Anyone who watched my video on surviving lockdown knows how important I think it is to keep up a steady routine and engage in activities that are all about mindfulness and meaning. So, in a case of putting my money where my mouth is, I’ve spent most of lockdown learning Spanish!
In addition to providing some much-needed focus and purpose (and helping me to maintain my dream of one day being able to travel again!), I made a surprising discovery about the Spanish language that I just had to share.
Anyone who ever had a dodgy high school nickname can tell you that language is a supremely powerful tool, and the language that we use with ourselves and others reflects on and shapes us constantly. Which is why it was so interesting to learn that, in Spanish, they have two different ways of saying, “I am…”
When they are speaking about a fixed trait or state of being they use this form of “to be”:
I am a girl = Yo soy una niña
You are Australian = Tu eres Australiana
I am a brunette = Yo soy morena
When they’re talking about changeable states of being, e.g., emotional states, they use a different form of the “to be” verb:
I am sad = Yo estoy triste
You are stressed = Tu estás estrada
I am happy = Yo estoy feliz
And I love everything about this! (me encanta esto!)
I’m sure there’s a really fancy linguistical way of explaining it, but what it means to me in psychological terms is that Spanish-speakers have a really clear way of denoting the difference between a trait (stable characteristic) and state (changeable condition/situation) and this is exactly what we try and emphasis when we’re working with clients on improving their emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills.
States are just that – states. They are transitory. They change (sometimes quite rapidly) from moment to moment and I think that’s an awesome thing to have emphasised in your everyday language because it can be really hard to remember when you’re mid-mood!
So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, angry or annoyed, ask yourself, is this a soy or an estoy?
And if it is an estoy state, then remember, this too shall pass… it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass! 😉
Anyone who knows me knows a big part of my self-care is my nails. Specifically having them painted or shellac-ed or acrylic-ed or SNS-ed at all times. Very few people have ever seen my “naked’ nails, save my nail techs and the occasional anaesthetist who has made me take the coating off before surgery (which I, without fail, protest and secretly resent them for).
So for me, COVID and lockdown and Stage 4 restrictions, and all of the 100s of ways day-to-day life has changed, oddly, have all come to be reflected and amplified by the fact that I’m walking around in the 2020 uniform of trackpants, ugg boots, a nice top (that looks good on Zoom calls) and totally, buck-naked nails.
And it’s bugging me.
Look, I love the uggs (gonna be sad to say goodbye to them when this is all over actually), but I honestly just don’t feel quite like myself without the pop of colour on the end of my nails flashing up at me as I type this.
I realise this is not earth-shattering stuff, I really do, but that’s part of the problem. I had totally deprioritised this aspect of my life because there was just so much ELSE. The big things were all getting in the way because this was such a seemingly small thing.
BUT, here’s the thing. My nails are my ONE thing. That one thing that I don’t NEED to do. That I don’t HAVE to do. It’s the one thing I do that’s totally for me. Not for friends or family, not for clients, not for staff, not for my business, and certainly not for any sensible, practical reason, it’s just for me and just because I like it.
So instead of beating myself up for feeling vain and selfish and shallow (which of course I spent some time doing), I decided to put my money where my self-care spouting mouth is and invest in a nail system that will keep me in fuchsias, teals and vermilions until well after this bloody pandemic is over and done with.
And you know what? It totally helped.
So simple, so seemingly silly really, but I don’t care. It feels like I grabbed just a smidgen of normality back in my (slightly dodgily done) manicured hands.
So, my question to you is, (now typed with my suitably titled “Fearless” nails). What’s your ONE thing? What’s the ONE thing that this pandemic has messed with that you might be able to get back in some (even small) way?
It’s not going to be exactly the way it was. For example, I’ve never had to fight off the cat before while trying to get my nails done before and to be honest, the results kind of reflect that! But remember, perfection is the enemy of progress, or in this case, polish!
So please, have a think about it. What is pandemic-you missing out on or de-prioritising? And how can you get that back in a way that will restore just a glimmer of normality to your life and to how you feel right now?
I’ve been putting off writing this post for well over a week now.
