Values

“He Who Has a Why to Live For Can Bear Almost Any How.”

∼Friedrich Nietzsche

Values can play a major role in supporting our well-being and promoting our resilience. What comes to mind when you ask yourself about your personal values?  

It is not uncommon for people to struggle when asked to identify values. However, taking time to identify and think through our core values can have a significant impact on our mindset and decision-making as well as our sense of purpose and meaning as we navigate the ups and downs of everyday life. 

Values are basic beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes and actions. They can describe personal qualities we would like to embody as well as the way we approach tasks and treat others. Essentially, values involve our subjective sense of the right way for us to live. 

Values can play an important role in major life decisions as well as small momentary decisions and behaviors. In fact, living according to our values in small ways is often the most impactful way for us to come to embody our values more fully and begin to experience a greater sense of purpose and meaning.

Living into your values starts by identifying your values. Reviewing a values inventory online is a helpful way to start. Several examples include values such as acceptance, achievement, authenticity, creativity, career, curiosity, faith, family, forgiveness, friendship, generosity, gratitude, growth, humor, integrity, justice, kindness, knowledge, leisure, moderation, parenting, patience, self-care, self-expression, service, spirituality, thrift, understanding, usefulness, and wisdom.

You can also ask yourself the following questions:

What motivates you?

What makes you smile?

What makes you feel good about yourself?

What most impacts how you live you life?

What three things could you not live without?

What advice would you give to others?

What character traits do you view as most important?

What would you like others to remember about you?

What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?

Who do you aspire to be like and why?

Take a few moments to write down at least three values that resonate with you. Next, take a few moments to write down tangible examples of how you might live into your values or the goals related to your values. If you selected friendship, you might use an example of reaching out to one friend each week to live into this value. If you selected self-expression, you might set aside time each week to write, create art, play music, or work on some other type of creative project. If you selected patience, you might set a goal to consciously slow yourself down and practice patience when stuck in a long line or while calming an upset child. Lastly, if you selected generosity, you might find a few concrete ways of being generous with your time, skills, or other resources. 

In addition to tangible examples, living into your values can also be thought of as an active practice for generating and connecting with meaning and purpose in your life. As a practice, you might select two or three of the values you identified and remind yourself of these values throughout the day. Some people find it helpful to place notecards around their home or in their closet. When you are faced with a challenge, you can remind yourself of the opportunity to live into your values. You can also incorporate your values into your meditation practice by restating your core values to yourself and imagining yourself living in ways that align with your values.  

It can be easy to get lost as we strive to keep up with the demands of daily life. Sometimes it is easy to forget why we do the things we do each day. In some cases, we may even feel lost and confused about decisions we made and the way our life has been unfolding. We may ask, “what is the point of this?  

In many cases, identifying, connecting, and intentionally living into your values can provide some answers to these questions. As we live into our values, we are likely to experience greater clarity around the decisions we make and the way we approach our daily life as we connect to an underlying sense of meaning and purpose that is essential to our well-being. 

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

Decatastrophizing: A Simple Cognitive Reframing Skill to Reduce Anxiety

When faced with a difficult or unknown situation, do you tend to focus on the worst-case scenario? Sometimes the way we view situations or challenges impacts how much anxiety or stress we experience even before the situation occurs. This is the case with catastrophizing. However, when we become more aware of our thoughts regarding perceived difficulties, we can find space to examine our thoughts more closely and gain perspective. Ultimately, this can allow for us to step outside of our automatic thoughts, consider alternatives, and reduce our anxiety and stress.  

The first step to reframing involves noticing and labeling our thoughts. Look to identify your automatic thought patterns or cognitive distortions. One common cognitive distortion involves overestimating disaster or catastrophizing. When we find ourselves swept up in the thought pattern of catastrophizing we often unknowing perpetuate further anxiety and stress by anticipating a negative outcome. 

