Walking the Middle Path during COVID-19

March 11th was the last day my life resembled normal. On March 12, I worked my final shift at my event gig, but the city was beginning to go into lockdown and a whopping 3 people showed up.

In the 7 weeks that has passed, life has been both everything and nothing like what I would have expected it to be. For me it has been a time full of unique challenges, anxiety, stressors, mindfulness, and growth. I had expected to write daily during all this (what else is there to do when you live alone?). Instead I have found myself struggling with focus and attention more than I have in years.

At first I was angry with myself. I kept thinking “The world has slowed down, this is your chance. Take advantage of this time and make something of it for your brand.” But that has not been where my heart or my brain has been.

Like many of my clients, the psychological effects of months of uncertainty doubled with the financial impact of the world shutting down has been triggering for my trauma sensitive brain.

From a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs standpoint – its hard to work on actualization goals when your brain is stuck in survival mode.

Logically I know I am safe, and we will get through this. I’ve still had to pull out all my DBT skills to get through this time with some level of sanity. Mindfulness, meditation, check the facts(hard to do when no-one can agree on what is truth), distraction, self-soothe, radical acceptance, the list goes on. I’ve relied more on Distress Tolerance this month than in the preceding 5 years.

The one skill I keep coming back to is Walking the Middle Path. This is a time more than ever where this skill is applicable. Some days I’m really productive. Some days I watch netflix for 10 hours straight. (My binge of this has been The 100 – I highly recommend). But the goal is to find a balance – to create some semblance of a normal life and to make small strides while also acknowledging that my brain & spirit are not at 100%.

The key is not to beat myself up for the days that I am unproductive (non-judgmental stance) while still being able to acknowledge the small steps I am making each day towards a better life. I don’t have to come out of this time with exceptional productivity. I do have to come out of it with my sanity.

Throughout I’ve tracked small behaviors that are important to me. I have used this time to build a foundation for some skills I want to make a regular part of my existence. Jogging has been one in particular. But again it’s a middle path approach. Some days I’m not physically able to (this time has re-triggered migraines). I practice self compassion on those days. When the headache does lift, I get back at it (though it usually takes a major internal pep talk). I don’t have to be ready to run a marathon when this is all over, but I would like to be able to call myself a jogger. That means making the behavior at least a semi-regular part of my existence.

Of course the kicker in all of this, is just about the time we settle into our new routines everything changes again. And from what they are predicting it will likely be this way for several cycles as we adapt to this virus over the next 12 -18 months.

So please be kind to yourself during this period. Our brains don’t like being out of their routines. Expect your spirit to have days when it just needs to rest. But also don’t allow yourself to fall into the cycle of doing absolutely nothing either. While rest is good for the soul – too many days of rest just mimics depressive behavior.

Love & light in these trying times,
Jamie

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

DBT Skills for COVID-19

The world is feeling an unprecedented amount of anxiety.

Everyone’s life has been turned upside down.

Many are struggling to deal with negative emotions.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills provide a framework for understanding and managing emotions. So as the world is rapidly changing (and I have felt absolutely zero inspiration to blog at this point), I do feel that I can be helpful in this time by sharing what I know about DBT and how it fits in with our unique emotional needs.

This first video covers Emotion Regulation – Model For Experiencing Emotions. The info graph breaks emotions down into 5 main components, each of which can be “hacked” with a different skill set – giving you a variety of ways to help feel more in control in these trying times.

While I have logged thousands of hours teaching DBT skills, I’ll admit I’m a little rusty currently and I much prefer talking to a live class than YouTube (I bet I’ll feel like a pro by the time this is all over!) So I urge you to focus more on content than presentation (and please be kind). I promise you there’s lots of really helpful info throughout!

My goal (that i’m sharing with y’all for accountability) is to have next video up by Tuesday. Topic –
reducing vulnerability to emotion mind via build mastery skill & behavior/emotion tracking.

Stay safe and sane in these trying times my loves. We’re all in this together, we’re all a little frazzled and anxious. Practice compassion with yourself & others.

