Get Noticed

Get Noticed

Many creative and content creators have doubted their abilities to share something inventive. They’ve experienced plenty of starts and stops. Self-doubt is often an integral part of the creative process.


On some level, most of us experience this. Self-doubt has a way of creeping in through all sorts of corners of our minds when we’re promoting an idea, ourselves, and sharing our perspectives with the world. No matter what field we’re in, as we try to figure out what and how we’d like to contribute we feel overwhelmed by the saturation and think, “What do I have to share that hasn’t already been shared? Can I find an innovative idea to express or even an innovative way to express it?” It’s easy to silence ourselves.


I experienced this self-doubt when I first opened my private practice. I looked at how many listings there are for psychotherapists in my city and thought, “What?! How’s this going to work?” I felt this the entire way through building my first website, and I felt it multifold when I decided I was going to keep a blog. And now and then that doubt resurfaces.


I’ve been fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with experienced practitioners, mentors, and supervisors who told me different variations of the same thing- There is enough to go around. Don’t let the saturation silence your voice. There are people who need to hear what you have to say in the way you are going to say it.


Over the years, as I’ve reflected on their variations of this message I realized they were right. I’ve read books, watched documentaries, and completed trainings that are similar but land with me in different ways depending on the speaker and where I am in my practice and my own life. (And obviously, even this message I have been relying on all these years has been restated by the people whose advice I’ve valued most. It has never lost its impact.)


Broadening this perspective, we can see how many voices uttering the same message from slightly different points of view strengthen a movement and a message- Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, Women’s Equality, healthcare reform, and so many other critical causes. There is strength in numbers. What’s not powerful about adding to a growing movement?


We need to hear from each other. We need to make ourselves visible so that other members of our community see themselves reflected in us. We cannot hear a message about something until it resonates with us and not every voice or every group will resonate with all of us. So we need to hear from Black members of our community, Transgender members of our community, working single moms, upwardly mobile millennials, professional women, the neuroscience community, the spiritual communities, our youth, people with a sense of humor, people who embrace their vulnerability. I might not be able to hear the message that a 67-year-old straight, white man has to say, but I might be able to hear it from a Biracial, Queer, 67-year-old woman. I also might need to hear the same message from people across communities and identities and intersections.

You have a valuable voice and message worth sharing. You don’t have to sound like Audre Lorde or Tony Robbins or June Jordan. Stay authentic. Sound like yourself. There is enough to go around. Don’t let the saturation silence your voice. There are people who need to hear what you have to say in the way you are going to say it.

Say It Better

Say It Better

It occurs to me every so often that my job is instrumental in helping me manage life. I’m really lucky. I get to spend my days learning about what works and what doesn’t and for whom. I get to talk and think all day about the human brain and its connection with the body, what to do when we find ourselves in various pickles, and best practices for increasing our well-being. Sometimes I don’t realize how much I take for granted. Last week, I realized how much I take for granted having a constructive conversation.


All the time (and I mean, constantly) I hear people say to one another, “How many more times are we going to have this conversation?” or “How many times do I have to tell you?!” or “How long are we going to have to keep revisiting this subject until you finally get it?” Most of the time the answer to that question is- however many times it takes because we don’t learn from lectures and conversations and words alone. Our most effective preceptor is experience. So, on the one hand, when a need or a goal is really important to us, and we feel it’s not being met, we can definitely count on having multiple conversations about it over and over and over. We might as well make ourselves a little more comfortable and feel a little less crazy by learning how to practice and apply effective conversation skills.


You might remember from the 80s, the T.H.I.N.K. method for communication (which I’m not totally sure but I think might have been founded on some Buddhist principles for wise speech).


At some point, you probably saw the poster for it in a humanities class, at a presentation given by your Human Resources department, or on a wall in your kindergarten classroom. Decades later, most of us have forgotten the message brought to us by that wise little poster. At any rate, it said:


Before you speak,


T- is it thoughtful?

H- is it helpful?

I- what is my intention?

N- is it necessary?

K- is it kind?


And honestly, it’s a technique that I use every day, both at work and in the rest of life. We cannot underestimate the healing power of deliberate and compassionate communication. I’m going to break it down with some more questions for deeper self-inquiry. The T.H.I.N.K. method is always simple, but it’s not always easy.


