Personal Growth Category

Your Choices and Meditation

You go through life automatically, not feeling quite right but not knowing why. You go to a job you hate, come home, make dinner, watch TV, and start all over again, waiting for your vacation to forget the emptiness of your life for one or two weeks. And you ask yourself, “This can’t be all there is”. And you’re right…this isn’t all there is. And, believe it or not, you always have a choice to continue to live on automatic pilot or to make the effort to become more aware of who you are and what you really want.

Socrates is reported to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being”. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for becoming aware of our own thought processes and, eventually, of your erroneous beliefs. Daily meditation helps to quiet the body and mind and reconnect with your heart and its yearnings. While this can be scary, the rewards are unestimable. There is always the risk that this increased awareness will b...

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You Are A Miracle: Self-acceptance Fosters Resilience

The most difficult thing in the world for many of you is to love yourself. No matter what your issues might be: Addictions, emotional eating, impulse control issues, anger, depression, intense unexplained sadness…you carry with you an inner condemnation of who you are and of your intrinsic goodness. Your self-talk reflects that lack of self-acceptance. You tell yourself, “I should have done this, I’m an idiot”, “Why can’t I get it together once and for all? What’s wrong with me?” “Why bother trying? I’m going to fail anyway. I always do”.

Every time you set a goal for yourself and you do not follow through, you beat yourself up. If you talked to your friends in the same way as you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any friends left. You condemn yourself for past behaviours, carry guilt, regret and resentment like badges of honour. “At least if I feel guilty,” you tell yourself, “that shows that...

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The power of choice

We all have choices. Each day we are faced with a myriad of choices from when to get up in the morning, to what to wear and how we spend our time daily. Many choices are small ones with little significance. However, there are choices that have big consequences. If we don't stop and think we can make a choice that can alter the course of our lives forever. I was watching the show Lisa Ling had on Teen Mothers. One girl got pregnant at 14, decided to have her baby. You would think she would've learned her lesson but then she got pregnant at 16 and now has two kids. She made the choice to stop her birth control. Imagine being 17 years old and having two kids under 4. What an overwhelming experience. The choice to not protect herself and use birth control totally altered the course of her life.

Impulsive decisions can cause great consequences. It is so important to really focus and reflect on what you want out of your life and for your future. Write down your long term goals and list the ...

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5 Strategies for Combating Shyness And Social Anxiety Disorder: How to Build Social Skills: Part 1

By Matt Sandford, LMHC
In a previous article I provided some helps for sorting out the differences between Shyness, Introversion and Social Anxiety Disorder. This is a companion piece meant to offer suggestions for addressing the skills of the person struggling with shyness. I believe it can certainly be helpful for those who identify as introverts or those struggling with SAD as well. Let me here explain something specific concerning introversion. Unlike shyness and SAD, introversion is a personality trait, and therefore the goal, my goal, is not to change it. No one’s personality needs to change in order to be fulfilled and be their best self. Our goal should be to mature, to grow. We may need to become more comfortable with who we are, but we don’t need to change our identity. Maybe you need to understand and discover your identity, but that’s not changing it. My desire is to provide some helpful skill development, but what that means is simply developing and honing...

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The Wall and the Bridge: Constructing a Path to Overcome Past Wounds

By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC


Everybody is wounded. It’s like we’re in a worldwide war that is always going on. From the time we were young there was shooting going on around us and sometimes we got hit. Maybe we got hit by a random bullet of shame or judgment or ridicule from a loved one? Of course they also could have been well timed sniper attacks by those who wished to take us down? Maybe we got caught in the machine gun cross fire of attacks between parents or family members? Maybe we were the victim of a tank assault that blew our church apart? Maybe it was the grenades thrown by bullies at school? Whatever kind of attack it was, I believe that no one arrives at adulthood unscathed. There’s just too much shooting going on for someone to make it with no wounds. And that includes the perpetrators, those wielding the guns and pointing the mortars and grenade launchers. Because I believe the book by Sandra Wilson, with the title, Hurt People, Hurt People. Heck, that is...

