Dear twentysomethings,

Have you read The Defining Decade by Meg Jay?

No? You should! I always thought that 30 was the new 20. My twenties were supposed to be about traveling, exploring and finding myself. Thought that too? Well, according to psychologist Meg Jay, that’s not exactly 100% true. The twenties are supposed to set you up for your thirties and forties and so forth.

There are some things I wish I knew in my twenties, and hopefully sharing helps in yours.

1. Finances

Start a savings account for literally anything. Start saving in your twenties for a house, for a vacation, for anything you think you might want in your thirties. Trying to save for those things, later on, is really hard! I have an emergency saving and a vacation. Just in case I want or need either of those things.  Have a retirement plan and put in as much as you think you can 3% or higher if possible. I was not in a position in my early twenties to put a lot of money towards retirement. And it’s biting me in the butt now. I wish I had at least put in a small bit consistently so it saves you from putting in 10-15%, later on, to catch up. Also, check your credit score, it might not mean a lot when you are 21 but it will when you want that house, car or another big-ticket item.

2. Relationships

What about love? Dating in your twenties may seem like it’s about just meeting a lot of people and going on dates. That might be true. But dating should be to look at what you would want in an ideal partner. The partner whose tardiness might be endearing at 25 might make your blood boil at 35. Getting married is not the switch that puts people into gear for change. That really happens in your twenties when your mind is in the best place to grow and change. It’s hard to be surprised about our love life at 30 if we were making poor dating situations in our twenties.

3. Work

Work in a place that invests in your future. Working an office job at a company you believe in will create a network for you when you are looking for other jobs vs being a barista waiting for that dream job to appear. It’s called identity capital. Identity capital which is “the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships.” Instead of throwing our twenties away in jobs that don’t move us forward, find jobs that will help get you where you want to go. You don’t want to be starting your career at 30, you want to be taking steps that make your career at 30 thrive. Be intentional in your twenties.

4. Invest in your friendships

Quality over quantity. Really take the time to find the people who bring out the best in you. The ones who invest in your friendship as much as you do. This isn’t about having the most friends but finding the ones that are supportive and inspiring. They should be people who want you to be the best version of you but also accept you. It’s important to have a strong support network and building that in your twenties will help tremendously later on.

5. Health

We all know we should be working out and eating better. The longer you take to work on this, the harder it will be later. Over time, our bodies will take more time to recover from an injury (and even hangovers). Things that used to be super easy like losing weight, become even harder as your metabolism slows down. Create healthy habits when you are younger and then you can maintain them as you get older. We need our bodies to last longer than ever before so there’s no time like the present to work on our health.

What we do in our 20s really outlines what the rest of our lives look like. The twenties should be about investing in yourself. In work, in love, in your friendships. Building these things in your twenties will help you create meaning in your thirties and beyond.

Sincerely,

Your thirties

Avoid the quarter-life crisis, get the book here!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

It’s important to keep growing and we grow in so many ways. Whether it’s interpersonally, professionally, or sometimes even physically.  As I continue to grow and learn more about myself, these are the things that continuously come up that people should know about themselves. I cannot take any credit for these ideas but I can tell you why they are important for your own growth.

When we know these 3 things about ourselves, we can adjust our expectations accordingly. It helps us be better workers, friends, and partners.

1. Love Language

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman explores how we give and receive love. This is important to know because it impacts our relationships. How we communicate our love to our partners and how they communicate it can at times cause miscommunication.

The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Quality time: this language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
  • Words of affirmation: this language is about using words to affirm other people
  • Gifts: what makes a person feel most loved is to receive a gift.
  • Acts of service: for these people, actions speak louder than words.
  • Physical touch: for this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.

If I feel loved by spending quality time together but my partner feels loved with gifts, we have to make an effort to show them love based on how THEY feel loved not by how we do. So, it’s important to know how you feel loved but also how your partner, friends or children feel loved so you can make sure needs are being met.

Take the quiz here!

