Breaking the Cycle of Fear

In every moment, you have the power to create your future. The “failures” you’ve had in the past don’t define your future or mean that you are going to “fail” again. You have the power to define who you are, what you want, and how to get there. Every day, remind yourself: I am not going to let my past define me. I am going to define me. I am going to create my future.

Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

Change is uncomfortable, but it’s also the only constant in life. The world around us—our relationships, jobs, living situations, friends, everything—is constantly changing and influencing us. Amid all of this change, why would we expect that we would stay the same? We’re constantly changing. Honor that. A lot of people feel that a change of heart is a negative thing. That it reflects a fickle nature. It doesn’t. You don’t have to prove yourself to anybody. You have to find what fits for you—right now, at this time in your life.

When we don’t honor the ways in which we’ve changed, we end up sticking with something just because we don’t want to quit. We end up stressed, overworked, and miserable, holding on for dear life to a dream we don’t even want anymore. This is dangerous—but as long as you’re still breathing, as long as you’re still alive, you have the opportunity to change your situation and find a dream that’s worth the gamble. Each breath is an opportunity to change. Each breath is an opportunity to be better than we were before. With each breath, we choose our future.

Lesson: You always have the opportunity to grow if you’re willing to change.

Stretch Yourself

The body is often naturally tight, and that’s okay. Breathe into your muscles and they will loosen. The same thing happens in life. Breathe into your fears and they will loosen their grip on you, opening you up to new opportunities. The more you breathe into your fears, the easier it gets to do so, and the more flexible you will become in trying new things.

Change is happening all around us and inside of us. If you’re flexible, you’re able to move easily with those changes and find your flow. If you’re not, you’ll get stuck, be unable to shift and adapt, and live in a way that isn’t working for you anymore.

The more flexible you are and the more you keep moving, the less likely you are to get stuck in your fears, doubts, and worries.

Lesson: Stay flexible and available for new opportunities.

Never Call It Failure

Things don’t always work out the way we want or plan. When a deal falls through, a client goes to a competitor, a job opportunity vanishes, a relationship ends, a proposal is rejected, or an experience falls short of your expectations, don’t call it a failure. Shift your mind-set. Stop asking, How did I fail? How can I stop failing? Instead, ask, How did that situation make me stronger? What can I learn from that experience?

It’s important to do a reality check. Do you want to keep pursuing this goal, or do you want to stop? Ask yourself: Is this something I want to push forward, or do I want to let it go and put my energy in another direction? Am I happy on this journey?

Lesson: You can’t fail if you don’t stop trying.

If you’re comfortable being uncomfortable, stretching yourself, and not calling fears failure, you’ll see opportunities for growth daily. Embrace growth, embrace change, and find your flow.

Read the full article on Goop.


If you live in the Los Angeles or Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Check out my services to see which one might fit your needs. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment here!

Accepting Unwanted Emotions

Emotions: according to the dictionary, the definition of an emotion is, “a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body”.

But emotions serve us in a variety of ways.  For example, they give us valuable messages (e.g., fear in an unsafe situation), reveal how important something is to us (e.g., you have stronger emotions in your romantic relationship than you do when you’re shopping for cereal or having a casual conversation with a stranger), and prompt us to act (e.g., you stroke a partner’s face with love or turn away from spoiled food in disgust).

But the story of emotions is a bit more delicate and complex, as it isn’t simply about what we feel in response to what happens around us.  We tirelessly size up our inner world and place value judgments on it.  Depending on the circumstances we’re in and the messages we’ve received along the way about what we’re allowed to feel, emotions (or at least certain ones) may get tagged as acceptable, healthy, or reasonable, or they might get labeled as wrong, crazy, or threatening.  For instance, researchers at the University of Oxford highlighted the following categories of disapproving beliefs when it comes to painful emotions:

  • Emotions are too powerful and can’t be managed.

  • Emotions are bad and/or ridiculous.

  • Emotions are defective and make no sense.

  • Emotions are unproductive.

  • My emotions could sabotage me or other people.

  • My emotions might spread to other people and I can’t let that happen. 

