The Power of Physical Space/My New Office!

I upgraded to a water view, and it makes my thearpist heart happy!

I am a environment me, the physical space I am in really matters. I think it does for most people. While we can’t always control the physical space that we own, we can control the way we set up, and the way we take care of it. I’m guessing you’re seeing the parallel here…our physical space often mirros our mental space. This is why as soon as I was able to upgrade my office to a space that felt more inviting, more open, more bright i jumped at the opportunity!

For the past two years, I have been in the office that has no windows. Okay, fine, it’s essentially a closet that transformed into a cozy little therapy space. When I started off in my own private practice, I saw there were offices with a water view, but I saw the price and was quickly realized I wasn’t “there yet.”

As I am diving deeper into this work, and my schedule is full of brave souls wanting to do big work- it seems to be a perfect time for a change of scenery. I want the therapy environment to match my therapeutic allow space for change, healing, and growth. Luckily, I found it just a few doors down from my old office.

I am honred to do this kind of work…helping people heal and move towards change, I find something so powerful and humbling about sitting and joining people during really hard times, and rejoicing with them in the good times. Yes, all of those things can be done anywhere...but I’d rather do it with a water view!

How to Help Your Anxious Child

Is your child anxious about any and everything?

A little bit of anxiety is developmentally appropriate for children. As they grow, children are learning to navigate not only their own increased freedoms and responsibilities, but also the fact that they aren’t always protected in this big and sometimes scary world. This is called normative anxiety and, typically, a child moves on from their worries after a short while. However, some children seem to be magnets for anxiety…and no matter what, worry just seems to stick to them!

While some children struggle with specific situations, such as being apart from their parents, being in new social situations, or natural disasters, kids with generalized anxiety (GAD) may worry about all of these things. As a parent, or caregiver, it can be frustrating and challenging to deal with kids who experience generalized anxiety, as their worry is constant and STUBBORN. Because most are trying to be good parents, they often go the route of avoiding what may trigger their child’s anxiety by doing any or all of these things; giving in to requests to skip school, promising that specific bad things “will not happen,” reassuring their child that everything is okay, and the list goes on. The down side of this is that reassurance and avoidance often times feed the very worry that is already causing havoc.

So what is one simple thing a parent can do to help their anxious child? Most importantly, you can help your child adopt a “bravery approach,” to facing their fears. One way to do this is to come up with a name for their fears (such as, the “monster brain,” or “worry mind,”) and encourage them to fight back when the worry sets in. They can “fight back” against the worry by coming up with smart, or helpful thoughts. Here is how that might look:

Child (worried about facing a new situation) “Mommy, my stomach hurts and I don’t want to go to school.”

Mom: “Your stomach hurts. Hmm, it sounds like monster brain is being a bully this morning! What can we tell monster brain to make him go away?”

Child: “Stop being a bully monster brain! I am my own boss.”

In the above scenario, the child was able to fight back against their worry thought very easily, however, most often it takes a lot of coaching and practice. If you keep at it, the mind set will eventually set in. Sometimes, it helps to add a reward system, helping your child develop the incentive to be brave. Rewards don’t have to be monetary, in fact, often children enjoy “special time” with a parent the most.

As caregivers, you are the main lens through which your child looks at the world. If you model bravery by not operating out of fear, by encouraging them to try new things, and helping develop “smart thoughts” in response to their worry thoughts, you will start to see improvement!

Mother and More

“Welcome to Mother and More…a podcast with Kaitlin Soule, Cognitive behavioral therapist, and mama to 3 kiddos. I am passionate about helping people make change, find the courage to heal, and get comfortable living with uncertainty and imperfection. I am on a mission to normalize mental health, and to talk about motherhood in a way that is real, helpful and honest. In my journey to doing so, I’ll share stories from my own life, and things that I teach my clients in my clinical practice in hopes to inspire you to lean in to this life a little more, deal with the hard stuff, and revel in the beauty that is this messy life. “

The Daily Obstacles that Keep us Stuck, and Tools to break the Cycle...

