Personal Paradigm Shift
I use an integrative, mindfulness-based approach to therapy which is cognitively grounded within a framework of family systems theory. I work conceptually with metaphors of transformation that facilitate the changes people seek in their lives. Exploring and uncovering the beliefs and assumptions we have about our lives, many of which are hidden, gives us the keys to free ourselves from the limitations we unnecessarily place on ourselves. Working together with this dynamic process often leads to a personal paradigm shift that allows us to live the lives we are meant to live.
Therapy is about change, and consciousness is the key element in change. In order to change we need to be able to really take a look at ourselves and observe how we operate in the world. This is important in therapy sessions and even more important in between sessions in the real world where we live our lives. We all operate on auto-pilot most of our so-called "waking" lives. Our eyes may be open, but we are actually mostly sleepwalking through our lives. Awareness is empowering and gives us choices in our lives.
Our BioPsychoSocioSpiritual Diet
Another focus that can be very helpful is paying attention to our "diet." We all know this can be useful in the context of our actual physical diets, the food we eat. We understand that we can build our bodies with quality materials, or junk food, and we can burn clean fuel, or polluting low-grade fuel. Extend this concept to the holistic idea of our BioPsychoSocioSpiritual Diet. Consider for a moment what we "feed" ourselves across the various dimensions of who we are. In addition to our physical selves we have our psychological selves, our social selves and our spiritual selves. How well we feed the multiple facets of who we are is a huge factor in our well-being.
Physical : We can certainly extend the attention we give to our physical selves, the "bio" part. In addition to the quality of our actual food, are we exercising our bodies sufficiently, are we sleeping adequately, are we taking time to relax and let go of our stress?
Psychological: Turning to the psychological realm, what are we "feeding" ourselves there? How do we think about our lives? What do we read? What do we watch on TV? Are we "feeding" ourselves with quality, nurturing and life-enhancing psychological "foods"?
Social : Then in the social realm, are we spending time with people we enjoy and love in our lives, or are we isolating and starving ourselves? When we spend time socially are we energized by positive people, or are we drained by negativity?
Spiritual : Spiritually, does the universe feel like a friendly place? Do we have a religious, spiritual and/or philosophical perspective that gives our lives meaning and purpose? Do our belief system and practices nourish and sustain our spirits? These are questions most of us have never really thought about. There are choices to be made that will make a huge difference in the quality of our lives. Examining and consciously engaging these issues begins to lay the foundation for true well-being in your life.
Our Beliefs and Assumptions: You Are the Author
Often the next step is looking at the beliefs and assumptions with which we operate in our lives. Based on how we were raised and our subsequent life experience we have learned what life is all about. This guides us, for better or worse through our lives. Many of these beliefs are quite beneficial and useful, eg. get a good education and work hard and you will prosper, look both ways before you cross the street, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, etc. However, some of our beliefs may not be quite so beneficial eg. no good deed goes unpunished, never trust a man (or a woman), nothing I do ever works out, etc. Furthermore, many of our operating assumptions are actually hidden. Not that they can't be found; its just that we've never really looked for them. And yet our lives are run by them.
Examining our operating beliefs and assumptions can be very useful, and once we realize that we are the authors of our lives we can actually modify them. We can keep the ones that serve us well and change the ones that don't. This is very empowering and changes the course of our lives. We are all works in progress...and its never too late to rewrite and redesign.
Optical Life Illusions
Optical illusions can be very deceiving. We've all seen examples of optical illusions that look like something they're not. Aspects of our lives can operate in a similar fashion. We see our life in a particular way and don’t realize that there may be another way of looking at it. W e all look at things through our own individual lens that has a certain amount of distortion built in. This is based on our own unique life experience and our understanding of it. Seeing that there may be other ways of looking at our lives can be very empowering and gives us the keys to free ourselves from our own self-imposed mental slavery.