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Tag: life coach

May 16, 2017

One of the primary issues faced by people on the Autism spectrum and those with Asperger syndrome, is coping with feelings of being overwhelmed. These issues often start in childhood, as early as a year old, when children who become easily overwhelmed instinctively react by trying to shield themselves from exposure to excess stimuli. Parents of children on the spectrum can easily relate to stories of children who cover their ears with their hands in response to everyday sounds they perceive as loud and stressful. As the child ages, the coping skills for shielding oneself from excess exposure to environmental stimuli becomes even more subtle but the consequences are the same.

By environmental stimuli, I mean people, places and things which produce overwhelming feelings for the person, causing the person’s desire to retreat to safety until it’s safe again. The consequences are often themed with unfinished work, projects and poorly developed relationships with others. This often leads to unwanted isolation and a lifestyle marked by underachievement.

The solution is easy to understand, challenging to implement and well worth the effort. The solution is to do nothing in response to feelings of being overwhelmed. By doing nothing, you are choosing not to be reactive to your feelings of being overwhelmed, which is to engage in a series of behaviors to prevent yourself from experiencing the emotions you need to experience. Regardless of the specifics of what you do, your being reactive will be an attempt to control, manipulate and/or change your reality to manage your feelings.

Instead, by choosing to do nothing, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to experience the range of emotions you need to feel. Your challenge is to simply accept these emotions for what they are without being reactive. By choosing not to be reactive, you are beginning the process of deactivating your fight or flight response pattern, thereby opening access to your solution focused mind. When people choose to stop responding to their feelings of overwhelm fueled by their fears and worries, they become more insight driven and solution focused.

To the outside observer, who isn’t aware of the changes taken place inside the person, they will often observe someone who is behaving more courageous in their daily affairs. In fact, the person is behaving more courageous, as they are now in the practice of looking past their fears and worries and seeing their issues for the mere inconveniences they really are instead of catastrophes.

In my practice, it is a natural reaction for a client to listen to my take on doing nothing in response to feelings of overwhelm, and then responding with an example of a catastrophe they recently experienced in their life. Often, in processing these incidents with them, it is revealed that said catastrophe began as an inconvenience, which they poorly reacted to, thereby worsening the situation.

Catastrophes do happen in life, whether as an initial incident, or as an incident made worse from an overreaction. Regardless, the most effective response to feelings of being overwhelmed, is to accept the situation for what it is, and accept your feelings for what they are. Once this is achieved, only then can you begin to take a solution focused response.

The process of doing nothing to feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety, is something that takes quite a bit of effort for a first timer. Specifically, there are evidenced based cognitive behavioral strategies, like the ones found in this CBT workbook, “Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety,” by Seth J Gillihan PhD.

A person can study and practice these strategies on their own, or with an experienced therapist.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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September 14, 2016

From blog posts, video logs to headlines news stories, most of us as inundated with stories about “bad” people and how these people affect our lives. The idea of someone or a group of people doing bad things to us can be emotionally triggering, to the point where you can lose yourself playing the role of the victim. You then find other people who can either relate to your story of victim-hood or at least sympathize with you on how you have been victimized.

The problem with this mindset is that, if you are indeed experiencing any degree of victimization at the hands of another person or group of people, you will continue to be victimized until you recognize your role in the story. While it is true that good people from time to time do experience bad experiences and sometimes at the hands of other people, a majority of the time when we have recurring bad experiences it is a result of the role we have unintentionally played in keeping the bad experience alive and well.

The ego can be fragile, it is an instinctual source we turn to, to find a sense of confidence in regards to how we navigate through life. However primary reliance on the ego to get you through challenges in life is a mistake. You need to be able to identify your flaws and weakness and the role they play in your recurring bad experiences or victim-hood, specifically in your relationships with others.

From personal to formal relationships in order to change our daily experiences for the better, we need to recognize the bad things we ourselves do and change them for the better. Seldom can you truly be absolved of all guilt during conflicts with others. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the client is introduced to the standard format of experience + behavioral response = natural and logical consequences. With the behavioral response being the most important variable in that simple equation. This is because, while you cannot control what other people do to you to include other experiences caused by other sources, your response to your experiences determines just how manageable your life is going to be.

In short, worrying too much about what others might do, does nothing to facilitate growth in our lives.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

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June 1, 2015

Driving to my office this morning, I listened to some broadcast information, I found disturbing. A happiness guru was giving giving advice on how to be happy.