2. Tendency

The Four Tendencies is a book by Gretchen Rubin. It discusses the way that we manage internal and external expectations. I am a classic upholder which means that I meet internal and external expectations pretty well. If you know your tendency, you can create habits or change habits based on knowing your strengths and where you struggle. I listed the tendencies and linked them with one of my favorite shows (Parks and Recreation) to show you what it can look like.

They are:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations ( think Leslie Knope)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations (Think Ron Swanson)
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves (Think Jerry, Larry, Terry or Gary based on which season of Parks and Rec you are on)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike (Think April Ludgate)

This is good for your relationships but also very helpful at work. Let’s say you are a manager who readily meets expectations but your employee is a questioner. Learning how to get that person to reach an expectation is going to be beneficial to both of you. If you are an obliger, having external accountability is going to be important for you to stick to expectations. On the other hand, a questioner needs to know why they should meet an expectation. If you learn to adjust how to approach these types of tendencies it can really help the way you live and interact with others. It can help create better habits for yourself and for others.

Take the quiz here!

3. Introvert vs Extrovert

Being an introvert or extrovert is not about how you interact socially, which is a common misconception. It’s about where you get your energy or how you recharge. People often think I am 100% an extrovert, but I am actually an ambivert.

  • Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
  • Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
  • Ambiverts have both extroverted and introverted tendencies. This means that they generally enjoy being around people, but after a long time, this will start to drain them. Similarly, they enjoy solitude and quiet, but not for too long. Ambiverts recharge their energy levels with a mixture of social interaction and alone time. (This is 100% me! I get stir crazy if I am alone too long but can also get burned out if I am too social. It’s important for me to have balance.)

It’s important to know if you are introverted or extraverted because it tells you how you need to recharge. For example: if your partner is an introvert where you are extraverted they might need alone time which has nothing to do with how much they like you. They just need to recharge alone and that’s okay. If you are the extrovert, you need to be more social to get recharged. It’s good to know this so you can adjust expectations accordingly. Leaving someone alone isn’t a sign that you don’t love them, to an introvert it can be a huge gift to have that alone time.

Think of it as more of a spectrum more than just one or the other. Knowing where you are on the spectrum can give you an idea of what your needs are as well as the needs of others.

Take a quiz here!

3 things to know about yourself for personal growth

Hopefully, these 3 things help you figure out how to create habits, feel more loved, and figure out how to recharge!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

Setting boundaries is an important life skill.

We all need boundaries because they help protect us, but they help out the other people in our life too.  A boundary marks a limit and we all have limits. Boundaries come in many forms in our lives and it’s important to know what your boundary is, so you know when you are over your own limit.

We have to let people know what is and is not okay to do. It’s not fair to always expect someone else to do something all of the time. It’s healthy to set expectations and know the limit.  For example, A parent might set the expectation of a curfew going past the boundary means there is a consequence.

Boundaries can be

Material:

things you lend or buy

Physical:

how you want to be touched or not touched, personal space

Mental:

thoughts, values, opinions (including expectations)

Emotional:

how you feel about something, identity, choices

Time:

what you want to spend your time or energy on

Social:

who you want to spend time with

Sometimes when we do not set these boundaries, it can leave us open to feel taken advantage of. If we continue to do everything for other people in our lives without them doing the same for us, it can create resentment, frustration, and create enabling behaviors.

It’s not fair for one parent, friend, person, self to take 100% of the responsibility of a situation. When we also give people the chance to solve their own problem at times, we give them the opportunity to use their own critical thinking skills. If we continue to do the things other people in our life do not want to do, then how will they learn that skill set?

Here are some of the boundaries I have set for myself:

  • I will not bring work home with me on an emotional level
  • I will take time for myself every day
  • I will not pick up the phone when I am with my friends or with my partner
  • I will not buy something from someone whose values I disagree with.
  • What are some of your boundaries? Or what boundaries can you do better with?

Side note: I saw this on social media and thought it was fantastic and true.

