Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors–Life Coach and Living a Life You Love

I’ve been working toward completing my certificate as a life coach. One image to describe a Life Coach is childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Life Coaching as a Lever
Using a lever at the right place with the right amount of energy is how a person can move a heavy object. A lever actually magnifies the power of the user. Life coaching is a tool to leverage your own energy leading to profound change. A coach simply helps you identify that spot to get the most out of the energy. With a focused use of energy, you move the ROCKS in your journey.

Life Coach as Creating a Plan
What would a Life You Love Look like? Write it down (i.e., on PAPER). Create a map of where you want to go. The map is a handy tool to remind us of where you are going in your life when you get lost, or otherwise run into a detour.

Life Coach as Pruning
Every year, I prune back the trees and bushes in my yard to help them grow stronger next year. Using a Life Coach can help you identify patterns of thoughts and behaviors that you might remove with a pruning SCISSORS to help you grow into Living a Life You Love. (This is different from therapy which might use the metaphor of replanting and re-landscaping-i.e. moving the tree or bush.)

I work as both a psychologist (MN) and a Life Coach. I have a general focus, as well as specialties in recovery and sexuality. For more information on the coaching I provide, please see:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

White-knuckling in the area of sex doesn't work.

The human mind is constructed in such a way that when you tell yourself NOT to think about something, it becomes all you think about. For example, I want you to think about your favorite dessert, or meal. Seriously, think about enjoying this dessert. Can you feel your mouth watering simply with the thought of the dessert or meal? Now, tell your self to STOP thinking about the dessert or meal. STOP thinking about it! You can’t. In a similar way, telling yourself you will never have sex or won’t thing about sexuality only reinforces the pattern of thinking about sex. Attempting to avoid addressing sexuality through abstinence or force of will is called white-knuckling. Eventually your level of exhaustion or resentment will overcome the force of will and you will revert to the pattern of unhealthy sexual behavior. Similar to learning how to eat in healthy ways, a person needs to find a way to engage in HEALTHY sexuality.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Your body and sexual health.

In moving toward sexual health and recovery, it is important to engage not only your thoughts and feelings in the process, but also your body. Sexual health will include the integration of your body with your thoughts and feelings. There are a number of items to consider as you gain awareness of your body. Pay attention to the touch. How soft/hard is the experience? What is the level of pressure? Where is the touch occurring? Notice the temperature; is it warm cold? What sounds are present? How comfortable do you feel in your body? Does it appear fluid or stiff? What smells are present? Any tastes? What do you see? These are questions to help you discover your body in the experience of sexual health.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What kind of cookie are you making? Understanding Cross Compulsivity

A metaphor to understand cross-compulsivity is the process of making a cookie. One of the first things you do in making cookies is to review the list of ingredients. Typically this list includes flour, eggs, water, sweetener, fat, and a raising agent. Beyond the basics, most of the other ingredients reflect the type of cookie you are making. If you’re making chocolate chip cookies, you need chocolate chips. If you want oatmeal raisin, you need those ingredients. White-chocolate, macadamia with cran-raisin requires those ingredients.

Using the metaphor further, a person can make a slight change in the ingredients and achieve different results. For example, there are many options in the type of fat to use. If you use butter, you get a soft, creamy cookie. Margarine gives you are smaller, harder cookie. (In the cooking field, these nuances are a big deal!) Each of the different types of fat results in slightly different taste and textures.

Coming back to cross-compulsivity, many of the ingredients between cross-compulsive behaviors are the same. Whether it is sex, drugs, eating, spending, or other form of acting out, there are overlapping ingredients. It is the specific behavior that adds the type of cross-compulsivity similar to the types of ingredients that define the type of cookies (chocolate vs oatmeal vs sugar vs peanut butter, and so on). Drugs create the flavor of drug addiction; sex means sexual compulsivity; eating means eating disorders and so on. This similarity helps explain why a person might address or “fix” one problem behavior, and simply switch to a different problem area. It also helps why addressing the underling cycle is important. Similar to the cookie, there are similar ingredients within the acting-out cycle. In my approach I use thoughts, feelings and high-risk situations as the ingredients to the acting out cycle. It is important to identify the basic ingredients to your acting out cycle versus only focusing on the problematic area. Otherwise, you risk simply changing the type of cookie you are making in your life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Buddhist Psychology

