How to Be Hopeful in Tough Times

Hope fuels a sense of purpose and energy. You know without a doubt, I can do this! With the human brain’s tendency to focus more on the negative, it can be challenging to find hope in tough times. If you have doubts or despair, the good news is you can build and develop an optimistic thinking style. Throughout this blog, I will reference research and material from a recent continuing education training I attended from Dr. Jaime Kurtz.

Why Choose Hope?

According to research, when you are realistically hopeful, you are more relaxed. (Kurtz, 2022).

  • Your brain wants to explore possibilities through play and creativity.
  • You find it easier to problem solve and grow.
  • You experience better health and a stronger immune system.
  • Hopeful people are more sociable, well liked, are better leaders and even make more money.
  • Hopeful people cope better with setbacks and have better marriages.

Why Being Hopeful isn’t Always Easy

Remember how I said, the brain has a tendency to focus more on the negative than the positive? It takes at least three positives to overcome one negative. For some of us, who are more sensitive, it may take even more. This emphasizes the importance of protecting your energies from lower vibrations, moods and thoughts, including yourself and others.

Our routines and habits often get in our way. When under stress, we tend to fall into habitual patterns of thinking and doing. There is a upside and downside to this. Habits can shield the brain from harm or too much input. The unfortunate part is we often turn to mindless behaviors, such as scrolling endlessly through social media, obsessively watching the news, thinking pessimistically, ruminating or worrying and even eating comfort foods. All of these activities keeps you stuck and at times feeling hopeless.

Let’s just admit it…life can be really, really hard. For this reason, we can lose hope easily. The realistic aspects of living life can bring your mood down. People have financial stress, health issues, relationship problems, etc. When you are a helper, in the role of healing others, you can absorb other’s negativities and lower energies.

How Can I Be More Hopeful?

A part of being hopeful is changing how you think. According to Dr. Jaime Kurtz, an optimistic thinking style has four elements.

  1. Temporary- Knowing whatever you are experiencing will pass.
  2. Local- Thoughts are focused only on your current situation and no other.
  3. Not Personal- You know this is not entirely my fault.
  4. Controllable- There IS something I can do about this.

Stress management or filling your cup is essential. This can be unique to each one of you. Find activities that nourish and replenish you. Some ideas are exercise, being in nature, listening to music, or practicing a hobby. If you haven’t seen my book, I Fill My Cup: A Journal For Compassionate Helpers, you may want to check it out. As Kurtz states, “Hopeful people engage in more preventative behaviors.”

Pennebaker (1997) discusses the power of story telling to increase hope. The instruction is to construct a clear narrative of what you want and how you might get it. You can write or tell your story to a trusted friend, coach or counselor.

Reframing your thoughts- Think of a previous hopeless or negative situation that has happened. Next name three things that help you see the bright side of life because you did not get what you wanted.

Spend more time with hopeful and positive people. As many of you absorb the lower energies from others, you can also absorb or take in the positive energies. Choose wisely.

Being hopeful may not be easy, but it is possible. YOU CAN DO IT!

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

REFERENCE: Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process.
Psychological Science, 8, 162-166.

Interview with Lisa Hutchison, LMHC — Resiliency Mental Health

1. First, can you tell us a bit about your professional background? I am a licensed mental health counselor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who has been practicing psychotherapy for over 20 years. I have created  program for caring professionals, who want to prevent and treat compassion fatigue. I have taught various classes online and in person, in […]

Interview with Lisa Hutchison, LMHC — Resiliency Mental Health

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHCEdit

Time to Nurture Yourself- Cancer Full Moon/Mercury Retrograde

Empathic helpers often have difficulty balancing their own needs and others. With great sensitivity comes a tendency to get caught up in other people’s energy. In our quest to put ourselves onto our ever growing list of priorities, sometimes we don’t take the best care of ourselves. Today, I am writing and including a video reading about the Cancer full moon, which occurs January 17th and the current Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn, January 14th – February 3rd

Full Moon Energy

Empathic helpers, being sensitive to energy, are often influenced by lunar and planetary changes. The good news is the more you are aware of these shifts, the better you can manage your moods and thoughts.

