Mindfulness Saved Me

Little me who, apparently, didn’t talk much.

As a therapist I’ve watched others struggle with anxiety. As a human being, born in the 80s, a millennial that’s played Apocalyptic Bingo, and a black woman (EXHALE) – I’ve developed a very personal relationship with anxiety. We have co-existed, inharmoniously, since I was 5. There has been a continuous monologue to my daily experiences – judging, wanting, worrying – for as long as I can remember.

Adult me: Still awkward- Still anxious

You’d think by now I would have beaten it. I mean I’m who you go to when you feel crazy – you’d expect me to have some kind of solution. Confession: I haven’t beaten it, no one can. But I will say, I have found a way to live along side of it. Out of all the medicines, treatment manuals, and prayers – mindfulness has been my saving grace. In the practice of being present I reclaimed my life, one moment at a time.

I stopped fighting with my mind, saying it was wrong or should be different. Instead I started observing my mind. By observing and describing, my experiences were able to be met directly without the cloud of judgements and stories blurring my vision. I could get my bearings. It was only by figuring out where I was that I could make an intentional plan on how to move forward.

I started first with my sleep. This was another area I was constantly at odds with in my life. I remember staring up at my bedroom fan wishing I could fall asleep – praying my mind would slow down. I was unsuccessful. I was unsuccessful because you can’t will your life to change. You can only take stock of where you are and make the necessary adjustments.

So I did. I learned to observe my habits, my body sensations, and my thoughts. I learned to deeply listen to the messages my experiences whispered. I learned what responses led toward my goals and those not to repeat.

I later applied the same mindful relationship to other habits: smoking, diet, exercise, and social quirks. Mindfulness offered a lens of safety and warm acceptance. It was a place I could authentically and vulnerably be seen; I was now safe to grow.

Mindfulness opens the realm of possibility. It is a constant practice of being present. Your whole life becomes the practice. Now the practice of living begins.

To hear more check out the 5 Part Video Series on the Foundation of Mindful Practice.

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NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy virtually from Raleigh, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Now the practice begins, 

Elise Nicole Davis

No “Buts” about it…

If you’ve been a client of mine for any amount of time, I hope you have walked away with one thing. Our “buts” in life stop us from moving forward. Period. Saying “yes” to one thing and following it with a “but” statement completely invalidates whatever you “agreed” to. Here’s an example: “Yes I want to do the dishes to help, but I don’t have time right now,” or “I want to meditate, but I don’t have time.” It doesn’t matter what I want to do, my “but” makes it clear what I’m going to do. (I realize, just now, that my “buts” are obviously time related. Note to self.)

Make “no buts” about it, if you want to do something you have to fully agree. I understand that things get in the way AND accepting all the facts creates room for problem solving. Remember, acceptance doesn’t mean approval; it simply means we acknowledge all the facts. Let’s take another look at the dishes example above. A way to rephrase the statement is to replace the word “but” with “and.” It would look like this: “Yes I want to do the dishes to help AND I don’t have time right now.” Now, I’m left with a situation that has two truths. Taking into account both parts of the statement, I have the opportunity to find a resolution. Possible solutions may be that I can make time by exchanging one task for another or I may offer to do the dishes another time when I can schedule it in.

Here’s a more personal example that follows my previous post about Sadhana. I want to wake up at 5 AM, but I still feel tired. That statement disregards my desire to change my habits due to how I feel in the moment. That’s where we get stuck. I am practicing changing this statement to “I want to wake up at 5 AM, and I still feel tired.” From this I can derive a few things:

  • I can still get up at 5 AM even if I still feel tired.
  • I can do things to reduce my fatigue such as going to be earlier.
  • I can adjust the time I want to wake up to one that allows me to reach my goals and feel more rested.

I’ve opted for the awareness that I can still get up even if I still feel tired. The thought is that I commit to my practice regardless of my circumstances. I have found that this commitment lends itself to the next two points where I adjust my plans to make it work. Hands down the best advice I ever got came from Suzanne Evans, “Make the decision and make the decision right.” When I made the decision to have a daily practice, I agreed to do what was needed to make it work. The “and” allows me to feel less boxed in and capable of doing just that, making it work within my reality.

