The Nature of Change

 
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Sometimes I'm asked how many coaching sessions are needed before change happens.

This is a difficult question to answer.

Therapists and coaches can't answer this question accurately. Even if there are a limited amount of sessions because of financial constraints, or insurance (for therapy), there is no guarantee that change or any goals will be met. It's a risk and vulnerability to take that leap.

>>>Well, that sucks.

Yes, it does. It's uncomfortable not to have a clear timeline with how long it should take to get the results you're looking for. It can be frustrating having to pay for a service where "nothing is happening." This is where communication as a client, and having the openness and trust of the professional comes in. 

It is my job as your coach to instill hope and optimism for change.

It takes trust if we are to create change together. I have to earn your trust.

It's my job to gather information to see where we can start to work on the goals that you've identified as the client. This is a dynamic type of relationship. Sometimes we need to have trial and error. Sometimes we have to see where life is at the moment to see which skills or goals are the most foundational, or significant. It is my job to see how you learn or grow best, by asking questions, giving assignments, and observing. 

My job is to give evidence of change. This can come from practicing interventions, but also explaining them in a way that makes the most sense to you. I have to learn how to speak your language and honor your experiences. When you know I seek to understand and have a certain level of understanding of your world, there is a stronger connection for us to build on. 

To give ourselves permission to change slowly, think about how long we've been alive, and how long these behaviors have existed. This isn't an easy process, and it involves cycles of small changes and success. 

Baby steps & comparisons:

Many of us are guided by perfectionism or feelings of being an imposter. With these lingering thoughts of never being good enough, it makes sense that starting out with change doesn't seem like a big deal; it's not the finish line. We barely started and other people are closer to the goals than us. Why didn't we start earlier? Or if we've been doing this for years, how come it's taking so long? We can start sabotaging ourselves because it's been part of our lives for so long, and the discomforts of comparisons and imposter syndrome start to consume us.

Please, take this into consideration: 

You are your own person, with your own story. No one can know entirely what you've gone through, and no one can tell you how to live your life. When you are ready, you are ready.

Some of us make small changes over large time spans. Some of us can change over night. We each have different circumstances and motivations, and access to support with change. These factors make it nearly impossible to compare our stories with others'. Change can be an uncomfortable process. Baby steps are to be celebrated. 

What if we get stuck or go backwards?

It's probably going to happen. If you look back on your attempts and successes with change in the past, maybe you've noticed when things made it difficult for you to maintain healthier or more positive types of behaviors. A common factor is stress or sudden changes in life. When we're really stressed out, we tend to gravitate towards comfort and past habits, even if we know they're not the best for us. We sometimes pair using our default patterns as failing. And that's the message we get from the greater culture. We get told we have to be perfect. We have to get it done 100% or it's considered a failure. 

That's not realistic. That's not fair. And, it's not being a human being. We make mistakes, and we have hardships with maintaining change all the time. That's the reality of being a human being. We are going to slip up, and default to our old ways every now and then. That's where a skilled coach can come in (a therapist if we are dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns) to educate and support you through these stages of change, because ambivalence and maintenance part of it. 

Being stuck is very common, and having this "stuckness" honored can actually create momentum to move forward. Many times people have their own agendas for how someone else is supposed to live, and instead of supporting change through encouragement, resistance is created by telling people to do stuff when it's not the right time to do so. 

Will other people see your change as quickly as you do?

This is complicated, too. Imagine having to work through changes in how confidently you feel about an area of life. These are internal changes that may or may not be large physical changes in your life. Some people may be more attuned with your habits or mannerisms, and can more quickly notice your changes or process of change. Other people can have their own barriers with seeing change. 

This is an added layer of systems psychology and maintaining change: It is one thing to start changing as an individual. It is another difficult layer to maintain change around others who may have sabotaged you, or expected a certain role (types of behaviors) from you in the past. Some people don't want to see the changes you've worked hard on. They want to pick and choose what they see, so they might try to sabotage or dismiss things. This is where habit, changes in environment (people, places, etc) can help maintain the positive changes you've worked so hard on. 

Open communication about these environmental factors  can help your coach or therapist with offering guidance or asking questions about how to prepare for these situations. Tools and education can be offered with how to create a layer of protection between you and negativity or sabotage you may face. 

Our relationship is the most important factor with change. 

