Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person, in order to gain more power and control, makes their victim (friend, family, co-worker, cult follower, etc) question their own reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. Addicts also use this technique as a way of maintaining their drug use. The addict will tell those around them that they are imagining things or over reacting when confronted about their use or changes in behavior. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much they've been brainwashed. Not all gaslighters know they are doing it. It may be a learned behavior or a way of feeling okay about themselves. Others know exactly what they are doing. The bottom line however, is that it is an abusive behavior and should not be tolerated by others.
If you are at the laundromat and you discover that someone has thrown their laundry in the washer with your clothes, will you wash it for them or will you tell them to do their own laundry? In most cases, you would hand their laundry back to them. Similarly, if someone lets their dog do its business in your yard, would you think "oh gosh I am so messy. I better go clean that up" or would you think "that person needs to clean up after their dog"? Are you seeing a theme in these examples?
Let me take it one step further. Imagine you own a little dog and your neighbor owns a horse. Your dog goes out and does her business in the yard and you, being a responsible pet owner, go out and clean up it's mess. But one day your dog and the neighbors horse are both out in the yard. You come out and see that the dog and the horse have been busy, you know, leaving presents. Well you can look around and you and your neighbor both see that you have some cleaning to do. In this case it's pretty easy for you to tell what work you need to do and they can see where they need to work. Now apply this to issues of self esteem, mood, and other personal sorts of issues or problems. Can you apply the same "sorting" in a personal interactions and relationships?
I saw the same thing this week, from one client to the next. It is a simple concept, but confusing in practice sometimes. The confusion is about what is your own stuff and what is someone else's stuff (issue, insecurity, problem). How do you sort through and decide what to take in or take on and what to give back to the other person or at least let go? Now I am not saying you shouldn't be there for people when they have a problem. Absolutely be there for them if you can, but don't make their problem your problem.
In other words, the struggle is a part of defining your own healthy boundaries. It is important to hear what people have to say and to consider their input. But it is just as important to recognize when a criticism or comment is not really about you and is instead a someone else's issues showing up. For some people, it is easy to just take it all in and believe at face value. For other people, it's hard to hear anything negative or even consider that it may be true. Ideally you can find a place in the middle of these two extremes.
You won't always make the right call, but you have to try.
If you find yourself thinking or talking about someone else's problems a lot or maybe your mood is easily affected by other people's moods, you may be taking on their stuff. This is super obvious but important to remember. You are your own person. You are not your friend. This means that you can feel differently than they do and it's okay. You can be there for them and still be seperate.
If you are a pretty sensitive person like me, you may notice that you easily pick up on other people's mood or energy. That can be a strength or weakness depending on what you do with that info. If you recognize it as what is going on for them, you can use the info to decide how you want to respond. If you recognize and feel their mood or energy and make it yours personally, you have crossed over into the problem zone. Knowing this difference can be helpful as you begin to develop your own boundaries and adjust how you respond to other people. Having this ability will actually allow you to be there for friends or family who are in need. Instead of joining them in their struggle you can be there to help them get out of it. I have written some other blog posts about boundaries. So for some more ideas you can click here or for more ways to take care of yourself, click here to read more.
To find out more about self care or healthy relationships visit www.SaraColeMFT.com. Sara Cole MFT has been providing services in San Diego for 15 years and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Mindfully thinking about all that you are thankful for can change the actual chemistry of your brain in positive ways. Then your habits and thought patterns change too.
So there has been big change in my life lately and like many people, I can struggle with change at times. This morning started out as one of those times. But I decided to do what I know works. Before I put my feet on the floor, I started to form a list in my head. A list of things I am thankful for.
It may sound basic and easy, but thinking of what you are grateful for can bring good change to your life and it can happen fast. In kindergarten we learn the importance of saying please and thank you, but being thankful is good for more than just good manners. Gratitude can become a state of mind. If I start right now listing things I am grateful for, the list will start to get longer than I expected. I will notice that I am now looking around for what else there is that I am thankful for.
Just talking about this process changes how I feel in my body and my mind. If I am listing "my gratitudes" it's really hard to feel sorry for myself at the very same time. I might start by thinking " I am thankful for my family, my health, the air I am breathing, my education, my job, my friends" and then I might start thinking about smaller things that bring me joy like "my new coffee maker, music, yoga, sunsets" and I could keep going. I might even start noticing that I am looking for new things to add to my thankful list.