What do boundaries feel like:

  • It is not my job to fix others
  • It’s okay if others get upset
  • It’s okay to say no
  • It is not my job to take responsibility for others
  • I don’t have to anticipate the needs of everyone
  • My responsibility is to make me happy
  • Nobody has to agree with me all of the time
  • I have a right to my own feelings
  • I am enough

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

Everyone uses cliches.

We all hear them probably since we were little: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Don’t cry over spilled milk. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure what this one even means. It’s easy to dismiss these cliches as we get older. Not all cliches are bad and these are a few that are really words to live by. (See what I did there?)
You can’t please everyone
Really you can’t and trying is only going be worse for you. When we try to please everyone to try to control everything, what we normally feel is anxious, frustrated and overwhelmed. Sometimes we just have to make the best decision that works for us and in that moment. Not everyone else, because you can’t please everyone. It’s better and healthier for you to explore what you can do and adjust expectations accordingly. Trust this, you will be much happier for it. I’m not saying don’t take others into consideration but that know that you just can’t make everyone happy. And it’s not your sole responsibility to do so.

There’s no time like the present

Which is true, unless you are planning some super fantastic vacation for the future. Then that looks pretty great too. But in all honesty, living in the present is good for you. If you do things now, in the moment when you are able to, it makes us feel better and more accomplished. I know I feel better when the sink is clean and laundry is folded now then when I put it off and have to come back to it. If it gets done now that means you can have fun or relax sooner. The future is not set in stone for any of us and studies show that people who are more present and engaged are more content in their lives. So if there is something you have been wanting to do, whether it’s a vacation, work out class, a new hobby or all those chores. Tell yourself to do it now, because later…you might want to be doing something else or might have missed out on some cool opportunity because you are catching up on the things you originally put off.

You are the company you keep

This one is important because as we grow and develop, who we spend our time with becomes a reflection of who we are. I sat down with a few of my friends as they told me they were launching their new business, booking their next trip, starting an MBA program and I thought to myself how inspiring these people are. And they inspire me to do better, try harder, reach for more of what can make me happy. I am proud of the company I keep which I hope is a reflection of me. When I was surrounded by less inspiring people, I was also not inspired in my own life and I was unhappy. Once I started being around people who challenged me to grow in different ways, I was so much happier.  So I encourage you to look around and see what your company says about you.

Fake it til you make it

We all have heard this one. And I think it’s pretty accurate. Some days, we all feel like we have no idea what is going on. This is just when we have to fake it. There are many days when I feel like I am a big faker. And then someone will tell me how helpful I was or how much they learned. Sometimes you have to fake that things are good or that you know what you are doing. It’s impossible to be right all the time. And I don’t suggest you try to be right all the time either. Some days you just have to fib your way through the day and hope that you faked it good enough. You will figure it out and some days you won’t have to fake it at all. Anyone I have ever talked to talks about this cliche, which makes it less a cliche and just true.

Lastly here is one that I will adjust:

The grass is (not actually) greener on the other side

I really like this one because in the world of social media and constantly being connected with everyone you know and people you wish you knew or maybe didn’t know. It’s hard not to compare what you have with what you don’t have. Or avoid looking at what someone else is doing. Social media is not an accurate portrayal of someone’s life. It’s just the highlight reel. I am 100% guilty of this. No one is looking at my social media when I am in PJs watching Netflix. Not only that, but generally when we get to that aforementioned greener grass, something else will just look even more green. Comparing ourselves to others is a great way to feel bad about ourselves. So take a step back, breathe, be grateful for what you do have at this moment because someone might be looking at your grass thinking about how green it is.

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

Hey guys!

