Kitchen Therapy


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How Do I Find My Meaning and Purpose In Life

I’ve always admired people who know what they want out of life and set out to achieve it. You know the ones, they knew what they wanted from the minute they were born and never wavered or questioned on their path in life.

I’m not one of these folks.

I’ve always wished I was, but I realise I’m not and never have been. I am more like…  Dory, from Finding Nemo. Remember her? The likable, yet frustrating blue fish who would change her mind mid-sentence and struggled to finishing a thought because half way through that thought another bigger, better, brighter thought had come along!

I’ve tried to be like those other folks. I can easily immerse myself in a project. The problem is, part way into the project, something else catches my eye and I go off on a tangent. That tangent leads to more tangents and before I know it I am so far off the mark I’ve totally lost track of what I was doing in the first place.
By the time I get back to my original topic, I’ve completely forgotten what I’ve done and need to start again. So as you can see, I tend to rediscover the wheel again and again (or more appropriately, I discover the same bit of the wheel again and again) and hardly any progress is ever made!

On the up side, I help those around me build patience and tolerance (whether they like it or not)!

Now, while my Dory-esque nature has strengths, I can’t ignore that my flaky side needs reigning in!
So… I have spent some time looking at ways to sustain interest and motivation. Ways to build persistence and consistency so goals are pursued and achieved. It’s been an interesting couple of months.

Here’s what I have learnt…

As a society we are very much focused on goals. Getting to university, getting married, finding a job, buying a house, keeping it spotless, having children, keeping them spotless, buying a bigger house, a boat, a new car and so on. The problem is that when we get these things, they don’t seem to be enough (that’s if we can even sustain the interest and motivation to do what it takes to get them!)

When we equate success with goals, we live in the future, we think when we reach that goal we can finally feel happy and content!

What if we were to take a step back and begin by clarifying what gives our lives meaning and purpose AND THEN use this information to guide us?

Consider how life would be if we decided that success meant living by our values? Living in a way that is meaningful to us each and every day. If we knew what was important to us in life, what we stood for and how we wanted to behave, a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment would be instantly available to us. Our values, our sense of meaning and purpose in life is available to us right now. At any moment we can choose to act in line with our values and when we do, we feel empowered.

Our values inspire us, motivate us and guide our actions. When we use our values to set goals, we are then doing what matters most to us. We are not waiting to reach that goal so we can finally be happy, we live every day feeling satisfied and content because each day we are doing what is important to us.

Our values are available to us right now.
They show us who we are and what is important us.
And most importantly, our values do not need to be justified to anyone. This last point I struggled with for a while, I thought my values had to be worthy as judged by some outside force. I was always drawn to values such as fun, playful, free and easy-going. This is what I wanted to be in life, but then I’d look at words like conscientious, congruent, hard-working and felt embarrassed that my values in life were so… fluffy. I now own my values in life and I realise that when I am living by my values, I work my butt off and I am the best me I can be.

I’ve made a list of values below as a starting point, have a look and see if any jump out to you.
Some words actually make me feel like I’m choking, while others resonate deep within me and make me feel happy, alive and joyful.

If you get stuck, here are some of my favourite exercises…

Who are your role models?
Who inspires you?
What strengths and qualities do they have that you admire?

Imagine your 80th birthday party. When it’s time for family and friends to toast you and make a speech about you and your life, what would you like to hear them say about you?

Imagine you are looking over your own funeral, see who is there and listen to what they are saying about you and how you will be remembered. If you lived your life as your are now, what would they say about you?
What would you like them to say about you?
What does that reveal to you about the person you want to be?

What words would you like written about you on your tombstone, just a few words that would capture the essence of who you were and how you lived your life?

Values are our heart’s deepest desires, they give us direction in life and by staying in touch with our values we make our brief time on Earth meaningful!

Let your values shape your goals and your life.

LIST OF VALUES
1.  Adventurous
2.  Affectionate
3.  Authentic
4.  Blissful
5.  Brave
6.  Bold
7.  Calm
8.  Careful
9.  Compassionate
10. Confident
11. Courageous
12. Creative
13. Curious
14. Daring
15. Decisive
16.  Determined
17. Dynamic
18. Elegant
19. Empathic
20. Energetic
21. Enthusiastic
22. Fair
23. Faithful
24. Fearless
25. Flexible
26. Focused
27. Free
28. Fun
29. Generous
30. Giving
31. Gracious
32. Grateful
33. Healthy
34. Helpful
35. Honest
36. Humor
37. Imaginative
38. Industrious
39. Inquisitive
40. Intuitive
41. Joyful
42. Kind
43. Leader
44. Learning
45. Lively
46. Loving
47. Loyal
48. Mature
49. Mindful
50. Mysterious
51. Modest
52. Neat
53. Open-minded
54. Optimistic
55. Organised
56. Original
57. Passionate
58. Persistent
59. Philanthropist
60. Playful
61. Pleasure
62. Powerful
63. Present
64. Proactive
65. Reasonable
66. Refined
67. Relaxed
68. Reliable
69. Resilient
70. Resourceful
71. Respectful
72. Self-control
73. Sensual
74. Service
75. Silly
76. Sincere
77. Spiritual
78. Strong
79. Thankful
80. Thoughtful
81. Thorough
82. Tidy
83. Tranquil
84. Trust
85. Truth
86. Understanding
87. Unique
88. Vision
89. Virtue
90. Vitality
91. Vivacious
92. Warm
93. Wise
94. Witty
95. Wonder
96. Youthful
97. Zeal

 


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Beggar’s Linguine

A basic skill every therapist learns early in their career is how to “roll with resistance” that client’s put up when touching on issues they may not want to deal with.

