Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Or imagined that you were your favorite TV/book/movie character? Many people do - and have a lot of fun re-enacting or writing about their favorite characters. If you've ever read a book or watched a show and have nearly fallen in love with one of the characters, or have imagined yourself doing what they do, then you'll know what I mean.
As part of getting to know clients, I often ask who their heroes are and what they like about them. I've found that many of them admire certain personality traits or roles that these characters take on. Knowing this, I was able to work with them on consciously integrating aspects of those characters into their every day identities. This is something we all can do, and it doesn't need to be part of therapy!
For the past two years, I've been working in nursing homes, offering counseling to seniors dealing with adjustment issues, depression, anxiety and a host of other mental health concerns. During that time, I've learned that there are people who are polite, and people who are just flat-out mean. I recently had the pleasure of trying to interview a gentleman who could not get over the idea that I was fat, and was very obnoxious about it. Factually, he is right - I am fat. I'm not upset about that - it's the judgment and cruelty in deciding that I am less of a human being because of it that was hurtful.
We'll call him "Mr. Jones" for simplicity. When I went into Mr. Jones' room to introduce myself, he immediately said, "Well, you've put on weight, haven't you?" Not hello, not "how are you," - just an immediate comment on my body. I ignored it and introduced myself and told him I was here to talk with him. He, however, could not get past my appearance. I went to sit down, and he said, "You can't sit on the furniture. You'll break it." I let him know, gently and politely, that I had been sitting on the furniture for over two years without a problem, and that I had a job to do. He said, "you're too fat." At that point, even my patience was shot. I said, "Mr. Jones, I am here as a professional and your comments are out of line. My body is not under discussion. I'll come back again on Friday, and maybe we can try this again."
So, after you take action, how will you know it's working? The most obvious answer, of course, "I did what I set out to do." Chances are, though, that you'll want to keep track of your progress, and when you reach your goal, want to know what worked to help you achieve it. If you were unable to reach it, figuring out what got in the way can help you when you begin planning again. So, evaluation of both progress and the process are pretty important, and can help you celebrate successes, sharpen your strategies, plan for predictable obstacles, and debrief after your hard work.
So, you’ve planned, you’ve made commitments, you know what you want and how you’ll get it. What next? As Nike famously said, “Just DO it!” This takes courage – it’s new and unknown. And, you’ve worked hard for this. DO it – you can and you will. Look at your task lists – what do you do first? Start going down your list and work your way through them. It sounds simple – and when life goes perfectly, it is. However…
There are certain ways to maximize your chances of achieving your goal:
So, interestingly enough, I fell off the wagon in regard to blogging. It’s ironic that just as I was talking about goals and achieving them, I did not achieve mine! This is a great opportunity, though, to emphasize the action planning and commitment needed. How DO we create an action plan that is realistic and achievable?
After you’ve identified and come up with strategies (your “coulds”), your next step is categorize them. I recommend keeping it simple, so I use three basic piles:
WHAT: What do you want to do?
So, how do we create strategies?
As I’ve been revamping my business approach, I noticed that I’d spent little time on developing goals. I had the usual, “I want to have more clients,” “I want to help others,” “I want to increase my income,” etc., but I found that I hadn’t spent enough time on developing good goals and strategies. So, I’ve been researching this topic, and I’m going to pass on the results of what I’ve learned to you. Can you say, “FREEBIE!!”? If it were me, I’d be all over this. I'm going to give you my goals worksheet and my weekly business planning worksheet.
So, a goal is all about change. There is something going on, and you either want to completely change the situation or you want to alter it in some way that will be favorable to you or what you want. The first thing you need to know is that you have to have an idea of what you want to see happen. You also need to know what the reality you’re facing is and what could get in the way. So, what comes next?
I thought for a while about whether or not I wanted to write about this, because there are so many armchair psychologists who are ready to explain and point fingers in regard to Robin Williams' suicide. Today, however, after hearing some of my clients' reactions and after hearing some of the things said in the media about it, I feel that I have something to say that might be helpful.
Mr. Williams' struggles with depression and addiction are well-known, and it's very easy to point fingers and say, "that was what did it." I've heard variations on that theme all day, most of them said with the attitude that nothing could help it. One radio host even went as far as to say, "He was beyond help. He was too far gone."
I nearly had to pull my car off the road after hearing that, because I was so angry. I work all day with people who struggle with those feelings and with the pain and hopelessness that goes along with them. To hear a DJ blithely blame the victim was nearly too much for me. NO ONE IS "BEYOND HELP;" AND NO ONE IS "TOO FAR GONE." I can't emphasize that enough.
In my work, one of the hardest things I face is letting a client know that it’s time move on. There are many reasons for ending therapy, and I’m going to explain some of them so you can see how complex the decision can be. I’ll start with a couple of reasons why clients end therapy.
I am someone who thoroughly loves life and believes in the power we have to help each other. I think that having a hot cup of tea, a good book, and a warm, purring kitty is one of the most relaxing experiences there is, and that having my family nearby, hearing the sound of children laughing, feeling rain on my skin, and smelling the salt air by the ocean are some of the best things in life!
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