Category Archives: “looking for our silver bullet” series

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Find New Ways To See

One of the traditions my family did while I was growing up was working puzzles together around the holidays. We often would purchase a new Christmas puzzle from Hallmark in Kansas City each Black Friday and I fondly recall drinking hot chocolate and working on these puzzles around the dining room table. Admittedly, the ones we had done year after year were more enjoyable than some of the newer ones, but we always gave it a go and rarely, if ever, gave up prior to completion. Be it evenings or weekends, we would sit with Christmas music in the background working both together though separately on our new purchase for hours at a time.

That is until someone got up.

As it would be, when one of us got up, it wasn’t uncommon that upon returning we found our seat taken with the reason being that the seat thief wanted a different perspective, a new way of seeing the pieces, and perhaps more often than not, a break from not accomplishing much. Sometimes this was welcomed, sometimes it was not. Yet regardless, we continued working together, shifting the sections we worked on and allowing for the change.

Puzzles do this don’t they? They afford the luxury of pausing and finding new ways to see the pieces and the progress. In fact, even if left to do a puzzle alone, rarely would one sit in the same place through the entirety of their work. Looking at the hundreds of pieces from a multitude of angles refreshes the work and often leads to seeing a coveted piece right in front of us that previously seemed hidden. We don’t fight this, we welcome it and recognize the value in working puzzles in this manner.

And so it is with life.

I often tell folks in my office that it isn’t that I know the answer and am waiting for them to catch up, rather it is that I sit on a different side of the equation and when they share between us, I simply come at it from a different vantage point. I further illustrate this by placing an object of any sort between us and recognizing how if we were both to describe it, we both have different perspectives from which we both share and gain information. Rather than being in a posture of one up, I desire clients to see me alongside wrestling together with them towards the goals they desire. This in and of itself is often a new way of seeing.

But new perspectives can be scary. They can rattle us and make us feel uncertain, vulnerable, and foolish. It’s enjoyable to change chairs and be pleasantly surprised to find the puzzle piece you were looking for, but to get curious about long held ways of going through the world, ways that you’ve typically committed to out of necessity along your journey, well that is very different. Those practices have usually worked so well and been so helpful and so to question them can seem absurd.

Finding new ways to see is risky and brave, uncertain and courageous. It requires the ability to feel the tensions rather than avoid them. It invites a posture of security in one’s identity that stretches beyond the willingness to examine new perspectives and try out new thoughts. It encourages an open-handedness rather than unwillingness. Yet, as we keep at it, finding new ways to see can become less threatening and more exciting. We realize we can try these new ways out and still maintain our agency in deciding if we will commit to them or not. Slowly and surely finding new ways to see becomes a value for us as we begin to recognize it as the foundation for growth and change.

Maybe it’s a book or documentary. Maybe it’s difficult conversations. Maybe it’s a desire to become unstuck. Or maybe it’s simply sitting in a different chair and gaining a different perspective. As we head into a busy last six weeks of the year, I encourage you to give yourself permission to experiment and PLAY with finding new ways to see. Let it be fun and free, trusting you always have the final say on your commitment to new ways of seeing, doing, and being. And as you find new ways to see, may you become increasingly able to know and discern the person you want to be.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

New ways to see can be scary, often with uncertainty in where to start. If you’d like to have someone walk the road with you, I’d love to hear from you!

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Don’t Embrace the Status Quo

It’s been a while. Life has happened and a tree fell on our house, travel occurred, insomnia struck, sickness took over, visitors came, birthdays and milestones passed. It’s been busy and amid all that feels “oh so stressful,” I often tend to revert to my typical coping of buckling down and planning so as to best execute. Tasks and calls, lists and errands, because after all, I must keep going, holding it all together. I lean on efficiency and getting things knocked out to avoid further projected distress. In my head it makes perfect sense. Rest will happen later; for now we have to put our head down, navigate this, and trudge onward.

And so it happened that through a random string of events, I found myself on the other end of the phone with a Catholic priest we will call Father G. Father G is a spiritual director out of state with whom a friend recommended I speak. As I relayed the events of my world he patiently listened and was slow to respond. I liked him already and felt at peace just from his demeanor on the other end even though he was 400 miles away. After I spoke my bit and minimally brought him up to speed on how we got to today, he began to reply in his calm and reassuring tone.

“First Lindsay, you don’t have to navigate anything. You are meant to rest and trust our Savior.”

It washed over me like the warm rays of sun on a cool winter day. The words rolled in my head and echoed through my heart that indeed I didn’t have to navigate things. It felt peaceful. It felt right. It felt holy. Not to mention, it was the second time in a week someone had spoken into my life regarding my need for rest. I felt relief from the list in my head and simply sat with the incredibly inviting idea of rest.

It also felt crazy. And impossible. And idealistic. How could I rest? Who would do all the daily things? It went against my understanding of how to get to and enjoy rest while still doing the necessary practices of life. The things that are good and enjoyable and true to the woman I want to be seemed the only cost I could imagine. I love Jesus, but who was going to make dinners, plan birthday parties, visit family out of state, support friends weddings, the list goes on and on…

And so it is. We each have our status quo, our way of doing things that makes sense and is likely even effective, at least to some degree. When trials come and our typical ways of walking through them don’t work, we often take the approach of doubling down and doing the same adaptive behaviors better, faster, stronger, quicker. It may be working our tails off or avoiding work. It may be constantly entertaining ourselves or denying ourselves pleasure at all. It may be unwisely displaying our messiness or withdrawing into isolation.

