I think we all agree our world looks dramatically different than it did a short few weeks ago. Individuals, whether in China, Italy, or Oklahoma City, have thoughts dominating their minds about this different world, and how is it impacting their lives. The daily patterns of our lives are being driven by the need to keep ourselves safe, fear is dominating many of our lives. I would like you to consider that the emotion of fear also has gifts, those of preservation and protection. Our world needs protection and preservation I think you would agree, so how can we harness the gifts of fear to keep our selves ,our loved ones, and our world safe. I hope to help with some thoughts about letting our fear work for us and not against us at this time of heightened anxiety.
1. Knowing the new safety means we are having to make changes, some of those changes are what we consider to be drastic changes. Change, even a small change, can be difficult for some of us, some more difficult than for others I will add too. Small children thrive in consistency, as do some adults who experienced trauma in childhood. They don’t do well without knowing what is coming next. In our changing world we don’t know what is going to happen, that is a given right now. We don’t know. And we know it is going to involve change. This Change might mean not having daily contact with people you love dearly, like your grandchildren for me, your social gatherings such as AA, or church, or the people you have been working with at your place of employment. The list of people we miss seeing is endless. However, the question is, How am I handling these changes, and how can I stay connected. The answer is to stay in contact the best way you can without the physical connection, through computer meetings, through your phone, email, face time, send videos of yourself, STAY IN CONTACT at a distance. We can connect emotionally with others and not be in the same room with them. It’s vitally important to stay connected to others.
2. Keep your routines the same as much as possible, especially personal routines, bathing, hair care, getting out of your pajamas, consistent hours of sleep (At the same hours previously)
3. Use healthy Boundaries: Protect yourselves physically and socially with the social distancing 6’ rule, go out only for needed items such as groceries or medicine, protect
yourselves from individuals who exhibit symptoms of illness. At Green Shoe we teach and practice healthy boundaries, and this is a magnified use of the term boundaries. Boundaries protect and contain ourselves, how true regarding this viral outbreak so that the illness does not spread.
4. You may have fear about death at this time. Death is a given in this life as we are all human, and death has many unknowns as well. Spiritually stay connected with your own need for finding peace and solace and connection with your God. I choose to believe and have faith that God is Sovereign and He loves His world, including you and me and He is real and personal. I have never experienced before in my lifetime, such a unique opportunity to become more deeply aware of what is important in life. Becoming more aware of the importance of love and acceptance and nurturing of myself and for others. Take time to reflect about what is important in your life. Talk about this with others who might have wisdom you need at this time. Be open and receive help from others if you have questions about your beliefs and spirituality.
Reach out for help if you feel like you cannot handle your emotions in a safe and healthy way at this changing world we live in. We are all experiencing some fear and even sadness, or anger or any other emotion that you can imagine. You are human, and that is what humans do, they feel, which means you are alive. Tell someone that you love them today, even if you can’t hug them. I received a text from a very special person the other day who sent me a virtual hug, I appreciated it greatly. Do the same for someone else today!
By Teresa Deck
During this current pandemic where fear and anxiety are running high we thought it might be helpful for us to talk about the way our brains process difficult situations. This a current traumatic event for the world, for our communities, and for our families and us individually. What our brain has experienced in the past determines how we respond to the current day happenings. How can we understand how to calm down our fears and anxieties?
When we experience trauma, it changes our brain, its responses/reactions to stimuli, and can influence our window of tolerance (our ability to tolerate uncomfortable emotions). Our Amygdala is a part of our brain that is like a smoke detector, which is also scanning our environment for danger. (So if it were to detect smoke) it would communicate with our Limbic brain which controls our fight, flight, and freeze responses (Signaling we are not safe because there could be a fire).
After experiencing trauma our amygdala stores that information so that it can alert us to danger in the future. The Dalai Lama once said, “Once bitten by a snake you feel suspicious even when you see a piece of rope.” The amygdala and limbic system do not take the time to discern whether the information observed is current or a reminder of past trauma. When this happens we are in a “flipped lid” state and our limbic system is in charge and not our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that is responsible for reasoning, rationalization, mood control, and language. When we are in a flipped lid state such as panic, fear, or rage the limbic brain shuts down our prefrontal cortex and is only able to receive about 12 words at a time when in that state.
