July 01, 2012

Write Your Story

We all have a life story.  One of the things I ask some of my clients to do is to think about what their story has been thus far and then sit down and begin writing what they want the rest of their story to be. 

The present is the now but you do have a part in what your tomorrow will look.  The writing exercise is intended to put you in a place where you really try to imagine what you want your future to look be.  Don’t think about anything you consider hindrances to that future just begin writing it down.  Your past is not your future, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

Does it feel better to think life is just pulling you down a river or to believe that you have some say in and control over what happens next?  So be a future biographer and work towards creating the life you really want to have.  If this seems daunting, start with an outline of chapter titles first and then go back and write the content.  This is for you so don’t make it too complicated.  Begin with just the next year of your life from tomorrow forward. 

Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Best Wishes,

November 11, 2011

Laugh it off.

It has been shown that even a fake smile or laugh produces positive emotional responses because the brain cannot tell the difference. Our facial muscles can cue the brain to experience a positive emotion. Laughter has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. Laughing causes the brain to release endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. Laughter also boosts the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, leading to a stronger immune system.

The next time you’re in a bad mood, smile or laugh even if it’s fake and see if you notice a difference in your emotions. Sometimes life throws things at you that you’re just not sure what to do with. Those could be opportunities to just laugh it off.

Nyla Lengacher

October 07, 2011

Choose Your Attitude

“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Victor Frankl

We go through many things in life; the good, bad, unfair, absurd, fantastic, miraculous, etc. Victor is right, we have a choice in our responses to what life throws at us.

Speaking of things thrown at us. Nine years ago I stopped on the side of a highway to try and help at an accident site. Instead a truck that lost control in the rain hit me as I was standing there. I was knocked out of my tied shoes and my body took the guardrail with me as I flew into a ditch. When I regained consciousness I realized I could not get up. A long story short, I broke a hip and a foot and was pretty banged up. Since the breaks were on different sides of my body, I could not bear weight and was thus bed-bound.

As I was recovering I would hear comments like, “no good deed goes unpunished”. I don’t agree at all. Many asked how I could be in such good spirits considering what I was going through. I told them, “You don’t understand, I’m alive and shouldn’t have survived being hit like that”. Go figure, living put me in good spirits☺. I chose an attitude of gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’ve always chosen the best responses, but I try to be very aware of my attitude. It makes all the difference in how I feel about life circumstances.


August 15, 2011

Behavior Change Exercise for Social Anxiety

Human behavior is changeable. Being able to adapt to changes in our environment has enabled us to survive.

To change behavior, we must look at factors in the current situation that maintain the undesirable behavior as well as focus on alterations that will call forth and support desirable behaviors.

Social anxiety can have secondary gains. For example, it can prevent exposure to feeling uninteresting, unintelligent, like you don’t belong, etc. Have you put yourself in a situation that supports behavior that you want to change? Maybe taking a job where you do not have to have social interaction, avoiding a hobby that you would like to pursue, making new friends, dating, or something else?

Challenge yourself with the questions below.

1) What are some factors in your current life situation that maintains the undesirable behavior? For example, isolating, avoiding social events, etc.

2) What secondary gains are you getting from the factors you listed above?

3) How can you alter those factors in a way that supports the behaviors you would like to develop?

Remember to pick your battles. Prioritize the things that mean the most to you. Some of the changes are not worth the level of anxiety they would arouse at this point in your life. However, if there are things you really feel strongly about it’s well worth taking the small steps to move in that direction.

By Nyla Lengacher

April 28, 2011

The Blueprint of Your Mind

When you think of a blueprint for a home you are building, you can see what that home will look like when it’s completed. Of course you would want the builders to use the best materials possible and do quality work. The excitement builds and you can’t wait for the completion so that you can move in and enjoy what you’ve dreamed of.

The way you view your experiences and all the things that enter your life is filtered through your mental blueprints. If your focus in life is on what you do not have, worries and cynicism, then the building materials that are used will manifest as limitations, anxieties and doubtfulness. Your mindset lays the groundwork and the foundation for your success, happiness, future and all that you build in life. Your beliefs, thoughts and ideas construct the blueprint that you will follow.

If for some reason the foundation is faulty or becomes faulty guess what, it can be fixed. As the saying goes, “you can make a right decision, or you can make a decision right”. I’m not sure who coined that phrase but I really like it.

Blueprints can be broken down to just your plan for the next day. If you purpose your blueprint for tomorrow the night before, your subconscious can work on that plan while you sleep. So whether you are planning for tomorrow or one year from now, be intentional about the print you are creating.


