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| by Allison Zahorcak

Symbol of the Month: The Key, April 2020

I like to think of keys as objects we use to unlock something of value. So, we can certainly regard a thought that unlocks a torrent of positive energy inside of us as a master key of sorts. How do we excavate this particular thought, especially during trying times? I often ask my clients to “build on existing strengths.” In other words, take a moment to survey your brain, asking yourself, “What thought has allowed me to be more positive in the past?” Demand discipline of your brain because it is our laziest organ, and it will want to shirk this task of self-review. Digging deep and focusing clearly, however, is bound to produce some semblance of a helpful thought that resurrected you in the past. Any idea what it was?

Let’s try a few here: “I can do hard things.” Or was it, “I have deep reserves of strength and compassion that I’ve barely scraped yet.” Or maybe, “I am a fighter. I do not give up easily.” Perhaps it sounded more like this: “I can tolerate discomfort, I can handle not knowing, I am brave.” Or “I’m a rockstar. I’ve struggled before and pulled myself back together.” Or simply, “I’ll be okay. It’s all good.” Whatever you land on that unlocks those positive thoughts, write it down quickly! It’s your kryptonite. Send it in an email to yourself. Scribble it on a Post-It note and slap it on your mirror. Put it in your phone as a reminder that surfaces weekly.

I also like to ponder the notion of giving someone “the key” to your calm. Sometimes, other folks don’t know what to say to us when we’re upset or frustrated. Challenge yourself to find the right words that most accurately uncover a sense of calm in you if you’ve been hijacked by negative thoughts. Hand those words to your partner, your teen, your friend, your parents now----before you need them. Give them the script. Tell them: “These are the words you can say to me when I’m overwhelmed by negative, hopeless, sad, or frustrated thoughts and I seem unreachable.” Wouldn’t we all love to have a script to follow that guarantees access to a calmer place for our loved one?

 

Our monthly content is ideated and written by Cristina Young, LCSW, who has more than 25 years of experience providing professional support to children, adolescents, adults, and families.

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