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Is Positive Thinking Really Your Goal?

Is Positive Thinking Really Your Goal?

"I'm trying to be positive." These are probably some of the most spoken words inside the walls of my office. I hear so many folks who, upon sharing about some of the tough stuff they're up against, are quick to blurt out about their difficulties staying positive as if negative experiences and feelings are inherently bad. 

Being seen as negative is shame-filled for some people, but I am the furthest from judgemental when those least desirable 'non-positive' feelings show up. In fact, I believe there are loads of feelings calling out to be seen in the words that we choose and feel as negative. Feelings that are every bit as important as the positive ones. Feelings that, with exploration, provide keys and clues to ways that we may struggle in our day-to-day. Feelings that, with recognition, can become more tolerable with more experience paying attention to them. 

Anger or disappointment, for example, won't just vanish because you repeat a mantra from a self-help book. It may become silenced for a time, or lessened in the moment - stuffed down and ignored until it tries to get your attention another time. Just do a quick Google search for the problem with positive thinking. You'll get a lot of hits. 

These thoughts were sparked by an image I saw while scrolling through social media apps on my phone. This image, shown in this post, doesn't quite capture my feelings about the matter, but I'm glad it created an opportunity to say a few words here. 

What if next time you're tempted to say "I'm trying to be positive", you said "I'm trying to understand these negative feelings and let them have a little space to tell me what they have to say"? If that feels too scary, maybe explore negative and negativity with a therapist you trust, and find out a little more about what's beneath the emotions you're so quick to dress up as something that they're not. 

  • Jenn Seeley
Who Needs Therapy?

Who Needs Therapy?

"Why should I go to therapy?" is a question I get asked lots by people who have never tried it before. Reasons for going to therapy are as varied as the folks who go, and anyone can benefit from it. Caring for your mental health is no different than getting regular checkups at the dentist or hitting the gym to keep strong. Here are just a few reasons to go: 

Life transitions

Whether the transitions are good, bad, or neutral - a therapist can help process changing careers, going back to school, moving to a new city, or an upcoming adoption. Or maybe you’re feeling stuck at a fork in the road and are having to make a tough decision. Talking about it out loud with someone whose job it is to help you make sense of it all can help. 

 

Relationship woes

 

It can help to talk out the ways a relationship gets stuck (or ends), or discover where you feel blocked in communicating with your loved one(s). This isn’t limited to a significant other. Therapy is a great place to take struggles with your friends, your co-workers, and your family of origin, too. And for some people, a lack of a relationship is distressing and also an excellent reason to seek therapy. 

 

Grief

 

Grief is not linear and unfortunately there’s no magic timeline for when it ends. Sometimes, just when you think you’ve dealt with all there is to deal with around a loss, grief crops back up again. A therapist can hear that and sit with you in it

 

Burnout

 

Does your job come with mental health days? Do you find yourself needing lots of them? Maybe it’s a good idea to also talk that stress out with someone. 

 

Identity questions

 

Whether you’re asking yourself about parts of your identity you can’t change but want to connect more to (like race), or curious about exploring parts of your identity that may fluctuate (like sexual orientation or gender), big feelings around “who even am I?” may come up for you - and they’re great feelings to share in therapy. Maybe you just need someone to confide in?

 

Focus 

 

Whether you’re living with a diagnosis of ADHD or struggling to choose which pile of hard stuff to tackle first, talking out the long list of to-dos can help bring perspective. Perhaps your inability to concentrate is coming from specific influences, like difficulty at home or work. No matter the cause of focus troubles, talking about it with a therapist can help. 

 

Depression

 

It’s possible you’ve had a low mood for a while and just keep hoping it will shift on its own. If nothing makes you happy anymore - not even the things that you could always count on delighting in - a therapist might be a good next plan. 

 

“Negative” coping strategies

 

If you’re coping with hard stuff, who really gets to label the ways you cope as negative? You’re a genius and you’re doing the best you can! If you wish you weren’t looking to those same strategies any longer, or feel that they’re not serving the same purpose and are becoming an issue all of their own, maybe it’s time to talk to someone. (these strategies may include alcohol, drugs, shopping…) 

 

Anxiety

 

Being overwhelmed with anxiety is not much fun at all. Whether it shows up in the form of worries and fears, or full blown panic attacks, a therapist can help you process and cope with anxiety if it's interfering with your everyday life. 

 

Trauma

 

Whether you’ve gone through a singular traumatic event, or a series of traumas, trauma informed therapy can help you cope and not feel so alone. A therapist can help you improve your skills in surviving it. 