What creates the rub however, is when, despite our best efforts and increased determination, the “adaptive” doesn’t work and we can’t return to the status quo.

Rest evaded me all the more as I strived to juggle well all the valuable and important items in my head. I was seeking rest by holding on tighter instead of letting go…and maybe that’s the point. Maybe there in that moment is the invite of Christ into to the storm to rest in the boat with Him rather than shout from above deck trying to navigate it all. When we can no longer embrace the status quo we are freed to try new things, take new risks, and ultimately rest with our Savior.

The status quo can be great but it also has the potential to be stagnant and keep us stuck. Pushing away from this is vulnerable and scary, and the only way to grow. It’s the alternative that remains when our go-to survival skills are maladaptive. I encourage you to challenge your terms, your modes of operation, and your heart. For I believe, it is there, and almost always and only there, that rest can truly be found.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

Let’s talk soon!

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Innovate Around the Core

For the first few years of my work, I hesitated on telling new clients about my belief in long-term therapy. I worried they would freak out, think I was only trying to assure myself of work, and not buy into the idea. I was anxious about starting off and wasn’t quite sure how to sell folks on the idea of something long-term, and so I would shy away from the conversation.

Of course I believe in long-term therapy for many reasons. Primarily, though, because of its effectiveness at using the relational dynamic to get to the root of struggles and work change at a core level. I wasn’t content with bandaids and surface level change when those fixes, while effective, were sometimes situational and difficult to apply to all parts of life. I love the deep work, the messy heart level work.

And so in hopes of getting others intrigued and sold on this, I began taking the risk of telling potential clients this idea at the start. I assure them that it is their choice and they aren’t committing to any sort of long-term therapy while simultaneously sharing my heart for deep heart change that only comes through long standing relationship and work around the core parts of them. I emphasize the idea of getting to know them while sharing skills and practices along the way. I share my hopes in truly seeing and walking with them for more than a short season so the essence of who they are becomes clear.

Change of behavior is essential for change of heart. I so value sitting with new clients and probing with small inquiries related to small changes they can immediately put into practice. It is my honor and responsibility to provide the best questions and reflections, insights and ideas, that get folks thinking about why they do what they do. I love the practice of celebrating with others the ways they have taken risks or tried out a new practice. Having a front row seat to change is such a privilege.

Plenty of people are satisfied with this level change. In a lot of arenas, it’s really great work. It truly does lead to better lives for individuals and I am encouraged by the courage it takes to make and sustain these adjustments. For others though, this isn’t enough and heart level change is the goal. They long to innovate around the core, letting the effects of change spiderweb out and impact their daily living without the always conscious effort.

Innovation around the core is for the bravest of the brave—those willing to fall and stand again more times than they ever dreamed and those prepared to take a most honest look at themselves even when they are certain there are reflections they won’t like seeing. It is the practice of challenging ones very heart in hopes of healing and thriving. It is cleaning out the wound rather than covering it.

As you look toward change and growth, I encourage you to not ignore the core. It is the source of your strength and freedom, the well from which we draw when our backs feel up against the wall. It’s the hardest heart of the work that requires a willingness and invitation for God to move. Innovate here, where the effects are lasting and multiplied, for it’s freedom and fruitfulness is one that no one can take from you as you live anew.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

For more information on long-term therapy and core innovation, contact me!

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Balance Intuition with Rigor

I often find myself giving a sigh and knowing laugh at the common tension found within the walls of the counseling office. “First thought wrong” coupled with “learning to trust yourself,” are two sentiments I share with folks on a regular basis, though in not so blunt terms. At first glance it may seem impossible for the two to co-exist. How can I learn to both not trust myself and to trust myself? When do I trust myself and when do I move on in a different direction or choice? And what if I get it wrong, trusting when I shouldn’t have and not trusting when I should? It is a bit confusing, even for me to explain.

Yet, as I wrestle with the tension these two ideas create, I find they bring about a perfect and freeing harmony, both in the counseling realm and outside the office in “real life.” Our first thoughts and ideas can be spot on. Our gut reaction can lead us to some amazing places, help us stay safe, or genuinely do the right thing. Trusting our intuition is important because it communicates to us about us. This is so important buecause our relationship with ourself is so important. It’s the one relationship we have our entire lives. Intuition is a gift to use and cherish.

However, intuition alone is rarely the only evidence or entire picture we ought to look at. Intuition can sometimes urge us to jump before looking, to act on feelings that may be based solely in fear or worry, excitement or pleasure. Our gut can urge us react based in survival rather than respond with clarity. First thought wrong is often first feeling wrong and an indication to pause, gather more information, and then proceed. The thoroughness, carefulness, meticulousness, and diligence that define rigor serve us.

And so it is with intuition and rigor.

