Tag Archives: mental health counsleing

Getting Past Fear & Uncertainty: Live Your Life

Fear and uncertainty can happen at any time. The recent Coronavirus has had a way of shining a bright light on the fears that every human secretly harbors. This type of fear and uncertainty originated from an environmental phenomenon.

But what are the fears that live within us?

To better understand the fears and uncertainties that live within us, I will give you a few examples of both conscious and unconscious categories.

The fears and uncertainties, which we are aware of, are conscious. For example, I know, that if I see a snake, I will always jump back and get a physically uneasy feeling (my body will shiver and tense); even if it is a tiny or harmless garter variety. 

Another example. Whenever I have to give a presentation in front of colleagues, who are more knowledgeable than me, I am very conscious of my public speaking/presentation fear. I call it anxiety and I feel it in my stomach to the point that at times, I will want to vomit.

So, what is unconscious fear?

Unconscious fears are fears that are not presently in your conscious awareness. Everyone has unconscious fears. Recently, I have unearthed some of my unconscious fears. And, from this, my new enlightenment, I now know that my unconscious fear and uncertainty (now conscious) was preventing me from living to my full potential to engage in desired activities and adventures.

How did I know this?

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch reflecting about my life (rebuilding after my house fire) and I came to the realization that I am afraid! There are a lot of things that I want to experience, but I am not because I am afraid. 

Here is an example, I like to go hiking and I want to go to new places. I want to venture out and experience the beauty of the region in which I live. 

But, I am not. Why? 

Well, I realized, as I was having my couch epiphany, that I am always relying on others to go with me to do things that I am interested in. So, if my husband or friends cannot or do not want to join me, I get either angry, upset, or disappointed. And, I have been using their lack of collaboration as my excuse to not venture out.

Rather than being conscious of the fact that I was simply afraid to do some hiking on my own, I would get angry. I would get angry at my husband because (of course) it was his fault that I was not doing what I wanted to do. I would get sad because I did not have a friend that was available to accompany me.  

The anger and the sadness were displaced onto others. This displaced was actually covering up my _________________________?

That’s right. This is my unconscious fear. While sitting on the couch, I said to myself, out loud (no one was home), “I am afraid!” 

Acceptance

What was amazing, was that my self-revelation was a type of acceptance. I accepted, (out loud) that I am afraid to do (some) things on my own. And that is okay. I know that you cannot change what you cannot accept. 

I am afraid of a lot of things. Maybe it is a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. But I am not afraid of everything. I do a lot of things where others remark “I don’t know how you do that” (e.g. extreme skiing, Ph.D. torture;-). 

What to do?

What I did about my fear, was nothing but accept it. I accepted that I was afraid to explore new places and venture out on my own. So, I googled ‘hiking trails near me.’ Then, I headed out one morning and I was so proud of myself for doing this beautiful adventure. The fear and apprehension did not, however, go away, but I learned, that acceptance of anxiety (based in fear) is very empowering. 

Start by:

  1. Accepting that you are afraid
  2. Speak out loud or write down what you are afraid of (trying new things, change jobs, leaving a bad relationship, going back to school, public speaking, being alone).
  3. Be specific about your fears and express them without judgment
  4. Stop blaming and displacing your fears onto others
  5. Work within the fear rather than trying to avoid it
  6. Keep growing and learning and enjoying your accomplishments

The Take Home

Accept what you are afraid of. Don’t try to eliminate the fear or uncertainty. AVOIDANCE of emotions never works! Acceptance allows you to control fear and carry on regardless. Avoidance allows your emotions to control you…

Click here for a list of my mental health counseling services. Contact me today for more information (585) 432-0313

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The Importance of Grieving

Loss of a loved one

When we lose someone whether from death or the end of a relationship, it is important to allow yourself to feel all of the emotions related to that loss. These emotions can feel like despair, disorientation, rejection, loneliness, sadness, pain, and anger. If you avoid your emotions, they will not go away. They will haunt you. And, as a result of avoiding emotional grieving, it can negatively impact your life including relationships, future relationships, goals, and plans.

It is never too late to grieve

It is never too late to grieve a loss. This week’s guest post is a beautiful example of the author using letter writing to grieve the loss of his grandmother who died several years ago. Thank you for reading and please don’t forget to comment and share. You never know, you may be helping somebody!

By Nathan Conrad

Dear Grandma,

Let me start by saying that I miss you so much. It was times like these that I relied on you the most. You were always there to listen. I wish you didn’t have to go the way you did. You deserved to go quietly and peacefully in your sleep.

I know how scared you were. And, to be honest, I was scared for you too. But, I was strong, I was strong for you and for mom too. I was by your side the whole time putting on a strong face, but my heart was breaking. I wasn’t ready to lose you and neither was mom.