I hope that my role is to be a guide, teacher, and resource. I can see your strengths, and hopefully, we can get to a place where you can see them, too. This involves hope, education, practice, and working through the ups and downs of building new habits. Coaching is interactive; I value and expect openness to discuss. We can talk about your thoughts on the pace of change, roadblocks, small victories, and any areas we need to focus on. 

Each one us of has a different relationship with change. It can be really scary doing this alone. It is scary for me at times, too. Changing and transitioning during parts of my life, I thought being alone was the brave thing to do. I was wrong. Having a mentor, or even friends to check in made the process easier. Knowing this, I hope to honor the unique situations each person has and walk with them on their journeys of change. 

We can work together to meet larger goals by having smaller successes over time. These deserve to be celebrated and witnessed.

Boonie (949)381-1894  |  organizedmesses@gmail.com

(I have openings 10-7 Monday and Friday afternoon)

YouTube Videos:

 

Letter to My Young, Highly Sensitive Self

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Dear Young, Highly Sensitive Person,

The world is hard for you right now, and you have more questions and emotions than answers. The people around you may not understand, and they feel overwhelmed for you and your future. They are concerned. They wonder if the world will break you and that beautiful heart of yours.

Everything feels so much; everything is so much for someone so young.

You wonder why you were born to feel and think about the world on such a larger scale. It is intense, confusing, and frustrating. People call you a crybaby, or sensitive as if it's a bad thing. People start treating you differently or targeting you because they think that's how sensitive people are supposed to be treated, like targets. You hide from the world because it's easier than being hurt, misunderstood, or overwhelmed. It's easier than trying to explain and being shamed for being different. You start to distrust people and their intentions. You wonder if it will always be this way.

Is this a gift or a curse? Why me?

You wonder why other people don't want to talk to you about changing the world.  You wonder why you hear, smell, or physically feel things other people don't. You wonder if you're exaggerating because other people don't experience the world this way. They tell you how the world is. Then again, you are only 8 years old, or 10, or 16. You're just a kid

You are just a kid, AND you see something more in this world. You see purpose, you live compassion, and you breathe possibility. There is more to you, young one. I see it in you, and I will support and nurture you now. 

  • I will honor and protect your innocence by having boundaries. 
  • I will learn more about sensitivities and when our thresholds are being met.
  • I will make time to play and create: the most important ways of nurturing a sensitive soul.
  • I will find our tribe, reach out, and practice embracing our authenticity more often.
  • We will share our sensitive strengths with others.
  • We will write, speak, and share on this journey because it is something to connect others with, it is not to be ashamed of. 
  • We will be realistic about how much we can do every day. Each person is different. We can grow in our own ways, not comparing ourselves to unattainable ideals. 
  • We will learn to embrace our sensitive self while building a thicker armor to live in a world that can be harsh at times.

The journey is tumultuous, and I am thankful to be here to grow with you now. It was worth every effort to nurture you so far.

Boonie

 

 

Online Footprints & How to Strengthen Them

 

It's important to get some background understanding on internet culture and social media. Before delving into the tips on strengthening your online footprint, let's think about some things.

Firstly, why do you post?

  • Show our personalities
  • Belong to a community
  • Share information
  • Flirt
  • Adrenaline rush
  • Get attention
  • Feel good about ourselves
  • Curate things we like
  • Communicate with others
  • Emotional outlet
  • Attempts to reach others
  • Bored
  • Trolling
  • Creative outlet

Anything else?

Google yourself and see what comes up. Do you like what message and images show up?

  • Would that dream job hire you?
  • Will you be able to keep that scholarship or stay in school for behaving like this?
  • Will that relationship or person you''re interested in want to be with you after seeing this?

The concept of FOREVERISM: What is it?

According to Internet Society (2016) there are over 200 third-party advertisers and 630 tracking technologies collecting our data. Even if we do not give permission to these organizations and technologies to gather and use our data, they do. Each site we visit has potential to reach someone else when they look us up. The problem that arises with this is we are not always able to defend ourselves with what people find. Assumptions about our character can be made, which can affect how others see us.

These assumptions can be negative and affect how you may be hired or contacted for potential work or opportunities. The websites we visit, research, places we comment or like, images we post or hashtags we use, can all be tracked and come back to us in misinterpretations. It's important to think about the possibilities for people to screenshot our conversations, comments, and exchanges online.

The internet is forever. 

