Category Archives: self-worth

Looking for Our Silver Bullet — Never Expect a Silver Bullet

Of all the pieces of my quote series, to me, this one sticks out the most. “Never expect a silver bullet.” It is counter-cultural, though not counter-intuitive. It is annoying, yet acceptable. And it’s perhaps what we all want but know we are never going to get. So why do we hold so tightly to the idea of quick fixes and instant gratification? And why only in some realms of life do we expect this to actually work?

In the preface of the late Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve, Peter Steinke writes, “Anxiety and the search for the rapid solutions always result in a failure of nerve. Needing to be right, certain, and pain free, we narrow our thinking and put our courage on pause. Operating from a quick-fix mentality is a non-growth position. Instead, Edwin Friedman purposes that challenge is necessary for mature functioning.”

In this, I think we find both the answers and aversions to steady, long-suffering, growth and maturity-driven work. The way we grow and the way we want things fixed, and fixed now, compete for our allegiance. We happily point to our beloved sports or child-rearing as slowly learned through a great deal of effort, struggle, commitment, and time. We applaud those who stick with it when it’s unapologetically difficult and recognition is minimal. We admire and honor hard work and salute those willing to be steadfast and true.

And while we know better, even deeply respect those who do it the hard way, this knowledge does little to curb our intense and natural desire towards the path of least resistance. Our emotions interrupt our determination and we tap out, tune out, turn down, or take off. We want to be certain and safe, patching and repairing every little knick along the way.

And so we come to a crossroads. We often find ourselves with one foot in the work of growing and one foot in the hope of a silver bullet. We can easily and quickly become stuck here if we aren’t intentional. Therefore, in some sense we must choose to trust our actions and hard work or trust our thoughts, hopes, and wants of a quick fix.

Perhaps looking at this idea long term helps, as we can typically see that further down the road hard work pays off and helps to arrive at our desired destination. To be unstuck we must take action on this truth, regardless of thoughts and feelings. We choose better and trust the process of action over apathy. We bravely and courageously take the next steps even amid discomfort and struggle. We acknowledge the feelings and keep the course, resting as needed and yet never giving in to the desire of easy solutions.

This path is one of my favorite things about therapeutic work. Is gritty and hard, even daunting at times. It’s work to be sure. I encourage clients to stick with it similar to how I encourage myself to stick with my own journey. And the joy finds us as they learn to appreciate the means and the perseverance they have shown. For this difficult and trying work is their own and no one can take it from them. They stumble upon pride and improved self-worth because they challenged their need for a silver bullet and instead found a tenacious and more true self.

I encourage you to honestly look at the areas in your own life with which you hold onto the hope of a silver bullet. How does it help and hinder you actually getting to the place you desire? And I dare you to dream of what could be if you chose to dig in, work through the pain, coming out stronger on the other side.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

It would be an honor and privilege to walk with you! Contact me today.

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 — 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. 

People Like Yourself

In her 2010 book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown writes, “To become fully human means learning to turn my gratitude for being alive into some concrete common good. It means growing gentler toward human weakness. It means practicing forgiveness of my and everyone else’s hourly failures to live up to divine standards.” The book, written as a series of practices that provide insight into the gifts that come from doing things imperfectly, offers it’s readers a new way of interacting with themselves. Perhaps learning to be kind, gentler, and forgiving, to actually treat yourself like you like yourself amid the perfect standards of the day, is actually the way to be more fully human.

In a world full of competition and pursuing excellence, it is easy to feel like one isn’t enough, doesn’t measure up, and at the end of the day really doesn’t matter. These thoughts and practices of our day quickly take a toll on our well being, moving from passing thoughts to sticky reminders of why we shouldn’t like ourselves. In 2018, it seems the chase for the newer model this and the more expensive that keeps us striving and we often allow our negative thoughts to serve as motivation. And though this sort of criticism and shame may work to help us with short-term change, we often soon become fed up and therefore give up before we’ve even given ourselves a fair shot.

Taking this into mind alongside our desire to avoid arrogance and presumptuousness, finding a balanced middle path where we can accept, and even like, ourselves while still allowing for the reality of the work to be done can be challenging at best. To admit and find peace in the truth that we can affectionately care for ourselves, not be selfish, and still be in process, well that all seems much harder to put into practice than the beauty of our opening quote. So how do we do it? How do we genuinely learn to like ourselves in a healthy way?

There is no easy answer, no quick change that allows us to live this way, but rather a series of small choices that help us to live life liking ourselves rather than beating ourselves up. Here are few practical and tangible ways we can separate from the burdens of life and live in ways that celebrate the men and women we are.

