Making positive change.
For 23 years I was passionate about my work in Marians Galway. I mean, seriously loved it. Every time I walked onto the shop floor, I knew that was exactly where I wanted to be. I felt alive, vital and excited. I researched with anticipation (like a little kid about to get a present) the latest trends and forecasts for the next fashion season.
It didn’t matter to me that as the years went by, many of the customer’s fashion needs — OK, nearly all of the needs — I had heard before. I could feel that each transaction was vitally important to the person in search of the perfect look, so finding the solution every time was the challenge, and just as vital as it was the first time. My intention was to always make the customer feel important and beautiful. Marians Galway was an incredible platform to share my passion and love for fashion!
Then something started to change. I gradually became aware it was time to do something different. There was no external trigger, just a feeling that I had shifted, not the workplace.
Could I have ignored that feeling and just kept on keeping on? Sure. But that would have been disrespectful. To myself, and most of all to the customers. I never wanted to give less than 100 percent.
I began a professional course in counseling & psychotherapy, and still continued my work with Marians Fashions. When I graduated I knew it was time to make the transition. Was it hard to do? You bet it was. During the final year my mind kept saying, “Katherine, just keep doing what you’ve always done. Don’t change now; stay with what you know.” It was frightening and scary, as all change is. But my heart knew it was time to go. So after 27 years, I finally made the transition from the world of fashion to the world of Mental Health. It wasn’t done in one big step, but in a series of small stages day-by-day, step by little tiny step, achievable, manageable and gradual little advances.
By taking the initiative to recognize I needed to move on, I’ve had the amazing experience of change without regret. Have I made mistakes along the way? Yes, and that doesn’t matter, because it’s been an adventure and one of the best things I’ve done. I’ve been challenged in new, unexpected ways and I love the new learning and personal growth. It can still be scary and frightening, but also invigorating and exciting. I can think of no more important career advice than to listen to your gut and own the power to control your future.
If you’re unhappy in your job, know why, without blaming anyone. It’s true you can’t give notice next week because there are bills to pay. I get it. But that is not an excuse to stay there forever. If your gut says so – you must move on. It might take months or years to figure out your next stage, and your next job. What matters is that you are not resigning yourself to a less than ideal situation. Can you do it? Well, the truth is if you want to be happy, really happy, you have to do it.
For me, now in private practice in Oranmore, since 2008, the work is vital and deeply meaningful. I work with Teens, Adults and Couples on issues such as self-esteem, life transitions, relationship issues, anxiety/stress, depression and a wide variety of life, work and business challenges. If change is the only option, know it IS possible, you have the power to take control of your future happiness. Work on educational tools, classes, and apps that will allow you to make the best decisions when it comes to work, money, life etc. Take time to become as strong and healthy as possible, because the transition will be an emotional, financial and physical rollercoaster. You’ll be scared but so excited to see what the future brings — I’m energized, enthusiastic and passionate about the changes I’ve made and invigorated by the changes I see clients making in their lives every day and the joy and contentment those changes can bring.
Now, that’s all well and good but sometimes changing your physical circumstances isn’t possible — or not possible soon enough, or you may want to make smaller changes, because you want to be happier. What are the options? Often one or two small changes can impact our lives in a really positive way. The first place to start is by changing your perception, belief or opinion of the situation — in order to change your attitude.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said it beautifully more than 2,000 years ago: “People are disturbed, not by things (that happen to them), but by the principles and opinions which they form concerning (those) things. When we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles and opinions.”
Modern behavioral science agrees! American psychologist Albert Ellis, famous for developing rational emotive behavior therapy, explained that “how” people react to events is determined largely by their “view” of the events, not the events themselves. For example have you noticed how every member in the family remembers and reacts to a particular incident in a different way? The good news is, and science confirms, we have the power to take control of how we view and react to life’s events, we can choose our attitude to life.
Here are seven ways to start improving your attitude –
1. Admit to yourself that you’re not happy.
You can’t change anything if you aren’t aware that something needs to be changed. Stop the cycle of wishing things were different and take control of your thoughts and reactions to events and people.