#covid-19 #strongerapart #alonetogether #selfquarantine #skills #dbtskills #copingwithcovid #anxiety #emotions #emotionregulation #helpfulhints #lifehack #vulnerabilityfactor #selfcompassion #cognitivedistortion

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Missed Opportunities for Growth

It’s no secret 2019 was not good to me…

I got stuck in a trauma loop,
I felt like the rug got pulled out from under my feet &
I am now in a place of completely rebuilding.

I’m currently two months into my phoenix moment. As I go through my days, I find life presents me with little cues. When strong emotions arise, I look for the connection the the events of the previous year and try to find healing in the current moment.

This morning while jamming to reggaeton on the radio, I realized one of my biggest bummers of the year is a situation where I totally let myself down.

I completely didn’t take advantage of one of the opportunities life offered me!

I have always had a yearning to be bilingual. I’ve got the customary high school & college Spanish courses under my belt and actually have a decent breadth of vocabulary. But education doesn’t make you conversationally capable. Practice does.

Living in Houston, this would have practical benefits for my life as well. There are plenty of opportunities to interact in Spanish on a daily basis & many jobs offer additional pay for bilingual hires.

(Unfortunately with current immigration practices there is also an increased need for bilingual trauma informed therapists to volunteer.)

So why did I not practice my conversational skills the 9 months that I lived with a native speaker?

In the beginning, I let my perfectionism and embarrassment get in the way. I didn’t want this guy who I was head over heels for to think less of me for my pronunciation mistakes.

As the months went by, I let my walls down in so many other ways. I never really did get past this hangup though. And for some reason my goal was no longer important enough to ask for him to help me with.

Maybe it was our dynamic. Everything was so chaotic and intense. On the days when I believed we were always going to be together, I’d tell myself there would be plenty of time later:
Let’s just get settled down in our life.
or
I know we’re going to the family reunion in July, so I’ll ask him to start working with me after the beginning of the year.

Well guess what?!?!? Spring is here. But our relationship is no more…

I squandered an opportunity to acquire a skill that I have always wanted and would have benefited me for the entirety of my life!

Because I was scared to be vulnerable in front of this person I cared for. Because I got consumed by the patterns of an unhealthy relationship. Because I didn’t prioritize my growth. Because I lost sight of me.

In any situation, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Change is the only constant. Let me encourage you today, to take that first step on learning something new.

How amazing would you feel about yourself, if you looked back a year from now and had a 365 days worth of experience doing THE thing? You know, the skill you’ve always wanted but for whatever reason not given yourself the time, education or practice to develop.

9 months would have been more than enough time for a person with my knowledge level to become conversationally fluent. I’m disappointed in myself that I let my insecurities get in the way. I may never have an opportunity to learn so organically again.

I am committing to myself and you guys that I won’t miss out on the next opportunities life gives me – in any arena!

Go out! Be the person! Live the life! Take the chance! Don’t be too scared to ask the person you’re with to help you grow! I’d love to hear what steps you are taking today – drop them in the comment section below 😊

Happy Monday Guys!
🌻Jamie

p.s. Want to know why learning new skills helps fight depression? Check out my Build Mastery to Battle Depression post!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

What kind of change do you need?

Understanding the difference between 1st & 2nd order change.
Originally published January 5, 2019 on jamieschmidtlpc.com

With the New Year upon us, many of us find ourselves in a time of self-reflection and intention setting for the upcoming year. While some find it cliché, I love using the New Year as a distinct starting point for a self-improvement project or two –especially since there a several factors that contribute to it being an ideal time for me to regroup and refocus in on some personal goals.

I come from a traditional southern family. Holidays are big events for us that involve lots of family time, heavy meals, and activities out the kazoo for three months on end. By January, I am always completely out of my schedule and yearning for routine, stability (and meals that don’t involve heavy cream)! I’ve enjoyed the time to play, but I am motivated by the idea of a fresh slate for and ready to create the systems that are going to be most helpful to me this year. 

