Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc

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Do you control your feelings, or do they control you? February 24, 2014



Everything can be taken away from a man but the last of human freedoms-the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one way…viktor Frankl.”

We all have had one of those days, where things don’t go right, the car broke down on the way to work, your boss gives you more assignments on an already busy schedule, or when your best friend stops talking to you. Then you start to feel stressed.

Feelings are neither right or wrong. They do not come out of nowhere as they are influenced by our own thoughts and perceptions of a situation. Holocaust Survivor Viktor Frankl said it best when he stated “in between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and freedom.” When you are connected to your body, you are able to notice when you are breathong shallow or tensing your shoulders. When you notice these reactions, you have the power to decide how you will respond. However, most people run on autopiolt and allow their feelings to be in control.

All to often feelings go unchecked because we allow our thoughts to trap us into strong negative feelings. So for example, if we “feel angry,” therefore we must be angry. If we “feel” sad then we must be sad. But upon closer inspection, we realize that these feelings get their power and energy from what we are thinking. In the world of psychology we call these thoughts “Cognivite Distortions .”

Here are just a few of common cognitive distortions:

labeling : Labels can limit our options and may make us feel helpless, victimized and anxious. Some examples of labels are, “his a jerk,” “I’m stupid,” “i’m not good enough,” etc

Mind reading: This is especially common amongst teenage girls and women. Often times, girls and women will try to read the mind of others based on a simple look, action or lack of action. For example, a friend did not like a picture on Face Book, that must mean she hates me, or doesn’t like me.

All or nothing: This way of thinking is in “absolute,” terms and using words such as every, or never. Thus we often convince ourselves that if we can’t have it all, we can’t have anything. For example, if I can’t be first in my class, why bother studying at all, or if you don’t score perfectly in a competition, you see your-self as a failure. This type of thinking creates expectations neither we nor others can ever meet, and so we are inevitably and frequently disappointed.

Mental Filter: Only hearing what you want to hear which is usually based on our belief system. So if you believe that you are “stupid,” you will ignore all the positive stuff that a teacher is telling you and focus on what is wrong.

Here are some tipson when you feel like your feelings are taking control over your mind and body?

Breathe:  Not only has deep breathing proven to be relaxing, it has also been scientifically proven to the brain, heart, digestive and immune system.  So when you start to feel the heart beat fast, your shoulders tensing and butteflies in your stomach, just take ac ouple of deep breathes.

Learn to become aware of your feelings:  Notice when you are breathing fast, or clenching your jaw, or just wanting to throw up or break down and cry.

Become an investigator:  Ask your-self if these feelings are fact or fiction.  What cognitive distortions are using to validate these feelings? If something bad happens, what does that mean about me?

Move: The energy needs to go somewhere, so get up and move.  If you can remove your-self from the stressful situation.  If your sitting down, stand up and stretch. Go for a walk.

Focus on right now: When people are caught up on their feelings, they are usually focused on past or future events.  So take a deep breath, and take a look around you and name the things that you see in front of you.  This helps your brain to calm dwon and focus on the here and now.


Whose problem is this? April 19, 2013

Whose problem is this? A parent calls to report that her 13 year old daughter is failing middle school. “She has no motivation to do her homework. I have tried everything I can to get her help? I have had her tested for learning disabilities, I have a hired a tutor, I have even told her that I would pay for private coaches to help her improve in softball and she still refuses to do anything.  I have talked to her teachers and her friends. She is a wonderful kid, but she is manipulative and lazy. You are my last hope, I don’t know what else to do?”

The way this mother was speaking about her daughters problems, it seemed like that she felt it was her responsibility to solve her daughter’s issues. The mother had anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, increasing anger problems and a chronic sense of failure. The mother believed that if her daughter had a problem, then so did she.

Parents today are having difficulty trusting that their children will make good choices. Parents are scared and are feeling pressured to make sure that their children succeed in every facet of their life. They are becoming obsessed with creating the “perfect image,” for their child(ren). They are rushing in to protect their child(ren) from ever experiencing, pain, sadness, discomfort and failure.

They will do everything they can to make sure that their child stay on top, which means their child’s life can consume 100% of their energy and time, leaving no room for friendships, romance or free time. These parents have been known to supervise their homework, chastise teachers when their child gets a “b,” clean their rooms, sign them up for extra classes, hire tutors, help them get a job and get involved in their child’s friendships. Yet what parents don’t realize is, that the harder they work to relieve their child(ren) of feeling any pain or suffering, they are also robbing them of any internal resourceful coping skills and accountability.

Children today are growing up in a world that is more focused on extrinsic goals rather than intrinsic goals. Even teens who are driven to achieve often feel lost from their inner self. Because these teens are so often focused on living up to everyone’s expectations, that they either don’t develop or relinquish their own goals, which is why we have seen teens lose motivation, become bored and empty and a rise in anxiety and depression. Highly involved and controlling parents often leave their kids feeling angry, depressed and ironically feeling like a failure

It is a fact; teens are more stressed out today than they were 50 years ago. Psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, physicians are seeing an increase in teens and their parents for depression and anxiety disorder. In fact an article “Freedom to Learn,” in the psychology today website stated that “five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and or an anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago” At the top of most parents stress is their child(ren)’s academic achievements. Statements such as; “it’s very competitive out there, I have to make sure my child takes advantage of every opportunity, or else they won’t get into their choice of college, ” have become a part of a parents everyday vocab. Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege,” stated that “research is showing that parents emphasis on academic achievement is linked to their child’s “maladaptive perfectionist striving” Madeline describes “maladaptive perfectionism” as “perfectionism that impairs functioning,” ( feigning illness to skip school, difficulty with sleeping because of worrying about tests, performance etc). “ This coping mechanism is highly correlated with depression and suicide.

So ask your-self the next time you find your-self frustrated at your child for not performing to your standards, or rushing into save them from struggle when they didn’t get that “A,” what you are really teaching them?