T- it is thoughtful:

Have I reflected on my experience to optimize this conversation? Am I fully present for this conversation or am I feeling pretty reactive right now? Am I clear on my message, needs, experience, and feelings? Is this a good time for each of us to talk about it?


H- is it helpful:

Does this help the other person understand my experience? Does it help me express my feelings and needs? How will it help our connection?


I- what is my intention:

What do I want the other person to know about how I am feeling and what I need? What do I need from this interaction?


N- is it necessary:

Is what I am about to say critical to my message? Is it essential to understanding my experience?


K- is it kind:

Am I approaching this conversation with the utmost dignity, respect, love, and compassion for myself and the other person? If I am feeling reactive, am I trying to hurt the other person so that they feel what I feel? For both of us to get the most out of this, do I need to pause or take a longer break before I continue this discussion?


Sometimes it’s not possible to be this thoughtful. We’re people, and we react when we feel strongly about something. Sometimes we act or speak impulsively. And sometimes others can’t or won’t hear us no matter what. And sometimes there just isn’t time and space. Our world moves at hyper speed, and we are pretty consistently pressured by this. But when we can pause for a minute, reflect, and inquire, we give ourselves and others the gift of clarity. Over time and with practice, we find that this quality of communication paves the way a deeper insight. This is crucial for changing behavior and patterns. Go forth and effectively communicate.


Love and Be Loved,

Learn How to Be More Assertive

Learn How to Be More Assertive

If you’ve ever enlisted the “disappearing act” method as a way to put some space between you and another person, I get it. When you feel like you might need some time away from someone, want to end a relationship, or change a relationship dynamic it can be anxiety producing; speaking up for yourself can feel tricky. Sometimes we’d all rather slink away to avoid conflict.

Now and then, everyone thinks that addressing a relationship issue might result in too many hurt feelings, a knock-down-drag-out argument, or something ambiguously scary. It can be tempting to stay silent and hope it resolves itself. It’s my experience, though, that problems tend not to fix themselves and that, the longer they’re left unmanaged, the more overwhelming they can seem.

There are some things you can do to effectively express what you need from a relationship without becoming invisible and without feeling like your only other alternative is to drape yourself in aggression and hostility. Putting these things to use will help you to feel more grounded as you organize your thoughts about your experience and think about what you’d like to convey. Eventually, while speaking up for yourself might feel slightly uncomfortable in certain situations, it won’t feel as unavailable to you.

The first step to take is to explore your experience. The idea here is to gain awareness of your feelings about the situation and how they connect to your thoughts and actions. This will help you to trust yourself.

For example, let’s say you want some space in a friendship. You love your friend very much and value the relationship, and you also feel overwhelmed by the various goings on in your life. Perhaps you’re afraid to tell the friend that you can’t help them as often as they ask or that you can’t spend as much time hanging out and talking on the phone with them. Because you’re afraid to communicate this, you might continue doing things that you don’t have a chance to do. By overextending yourself, you might begin to resent your friend’s requests and experience the friend as overbearing. Maybe you start to exert less effort in the help that you lend, continue to make plans with the friend but begin to break them.

Be curious about why you’re afraid to say that you need space; what are you afraid will happen? Why would you rather overextend yourself? What do these things mean to you? As you become more aware of your feelings, you will begin to trust your experience. You will feel more secure in creating a more desirable situation for yourself.

The second step is to take the information you’ve acquired and use it to clarify the choices available to you. Will you choose to talk to your friend? Will you choose to let your resentment grow? Gaining awareness of your choices helps you to feel more empowered. When you feel empowered, you feel less inclined to suffer silently, quietly disengage from the relationship, or engage in aggressive behavior. This sense of empowerment will give you comfort when you address the situation.

The third step is to show up in an authentic way. If you’re nervous to express how you’re feeling, let the person know. Be honest about what this experience is like for you, about your fear of what might happen. However they manifest, these feelings will surface at some point, and they are so much more manageable (and a lot less scary) when you address them as you become aware of them.

Standing up for yourself can be scary, but you can effectively say what you need to in an empathic and satisfying way.

Love and Be Loved,