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  • Tara Ferguson, PhD

The birth of Place of Peace: Ouch, that hurt! Getting through the growing pains of change.

Updated: Dec 24, 2018

What would inspire an already-busy psychologist in private practice to purchase a building that needs complete renovation, inside and out, initiate a change of use for the City of Wilmington to meet codes for the Residential/Office district and then turn said building into a group practice for 5 blooming and beautiful therapists who need a healthy and loving "home" in which to grow and develop?

Well ignorance, naivete and blind hope, for starters. ...But these things are not always bad. They are what dreams-come-true are made of. They allow and create an excitement that guides us on a path to making the most of our journey here on earth by choosing opportunities for growth. But soon the excitement wears off and is replaced with the burden of tasks, complications, roadblocks and, of course, FEAR. .....What have I done??? Here are some of the things I have learned on my journey to the birth of Place of Peace:

1) Trust yourself: That initial feeling of excitement is trying to tell us something. It's telling us that the opportunity ahead is in line with our value system, life goals and what is needed for us to continue to grow. Your human system, specifically tailored to you, analyzes a million bits of information in a millisecond to create this simple message in the form of a feeling to guide you. If we get too caught up in analyzing potential outcomes, thinking in "shoulds" or asking our friends and family what they would do, we can get confused about our path. Lost in the competing thoughts in our heads, we can miss an opportunity for learning and eventual fulfillment. Don't question - just listen to yourself, start making a plan, take action and move forward. Excitement can be hard to come by in life and its not every day that opportunity comes knocking. Seize it when you can.

2) One day/hour/minute/moment at a time: As we begin to work toward the accomplishment of a goal, oh how mighty the tasks in front of us seem! So many of them and so many steps. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. Focus on the initial steps that can and need to be accomplished right now. Save the rest for when the time is right. Trust that you will know when that time is. Use the momentum you have gathered from all of your meditation practice to set your mind on the task in front of you for a centered and productive approach. (And if you don't have a meditation practice, book a session with one of our therapists here to get one started!) If you can stay centered and calm, with ears open to your inner voice, you can ride the wave of activity to find a flow of progress that would impress even the most stoic of observers.

3) Ignore the fear: Fear is a normal and healthy part of change because it is an evolutionary bi-product of human history that helps us to pay attention to incoming details in an unfamiliar situation. Just imagine - you are living in the woods with your clan when your water source dries up. Your choices are stay and die for certain or leave and take the chance of finding a new home. Not an ideal choice, but a clear one. As you embark upon your journey across the open plains, would it not be in your best interest to be hypervigilant to potential unknown threats? Same as you settle into your new environment. Your senses have to be heightened and you need to be ready to react. This same system flares up when we encounter change today. And it can help us learn if we can take it for what it is, tolerate the discomfort of feeling hyper-aware and reactive and avoid letting our thoughts run away with scenarios of impending doom. We must stay centered and use it as a tool but we can't let it lead. ....Easier said than done, I know!

4) Double down on self-care: For most of us, during times of stress and time pressure, it is our natural instinct to sacrifice self-care for the sake of accomplishing tasks. However, the more we train ourselves to be a task-accomplishing machine, the more we become hurried, stressed and overwhelmed. The irony is that, if calm and centered, we can get more done in 30 minutes than we could have in 3 scattered, stressed, distracted hours. Refuse to sacrifice your self-care when you are busy because it is how you will bring the best quality to your work. In fact, I say double down under stress! I used to meditate once a day. During this process, I increased my meditation to 3 times a day. More calm energy in my day with the sacrifice of only 20 extra minutes resulted in being able to maintain and even strengthen my flow during one of the busiest periods in my life to date. Do you have a self-care plan? Schedule an appointment with one of our therapists to create one today!

5) Know when to bring the energy back down: During the meeting of a challenge, our body adapts by producing more adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones that give us the needed energy to accomplish our goals. Because the body is an adapting machine, these stress hormones are still being produced for you after the challenge dies down and the goals have been met. This can result in extra energy in the form of anxiety, restlessness, heart palpitations and even panic attacks. What to do with this energy? The human impulse is to create an external environment that mirrors it, to keep using it all, either by seeking additional tasks or creating some sort of chaos. We must know when to say when. If we can sit with the distress and anxiety, breathe through it, and tolerate it while soothing our bodies and minds, we can send a competing message to the nervous system that these levels of stress hormones are no longer needed. The body will eventually catch up and adapt if you let it. Need some skills to help you calm your body, mind and spirit? Schedule here today.

May you all find peace and growth among the pursuit of your dreams as well :)

Growth is hard but, within it, amazing new things are blooming.

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