As we learn to soothe and regulate those heightened emotions, we are increasing our ability to appropriately self soothe as well as to be able to learn what information those emotional states may be holding for us. Our brain works hard to help us take in process and respond to stimuli. This does not mean that I always like its response in the moment, but I am grateful for its ability to help me survive.
One example of a flipped lid state, a war veteran may come home and upon hearing a car backfire the amygdala and limbic system may immediately look to run, hunker down for safety, or return fire. When we take the time to process our trauma and heal, we begin to disarm the amygdala and limbic system so that the next time we hear a car backfire our prefrontal cortex can identify, “when I heard the car backfire it reminded me of the sounds I heard in war” thus it does not perceive that we are in current danger, but a reminder of danger. By identifying and addressing our triggers and how they impact our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors we are increasing our window of tolerance as well as our ability to be a functional adult.
Think of a time that you felt your body overreact. You might have even known there was nothing to be scared of, but the survival brain – limbic system – jumped online to ensure you were safe. Unfortunately we are not always attune to the changes in our brain’s response so you can feel helpless or powerless and use unhealthy behaviors to numb our responses.
The window of tolerance is a concept that involves our capacity to tolerate and be present in the face of stress, pain, discomfort, and triggers that may be known or unknown. By allowing ourselves to safely feel and process current situations we are engaging from our prefrontal cortex and not the limbic brain which allows us to be tolerant and present. Without doing our own work, we can quickly get outside of our window of tolerance and get stuck in a hyperaroused state such as panic or can go to the opposite extreme of hypoaroused where we are shut down emotionally.
Outside the window of tolerance, we may even engage in unhealthy patterns or behaviors numb an uncomfortable state of feeling.
You have a right to heal and a right to be present in life today safely. By continuing to do our work we build an ability to operate within a healthy window of tolerance, which also allows us to be more present with others and ourselves. We do not have to be stuck on on or stuck on off for us to safely navigate discomfort and stress.
Identifying and engaging in safe and healthy coping skills as well as ongoing self care are important for things we are familiar with, but also critical for safely navigating the unknown as well as larger scenarios that can bring up fear and panic. Grounding skills such as naming 5 things you can see – 4 things you can hear – 3 things you can feel/touch can help us to find balance through an active distraction to bring the intensity back down to a manageable level.
Breathing techniques such as counting while you breathe in, holding your breath for a specific count, and counting while you exhale can also be incredible beneficial in decreasing heart rate and tension while allowing the limbic brain to calm. As we are all facing change during this time it is important that we continue to engage in routine self care and healthy coping to safely manage stress levels which will help allow us to tolerate stressors and be present in healthy ways. Mindfulness, paying attention on purpose without passing judgment, is another beneficial practice for wellness.
By steven brinkworth
By Amanda Newlin
A couple of months ago our Executive Director, Stephany, assigned us the task to discover our word of the year, personally and professionally. To be transparent my initial thought was “what? why?” but I smiled, nodded my head and turned to the only source that could help me conquer this assignment - Google. I mean, how else are you to narrow down one meaningful word when there are literally over 200,000 words in the English dictionary (someone please fact check that for me). After numerous key words and endless sites of ‘how to choose your word of the year’ I came across a quiz that promised to help me determine my word by answering seven simple questions and all in multiple choice. Expecting a Buzzfeed like questionnaire, this quiz was refreshingly spiritually inline and focused on finding where you need to set your foundation.
My (personal) word of the year: Bloom.
Bloom was surprisingly coincidental; this past year I’ve endured some unwelcomed adventures and gut-wrenching emotional ups and downs. I had no clue how to put a lid on what was going on. I became incredibly unsocial, which is the ultimate oxymoron for a professional in social media, and withdrew from everything. After becoming mindful of my surroundings and thoughts I was able to take a few steps back to better identify toxic relationships I needed to set firm boundaries with, work towards becoming more purposeful and acknowledge my thoughts, good or bad.
