Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Helps People Heal?

What helps people heal?  I asked in my journal a few weeks before I met my husband back in early 1998.  —not so much physically, but emotionally and Spiritually…it was not the first time I’d pondered that question.  I had spent two years in a PhD program in Industrial Organizational Psychology digging in to the basics of psychology and work team effectiveness.  But, I wanted more, to go deeper…so I delved in to Counseling Psychology…I spent two years learning theories and training in a group Psychiatric practice…placing people in drug studies for the FDA at the same time training under a Jungian therapist….still asking…what really helps people heal…

By this time in 1998, I’d worked for several years in a well-known Psychiatric Hospital and Treatment Center….learning so much about healing….and yet, still wanting more…asking what helps people heal?

My husband introduced me to many forms of healing and in fact we own a Wellness Center together today.  Through several modalities, I’ve seen people’s lives transformed.  Yet, I am intrigued at this point in my life by one methodology that I’ve known about for decades.  We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat,” right?  I’d like to talk to you today about how “You are what you think.” 

Although I’d heard that our thoughts could have an impact on our lives through the power of positive thinking back in the 80s and studied cognitive behavior therapy in graduate school, it has been a subject that has evolved for me over the years.  I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned.  Maybe you’ve heard about this form of therapy or already practice this form of being aware of your thoughts now, but I invite you to listen with an open mind because I’ve found that even if we’ve heard something 1000 times, in that 1000 and first time, we can hear it in a completely new way and have that ah-ha experience.   The one where you’re ready and able to apply the knowledge and make the changes that heretofore had eluded you.  That’s been my recent experience with how thoughts affect our lives and that is my wish for you, today as well.

My intention today is to either educate you or remind you that our thoughts impact our feelings and our actions for better or for worse. 
We have both healthy and toxic thoughts and it is possible and in fact essential that we actively choose the thoughts we allow to rent space in our brains. 

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a Cognitive Neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology.   She has studied and researched the Mind-Brain connection since the 1980s.  She explains that the brain is part of the Physical Body and is controlled by our mind.  Research is mounting for evidence of neuroplasticity—that is the ability of the brain to change.  Neuro meaning brain and plastic being to change.  So the old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…”—not true.  Or that excuse you may have heard yourself use, “It’s just the way I am…” –not so true either. Research shows now that our thinking can alter genetic expression.  That’s a bold assertion.  We are designed to be able to change our brains, but it does take some effort.  In fact, it takes a full 21 days to physically break down a thought and create a new one. 

If you’re into quick fixes like I am, you may want some proof now that what I’m saying has some truth to it.  Let’s try an experiment right now with how our thoughts can impact how we feel.  Let me ask you this…have you ever been attacked by ANTS?  No, I’m not talking about the little black or red bugs that visit you at your picnics.  I’m talking about the more incessant pests called Automatic Negative Thoughts.  They are cynical, gloomy thoughts that run like background noise in your head.  You probably aren’t even aware that they’re there.  Have you ever caught yourself in some situation and your ANT is “I can’t handle this”  “I just can’t handle this”—maybe your boss is making demands you think are unreasonable, your relationship is stressful, or you’re experiencing a financial challenge.  You inner chatter screams, “I can’t handle this” and your body listens.  It sounds the alarm and sets off the stress response alerting all systems of the danger.  Pupils dilate, blood is routed away from the stomach and to the large leg muscles and arms to more easily fight or flee.  But, we can’t haul off and punch our bosses or our significant others or run from challenges…or at least we shouldn’t.

Wanna know how to squash the “I can’t handle this” ANT? You notice when you’re saying it and consciously choose the thought, “I can handle this” and I like to tack on a validating statement such as “I can handle this…even though it sucks…or I can handle this even though it’s not what I’d prefer”….this tells your body that it’s not in a state of alarm and all your systems can work more effectively.  You can try this little experiment at home…say “I can’t handle this” and see how you feel…then catch yourself and say “I can handle this…even though it stinks.”  And notice how you feel….