 

Chronic pain/health issues 

Having ongoing medical struggles brings about a lot of big feelings that are equally as important to address and manage. Particularly when you feel as though you’re fighting a battle alone, it can be really useful to have a steady person to talk to about your journey. 

 

Just because you want to

Just being human is hard work. Everyone can benefit from talking about their goals and fears - no matter how big or small they may seem. Therapy doesn't have to be about any of the struggles listed above (or many that weren't listed). Just being able to talk about who you are, where you came from, how you got to where you are today, can simply improve your esteem and support further growth. 

Of course, this list isn't complete, but if you find yourself curious about giving therapy a try for any reason - mentioned or not - perhaps it's time to make that call. If you're in the Toronto area and looking for a therapist (or in Ontario and looking for video therapy), feel free to connect with me at jenn@jennseeley.com - if I'm not who you need, I'll happily help direct you to other resources. 

  • Jenn Seeley
Too Many Feelings!

Too Many Feelings!

Having a lot of feelings and struggles at once is hard. How do you sort through them all? Where do you begin?
  • Jenn Seeley
Expressive Arts Instagram: A January 'Challenge'

Expressive Arts Instagram: A January 'Challenge'

Hey reader friends! 

It's a new year. Know what that means? We're flooded with expectations and resolutions and marketing that begs us to give in to the message that there's a 'new you' just waiting to be bought because there's been a change to your calendar. 

While it's quite possible you're looking to move forward to something that was greater than 2017, you might be among the folks who find resolution making to be a self-sabotaging type of trap. You also might be a serial resolution maker - and nail it each year. I support you, no matter what your journey looks like in a new year. 

Regardless of whether or not you're a list-maker, a thrill-seeker, a reflective-thinker, a memory-collector - if you're looking for something to do to bring in the new year in a way that taps into the right side of your brain, draws on your creativity, and prompts you to notice your feelings a little bit, I've got a fun activity for you! 

Head on over to Instagram and play along! If you like rules, here are some you can follow: 

  • Using the image below, find the number that corresponds to the day of the month and read the prompt for that day
  • The goal is to make art every day. Interpret the prompt however you like. Does it speak to you in a particular way? How might you create something using that prompt? What medium(s)/process(es) will you choose? (collage, paint, draw, sculpt, dance, sing, write, move, photograph +++ your heART out!)
  • Take a photo of your finished product (or video yourself if you choose to use movement/dance/song/spoken word/etc)
  • Post to Instagram and use the hashtag #ExpressiveArtsInstagram (feel free to also tag @tablesauce_therapy if you'd like your pics to end up in a round up post later on!) 
  • Play along every day, one day, no days, or bounce around if you'd like. You can't do it wrong. You have my permission to use this however it feels best. 

And if you like... a few tips and pointers on making the most out of this experience: 

  • Set aside a short amount of time each day for the practice of expressive arts. 
  • Focus on the process - not the product. If it's a 10 minute quickie, make it about the feeling. 
  • Write a caption for your post that shares a bit about the process for you. What did you FEEL when you created? Did something feel hard? Were you stuck? Maybe it was just a big blank? Share THAT if you can. (And also give yourself permission to not share if it feels too vulnerable.)
  • Other hashtags to go bananas with: #expressiveartstherapy #makearteveryday #focusontheprocess #doitfortheprocess
  • Copy the image and share it to your own insta, FB, twitter - anywhere! Feel free to invite your friends to play, too! 
  • * A French version has now been added below the English one. Translated by Sylvie Bérard. 

january instagram challenge 2018 expressive arts

 Wishing you gentleness and ease in 2018!

jenn 

arts expressif instagram janvier

  • Jenn Seeley
Stranger Things and the Pain of Shame

Stranger Things and the Pain of Shame

A look at how chronic shame and Stranger Things parallel and the things you can do about your own shame shadow monster
  • Jenn Seeley
How to Attack Anxiety (or any feeling that's hard, really)

How to Attack Anxiety (or any feeling that's hard, really)

The magic answers to curing your anxiety, complete with top ten best coping mechanisms and strategies won’t be found in this post... ....Don't get me wrong. There are so many great tools that can help calm/slow/shift/fool your anxiety. I might even talk about some of them as they seem relevant with clients who come to see me about anxious hard times. What I don't do though, is dish out a to-do list like it's a recipe for inner-storm-calming along with the instructions to check off the boxes and come back in one week. 
  • Jenn Seeley