As I look at my goals for the upcoming year I like to use this time to reflect and refine. Many of my goals stay the same from year to year – make healthy choices for my body and mind, live a life that is in line with my personal values, continue to develop my business in a way that feels authentic and sustainable for me. It is important to spend time assessing what did and didn’t work in the previous year, so that I can adapt my approach for even more success in the upcoming year. For me this means spending time in my journal logging my “Wins” for the year as well as my “Oops!” 

After I’ve got a clear picture of the previous year, I am ready to develop my plan for the upcoming year. When thinking about goals for myself and my clients, I like to borrow Amir Levy’s conceptualization of change used in industrial organizational psychology. When you modify an organization, change can occur in two distinctly different ways – 1st and 2nd order change. I think these concepts also translate to individuals- just think of yourself as your own mini-system. 

First order change involves modification to a current system. Making small changes step by step, to create cumulative differences over time. Think switching a soda for a water, or going for a walk on your lunch break instead of FB scrolling. We know that for many things this type of small swap can be a helpful approach to take. For example, dieters who begin by making small changes are much more likely to stay committed and return to their programs after missteps than those who make crash dietary changes across the board. 

Much of the mental health model and the process of therapy is linked to 1st order change. Therapists and clients work together to make behavioral / cognitive /emotional changes (while processing for insight) in the goal of seeing life improvements over a period of time. Major growth can be achieved this way; however, it can be slow. 

There is also another downfall to this way of adapting. Because we are making small changes to the system at a time, the original foundation is still in place. If we let our guard down, it can be fairly easy to slip back into old patterns and habits we are trying to avoid. Specifically in times of high stress we tend to default to that which we know best (or longest!)

Second order change is more radical – a complete transformation of the system. Like the reality TV show where an expert steps in and helps a business completely restructure over the course of a week. It involves eliminating systems that are ineffective and creating new systems that are specifically tailored to that organization’s needs. It is change that is multidimensional & multicomponent. When fully committed to, 2nd order change can result in a new worldview and experiencing a new state of being. 

Many, many people are looking for big changes in their life. They want a life that is different, more fulfilling, and they can be proud of. AND they want to be able to move forward in such a way that there is no possibility of going back. Most even know the steps they would need to take to get to this dream self. But fear holds them back from fully committing and investing in the changes that would make this possible. If this feels like you, I would encourage you to think about the approach you have been taking. 

Have you found yourself staring at the same list of goals year after year and not making much progress? Or maybe you start the year of great but always fizzle somewhere in the middle? This could be because your first order approach always leaves you vulnerable to old habits and ways of thinking.

Are you willing to do something more dramatic to get the changes you have always wanted? 

We are all capable of radical transformation. Any change we want to make, we can commit to fully and make in a way that it is 2nd order. Due diligence should be spent on research and preparation + finding the right support network to assist in your major transformation. Then it just requires facing fears and trusting that when we make the right decisions for ourselves, the universe will support us and have our backs. 

What would that revolutionary change look like for you? Would it be leaving a job you hate? Maybe ending a relationship that you know is unhealthy? Taking a risk you’ve always dreamed of? What would it feel like next New Year, to be a year into building the life of your dreams? Make 2019 the year of no return!!

Love & Light

Jamie Schmidt, LPC

#walkurhuman #soulpreneur  #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #effective #neurofeedback #alternativehealth #counselorlife #therapistwhogototherapy #lifecoach #healing #mymentalhealthjourney #higherconsciousness #tomballtx #mentalhealthblog #dbt #anxiety #awareness #screwthesystem #holistic #goodvibetribe #speakyourtruth #notyourmamastherapist #nonjudgmentalstance #mindfuless #selfesteem #confidence #selfconfidence #selftalk #houston #goals #newyear #newyou #2019 #lifeworthliving #therapy #changeyourlife

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Build Mastery to Battle Depression

Yesterday morning I repaired my broken vacuum cleaner.

I purchased it in May of last year & it had quit working in October.  Unfortunately I had lost the receipt during the craziness of last summer.  So even though it was still under warranty, I knew I would have trouble getting it replaced/fixed.  I asked my ex to take a look at it, but he said it just needed to be thrown away. 

