October 2021 Newsletter

Change can be difficult, scary, and unwelcome. But sometimes changing your attitude towards it can make change more palatable and empowering. This issue opens with The Psychology of Dealing With Change: How to Become Resilient, followed by How to Make Divorce as Painless as Possible, and concluding with The Power of Gratitude: How to Feel Grateful every day. We continue to be here to help you and your family with your legal needs. Please call 505-881-2566 to schedule an appointment. Our receptionist is in the office to take your call Monday through Thursday 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, and Friday 8:00 am to noon.

The Psychology of Dealing With Change: How to Become Resilient

By Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC, posted on www.psycom.net/dealing-with-change,

updated Feb 21, 2020

Split road

Many people spend a great deal of effort trying to avoid change, but it will inevitably catch up to you. Whether it's starting a new job, moving to a different city, the end of a relationship, or a loss of a loved one, try these strategies to cope with change

Any life is a life of change. We experience transitions in work and relationships, changes in our physical and mental health, and new events in our local communities and our world. Sometimes we know a change will occur, while other times it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe it’s a disappointment, or maybe it’s a wonderful surprise.

Many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid change, but it will inevitably catch up to them. If you can learn to cope with change, you’ll lower your risk for anxiety and depression. Your relationships will flourish, and your body will feel healthier. But if you can’t cope with change, only a minor amount of stress can make you feel overwhelmed by life. You might also struggle to set and meet the goals you have for yourself.

Being able to cope with change is sometimes called resilience. Though your environment and genes might influence your level of resilience, the amount isn’t set in stone. Practicing different ways of thinking and being in the world can boost your ability to deal with change and help you create a life that is adaptive to new places and unexpected events. Let’s take a look at a few healthy practices for increasing your level of resilience and coping with change.

Evaluate Your Level of Control

Sometimes it’s all too easy to become fixated on events over which we have no power or people who might never change their actions or attitude. But rather than focus on blaming others or moving the unmovable, resilient people set their sights on what they can control. To evaluate your level of control over a situation, you can ask yourself, “What can I take responsibility for in this situation?” When you look for opportunities to empower yourself and work towards change that is possible, you’re less likely to feel stuck in difficult situations.

Practice Self-Care After a Loss

Often life’s transitions involve losses, such as a death, a big move, the loss of a job, or a relationship ending. Even positive transitions, like a graduation or a job change, can make you feel a little sad. During these times of transitions, don’t push away any grief you might feel. Acknowledge the loss, and pay attention to what you’ve learned from the experience. Seek support and camaraderie among friends and family, and consider speaking with a counselor or other mental health professional if you feel you need extra support during the transition.

Worried you may be suffering from a mental health disorder?

Take one of our 2-minute mental health quizzes to see if you could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.

Check Your Thought Patterns

In times of change, it’s easy for your mind to cut corners. You might see everything in black or white, or you assume the worst will occur. But if you take the time to examine your thought patterns and assess how rational they are, you might find some space to nudge your thinking towards resilience. If you’re not sure how to slow down your mind, practicing relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness or deep breathing, can help you feel more in control of your brain and how you evaluate a major change.

You can also generate more positive thoughts if you take the time to remind yourself about transitions and challenges you successfully navigated in the past. Make a list of ways you’ve been resilient in your life, and consider what traits and actions might be able to see you through the current challenge. By focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, you will feel more empowered to meet what lies ahead.

Be in the Present

While it’s important to look to the past to find your strengths, sometimes you can feel too pulled into the future in times of change. When you worry about what the future will bring or what mistakes you might make, you forget to be in the present and observe what’s happening around you. To bring yourself back to the present, get in tune with your body. Pay attention to how it responds to stress, and set aside time every day to relax, take some deep breaths, and bring your focus back to the present.

Find Your Priorities

The most resilient people see change as an opportunity rather than a monster to fear. Transitions in life allow you to consider where your priorities lie. How do you really want to spend your time on earth? What’s really important to you? Where do you see yourself wasting your time and energy? With a clear sense of your goals and values, you will find your mind and body can be much more resilient when it comes to the stressors of change.

Above all, prioritizing your health in life’s transitions means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. Humans are social creatures by nature, so you weren’t built to withstand every sudden event in life without the support of others. Talk to family and friends who are experiencing similar changes, or consider finding a support group in your community. Ask your doctor about how to prioritize your health during change, and don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor or other mental health professional about building resilience. You can’t avoid change, but you live a life of resilience. You can embrace transition and see challenges as opportunities to thrive.