We were created to have and develop both these pieces of us. Both intuition and rigor are vital to our experiences, our successes and failures, our relationships and endeavors. And at the crux of a balanced life is co-existence between these internal parts where communication is constant. It is finding balance between our intuition, what our gut says and pulls us towards, and rigor, the hard sought knowledge and intellect, that is essential for whole living.

Learning how to do this, accepting when we get it wrong, and getting back up to try again, well, these are the hard parts of walking the balanced life. Here isn’t the space to work that out, rather in invitation to play with and wrestle with the idea of balance. Most of us lean towards one way or another. We trust our gut come what may, or we trust hard work and the strict discipline we commit to. Often times we may even teeter-totter between the two in extreme ways. Finding balance requires an honest look at ourselves to see what we favor and looking at how that both blesses and burdens us. Then, and only then, can we begin the difficult work of finding the freeing place of balance.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

To dive more into a balanced relationship with intuition and rigor, contact me me today. 

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Grow With Discipline

In high school, I grew seven inches between the start of my sophomore year and completion of my junior year. Seven. I went from one of the shortest girls on my softball team to one of the tallest. I was suddenly thrown from a wing player to a post player on my 1-19 sophomore basketball team. I had arms for days. (Still do) My shirt sleeves fit poorly. (Still do) My jeans were never near worn out before needing to purchase new ones. And as one friend later told me, I was “so lanky and awkward.”

Most growth, like physical growth, is often uncomfortable and cumbersome. It requires us to adjust our actions, attitudes, and abilities. It stretches us. It exhausts us. It excites us. Growth doesn’t allow us to stay put and stay the same. It has the potential to satisfy us, free us, and improve us. And for the most part, we all agree that growth is good.

So what’s this bit about growing with discipline? And why start here.

In his book, Onward, Howard Schultz discusses the seemingly reckless abandon with which Starbucks grew in the United States. It was fast and furious, similar to my abrupt 7-inch height change in high school. And for both Starbucks and myself, it was painful. Schultz continues in the book to describe the lessons in leadership he has taken from this growth. It changed him as a leader and it changed him as a person.

Amid many options, Merriam-Webster primarily defines discipline in the following way.

1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order , b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, c : self-control; 2: punishment; 3: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

I don’t presume to speak for Shultz and so inferring here, let’s agree that he might be referring to both the “self-control” and “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character,” definitions. Upon further look, self-control is further defined as, “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.” And this seems to really hit the mark.

Growth must be accompanied by training and molding towards and in-line with moral character, because simply put, growth without restraint, especially as exercised over one’s impulses, emotions, or desires, is reckless. To allow impulse to lead growth can result in reckless irrationality. To allow emotions to navigate growth can result in reckless reactivity. To allow desires to dictate growth can result in reckless regret.

While some impulses are helpful and based on the need for survival, impulses when in relation to growth are often unhelpful. Impulses fail to take into account the logical and calculated, the long-term goals and associated necessary actions. Rather, they strive to keep the status quo and stay comfortable. They may dream and promise big with little ability to follow through. Impulses are exactly that, impulsive. The hard practice of disciple is essential to advantageous and upward growth. Quite possibly, the forfeiting of restraint over impulses, emotions, and desires quickly compromises the very growth one is hoping to gain.

So as you look toward growth, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or otherwise, I encourage you to first look at the how of what you hope to do. Come up with a plan, a discipline, that will align you with the goals and values you desire to live by. Plan ahead regarding how you will overcome the temptations to sidestep that discipline. Stick with that discipline regardless of momentary discomfort. And enjoy the fruits of growing with discipline.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

To further this conversation on growth, contact me today for a free phone consult!

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — A Blog Series

Sometimes we read a book or a quote and it becomes sticky. It’s ideas and words rattle around in our mind and won’t seem to leave us alone. Books like When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner, The Problem With Pain by C.S. Lewis, and Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle are some that quickly come to mind for me. They captivate, challenge, and invite the reader to cultivate new ways of thinking and possibly new ways of going through the world.

Additionally, some quotes do this. In grad school, a professor shared one such quote that I memorized enough to go back and find. “If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.” -J. B. Phillips. What a great thought! It is so powerful and articulate, helping to frame the kind of writer, speaker, and therapist I desire to be.

If you’ve read many of my blogs, you will see quotes and ideas that have stuck with me sprinkled throughout. One quote, however, feels more deserving of intentionality than a mere mention.  And so I decided to make this lengthier quote into more of an event that hones in on the specifics of each sentiment. Over the coming 18 weeks, I will be writing a blog series entitled Looking for Our Silver Bullet based on the following quote by former Starbucks CEO, Howard Shultz.

Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over communicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.

—Howard Shultz, Onward

I read this book 7+ years ago and still to this day, I find myself recalling pieces of it in my weekly interactions. It holds simplicity alongside complexity and invites us in. I hope to do the same as each week I will address one of the short statements in the quote and discuss it’s application in our lives. I hope you’ll join me for the series!

And I hope to make Shultz proud.

Maybe even get a coffee out of it.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

To subscribe to the blog series, please click the link on your right or sign up by email! As always, contact me with any questions.