How to Stop Bottling Up Your Feelings

How to Stop Bottling Up Your Feelings

Most people who bottle up their feelings don’t realize it’s a problem. On the contrary, it’s been a solution for a long time. If you’re someone who has been a feelings-and-thoughts-represser for as long as you can remember, you might be wondering…

“How come now, all of a sudden, my solution (that has worked so well) is causing a problem?”

The answer is that it’s pushing the important people away.

One of the main problems with bottling up your feelings is that sometimes, the bottle explodes. It happens when you least expect it, and it can come out in some pretty nasty ways. When all of those feelings finally do come out, they’re big and unfiltered and can lead to massive ruptures in your relationships.

Taking a good hard look at how shutting down communication became a solution in the first place is a great way to use your time in therapy. Figuring out where you learned this behavior and deciding if you want to continue can be very helpful points of insight and clarity. In this post, however, I want to give you a few skills to help you along your path if you have indeed decided that it’s time to change course.

How to Stop Bottling Your Feelings, 3 Key Tips

  1. Know what you feel. To cut out the habit of not expressing what you feel, you’ve got to figure out what you do feel. There are lots of ways to do this. I suggest journaling, mindfulness meditation, walking, or running to reflect on your feelings that day. Here’s a Feelings/Emotion Wheel to get you started that will help you bump up your EQ (Emotional Quotient) and give you some clarity on what is possible in the wide world of emotions.
how to stop bottling up your feelings

2. Express what you feel! You could write your feelings down in a journal, dance them to a song you love, draw them, let out a rage-y scream in your car, shed a few tears, or laugh to yourself. Get creative here. There’s no wrong way to express them, the point is to take them from the inside and let them out on the outside.

3. Lastly, and here’s the big one folks, you might play with expressing your feelings To Another Person. I know, I know, this one is big and hard and feels weird at first and you probably want to scroll right off this page and go somewhere else. But here’s the thing: that won’t get you out of the stuck place of always keeping your feelings bottled up, and having them come exploding out at inopportune times and in unskillful ways. Here are a few communication skills to get you started:

  • Once you know what you feel, and you know what you need, you might experiment with using the formula ” I feel ________________ and I want _________________.” It’s an easy way to start to open up and express yourself to the people you care about (and maybe even some people that you don’t care about so much…). Example: “I feel hungry but tired, and I want you to figure out dinner for us tonight. Are you willing to take that on?”
  • Ask your partner for a vent session, where you get to name whatever you want to about what you feel (an annoyance after a hard day at work, a frustration you’ve been keeping to yourself, some issue that’s been taking up your mind share). You can request feedback, advice, or just an empathic ear. See how your partner does with this request and information. Give them a chance to show you how supportive they can be. Notice how that feels. (spoiler alert: most people feel pretty good after a vent session.)

If you’re ready to take a deep dive and learn more about how to stop bottling up your feelings, contact me today. Let’s get it going.

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
The Best Ways to Use Your Therapy Session

The Best Ways to Use Your Therapy Session

Psychotherapy is more of an art than a science. There are many different modalities or methods of doing therapy and equally as diverse a set of theories about “what works best” in the therapy process. Despite all of those variables, there are proven ways to get the most out of your therapy experience. But what are the best ways to use your therapy session?

… And why do we even need a list like this? Well, because therapy is an investment of your time, money, and other resources. And if you’ve ever had a less-than-amazing therapy experience, you know the disappointment that goes along with a failed investment.

“Meh” therapy

Getting yourself into therapy is a huge decision and one that has the power to change your entire life. And I’m not overestimating things here. It’s true.

But, does every experience of therapy yield that type of transformational result? Well, no.

Some experiences of psychotherapy are mediocre. From clients who have come to see me over the years after having worked with other therapists, I’ve heard many reports of their previous therapies. Some of them have sounded like this:

  • “The therapist was nice, but, they didn’t say much at all. I got tired of hearing myself talk.”
  • “I want to be challenged. I want someone who will engage with me
  • “The therapist kept asking me how things made me feel, but that was the extent of it. I don’t feel that I made any real progress with self-understanding or insight. I’m still where I was before I started.”

So how do you optimize your time in therapy to gain the greatest return on your investment?

How do you use your time in therapy wisely to ensure that you are, indeed, getting what you want out of it?

Here are some of the best ways to use your therapy session:

Collaborate with your therapist

Let your therapist explore, with you, whatever you are bringing in to talk about. That’s why you’re paying them. They’re knowledgeable and want to help you get your mental health and wellness needs met. If you notice that, during your sessions, you’re aimlessly rambling or monopolizing the conversation, name that “noticing” with your therapist so that you can look at that pattern and any function it may be serving for you together. You know, collaboratively.