A full moon is a reminder to surrender to the Divine. You can let go of physical items, emotional baggage or creative blocks. Whatever is getting in the way of what you want in life, release it all. You can focus on letting go during the full moon and up to forty-eight hours afterwards.

The Cancer Full Moon

The full moon is a time to go within and release anything that is preventing you from moving forward. It could be emotions, thoughts or even physical items cluttering up your space.

Cancer full moon is a time to release all fears and insecurities. Remember you are always safe, Divinely guided and protected. Cancer is represented by the crab, as you see on this card. Sometimes it is best to go after what you want in a sideways manner, much like the crab scuttles to the side rather than coming at an issue head on. This can be effective when it comes to resolving personal matters, at this time. 

Full moons can heighten our emotions. Cancer being a water sign, this emotion energy is no exception. Take a breath, be mindful and watch the emotions rise and fall like ocean waves. You do not need to get attached to any one feeling or thing at this time. Cancer energy seeks security and true security is within, it is not in other people or things. As a feminine energy, family or housing issues may be on your mind. This energy is supportive of both. Practice acceptance, kindness and love. 

Meditate around and on the day of the full moon and write down your impressions. You can speak your truth and set limits with kindness.

Write down your dreams and pay attention to synchronicity. These are messages from the Divine showing you, you are on the right path.

With the full moon, be prepared for some kind of letting go. You may need to move on, in order to make room for the new. What needs to go? It could be a relationship. Listen deep within. Calm any nervous energy at this time, through meditation, prayer and being by the water.

Mercury Retrograde

This mercury retrograde began January 14th and will go until February 3rd. Mercury retrograde energy can mess with your communications, technologies and create travel snafus. Go slower than usual, this won’t be too difficult because you will feel the energy slowing down at this time. Double check those emails and texts before sending. Maybe even your words before you express them to your family, friends or partners. Your communication issues will most be affected by those close to you. Take a deep breath, pause then talk.  When you have difficulty with others send them some light or say a prayer for them. Don’t get caught up in other people’s drama. It wastes not only your time but also your precious energy.

Become more fluid and flexible with your plans and goals, rather than stick to a rigid routine. If you have noticed this advice has worked well living in a pandemic. Focus on your creativity and what you most want to let go of. This is a time to re-do, re-think, and re-plan.

Let’s pick some cards to see what we need to focus on during this full moon Cancer.  This reading resonate with you b-day in Capricorn, Cancer, you have a sun, moon or rising. All empaths, no matter what your astrological sign because you are sensitive to energies.

Video Reading

How can you take care of you, better?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Your dreams need a practical plan: Full Moon Taurus/Solar Eclipse

Empathic helpers often have difficulty devoting time and energy to their plans. With great sensitivity, comes a tendency to get caught up in other people’s energy. It can be challenging to ground your energy and have a practical plan, which leaves your dreams out of reach. Today, I am writing and including a video reading about the Taurus full moon/solar eclipse, which occurs November 19th.

Full Moon Energy

Empathic helpers, being sensitive to energy, are often influenced by lunar and planetary changes. The good news is the more you are aware of these shifts, the better you can manage your moods and thoughts.

A full moon is a reminder to surrender to the Divine. You can let go of physical items, emotional baggage or creative blocks. Whatever is getting in the way of what you want in life, release it all. You can focus on letting go during the full moon and up to forty-eight hours afterwards.

The Taurus Full Moon/Solar Eclipse

The Taurus full moon asks you to combine the practical with the spiritual. Release what you no longer need, imagine what you want and create a down to earth plan to execute it. This isn’t about wishing but doing. Make a bullet point list of what you need to do, break down your big goal into smaller achievable steps. Think about what gets in the way of making your plan a reality. Are you spending too much of your time thinking about or stepping in to help others? Are you avoiding asking for help or support?

Connect with your five senses, the bull energy is sensual.  Mindfulness exercises are great for this. Practice mindful eating and walking. Be in the moment. Pay attention to your financial situation. Are you spending too much or not bringing in enough money? If so, create a plan to deal with this.  

Meditate around and on the day of the full moon and write down your impressions. Write down your dreams and pay attention to synchronicity. These are messages from the Divine showing you, you are on the right path.