Continue to evaluate where your butt gets stuck AND create space for solution building. I believe in you and your ability to move forward despite the circumstances. If you feel stuck, share so this community can help.

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NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy virtually from Raleigh, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Now the practice begins, 

Elise Nicole Davis

Overcoming Obstacles to Practice

I have to make a confession. I am not great at routine. I love it, and I need it, but I struggle to maintain it after 3 days. Even knowing all the benefits of having rituals (check out my instagram post on the topic), I still fall short. I openly admit this to combat the shame that keeps me stuck. By making something public and out in the open, we are encouraged to do something about it by solving the problem.

Often when behaviors are not completed it is due to these 4 reasons:

Currently, my issue has been letting other things come before my desired behaviors. To strengthen this area in my life, I plan to focus on a yogic principle: Sadhana. Sadhana means consistent practice done with intention. For the next month, I plan on anchoring my behavior to scheduled morning practice in order to not forget or have life get in the way. By investing in a daily practice, kind of like watering a plant or feeding yourself daily, I will be able to participate in the process and direction of my growth.

Sadhana happens regardless of what is going on. This message became apparent on a recent hike I took with my 8 year old niece. She wanted to climb a mountain. So to Arizona, specifically Mt. Lemmon, we went. If you’ve ever seen an 8 year old hype about something, imagine that times 10! Even at the beginning of the hike when I proclaimed I was already tired, she said, “We got this, Aunnie!” But a little into 3 miles, she broke. She no longer wanted to climb a mountain; she wanted to go home. She became unwilling to complete the task. With my sister’s coaching my niece became willing to put one foot in front of the other. My sister reminded her how strong she is and how capable her body was proving itself to be – even beyond her initial expectation or current doubt. My sister reminded her that with each strong intentional step, she was not alone; we were with her. So regardless of all the obstacles, internal and external, my niece completed her first hike accomplishing more than she set out to do: 6 miles, 10,000 ft above the safety of flat terrain – one hell of a craggy, cliffy, challenge of a mountain!

Her eagerness reminds me of the vigor in which we often embark on new routines or practices. We are committed and invincible until it gets tough; then, we want to quit. However, in the words of my niece, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to quit.” No matter what happens, commit to your Sadhana. Commit to your practice. Know that with each strong step – no matter your mountain – I am with you. Your community is with you.

As you consider ways to build the life you want to live, I encourage you to think about what gets in the way of completing what you originally set out to do. Which one of these four is your reason for not taking the next step? Know that it can change and the point is to identify where you get stuck in order to be effective in your solutions.

Sadhana occurs daily, without fail. Let’s be each other’s support as we embark on our own practices. Remember, you are the practice after all.

Feel free to follow and message me on instagram, present.practice, to be a part of our community where it’s all about intentionality and conquering big mountains, one foot after the other.

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NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy virtually from Raleigh, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Now the practice begins,

Elise Nicole Davis

Rest Behavior

A tale of activity cycling

Last month my husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage by taking a kid free trip to the beach with friends. Let’s just say, I had a great time. A good trip entails a shot of ridiculousness with a chaser of exercise and hydration.

Per my Instagram post, “No days off” from physical activity was mostly true. I moved my body daily and ate intuitively. At least until I came home. When I got home, I sat. I sat. And I sat some more. I ate all the things that normally upset my stomach “while I was still on vacation.” After an active week, I overcompensated with too much rest. Activity cycling and binge-purge behaviors put my body in a cyclical rollercoaster. I literally feel sick from the all-or-nothing approach to life.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

When I feel lost and overwhelmed, I look to others to be my Wise Mind. This time, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Book One, Number 14 (1.14) really helped me out.

“Practice becomes fully grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness.”

I am in need of a lifestyle, a life practice, that can be maintained; a way of existing as the fabric of who I am and not just what I do. I believe having a healthy relationship with rest and with discipline can create the homeostasis needed for whole hearted living. I learned last week that rest can actually be destructive. I thought I was helping myself by not “following the rules,” and giving myself “freedom.” I’ve learned in the past that discipline can be equally destructive; like when I insisted on running twice a day despite being injured.