Partly because I don’t feel like anyone needs anymore bad news right now, partly because I don’t really know what to say, but mostly because I don’t want to examine this too closely because it’s still raw and it hurts. But I’m also a psych and a massive believer that we have to practice what we preach (at least some of the time), so here we go…
One of our very first therapy dogs, Ralph, passed away last week.
Ralph was nearly 16 years old and started working with us at the stereotype defying age of 11! Despite his age and the adage about old dogs and new tricks, Ralph took to therapy work like the proverbial ducks in the arboretum lake and he gave us an absolutely amazing 4 years of love and cuddles and quirks. Not just for the staff and his clients either, anyone sitting in the waiting room could expect to get some Ralph love on most days. Although he did save the truly snuggly stuff for Megan and his clients (because they were HIS, not Megan’s!).
I still remember the first day Megan brought him in. We’d only just opened Crown Court up and the plan was to put Ralph through a few of the training exercises that he’d have to do to get his therapy dog certification and see how he went. Given his age we weren’t sure he’d be up for such a massive lifestyle adjustment, but this funny, fluffy little dog strutted into the clinic, his nose covered in dirt from where he’d been playing in the yard and his tongue lolling out of his mouth like something out of a looney tunes cartoon and made himself right at home. Within 2 minutes he had adopted what would come to be known as the “ralph” pose; sitting at attention next to the seated client’s feet where his back was easily accessible for pats and scratches.
We figured he’d do ok. 😊 And he most certainly did!
Ralph personified the real joy and the real magic of animal-assisted therapy work as being found in the bonds you see develop between your animal and your clients. These bonds and these relationships are special and unique and utterly precious. And while the loss of any companion animal is devastating, it would seem that, with the loss of a therapy animal, the grief is compounded. You lose the animal and your relationship with them, but also all of those relationships with clients you’ve had the privilege to witness, leaving you grieving while at the same time trying to support your clients through their own grief reactions.
And this is why I don’t want to look at it too closely, because I know, one day, that will happen to me too. I can only hope, when that day comes, that I can derive some comfort and solace from knowing, that just like with Ralph, the reason it’s so complicated and painful is precisely because of how important these therapy animals are to so many people. There is no-one who knew Ralph who isn’t saddened by the loss of his jaunty little trot, floppy little tongue and cuddly little body, because there was no one who met him who wasn’t brightened, comforted or amused by his very existence.
And that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.
If anyone would like to talk to someone about anything that has been brought up for them here, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to work something out with you.
.. and now we’re back in lockdown! While lockdown is due to finish Wednesday night, we’ve decided to stick to 100% telehealth for the entire week.
So the office will be closed and if you have an appointment booked with us, it will have been automatically changed to a telehealth appointment.
Please call reception on 0451 044 015 if you would prefer to change your appointment to a phone call rather than online and of course, we’ll keep you posted with updates as they come in.
Note: when we do return to face-to-face, we anticipate that face masks will continue to be mandatory for both clinicians and clients. This is especially true because we still have a lot of clients and some clinicians in the high risk categories, and we remain acutely conscious of the importance of containment and harm minimisation, therefore, we are continuing to offer all our clients the choice to come in (and experience our exciting new infection control procedures!), or continue with telehealth (online or phone) sessions.
These are the things to consider when deciding on whether or not you want to return to face-to-face sessions.
1) Decision to Meet Face-to-Face
While we are now offering face-to-face sessions again, you do not have to attend in person if you would prefer to continue on with telehealth. Even if you do choose to return face-to-face, please understand that if there is a resurgence of the pandemic or if other health concerns arise, we may have to return to telehealth and we may have to do so at short notice (as happened in June/July).
Please note: as of today, 1st January 2021, Medicare and Third Party Insurance providers (TAC, VOCAT etc) still say they will continue funding telehealth sessions for at least another 2 years from March 2021. If this changes, (and affects your funding) we will let you know.
2) Risks of Opting for In-Person Services
You understand that by coming to the office, you are assuming the risk of exposure to the coronavirus (or other public health risk). This risk may increase if you travel by public transportation, cab, or ridesharing service.
3) Your Responsibility to Minimize Your Exposure
have a job that exposes you to other people who are infected,
have a commute or other responsibilities or activities that put you in close contact with others (beyond your family), or
live with someone who tests positive for the infection,
then you are not eligible for a face-to-face sessions at this time, so please let us know if you fall into any of these categories.