Full Moon Eclipse Energy

Eclipses come in pairs, this is video one of two. Both eclipses offer a powerful energy to move us forward. The full moon eclipse tells us conclusions are within reach. This is a full moon on steroids. Circumstances are out of your hands, as if a door slams shut. It is important to let go of trying to control other people or circumstances. Breathe and allow any and all events to unfold.  Believe and trust, this is the right time to let go. A relationship may end, it is for the best. Forgive and be prepared to move forward. Work with your shadow self to release stubborness, guilt, resentment, shame, etc. 

With the full moon and eclipse, let go, surrender and release. What needs to go? Let go of negative feelings. Listen deep within. Calm any nervous energy at this time, through meditation, prayer and being by the water.

We are right on the cusp of Scorpio, Sagittarius. Scorpio, Sagittarius and Taurus people and other empathic souls, this reading may resonate with you if you have a birthday in these signs, moon or rising sign. I always say, all empaths, no matter what your astrological sign, can be affected because you are sensitive to energies.

Video Reading

What is your plan to make your dreams a reality?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Be kind to you: Boost your self-compassion with these tips

Self- compassion is an easy concept to understand, yet many people struggle with being kind to themselves. As professional helpers, we all know having self-compassion benefits our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, yet we find it difficult to incorporate this kind of thinking into our lives.

Why is this?

As human beings we resist change. It is easier to stick to our routines, even when these behaviors drain or harm us. Many helpers have formed a habit of putting their needs last, in order to help others. In our society, this type of endless giving, becomes positively reinforced, yet it is not a positive when you lack boundaries.

Many health care workers struggle with self- compassion because change takes mental work. You may be finding yourself in a state of chronic stress. Your jobs have been challenging, but add on the pandemic, you may be feeling as if you can’t take on one more task. 

Another factor is, it is easier for your mind to focus on the negative or what is wrong. Rather than focusing on a positive self-care activity, your mind prefers to focus on the struggle of grinding forward. This is a great survival mechanism, however, it does not assist your growth mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

How can we get over this hurdle of not taking care of yourself?

  • Educate yourself about the importance of self-compassion
  • Schedule self-compassion practices into your calendar with reminders
  • When the opportunity presents itself, practice self-compassion. Forgive yourself when you don’t follow through or are giving yourself harsh criticism

“Stop beating yourself up for beating yourself up.”- Eleanor Brownn

Do you ever notice, it is easier to treat others with compassion than ourselves? We all have an inner critic, a judgmental voice which brings our mood down with negative, self- critical thoughts. The best way to decrease the inner critics influence on your life is to first become aware of it.

One technique I teach my counseling and coaching clients is; Notice, Acknowledge, Re-direct

  • Increase your awareness- Mindfulness exercises will help you notice critical thoughts more readily. Sometimes, it is helpful to have another person, such as a coach or therapist, to bring attention to faulty thoughts.
  • Acknowledge this voice and the feeling- Often this voice crops up when we feel vulnerable. You could be feeling scared, anxious, fatigued or tired. Are you experiencing compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma or burnout?  You can say to yourself; I know you are scared, tired etc.
  • Redirect- Now is the time to focus on what you want. Put it together. I hear you. I know you are experiencing compassion fatigue. We are going to make a counseling appointment or fill in the blank (self-care activity) ______________________________.

Cognitive therapy works well to increase self-compassion and decrease the inner critic. Cognitive therapy is developed by Aaron T. Beck.  In therapy, the therapist helps you develop skills for identifying and changing faulty beliefs, distorted thinking, and implementing new behaviors. This can be useful for developing self-compassion.

Practice self-kindness. Sometimes we can’t think of how to be kind to ourselves. Think of a kind person in your life, what advice would she give to you? How would you talk to a friend or your child?

Compassionate letter writing exercise. This information is from Self-compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. (Neff, 2011) on Amazon.com

The first step in this process is to sit quietly and think about something that triggers feelings of inadequacy, or something about you or your situation that makes you feel badly about yourself. It is important not to judge the emotions or to try to fix them. The focus is on awareness and experience of the feelings.