Our thoughts precede our words and actions.  There are many more examples of how toxic thoughts pollute our lives.  I hope that you are more aware of the impact your thoughts have on  your life and the importance of taking time to notice them and choose more empowering ones to help you design your Best Life.  I promise that as you do this you will live a life filled with more peace, purpose and power…and experience healing in all its forms.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Power of Expectations

I’ve been working on the concept of Teamwork in our home.  More specifically, I expect my kids to want to cheerfully do their chores because we’re all on the “Home Team” and to “win,” we need to work as a Unit.  But...not really.  As my husband and I were talking, I admitted, “I really don’t expect them to cooperate.”  This explained a lot as to why my methods had been so wildly ineffective.  I truly didn’t believe they would do what I asked.  My tone of voice and micro-managing checking behaviors are evidence of that.  Our expectations for our children can have a profound effect on them, so this is a subject worth exploring.  I have found that when I center myself and get intentional before I ask them to do something, I parent with a more positive tone and allow them the opportunity to complete their work. 

I’ve also been noticing this power of expectations more with clients.  It’s amazing how cunning our self-sabotaging behaviors can be.  “I really don’t expect this relationship to work out,” a client said to me.  “I’ve been with them almost as long as any relationship ever…this is usually the time it falls apart.”  How does that belief show up in our behaviors?  It can be ever so subtle.  You don’t respond to their text, you are aloof when they go to kiss you, you rationalize engaging with people you know are attracted to you. 

Our expectations matter.  As our perception changes, our behaviors change and therefore our realities change.  If you’re looking to make some shifts in your life, ask yourself first, “What do I really expect or believe that could be getting me the current results I’m getting?"  If you’re brutally honest with yourself, you may just discover that you have been getting the results you were truly expecting. 

Wishing you the willingness to choose more empowering expectations on your Journey toward living your best life!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Put Some Zing in Your 2014

Can you believe we’re nearly three weeks into 2014?  The Chapter of your life entitled 2013 is closed and a fresh page was turned to on January 1, 2014.  What have you written onto those blank pages so far?  Have you been intentional with your time?  Have you used your precious moments to further your own vision for your life or have you frittered them away with mindless activities?

Let’s take a few minutes to focus our thoughts on what we’d like our 2014 to be about.  Each month, each week, each day, each hour are segments that quickly seam together to become our year. 

Our Year in Review In Reverse

Imagine it is December 31, 2014.  It was your best year ever.  You focused on what you could control and accepted the rest (and had the wisdom to know the difference…Serenity Prayer, Anyone?).  So, what was it about for you—your 2014?  I know I can get pretty overwhelmed and beat myself up when I feel like I’m not accomplishing the goals I set for myself.  I’ve found that focusing on a few areas instead of too many is helpful.  So, let’s use the zoom lens to get clear about your priorities for 2014.  What are the one or two areas that you will regret not addressing if you don’t finally take action and move forward on? 

As you are pondering your Vision for 2014, ask yourself END goal questions.   A means goal takes us to an end goal, but as the saying goes, “it’s a means to an end.”   An end goal is a fundamental value and priority in your life.  For example, if vibrant health and energy is an end goal for you, then losing and maintaining a 10 pound weight loss could be your means goal.  Or, if financial freedom is an end goal for you, then getting a job at XYZ Company could be a means goal for you. 

MindValley Founder and CEO, Vishen Lakhiani, shares a goal setting exercise that focuses on three key End Goal areas:  What we want to Experience, How we want to Grow, and What/How we want to Contribute.  He suggests we set a timer for 90 seconds and turn off our logical thinking brain to creatively and freely fill in our answers to the three areas.   I took three separate sheets of paper and listed my focus at the top: 

                What do I want to experience in 2014?
                How do I want to grow in 2014?
                What or How do I want to contribute in 2014?

What a powerful exercise. 

I wish you the clarity, courage and willingness to take the next right actions to put some zing in your 2014.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Your Health is Your True Wealth

There's lots of talk about the global economy, and people are concerned about their monetary wealth. But, there's a source of prosperity we often take for granted when all is well. Have you considered your Health Fund lately? How's your Physical health fund's return? Is your Spiritual health fund paying a rich dividend? Is your Emotional Health an asset or a liability?

What's the cost of a bad back, a lowered immune system, or chronic headaches? How does poor emotional or physical health impact our jobs, our productivity, or our relationships? Making deposits to our Health accounts is vital. Next to our time, our health is our greatest gift. Just ask someone who is wrestling with a health challenge. I operate from the philosophy that "it's easier to stay well than to get well" and work to make deposits into my own health account regularly.

Some of my favorite Health Investments Include:

  1. Daily prayer and meditation time
  2. Energy exercises
  3. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast
  4. Completing a purification/detoxification program twice per year
  5. Sufficient restorative sleep
  6. A great support system
  7. Keeping the body free of nervous interference through regular Chiropractic Care
  8. Exercise-Exercise-Exercise
  9. Staying hydrated-lots of good water
  10. Working with a good therapist or coach as needed

Is Your Health Portfolio Well Funded? ...What's one Action You Know You Could Take Today to Improve Your Health Even More?

Dr. Mitch Ergas, DC is a Chiropractor, Nutritional Consultant and Energy Healer with offices in Smyrna and Marietta, Georgia. He brings compassion, intuition and thoroughness to the care he gives his patients. Dr. Ergas also conducts powerful, life-changing personal development seminars including the upcoming, CREATE PROSPERITY NOW event in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author of Hypergrowth: How to Catapult the Growth of any Small Business using the Proven M5 Method due out this Fall. You can follow Dr. Mitch Ergas on Facebook for daily messages of inspiration.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Invest in Yourself—You Can’t Give to Others When Your Account is Depleted

Tired of hearing all the gloom and doom about the economy? I know of a commodity worth its weight in gold that can bring you untold treasure when you apply this method. Interested in learning more? Read on to discover more about the benefits of group work.
Are you looking to make changes in your life this year? Would you like to improve your relationships, lose weight, experience less stress, live with more peace, a greater sense of purpose, or feel more empowered? After studying numerous healing methods over the past 20 years, group work ranks as one of my favorites.

What are some of the benefits of group therapy?

What am I going to get out of this, you may ask? I’m not comfortable talking about my problems in front of a group of strangers. Will I have enough time to talk about my own concerns in this setting? What if I don’t like the other members?

I have spent the past 16 years leading groups in various settings and types of situations. From people in career transition, to individuals in all stages of cancer diagnosis and their families, to women’s issues, addiction recovery, children, adolescents, young adults, and stress management concerns; I have experienced the power and efficacy of the group process.

The first thing that people seem to notice and express when participating in a group is feeling like they’re not alone anymore. It’s amazing how we can all come together in our shared humanity and vulnerability in this setting. We may feel different or isolated in our struggles, yet coming together with others reminds us that we are all connected. For so many, this experience alone is healing and liberating.

A group setting can also provide us with perspective. We all have “blind spots” in our lives. Getting feedback from others in a loving and supportive environment can help us to see solutions to our problems that we couldn’t see on our own.

We can also practice new behaviors with fellow group members. Assertive communication, rescripting limiting beliefs and accepting help are just a few examples of practices that can be “role-played” and “tried out” with peers.

How is group therapy different from support groups or self-help groups?

Psychotherapy groups are led by trained professionals and may focus on interpersonal relationships. They may provide a support network for various types of problems or issues. Psychotherapy groups differ from support or self-help groups in that they are smaller (usually 6-10 members), and provide for challenge to change and grow. Support groups are also usually led by professionals, but are geared more toward symptom relief. Self-help groups usually focus on a particular issue, and are not led by a professional. Lastly, coaching groups are usually comprised of highly functioning members who are seeking to increase their ability to reach goals with the help of proactive, resourceful peers.

How do I find the right group for me?

There are free 12-step groups for many issues including, but not limited to: Alcoholism (Alcoholics Anonymous), drug addiction (Narcotics Anonymous), Co-dependency (CoDA), Overeating (OA), and Sex and Love addiction (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.) There are also support groups for family and friends of those dealing with addictions such as Al-Anon for friends and family members of alcoholics, Nar-Anon for friends and family members of addicts, CoDA for Codependents, and COSA for Codependents of Sex Addicts. Many mental health professionals offer groups as a treatment option. The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) also offers a referral list to clinicians. Finally, there are many listings for group coaching sessions which differ from group therapies. Therapists often use a screening process to ensure that a particular group is the right fit for an individual. You can ask questions of the leader such as: Is this a therapy or support group? Next, let the leader know your concerns are and ask if the group is the appropriate place for your journey. And, what background or training do you have related to the needs I have?

I wish you all the best on your journey to Wholeness!

Catherine Baer, MS, MS, LPC maintains a private practice in Marietta, Georgia. She offers individual, couple, and group sessions. She is currently forming group sessions with a coaching flair. This particular series offers many potential benefits. These groups combine the power of therapy with the high level functioning of coaching. Discover solutions to challenges, expand your vision and make small, subtle changes that can dramatically increase your ability to move forward toward your goals. Tap into the synergy of the collective genius of others and live with more Peace, Purpose, and Power in your life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nourishing the Soul

When I was single, with no kids, and living alone; I gave myself permission to take care of myself. I wrote in a journal every morning, listening to the voice of my ego with all of its complaints and fears. I also tuned into all of my dreams and desires. I took time to nourish my Soul. I went for long walks by the river, sat on a favorite rock by the flowing water, listening for answers from my Higher Self and Higher Power.

Well over a decade, a husband, and several children later, I look back on that amazing period wondering what I did with all of my time. Now it seems I sometimes have to work at giving myself permission to take the special time for myself that I value so much. But, as I sat in the sauna tonight, after my Pilates workout, I realized again the miraculous way life works, and the great gift I have in my husband, my Spiritual Partner.

In my Beloved I have discovered a tool for some of the deepest personal development and healing work I could ever have imagined. Just before he and I met, I was questioning in my journalings, “what helps people heal?” (I was working as a case manager, group therapist, and program coordinator for a psychiatric treatment facility at the time). I have found my answer. I have explored many different healing modalities over the past 16 years, and have witnessed that our committed relationships provide us the opportunity for some of the deepest growth. In my husband, I have a mirror. It’s so easy for me to get angry with him, to blame him, to see what he “should” be doing. I can react to what he does, and feel completely justified in my anger. But, then I’m stuck. We have a power struggle, and I miss out on the beautiful opportunity to grow and evolve. And, oh, how I am in awe of our potential for growth as Spiritual Beings.

I love watching my children grow and develop on the physical plane. “Look how much you grew last night,” I often exclaim, as my son checks to see where his head reaches against my height. And, oh, how I love to notice how much my husband has grown when he catches himself reacting to something I’ve triggered in him and take responsibility for his emotions. To experience him respond instead of react in one of his predictable patterns is fantastic. To observe myself step out of a reaction and see that he is mirroring some aspect of me that is coming up to heal; this nourishes my Soul. I feel so grateful to have listened to my Inner Voice and have chosen a profession that allows me to be a guide and facilitator to others as they evolve and grow.

I wish for you the gift of Healing and encourage you to Nourish Your Soul.

Catherine maintains a private practice in Atlanta, GA conducting individual, couple, and group sessions. She co-founded Life Wellness & Chiropractic, PC, a wellness center offering a variety of healing and personal development services. Visit