In order to develop a constructive relationship with rest and discipline, basically my behaviors, I had to define it.

Constructive behaviors are intuitive. We learn to trust our inner wisdom, our Wise Mind, by first cultivating the practice of listening. Taking the time to pause and experience and digest information is pivotal to understanding what to do next. This can be a meditative practice or simply taking a breath before responding. Be aware of the 5 senses in the present moment (sight, touch, sound, taste, smell) and mindfulness of thoughts. What descriptions and judgments are your inner monolouge attaching to the sensation?

The information you gather can then be digested to identify the resulting need. From here you can identify values oriented action to best meet that need. For example, after a very intense round of football passes, my 30+ year old body was sore upon returning from my trip. Without listening to myself, I self medicated with heavy food and lack of movement. Needless to say, my body felt like the cement I was pouring into it. If I had listened, this is what I would have heard: stiff joints needing lubrication, growling belly seeking to replace nutrients, and a racing mind needing to fully engage with life outside of work. I needed intentional physical activity and good food. Values wise, this would look like daily gentle movement through yoga, lots of hydration, and lots of veggies to get things moving.

Constructive means to build. I want to build the life of my dreams. In order to do that, I have to stop and read the blueprint. Building a mobile, flexible lifestyle says, “it’s not if I move, but how.”

What is your body telling you about your behaviors of rest and discipline?

Begin Again

SO many updates for Present Practice Counseling! Check out the website http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com for all the details.

You know the feeling where you’ve dropped the ball with something that was important to you?  That urge to give it up completely and not return.  I know that feeling all too well.  SO here I am, vulnerably returning to write this blog.  As I say in yoga, now the practice of yoga begins.  And again, I say… now the practice of yoga begins.   It is the returning, the starting over, the facing your edges that embodies the true work.  If we are honest, we never truly start over because we’ve gained new insight along the way.  We simply, begin again. 

A lot has changed, so introductions should be made.  My name is Elise Davis.  I am a mental health counselor, yoga teacher, and meditation guide in Raleigh, NC.  I am married, have a 4 year old daughter (where did the time go?), and a sweet dog who came to visit for the weekend and never left.   I am a writer, an artist, hugger, and gatherer of stories.  Since starting my own practice in 2019, Present Practice Counseling, I have regained my zeal for life and taking chances.

Where does the time go?  It’s an interesting thing to consider.  On one hand it goes nowhere as time is a human construct; on the other hand it is fleeting, unable to be grasped by even the most attentive hands.  Time has been moving fast and slow all at the time.  Mindfulness practices have been my saving grace.  The only way to “hold” a moment, is to participate in it.  This means throwing yourself into the experience fully, completely, and vulnerably.  Brene Brown speaks to the fact that this is the only way to live a whole hearted life.  We can combat shame directly by not hiding, showing up and living.  

Photo by Tim Samuel on Pexels.com

One of my favorite prompting questions is this: “Do your values and priorities match how you spend your time and resources?”  Take the time to consider this.  It may be the most important question you ask yourself. Armed with this new information, I invite you to declutter what isn’t aligned from your theoretical desk and make space for what is. 

I am.  I am making time for family.  I am making time to create.  I am making time to heal myself in order to heal others.  What’s your pledge?  

Ways to find more time:

  • delegate, delegate, delegate
  • end of list 🙂 Let go of what you don’t have to do and allow others to help you! At the beginning of the year I made a pledge to take things off my list. Instead of buying a juicer, I bought from Raleigh Raw. I can not recommend enough! Instead of stressing about food and diet, I hired a personal trainer. Again, can not recommend enough.
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People pay you to listen… Not quite.

I’m back!  Baby is 9 months old… she has been out in this world longer than she was in my tummy! CRAZY! I’ve spent the last few months in amazement at all the new things she’s learning while also in utter exhaustion because I started work again.  Being a working mommy is hard.  However, I continue to realize what I do is important for the people I serve and for my daughter to see that it is ok to get help.  In life nothing and no one is perfect; but there is a place you can go for some much needed reflection to move closer to your best self.  That place is therapy.

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Not much time for rest with these two!

So what do I do anyway as a counselor?

