Mastering Emotional Intelligence: 3 Keys to a Better Life

Mastering Emotional Intelligence: 3 Keys to a Better Life

Picture with the article title: Mastering Emotional Intelligence: 3 Keys to a Better Life.

Whenever someone mentions the word ‘Intelligence,’ what is the first thing that you think of? For many people, it might be someone’s IQ, grades in school, or having a vast amount of knowledge in a field of expertise. While these are all examples of intelligence, there are also many different categories that are used to measure one’s intelligence. One example includes body-kinesthetic intelligence, which refers to the ability to use the whole or parts of one’s body to perform tasks or create products. Another example is Musical Intelligence, which refers to the skills of interpretation or composition of musical patterns and performances. Though there are many ways to measure one’s intelligence, the type of intelligence that can improve with therapy is called Emotional Intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence refers to the ability to understand, use, and manage one’s emotions in a productive way in order to relieve stress, empathize with others, and defuse conflict by communicating effectively with others. Emotional intelligence can help you better your  relationship with yourself and others by connecting you with your feelings and true intentions. When we feel heightened or triggered by emotions, our decision making can be clouded. Have you ever tried to make an important decision when you are really angry or upset? I know from my personal experience; this can be very challenging. Our ability to think clearly and accurately assess our emotions, along with the emotions of others, becomes compromised. When we act on our emotions, it can lead to one making irrational decisions that may look different from our true intentions. 

Why Emotional Intelligence is Important

Emotional Intelligence is also paramount in many different aspects of life. For example, if someone is frequently experiencing emotions that they are not able to regulate, they may also have trouble managing stress as well. As you may have heard before, stress can be a catalyst for serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, weakened immune functioning, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, or even infertility. In addition, dysregulated emotions and stress can also affect your mental health and make you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Emotional intelligence also impacts your relationships with others by determining how effectively you are able to express your feelings while understanding how someone else might be feeling as well. Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships at work, school, and their personal lives.

Though improving your emotional intelligence may seem like a daunting task considering how many different facets of life it can affect, luckily, the skills that make up emotional intelligence can be learned at any age and applied to your daily life. There are three main skills to keep in mind when trying to improve your emotional intelligence. 

Skill #1: Self Awareness

Emotions tell us important information about ourselves. In order to better manage your emotions, you first must be aware of them and how they influence your behavior. In emotional intelligence, the first step to this involves being able to identify and label what emotion you are feeling in the moment. If you have trouble recognizing which emotion you are experiencing, it may be beneficial to look at an emotion wheel (which you can find easily through Google!) to see a plethora of options and pick which emotion feels most applicable to you at that moment. Emotions also are not limited to the mind. Oftentimes we can feel emotions in our bodies, such as a heavy feeling in our chest when we are sad or butterflies in our stomach when we are nervous. If you recognize bodily cues when you are experiencing intense emotions, it may help you identify which emotion you are experiencing. 

#2 Self Regulation 

Now that we can recognize which emotion we are feeling, where do we go from here? In emotional intelligence, the goal of self-regulation is to control impulses and emotions, so we are able to think clearly before acting. The easiest way to do this is to take a moment to pause and breathe. Taking control of your breath can relax your nervous system and make you more equipped to process and navigate decisions. This also gives you the space to consider if your reactions are appropriate for the current situation rather than being fueled by emotion. A breathing exercise that can help you achieve this includes the 4-2-6 technique, where you inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for 2 seconds, and release the breath for six seconds. Repeat as often as needed to help you feel calm and more in control of your emotions. Another practice that can help improve emotional regulation is meditation. Meditation allows you to quiet your mind and listen to bodily sensations to make you better acquainted with yourself and your emotions.

#3 Social Awareness

After recognizing emotions within yourself, it is then important to recognize how your emotions impact others and be able to identify other’s emotions. This is called Social Awareness, which refers to the process of interpreting verbal and nonverbal cues that others are constantly using to communicate with you. These cues let you know how others are really feeling, when their emotional states shift, and what is truly important to them. Mindfulness is a precursor to becoming socially aware. After all, you can’t be present with others if you are lost in your own head! Following the flow of another person’s emotional response is a give and take process that requires you to also be mindful of any changes in your own emotional experience. This skill is important for relationship management and your overall ability to sustain healthy and fulfilling connections with others.