So, what is my professional word of the year? This wasn’t too hard for me to coin. Being relatively new to Green Shoe – I can honestly say the team here and their advocacy to break the stigma on mental health is inspiring. Absolutely inspiring. Every day our therapists come in, genuinely joyful, with an outlook on life that it’s never too late to discover your happiness and it is possible to live with balance and moderation – no matter who you are. Here was the question to myself – how do I help them help others? What are people looking for that is not at their fingertips? And then it hit me – people need reputable and relatable resources to feel comfortable to seek help.
Therein lies my (professional) word of the year: Resource.
The irony of both my words, without one you cannot have the other. If we set a solid resource foundation, the roots will take, and we’ll bloom into a place that will give people the confidence to take that first step to connect. In addition to resource and bloom working together simultaneously, these words gave a small nod to the book I am reading “Living Light as a Feather”. With recent life events I was given a resource that allowed me to embrace and lift my thoughts to a higher level and raise my energy to tap into a stored memory of joy and self-confidence. When you open your awareness to a time you felt great joy, focus on how your body responds to this memory – you bloom from within. When you bring attention to the positive, negative feelings tend to lose their power. At least that’s what Ruth Fishel says – and I think she’s a genius.
Discovering your word of the year is a fun adventure and a refreshing take on that (sometimes) impossible “new year’s resolution”. Rebecca, said it best in her blog, “Resolutions can set us up for cognitive distortion patterns like “all or nothing thinking” and when you slip just a little – you fall into the ‘all is lost’ mentality." However, when you apply your word of the year to daily victories or learning curves, you can mindfully face welcomed roadblocks but also recognize the fruits of your labor to continue working towards the future you. In other words, as the great heroine Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day”.
This exercise absolutely sets a calm welcoming tone and creates a new inner posture for one’s thoughts. Understand that, “there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I encourage you to acknowledge that ‘crack’ in your life, allow light to filter through, and learn to celebrate small victories. Take time to find your word of the year, make it your anthem, and hold yourself accountable to thrive both personally and professionally. Oh, and if Google doesn’t work for your word search – feel free to call Stephany, no doubt she’ll give you encouragement and guidance.
Lastly, recognize that no matter your walk-in life or disturbances you may face – there are resources out there (*wink*wink*) to help you find grace, discover joy, breathe easy, and bloom.
2020 Word of the Year Quiz
"Living Light as a Feather" by Ruth Fishel
Quote source: Leonard Cohen
Word of the year encouragement: Stephany at 405-697-2109
BY STEPHANY COCHRAN
Leading teams and companies in a variety of ventures has been my foundation for 25+ years. Whether through small groups or leading larger teams of employees, I’ve always prided myself on the ability to take a group of individuals by leading them to accomplish a goal or vision together and fusing them into a collaborative team. My concept of leadership was being viewed through a tight lens and since joining the Green Shoe team that lens has been expanded.
Here at Green Shoe we focus on Pia Mellody’s concept of co-dependence. Having had both educational and extensive training in the counseling world, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what co-dependency was and the characteristics of a co-dependent. I was wrong.
Codependency is rooted in our self-esteem. According to Pia, healthy self-esteem is created within an individual who knows that they have inherent worth equal to others. We have inherent worth, period. No matter how much we succeed, who our friends are, what car we drive, or the mistakes we make…We. Are. Worthy. Issues buried within self-esteem surface when we feel worthless or better than others. Thus, creating codependent relationships.
Who knew my people pleasing tendencies were codependent? I love making others happy, but until recently have never stopped to ask myself why. Fast forward to present day, I’m now asking, “How does this fit into my leadership style?” I’ve always been good with people – you could say it’s my spiritual gift. I am able to connect and build a strong rapport and work wonderfully with others. This developed quickly into being able to lead, guide and grow those that worked for me. However, I discovered all my time and energy making others happy, and yes being successful, was a never-ending pursuit.
I’m reading John Maxwell’s’ book, “Leadershift”, one specific chapter that spoke to me was titled: Pleasing People to Challenging People. Simply stated, pleasing people is not the same as leading people. The difference between the two is as a leader, you cannot lead people if you need people. If I continue to put all my energy into trying to make all people happy, I’m setting myself up for failure because I cannot make everyone happy.
Repeat after me: You cannot make everyone happy.
