Your Presence Is Requested

Your presence is requested. Photo from Pixabay free images.

 

Your presence is requested. 

Actually, your presence is needed.

As one person recently stated, there are many situations you may find yourself which fall in the category of, “Things you can’t half-ass.” * Here are  a few examples of things you can’t half-ass:

  • skiing down a steep slope
  • baking a meringue pie
  • operating and steering a ship
  • learning a new dance step or choreography
  • practicing a new language
  • initiating a difficult conversation with someone you love
  • maintaining a good friendship

Truly, you can try any of these activities without putting in much effort. But if you do that, you should also prepare for potential disaster or unexpected results. Can a young person drive for the first time and move the car down the street with no training or driver’s education? Yes, of course! But that person might not have the same outcome as someone who prepared, practiced, or applied full presence to the activity. 

Even the simplest act of breathing in and out during meditation bears a different quality over time when practiced with one’s full attention and presence. If your mind is wandering the Universe, does it not take you away from the moment that is happening, right here, and right now?

For this final blog post for 2018, I invite you to bring your presence — as much as it is possible for you — to whatever you put your hand, or your words or your eyes, or your senses.

If the moment calls for you to listen, then listen. Stop talking. When it’s your turn to talk, reflect what you’ve heard, check in, and ask if you heard everything correctly. Create space for listening. Let the other person know you are listening on purpose.

If the moment calls for you to learn a new skill, throw all your attention into learning. Open yourself up to new ways of seeing, communicating, and processing the new skill. Try the new skill out to see if you learned it.

If the moment calls for you talk to someone and the subject matter is a difficult one, bring your presence, check your defensiveness or aggression, ask for permission to speak candidly, and honor the courage  it takes in both parties to come together and talk.

Whatever the situation, resist the urge to half-ass it. And if you’re wondering if you can tell if you are about to half-ass something,  take a moment to consider if you’ve taken time to be curious, ask questions, to reasonably prepare yourself, or to pay attention. If you find yourself just wanting to “get it over with”, chances are, you are about to half-ass it. The results might not be so bad, and then congratulations, you got away with it, you saved yourself some time and stress, and there was no loss, right?

Or, you could be horribly wrong. What if most of your life feels like a series of moments where you are just getting by, just getting away with the bare minimum of your attention, and events feel lifeless? Or, what if you spend so much time trying to get everything “right” to the point that you cannot be present with what you are experiencing?

Your presence is requested.

Actually, your presence is needed. 

Let’s begin with NOW.  Who needs to wait until New Year’s Day?

__________

*  I use cheeky or strong language when needed, as words such as bad ass, dumb ass,  and smart ass have become part of accepted pop culture.  However, I did want to point out to readers and future readers of this blog that swearing happens, inside and outside of the virtual therapy session.

Tips for Handling Stress

Stress | Stress Reduction | Psychology 

Life got you stressed out? This post is a non-comprehensive tip list of a few things you can do to reduce stress besides zoning out on your couch in front of the television. Photo by Pixabay, free for commercial use.

Stressed out?

It’s not even the “triad” of holidays (Thanksgiving Day, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza, or New Year’s Day), and the signs of stress already abound. Twitter has turned into a squawking citizen’s megaphone, a way to complain to the faceless masses out there on the Internets about a personal offense, poor customer service, or social injustice, all at equal volume.

Social Media feeds are exploding and imploding, with some taking to their feeds to tell their friends and family that they are overwhelmed, discouraged, or angry, while others slink away quietly, all but shuttering their accounts.

While therapists are not advice givers, I thought that it might be helpful to share just a few stress-reducing behaviors that can help you if you’re feeling frazzled and exhausted.

Continue reading “Tips for Handling Stress”

Sexual Assault in Focus

Note: this post  addresses the nature of sexual assault. There are no pictures or graphics included.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are in focus as national news of the Kavanaugh-Ford  hearing and supreme court nomination delay hit Friday September 28 2018.

In the week leading up to the emotional testimony of both parties and the initial conclusions of the senators present, the number of calls to the National Sexual Assault hotline spiked somewhere between 147% and 201%. Two women were captured on video cameras confronting Senator Jeff Flake, sharing their own stories of sexual assault, as he made his way back to the hearing room.

As a mental health counselor who sees clients who frequently report sexual assault, abuse, and harassment during their therapy sessions, let me emphatically underline this statement. My treatment process for victims of sexual assault are a non-partisan, non-political process. Sexual assault happens to men, women, and children globally, not just in America;  it’s is a human rights issue without national boundary. However, it’s unconscionable to say nothing out of fear it will be misinterpreted as national political bias.

I have written this short post without links to any news media in order to make my point clearer. This is a post about sexual assault, not about opinion or politics.

Sexual assault is a human problem, not just a politicized one.  However, to respond humanely to the problem, action must travel through our political system, and currently, the American political system is a wretched mess.

Sexual assault  is also complex to define in legal terms and interpretations, and it’s that complexity that has many people arguing at what it is and isn’t, even in court.  At bare minimum, sexual assault involves sexual contact or behavior that occurs without affirmative consent. While that may sound cut-and-dry to some, others find that baffling enough to ask whether a particular incident constitutes sexual assault.

The following story and details have been changed to provide anonymity. I remember talking to a friend on the phone as she made her way down a busy street. All of sudden she screamed, and I found myself shouting, “Are you alright? Do you need me to call the police? What’s happening?” She promptly told me she was OK, and that a man had walked up to her and violently touched her body and then ran away.  When I urged her to call the police to report it, she laughed me off and assured me that she didn’t want to take any action, saying that this kind of behavior happened to her all her life.

Based on what happened to this friend, she had, by definition, been sexually assaulted in broad daylight. Her choice to interpret what happened as something to brush off because it happened so frequently without any consequences reminds me that there are millions of people who have been victims of sexual assault and violence, many of whom never come forward even in the case of rape and other forms of bodily harm. Many think that they won’t be believed, or that they will be harmed and ridiculed for coming forward.

In my day-to-day practice, it isn’t my process to talk about politics. Clients may bring up a political subject at their own discretion, but as a therapist, I do not lead with any subject of my own. It is, however, part of my practice to welcome and invite anyone who wishes to talk about sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, to listen empathetically, to believe the victim, and to discuss pathways for action, for healing, and for hope.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault or think you have been the victim of sexual assault and are not sure, I urge you to seek help.

Call 1-800-656-4673
Available 24 hours everyday
This is a free and confidential service.
2.  Seek follow up therapy.
You can find a qualified therapist in  your area to talk to about what happened and what you can do in the wake of a sexual assault, or about a past incident of sexual assault.
3. Talk to a trusted friend who will listen. 
A trusted friend can help support you and provide needed care in the wake of an assault. A friend can also accompany you if/when you seek medical treatment and contact the police for your statement. In the midst of fear and trauma, having a friend to rely on is essential.

4. You don’t have to struggle alone.

Due in part to the #metoo movement and other emerging stories of sexual harassment, there are more options available to gather with others  who have experienced similar events. Whether sexual assault and abuse happened to you as a choir boy in the church or in privacy of a consensual moment that turned into a non-consensual one, there are organizations that host groups for the victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse who meet in nearly every city across America.


Post-Script: I could write an entire chapter or two on the topic of shame and its place in stifling memory, confession, and heightening or diminishing emotional display, but then I digress.

At Seattle Direct Counseling, we have a simple motto: we’re here to help.