Embracing Emotional Intelligence: A Path to Personal Growth and a Connected World

In a world where intelligence is often narrowly defined by academic achievement and specialized knowledge, the exploration and mastery of Emotional Intelligence presents an empowering pathway to personal and interpersonal growth. Far from being an abstract concept, Emotional Intelligence is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, influencing everything from our physical health to our relationships, career success, and mental well-being. The good news is that these vital skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, and social awareness are not fixed traits but learnable abilities that can be nurtured at any stage of life. By taking the time to understand and cultivate our Emotional Intelligence, we enrich our personal experience and contribute to a more empathetic and connected world. Whether through therapy, mindfulness practices, or dedicated self-reflection, the journey toward Emotional Intelligence promises profound transformation, equipping us with the tools to navigate life’s complexities with grace, insight, and authenticity.

To Learn More or Book an Appointment

Interested in learning more mental health tips, tricks, or facts? Check out our blog or head to our resource page to learn more.

To learn more about the mind-body connection, check out this article from Harvard Health:

If you are interested in seeing a See You Through It Counseling therapist, book an appointment.

To discover what the therapists at See You Through It Counseling offer, please go to our team page to learn more about how our therapists can help you.

The Mind-Body Connection: How to Improve Your Wellbeing

The Mind-Body Connection: How to Improve Your Wellbeing

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Have you ever felt like your thoughts were racing? In a world filled with so many distractions, it can feel nearly impossible to quiet the mind. When our minds are busy navigating, organizing, and processing information, it can be difficult to tune into our emotions and the physical sensations happening in our bodies at the present moment. This may be due to the Mind-Body Connection hypothesis, which suggests that there is an inseparable connection between our emotions, thoughts, and the physiological sensations in our body.

What is the Mind-Body Connection?

 The mind-body connection is an essential part of one’s overall health and wellness because all of these sensations rely on one another to impact one’s functioning in both positive and negative ways. For example, if I were to experience high levels of stress, anxiety, or any negative emotion really- this could impact my physical wellbeing by manifesting symptoms such as digestive issues, muscle tension, or even migraines. However, if I were to engage in activities that fostered my physical health, such as practicing yoga or eating intuitively, this could have a positive impact on my emotional or mental wellbeing. 

You may be wondering how the mind-body connection really works to impact our wellbeing. The main driving component of the mind-body connection is the nervous system because it maintains a feedback loop between one’s mental and physical states. When you experience stress or negative emotions, your brain alerts your body to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode which consists of physical sensations such as a racing heart rate or increased vigilance intending to protect you from real or perceived danger. Similarly, physical sensations such as pain or illness can negatively impact one’s mental state or mood. I know that I never feel like sunshine and rainbows when I’m feeling under the weather!

Techniques to Improve Your Mental Health

Although there are many of us who struggle to establish and be mindful of this mind-body connection in our daily lives, there are many techniques that can help you connect with your mind and body on a deeper level, so let’s talk about it!

  1. Yoga is an effective way to strengthen the mind and body connection because it involves physical postures, breath control, and mindful awareness to provide a sense of harmony and balance between the mind, body, and heart. One of the integral components of yoga practice is breath work, known as pranayama. Deep breathing increases oxygen flow to the brain and body, relaxes our nervous system, and helps individuals learn how to observe and regulate emotional and physiological states. Yoga also involves physical postures that help develop flexibility, strength, and balance in the physical body and mind. Meditation is another essential part of yoga practice. Meditation encourages an individual to focus on their breath, bodily sensations, or another specific point of focus in order to create a space for non-judgemental awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Moving meditation in yoga practice can benefit you by developing self-compassion, emotional resilience, and an improved connection between your body and mind. If you are looking to strengthen your mind-body connection, yoga could be a great place to start!
  •  Practicing giving gratitude is another way to strengthen one’s connection with their mind and body. The art of gratitude consists of intentionally focusing on the positive aspects of life and creating a sense of appreciation for your good fortunes. Practicing gratitude has shown to have both mental and physical benefits such as improved sleep, stress reduction, and improved overall wellbeing. I can recognize that this concept is a little broad, so a good place to start could just be setting aside a few minutes every day to reflect on everything in your life you are grateful for. By consistently practicing gratitude, you can train your mind to be more positive, which can have a great impact on your mental and physical health.
  • Did you know that practicing mindfulness when eating can help you relax and ground you in the present moment? Oftentimes, it can be easy to eat on autopilot and be distracted from our bodily sensations while eating. However, eating mindfully encourages us to be aware of our food, its taste, and how it is making our body feel. It allows us to not only savor our foods, but also enjoy the simple pleasure of eating which can make us feel more satisfied and full. Eating mindfully also encourages one to make healthier choices for our bodies, such as choosing whole foods and avoiding overly processed foods that make us feel uncomfortable or sluggish. Not to mention – eating mindfully actually helps our bodies to make more stomach acid to break down our food and better absorb nutrients!
  • Spending time outdoors can be a great way to connect with nature while connecting with yourself. Plenty of research has shown that spending time in nature can actually calm one’s nervous system, which results in making the body more relaxed. When your body feels calm, it can give your mind a feeling of stillness that helps relieve both physical and mental stress.
  • Anyone heard of Burn-Out? In this day and age, feeling worn out and exhausted is all too common. When a person is overworked or lacking quality sleep, their ability to connect with their mind and body is compromised. This can result in the body being in a recurrent state of fight or flight mode, which can lead to both physical and mental exhaustion. One way to reduce chronic stress levels and the negative effects it has on one’s functioning is to prioritize rest and relaxation. This can take on many forms depending on your personal preferences, including getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks, engaging in relaxing activities such as meditation or even running yourself a bubble bath. When your body is telling you that it needs a break, listen to it! You can practice building a healthy mind-body connection by adding downtime into your schedule and being aware of the need to rest when your body signals that it needs a break.

One common theme that is found among all these recommendations is the emphasis on staying in the present moment and reflecting on how you are feeling both physically and mentally. In a busy, ever-changing world, it can be a struggle to stop and ask yourself how the structure and routine of your daily life is impacting your mental and physical health. I hope with this newfound information, these tips can help you feel relief from a racing mind and aching body by enhancing your mind-body connection and improving your overall sense of wellbeing.

To Learn More or Book an Appointment

Interested in learning more mental health tips, tricks, or facts? Check out our blog or head to our resource page to learn more.

To learn more about the mind-body connection, check out this article from researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis:

If you are interested in seeing a See You Through It Counseling therapist, book an appointment.

To discover what the therapists at See You Through It Counseling offer, please go to our team page to learn more about how our therapists can help you.

Poodle Science: Accepting Who We Are

Poodle Science: Accepting Who We Are

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Diet Culture

Did you know that the diet industry is a $70 billion, that’s billion with a B, industry? Did you also know that 95% of diets fail? I’ll let that sink in for a second!

People spend more than $70 billion in a year on a product that will fail more than 95% of the time! Would you buy a car that wouldn’t work 95% of the time, a house that had a 95% chance of collapsing into a pile of rubble, or buy clothes that had a 95% chance of falling apart on the first wear? Of course not! Yet that’s what millions of people in America do each and every single day when they go on a diet. They’ll spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that will ultimately fail them.

Poodle Science

When I begin treatment with clients who have an eating disorder, like Anorexia; Binge Eating Disorders; or Bulimia, one of things I introduce to clients is Poodle Science. I was introduced to this concept by Tianna Smith, a a wonderful dietitian based in California. For the non-dog lovers out there, a Bullmastiff is a HUGE dog that usually weighs 100 pounds or more while a Chihuahua is a small dog that usually weighs around 6-7 pounds. Because of genetics, it would not matter what kind of diet or exercise you did with a Bullmastiff, it would NEVER weigh anywhere close to the 6-7 pounds of Chihauhua. Not only that, that Bullmastiff would probably be pretty miserable from the lack of food and constant exercise. And yet, it would never come close to having the bodily figure of a Chihuahua.

At SYTI counseling, when we work with our clients in therapy, we talk to them about Poodle Science because the same concept applies to humans. We have a biological blueprint based on our genetics that determines the shape and size of our body. Some people will naturally be 100 pounds while others will naturally be 150 pounds or more. Like the Bullmastiff and the Chihuahua, it’s an impossible fight for a 150-pound person to try and get down to 100 pounds. All you will do is fail, be miserable, and in some cases do incredible harm to your body. By accepting your biological blueprint, you are going to lead a happier and healthier life. So, the next time you see or hear diet culture in the media, brush it aside and be proud of the beautiful body you have!




I really wish that we were talking about Pascal, the chameleon from Rapunzel. He is one of my favorite Disney characters! Has anybody ever discovered a stuffed animal Pascal? I’ve looked high and low but cannot find one anywhere! So if you know where I can buy one, please let me know. Clearly it’s a very urgent matter! 

But I digress. What I really want to talk about today are the human versions of chameleons – those whose thoughts, beliefs, and opinions can change depending on their environment. Pete Walker, author of Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, first coined the term “fawning” as a trauma response. Fawning is essentially described as being a chronic people pleaser. Some trauma survivors will engage in fawning, or people pleasing, as a way to diffuse tension if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. But what I don’t think many people know is that fawning extends beyond saying “yes” to everything and everyone’s requests. People pleasers are also the kind of folks mentioned above – the ones who tend to have different beliefs or different personalities depending on who they are around.

For example, someone who is fawning could look like your friend that tells you all the time she is a Democrat, but in a room full of Republicans she will quickly turn into one of the most passionate Republicans the world has ever seen. Someone who is fawning might also look like that cousin of yours who complains constantly about how much she hates this one person in her friend group, but the second she hangs out with that person she acts like the two of them are best friends.

As a whole, the public generally doesn’t take kindly to people who behave like this. It creates a sense of mistrust and frustration among people when they see that somebody acts one way one minute, and is completely different the next minute.

Now I am not saying that every single person who engages in these types of behaviors is fawning, because that simply isn’t the case. But what I am trying to say is that sometimes people aren’t trying to copy others and sometimes people aren’t changing their beliefs and values out of a desperation to fit in. What this behavior actually could be is fawning, or in other words, a type of trauma response.

I myself can be like this when I feel threatened in some ways. Recently, I found myself in a situation that felt tense, uncomfortable, and downright awkward. The people around me were in a heated discussion about something that I actually found offensive.  On a good day, or even a so-so day, I might have chimed in and dared to have an opposing viewpoint. But on this day in particular, I was already having such a bad day, and between the topic of conversation and the harsh tone of everyone’s voices, I was triggered beyond belief. I did the only thing I could do to try to get the conversation to come to a close: I simply agreed with them. Yep, against everything I believe in, I became the person that I thought that they wanted me to be and I agreed with what they were saying, even though, if you were to ask me to speak on that same subject any other day of the week, I would have given you a completely different opinion.  

I didn’t agree with them because I had an overwhelming desire to fit in, and I didn’t pacify them by siding with their beliefs because I wanted to make friends with them. It was more so that I felt emotionally unsafe, and feeling that way put me in such a high state of emotional distress that I said whatever I could to get myself away from the situation. Fawning, like fight or freeze or flight or any of the other trauma responses, is a survival tactic. I wasn’t able to fight or flee the situation, so I became a chameleon and I blended in with my surroundings in the best way that I knew how. 

Millions of folks do this. I’ve watched it time and time again, and while a younger version of me might get annoyed and accuse that person of not being genuine, the person I am today realizes that so many people engage in fawning because they have found themselves in situations that trigger their previous traumas.

While I have come a very long way in my PTSD recovery, I was reminded by this event that there is more work to be done. Even though I am tempted to sit in a pit of shame and self-loathing, I’m refusing to do so because my brain did whatever it could to keep me safe in the moment, and that is no reason to feel ashamed. So here I sit, pouring vulnerability onto the page in the hopes that I can educate other people on this type of trauma response, as I think it is often misunderstood and creates a lot of tension in relationships.

To those of you who have never engaged in fawning and don’t quite get it, please be patient with us. 

And to those of us who struggle with fawning, let us try to have more compassion for ourselves. We have brilliant minds, built for survival. And although fawning doesn’t always serve us well, it did keep us safe and alive for many years. We are all a work in progress, but please oh please, don’t forget to love yourself throughout the journey just as much as you’ll love yourself once you’ve arrived at your destination. 

“I’m So OCD About It.”

“I’m So OCD About It.”

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**Trigger Warning**

I am quite guilty about having talked like this in the past: “I’m so OCD about it.” About what? How clean I like my house to be, how I organize my closet, etc. I can even recount many times at the gym where I would be in the middle of a fitness class – God forbid the instructor accidentally lost her place and we ended up doing 11 kettlebell swings with the right hand and 10 kettlebell swings with the left hand. I’d be the first to say out loud: “Oh my gosh, we’re uneven, we have to do one more one this side – I’m so OCD about it!”

A lot of us do this, but as I got older and started becoming more seasoned as a therapist, I realized how wrong those comments were. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be a crippling mental health disorder in which we find ourselves having to act on certain impulses in order to quiet the thoughts in our head that just won’t seem to stop.

Yes, people can develop OCD symptoms around cleanliness, disorganization, and numbers, like I mentioned above, but the obsessive thoughts can also be much more than that. You see, when I would make those comments like the ones I mentioned above, I would laugh, my friends would laugh, and we would go about our day. But the truth is, I was joking about an issue that runs so much deeper and is more serious than most folks know. While many of us joke about having OCD, the truest form of the disorder is brutal.

Of all of the things I have battled throughout my life, the one I talk about the least is my OCD, mostly because I know that my OCD is a result of my trauma and in treating the trauma, I am also treating the OCD.

But truth be told, OCD is an absolute beast, one that lives with you, follows you everywhere you go, and keeps you from sleeping at night. It’s the worst friend you’ve ever had, but cannot seem to get rid of. It’s counting how many times you chew your food before you swallow, it’s making sure you step on the scale 3 times just to make sure the scale is right. It’s this irresistible compulsion to say your prayers exactly the same way every night, fearing that something bad will happen to you if you don’t.

This elusive beast comes in many forms, and what I named above are only a few symptoms that people with OCD may struggle with. Looking back on my childhood, I know that my OCD began as early as 3rd grade, where I remember washing my hands so much and for so long that my skin would bleed. As I got older, my obsessions then became about people breaking into our home. I would have to check the doors at night, dis-arm the alarm that my mom already armed, check to ensure the garage door was shut, and then re-arm the alarm. After about 3-4 rounds of doing this each night, only then could I be assured that the doors were truly locked and the alarm was truly set.

And have I mentioned intrusive thoughts? I could write an entire blog post on intrusive thoughts so I won’t dive too deeply into this, but they often couple with OCD. For example, if you’ve ever been driving your car on a highway and suddenly thought to yourself: “What if the car next to me runs me off the road and I crash into a tree and die?”, this is an intrusive thought. Or maybe worse, you’ve even pictured the entire event taking place in your head. This is also an intrusive thought, and you are not alone if you have them.

Often times we develop compulsions to quell our obsessive and intrusive thoughts. Some examples include:

-Driving to work: Did I check the stove to make sure the gas isn’t on? (after having checked it 20 times before leaving) Am I sure my dogs are safely in their crates? What if there is a fire and my house burns down?

-Driving home from work: Did I really blow that candle out in my office or did I just imagine it? Let me turn around, I have to check, I can’t be responsible for burning down the building. *drives back to office, confirms that the candle is blown out, starts driving home again* Okay but what if I imagined that? Did I really blow out that candle? *Gets home from work 45-60 min later than expected because I have to act on my compulsions*

It’s terrible. It’s exhausting. This is the case for so many folks with OCD. It’s not just about wanting your house to be neat and orderly. It’s about needing to do certain things to avoid horrible things from happening and to quiet the brain.

I understand things so much differently now. I used to have the attitude of “I’m not changing the way I speak just to save other’s feelings” but the older I get, the more I realize how much of an impact words have on myself and others (I am a therapist, after all!). Intent does not equal impact – and even if I was just joking all those times when I said “I am so OCD about it”, I realize that it is nothing to joke about.

1. If you have been diagnosed with OCD, know you’re not alone and there is no shame in sharing the thoughts and compulsions you are having. In fact, speaking them out loud takes the power away from them.

2. If you have never been diagnosed with OCD, but resonate with some of what I’m saying in this post, please reach out for help. You don’t have to live like this forever and managing the symptoms truly does get much easier.

3. If you have no experience battling OCD, but often say phrases like “I’m really OCD about it”, maybe consider trying to change your words. What else could you say instead? “It makes me feel frazzled and disorganized when my house is a mess” or “I prefer my closet to be organized by color because it makes me happy” are just a few examples. The beautiful thing about language is that there are millions of ways to say something without using words that might minimize the beast that is OCD.

To learn more about obsessive compulsive disorder, please visit

*All information about OCD is derived from my training as a clinician. No articles or websites were used to create this post.*

Boundaries vs. Threats

Boundaries vs. Threats

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Let’s break it down, shall we?


Boundaries are limits that we set with other people or sometimes, even ourselves. The point of setting a boundary is to protect our own physical, social, and emotional health. Setting boundaries with others can look like:

-“Thank you for the invitation, but I can’t go out this weekend.”
-“I won’t be joining you for the holidays this year due to the pandemic.”
-“I have let you know repeatedly that I do not want to speak about this topic. If you continue to bring it up, I am going to leave the party.”
-“I have told you that I am not comfortable meeting up without masks. If you are not able to wear a mask, let’s wait to meet up until it’s safer to do so.”

Again, boundaries are put in place to honor ourselves and protect all aspects of our well-being.


Threats are designed for us to get the things we want and/or need, often at the expense of someone else. Threats typically come in the form of a warning that someone or something might be harmed if we don’t get what we want. Some examples of threats might be:

– “If you are going to continue dating that guy, then I’m going to stop asking you how you’re doing since you’re only going to get hurt.”
-“If you don’t spend the holidays with us this year, then I’m not buying you those shoes you have been asking for.”
-“We aren’t having sex at night anymore since you clearly can’t even have the laundry done by the time I get home from work.”
-“I’m paying for this wedding so I think I should have some say in where you have it.”

Threats are about securing our wants and needs by taking something away from someone if things do not go our way.


As you’ll notice in the section on boundaries, none of the examples I provided were about doing harm to the other person in any way. The only thing a boundary should do is help us to protect ourselves without doing harm to others. The line between threats and boundaries starts to blur when we start punishing other people for not getting our way. There is no punishment happening when we tell others, for example, that we aren’t comfortable meeting up with them unless they are wearing a mask. There is punishment happening, however, when we withhold sex, threaten emotional neglect, or hold money over people’s heads in order to get what we want. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between a threat and a boundary. Many people feel that they are one in the same, but that could not be further from the truth; and it is important to suss out the difference so that we are taking good care of both ourselves and our loved ones.

Have Mercy

Have Mercy

Have Mercy

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is my favorite day of the year! Yet, it’s also one of the hardest days of the year for those of us who struggle with being elbow deep in diet culture and eating disorders.

The day after Thanksgiving leaves so many of us feeling guilt and shame over our bodies as a result of what we consumed yesterday. Eating disorders and diet culture, at their core, are really all about having control; and in a world that feels more out of control than ever before, I am sure that the urge to over-exercise and restrict food intake as a way to make up for the the calories consumed yesterday is extremely strong.

So I’m here to ask you one thing, and that is to have mercy on yourself. 

When you find yourself opening your eyes in the morning and immediately thinking about what you ate yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

When you tell yourself that you need to work out as a form of damage control for the food you consumed, please have mercy on yourself.

If you feel as though the only way you deserve to get through the day today is by eating lettuce that you later end up purging, please have mercy on yourself.

If you find yourself staring in the mirror and pinching and poking the softness on your body, wondering if your stomach is more doughy today than it was yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

When you find yourself starting to feel hungry, but do not feel as though you deserve to eat because you enjoyed yourself yesterday, have mercy on yourself.

And finally, if you find that you cannot stop chastising, telling yourself that you were out of control yesterday, and calling yourself names that are shame and guilt inducing, I beg of you, please have mercy on yourself.

You do not have to spend the day obsessing over how to reverse what you ate yesterday because you did absolutely nothing wrong. One huge meal will not, I repeat, will not have any effect on your weight. You deserve to nourish your body today, whether that means having three full meals with snacks, or snacking throughout the entire day.

Try to check in with your body and listen to what it needs. If we tune out the noise of diet culture, we will discover that our bodies already have the answers to the questions that we have been asking our entire lives. So be extra kind to the body parts that you hate, for those body parts have kept you healthy, safe, and alive far before your brain developed enough to allow diet culture and eating disorders get in the way.

When the guilt and the shame and the urges to restrict, purge, over-exercise, or body check start to creep in, please remember to have mercy on yourself. Not just today, but always.

Back to Basics

Back to Basics


Are we all drained right now or what? We’ve got election stress, COVID-19 anxiety, and good old seasonal depression waiting for us right around the corner. Not to mention we are all fighting battles that others know nothing about.

As we head into the colder months, when the flu meets COVID and political tension rises as power shifts from one President to another, let this be your gentle reminder to take the time to get back to the basics of your life so that you are well-equipped to handle what may be coming down the road.

-HYDRATE. Drink drink drink – not beer, not wine, not tequila (okay, maybe tequila). Drink water. As much as your body is telling you that you need. Take notice of how often you’re going to the bathroom and if you need to be consuming more water.

-SLEEP. I know, I know, it is so difficult to be in a regular sleeping routine when life feels like such a jumbled mess these days. But the world is going to keep turning, regardless of whether or not you get sleep, and nothing earth-shattering is going to happen if you log off of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for a while to give your body some R&R. Or maybe something earth-shattering WILL happen – and you’ll find out about it after you have slept. Try not to feed the urge to know everything that is happening in the world the second that it happens.

MOVE. Gyms have stricter regulations. It’s dark by 5pm. The weather is getting cold. We want blankets, and hot chocolate, and Christmas movies, not long walks or cardio or yoga. But as great as all the holiday vibes can be, sitting on the couch or in bed for hours on end can lead to a black hole of depression that can be so hard to get out of. So break up your day a little – go for a walk, stretch, take a 15 minute mild yoga class, or blast heavy metal music and go crush some weights. Either way, the movement will mitigate symptoms of depression and anxiety and will help your body to feel its best.

EAT. November is upon us so everywhere you look you’re going to see diets and holiday fitness programs all designed to help you avoid weight gain during the holidays. This season of life is stressful enough for all of us, don’t throw a diet into the mix and start detoxing or counting calories. If anything, be intentional about eating. Don’t skip meals. It doesn’t matter if all you did was sit on the couch all day – you still deserve and need to eat.

CONNECT. Make plans with friends and family in whatever way feels safe for you these days. Don’t use COVID as an excuse to feed into your depression and stop connecting with your loved ones.

LOOK AROUND. Shut off the TV. Put down your phone. Look away from your laptops and desktops and smart bikes and smart watches, etc. Look around at your environment. Love up on your partner. Snuggle with your pets. Stand outside for a few extra moments after getting out of your car just to feel the crisp air on your face. Be wherever you’re at. Tune in to your surroundings and let the stress of the world melt away, if only for a moment.

In these difficult times, I struggle to maintain all the of above, especially the last one! But when we feel overwhelmed with life, it’s crucial for us all to get back to the basics of living so that we can build strength for the future. So take the time to rest up everyone, for when we wake, we will get back to trying to change the world!

5 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist

5 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist

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It’s happening – we are starting to deal with a mental health pandemic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am seeing it in my own patients, I am talking about it with my colleagues, I am seeing it in my friends and family. This pandemic has been going on for half the year, with no ending or solutions in sight. This is causing extreme upticks in anxiety, depression, PTSD, and relationship issues, among many other problems. The more I talk to friends and colleagues in the field, the more often I hear them saying “I’m so booked up with new patients that I have to start turning people away who are looking for therapy.” 

On one hand, the thought of how badly people are struggling from this global pandemic makes my stomach turn. On the other hand, I am glad people are taking care of themselves by getting themselves in to see a therapist! If you are one of those people who are thinking that it might be a good idea to talk to someone, I thought I would share a few tips for finding the right therapist. I know it can be a daunting task – I did not see my very first therapist until around 21 years old and it took me about 4 years of switching from therapist to therapist just trying to find one that I felt like understood me. But don’t let that deter you – most people don’t spend years trying to find the right therapist, although it certainly can take some time. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to find the right professional to help you:

  1. Know the difference between in-network therapists and out-of-network therapists. Out-of-network (OON) therapists do not accept your insurance directly, but that doesn’t mean your insurance will not pay for some or all of it. Know what your insurance will cover before starting the search – check with them about whether or not you have OON benefits and if you do, ask about any deductibles, percentage reimbursed, and out of pocket maximums. Many insurance companies will reimburse you between 70-80% of an OON therapist’s fee. Knowing this information will help you to better refine your search for a therapist who is a good financial fit for you. 
  2. Do not limit yourself to a quick search on Psychology Today or just the list that your insurance company provides you. Don’t get me wrong, Psychology Today is awesome, but especially now that most therapy is virtual, searching on Google will allow you to widen your search to therapists that are just about anywhere in the state. 
  3. Do your research if you think you have found a therapist who you might be interested in. Read their websites, send them an email, ask them a few questions, request a brief phone consultation. Try to get a feel for the therapist before deciding if you want to schedule an appointment. 
  4. Look for therapists who specialize in specific disorders, treatments, or life stressors/events. Be wary of those who say they specialize in just about everything – it’s very important to find someone who knows his/her limitations. Not all of us can be experts in everything. For example, if you are looking for a therapist to treat you for difficulty coping from a miscarriage, you would not want to see a therapist who has no experience or specialty in this area. This could ultimately do you more harm than good. 
  5. Most importantly, remember that this is about you. When you do meet a therapist for the first time, they will be asking you many questions, but it’s also important for you to ask questions of your own. You are the one who gets to decide if you want to establish a relationship with this person – and having a good relationship with your therapist is one of the most important predictors in treatment success. To put it plainly, if you’re not feeling the connection, it’s probably not going to work out. 

Hopefully these tips will help those of you who are thinking about searching for a therapist but have no clue where to begin. And if you’re still on the fence about whether or not you want to follow through – hop off that fence and give yourself the gift of therapy. It took me a while to find the right therapist (it probably would not have taken me nearly as long if I had known the information listed above), but even on my worst days, I can say that my therapist is the best gift I have ever given to myself. 

The Predator

The Predator

the predator

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Abigail Pesta’s book, The Girls, a book about the USA gymnasts who took down sexual predator Larry Nassar back in 2018. If you are not familiar with the case, Larry Nassar was a highly esteemed doctor at Michigan State University. He also served as the doctor for the USA gymnastics national team, where under the guise of treating young gymnasts, he spent decades sexually abusing them. Larry had convinced his victims that his “treatment,” which included digital penetration, was medically necessary for their recovery. 

As Larry’s heinous crimes continued to escalate, he would often abuse children while their parents were sitting in the same room, using his body to shield the parents from seeing what was happening. He worked double-time to develop sincere relationships with the girls and their parents….so much so that they came to view Larry as a friend, a confidant, and a trusted doctor. 

After Larry was convicted in 2018, the presiding judge, Rosemarie Aquilina, gave each of the survivors the chance to speak about their abuse and how it affected them. One by one, the women rose up and spoke their truth about the ways in which Larry’s abuse ruined their families, their psychological wellbeing, their ability to form healthy relationships, and so much more.

The victims blamed themselves for never speaking up, for trusting an esteemed doctor who appeared to have their best interest at heart. Parents of the victims also blamed themselves, finding it inconceivable that their child could have been assaulted while they were sitting in the very same room.

Let me crystal clear about this: There is absolutely no blame to be shared among the victims or their families.

The fault lies entirely with the abuser himself, as well as the other adults who were aware the abuse was happening and chose to do nothing.

What? Others knew and did nothing?

That’s right. NOTHING. There were so many people who did not believe the girls when they tried to ask for help. They explained away Larry’s actions, which left the girls feeling more confused than ever. For decades, people were able to pretend as if this horrific abuse was not happening.

But it was. And the sad, disturbing fact of the matter is that there are many more predators out there, just like him. Abigail Pesta’s narrative about this particular scandal is such an important read for everyone because it shows how even the most vicious of wolves can be dressed in sheep’s clothing. This is what makes abuse so confusing, this is why some people cannot see it coming, and this (among a million other reasons) is why victims should never be blamed or asked “Why didn’t you speak up?”

Predators are often the ones who work their way into your hearts, gain your trust, build a sense of safety around you, and then shatter your sense of safety by violating you. It leaves you feeling so confused that you don’t speak up. You don’t say anything. Because you spent so much time believing that this person could be trusted that you continue to believe he or she didn’t mean to abuse you – that the violation was just a mistake, or a slip-up. You tell yourself whatever it takes to keep up with the belief in your mind that this person is good for you and has your best interest at heart. To think anything less than that is too much to bear.

Time goes on, this person continues to build trust with you, and then just like that, there comes another violation, another boundary crossed. But at this point, you feel that it is too late. If you speak out now, people won’t believe you because they will question why you didn’t speak up earlier or why you continued to be in contact with a person if you knew he or she was sexually abusing you. So you sink into the shame and guilt, blaming yourself for getting into this mess in the first place. 

Before you know it, you have lost all sense of self worth. You continue to find yourself in dangerous situations because you think, after all this time, that you deserve the abuse that you got. You find yourself wondering if your life is worth living, since your body, mind, and soul, no longer feel like your own. 

So many people don’t understand nearly enough about this type of abuse, which is why I highly recommend reading The Girls. It is a devastating, sobering, and extremely important book that is helping other survivors of abuse to realize that it’s okay to speak their truth.

I feel it in my bones – the world is changing. The silence of all of the disbelieved, disregarded survivors is becoming louder. For so long, victims of sexual abuse have been told:

-You shouldn’t talk about that unless you’re REALLY sure it happened. You could ruin that person’s life. 
-Are you positive you remember it that way? 
-Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. 
-Maybe you’re confusing this memory with something else? 
-Well maybe he/she was just being really friendly? 
-Did that really happen? That’s a serious accusation. Are you just doing this for attention? 

No more. No more. NO MORE. We are finding our voices.

Can you hear us? If you don’t, you will soon. We’re just getting started.

-To the army of survivors who rose up to take down Larry Nassar: I have the utmost respect for all of you.
-To the judge who gave those survivors a voice in that courtroom – I hope you know that you broke the mold and changed the world, especially the worlds of the victims. 
-And to the ones out there who still suffer in silence, to the ones who are not ready to speak, to the ones who are not quite sure yet or cannot find the right words to say what happened – there is so much hope. You are so much more than the abuse you endured and you can reclaim what taken from you. 

Speak up. Seek help. Find support. And know that you are believed.