How to Make Divorce as Painless as Possible

Posted by Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinic Psychologist, on divorcemoms.com, 8/17/21

Divorce is already hard. Don’t make it harder. 8 Tips for Making Divorce Painless

Be Clear About What You Want

One of the things that makes any divorce difficult is when arguments arise over who gets what. Before you embark on the divorce process, think carefully about what you really want out of it. Be clear about what you want and, more importantly, what you need.

That expensive TV would be nice to keep, but it’s more important to keep the car if your work involves traveling long distances. You’ll need to be honest with yourself while you’re working out what you can let go of; brutally so, in fact. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you have to have it. Work out what you are really committed to fighting for if necessary, and also see what your ex-spouse needs more than you do.

Muster Some Dignity and Grace

It can be hard to be a better person and not to get dragged down with fights and arguments during your divorce, particularly if yours is an especially acrimonious split. However, if you want a relatively painless experience that’s what you’ll need to do. Muster some dignity and grace when you go into settlement negotiations and act as maturely as possible without getting drawn into unnecessary battles that will only cause you stress and grief.

Get Your Finances in Order

This is especially important if you had joint accounts, joint cards, and joint bills. You’re going to need to have access to your financial records sooner rather than later, so it makes sense to get them together as early in the proceedings as possible. If you haven’t already you also need to open a credit card and bank account in your name.

Consider an Alternative to Litigation

Although most divorcing couples jump straight into litigation proceedings, in fact, there are alternatives to settling your divorce in court which can save you both money and aggravation. Mediation or collaborative law could be better options for you, especially if you and your ex are able to be civil to each other and understand the need to compromise.

Don’t Get the Kids Involved

Everyone gives this advice to divorcing couples yet in so many cases it gets ignored. This is often because they involve their children in such subtle ways that they barely realize they’re doing it. It’s hard not to talk negatively about your former spouse but it’s important to keep the kids out of your adult problems as much as possible as it can seriously backfire on you and cause long-term problems that will taint your child’s life for many years to come.

Keep It Brief When Telling Others About Your Divorce

One of the things that can make the divorce process even harder is the reaction of other people when you tell them. Being unapologetic, upfront, and honest is the best policy as people usually respond better to difficult news when you tackle it head-on. Don’t feel pressured into giving an in-depth reason for your decision to split, though.

You aren’t obliged to tell anyone the intimate secrets of your personal life, so if anyone you tell starts to offer any unsolicited advice or has a seriously inappropriate reaction you can just say “thanks for caring, but I’d rather not talk about this right now”.

Get Emotional Support

Of course, you’ll have your divorce attorney to rely on during the process, but that isn’t the same as getting emotional support from loved ones. It can be hard to go through a divorce since many people are used to relying on their ex to give them the emotional support they need. When that source of understanding and stability is gone, it can be hard to know where to turn. Tap instead into the relationships you have with family and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

People are always willing to help a loved one through a challenging time. You could also consider joining a support group for people going through a divorce. This is a good idea if you have limited sources of support in your social circle or if you’ve found that you simply can’t share all your feelings with loved ones. Being able to discuss what you’re going through with neutral parties can be highly beneficial.

Embrace the Pain

No matter how you look at it, it’s going to be a difficult time. Don’t push away or ignore the feelings of pain and loss; this only leaves the feelings unprocessed and brings problems later. Instead, if you take the time to accept them, this will help you to cope and move on. You don’t have to do it all in one go – deal with them step by step in a consistent way, and at your own speed.

The Power of Gratitude: How to Feel Grateful Everyday

Posted by Sarah Greg on www.thepowertoreinvent.com Jul 30, 2021 | Last updated Sep 24, 2021

The power of gratitude has been hailed as life-changing. Over the years it’s gained a cult-like following with its converts including psychologists to Hollywood celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. And gratitude is much more than the irritating social media posts of #blessed #grateful. Gratitude has been proven to increase job satisfaction, boost immunity and improve sleep.

Adding further to its appeal, gratitude is an extremely accessible practice – all we need is paper and a pen.

Oh, and something to be grateful for….and that’s where many of us get stuck.

Despite the power of gratitude, many of us find ourselves staring blankly at our gratitude journal, tapping our pen, trying desperately to think of something different to write. So how can we practically apply the power to gratitude in the real world?

To answer this, I’m going to share my nonsense, psychology-based gratitude guide on the power of gratitude. We’ll look at – what is gratitude, what’s the point of practicing gratitude and some gratitude journal prompts that will show you how to feel gratitude every day.