It’s February and for some (all?) of us the whole “new year, new you” mentality has already faded away. Perhaps it’s because the lack of discipline we have created for ourselves. We have this expectation that just because we have a clean slate means that everything that was hard for us last year will all of a sudden be totally easy this year. And surprise surprise, that really is not the case! So here are 5 ways to create a little bit more self discipline in your life that might really help you reach those goals you set for yourself every year.
  1. Have a schedule or outline for your day

A big mistake that people can make is that they try to keep everything that needs to get done in their head. I personally have found that this is a really good way to drop the ball on something I wanted to accomplish. Writing something down helps in 3 ways. First it helps you stay accountable to what you wanted to get accomplished. Second, it gives you more organization when things are feeling chaotic so being more organized will help you reach those goals. Thirdly, it feels so good to cross out those things you had to do for the day, which then makes you feel motivated to do other things.
  1. Say you will do it for 5 minutes.

This is one that I recently read about and I love it. One of the biggest challenges is actually doing the thing you said you wanted to do. Going from 1-100 isn’t always easy. Sitting down to commit to an hour of work or all those dishes sounds like the worst thing ever. But if you tell yourself you will do it for 5 minutes, you have already created some momentum for yourself. What people have found is that starting is the hardest part, but once you get going, it’s easy to keep going. Momentum! So, next time a task seems difficult to start up, just do it for 5 minutes. I mean, five minutes sounds much less scary than anything else.

  1. Don’t give yourself an out.

We can easily talk ourselves out of doing something. So, don’t give yourself an out. Get rid of language that tells you “I’ll do it later” Or “After one more episode” Those give ourselves an out and then we don’t have to what we said we wanted to do. Maybe reframe the activity and then sit down for those next episodes. Know your weaknesses, I for one cannot turn on the TV because then I lose that momentum so I try to do all my tasks first then turn on Netflix. Do the thing that needed to get done, then play.  Maybe try out the 5 minute thing and see how it goes.

  1. Set yourself up to Succeed

Ask yourself , are you setting yourself up to succeed? Are you giving yourself the right amount of time to complete a task? A lot of times when I talk to people about their goal setting, they are not setting themselves up to succeed. Their goals are unrealistic and then it makes them unmotivated when they are not reaching those goals. Set goals that are SMART Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Measurable (meaningful, motivating). Achievable (attainable). Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based) Time bound (time-based,time-sensitive) If trying to eat healthy is a goal, start small by substituting one unhealthy snack for a healthy one. Switch one sugary drink to water. As you continue to make easy and small positive changes, you will continue to feel more disciplined and motivated to reach those goals. At times we set ourselves up to fail by setting those unrealistic expectations. Give yourself more time to complete tasks rather than the bare minimim, and when you finish early, you got some unexpectedly pleasant free time on your hands and who doesn’t love that.
  1. Don’t let mistakes derail you

Everyone makes mistakes! Everyone will slip up once in awhile. The biggest thing to remember is that even if you made a mistake, don’t let it be a reason not to keep trying. Just because you had that pizza at lunch doesn’t mean that everything is ruined. It’s about challenging yourself to just do better next time. Being disciplined doesn’t mean that you can’t mess up, it just means that you get another try to succeed. No matter what happens, keep trying to do better. We all make mistakes, its about what we do next that determines the rest.
Hopefully these 5 tips help you be more self disciplined, reach your goals and overall make you feel better about yourself. Because better mental health leads to better overall health!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

Values + decision making = who we are (Identity!)

Welcome back to part 3 of the Identity Series. I am excited to help you figure out how your value system helps you make decisions.

Some examples of what we value and how it impacts our decision making:

See where I’m going with this?

This is why it’s hard for some teenagers to want to sit down and do homework because, at this age in their life, their peers are more important. Therefore are more into being on Snapchat or watching Netflix than completing their homework. Their parents might then identify them as being lazy or care more about their friends than school. Which, might be true at that age! Teens and even adults can get lost in life because they have lost a sense of self or their values have not been set in stone which then impacts their decision making. It’s why some of us can get caught up in a bad decision sometimes.

It’s important to know who we are and why we do the things that we do.

When we lose that sense of self it can lead to depressive feelings or anxiety. Consequently, it can also lead to poor decision making which might not reflect who we are. Having a strong self of self will help guide us on this crazy journey called life.
We should check in with ourselves to challenge our thinking, and think about some of these identity questions: Does this choice reflect who I am?  Does this choice reflect what I want in life? How I see myself or want to be seen? Answering these questions and being honest will help us all get to make healthier decisions.

