Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips, Uncategorized

A Tale of Triumph

 

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I remember walking across the stage in 2014 to receive my bachelor’s degree in psychology as if it were yesterday.    If I close my eyes long enough,  I can still smell the dew on the grass, I can still feel my heels sink into the ground with each step that I took.  It rained that morning, but by  commencement time the sun was delightfully beaming on all of the graduates.  Its something about walking across the stage that you will never forget.  All I could think about was making sure I did not fall in my heels and go viral.   Once I shook everyone’s hand and exited the stage, I felt relieved.   All those years of college, even with a year off and returning to finish; it was finally coming to an end.  This was an amazing accomplishment for me.  It wasn’t until a couple months later that I began to feel discouraged.  Most of the jobs that I had applied for required me to have anywhere between  two and five years worth of experience.

I did not have any experience.  While in college,  I did not volunteer, and I didn’t network like I should have.  I was a full-time student and I worked at least thirty five to forty hours  a week; between papers, projects, and  exams my time was scarce.  Now, I was paying the ultimate price for being a studious recluse.  Day in and day out, I continued to put in applications and go to various interviews.  All I needed, all I wanted, was a chance to stick my foot into the pool of opportunity and put my bachelor’s degree to use.  I would walk into an interview motivated and filled with ambition.  I would think to myself; this is it, this is my chance.

Thank you doesn’t feel sincere when its included in a rejection email.  I was torn between wanting to know whether I didn’t get the job, or never hearing from the employer again.  Honestly, at the time I didn’t know which one was worse.  Both methods sucked; either they were brave enough to let me know that they decided to proceed with another candidate and provided me with feedback, or they simply disappeared, and I never heard from them again.  I repeated this cycle off and on for another year and a half while working odd jobs in between.  The cycle would start off with me feeling extremely motivated, ambitious, hopeful, and eventually self-loathing, and disappointed when I find out I did not get the job  I applied for.  I know so many people with a bachelor’s degree that are not working in the field that they went to school for.  Knowing that so many of them gave up finding a job in their field only motivated me to keep going.    There was this spark in me, a voice letting me know that I can do this despite the obstacles I was facing at the time.

A year and a half later, I was hired right on the spot as a Mental Health Assistant at a psychiatric residential treatment center.  The facility  that hired me was hosting a job fair and I took advantage of the opportunity.  I began working with children from ages seven through seventeen who were experiencing complex emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric symptoms.  As a Mental Health Assistant, it was my responsibility to help identify  triggers and feelings under the direction of a licensed staff member.

I held groups once a day  for an hour to help teach the children healthy coping skills.  Overall, I loved my job, however, there was a history of high turn over rate for the Mental Health Assistant position at this facility; this position was a revolving door.  I found myself constantly  training others as my coworkers  found better jobs, other opportunities, or just quit.  I must admit,  the mental health field can be incredibly challenging which made this position intense at times.  Dealing with children and teens with emotional,  behavioral, and psychiatric concerns could be exhausting.  Especially if you do not have a good support system at work or at home, and if you don’t have  coping skills for potential secondary trauma.  I continued to work at this facility for a year, and by the time I left this position, everyone I was hired on with were already gone.  I am not perfect but there is a difference between working and loving what you do; I loved working with the children at this facility.

I knew I was making an impact on the children with the groups I held, and how they would use the skills they learned to resolve conflicts or coping with their feelings in healthy ways.  Something deep down in me knew that I needed to move on to the next level within my career.  The hours were becoming overwhelming; I normally worked second shift which was 2:00pm to 10:00pm, but often, due to the staff shortage, I would frequently find myself pulling doubles.  If someone called out for third shift, we would rotate staff members on second shift to stay overnight, which meant an additional shift between 11:00pm to 6:00am.

As I am typing this, I find myself chuckling in admiration of my dedication to this long-awaited opportunity to utilize my degree despite everything else.  This opportunity paved the way for me to start working for Centerstone as a Behavior Coach.  In this new position, I was still working with children; I serviced children with severe emotional and behavioral needs.   I worked within the classroom and helped the teacher by developing behavioral interventions, incentives, created individual treatment plans, assist in crises, and did group sessions twice a week that was geared towards teaching the children how to express their emotions and behaviors in healthy ways.  One year later with hard work and dedication, I was promoted to Lead Behavior Coach; I supervised five Behavior Coaches, and I absolutely loved it.  However, this position was also plagued with a high turnover environment.