I’ve had several people ask me, “So, people come, lay on your couch, and you get paid to listed to their problems?” This description implies a very passive counselor; a counselor that really just passes the time half listening and providing only a head nod.  This is in fact not what I do at all.  Let me explain to you why a visit with me may in fact change your outlook on life.

pexels-photo-256472Thought Shaping – Mental Health Counseling:

It is my belief the core of all challenges is your mindset.  In fact, my favorite quote  by Epictetus is, “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”  How would your life be different if you could shift your thinking on a number of challenges in your life right now?  I am not proposing a “fake it till you make it” approach or lying to yourself.  I am proposing spending time challenging your thoughts in a way that allows you to move toward your life goals regardless of the circumstances in front of you.  Once you have challenged your thinking, you can operate with the realities of life and make concrete plans to live the life you’ve always wanted.

Now, there can be challenges along the way.  Any number of mental health challenges make this shift difficult.  However, you can learn skills to reshape your attitude and behaviors. Acceptance, change, and nurturing support can defeat anxiety, depression, bipolar, attention issues, trust issues, and much more (clinical or not).

A trained counselor can help you not only learn these skills but provide a safe space to practice them.  My job is to help you accept all parts of yourself and design a way to work within the world the best you can.  With this, everything is possible.

Goal Directed Support – Coaching:pexels-photo-545067

Building off the foundation of mental health counseling, is the benefit of goal directed support.  Once your mindset is solid, you can begin to really identify what you want from life.  You know who you are and are paving forward in a clear direction.  However, you feel like something is blocking you from executing the plan.  This is where I come in.  As an outsider I am able to provide objective feedback on your attitude and behaviors that create dissonance.  We make a plan truly aligned with not just what you want but with how you actually operate.  Steps catered just for you and your heart’s desires.  In addition to this, we discuss ways to build internal motivation to protect against habits (mental and physical) that delay personal growth.

Total Wellness Advocate:

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Downdog baby-asana.  Baby’s need mind-body work too.

With a sound mind and a clear direction, it is important the engine runs well to maintain steam.  Dr. Edmund Jacobson, a psychiatrist known for relaxation techniques stated, “An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.”  The mind-body connection is powerful.  Just like a car, if you take care of what’s under the hood you’ll have no problem getting where you need to go.  Taking care of your body through a healthy diet and exercise will not only give you more energy but improve your mental state! My job as a counselor is to help you evaluate multiple areas of wellness to ensure all parts of your body are working as efficiently as they can.  If changes need to be made, we can address all the barriers that have been challenging in the past.  This leads back to the first section on mental health; often by tacking our psychological challenges we can begin to take better care of ourselves inside and out.

So what do I do?

What I do is more than listening.  My job is to be a guide, a support system, a safe space, a teacher, a coach, and a mirror.   My job is to challenge faulty thinking that has kept you stuck.  My job is to help you become unstuck, first mentally than behaviorally.  My job is to help you live the life you’ve always wanted to live.  Therapy is work but work we do together.  Come sit on my couch… let’s talk … let’s create … let’s do yoga or any other type of physical activity you like… let’s build your best life.

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Added services:

  • Wellness Counseling:  Creation of a personal “reset button” plan to get you moving toward your goals.  This plan will cover multiple areas of wellness for a total reset or “jump start” for goals you already have in the works.  Weekly meetings with mid week personalized accountability emails.  Option to add phone calls for an additional fee.
  • Yoga for mental health: Private or group sessions using yoga for mental growth.  This may look like breath work for anxiety, pose progressions to build confidence to challenge depression, mental health informed motivational messages, and meditation or mindfulness practices.  However, this experience is catered for each client’s personal goals and will vary based on needs.

For further details please contact me through the website below.


NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis

 

Honest and Individualized Motivation

“Be friend to yourself – one you can tell everything too without fear of judgment.  Unless you truly listen to yourself, you can not give yourself solid advice. ”

So I wrote a blog post this week that for some reason isn’t right. When I read it I don’t feel it, ya know? It feels just as foggy as my mind has been lately. I considered posting it anyway but my perfectionism kicked it. Then I started thinking about all the places perfectionism stops me from moving forward. My motivation to do anything other than thinking, external behavior on display for everyone to see, is limited because God forbid if people don’t absolutely LOVE it. It just wouldn’t be right if people’s lives weren’t changed by it.   My perfectionism is fueled by other people’s perception of me. No wonder my motivation wanes… you can’t please everybody. Instead, I do nothing.

