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Are You in a Codependent, Avoidant, or Securely Attached Relationship?

codependency

by Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy, PACT Level I

Codependency is one of the most confused and contested words in the couples therapy field today. There could even be a debate between couples therapists and addiction counselors on whether or not codependency (and even the cartoon above!) is healthy or unhealthy.

Addiction counselors would likely say that codependency originates in childhood and manifests as an unhealthy relationship with oneself and a dysfunctional interpersonal pattern in adulthood between the codependent and his/her partner, children, and others that involves controlling, excessive caretaking, and enmeshment. Codependency and enabling are often used synonymously to refer to the dynamic between a partner with an addiction and the codependent who “loves him/her to death” through enabling. Addiction counselors might also contend that any level of dependency or too much “connection” to one’s intimate partner is unhealthy and recommend that individuals in recovery wait at least one year before beginning an intimate relationship.

On the other hand, couples therapists are more likely to conclude that codependency stems from the couples’ current dynamic, which includes one partner displaying an avoidant attachment style, which influences the other partner to feel tremendous anxiety and want to cling to her/his partner, and appear as codependent. These therapists might also underscore how partner’s emotional dependence on one another is a normal human need, and therefore should not be shamed. Or, couples therapists might elevate a codependent relationship as the ideal because they attest that partners are more resilient when they have a “secure base” or emotional anchor and will possibly point to the 2006 MRI study by Dr. James Coan that demonstrated how partners can regulate each other’s psychological and emotional well-being. Finally, some couples therapists, especially those who subscribe to attachment theory, might deny that codependency exists as in Amir Levine, MD and Rachel Heller’s well-respected book, Attached, in which they assert that “codependency is a myth”.

As with couples in therapy, often the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Because I am both an addictions counselor and couples and family therapist, it seems to me that this argument is a semantic one and that codependency means very different things to both professionals. In order to best serve our clients, it is important to distinguish the difference between codependency and interdependency or a secure attachment.

First, what is codependency?

This answer can greatly differ based on the source. I will share a definition by marriage and family therapist, Beverly Berg, PhD who wrote Loving someone in recovery; The answers you need when your partner is recovering from addiction.

“Codependency is an emotional and psychological state in which one is excessively preoccupied with taking care of or controlling another person at the expense of one’s own needs… The codependent’s excessive focus on caretaking does not only occur with his or her primary partner; it can also apply to work relationships, friendships, and relationships with extended family. People with codependency have a hard time leaving relationships that are abusive or depriving, tend to stay in jobs that are stressful, and are prone to ignoring their medical needs. Because of their high tolerance for denying their own needs, codependents tend to wait until they have experienced serious consequences before seeking a path of recovery” (2014).

Internally, codependents tend to struggle with thoughts of not feeling good enough, excessive worry about what other people think of them, and constant waiting for disaster or the other shoe to drop. They may perceive neutral or even positive situations as negative. I know some very “high functioning” codependent people who (similar to some addicts prior to recovery) may look great on the outside, but are internally suffering. Fortunately, treatment/help for codependency addresses both one’s internal and external world.

Lastly, codependency affects people from all walks of life- both men and women, addicts and non-addicts, and should not be assigned to every partner of an addict. To see if you or someone else meets the criteria for codependency, one assessment can be found on The Bridge to Recovery’s website (an outstanding treatment program for codependency)

Second, how does codependency develop & manifest in adult relationships?


Stan Tatkin, PsyD, creator of PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy), which incorporates attachment theory, neuroscience/arousal regulation, and experiential therapy, explains the origins of codependency in the foreword for Berg’s book. Tatkin’s former supervisor was John Bradshaw (the latter was a leader in the addiction and codependency treatment field).

“[…] Codependent men and women tend to bond in love relationships in a way that makes them both angry and resistantbecause during their childhood, at least one of their important caregivers was preoccupied as a result of feeling overwhelmed, unsupported, and unloved by his or her own parents” [or spouse]. Preoccupied caregivers tend to alternately reward their children for depending on and supporting them, and rejecting, punishing, or abandoning them. This inconsistency tends to make the children angry as well as suspicious of and resistant to affectionate approaches from the caregiver [and later spouse] (2014)”.