For those who are eligible for face-to-face services, to obtain these services, you agree to take certain precautions which will help keep everyone (you, me, our families, our clinicians and staff and other clients) as safe as possible from potential exposure and illness. If you do not adhere to these safeguards, we will have to immediately return to a telehealth arrangement.
Specifically, you must agree to:
Only keep your in-person appointment if you are symptom free (no cough, sore throat or fever).
Wait in your car (or outside the office) until admin texts you that your clinician is ready to take you through.
Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you enter the building.
Allow us to take a forehead temperature on arrival. If it is elevated (37.5 Celsius or more), or if you have other symptoms of the coronavirus, you will be asked to leave and may be charged a cancellation fee for the missed appointment (to avoid this, if you are showing any symptoms, please call ahead of your appointment and we can continue with a telehealth session).
Check-in via the QR code in the reception area (or via the forms at reception).
Adhere to the safe distancing precautions we have set up in the waiting room and therapy room.
Keep a distance of 1.5 metres and there will be no physical contact (e.g. no shaking hands) with your clinician or with admin.
Try not to touch your face or eyes with your hands (I know! It’s hard!).
If you are bringing your child, please make sure that your child follows all of these sanitation and distancing protocols.
Take steps between appointments to minimize your exposure to COVID.
We will notify you of any changes to these requirements.
4) Our Commitment to Minimize Exposure
5) If You Or Your Clinican Are Sick
We are (very obviously I hope!) committed to keeping you, me and all of our staff and clinicians safe from the spread of this virus. If you show up for an appointment and we believe that you are exhibiting virus-related symptoms, or believe you have been exposed, we will require you to leave the office immediately. We can follow up with services by telehealth as appropriate, but that session will likely be shorter than usual.
Your best option, if you’re unsure, is to stay home and
call to arrange a telehealth appointment.
If any of us staff or clinicians test positive for the coronavirus, you will be notified so you can then take appropriate precautions.
6) Your Confidentiality in the Case of Infection
If you have tested positive for the coronavirus, we may be required to notify local health authorities that you have been in the office. If we have to report this, we will only provide the minimum information necessary for their data collection and will not go into any details about the reason(s) for your visit. HOWEVER, we also ask that if you attend the office in person you check-in via the QR code in the reception area or via the check-in sheet with reception if you do not have a smart phone. This data is collected and stored by covidcomply.org and is compliant with Australian privacy regulations. All stored data is deleted every 28 days and only used to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a positive case.
If you have any questions about any of this, or are not happy returning to face-to-face sessions under any of these conditions, please call or email and discuss your concerns with our practice manager:
As we say goodbye to the strangest Mother’s Day on record, in the midst of navigating the strange and disorienting world of COVID-19, I cannot help but think of all the mums out there who were already juggling more than they can reasonably handle BEFORE remote learning came into being! I don’t want in any way to underestimate the contribution of fathers, however in the majority of homes, the mother is the one who is likely to be left holding the baby so to speak, so it’s for them that I write this.
As though being in isolation around your beloved family 24/7 wasn’t challenging enough, now we have to worry about taking charge of their academic performance as well! For many parents, our kids going to school was probably the only chance to ‘catch up’ on all the other tasks that pile up. If we were really lucky, it may have also provided some coveted down time which recharged us just enough to keep going! Now that chance to recharge has been taken away, at least temporarily.
My heart actually sinks every time I think about this because, as a Psychologist who has clients who are mums, colleagues who are mums and am a mum myself, I know mum guilt is a very real and very normal part of mum life, only now it just got SUPERSIZED!
What just happened?
Before COVID-19, as mothers, we already held ourselves to ridiculous and unobtainable standards that even if, miraculously, we did manage to obtain, we’d never be able to sustain.
Now we have an additional workload, with less recovery time. I honestly think we need to start giving ourselves permission to suck a bit. Maybe to drop some of the non-crucial balls we are juggling. We have to change the goal post AND give ourselves permission to do that, for the sake of our sanity. Because if we don’t, MUM GUILT can become overwhelming and paralysing. It can keep us isolated (emotionally and physically) and withdrawn, so we’re less likely to reach out for help, when what we really need to do is share the burden.
