CBM Blog


Drum roll please….


CHICAGO, IL – ChicagoCBM will be hosting Failure:Lab, an international movement showcasing personal  stories of failure, on August 18. This one-of-a-kind format features a diverse blend of storytelling, music, theatre and audience interaction.

Failure:Lab’s special ingredient is the focus on failure and the often harsh consequences that follow. There are no lessons or recycled mantras about overcoming adversity. Rather, these speakers bluntly present their darkest hours with confidence, and the introspection is left up to the audience. Through vulnerability and honesty, Failure:Lab works to remove the stigma of failure and move towards community and conversation. 

“Don’t let the name fool you. While the stories may be about failure, the event is really about courage, determination and the strength to get back up,” said Failure:Lab cofounder Jordan O’Neil.

The following storytellers will share at Failure:Lab Chicago:

  • Kirk Kicklighter, Storyteller
  • Brad Buxton, Health Care Consultant
  • Akela Stanfield, Author, Poet
  • Jim Bodman, CEO Vienna Beef
  • Katie Bauer, Writer, Mother, Communication Specialist

Failure:Lab’s success hinges on audience engagement, which takes place during and after the event through social media and organic conversations within the audience. There will be breaks for entertainment with performances by Finley Knight, Platform 29, Drew Wittler, and stand up comedian, Katie Streit. Audience members will have time to reflect and share their thoughts with others in the audience and via Twitter with the hashtag #FailureLabChiCBM. 

“It’s counterintuitive, countercultural, and incredibly cathartic. You will fail, the real question is how will you respond?” Jonathan Williams, cofounder.

Failure:Lab will take place at 6:30 p.m. August 18th at the new Plumbers Hall, 1400 W. Washington St. Tickets cost $35* per person and will be available online

* part of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to NoStigmas and Girls in the Game

Why I no longer train with a TV

written by: Dustin Morici

For a long time I had my winter training set up with a television right in front of me. Along with the program I had turned on, the angle of the screen allowed me to see my reflection in it. I did not realize it at the time but this was an important feature of the set up. I would often drift away from the program and gaze at the reflection, how did my form look? Fast forward a few seasons later and my set up had changed, just slightly. But enough to crate a profound difference. The angle of my screen no longer reflected my image back to me.

  dustin biking

This particular season I had found myself lacking focus during my training sets. I often found myself captivated by the television screen in front of me. My ability to hit my workout goals diminished greatly. No longer hitting my numbers began a host of negative appraisals. “Had I lost the fire for cycling? Did I no longer have the motivation to put in proper training?”

I then made the simplest change to my routine: I took my training set up from the TV room and placed myself in front of a mirror. Weeks later, the results were still profound. I have found myself training better, focusing easier, and feeling more energized.

Why? What are some possible psychological principals at work here?

Cues effect performance

While training in front of a television I immediately noticed that it was much easier to train hard while watching chase scenes, while energizing music played, and when the pace of the movie was generally high. The opposite was also true. Slowly unfolding plots, relaxing music, and tense drawn out interactions brought my legs to a near stand still. My body and mind were drawing cues from the movie, not the slip of paper containing my planed interval training.

Successful athletes associate with the task at hand

With a television removed form the equation I was forced to confront myself. I was no longer training myself to ignore my body. Contrary to popular belief performance psychology is not about “blocking out the pain”, It is about attending to the task in the most effective way possible. Playing a movie in my head might bring me far away from the burning of fatigue in my legs, it would also have the effect of slowing my pace. Preforming successfully requires mental resources, resources better off NOT tied up discovering the killer of a murder mystery.


Studies routinely find that high preforming athletes focus on the task at hand. By eliminating distractions I allowed myself to become more in-tune to subtleties of breath, smoothness of movement, efficient cadence, and the relaxation of non-engaged muscles. My mind had plenty of information to chew on—no television required—I just needed to turn off the television to hear, see, and feel it.



How to Soothe Yourself in Times of Distress

written by: Caitlin Liddle


What does Self Soothing Mean?

As human beings, we can all become overwhelmed or distressed by things happening in our environment. A breakup, losing your job, grieving a loved one are examples of things that can bring up a lot of emotional pain. When things like this happen, we can feel overwhelmed by our emotions, and not feel like we know how to cope or function. We may turn to destructive ways of coping, like drinking, drugs, restricting our food, isolating ourselves.

Self soothing is about learning to manage and cope with our emotions using our senses in a way that’s sustainable for our health and wellbeing, that will not cause us bigger problems down the road. Self soothing using our senses is not only useful during major life upheavals, but can also be helpful with day to day stressors: maybe you just had a bad day at work, or an argument with your partner. Below are suggestions for ways to soothe yourself using your senses that you may want to try. I suggest you make your own lists of things you already know work to help soothe you as well, breaking it down by sight, smell, sound, touch and taste, to use as a resource for a time when you’re feeling unable to cope or calm yourself.

Self Soothing Using Your Senses:

Sight: Go to a park and look at flowering trees, buy a boquet of flowers for your home, look at images of loved ones, paint your nails a color you like, pay attention to architecture while you take a walk, softly light a room with candles or dim lamps, go into a clothing store that has beautiful designs, go to an art museum.

Smell: What smells feel soothing to you? Some scents that often elicit calm are lavender, mint, citrus, cinnamon, baked goods, nature smells. You can soothe yourself with these scents by using a perfume, lighting scented candles, smell flowers, bake cookies.

Sound: Listen to soothing music ( ie. Enya, Norah Jones), notice nature sounds (waves, trees rustling, rain). Play an instrument or listen to someone else playing one.

Touch: Take a hot bath. Hug someone in your life. Pet an animal or touch a soft blanket. Put on your coziest pajamas. Get a massage. Use a heating pad. Put on lotion. Wrap yourself in a blanket.

Taste: Make a favorite childhood meal. Drink something soothing, like hot tea or hot chocolate. Allow yourself to have a dessert. Try a new type of food. Suck on a mint.


Barriers to Self Soothing:

Not feeling like you deserve to take care of yourself or it feels indulgent: The idea of “deserving” can really get in the way of taking care of ourselves. One way to think about soothing is imagining how you might comfort a child. Does the child “deserve” to be rocked to sleep? To be sung to? To bathe? Lets just throw “deserving” out with the bath water and meet our own needs, regardless of how “good” or “productive” we were that day.

Believing others should soothe you: Sometimes we can think, “Well, he made me made, so he has to fix it.” The truth is, we’re the ones responsible for making sure we feel ok, and, in holding on to anger or frustration waiting for someone else to read our mind, we are only hurting ourselves.

Believing you don’t have time to soothe yourself: We might think, it would be so nice to take a bath or get a massage, but I’m just too busy! The good news is, even busy people can take time to self soothe. Lots of strategies for self soothing are not very time consuming, such as eating a comforting meal (you need to eat anyway), lighting a scented candle or drinking hot herbal tea, or wearing comfortable pajamas or other clothing.

Self soothing is a trial and error process. When we don’t get it right it just means we have more things to try. By recognizing our barriers and our personal senses we can get closer to techniques that work for us individually. What could you try today or this week?

If you liked this post read more from Caitlin and check out her profile.

Caitlin on Mindfulness

More on Self Care



Spring Cleaning

The process of letting go has been prevalent on our blog… and, well, just one of those things we try again and again. “Spring Cleaning” is coming up for many Americans, and it is that time of year when we physically let things go and throw them away. Throwing things away is permanent, its scary and it means it is gone forever, how extreme?

Eleanor Rooselvelt

The usual spring cleaning losses…

  • Clothes
  • Paper and mail
  • Old gear and seasonal things

Spring is approaching and spring cleaning is on a lot of our to do lists. For some, it’s a big task and it’s easy to procrastinate, or we only do “half” then stuff the rest away to “do it later”. Every year there are more things for us to buy, things we need, want, and things we might have to get because the last thing was out dated. But the old thing might be in the basement or closet somewhere, you know, just in case.

As we accumulate more things, where do we put them? We stuff them in places, or crowd areas in our homes which then become crowded space we can’t use. We start to lose track of things we need daily (keys, wallet, phone) in the mess of clutter that has become our personal space. Some searches end in frustration or anger or a promise to ourselves that we will clean it, when we have time. Just think how this could apply to our experience, relationships, and judgments?

We have these “just in case” things in other areas of our life. Our relationships, our experiences,  our self-image, clothes, and they all have one thing in common- the past. Things from our past might serve us purpose again. The people of our past might care about us again. The old clothes might look good on us again or we might fit into them. What if we need them again.

The longer we are able to hold on to past experiences the more conclusions we can draw through our own analyzations on the present moment. For example, we can over-analyze a fight we got into with someone in the past and start to find blame, judge ourselves, think of the “what ifs” and what-could-have been. We can dig up old experiences of rejection and start to feel incompetent or unwanted again in a new relationship. Sometimes these judgments of what happened and who said what come back and we find ourselves vulnerable in the present.


 The other spring cleaning items…

  • Relationships
  • With ourselves
  • With others
  • And then past experiences 

Where do we fit new experience, or new relationships if we are dealing with old? How do we accept past judgment, or fear and move on to experience something new when there is clutter in our mind?


Take some time this spring to reflect over the items you may be holding on to and sorting out the ones that may not be serving you anymore.

Here is a process to try:

  • Reflect on the experience, relationship, item etc.
  • What brought up negative emotions? Be aware.

Experience? Person? Thing?

  • Set an intention to resolve, accept, and/or address

   “It is not a part of my identity”, “It does not affect my relationship now”

      OR go to yoga, treat yourself to dinner, call a good friend

  • Take time to process how life is without
  • Repeat when necessary :)

Setting and Maintaining Boundaries

By: Anne Carter, LSW, CADC

The process of developing healthy boundaries takes time and practice, but it can open up an individual’s life to recovery from codependency*. Initially, the concept of boundaries can be off-putting. It can be confusing to know what belongs to who. Some of my clients have reported they believe setting boundaries is mean or cold.  I believe setting healthy boundaries is a loving act. While being codependent individuals can lose a sense of themselves and merge with others. They take on feelings and energy of those around them. During the process of boundary setting, people can take back what is rightfully theirs, and give back the rest.

*codependency: a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another, being highly involved (and sometimes responsible)  in another’s emotions, reactions, decisions, and behaviors. (unhappy, unhealthy relationship)


At first setting these boundaries can seem difficult and stir up uncomfortable emotion. As time goes on, it will feel more natural. Individual therapy, group therapy, and a network of recovering individuals can provide support during the process of discovering and maintaining healthy boundaries.


Below is a meditation from May 13th on property lines from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie.

Property Lines: May 13

A helpful tool in our recovery, especially in the behavior we call detachment, is learning to identify who owns what. Then we let each person own and possess his or her rightful property.

 If another person has an addiction, a problem, a feeling, or a self-defeating behavior, that is their property, not ours. If someone is a martyr, immersed in negativity, controlling, or manipulative, that is their issue, not ours.

If someone has acted and experienced a particular consequence, both the behavior and the consequence belong to that person.

 If someone is in denial or cannot think clearly on a particular issue, that confusion belongs to him or her.

If someone has a limited or impaired ability to love or care, that is his or her property, not ours. If someone has no approval or nurturing to give away, that is that person’s property.

 People’s lies, deceptions, tricks, manipulations, abusive behaviors, inappropriate behaviors, cheating behaviors, and tacky behaviors belong to them too. Not us.

People’s hopes and dreams are their property. Their guilt belongs to them too. Their happiness or misery is also theirs. So are their beliefs and messages.

If some people don’t like themselves, that is their choice. Other people’s choices are their property, not ours.

What people choose to say and do is their business.

 What is our property? Our property includes our behaviors, problems, feelings, happiness, misery, choices, and messages; our ability to love, care, and nurture; our thoughts, our denial, our hopes and dreams for ourselves. Whether we allow ourselves to be controlled, manipulated, deceived, or mistreated is our business.

In recovery, we learn an appropriate sense of ownership. If something isn’t ours, we don’t take it. If we take it, we learn to give it back. Let other people have their property, and learn to own and take good care of what’s ours.

 Today, I will work at developing a clear sense of what belongs to me, and what doesn’t. If it’s not mine, I won’t keep it. I will deal with myself, my issues, and my responsibilities. I will take my hands off what is not mine.

Restructuring Our Thoughts for Successful Change

Written by: Victoria Kessinger, MA


Restructuring the way we think, is a real thing and it can be done. Before I launch into my topic on how thoughts affect our ability to change, I want to start by focusing on YOU.

  • Take a moment and reflect on your weight, body, or overall appearance.  Close your eyes and listen to your thoughts about weight, body size, how you look…anything that comes to mind.

We will come back to these thoughts…so hold on for just a minute!

As a counselor who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for weight loss, I am constantly observing the way people talk about their weight,  their eating and their exercise habits. I have seen a dramatic contrast between how one talks about their own weight and how they speak about the habits of others.

  • When speaking about our own weight, we often use a harsh tone of voice and focus on our mistakes, shortcomings, and flaws.
  • When speaking about the weight of others, we tend to recognize strengths and progress, and even offer encouragement.

This tendency to be our own worst critic is concerning- it hinders our ability to lose weight.  When we say these negative things to ourselves we experience shame, guilt, sadness, and anxiety.  When we experience these negative emotions, we are less likely to make healthy choices in the future because this negative emotional experience weakens our ability to think rationally and make healthy choices.

I once worked with a man who had struggled to lose weight for over 10 years.  During our work together,  I would ask him to share some of his thoughts about his weight loss and  he would often say, “No matter how hard I try to eat healthy, I am never able to reach my weight loss goal”.  This statement hindered his success because it  influenced him to make poor food choices for two reasons.

1. The statement had an overtly negative tone and therefore caused him to feel a negative emotion.  When he experienced negative emotions, he would attempt to comfort himself with cookies and candies, which in turn would cause him to feel guilt and shame.

2.  The statement did not acknowledge any of his successes (sustaining an exercise routine, wearing smaller clothes, etc).  Not acknowledging his successes caused him to feel hopeless and therefore hindered his motivation to continue working towards his goal.

My client’s experience  is very common, many people trying to lose weight fall into a similar cycle pictured below.


Now think back to your own thoughts from the beginning of this…

  1. What kind of thoughts did you have as you began to reflect?
  2. Did you think about the things you wanted to change?
  3. Did you have thoughts about your last meal?
  4. Perhaps, you thought about a workout you skipped?

Today, I encourage you to examine these self-talk statements and, where needed, practice a different method of self-talk that may make your weight loss goals a little easier.

Self-talk is powerful and is one of the greatest influences on our behavior. Much of our self-talk statements are automatic, however, so we often do not recognize how much or how often we talk negatively to ourselves.   In therapy,  I help people restructure their self-talk thoughts so that they have a positive influence on their behavior.  This process is called cognitive restructuring.

Before we walk through the steps of cognitive restructuring, compare the manner in which you speak to yourself and the way you speak to someone you love. This someone could be your partner, sister, father, dog, etc.  It just has to be someone that you care for and support. compassionate and supportive to.

Here’s an example to help you along using my client mentioned earlier.

This is how my client would talk about his weight loss progress:

“Last week I was only able to work out two times and I overate over the weekend.  I am not improving”

This is how  he would talk about his wife’s weight loss progress:

“She wishes she had lost more weight but she has made so many improvements to her diet and her energy level has increased!”

When you reflect on this comparison and your own personal experience,  do you notice a difference?  Were you nicer to yourself or your loved one?

Most likely, you have noticed you are nicer to your loved one.  This makes sense because you want your loved one to be happy, feel supported and  be confident.  You probably also want your loved one to succeed, so you say positive and affirming statements to them.

So my question for you is this: Why talk to yourself differently than you would a good friend or a loved one?

If you feel like your self-talk could use a positive boost, here are some simple steps to change your thinking, your words, and start talking to yourself like you want to feel supported, confident and successful!

Step One:

Think back a few minutes to the thoughts that surfaced when you reflected on your own weight, body, and overall appearance.  Pick one of those thoughts and, for the purpose of this activity, choose the most negative one.

Step Two:

 Examine this thought.  Is this causing you to experience any emotions? Would you say this thought to your loved one? If you were to say it to a loved one, how would they feel?  Does this thought acknowledge both the positives and negatives?

Step Three:

Rewrite this thought so that it is strength based, compassionate, and supportive of your goals.  This is the hardest step because it will require you to evaluate yourself in a way that is not natural.  Take your time with this step and try your best to be nonjudgmental.

    Use the following guidelines to help rewrite your self-talk statements

1. Think small. What are the little things you are doing to reach your goal?  This could include carrying a water bottle or adding a piece of fruit to your daily intake.

2. Be objective. Try as much as you can to be nonjudgemental.

3. Focus on the present.  What can you say in this very moment to help yourself stay motivated?

4. Recognize the challenges of accomplishing your goal.  I.e. rearranging your schedule to accommodate workouts or avoiding the danish platter in your office’s break room.

5. Offer support.  Just like you would do for a loved one, show yourself some kindness and understanding.

Step Four:

Speak the new positive thought (aloud or in your head) to yourself as many times as you can.  This step may feel awkward at first but roll with the awkwardness; it will lessen as you practice this activity.

The following is an example how I used this process with my client mentioned previously.

Step One:  He recognized one of automatic negative self-talk thoughts:

“No matter how hard I try to eat healthy, I am never able to reach my weight loss goal”

Step Two: Through  examining this thought, he recognized it caused him to feel hopeless and insecure about his ability to reach his goal.   He also recognized that he would not say it his wife because he would not want her to feel like a failure.  The most significant thing he realized that this thought did not acknowledge the fact that since he began his weight loss journey, he was wearing a smaller clothes, he experienced less joint pain,  and his sleep had dramatically improved.

Step Three: He then rewrote the thought so that it is more supportive:

“Though I do not always eat healthy, I have made many positive changes to my habits, am experiencing success and I am closer to my goal then I was three weeks ago ”

Step Four:  In session, he repeated this statement many times (about 10) and out of session he repeated this thought to himself when he wanted to skip a workout or was tempted to make an unhealthy food choice.  He found that this positive self-talk statement increased his motivation and focus as it helped him recognize his progress.


Losing weight is challenging, and maintaining a healthy weight requires an entire lifestyle that supports that goal.  Many people find that they are able to lose weight but are unable to sustain their weight loss long term.  Compassionate, supportive and encouraging self-talk can make this goal more achievable.   

To read more on self-talk and weight loss, check out the work of Dr. Albers, a psychologist who has spent her career helping individuals improve their eating habits.

Enjoying the Process

Written by: Dr. Kristina Pecora

A friend recently asked me “HOW do I enjoy the process?” She is getting back into dating and, frankly, fearing/hating the disappointment of the excitement-rejection cycle. When listening to her latest recount of a guy who may or may not be too-good-to-be-true, I – admittedly in my therapist voice – suggested she “enjoy the process”. She, rightfully, questioned what exactly that is and how exactly to do it.

Fair enough! So let me try to explain. First, here are my basic steps to enjoying the process… then I’ll explain what I mean:

  1. Commit to the moment
  2. Have no agenda
  3. Spend most time focusing on yourself

Now, the steps defined:

  1. Commit to the moment

You may have heard people talking about “living in the moment” or “being in the moment”. Its not a new thing – Jon Kabat-Zinn built a career and a stress center in Massachusetts out of teaching people to live in the moment, built on the Eastern meditation practices of mindfulness. Modern day therapy often focuses on being mindful, incorporating not only relaxation, but a focus on the moment as helpful in combating today’s chaotic environments. It’s also been a common theme here on the CBM blog.

What this means is to be present. Try not to anticipate the future or dwell on the past. Try to let those thoughts pass you by on their way from one ear to the other and out, and enjoy what is now now. The old Chinese Proverb says it best: Chop wood, carry water. You cannot do both at the same time. So you might as well do what you are doing right now, and find some joy and contentment in it.

  1. Have no agenda

Building on the previous concept of the moment, having no agenda means committing to whatever is happening at the present without focus on the past or the future. That means, not giving the past or future power to influence the present.

People who dwell too much on the past tend toward depression – they look back and see mistakes, regrets, times they were harmed or cheated. People who look too much to the future tend to be anxious – they look for ways to make sure the future is bright, good, successful…ways to ensure happiness. But looking backwards or forwards means we have some idea of how this life should happen. Like we have control over each interaction with our boss

… or how each friend feels when we are honest about their cooking

… or which person at a networking event will choose to give us business

…or how to ensure that this online date will really, really like me



Having an agenda means that we are not open to the developing process of life. Not having an agenda, relinquishing control to the moment, means we see all the nuances and subtleties and unexpected opportunities of the human process. We are not focused behind or far ahead. And we don’t weigh others down with expectations or fights for control.

  1. Spend most of the time focusing on yourself

Focusing on yourself does not mean acting selfishly. Instead, inward-focus is a great way to make sure you stay in the present moment.

  • When you take a moment to close your eyes and listen to your heartbeat, you are enjoying the present moment of your physical being.

  • When you lock eyes with the person across from you and pay attention to what they are saying, you convey the message, “I am here for you. I am giving of myself to you right now.”

  • When you put time and effort into activities you enjoy – that challenge you physically or mentally, that make you think or feel, that allow you to enjoy your body and your mind – your face and body language and attitude to the world reflect that. Other people see that you can make yourself happy, that you know yourself, that you can find some peace and contentment in this chaotic world. And what could be more attractive than someone who knows and can be peaceful within themselves?

These three steps are some general ways of finding your own process, and finding a way to enjoy it, even when it is uncomfortable or difficult.

Defining your process and your way of enjoying it takes a long time, and the patience to make mistakes and pick yourself back up to start over. I think it is best done within the supportive environment of therapy. Or at least done with the aid of a good friend over a long period of time. I can admit that I am still working on my process, but that the work done so far has given me more enjoyment and a brighter outlook on life.

Say Hello to the New You

Written by: Andrew Rehs

Are you ready to say hello to the new you? Whether you are successfully working towards a goal, revisiting old goals, or not sure where to start, this article will empower you to reach your desired goal by strengthening your mindset around that goal using 5 key ingredients. It is nearing the end of the second month of the new year, and statistically speaking, most resolutions start to lose steam at this point. Whether this sounds like you, or you are just looking for a dose of motivation, these psychological tools will surely put you closer to your goal…without even leaving your seat!


Before we dive into those 5 ingredients, let take a minute to focus on how we view goals. Some call them resolutions, some call them lifestyle changes, some simply call them goals. Are you looking at your resolution as a solution to some problem within yourself? That may be why some encounter problems with their resolutions! Who wants to focus on what’s WRONG about you? Instead, I recommend using a different term altogether – ‘lifestyle change’ perhaps, or ‘new direction’. By viewing them as resolutions, it could be cognitively counterproductive, as simply a way to resolve something. You are a great person with many positive attributes…own it! So, instead of fixing what is wrong, utilize what is right. It may be more beneficial to view these as measurable and realistic. Instead view them as goals towards lifestyle changes. Goals are mentally positive; resolutions are naturally negative as they are a fix to a deficit. One may be already starting the path to success a step behind.


Let’s get started. Take a look at your personal goals right now. Whether you are well are your way, or “failing to launch”, these small alterations could make a big difference. Consider this a psychology boot camp. If you started with 10 resolutions, that may be your problem right there. Starting with three may give you a much better chance at reaching two goals than if you start with 10 things you semi-desire change in. Make sense?


Starting with the first (of your three) most serious goal, we are going to mix in 5 powerful ingredients to strengthen it. Making these simple changes to the way that you think already puts you miles ahead of where you were before…without even breaking a sweat. To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, I am going to use one of the most popular resolutions…weight loss. Let’s assume that your goal was to lose weight (for your health, both mental and physical, do not be too ambitious with your weight loss goals). This is how it may look:


STEP ONE – Make sure that you know when your goal is met.

This is a big mistake people make when creating lifestyle changes. They lose site of the finish line before the start of the race. Many people make goals such as wanting to lose “some” weight, read “more” books, smoke “less” cigarettes, etc. These are all good for improving self, but there is no way to know that you are making progress towards the end, because there is no end. Instead, make sure that there is a way to measure your goal, like this:

I want to lose 10lbs vs. I want to lose weight.


STEP TWO – Be sure that your goals are positive (removing “negative” wordage or vocabulary from your thought process).

This will help you articulate what is being created from this goal, focusing on the end result and not what you are reducing. In our culture, we focus so much on ridding ourselves of things which already puts us behind psychologically. Examples include LOSING weight, QUITTING cigarettes, LESS stress, REDUCE debt. You see how these are all using negative words? You would be surprised how much this gets in the way of mental success. Instead, it may be helpful to view your goal in an affirmative way like this:

I want to weigh 240lbs (assuming you currently weigh 250lbs) vs. I want to lose 10lbs.

STEP THREE – Be as specific as possible! One is much more likely to accomplish a goal if he or she has a better idea of the path towards that goal.

Runners compete on a course or track. If they competed in a vast piece of land with no sense of direction, it would be very difficult to consider it a competition. Remember, the more focused your goal is, the more motivation you can pack into it. Sticking with our weight loss example, look at the difference between a specific goal and a loosely organized resolution:

I want to weigh 240lbs by running 3x per week for 45min and abiding to a strict nutrition regimen vs. I want to lose weight by going to the gym more (does this sound familiar?)

 STEP FOUR –Try thinking of your goals as if they are already happening, or even already happened!

This is the part where I usually lose my clients. There is a little psychological secret in powerful goal setting that goes against our grammatical rules in the English language…but if you could not tell from my blog already, grammar isn’t everything!

This is something that may sound strange when you say it out loud but already puts you ahead of your “2014” self. Many studies in the field of psychology, business, philosophy, and even metaphysics have shown us over the years that thinking of goals in present tense helps us achieve these goals quicker (and stronger). This is how it works:

I weigh 240lbs vs. I want to weigh 240lb

STEP FIVE – Create a finish line.

Now it is time to put it all together with this crucial component. Ask any counselor, therpist, motivational speaker, or mentor and they will tell you that an essential ingredient to any good goal is a realistic deadline, which in turn makes it even more measurable, attainable, and real. There needs to be a finish line to call it a race (whether that “finish line” is literal or figurative). Staying with the weight loss example, here is how a good deadline works:

I want to lose 10lbs by April 1st, 2015 vs. I want to lose 10lbs

Notice I did not use all of the other rules in that last example. I wanted to see if you were still paying attention. Now, let’s try and put all five of these rules together. If you create a powerful goal using a positive, detailed, past or present tense, and measurable deadline, your goal should look something like this:

I completed my goal of weighing 240lb by April 1st, 2015 committing to a strict regimen of running for 30 minutes 3x/week and abiding by a healthy, well rounded diet.

It may seem like a wordy goal, but if you thought of all of your goals like this, you will put yourself at a psychological advantage, thus putting yourself miles ahead of…yourself. This year is YOUR year and anything can be accomplished if you believe it can. This may be the third year in a row you have tried to lose weight, quit smoking, and decrease debt, but it may be the first year you have tried to view your goals using powerful ingredients. Remember to hold yourself accountable for your goals, and keep them in plain sight. My recommendation for this is to take a dry erase maker and write the “details” of your goal on your mirror to remind you every morning where you are at for the weekly components of the goal. For instance, if you want to start running three times per week, right “Run” on your mirror with the numbers “1, 2 and 3” underneath it. This will allow you to simply mark through the number with your finger, holding yourself accountable for your goal and keeping it where you can see it.


REMEMBER THIS: This is YOUR TIME. Say hello to the new you. I would like to end this blog entry by sharing some of the best advice I have ever read by the insightful business author, Brian Tracy: “If you do not have goals yourself, you are doomed to work towards someone else’s goals for the rest of your life”. Go forth and MAKE!

LGBTQ Supports at CBM


By Cynthia Holmes, MA, LCSW

Chicago CBM is PROUD to support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, etc. community!! Some ways we can support you:

LGBTQ+ COMPETENCE IN A COUNSELOR: LGBTQ+ folks can be challenged by anxiety, depression, relationship issues, life changes and stress just like everyone else. While everyone is different and will bring their own experience to counseling, you should not have to educate a clinician around the basics of gender and sexuality. You deserve a therapist who is familiar with the needs of the community and who will offer a safe and affirming environment to work through any issues you are facing and help you live your best life.

COMING OUT: Whether you’re still figuring out your sexuality or gender, if it’s the first time you’re coming out, if you are considering coming out at a new job or role, or to that one last person you’ve been afraid to be your true self with, we can work together to help you live an authentic life.

EMBRACING YOURSELF, YOUR GENDER and/or SEXUALITY: LGBTQ+ folks can face a disproportionate amount of judgement, discrimination, shame and many other negative things in society. This can often become internalized and can affect our sense of self-worth, self-loathing, self-confidence; we can experience internalized homophobia, judgement, anger and shame. These are examples of unjust baggage that may hold LGBTQ+ folks back in life; in success, relationships and happiness. You deserve to work through these limitations, leave the baggage behind and live a happy life!

I’M OUT, NOW WHAT? Sometimes we spend so much of our lives in the closet, we’re not sure what to do once we’re out! We can also feel intimidated, inexperienced, lonely and unsure of what to do or where to start living an authentic life. Therapy can be a great safe space to help work through feelings holding us back and practicing stepping out of our comfort zones and into a fulfilling life.

TRANSITIONING: You already know your physical body doesn’t match who you are inside – congrats on embracing your truth! You may want a place to talk through your options to make the best decision for you, before taking any action. You may want a supportive environment to talk through the changes you will experience as you transition. You may need a letter for surgery. You might want support in dealing with friends, family and the workplace. Transitioning is different for everyone and it can be incredibly helpful to work with a therapist as you’re going through such a big life change.

PARTNERS, FAMILY & FRIENDS OF LGBTQ+ FOLKS: Sometimes, no matter how much we love a person, we may not understand the changes or decisions in their lives. Sometimes their decisions directly impact our lives and we need a safe space, with a therapist who understands, to work through our feelings and reactions. It is often helpful to get your own therapist to work through these things so that they do not do damage to the relationship with the LGBTQ+ person in your life.

For all these reasons and many more, Chicago CBM is happy to support LBGTQ+ folks and their partners, families and friends! Please contact us to see if we are a good fit for you.

Our Chicago CBM LGBTQ+ specialist, Cynthia Holmes, is a bisexual cisgender woman who is out, proud and very active in the LGBTQ community. She believes everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin, be able to embrace their gender and sexuality and live a happy, authentic life.

She is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and the University of Michigan’s Women and Gender Studies program. She recently obtained her License in Clinical Social Work and has been working in the social service field for 15 years.

Cynthia’s passion is with Gender and Sexuality, and she specializes in helping Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) and other folks with the coming out process, feeling more comfortable in their own skin and living full and healthy lives. She is happy to work with partners and family members as they process a loved one’s coming out or transition and how it impacts their lives.

She also works with adults going through life transitions, overcoming obstacles and creating positive changes. Her methods are empowerment and strengths base approaches to collaborate with individuals to help them live their best lives.

Introduction to Mindfulness

by: Caitlin Liddle image1

 What is Mindfulness?

Is “mindfulness” familiar as a current buzzword, but you’re not really sure what it means or how it works? Have you heard it come up in yoga, at work, or in your therapist’s office?   Mindfulness may seem elusive, but it’s really a very simple idea. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a prominent meditation scholar, defines mindfulness as:   “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose,in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” This may seem so basic and obvious, but if you think about, how often are you really doing this? In today’s society, it’s common to be multi-tasking—doing work while listening to music while talking on the phone. Judgments are also often a daily part of our lives—“that movie sucked”, “my boss is a jerk”, “ brussel sprouts are gross.” While these examples may seem relatively benign, judgments about ourselves and others and being stuck in our head worrying about the past or the future can contribute to significant mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. If I’m judging myself as “a bad person” and my job as “stupid and pointless,” and ruminating about this all day instead of focusing on tasks that need to get done, chances are I will be experiencing a lot of emotional distress. Mindfulness can help us identify judgments as just thoughts, not as facts, and helps us practice focusing on what matters to us. To learn more about what mindfulness is, a good place to start is:

Benefits of Mindfulness: 

Mindfulness, through a variety of research studies, has been proven to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve focus
  • Improve relationships Improve memory

To find out more about these and other benefits, go to and

How do I get started?

To practice mindfulness, you will always have what is called an “anchor”, a focal point for your attention. During the course of the exercise, when you notice getting distracted from the anchor, by thoughts, feelings, judgments, bodily sensations or external noises, (which you will because you are human) gently and non-judgmentally bring your attention back to the anchor. Throughout the exercise, make sure you are breathing deeply and evenly, diagphramatically (through your stomach).

2 simple exercises to try:

Set a timer for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and sit upright. The anchor will be your breath and counting to 6 on each inhale and exhale. Every time you notice having judgments about yourself or others, or your mind wandering, notice that thought or distraction, and bring your attention back to your breath and the counting. At the end of 5 minutes, gently bring your attention back to the room.

Practice a simple activity “One-mindfully.” Instead of watching tv while eating dinner while checking your email, just eat dinner. Observe with your senses the way the food smells, tastes, feels in your mouth, noticing any urges to check email or distracting thoughts coming up and bring your attention back to focusing on your meal. This can be done with any simple task. Other examples are washing the dishes, taking a shower, putting on lotion.