On Monday, I used my best DEARMAN skill to email Hoover and ask them to send me a replacement.  They declined.  Bummer!!!😖  A lot of times, the confidence and clarity I can convey with a DEAR is enough to get my needs met.

Life had a better lesson in store for me this week. 😊

Hoover did assist me by sending a list of possible problem-solving techniques.  So yesterday morning I grabbed my screwdriver and went at it.  It took about an hour of my time, and there were 4 different clogs that I had to find.  But find them I did!! 

How proud I was of myself when I plugged it in and saw the dirt whirling in the canister.  I did that!!  I took something that I was told was trash (that the man in my life was unwilling to even attempt to salvage) and made it work.  Plus I saved myself over a $100 on a replacement.

What a surge of pride! I was capable of doing this thing.  All it took was a little bit of research ➕ willingness to get my hands dirty ➕ letting go of my preconceived notions that “fixing appliances is a man’s job”.  

This is what the BUILD MASTERY emotion regulation skill is all about.  Located in the reducing vulnerability to emotions section of the workbook, this skill is about deliberate engagement in activities to raise your sense of self-competence. 

DBT defines Mastery as “doing things that make you feel competent, self-confident, in control & capable of mastering things.” 

As young children we constantly build mastery because life is always presenting us with new opportunities to explore.  As we age though, stagnation tends to sit in.  By our mid twenties many of us have settled into careers & fairly stable lives.  Each day we wake up, follow the routine, and then repeat the cycle the next day.

When we do reach that place where we have finished our formal education, it is important to continue to make learning an important aspect of our lives.  Learning should be fun – a lot of times we forget that because we have experienced so much “forced learning.” We were wired to be curious about our surroundings to want to explore and develop understanding of novel experiences. Plus aquiring new skills across domains can help you increase balance in your life.

Mastery is a major buffer against depression. If you have found yourself in that stagnant space lately, how can you reintroduce mastery to your life?  Maybe it’s starting a new hobby or reengaging in an old favorite that you have let go by the wayside.  The focus is not on learning everything or becoming an expert.  It is all about being able to observe and acknowledge the little wins along the way. 

When we accomplish a task that is hard (especially one that is almost out of our zone of capability) our brains get a boost of all the feel-good chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc.). Combine the bio-hack effects of this with self-esteem gains of mastering something you could not do before – its no wonder this is one of my favorite skills!

When we are engaging in a growth-based life, we are constantly building mastery.  The more capable we feel in our abilities to handle the environment around us, the stronger protective buffer we build for moments when we find ourselves vulnerable. 

I’d love to hear how you’re building mastery in your life today!

Namaste,
Jamie🌻

P.S. After I finish typing this, I’m off to another build mastery task – a Saturday morning bootcamp class I can’t believe I committed to. Wish me luck!! I know it’s going to kick my ass AND I’m going to feel great 💪 about doing it!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

Confessions of a Recovering Control Freak

The warranty on my car is about to run out & it has been having a couple of intermittent issues. Since I didn’t have any face-to-face sessions or parties booked for my side gig this week, I thought I’d save a couple of hundred bucks by not getting a rental that I didn’t really need.

The few commitments I did have this week are in walking distance to my house (<2 miles). Plus I figured the seclusion without wheels would be a good time to focus on a couple of full day projects I have been avoiding. In my head this was all a perfectly acceptable plan when I scheduled to drop my car off Monday morning.

I had prepared for the week by making sure I had done my banking & grocery shopping on Sunday. Plus logically I know that it’s 2020 – Uber, Favor, Prime, Walmart. I can have anything I want on my doorstep, seriously in a matter of minutes. I personally happen to be a fairly frugal individual.

Monday morning rolls around, and I am GRUMPY. One of those wake up on the wrong side of the bed days. There were several small frustrations that piled up, but more than anything I realized I was experiencing high levels of anxiety. It seems the closer I came to not having my wheels, the more out of control I felt.