If you are experiencing any of the following:
Finding it hard to slow down and be present with your kids,
Feeling not good enough,
Regularly getting more annoyed than normal when things don’t turn out the way you planned (e.g. kid throws a tantrum at the supermarket, kids won’t get in their car seat, kids won’t get dressed, house is a mess),
No motivation and feeling guilty about not being able to do all the activities that are being posted on social media (e.g. the bear hunt, the chalk rainbows) and instead feel like you are barely able to survive the day…
Then MUM GUILT may have stung you in the bum.
Follow these 12 tips TODAY to help ease the mum guilt:
STOP comparing yourself to what you see on social media or in the media (films, TV shows) – someone’s highlight real vs your reality is not setting you up for success. It is putting you on the back foot. I give you permission to unplug, unfriend, unfollow, detox.
Lower your expectation of what is realistic. This feels hard because it is hard, we were never meant to parent in isolation, nor were we meant to home school at the same time.
Ditch the word SHOULD – it immediately implies you aren’t enough.
Give yourself permission to stuff up, to make a decision and have it not work out perfectly.
START saying “I would like…but if that doesn’t work out, I will be ok”
THANK yourself for showing up every day to look after these little humans even though it is hard.
Focus on controlling what is inside your sphere of control and letting go of things well outside that sphere.
Remember the oxygen mask analogy, you have to put your mask on before you help others fit theirs! If you think of it that way, self-care as an actual necessity!
Take a minute whenever you can to notice and nurture the non-mum side of you in whatever form that may take.
Rest assured that no kid has ever come to therapy to talk about how they wish mum had spent more time doing maths homework with them!
Remember that kids learn best through PLAY so choose connection and love every time. If you are getting into an ongoing fight about maths – play uno!
And most importantly, be kind to yourself! You know how they keep saying this situation is unprecedented?! They’re not kidding! It’s ok not to have a roadmap for this!
And if these 12 tips aren’t cutting it for you, don’t be afraid to reach out for some extra support! That’s why we’re here!
From Monday 30th March 2020, 12 Points Psychology will be moving all our sessions online until further notice.
We have done this for several reasons, the most of important of which, is to keep our clients, our staff and our clinicians healthy and safe so we can keep providing mental health support to as many people as possible.
And let’s face it, now more than ever, our mental health needs have to take priority!
Lots of people are a bit worried about how telehealth works, and it is a very different way to do a session with your clinician, but different most certainly doesn’t have to mean bad or scary!
So here’s 12 Points about telehealth to help ease the transition for you!
It’s not a brand new medium. A lot of us (as clinicians) already use telehealth platforms like Zoom and Coviu to conduct supervision sessions or training and check in with clients who may have moved far away, or who are housebound.
Telehealth can be conducted via an online platform that includes a video link (so you can see each other as you talk) OR via phone.
You’ll get used to it faster than you’d think! You know how reality tv stars always complain about how they’re portrayed? The question most of us often then ask is, “Did they not know there were cameras there?” And the truth is, just like the cameras in a MAFS honeymoon suite, the device between you and your clinician quickly disappears and you’ll be chatting like you’re in the same room before you know it.
Interruptions can happen, but not too much more often than in face-to-face sessions. We’ve had gardeners knocking on windows, kids playing bowls down the hallways and dogs barking (or in one memorable instance – throwing up!) in face-to-face sessions; and they all well and truly interupted the flow of the session! So yes, there will sometimes be connection problems with your telehealth session, but nothing that can’t be resolved and nothing that we don’t have contigency plans for.
Accessing the video sessions is really easy. Have a look at the video here to check out just how straightforward the process is.
The Australian government has expanded the available telehealth item numbers so that we can use Medicare-rebateable sessions online for those with a valid Mental Health Care Plan (and you no longer have to meet any special criteria to access those sessions).
Kids actually engage really well online (they’re more used to it than most of us!) and moving to telehealth gives us a chance to see them in action at home, as well as more of a chance to focus on parent-child interaction work.
I can’t wait to learn more about my client’s and what’s important to them. Assuming they’re ok with it, I’m going to ask each of my clients to start their sessions in the room in the house they like the best or to grab their favourite item from their home. I’m also really looking forward to finally getting to meet so many of my client’s pets!
You can do your session in your own home! In your PJs if you want! I mean I honestly wonder how many people are going to want to go back to face-to-face after this for that reason alone!
