Grant Yourself Something Well-Deserved In The New Year: Patience

Maybe you took this time during the pandemic to think of your life, where you’re at, and where you’re – not at yet. I am guessing you thought of a few things to pick a part your position in life, as you are not alone in that mindset. It is quite typical to come up with accomplishments you thought about, but did not yet pursue or fulfill. In fact it is more common to think of your job and relationships as inferior to some careers and relationships you have chosen to put on a pedestal. You may even recognize characteristics of yourself or patterns that come out in relationships which you’ve labeled less-than-desirable. This is where you halt yourself, before you cast judgment on your life and yourself. Your awareness of your dreams is permissible. Your acceptance of yourself- where you are – is necessary. Do not discount the effort you have put forth, or your existence wherever the path has led you until now. Your acknowledgement is all you ever needed- thinking about that concept is enough right now.

It takes A TON of patience to get to the things and people that are the best fit for you. There will be rejection, disappointment, redirection, and this is part of the process to getting to your truest passions, greatest inspiration, and comfort in this world. Maybe you’re involved in a relationship that isn’t bringing out the best in you, or at a job that is not strongly motivating or challenging? This realization can result in disappointment, and even hopelessness or self ridicule; including thoughts that you are the reason you haven’t found fulfilling experiences or relationships. This is a harsh judgment of yourself, whereas your “current situation” has been impacted by too many variables to even bother to point a finger in your direction. Oftentimes, it’s directly related to the limited exposure you have had to what may have been a better fit for you. This only requires that you give yourself some time- to be where you are, and the ideas, hopes and beliefs of where you want to be. If you accept your experience as it is, without judgement, just acceptance of what you’ve been involved with, you’re granting yourself compassion. If you acknowledge the importance of patience and its role in your process, you’re granting yourself permission to be present and time to learn and grow. Taking the time just to notice what your thoughts are, and the feelings reflected, is the start of the process to getting to genuine fulfillment. Accepting yourself, gifting yourself time, and prioritizing your dreams, is the least you can do, within these circumstances.

What if You Chose Acceptance Instead of Judgement?

Your mistakes, blunders and flaws, are the most interesting things about you.
In fact, the people that care about you the most are the ones that will want to hear about your greatest mistakes and the most tremendous pain you have endured. These experiences or characteristics are to be treasured, not shamed or held secret- but celebrated. What shames you, is most likely so interesting, so valuable and will lead you to the greatest understanding of yourself.

I guarantee – if you have the courage to acknowledge the events – to yourself , to fess up to the worst mistake you identify that you’ve made, the cringe-worthy moments that you’ve experienced, the greatest flaw you wish you could hide from the world- if you face it and accept that aspect of yourself as part of you, you have done something magical.

If you think about that one thing you may not have wanted anyone to know, ask yourself- isn’t it the most interesting thing about you? What do you think?

Your mistakes and flaws make you relatable, just as your honesty exposed, allows others to connect with you, providing them the comfort to be themselves. What you identify as your flaws, are the most beautiful parts of you because those are what make you real. The act of being genuine, makes you available to others as an individual, it makes you- you. Accepting these aspects of yourself makes you compassionate, open minded and understanding and balanced- and those are beautiful qualities to have.

Being able to be honest about your thoughts, feelings, mistakes, flaws, disappointments, struggles- and not be judged, just accepted- is EVERYTHING. You can find this in your relationships with others. This is also a byproduct of the therapeutic process. It allows you to be honest with yourself, resulting in self acceptance.

You Were Never Alone. Stay Connected

Support is a huge part of our mental wellbeing. When dealing with difficult life situations, adverse circumstances, or health concerns, avoiding isolation can be a crucial part of treatment and healing.  Understanding that you are not alone, is directly related to feelings of hope and optimism.

Staying connected to supportive people, has the potential to prevent isolation.

When we are faced with tragedy, illness, loss, pain, hardship, conflict, fear, discomfort, or difficult circumstance, we may wonder- What do we have, then?

We have each other.  We have other people in our lives, who we can receive support from them.  We don’t have to struggle alone.

Who you choose to surround yourself with, can have a tremendous impact on how well you do, and how well you feel.  It is even connected to what you may “choose” “to do, what you follow through with, directions you take, pursuits you attempt, whether it’s career related or treatment related.

How you feel “around” others, also has a tremendous influence on your mental wellness. It is easier to build your strength and self-confidence when you’re spending time around those who believe in you, and your capabilities.

Asking for help and support can feel difficult to do, because it requires vulnerability, You might not be completely comfortable with the idea of sharing.

However! It is “worth” it- because it can improve your mood, change your perspective, and your life. 

It hurts less and feels easier to manage when you know you have someone who cares.

Check In With Yourself

Upon understanding the importance of support, and  recognizing the positive impact that it can have on your life, the next step is to Maximize this foundation. Check in with yourself:

Who’s there?

Are you comfortable talking to them?

Are you being honest about how I feel?

Building a support system can improve your life, however, the key to feeling better and utilizing support effectively requires that you know yourself, and understand yourself. Once you understand “how” you’re feeling, you can choose to increase your communication with the people you reach out to, This is the way to create stronger connections – by sharing how you “really” feel, and honoring the truth within yourself.  

Communication is such an important part of our relationships.

Being honest with loved ones, and surrounding ourselves with those we feel we “can” be genuine with, does have significant effects.  This doesn’t mean we have to sever ties with people that do not understand or limit our time with them.  It DOES mean that communication becomes very important.  And that’s a personal responsibility.

If you stay aware of how you feel, there may be times you’ll notice: any of the following: “I’m disappointed that didn’t work out, or that it worked out the way it did”  “I’m hurt that I wasn’t included. I don’t understand why.”  “I’m scared of what may happen.”  There is a full range of emotions that we all experience. You’re likely to learn how common these feelings and experiences are, just as you’ll see you’re in this process “with” others.

You can allow yourself to receive support, by knowing what you need, and expressing it.  You can set a goal- not only to align yourself “with” others, but to have your support system align themselves with you. Tell them what would help. 

In summary, maximizing the benefits of a support system, includes:

-Knowing Yourself and Understanding Yourself

-Being honest with yourself

-Communicating with those who care

-Being honest with your loved ones about how you feel and what you need.

Recruit a Support System

If you’re feeling isolated, misunderstood, and unsure of who you can reach out to, you can contact a mental health professional.  It is easier to do, than you might imagine.

Schools and physicians often have names of local therapists they can provide.  If you would like to find a therapist on your own, Psychology Today lists mental health practitioners by zip code and specialty.  Most therapists, like myself, are offering teletherapy through HIPAA compliant platforms, by video session or phone session.  Choosing to talk to a therapist is really the process of recruiting your own support system! I may be biased, but it can be extremely useful!

Therapy is: experiencing and feeling the sadness from disappointments, the elation from joys WITH another person, in a nonjudgmental supportive environment.  A sense of relief, is felt, even in response to the deepest emotions, as a product of the therapeutic process.

There is something greater than the pain- and it is the connection and relationship that you can form with another person- and the realization of your potential to understand yourself, accept yourself, and heal.

Reach out to sources of support- whether it’s family members, friends, teachers, or even a mental health professional or a treatment provider. Stay aware of your experience, share your thoughts and feelings with others. Get in touch, and stay connected

Let’s Talk about Teletherapy the Same Way We Talk About Home Workouts and Toilet Paper

During this difficult time of uncertainty, support is more crucial than ever.  The lockdown has resulted in reduced social contact, isolation, and loneliness. We are no longer in the company of our peers. Teens are not with their fellow teenagers, moms are not with other moms, employees are not with coworkers, families are separated, and couples are separated.  No one is with their fellow cohorts, where they may draw from similarities that comfort one another. Family members are frustrated with each other, disappointed in their circumstances and their realizations; couples are seeing all sides of each other, struggling between support for loved ones, and their own needs.  Staying connected to sources of support is more important than ever. 

Within the world we were living in, prior to this pandemic, and the lockdown, it’s likely you didn’t spend long periods of time on the phone connecting and relating.  Perhaps a text here or there, to organize a plan, or an even less intimate group text to mention something silly amongst the events of your busy day.  It is probable that you might not feel as comfortable picking up the phone to reach out to various friends, who perhaps only reached the “acquaintance” status in this lockdown.  There are individuals you may have seen rather frequently, that may not have been your best friends. Perhaps they were members of groups within which you’ve been affiliated, whether classmates, friend-of-a-friend, fellow-parents, board members, club members, neighbors, or members within the community.  This situation is leaving many isolated. 

It was common to fill the day with less intimate interactions with acquaintances, quite often.  Now is a time, when you can choose to reach out.  You can choose to connect to some who have not been close friends, but perhaps – can be, going forward. You certainly have the time.  You can also choose to identify the few who have been closer friends in the past, and maintain regular contact – even if that includes details of your boring days, or your fluctuating mood.  It’s a time to choose to stay connected. 

Furthermore, receiving the support of a therapist can be helpful during this time of uncertainty, confusion, and isolation.

Getting connected to a therapist through teletherapy can help to:

  • Check in to process the changes, and loss
  • Understand your own needs
  • Validate your feelings
  • Create a routine
  • Prioritize self care
  • Add in some joy/ laughter/ camaraderie
  • Develop a trusting reliable relationship
  • Create comfort
  • Improve your mood
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Identify healthy coping skills

Finding a therapist  

Schools and physicians often have names of local therapists they can provide to students, parents, and patients. If you would like to find a therapist on your own, Psychology Today lists mental health practitioners by zip code and specialty. Psychology Today also verifies the background and state licensure of all providers before listing them on the website. You’re able to put in your zip code to find someone licensed in your state.  Most therapists are offering teletherapy through HIPAA compliant platforms, by video session or phone session.  The most important thing to realize, is that you’re not alone. A therapist is only a few clicks away.  Talking to someone can help. 

Don’t Let Lockdown Blur Your Boundaries: DRAWING LINES, SETTING BOUNDARIES

Self care includes, setting boundaries.  During this time under lockdown, you may be sharing your space with the same people every single minute of every single day. Irritated much? Joking! but seriously! Spending endless amounts of time around the people you live with, requires that you set boundaries.  This can entail, but may not be limited to- time spent separate from your family members and/or housemates.  Boundaries can also be set, to institute greater comfort for yourself, as related to topics and activities based on varied levels of privacy amongst all.

Why should you set boundaries, around time spent with others?

Throughout your interaction with other people, you can lose sight of your own needs, and interests, your own thoughts and even your own breath. Creating time and space for yourself can help to provide you time to:

  • rest
  • re-energize, in order to return to being around others
  • do things that only you choose to do, that do not need to be approved of, by your family members and/or housemates
  • let your mind wander

Setting limits, with others, is a necessary part of all relationships, and certainly is an important part of quarantining with anyone in your home.

No Excuses Needed

The first thing to keep in mind about setting boundaries is that you do not need an excuse to set them. You do not need to be “actively working,” showering, cleaning, cooking, going to the bathroom, or on the phone to assign yourself time away from your family members or housemates. You can choose to create time for yourself, for no reason at all.

It is that simple.

When you set boundaries you are in fact, setting an example within your relationships. The time serves as a representation of the value you have for yourself, as well as your relationship with others. Additionally, when you make attempts to define limits with your children, you’re setting an example of a parent who makes time for one’s self, while allowing each child to have time separate from the parent-child relationship as well.  If they need assistance with something during the time that they are separated from their parent, they should try to work it out or understand it themselves until the time is designated for them to ask the parent, if that need for help continues.

When setting boundaries with children, depending on the age of the child, you may need to organize the schedule to ensure coverage for the care of your child or children. Taking the time for yourself, is a necessary part of balance within your life . Trading on and off with another caregiver, or someone who can share the responsibility is highly relevant, in achieving that balance.

If the children are old enough to be separated from a caretaker, allowing yourself the time seems like it might be that much easier to achieve, but you’d be surprised- ha. Clearly defined boundaries between yourself and the others, should be outlined, even to include time frames. Depending on the child’s personality, you can choose to allow them to select something for themselves, that they can do on their own. You can also feel free to offer some options for them to choose how they would like to spend their time away from their together-time. You can let them know they can choose to:

  1. play an agreed upon game with sibling or siblings-by playing an in-home, or outdoor game
  2. spend time with a pet
  3. read- something
  4. write a story, poem, journal
  5. stretch
  6. organize some part of their room, make their bed
  7. listen to music
  8. do something creative or artistic

When you love someone, it can be quite difficult to set boundaries. Perhaps you innately want them to have what they want, or even as much of you, as they want, but setting boundaries is an important part of the relationship between you, and anyone you care about. It does not mean you don’t love them or care about them. It means you have ideas, thoughts, knowledge, and self awareness, and you’re choosing to make time for all of that. It means you care about maintaining the relationship. If you’re not already instituting boundaries within your daily lifestyle, give it a try!

Situations are powerless, without your reaction; Reacting to the global pandemic coronavirus.

This certainly puts things in perspective. Or NOT. Just as a crisis may demand our immediate attention, you may find that you are still left with the same underlying struggles, or untouched patterns.  Actually, we are really dealing with the same personal characteristics and personal reactions that we can be in touch with, at any time, in our lives. Along those lines, one thing or circumstance, cannot change who you are, and how you choose to react to the situation, and may very well be consistent with how you choose to react to unknown, unsettling circumstances.  That may remain. Choose to handle this pandemic, the way you’d like to handle anything. It’s ok to feel scared or concerned. Understanding how you’re feeling and choosing your reaction to the situation and to others, makes a difference.  Choose to stay connected.

Let the way you handle this, represent the way you’d like to handle all things.
1. Stay present, focus on where you are, and who you’re with this moment.
2. Be patient with others.
3. Be supportive of those concerned.
4. When needed, find yourself a space that is separate from others in your home.
5. Stay connected to those who can be supports in your life, whether by text or phone call.


You won’t catch me turning this negative into a positive, however I’ve been searching, just as I’m sure you have. We will find something. If you pay close attention, what you may find, is the truth. In many ways, you are being presented with the opportunity to learn about yourself, know yourself. You are faced with the challenge to accept yourself.

No more busying yourself with responsibilities, or activities. No more distractions. Whatever’s been shoved down for a long time, not to be felt, will be rising right now-whether it’s a frustration, a fear, memories, self reflection, lacking love, lacking friendship, hurt, disappointment, loneliness.

So, what do you do?

You pay attention to how you’re feeling. Shying away from your thoughts and feelings is not an option anymore. The process leads to learning-about yourself. There is nothing to be scared of here- it’s just knowledge about yourself. You have an opportunity to pay attention to how you feel, and why you feel what you feel. You may be left with thoughts of things you dislike about yourself, and you’ll have this opportunity to think further about why you have treated yourself this way. The reason you shouldn’t be scared, is because you can choose to accept all of it. You can choose not to judge yourself for mistakes, shortcomings, or decisions you’ve made. You can choose to feel that feeling that hurts, and accept it anyway.

Maybe you’re being separated from things you don’t need as much as you thought you did. Maybe you’re being separated from things you were relying on, more than you realized you were. Create something for yourself, find a space for yourself, get comfortable with yourself.

Don’t just check on the ”strong” people in your lives, Be THERE for them.

Being there for others might be easier than you think.

We cannot be responsible for preventing loved ones from experiencing pain, nor can we take the pain away. What can we do? We can help them feel less alone. Acceptance of the emotions, and support from others makes a difference. As parents, helpers, partners, spouses, and friends, we often wish we could make the pain disappear, but we cannot. Trying to convince someone that they’re not feeling pain, that they’re fine, might sound like positive thinking, but it can actually cause greater distance in relationships, and leave others feeling isolated or misunderstood. People need to know that they have others there for them, if things aren’t “fine”. Allowing someone to feel, can help someone in their process. People need to know that you do not expect their lives to be perfect, that your own life was never perfect, and that your life is not perfect now.

We have, within us, a full range of emotions (and experiences). No one can have or does have only positive, fulfilling experiences or interactions. There are pleasurable, thrilling, exciting, joyful times, and there is frustration, pain, disappointment, mistakes, failure, and heartbreak. Anything that exists for anyone is worth addressing. By addressing another’s disappointment or pain, we actually normalize it. This starts the process of acceptance of the person and their emotion and/or reaction. Normalizing the pain of others, by acceptance, helps to decrease the stigma that surrounds these negative emotions and experiences. At the same time, support that individuals get from others, and the process of acceptance, decreases isolation for all that feel afflicted with real emotions- all of us. It is not just a certain some. It is every individual that experiences difficulties, disappointment, and failure at, even, unexpected times.

The greater the vulnerability, the greater the intimacy, within any relationship, whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a parent-child relationship. The greatest source of intimacy, is demonstrated by a high level of vulnerability and honesty. In an effort to strengthen your relationships you must break down any barriers to truth. You must allow for these negative emotions (anger, disappointment, and shame), and negative experiences (failures and mistakes), to exist and be shared with one another. Creating the comfort for loved ones to feel, be, express, and be accepted at the same time is the goal. A big part of creating the comfortable environment for others to feel negative emotions, is allowing them to see and hear yours as well. This normalizes it, creates comfort for those struggling, and allows for a connection. Relaying the wisdom that -we also have felt negative emotions, and have had disappointments, provides validation to those, who may, otherwise, have been isolated. Breaking the stigma around the expression of negative experiences, such as mistakes or failure, decreases isolation for those hurting, and allows them to receive support, and be connected with others.

Enough About The Food, What about Your TIME TOGETHER?


Here we go again! Ways to Handle Together Time with our friends and family that we are so thankful for:

The holidays bring families together. In many cases, it includes relatives, friends or significant others “of” family that are not choice-selected, for our favorite day’s and night’s outings. These are all people we are spending the holidays with, however, and it would be ideal to actually enjoy the time that we are celebrating the holiday with our families. Conflicts can arise when different personalities come together, and are more likely to arise when people are not accepting of varied personalities.

It is helpful to try not to take things personally. We may find that others say and do things that we would never find ourselves saying or doing. It may seem at times that someone’s negative behavior is directed toward us. It is best to try not to take the action or comments of others personally. Even if we find it very difficult to believe that the comments or actions are not aimed at us directly, it is always better to make mental notes, and process these interactions for some time, before reacting.

Another important notion, is to witness and experience even negative interactions during the holiday, before actually reacting to anyone. It is optimal to try not to let the comments of others upset us. They have more to do with what is going on for them, and nothing to do with who we are. We can remember to use our known coping skills we may have available at this time. In this process, staying calm when frustrated with others, can prevent personal frustration from becoming a conflict or an argument with someone else.

Taking alone time when it is needed, and getting some personal space during the holiday, can even be necessary. If we are feeling the stress or the stress of others, taking some time to get away from the cause of the frustration or the crowd of people we are socializing with, can help us refocus, calm ourselves, or energize to return to “enjoying ourselves and the company of our loved ones.”

This is not the first year we are celebrating a holiday with others, whether it is with family, friends, or even a loved one’s family. It makes sense to take what we have learned from other holidays in our history or past experiences, so we do not repeat something we wish to avoid. It can be helpful to identify and become aware of what may be referred to as “triggers,” based on our past experiences. These can be events, situations, or people with which we have less tolerance and higher frustration. Is there something about one or more of your family members that has always bothered you, and he or she does not find fault with his or her actions, or he or she does not change in any way? Sometimes regular conflicts or (recycled arguments, I like to call them) appear between us, and the same family members every so often. It is nice to stay aware of these triggers before the holiday and during the holiday, to avoid that recycled conflict. If that day is actually on a holiday, it is probably better not to aspire to reveal this frustration during this time. These repetitive arguments with family members can take a snowball effect when we have other loved ones around us during the holiday as well.

Another purpose of increasing our self-awareness, in preparation for the holiday, is to identify things that we enjoy about the holiday itself, and the people with whom we will be spending it. We need to follow through on doing those things and maximizing our time with those people. It is helpful to remind ourselves throughout the holiday time of what those things are, so we can be sure to appreciate them, and the people we have identified as those that contribute to our enjoyment. These people we have in mind probably bring out the best in us, and appreciate our presence. If we can, it is a holiday made happier, to spend time around these people. We need to stick with those bringing out the comfort, fun, and laughter we need.

Have inlaws?  Let us not even play that game with them during the festivities. We should follow the holiday protocol, and revisit any significant relationship concerns separate, from the holiday, at another point in time.

Have children?  We may often hear comments or parenting suggestions from family and fellow holiday-goers about eating habits, and how to handle our children in different situations. Unfortunately, we may even hear criticisms at times, about our child/children or how we have been parenting them. Ignore it?  If we can, then we should. We need to decide what is right for us in our parenting, at that moment.  We have to remember we can stick to following through on that action, yet at the same time, try not to get frustrated by the different suggestions bombarding us. This is a time when we can remember the other ways we are handling this holiday, by remaining calm, and processing commentary from others, before reacting.  A suggestion or input from others may certainly be helpful, but also may not. That is for us, as the parents, to decide.  People will have opinions everyday, but it does not mean that we need to follow the direction guided by those opinions.  Have parents?  Parents often have opinions about us, as their children, so expecting to hear those opinions during the holiday can help us handle them better.

Know that you are not alone. We are all faced with higher stress, and concerns about conflicts within our relationships, and difficult interactions at times. Most people have experienced the same thing that you’re dealing with, at your event, whether they recognize it and choose to share it or not.

Most importantly, we must remember, at all costs, to avoid conflict!

Jennifer Shrier LCSW

Mental Health: It’s a Wellness Thing

How we feel- is everything- When we’re not feeling good on the inside, or feeling good about ourselves we cannot feel the joy from other aspects of our lives- whether it’s life’s interests and accomplishments or relationships. That’s why mental health is so important. It impacts everything else.  It affects our pursuits, productivity, interactions with others, our relationships, and our self esteem.  A new relationship or friendship, a new job, a new home, an amazing vacation will not create happiness FOR you.  It starts with understanding yourself and it can be found in accepting all aspects of yourself.  Pay attention to how you feel!  As often as you can.  That is how you know! You’ll know more about yourself and you’ll know where to start.  You’ll know what to avoid and what you need.  You can choose to recognize if you’re attempting to fulfill yourself with the “external”, whether it’s accolades from others or material items- and shift the focus to yourself and your inner joy and peace.  It may require restructuring or reorganizing your perspective in ways.  At the very least, true fulfillment in life requires you to make your mental health a priority.