New Layout!

So I played around and picked a new layout for the site. If you’re wondering where the pages are, just click the red button in the top right hand corner (it’s in the center if you’re on your phone), and voila! A new page detailing the classes/workshops has also been added.

I am still uncovering the features of this layout, so if you have any questions about it (or can’t find something), please drop me a line and let me know!

Holding Space

Over the last few months, this concept has popped up numerous times in both my professional and personal life. It’s not as straightforward as traditional psychological terms and approaches, but I wanted to speak on my view of it since most of us will be in this situation at some point.

There will be moments where you simply won’t know what to say to a person. Perhaps they just lost someone, or are ranting madly because they’ve been wronged in some way. There’s really nothing you can do to help the situation. So, what do you do?

As a therapist, I’ve had these moments. I’ve had to be the solid pillar while someone’s life was falling apart. I’ve had to break seemingly bad news to parents about their child. I’ve had to sit with a teenager while her brother lay in a hospital, dying. In all of these situations, I had to realize that nothing I say is going to make the situation go away. I can’t remove the pain. The other thing I realized was that I could not bring myself to give some kind of rote response. “You’ll be okay” or “Everything happens for a reason” won’t cut it here.

Here is where the concept of holding space comes in. You simply make that space a container. In these moments, people often just need to express. There is no pressure to think up a solution for the person. They already know that you can’t do anything about it. They sometimes already know that they’ll get through it. In that moment, though, they need to process. They need somewhere safe to vocalize their frustrations, sorrow, confusion, and occasionally socially unacceptable thoughts.

Of course, this is easier said than done. In the therapy field, we are almost programmed to think up solutions, and we may think up some right at these difficult moments. A lot of times, though, that’s not what people need. They need to feel a sense of peace, to know that at their most vulnerable moment, you are making them feel safe. I have been on the flip side of this, where I expected a place to be able to express myself, and instead was reduced to tears by someone who felt that I needed a “reality check” at that moment. No, I didn’t. I needed to process my feelings, and I was demeaned for it. After that, I never trusted that person as a confidant again, and I learned how not to be with regards to future clients.

You don’t have to be a therapist to do this. Sometimes friends and family just need to talk, and maybe sit in silence for a bit. We are often so afraid of silence, when it can be an amazing gift. Silence allows processing, and it allows Spirit to enter the picture. To me, this is holding space: creating a safe, peaceful environment to allow another to process and express…and to allow Spirit to enter and help heal.

Seeking Help

First, I’m fine. The emerging online conversation amongst black men (and men in general) about being able to admit when they need help inspired this post (See #yougoodman on Twitter).

I’m one of those stubborn people who really hates asking for help. I like figuring things out on my own, solving problems, and above all, maintaining my inner dialogue that I have *most* of my life figured out. Asking for help tends to dim that dialogue.

The truth of the matter is, we all need help at some point.

We are taught to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, of defeat. You couldn’t handle it on your own, so clearly something’s wrong with you. It is one of the main reasons why depression and anxiety run rampant in American culture. Society is very demanding on the human psyche, but no one wants to publicly admit that.

Maybe it’s not depression. Maybe you’re just going through a hard time. That stubbornness will tell you that you can’t ask for help because it will imply that (again) something’s wrong with you, or that you clearly made some bad choices and had this coming to you. By seeking help, however, you are admitting that you want to do better. You want to be better, and you are willing to do what it takes to achieve that.

Yes, your ego may get bruised a bit at first, but by learning to actively seek help you are becoming a more complete you. Maybe you need help with a project from someone more experienced. You can now add that person’s knowledge to your own. If you had a financial hiccup, I am willing to bet that you will more than likely examine ways to not make those same choices. If you feel overwhelmed, seeking professional help will give you tools to address that stress going forward. You have everything to gain.

Those of us in the helping fields made this our life paths for a reason. There are people who live to literally see you do well. Don’t be afraid to seek us out, and don’t be afraid to seek out those right in front of you for help, either.

In the long run, you’ll be glad that you did.

Project Zero

Below is a link to Harvard University’s Project Zero. This is a group/Think Tank whose main focus is on multiple intelligence and its implications, particularly in the educational arena. Howard Gardner himself, who created the Multiple Intelligence theory, is a part of this group. This is a great resource if you want to learn more about the background of my upcoming classes and thesis work. They also have events and projects throughout the year. I may try to attend one next year if I can.