I don't know if it is basic human nature or something we learn, but it's very easy to focus on what we want or we don't have. This thinking can easily take you down the rabbit hole of negative thinking. Negative thinking can then lead to feeling blah or depressed. On the flip side, focusing on what we have and what we appreciate, changes the focus and you start noticing more and more positive things in your day. That leads to more positive thoughts and to forming a habit of looking for the positive in your day or your life.
Starting to focus on what you are grateful for is a great way to start and end your day on a positive note. I don't want it to sound like focusing on your gratitudes, will solve all of your problems, because it won't. But making this simple change is an easy thing you can do on your own and right now, that can help. So in conjunction with your other positive and healthy habits, try increasing the time you spend thinking of all the good things in life, because there are a lot. More than you can even imagine. Ready? Okay go!
P.S. When I start looking for the good things in life, I get inspired to bring even more goodness into it. In other words, I get motivated to make other changes, try new things, meet new people and take better care of myself. It is very likely that this same wonderful thing will happen for you.
For more ideas on how to improve your mood and your life, check out www.saracolemft.com. There you can also find out about Sara Cole MFT and how she may be able to help.
Have you ever wondered about the difference between a Licensed Therapist and a Life Coach? This is a passionate issue for me and after talking with a few therapists I highly respect, they encouraged me to write it down. The best tool you can have is information. Here is my attempt to help inform you on an important issue involving mental health.
A lot of people assume that Therapists and Life Coaches are the same thing. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. A licensed therapist has advanced graduate training in treating mental health issues, they have supervision, they do lengthy internships, they have legal and ethical boards governing their actions and certification by their state. A Life Coach doesn't need to have any of these things. Actually, to be a life coach there are no requirements. Your mom could decide to be a life coach today and so she is. Some Life Coaches seek a certification of some kind which helps, but certifications are also not overseen or governed by anyone.
This is not about market competition for me. It is about the safety of people who are seeking help. It is also about integrity and honesty in service. If a person is mentally and emotionally healthy and is looking for someone to help them get motivated, a life coach is great. A life coach usually works form the perspective that the client already has everything they need to make changes. But imagine a severely depressed person coming to a life coach, for example. The life coach presumably has no training on how to deal with mental illness and tells the person they just need to stop being so lazy or to look on the bright side. Do you know what could happen? Suicide is the worst outcome, but it is in the range of possibilities. The sad part is that the depressed person thought they were seeking help from a professional that would know how to help them. This example may seem dramatic, and maybe it is, but it is also very possible.
I want to make it clear that I sincerely think there is a place for life coaches. I also want to say that there are some very talented and well trained life coaches out there, but there are also some hacks that are looking to take advantage of people because of the confusion that exists. First off, a life coach is not a licensed therapist, unless of course a licensed therapist is practicing as a life coach. A life coach is about as much like a licensed therapist as a guy who read a law book is like an attorney. No really. Let me explain.
Diann Wingert, LCSW, Certified Coach & Therapist, writes in her article for Good Therapy that "If you are more comfortable knowing that the person helping you is a highly educated professional who is licensed and regulated by the state, shares a common language with other health care providers, and is trained to deal with the symptoms of mental health issues as well as the dramas and traumas of ordinary life, a therapist is your best bet." She further explains that licensed therapists are able to be paid for through insurance, whereas insurance does not cover the services of a life coach." In addition, therapists are legally and ethically required to maintain client confidentiality at all times. Coaches have no such requirements and info from yoursessions can be subpoenaed in court.
Even as a licensed therapist, there are times where I feel that I do not have the specialized training to help a client. In those cases I am ethically obligated to refer that person to a specialist in their area of need. If Life Coaches also had some sort of regulation, the danger of the profession to the public, would be reduced significantly. Many of them recognize the issue and make this referral on their own of course, but by choice alone and there is no way of knowing who chooses to and who does not. If they do not, there are no clear repercussions. If I choose to work outside my scope of practice or expertise, I risk losing my license and of course the safety of a potential client.
Often Life Coaches focus on accomplishing goals or moving forward in life. Therapists can do this but also help people to look back and work through difficulties from their past so that they are able to move forward. Therapists can help when a person has experienced a traumatic event or loss. Therapists are specially trained to treat mental health issues. Therapists are required to engage in ongoing training on a yearly basis to maintain their skills and knowledge of current information. Like I have already said, there are no regulations for life coaches. If you don't necessarily need or have a mental health diagnosis, are not looking for insurance reimbursement, and want someone to push you toward your goals and don't need insight into your past, a life coach may be a viable choice for you. If you decide a Coach is what you want, please ask about their certification and experience before giving them your money. You could ask a coach many of the same questions I recommend asking a therapist. This is a link to a list of those questions.