  1. Come up with a mantra to live by. We all have negative thoughts about ourselves swirling about our minds, waiting to appear in both the good and bad. We must be intentional to fight these sticky thoughts and putting new thoughts in is a surprisingly easy place to start. A mantra of mine I stole from a colleague. It has appeared throughout my blog and points me back to my values and worth. This saying, “show up as the woman you want to be,” encourages and motivates me onward rather than keeping me stuck in self-defeating thoughts. I encourage you to come up with a quick sound bite that you can hold onto that points you back towards liking yourself.
  2. Write personal daily affirmations. Try starting your day with writing present-tense “I” statements about character traits or qualities in yourself that you are proud of or simply like. Make the words into art or collect images that represent those parts of you. Whatever you do, keep them positive and keep them current.
  3. Do something that supports your values every single day. One of the quickest ways to self-defeat is acting outside our values. When we act differently than what our values suggest, we become duplicitous. This is extremely difficult for us to manage and often results in a negative downward loop of actions confirming negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves. However, by acting on our values, even amid the judgmental thoughts and feelings, we can learn to like ourselves more and more, trusting the feelings and thoughts will eventually catch up. (If you aren’t sure where to begin, try identifying some of the values that guide your life. Google “Value Card Sort” for an array of different and free online resources to help get you started!)
  4. Be kind to yourself. I end many therapy sessions reminding folks to be kind to themselves because I know from my own experience, that the minute you leave you are more determined than ever to change and get things right. And then we don’t because we are humans and perfection is impossible. We must be able to practice kindness and grace in our mistakes, failures, and growth rather than condemning and punishing ourselves. Change takes courage and bravery, acknowledge that in yourself through kindness and mercy.
  5. Start a gratitude practice. It’s tricky for us to hold onto the anger and the burdens of our day when we take time to focus our heads and hearts on the things we are grateful for. Maybe it’s jotting down three unique things every night that you were thankful for that day or doing a more formal practice like The 5-Minute Journal — whatever the practice, try sticking to it for at least a month, jumping right back in if you forget a day or two.

Working on more closely living our values, solving our own problems, getting in the grit, and taking responsibility are all wonderful practices in life. Practices I encourage you to continue. The striving in our lives towards the beauty of perfection is rarely the issue. However, the ways in which we do so, cutting ourselves down and our self-worth often taking the hit, lead to the opposite outcomes. And these outcomes create hopelessness, helplessness, and discontent rather than spurring us onward.

As I close, I invite you to reflect on the relationship you have with yourself. How would you describe the relationship and how is life within that relationship? Take notice if it is one of kindness and compassion, mercy and grace, that allows you to honestly say you like yourself. And if it is, well done and keep up the hard and fruitful work. If it is not and you would like that to change, consider one or two of the practices above that you would be willing to incorporate starting today.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

For more information on living a life of liking yourself, contact me today.

Alone With Myself

The busyness of life can make it easy to avoid being alone with yourself. Everything from errands to emails and carpools to committees keeps our time locked up. iPhones and Instagram give us the freedom to search and scan anyplace and allow for us to numb our own thoughts and experiences. We put music in our ears and videos in front of our eyes, entering into the noise that tunes out our own thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences. We never have to be bored and if we are not interested in something or someone, we simply tune in to tune out.

But, what is the cost of tuning out ourselves?

What happens when we forget to practice knowing, listening, and caring for ourselves is an unsettling thought. The risk of being disconnected and distracted from the one relationship we will always be a part of is significant. Self-awareness is subpar. Creativity is compromised. Self-soothing is sacrificed. Interdependence is irrelevant. And awareness is absent.

Like any relationship, to learn and know the other, we must spend time together. We learn ourselves in this same way. We spend time in thought, learning about where our mind takes us–what ideas it brings up, what stories it tells us, and what it longs to know more of. We spend time in emotion, noticing what information our feelings are giving us and how they are hoping to serve us best. And with time we become curious and responsive to our feelings rather than avoidant and reactive.

“Truly transformational knowledge is always personal, never merely objective. It involves knowing of, not merely knowing about. And it is always relational. It grows out of a relationship to the object that is known—whether this is God or one’s self.”

―David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself

As Benner writes, and I echo, “knowing of” is different than knowing “about,” or knowing facts about oneself. You can know you don’t like eggplant, classic rock, or math. Knowing of though, knowing of is knowledge about your identity. It is the backdrop to what makes you tick and how you know your worth. It’s the awareness of your comfort with certain ideas and fear around others. It’s the weight of resting in your abilities and limitations. It’s the why behind your preference of ideas and information that resonate in your head and heart.

Knowing of oneself is the beautifully messy practice of being seen by yourself, faults and all, and learning yourself. It’s going deeper into your needs and wants, stretching yourself in acknowledging the parts of you that create discontentment, and making peace through acceptance and love for the unique way in which you are you. It is learning to be ok with you, and maybe even learning to like you, not in spite of your humanness, but alongside it.