Rory is going to miss licking people terribly, but she’s being very stoic and we’re coming up with new and creative ways to integrate the animals into online sessions (see the pic with Rory and YoYo having a chat).
You can access your sessions via laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone, so you have a lot of freedom!
None of us are good with change – I devote whole sessions to why change is so hard for us and discussing all the ways our brains will try and resist it! So it’s fine to be nervous and anxious about change, but nobody ever did anything brave without feeling some fear first! So let’s take that leap together! Because we really are all in this together.
I really am incredibly grateful that we have this option open to us. I would hate to have to stop working with my clients at this most horrible of times and thank goodness we have the technology available to do this!
So before your first session make sure:
you’re somewhere quiet and private (or as private as it’s possible to be if you’re self-isolating with kids – the car could be good!),
your device is fully charged,
your internet connection is good (don’t do the session at the far end of the house if the wifi signal is no good there),
you’ve got a cup of coffee/glass of water/pint of ice cream/ box of tissues
you’ve got a set of headphones handy, just in case you want to up the privacy quotient a little!
and then, we’ll see you online!
Take care everyone!
Danielle Graber Clinical Psychologist & Director
12 Points Psychology
One of my young clients said to me, many years ago as we were working on their dog phobia, “You know so much about this stuff! I bet psychologists never get scared!”
That was utterly adorable.
But dead wrong.
Of course, I get scared.
It’s just that, I also have some decent tools up my sleeves to deal with that fear.
Like right now.
As someone with a compromised immune system. I’m scared.
As the wife, daughter, sister and friend of others in high risk groups. I’m scared.
As a former scientist with friends still working in hospitals and labs at the frontline. I’m scared.
As a small business owner, you’d better believe I’m scared!
But honestly, it’s as a psychologist, that I’m bloody terrified.
See, the vast majority of us will survive the virus. Even if we catch it, the odds are, especially here in Australia, that most of those infected will survive. Even if the healthcare system crashes under the weight of all the cases, physically, most people will recover.
You know what people don’t recover from?
Seeing people do more damage to each other than any virus ever could and
The realisation that they have acted contrary to their values.
These two factors areliterally what torturers rely on to ‘break’ their victims. I’m not even exaggerating here. Torture is one person doing cruel and unusual things to someone else and it is considered ‘successful’ when the victim starts to act counter to their value system, e.g., turning on friends, and abandoning what’s most important to them. Sound familiar?
So, I want you to have a think.
What’s most important to you?
What do you think happens if the doctors and nurses on the front line can’t get access to essential supplies anymore? How do you think those on the frontline feel when they see people flouting social distancing rules while they work all day in an overrun hospital and then go home to the motel room, they’re staying at to protect their own family?
Think about, if you did get sick, who would look after you? Family, friends, neighbours, doctors, nurses? Then ask yourself, what are you doing today and this week to support those people NOW?
Respect? Compassion? Community?
Social distancing doesn’t mean severing all human connections. It’s imperative that social distancing doesn’t come to mean social isolation. A lot of the deluge of information (including misinformation) on social media has certainly heightened the panic around this pandemic, but let’s reclaim that. Let’s start using all this technology to our advantage.
Pick up the phone, jump online, start a FB group with your nearest and dearest and send funny memes to each other. Or, if you want to stay away from social media for now (and fair enough!), then go old school and write letters to those stuck in nursing homes, or get your kids to draw pictures for the frontline healthcare staff.
Our bodies may be stuck at home, but our heads and our hearts don’t have to be.
The thing that will help calm my terror, (and genuinely, make this time more bearable for everyone) is if we can all just take a minute, pause and ask ourselves.
What’s really most important to me? Not just now, but always, and
Am I living in concert with those values in the time of Covid-19?
If not, what can I change today, tomorrow, this week and this month to bring myself back in line with those core values? Because that is one fight we genuinely cannot afford to lose.
Danielle Graber Director 12 Points Psychology
If this is something you haven’t considered before, take a moment now to complete this worksheet and start figuring out what actions you’re going to take that will speak your values loud and proud to those who are most important to you.
These are some troubling times we find ourselves in, but I would like to take this opportunity to assure our clients that we’re keeping a very close eye on the pandemic as it unfolds and making sure to update our policies and procedures regularly in line with the most well-informed recommendations.
