Why you are so hard on yourself

Many compassionate people extend kindness to others much more than themselves. In this blog, I will explore some common reasons why you are so hard on yourself and what you can do to treat yourself with more kindness.

Why can we be so negative?

First off, we are all born with a biological reaction to focus on the negative or what is missing in our lives. This is not all bad, in fact it helps us survive. Without this feature in the brain, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish threats and chose safety. As you can see, this served the human race well in prehistoric times. Being on the lookout from saber tooth tigers, worked in our favor. Even today, it is very useful to weed out those who act abusively to us and those who are friendly. Often this survival method does not serve us well when it comes to our self-esteem.

The inner critic

We all have an inner critic or critical voice within our mind. This is why you have a tendency to think negatively when you evaluate your own behavior. In order to feel safe, the brain, scans for what is missing or needs improvement, before giving yourself a pat on the back. Some of us never get the praise and become stuck in negative thoughts. In addition to having a critical voice, you may suffer from perfectionism, low self-esteem or unrealistic expectations.

Nuturing

Emotional and psychological abuse does damage to the psyche and affects how you think about yourself, others and the world around you. Children’s brains are like sponges and absorb what is said around them and to them. This includes criticism, judgments and pessimistic thinking. If you had a critical, emotionally cold or neglectful family, you learned from their behaviors how to talk to yourself in a negative manner. Some children had harsh teachers, caregivers or even friends.

When a child is neglected, he or she takes on the responsibility for that treatment rather than blame the family or society. This is safer and ensures their survival. Remember, our brains are build for survival first. In order to believe that the caretakers are good no matter how they act, means the child has to be lacking or somehow bad. The child starts to think and believe they are less worthy or deserving than others.

Brain chemistry

You may have developed an anxiety, mood or thought disorder which affects the way you think about yourself. Those who have eating disorders often struggle with body image and their self-esteem. People with depression symptoms often look towards the negative or have faulty thoughts, which limit their potential. Those with anxiety, fear and expect something to go wrong. Therapy and medication management can be helpful to balance out brain chemistry and work with your thoughts.

What can you do?

1. Recognize you are thinking negatively and become aware of what you are thinking. If you can’t figure out what you are thinking, examine your feelings. Often a depressed, irritable or sad mood is an indication your thoughts are focused on the negative.

2. When you identify the thought, refute or question it. Is this really true? What did I learn from this circumstance? Write down these thoughts.

If you can’t figure out the thought, do something the opposite of your mood state. For example, if you are sad, play a happy song or go for a walk.

3. Come up with a more kind and realistic view of yourself. Pick a thought that is true and feels right for the situation you face. Identify your positive characteristics and find a way to apply them to your current situation. Acknowledge that some situations are difficult for all humans and you are not alone in this struggle. Short term counseling can help you see a different perspective.

How Can You Treat Yourself with More Self-Compassion?

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

When Power is in the Wrong Hands

Power is an influential tool, but in the wrong hands it can cause damage and destruction. Some people who seek out powerful positions, only wish to exploit others. We all have examples of how people have used their power to cause harm. These people can be found in any level of society and in any occupation. Some well known abuses of power occur in politics, medical, religion, military and the police. Many of my clients, would say their own families have been the biggest source of a misuse of power.

Who are the power seekers?

In the mental health world, we see that certain mental disorders seek power. Two such personalities are narcissistic and sociopathic. The problem is that these are the exact people who resist treatment. Often they show up in the therapy office because they are court mandated or someone has told them to come (a family member). In either case, these types of personalities rarely take responsibility or are here to do the work of therapy.

What exactly do they do and why?

Having power over someone else makes them feel good. Some suggest these types of people are wired differently, while others say the behavior is learned. Whether someone has a certain brain chemistry or modeling, it comes down to motivation. Do they really want to change or live another way? Most often the answer is no because there are too many benefits to their behavior.

People who seek power over others often feel entitled to special treatment and think they are superior to others. Their motivation is to dominate and control. Outwardly they appear confident but deep down they are insecure. If you talk to them long enough, you will seek cracks in the veneer showing a fragile ego. They suffer from low self esteem and self worth. In order to compensate, their personalities are often bigger than life. Being ego driven, they are aggressive, pushy, impatient and controlling. They will resort to threats and intimidation to get their way.