Sara Cole MFT is a licensed therapist and has been practicing in San Diego for the past 15 years. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill. For mor information about her practice or how she may be a ble to help you, visit her website at www.saracolemft.com.
By Sara Cole MFT
I am starting this off with a little self disclosure, because it feels easier to trust someone who has had the same struggles as yourself. Believe me. I have struggled with mornings. I have never felt like a " morning person" and then when I became a mom, there was even less time to think about me when my daughter started springing out of bad at 6 AM. I have been known to forget about taking care of myself. It takes practice to stay on track and staying on track is what brings the positive changes to your life. Starting the day off right is about self care, mindfulness and intention. it's also about understanding that you won't always get it right. No one can do all the right things all the time, but maybe try to start doing a couple of these things and I promise you will notice a difference in how your day unfolds. I know I do.
So without further ado, here are some of my favorite ideas for how to start the day out right....
Make Your Bed.
I know, I know. What am I your mom or something? But seriously, this small thing can improve your day. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, explains that a simple way to be happier is to make your bed as soon as you get up, every morning. By taking this small step to create outer order, you create inner calm. It’s something small and totally doable which gets your day off to a great start.
*Let the Tech Wait
Let it wait until you have at least made your bed and had breakfast or coffee. You have plenty of time to check emails and facebook and tweets and texts and calendars, etc. Give yourself a chance to wake up and get off to a positive and mindful start. Starting the day thinking about the here and now helps you get in the habit of mindful thinking for the whole day ahead.
Make a Mini Game Plan.
Start each morning with a mini-planning session. Because our mind and body are fresh, take advantage of your “clean slate.” Resist the urge to replay yesterday's soundtrack, or get sucked into worrying about tomorrow. Stay in the here-and-now, and think steps, not lofty goals. Set two tasks that are attainable and then if you get more done, great but no pressure. Don't overthink this. You don't need highlighters or a minute by minute planner. Mini is the key word here. For example you could say to yourself or write down "lets see, the two most important things I want to get done today are take the cat to the vet and finish that report." That's it, that's the whole process.
Meditate (only 3 minutes required)
Meditation does not have to be overwhelming and long. You don't have to travel to India or study for years. You can do these things, but you can also keep it simple and start like this:
*Ease Your Body Into the Day With a Few Stretches.
Not much explanation is needed for this one. Do each of these movements slowly like you are moving through thick honey and take nice deep breaths.
*Take even a few minutes to groom.
Grooming is a way we show care. Mommies groom their babies. Animals groom each other. Grooming yourself is a way of showing self love. Take the time to brush your teeth and hair and put on clothes you feel good in. This makes a difference because it is a way of caring for yourself and reminding yourself that you are important and deserve special attention. If you feel good in your clothes, you carry yourself differently and your self esteem improves.
Let me know how you start your day out right. I am always looking for new ideas to share and try myself.
Sara Cole MFT is a therapist in San Diego with offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill. She has been practicing in San Diego for over 10 years. To find more ideas about self care or how she may be able to help you with her therapy services, visit www.saracolemft.com or call (619)316-3171.
Unhealthy ways of thinking and reacting to things can cause depression and anxiety, actually make problems worse, and create a chronically stressed states of mind that can negatively affect your heart health and immunity. Negative thinking can get into anyone's head from time to time. Let's talk about how to shift to the positive. If you keep redirecting your negative thinking over months and years, you may even change the patterns of connections in your brain so that you react to life’s events in more grounded ways, with less panic and judgment. Here are few tried and true tricks to use when you want to get positive.
1. Notice your thoughts.
This may seem obvious but stopping to notice your thoughts takes practice. Thoughts often feel automatic, but you can retrain your brain. When you notice that your thinking starts to get repetitive and negative, make yourself break the cycle and stop. Get up and go for a walk, talk to friend, read a book, listen to music, etc. You can retrain your brain, but it takes practice. Stopping the habit when you notice it is the first step in the retraining process. Try to change your thinking to a problem-solving focus that is more realistic and strategic. For example, maybe you notice that you just thought "no one will ever love me". Ok, how do you know this? Is this even a likely prediction? Is there any evidence that this is true? Has anyone ever loved you?
You get the idea. Now you can change the the thought to something more realistic. "I don't feel loved right now, but that can change" or "there are people who love me and more people will love me in the future".
