Practices and tools to grow your life are not ‘nice to haves’. They are necessities.
Therefore, in this blog post, I’ll be sharing with you three of the practices and tools I utilised outside of therapy to support me in growing in therapy.
There are two camps of people in this world.
Those who put practices and tools into place, which will greatly support them in intentionally creating the life they want and those who ‘wing’ life.
Which camp do you fall into?
I used to fall into the one who ‘winged’ life, believing everything would work out naturally with no effort needed on my part.
However, the older I got, the more I realised this wasn’t true.
And it was in therapy I realised it’s the tools and practices you put in place daily, which give meaning to you and your life.
Therefore, making you feel happier, fulfilled and more in control.
Although you don’t necessarily need a therapist to practice the tools I’m going to talk about. All that matters is you’re open to trying something new.
They are especially useful if seeing a therapist, as it can feel as though you’re covering the same ground over and over again.
And these tools I believe can support you in moving forward.
They can also raise difficult emotions within you as you have realisations about yourself and the situations in your life.
As a result, making it difficult for you to handle these alone and requiring you to gain the support of a therapist so they can support you in making sense of them and overcoming the challenges they raise within you.
So please do keep this in mind when putting the tools and practices into place and with that said, let’s get started.
A tool (when seeking to create certain results in your life) is anything which will support you in accomplishing those results.
For instance, if you want…
- A better quality nights sleep you might buy a therapy weighted blanket
- Peace and more time to yourself each day, you might opt for meditation
- To get more organised you might implement a planner
- To start journaling you might seek out a notebook and some journal prompts
However, a tool is only as effective as the time you carve out (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly) to implement it.
In other words, the practice (i.e. repetition) you implement to make full use of that tool in order to eventually see the results you want to see.
As it is only then you will be able to realise the full benefits of the tools in your life.
For instance, making time to buy a blanket and put it over your bed each night, isn’t as difficult as making time for meditation or journaling.
Since you aren’t able to see the immediate benefits of them.
It often takes weeks, months and years to realise their benefits.
Therefore, they require more attention, intention and effort to put into place.
Personally, having now got into the habit of implementing tools and practices into my life, I couldn’t live without them.
And in hindsight question how I managed without them for so long as they…
- support me in grounding myself each day (i.e. being present to each moment so I can notice what I’m thinking and feeling);
- stop me from doing what everybody else wants me to do so I can focus on what I want to create for myself and my life; and
- It’s the one time of the day where I’m not disturbed by anyone or anything so I can connect with myself
Before the Coronavirus I was subconsciously doing everything to avoid what I was truly thinking and feeling.
I did this by…
- keeping busy at work
- avoiding certain relationships/people and situations taking place in my life
- fixating and identifying with certain situations
- getting angry at others; and
- constantly going out.
But as it has all of us, the Coronavirus forced me to stop and stay at home.
And I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this.
Since a difficult situation arose in my life at the time, which thankfully due to Covid-19, gave me the opportunity to:
- Start emailing my therapist about the situation, therefore, further supporting me in processing what was really going on
- Make full use of the silence and solitude of my bedroom
- Pause on certain words and phrases my therapist and I exchanged during previous sessions, which I didn’t 100% understand at the time
- Pause on certain memories and situations (daily, past and present), which arose as I asked myself what is this about?
As a result, supporting me in seeing the connections and themes between other struggles, which arose in my life that year.
Therefore, leading me to the insights I needed to progress my therapy sessions forward.
As I was now clearly able to see through the fog and eventually make the switch in my mind that all the information, which was coming my way whether:
- on TV
- the internet
- the people in my life
- my own reactions
- situations occurring; and
- the angry and aggressive thoughts and feelings I was having about others
Were actually a reflection of what I thought and felt about me, not them.
Therefore, I needed to start paying attention to what and how I was communicating with others and reacting to them.
So, my job and work outside of therapy became about pausing, understanding and questioning:
- How every piece of information coming my way, moment to moment made me feel; and
- Asking myself ‘what is this about’, ‘what is this telling me about me’, ‘why am I seeing or feeling this’
Therefore, also leading me to realising I needed to part ways with certain family members.
So, I could grow and move my life forward.
As a result, leading me to further progress in therapy.
However, it is important to caveat if it weren’t for my therapist also having these two therapeutic tool…
I don’t believe I would have made that progress.
As they supported me in detaching and overcoming a trauma bond, co-dependency, anger and self-pity.
So if you have a therapist who doesn’t include these two therapeutic tools, please share the tools with your therapist.
So now you have the tool of silence, pausing and questioning…
When and how do you put the tools into place in your own life?
- Make room for more downtime (than going out) during the week to do nothing but sit
- Sit on a meditation cushion/cushion daily for 30 minutes – 1 hour and see what arises (memories, thoughts, feelings). No meditation required.
- Let your mind go where it wants to go and pause on the memories and situations, which make you angry
- Pay attention also to situations arising throughout the day, which make you feel angry, annoyed and upset.