Maxwell makes the shift by stating, “…to get the best out of people, leaders must ask for the best out of people”. My inherent worth as a person is the same as my inherent worth as a leader. By not relying on others “liking” or “not liking” me, I shift to challenging others to be the best they can be and for the organization to be the best it can be. So, here’s the million-dollar question: How do we make that shift from people pleaser to people challenger?
Maxwell lays it out in these steps:
1. Change your expectation towards leadership
Ask yourself these three questions:
This will enable the leader to make the shift from gaining approval to sharing the vision, raising the bar, challenging others, being an example, and asking for commitment and not waiting for consensus.
2. Value people as much as you value yourself
We see others as we see ourselves. So, if we know ourselves to be inherently worthy, we will see other as inherently worthy. However, the flip side works the same way. If a leader devalues themselves, they will devalue those that work with them. To get the best out of people, you must believe the best of people.
3. Work to establish expectations up front
Setting the expectations up on the front end and the boundaries of the working relationship, the leader is setting the team up for success verses disappointment on the back end.
Shifting from a people pleaser leader to a challenging people leader does not always feel good and can feel a little isolating at times. For me, by being secure in my own worth and not depending on other’s approval, I am able to focus on what is best for my team and the organization. It is key to set the vision and expectations for your team upfront, so they will see the changes and ultimately rise together in success. This also gives you clear sight on who is committed on your team. When you ask others to make a commitment you will lose those not committed but have a stronger team in the process. By shifting into a Challenging People Leader, the success comes as the vision builds, goals are met, and others grow.
I highly recommend John's book. It's an incredible eye-opener on the importance of a being 'leader' and a 'boss'.
by Rebecca HOlt
Letting go of who you are not
What if your New Year’s resolution was to be perfectly imperfect this year? Would that change the age old saying “new year, new you”? New beginnings feel like a way to start fresh and leave old habits behind, but often we forget to nurture the authentic self in the process. Resolutions can set us up for cognitive distortion patterns like “all or nothing thinking”. We go back to old patterns we were trying to change, and our brain tells us “all is lost”. I know in that moment my brain loses all self-compassion and I think “better luck next year”.
It may be a good time of year to assess the five core issues of codependency. When we find balance in the core issues, we are our most authentic self. So, let’s review!
The first being self-esteem. How do you plan to esteem yourself this year? A great way to start is using daily affirmations, I remind myself each morning I am a fallible human being who makes mistakes but that doesn’t make me less than. I love the book we use during our retreats “Affirmations for the Inner Child”. Each passage provides an affirmation and a way to connect with self.
Secondly, consider your boundaries. Are you setting boundaries in a way that honor yourself? Sometimes saying no is essential to self-care. Over the holidays, I found myself back in those old patterns of making sure everyone was happy and abandoning my need for self-care. I needed to set some boundaries to allow time for me. Remind yourself of the talking listening boundary. We don’t have to take on other’s emotions or offend them with our own.
Next, look at your cognitive distortions. Are there cognitive distortions impacting your reality, your relationships, your view of self? Identify one or maybe all of them you want to be mindful of this year. I often disqualify the positive. There will be ups and downs this year but that doesn’t mean you are worthless. You can own your truth.
The next core issue is dependency. Maybe you have a goal to be more interdependent this year, is there something you can accomplish on your own or possibly something you need help with? You have the right to ask for help! It may be a way to deepen some of those healthy relationships in your life.
Lastly, my personal favorite, how are you balancing moderation with joy and spontaneity? How are you going to let that inner child out this year? Find healthy ways to be playful. Examine what brings you joy. Is it a hobby, travelling, or maybe art? This might be the area to set goals for the year but balance that list of “to-dos” with a list of “to-dos that bring me joy”
One of my favorite quotes from Pia Mellody is, “Recovery isn’t about changing who you are, but letting go of who you are not.”
What is my resolution, you may ask? I choose to give myself grace in the face of my humanity. I will do this when I’m out in public and realize I’m covered in dog hair, I will do this when I judge myself for my performance at work, and I will do this when I eat way more sugar and carbs than needed. Instead of attacking self, I will be compassionate and check in with myself to understand the unhealthy action.
As we enter this new year, let’s examine ways we can embrace the authentic self and make a special place for that precious person.