some helpful tips on how to develop shame resiliency to overcome some of our deepest struggles.

To get out from underneath shame, we have to understand how it affects us and the relationships we have.

Brown describes the ways human connection - our ability to forge meaningful and authentic relationships with others - is on a spectrum where empathy is on one end and shame is on the other. She also illustrates the nob that moves us on this spectrum is vulnerability, where the more vulnerable we are - the more capable we are of sharing our strengths and struggles - the more empathy we hold. Brown uses four tips to help us move this vulnerability nob further from shame and closer towards empathy and shame resiliency.

 

1. Recognizing Shame and Understanding Triggers

Brown shares that the first step towards shame resiliency is recognizing shame and understanding our triggers. When we become more aware of our shame and things that increase these feelings, we can make mindful, thoughtful decisions about how we can respond to shame in a productive and healthy way. Brown provides a helpful companion worksheet to help us increase awareness, identity, and connection to counter shame symptoms. https://brenebrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/ITIWJMreadingguide.pdf

 

2. Practicing Critical Awareness

Brown helps us identify the ways shame can feel like the zoom lens on a camera; when we feel shame, the camera is zoomed in and all we see are our struggles and flaws. This experience can feel isolating, as if “I am the only one and something is completely wrong with me.” Brown challenges us to zoom this internal camera lens out to think more broadly about our struggles and to reflect on how these situations can be impacting many other people in the same way. We can begin to ask ourselves questions that challenge where expectations come from and what type of pressure we naturally feel as a result of these expectations to normalize our shame. Some questions Brown suggests we ask ourselves to increase critical awareness are:

•    What are the social-community expectations?

•    Why do these expectations exist?

•    How do these expectations work?

•    Who benefits from these expectations?

 

3. Reaching Out

“Regardless of who we are, how we were raised or what we believe, all of us fight hidden, silent battles against not being good enough, not having enough and not belonging enough. When we find the courage to share our experiences and the compassion to hear others tell their stories, we force shame out of hiding and end the silence”

 

Brown emphasizes in this tip the ways we can heal through our connections with others. She also highlights the ways we are more alike than we are different, in that we all need to feel valued, accepted and affirmed. Reaching out and giving space to hear other people’s stories of their internal struggles increases empathy and connection and reduces experiences of judgment and rejection. Brown shares six ways we can reach out to increase our connection with others and to use our voice as power to counter shame symptoms; she calls these the six P’s:

•    Personal: your interactions with family, friends and co-workers

•    Pens: writing a letter to organizational leaders and legislators

•    Polls: getting educated about leaders and issues, and voting

•    Participation: joining organizations that support your issues

•    Purchase: buying from companies that support your values

•    Protests: standing up for what you believe in

 

4. Speaking Shame

This is likely the toughest tip because it requires us to seek the vulnerability to share our shame experiences with others. Brown helps us understand the benefits of sharing and the ways storytelling helps us communicate who were are, how we feel, what’s important to us and what we need from others. Telling others how we feel and asking for what we need are basic requirements of resilience and connection. Brown also highlights that speaking shame holds people accountable for the ways their actions might have impacted us, and creates opportunities for others to increase empathy towards us to build stronger relationships.

 

While shame can feel deflating, there are many ways we can get out from under shame to build resiliency, courage, compassion, and empathy. If you are struggling with shame, we are here to help. Call us at 347.994.9301 to schedule an appointment to begin working through your experiences of shame together.

 

How to Apply "Done Is Better Than Perfect" to Accomplish More

As innovators, creators and people who generally want thigns to be perfect, sometimes we struggle with following through. The idea that details are important not only makes us great, but it can be the real barrier to fulfiilling our dreams. Sometimes we don’t even know what those dreams are.

Social media screams that we need to find our passion first and once that happens we will magically be able to watch projects and dreams just fall into place.

There’s just one problem.

Most times, some effort is required in finding our passion. It requires that we have failed at a bunch of things. This sets up a really bad, procrastination loop where our brains tell us “Nope you aren’t sending that out looking like that?, What will people think of you when you fail?”