That’s it! Our identity is made up of our values and decisions.

It sounds simple enough but so many of us get lost along the way. Once we know who we are and make those decisions based on our own values and not on anyone else, we start the path toward being healthier and happier! Good luck everyone and remember,  you can always ask for help on the way!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

5 Ways That Being Independent Can Lead to a Better You

Being independent can add an additional layer to being happy. There have been so many times in life that we make choices because of someone else. Sometimes we don’t trust our own judgment. We sometimes look for the approval of others before we make a decision. Getting feedback is great and very important, but solely looking for another person’s approval can be unhealthy. So, here are 5 ways being more independent can lead to a better you!
 1. Confidence Booster
  When you are more independent you make choices and take action based on what you think is best for you. You don’t have to wait for permission from someone else to make that choice. It leads you to be able to handle issues more effectively which means the more you do it, the more you have already tackled difficult tasks. You will try new things, learn to overcome challenges and it will help you grow which will then lead to more confidence!
2. Better decision making
Once you have gotten more confident handling difficult situations, you have learned that you can make a better decision. The choices you make impact you the most so you learn to make the best choices for you. Yes, these choices can impact your family or relationships but you gained that confidence to trust your instincts. You should think about how your choices impact others, but also you should not be afraid to make a healthy choice due to the fear of someone else’s response. Being more independent will help you learn to make choices that help you go forward not hold you back.
3. Emotional independence can reduces stress
When we’re emotionally independent and have gained some confidence, we know that we can better manage our emotions and problem solve. When we don’t have to wait for someone else to solve our problem for us, it decreases our own stress. Because let’s face it, life is stressful! But waiting for someone else to make a decision at times or to validate our choice can add additional stress. The better we are at addressing our own stresses can empower us, and being empowered gives us back that control. The more we can focus on the things we can control, the better we can handle our stress!
4. Going for what you want
By the time that you have figured out that how being independent has helped you, you can then go further than you thought possible. It opens up so many opportunities. Instead of asking why something won’t work, you are in a mind space that tells you all the reasons why something could work. It opens you up to new people, new places, new adventures, more creativity, more freedom…I could go on. But because you have already tackled the better decision making, reduced stress, and that confidence, you know you can do anything which means you will go for more of what you want! This is how you grow, by challenging yourself to go for those things that might have made you uncomfortable and accomplishing it.
5. It helps increase Self-esteem and Self-worth!
By the time that you have gained all this independence, it should come to no surprise that you have increased your self-esteem and self-worth. You have gone out there and tackled those tough things. You’ve tried new things and been successful. You have decreased your stress and made better decisions. All of these actions positively impact your self-worth and how you see yourself and how others view you.
So go out there, be a little more independent and see how you feel!

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

 

By Fariha Newaz, LCPC

Welcome back to part 2 of the Identity Series. I am excited to continue to explore who you are.  I am sure you all sat down and thought about the parts of your identity! Today we will delve a little deeper into what makes up our identity. We are going to explore our values. We will define values as the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. So essentially, what do we find important.

How do we come up with our value systems? These come from many different areas of our lives and our beginning set of values come from our families.  If you family is religious and they value going to church, then you also probably grew up doing that as well. As we get older our value systems change based on being able to think about what we find important. Some of these things also can stay the same, it just depends on the person. I’ll use religion again, a lot of people have grown up in religious families but as they get older they might not be as religious or not at all as they form their own opinions and complete their own research.  Think about the things that you thought were important when you were 5, 10 and 20 and so forth. The things that you feel are important changes as you get older. So your values change over time. Because our values change over time, it also changes our identities.

Our values are more than just religious beliefs or culture. It also comes into play when we think about the kind of people we want to be. For example, some of the things that I value are being a good friend, honesty, loyalty, being kind, and being a good listener. Because I value these things, I strive to grow in these areas. Sometimes I have to assess if I am upholding these values at different times in my life. If I want to be a good listener, maybe that means I have to work a little more in that area in my relationships. Someone who struggles with an addiction might have to remind themselves the value if sobriety.

