NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Being Open to New Experiences

Do You Feel Stuck in Your Life?
As a psychotherapist in New York City, I see many clients who feel they're stuck in their lives. Over time, if this feeling persists, it often leads to anxiety and depression, which usually has the effect of making people feel even more stuck and leads to even greater feelings of constriction. Life can become dull and uneventful. For some people, it becomes hard to climb out of this rut and all they can see is more of the same.

Being Open to New Experiences

Fear of Trying New Experiences
For many clients who have gotten into this kind of rut, life has become too routine. They're living their lives in a habitual way. For some, there's a fear of trying new experiences. Even though they may feel unhappy with the well-worn routines in their lives, their fear of trying a new experience paralyzes them emotionally from stepping outside the "box" they're in.

Working Through a History of "I'm not good enough"
Often, it's necessary to work through a history of feeling "I'm not good enough" or "I don't deserve to be happy." The roots of this problem can be deep. But, in the mean time, when working with clients who are caught in this kind of rut, I often recommend that they remain open to new, positive experiences. A new experience doesn't have to be a big change. It can be something small, like walking down a different street to go home, window shopping in a store where you wouldn't normally go, listening to music you don't usually listen to or think you don't like or trying an ethnic dish that's new for you.

Beginning with Small Changes to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
The idea of being open to new experiences is to help you change the habitual cycle of "stuckness" and boredom in your life. Small changes often lead to bigger changes as you overcome your fear of stepping outside your comfort zone. This usually isn't the "magic bullet" to overcoming a lifelong self experience of feeling undeserving, but it gets you to start taking steps to make changes while you're working with your therapist to overcome the underlying issues that are driving this feeling.

Taking an action, as opposed to only analyzing your problems, is crucial to making positive changes. One of the criticisms of traditional talk therapy is that people spend years analyzing their problems, but nothing changes. Clients might become more insightful about their problems, but it remains an intellectual process. If you don't actually take steps, even very small steps, nothing changes. So, when I work with clients who are stuck in an emotional rut, whether we're doing hypnotherapy, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or contemporary talk therapy, I often also encourage clients to be open to new experiences.

Starting with Small Changes Can Lead to an Upward Spiral
What might, at first, seem like a small change, can lead to an upward spiral to bigger and more satisfying changes.

For instance, a willingness to explore a new way of going home could lead to the discovery of a costume jewelry shop that you've never seen before. You go in and, possibly, this leads to a conversation with the store owner who designs this creative jewelry. Maybe you discover that she also conducts jewelry design classes for beginners, which piques your curiosity. This could lead to your taking a class in jewelry design which, in turn, could lead to a new and interesting hobby--or maybe, if you really love it, you eventually sell your designs in the store. Maybe, if you're really passionate about it, you even get your own website to sell the jewelry you're designing.

Opening Up to Your Creative Imagination
It all starts with a willingness and curiosity to be open to new experiences and a willingness to take the first step. Will this be the answer to all your problems? Probably not. But it helps to break the cycle you might be caught in right now. It also helps you to see there are an endless source of possibilities for new experiences if you're willing to give them a try. Often, the key to pursuing new, positive experiences is allowing your creative imagination to open up to new possibilities.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist who provides mental health services to individuals and couples, including contemporary and dynamic psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.