As one of three Lead Behavior Coaches, it was our responsibility to hire new people.  I remember going over resumes of varies candidates.  One of the candidates had a master’s degree in psychology with no experience in the field.  One of the Lead Behavior Coaches simply said, “That person is overqualified for this position.  The requirement for this position is a bachelor’s in psychology or related field and one year of experience.  How about that other candidate…?” Her words faded as an uncomfortable familiar feeling washed over me.  I remember when I was underqualified.    This was the first time I have ever heard of someone being overqualified; in that moment I immediately became aware of the importance that experience brings to the table.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have; for some employers, only having an education with no experience isn’t enough. As time passed by, I picked up a second job and started working part-time every other Saturday as a Staff Counselor for an addiction clinic that treated adults.  I created individual treatment plans with the clients, and offered additional individual counseling as needed. A couple years later, I began to feel that feeling again; you know that feeling you get when it is time for you to level up.  I needed to obtain my master’s in psychology if I wanted to achieve my long-term goal.

I was accepted into a master’s program for counseling psychology and at the same time  I was  offered a full-time position as a Staff Counselor;  this provided me with additional experience with individual counseling.  Now here I am, I have my master’s in counseling psychology, I have six years  of experience in my field with my degree, and I’m getting closer to becoming  a Licensed Professional Counselor.  The main lesson I have learned from my experience is keep going and stay persistent even when you feel like giving up.  Start getting your experience as soon as possible; network and volunteer while you are in college.  If time is an issue, it’s never too late to network and volunteer when you graduate from college, whether from undergrad or grad school.   It is important to keep and develop relationships with others in your field; whether it’s the professors, advisors, and/or friends that have the same goals as you do.   You must come to terms with starting somewhere and getting your foot in the door. Being   underqualified and overqualified is a circumstance; however, with persistence, dedication, and hope, you can determine your own future.

Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips, Uncategorized

3 Amazing Tips to Combat Self-Doubt

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Well hello there, it’s me, Amazing Alex!  Life can be overwhelming at times and doubt can creep into your mind.  Doubt is a combined feeling of uncertainty, hesitation,  and confusion.  When that happens, take a deep breath and pause.  I have a question for you, is your self-doubt coming from your own negative self -talk or from negative people around you?  Has anyone ever told you:

“That’s too difficult; there’s no way you can do that.” 

“What happens if you fail? You know failure is hard for you to take in; you will never forgive yourself.”

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Have you ever wondered, where are they getting these negative comments from? Often, these negative individuals may feel that they are protecting you from getting hurt.   Let them know you got this, and you will be fine.  Sometimes people project their own feelings of self-doubt about themselves onto you.  Guess what you can tell them:

 

   “ I have a different perspective; sorry you feel that way, but this is my own journey.”

 

People may even be jealous that you are trying something new while they are stuck in their routine  and are afraid of stepping out of their own comfort zone.  I can go on and on about the many ways people are negative and discouraging.  You are the CEO of your life and you have the power to demote, promote or fire the people you have around you.  Take some time out and monitor who you have  around you.  Pay close attention to the people that motivate you or hinder you; then create healthy boundaries that serves your mental health.    What happens if the negative self-talk is coming from you?  Here are three amazing tips to challenge self-doubt:

 

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“Challenge the negative thoughts. “

This step really takes practice, for example, you can tell yourself:

“This isn’t going to be an easy road but following my dreams are important to me.               I’m  willing to invest the time and work into making it happen.” 

“Create long-term goals and break them down into short-term goals.”

It’s easy to doubt yourself when the task resembles a giant picture of the finishing project; break the project down into puzzle pieces.  This step will help you organize your goals instead of getting overwhelmed with the steps that it will take to accomplish your dreams.

“Try.”

You never know what you are capable of until you try.  Well, this is what this step is all about.  Life can be filled with a bunch of “what ifs” or “I did,” the choice is yours.  Take a jab at these steps and let me know if they helped  with any self-doubt you’ve been dealing with lately.  How do you overcome your self-doubt? Comment below and share your amazing story.

Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips

Are you Stressed?