 

exhausted

This by far one of my favorite pictures of me.  It shows me still fighting to be in the game but also on the struggle bus.  It’s real.  

I’ve been doing some research on what stops people from fully investing in whatever it takes to “change their lives.” As a therapist, I see people who want to “be happy” but yet come in week after week without taking the initiative to change anything, regardless of suggestions by me.   I am no exception. There are several areas in my life I’d like to change that I know how to change, yet, I do nothing.  What limits our readiness and motivation for change?

 

In my research I stumbled upon motivational interviewing. It’s a therapy technique clinicians use to help people get past their own bs. The gist of it is to really listen, get a thorough understanding of what is being communicated, give it back to the patient so they can call themselves on their own bs, and ascribe to changes they see fit. This technique can be used with cognitive behavioral therapies (i.e. challenging your thoughts to impact your behaviors and emotions) to encourage patient investment in treatment and self-evaluation. The goal is for the patient to become their own therapist.

This led me to consider a repeated theme in my blogs to date. Listen to yourself.  Be friend to yourself – one you can tell everything too without fear of judgment.  Unless you truly listen to yourself, you can not give yourself solid advice.  Instead you will either defend your bad habits because, let’s be honest, change is hard OR you will passively agree to what you “should be doing” but have no intentions on actually doing it. This type of involvement in self-growth is short lived and counter motivational.

Through authentic reflection you can really learn yourself. I mean really understand why you do the things you do and why you think the way you think. With this insider knowledge you can develop plans unique to your own needs. These plans not only will work but you will also be motivated to complete them.

Example of what this looks like:

Say I want to start a diet. Instead of saying I’ll never eat carbohydrates again I should mindfully observe my patterns. I learn about myself that I eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, especially at night. I learn that I am often tired and stressed from the day and I associate my peanut butter toast as a reward for making it out of the day alive. The event looks like this. I think, “Man, I want something to make me feel good.” I make a piece of peanut butter toast because it hasn’t failed me yet. While making it I think sweet nothings about my toast. While I eat it the feeling of joy is confirmed and lasts for at least the time period I am eating it. There is a clear cause and effect that has created a pattern – not eating bread ever again may not work for me 🙂 BUT, if I identify that the problem is feeling stressed at the end of the day and can identify another way to cope that does not conflict with my goal then I will have learned a way to disrupt a negative pattern. Using “If… then…” language will help you develop clear plans based on accurate observations. Look at how your thoughts and emotions impact your choices. Then consider ways to validate your needs (such as decreasing stress) while creating a plan toward your overall goal.

 

Good luck! 


NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis

Lessons From My Sister

candi and elise kids

I have watched my sister, Candi, very closely over the years and have wanted to be just like her since I can remember.  Celebrating her birthday this week prompted me to reflect on all the lessons she has taught me.  The most recent is to persevere despite stressful situations.  She is currently pursuing a doctorate level degree in education while working full time and taking care of her daughter.  I have noticed the way her language has changed to support the numerous responsibilities assigned to her; she is a problem solver and tries to operate from a growth mindset.

A growth mindset realizes that achievements are based on effort and learning as opposed to natural abilities.  This perspective encourages problem solving because you are not boxed in by fixed traits.  For example if I don’t believe I am smart, then why would I try in math class?  If I believe my grade is based on effort, then I am free to try different ways of studying to learn material instead of thinking I just don’t have “what it takes.”  This perspective has helped my sister and my niece overcome challenges and become change makers.

Being 4 y.o. is hard y’all.  My niece is constantly told what she can’t do and how to do what she can.  Talk about barriers!  That has got to be frustrating!  BUT… the way my sister encourages her to problem solve and use each situation as a learning opportunity is beautiful.  Candi is teaching her to not get mad but to make choices.

