It’s not you, it’s the story.

Reading Johann Hari’s book, Lost Connections—uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solution was so refreshing!  He has taken on a major issue—anxiety and depression and offered an entirely new view as to how we solve those problems. For thirty years we’ve been told these issues come from a biochemical problem—a disease of the brain. But he shows you that the data does not confirm this at all. In a nutshell, he’s exposed that anxiety and depression comes from a societal story that results in disconnecting from self and others. As one disconnects depression and anxiety emerge.

And here’s the good news—the solution isn’t about changing you—it’s about changing the story. Changing the story will allow you to change the way you live. When you change the way you live reconnection becomes possible. And as you reconnect—depression and anxiety begin to lose their place in your life.

I kept smiling as I read because his book parallels what I learned early on with my clients who came in to my office looking for help. <!–more–>  What they told me was that despite being successful they were depressed, anxious and many had addictions. They were living the story they’d been told would make them happy but they were ending up depressed and anxious. Hmmm…. And at first I bought into it—yes, you’ve got depression let’s fix it. But after I heard this so many times, I began to suspect there was something else going on. How could all these successful people have depression and anxiety? Slowly but surely it dawned on me, it wasn’t my client that was the problem. The problem was the story of success they’d been told would make them happy. It clearly wasn’t making them happy. That’s why I finally started saying to them “It’s not you—it’s the story.”

Inevitably then, that led them to ask—what would the new story look like? I worked on that for a while and eventually the answer came to me. Wholeness….the new story is about wholeness. But what, my clients asked, does that look like? And thus, the Life Puzzle was born. The Life Puzzle is a way to teach the story of wholeness using a practical, tangible framework to build that story on. And it works.

Hari outlines 9 areas of disconnect and I would concur with all of them. The way he’s structured it, these 9 areas of disconnect provide a big picture/broad brush look at the ways the stories of our lives result in disconnect. I think it is a good place to start exploring the entire concept of ‘lost connection’ and why this has to change.

All of these 9 areas are in the Life Puzzle and a few more as well. The Life Puzzle is designed to give you a more specific and detailed way to begin reconnecting to your self and others. Life Puzzle provides a practical, tangible framework that enables you to connect to your wholeness. Wholeness is the new story you create for yourself. And what you discover is you can do it even as the world around you spins out of control from the old story!

Hari highlights 9 areas where humans are disconnected and as a result end up with depression and anxiety:

Meaningful work

Other people

Values

Childhood traumas

Status and Respect

Natural World

Hopeful or Secure future

Genes and Brain

You will see them in the 16 core areas of the Life Puzzle–most specifically in these areas in bold:

                        Self-responsibility

Nutrition

Exercise

Feelings

Thinking

Communication

Relationships

Sexuality

Parenting/Family

Community

Environment

Work

Play & recreation

Financial responsibility

Special Challenges

Spirituality

Finding Meaning

Are you ready to start a new story? The Life Puzzle framework is here to help you begin that new story—a piece at a time with the whole you in mind. Discover how reconnecting with your SELF and your wholeness helps you create the new story for you, your family, the community and the world!

Not done @ 21!!!

As another school year begins…….

High school graduates are soon heading off to college and college graduates have entered the real world.  Both of these transitions represent two of the most intense times of our lives.  We are leaving a comfort zone of friends, family and the known while heading into the unknown.  We may be excited as can be about it all–but nonetheless, it is a very unsettling time requiring tremendous learning, new choices, establishing new patterns and social contacts.

Did you know that 40% of freshman drop out of college? (and never go back!) Did you know that depression rates skyrocket after college graduation.  What’s going on here?

As a counselor I have worked extensively with the 18-24 age bracket.  It is very important to show them that they are still working to form their SELF.  Boundaries are not fully developed and the SELF is unsure of so many pieces of their Life Puzzle.  In this overwhelming state, with lots of choices to be made, many in this age bracket shut down and feel defeated. I love working with them and showing them how to turn defeat into an adventure of living instead.

NOT DONE @ 21 !!!!

One of the chief complaints I heard from so many of these young adults was their belief/feeling that they were “behind”.  That somehow by 21 they needed to have figured it all out and that was not happening!  As I mulled on this more and more, I felt compelled to make this issue more visible and talked about. With several clients, I had “dialogues” about this issue.  I turned those dialogues into a short booklet I’ve put together called “Not done @ 21—building wholeness in a 100 year life”. Continue reading

Spiritual edge: challenging the hierarchy of place on the path to Wholeness

As we form a SELF by building the 5 edges–physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual–we set the foundation for owning our lives and creating Wholeness.  The Spiritual edge is the last piece in the formation of a true and loving SELF.  We say it is complete when you can operate your life from this perception: “I am greater than no one, no one is greater than me.  In everyone shines love and as I see love in me, I can see love in thee.”

When I share this criteria for completing the Spiritual edge–most folks shake their head and say “I live the exact opposite!  I think some or most people are better than me and occasionally I”m better than another.”  And I acknowledge–this is how most everyone runs their life–and exactly what we’re challenging by bringing forth wholeness and breaking out of the reactive/status quo.

And it needs to be challenged because it is harming us all.  Recently I heard Jim Grimsley, author of “How I shed my skin” describe the Southern hierarchy of place.  I was blown away as he so succinctly described how we all learn to know our place and accept as natural that some should be deemed “greater than or less than”.  Here’s what he wrote–
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