Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

 

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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

From the Ground Up: Yoga

A DEFLATED EGO AND HONEST STARTING POINT

Pre-knee injury and baby, I could do some really cool yoga poses; when I achieved bird of paradise for the first time I felt so POWERFUL! And when I started practicing inversions… my ego got pretty big.  Apparently, God decided I needed to learn some humility and to slow down.

It has been really cool to explore the basics of human movement through my own practice and observing my little girl now pick her head up like a champ!  The foundation for all movement begins by simply pushing away from the ground.  To gain any independence a baby first lifts their head, then rolls over, then starts to crawl, then shakily starts to sit up… you get the picture.  This foundational physical work, the basics, is what my body is craving to heal.  A functional progression like this will not only honor my body where it is today but strengthen foundational movements for safe progression to more advanced postures like Eight Angle Pose or running a marathon.

It’s important to note that on the journey to standing, you pass through a seated position.  We often under value the importance of the seat.  Developmentally, you first learn to sit before you start standing to gain your bearings in the new altitude.  Similarly, finding a comfortable seat on the ground can help you gain your mental bearings in any situation before moving forward.  A seated posture can be both the gateway to new heights and the destination for mental clarity or meditation.

Although I know all of this, my ego stops me from developing a consistent practice because I can’t do the cool stuff anymore.  The value I place on external achievements (insert “crazy” poses) is not what yoga is about.  To be honest, the first yogis conceptualized asana (what we now use to refer to all poses) as simply a comfortable seat (check out The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).  That was their yoga.  Be humble Elise and be like the original yogis.   I need reoccurring perspective shifts to make progress toward the active lifestyle I love and to be the best teacher I can be.

Building off insight from last week and inspiration from my wiggly, head lifting, persistent 2.5 month old girl, I decided to build a yoga sequence that moves me off the ground much like a baby learns to stand.  I need to check my ego and grow my confidence based on my own yoga journey and no one else’s, as do you.  The following yoga sequence progresses through three levels to mimic every baby’s progression towards movement: laying down, seated, and standing. Then we will return back to the ground as repeated practice is necessary to build new habits.

 

YOGA SEQUENCE FOR THE WEEK

Begin in Corpse Pose (Savasana) for a few breaths.  Identify your intention (mental focus such as non-judgement or awareness of breath).  This will give you something to anchor your practice when your mind starts drifting to other thoughts (like what’s for dinner).

Stretch your arms and legs out as far as you can for a good awakening stretch.

Roll to either side.  Place your hands under your shoulders and push the ground away, possibly arriving in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). Roll your shoulders and your head; wiggle around to explore what feels right for you and your current strength.  Are your elbows bent or straight? What do you feel?

Reset your spine in Child’s Pose (Balasana).

Push your hips up and back to a neutral tabletop position (hands and knees).  Inhale, expanding your chest to Cow Pose (Bitilasana). Exhale, curving your spine into a rainbow, for Cat Pose (Marjaryasana).  Repeat for a few breaths. Return to tabletop and a neutral spine.

Stretch your right leg back, tapping the ground or hovering in the air on the same plane as your hips. After a few breaths, pull your leg back in and switch legs.  Try this while extending the alternate arm.  Return to neutral or table top position.

Sit back on your heels.  Crawl your hands in toward the body.  One vertebra at a time, zip your spine straight up toward the sky for a comfortable seated position of your choosing. Try a few twists here on each side or leaning your shoulders toward the ground on each side for more spinal stretches.

Return to the tabletop position.  Raise your hips toward the sky for Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Pedal your feet or stay for a few breaths. Walk your feet toward the top of the mat for a forward fold before rolling up to Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Stay for a few breaths; return your focus to your intention; settle your mind.

Return to the ground the same way you came up.  Fold at the hips for a forward fold.  Walk your feet back to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).  Bend knees to meet the ground to pass through table top on the way to a comfortable seat – try Hero Pose (Virasana).

Straighten out one leg at a time to create a 90 degree angle with your body, Staff Pose (Dandasana).  Roll your spine down, inch by inch, back to the ground to land safely in Corpse Pose (Savasana).  I offer a few variations here such as Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana) or Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana) before the final destination of Savasana.  Repeat as many or as few times as your heart desires.

Enjoy.


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

 

 

 

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Relaunching Therapy – Be Humble

Joanna 8.1.17

My daughter who is teaching me the art of humility daily.