Be intentional with your therapy sessions

Come into your sessions with some sense of what you want to address. It could be that you have a goal in mind for that day such as “I want to figure out how to respond when X happens” or “I need to talk about X thing that happened today.” You don’t have to have the specific outcome in mind, but it’s often helpful to have some sense of your own needs. (As a sidebar: knowing what you need is a huge step toward healing.)

Bring in your triggers

Especially as a Schema Therapist, I am particularly interested in what your triggers are and where they “go off” when you’re moving through the world. Starting a session by letting your therapist know where you got triggered over the previous week gives you the rest of your therapy hour to explore it. Hurray!

Elicit feedback from your therapist

When you start therapy you might have a few specific goals that you want to focus on. Over time, those goals will hopefully be met. If you are choosing to enter into a longer-term therapeutic relationship, you feel like a certain “piece of work” has reached completion, or you feel satisfied with where things are, but you don’t want to stop therapy. When that is the case, talk to your therapist about areas that they’ve noticed could be worth exploring.

Release your goal-focused agenda completely once in a while

Ok, I’m going to backtrack a little bit here. While I firmly believe that all of the above suggestions are great ways to improve your experiences in therapy, I’ve also noticed that sometimes, it’s good to come into sessions without any of it. Research has shown repeatedly that the most powerful factor in therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist. Sometimes, when clients come into the room with absolutely no agenda, we end up getting to explore our relationship, which, as a microcosm of how you generally “do” relationships, can be super therapeutic. It can also strengthen the bond and the sense of trust you have with your therapist. In my case, I also love incorporating experiential exercises into sessions like that. Things like relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation.

Take A Pause

Lastly, if you’re finding that your sessions feel aimless, or you’ve got an overall feeling of a lack of progress or momentum, it might be time to do something different.

One final option to consider, especially if you aren’t even sure why you’re going to therapy anymore or what you’re working on, is to pause the therapy.

Taking time away from personal work can allow you to live life on your own, using self-reliance and taking an opportunity to flex your skills. The good news about therapy is that you can always return when you’re ready.

Do you have any other tips about the best ways to use your therapy session to share? Please let me know in the comments! And feel free to share!

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Seeking A Therapist’s Therapist?

Seeking A Therapist’s Therapist?

Are you a clinician that wants to do some of your own work?

Are you seeking a therapist’s therapist?

Awesome! First, let me say, kudos to you, for doing your own work.

As a profession, psychotherapy is one of the most meaningful and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. It allows us to be in a position of privilege with the humans we serve. We work to co-create spaces safe enough for clients (or patients) to tell us the stories of their lives, express the unexpressed, and open themselves to our feedback. Being a therapist is truly a position of honor.

Sometimes, those same clients can bring up some of our own psychic material. Insecurity, grief, longing, and unresolved trauma may manifest as a result of working with others. Dealing with countertransference and struggling to make headway with challenging clients can be hard on even the best clinicians. Working with all of this material is crucial for several reasons.

As part of our training, clearing out our own cache of residual “stuff” is a key to feeling present for the people we serve. If you are responding to clients out of your own woundedness, you are not doing them a service. Additionally, if you are going to sustain this career as a counselor and prevent burnout, you’ve got to be sure that you’re taking good care of yourself.

 

A Therapist’s Therapist

Therapist self-care is real, and a bit of a minefield in a career where we’re often underpaid and overworked, and where the issue of personal and professional boundaries can get muddy.

I have been in private practice for over ten years here in Asheville and I have worked with many fellow clinicians over that time. I have an eclectic toolkit that includes certifications in Buddhist Psychology, Traumatic Stress, and Schema Therapy (the other parts-work model). My degree is in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Holistic Studies and I am an attachment geek and lover of Jungian work, including using dreams and symbols to explore your inner world.

I aim to use a skillful blend of gentle support and care while also challenging you in places where you might be stuck.

If you’d like to work together to get some help, gain clarity, or elicit feedback on new ways to work with challenging clients, drop me a line. I’d love to support you.

Looking for your own therapy?

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Therapy for People-Pleasers

Therapy for People-Pleasers

I specialize in therapy for people pleasers. Do you fit into that category? Consider the following questions: 

 

  • Do you tend to sacrifice what you want or need in the service of accommodating other people?
  • Do you identify as a people-pleaser?
  • Are you caught in the caregiver archetype?
  • Are you reliant on external validation to affirm your goodness or worth?
  • Do you ever experience anger or resentment toward the people closest to you, as a result of feeling like they’re always taking and never giving?

 

The Problem with People Pleasing

 

When you chronically compromise what you want you run the risk of betraying the most important person in your life: you.

Over time, that betrayal leads to a loss of self-trust and, in many cases, depression.

So many of us are people-pleasers because we’ve been conditioned to do so. We learned how to do it from our mothers or our culture, as a way to stay safe and connected.