In the next step, think about an imaginary friend who is kind, loving, accepting, and compassionate to you. This friend knows all about you, even the piece of you that makes you feel bad. How would this friend respond about giving yourself such harsh self-criticism and judgment?

Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this compassionate friend. This involves asking questions such as;

What would they say to you?

How would they remind you that you are only human and humans are not perfect?

Would they suggest you do anything differently?

Once the letter is finished, you can put it away for a while. When you are ready, retrieve the letter and read it again.

Learn to laugh with yourself

Laughter, as a coping mechanism, can decrease stress, improve memory and even make you more productive. Whether you live or work in a stressful environment, find something to laugh about. This eases the psychological and physical tension you carry. Embrace the fact that no one is perfect and laugh off your screw-ups. A mistake can be an experience you learn from or an experience to reinforce negative thoughts and feelings. The choice is yours.

How can you be more kind to yourself?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Say No: An essential guide to setting boundaries for helpers

Since compassionate helpers want to please others and help, it is often foreign for them to set a limit or say no. When empathic givers say no, they are often plagued with guilt. Sometimes this is solely within themselves, other times it is from absorbing other’s manipulations. When empathic people teach others they are limitless in their giving, this leads other people to expect constant help and in some cases, even demand it.

The importance of boundaries

The risk of not setting boundaries for the helper can range from anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and even burnout. If you would like to learn more about compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout, I have included this video for you to watch. Remember, boundaries are a part of self-care.

Boundaries teach others how to treat you. Limits show without a doubt what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. These invisible lines protect you from abuse. Boundaries allow you to have your own separate feelings, thoughts and actions. Now, you know why it is important to have boundaries, let’s get to how to actually do it.

Identify what is your boundary

This part of the process, increases your self-awareness and is not to be shared with anyone else. Take a moment and write down what you want and why. Others do not need to know your reasons for limit setting, but you do. If you have a close relationship you may want to share when you set a boundary or at a later date, why this is important to you. Sharing your why is not required or even necessary. Sometimes your explanation waters down your message. The next time you say, yes, think about why you say, yes. Is this something you want to do or are you trying to avoid fear or confrontation?

Communicate

It is important to be direct about what you want and need. You do not need to explain or justify your reason for a limit. Say what you want in simple terms, without apologizing.

For example:

It is inappropriate when you____________________________ (speak that way or touch me)

Then you may need to redirect the person’s behavior. I would appreciate if you ask me rather than assuming I will do it for you, etc. If you are dealing with a patient who is touching you, Re-direct them and say place your hands here instead.

When someone asks or requests your help and you are unsure of your answer, feel free to ask additional questions. How long do you expect this task will last? Perhaps you can help in a different way then requested and offer that. If you don’t know your answer, give yourself the space to figure it out. Tell the other person, I will have to get back to you tomorrow or I have to check my schedule first.

If you are impulsive with your answers, you may want to read How to slow down impulsive decisions and improve relationships

Practice saying no

First start saying no to little things, then work your way up to the big things you do not want to do. Sometimes saying no is not as big of a deal as you think it will be. Often your anticipatory anxiety, the anxiety you feel before you say no, makes it worse than the reality of saying it.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

When you set a limit, expect some people to be upset with you. People pleasers who feel other’s disappointment or anger, can feel threatened. When a person feels threatened, we want to avoid the threat at all costs. You can survive other’s negative feelings towards you. You will do this by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Remind yourself, you are setting a limit to help others. Sometimes people don’t need help but rather need to learn for themselves or even hit rock bottom.

Instill consequences

Boundaries are not meant to be a punishment but rather a natural consequence of behavior. A consequence needs to be firm. For example. If you continue to talk to me this way, I will end our phone call until you can talk to me calmly. If you continue to yell at me, I will be in the other room. Feel free to join me when you want to talk calmly. If you break plans with me at the last minute or do not show up or call me, I will call you out on your behaviors and let you know how I feel.

Practice, practice, practice

The well-known proverb says, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Practice setting limits with yourself and others. The more you do it, the less anxious you will feel.