RELAUNCHING THERAPY

A lot has happened in the three years since I last posted.  I got married, gave birth to an adorable baby girl, moved several times, and changed jobs.  In the spring of 2016 I completed yoga teacher training and started my own therapy practice.  Needless to say, it has been equal parts exciting and nerve wrecking, leading me to seek out therapy to process it all (yes therapists also see therapists)!  The purpose of THERAPY is to display how mental skills such as thought reconstruction or mindfulness on the yoga mat can be used in day to day life.  Life has not been short on stressors (like a crying baby all hours of the night); I’d like to share how I am using these skills to reduce my anxiety during life’s many transitions.  Walk with me on this journey to find ways to create peace in your own chaotic world.

BIGGEST LIFE LESSON: SIT DOWN, BE HUMBLE

There are levels to this life… and nothing makes me entitled to instantly be the best.  I talk about this in each therapy session and each yoga class I lead and continue to struggle with giving myself grace as I embrace this concept in my own life.  Having a baby really put this in perspective for me as my body changed in many ways.  Despite my awareness of the need to accept this new body while working towards certain goals, I’m frustrated with my body’s inability to be perfect immediately.  I expect myself to run, jump, flip, and bend in ways I used to and even in ways that I never have before just because it “should.” “Elise,” I say to myself, “It’s been two months.  Go make yourself a seat, sit down, be humble.  There’s levels to this and you are back at level one.”  This is hard for me to listen to because my expectations are not realistic nor fair.

In both therapy and yoga, your perspective impacts everything.  If you plan to move like a master but you are still a novice your plan of action will always fail.  For example, if I continue to approach my postpartum workout plans based on what my body was like when I was 16 years old, I will constantly be disappointed and injured.  However, if I can humble myself and start from where I actually am (creaky knees and all), I have the potential to achieve my goals without injury and in a sustainable fashion for years to come.  Embodying this requires a great deal of humility. Without humility, I can never grow because I am not watering my own plant but one that doesn’t exist.

So I’m pushing myself to start from the ground up.  Literally.  When I practice yoga I am doing mostly floor poses to honor my knees in their current state.  When I get frustrated with myself in my new role as a mom I am practicing self-talk in that very moment to promote acceptance while respecting my desire for change.

TIPS FOR GROWTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY

  • Have an honest conversation with yourself and those who know you well about what your goals are and where you are right now in relation to those goals.
  • Once you have identified your starting point make a clear plan to nurture that space FIRST to cultivate acceptance.  THEN create plans for change.
  • Have mental reminders for self-acceptance with awareness of the desire for growth, honoring both parts of you.  Your wants are just as real your current abilities; denying your desires doesn’t make them go away.   For example, practice self-talk such as “Today I am stretching to take care of my body.  Soon I will be running with strong knees.”
  • Deep breathing to stay connected to the moment.  Try to pair this with a simple yoga pose like child’s pose.  Humility, or self-restraint, can be cultivated with practice by narrowing your attention to the present moment only; this is the opposite of your mind wandering to unfair expectations for that moment.
  • Model this for the kids around you through saying out loud “I want to do ____ but right now I can do ____.”  Adjust your wording to be compatible with the age of the child.  Not only does modeling teach others, it also helps you practice skills with intention.

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

 

Therapy and Tightropes

Therapy. The term in itself describes a process of self discovery and solutions. You go to therapy because you are dissatisfied with current situations (physical or mental) with the goal of the situation going away, to be fixed.  You’re aim is to make it over the tightrope, cross over the scary pit underneath, and make it to the other side.
My goal this past year has been just that; being “fixed.”  Throughout this blog I’ve oscillated between behavioral changes and acceptance to make it to the other side where I’ll feel better.  This has not created the balance needed for success, at least the balance I had imagined. Balance in itself is a perilous state of two opposing forces working against each other at the very point neither force outweighs the other; this is a far cry from the zen-ness I had imagined.  I had romanticized the journey without taking into account that learning to adjust to disturbances is a requirement.
I needed to develop a new outlook on growth that allows me to not be perfect or remain in the state of ideal balance.  In addition to understanding the journey, my view of the destination has began to change as well.  Life is neither black and white, neither balanced or unbalanced; it is a constant interaction between parts of a whole. Life is about constant adjustments and the idea of balance is a constant dance of falling and flying.
I hope to take this new perspective of acceptance and continuous adjustment into 2015. I desire not to be fixed but to allow myself to grow.  Excited and nervous, this is a tightrope I’m excited to practice walking on.