Do images and verbiage that you delete really go away? Junk Mail: where does it come from? Digital Marketing: Each time you buy something or research products on any website...other marketing pop ups occur. (Isn't that creepy?!) Google, apps, Echo Home, Alexa: are you listening? To everything? 

In addition to unknown parties tracking your personal data, people you know, "friends" or "followers", have access to your posts, comments, and photos online. This is especially important for young adults, teens, and children. SEXTING is part of youth online culture, however, it is a very dangerous behavior for the following reasons:

  • Depending on your state, possessing and distributing nude photos of those under 18 can be considered possessing and distributing pornography 
  • You may have to register as a sex offender
  • You may have to enroll in sex offender classes 
  • Citizen's Guide to Child Pornography
  • In California, you may be fined up to $2500 for possession, and $2000 and/or 1 year of jail for distribution (California Child Pornography Law)

What else can be affected by inappropriate photos, posts, comments, or online bullying?

  • You can ruin or muddy your reputation.
  • People might not want to hire you because they think you're not professional or a good fit for the company.
  • You can get fired.
  • Your nudes can leak and it can be embarrassing for a long time.
  • Your angry or emotional posts or comments can be screenshotted and shared.
  • You can become a meme which can lead to out of control jokes or harassment.
  • You can get kicked out of school or lose scholarship opportunities for posting inappropriate things. 
  • People can take parts of your video and skew the truth. When it becomes viral, it will be difficult for you to defend yourself or share the truth.
  • It may ruin current and future relationships if certain parts of your life are displayed and people don't have context. 
Let me say it again: The internet is forever. 

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Online Footprint+

These tips can be useful for people of all ages, but I had young people in mind. There may be feelings or thoughts of invincibility and that our actions now don't have consequences, but they can and do. Please be mindful of your interactions online, especially if you want to have a career in certain industries when you're older. 

The difficult thing about being young and starting in the industry is thinking about how our actions will affect relationships with companies and colleagues in the future. The internet is forever. The things we post are forever. Take some time to figure out how you want to be seen by others, and how you want to be remembered.

1. Choose your words wisely

Even if you delete that angry tweet, snap, or comment, someone may have screenshotted it. Screenshots can be on the internet forever.

2. Stick with the facts

When we reply to others with strong opinions and accusations, it can lead to arguments where you or others attempt to damage one another’s reputations. Some people online go out of their way to message employers about unfavorable exchanges. This can risk your work as well as future prospects.

3. Be careful sharing images

Selfies are important. They are a part of the culture as well as a form of creativity and self expression. Companies have a brand to uphold. If and when your selfies don’t reflect the company culture, you may get fired or lose opportunities. Nudes, drunk outings, and reckless photos are inappropriate and difficult to undo.

4. Keep the politics out of your posts

Having our own personal beliefs and political views are important. It is a part of who you are. Some companies and potential referrals tend to stay neutral. To collaborate with these organizations and people, making sure your political posts are private can help. It can even be recommended to remove all politics from your posting.

5. Be professional

  1. Stay away from slander or gossip. Even if it’s true, these behaviors are paired with how people first see you. Again, a company prefers to hire someone who promotes community, not gossip.

  2. Sick days: If you are sick, posting images of your vacation sends a message that you are not reliable, and lack integrity. Be mindful of how you’re using your time away from school or work!

6. Instagram can ruin your reputation

Companies, recruiters, and referrals can search your likes, comments, and Instagram history to get a feel for your personality. If they find unfavorable posts or images, even from years ago, it can cost you a dream job.

7. Look back on past history

Go back through your old posts, likes, and images. Delete what you don’t want to be known for in the professional world. It can be tiresome and repetitive to do this, but think about your future and the work you’ve put in to your career. It is worth curating your old posts to be successful, and to be seen as a competent professional. If you get sentimental about older posts and images, save them on your computer.

8. Tag you’re it!!!! Don’t be tagged!

Untag yourself from posts that could be misinterpreted by companies. It’s more difficult now since technology can automatically tag your face in images online, so take time to ask friends not to post inappropriate images of you in the first place. It’s okay to ask them not to tag you in certain types of posts as well.

9.  If you’re not sure what to delete…

Look at social media of people you admire, as well as peers who are successful in the industry. See how they present themselves and think of how you can do the same.

