Friday, August 25, 2017

3 Bravery Hacks you can do Today

Let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer:
I’m often scared.
Every. Single. Day.

I’m not talking to you from some Ivory Tower of Bravery and even if it existed I don’t think I’d like to be there, it sounds stuffy and not fun. 
As you’ll soon see, it’s not about not feeling scared…

I’ll illustrate the 3 ways to grow your bravery with 3 examples:
Source: IDA
First, Nelson Mandela. Mandela served 27 years of a life sentence for trying to overthrow the white, apartheid South African government. Mandela continued his work from prison pushing every day against the resistance of the entire white world from his jail guards to the top of the government.
I have seen Mandela’s cell and the prison yard where he spent much of his time, stark doesn’t come close to describing it. Mandela slept on a mat for most of those 27 years.  And then he got out and was elected president of South Africa.
Mandela's cell on Robben Island. Credit: Samantha Marx

Nelson Mandela said something very deep. “Bravery is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.”

When I get in a kayak my mouth goes dry and I have to pee. I get really scared. The last time I went kayaking I said this quote over and over to myself. It helped a lot.

Don’t wait until you’re not scared to do something. Not being scared is not a prerequisite for doing brave things in fact if you wait until you are totally confident you might be dead before that happens.

Be scared. Do that thing anyway.

The Chasm
Second, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indie is trying to find the Holy Grail to save his father’s life and he has to pass a number of tests. The final test finds Indiana next to a sculpture of a lion’s head at a stone doorway which steps out on to a drop of thousands of feet in to a deep chasm. 
The prompt for this test is “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” (I can hear Sean Connery saying this in my head. So awesome.) Professor Jones Sr. (played by Connery) yells in pain and Indie, with a contorted face expressing obvious terror and preparation for death, takes one step off the ledge…and on to the invisible bridge.

I’m not going to say something silly like there’s always a bridge when you take that first terrifying step because it’s not true. Sometimes you’ll take the step and you will fail and that failure will not be pleasant. Sometimes you have to take that step anyway. 

Just one step. 

Just one step toward your goal, toward something that is important to you.

And if you already took that step then take the next one. I find that sometimes the step I’m most hesitant/afraid to take is the very one that I really need to take.

So pick up your foot, make a terrified face like Indiana Jones, and…

Third and finally, be an idiot. 

I am a particular fan of the new Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp. In one of the final scenes of the movie Alice is standing in front of the Jabberwocky holding the Vorpal Sword and she counts off the six impossible things ending with “I will slay the Jabberwocky.”
One of the particular things I appreciate about this scene is that even though she has the magic sword that the Jabberwocky feels threatened by she still has to do something incredibly brave to cut off the monster’s head.

You and I have that voice that says, “you will not succeed in your business, adventure, relationship, goal, etc. You are totally unrealistic. Why don’t you just not be an idiot? Sit down before you hurt yourself.”
While that voice is sometimes the embodiment of the wisdom that discretion is the better part of valor; on the other hand sometimes we just have to say, “I don’t care if I’m being an idiot, I’m going to do the impossible.”
Sometimes I have to just go for it even when it feels idiotic and impossible. And then when I’m successful I can do the futterwacken, maybe I’ll even do it if I fail...especially if I fail.

Here’s to bravery.

Want to work on your bravery in the face of trauma, challenging relationships, apathy, anything else? Click below and get in touch.

Monday, August 14, 2017

3 Ways to Grow Your Bravery - The Prologue

When beginning a private practice the wise psychotherapist will probably open up a few books to learn how to actually build said practice. In some places the old adage of them coming when you build it is probably true. Denver, CO, however is not one of those places. The Denver Metro area is saturated with therapists and a lot of them are very good.

If this entrepreneurial therapist is in Denver he is likely reading in the book about starting a private practice that it is important to choose a niche. The book will suggest something along the lines of: figure out your favorite client and/or that one theme that really gets your heart pounding, or the one topic or diagnosis that really makes you excited. And then use that information as the basis of developing your niche.

I have gone through this niche-finding process time and again, to no avail. This is not because I don’t have favorite clients (“I love all my clients equally”) or because no particular topic lights my proverbial menorah. No, it is because I am fascinated, enthralled, and enraptured by so many things and I thoroughly enjoy working with so many different types of clients – couples, families, parents, adults, adolescents…the list goes on. 

I have maintained a strong part time private practice since 2011 and experimented with assigning myself different niches at different times none of them fit and none really speak to my heart. I am well trained and experienced in working with kids, families, couples, trauma, teenagers, and more. My hobbies are airplanes and being in the wilderness. I like reading mystery novels and books about quantum physics. My favorite foods include pickles, barbeque chicken, and pizza with mustard (not usually all at once).

Creative Commons. Photo by Jeremy Keith
I thought about specializing in traumatized teenaged pizzas on airplanes flying in black holes (advertising slogan: “When your tomato sauce and cheese are being pulled in to separate dimensions, call Ari Hoffman”) but I felt this was a bit too specialized.

Over the course of the last few months as I prepare for full time private practice and business building I have been thinking again about this well-worn question. This time I got an answer. It’s not a population -  it covers almost all of them and it’s not a diagnosis – it’s beyond diagnoses but still relevant to most. The answer that came to me is bravery. I am passionate about bravery.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3 and a half easy ways to deal with Airsickness

I have been a pilot wannabe since I was about 6 years old and abandoned my train engineer fantasies for dreams of flight. I had my first flying lesson when I was 11 years old and told everyone that I would have my pilot's license before I had my driver's license.

Things did not quite turn out that way.

I still have dreams of flying and take a lesson every year or two. It's all about the persistence.
I also take advantage of any available opportunity to be around airplanes which led me to a season de-icing airplanes at DIA which easily qualified as one of the best jobs I've ever had. Here is a blog about self-love I wrote while waiting on the tarmac in a de-icing truck in the middle of the night.

In spite of my love of flying I often got sick when I would take flying lessons so I learned a few different ways of getting through a lesson without using the inadequately sized sick bag. It was with these methods in mind that I responded to a request by a Readers Digest reporter for tips on how to defeat airsickness. I wrote about 3 and a half easy tips you can use if in that predicament. Read about how you can deal effectively with air sickness in that article.