February 13, 2011

Protection or Sabotage

Many times we unconsciously do things that we don’t want to do. Now that’s a sentence you may want to say “duh” to. We are made to flee, freeze or fight if we sense that we are in danger. This comes in many forms. If we come across a bear on a hike, it’s pretty obvious that we would sense danger. However, there are everyday things that to some may seem safe and good. For example: going to a party, making a new friend, or building a closer friendship with someone we already know. However for some with social anxiety there may be a strong desire to do these things but if fear is elicited, avoidance may occur providing safety, but sabotaging what is really wanted.

Try to step back and think about the things in your life that you may be avoiding. Is there a secondary gain that you are getting from that avoidance? Does that secondary gain outweigh what you are missing out on? If it doesn’t, it may be time to start taking the small steps needed to face the fear. When I say small, I mean small. Too much too soon can set you up for failure and damage further progress. Put your toe in the water so to speak and try something a little outside your comfort zone. Go to a coffee shop and read a book. You’ll be around people but you don’t necessarily have to have a conversation.

If it’s a relationship you’re avoiding because the last one broke your heart, it may be time to risk loving again. Is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved? Only you can decide that one.

Have you avoided career advancement because you don’t know if you can live up to the expectations? I’ve found that for many, it’s the expectations they have of themselves that are the block, not their employers. Remember that for everyone in a new job or job role there is a learning curve so please be kind to you!

Good luck!

Nyla Lengacher

January 05, 2011


To join or not to join? I’ll start by saying that I have not joined. The positives include, connecting with former friends and family you haven’t seen in forever, keeping up with each others lives through pictures and sharing. I see negatives like it being time consuming for many potentially taking away from face to face interaction and socialization.

An old friend recently emailed me. She asked me to get on Facebook to see her pictures. Since I’m not on Facebook, I called a friend and got on her account. I have to admit, I really enjoyed seeing my old friend’s pictures and reading some about her life. I had not seen her in close to 30 years! I’m not sure if I will ultimately get on or not but I’m much more tempted now.

So are you on or off?

by Nyla Lengacher

October 31, 2010

Adoptee and Birth Family Rights

Does an adoptee have the right to know where they came from? In the case of closed adoption, does an adoptee have the right to open the records and find out who their biological family is? Does an adoptee have the right to know their medical history? Does a birth parent or sibling have the right to know who their son, daughter, brother or sister is?

I give these questions a resounding YES. It’s tragic that laws in many States do not allow this. Some have changed their laws and opened records. In the case of closed adoptions, the birth parents/family do not have the right to know where their biological family member is or who they are. According to the International Soundex Registry, the largest reunion agency, for every 5 adoptees who are searching, there are 3 birth family members searching.

Admittedly, my views come from the standpoint of being an adoptee who spent 25 years off and on searching. Due to a changed law in my State of birth, I was able to petition the court through a Confidential Intermediary who obtains the original birth certificate. After getting the original birth certificate, they contact the birth mother (for starters) and ask if she would like contact. If it’s a yes, then they pass information on to the adoptee. In my case, the long anticipated call finally came and I found out that my birth mother died in 1994. I began my search in the mid 1980’s and if the current laws had been in place, I would have had a chance to possibly meet her and find out more about my story.

Until speaking with birth mothers first hand and reading books about them like, The Women Who Went Away, I had the mistaken impression that the majority of birth mothers did not want to be found. It’s much more complex than that. Many were told what they were going to do, sent away to have their baby, come back home and forget it ever happened.

The Confidential Intermediary that I worked with said that approximately 80% of the birth mothers she made contact with did in fact want to meet their child. Do they have a right to have this opportunity? Does the adoptee?

Please share your opinions on this. Thank you.

August 29, 2010

Fixed or Growth Mindsets

I was reading a book the other day which discussed two types of mindsets. One fixed and one growth. Research indicates that children that were told that they were genius, or had a special gift or talent in a certain area were less likely to try something new in those areas. In order to maintain “perfection”, they stayed with what they knew. Those that were told that they could accomplish anything with hard work saw new areas of study, life, etc. as a challenge and interesting.

How much of our life is fixed? Michael Jordan was not picked for the basketball team in High School. So he practiced practiced and practiced some more. Even after he made the team, he went over and above standard practice times and would tenaciously repeat a shot he may have struggled with. Seems so have paid off.

Nyla Lengacher

September 30, 2009

Either…Or…? Why Not Both?

How many times do we miss out on something we truly desire by thinking we can’t possibly do this AND that or have this AND that? Have you limited yourself by thinking this way? I’m not talking about greed or any other negative association that you may have if you think about this. I’m talking about opening your mind to the best that life can offer. Many times it is there but we just don’t think it can happen to us. “That’s for the lucky ones.” The more we open our minds to the good possibilities in life, the more we will see them realized. Expect the best!