Harvard University’s Project Zero

Also, be aware that if I seem quiet on the posting front, it’s because there is a LOT going on behind the scenes. I am trying to consistently post every Wednesday, and possibly add on Saturday as I get closer to relaunching this site. It is tough balancing an increasingly demanding day job and the launch of my own business, but I’m excited about what’s coming!

Night Owl Ramblings

I just put the finishing touches on the first of many different classes that I believe to be my life’s work. While helping people uncover their purpose is the biggie, I also have a strong desire to educate others about autism. The training I finished up tonight is the latter.

I drew this from the many experiences I have observed, participated in, and read about from those on the spectrum. I don’t like just getting up and spewing facts and diagnostic criteria. I really want people to understand what the autism experience is like, and in understanding, learn to approach with acceptance rather than judgement or fear.

Despite the years of Autism Awareness Month, I am quickly learning that many people still have no real idea of what autism is. In fact, their understanding is limited to Rain Man and “out of control” kids, and that’s about it. Kids have started using the word “autistic” as an online insult, much in the way that “retarded” was used in the past. For all of the walks and fundraising that is done every April, why is it that such a large percent of the population do not have a more accepting view of it?

I kind of answered my own question there: awareness and acceptance are two different ideas. I have definitely seen evidence that a lot of people are aware that autism exists; I think that goal has been fairly well achieved. It’s time to switch gears to acceptance. Unfortunately, the very agencies that started the awareness campaign do not seem too keen on promoting acceptance of autism. They’d prefer if it was “cured.”

I find myself in a unique position to change the narrative, a few people at a time. I have the opportunity to help shape a different way of looking at not just autism, but the power of human spirit and potential overall.

The awesome thing is, so do you.

Conversations on Facebook have opened and challenged some of my friends to think beyond their ideas of what “special needs” really means. I have other friends who do this everyday as well. We can make a difference. We can teach others. Speak your stories. Share your knowledge. This goes triple if you are on the spectrum yourself, because YOU are the expert on it. Not me, not a BCBA. YOU. Everything I learned, I learned from my clients. They have taught me and made me a better person.

I went off on a bit of a tangent, which is typical for me after midnight, so I’ll end by saying that I am super excited about tomorrow (a little nervous as well), and that hopefully all will go well.

Transformation

metamorphosis

This word has pretty much been my state of being for the last two years or so, and let me tell you, it has not been easy.

By its very definition, transformation is painful. You are changing form. You are becoming something else. You are shedding an old skin, switching out parts, or removing a former state of mind. It is tough work.

SPARC itself has changed a million times since I first started thinking of the program. It looks nothing like it did two years ago. Back then, I wanted a spiritual center. I remember going to an all-day training, and nearly every other person said the same thing, that they wanted to create a spiritual center. I soon canned that idea, because I realized I wanted to narrow my focus. That was not an easy thing to do, at all. It can be very hard to abandon an idea you were so excited about, but you have to trust that the next one will be much more aligned to what you are truly meant to do and be.

Just as transformation can be difficult for you, it can be difficult for those around you as well. In the last 24 months, my friendship circle has drastically changed. It had to change because I changed, and some people within that circle could not seem to accept this fact. They eventually removed themselves, and while it was difficult, it was necessary. Even now, this process is continuing. Those who stay in your circles may need to adjust to who you are becoming and what you’re doing, so go easy on them. 🙂

The worst thing one can do in this situation, though, is run from the transformation. I’ve noticed that most people do not stop running until their present situation is worse than the transformation. I am guilty of this myself, but if I had not been willing to let go and allow my ideas (and myself) to evolve, transform, and reinvent themselves, I would still be stuck on the stale, undeveloped thoughts.

Running from your transformation is running from yourself, from your opportunities, and often from your destiny. You have to be willing to lean into it, and trust that the Universe (or Sprit/God/the Divine, etc.) has your best interest and growth in mind.

Then, hold on tight!

Testers Needed!

I am finally at a point where I can start trying to get this kite in the air! First things first, though: I tested the Core Questions out on myself and was pretty amazed at what I got from it (along with how they changed as I went). Now I want to test them out on others to see if they are valid. These questions are the heart of what I do and what future workshops/classes may look like, so it is very important that they are asked correctly and can be understood. See below for info on how you can participate. If you choose not to, that’s fine, but do me a huge favor and pass the call on! 🙂

The SPARC program has an introductory class in the works! Before I offer it, though, I will need about 10 beta testers. The testers can be kids, teens, or adults, neurotypical or on the spectrum (but verbal), and available by phone, Skype, or in person (FYI, I’m in the Bay Area, California). I’ll just ask you some questions to test the validity of the workshop’s focus (there are about 4-6 questions, depending on age). Ideally, I want it ready by the end of the year at the latest. If you’re interested in helping out, email me at sparcguidance@gmail.com! Also, here is the link to SPARC’s new Facebook page, which just launched.

Oh, and the picture is a little hint about the workshop…

carl_jung

Believe In Yourself- Video

I have followed this YouTuber for awhile, mostly because he is hilarious (and has an amazing voice!) and is a great distraction from life at times. Every now and then, though, he comes out with an amazing vlog like this one. You can start at about the :30 mark to avoid a few programming things. It’s almost 9 minutes long, but totally worth it.

There is a bit of language, but not much. Also, if you like gamers on YouTube, he’s a very entertaining one. His name is Markiplier.

About Happiness…

you-keep-using-that-word

I’m starting to think that being happy in America is either an insult to miserable people, or a word that people use when they think they’re happy when they aren’t.

Actually, it’s both.

I’ve seen and encountered both, and of the two, the second is the saddest one to me. Being an intuitive (aka I pick up on people’s emotional states whether I want to or not), I cringe when people try to convince me that they are in FluffyLand when I know for certain that they are not. It is especially painful when it is someone that I care about. Oftentimes they do not even realize that they aren’t happy. They just look at what they have, think “well, based on my possession of these things, I should be happy,” and conclude that they are happy. Meanwhile, they look, talk, and act like they are miserable.

Because they actually are.

First, if you are depending on outside things (material things, a relationship, a job, etc.) to create your happiness, I hate to break it to you but you’re probably already miserable. I know people get sick of hearing this, but it’s true: happiness comes from within. It comes from a state of being content with yourself, your life, and your purpose. I’m not saying that you’re dancing around singing Disney songs with forest animals 24/7. No, at that point you’re no longer in reality (though the occasional Disney singalong is totally allowed and encouraged). You can’t be slap happy all of the time, but you can have a general feeling of contentment.

By the way, this goes double for relationships; why put that amount of pressure on someone? They have to be responsible for both their own happiness and yours? Would you want that kind of pressure…heck, has someone already put that kind of pressure on you?

Second, other people often see it before you do. If someone you know has that intuition and is constantly asking how you are and checking in on you, they’ve picked up on something. We’re not trying to be annoying or ruin your artificial high (because it is artificial), but we are concerned. I can think of about three people right now off the top of my head who are constantly declaring how happy they are, and their appearance and behavior say the complete opposite. If I’m asking, it is because I see the truth and I care.

Third, becoming the source of your own happiness is no easy feat. Our society practically trains us from birth to seek happiness everywhere except within us. Happiness is often ridiculed in the U.S. culture as well, implying that if you are happy then you are clearly a psychopath because there is no reason to be happy in this society. Mind you, this is very different from the spiritual bypassing I mentioned in my last post. That is still a form of fake happiness.

All of that being said, I cannot tell you what your inner happiness looks like. All I can say is that you will know it when you feel it. One of my favorite moments of it was a day at the ocean. When a wave suddenly overtook my legs and soaked my sneakers, socks, and jeans, I started laughing and spinning happily in the ocean water and foam. I couldn’t care less about my clothes at that moment. I was in pure bliss, connected to the ocean in a manner that I didn’t think possible. This is one reason why I take the stance that I do with regards to autism. I have seen my clients in moments of pure bliss, and I have seen well-meaning professionals snatch that moment away in the name of progress. Who are we to take their happiness away like that? Why don’t we join in on it?

Why don’t we learn how to be happy from them?