He started out with an example of a retail worker, who was not happy with her job, and went to detail how she could immediately begin experiencing happiness, simply by changing her perceptions. Listening further, he appeared to state that she would be able to experience happiness by practicing a number of cognitive exercises simply geared towards looking at her situation in a different light. The problem I had with his message was that the change in perceptions where not tied to any follow through actions.

That line of thinking is based on the old glass half full or half empty analogy. That is to say, that you can either see a half glass of water as either half full or half empty. The issue I have with messages like these is that they are based on half truths. It is true that your thoughts influence your level of happiness, however if you find yourself experiencing unhappiness, who is to say that your thoughts are wrong? Take again the glass half empty or half full analogy, in reality a glass of water at any level is either on it’s way to being emptied or filled. It all depends on what decisions you intend on following through on. Are you going to empty the glass or refill it? Perhaps both.

Let’s explore a concrete example using the story of the retail worker who is unhappy with her job. What if she does not earn enough wages to get her basic needs met? Yet she believes that there are no immediate opportunities she can pursue where she is generating sufficient income. Telling someone in this situation to think happy thoughts is deceitful and insulting. It reminds me of a high school English teacher I was working with, who stated, “thank God I don’t live in India”. As she said this, I couldn’t help but notice the gaping hole in her right worn tennis shoe. I am not one to be materialistic, but I decided that based on her statement, her daily appearance was not one of self imposed frugality but one of impoverishment. Further, her comparison of her current situation at the time, to her perception of life in India, was meant to generate feelings of happiness about her situation. Which amounted to nothing but a false positive.

Back to our fictional retailer, if I knew someone in that situation, I would immediately share with that person that her unhappiness made sense. Further I would share with her that her feelings of unhappiness was her brains’ way of informing her that her current line of employment isn’t working out. If so, what is a retailer to do? I would introduce the retailer to cognitive exercises meant for her to brainstorm realistic alternatives for generating income. From my experience, such a process usually leads the person to come face to face with her fears generated by unhealthy beliefs she developed during her early life experiences.

At this point the goal would be in assisting the retailer to discard her old unhealthy beliefs and adopt new beliefs that steer her in the direction of practicing the courage to pursue her passions. So it is just not enough to think happy thoughts, instead happy thoughts are generated by decisions we make and intend to follow through on in either pursuing meaningful change in our lives or continue practicing habits to maintain a meaningful and fulfilling life style we are already living.

In my opinion, the key to happiness is the practice of courage.  I will write more on this on the next post.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.

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December 5, 2013

Periodically I come across videos online with young people acting out humorous skits about  humiliating experiences. In some cases it is easy to tell that these skits are based on the personal experiences of the main actor or actress while in other cases they are clearly making fun of other peoples’ misfortune.

I am going to focus on skits based on personal experiences, needless to write, making an online video to mock the misfortune of others is not okay.

If I were to meet some of the producers of the videos based on their own humiliating experience, I would like to ask them,

“Prior to making your video, did you heal from the experience?” “Did you learn the lesson you needed to learn from the experience?”

To the young girl who made the skit about how her boyfriend kept their serious relationship a secret from his family and friends and was hesitant to bring her around his family during the holidays, I wonder if she is still in that relationship? If she still is, I wonder why? Does she not consider herself worthwhile to be introduced to her boyfriend’s family and received warmly by them?

If she were a relative, I would suggest to her that perhaps she is the only one between the two, who thinks it’s a serious relationship.

To my Nigerian brethren who made the video about how Nigerian parents are notorious for beating their children who behave in non African traditional ways – that’s not funny. Yes, I know, most people think it’s funny, but it’s really not. If you disagree with me, simply  insert yourself into the shoes of the two main characters.

There is nothing more damaging to the self esteem of a teenage young man, who has put in a lot of work into toasting and inviting a female friend over to his home. Only to be walked in on by his father and beaten in front of her. Furthermore, beating a confused girl who has decided to strip before a camera only worsens her damaged identity.

“But I  no dey vex for una,”  your other videos are funny expect this one.
We have to be honest with ourselves, because lies only help us in soothing our feelings. That way we can pretend not to be bothered by events we have experienced. Events while unfortunate, provide a sliver lining for us to achieve significant growth via painful feelings.

