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Self-blame, negative self-talk, endless pummelling by the inner critic and the relentless self-shaming that can hijack our minds and torture our hearts can effectively poison our trust in ourselves to cope and derail any hope of bouncing back from stress and trauma. 
I offer 14 very practical and very useful exercises to push back on the inner critic (even shift its role to that of inner advisor) from a recent webinar sponsored by NScience: Ending the Flood of Shaming Self-Talk: How to Effectively Face Up to the Inner Critic. Though crafted for clinicians, the entire webinar is offered in very plain, accessible English and will be useful to anyone at any stage of shifting their relationship to their inner judge/bully/gremlin.
Here are the basic principles that provide the context to benefitting from this work:
The Inner Critic is Universal
The inner critic is an easily recognizable inner part of our larger Self that is archetypal, universal.  Every human being experiences some form of negative self-talk, some form of harsh self-judgment or self-criticism once in awhile, some days all the while.  
“Who do thou think you are?  You’ll never amount to anything.  It doesn’t matter how hard you try, nobody’s going to like you or stay your friend.” 
Whatever particular message

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

As we transition into 2022, I would like to acknowledge aloud that I am tired.  Covid has reminded me it’s time again to root around inside my resilience toolbox to better manage my feelings coming up around the rug of hope and normalcy being recently pulled out.
The arrival of Omicron has knocked me emotionally which took some time to fully realize.  I remained generally grounded during the undulations of the last few years of Covid.  My family was safe and we were all able to adapt well.  For this I am grateful as I know not everyone had this experience.   I settled into a new “normal,” adapted my practice from in-person to online and provided therapy for a stream of individuals and couples living with the stress and uncertainty of Covid.
Over time, things seemed to be better.  They were better.  The relief was palpable in my community and across the country.
In the last month, as “the next variant” caught fire around the globe then landed here, a shift in my emotional state began.  Tension, fear, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration and an uptick in overall negativity started knocking insistently at my door.  The feelings apparently managed to sneak in and tear up

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Fear of failure, fear of rejection or fear that we’re just not enough – fear is a common current that runs through all of our lives. And if we let it, fear can keep us locked up in the prison of the comfortable and predictable, which prevents us from reaching our true potential. Living in […]
The post How to stop living in fear appeared first on tonyrobbins.com.

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

This past year has felt to like it’s been sucked up into a vacuum.  Many of us are rubbing the Covid sleep out of our eyes with cautious optimism as vaccine rollouts accelerate and Covid numbers decline nationally.  The human toll has been profound on many levels and despite reasons to be hopeful, reasons for legitimate concern remain.
But the power of hope is not to be underestimated.  It can build our resilience (the ability to bounce back from tough times) as well as help reduce anxiety, trauma, and depression.  The pandemic has seen a sharp rise in all three.
With signs of possibly getting out of this thing, or at least it being more manageable, people are looking ahead to the future and dreaming.  They are now able to imagine doing the things they have missed, re-engaging in life.  I can see this reflected via many media sources, in my individual and couples therapy practice as well as in my personal life with family and friends.  After months of hiding out, hope is making an appearance allowing people to imagine what could be again.
I’ve been reflecting upon the things that I miss and look forward to.  For me a few of

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

We have gone through so much in the past year.  We’ve adapted, bent, scrambled, mourned, watched, processed, prayed and hoped as our lives changed in ways it was impossible to have predicted.  Many have experienced vulnerability, fear and worry in new ways too.  As we in this country breathe in signs of hope for positive change, we also reflect back upon what we have learned.
In the piece, How Will You be Different? written many months ago, I reflected on the possible subtle positive shifts that may be happening with a world halted, leaving us peering out our windows.  I wondered if the forced slow down might have allowed people to notice things they hadn’t before.  Could creativity have been sparked as we sought ways to keep ourselves occupied with the majority of our routines, activities and social meet-ups stripped away?  And while the unnatural amount of time couples, families and roommates sharing homes spent together was taxing for some, might it allow others to relish in a deep appreciation for loved ones?  I also pondered whether people post-pandemic would make contact with a deeper sense of gratitude.
My grandmother used to say, “Who’s got tomorrow?”  Boy, was she right.
As we wipe

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Richard Nicastro, PhD, through the eyes of “Nina,” explores what it can look like when protective love turns into hopeless frustration.  