2. Look for evidence.
I sort of already started doing this in number one, but let's look at this trick a little more closely. Negative thoughts are often all or nothing types of statements or blanket types of judgements. For example, "these kids never listen to me". Is that true? They NEVER listen to you? Is there any evidence to prove or disprove this statement? Is this an over exaggeration? When you start looking at the facts and reality, it becomes clear that things are not so black and white. There is alot more gray area. Once you disprove the statement or thought, you can come up with a more accurate replacement.
3. Replace the original thought with something that more closely reflects reality or even looks on the positive side.
Back to the statement "the kids never listen". When you start to think about it and look around, you realize that "Actually, they listen most of the time. They are just not listening right now." So how can you change this statement to be more accurate? How about "I get frustrated when the kids don't listen" or "the kids usually listen. They must be tired right now, because they are having a hard time". Do you see the difference? Even typing these words, I get a different feeling in my body. The all or nothing makes me feel hopeless and heavy. The rephrase suggests hope and possible solutions.
4. Practice chilling out.
Overthinking is a common habit that can result in anxiety. Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. explains in her psychology today article, "Overthinking is when you go over and over different choices in your mind, trying to imagine every possible outcome and everything that could happen in the future, to make sure you make the perfect choice. Your focus is on avoiding mistakes and risk. The problem with overthinking is that it’s an attempt to control what isn’t controllable."
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation in other areas of your life can help lower your anxiety. Anxiety is often the cause of over thinking. So, don’t be so hard on yourself: You are only human, and it’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake. You can learn from it. Overthinking results from anxiety, so practice stress-management techniques like yoga, running, nature walking, meditating or other activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing. For a quick de-stressing exercise check out this blog post.
Sara Cole MFT has been practicing in San Diego for over ten years and is dedicated to helping people live their best lives. To find more information and ideas or to see how Sara can help you, check out www.saracolemft.com. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill.
Clients often say to me in the therapy that they should have gone to counseling a long time ago. There are lots of reasons people give for seeing a counselor or therapist. There are also many reasons people give for avoiding therapy. Sometimes people don't know much about therapy and so it can be intimidating or they may incorrectly think that therapy is only for problems much worse than what they are experiencing. Don’t let things get worse by continuing to put it off and book an appointment today. Here are some of the excuses people give for avoiding therapy.
1. "Small Problems Don’t Require Counseling":
Many people think your problems must be HUGE before you go to counseling. So, they put off seeking help because it seems silly to go to counseling over what they conceive to be a minor issue. Who is to say what minor is? If there is something thats bothering you or keeping you from living and enjoying your life, that's enough of a reason to look into seeing a therapist. The thing is, small problems can snowball into big ones. It often makes sense to get counseling if you have a problem that is bothering you or your relationship, no matter how minor, so you can prevent it from getting bigger.
2. "I can always talk to a friend. I don't understand how talking to a stranger can be helpful"
Friends can provide wonderful support and empathy, and that’s often enough to help us through difficult times. But a counseling relationship is different in a very important way. In a friendship the needs of both people must be attended to. Friendships involve a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. In counseling, the focus is solely on you and during this dialogue about you, your counselor is trained to use therapeutic techniques to help you.
3. Fear of being judged by the therapist:
Many of my clients have told me during their first session that they were nervous to come because they were afraid I’d judge them. This always leaves me surprised and a bit sad.
Therapists undergo specific training to create a safe therapeutic environment. Besides being taught how to cultivate warmth, unconditional positive regard, and a nonjudgmental atmosphere, current therapists are also required to go through multicultural studies, which increases our insight into the variety of cultural norms that exist in our country.
4. Fear of being judged by other people:
For a long time there has been a stigma around going to therapy or seeing a therapist. People are often under the impression that we should be able to handle any problem on our own and that seeking help is a sign of weakness. The truth is that almost everyone can benefit from having someone to talk to about life. Knowing when you need help and how to access that help is a strength. Many people never get the courage to admit they are having a problem and even fewer actually take the steps needed to solving those problems. People who know they need therapy and take the steps to seeing a therapist, are strong and brave and they have the commitment to themselves to live their best lives. If others judge you for going to a doctor or to therapy, must not know you well or they are still misinformed about the value of therapy.
5. "I don't believe just talking can do any good"
Talking can actually do a lot of good. Discussing something with someone who cares about you and who is not judgmental helps relieve the emotional pressure caused by keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. But counseling involves much more than just talking. Counseling provides a to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us. In counseling we focus our attention on aspects of our experience that we may have been previously unaware of. This provides new ways of looking at problems and often gives us new ways to handle these problems.
