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A dose of inspiration

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something that we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. " - Frederick Keonig

"Stress is the trash of modern life- we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." -Terri Guillemets

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A lesson from a pair of feet

There are times in life when we are unaware that we need any help or extra support. This lack of awareness can lead to even bigger problems in the future and at times, can be disastrous. Not only do we have to be aware of our needs and challenges, but we also have to take the leap of faith to do something about it, and take care of ourselves as needed. We must be willing to invest the time, money, and effort to alleviate the obstacles that we come across in order to live more fulfilling, and at times less painful, lives. Let me share with you my recent experience that lead me to this epiphany.

I tend to wear the same pair of sneakers until the bottoms are almost completely worn away. I'm not sure if it's due to disinterest in spending the money on a new pair when I don't have a lot of extra money, or if it's a lack of awareness of the importance of having good support for my feet when walking, running, or working out, or if I just stop paying attention to the condition of my sneakers because I'm so used to wearing the same pair. Whatever the reason, it was quite a wake-up call when I finally came to the realization that my sneakers were not properly supporting me and I was having resulting pains in my hips and knees.

A couple of months ago I went to a specialty running store and had my feet and stride examined so that I could buy some long-overdue new sneakers. I thought that maybe my worn-down shoes had something to do with the pain that I was experiencing. The Physical Therapist who assessed my feet using some fancy digital imaging, pictures, videos, etc., informed me that I had extremely high arches. Who knew?? I wondered how I had gone through my whole life so far being completely unaware that I had very high arches which required extra support. I was somewhat doubtful that buying a new pair of sneakers and including one of their expensive arch support insoles was really going to do the trick, but I trusted the PT and went for it. Low and behold, I have been able to walk and run with minimal to no pain in my knees and hips from then on! What a relief, and a surprise!

So here is the epiphany that I had as a result of this experience:

  • It was well worth the money spent to buy great sneakers with special insoles for my high arches because of the resulting decrease in pain.

  • It was necessary to see a specialist who was able to assess my feet in order to determine what the problem was that was causing me the pain.

  • An awareness of the condition of my feet resulted from taking the time out to take care of myself.

  • I learned how to properly support my feet, consequently decreasing physical pain in my knees and hips.

  • I have gained a greater enthusiasm for running and love putting on my sneakers now because they're so much more comfortable than any other pair of shoes I own, and I know I won't be hurting after I take them off.

So how does this all translate to the world of Counseling and mental health? I see direct parallels between an instance such as this which involved a physical need, and the psychological needs that we have. If an individual, couple, or family is unable or unwilling to identify that there is a problem, then they are not going to take the step to get help. In direct comparison with the sneaker experience:

  • People often do not want to spend their money on taking care of themselves, but the rewards can be endless and extremely effective in helping to alleviate psychological symptoms, behavioral problems, relationship difficulties, and improving overall quality of life. How can you really put a price on that?

  • Sometimes people do not know exactly what is wrong with them, they just know that something is not right. They may not have a name for what they are feeling or experiencing, and their friends and family may not be able to understand or help them either, therefore, a mental health specialist can be very helpful.

  • People get so busy with the daily grind that they do not take the time out to really take care of themselves, whether physically, mentally, spiritually...

  • Having the tools to alleviate symptoms is crucial in feeling better, and a therapist can help with discovering and applying the tools needed to decrease or eliminate symptoms, change negative behaviors, or improve communication in relationships.

  • Taking care of oneself and having the correct tools to make a change can immensely increase an individual or family's quality of life and relationships. A new enthusiasm for life can be found due to receiving support and learning new ways to cope.

You may want to ask yourself these questions in order to figure out if you could use a professional to talk to:

"Is there something that has been bothering me that I could really use someone to talk to about it?

"Have I been feeling kind of "off" lately and want to feel like my normal self again?"

"Have I been feeling down, anxious, or overwhelmed lately?"

"Isn't it worth the investment of time and money in order to feel great and improve my life?"

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