One slightly easier way to find passion (which is just an emotion) is to practice conjuring the feeling of passion NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE DOING. You might be asking, how the heck do I do that?

Enter stage left, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) mind tricks for increasing passion no matter what.

  1. Ask a passion-centered question.

    Passion centered questions can be asked in any situation. Say you are in a job you hate, doing a project you hate. When you sit down to do an aspect of that project, ask yourself “What is the one thing that is pleasurable about what I am doing?” Don’t just settle for your brain’s first answer of nothing. Dig deep. Expect an answer to this question, then just hone in on the one teeny tiny feel good thing about your experience.

  2. Verbalize a postiive emotions (better known as fake it til you make it.

    When you find yourself engaged in something less than thrilling, verbalize something like. “Well this is exciting!” or “Wow this is fun.” At first this can feel sarcastic and absurd (which is better thn feeling depressed) but over time the thing can actually induce the feeling you are verbalizing. *Love this one.

  3. Take bigger breaths

    Tuning into the breath during mundane or annoying tasks gives the body an indication you are slightly more comfortable. It also primes you to be closer to a state of flow. Being in flow is right in line with feeling more passion in your life.

Using these tricks can start to shift from obsessive perfectionism to a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction is the key to being able to feel like we can safely set our ideas free into the world.

The world needs your ideas in all stages of perfection and imperfection.

It isn’t about waiting for the right moment. There is no right moment. There are challenges we can sign up for and emotions we can experience. - Seth Godin

Ready to find more passion and live your dreams? Set up your free 15 minute consultation today!

5 Tips For Adulting

By

Paul Triggs, LMSW

The Oxford Dictionary now has a definition for "adulting":

“The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks."

Adultng includes things like having a full-time job, children and even owning a home. Adulting also includes being able to cook for yourself and doing your own laundry. ”

The thought of doing all these super boring tasks can seem overwhelming to people beginning their adult lives. Leaning into adulthood may seem daunting and intimidating, but being an independent adult can be extraordinarily rewarding.

Healthy adulting is all about transforming the mundane into feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. That's where a therapist who specialises in emerging adulthood and who knows the power of creative play can help. Emerging adulthood therapists understand the importance of play and know how to help young adults integrate that into their now, seemlingly mundane adult life.

What is Emerging Adulthood?

Emerging adulthood is the developmental stage after adolescence when people are learning more about themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing. The age ranges of fall between ages 18 to 29 years old (Muncy, 2006). Commonly people that fall in this age range between 18 and 30 years old find themselves asking the questions such as: What makes an individual an adult? and I am enough of an adult for my age?

Does this apply to me?

The main challenge of emerging adulthood is the feeling of being “stuck” between a desire for independence and a preconceived notion of when to start a family and what a family “should” consist of. Furthermore, most American people who are emerging adults move away from home at age 18 or 19 but do not get married or have children until their late twenties (Arnett, 2004). On the other hand, in 1960 it was common for men to be married by age 22 and women by age 20 (In response, maybe you are not bad at being an adult but you following the current social norms and waiting until the time is right.

The main indicator to know if you struggle with adulting is how well you manage your day to day life and how much satisfaction you get out of managing those things.

How Can A Therapist Help?

Therapists with this focus do a number of things. First they help you discover and clarify your goals, help you look for barriers to taking care of yourself and also making your day to day life more fulfilling and pleasurable.

Therapists help with adulting by using things like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to look at patterns of thinking that keep us stuck in fear and defeat. Once that is mastered therapists help you increase the pleasurable moments in your day by using principles from postiive psychology and hypnotherapy.

It's important to find a therapist who also understand the concept of gamification.

Gamification is essentially the idea of turning different aspects of your life into a game to increase motivation and pleasure.

A competent therapist can then help you take that same idea and develop your own internal rewards for things like laundry, dishes and paying bills.

Here are a few ways I help my clients make an easier, more pleasurable transition into the whole adulting experience:

1. Gamify as much of your life as possible.

Struggling with paying bills, eating healthy and going to the gym? Apps like Habitica are an amazing and fun way to get stuff done.

2. Get inspired around your life goals.

Check out resources like 100things.com.au for inspiration and focus around your life path.

