Stop. Reflect.

I was going to write a post on “same-sex relationships,” but that has lost its luster. Instead, I will talk to my audience of hundreds about the importance of Self-Reflection.

This will not be one of my “research” blog posts, where I pull out all of the latest and greatest research article to prove my point. No. This is merely a post on good word from yours truly. What do I mean by self-reflection? Okay. Picture the hardest day that you had this past month. If you didn’t have a seriously hard day this month, picture the worst day that you’ve ever had. Now picture a Jam Packed day. A day where you have a TON going on, almost too much to keep track of. Okay, now picture some of that all mixed together. Sounds like more than you could handle? Sounds a bit chaotic? This is the perfect battleground for my point.

On a day like the one that I described above, you are going to need to take a breather, even if it is for a few minutes (minimum). Whether you actually take a breather is kinda the point I’m trying to make. How many of us actually stop in our hectic lives to think? Do you? I know I don’t most of the time. “Stop and think? Eric, what are you talking about?” I’m talking about reflecting on the day, reflecting on what all went down, reflecting on what to do better. In that day I mentioned above, do you think that you could benefit from taking a Time Out? Stop. Breathe. Think. Breathe. Slow…down. think.

What I am proposing is not something that most U.S. Americans (and I speak for only those that I am surrounded by) choose to do on a daily basis. In the professional field, we call it “Self-Reflection,” or sometimes “Meditation.” I could pull out many, many articles on the benefits of doing what I am talking about, but I will let you do that if you are interested. Here, I’ll even get you started. I am convinced of what self-reflection allows us to do, let me explain:

When we actively choose to reflect on what just happened, and especially in the case of the day I described above, we are able to ask ourselves some very important questions: “What just happened? How did I handle that? Could I have responded any different? Did I want to?” You also engage in your RAW emotional feelings: “I am seriously emotionally compromised now. I should NOT be talking to anyone, and I don’t even want to talk to anyone. Why would they do something like that? I need to calm down. In the past, I have reacted out of anger, and I wont do that this time. I should talk to someone. I feel cheated. I feel hurt. I feel confused. I am unsure how to continue from here.”

I have run into many of these type of situations personally in my internship with clients, and self-reflection has enabled me to become a better therapist. In knowing/reflecting on a session that I had with a client, and reflecting in the present, not days afterwards, I am able to heal and improve the experience the next time. WE can do the same thing with our relationships, friendships, or situations that we run into. Let reflection be your guide, let it  improve how you do life. Take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to reflect on the day. Let me know if you have done this before, or if you try this out.

A Brand New Day, the old is gone.

Hello avid readers. In response to, not such a great day, I managed to end the day on a seriously awesome high note. My long and faithfully good friend Corbin Elliott, from the land down under….hahaha, just kidding, He lives in New Zealand, not Australia. They’re different countries people. You’d be surprised to find out how many people mix those up. “So Eric, when are you moving to Australia?” “How long till you go to Australia.” “Australia must be beautiful this time of year!” Okay, how do you confuse the last letter in the alphabet with the first letter in the alphabet?! And I have NEVER said that I was moving to Australia. Ever. Ever Ever. Now I’m just going to find myself laughing every time someone mentions Australia. 

ANYWAY, so I was Skyping it up with the one, the only, Corbin Elliott last night, and it was a beautiful Saturday morning for him. We had a blast cleaning his room, throwing away old shirts,  talking about old times we had while wearing said shirts, and taking me on a tour of his house. It was a perfect ending to an imperfect day. We laughed it up and talked about the future of things to come. I was probably incoherent at times venting about the system and how it can screw you over sometimes when you want it to work in your favor. Getting into another country is difficult. If you’re thinking of moving overseas…I feel your pain. 
So, I woke up on a Saturday morning to a New Day. That was the best sleep that I have had in many months. I read a chapter in the book I am currently reading, put it down, stretched out my weary muscles, and greeted the Day. In the agenda, I have listening to music, getting the rest of my assignments done, and basking in the fact that I will soon have absolutely nothing to do for the rest of the year. It’s going to be great, and I can’t wait to move overseas. Yes I am also sad about moving away from everything and everyone that I know and love. This goes without saying, as you all know how much I love most of you, haha. But, there is also a sense of excitement that I can’t get away from. NZ will be a sweet Leaf in my Page. 

Bucketlist & Social Workers in Space?!?

I have a new item on my bucketlist. Yes I have a bucketlist. It’s simple. You think of the things that you’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason can’t. Then you put them on a list. As life goes on, you’ll find that you run into opportunities where you cross those items off your list.