This thought of being “stuck” at any location and not being able to control when I come or go brings back all these childhood feelings. I experienced this uncomfortable state frequently – wether it was during fighting between my parents, or the constant being passed back and forth life for divorced kids, or the really bad things happened when I was little. A common theme of my childhood was I don’t get a say.

My adult life is tailored (more extremely than I realized) to making sure I do have a say at any given moment. Not having my car means I don’t have near as much freedom and independence as I am accustomed to. This was a decision I had made in my wise mind (the benefit of the saved money was worth the trade off of being stuck at home). But as the time approach I could feel the anxiety rooting deeper in me.

So how did I handle it?

  1. I noticed it as it was occurring. Mindfulness of emotions allowed me to say – Hey Jamie you seem to be overreacting at these little frustrations. What’s really going on here? Oh ya that feels like some anxiety intermingled in there.
  2. Once I observed & described my anxiety, I leaned into it so I could hear the message it was conveying to me. What is the fear thought/belief that is causing my to currently experience this emotion? This line of inquiry allowed me to identify the childhood “hangup” that caused the initial firing.
  3. I used checked the facts. Are there any parallels between my current situation and then? Yes, I don’t have the ability to get in my car and leave at any given moment. But I live alone (so I don’t need the ability to escape from anyone) & I was actually looking forward to this short period of isolation when I planned it. So anxiety doesn’t fit the facts to the current moment.
  4. Fear isn’t valid in the current situation, but I do know where the past hurt it is coming from. So I take a moment to validate and soothe that old wound. Young Jamie didn’t get anyone to hold her and tell her it was ok to feel how she did in those moments of chaos. This is a moment of healing. When I can acknowledge the realness of the pain she suffered and soothe that little girls hurts, then they don’t need to continue to re-appear each time life slightly resembles old cycles.
  5. I gave myself some more time & did a favorite distract technique. I moved my drop off appointment back and detoured at Goodwill for an hour of Monday bargain hunting. I got grounded and allowed my emotions to return to baseline before I handed over my car.

I’m always telling people DBT is all about skill stacking!!!!

I combined five skills:
Observe & Describe
Mindfulness of Emotions
Check the Facts
Self Validation
Activities (from Wisemind ACCEPTS)


This grouping allowed me to stop my anxiety in its tracks and unravel this whole tangle of childhood stuff that was obviously still impacting me. Validation of those childhood hurts is such an important piece to the puzzle.

This was an old emotion impacting my current life.

When these things come up, it can be disheartening. Why is it still effecting me? I challenge you to change your perspective. Each time an old wound reappears – instead of seeing it as a burden to bear, reframe it as an opportunity for growth. Can you soothe your initial pain? You likely didn’t have the skills to when it happened (I sure didn’t as a child). You do now. You are ENOUGH, you can be your own HERO. You can begin by just acknowledging, validating & grieving when these moments arise.

What skills do you use when you find yourself triggered by old hurts? How do you stack your DBT Skills to be more effective? I would love to hear about your journey in the comments! There is so much we can learn through the sharing of our personal stories.

Namaste,
Jamie

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

A Spiritual Pilgrimage on Your Journey to Wellness

Faith is a touchy topic for me. While my trauma history (and other events of my childhood) left me distrusting of organized religious practice, my understanding of mental health accepts that spirituality is a vital component of a wellness driven life.

I’ve got plenty of personal hangups regarding the Christian faith. The events of my early childhood made it difficult for me to even begin to conceptualize a loving God. Instead I have spent most of my life grappling with the idea of a foreboding and judgmental power that turned its back on me when I was merely a defenseless child.

In my 20’s I sought peace by trying to come to terms with a different brand of spirituality. I have studied Buddhism and the Zen principles that DBT finds its rooting in, I’ve attended Kundalini yoga practices & drum circles and meditated in salt tanks.

My personal understanding of the universe comes from recognizing and respecting the points of intersection of these varied practices. But at 30, I’ve found this intellectualization is no longer enough for me. My heart yearns for more.

Theorizing on life just isn’t doing it for me anymore. The women I respect the most, they have a peace in their life that they directly contribute to their relationship with their higher power. Faith is more than just a thought process for them, it is an integral part of their everyday experience.