I have no wish to increase the level of panic out there, but I do feel it’s important to let you know what precautions we’re taking and why we think they are necessary. So I feel like now may be a good time to mention, that before I was a psychologist and the director of 12 Points Psychology, I worked in medical science and I happened to be working in the Immunology and Infectious Diseases department of a major hospital during the SARS outbreak all those years ago.
I tell you this now because I hope it goes some way to reassuring you that you’re in good hands with us, because 1) I am coming from a place of experience and 2) the policies and procedures we’re implementing here at 12 Points are based off guidelines that were part of the reason SARS all but disappeared from the community only 2 years after it first emerged. With a bit of luck and a decent amount of care, hopefully COVID-19 will go the same way!
Given my former experience in immunology and my current experience as a mental health professional, I don’t believe that now is the best time to be restricing access to mental health care and I do believe that with some basic precautions, we can continue to operate safely for now. That is why we are going to continue to offer face-to-face sessions at 12 Points Psychology while implementing the the following changes:
you will now receive an email reminder in addition to your text reminder prior to your appointments. These messages will serve to explain the measures we’re taking to keep you, our staff and our clinicians well and healthy. We will update them regularly with any new information that we feel may be relevant to your care, so please read over them prior to each appointment. (If we don’t have an email address for you on file, consider adding it to your updated information sheet next time you’re in or email it to us with a request to have it recorded in your client file: firstname.lastname@example.org)
if you are unwell, or have recently returned from overseas, PLEASE STAY HOME.
I cannot stress this enough. If you present to the rooms with any flu-like symptoms, you will be asked to leave (and we really don’t want to have to enforce that, but for everyone’s comfort and safety we certainly will).
if you are needing to self-isolate, or would just prefer to do telehealth sessions, please speak to admin via phone (0451 044 015) or email (email@example.com) and we can arrange either a phone session or an online session via a secure (yet surprisingly simple to access) healthcare platform.
we will be providing hand sanitiser and reminders about hand-washing in each of the rooms and posting information on our Facebook page regularly. Please use the sanitiser and please familiarise yourself with the proper handwashing technique (see Dr John Campbell’s video here for a great example). It is not an exaggeration to say learning how to do this properly literally saves lives.
we are removing all of the kid’s toys and high traffic items (like magazines) in the waiting rooms effective immediately. It’s just too hard to keep them sanitised. Sadly, this will include the mentos too, so keep that in mind if you enjoy a sugary snack after an appointment and think about bringing your own for now! 🙂
we will be doing full wipe downs with an alcohol-based disinfectant at least twice a day on all the high traffic surfaces, like the desks, door handles, light switches etc
unfortunately we will not be offering tea or coffee to clients on arrival for the time being either (again, it’s just too hard to keep things sanitised). We will have disposable cups available if anyone needs a glass of water, but otherwise, considering bringing your own drink along to your session (keeping hydrated is another simple yet incredibly effective way to reduce your chance of getting sick).
We hope by following these current procedures and staying on top of developments as they arise, we will not only be keeping ourselves and our clients safe and healthy, but we will also be contributing to the flattening of the curve (reducing the rate of spread in the community to keep the strain off our medical system).
So if you don’t already follow us on Facebook – now’s the time as that’s where we’ll be posting the most regular updates, and in the meantime, just follow Dr Jersey’s advice.*
*warning, Dr Jersey is not a medical doctor, despite the stethescope.
Take care of yourselves!
Danielle Graber Clinical Psychologist & Director 12 Points Psychology
One of the greatest privileges of my job as a psychologist is getting to bear witness to the true strength and grit of character that so many of my clients possess. Clients who have overcome every kind of trauma, heartbreak and betrayal imaginable, yet still find reasons to smile and trust and keep going.
Conversely, one of the things that makes me incredibly sad about my job is the fact that these very same people, those whose every day existence are a testament to resilience and perseverance, often find it so very hard to tolerate a kind word about themselves.
At times, simply asking about a particular strength, or focusing on an example of something they did well, is enough to bring them to tears.