My niece is what I would refer to as a “strong willed child.”  She is not as challenging as some, but she definitely has clear opinions.  The trick to parenting a strong willed child is to allow them to learn by experiences – allowing them growth opportunities instead of fixed ideas.  This can be seen in the following example.  Imagine you tell your child to put on their jacket because it will be chilly outside.  If your child decides they do not want to wear it, suggest they take it with them just in case.  When they get outside and realize it is cold they will most likely decide they need their coat.  What just happened is your child learned the importance of keeping warm, made a decision independently, and built mastery over their world.  The child doesn’t feel confined and trusts that you will allow them to explore in a secure way while respecting their wishes.  Instead of feeling suffocated by fixed rules, they will learn to problem solve and think critically about their decisions.  There are some rules that are needed to keep your child safe (ex: wearing a seat belt) but unless it is that situation it may be better to create growth opportunities.  You have had your chance to learn and through those lessons you have developed skills to navigate your world; do not rob your children of those same opportunities just because you know you are right or it’s easier if they just do what you say.

candi and elise thanksgivingThis is so important because kids grow up to be adults.  Strong willed adults struggle with the same issues as strong willed kids.  They have so many strengths but can feel discouraged in a world with so many rules.  They perceive themselves to have little ability to make changes in their world, thus, operating from concrete thinking.  “I am not as talented as others so why ask for a promotion.  I am a black man so no one will take me seriously.  I can’t do statistics so I can’t graduate from a graduate school program.”

This week take a page from my sister’s play book.  Look at your life and evaluate what challenges you have to overcome to become the best version of yourself.  Commit to that and look at each challenge as a growth opportunity.  Your life is not determined solely by innate qualities.  Your ability to problem solve can make all the difference.  Practice growth minded self-talk such as, “It seems like I’m having difficulty with this. It is time to try a new strategy.”

Enjoy practicing language that promotes actions for growth!  I’ll keep watching my sister and moving like she moves; it has helped me do things I previously thought were impossible.

Candi, thanks for always encouraging me and allowing me to be your first kid to mentor.  You’re doing great work out here.  Love, sister.


NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis

Indecision is the Enemy

The world is changing daily; people are being born and people are dying.  Hate has made it’s face known and hurricanes have made landfall flooding people’s homes.  Man.  What keeps playing in my mind is something my mother told me when I asked her what it was like growing up during segregation.  She told me, “Baby.  They want to steal you’re joy.  Don’t let them.  Keep living your life.”  I have been meditating a lot on this concept and I have identified that the biggest thief of my joy is my own indecision – not necessarily an outside enemy.

Making decisions are HARD.  Well, if I’m honest not so much.  What has always been difficult for me was the pressure that comes after a decision is made – there is the implication that you follow through no matter what happens and that makes me anxious.  So to protect myself from my own anxiety I learned a great trick.  I just stopped making decisions in my life and called it being faithful. I have done a great job of masking my indecision as faith.  I would say, “I’m just going to throw my name in ALL the hats and see what God wants to bless.”  In theory that sounds great, however, it really is not faith at all.  Faith would be actually following through with the path that has been set out for me and committing to it; I on the other hand always had a safety net in case my faith fell through.  This led to burn out, inefficiency, and no life satisfaction.  Choosing one path is the only way to grow. If you fully invest, so can God.

Making decisions and being faithful requires courage.  To fully make change and live your best life you have to actually DO what you decide.  Someone has to yell, “Action,” and that someone is you; no one else can do it for you.  Looking for a teacher to help me along my path has been another way I mask my anxiety.  Again, no one else can DO my life for me.  Each humbling conversation with a potential mentor always came down to a humbling truth. I needed to make a decision to act and commit to being consistent no matter how my circumstances change.  This is uncomfortable.  This is not fun.  This is not immediate gratification.  This takes courage.

Making decisions requires a village.  Once you are clear about what to do, and you’ve finally gotten off the couch to do it, you need someone to hold you accountable.  This is SUPER important so you don’t get distracted or discouraged.  Faith, courage, and action are not one time behaviors they must happen continuously to maintain momentum; if not it is just kinetic energy that hasn’t been set in motion.  Your village will call you on your stuff and make sure you are a woman/man for your word.  They will let you know when your excuse is stupid and they will support you in finding a way around any obstacle.  My husband told me his mentor will ask him, “Why haven’t you___?” He admits it bruises his ego but also challenges him to evaluate if his reasons are legit or holding him back from being great.