2. Realize optimism is a choice.
You are not born with a positive or negative attitude. It’s something you become through your perspective of experiences. Very few situations are completely bad. Find 3 to 5 positives in any challenging situation and write them down so you can remember them.
3. Use positive words.
Use statements like, “I’m hopeful,” or, “We will find a solution,” throughout the day. The words you use have a major impact on your attitude and emotional outlook.
4. Hang out with friends who have a happy vibe.
Try surrounding yourself with friends that exude positive energy. Pay attention to the words they use when they talk about their day. You’ll very quickly see if they are a positive or negative influence.
5. Say a daily affirmation.
Find a quote that is meaningful to you and say it aloud every morning. Put it on a couple of sticky notes and place them on your bathroom mirror and on the car visor, so you get to see and say it often every day. “Something great is going to happen today,” sends your energy in an expectant and positive direction. I know it sounds a bit “Zen”, but it’s actually a very simple and effective way to retrain your subconscious mind — and advocated by both ancient and current scientific research.
6. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
Before sleep each night, name or write 3 things you are grateful for. They can be big things like health, work, family, or small things like someone’s smile, the comfort of your bed, praise from a colleague, sunshine.
7. Don’t allow your critical inner voice to run amok in your head!
You know that voice, “you’ll never get it right”, “you’re useless” and so on in the most negative and critical verbal attack on the self. We speak to ourselves in ways that we would never speak to any other person, harsh, critical words that are hurtful and drag us down. Don’t give space to that inner voice, set it aside gently, tell it you’ll come back to it later and instead compliment yourself. Tell yourself something that you’re good at, or enjoy doing, etc…
So the next time you’re faced with a challenging situation, remember these tips for changing your perception — and improving your attitude. You may not be able to change your immediate situation, but you can certainly choose your mental and physical response to it. As time passes, you’ll notice a real shift in your attitude, and so will your friends and family! When you experience the positive effects of these small changes and see the domino effect on those around you, you’ll be encouraged to take the next step, whatever that may be for you.
Sometimes the next step is to work things through with a neutral professional, it’s not always easy to talk about change with family or friends. The question I’m most consistently asked is “how do I choose a professional psychotherapist?” often a friend will recommend someone, and that’s great, just make sure to check the recommendation is qualified and fully accredited. You can check on their web site, for example I’m accredited with iacp (www.iacp.ie). Also, it’s important to know that the majority of therapists work to a sliding scale regarding fees; this can be negotiated in the first consultation.
During the first phone call or first appointment you’ll get a feel for whether you would like to work with that therapist. Either way it’s a good idea to look up the IACP, PSI or IAHIP websites, choose 3 or 4 therapists that are convenient to your area and call each of them. You’ll get a really good idea during that phone call whether you have a connection with the therapist. A referral isn’t necessary, and it’s perfectly usual to self-refer.
In the first consultation you’ll get to ask about the therapists qualifications and accreditation, their fees and how they work. You’ll explore what you hope to get from the sessions (usually 50 minutes) and whether the therapist is the right fit for you. If the therapist doesn’t work with the issues you bring, rest assured they would say so and refer you to a specialist, if that’s what you’d like or need.
It’s important to be open and honest in the sessions, that way you get to the work and solutions will present for you more easily. Be ready to commit to a series of weekly sessions over a period of time, often clients will work on a particular issue, and return at a later time to work on another challenge or issue. I promise, it’s the best investment in you, and your future, I might be ever so slightly biased, but truly I believe in the work and see the positive results on a daily basis.
If you went for therapy in the past, and had a negative experience, I strongly encourage you to try again with another therapist, remember it’s important to build a relationship with your therapist, much as you would build a trusting relationship with your GP, sometimes you have to go to a couple before you find the right GP to take care of your physical well-being. The psychotherapeutic relationship is just as important, as it relates to the care of your mental and emotional well-being.
We’re constantly challenged by the need for change. We can ignore it and stay in the ‘stuck’ place that’s familiar and comfortable. OR we can stretch ourselves; embrace the discomfort and make that change really happen. The Choice Is Yours…. Go on… take the first step today
Those Who Make No Mistakes – Make Nothing!