The Code: Cracked

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. – Pema Chodron For me, this quote is WISDOM. All capital letters. It is one of the foundational life Truths that I think everyone needs to know. It is something I still

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Choosing Focus to Impact Your Experience

In Don’t Believe Everything You Think, I talk about the idea that although you can’t control which thoughts enter your mind, you can choose which ones you focus on. Today I’m expanding on that: although you can’t control what happens in every moment of your life, you can choose what you focus on about each moment. This is perhaps the foundation for living life intentionally – being deliberate about your focus. It doesn’t always seem like it, but there are a multitude of ways to approach every moment, every situation, and every experience. It just depends on what you focus

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Stay Out of Other People’s Heads!

Some of us spend A LOT of time in other people’s heads, trying to figure out what the other person “really” thinks of us. Do they like us? Are they attracted to us? Do they think we’re smart? Do they think we’re annoying? We analyze their words, looks, intonation, and body language as clues to their thoughts about us. Sometimes the information in their heads about us feels so necessary for us to have that we spend more time in their heads, mind-guessing, than we do in ours, living intentionally. It’s natural to wonder what others think of us, but

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A Word about Worrying: Preparation

Worry: to allow one’s mind to dwell on potential future difficulty or troubles (i.e., pain). There are many ways to worry and many kinds of worriers. Today I’m addressing my people: the mental preparers. We are a vigilant and a disciplined people. We have decided that mental preparation is our best defense against potential pain. There are at least three types of mental preparers. A person can be more than one type: 1. Preparers who rehearse feeling pain. We prepare for potential pain by intentionally imagining, over and over, what it would feel like if the “worst” thing happened. We

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Self-Acceptance: Getting Past the Troll

Self-acceptance is HARD. As a therapist and a human, I can whole-heartedly attest to this. It is a journey that can take people decades to traverse. Theoretically we can get there at any moment, if only we would allow ourselves. Here’s the problem: there’s a troll standing guard at the entrance to self-acceptance. He’s grotesque and scary, and he’s got a club and a bad attitude. Allow me to introduce you to your inner critic. Your inner critic has one job: to prevent you from entering the land of self-acceptance. He does this by constantly informing you that YOU ARE

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Me, My Observer-Self, and I

I picture my observer-self as somewhere around eight inches diagonally up from my right ear. My observer-self is the part of me that notices what is going on with me. It’s the part of me that noticed that my thoughts drifted to plans for the weekend while I was reading my book-club book. It’s the part of me that wonders why I am suddenly feeling so irritable. It’s the part of me that reminds myself to be compassionate when I feel shame. My observer-self is the part of me that has perspective about me, and perspective turns out to be

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Getting to Sleep

Most people over the age of teenagerhood need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Do you get 7-9 hours each night? Do you wake each morning feeling refreshed? Most of the people I work with don’t. The trend in our society is to get less sleep as we try to fit in more hours of waking activity. And all of that waking activity tends to stress us out to the point of disrupting our sleep when we finally do get in bed. Not sleeping enough and not sleeping well is a problem. This is not news to you if

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Doing Hard Things

by Suzanne Manser, PhD Choosing to give a public talk. Letting go of a grudge. Stating your needs. Taking a salsa class alone. Returning to college. What do these have in common? They are hard things. They are hard because they come with the possibility of pain. Naturally then, our instinct is to avoid them at all costs. And yet, sometimes we do them. Sometimes we choose to risk pain. Why do we do hard things? A concept that I really came to understand through my work with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is that what you value and what

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