Once we notice our thoughts and label our thought pattern as catastrophizing, we can question our assumptions and gain perspective. You might try asking yourself these questions:     

What am I worried about? 

Do I know for certain that ______ will occur?

What evidence is there for this fear or belief?

What has happened in similar past experiences?  

Could there be any alternatives? 

Is my prediction driven by my emotions?  

What is the worse that could happen?

How have I handled negative outcomes in the past?  

What is the bigger picture?

How much will this matter in a day, a week, or a month?

Often, slowing down enough to notice an automatic thoughts pattern is enough to begin reducing anxiety. As we notice these thoughts we can disengage from autopilot and begin to focus on the bigger picture. We can also remind ourselves of our capacity to handle challenges and refocus on being present in the here-and-now.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

Understanding Unhealthy Behaviors

Do you ever find yourself engaging in activities or behaviors that you later regret? Do you act impulsively at times? Do you find yourself wondering why you continue to do similar things, despite your desire to behave differently? Most people would likely be able to find at least some examples of such behaviors.

It is common for people to become judgmental and view themselves as weak for eating a second dessert, falling into an online spending hole, or drinking more glasses of wine than initially planned. In fact, society often places the blame on a lack of willpower, reinforcing the idea of being mentally or even morally weak. Yet, we can better understand why we might engage in these behaviors by better understanding our underlying psychology.

It is helpful to start by understanding how emotions influence our behaviors.  Emotions are essential and important to our functioning as human beings as they provide important information and motivate us act. However, sometimes our emotions can lead to behavior that gets us into trouble. The examples described above can be understood as emotion-driven behaviors or actions motivated by our emotions and drives. This is often the case with impulsive behaviors as we experience emotions that fuel an urge to act.  

It is also important to understand how our underlying needs influence our emotions and drive our behavior. We all have a range of needs starting with basic physiological needs, safety, and security as well as higher-level needs for love, acceptance, respect, personal agency, and self-esteem. When our needs are not being met or when our needs are negated by others, we can experience emotions that leave us feeling disrespected, worthless, or helpless.  

In these cases, behaviors result from an attempt to compensate or manage the underlying emotions connected to unmet or negated needs. Therefore, we can experience an urge to act to reclaim a sense of being empowered or regain control and feel better. When we feel limited in how we might manage these feelings or when certain actions that would ultimately resolve our distress are seen or experienced (consciously or unconsciously) as threatening or impossible, our energy gets directed elsewhere or displaced via the defense mechanism of displacement. This sometimes results in unhealthy behaviors or patterns of behavior that can become problematic to our long-term health and relationships. It can also be damaging to our self-esteem, which is often repeatedly bruised by our judgements and self-criticism for being weak or lacking willpower.  

Through this lens we can see how it is reasonable that you might have those extra glasses of wine to cope with how you feel or regain a sense of control and agency when it seems like you are faced with limited or impossible options. We can apply these basic principles to our lives to better understand how this pattern may apply to our behaviors.    

First, it is important to understand how these principles apply to your unique patterns of triggering events and unhealthy or unwanted behaviors as well as your unique personality. In order to better understand this, it is important to play close attention to your thoughts and feelings leading up to a decision to act in an unhealthy way or reflect on these behaviors afterword. Here are several questions you might ask yourself when you reflect on your triggering events, emotion-driven behaviors, and psychological needs. 

Reflection Questions

What specifically was the trigger? Exactly when did you decide to act on your urge?

In the moment when you felt triggered, what were you thinking to yourself?

How did you feel? (helpless, angry, disrespected, sad, ignored, vulnerable)

What needs were being negated or going unmet?

Where was your energy directed via displacement?

What healthy behaviors or coping strategies could help you feel more empowered and reduce your distress?

As you practice answering these questions you may also begin to raise your awareness in the moment when you are triggered. Next time you feel triggered in a similar circumstance, acknowledge the urges to behave in particular ways without necessarily acting on them. Over time, observing emotions without judgment creates a space between the urge to do something regrettable and acting on it. This gap provides an opportunity to begin to create new alternative coping strategies or choose different options.

