Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
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 another great way to care for yourself and start to shift your thinking in a positive direction is to try an exercise in self compassion. For more about self compassion, check out my post dear-self.html that talks about the importance of compassion for yourself and how to develop it.
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.
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.