Our values continually impact our identity. Values help us navigate the world and find more people who also value the same things. As we move through life, we find people that have the same values, whether its religion, culture, hobbies, political affiliations, etc . We tend to be drawn to people who share similar values. When we find ourselves on opposing views with people, its most likely because our value systems are different.

How are our values connected to our identity? Depending on what we value it helps us make our decisions. We will talk some more in the last part of the Identity Series next time.  Pro-tip: Write down some of the things that you value lets see how it shapes into our identity. I bet you have a  lot of people in your life that probably value you the same things! See you next time!

 

About the Author

Fariha Newaz Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

Identity Series Part One

Identity: Who are you?

Join me in this 3 part series where we explore our identity. Part one will focus on what is identity, part two is about where our identity comes from and part three will go over how your identity impacts your life.

We often do not talk about identity, we are so busy living and fulfilling our roles that we don’t sit down to think about who we are or how we have changed. This is such a huge topic, yet there is no class on identity and no map to figuring it out. It’s this really important part of ourselves, it’s who we are. I have run numerous groups and had so many sessions with clients and when I ask them, how do you identify yourself or is this part of your identity.  They take a step back and they usually tell me “I haven’t really thought about it” Knowing who you are is important.

Our identities change over time and it happens sometimes without even knowing that it changed. Maybe you have been feeling sad recently and you don’t know why, this might be a good time to look at who you are and what’s different. You might notice a shift in your identity that is impacting the change in how you feel.  Identity changes over time impact our mental health and well being. Think back 10 years, 5 years are you the same person you were then? What’s different?

How you identify yourself shapes who you are in the world. If you are depressed or anxious, is that included in how you see yourself? If you are a mom or wife (husband or father) are you still holding on to any part of your identity before you were married and had kids? If you identify as an addict, is this view of yourself help you move forward, stay the same, or make you stronger?

What makes you, you? How do you identify yourself? This can be thought of in so many ways including gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, career choice, socioeconomic status, education level, role in your family as parents, siblings or even as kids, your DNA, religion, what plays into our identity is limitless. Numerous situations in our lives help identify who we are and what we stand for then they combine to make us who we are.

I encourage you to think about who you are so that next time, we can talk about how you came to be that way. Pro-tip: Spend some time writing all the things that are a part of your identity. Look at it over the next two weeks, adding to it as things come up! You can even think about how some of these things have changed over time.

 

About the Author

Fariha Newaz Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

By: Fariha Newaz, LCSW, CADC

Going to therapy does not make you crazy, it does not mean that something is wrong with you. But in my culture, being South Asian American (Americans of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, etc. descent), it is not discussed. We don’t talk about depression, anxiety, or the fact that sometimes life is just really hard and overwhelming. That we might be lacking motivation or focus. Sometimes within our culture, we are given the message that if you don’t talk about it, it goes away. Or even that it does not exist. But the truth is that we do get sad and overwhelmed, because we are human and life can be hard. It means that sometimes you just need someone in your life whose sole purpose is to listen to you and to help you figure out what you need to figure out. People go to counseling for numerous reasons, but the bottom line is that they just want something to be different than what it is. They want to make a change to improve something in their life. Therapy is not something to be afraid of and it does not mean you are crazy.

When I was in college my parents lived in another state and I would visit on breaks. There was another family within our community. I was not very close with them, two of the kids were in high school and I was the “too cool kid” in college. I was back at school when my mom called and said one of the kids committed suicide and left a note talking about how sad he was and how lonely he was. It was pretty devastating. I have always wondered, if that kid went to therapy, had someone to talk to so he wasn’t so lonely, would he still be alive? The truth is, I really don’t know. What I do know is that everybody needs somebody to talk to.