I know the reasons why this happens. I can tell you the neuroscience behind negative cognition bias and give you at least 5 different theoretical explanations for the mechanisms behind it, (including response to shame, lack of unconditional love, repeated trauma exposure) and why it persists. But just like my clients, knowing why it happens, doesn’t stop the feelings of sadness each and every time I encounter a bright, intelligent, incredibly resilient client who can sit with all manner of stresses and trauma and downright horrors, dissolving into tears at the mention of a positive trait.
But this is where Jersey comes into it. Our beautiful Jersey girl who overcame her own traumatic background to learn to trust people and love her work as a therapy dog. So at these moments, I sometimes, ask my clients to turn to Jersey and pretend that whatever horrible and negative thoughts they’re currently stuck on about themselves, apply to Jersey. What would it be like to say those harsh words to Jersey’s sweet face and big brown eyes?
The clients will sometimes say, “well those words don’t apply to Jersey” to which I reply, “it doesn’t matter, they’re just words, right? You don’t have to believe them; you just have to say them to her face.”
How many clients, who can be so very harsh on themselves, do you think manage to say those same words to Jersey?
I challenge you to do the same thing here, whatever negative thoughts this post may have stirred up in you:
“well you don’t want to get a big head”
“that [insert good thing here] was just a fluke”
“I’m not good enough”
Look at this picture of Jersey. Look into her eyes and speak those words to her.
How did it feel even contemplating saying those words to that face?
If it was hard. If you struggled at all, then the next questions are:
Why are you deserving of any less respect than my dog (as cute and sweet as she is of course!)?
What could you do/be if those words weren’t on constant replay in your own head?
This might be something you want to discuss with your own psychologist, but for now, it’s just something to notice and be compassionately curious about.
As for me, I’ll keep working with my clients until they can be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they can be to Jersey-girl!
Over the last 6 months, our IT and Facilities Manager, Mathew, has been undertaking a diploma in counselling. What I love is that he’s really focused on applying what he is learning to his own life, before introducing any of these concepts to clients. That’s a really important concept to all of us here at 12 Points, we don’t ask anything of our clients that we’re not willing to try out ourselves!
Here he writes about his experience in dealing with life’s little annoyances in a new and helpful way.
There used to be NO END of things that bothered me. Things that, in the grand scheme, are not that big a deal, but that didn’t stop them getting under my skin. These little things would sometimes bother me so much that they were all I could focus on, and they would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing.
The kind of things I’m talking about include anything from; using a poorly-designed website, hearing a grating voice of a stranger on public transport, wearing wet clothes after being caught in the rain, seeing grammar and spelling errors in menus or signs, crying children in the supermarket, or just having a stone or twig in my shoe.
All of these annoyances and distractions caused me actual irritation and distress, and I was just no good at dealing with it.
Enter the daily mindfulness practice.
Yes, yes, mindfulness is so great, I’ve heard this all before. I don’t have time, I tried it and it didn’t work, it’s all a bunch of woo woo, etc, etc.
Let me stop you right there.
I’m not here to sell you anything – just to tell you that mindfulness helped me develop some distress tolerance and these things that used to bug the hell out of me no longer get a rise out of me. I might still notice them – wow, this website is really hindering the user, or, hey, looks like I’ve picked up a little stone in my shoe – and then after noticing them, I can actually get back to enjoying what I was doing.
This didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process that I only noticed in hindsight after I was doing a short mindfulness practice once a day.
But it was an amazing difference.
After walking the dogs in the morning, instead of getting on with the next thing, without a pause or a thought, I would sit down for 5 to 10 minutes, put on a program from the Smiling Mind or Mind the Bump app (both free) and just experience the mindfulness session. After the little bell at the end of the session, I’d get on with the day with a clearer mind, more relaxed and ready to deal with the issues at hand.
I’m certainly not immune to distress and of course, things can still pop up and bother me, but now that I know what to look for in my responses and if something small gets to me, it’s usually a sign that I’ve been letting my mindfulness practice slip, so I know exactly what to do to find my inner zen again!
I couldn’t wait until I started seeing my own clients to share such a simple and effective strategy for dealing with the stones that we all pick up at one time or another! And if you’re curious at all, I encourage you to try it out – your literally have nothing to lose – except those pesky stones! Because you can’t stop every stone from ending up in your shoe, but you can learn to enjoy the walk despite the stone!