But this way of relating to others has dire consequences.

Learning to differentiate yourself from other people is one of the most important avenues of personal growth. The health of all of your relationships depends on it.

 

Therapy for People Pleasers

 

Doing this work of individuation, which includes exploring your Whole Self, is one of my favorite things. If you’re on this journey of personal growth, going it alone is incredibly challenging. I’m an expert and I’d love to support you.

If you’re ready to abandon the people-pleaser in you and reclaim your self-trust, inner power and deep knowing, drop me an email. I’d love to connect.

 

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Healthy Communication in Asheville

Healthy Communication in Asheville

Folx, we have an issue. It’s a problem we all have, collectively. We, being the masses of us who avoid confrontation, who fear upsetting someone else, who feel it’s our duty to be easy-going enough that no one ever has a reason to dislike or be upset with us. The problem is our aversion to assertiveness. Where is the healthy communication in Asheville?

To be clear, “we” don’t actually all have this problem. Particularly for people who tend to self-aggrandize or feel entitled to have their voices heard (sometimes constantly), this is hardly an issue. But are those the people we really want to hear from (all of the time)? No. Unfortunately, though, we hear from the entitled folx a whole lot.

But the people who tend to be more self-sacrificial or empathic to the feelings and needs of those around them tend to be much, much quieter. Yet, those are the ones we need to hear from. From people like you.

Last summer I read the book Playing Big by Tara Mohr, which I highly recommend for women everywhere. In that book, she illustrates the problem of playing small, and how to overcome it.

But this issue of not speaking up is not only a woman’s issue. Admittedly though, we have the vast majority of anti-asserters.

In my psychotherapy practice, I see people of all genders struggling with the issue of speaking up, asking for what they want, and saying how they feel. Healthy communication in Asheville can be remarkably hard to come by. Keeping quiet and “keeping the peace.” But at what cost? The costs of this phenomenon are huge. Here are a few:

  • authenticity
  • emotional intimacy
  • physical health
  • mental health
  • getting what you want from your relationships

It can be so hard to speak up in your relationships when you’ve been disappointed in the past, by the people you went to, to be vulnerable and express yourself with. If you’ve been ridiculed, humiliated, gaslit, abandoned. yelled at, or belittled. I see you. It’s especially hard for you. I know, I get it.

But the reality is that science now proves that the relationships we have are the most powerful indicators of happiness in life. They inform not only our emotional well-being but also our physical health. Check out this new book The Good Life, It’s based on the longest scientific study ever done on happiness. Know what they found about what humans need to be happy? Good relationships. Can we create good relationships without being honest about what we feel or what we want? Doubt it.

The good news is that it’s not too late and you’re not too old. You can always try again.

I am here to support you to find your voice, clarifying your needs, and discerning what relationships truly nourish your soul.

Let’s figure it out together. We can take as much time as you need.

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
I Want A Therapist to Call Me on My Shit… Will You?

I Want A Therapist to Call Me on My Shit… Will You?

“It’s for you!”

 

Over the last ten years in my private practice, I occasionally hear this request from new clients.

 

“I want a therapist to call me on my shit…”

 

“Are you the kind of therapist who will call me on my shit?”

 

“Yes, I am,” is the short answer. But how I do that may not be exactly what you have in mind. The longer answer includes a few variables that I’ve learned really matter in this endeavor, such as:

 

  • how long we’ve been working together
  • how strong our therapeutic alliance is
  • whether or not you are in a crisis or you’re in a more stable place in your life

 

As someone who has a semi-objective (I mean, who can really be fully objective, in these human bodies with all of these accumulated experiences, anyway?) point of view, I may be able to sense some of the patterns you’re perpetuating or some of the defenses you’re displaying more easily than you can. As your therapist, it’s my job to take note of these and to reflect them to you in a way that is empathic and understanding. It’s also my aim to provide you with some alternatives.

 

What Does Calling You on Your Shit Look Like?

 

For different people, the answer may look very different. If being “called out” is important to you, are you specifically looking for one or more of the following from me?

 

  • Tough questions
  • Specific coping skills
  • Help with identifying the problems (the pattern of thoughts or behaviors)
  • Highlighting inconsistencies in your values and actions or reflecting “bad” choices
  • Challenging the excuses or justification you typically use
  • Help developing a plan of action

 

The Issue of Accountability

 

Sometimes, when we rely on others to keep us accountable there may be some challenges with our own responsibility-taking. Strengthening this personal challenge to step up to the plate and take accountability on your own is a perfectly worthwhile therapeutic goal.

 

Developing your own sense of insight, or an understanding of how or why you’ve chosen (often unconsciously) the actions or patterns in your life is an important aspect of any therapy.

 

I am here to support and guide you in this process, and until you are able to do that work on your own, yes, that may look like me, calling you out, on your shit. 

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!