This isn’t an excuse to stay stuck or ineffective. Rather, an honest acceptance of where you are and what you are doing, effective or not, that gives grace to your faults and less desirable parts.  This self-given grace gives way to growth and change. It cannot help but give birth to ideas, talents, and passions. As you learn the ways in which you best learn, grow, connect, and soothe, you move towards goals, values, and contentment.

As the temptation towards busy arises within you this coming month, I encourage you to take time alone. Absorb the silence on an early morning run, letting your mind and heart connect. Pause over a cup of coffee, no agenda or technology, simply noticing those around you. Make space to learn yourself by experiencing yourself without distraction or easy ways of disconnecting. Learn to be alone with yourself and learn to be in the best relationship with the one person who will be with you the rest of your life.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

Feel like this connected with you? Give me a call!

 

 

Learning to Let People Down

It’s been over a month since I’ve written much. Not just a blog, but anything. The last blog was a bit hard and though well-received, it didn’t make life easier. I have been busy and tired. I have had to renegotiate my schedule and stay true to my own boundaries. I have had to sacrifice keeping my word at all costs and release the irrational belief that I have control over what folks think about me and how I impact them.

Ultimately, I have had to learn to let others down for the sake of myself and my sense of well-being.

I typically blog weekly and have multiple blogs in waiting for weeks when life does get chaotic and busy. It helps to eliminate the pressure on myself and allows me a comforting cushion on a self-imposed deadline. I also blog not only for myself but for others who have encouraged me and share my writing. I have folks holding me accountable for taking the risks of putting my thoughts out there, all of which keep me on a schedule.

For the most part, I love this. I find joy in connecting with others through struggle and story. The creativity of saying possibly recycled thoughts in new ways, ways hopefully folks can relate to, has fueled me. I literally have 43 titled and unfinished blogs in waiting because I get ideas after a session or in conversation with a friend or over dinner with my husband and start something I don’t have time to complete. I enjoy the process. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the regularity. I enjoy the creating. I enjoy the writing.

But life happened and I got behind.

As weeks passed, my computer closed and my will lacking, guilt and shame stated to creep in. The days I typically post a new blog would come and go and my inner voice would whisper words of disappointment. I’m a failure who can’t keep her commitments. I knew I shouldn’t have taken this on. I was probably just lucky folks liked them anyway. Maybe it’s best to stop while you’re ahead. After allI had committed to something and here I was, having only made it a few months.

It wasn’t only here that I found shame creeping in. I also wasn’t able to take on some of the workload I wanted. I had to create gaps for the exhaustion and boundaries for my schedule. I had to say no, often followed by an apology and plea for forgiveness and grace. I passed on commitments or showed up the best I could because in this season that I was struggling to give my all.

Life was forcing me to let others down. Life was forcing me to choose me.

The feelings of guilt and shame and the thoughts that something was wrong with me because I couldn’t hold and do it all pulled on my heart and made choosing me difficult. I tried to push myself while knowing the truth. If I didn’t let go of somethings, it was going to cost me a lot of things. My values would be compromised and I would ultimately be much more distraught with myself.

So I picked me and I made hard decisions. I let things slip and I passed on offers for more this or that. I negotiated responsibilities that others tried to give me. I allowed the space for the feelings and fears, yet kept true to the woman I want to be, the wife I want to be, the counselor I want to be, the daughter I want to be, the friend I want to be, and ultimately the disciple I want to be.

While, I can never truly know if I let others down, my heart says I did. Most people report that I did no such thing; their grace and mercy abounded. I experienced kindness and care from my inner circle and few questions from those impacted. Nothing and no one, other than myself, suggested that anyone was let down by my need to take care of me. I was intentional in how I let others down and perhaps the manner in which I did so helped as well.

Change is tough and learning, like all growth, tends to be uncomfortable, if not down right painful. Learning to let others down, to possibly disappoint family and friends, co-workers and clients, it isn’t easy for a great deal of us. After all I am in the helping profession–I come alongside others and help shoulder their burdens for a season–so it’s reasonably hard to have to limit those I can help. Especially because I love what I do.

However, I am a better woman when I take care of me first. I am a stronger woman when I let go of the fear of letting others down and choose what I need. I am a content woman when I act on my values. I am a healthier woman when I listen to my body, heart, and head. I am an intentional woman when I know what I can and cannot give. I am a grounded woman when I live in balance and mindfully negotiate my priorities. And I am a more complete woman when I learn the beauty of letting others down.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

It is hard to let others down and yet it is so freeing when you allow yourself the grace and space to accept it will happen. To talk more about this journey, contact me today.

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!