- Find a quiet space to pause (in your mind) the situation(s), which arose and ask yourself what is this about? The answer might come immediately, tomorrow or a week from then.
- Bring to therapy any realisations, which arise as a result of this.
I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about morning pages lately.
Everywhere I am on social media, from Facebook to Twitter, I’m recommending them.
As I do truly love them so much and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Morning Pages if you’ve not heard of them come from Julia Cameron’s book The Artists Way.
And the purpose of them is to support you in unlocking your creative self.
As we are all creative and have a desire to exercise our creativity whether we’re consciously aware of it or not.
Morning pages have supported me in particular in growing in therapy as similarly to journaling they give me a space to:
- To frame my thoughts and feelings
- Change my perspective
- A chance to think twice about what I’m thinking, feeling and why; and
- Make sense of certain situations taking place in my life
However, unlike journaling, I feel Julia Cameron sets out clear guidelines as to why, when and how to conduct them.
For instance, she says you are to freewrite (write whatever comes to your mind) three pages every morning.
Now I don’t about you but to me that sounds very doable and freeing to know you can write anything, which comes to mind in the moment.
No thought, planning or preparation needed.
Whereas the variation of advice and guidance on how to journal frankly can be quite confusing.
So you might question whether you’re doing it correctly and actually get caught up in thinking about what to write rather than writing in the journal itself.
Therefore, giving up on journaling all together.
What I also love about Morning Pages is once I’ve written them I feel I can let go of whatever I was thinking and feeling.
As a result, giving me more mental space to tackle other challenges, which arise throughout the day.
But don’t take my word for it.
Read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way if you’ve not already, so you can get the full context of why I’m suggesting these.
And practice using this tool every morning.
Personally, I dedicate an A4 notepad to undertake my daily Morning pages practice.
And have found it’s best to do these after meditation but before you eat breakfast so you have the motivation to get them done.
Alternatively, you can skip the meditation and get straight to writing them before you eat breakfast.
Or you can even try writing them after breakfast to see what sticks (and doesn’t stick) with you personally.
Since you’re all different and so requires you to do some trial and error for yourselves to see what works for you personally.
Also, depending on whether you have to travel to work you may need to get up earlier to do them.
But no matter when you choose to undertake them, I can promise you they are worth doing and you will notice a difference in yourself.
This tool and practice is another one I stole from The Artists Way, although I made the addition of asking God too.
For anyone who doesn’t consider themselves religious or spiritual, I appreciate this sounds quite woo-woo.
But ever since I’ve been doing this I’ve honestly felt a great sense of relief.
Since it feels like I’m gaining support from a force greater than myself in my healing journey with a therapist.
And it doesn’t necessarily need to be Guardian Angel’s or God it could be your higher self, the universe, source or whatever else you feel comfortable with.
Since these work great with the Morning Pages as you can use your Morning Pages to listen out for answers to what you’re asking for advice and guidance on.
For instance, each night before I go to bed I start by thanking my guardian angels for something good, which has happened during the day.
Then I proceed to ask them for advice and guidance on something I’m struggling with.
So you hit two birds with one stone; your daily gratitude practice and reaching out for support from a higher power practice.
To bring this to life, here’s an example:
Dear God and Guardian Angels,
Thank you for supporting me in realising X,Y and Z or thank you for bringing a certain someone into my life, for my family (whatever you are grateful for that day).
I ask for advice and guidance on:
- healing even further from the trauma of my past
- overcoming feelings of anger and aggression
- overcoming feelings of self-pity
It’s not necessarily that the answers will appear to you in ways, which are recognisable to what your asking for advice and guidance on.
But if you pay attention you’ll find the information, which comes your way is supporting you in uncovering what you’ve asked for advice and guidance on.
To practice this, I use the same A4 notepad I use to undertake my morning pages, except…
I start them from the back of the notebook and work my way forward (as opposed to working from front to back).
And I do it right before I get into bed each night.
It only takes 3 – 5 minutes of your time so there’s no excuses.
Along with my recommendations above, buy Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way and commit to undertaking the activities recommended in the book.
So you can get the full context of Julia Cameron’s message and can see for yourself what I’m talking about.
As it’s only through understanding the WHY and undertaking the activities, you’ll be able to understand why I feel so-called to the tools and practices recommended.
Also, if you’re reading this and:
a) are not currently seeing a therapist
b) are based in the UK
Book an appointment with your GP at your local GP centre.
Once booked, ask your GP to provide you with a list of therapy practices in your area.
These are paid for, however, depending on your individual circumstances, they may be able to provide you with a discount.
So there you have it….three tools to grow outside your therapy sessions…
Silence, pausing, questioning and understanding, Morning Pages and asking your Guardian Angels/God for advice and guidance.
And how to put the tools into practice.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I would now love to know from you in the comments section below:
Whether you’ve tried any of the tools I’ve discussed above and the impact they’ve had on you.