10. Shut down all of your social media and start new!

If your history is too much to sort through, you have the luxury of time to delete your accounts now and start over. It can be a fresh start to figure out how you want to present yourself online and to the world. Your past will not define you or your future success.

Additional Tips on Social Media

  • Say NO to drunk posting.
    • Have a friend hold your phone or plan ahead.
  • Take a deep breath, count down 5 seconds before pressing send.
  • Just like IRL arguments, pause before posting or commenting. We say things we can’t take back when we’re emotional
  • Apologize for making mistakes, and move on.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to start with nothing than to filter through years of content. Starting over now will save you from losing that dream job because of an Instagram post.
  • Think about what you want to stand for as a professional and a brand NOW.
    • Which five words does your social media convey?
    • If these words don’t match your desired brand message, change something.
  • If you are unsure of posting something, ask a trusted friend to look it over. If you need to vent, call someone so it’s not permanently online.
 

5 Reasons Gamers Won't Share About Gaming

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I am an active participant in multiple FaceBook groups. Many topics are discussed where gaming and mental health are a primary interest of mine. There are stigmas and stereotypes related to different subcultures, and sometimes we may internalize them, or feel uncomfortable talking about being part of a culture with these greater messages implicitly affecting us.

I asked my FaceBook friends how they'd respond if someone (non-gamer) asked about video games. The responses were insightful. I remember wanting so badly to share my loves, sometimes my obsessions with a game, and yet I felt uncomfortable. I didn't want to share with someone who wasn't interested, and I didn't want to share too much. In relation to mental health, relationships, and therapy, here are some responses to why a gamer would not share about gaming.

1. Being seen as a child

Gaming is not accepted everywhere in the adult world, and it can be paired with being childlike. In order to separate oneself from these assumptions, a gamer may not respond when someone asks them about their interests. It might be admitting to being like a child, which can be embarrassing or shameful. The tone of the person asking may also indicate a bias they (may or may not) be aware of. 

Take note of your tone when speaking with a gamer. They might be able to pick up a subtle tone that appears mocking or condescending. If that is not the intention, please explore the possiblity of misinterpretations. 

2. They were made fun of for their interests in gaming

Our histories shape us and can permeate our present filters of the world, as well as our exchanges with others. If a gamer were bullied or made fun of for playing, it can make it difficult to share when someone genuinely wants to know. The past can appear very real and very present with many of us, so it can take time before a gamer can trust again to share their stories. 

Time and patience can help develop a stronger rapport. Maybe showing up and accepting a gamer, without the pressure to speak, can help prove that kindness is real, and that some people actually want to know about their worlds. Watching a gamer play can also be a nonverbal way of connecting and building trust.

3. Associating games with violence and the problems of the world

This is a common practice especially when a tragedy occurs. Instead of individual and contextual responsibility, an entire subculture gets blamed for the violence of others. To witness this repeated correlation of blame and the pairing of negative traits like high aggression and violence, gamers may not openly express their interests in gaming. To do so would indirectly acknowledge a possible inclination towards these negative traits.

Sharing about current events, and how studies can and do skew data can help strengthen the relationship. Focusing on the positive aspects of games can also show how you are an ally and curious about the culture. 

4. No one wanted to listen before, so they question whether anyone wants to listen now.

Growing up, some of us may have a more difficult time connecting with and making friends who share similar interests. This difficulty, whether it was in the home or at school, can lead to a lack of practice sharing about one's interests. So when we do find someone who wants to listen or knows about stuff you like, you might not believe it. Instead of sharing, a gamer could deny that someone is expressing genuine interest and stop themselves from connecting. 

Be present with the gamer. Having to enjoy your hobbies, interests, and play with online friends or away from IRL people can make it a slow adjustment to believe someone, a non-gamer (even another gamer), wants to hear about their life and stories. 

5. They've scared people away when sharing "too much"

Considering how a gamer might not have a steady flow of interactions with others IRL where they can share their interests, it can come out in bursts when they do find someone who wants to understand and listen. Perhaps this burst of sharing is overwhelming and the opportunity to share again is no longer present, or the gamer is self-conscious about how they shared too much the first time.

Self-compassion. It's important to slowly honor our quirks and how unique our experiences are. A gamer may not always have access to community or opportunities to share, *really* share about their gaming. Not everyone wants to know, or they can't keep up with all the terminology. It can be discouraging. Checking in with being overwhelmed with information can help pause or spread the dialogue over time. This can give each person a chance to digest new information and know that a future conversation is possible, so it does not have to be shared at once. It's okay to review another time, or clarify what you didn't cover the next time you meet.