GRATITUDE DEFINITION

Before we dive into the practical stuff like gratitude journal prompts – let’s first look at what we’re prompting ourselves to feel, and look at the definition of gratitude.

Gratitude is the appreciation of life. It’s about finding the small blessings in life. And often these blessings don’t automatically spring to mind, because we take them for granted. After all, when you grow up in a world where you have access to running water, the right to vote, books, music, nature – you come to expect those things.

Gratitude provides the opportunity to be more attentive to the good things in life. It’s a chance to make you feel good about the life you’re living. And that’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Perhaps the best gratitude definition comes from Harvard Health who define gratitude as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible” and it continues to say that “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves”.

In short, gratitude pulls our awareness to expand beyond our immediate problems. It enables us to see the bigger picture, like the people who support us and the beauty of the world we live in. Gratitude won’t solve everything, but it will make things easier to solve.

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF GRATITUDE?

Starting a gratitude journal can feel easy at first. Typically begin with all the obvious stuff; friends, family, job, health, and pets. And then by day five, we’re struggling to think of new examples. Throw in a bit of stress, and a few problems and it’s easy to feel your gratitude levels dwindle. But the power of gratitude pays off in the long run, but it requires a willingness to be compassionate and patient with yourself.

Here are some examples of gratitude:

#1 LOOK FOR THE OBSCURE

The best examples of gratitude often come in the form of the obscure and overlooked. In one workshop I’ve had people express gratitude for the internet, running, elevators, flowers, public transport, and dentists. There are so many tiny pieces in our world that make it work, challenging yourself to notice some examples of gratitude that are a bit ‘off beat’ is a great way to unlock the power of gratitude in your life.

#2 TUNE INTO SIMPLE PLEASURES

Look for the small things that bring you happiness each day. When we start to take time to notice during your day the little things that bring you joy, you’ll notice how you bring awareness to these simple pleasures. It could be a smile from a stranger, a thank you from a co-worker, a great conversation with an old friend. As you tune into the small pleasures, you’ll feel a greater since of gratitude.

#3 SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE

Whether it’s a kindly-worded email, a tip, a gift, charity donation, or signing a petition for better working rights – showing gratitude through action is a great way to feel more grateful. Expressing our gratitude, giving back, and feeling part of something greater than ourselves is a great way to show solidarity, feel connected to the world and feel better about life. (If you want some more tips remember to scroll to the end to get your list of gratitude journal prompts).

WHAT DO YOU WRITE IN A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

The best strategy is not to overcomplicate what to write in your gratitude journal. It’s not a test or a right or wrong exercise. Simply pick three things you’re grateful for and write them down.

My personal preference is to practice it first thing in the morning (in fact it’s the first thing in my best morning routine). It is a proven way to boost your morning mood and positively impact the emotional trajectory of your day (you can read more about that here). But remember the power of gratitude doesn’t just come from writing, it comes from really feeling how grateful you are. This can feel a little strange at first (for some it can feel almost fake or false) but lean into it and enjoy the process. It may feel like a bit of a struggle at first (that’s normal) but if you’re stuck refer back to the gratitude journal prompts in the next section.

GRATITUDE JOURNAL PROMPTS

To wrap up our power of gratitude blog, we’ll end with some gratitude prompts. These prompts are a great go-to to release the power of gratitude when you feel a little stuck with what to write in your gratitude journal.

20 Gratitude Journal Prompts to Get You Started

·        What’s one small thing that made you smile?

·        Who are you grateful for in your life and why?

·        What activities are you grateful for and why? (e.g. swimming, reading, playing music)

·        What did you achieve today?

·        What opportunities are you grateful for?

·        What do you see other people do in the world that makes you grateful (e.g., campaigning for social change, creating music, sharing their art)

·        What in nature makes you feel a sense of awe and gratitude?

·        What are you looking forward to today?

·        What’s one thing about your health that you feel grateful for?

·        What’s one thing you love about your body?

·        What have you overcome? What strengths do you feel grateful for?

·        What is one thing you appreciate about work?

·        What friendships do you value and what makes them special?

·        What food do you feel grateful for?

·        What do you feel grateful for about where you live?

·        What opportunities in life do you feel grateful to have access to?

·        Notice what is in the room now – pick one object and write why you’re grateful for it.

·        What small things do others do for you that make you happy?

·        What qualities or strengths do you admire in yourself?

·        What past events do you feel grateful for? How have they shaped you and your future?