As I’ve begun the process of restructuring my life, I have made my search for faith a cornerstone priority. I’ve begun attending services at a Methodist church in my hometown.

Overall it’s been a healing experience. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to examine my own thoughts and biases as old emotions arise every time I attend. I’ve realized that I’ve held some pretty deep prejudices for a long time. Part of my growth means letting go of these assumptions and allowing for positive interactions to structure new schemas around.

For Ash Wednesday service, instead of focusing on fasting (something I have traditionally associated with penance and necessary payment for sin), the minister spoke of taking this period of time to have a personal pilgrimage to God.

She encouraged each congregant to spend the next forty days focused on their personal journey with God and the aspects of it that most need attunement. This I could get behind.

For me, fasting (or the idea of giving up anything) is likely to bring out all my wonderful black/white coping mechanisms. I’m all in, until I slip up once and then I’m all out. Which then leads to the shame and negative self talk – why don’t I just follow through?

This felt like a reasonable ask (and way less likely to trigger my neurotic tendencies). Could I spend the next month prioritizing my spiritual journey? Could I try to deepen my understanding & connection to my higher power during this time? Yes, I am willing to do both of those things.

I have no idea where the journey will take me as I make this pilgrimage. What I do know, is I am open to what the universe unveils to me. Each day I take the next right step – with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and heart ready to receive the lessons I have yet to learn.

It’s spring here in Texas & the bluebonnets have begun to pop up along the highways. The changing of seasons aligns perfectly with the Easter themes of life, death & rebirth.

No matter your spiritual background, this time of year lends itself to reflection. What do you want to let go of in the winter of last year? How are you being reborn this spring? What would it mean to you to focus on your spiritual journey for the next few weeks? Are you willing to dive deeper into this arena of your life on your path to life long wellness? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

Love & light,
Jamie🌻

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

DBT Mindfulness What Skills: Observe, Describe, Participate

Mindfulness is the act of being fully #present to the current moment.

In DBT we focus on letting go of judgments and the need to see things as right/wrong.

Each moment is just as it should be.

  • DBT breaks mindfulness into six core components
  • Think of the What Skills as Levels of Mindfulness
  • You can only do 1 at any given time 
    (but you will pair it with all 3 How Skills)

OBSERVE
Observation is all about taking in data of what is going on around you.  This involves attending to external events + your emotions, thoughts, sensations & behavioral responses.  True observation is pre-verbal:  it requires the ability to sit and just notice what is going on in your environment without having to place labels on what you are experiencing.

DESCRIBE
Describe is the action of labeling your observations. To strengthen your describe skills practice replacing judgmental language with fact-based descriptions. Remember that opinions, interpretations & assumptions are not facts.
You must be able to observe something with your sense to accurately describe it.  For example: you cannot describe another person’s emotional state, but you can describe the mannerisms or other outward expressions that you notice.

PARTICIPATE
Participation is the full and active engagement in the moment. Similar to the concept of flow – the participant becomes one with the activity and is able to respond spontaneously and with ease to changes in the environment. From a DBT perspective, the goal of your mindfulness practice is to reach a life of complete participation

DBT Mindfulness What Skills Infographic by @awakeshegoes 
Observe Describe Participate

DBT Skills Training Handout & Worksheets. Linehan (2015) p. 53

For more DBT infographics check out JamieSchmidtlpc.com.

If you are interested in learning the DBT skills, I offer skills coaching via FaceTime, e-mail & my signature 90 Day DBT Bootcamp. Click the image below for more info!

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Letting Go of Childhood Trauma

A client asked me the other day “How do I really let go of all this shit?”

My response was to ask her some questions requiring further self analysis. Really though I was stumped by the inquiry. I don’t have a quick easy DBT trick for this like I do in a lot of situations. I can tell you some skills associated with the process.

But in all honesty, I don’t know how to let go of the type of thing she is referring to.

In the moment I felt like a dummy for not having a better answer for her. But if there was a simple answer for this, I would have found it by now in my own search for relief.