3. Look for free resources

Your city (or the internet) is full of free stuff to help with life goals and extracurricular activities to keep your life exciting. Websites like coursera.com or the New York Public Library offer free courses on a number of different subjects from gardening to bdugeting.

4. Have a trusted adult on speed-dial

Find a mentor or someone you see who has nailed the whole adulting thing. Write down 3-5 questions to ask that person about how they manage their day to day.

5. Manage your meals

Make eating healthy as easy as possible. Whether that be a meal service like Daily Harvest or developing a plan for weekly meal prep, make it a priority to get your nutrition in check.

Need help adulting? Schedule a call today for a free consultation

Muncy, C. (2006). Emerging adults: The in-between age. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun06/emerging.aspx

Arnett, J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from late teens through the twenties. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Arnett, J. J., & Taber, S. (1994). Adolescence terminable and interminable: When does adolescence end? Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 23, 517–537.

Take Control of Feeling Overwhelmed

By Kacie Mitterando, LMSW

“I am feeling so overwhelmed today”

“Life is just becoming extremely overwhelming.”

These are few of the statements surrounding overwhelm that I’ve recently heard in several of my sessions. Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed the majority of these statements expressed by those who are experiencing “all-or-nothing” behavior that is causing mild to moderate stress and anxiety in their day to day.

What is overwhelm anyways?

Webster’s dictionary defines overwhelm as “defeat completely” and “give too much of a thing to someone else.” As a therapist, I have been discovering that there’s much more than a simple dictionary definition to this emotion of overwhelm and where it initially stems from. Research led me to an important topic that many of us struggle with from time to time… balance.

Answer emails, answer your friends’ phone call, maintain a relationship with your partner, take the dog for a walk, keep up with the dishes and don’t forget to try to make it to the gym for your cardiovascular health. How do we manage all of this plus more without completely falling over backwards? Defining what’s a priority, reducing multitasking and setting boundaries may help us lead a more balanced life, however, why is this more difficult when we also find ourselves experiencing an “all or nothing” mentality (1)?

Our adult selves are able to handle stressors, threats to our emotional wellbeing and emergencies by using tools we have, such as self-soothing and coping modalities. Conversely, often times and especially when we’re experiencing “all or nothing” mindset we find ourselves thrown into our child self. This is described in theory as transactional analysis. Transactional analysis is a concept based in the principle that we can switch between a parent, adult and childlike ego state and therefore, assess and react to situations based on whichever state we are in (2).

So how do we move away from an all-or-nothing approach and towards our adult-like states to help us efficiently practice balance and reduce overwhelm?

Observe the ego state you are in throughout a conversation with someone you are close to:

When a conversation goes poorly it is often attributed to the conversation being on a sensitive topic. This may be a conversation about politics, religion, or sex. Ask yourself what ego state you were in when a conversation goes wrong. Did my child-like self respond when someone was seeking a parent response? What did I say that could have triggered the child-like self in this person that matters to me (4)?

Identify all or nothing language:

Recognize times in which you are using words such as “always,” “never,” and “every-time.” Some examples of instances in which we all may fall victim to using all or nothing language is statements like “my anxiety ruins everything,” “I will never fight the right person,” or possible to your partner- “you always forget to take the garbage out.” Once recognizing, spend some time thinking of ways in which you can replace this all-or-nothing language with a more realistic approach.

Avoid black and white extremes:

Black and white thinking is not always bad. In fact, it may have helped you get through some tough and challenging moments in life. However, black and white to the extreme can be dangerous and impact overall mood and well being. Once recognizing this thinking, ask yourself another way to look at this situation? For illustration, if a family member did something hurtful and you find yourself thinking “they are a completely terrible person.” Try and reframe this situation by asking yourself “could there be a reason why they made this decision (3)?”

Prioritize:

Make a list of what is important to you right now as well as your goals for the upcoming month. Lean on this outline to remind you to place importance on what you would like to get done so balancing tasks becomes a habit. This list doesn’t have to be limited to accomplishments at work or organizational tasks at home but should address many different parts of your life. It is perfectly OK to include in your prioritization list satisfying your social needs or setting a self-care schedule.