By Nyla Lengacher

August 02, 2009

Avoid Choking Up

Research has shown that the more we over think something we are practiced at, the higher the likelihood is that we will choke. When learning a new task, our cerebral cortex kicks in and conscious thought is involved. However, after we have learned something well and it becomes more automated, the cerebellum area of the brain takes over and things become more subconscious. So if we put too much conscious thought into what we are about to do we can get tripped up.

If we scrutinize what we are about to do too much, it can cause the conscious part of the brain to override the subconscious area where it would flow. It’s best to try and focus on a single idea like calm, peace or smooth. This brings us back to the benefits of exposure. The more we do something, the more automated it can become.

Let me know your thoughts.

by Nyla Lengacher

March 18, 2009

What's Holding You Back from Your Dream?

Is something preventing you from accomplishing your dream? Maybe a belief, habit, person or thing? Take some time and sit in a quiet place and really think about this. Keep a note pad and a pen with you and write thoughts that come to you.

After doing this exercise, you may find information that you maybe knew on some level but didn't want to see. Now you must look at the bottom line. It is really only you that is the true block. Why do I say that? Because you have the ultimate choice in your life. What you do with that choice makes all the difference in your happiness.

Please write and tell me your thoughts and/or experiences with this topic.

by Nyla Lengacher

February 15, 2009


Recently I read an article in the Scientific American Mind (feb/march 2009) about placebos. It spoke of research that proves that placebos, “help not only to alleviate illnesses with an obvious psychological component, such as pain, depression and anxiety, but also to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and inflammatory disorders”. They even reference a case where tumors were shrunk significantly. We have heard about their effects before but this really struck me because this research emphasized the influence of the subconscious.

They found that even if an individual did not have any faith in the treatment, let’s say a shot or pill that was given, there was still improvement. In other words, the subconscious associations to things that the mind connects with healing, makes a difference. This could be a white lab coat, a stethoscope or those sterile stainless steal cabinets.

So, who’s to say that the father in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, didn’t actually have a healing response to all of those things he sprayed Windex on!

Please write and tell me your thoughts on, or experiences with placebos.

By Nyla Lengacher

January 07, 2009

Expectation or Intention

Expectation is defined in the World English Dictionary as a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen, a mental image of something expected, or a standard of conduct or performance expected by or of somebody. Unfortunately some expectations may be bent towards the negative and cause anxiety. One of the best ways to turn worrisome expectations into something to be excited about is to change them into intentions, which involves your state of mind. Intention keeps you proactive in your life so that you’re not just wishing or waiting, you are purposing outcomes and taking charge of situations. No matter what circumstances arise, your intentions can have a part to play in determining the effect those circumstances have on you. If you can’t expect the best, intend the best.

by Nyla Lengacher

December 19, 2008


Many methods have been conceived over the years to treat social anxiety and there is no one-size-fits-all therapy. Meditation has been effective for calming some forms of anxiety, and mindfulness, a form of meditation, has been shown to be especially effective.

Many who suffer from social anxiety spend a great deal of time and effort ruminating about bad things that have happened in the past or worrying about things that they think may happen in the future. Sometimes the focus is on perceived imperfections, weaknesses, or shortcomings.

If you had the option of worrying about bad things that may never happen to you or feeling calm and relaxed, what would you choose? I think most people would choose feeling calm and relaxed, yet the struggle to keep the mind off these worries can remain.

There is a saying that I used to have on my office wall that said,
“If we spend our time ruminating about the past and worrying about the future, we have no today to be happy”. That’s where mindfulness is so helpful. It’s being present and thankful for the moment we are currently in.

This world really is an amazing place, so take the time to appreciate it. Whatever you are doing can be interesting if you allow yourself to experience it fully.

Children are fascinated about the world around them and it is wonderful to watch a child experience something new. I wish we would never lose the ability for that excitement. It comes so easy for a child but we have to work at it.

Mindfulness is a practice that helps ground you. Practice being aware of your surroundings and utilize all of your senses, the texture, sound, smell, look and even taste of life.

The practice of mindfulness helps to take the focus off the “what ifs” and perceived flaws and put it on the beauty of the moment. One of my favorite affirmations is, “my self worth does not depend upon how anyone else views me”. Each and every one of us has something unique to offer that no one else can.

So get out there with your unique self, take life in, seize the moments and refuse to let it pass you by. Believe me, you’ll be much happier.

By Nyla Lengacher