My own beliefs is there are somethings you never fully let go of.

The events of my early childhood. They shaped every aspect of who I am.

There is no magic crystal ball I can look into and see my potential fulfilled had I not been marred by this. What I do know is my career choice, romantic relationships, familial relationships, many aspects of my personality, my likes/dislikes, the quirks that are uniquely defining to me – all of these things were irreparably altered by the events that occurred so many years ago.

You can’t just LET GO of the things that made you at the core who you are. Right?

The best answers DBT has for this question are found in the Distress Tolerance Skills. These suggest peace can be acquired through the practice of acceptance and finding meaning.

I have fully accepted the things that occurred. It took until I was almost 30 to really come to grips with all of it even though in my heart I had always known. I had begun processing it over a decade early. My brain just gave me the last pieces of the puzzle once I was finally strong enough to handle them.

🧘🏼‍♀️My Personal Practice of Acceptance🧘🏼‍♀️
-Not living in denial.
When I have a bad PTSD day, I call it just that. This all came up, it fucked up my life, and I am the only one who lives the day to day reality of surviving it. I get to call the shots on what I need. I ended relationships last year that I had only been able to tolerate through denial and a level of mental separation that I was no longer willing to put myself through.
-Owning my story. The people I am closest to have shared their darkness with me and they are ok with me doing so in return. It took me a full year to find my footing and during that time I didn’t want to share any of what was going on with anybody other than a handful of people. Now that I am stronger I want my friends to understand what happened and the changes that have since occurred in me.
-Practicing non-judgmental stance in regards to my symptoms. A symptom is not a character defect. I cannot control how often I have night terrors (or the fact that I am completely nonfunctioning on the days after). Blaming myself or pushing beyond what I am capable of will not help me get any closer to being healthy.

The other skill we often discuss is Finding Meaning. To me this has always been one of the easier parts of the journey. I know that my unique clinical approach and the way I interact with clients is shaped by the traumatic events that I survived and the secondary trauma of incorrect diagnosis within the mental health system. I am good at what I do because I have the same repertoire of experiences as many of my clients.

My purpose in life is to help others. I’m a highly trained professional and my clinical experience has helped further shape my understanding of trauma, human suffering, the needs of the spirit and our collective soul. But I’ve never truly been happy working in the mental health field.

So for me, acceptance & finding meaning hasn’t really taken it all the way though. As I pondered this conversation today though, I believe the answer is to take it a step 👣 further. You let go (the most fully because again there are some things that never 100% leave) when you move beyond finding meaning and into living your meaning.

My trauma work, took me away from my work with clients for the past 9 months. Ethically I knew it was the right ☑️ decision. But it has defintely been an extra layer of complication to all of this. Beyond the financial implications, there was the loss of all the positive things that come to me because of the work I do. That’s been really hard.

I am ready though to fully commit 100% now to living my meaning. I think if I can build a life that I truly love, then I will be able to more fully release the hold that this darkness still maintains on my life. For me a big part of this is having the courage to be who I truly am and to be firm in my decisions on what is best for my life (even if its everybody doesn’t agree).

I know this means making millions of small choices on a minute⏱ by minute basis. Each time I choose to LOVE JAMIE and do what is best for Jamie, I am creating a solid foundation for my new self to grow upon. And I have a feeling, in six months she’s going to be someone I’m really proud of!!

I’d love to hear any & all of your thoughts on letting go, acceptance, finding meaning, living your meaning, etc.. I feel like Letting Go is a topic I still have plenty more to learn.

Much love💗
Jamie

Looking for further reading 👀 check out my Trauma 101: Before You Start Your Trauma Journey post!

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey

A Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Love & Dating

Two People Kissing Holding Sign that says Highly Sensitive Person's Guide to Love

Originally posted on Jamieschmidtlpc.com/blog February 19, 2019. Ah, I don’t know how I missed this one on my V-day series this year!!! So here it is a week late. Still totally valid 😊

As an empath and emotionally sensitive individual, I thought I would share some reflections on love 💗 and romantic relationships in honor of Valentine’s Day.