 

 

Sharon Chan MFT, Therapist for Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

Hi Sharon, thank you so much for letting me interview you. It’s wonderful to know there is support for highly sensitive people in the Orange County, CA area. I hope this can help spread awareness, as well as let people know their unique circumstances are real, and that there are people who understand or want to understand.

 

Sharon Chan MFT

What does it mean to be a highly sensitive person (HSP)? Are there different ways of being highly sensitive?

According to Elaine Aron-Research Psychologist- and her book, “The Highly Sensitive Person”(2006), she describes that the HSP trait is identified in about 15-20% of the population. Aron goes on to describe the trait as an innate, personality trait that it is NOT a disorder. The trademark trait of the HSP is that they take in a lot of information from their environment. Aron describes this as depth processing. An HSP will take in information which can include: sounds, smells, visuals, emotions, touch, etc at a more in-depth level than a non-HSP.

Another trait that has been noted of the HSP is empathy or stronger emotional reactivity to others emotions and moods. The mirror neurons in an HSP is found to be more active and so they may “feel” another’s emotional state more acutely, quickly, and absorb more than a non-HSP. Another key trait is overstimulation for the HSP. Understandably so if an HSP is taking in their environment in depth, they are probably more prone to be overstimulated more quickly and more frequently than a non-HSP.

How can being highly sensitive affect individuals in their daily lives?

Being HSP can have its rewards and challenges. I like to describe it as a blessing and a curse or a double-edged sword. As Aron describes in her book the HSP can be very attuned to their environment and process things deeply and elaborately. This can be a beautiful gift and a place of richness and connection for the HSP and those that connect to the HSP. Many HSPs go into the helping profession and usually this can be a benefit to those around the HSP because the HSP is known to pick up on other’s needs quickly. Yet, the challenge is because of the overstimulation that a HSP faces on a daily occurance, this could mean faster burn out and needing more time and space for refueling their own energy and resources.

How is therapy with a HSP different? What can you offer a sensitive person that other therapists might not be able to?

I think each client will need need a different type of therapist which can also vary from season to season. There are things I can not provide that another therapist might be able to.  I like to think that my HSP trait allows me the capacity to connect with other people’s experiences on a deep level. In my approach, I put a lot of effort into really listening to where the client is coming from, their inner world, their experiences, and what makes them who they are. Many of my clients have voiced to me that they feel safe and have gained a space to find and develop their voice. I like to believe that my HSP trait has helped to shape that space for my clients.

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What is a favorite intervention that you find useful when feeling overwhelmed as a sensitive person?

Every person will be different. Each season will lend itself to different interventions, coping skills, and relaxation skills. I work with each individual to find their own oasis, and coping skills which include: grounding, visualization, breathing, and finding life-giving activities outside of session. Boundaries and self assertion are also an important part of protecting the HSP’s trait so that it can be nourished and operate at its optimal level.

Do you have a message or tips for HSP out there?

I want to let you know if you identify with being a HSP that you are not alone.  Being a HSP does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Being a HSP comes with beautiful gifts and a HSP has the capacity to experience life in so many colors. There is hope for the challenges that come with the HSP self and the challenges don’t have to define your entire journey. We can navigate it together.

What if my child or loved one is HSP and I am not? First off, I want to acknowledge that if you are asking this question, I can already see that you are trying to understand your HSP loved one. That step alone can mean a lot to the HSP and to your journey with them. Many people (parents, friends, family members, teachers) don’t know how to understand or guide the HSP because of the different behaviors and bigger emotional reactions. You are not alone in that. That doesn’t make you a bad ___________(parent, spouse,etc) or a less than person it just means that the HSP might need more or less of certain things than your typical person. Let’s learn how to support your loved one together.

Where are you practicing therapy and how can people contact you?

I am currently practicing in Orange County (Tustin) and Pasadena. I am currently on the listing of Knowledge of Highly Sensitive Therapists in Tustin. I also identify myself as highly sensitive person/therapist.

http://hsperson.com/therapists/seeking-an-hsp-knowledgeable-therapist/california-southern/

          You can contact me a 626-656-3158 or sharonchanlmft@gmail.com.
          Please visit my website at https://www.sharonchanlmft.com/ .