As part of my personal growth journey, I'm taking this class on Buddhist psychology. The text book, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology is amazing. I recommend it for everyone.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Intimacy Wheel of Life

Today I worked with a tool labeled “The Wheel of Life.” It is essentially a pie chart that has a number of content areas such as financial, relationship, work, recreation, etc. The questions to ponder are about helping any one of us move a good life to a great life. After reviewing the Wheel of Life, I immediately thought of two additional versions/adaptions. First, I thought of the Sexual Health Wheel. I’ll save that idea for a future blog. The other one was the Intimacy Wheel. Here are the 12 types of intimacy based on a model I like.

1. Recreational intimacy (sharing fun, hobbies, recreation; leisure; refills my wells of energy)

2. Intellectual intimacy (sharing the world of ideas; a genuine touching of persons based on mutual respect for each other’s minds; e.g., reading, discussing, studying, learning)

3. Work intimacy (sharing common tasks, supporting each other in bearing responsibilities
e.g., raising family, house, yard chores)

4. Commitment intimacy (togetherness derived from dedication to a common cause; values; e.g., Working together for a political cause)

5. Aesthetic intimacy (sharing experiences of beauty; e.g., music, nature, art, theater)

6. Communication intimacy (being honest, trusting, truthful, loving; giving constructive feedback)

7. Emotional intimacy (sharing of significant feelings; touching of the innermost selves)

8. Creative intimacy (helping each other to grow, to be co-creators, not “reformers” of each other)

9. Sexual intimacy (sensual emotional satisfaction, experience of sharing and self-abandon in the physical merging of two persons, fantasies & desires)

10. Crisis intimacy (standing together in the major and minor tragedies of life; closeness in pain and

11. Spiritual intimacy (the Awe-ness of sharing intimate concerns, the meanings of life, philosophies and religious experience)

12. Conflict intimacy (standing up with/to each other; facing and struggling with differences together; ”fighting”

Answer the following questions

1) Rank each one on a 1-10 point scale. 1 Means you are not satisfied at all in this area. 10 Means you are completely satisfied in this area of intimacy.
2) As you look at the list, reflect on what you notice.
3) Pick one area that has the biggest energy or attraction for you. This should be the one that will have the biggest impact in your life if it was to improve dramatically. Avoiding picking the one you think you “should” pick, but the one that speaks to you.
4) Think about what would make this area a 10? (If you’re completely satisfied (already a 10), what would make it an 11?)
5) List 2-3 ideas that you could do to bring the 10 closer?
6) What is one of the things (or part of a thing) that you are willing to do this week?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You are a sexual being that begins from a place of wholeness.

The basic premise I bring to my work is that you are first and foremost a whole person. Yes, you are a person whose sexuality is sacred. How often have you been told that your sexuality is already whole and worthy of esteem? In the area of sexuality, rarely do we start from the place of sacredness of sexuality. Even linking the term sacred and sexuality brings confusion, shame, fear, and suspicion. Our society shames sexuality. Many religious traditions link sexuality to sinfulness and brokenness. The domain of psychology often focuses on fixing the negative aspects in an individual’s life. Chemical Health and Sexual Health Recovery is a process of surrendering to the addiction and compulsive behaviors, and acknowledging the brokenness of life as a result of the addiction/compulsivity.

Perhaps along the way, you’ve stumbled. Heck, we all do. Nevertheless, in the beginning you started in an honored place. This honored place included an integration of your sexuality as a positive energy in your life. In our current society, this seems impossible to conceptualize. What would it look like to come back to the place of integration, wholeness, and yes, even sacredness of sexuality? What would it look like if for the next moment, you saw your sexuality as a profound gift? How would your life change if you embraced this energy?