Yesterday, I went for a run. It was the first time I had gone for a run in weeks, and it felt amzazing. It wasn’t about the calories burnt, or punishment, it was so much bigger that that…and for me, moving my body always is. It’s about feeling the wind in my face, it’s about getting in touch with my body, my breath, and the way in which whatever song I am listening sings straight to my soul. Bottom line, working out elevates my energy, lifts my mood, and makes me a heck a lot more pleasent to be around. But yet, I do not consistently make time for it….and you know why? Obstacles. Some may frame that as excuses, but I don’t think that’s fair. I also think we live in a culture that feeds off of shaming women, often making them feel bad for working out too much, too little, eating too healthy, or not healthy enough, staying home with the kids, or having no ambition. I don’t want that kind of culture for myself, for my children, or for anyone. I want it to be okay for us to be a work in progress,

I want to live in a society where a working mom, who also happens to be a mental health therapist, can admit that she is a work in progress, and that she too struggles with all the stuff life throws our way. I want to ditch the facade, and be real, so that I can help people live and feel better, WHILE learning to do the same for myself.

Especially as women, we are used to taking on everybody elses’s stuff and putting ourselves, and our needs on the backburner because…something has to give. Here’s my list of obstacles: doctors appointments for the kids, school drop off (late again because we had meltdowns around putting shoes on) pick ups, a full day of clients, laundry, cleaning, call backs, making time for my husband, making time for my family, my friends, making snacks, dinner, bedtime routine and I could go on. I am not unique. It is not just me who feels the weight of motherhood and life, I am also not a victim. I choose all of this, and I LOVE this life, BUT I recognize the pattern of allowing these obstacles to keep me stagnat and stuck.

I can not make the “to do” list go away, nor can I change the fact that I’ll always care about my family’s well-being as much as, if not more that my own. But here is what I can do, and here is what you can do too; remind yourself that you can not show up for others in the way you want to, if you are not showing up for yourself first. I know, and it pains me a bit to admit, that I can be a real unpleasant person to be around when I haven’t been caring for myself. Whether it’s that I haven’t given myself time to eat breakfast (I am a total victim of the hanger game), or time to organize my schedule, or move my body, or shower and get dressed in the way that I want to , I go from grounded/optimistic me to a more unhinged/glass half-empty, victimized version of myself. I don’t feel good when I am in that place. I don’t think anybody feels good when they are in that place.

I am learning, though, to be more patient with that person, because it is okay to have days where we don’t get it right, or days where we fall into old patterns, or days when we just unproductive, or just like crap. As far as I know, nobody has the game of life down perfect…not even the mom who always cuts her kids lunches in the cute little shapes, and is never late for school. Nope, not even her. I am also learning what it is I need it to pull myself up and out of that negative space.. There are a few things that work for me when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, or anxious. So, I’m going to share with you my “get out of the dumps,” tools. These are tools that have worked for me, things that have worked my client’s, and things that you may consider trying.

Tools and prompts for getting “Unstuck

  1. Give yourself permission to feel the feelings. Try saying, ” this feeling isn’t dangerous and I don’t have to get rid of this feeling, whatever it is.”

  2. Give yourself permission to move on. You don’t have to stay stuck in this feeling, or drown it. This feeling, is just one feeling, and you can observe it, let it pass by, and move on.

  3. Balance out your thoughts. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself? Are they helpful (um, no), are they true? If not, which they’re usually not, how can you shift that into a thought that is both helpful and true? Are you catastrophizing? Predicting the future? Mind-reading? Taking part in perfectionistic thinking? Taking part in all-or-nothing thinking? If so, let it go. Instead you may try, “today feels hard AND I can utilize the resources I have to help me feel better,” Do I need to talk to a loved one? A friend? My therapist? Ask for some help with the kids? Go for a walk? Deep breaths? Grounding?

  4. Do the Opposite. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is working for you. THe answer if probably, no. So, do something different. If you’re sitting, stand up and move. If you are doing everything else for everyone else before you allow yourself to eat, feed yourself. If you’re isolating, stop. Call somebody, go to a coffee shop, talk to your mom, a friend, your husband, join a meet up group, a mom group….Just get off that island.

  5. Give Yourself Some Grace and Space- I don’t mean to be on repeat about this but it’s OKAY and normal to struggle. It’s okay that you don’t get it right at first, and it’s okay to have to start over. We are our own worst critic, and would never talk to others the way in which we talk to ourselves. Honor the fact that you are a complex being, and that not every day, or every experience is going to look the same. Real growth and real change take time.

You are worth whatever it takes to get “unstuck,” or to learn to navigate your feelings, heal, or grow.