Category Archives: family of origin

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

This Christmas, while singing carols, this line stood out to me in a new and unusual manner. “The hopes and fears of all the years…” And while having heard it and sang it all the years of my life, it struck me with it’s opposing nature as the words escaped my lips. How can two seemingly opposite emotions and states of being be brought together? And how do we live in that place, year after year?

My DBT training has taught me well to live the tension of conflicting thoughts and feelings, and so perhaps for me, it is less about the “how do we do it,” and more about the “but do I have to…?” I don’t want to live this way, in the tension of hope and fear. I want to live freely in hope and hope alone. I want to let fear go—it not getting a place in my life outside of keeping me safe and alive. I don’t want to live scared that I may fail at this, might not get those, or may lose that.

Plainly put, I want to find hope that is certain and without the accompanying partner of fear.

Yet, as I sit writing at the start of 2018, I can quickly and easily think of many things in which I am both experiencing hope and its companion fear about for the coming year—hopes for my personal life, my professional life, my spiritual life. And as much as I think I can control my destiny, work hard enough, choose wisely, or make fewer mistakes, when all is said and done, I cannot control the outcome of many of my hopes and fears.

They simply are.

And so I must choose to accept the feelings that come. To live in peace during the holidays, the new year, and beyond, I must actively accept the hopes and fears that swirl into and around the reality I am living. Though I may prefer hope and must fight the urges fear suggests of hiding and setting hope aside, I deliberately welcome both instead of trying to pick one. While choosing fear might seem safer and keeps the heart more guarded, it isn’t, however, the way that leads to a true life worth living. And holding hope alone is near impossible given its uncertain nature. I must invite both, I must hold both, and I must grasp both with open hands.

Not to be overlooked, the ultimate understanding and acceptance of hopes and fears as conveyed in the Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, points at the birth of Jesus. The hope realized and the fears assuaged, all were met together in Christ. And, Jesus, the anchor of hope that can bear the weight of my fears was not lost on me this Christmas. For when we have hope bigger than ourselves, our fears seem to shrink back and find their rightful size and place. This and this alone is where we tighten our grip and hold on for dear life. For it is here and Him that will see us through the hopes and fears of all the year.

As you begin 2018, I encourage you to see how you are letting hope in, holding fear loosely, and what anchor keeps you amid the two. What do you cling to when fear grows and consumes your heart? What do you clutch for the answer to your hopes? And is there space for the two to collide and coexist, hope and fear crashing into one another while you withstand the impact?

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

 

Finding Your Filters

It’s rare that any of us have escaped growing up without picking up outside messages about ourselves. From infancy, the world around us and the people around us are speaking into what kind of person we are. Some folks are fortunate to hear outright messages of strength, courage, and beauty. They are given space to explore and fail, always with parents or support systems in place to help separate the kind of kids that they are and will become from the kind of mistakes they make.

Others receive messages less encouraging and are told directly or indirectly that they are weak, incompetent, and destined to fail. It may be in a parental disregard for ones feelings or a well-meaning sibling stepping in and overshadowing. Or perhaps a teacher’s criticism or coach’s critiques echo louder than comments of personal self worth. We are told of our weaknesses and become one with them.

All of us have these messages that start to take root.

As we grow into adolescents and adults, both the subtle and overt messages we absorb become our core beliefs. The world around us and the people around us now are filtered through our belief system, similar to the work of an air filter. However, in lieu of removing the dirt and toxicity, we pick it up. A compliment, request, comment, or question is transformed in our reverse filter, passing through our negative core beliefs, and left to simply reinforce what the world and others have told us in the past.

It all begs the question, can we change the filters? And how?

The quick answer is, kind of and it takes work. A great deal of work. No one escapes  filters because no one is raised by perfect people in a perfect environment. Even those that receive the most encouraging and empowering childhood pick up filters. Because these beliefs are formed so early, we spend a good deal of life living with them in place. Some of your beliefs might be easily recognized and addressed, while others are working overtime and will take trusted relationships for you to find, clean, and possibly change.