You were so much more…

You were much more than just a grandma, you were one of my closest friends. I wish I would have spent more time with you, but we both know how my job [first responder] was.

That day, the day you died, changed me. The ambulance was no longer a calling. It became just a “job.” Every time I had to ride with a patient in the back, it took me back to that day, and, would break my heart all over again.

There wasn’t enough whiskey…

There wasn’t enough whiskey or that other “junk” to fill the void you left, but I sure tried. I know why you left the hard choices that day up to me. I was just as stubborn as you and you know I would follow your wishes to the letter. And we both know that mom could not have handled the guilt.

I miss you every day. I miss our talks, our music, especially Elvis and Willie. No one could make a bacon and egg sandwich like you, and no one ever will.

I was the one…

I wanted you to know, that I was the one who put your ashes in the grave and I wrapped your urn in your favorite blanket.

I am two months sober now

I am sure you know that I have gotten myself into trouble. You were right about my loser friends. I want you to know that I am two months sober now and I am learning what is important now. I am going to try my best to be a better son and grandson to take care of my family like you took care of us.

You still have the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known and I am trying my best to be like you. I hope I will get to see you again one day, but for now, your spirit will always be with me.

I Love you, love, your favorite grandson

For more information on counseling, please contact me, Catherine Cleveland at (585) 432-0313 or email me at clevelandemotionalhealth@gmail.com.

I am More Than Your Labels

This guest poster, who wishes to remain anonymous, enlightens us on how we use labels to define others. Labels can feel judgmental and can dehumanize. Labels create “us and them.” Labels isolate. What labels have been used on you?

My alarm goes off, time to start another day

As I exit my bed, I grab my binder from the nightstand along with a baggy sweatshirt and loose pants

I head to the bathroom where I avoid the mirror and shower at all costs.

These parts are not mine

This is not fair

As I head to school I wonder how many times I might be stung by the verbal bee today

A substitute in math and inevitably role call

My dead name

This name is not mine

This is not fair

It’s time for therapy and upon arrival my dead name is said aloud for the waiting room to hear

A clipboard with assessments where I am asked to put my name and gender 

The gender binary is everywhere in here

This gender is not mine

This is not fair

At the stroke of 3 o’clock, the therapist enters the waiting room

We walk down these winding halls…

To my surprise a safe space sticker and an ALLY button accompanies this stranger

Can this name be mine?

These pronouns feel right

“What name do you like to be called”

This stranger identifies their pronouns and preferred name

“Tell me about what makes you, you”

This name is mine

These pronouns feel right

This stranger does not realize that for the first time today

I am more than transgender

I am an artist, an avid reader, hopeless romantic, and enjoy color coordinating my shoes.

This name is mine

These pronouns feel right

I am me and that is perfectly okay

Please share your comments on this thoughtful and enlightening post. Please click here for more information on mental health counseling.

Emotional Health Tip # 1: Pay Attention

Pay Attention!

I had a new friend ask me if I was analyzing them. What I was doing was enjoying the day and their company in the present moment. Although I may figure out sooner or later what their neurosis is, their worrying about whether I am “analyzing” them, says more about them than me. If you are worried about being analyzed, start by asking yourself these questions: what am I afraid to reveal? What is it that I definitely do not want others to know about me?

The essential tip I will give you to improve your mental health is to pay attention to yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts, to what your emotions are, and to your behaviors (as a result of your thoughts and emotions). Mostly, pay attention to what is happening to your body – are you having any muscle tension, does your heart race, do you feel tightening in your chest? What does your stomach feel like during stressful times?

Believe it or not, most people are not able to well articulate their thoughts and feelings. There are multiple reasons for why we lack this type of intrapersonal insight. The main reason is that we avoid our thoughts and feelings, hoping they will no longer exist. 

However, avoidance does not work. Thoughts will always haunt us when we are not occupying ourselves with something else like work, homework, socializing, television, gaming, and social media. Unwanted thoughts can most often occur when we are lying in bed, trying to go to sleep. Feelings can get subconsciously triggered and come out in unwanted behaviors and physical reactions, such as fighting with loved ones, aggressiveness, moodiness, anxiety, depression, and OCD, and physical pain. 

If avoiding thoughts and feeling does not work, what can you do? You can pay attention to those thoughts and feelings. Begin by developing a childlike, nonjudgmental curiosity to yourself, and all of your parts. In other words, “analyze” yourself in a compassionate and curious manner. When you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical body, you begin the healing process, which essentially eliminates the coping and hoping behaviors where nothing completely changes.

For more information about Catherine, click here! Call or schedule your appointment now!