A few years ago I made the decision to stop hurting myself. Now, it’s time to stop blaming others for blocking my progress; it’s time to stop blaming others for hurting me. I have to make the decision to heal myself through decisive action. I have to be faithful, courageous, humble, and committed. What about you?

ACTION STEPS

  1. Identify an area in your life you have been being “faux-faithful.” Make a clear decision about how to move forward in that area.
  2. Use the SMART acronym to make defined behavior change.
    1. S = Specific
    2. M = Measurable
    3. A = Achievable
    4. R = Realistic / results-based
    5. T = Time bound
  3. Tell a friend to keep you accountable
  4. Commit to it with your WHOLE HEART.

My sweet husband made me a sticker chart to hold me accountable! I didn’t even have to ask 😆👊🏾

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NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis

The Mental Health of a Racist

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This is the face of a black woman in America.  This is the face of a person who is having difficulty reconciling raising a daughter who is culturally sensitive with one who is also socially aware with racial pride.  This is the face of a black woman who worries about her husband daily – a “big black man with dreadlocks” and the antithesis of Eurocentric values visually.  This is the face of a woman who is trying to make sense of the current state of affairs in the United States of America.

The events in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend were disturbing to say the least.  Not sure if I just love a good argument or was taught to always develop empathy but my readings led me to consider what would motivate a person to become a racists.  A complicated and painful history of racial conflict that has yet to be resolved created a vacuum.   The empty space is being filled with hate based rhetoric on all sides.  Minority groups feel the need to develop a strong cultural identity and speak up against years of oppression.  Groups who’s purpose is to protect white history rallied together at an event with the purpose to protect a Confederate monument.  Some of white America feels attacked; they are being torn down much like the monuments of Confederate generals.

In a brief search, there were few articles about how racism impacts the mental health of the oppressor.  I did find an article in Psychology Today from 2010 stating self-esteem, positive distinctiveness (group importance), survival, and meaning may be the pay off from racist ideals.  If there is a “me” then “you” are different and therefore not the priority.  Unchecked this can fuel a belief system demonizing anything that is “other”.  From scanning online bios of White Supremacists such as Richard Spencer, organizational premises of the Nationalist Front or The League of the South, and various news articles I believe a climate of fear is apparent.  There is a message that protection is needed because the changing face of America does not protect their interests.

The issue with this is the idea only white America is entitled to the American dream.  “Their” (white supremacist) interests are entrenched in a history of exclusion, violence, and oppression.  Racists ideals need a group to hate to feel powerful, confident, and to have meaning. Survival of the fittest.  This statement highlights the narcism a group needs to consider itself the fittest and the behavioral motivation to dominate another group to survive.  On a micro level, the individual feels directly attacked by their neighbor based solely on group identity even before a “hello” is exchanged.

Mental Health of Racists

Based on the ideas described above I sense the generational impacts of depression and anxiety on all people groups trying to develop an identity in a nation whose story if full of slanderous speech.  Racially, economically, sexually (gender presentation), and a multiple of other -lys America has divided itself culminating in internal unrests.  National mental health trickles down to the individual.  I glanced at Hillbilly Elegy and plan to read it to learn more about a group of people that are so different from me.  What I gathered from online descriptions is that perceived limited access to resources impacts white people as well as other minority groups and motivates each generation to try to do better.  When you feel unable to provide for your family poor coping skills such as alcoholism and increased vulnerability for mental health issues undoubtedly happen.

I believe if we can heal on the individual level we can heal as a nation.  If each of us tackle self-doubt, feelings of hopelessness, paranoia that “others” are out to get us, or other false cognitions we can build a nation of individuals who feel empowered to produce.  We will be healthy enough to have difficult conversations that produce actual change for the human race as a whole.  With self-empowerment there is no need to base your self-worth, as an individual or as a group, on the back of hate based rhetoric.

Take some time to investigate ways you make yourself feel better by making others feel small.  Heal the individual, heal the  whole.


NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE?  MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.

Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis