Category Archives: Jill Howgate

Confessions of a Change Junkie

Confessions of a Change Junkie

I am a self-confessed change junkie. I am much happier in the chaos of transition than with the constancy of the status quo. From the color on the walls to something ‘new’ on the grocery store shelf, I crave novelty, diversity, and movement.

Over the years, this trait has become a consistent tool for helping me engage with the world around me. Not surprisingly, the more I leveraged my preference for change, the more it has become a defining element of my life, even part of my identity.

Unfortunately, just because it’s a strength doesn’t mean it’s the best approach in every situation. Like most people, in most circumstances, my selection of coping tools is driven more by what feels comfortable than by situational relevance. In other words, adapting to change is an area where I feel competent and comfortable so it’s more difficult for me to utilize other tools or to navigate situations in which my tools aren’t effective.

In his 1966 book, The Psychology of Science, behavioral scientist Abraham Maslow described this tendency:

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

My affinity for change isn’t inherently good or bad, but context is key; when it comes to coping skills, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate, and even maximize, your tendency for change.

Here’s a quick Top 5 list to get you started:

  • Acknowledge that this tendency exists in all of us and that a fully formed perspective necessitates input from divergent viewpoints.
  • Second, take the time to identify your go-to coping tools; it’s common to have some blind spots. An assessment tool like Strengths Finder can be helpful in this process.
  • Look for ways to grow your emotional toolbox, but don’t spend all your time focusing on weaknesses; lean into your strengths!
  • Surround yourself with people who complement, rather than duplicate your strengths. Be intentional about inviting and appreciating diverse perspectives; healthy debate fosters empathy, intimacy, and understanding, but it won’t thrive without trust.
  • Don’t allow your identity to be co-opted by outdated coping skills. We are each more than a collection of skills or characteristics; sometimes we must let go of coping techniques that have outlived their usefulness. It’s not always easy, but it allows us to leverage the fullness of our experience and growth…and it’s a perfect opportunity to unleash your inner change junkie.

Written By: Jill Howgate, LAPC

 

Understanding Empathy

Understanding Empathy

Empathy has gotten a lot of press recently, and rightly so. Empathy fosters relational connections that transcend age, race, sex, culture, experience, belief, and circumstance. Yet it can be difficult to express empathy in the midst of interpersonal conflict. Here’s a quick primer on empathy and using it effectively: Empathy is a way to leverage…

Defense Mechanisms & Coping Skills – Regression – Part 3

Defense Mechanisms & Coping Skills – Regression – Part 3

As I mentioned in previous blogs, defense mechanisms like denial, are unconscious responses to overwhelming stress in our lives. Although they serve an important purpose, if left unchecked, protective instincts from defense mechanisms can inhibit the development of healthier coping skills. Today, we are going to dive into the topic of regression. Nowhere is this…

Defense Mechanisms & Coping Skills – Denial – Part 2

Defense Mechanisms & Coping Skills – Denial – Part 2

One of our most primitive defense mechanisms is denial. Mark Twain perfectly captured the essence of denial when he quipped, Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. In effect, denial is an effort to avoid the pain or discomfort of reality by pretending it doesn’t exist. It is the emotional manifestation of the ‘flight’ portion…

Defense Mechanisms and Coping Skills – Part 1

Defense Mechanisms and Coping Skills – Part 1

Coping skills can take many forms and help us make sense of our experiences, mitigate stress, and sustain our sense of self-worth. Sometimes life can feel pretty overwhelming. Without these strategies for managing life’s stressors and sustaining a sense of emotional well-being, it would be difficult to navigate even the simplest daily challenges. What happens…

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