“[…] Fast forward to adult relationships with a partner preoccupied with addiction [a mental health condition, or something/someone else] and you find a familiar situation. Your partner knows how to feel good without you [or is unaware of your needs], but you need your partner to be present, loving, and caring to feel good. Even though you feel ignored, abandoned, and alone, you STAY in the situation. Why? Because you are insecure and fear abandonment” (2014). And of course, many partners would also say, “because I LOVE him/her.”

Third, what do different attachment styles look like in children and adults?

Tatkin’s (2016) work draws from researchers who discovered that children and adults typically have one of three distinct attachment styles: secure, avoidant, or anxious (codependent). There is also a small portion of adults who have a disorganized attachment style due to severe unresolved trauma. Adult’s attachment (or “relationship”) styles are primarily influenced by the attachment relationship they had with their primary caregivers when they were children and secondarily by one’s intimate relationship history.
In a nutshell:
Children who felt their parents would respond consistently and appropriately when they called out for help or reached out for emotional comfort tended to develop a secure attachment style as adults. As adults, these securely attached folks find it relatively easy to get close to an intimate partner and are comfortable depending on their partner and having the partner depend on them. These relationships are mutually reciprocal. These partners have each others’ backs!
Children who felt their parents minimized, scolded or ignored their emotional needs or did not know how to appropriately emotionally comfort them tended to develop an insecure/avoidant attachment style as adults. As adults, they have disowned their emotional needs and thus struggle to identify what they need from their partner or over rely on themselves for comfort, and do not know how to adequately meet their partner’s emotional intimacy needs.
Children who felt their parents inconsistently responded (sometimes expert soothers and very loving and other times overwhelmed and either ignored the child, got angry, or guilt-tripped the child) when they called out for help or comfort tended to develop an insecure/anxious (codependent) style as adults. As adults, they worry that their partner does not really love them, won’t want to stay with them, or cannot meet their emotional intimacy needs.

The GOAL- A Secure Attachment Style!

Tatkin’s (2013) description of a “secure functioning relationship” is his unique terminology for a secure attachment:
“We have each other’s backs. We soothe each other’s distress and amplify each other’s joy. We protect each other in public and in private. We have each other’s “owner’s manual” and thus are experts on one another. We are as good at our partner as we are at our job! Our relationship is based on true mutuality.” We work on our own recovery and support each other’s recovery.

Fourth, how does an avoidant attachment style affect partners?

Although avoidantly attached partners and relationships are not nearly as vilified as codependents, they are of equal concern because they evoke in their partner a deep loneliness, often feelings of betrayal (when they seem preoccupied with their work, their family of origin, or other people or activities, including their alone time) and emotional deprivation. Perhaps the lack of widespread concern about avoidance is that our American culture places independence and stoicism above collaboration and vulnerability as well.

Yet, what I see as a couples therapist is as many or more relationships suffering when partners balk at mutually making it their sacred responsibility to put their partner’s emotional well-being first. Although this blog focuses more on codependency in intimate relationships, I have included resources at the end that can help folks interested in healing from and transforming their avoidant attachment style into a secure style.

Fifth, how can we integrate the wisdom from the Couples Therapy and Addiction Counseling fields on the topic of codependency?

The couples therapy field, especially attachment theorists, offer us a unique perspective on codependency that doesn’t blame or shame the partner being labeled codependent by explaining that the codependent is behaving in a normal way to an abnormal situation, which is his/her partner disconnecting from the relationship to connect with something else, ex. an addictive substance or behavior. This distancing from the codependent’s partner will likely propel the codependent to take extreme measures in an attempt to reconnect with his/her loved one because it has been found in research that adults, similar to children, experience “primal panic” when they cannot emotionally reach their loved one and/or their loved one stops emotionally responding to them.

Attachment couples therapists also normalize our biological need to attach and bond to others and to be emotionally dependent on significant others from the cradle to the grave. Couples with a secure attachment style and/or an interdependent dynamic have been found to feel the most loved, safe, and secure with their partner, have the happiest and longest relationships, and are more successful in the world because they are launching and landing each day with a partner who serves as their “secure base” or emotional anchor.

Addiction counselors provide a different type of expertise and often more personal and professional experience with codependency, which can bring a level of wisdom that is invaluable. Addiction counselors tend to better understand the gravity of codependency, ex. being the spouse or child of a codependent can be extremely challenging because the codependent limits others’ growth and unconsciously disables them. These counselors are also often aware of the internal pain that codependents experience and feel compassion for the codependent’s inability to stop (cold turkey) his or her codependent behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Some codependents describe their experience of enabling or helping (anyone with anything) as a “HIGH”, refer to themselves as “self-sacrificing martyrs” or “rescue warriors”, yet by the end of an enabling spree, they need to crash from emotional and physical exhaustion, and later they feel intense hurt and/or resentment from having given too much and sacrificed themselves for others who continually neglect their needs. This cycle repeats until help is attained by a professional who can provide appropriate treatment.