This attitude of pretending not to be bothered by humiliating experiences, is like convincing yourself you have the ability to dodge bullets and fly like a character in a Hollywood blockbuster. However we are all vulnerable, and recognition and acceptance of our vulnerabilities gives us needed courage in accepting life on life’s terms.

If you have been humiliated or shamed, call it for what it is, because pretending not to be bothered only sets you up to experience a repeat.  When we are able to admit experiences that wound our egos, we set ourselves up for proper healing.

By healing I mean being able to acknowledge the source of the wounding, and learning the lesson you need to learn.

What are some healthy and unhealthy methods you have used to respond to feeling humiliated?

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 22, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about using what if scenarios to transition from negative thinking to positive thinking.

What if_01(blank)      What if_01(filled)

However, what if transitioning to a positive thought process is not enough. What if the identified positive thought is intellectually sound, but still emotionally unbelievable?

In this  video post, I discuss taking the what if scenario to another level by performing brief behavioral experiments which force you into making a paradigm shift in your thought processes for the better.


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November 14, 2013

I am pretty certain I have used this pac-man analogy on a previous post, but I will use it again. Once upon a time, I went on a pac-man binge, and achieved a ridiculously high score, (I would mention the score but I don’t remember). The only thing that led to my demise in  the game was cognitive fatigue.

So how did I do it?

I came to the realization that I had memorized the patterns of the ghosts. As a matter of fact the few things that changed during the course of every game I played was the increased speed of the ghosts, the points and my proneness to making errors in  the game.

So how does this work as an analogy?

The patterns of the ghosts where based on the programming instructions written by the programmers who created the game. If you were to go to the apple app store or Android market and purchase a pac-man game, the only way you would be able to change the patterns of the ghosts would be the hack the game and change specific instructions dedicated to the movement patterns of the ghosts.

People are remarkably similar, this is because our habitual behaviors are dictated by what we believe. Every belief we hold unto comes with specific sets of instructions of what to do in response to any circumstance. Whether these instructions help us solve our problems is a different story, but instructions as dedicated by our beliefs cause us to execute a predictable repertoire of behaviors which vary according to the circumstance.

Having this understanding about your fellow human beings is half the battle towards getting past resentments and putting a stop to passive aggressive behavior directed towards you. Half the battle because once you realize that the other person is motivated by a set of beliefs and guided by specific instructions, you cease to take the behavior personally and learn to respond accordingly to behaviors you come to predict.

Take for example,  if you have a co worker who habitually presents with a passive aggressive attitude towards you and other co workers. Perhaps he makes inappropriate jokes, and becomes hostile and easily angered during disagreements with others. It’s easy to get sucked into the chaos if you find yourself engaged in a heated exchange with such a co worker. You may come to take his attitude towards you personally, and without realizing it, you do your best to help explain to this co worker your side of the story, but to no avail.

The Technique

The best response to this scenario and other similar scenario is a two fold technique. First, you should come to understand and accept that this person is operating on a set of beliefs that dictate his behavior of passive hostility towards others during disagreements. (It is important to note that you are not required to figure out what his beliefs may be, change is the responsibility of the individual.) Secondly you should understand that it only becomes more and overtly  hostile if you engage in kind. So do nothing.

It is important to note that doing nothing is only reserved for non life threatening situations. (I will write a post on how to respond to threats in the near future.) Doing nothing is an effective technique for back handed compliments, insults, nasty rumors, hostile glares etc.. The problem people have with doing nothing is that they have unrealistic expectations of what would happen in the event they practiced doing nothing and the harassment stopped. Some people have shared with me that they expect the harasser or passive bully to become apologetic and nicer towards them.

Do nothing doesn’t change a harasser’s attitude, it only confuses them and brings the undesirable behavior to a stop. The reason for this is because there is no corresponding hostile reaction from you to confirm their biased belief which justifies in their minds their decision to harass you. With confusion comes a lack of direction and with a lack of direction comes cessation of the unwanted behavior.

Please note that this technique is only reserved for passive-aggressive, non harm threatening behaviors. For bullyish behaviors that cross the boundaries of physical contact and or violation of personal property there exists a different set of techniques, which will be discussed in a different post.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 11, 2013
If you find yourself wondering where your next meal is going to come from, why wouldn’t you be stressed, anxious and depressed? Often times when people come in for psychotherapy, they have very good reasons for experiencing emotional unrest- they are going through a crisis. In situations like these, I usually recommend them to seek life coaching services, in order to get skills they need to address their most basic of needs before they resume therapy.
The purpose of this post is to detail some life coaching strategies people can use to acquire gainful employment. Before I get into the post, I am going to point out that there are a lot of challenges people facing when seeking employment. Two examples would be a depressed economy and individual bias based on prejudice.
However, I am a firm believer that your thoughts create your reality, and pertaining to this post it means that there are more opportunities in the world than woes. So while challenges do exist for young people in seeking employment, more focus should be paid to the opportunities that outnumber these challenges.
Before you read this post, I want you to understand this, you can get any job you want,  you simply have to identify and be prepared to abandon conventional thinking when it comes to making income. What I mean by conventional thinking is that most of us have been raised to be passive about seeking employment. We have been raised to be obedient unquestioning and attentive to the instructions of an authority figure. This is why so many people are content with filling our a job application and waiting for a response.
If you are on the market for seeking employment, there are five mindsets and attitudes you need to adopt in other to help steer you in the right direction.
#1 Think like an employer:
If you used your imagination, some research and a piece of paper, what would it look like if you owned a small retail store? How many employees would you need to hire? Further, what caliber of employees would you be looking for?
When you think like an employer, you come to realize one thing, employers hire people who they believe can either help them make money or help them save money. Preferably both. So regardless of the industry you seek employment in, your thought process should be how you can help make a potential employer money. Simply filling out an application form and submitting a cover letter isn’t enough, this is because you are settling for the role of the passive job seeker. The one who hopes to be hired and follow instructions in exchange for a paycheck.
Even if you know little about the company you are interested in, you want to get into the mindset of understanding what value you can bring into any work environment and how you tactfully communicate such a value during an application and interview process.
#2 Understand the problems of the industry:
Another strategy you have to come up with, is understanding the problems faced by the industry. For example, in my profession as a psychotherapist, a common problem myself along with other clinicians face, is getting the public to understand the value of therapy and how it can benefit them. So if I were to apply for a position with an agency today, my resume and cover letter is going to specify skill sets which directly address this issue, to include my success rate.
For example, I have a good track record of getting parents to recognize how their parenting directly influences the behavior of their child, which increases parental participation in the therapy of their child. I would put this statement in a resume, while highlighting specific techniques I have used in my cover letter and during an interview.
#3 Understand how your skill sets can be monetized:
All skills can be monetized, this means how an applied skill can directly impact profit. For example, an office secretary’s speed at typing, directly impacts her speed at completing documentation and other tasks. So the faster she types, more than likely, the faster she is at accomplishing other tasks in the office which spells out as a reduction of costs for the organization.
#4 Know where to look:
Your ideal work environment would be a place where your performance is rewarded on merit. You want to work in an environment where you are regarded with dignity by others and where the only type of conflict you deal with is based on overcoming challenges presented by the market or industry you work in.
For this reason,  it’s not enough to place your resume, on a job website and hope for the best. You want to start local and utilize your contacts. Tell everyone you know that you are seeking employment and keep an open mind in following up any leads that come your way.
#5 Adopt a pragmatic mindset:
I once worked with a young client who mocked her father for owning two subway stores, this was after she had finished lamenting to me her difficulty in getting an interview at the places she had applied for employment.  This then clued me into what the problem was. I asked her why she hadn’t offered her services to her father, and her response was to roll her eyes and declare that such a thing would never happen. It wasn’t that her father wasn’t willing to hire her, (turns out he had repeatedly offered her a job) it was a matter of prestige for her.
Be as practical as you can in your job hunt. Ultimately what really should matter is your ability to use your skill sets in generating income for yourself and family. Some people don’t realize this but often times your best employer to be is you. Think about it this way, if all else fails, there is product or service people are willing to pay you to deliver to them, whether you work for someone or yourself, it all about exercising pragmatism.
Pragmatism requires a healthy dose of shamelessness. This is a topic (shame) I will be addressing in my next post.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
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November 1, 2013

This Therapist’s Blog is changing names. The change means from here on forward, This Therapist’s Blog will become Road 2 Resolutions.

Change is this case is a good thing, and we plan on bringing you the same short but meaningful and insight provoking posts.

Also, the previous posts from This Therapist’s Blog will remain available on Road 2 Resolutions Blog.

Thanks for reading.


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October 29, 2013

Recently I was speaking with a client of mine who expressed feeling handicapped with her feelings of fear. She is in the process of leaving a corporate job she works for, with plans to open up a small retail business. She reported being terrified of failing at her small business, more specifically she was frightened about what others would think about her if she was not successful with her business. Then she asked for suggestions about what to do about her fear.

I responded by asking her why she was leaving her corporate job, and after a few minutes of pondering, she stated that she feared spending the best years of her life working for a company that she disliked, in a position she found utterly miserable. She further stated that she feared becoming an older woman like some of her coworkers, having given the best years of her life to a company with very little to show for her years of hard work.

I then asked her which of the two fears she had identified, she feared the most. The one where she fails at her business and gets looked down upon by her family and friends, or the other where she gives away her youthful energy to her employer and matures into an older woman with having accomplished very little in her career.

Without hesitation she stated that remaining stuck with her employer was her biggest fear. I then informed her to use this fear as her fuel for motivation. So every time she finds herself fearing possible failure in her business, she considers the alternative, which is to remain with her employer. The idea is that she would be so motivated to not find herself in that predicament, that coping with her fear of failing at her business would become relatively easier.

This was part one for how to deal with fear. The second part is to practice positive thinking. We attract what we think, so instead of worrying about how her business could fail, I asked her to focus on how her business could succeed. In doing so she would pay more attention to how people in her niche have succeeded with their businesses, and incorporate their strategies for success into hers. This would then increase the likelihood of her business succeeding, thus leading to a positive self fulfilling prophecy.

While on the topic of positive thinking, you should really get a copy of Pam Grout’s E-Squared. The title is a play on Einstein’s theory of relativity and features nine do it yourself experiments that prove  your thoughts really do create your reality.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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October 21, 2013
What is stress? There is a short story circulating around the Internet about a psychologist who walks before an audience with a glass half filed with water. She asks members of the audience to guess the weight of the glass, and after several missed guesses, she tells them the answer. The answer is irrelevant, however she proceeded to explain to the audience that the longer she holds the glass of water, the weaker her arm would become, while the weight of the glass of water remains the same.

Her analogy was simple,  stress we hold unto  for a short time, isn’t a bad thing. However stress we hold unto for a significant period of time weighs on the mind,and leads to cognitive issues accompanied by poor health.

“Reality exists in the mind before it is experienced.”

A common reason people struggle with stress is due to a refusal to accept that they are dealing with circumstances out of their control. Often times we have a narrative in our heads regarding how we believe certain experiences should unfold and how we will respond accordingly. This is both a strength and a weakness, because our ability to practice foresight allows us to plan ahead and prepare for the future. While on the other hand, we have a tendency to think ahead of ourselves and develop unrealistic expectations on how things should unfold simply because we planned ahead. It also doesn’t help that we are inherently pleasure seekers and often times the realities we create in our heads are designed for us to feel good about ourselves and the situation. This also presents with an irony of us being unprepared to deal with circumstances we believed we were prepared to deal with.
So what is stress? Stress is a phenomenon that occurs when people over a significant period of time continue to respond to the same life challenges with antiquated strategies that they have repeated tried in the past with limited to no success. After repeated attempts at addressing the problem, they then brood over the matter consistently, only to attempt using the same ineffective strategies once again. In such circumstances, a cruel thing can occur. The situation can resolve itself only to reoccur again, leading the stressed person to believe that the strategies they employed actually were effective, when they were not.
An example would be a panic attack sufferer coming to believe that his or her hyperventilating and overreaction to the episode of panic is what led to the end of the panic episode,  when in fact the panic episode coming to end was caused by the depletion of adrenaline in the person’s body. This then begins a vicious cycle, as the person now develops anxiety due to his or her attempts to anticipate when the next panic episode is going to occur.
The solution to stress is to practice accepting life on life’s terms, this process involves internalizing a great deal of humility in coming to accept when narratives we tell ourselves on how our lives should unfold are proven to be flawed. When we come to accept our narratives are flawed, then next step is to make revisions to the new narrative based on new information acquired from our experience.
If I were an audience member when the psychologist in the short story was giving the presentation, I would have raised my hand to catch her attention. If she had noticed me, and called for me to speak, I would have recommended that she drink the water, and then put the glass down. This for me would represent the metaphor of coming to accept reality for what it is (drinking the water) and exercising the courage to rewrite your narrative, (putting down the glass).
Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.
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