“An article in India West reported findings of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) that “a higher percentage of South Asian Americans, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 24, had been found to exhibit depressive symptoms. The article also pointed out a higher rate of suicide among young South Asian American women than the general US population. Also, Young South Asian American women have a higher rate of suicide than the general U.S. population, noted the study, adding that family conflict, anxiety and stress were precursors to depression and suicide in this community. Conversely, South Asian Americans are the lowest users of mental health services because of the perceived cultural stigma attached to mental health issues, noted the APIAHF report.” (Sohrabji, 2013)

Why is the South Asian American community so afraid to seek out mental health services? There are  probably numerous reasons to this. But I think the message we get is that we can either handle it ourselves, or that maybe its just in our head. I’ve also heard people say “its not that bad” But sometimes, it is and if it is, then why shouldn’t we be able to get help? If we had cancer we should go to the doctor, right? Therapy should be like going to the dentist or doctor every year. I wonder if the rates of depression and anxiety would decrease if everyone did a wellness check on their mind. Having a healthy mind is equally important as a healthy body.

So if you are a parent, kid, really a person who could use someone to talk to, then I say go for it. Because what’s the worst that could happen? And, whats the best that could happen? If the good outweighs the bad, then maybe its time to make that call and ask for help. Changing the stigma starts with all of us in this community, in all communities. The message we should send is that it’s okay to ask for help. The message should be that going to therapy does not mean something is wrong with you.

Check out Sahaj Kohli’s article on Misconceptions of therapy here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sahaj-kohli/misconceptions-about-therapy_b_7286204.html

“Suicide Amongst Indian Americans: We’re Stressed, Depressed, But Who’s Listening?” Sohrabji, Sunita, India West (2013), July.

http://newamericamedia.org/2013/07/suicide-among-indian-americans-were-depressed-but-whos-listening.php

 

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!

If you are trying therapy out for the first time or maybe returning to counseling, I hope the information below if helpful as you start this journey. Something tells me you are in counseling because you want something to be different, and that has lead you here. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your counseling experience.

Make appointments a priority

You are investing your time, energy, money and the scariest thing, your emotions into this experience. The first step to change is show up! Life happens so its understandable to  cancel or reschedule, but only when unavoidable. Think about it this way, you didn’t learn new and wonderful skills by willing them into existence, you had to take the time to commit to them and practice. Counseling works the same way.

Take risks and try new things

Counseling can be scary; you have to try new things, create new habits. If creating habits was easy, we would all be our perfect versions of ourselves all the time. Your counselor is here to help you through making those changes. Here’s the truth: one hour of counseling, one time per week will not change your life. It’s what you do in that one hour and what you take back to try out in the real world that can change your life. Counselors are going to teach you new techniques and skills which might seem strange at first, but with practice they will become second nature. We need you to be willing to take some risks and try those things your counselor called a “coping skill” and see what happens, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Take responsibility for your mental health

Come prepared, be honest, do the work. Remember you chose to go to counseling, use that time to work on what you want to work on. It’s okay to come with a list, bring a topic or take notes.  As a clinician, I am only as successful as my client. The ones who come prepared to make a change and talk through their concerns then apply it in the real world are the ones who can walk out feeling better.  We are here every step of the way, but you are responsible to put your mental health first. Make you a priority.

Feedback

Counselors are not magicians, when we graduate or get licensed they did not give us a magic wand, although the wand would have been nice. But, we are human. Tell us what worked, what didn’t work, and be honest. The more feedback you give us, the more helpful we can be. Feedback allows us to be better at our jobs and to make sure we’re being as effective as we can be. Because, our job is to help you.

I love what I do and I love when someone comes back to me and says “Hey I tried that thing you told me and I felt so much better!” We want you to get something out of your counseling experience. If you do the work, things will change, I fully believe that.

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC

Psychotherapist at Urban Wellness

 

About the Author

Fariha Newaz

Fariha Newaz, LCPC, CADC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Fariha works with adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Fariha’s specialties include depression, anxiety, substance use, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, multicultural concerns, and South Asians specific concerns. If you are interested in working with Fariha, send an email today!