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Category Archives: Counseling

Facing Fears

Over the past few months I have been challenged with decisions and opportunities that have brought up vulnerability and fear in this process. I have had to dig deep into my vulnerability with fear and being “enough”. When I was a teenager my parents gave me a plaque that read, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Fast

forward 20 years later and my daughter has the same quote sitting on her desk. This quote has stuck with me over the years and continues to be a reminder for me that I cannot be afraid of failure or mistakes. My parents always encouraged new experiences and placed importance on “getting out of your comfort zone”. It was a lesson that I was not going to see the true value in until I was older. I found small successes when I took risks, traveled, sought out adventure… As time passed, my courage to get out of my comfort zone grew. And with each act of courage came a growth in confidence and self-awareness.

I would be lying if I did not say it was extremely difficult to practice this each day. I imagine a bell curve and think when I was younger the stakes were pretty minimal. I thought I was invincible – as all teenagers do. Now in my 40s and towards the top of that bell curve the stakes are higher. I have more to risk, more to lose. Here I am a therapist who aims to encourage, inspire, motivate, and support my clients (friends and family too!) but why is it so difficult to practice when it comes to getting out of my own comfort zone? Every time I sense impending change or challenges (which by the way, is quite often), I ask myself the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I ask this to my clients when they are struggling with decisions. If someone told you this would work out, would you do it, would you engage without fear? Typically, the answer is, yes. Everything we want is on the other side of fear.  It is the uncertainty that creates vulnerability that can paralyze us and keep us from striving for the opportunities and goals we want in our lives. And the number one way to conquer vulnerability is to have courage in the face of it. Vulnerability is fear, it is uncertainty, it is change. I believe in the power of courage. I teach the power of courage. But when it comes to practicing courage I am the first to be compassionate at how difficult it is.

During times of vulnerability it is critical for me to get moving. I typically do this through running or yoga, which allows me to connect my mind and body together. It allows me to move through energy and thoughts that no longer serve me. I am able to re-center myself. This time also creates the positive and encouraging thoughts that provide the courage to face whatever it is I am fearing and let go of the need for certainty.

This quote by Nelson Mandela sums it up for me: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” The goal is to not experience fear or failure. The goal is to overcome it. The goal is to be resilient in the face of fear or failure. We rarely learn and grow when things go perfectly. We learn when we fall, when we take risks and we learn when we have the courage to get back up  and keep going.


*As we all know, sunrise is my favorite time of day. The stillness and coolness of the morning air is invigorating.

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Setting the Stage

Each morning it is important to set a stage for the day ahead.

Typical scenario: the alarm goes off at the latest minute possible to maximize sleep, already rushed, your jumping out of bed and typically immediately engaging in your “morning routine”, which if I had to guess is rushed and likely on auto pilot. Look at phone, look at emails (stress sets in – and you are already behind), make coffee, pour coffee, shower, get dressed in whatever hanger hits your hand first, maybe grab breakfast on the go (if your lucky), oh, and if you have kids add 4-5 more steps into this routine in the same amount of time. Yikes! Think about this for a moment… In some ways you are starting your day playing catch up already. To me, this sounds like setting a stage for a tough day.

If you had asked me 3 years ago to wake up before the sun, I would tell you you are crazy. I was also staying up to watch my beloved Jimmy Fallon each night, which typically put me to bed around 11pm or later. The universe offered a change when my daughter, at age 10, had tennis practice starting at 6am. Yes, you read that right. While initially this brought me so much angst – waking up so early, how would she handle waking up that early and play tennis! But I have to say; this was one of the best things that happened to me. It forced me to start a routine of waking up early and engaging in my day from a place of mindfulness, quiet, and strength. While she would go play tennis, I would go the gym, yoga, or take a run with our dog. This time offered me so much and started my days with a completely different perspective of what I wanted out of each day. It offered me time to think about the clients I would engage with during the day, it offered me time to build inner mental and physical strength to engage in my day, and best of all it set the stage for the day I wanted to have.

I encourage all my clients to do the same. Maybe they can’t offer themselves an hour – but even 10 minutes of sitting quietly before they open emails and begin their day, a short walk, a 10-minute stretching routine, whatever you can fit in is better than nothing. I challenge each of you to do the same. Toni Robbins said, if you don’t have 10 minutes a day to give to yourself, then you have no life. I believe this wholeheartedly, if your life is so packed with work, kids, errands, etc. and you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself, then you have an invitation to re-evaluate your life.

 

*photos of a few of my favorite sunrises in Boise, ID

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Always be up for a Challenge!

In light of my last post related to finding motivation and having courage to take on new challenges, I wanted to write about how to stay grounded in the midst of this crazy thing called “life”. Our society has made it a way of life to be “busy”. How often when people ask us how we are doing, we respond with “busy” or “crazy” – or even the kicker, “I am crazy busy”. I don’t know about you, but I do not like being or feeling crazy or busy! I enjoy being engaged. But not crazy or busy. So why have we accepted this as a way of being? Correction – it is not being – it is a way of doing. We are doing without being. I talk to clients about this concept often. My clients will ask, how do I “be”? My response starts with a discussion related to engaging in our lives, our words, and our behaviors with intention. And to start this process we have to be grounded.

So what does all this look like?

First, set an intention for yourself. This can change and be fluid or it can be consistent. My intention – or mantra – for each day is:

Be kind to yourself and others

            Be patient with yourself and others

Without fail this intention offers me pause and contemplation before I engage. Here are a few common times where it helps me that maybe you could relate as well:

–       If judgment of others or of self creeps in – I stop and ask myself if I am being kind to others or myself.

–       If I am feeling short with my children or  overwhelmed the perpetual to-do list – I stop and ask myself if I am being patient with myself or others.

–       When self-doubt creeps in – how am I talking to myself? Is it coming from a kind place?

The intention offers us an invitation to slow down and interrupt the busyness and the craziness.

The other part of grounding oneself is taking time for you. I ask clients to start with the 2-3 minutes a day of challenging yourself to sit quietly. Be still. Eyes closed. Accept the thoughts that come in and out of your mind. Some might be thinking, Abigail, this is called meditation. Sure. Maybe it is, but I find when I ask clients to “meditate” initially there is a sense of fear or doubt if they can meditate (*More on this topic in another post). So for now, just try to find 2-3 minutes a day to be quiet. Be still. Eyes closed.

So the CHALLENGE:

2 week challenge to begin to invite grounding into your life:

– Set an intention for yourself each day. Maybe it’s the same each day like mine or maybe it varies for what you want for yourself that day. Be creative. Be positive – for example, steer away from telling yourself not to do something. And always be kind in your intention.

– Offer yourself 2-3 minutes a day of sitting quietly, still, and with your eyes closed. (Set a timer if you have to, so you stay engaged in the exercise rather than the time. Trust me when I say, it can be uncomfortable at first).

I challenge each of you to do this for 2 weeks and let me know how it goes. How you feel. I promise it will not disappoint!

 

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Let’s Do This. Share Your Story

life tools - Piron Counseling

Let’s Do This!

Thank you to Home Depot for the slogan of “Let’s Do This”.

Ever have the project that continues to be on your to-do list for months… maybe even years? Well, that is this blog for me. When I started my private practice 6 years ago I had high intentions for blogging and offering my clients and others a place to go to, to share my thoughts and insights. Well, as it turns out, starting a private practice, raising two children, and supporting a traveling hard-working husband takes up more time than I budgeted for. Such as life. And I would not take back one moment of being available and present to my personal and professional life. And by the way, I am still taking on all those roles, just finding more balance in the process.

That being said, a few weeks ago I commenced a new decade in my life. I was fortunate enough to go away on a wellness retreat/ conference in Arizona a few weeks prior to my birthday. Part of my intention of going on this retreat, called revitalize hosted by mindbodygreen, was to get out of my comfort zone, be inspired, be challenged, and develop new relationships with like-minded people. All of my intentions were met… actually exceeded.

Throughout the three days in the desert, I had a few different experiences with fellow “revitalizers” that encouraged me to share more about my journey and in the words of a beautiful woman who I was fortunate to have a reiki session with, said, “you have light that you are not spreading to the depths you are capable of”.  So at the time of departing, my inspirers had me promise that I would start to write and “share my light”. And so here I am. Writing. I’ve asked myself my intentions for writing. Who I am writing for? And the conclusion I have come to is the power of sharing. As a therapist, I believe in the healing power of sharing our journey. Our stories. Our experiences – positive or negative. So here is my attempt to be vulnerable and share in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. There is opportunity to learn and grown from one another.

Lets Do This!

*Feel free to always contact me with questions, comments, feedback, and of course, I always love your stories!

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Resilience and Accepting Your Mistakes

resilient children - Piron Counseling - Ben White via Unsplash

When you get stressed and overwhelmed, what is your reaction? Is it to take it on? Withdraw? Give up? How do you process stress and adversity? Who taught you how to cope with stress? These are all valuable questions to consider and model healthy coping for our children and ourselves.

In my recent spare time I have found myself perusing recent TedxTalks for inspiration and new ideas. If you are not familiar with the TedxTalks, I encourage each of you to become acquainted. These talks offer wonderful perspective on an array of topics and social issues. This recent TedxTalk was on the topic of resilience by Dr. Sam Goldstein. One of my favorite books, which I recommend to many of my clients, is the Power of Resilience also co-authored by Dr. Goldstein. Dr. Goldstein reminds us of the potential of teaching our children resilience and the acceptance of making mistakes.

It is worth the 10 minutes of your time. Promise.

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Mayo Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

golf balls in a jar - Piron Counseling

A friend shared this with me awhile back and I have always held on to it as I loved the message. So often we become so focused on the small stuff we lose sight of the meaningful people and purpose in our lives.

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your  spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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Maintain Your Relationship

Maintain

This post is related to couples counseling. I always had a wish that couples would come in for counseling when things were great and take time to explore why they were great and how to maintain that greatness and connection.

Unfortunately too many times couples wait until their relationship is disconnected or in crisis to come into counseling. Somehow “counseling” has earned a bit of a stigma – (enter the whisper of a friend) “oh, you’re in counseling”. As if it is a sign of weakness that you’re in counseling. I am here to set the record straight. Counseling is not a bad thing. Counseling is not a weakness. Things do not need to be bad to come in for counseling. I see counseling as a gift. It is a gift of growth, connection, and self-awareness.

Many couples come in for counseling and explain that their relationship was great when they first got married. Similarly, you don’t buy a brand new car and then never change the oil or need to maintenance it. Marriage (relationships) is no different. Yes, your marriage is likely blissful when you first get married – it is brand new! But the reality is you need to continue to maintenance your marriage to make it feel like new over time.

This relates back to my previous blog. If you’re connected – stay there – stay checked in and maintain that feeling. Yes, there will be challenges in every relationship. But if you and your partner are connected you will know how to work through it together.

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