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Sexual Trauma and Men - A Path to Thriving

Talking about sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape is difficult for anyone. For men, it has it’s own unique challenges – often putting to question a man’s sense of his own masculinity. Men, some think more then women, are quiet about this experience. They often don’t know what path to take in dealing with such challenging memories. And we know that when people don’t talk about the hard stuff, when they hold it in, that they often get depressed, angry, sad, and feel alone and misunderstood.


For this reason, I’m offering a new path…a therapy group specifically for men who’ve experienced a sexual trauma, whether as children or adults. Anyone who identifies as male, whether he is transgender or cisgender; gay, bisexual or straight; is eligible to join. The main criteria is that he wants to be in a community where he can find ways to improve his satisfaction and contentedness with the way he is living his life. Some of the discussions will...

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5 Strategies for Combating Shyness And Social Anxiety Disorder How to Build Social Skills, Part 2

By Matt Sandford, LMHC
This two part series on how to increase one’s social skills and confidence in social interaction is a companion piece to my article on Shyness, Social Phobia and Introversion. Part one proposed the need for trying new approaches in terms of social interactions, offered some places to look in making new friendships, and then provided strategies 1 and 2, which were, I Don’t Know What to Say, and I’m Afraid to Initiate. Here are the final three strategies.
3. What If They Think I’m an Idiot, or Something Worse!
We now have to consider the seemingly unpleasant prospect – that someone does respond poorly, or rudely or belittles you or your opinion or comment. There’s no getting around the reality that there are insensitive and small minded individuals in this world, who are self centered or just plain mean. But I think it helps if you can remember that if someone like that has a poor opinion of you, that it actually says more about the...

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Three Reasons to Start Therapy in the Summer

When is the best time to seek help through therapy? It is easy to find reasons not to go to therapy or to put it off for a better time of year. Here are some reasons why summer is an excellent time to try therapy.

1) When engaging in therapy it is very important to balance the hard work you will do in sessions with relaxing enjoyable activities. Summer is the perfect time to find this balance because the days are warm and sunlight abundant. There are many opportunities to get outside and engage in relaxing activities after a session.

The time you spend sitting outside, talking a walk around the neighborhood, swimming or traveling allows your unconscious mind to process the issues you work on in therapy. As a result you may make considerably more progress in the summer than other times of year.

2) Therapy is effective when you are ready and willing to try something new and make some changes in your life. Often summer is already a time of changed routines.

If you are a parent, teache...

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Our Beliefs and Our Dreams

Our Beliefs and Our Dreams

We tell ourselves stories and convince ourselves of beliefs daily. We believe that life is difficult, that we must work hard to be successful and financially stable, that if we stop worrying about bad things, they will actually happen to us, and a variety of other beliefs. Why? You picked up these beliefs from other people, your parents, your friends, the media. A belief is just a thought you keep thinking and part of growing up is determining which of these beliefs are your own and which were passed on to you from someone else. In developing a sense of critical thinking, as a free human being you can decide which ones serve you and which to discard.

For any change or transformation that you want to make in your life, you must first visualize yourself doing or thinking or living that life you imagine. Any change that is not first visualized and believed will not stick. How can you change your life if you don’t believe that you can?

You must first dis...

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The many ways in which hypnosis can help

The ways in which hypnosis can help are almost limitless.

Emotions

Anxiety, Depression, Recurring Negative Thoughts

Each one of us experiences challenges in our daily lives. Some of these challenges can be triggered by life's events and our reactions to them. Some of them are deeply embedded in our inner emotional landscape. When in a hypnotic state, we can be made more aware of our subconscious beliefs and how they affect our thoughts and behaviors.

Behavior

In our daily lives, we develop coping mechanisms in response to our stresses and emotional states. It can be smoking, nervous tics (nail biting, foot tapping etc.), overeating, or other self-defeating and unhealthy behaviors. Hypnosis can help by uncovering what triggers these behaviors at the source.

Soul or spirit

Some people believe that we came into our present bodies to bring spiritual light and vibrations to this denser, material reality. Hypnosis can help yus connect to your Higher Self and to learn to recognize its ...

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