Thus, by acknowledging that codependency is a REAL condition and explaining the research-based recommendations for treatment, addiction counselors can offer validation, empathy, and hope to their clients who previously felt hopeless about their internal suffering and compulsive behaviors. These counselors also go far beyond normalizing the couple’s dynamic to helping the couple navigate out of an insure attachment style into a secure one.

Finally, Moving Forward~ Recovery from Codependency or Avoidance to a Secure Attachment Style and Relationship

Tip #1 Strengthen your individual recovery program (if applicable, ex. CoDA, Al-Anon, AA/NA &/or individual therapy, meditation, etc.) and your ability to know your autonomous self (the ability to be emotionally close to someone while at the same time, not lose yourself). One outstanding book to guide you is Loving someone in recovery by Beverly Berg, PhD, which explains the stages of recovery from codependency, emotional relapse indicators, and teaches missing interpersonal skills. (in addition to a comprehensive overview of how couples in recovery can change a dysfunctional dynamic into a securely attached relationship.)

Tip #2 Learn how to develop a secure attachment with your partner that addresses how to transform both insecure styles (codependent and avoidant) into a “secure functioning” relationship. Three outstanding books to guide you are Wired for love by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, Attached by Amir Levine, MD and Rachel Heller, MA. & Berg’s book mentioned in Tip #1.

Tip #3 Seek couples therapy, with a counselor who has training in helping couples develop a secure attachment and recovery from addiction and codependency if applicable. And, if you are a couple in recovery, develop a couple recovery program, ex. participate in RCA- Recovering Couples Anonymous and AA/Al-Anon/CoDA speaker meetings).

If you would like help navigating out of an insecure attachment style into a securely attached relationship, Contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy, PACT Level I Therapist, at 720.432.5262 to schedule your appointment today.

www.lanaisaacson.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Languages: Empty or Full?

Love Languages

by Khara Brindle

Gary Chapman starts his book, The 5 Love Languages, by sharing the concept of love being measured like a gas tank and asking: are you empty or full? This imagery can be powerful in measuring affection, value, and connection to others in our life, not only with spouses or partners, but with family and close friends as well.

Languages Defined
Gaining knowledge of the five languages can be supportive to your self-awareness as well as provide some guidance on how to strengthen your relationships with others. You may start this process by defining each of the five languages and connecting them to real-life examples that are meaningful and relevant to you. You may also identify which languages are most important to you by recalling what you’ve felt lacking in current or former relationships, such as moments you may have voiced unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Gary Chapman emphasizes that for many, what we complain about can be the access point to exploring what is most important to us since importance is implied in our behavior of speaking up about it. To best understand how this could look, let’s further explore the languages. In summary, according to Gary Chapman, the languages are 1) Physical Touch, 2) Quality Time 3) Words of Affirmation, 4) Acts of Service and 5) Gifts. Below are some examples that represent each language type:

• Physical Touch-hugging, holding hands, kissing, sex, rubbing someone’s back, sitting close, casual touch
• Quality Time-talking a walk, eating dinner together, lying in bed, taking a drive, engaging in a shared hobby
• Words of Affirmation-expressing compliments or appreciation through words, such as “I love you, I’m proud of you, I appreciate you, you make my life better”
• Acts of Service-washing their car, cooking their favorite meal, picking up the laundry or toys, doing an extra chore
• Gifts-making them a card, buying their favorite food, flowers, chocolate, or trinket just because

Please remember this is not an exhaustive list in that there are many more examples that one can identify based on their own experience and expression of caring and affection. With this in mind, it is also important to explore some rules around the languages expression when connecting with those we care about most.

Food for Thought
Within The 5 Love Languages come some guidelines of how affection and caring can be expressed to be categorized and recognized as genuine. Quality Time for example, defines one-on-one time that promotes connection and conversation. Many couples or families would say they spend frequent time together in activities such as going to the movies, reading, driving, or watching TV. As you can already guess, these activities do not necessarily encourage connection just through proximity in being in the same space at the same time. Instead, one is encouraged to find meaningful activities that allow conversation and connection such as talking a walk, cooking together, crafting, and more. For Acts of Service, it is best to keep in mind that for your loved one to truly feel the affection you wish to demonstrate, the act performed must be done authentically and without agenda. For example, one may wash their partners car or run an errand to make their partner’s day easier or bring them joy, not expecting a favor in return for this good deed. This rule also applies to Gifts in the idea that we aren’t giving someone we love a gift in the hopes that they will return the favor or owe us something in return.

Discovery and Depth
Gary Chapman provides helpful examples of Love Languages in action throughout his book. For many, reflecting on what they ask for or ask more of, can be helpful in discovering their top Love Languages. The book has a quiz in the back to encourage reflection and you can also access the quiz online for free to determine your top Love Languages at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/.

So where do you go from here? Once aware of your own languages, you can explore the languages that partners or loved ones value most. For many of us, we express the languages that we prefer or languages that make us feel loved, which may not translate well to our partners or loved ones in meeting their individualized needs. If there is in fact an overlap of the top two languages, in a duo for example, their communication and connection can occur relatively naturally due to speaking the same language on most occasions. If a duo does not have a language in common, it could require extra effort to connect and speak the language that supports your loved one in feeling appreciated and have their affection gas tank feel ‘full.’

Handling Homework
This may all resonate with you as you read, however the real connection between the concepts and experience comes through practice! Assigning yourself low-risk homework or intention of practicing a loved one’s desired love languages can provide you with evidence of the value of connecting with others in this way. For many, efforts to speak a chosen language allow measurable results. For one individual in her attempts to reconnect with her spouse, she saw a softening and willingness from her partner when she engaged in their chosen language in authentic ways after weeks of conflict. Actions speak louder than words, which can absolutely apply in helping you connect with your loved ones and also advocate for your own needs in current relationships.

In a time when love is sought, defined, and desired, having something concrete to work on can be both empowering and reassuring in your experience in relationships with loved ones. The 5 Love Languages speaks to a desire to connect with others and develop a sense of belonging, best captured in this popular quote by Susan Sarandon in the movie Shall We Dance.

“[In a relationship] you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the mundane things, all of it, all the time, everyday. You’re saying ‘your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.’”

Happy Connecting!

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.
For More Information, Please visit:
Catalyst Counseling

Listening to the Seen and the Unseen

— Carol O’Dowd, MPA, M.Div, RP President, Colorado Association of Psychotherapists

Recovery, whether from addiction or a difficult situation, is aided by listening to the seen and the unseen. Often, how we listen causes us to not see what is in front of us. Have you ever walked into a familiar room to meet with family, friends or business associates and someone points to a new decoration or a piece of furniture in the room? You sat there wondering, “How did that get there?” Sometimes objects go for days being unseen. Our ancestors go unseen flowing as DNA in our veins while being powerful forces making us, us. Some of us grew up in households where we were trained to be addicted whether to alcohol or other substances. We learned to be pawns in a game with our unseen emotions.

Another option is to listen and notice the messages we hold and consciously choose which ones we want to play with instead of letting them play us. When the voice in our head is an old message from Mom, Dad or a memory of destructive family argument from long ago, we can create space between us and the message. We can take a moment to breathe in and hold in our fist the ghoul of anger, fear, frustration or the voice crying out “Go get a drink.” We can then set down the unseen emotion, unclasp our fist and release it. We can breathe out lovingkindness into our pain and sorrow. We can breathe in lovingkindness that we send to that space in our body where we held the destructive emotion. We can tell that portion of our body to relax. We can breathe out lovingkindness to the ghoul in front of us and tell it, “I do not need you right now. Please stay here. For the next 20 minutes I have a project to do a without you.”

Yes, those unseen emotions and old tapes can be so powerful, they keep returning. The practice is to listen carefully so that you can choose the ones you want to influence you. Seeing them as thoughts or emotions gone awry, you can put them inside a doll, rock, pencil holder or other object. Then pick them up and set them aside. If only for a moment, you can walk away without them. Although they may return, each time, they do so with less force. You can listen instead to acts of kindness from those in your past. In one moment you can listen to messages from the unseen to guide you to see more of the world right in front of you. You can consciously choose to spend time with people, animals and spirit beings who inspire you to live in a world of peace.

Go to www.coloradopsychotherapists.com for the mental health services offered by a wide diversity of mental health professionals.
Contact me at president@coloradopsychotherapists.com if you want to join a group that will be exploring the practice of deep listening on Sunday mornings starting in February.

So Now You’re in Recovery. What’s Next?

What's next

by: Lorie Obernauer, Ph.D., A.C.C

Congratulations! You’re in recovery. You’ve made it through detox and your physical, mental, and emotional health feels more balanced. You have learned a lot about yourself through the treatment process and may be participating in some continuing care programs or recovery support groups. You may have started some new self-care routines. You might have some legal issues that you’re tackling. You’re probably repairing some personal relationships. You may be back to work, thinking about a new job or considering some options for volunteer work. A lot is going on and on some days you feel positive and energized. Other days, you feel depleted: nothing is really wrong, yet nothing feels exactly right.

This is the story of recovery. I’ve been there. I started my recovery in 2006. I’m still in recovery and the challenges continue. There are ups and downs, good days and bad days, lots of new emotions and new experiences. Life feels easier, lots of good things have happened, yet on some days, I wonder: is this all there is? What’s next? Fortunately, I got some great guidance about how to find an answer to that question.

Successful businesses all have a Vision Statement: a declaration of values and purpose. A Vision Statement provides a business with direction for all of its activities. So to discover my direction, to answer “what’s next” I began by crafting a Personal Vision Statement.

A Personal Vision Statement is a brief description of what you want to focus on and accomplish and who you want to become. It’s a way to focus your energy, actions and decision towards the things that are most important to you.

You can start this process by asking yourself some questions:

1. What are the things that I most love to do?
2. What is most important to me right now in my life?
3. What do I want more of in my life?
4. How do I want to feel everyday?
5. What am I meant to contribute to the world?

Then, write 3 – 5 sentences that capture your thoughts. Keep it simple, clear and brief. Include words that reflect your values and a description of how you want to show up as your best self. State positively what you want to do and who you want to become. Write it in the present tense as if it’s already happening!

Finally, use this Personal Vision Statement as a framework for making plans and decisions. If what you’re thinking or doing doesn’t align with your Vision, then adjust what you’re thinking or doing!

Writing a Personal Vision statement is something you can do on your own. You can go online and find many exercises and articles that can help you write your statement. You can also accelerate this process by working with a Life Coach. Find a coach who is trained to help you with this visioning process AND who will support you as you figure out and take the steps to live your vision.

There is a myriad of research that supports the positive impact of visioning. In studies of business and leadership, crafting and sharing vision statements with relevant constituents is considered a “best practice”. Visioning strategies are in used in the fields of science, education and technology to “re-imagine” products, processes and strategic direction. There is also growing evidence that indicates that “values clarification”, which is a major component of the visioning process, impacts life satisfaction, increases personal growth, and even resulted in a reduction in drug use among students who participated in controlled study.

I currently facilitate visioning groups at a local addiction treatment center. some of clients who have participated in the visioning process said:
“It’s the first time I feel optimistic since I’ve been in recovery.”
“Now I know where I’m headed in my life.”
“I’m reconnected to my dreams.”
“I’ve also had a vision for my business that guided my decisions. Now I have a vision for how I want to grow in my personal life.”

My grandmother used to say that “growing old is not for sissies”. Well, neither is recovery. It requires courage and a willingness to accept the “whole you”, your best side and your dark side. It requires resilience and a capacity to try new things, make adjustments when needed and then, try again.

Creating a Personal Vision Statement offers a way to enhance your recovery growth, and create your own answer to “what’s next?”.

Meet Lorie Obernauer, Ph.D., A.C.C.
Lorie Is a certified Life Coach, working exclusively with people who are in recovery from addiction or who are considering whether they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Lorie comes to her calling in part, because she is in long-term recovery from addiction and has tackled the challenges that are part of the recovery process. In her coaching practice, she uses a strengths-based, practical approach to help clients create a satisfying, productive life while advancing their recovery from addiction. Lorie will help you find solutions and take action to repair those difficult situations that addiction often creates.

Lorie’s past training and career experiences also strengthen her work as an Addiction Recovery-Life Coach. She has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and advanced coach training and certification from the International Coaching Federation. She was the Alumni Program manager at a renown addiction treatment center in Colorado. She also founded a national, non-profit organization to help addiction treatment centers create robust Alumni Programs. In her early career, Lorie ran educational programs at the University of Pittsburgh, then owned and operated her own businesses for over 20 years.

Most recently, Lorie has created a new coaching program called VISION TREK. It is designed to help people in recovery develop and implement a personal, relevant life vision, a plan to create the life they want and a strategy for moving forward.
Lorie has a deep, intimate understanding that recovery requires honesty and openness and a dedication to learning and growing everyday, She will inspire you to imagine new possibilities for your life and motivate you to act boldly

www.lorieobernauer.com

LO logo

Goal Setting: Measurable Motivation

Setting Goals

By: Khara Brindle

With the closing of 2017, you may be looking to the new year to create resolution or revisit goals in the hope of change. It’s a time to explore goals that are measurable and attainable; it’s a time to create small steps to build self-confidence to remain motivated and hopeful. Perhaps you say “I want to join a gym to help my depression.” You want to work out every day to help your mood but aren’t currently working out on a consistent basis, and not at a gym. So, you find it important to explore your motivation as well as the perceived strengths and challenges of reaching your goal. You learn that smaller steps can support success and agree to working on short-term goals to build confidence and to move towards your long-term goal of working out daily.

Monitoring Motivation

Why is it important to explore motivation around a goal? Research tells us goals around fitness and gym attendance peak in January and dramatically decline by February and March every year. Additional research tells us that we must do something consistently for a minimum of 30 days for it to become a habit. What this conveys to us as human beings is that we need to see results or progress to continue to work hard at a goal. You may normalize this for yourself in understanding the pattern of motivation. You may also explore research on the Stages of Change from Motivational Interviewing as a visual to support yourself in identifying strengths and barriers to change. By being open and honest with yourself, you will be setting yourself up for success. Ask yourself the following questions to fully discover where your motivation lies (and note the Stages of Change in parentheses):

• What do you want to change? (Pre-contemplation to Contemplation)
• What makes that a problem for you? (Contemplation)
• Is it a big enough problem to want something different? (Contemplation)
• How would you achieve the desired change? (Preparation)
• What do you need to support change? (Preparation)
• What would help you to begin? (Action)
• How will you know when you are ready for change? (Action)
• What would help you keep going? (Maintenance)
• Who/What would hold you accountable?
• What would happen if you don’t succeed?

By exploring these questions, you can identify any current strengths or barriers to succeeding and further explore what is needed to progress through the Stages of Change.

Make it Measurable

It isn’t uncommon for someone to identify a goal but not know how to attain it, thus remaining in the stage of contemplation. It becomes our responsibility to break down a long-term or larger goal into measurable, smaller pieces for it to feel worthwhile. Here are some examples of how to make it measurable when identifying a larger, more abstract goal:

I want to be healthy. Logging daily exercise, keeping a food journal, using a mood tracking app
I want to work out. Identifying current exercise habits, exploring interests to increase exercise gradually such as walking at your lunch hour, walking the dog, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator
I want to be more confident. Exploring times in your life you’ve felt confident, gathering meaningful quotes, engaging in values exercises or creating a vision board
I want to be happy. Defining what happy could look like, gratitude journaling, and/or pleasant activities scheduled

Smaller, more measurable efforts can support short-term goals blending into long-term goals over time. By identifying and writing down goals that are measurable, can be reviewed regularly, and can be celebrated when attained, the effort it takes to achieve these goals can feel validated and encourage motivation for the long-term work as well.

Accountability Buddy

Motivation can be internal such as, “I can do this” or external, “she said I can do this.” Identifying a trusted support as an Accountability Buddy can help you achieve your goals. Accountability Buddies are selected as a support person who is aware of your goals and holds you accountable by remaining in regular contact with you on your progress. They may meet with you weekly, monthly or on whatever schedule can help you remain focused and present on the goals you are working towards. Sometimes Accountability Buddies have a similar goal and may participate alongside you, such as going to the gym with you three times per week. Not having to work towards a goal alone can serve as an incentive in absorbing someone else’s positivity when you begin to question your own motivation. You may struggle to recognize the small but important shifts in progress and begin to question why you are working so hard for minimal results. Perhaps they help you recognize the smaller changes that have taken place when you feel the seeds of doubt are planted, thus preventing you from giving up on a goal that is supporting healthy change. By identifying an Accountability Buddy that is supportive throughout the process, you can experience motivation and recognize goal progression, allowing the ongoing growth and change you desire.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama.

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

For More Information, Please visit:
Catalyst Counseling