Lessons from the honeymoon: Play in all things

ImageJust a little fun in the rain 🙂

Play.  Do you remember that word?  It was a magical time as a kid where you could be and do anything you wanted to.  In the words of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, “Take chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy.”  Play allowed all of this and so much more.  However, as we grew up play became separate from our life.  For example, school clothes were for most of your day while your play clothes were only used briefly.  Boy, did we put in work when the play clothes came out; digging in the dirt, hula hopping, or just building an imaginary Barbie world.  I have realized play time kept getting shorter and shorter and is at the point where I no longer have play clothes at all.  I have “work out clothes” or “yard work clothes”…. no play clothes because as an adult I don’t play.  That is for children.

I’ve had a lot of time to think while on my honeymoon and have been reflecting on this loss of play in my life.  Things are so serious.  Everything is directed towards achievements and maintenance.  As you can imagine this makes for a grumpy, stressed out Elise.  Not what I want or, frankly, what I was designed to be.  I decided while in Miami that play needs to be reintroduced, not just for recess time, but in all things.  As stated in previous posts, we are told to “be as a child,” and in that innocence is truly living.

This notion came upon me while my husband and I were at the zoo.  It was a lot of work, and money, to get there.  I was worried about our schedule and budget.  Then…. it started to rain, like torrential down pour rain.  We hid under our tiny umbrella and then under a gazebo with other families.  I, like I do, was listening to other peoples observations of the storm.  People were frustrated, complaining, and fussing about how long it would take for it to stop raining.  Somehow my mind silenced and drifted to a childhood memory of playing in the rain.  It was such a carefree and effortless moment in my life; it was magic.  Greg and I made the decision to leave the safety and security of the gazebo; we took a private tour of the zoo, playing in the rain.  It is ironic how adults can take the gift of rain or time and make it work.  Life is not work, it can be effortless if you just get out and play in the rain.

I did all other kinds of playful things in Miami but was worried about how I could bring this feeling back with me to my real life.  I decided to be intentional in creating playfulness in my every day life.  I am allowing myself to smile and giggle when my husband kisses me.  I was inspired by my niece to paint without direction and have no qualms about expressing my emotions during the process.  This morning in my yoga practice I focused on how I felt and redirected my patronizing thoughts to playing with my body.  As a kid we fell all the time, and God forbid, laughed about it.  I am aiming to reclaim the place were I allowed myself to play and experience humor in both success and failure.

Now go out and play.  Get messy, make mistakes, and authentically embrace every moment of it.

 

Safety

Let’s take a minute to talk about safety.  The reason we don’t move forward with most things in life is fear and lack of trust.  This has been talked about over and over in my posts.  But how do you identify safety in a world that is full of trap doors?  It’s a hard one, but it becomes clear when train your brain to see reality and not your past.

Unfortunately this distinction is not always clear; even if you don’t flashback to an actual event you may revisit a similar feeling from a prior situations in which you felt taken advantage of, hoodwinked, bamboozled, had… Skills can be learned to bring yourself back to the present moment to really identify what your needs are and if it’s a safe situation to get those met. Many times, I have to take a deep breath and say, “Elise, it is ok.  _____ would never do anything to hurt you.  What is it that you want right now?” The second part of this is to listen.  The same way I’ve talked about listening to your authentic self applies here.  Your inner voice not only tells you your dreams but also if those around you are safe people to nurture you.

This is difficult, but not impossible.  Still after 6 years and a wedding this weekend I have remind myself daily that my fiancé is not “out to take advantage of me” but his only desire is to shower me with unconditional love.  Unconditional love means that my needs are above his and by nurturing me to get my needs met, he is fulfilled.  It’s amazing and scary for me at the same time.  However, I just have to close my eyes and say to myself, “Greg is safe.  He loves me and has never shown me otherwise. I am safe.”

Who makes you safe and do you interact with them in a way that allows you to safely grow?  Be vulnerable with them because they are safe forces in your life whose purpose is not to let you fall.  When you acknowledge, accept, and explore your reality you will begin to experience  true security, safety, and freedom.   I’ll be back to do more writing, reflecting, and art post wedding! Everyone enjoy your safety.

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