And so it’s not out of defeat that we discuss the effort it may require to engage our filters, but from a place of empowerment and invitation to fresh air. You can begin to recognize the filters in your life and notice the beliefs that feel so absolutely true about you that they can’t possibly be challenged. I invite you to become more aware of the messages about yourself that you return to over and again. Look for labels that you stick on yourself like I’m a failure or I’m not worthy. And let’s begin to dream about how you would feel if life didn’t pass through and pick up the dirt of these filters.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

If you feel encouraged to take action on the filters in your life, lets talk!

Do You Know What You Need?

One summer I worked as a coach at a children’s sports camp. It was a hilarious, hot, and wonderful experience. Amid games of soccer and capture the flag, kids aged 3-8 were bound to get bumps and bruises. It was a daily occurrence for a little one to come to me in tears. I would kneel to their level and ask her or him what they needed, sometimes giving options such as ice or a drink, to sit with me or be alone, and other times letting him or her simply tell me. When asked, they always knew what they needed and were more than willing to share.

It’s a beautiful thing to know what you need.

Yet somewhere along the road of growing up a great deal of us lose this ability. Perhaps it is due to unmet needs as a child or the negative messages received when making requests. It could be the disagreement that occurs when one pleads and the other instead gives what they want, not what is asked for, that leads to confusion of needs. Or maybe it’s the denial of any needs to begin with, passively teaching a person that they are always fine. The result is adolescents to elderly who have no real knowledge of their experienced needs, yet often feel slighted, overlooked and not enough.

Regaining the ability to identify what you need, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise, and to take action on that, is essential to your well-being. By checking in with yourself and getting curious as to if you need to move or need to be still, need company or need solitude, need advice or need empathy, need to change or need to accept, is a difficult yet necessary step in feeling more cared for and more in control of your life.

To be fair, having needs can be messy. It can be difficult and risky. Inviting others to help and taking time, space or care for yourself isn’t promised to be received well. And yet attempting to live without needs denies your human spirit and can easily make you all the more hurt, alone, and afraid.

By learning, acknowledging, and responding to the needs that arise within, you communicate validation and care towards yourself.

Learning to meet your needs, be it through your own means or the help of others, in turn helps you to reclaim your worth and feel as though you matter. This is indispensable to yourself and your relationships, and it allows you to return to the things of life—just like the kids above could quickly receive and return to the game at hand.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

To learn more about your needs, contact Lindsay today.

Can We Move Forward By Looking Backward?

There are things we all would change if we knew then what we know now. Perhaps it is how you treated a kid in high school or the way you quit a job. Maybe it’s how you spent your teens or 20s or some of the people you chose to date. However big or small, we look back and see the places we’ve messed up, often quick to judge and shame ourselves for not doing or knowing better.

And what happens is we then attempt to use this shame and disappointment to propel us forward. We beat ourselves up, hide our stories, and talk down to ourselves all in the hope of doing better this time around. We believe that if we just hate that part of ourself and our actions enough, we will never repeat them.

But then we do.

The cycle begins again and the negative self talk comes right back even though we desperately try to separate ourselves from this version of us. We feel terrible and spend our time running from the things we don’t want to be — I just don’t want to be like my father, I’ll do anything not to be emotional like my mother, I hate that part of my past and yet it seems to define me. Too often this scenario results in us spending a significant amount of time running and little time being and doing the things we value.

Think of the last time you drove your car.  Your rearview mirror was helpful in backing out of a parking space or changing lanes. It gives you information and we are encouraged to check it frequently. We glance quickly and then return our attention and energies to the road ahead. Similarly, the rearview mirror in your life is no different. It gives you input into your current situation and can offer help in avoiding certain wrecks.

However. We are not meant to look solely behind us as we drive ahead.

What things would we crash into if we attempted to drive forward while only looking backwards with regret, anger, sadness, shame and guilt? These feelings, while a part of our human experience, are terrible motivators towards the life we want. Spending energy avoiding rather than becoming quickly becomes futile, just as spending time looking behind you while trying to drive forward would result in less than desirable outcomes and the simplest routes would become impossibly dangerous.

This is a call towards life and the road ahead. I encourage you to find some thing that matters to you or possibly a value that defines the man or woman you want to be. Put your energy towards going forward and drive towards it. Steer your life in a way that is headed in the direction of your destination while allowing space for brief glances into your past that keep you on track.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

I’d sincerely love to hear what you’re driving towards. Or for more on looking ahead—please contact me today.