What is your experience with setting boundaries and saying no?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

5 Unacknowledged but Useful Truths to Know about Self-Care

Self-care sounds cozy and pretty but often is not. It is made up of those routine moments you need to dig in deep and motivate yourself, when you would rather be doing anything but self-care. Sometimes, it would be a heck of a lot easier to mindlessly zone out on social media, watch marathon hours of TV, or eat a half gallon of ice cream out of the tub. If you find yourself here, no judgment. We all do what’s easiest when we experience extreme stress. If you are ready to incorporate self-care into your routine, here is what you need to know.

Self-care is not easy to do- Doing what is good for you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, often does not come easy. Setting boundaries, eating healthier, and managing your finances are not always fun or relaxing. These types of activities often don’t feel good initially but have long-term benefits.

Self-care takes practice and persistence. When you fall off the horse, dust yourself off and get up again. Self-compassion will become your best friend in moments like these. There is no shame in reaching out for counseling support to keep you on track.

In order to be successful with self-care, you need to become aware of the blocks and obstacles within yourself and in your external world. Once you are aware, acknowledge these and put your self-care plan into action. Self-care means taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions. It is about embracing your vulnerability and being kind to yourself. If I sound like a broken record, this is not always easy.

You may lose some relationships- People who do not take care of themselves cannot support you in your self-care efforts. You may not notice this kind of relationship discrepancy until you set a self-care boundary. Do not allow other’s guilt or manipulation get in the way of your health and wellness.

Self-care is not selfish, it is self- FULL– It may feel unnatural to put yourself first or even include yourself on your list of priorities, when you are a caregiver or empathic helper. The more you take care of you, the more you can take care of others. We all need times of silence to process and integrate. Time away from others means more quality time together. Remember self-care is for everyone, whether you are a man or woman. We all need a little TLC.

Self-care does not require a lot of time– The more you devote time to self-care, it increases your productivity. When you feel better, you become more engaged and mindful with all you do. Take five to ten minutes each day in the morning or right before bed to engage in a relaxing activity, such as deep breathing, writing in a journal or mindfulness techniques.

The person who says, I don’t have time to do self-care, needs it the most. Do not wait until your body or mind breaks down before you start making your health a priority. Sometimes people say they don’t have the time, when they really don’t want to become quiet and sit with their feelings. Your emotional pain will not heal until it is acknowledged, felt and released. If you don’t make time now, when will you?

Self-care does not make your problems disappear- Self-care does not magically erase your problems or pain but it will help you cope better. It helps your body release stress and tension, which left unchecked can make you feel much worse. When the crisis has resolved, you will be able to bounce back quicker.

Activities involving self-care fill your cup. Self-care can help you gain a clearer perspective and detach from other people’s energies. This way you can focus more on what needs to be done in your life. Self-care can help you feel supported by yourself and others, which helps you feel less alone.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Slow Down Impulsive Decisions & Improve Your Relationships

Impulsive decisions can wreak havoc on your boundary setting and relationships. When you act without thinking, you can contradict the very limit you were attempting to set with someone. This leaves you appearing to negate what you previously said or did for others. Understandably, people will question whether you have integrity or if you can be trusted.

People in today’s world are more impulsive. Many of us react to whatever is seen or said, without pausing to think first. We expect and some of us demand, instant gratification. I see impulsive behaviors on social media, whether it is reactions to posts, posting without thinking and even expecting an instant answer or response through messages. Sometimes people get blocked, ghosted or impulsively cut out of others’ lives.

Impulsivity as a Symptom

Addictive behaviors thrive on impulsivity. This can include people pleasing, social media, along with any type of substance or alcohol abuse. Many mental health issues feature impulsivity as a symptom. Some are bipolar/mania, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Cluster B personality disorders (borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.) and impulse control disorders. You can also find people act impulsively when they are anxious or experiencing trauma. If you are suffering from a mental health issue, treatment is available to help decrease these kinds of impulsive behaviors.  

It’s Not All Bad

As with everything, there is a healing and a destructive side. The healing side of impulsivity is taking action whereas you wouldn’t have before. This push can help you step outside of the box and explore new ways of being. Much of our intuition and gut feelings lead us to take immediate action without thought. It is important to trust these drives, which protect and guide us.

What Fuels your Impulsive Behavior?

