The Bait: Do Not Take It!

Perhaps, like me, with the start of a new year, you begin going through a list of stuff that you “should” or “shouldn’t” do.  For example, I should clear out the clutter of random and unnecessary papers that have been occupying my bookshelf for the most part of the last year; or I shouldn’t spend so much time online looking at the random and unnecessary aspects of online life.

Well, I think you get my meaning.  Either way, the start of a new year, oftentimes, means a break with the old and an incorporation of the new.

So, what have I decided to keep or to let go this year?

First, I decided to keep my spirits up. 🙂  How?  By continuing the new part of self-care journey that I started towards the end of 2013.  That is, I am going to continue to work on achieving holistic self-balance.

Why?  Because I realize that I have a tendency to abandon my self-care when something or someone “more important” comes along.  As therapist, I know that this is a big no-no.  Still, in my personal life, it has not always been easy to practice what I preach.  Thus, it leads to my second decision.

"Not the self-destruct button" found at http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/4100.  I had to include this image... It was just too funny not to do so.

“Not the self-destruct button” found at http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/4100. I had to include this image… It was just too funny not to do so.

I have decided to let go of the bait(s).  Nope, really, I won’t take them, no matter the form.  Not interested. Zero percent, nada, niente, zip, zilch.  None of it!

Now, you might be wondering what I mean by bait.  It’s very simple:  it’s anything that depletes you emotionally, physically (in a negative way), mentally, or spiritually.  So, how can you spot it?  Well, here are four examples:

  • Always being a “yes” or people-pleasing person.  Think about it.  Are you the type of person, who when asked to do x, y, and/or z, you immediately say “yes”?
UnderPressure

“Under Pressure” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Well, I like putting it this way:  if you are saying “yes” to someone, then you are, oftentimes, saying “no” to yourself.  And just why would you do that?  So, the next time someone calls you up and asks you to sit through a 10 hour back-to-back special of a watching grass grow nature show just say “no”…unless you are into that sort of thing.

  • Always being a “fixer”. Yes, really.  Do people (friends/family/acquaintances/random strangers) like to come to you with their problems?  And if they do, does your mind transform into a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It mentality.

 

"Zed" photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“Zed” photography by Dolores Juhas, 2008. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because the reality is listening might just be what that person is seeking, rather than your intervention.   Or better still, ask yourself this question:  Do you have the emotional space to manage listening/dealing with someone else’s issues?

If the answer is “no”, politely back up and say, “You know, I am really sorry to hear about that, but I am not in the best (emotional/mental/physical) space to listen/discuss that with you.”

It may seem callous.  It isn’t.  The reality is that there are times when things are beyond our capabilities to manage them, and it is better that we acknowledge or limitations rather than jumping blindly into fixing someone else’s life (before they ask), especially when we have our own lives to manage.

  • Always being “right” or coming out on top.  You know what I mean. 😉 Were you ever in the debate club in high school or really enjoy being contrary just for the heck of it…or rather for the thrill of being “right” in the end?
"The Revenge of Pride," photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

“The Revenge of Pride,” photography by Dolores Juhas (2010). Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

 

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Do you have any idea of how much mental and emotional energy (read: capital) goes into making an argument?  Seriously, picture it!

Now, imagine using all of that energy to plan your future rather than arguing over whether something is black or white.  Find the grey already and move on with your life already!

  • Always being the “victim” or “martyr”.   It happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  You look around you and your life feels empty and desolate.  Or perhaps you are in a relationship or job that is sucking the very life out of you.  Do you find yourself looking at your life and asking yourself or anyone available questions like “why me?” or “why does my life have to go this way?” Seriously?
Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas ( http://www.dolores-juhas.tk)

Breaking the Circle: Failure, Photography by Dolores Juhas ( http://www.dolores-juhas.tk)

If so, STOP…or, at the very least, decrease that action.  Why?

Because it is time for a reality check.  Yes, your life may not be what you want it to be in the moment.  But you know what?  Asking those types of questions won’t get you out of the place you are in!

Instead, challenge yourself to pick up the phone and call for professional help if necessary (therapist and/or life coach).  If you believe that you don’t need that, then grab a planner and start writing down the ways in which you are in control of your life…and then what steps you would like to take next.

So, that’s my start for the New Year:  taking care of myself and not taking the bait.  After all, it is when you are most true to yourself that you can be most authentically available to everyone else.

"Black Health Is..." Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

“Black Health Is…” Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

Also, please, remember that you are never alone.  Someone out there is walking a similar path or has walked it.  Someone out there is willing and available to help you.  You simply have to want it and reach out to accept it.

Until Next Time,

D.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Self-portrait by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue. 