If you’re a woman in a committed relationship, I’d like you to think about how your husband/partner reacts to you when you’re vulnerable — do your vulnerabilities bring out the best in him? Or does he react with annoyance, frustration or even anger?
One wife wanted to share what she learned about her husband after completing six months of couples counseling. As you read Nina’s insights, see if anything she’s discovered applies to your own relationship. Sometimes we can find pearls of wisdom on someone else’s journey, even when the specifics differ.
(I’m handing the blog reins over to Nina at this point so that you can hear from her directly…)
My husband and I have our differences and we’ve learned to compromise over the years, but overall we have a loving, solid marriage.
He’s always been quiet. When we met he was a little more talkative, but even then, it paled in comparison to how much I need to communicate. I’ve stopped trying to get him to talk more. It was unfair to him (since he’s never been talkative) and in all honesty,

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

We’re not out of this thing yet as evidenced by the tragic surges unfolding in Covid hot spots in the world.  But we sure are miles ahead of the dark days and unknowns of the past year.  There are many reasons to celebrate the incredible job the country is doing in getting control of the pandemic with mindful behavior and vaccinations.  Clearly by the decreasing numbers it is working!  Many are feeling great optimism, reveling in the warm rays of spring and feeling more freedom to safely engage in their favorite activities, connect with people, travel as their anxiety baselines slowly settle back down.
But not everyone.
Do you still feel preoccupied, worried or unsure?  Are you fully vaccinated but notice you feel hesitant to leap out into the world as you see other people doing?  Do you notice anxious thoughts still tapping on your shoulder?
Despite the signs that things are moving towards normalcy, relief and joy so palpable in many, we all experienced and bore witness to this last year.  Life as we knew it came grinding to a halt with all of the consequences along with it.  Something like this is not to be forgotten for anyone.
Those with a tendency for

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Alysha Jeney, LMFT, looks at a lack of sex in relationships, the layered cake metaphor and what sex positivity looks like. 
A lack of sex in relationships can vary from trust issues to health related dysfunction. Sometimes circumstances such as having a new baby or struggling with infertility can throw everything off.  Or maybe you just not know what you like or are struggling with feeling sexually confident. There are moments, however, when the “reasons” for the lulls are not as easy to identify and often couples will enter therapy seeking the answers.
Imagine a romantic relationship is like a layered cake. Each layer builds off of each other and without one, the entire cake feels incomplete.
The answer to “Why aren’t we having sex?” can often involve a missing ingredient(s) somewhere within the layered cake.  Here are the layers:

The first layer is the foundation, which is friendship. This could entail respect, kindness, fun, commonalities, trust and appreciation.
The second layer is emotional connectedness that is more intimate than with a friendship. Maybe this entails emotional vulnerability, compassion and understanding. It can include feel seen, validated and reassured by your partner.
The third layer is nonsexual physical intimacy. This can include flirtatious love taps, long

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Linda Graham, MFT looks at the benefit of recalling missed opportunities for kindness.  Active imagination revisioning can rewire the brain when an opportunity to be kind was missed.
Most of us want to be kind, to ourselves and others, most of the time. Most of us try to be kind, much of the time.
And then there are the many, many times when we “wake up” hours or days or years later.  “I could’ve…!” “I should’ve…!” But the person we now want to be kind to is miles or years away.  Possibility gone forever.
The good news of neuroplasticity: that moment isn’t gone forever in the brain.  Because what the brain can imagine or visualize is real to the brain, we can re-create the scenario in our mind’s eye, and re-wire the brain’s circuity holding the memory of that event (or didn’t-happen event).
When we recall something that happened (or didn’t happen) into conscious awareness, we are activating or “lighting up” the neural circuity that constellates that memory.  It is open to revision. (The brain revises our memories on its own over time all the time anyway.)  The technical name in neuroscience for this revision process is memory deconsolidation-reconsolidation.
When we “light up” a memory in our conscious awareness, we create the opportunity to

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com

Therapy is not magic nor is it a process where a therapist is able to “fix” you.  I  sometimes joke with clients that if I had a magic wand under my chair (or on my desk in times of tele-therapy), I could wave it and all would be better.  This certainly would make therapy go faster, wouldn’t it?  Alas, this is not the case. But it’s true that many come to therapy with some preconceived notions of what the process entails and one of the most common fantasies is that their therapist will give them advice.
“Just tell me what to do!”
It’s not to say that there are not therapists out there regularly dispensing advice as I believe there are.  But for those who see themselves as a guide for growth and personal empowerment for their clients,  they will refrain.  There are plenty of good reasons why your therapist will likely not give you advice.
Your therapist is not you.
As much as your therapist delves into the intricacies, characters and emotional waves of your life, they are not in that life.  You share a sacred space together to do your work but he or she is not walking in the footsteps of

Originally published at http://loveandlifetoolbox.com