6. "I won't know what to say":
Don't worry. There is not right or wrong thing to say in therapy. Your time in therapy is about you and your life and thoughts and feelings, so you can talk about anything you want, or say nothing at all. If you find yourself lost or uncomfortable in a therapy session, that's ok. Your therapist is trained to guide you through the process when you want or need them to.
From time to time, some issues CAN be resolved without outside help. That doesn’t always happen, and only you know if a problem continues to persist. If a problem doesn’t seem to go away, or you find yourself in the same pattern over and over again, it may be time to consider confronting the issue with the help of a professional. When you are ready to find a therapist that is right for you, check out my blog post titled "12 Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist".
Sara Cole MFT is a therapist in San Diego, with offices in Scripps Ranch and Banker's Hill. She has been helping people for over ten years. If you are interested in learning more about therapy or how Sara may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
You know those times when you are in a situation and you just feel overwhelmed, like you could have a panic attack or just sort of "lose it"? Yeah, I think we all know that feeling. Maybe it's too loud, the situation is super stressful, you have a lot going on in your life, or something else. For me, when I am somewhere where and there are a lot of people and it's really noisy, I feel like I can't concentrate. I feel like I need to get out of there and sometimes feel a little panicky when there are really loud noises. For other people it may be taking a test that throws them off. Or maybe you just get stuck thinking about something and can't let it go. It could be anything really. Luckily there are some things you can do to help.
This exercise is not a magic wand, but I find it very helpful. I recommend giving it a try. You can do it anytime, anywhere and it doesn't require any tools, training or a specials environment. And really, what can it hurt? It doesn't really matter what order you do it in, as long as you hit all five of your senses.
Part of what I really like about this exercise is that it forces me to focus on right here and right now. It also involves some numbers and going through steps which distract me from my racing thoughts. Try counting and naming items in your environment without being distracted from your thoughts. I can't do it. Being forced to focus on the present can be a reminder that you are ok. Your body may be telling you that it's time for fight or flight, but once you slow down and look around, your brain gets a chance to tell you that you are safe.
Give this a try. I think you might find that it helps.
Sara Cole MFT is San Diego Therapist who has been in practice for over 10 years. For more ideas or to find out how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracoemft.com. Sara has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know the pain and confusion and sadness that follows. Death is a natural part of the life, but it does not feel natural when someone you care about dies. I don't know if you can really ever fully get over such a loss. You can find your path again, you can regain your sense of direction, you can start to smile again, but you don't forget that person or the place they hold in your heart. It is important for you to know that you won't always feel as raw and crazy and overwhelmed as you do right after someone dies. It takes time and care and sometimes, guidance to get through it. But you do get through it. You will find joy in life again and you will sleep peacefully again and you will think of your loved one without feeling like your heart is being ripped out of your chest. That will happen a little bit at a time. Seeing a counselor can be very helpful as you traverse this unknown and painful territory.
"Grief is a wilderness". I cannot find my own words to describe grief any more accurately than this. So I borrow the phrase from singer/songwriter/author Dustin Illingsworth. After the tragic and sudden death of his longtime girlfriend, Illingworth crafted this album, Grief Is A Wilderness. His songs are about his process of grieving her death. Think about being dropped in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness on your own. You wouldn't know which way to go. You wouldn't know what you need to survive. You might be cold and lost and afraid to do anything. Lost and overwhelmed are often a part of the grieving process, just like if you were lost in the deep dark woods.
Illingworth most likely borrowed the phrase from Author Alan D. Wolfelt. Wolfelt writes about grief in his book, The Wilderness of Grief: Finding Your Way. In his writing Wolfelt presents the idea of wilderness as a strong and lasting metaphor for grief—and likening the death of a loved one to the experience of being plucked from one's normal life and dropped down in the middle of nowhere. Feeling lost and afraid in new and uncharted territory, people are initially overwhelmed, but they begin to make their way through the new landscape and slowly begin to find their way again.
When a dear one dies, grief is overwhelming, but there are things you can do to help yourself or someone you know get through the process of grieving. Talking about the person who died can be helpful. Talking about memories your shared with that person. Talking about your sadness in losing them can help. Just letting yourself cry is okay. Many people find comfort in commemorating the departed in some way. This could be through writing, making a donation, having a celebration, planting a tree in their name, organizing and displaying photos, creating art, making a small altar with pictures and small objects or any other activities you can think of.