For most highly sensitive people (HSP) love is an absolute paradox. It can be the most amazing and wonderful feeling in the world. But many HSP would also tell you that the path to healthy love has been bumpy and scattered with plenty of craptastic relationships along the way. 

Why is that? There are a couple of things about us that make us particularly vulnerable to unhealthy relationships. A lot of this has to do with how we experience emotions🧠. To better understand this, a little background info on HSP. When we talk about emotional sensitivity we are referring to a cluster of 3 traits:

A) More data = higher baseline. HSP process more sensory data than the average person.  They often report higher levels of sensitivity to visual, sound & touch stimuli. They can feel change in nuances in conversations. Because they are processing all of this additional data, their bodies & brains begin each day at higher levels of activation than those who are not emotionally sensitive. 

B) Larger variations in emotional expression. Emotionally sensitive individuals experience a greater breadth of emotions. Think of the difference between a person who feels only sad or happy (non HSP) vs. a person who feels despairdisappointeddepressedcontentjoyous or exuberant (HSP)

C) Slower return to baseline. Once an emotion is activated more time must pass for an HSP to return to their original chemical/hormonal levels than a non HSP.  Thus emotions tend to stack up because the HSP requires more time to self-regulate between life events. 

What does all this mean when it comes to LOVE?

1) We love big!  When we love, we do it whole-heartedly. A defining aspect of emotional sensitivity is the capacity to feel larger variations in emotions, and this is true for both positive and negative emotions. Thus when we are actively experiencing love we are feeling it at higher levels than the average population.

2) Love makes us let down our guards. Many of us have been wounded by life. So when we find that person that we actually feel comfortable to let our guard down with, we may do so too fast or too fully. While loving relationships are a place for the sharing of intimate details, this should be a reciprocal process that happens over time. Sometimes we do not realize we are sharing way more than is being shared with us in return. 

3) Empathy. Emotional sensitivity also comes with the ability to experience other people’s emotions. Sometimes this may even be to the extent that you understand what they are feeling more completely than they do themselves (because emotional sensitivity has required you to seek out knowledge about the function and interaction of emotions).  Being in a position of understanding and being capable of validating other’s emotions can lead to lopsided relationships if your partner is not capable of providing this for you in return. 

3b) Unhealthy partners. Because our paths have led us to examine our own wounds, we are often more accepting of the darkness in others. This can lead us to a willingness to tolerate unacceptable behaviors in others, as we can understand them to be symptoms of trauma.  The HSP / Narcissistic relationship is a documented phenomena. While it is admirable to be able to see the pain beyond inappropriate behaviors in others, as HSP we must be careful not to allow ourselves to be manipulated into meeting the needs of others at our own demise. 

If these descriptions feel all too familiar or you find yourself stuck in a pattern of unhealthy relationships, I encourage you to take a few moments now for reflection. What allows this dynamic to continue to occur? Are you contributing to self-defeating patterns? Awareness is always the first step to change. Even if you have engaged in similar relationships your entire life, you do have the power to break the patterns. You can move forward and create new, fulfilling relationships. 

Emotionally sensitive individuals need very clear limits within relationships so that they do not lose themselves over time. The traits of emotional sensitivity mandate that HSP practice self-care and dedicate time to mindfulness and introspection if they hope to function at their optimal level. Love can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, but as with all things there must be balance in life. 

The sharing of life stories and intimate details should always be reciprocal between partners. It is also imperative that HSP put effort into maintaining other important relationships in their life and not become isolated by focusing only on their romantic relationship. 

The key is to take time and not jump head over heals into relationships. I know this can be really hard, as it means going against how you are wired as an HSP.   In the long run, moving slow will protect you from getting caught up in the wrong relationship and falling for the wrong love. 

Are you a HSP? I would love to hear some of your experiences navigating the waters of love. Share your story in the comment section below 🌻

Ciao, 

Jamie Schmidt
jamieschmidtlpc.com
IG: awakeshegoes

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#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #journey