You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her:d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog athttp://themax.bloger.hr

Vision Boards, Love Games & Mechanics….

Knitting gloves, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Typically, I spend my time reading, knitting, doing crossword puzzles, watching old British comedies and cartoons.  You know, all that typically sexy stuff.  😉

Well, I have just completed reading Jackee Holder’s “Be your own best life coach” and decided to try one of her suggestions, i.e. making a vision board.

I will tell you that I’ve been making a valiant attempt at creating my vision board.  I say valiant, because my verbal Italian is not so great and trying to find the right types of magazines at the newsstands here in Rome feels like a mini-trip through hell for me.

This is partly due to the fact that all the magazines are apparently kept… sealed.  Yes, that’s right.  Here in Rome, you need to know what you want. And there really isn’t such a thing as customer service here…. So, don’t expect help.  If you get it, then give thanks to the universe. Of course, this is just my personal experience… You may have a different one if you visit.  So, keep an open mind.

(Photo Newsstand in Campo de' Fiori... They usually aren't smiling. Trust me.) Image taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/arts/05abroad.html

There is no flipping through and perusing the interesting pictures and glancing at the articles here.  And honestly, my Italianish is so not helpful for saying “I need a magazine with diverse representations of people.  You know, women, men, children.  Perhaps even different ethnicities and races might be nice.”

I’ve been offered, however, everything else from cooking to needlework.  As much as I am a fan of all of that, it certainly wasn’t what I asked for.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what is a vision board. The easy answer is that it is a visual representation of the goals/dreams you have for your life.

More recently, vision boards have been associated with the principle of the Law of Attraction (Remember The Secret?), which basically emphasizes the point that what we choose to focus upon in our lives is what we in turn receive.  That is, if you focus on what is negative, then the more negative experiences come into your life, because you are attracting it to you.  The same is applied to the positive.  This definition is highly simplistic and I would recommend that you do your own research on the topic if you are interested in learning more.

Sample Vision Board, found at http://theartisticmom.com/

Regardless of your belief in the Law of Attraction, cutting images out of newspapers/magazines and pasting them on posterboard or whatever sturdy paper available has been practiced by many artists, art educators, art therapists, life coaches and many an adolescent girl for some time now (of course children and adolescent boys too!)

As an art therapist, I see the process of creating art and the final product as inherently self-exploratory and therapeutic.  Thus, it is possible to gain a true understanding of what one desires in life by engaging in such a process as collaging.  Enough said.

So, back to my vision board.  Simply, it’s not happening.  Although I am surrounded by many cut images, and have carefully selected music playing in the background to promote my most creative self… it’s simply not on.  By now, you may be wondering why I am rambling on about this vision board thing… and why it is so important to me.

Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve been searching for magazines filled with lots of pictures with people.  In essence, I am looking for the images that would go in my Love/Relationships sectionThat’s right.  I seemed to have some block against this.  This brings me to my next topic.

Love games & mechanics…

Rome is a city of romance as evidenced by the people who make it a point to makeout next to me in the metro during the day.   I mean, really… I am the last person to have a problem with PDA.   Nor do I have a problem with people who wish to share their personal version of Lady Gaga‘s Love Games at night (again in the metro).  Hey, I really don’t mind seeing if someone is or isn’t wearing underwear as I make my way home to knit…. No problem! 😉

What all of this (including my vision board quest) is revealing to me is that perhaps I find romantic relationships somewhat threatening… (Yes, it can happen to a therapist too ;))  I have somehow managed to put up a wall/block in response to the emotion love and had not realized it until I tried to make my vision board.

Being single again has forced me to examine my past relationships. That is, what I did well and what I need to improve.  This process allowed me to recognize that I had one specific issue that was truly interpersonally and intrapersonally crippling for me.  Even though apparently, some friends were already quite aware… as one said to me a month or so ago,

“D., you’ve really got to work on your professional handicap.  It’s really a liability.”

And I wonder why no one ever to told me before that I was a blatant “love mechanic.”

That’s right.  I spent my time in my relationships trying to help resolve the issues of my significant other perhaps to my own detriment and definitely to the detriment of the relationship.

Even after my friend had made the above statement to me, I still had no idea what he was talking about.  It took reading Lisa Helmanis’ book “Master Dating” and coming across the term “love mechanic” for me to really get what he was trying to say…  That is, if I ever intend to have a romantic relationship of any kind again, I need to give up the behaviour of holding daily therapy sessions with my significant other AND gently suggest outside therapy.  😉

Well, it’s a new year and I’ve got my vision board project with an allotted love/relationship section.  So, who knows what will happen…

Until next time!

Best,

D.