Knowing and understanding that it is normal and healthy to grieve can be helpful in itself as it is common for people to feel like they are going crazy. The process is not the same for everyone. It doesn't last the same amount of time for everyone and people do not all find comfort in the same things. It is common to bounce around from sadness, loneliness, denial, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, guilt and more as you process this sort of loss. People often feel like they should have somehow prevented the death or that it was their fault. They may feel guilty that they are still alive or that they should have been the one to die instead. This is all normal. People may lose their ability to find joy or they may suddenly have a new appreciation for their own life. These are also normal experiences in the grieving process. The grieving person may try to isolate themselves and this is okay for short periods of time, but then they need to have at least some social interactions.
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief and loss, know that this time is a tough one and that is to be expected. You need compassion, patience, care and time. Accomplishing small things can help sometimes because it brings back the sense that you have control over somethings in your life when it feels like life is overwhelming and out of control. While it normal for this to be a hard time, if you feel like your emotions are getting in the way of living your life, it's time to reach out for help. This can be through your church, a support group or with a therapist who specializes in grief and loss.
Sara Cole MFT is a San Diego Therapist providing counseling in Bankers Hill and Scripps Ranch. To find out more about Sara and how she may be able to help you, check out www.saracolemft.com.
Too much screen time can result in isolating and missing out on social interactions which results in feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can cause or increase depression and anxiety and it can even shorten your lifespan. A blog Post by Sara Cole MFT.
We are social beings. There are lots of explanations for why we need to interact with other people. If you take an evolution and survival perspective, you see that we have needed one another to simply reproduce and survive. Connecting with others, gives a person feedback, stimulation, comfort, protection, the opportunity to care for another, new ideas, motivation. The list goes on. But beyond survival and reproduction, we thrive when we feel connected to other people. As far as I know, even the most introverted people need some connection to other people. Well actually, they need to feel connected to other people. The types of connections may vary from person to person and the amount of people or number and depth of connections will vary as well. Isolation can actually drive a person mad. Loneliness can feel overwhelming. It can cause depression, anxiety and even shorten a person's life span. But if you look at our lives, you see us becoming less social and less connected overall. Why is that?
Loneliness is quickly becoming one of the top reasons people are seeking counseling or therapy. The bad news is that with social media, everything available on line and busy work, family, school lives, the number of meaningful social interactions we experience is shrinking quickly. What seems like convenience, could actually be making people mentally and physically ill. Take for example Amazon. You don't have to leave the house or even speak to another person to do your shopping. Or think about Netflix. Instead of going to a theatre with friends, you sit at home and watch Netflix alone. All of these conveniences are shrinking our social networks. Screens are reducing the amount of social connections we make with other people.
Is a Facebook friend a real friend? Probably some yes and some no. There is value and connection on via media is better than no connection. So when that's the only option, by all means use it. But remember, it is not at all the same as a real life interaction with another person. For one thing, you can't hug your friend when you read their update on facebook, but you can reach out and give a hug or hi five in person. You don't hear the tone of their voice or pick up on their energy. For people who are far apart from one another, the internet and phones can provide a sort of connection when , there would be none otherwise.
If there is one thing you do to improve your overall mental and physical health, consider this. Get social, at least a little bit. People who have "friends" and connections with others, live longer and report less depression, anxiety and loneliness. Put down the screen, walk away from the tv, put down the game controller and make some real live connections. For one thing, getting off the couch and engaging in an activity with another human requires physical movement, mental and emotional interactions, and much more. Those things are better for your health than laying on the couch ar sitting in front of the computer by yourself. You may even want to consider making one of these connections outside where you also get the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
I am not saying that you need to have a full social calendar. I am saying look for ways to make connections with other people. It can be at work, with family, at the gym, talking to a neighbor, joining a club or group, volunteering, or pursuing an interest you have. The list goes on. This is one of those things that can feel hard at first, but it really does get easier. As you do it, you see and feel the positive benefits. Then soon you won't be trying so hard to make this happen and it will feel more natural. The more you do with other people, the more there is to do. They have ideas and invite you to join. Oh and one more thing, don't turn down invitations to be social. Especially if you don't have any plans or your feeling lonely. And certainly don't let anxiety stop you. Tell your self doubt and anxiety to shut up and let you get out there and live your best life. You may feel insecure , but I promise you, almost everyone else does too.
For more ideas on how to help yourself feel better or to find out how Sara Cole MFT might be able to help you, visit www.saracolemft.com or give her a call at (619) 316- 3171. She has been providing therapy and counseling in San Diego for over 10 years. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill in San Diego CA.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.