If you find yourself struggling with all-or-nothing thinking and your ability to achieve balance is not working, therapists are here to help.

How To Achieve Balance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201004/how-achieve-balance

Description of Transactional Analysis and Games by Dr. Eric Berne MD. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ericberne.com/transactional-analysis/

5 Ways Black and White Thinking Poisons Your Perspective. (2018, September 11). Retrieved from https://www.talkspace.com/blog/2018/07/black-white-thinking-ways-poisons-your-perspective/

Morad, N. (2018, February 28). How to Use Psychology to Communicate Better and Avoid Conflict. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@NataliMorad/how-to-communicate-better-with-transactional-analysis-d0d32f9d50da

How Mindfulness Can Help Your Pregnancy

By Amanda Polster, LMSW

As wonderful as pregnancy is, it is still a major life change. The energy pregnancy requires can often be overlooked. Whether you are currently pregnant or supporting a pregnant loved one, mindfulness can help you cope with the stress and overwhelm during this stage in life.

Mindfulness is a healthy and accessible way to increase compassion and reduce distress during pregnancy. Although it can be scary to look inward for relief, mindfulness offers many tools to cope with anxiety, and can even support in gaining a closer bond with your baby. Research shows that mindfulness improves decision making and self regulation while conversely reducing stress levels and symptoms of depression. The foundational definition of mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2005). Many hundreds of studies prove that people who incorporate mindfulness into their daily routine have greater emotional balance in life (Neff, 2011).

 

Mindfulness in Daily Life

Bringing conscious awareness to your pregnancy each day can help sharpen your skills of building your mindfulness muscle. The benefits of mindfulness support all emotional distress through encouraging and welcoming all experiences that occur as normal human encounters (i.e. anger, excitement, frustration, hope, worry, etc). Practicing mindfulness techniques can be a preventative tool during pregnancy, and support in more stressful circumstances, like going to the doctors for test results on the health of your baby (Neff, 2011).

 

Affirmations are Key

Being validated during pregnancy (and at any stage of life) is a normal human desire and impacts our connection with others. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs portrays the way esteem and love/belonging are essential components of human motivation in the pursuit towards self actualization and gratification (Neff, 2011). Although receiving affirmations from others is important, it is not always as accessible as we would like. Self-affirmations and self-validation become all the more important during times when we are challenged with stressful life decisions and transitions, like pregnancy. Since mindfulness is one of the core components of self-compassion, “when we improve our mindfulness skills, we automatically increase our ability to be self compassionate” (Neff, 2011).

 

Mindful Body Sensation Exercises

Acknowledging our bodies as resilient is an empowering mindfulness practice. Our bodies are the foundation of mindfulness training. We live in our bodies, “so to appreciate the fullness of life we need to experience the body fully” (Germer, 2009). Practicing mindful body movements and awareness not only supports general physical and mental health, but can also support the overall health of your child; research has indicated that mindfulness may prevent premature birth and can provide healthy development during each trimester of pregnancy (Newman, 2016).

 

Because mindfulness has become mainstream, there are many free resources online to access mindful body practices. The link below offers a variety of different guided body movement and awareness practices, ranging from body scans to affectionate breathing meditations.

 

https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/mindfulness/programs/mbsr/pages/audio.aspx

 

If you are interested in seeking additional guidance during your pregnancy, we would love to support you during this special and intimate experience. Our practice offers therapy sessions grounded in evidence based research models such as mindfulness based stress reduction, yoga, and greater mind-body exercises. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please visit our website at www.ruschellekhanna.com or contact us at 347.994.9301.

 

References

 

Germer, Christopher K. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. The Guilford Press. 2009.

 

Kabat-Zinn, John. Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Mediation in Everyday Life. Hatchette Books. 2005.

 

Keng SL, Smoski MJ, Robins CJ. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review. 31(6): 1041–1056. 

 

Neff, Kristin. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. Kristin Neff. 2011.

 

Newman, Kira M. Four Reasons to Practice Mindfulness During Pregnancy. Mind & Body. 2016.