Having a bucketlist can make a person seem whimsical or non-committal. “If you want to do those things on the list, THEN JUST GO OUT AND DO THEM!”…some might say. Those would be your “go-getters.” In reality, there are obstacles that get in the way of us doing what we’ve always wanted to do. Carrying out our heart’s desires, intrigues, and wildest dreams can seem so far off and distant. For you, I say, “hold out.”

The unique thing about a bucket list is that it is very parallel to what therapist use in therapy sessions. We work with the client to make sure they have some sort of goal(s) that they are trying to reach while in session. (not with all clients, but with most) Most goals will be manageable and achievable, so that they do not become discouraged for not reaching it. Baby Steps. But, we also encourage the client to think big, even if it is one goal that may seem outside their reach. And Go For It.

A bucketlist is just a list of “goals” that you hope to accomplish one day. Lofty aspirations and maybe a few that you really do hope come to pass. A life without direction is a boat on open seas without a navsat. Frightening. Aimless. Confused. Even if you set just one goal for yourself, I challenge you to do that today. It will give you direction, purpose, meaning, and motivation. And who knows, it may even cause you to think about that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never did…for whatever reason.

Oh! I almost forgot! I added a new item to my bucketlist. Okay, so check it out: Social Workers….IN SPACE! Eh?? Ehh?? Astronauts need therapy too…God knows they do. I’ve got a few different titles for my new position that I just made up: Orbiting Social Worker (OSW), Astronaut Social Worker (ASW), Space Social Worker (SSW), Outer Space Social Worker (OSSW), Space Station Social Worker (SSSW), and one of my favorites, Planetary Social Worker (PSW). There are Psychologist in space, but not Social Workers…to my knowledge. One thing’s for sure if this ever pans out, I’d be low in the referrals department, haha.

Teenage Pregnancy at a 70 year low

[Disclaimer: Blue links are references to my claims in this blog post]

Maybe it was the explosion of exposure to this topic that made me think the rates of teenage pregnancy were out of control high, but THIS NEWS is very comforting. According to multiple studies on the rates of teenage pregnancy, the results are showing that this country has not seen numbers this low since  the 1940’s. States are making a significant improvement in decresing their teenage birth rates.

Shows like 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and The Secret Life of an American Teenager seemed to show a side of teenagers that was raw, uncensored, and maybe a little unsettling to us. I know that the more I saw this lifestyle publicized and glorified, the more I thought younger adolescents would be looking up to these teens. I may be protruding my bias here a little, so I’ll try to keep it on the DL. News media started taking notice, and began to investigate this phenomena occurring in American Culture all of a sudden. The results of the segment were shocking and very  “real.”

I remember asking my sister Robyn why she watched shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. Her response was, (paraphrased) “I don’t feel like the show is glorifying the lifestyle as much as it is showing the viewer how real having a baby is, and how unprepared a teenager really is when it all goes down.” Naturally, I had my own biases, and I didn’t buy it. Somewhere inside of me, I knew that there would be radical teenagers seeking attention by getting pregnant in hopes of getting onto the show.

Still…it turns out that my sister was right afterall. With the results coming in, news of the record low pregnancy rates have hit news briefs, radio talk shows, and internet articles. I will not go so far as to say that the shows have “helped” lower pregnancy rates and that the shows were a “good” thing to show viewers, but I cannot deny the data and I cannot ignore the results.

A Week Without Facebook: In Reflection

It is a funny thing that happens when you realize something new. You act like you knew it all along, but if you’re honest with yourself, this is an important moment.

For the entire week of April 1st, I was leaving fb, youtube, hulu, netflix, and any other site that seemed to distract me. I did this in correlation with what my church was doing together as a community. What I found was something so much more. The time away from these sites has been some of the most reflective and positive time away that I have had in the past. As some of you know, I spend time away from facebook because it sucks away time that could be used to be productive in my studies, and work. I see this subtraction in time with my other friends as well. I see the toll that it takes on them. It is sad, and maybe a bit presumptuous, but I think that facebook is subtly making people less productive in America.

When I decided to stop opening facebook at work, I noticed an INSANE amount of work getting done. It was seriously night and day. I know that everyone does not check facebook ALL the time and they are probably not addicted to it, but still, I hold by my position that facebook is a subtle killer. It gradually takes away your time, not all at once.

Now I know that many of you are all up in arms about how I am painting the picture of facebook, and you will say, “Hey…Eric….you still use facebook.” And yes, I do. But, I have always reshaped how I view facebook and when I use facebook. I don’t use it at work, and I no longer have it open when I am doing classwork/bring a laptop to class with internet.

I Challenge You. I challenge you to try what I’ve tried. Don’t criticize until you have tried to bring back some sense of productivity back into your life. End Distraction. Limit Facebook.