Often people act impulsively to get rid of anxiety or anger. By acting to remove your discomfort, you end up creating more discomfort.

Ask yourself;

Is my impulsivity from a learned behavior through society, a mental health condition, people pleasing or a combination of these?

Ways to Decrease Impulsive People Pleasing

Growing up and sometimes as an adult, I felt compelled to jump in and help, whenever a need arose. I automatically said yes to all requests, as if I didn’t have a choice. I did not take the time to consider if this was something I wanted to do. This is how impulsive people pleasing cuts you off from your own feelings and thoughts. 

Whether you identify as empath, empathic or a people pleaser, here are some ways to decrease impulsivity and connect within. The next time someone asks you for a favor or help, try these phrases to give yourself the space to process;

1. Let me sleep on it.
2. I will consider it.
3. Give me some time to check my schedule.
4. Let me get back to you. 

These phrases give you the option to make a choice based on what you want. In this space, check in with your body and mind. Observe your thoughts and feelings. 

Ask yourself;

Does this feel right for me? 
What does my gut tell me?

Ways to Decrease Reactivity in all Situations

When you feel triggered by another person or situation, this is the time to not respond. It may go against everything you feel within and seem wrong, but do not do it. Create a space of calmness and try these activities instead;

Write out all your thoughts and feelings uncensored. Shred the page.

Talk to a trusted friend and ask their opinion.

Go for a walk.

Practice deep breathing and stay in the present moment.

Pray.

Final Thoughts

The more you can build awareness, take responsibility and be specific, the better you can manage impulsivity. When you react out of fear or anger, take responsibility for your part. In unhealthy relationships, we contribute something to keep them going. Look at your own patterns and heal these.

You do not have to say yes to every request on your time and energy. If you are repeating your boundaries multiple times to the same person, it is time to detach and possibly disconnect from this person. You do not need or require another’s permission or approval to heal yourself. Remember, we are all on our own journey of healing. Some people will not be traveling with us.

You do not have to share every thought that comes into your mind. In fact, it is often best when you don’t.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Why narcissists avoid you and your boundaries

One surefire way to know if you are dealing with a narcissistic personality is to set a boundary. If the person has an angry outburst or gives you the silent treatment, that is your answer. People who are mentally healthy keep the lines of communication open, respect and honor other’s limits.

What is a narcissistic personality?

In a nut shell, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, relationships problems, and a lack of empathy for others. Their behavior occurs the majority of the time, not as an isolated incident. These people have big EGO’s and take offense at the slightest criticism. This can be what you say or you setting a boundary. Either of these may not be a criticism but they perceive it that way.

Below are five specific reasons narcissists hate boundaries and why they avoid them.

1. They have a sense of entitlement and feel superior to others. Narcissistic people think limits or boundaries are beneath them. These rules may apply to other people but not to them because they are special people, who deserve special treatment. They expect favors and unquestioning loyalty. Your boundary, no matter how healthy it is, can cause them to feel offended. How dare you set a boundary with me! Don’t you know who I am?

2. They use chaos as a way to control others. Narcissistic people have to be in control. One way they do this is to either delegate or create chaos. Interestingly, when this type of person delegates work or planning to others, they often change the timing or plan at the last moment to suit them, without any regard for your schedule.

A part of their chaotic presentation is their narcissistic rage. This type of personality has difficulty controlling and regulating their anger. You will experience their outrage, a pouty silence or both. Sometimes they intentionally start drama to see what you will do. They don’t like limits because you can’t have chaotic behavior, if you have healthy boundaries.

3. They refuse to take responsibility for anything. If you assertively point out a narcissist’s poor behavior and set a limit around it, he or she will refuse to acknowledge the behavior as harmful. In fact, they may project their poor behavior onto you. Somehow it is your fault or responsibility, they have acted this way. Don’t take the bait. Either they will rage, cut you off through the silent treatment or disappear completely (ghosting you).

4. They want to be enmeshed with you. They do not know how to be a separate person. Together you are one and they like it this way. This sounds romantic but it is a recipe for disaster. A narcissist feeds off of your energy, in order to feel powerful. Their self-centeredness leads them to believe their feelings are your feelings and vice versa.