This week I used every trick in the bag to deal with the resistance I felt towards this recipe!

From simple reflection, “So you don’t think you’d like to try this recipe.”

To double-sided reflection, “I can see that you’re not wanting to do this recipe but you’re not willing to give up either.”

From reframing, “So this is an exciting opportunity to try something you would never have tried before!”

To agreeing with a twist, “Yes, trying this recipe will be a waste of time because you know they won’t like it, but they will be excited about trying something authentically ‘French’!”

You get the gist…

I actually decided early in the week I wouldn’t even bother with this one. It was just too weird and I would skip it!
I mean, it’s not like it’s compulsory or any thing… right…?

But, (sighing), I knew the key thing to resistance is to not provoke it and to steer its energy towards creating positive change! So…

As I boiled the pasta…I rolled with the resistance…

As I chopped the walnuts (we are allergic to all other nuts!), figs and raisins… I rolled with the resistance…

But them something interesting happened…
As the butter boiled and bubbled and the colour intensified and changed…
I felt the resistance… melting…

At the last minute, I decided to add only half the pasta to the buttery sauce. The whole packet felt too much.
I fried up the left over pasta with some eggs.

By this point, all my resistance was gone and I felt great!
I had completed this week’s recipe and made a last minute switch that I knew the kids would like and eat!

As the resistance eased, I could feel my energy return and myself open to new possibilities!

I started to feel excited by the flavours in front of me…

I eagerly bit into the linguine and… I liked it!
I couldn’t eat too much as it was far too rich and buttery! But the taste was good.
My husband on the other hand felt a bit disturbed with the combination. He said it tasted like muesli and called it “breakfast” food!
The kids took a few bites each and said it was ok, but they couldn’t eat much more than that either.

(I felt incredibly satisfied! I “rolled” with my resistance and instead of getting stuck, I opened my self to new experiences and possibilities. And that felt fantastic!)

If you’re interested in trying this recipe for yourself, and see where it takes you, you can go straight to Dorie’s website and view the full recipe here.

To get a great cross-section of views on this recipe I encourage you to click here and see what other’s who participated in this week’s French Fridays with Dorie thought!

 

 

 


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Counselling 101 – Skills we should be taught at school!

 Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling

As a psychologist I get to witness  the power of words first hand. I see the effects of words that evoke fear, powerlessness and helplessness. I also see the flip side to this, words that empower, motivate and create joy, love and happiness.

Understanding and fully appreciating the power of words has been one of the most amazing things about my line of work. People are able to shift from depression, anxiety and fear to a state of peace and happiness through words.

The words we use to describe what we experience will in turn become our experience.

If one of my children is feeling sad, angry, happy, or playing victim I ask them what they are thinking. I can guarantee you the response is usually “I don’t know” followed by a scowl!
And it’s true, they have no idea what thoughts lead them to this emotion. They just know they feel good or bad!
And same goes for any of us, we don’t really pay attention to the constant chatter in our minds. But it’s there and it’s creating our reality!

As a psychologist, I have come to the conclusion that this is one of the most important lessons I need to teach my children.
To build in them the awareness and understanding that they are not victims to random emotions that take over their bodies.

(I know I am referring to children here however this is something most of us as adults have never really been taught. I passionately believe that this is crucial information about living that all kids need to be taught in school so they have the resources to become functional and contributing adults. Unfortunately it isn’t taught in school and it is what I teach my adult clients. Imagine how far we would all be if we were given this information at a young age?)

Most of us don’t really pay attention to what we are thinking, but we are pretty aware of how we are feeling at any given moment. So start with your emotions. Ask yourself  how you feel which also helps to build emotional awareness and identify and verbalise feelings better. 
Once you establish how you feel, take a step back and try to identify what you were thinking and as I said, people find it very difficult to pin down their thoughts. So take it slowly. How you feel and how you behave is determined by what thoughts are going around in your head. So if you’re feeling sad, you’ve been thinking sad thoughts and you may be crying or isolating yourself. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you’ve probably been telling yourself that something is not fair and you may be sulking or stomping around! If you’re feeling happy, you’ve been having happy thoughts and your behaviour may be to whistle, play or be easy-going.

Your thoughts will determine how you feel and act. 
You cannot have happy thoughts and feel angry.
You cannot have angry thoughts and feel happy.
If you are thinking happy thoughts, you will be feeling happy and acting happy.
If you are thinking angry thoughts you will feel angry and act angry.
And so on…

 It sounds incredibly simple and yet it is one of the hardest things to master!
Choosing your thoughts and ultimately choosing the life you have.

Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments you have!