Lisa Savage - Page 3 of 7 - Own Your Power & Soar
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What do people say when you leave the room?

I woke up this morning thinking about the messages we send others about who we are, and what we stand for. Have you ever asked yourself—what do people say when I walk out of the room? Are you seen as someone who has it together? Are you seen as being inconsistent and unreliable? What’s your professional presentation? Your honest answers define your personal brand–for better or for worse.

We all have a personal brand; it’s not really an option. As a mental health professional, I’m mindful of how I carry myself in my office, on social media and in the community. I’m aware that we’re always sending messages to others about who we are ; I choose to be conscious of the messages I send. I want to be seen as consistent, an advocate for children, a warrior against social injustices, a strongand resilient woman, who can make you laugh and make you think. I want my genuineness to be obvious. I’m okay with being imperfect and vulnerable. It’s who I am.

Your personal brand– you get to define it, refine it and shine it. Spend some time today thinking about how you present yourself to the world. If you don’t like it, what are you going to do to change it? If you don’t know how, seek the guidance of someone who can help you.


Why do I spend some much time talking about self-love?




Self-love is it really that important? Why do I need to focus on self-love in order to become successful?

Self-love influences every decision and relationship we have.  It’s really that important.  Without it, we will enter into agreements that aren’t good for us, maintain unhealthy connections and sabotage our efforts toward success.    The negative self talk will overpower efforts to advance forward and result in frustration.    Try to monitor your thoughts for negative self-talk that you might not even be aware of——”I’m not good enough”.  “I feel like a fraud and fear that others will soon discover it’.   “I can’t do this; it’s too hard”.   This type of negative self-talk is more common than you think.  However, you can have a breakthrough and conquer yours to create the life you long for.

Start with catching those thoughts.  This can be painful because often we try to evade the pain that rests beneath the surface of what we show the world.   Acknowledge the thoughts with a nonjudgemental stance.  The more you bring them to the surface, the less they will control you, your feelings and thus, your behaviors.   Once you are cognizant of the negative thoughts, you can transform them into more positive and realistic thoughts.   Once you begin to feel more positively about yourself, you will feel powerful and capable of realizing your dreams.

I believe that it is important for us to take control of our lives so that we can control our success.  It’s not as hard as you think, but it does require that you put effort into changing you.  Stop playing the negative tapes that were ‘implanted’ by other people.  Replace those tapes with your own positive and self-affirming ones.   You will be happier and one step closer to living the life you want, the life you create.


Do you have an amazing dream? Focus and get there now!

Most people find themselves wanting to achieve a goal, but sometimes fall short.  Some are looking to lose weight, start a business, find a relationship or the more mundane, clean their house.   The difference between the goal achievers and those who fall short, are often lack of planning and getting off track.

When I set out to start my businesses, I made plans.  I wrote them down and refined them along the way.  I put a time frame next to each goal and if I didn’t achieve the goal in the identified timeframe, I evaluated the reasons why.   I also stayed focused.   I also stayed the course.  Sometimes we get distracted and frustrated causing us to get off course or to quit altogether.  This is what separates the achievers from the non achievers.  It has nothing to do with intelligence or money.  Success will be created by those who stay the course and stay focused on their goals.

Goal setting:

Don’t get your goals confused with your objectives.  Goals are very specific with timeframes.  Objectives are more general and while important, they won’t move you forward.  Here’s an example of a goal:

I will write two blog posts in the next 7 days.  (It’s measurable, time-oriented and reasonable).   

Now if I get to the end of the 7 days and I haven’t written two blog posts, i need to evaluate why not.  Did I over commit?  Did I allow something or someone else to get in the way.  Most importantly, I will not give up.  I will quickly get back on track.

Here’s an example of an objective:

I want to be happier.  It’s general, not specific and there’s no timeframe associated with it.  Happiness will come from achieving my goals.  Does that make sense?  Do you see the difference?

Self doubt:

Often people are plagued with self-doubt and fear which kills goal attainment.  All of us struggle with the “critical inner voice”, that might say:  “You are out of your mind for thinking you can do this.”   “It’s all been done before.”  “This dream is too big.”   Increase your awareness of your inner critic and halt those negative thoughts.  Sometimes it is helpful to write down your negative self-thoughts in order to be more aware of them.  Sometimes those thoughts happen so automatically that we aren’t aware of how powerfully they influence our actions.

Staying focused:

Focusing on your goals like your life depends on it, is what will separate you from others.   You have to dedicate every day to working on your goal.  Now that’s not to say to the exclusion of other things, but even if all you have is 30 minutes, spend time on your goal.    Don’t expect or look for others to understand your commitment.  Stay focused and let them watch you soar.

Use the power of your imagination to help you stay on task.  Imagine what your life will be like once you’re achieved your goals.  How will you live?  Who will be in your life?  How are you going to feel?  What will you do differently?   How will it feel to be in a size smaller or have money in the bank?

While working on your goals, you can’t neglect yourself.  You might take time to exercise, eat properly, spend doing things that renew and energize you.  Remember to drink water and take purposeful deep breathes.  Take long walks to clear your mind.  Exercising increases energy, vitality, and creativity.   It also helps you to be more physically and mentally agile, especially during inevitable set backs.

Mentor/coach:Get a mentor or coach.  I can’t stress the importance and value of having someone to bounce ideas off of and to get guidance from.  My coach helps me when I get totally stressed and feel like I’m climbing an uphill battle.  He gently pushes me, challenges me to stop my negative thoughts, and encourages me to keep going.


Get a mentor or coach.  I can’t stress the importance and value of having someone to bounce ideas off of and to get guidance from.  My coach helps me when I get totally stressed and feel like I’m climbing an uphill battle.  He gently pushes me, challenges me to stop my negative thoughts, and encourages me to keep going.

Believe in yourself:

One thing I’ve learned in creating my businesses is that I have the power to do anything I desire.  I haven’t always made the right decisions and I’ve failed miserably at things.  However, I always return to the belief, that I can do whatever I want.  I can honestly say, there’s nothing that I’ve wanted, that I haven’t achieved.  That’s not to say that I don’t struggle with self-doubt, but I am aware of it, seek guidance and get back up again.   I’ve learned to be a hard worker and find a lot of joy in creating things that make me feel satisfied.

Please write below, the goals you’d like to achieve.  I’m happy to give any feedback or guidance on your questions or dilemmas.


How I got off the roller coaster and why you should too

I love my life.  However, I haven’t always like the way I lived.   In 2012, my private practice exploded.  We went from two therapists to 12.  We were providing services to hundreds of children and there was no doubt that we provided the highest level of quality and accountability.  From every angle,  I looked successful and I was.  I never doubted my ability to create a practice that I felt proud of.  I dreamed of this years ago, so putting things in place to make it happen wasn’t happenstance.  It was my dream and I did it.  What I didn’t plan for or even anticipate was, the level of stress and time reaching my dream would entail.  I file that under—lessons learned.   Now that I was there, how was I going to manage it all?   I did, but it came with a huge cost.
I lived with very little sleep.  I stopped my daily exercise and my free time, wasn’t free. I was always working.   The time I spent with clients was the most (and still is) fulfilling time of my day.  In between sessions, I was responding to calls, emails, text messages, and completing other tasks associated with being a business owner.  My health declined, but I kept pushing.   I was not about to let down my staff or my clients.   I chose the helping profession to make a difference in the lives of people, but I neglected to include myself.  #epicfailure.

How was I going to unravel this tangled web, I found myself in and yet, continue to pursue my passion?   I stumbled across an email that initially I mistook for spam.  The subject line was enticing, but I wasn’t convinced it was worth expending the time to look at it further.  I deleted it and went on to my next task.   But later that night, I went into the  deleted email messages and retrieved it.    It was from a psychologist who used to sponsor these really huge and informative conferences in Hilton Head.  I attended several years ago and remembered learning so much.  I hadn’t heard from this organization in years and thus, didn’t immediately recognize the email address.   Well, the reason I hadn’t heard from this was because they had reinvented the organization and no longer offered in person conferences.   Instead, they expanded their reach by offering online learning opportunities to mental health professionals.  This email was a solicitation of a course to on how to establish an online business, using my skills to be able to help more people.   Essentially, they were looking to teach other professionals how to do what they have done.   I read the impressive sales pitch, but when I got to the bottom of the page and saw how much it cost, I withdrew my interest, deleted the email again and went to bed.    A few days later, I received another  compelling sales pitch.  Was this some spiritual nudging to take a deeper look?   Actually, it turns out, it was.  I signed up for the course and paid in three bite sized payments.  Paying this way, made it more doable.

From the first class, I knew that that the cosmic forces were at work and it was meant to be!  I learned so much and hung onto every word the instructor said.  I completed every exercise and felt like the time between classes (a week) was too long.  I wanted to learn and absorb as much as possible, because this was a life changer.   I discovered a way to get off the roller coaster and felt hopeful that I could, again create something that would still allow me to help others, but in a different and more fulfilling way.

That was a year ago and here I am.  I have created three blogs, targeted to different audiences.  I’ve offered online training to professionals and I’m now getting ready to launch online courses to help people change their lives in sustainable and meaningful ways.   I only work in my practice 2.5 days a week.   I love that work and will always be a therapist.  The other 2.5 days, I spend creating, developing and enjoying producing online learning opportunities.   I also exercise,practice yoga, meditate, cook more often read for pleasure, travel and have more time for friends.  My health has improved significantly.   i still have a large practice, but I put things in place so that it manages itself quite effectively.

My next objective is to teach others how to get off the roller coaster.  We are all experts in one way or another.  Why not capitalize on your skills, create a life that you can enjoy, that also enables you to spend more time with your family and for yourself?   I will teach people how to use their skills and  realize a vision.  It’s so easy and fun.  You can also reach the world by working online.  I’ve worked with people as far away as Greece.  How cool is that?  When I travel, my online businesses are still working for me so I don’t experience a decrease in revenue.

So if you are a crafter, teacher, mental health professional, accountant , stylist or have any teachable skills, I can show you how to create an online business, that will make you free and easily increase your income.  I am good at creating successful business.  i know about branding, identifying your niche, blogging, and other tools to build an online business.   I also know that the demand for online services is only going to increase making it a fertile ground for those who want to transfer their skills into increased revenue.

I’m so glad I retrieved that deleted email.  I had no idea that  investment would change my life in so many meaningful ways and that I’d be able to work 2.5 days a week and increase my revenue.   Let me know what skills you have.  What’s your vision for your life?  Are you on the roller coaster and want to get off?  I’m happy to teach you, in very simple steps, how I was able to accomplish it.   I’m happy to answer any questions to help you get on the path to freedom and increased revenue.


Tips for coping with parenting stress

Remember you’re human and that parenting is challenging. Forgive yourself for the inevitable mistakes.

Accept your child and embrace all that they are. Like you, they have imperfections.  Learning to accept that your child might be different that you’d hoped for or expected to be, will help to lessen your stress.

Do not compare your parenting style or children to others. What works for others might not work for you. No matter how things look on the outside, every family has issues.

Pick and choose your battles with your child. Some things aren’t worth getting upset over.  Ask yourself if whatever you’re battling over will matter in a month, a year from now.  If not, let it go.

Say no and mean it.   Don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries with your children.

Find a hobby or interest that you do by yourself.

Give yourself a timeout. Go to a room, tell your child not to bother you for a period of time and do what you want.   This will only work if your children are old enough to take care of themselves.  Otherwise, you might have to hire a sitter or find a family member to watch them for a period of time.

If you have a partner, make sure that relationship is a priority.   A strong parental unit makes parenting a lot easier.

Find a parenting support group. There is therapeutic value in connecting with other parents.  Sharing and learning from others’ experiences can be validating.

Learn skills.   We need skills to perform other duties, why not learn skills to feel more competent as a parent?   We teach parenting skills at CCD and are successful at helping parents to feel armed to deal with challenging children.

Remember you’re doing the best you know how.   Have compassion for yourself.  Parenting can be hard and at times feel like a thankless job.  If it becomes too overwhelming, seek help.   Getting support and learning new skills will help you to feel more in control and less stressed.   Most parents want to enjoy their children.  With professional support, that is possible.


Negative childhood experiences and health conditions

Adverse Childhood experiences (ACE)

Studies have shown that people who were exposed to adverse experiences in childhood were more at risk for chronic health and social conditions later in life.  Adverse childhood experiences are described as: stressful or traumatic situations, including, abuse, maltreatment, parental abandonment, substance abuse by parents, poverty and exposure to crime.

Overly and prolonged exposure to these conditions result in disruption of neurodevelopment in children.  It can literally change the brain in ways that are unhealthy and damaging.  Significant parts are the brain become affected, interfering with the ability to regulate emotions, cope with frustration, contribute to increased aggressive behaviors and learning problems.    This could possibly explain the increase of disruptive behavior disorders in children.  There are some studies that connect attention deficit disorder to the chronic exposure to stress.

Other findings include ACE connection to substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, anxiety, obesity, and early morbidity.

Additionally, there is a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and physical health conditions.   Many people with autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer, migraines have been exposed to chronic stress in childhood.   It is clear that time does not heal all wounds and that intervention is often needed to decrease the effects of earlier negative experiences.

ACE and link to health problems


Here is a link to the ACE questionnaire.  It might be interesting to see how you score.

ACE Test

What are the implications for parents and adults who have elevated adverse childhood experiences?


It is important that medical professionals become familiar with the implications for chronic stress and assess for it in children.  Parent education can include ways to reduce a child’s exposure.  While it might not be possible to change some risk factors, such as poverty, parents can help to mitigate the effects by helping children to cope positively.    Also, parents can be coached to manage events in their lives so as to lessen the impact on their children.   A parent aware of the negative implications might also find increased motivation to change things within their power.  For example, getting out of a domestic violence situation.

Schools often serve as safe havens for children and thus, having positive, attentive adults is extremely valuable to mitigating the impact of negative experiences.

For adults who score significantly on the ACE test, it is important to make immediate changes in one’s life before faced with negative health conditions resulting from chronic exposure to stress.  Physical exercise is vitally important.  It regulates the body and mind and is the best way to prevent most chronic diseases.  Walking on a daily basis is an extremely efficient means of getting exercise.  Seeking mental health consultation is important too.  Often adults exposed to adverse child experiences, failed to learn how to cope in healthy ways.  They are often in the fight or flight mode with the stress response on constant activation.  Learning how to cope better, relax and find problem solving strategies is invaluable in improving overall health.

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool in lessening the impact of negative childhood experiences.  It has positive effects on the brain and teaches the practitioner how to tolerate difficult feelings and experiences without feeling the need to flee them.

A new paper published this month in the journal Social Neuroscience provides some answers to this question. Researchers at the University Cape Town in South Africa asked people who had undergone an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention to perform a 12 minute mindfulness meditation while their brains were scanned using fMRI. During the meditation, people were asked to open their awareness to present-moment bodily sensations, thoughts and emotions without judging or reacting to these mental and physical events.

When the researchers compared brain activation during mindfulness meditation to brain activation during a control task where the meditators randomly generate numbers in their head, they found that several brain areas associated with the monitoring of bodily states – including the insula and the prefrontal cortex – were actually less active during meditation. Interestingly, damage to the insula has been linked to less intense emotional reactions. Less activity in the insula during meditation, then, likely translates into less reactivity.”1



Journaling is helpful too.   Studies have shown that 15 minutes of writing about traumatic experiences can decrease the symptoms and decrease the physical implications that can result from trauma.  Journaling can improve emotional literacy

Having a healthy support network is helpful too. It decreases isolation and  creates a sense of connectedness.

1.  Psychology Today–How Mindfulness Changes the Brain


Why can’t they just listen and behave?

Frustration, powerlessness and a sense of hopelessness are common themes echoed from teachers who work with younger children. They’ve worked earnestly to earn their degrees, professional credentials and expertise. Yet in the classroom, their preparation is challenged by children who display inattentiveness, aggression and defiance. Often, teachers are made to feel inadequate and with mounting pressures on standardized achievement, it’s not hard to imagine the stress they feel.

In the past few years, therapists from The Center for Child Development, have launched an attempt to provide opportunities for child care professionals to increase understanding of why some children display challenging behaviors. We’ve found that by increasing their understanding of behavioral and emotional disorders, educators and child care providers are better equipped to manage and mitigating disruptive behavior.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University coined the term–toxic stress and has pioneered research on this condition as well as strategies to lessen the negative consequences of this risk factor.

Exposure to toxic or chronic stress is often the cause of many childhood disorders and can be brought about by any of the following circumstances:

exposure to violence in home or community
abuse of any type
mental illness or drug abuse of caretakers
lack of adequate protection from parents or other caregivers

Constant exposure to any of the above conditions (and others) changes the brain in significant ways. Even prenatal exposure to prolonged stress experienced by the mother, has been shown to negatively impact brain development in children. If you consider that often times parents are suffering from untreated toxic stress, it’s not hard to see how complicated life becomes for these children.

Why does an understanding of chronic stress matter? Well, it can explain behaviors and emotional regulation difficulties in children. Additionally, understanding this condition, can help to decrease disparities in learning, physical and emotional health.

Teachers and child care professionals are in the position of positively influencing children and decreasing the effects of chronic and prolonged stress. Studies have shown that positive, responsive, nurturing relationships provide protective factors that ultimately help the child in many ways. Studies have shown that positive adult relationships can help to decrease aggressive behavior and improve ability to self-regulate.

Teachers who understand this condition, can identify children who might benefit from simple interventions to decrease this risk factor. Additionally, those who work with children can moderate their responses to unacceptable behaviors and interact in different and helpful ways.

Please join us for a very important online learning opportunity to better understand and increase your ability to be responsive to children who struggle with consequences from prolonged stress. Click this link to register now.


Is it really ADHD?

adhd1One in 9 U.S. children (6.4 million) are currently diagnosed with ADHD. In recent years, many have questioned the reasons for the growing prevalence of ADHD, contributing it to hasty medical evaluations, increased advertisements for ADHD medications, or increased pressure for teachers to turn out high performing students in order to keep jobs. Dr. Nicole Brown, a pediatrician in the Bronx, believed there to be another possibility: inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behavior may mirror the effects of adversity and many physicians and mental health practitioners cannot, or don’t have time, to tell the difference.
What is adversity? For the purpose of mental health evaluations, adversity can be considered poverty, violence, substance abuse, partner violence, abuse, and neglect. It is, by definition, trauma. The symptoms of trauma often mirror those of ADHD and practitioners may be missing this in diagnosing and treating children.
While doing a residency at Johns Hopkins University, Dr Nicole brown looked at how many of her low income patients have been diagnosed with ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These children lived in environments of violence and ongoing stress. Parents and teachers described their behaviors as hard to manage, disruptive and inattentive. When she looked closer she also found one other commonality: trauma. Many symptoms of trauma, such as hypervigilance and dissociation, can be mistaken for inattention. When trauma is experienced, the stress response is in overdrive, which could be mistaken for impulsivity. Most of these clients did not respond to stimulants and behavioral therapy in a way that got their symptoms under control which indicates perhaps there is more going on for these children.
Few researchers have explored the overlap between symptoms of ADHD and the effects of toxic stress or experiencing a trauma, such as abuse, maltreatment, and violence. Brown tested her hypothesis using a national survey about the health and well-being of 65,000 plus children. Her findings revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Children who experienced four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD meds. While her findings are food for thought, Browns results do not indicate that ALL the children were misdiagnosed. It’s not evident how trauma effects ADHD diagnosis and management, but it did shed light on the fact that some children experienced harm that the stimulants will not fix. The children may legitimately have ADHD, but also need to be treated for prior or ongoing emotional damage and trauma. Without this treatment, it may be difficult to see improvement in behaviors.
Brown’s research indicated that we need to do a better job of screening for trauma and creating trauma informed treatment plans. It can be difficult to connect trauma and symptoms if the trauma is not reported by the child or family due to fear or other factors. The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently developing new guidelines on ADHD that will include assessing trauma in patients, but it will not be completed until 2016. Until that time, it is our individual responsibility as parents, teachers, physicians, and mental health practitioners to learn about trauma and toxic stress, and to screen for adversity in order to create comprehensive treatment plans that will be successful for children.

We’re offering an online workshop for parents and professionals to understand the impact of chronic stress on children.
Participants will learn:
Understand the differences between tolerable stress and toxic stress
How parents can lessen the impact of toxic stress in themselves and their children.
Learn how toxic stress affects the developing brain, genetics and future generations
Increase your ability to accurately assess children who have endured toxic stress.
Understand the clinical applications for working with children who have endured toxic stress
Learn techniques for improving your effectiveness with families who have toxic stress

Click this link to register:
Rebecca Roebke, LCSW

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