In the end, understanding that our choices and behaviors go beyond willpower or morality is an important step in developing self-compassion as well as greater curiosity about ourselves. As we begin to understand the nuanced ways our behaviors are influenced by our unique psychology as well as our experiences of others and the world around us, we can begin to find alternative ways of coping and feel more empowered in the choices we make.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive a free weekly blog to your inbox

Your Faculty of Mindfulness

Whether you realize it or not, you already have mindfulness. Just as we have other mental faculties, we can view mindfulness as a mental faculty, or an inherent mental power within us all. As such, mindfulness can be developed through training and practice. Although this takes effort, the good news is that everyone can access, practice, and apply mindfulness in their daily lives. In fact, you can start right now.   

Notice that you are reading a blog about mindfulness. What are thoughts about this? Notice if you feel rushed or anxious, tired, or calm. Notice how your breath has been effortlessly coming and going. Pay attention for a moment to your breathing. Notice how your body feels as you sit and read.    

Below are several foundations of mindfulness. Each foundation includes a short (1 minute) practice exercise where you can begin to practice growing your mindfulness today.

Foundations of Mindfulness

Mindfulness of the body (i.e., somatic experiences).

Practice: Bring your awareness to your body. Notice the air around you and your clothes touching your skin. Notice your posture, facial expression, and placement of your hands. Notice your body breathing and how your body responds to each breath in and each breath out. Notice any other sensations throughout your body. Connect and sustain your attention for a few moments with an area of your body that most draws your attention.  

Mindfulness of feeling tone (i.e., the primary appraisal of experience as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral).

Practice: Notice the sensory experiences in the current moment. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, or tastes. Notice the feeling tone of each experience and notice if it is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Repeat in your mind, “I see _____and it has a _____ tone,” “I hear and it has a _____ tone,” or “I smell and it has a ______tone.”

Mindfulness of mental states and mood (i.e., the cognitive and affective realm of experience).

Practice: Focus your attention on your mind and the mood of this moment. Does it feel bright, restless, calm, spacious or contracted, anxious or at peace? Notice if your mood is impacting your body. Does your body feel heavy or light, weak or strong, tired or alert? Notice if your thoughts are influenced by your mood. Repeat to yourself, “I am experiencing a ________ mood and my body feels_______,” “How are my thoughts being influenced in this moment?” Rest your attention here on your mood, your body, and thoughts for a few moments. 

At its core, mindfulness involves the intentional deployment of our attention and awareness. We can literally practice this anywhere. In fact, that is one reason why mindfulness is such a useful coping strategy as we can tap into our awareness of the present moment whenever we feel overwhelmed or when we feel at ease and would like to connect more fully with a pleasant state.  

We all have the power to engage and practice expanding our inherent faculty of mindfulness. Take just a moment to practice today.      

Check out our new animated video on managing transitions:

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

Tidal Wave of Feelings

People often seek therapy to get support dealing with emotions, or more specifically, uncomfortable emotions, such as fear, anger, or sadness. It is not uncommon to want these emotions to be stopped, shut-off, or taken away. However, such a goal is ultimately impossible as emotions are an inherent part of human experience and play an important role in our overall functioning as they help us navigate the world. Although they are not always pleasant, we can learn to better recognize, understand, and manage our responses to emotions in healthy ways.  

Generally, emotions can be viewed as messengers or signals that encourage us to engage in various behaviors. Such behaviors are most often automatic and adaptive.  For example, fear is a basic response to danger and signals us to take action to protect ourselves or others. Similar things can be said about sadness as a natural response to an uncontrollable situation, loss, or disappointment. Sadness may signal us to withdrawal, regroup, and seek or elicit support.  

Although similar functions or signals can be described for all core emotions, it is often difficult to identify how our emotions can be useful or how we can interpret and react to our emotions in ways that are helpful. It is not uncommon to experience emotions as a tidal wave of feelings and sensations. However, we can break down this wave into three components, consisting of thoughts, behaviors, and physiological responses.  

Breaking our emotional waves down can be useful in helpful us understand, react, and manage our emotions more effectively. However, many of us have had limited education and experience understanding our emotions or practice managing and responding to difficult emotions. The good news is that we can always improve upon our emotional intelligence. Monitoring our emotions is a great place to start. Next time you feel a strong wave, take time to ask the following three questions:

 Key questions for monitoring emotions

What am I feeling? (What is the physiological response or sensation?)

What am I thinking?

What am I doing?

For example, you might find yourself feeling anxious, sad, agitated, and stressed when you call your partner and they sound upset. You might think they are unhappy or think “they are mad at me,” or “I’m not a good partner,” or “I’m a failure,” or “I will never be in a happy relationship.” The behavior might be to try and fix any perceived problems for your partner or work hard to clean up your apartment and make a nice dinner. Alternatively, you might find yourself ruminating about your role in the relationship or getting upset and pacing around endlessly.

You can take this a step further and practice monitoring what triggered your emotional experience, your response (physiological/ feelings, thoughts, behaviors), and finally the consequences, which might include things such as stress, arguments, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, self-blame or doubt.  

Emotional experiences evolve out of a process of interaction amongst thoughts, physical sensations or feelings, and behaviors, all of which impact the intensity, frequency, and duration of our emotional experience and play a role in developing symptoms or maladaptive coping behaviors. As you practice monitoring this process you can begin to make your emotional experiences more conscious and perhaps gain a better understanding of the ways your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors occur and interact. Increased awareness and understanding can allow for more freedom to observe this process, question our automatic thoughts, and alter our behaviors in ways that are more intentional and less driven by a tidal wave of emotion. In other words – we can learn to surf.    

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Check out our new animated video “Embracing Each Moment in Times of Transition” – https://youtu.be/GGR56AH-azo

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

Trusting Yourself

“If we fall, we don’t need self-recrimination or blame or anger – we need a reawakening of our intention and a willingness to re-commit, to be whole-hearted once again.” – Sharon Salzberg

Self-doubt is a mental preoccupation involving indecision, uncertainty, and lack of confidence. It can cause us to hesitate and become stuck reviewing past mistakes and worrying about repeating past failures. It can cause us to question our emotions, doubt our abilities, and even lose sight of who we are and what we value. Ultimately, self-doubt can lead us away from our goals and prevent us from coming to trust in our deepest experience.    

In contrast, self-trust is the experience and knowledge that we can take care of our needs and survive setbacks. It means that we can trust our feelings and listen to ourselves as we navigate a world of contradictory opinions and pressures to succeed. Self-trust grows stronger as we connect with our inherent worth and develop the knowledge that we will be kind to ourselves no matter what setbacks we face.

One way to promote self-trust is to work on developing greater self-compassion as this allows for us to look more openly at our experience without fear of self-criticism. Noticing your inner critic and working to change this voice is a useful place to start. We can recognize the ways we speak to ourselves and notice any thoughts that involve criticism or judgement. As we become more aware of this critical voice, we can begin to reshape it into a voice of self-compassion.

A second step involves practice living in the present. If we are constantly shifting to past mistakes or regrets, we will never be fully present to allow for self-trust to grow stronger. Likewise, if we are fearful of future suffering due to mistakes, we will likely be distracted from the present as we cycle through dreaded outcomes or uncertainties. We must remain present to connect with our feelings and listen more deeply to ourselves just as we would be present and listen to a best friend.   

Reference points for developing self-trust

Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and express them to others.

Practice being understanding toward yourself when you make a mistake. 

Follow your personal standards and ethics. 

Keep the commitments you make to yourself.

Make decisions and behave in ways that align with your personal values. 

Be aware and acknowledge when you need to care for yourself. 

Trust that you can survive mistakes.

Surround yourself with people who support you rather than cause you to doubt yourself or question your abilities.  

Become increasingly clear on what you want and pursue your goals. 

Stand up for yourself and your views.

Take time to do things just for yourself.  

Trusting ourselves and our experiences does not mean that we will be certain, or that we will be right, or even that we will not fail. At its core, trusting ourselves involves knowing that we will not give up on ourselves and that we are worthy of love despite our imperfections or past failures. When we can begin to listen more deeply to ourselves and act as our own trusted friend, we can resume our journey on a path that is uniquely our own with renewed confidence in ourselves and our actions.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive a free weekly blog to your inbox

Imposter Syndrome

“The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” –Albert Einstein

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.” –Denis Waitley

Have you ever felt like you were just pretending to be a capable adult? Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are good enough at your job? Maybe you have even questioned why you were hired in the first place? Perhaps it was all an accident? Have you ever worried that you will someday be discovered as some sort of imposter?   

If you have had these experiences, you are not alone. In fact, one study found that 7 out of 10 adults have experienced times when they have felt like an imposter. Despite ample evidence that we are successful, many of us hold false beliefs that we are not as capable or smart as other people think. This experience is commonly referred to as imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome has been defined as a psychological pattern in which an individual believes that their own accomplishments came about because of having been lucky or having manipulated other people’s impression of them, rather than through hard work or inherent ability.  

Additional signs that we might be experiencing imposter syndrome include dismissing compliments as social niceties, attributing success to luck or good fortune, and consistently feeling unprepared and undertrained. Likewise, if you find yourself minimizing positive feedback, distrusting others, overpreparing and avoiding tasks due to a fear of failure, you are likely being impacted by imposter syndrome.   

Some of us are more prone to experiencing imposter syndrome. Approximately 30 percent of high achieving individuals frequently experience imposter syndrome as well as those of us who struggle with perfectionism. In other words, those of us who experience a need to constantly perform at 100 percent are more likely to feel incompetent and anxious when performing below this peak level.

Personality and early childhood also play a role. Individuals with certain personality traits, such as those of us higher on the personality factor neuroticism (a tendency toward anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feeling) are more likely to experience imposter syndrome. Furthermore, early childhood experiences of intense parental and social pressure about academics or other related achievements can also drive imposter syndrome later in life.  

Lastly, it is important to recognize and acknowledge how minority status within our environment, whether related to gender or gender identity, race or ethnicity, ability status, or socio-economic background can contribute to imposter syndrome. In such cases, it is often important to reflect on the role you have in the environment or group and how you can act in ways that promote equity and inclusion.  

Tips for reducing Imposter Syndrome

Normalize the experience. Remember that up to 70% of adults experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.

Remind yourself that smart, high-achieving people often struggle with imposter syndrome. Actual imposters don’t tend to have these feelings.  

Avoid comparisons with others. Focus on evaluating your own achievements and growth instead of comparing them against the achievements of others.

Remember that we often learn and grow the most from making mistakes.  

Set realistic goals and recognize your accomplishments.  

Separate feelings from the facts. Just because you think certain things doesn’t mean they are true. 

Label your cognitive distortions and any negative self-talk that contributes to imposter syndrome.

Be aware of your need for external validation and work to develop less reliance on the approval of others. 

Set limits and avoid overworking or overpreparing.

When you do experience a setback, practice reacting in a healthier manner with self-compassion and understanding, rather than criticism and self-blame.  

Encourage yourself. 

Remind yourself that you know more than you think you do.

Remind yourself that you are far more than any single achievement or setback.

Remember nobody is perfect.  

Imposter syndrome is very common. Most of us likely experience or have experienced imposter syndrome at some point. It also commonly comes and goes as we experience varying degrees of success and failure or when we take on new roles and begin new jobs.  

Recognizing our own experiences of imposter syndrome can help liberate us from the paralyzing self-doubt and limiting dependance on external validation that can inhibit our sense of freedom, confidence, and well-being. Recognizing imposter syndrome in others can also allow for greater empathy, understanding, and opportunities to give support in ways that help us grow stronger as a community and as a society. 

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive a free weekly blog to your inbox

It’s Good to be Kind

According to her book description, it all began with a simple experiment designed to establish the relationship between high cholesterol and heart health in rabbits. The experiment found that kindness, in the form of nurturing post-doc who pet and spoke to the lab rabbits as she fed them, made the difference between a heart attack and a healthy heart. In her 2020 book, The Rabbit Effect, psychiatrist Dr. Kelli Harding explains how the rabbits were just the beginning of a much larger story. In fact, new research shows how kindness, along with love, friendship, and community can have a remarkable impact on our health and well-being. 

Kindness is sometimes overplayed in popular culture and perhaps dismissed as a simple social nicety as we admonish, “be kind to one another.” Yet, kindness is a well-researched ingredient for well-being. Acts of kindness help us to feel grateful, empathetic, and compassionate, while promoting a stronger sense of belonging and community feeling. 

Kindness has numerous benefits for our mental and physical health. Acts of kindness signal the brain to release serotonin and dopamine or “feel good neurotransmitters,” as well as endorphins, which in turn can decrease pain and better regulate our mood.  

Research has also shown that when an individual is kind to another, the brain’s reward center is activated, resulting in a “helper’s high.”  In this way, kindness can become self-reinforcing with one small act of kindness motivating further acts of kindness and inspiring those around us to act accordingly. In addition, acts of kindness have been shown to release oxytocin, or the “love hormone,” which increases self-esteem and promotes connection. 

However, before we can be kind to others, we must first be kind to ourselves. In today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world, we may find ourselves skipping meals, missing breaks, neglecting our sleep, and forgetting to take time away to have fun and relax. Yet, it is nearly impossible to care for others when we have little energy left ourselves or when our needs go unmet. Therefore, it is essential to begin by showing kindness to ourselves and take time to reflect on how our own needs are being met.

Ideas for Practicing Kindness

Learn your partner’s “love language,” and then use it.

Compliment a friend or coworker.

Notice someone who seems lonely and invite them to join you.

Let someone who wants to help you, help.

Pick up trash.

Surprise someone with a small gift.

Take a half day off or give your staff a half day off.

Send a loved one a letter instead of a text.

Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Engage in active listening and refrain from giving advice.

Donate to a homeless shelter or volunteer your time at a charity.

Tell others when they are appreciated.

Take cookies to your office.

Help a neighbor with groceries.

Leave a generous tip.

Help others with small chores. 

Hold a door for someone.

Let someone into your lane while driving. 

Pay for the order behind you in the drive thru.

Take a neighbor’s garbage bins to or from the curb.

Share silence with someone.

Why is kindness even more important today? Well, many of us may struggle with our own fears and anxiety as we transition back to a post-pandemic lifestyle. Practicing kindness towards others allows for us to focus our attention outside of ourselves, thinking of others rather than ruminating on our fears or becoming overwhelmed by inner discomfort. 

Ultimately, practicing kindness during this time of transition can be an effective way to help ourselves and others as we promote community feeling and connection. In the end, kindness is an essential concept for maintaining personal health and wellbeing as well as the health and wellbeing of our communities.   

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

“How Does This Work?” Post-Pandemic Social Readjustment

As the total number of Americans with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine closes in on 50% and the CDC loosens restrictions, we are faced with unique challenges around social reengagement.

In many ways, vaccinations and reopening is a cause for excitement and new hope for life returning to normal. However, you are not alone if you are feeling anxious about returning to a world with normal levels of in-person social interactions. According to a recent poll conducted in March by the American Psychological Association, at least half of all respondents indicated they feel uneasy about readjusting to in-person interaction.    

Returning to life as we knew it before the pandemic presents many challenges. For over a year we have worked to adjust to an entirely new lifestyle. Readjusting back from such a dramatic change is no easy task. 

We have also moved into a digital world and away from the long-standing social and cultural norms that have guided our interactions for decades. When we have been around other people, we have faced the challenge of engaging with covered faces and social distance. Indeed, wearing a mask and social distancing emerged as a necessary means of remaining safe from a potentially deadly threat. The threat was a virus, but the virus was spread through contact with other people. Others became an existential threat to our existence. 

Tips for social readjustment

There are several helpful things to keep in mind as we move forward. Foremost, increased anxiety about in-person social interaction is a normal and reasonable response to a remarkably scary and uncertain circumstance. This kind of reminder can be helpful as it allows us to normalize our reactions and respond with compassion towards ourselves and others, rather than judging ourselves or denying our feelings.  

Give voice to your experiences and speak openly when you are uncertain. We have never been here before. Therefore, it can be helpful to normalize uncertainty or awkwardness when interacting with others. Ask, “How are we going to approach this?” or “I’m not sure what we do here, what would make sense to you?” Not only does this help normalize the experience, but it also allows for collaboration and creates a shared experience by sending the message – we are in this together.  

Face your fears around social interaction when you feel reasonably safe. Given the role of avoidance in perpetuating anxiety, be mindful of unnecessary avoidance. Ask yourself if your discomfort is grounded in a real concern for your safety or if it is related more to the discomfort of adjusting back to social interactions.  

If you are concerned about being awkward, remember that social confidence is something you can develop and improve as you get more practice. Your first few social interactions are likely to be more awkward than your later interactions. Make a list of social interactions you anticipate over the next few months and start by practicing the easier or least intimidating scenarios. 

Over the past year we have been forced to attend to our social interactions in new ways, often with an overarching hypervigilance grounded in genuine fear. Despite the challenges ahead, there is good reason to believe that things will get easier with patience and compassion for yourself and your neighbors.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive our weekly blog to your inbox

Always Arriving: Embracing Each Moment in Times of Transition

Transitions are often filled with mixed emotions. Sometimes transitions are by choice, but many times we are not given a choice. People handle transitions and change in all kinds of ways.

Depending on the nature of the transition, you may feel anxious and experience self-doubt or feel angry and confused. In some cases, you may feel excited and look to celebrate the transition. In other cases, you may feel slightly numb or disconnected as you approach a transition and find yourself doing all kinds of things to distract yourself from dealing with the change that is about to occur. 

The stress we can experience during a time of transition is often linked to a flood of emotions and a strong underlying current of resistance. Most of us resist transitions and change because they involve moving into unfamiliar territory with unpredictable emotions. Change can be so difficult that many people perpetuate unhealthy behaviors or relationships because doing something differently is experienced (consciously or unconsciously) as more difficult than changing the status quo. 

One of the more helpful things you can do during a transition is to remain open to your feelings and allow yourself to experience whatever comes up for you.

Mindfulness is extremely beneficial during times of transition. Curiosity in particular can be helpful as it encourages us to stay open to the feelings, thoughts, and sensations that arise in any given moment and allow our understanding to unfold. Fear and uncertainty are difficult, but they can become more manageable as we notice the subtleties of our experience and open ourselves to the complexity that resides beyond the initial layer of anxiety and fear.  

In reality, we are always arriving. It might seem radical at first, but we are always in a state of transition and with each breath we transition to the next moment. If we take a step back and approach our lives as an ongoing experience of emergence, we might be less intimidated by change. Likewise, if we consider all of our emotions as reminders that we are truly alive, we might experience greater freedom and less of a need to fight against fear and uncertainty. With an attitude of acceptance and curiosity we can practice moving forward moment-by-moment.  From this moment to the next.  

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

Sign up below to receive a free weekly blog to your inbox