When you are enmeshed, they can control your identify, thoughts, feelings, and even opinions. The narcissist wants to mold you to give them an endless supply of whatever they need. They want you to anticipate their needs before they even speak them. This type of personality does not want you to have your own sense of self.

5. They don’t like the word, “no”– Much like a toddler, the narcissistic personality disordered person has a temper tantrum, when a limit is set on his or her behavior. They feel rejected as a person and insulted. No to them says I don’t care about you, when in fact you are saying, I don’t care for this behavior.

Exit stage left

A true narcissist is an opportunist and will use anyone to get what he or she wants. Once they see no usefulness for you to stay in their life, you will be discarded. This is when they avoid or drop you. If this person has a need for you to be in their life, he or she will attempt to manipulate your boundary in order for you to change your mind. The bottom line is, a person with narcissistic personality disorder will not respect you or your boundaries.

To learn more about boundaries here are two blogs to read: 3 Ways to Maintain Good Boundaries and How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered Learn more about Narcissistic Personalities with this blog: Why Narcissists Overreact When They Don’t Get Their Way and watch this video: When Narcissists Claim to be Empaths

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

7 Simple Ways to Calm an Overstimulated Mind

We all have experienced an excess of energy, known as an overstimulated mind. This occurs when you exceed your brain’s ability to process information. The result is a lack of clarity with your thoughts, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, digestive issues and even heart palpitations.

The biggest culprits of overstimulation

Modern Technology-Searching the internet, social media surfing and working too many hours on the computer, all contribute to overstimulation. It is not unusual to have multiple windows open and running in the background. This is symbolic of our own minds, trying to be in the present moment, yet getting distracted by x, y and z.

Obsessive Thinking- Many people believe the more time you think about a problem, the faster you get to a solution. The opposite occurs because you can get stuck in obsessional thinking. Over thinking is an attempt to control and is fueled by anxiety. The more anxious and out of control you feel, the faster you run on the hamster wheel. Getting no where, fast.

Analysis Paralysis- Creative people are blessed and cursed with too many thoughts. Too much head energy can lead to creative and writer’s block. Analysis paralysis is often fueled by perfection. Your mind falsely believes there is only one right action and fears you won’t choose the right one.

How do you get out of this behavioral loop?

No matter what causes overstimulation, the solution is to let go and begin small. Slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and respond. Now you have the power to choose what to do next. Here, I outline seven ways to get you started.

  1. Unplug from Social Media for at least one day a week. Give your brain a break.
  2. Have a Healing Session– Some examples are: Reiki helps you release energy and restore balance. You may also want to move the excess energy from the head into the heart, through your breath and conscious intention. Place one hand on your forehead and the other on your chest. As you breathe slowly envision the energy balancing between the head and heart. Massage grounds your energy and establishes a connection with the physical body. Psychotherapy can help you gain self-awareness and insight. Find out why you are busy and distracted. Not only will you release stress but also learn new coping strategies. Having a psychological evaluation can determine if other mental health issues are contributing to overstimulation.
  3. Write- Get all of the thoughts in your head out and onto the page in fifteen minutes. Use creativity as a vehicle to transform chaos into calm.
  4. Meditation and Mindfulness– Slowing down the brain and your impulses will help you be in the present moment and make healthier choices. Combine walking with mindfulness, to shift the energy. Do something physical to move the energy from your head into your body. Go for a walk, clean the kitchen or your closets.
  5. Avoid Crowds and Large Gatherings- Minimize shopping online and in stores as much as possible, until your mind feels at peace again.
  6. Rest and Replenish- Create quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, computer and be alone with your thoughts. Create stillness and drink lots of water. Get out into nature.
  7. Pray. Connect to your Higher Self. Ask for healing and guidance from the Divine. Accept and Surrender. Admit you are overthinking and choose to give up control. The serenity prayer can work wonders in this type of situation. The world will not fall apart if you let go of your thoughts. In fact when you let go of busy thoughts, inspiration has room to enter your mind with new ideas.

To further prevent and decrease overstimulation, you may want to read: Important Information about How Your Senses Get Overloaded

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my You Tube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC