New Members Welcome to the Authentic Masculinity Group!

We have a couple of openings in our Authentic Masculinity Group starting in September 2019. This group is for anyone male-identified with goals of living with more authenticity. A group format can help in providing a safe place for experimenting with ways of being authentic before applying them to life.

The group will support members in:

  • Experiencing authenticity with others.
  • Sharing and receiving support in applying authenticity in life.
  • Gaining confidence in moving towards relationships with compassion for self and others.
  • Explore meaning and dynamics of changing masculine roles.
  • Reflecting and exploring impact, meaning, privilege, and responsibility of masculinity in light of recent media revelations related to sexual assault.
  • Examining what is keeping them from having satisfying intimate relationships.

If you or someone you know may benefit from this group, please share the link below.

https://clearheartpdx.com/mens-group/

Contact: Stuart at 971-266-1693, stuart@clearheartpdx.com

Self-Compassion in the New Year

Self-compassion in the New Year

Every year I consider making some New Years resolutions. Here’s my list for this year–“I am going to get in better shape”; “I am going to be kinder in my relationships”; “I am going to learn a new hobby.”  While these are great and lofty goals, the potential cost of not meeting them could be devastating for me if I am not already accepting myself with quirks and all.

I am not suggesting that setting goals is bad thing. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. Goals usually come from some desire to improve yourself and/or life circumstances, and this desire is a healthy impulse. However, if you have a history of setting up goals and feeling like you have failed if you let them fall away or short of your ideals, perhaps it could be useful to look at what about yourself that you are currently not liking, not enjoying, or feeling deficient in? Do any of these hit a chord that brings up guilt, shame, or fear of failure? The unconscious has a way to work against your conscious wishes if your core (and often unconscious) belief is that you are not worthy of improving yourself.

One of the interventions that seems to help clients with discerning what if any goals they want to set is to help them decide if the goals come from a place of self-compassion. Self-compassion is a fairly simple idea, but it can be difficult to hold for ourselves. The basics of self-compassion is to turn your ability to empathize towards others to yourself. For many people, feeling warmth, compassion, and understanding for suffering of others comes naturally. However, turning this same warmth, compassion, and understanding when we are suffering may feel foreign, impossible, or dangerous. Our ‘inner critic’, perfectionism, and self-worth get in the way.

What would it be like to have a goal in the New Year of cultivating more self-compassion? While there are many self-help books, online resources, and practices that can help with this, a trained therapist can greatly help. Having another human with you on a regular basis to make space for this, provide some guidance, and hold compassion for you (when you may find it difficult) seems like a very kind act of self-care. I use a form of mindfulness-based counseling, called Hakomi, to help clients develop self-kindness, acceptance of their human imperfections, and awareness of their negative thought patterns. The process of Hakomi uses mindfulness to access core beliefs (such as self-worth), allows you to have a reparative experience (such as having a visceral/body experience of feeling worthy), and supports you being able to bring this reparative experience more into your everyday life.  You can learn more about the services I offer or contact me for a free consultation to discuss how I can help you give yourself more self-compassion this year. I also highly recommend Dr. Kristin Neff’s website to learn more about self-compassion and for additional resources.  

 

Stuart is a Registered Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in the state or Oregon. He works with individual adults, couples, and runs a men’s therapy group. He specializes in using mindfulness-based therapy to help people who are experiencing depression, grief, relational stress, trauma, and co-dependency. You can reach him by phone 971-266-1693. He provides free 30-minute consults either in person or on the phone.

Four Ways Mindfulness Can Help with Better Boundaries

Stretching your boundary

‘Boundaries’ are often heard and repeated as something important for one’s personal well-being and relationships. For many of us, it may be hard to define and know when we are dealing with boundaries in our lives. In this post, I provide a working definition of boundaries and how mindfulness can be helpful in the discerning use of your boundaries for better relationships with yourself and others. I also provide an approach of how I have worked with clients using mindfulness-based therapy in developing healthier boundaries.

Boundaries are what an individual thinks, feels, or does to protect, contain, or be in integrity with their physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual spaces. Healthy boundaries allow you to engage in the world in a way that is open to connecting with others and paradoxically protective of self. Overly rigid boundaries may prevent you from feeling close to people or cutting off opportunities to connect, and overly permeable boundaries may result in feeling at the mercy of others needs and influence. A boundary crossing is when a situation arises (frequently in relationship with others) where one’s personal safety or integrity was actually or perceived to be threatened.

Given this broad definition, how can one develop better boundaries for better relationships? Mindfulness in your personal practice or with the aid of a mindfulness-based therapist can help by slowing down experience, expanding awareness, and developing more choices when confronted with a boundary crossing situation. While mindfulness also has many definitions, in this post, I define it as the nonjudgmental tracking of your present moment experience.

Here are four areas that mindfulness can help develop boundaries that work better for you.

  1. Getting clearer about your own boundaries
    This seems simple at the surface, but can be difficult for many. Mindfulness can help by getting clearer with your emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical boundaries and the cues for when a boundary crossing has occurred. Working with a mindfulness-based therapist can help slow down the process and help you reflect and attune to these cues, which are often felt rather than cognitively experienced.
  2. Knowing when a boundary is being crossed
    As just mentioned, if you are clear about your personal boundaries and cues, mindfulness can help develop a sense for when they are being crossed. In mindfulness-based therapy, this can be explored by slowly parsing the cognitive, emotional, and somatic experiences related to boundary crossing events. With further development and practice, you may find yourself having more awareness of boundary crossings in real-time in life.
  3. Developing ways to respond to boundary crossings
    With further awareness of when boundary crossings occur, you now have more options to respond (or not respond). Instead of unconsciously reacting, you can choose how to set boundaries in kinder and more connecting ways, which may also help you feel more empowered to develop the relationships you want.
  4. Insight into how you developed your personal boundaries
    Using mindfulness to explore how you formed a belief system around your physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological boundaries can aide you in deciding if you want to change them. Change can look like having more options in responding and having choice of when to be more rigid or flexible with your boundaries depending on any given situation or relationship.

Getting clearer about your boundaries is usually the first area of developing healthier boundaries since it provides a compass to navigate relationships, However, I have worked with clients in all areas simultaneously and witnessed them developing better relationships with the aid of the work. On a final note, this mindfulness-based intervention is only one of many ways to help improve boundaries. Perhaps you have found something that works for you in your life or practice. Feel free to share what works or doesn’t work for you in the comments.

Stuart is a Registered Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in the state or Oregon. He works with individual adults, couples, and is starting a men’s group in early 2018. He specializes in using mindfulness-based therapy to help people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, relational stress, and co-dependency. You can reach him by phone 971-266-1693. He provides free 30-minute consults either in person or on the phone.