How they get away with it

Once these types of personalities get a powerful position, they seek out others who will protect and enable them. Through their charismatic personalities, they receive much attention and are very good with social relationships. You may find they have a cognitive empathy, meaning they say the right words but they lack an affective empathy meaning there is no feeling behind those words. Instead of coming from a place of caring for others, they manipulate.

Once a personality like this feels threatened, they will do everything in their power to try and tear you down. This means they will devalue you. It is the person who speaks the truth who often becomes a skapegoat or gaslighted. Interestingly, it becomes the truth teller’s reputation who is at stake, as the perpetrator gets away with a variety of crimes.

Institutions are often unwilling to make changes unless there is a mountain of evidence against a person. Even in these cases, the rigidity of the system sets in. Rather than make healthy changes, such as a firing or suspension, the matter gets swept under the rug. Unless, these systems change, often there will be no change.

What can you do?

The best protection is through education and awareness. It is up to each of us as individuals to broaden our awareness and heal. For some of us it is going public, others it is telling their stories to professionals like me, some write about it and others chose to keep these evils locked deep inside. Do not judge others, for we all are surviving and dealing with trauma in our own way. If you must judge, judge the wrong doings of others.

How can you heal from power imbalances?

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 Call Out Someone Empathically

Whether it is social media or in a group of people, there are certain ways you can ensure you are being compassionate, while pointing out someone’s behavior.

What is a Call Out?

According to Merriam Webster online Dictionary:

call out verb called outcalling outcalls out

Definition of call out (Entry 2 of 2) transitive verb

1: to summon into action call out troops

2to challenge to a duel

3: to order on strike call out the workers

4: to publicly criticize or fault (someone)

The Public Call Out

Keep in mind, no ones likes to be corrected in a public arena, whether it is social media or in person. Whether you are online or in person, you may feel your words aren’t harmful but you do not know how another perceives them. Your words are powerful and so is miscommunication. In the online word, we often miss out on nonverbal cues and vocal tones.

When someone gets called out in public, the other party may feel embarrassed for making a mistake. Rather than educating them, you have offended them, angered them or hurt them. This closes down a person’s energy and mind to learning. Socially calling out someone risks their belonging, social status and sometimes their professional reputation. Many people online are on alert for posts or certain words that may trigger others. Sometimes this is needed and sometimes it is not.

Before you call out a friend or even someone you don’t know consider:

  1. Your intention. Are you attempting to educate others or feel superior? There is a certain judgmental or critical energy to a call out. Is your intention fueled by a need to be right (ego) or is your intention from the heart? Tread carefully.
  2. What has triggered you exactly? Often it is not the post or what someone has said that is really the problem. The post can act like a stimulus to a past event you have had. Go back into your history and ask yourself; What does this remind me of? Why does this bother me so much? Heal the original wound.
  3. Is this really harmful? There is a difference between harmful and annoying. Harmful is something that is abusive or ethically wrong. It is usually clear to anyone who hears or sees the post or statement. Annoying can be something as simple as how a person says something.
  4. Who is around? On social media you really do not know who is around to see the post or your call out. Some people may admire you speaking up but others may be turned off by your approach. In an at person event, look around and notice who can hear you.
  5. Be ready for the consequences. A call out can lead you to become unfriended or blocked on social media. In real life, you may lose a friend or strain an important relationship. Is it worth it?

Here are some options

  1. Choose to not call out. People are not perfect. Social media can bring out our most emotional selves. If this is not a constant offender, let it go. If you are that upset, unfriend the person or walk away. I recently went for a walk, as I was passing a gentleman, I said,” Hello.” He said, “Good morning ma’am.” It was 1:00 pm. I chose to not correct him. What good would it have done? Except maybe cause him embarrassment. We exchanged friendly banter and I left. Sometimes it is best to take an interaction or post for the essence of it. You do not have to correct every discrepancy. Let some stuff go. Do you want to be right or be happy?
  2. Do a call out in private. Whether you are in person or on social media take your conversation elsewhere. Think about work environments. Would you prefer your boss correct you in front of everyone or one on one? On social media do not write a comment under the post, either text the person or private message them. You assume you know this person’s story but you may not. Let them express where they are at. Seek to understand and then give your take. Don’t expect anything. Allow him or her to have some space to process what you wrote. This is the beauty of doing this privately without the other person being ostracized by a group of people or pressured by social media time. The person may or may not agree with you but you have not harmed them. This is an empathic call out. If your goal is to elevate and educate others, use this method. Once the person has processed the information, he or she may chose to share what it learned or not.

What are your thoughts on empathically calling out others?

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

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