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Well hello there!  Its me, bridging hope Amazing Alex!  We need to talk  about stress and what it really is.  Stress is a response that may occur due to life changes.  Life is always evolving and changing around us and to us; whether its work, adjusting to a new school, changes in a marriage, or even death of a loved one.  I wish I can tell you that completely avoiding stress is possible.  I wish I can take stress, crumble it up like a piece of paper and hurl it into the wind.  Stress can take on many forms and impact all of us differently.  Eliminating all stress should not be your goal but eliminating unnecessary stress can help effectively manage the rest of it.  Remember, we are all humans and some common causes of stress that many people experience can be different for each of us.  Here are some examples on how to recognize how you may  experience stress:

 

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The amazing key point  that I would like for you to take away from this is to eliminate stressors when you can.  Ask yourself theses key questions:

  • What is causing me to be stressed out?
  • Does this stress really have a purpose in my life?
  • What will happen if  I don’t control my stress?
Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips, Uncategorized

6 Amazing Tips To Get The Most Out Of Journaling

Well hello there! It’s me, positive affirmations believer, overcoming achiever, Amazing Alex! When I say achiever, just know that part is continuously a goal that I strive to obtain but what does it truly mean to achieve?  Is it a feeling or an action? Perhaps it’s an experience? In my opinion its all three.  Something amazing happens when you accomplish something that you always wanted to achieve; it refers to attaining a desire aimed to help you become successful.  The feelings that occur after you achieved your desired goal is completely determined by you.  The feelings I felt when I decided to journal all seem to bring me comfort, understanding, and closure.  Yet, I  felt this feeling of accomplishment because I’ve personally experienced the benefits of journaling.

Over the past few weeks of journaling, I have  felt feelings of happiness, frustration, admiration, determination, and most importantly, I’ve felt a new awareness about myself.  Imagine for a second, writing about your fears, your strength, and your goals.  How amazing is that?!  You  can literally have a conversation with yourself by journaling; give yourself a pep talk or help yourself process a situation.  There are several benefits of journaling:

  • Enhance sense of well-being
  • Boost your mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Help process difficult events
  • Help shift a negative mindset
  • Decrease symptoms of depression

There are 6 amazing  tips that I would like to share with you to help you get the most out of journaling:

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  1. Find a private place in your house that is free of distractions. Set a timer for how long you would like to write, whether its five minutes or fifteen minutes, the amount of time is up to you.
  2. Make journaling apart of your schedule. There are twenty-four hours in a day and seven days a week.  Strive to write at least four times a week or at least once a day.
  3. A lot can happen once your pen hits the paper, or your fingertips began to make a steady beat as you type. Whichever way you decide to journal is up to you.  All I ask, is after you journal, give yourself time to reflect what you have written.
  4. What in the heck should I write about? Try journaling exactly what you are feeling in the moment. If you are still having a hard time deciding what to journal, well, think about what’s going on in your life, goals, or thoughts. Give yourself time to reflect on what you would like to journal about.  If your mind starts to wonder while you are journaling, pause.  Make sure you pause, reread what you’ve written down and re-focus before you start to write again.
  5. Write in anyway that feels best to you. You have the power to structure your writing the way you want it to be.
  6. Privacy! Privacy! Privacy! Your journal is for your eyes only. Not your family or friends, just you.

 

Have you ever journaled before, and if so, what was your experience like?

 

 

Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips

The Power of Starbucks

IMG_2860Well hello there! Its me, the press forward, invest in yourself believer, Amazing Alex! A surge of feelings spill over me as I type this post because I did it! I received my Master’s in Counseling Psychology!  The past two years have been bittersweet for me; long nights, numerous papers, and plenty and I mean plenty of Caramel Macchiatos from Starbucks.  There are several things I’ve learned about myself over the past two years; willpower, patience and consistency.   I have lost track of the many times that I had to stay at home instead of hanging out with family or friends.  My phone became my worse enemy!  Checking the time on my phone would lead to checking notifications and eventually mindless strolling down my Facebook news feed.  Yet, I would always find the strength to put my phone on silent or completely cut  my phone off.

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I remember the day I decided to pursue an higher education.  I was working as a Lead Behavior Coach during the time at a special day school for children with various behavior issues.  As a Behavior Coach, I conducted groups centered around Nicholas Hobbs twelve principles of Re-Education for working with youth who have emotional and/or behavioral disorders.  Yet, I wanted to do more to help them.  I learned very quickly that majority of the children that attended this school did not have the proper tools to deal with the trauma that they’ve experienced.  For many of them, my groups provided  them an opportunity to built trust, self-control, self-esteem, confidence, deal with anger, and how to make healthier choices.  These children will one day become adults, and I hope my time with them made an impact.  I couldn’t help but think….how many adults are walking around dealing with trauma in an unhealthy way?  This very thought propelled me forward to explore a chance to give back to society in a major way.

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Emotions play a big role in our lives; it  influences how we think and how we behave.  The emotions that we feel each day impacts the decisions we make in our lives, both small and big.  Obtaining my master’s degree has set me on the path to teach others coping strategies to deal with life stressors that are not detrimental to one’s well-being.  Journey with me as I blog through my experience  of becoming  a Licensed Professional Counselor.  Along the way I will share with you various techniques to cope with the numerous emotions that we experience throughout the day; I will also share with you my very own experience when I use these copings skills for myself.  As always, through your consistency, commitment and consciousness, lets move forward towards being and feeling amazing together!

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Blogging, Inspirational, Mental Health, Mental Health - Positivity, Motivation, Positive Affirmations, Techniques, Tips, Uncategorized

Positive Affirmations

 

Well, hello there, it is me, positivity word slanging, love sprinkling Amazing Alex!  Today is the day.  Perhaps you are wondering what I mean; today is the day we are ridding ourselves of our limitations and barriers.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath in … You already have the tools within you.  With a little guidance, we can use these tools to help you come closer to becoming and/or feeling amazing.  There are two words I want you to think about, positive affirmations.  These are positive statements that can assist you to combat and over come self-sabotaging negative thoughts.

I am enough…say it out loud, but when you say it, I want you to believe it.  To believe is to acknowledge that something is true or that it exists. To me, belief is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, happiness and a hopeful feeling when you think ahead to the future.  What did you feel when you said those words out loud?  Did you feel a joyful feeling in your heart when you said that I am enough?  Through consistency, commitment, and consciousness, we can work on retraining our thinking, and speaking into positive patterns to help change our lives.  Today is the day to open that door.  Its another opportunity to begin this change.    Think about your self-talk, is your internal dialogue serving you in a positive way?    Whether you know it or not, you are using affirmations in every moment.  With your thoughts, words, and behavior, you are creating your own life experiences.

I know what you are thinking, affirmations almost sound unrealistic or some form of “wishful thinking.”  Think of it this way, exercise is a way to improve our physical health.  Think of affirmations as exercises for our mind.  By making positive repetitive affirmations we can begin to think and act differently.

There is evidence that if you spend a few minutes thinking about positive affirmations of yourself, you can decrease your stress, increase your confidence and calm your nerves.  Isn’t that amazing!  Other studies have shown that it helps people with low self-esteem and depression. Researchers suggest that when a person has a stronger sense of self-worth, it can improve that person’s overall well-being.

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How do you use Positive Affirmations?

There are many ways you can use affirmations, for example, you can use affirmation to:

  • Boost your self-esteem
  • Finish goals you’ve started working on
  • Boost your confidence
  • Control negative feelings such as impatience, frustration, and anger.
  • Overcome a bad habit
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How do you Write an Affirmation Statement? 

What areas of your life would you like to change?  Think of a specific area in your life, whether it is a behavior or belief that you have difficulty with.  Focus on the things that matter to you most and write down the areas you would like to work on.

 

Is your affirmation achievable and credible? Have you ever heard of SMART goals?  SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.  I mention this because these types of goals are clear, specific, realistic and should be important to you.  This is how your affirmations should be.  I repeat, keep it realistic!  Affirmations are not magic spells.  You must believe in them and that feeling of belief is an internal source within you.

 

What about the negative self-talk? Turn negatives into positives.  I want you to try this, write down those negative thoughts or beliefs that keep bothering you on a piece of paper.  Once you’ve listed them all, throw it away!  Throw those negative thoughts written down in the trash because that is where they belong.  Start a new list of affirmations that are opposite of the negative list.

 

How should I write my affirmations?  We do not want to write our affirmations in the past tense.  Speak and/or write your affirmations as if it is already happening.  This will feed your internal source of belief and add truth to the statement for the now.

 

Why should I say my affirmation statements out loud?  Say it loud! Say it loud!  It can help carry those affirmations with emotional weight.  Make the phrase meaningful to you and find time throughout the day to say it to yourself.

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What are Some Examples of Affirmations? 

Affirmations should be personal to you, specific and achievable.  Here are some amazing examples listed below:

  • I can do this!
  • I am successful!
  • I am generous!
  • I am amazing!

 

Amazing Key Points

  • Affirmations are positive statements
  • Affirmations can help you combat self-sabotaging negative thoughts
  • Make your affirmations realistic and achievable
  • Write your affirmations down
  • Say your affirmations out loud

 

References :

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/affirmations.htm

https://www.louisehay.com/the-power-of-affirmations/

 

Do you have any positive affirmations that you would like to share? Please comment and share below.