What’s thorny about this is that if we have a negative outlook on our emotions, we’ve got a whole new load to carry—we’re more likely to have another negative emotion layered on top of the one we’re already experiencing.  The emotions we have about how we feel are known as meta-emotions.  For example, let’s say we see sadness as a sign of personal weakness and inadequacy.  Because of this viewpoint, we might feel shame or fear in response to our sadness.  And it’s not just uncomfortable emotions that get a bad rap.  People can feel nervous about pleasant emotions too.

Our ideas about our emotional life don’t just impact how we feel about our emotions, but the steps we take to respond to them as well.  To illustrate, let’s stay with our example of sadness.  We regard it as a signal that we’re weak and defective in some way, and this idea stirs up intense shame. The big question now: What do we do with all of this?  Considering that we’re treating sadness as intolerable and we feel ashamed of it, we’re relatively unlikely to talk about it with someone else, to be kind to ourselves in the face of it, or to allow ourselves to feel sad and see what happens.  No, instead we’re probably going to be more inclined to react to sadness in other ways, such as:

  • Mentally beating ourselves up for feeling it

  • Racking our brains over why we feel this way and why we can’t get over it and feel happy like everyone seems to feel

  • Trying to cover it up when we’re around other people

  • Self-medicating with alcohol or other substances

How we choose to respond to our emotions also has an impact on how we feel and on our quality of life.  If we criticize ourselves all the time, that harsh voice gets stronger and we’ll continue unintentionally manufacturing more shame.  We could mull over why we feel the way we do and question why we can’t make it go away, but this approach is more likely to leave us feeling even worse.  If we try to hide our sadness and mask what feels so unspeakable, we’re liable to bear the cost of this strategy, experiencing more distress, less comfort, and more detached relationships.  And although we can try to escape through alcohol and other substances, this opens the door to use disorders and other problems.

There are a variety of other ways in which rejecting what we feel sets the stage for giving us more of the very thing we don’t want.  For instance, when people are scared of emotions, this forecasts difficulty managing anger, feeling more upset, drawing from pleasant memories to feel better, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Moreover, people who view uncomfortable emotions as bad are also less likely to be empathic toward themselves.  And the idea that painful emotions are hazardous is related to lower odds of naming such emotions for one’s children, a valuable step in emotional skill-building. 

So if it doesn’t serve us to treat our emotions as off-limits, what’s the alternative?  When we accept distressing emotions as being a universal, natural part of life, it’s ironically linked to experiencing them less and, in the long run, having better emotional health.

But why might this be?  Why would accepting the emotions we don’t want generally be connected with them dwindling rather than growing?  Researchers have proposed several possible explanations:

  • Rumination can make people feel worse, and individuals who accept upsetting emotions don’t tend to ruminate over them as much.

  • Efforts to avoid what a person feels can go awry and have a boomerang effect, furnishing them with more of what they tried to push away.

  • Individuals who accept their emotions may be spared an extra layer of emotional pain by not having to feel upset about feeling upset.  

  • Disquieting emotions that we meet with acceptance are less likely to have as much staying power.

Acceptance is a mindset, an approach of giving ourselves permission to experience our emotions and taking the perspective that they’re human rather than silly, weak, crazy, wrong, dangerous, or beyond our power to ever be able to manage.  It’s about challenging that self-critical inner voice that says we can’t feel what we do, or that an emotion will harm us or be a badge of our inherent fault or shame.  Acceptance is about giving ourselves the space to listen to ourselves in a nonjudgmental way.  


Read the full article on Psychology Today.


If you live in the Los Angeles or Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Check out my services to see which one might fit your needs. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment here!

Growth during Life Transitions

Experiencing change is inevitable - changing of the seasons, changing jobs, relationships, etc. Although change can be scary at times, it’s an opportunity to grow and come out the other side stronger than before. Here are a few tips to help you cope with change:

  • be flexible

  • re-establish your personal goals

  • make you your number one priority

  • unplug from negativity

  • instead of fearing the unknown, embrace it

I know many of these are easier said than done. Don’t let change knock you down. On the other side of this process is a new opportunity to grow and to become a better person.

Therapy can be helpful when going through a change or life transition! I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together!