Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc

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

 

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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.

 

Connection January 28, 2014

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 10:14 pm
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Typically when I see a child in my office it is because of a breakdown in communication. However, both parent and child are usually frustrated and want me to help “fix” the other person.   What they are really to say is that they want a relationship with the other person.  So What i try to teach each person is to be accountable and responsible for their own feelings and actions.

Here are some tips to help reconnect and to take accountability and responsibility for your behavior and actions.

1: Take a break from control:

It is important to remember that being in “control,” does not equal “controlling.” So if you find your-self losing your temper, shutting down, placing blame on the other person for your feelings, feeling stubborn, shouting, throwing things or screaming, then you are no longer in “control.” You are now demonstrating controlling behavior.

2: Pay attention to your own triggers and thoughts.
If you are insecure or have fears of failure , or issues with anger, it can dramatically affect your connection with your child. Do you find your-self shutting down, interrupting or shouting when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do? If so then you need to work on your own issues before you can have any influence over your own child. Look at your-self as investigator. Remember this is not about blame. This is about figuring out what needs to change to make your relationship stronger and better. Your child looks to you to help them through difficult and stormy times. They need parents who are calmly and confidently in control, and to be in control, a parents ability needs to be independent of their child’s behavior or misbehavior. So I encourage you to challenge yourself and to get a better understanding of what your triggers are. Think about a recent incident with your child that did not go well and then answer the following three questions.

1. What was I feeling when my child either ignored me. shouted at me, refused to do something etc

2. What was I thinking before, during and after the incident?

3. Why did this situation bother me

4. What could I have done differently?

3: Ask yourself the opposite of what you expect them to do.
The most common complaints I have from parents are; “my kid is lazy, she doesn’t listen, she is spoiled, she is manipulative, etc.” Lets take the example that “she doesn’t listen.” You could probably easily list all the reasons why she doesn’t listen. From this perspective it can limit the relationship. So instead try asking your-self all the reasons why, your child “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Go ahead try it. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen to her, I dismiss her feelings and tell her she is lying, I get angry when she interrupts, I shout, I blame her for my feelings, I smile when she is crying, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.

4: Learn to stay calm in the storm by not focusing on the incident.
A child is undergoing massive changes and sometimes this can trigger bouts of intense anxiety, anger and sadness. They may scream, hit their sibling, skip school, not do their homework, lie etc. What a child needs at this point is a strong leader. Someone that is going to help them get through this storm. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are no longer in control.

First check in with your feelings and thoughts.

Second ask your-self “the opposite of what you want or expect them to do.” “Why should she skip school ?” Why should she NOT do her homework?” “Why should she NOT talk to me.”

Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture during the storm. You won’t get anywhere and it will only cause a further disconnect

5: Find a connection with your kid:

All to often I will hear parents talk about how they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the friends they hang out with, the shows they watch or even there after school activities, but then get upset when the child does not listen to them or wants to be with them. A child who feels that they have nothing in connection with their parent will feel alone and thus will seek out other people who share the same likes. They are seeking attachment with other like minded people. Think about your interests and your likes. Would you seek out other people that show no interest in what you like? If a child does not form that attachment through sameness, then she will seek it elsewhere and gradually shut out the people who do not share the same interests.
Look at this as a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person. Children always long for a parent’s approval and acceptance and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to celebrate in their unique talents, personalities and interests.

 

Focus on what you want!! November 14, 2013

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“Temperamentally anxious people can have a hard time staying motivated, period, because their intense focus on their worries distracts them from their goals.” ..Winifred Gallagher

Winifed Gallagher, author of  the book “Rapt: Attention and the focused life;” elegantly summed up the theory of life in the following quote “who you are, what you think, feel and do, what you love is the sum of what you focus on.”  In other words, whatever you pay attention to, will determine your actions thoughts and feelings.

In my experience, most people focus on”what they don’t want.” for eg; ” I don’t want to be fat,” “I’m not going to be like my mother,” or ” I don’t want to be in a bad relationship.” So when people are focused on what they don’t want, they start looking in all the wrong places and shut down to all possible solutions to getting the life that they want. For example, there were two friends who I will call ; Poppy and Olivia.  Poppy and Olivia wanted to travel the world and would spend many evenings talking about the places they wanted to visit. However, only one of them would make her dreams come true because of where she chose to place her focus.

Poppy not only wanted to travel the world, she also wanted to get paid to travel the world. As they began to do their research, Olivia became disheartened. She began to focus on the cost of traveling, and how she was going to pay to get to those destinations. Then her fears would slowly start to take over.  “This is never going to happen,” ‘This is Impossible,” “What will happen if we run out of money, etc?” “No one is going to pay us to travel.” Thus, she started looking in all the wrong places and fulfilling her belief/focus.

However, Poppy’s focus was different. She acknowledged that at times it may be difficult but she kept her focus on how she could get paid to travel. This focus opened doors for her, took her in directions she never anticipate.  With this focus she started to research the people before her who got paid to travel. She learned that she could become a nanny or work on a cruise ship or become a camp counselor in another country. With this information, her thoughts changed, her feelings changed as did her actions. Poppy was able to travel the world and get paid because of where she placed her focus. While her friend Olivia created her worst fears because of where her attention and focus was placed.

All to often people just wonder on the treadmill of life and have no idea where they are going or how they got to where they are. You need to get clear about what you want.  Poppy knew she wanted to travel, but she also wanted to get paid.  She didn’t stay in the most luxurious of places and she had to compromise.  In order to get paid to travel, she had to work.

So here are some tips to focus on the life that you want?

1: Ask your-self where you are currently putting your focus?

It’s really that simple and is that focus getting you where you need to be?  You will probably find that your focus has been on surviving, what not to do wrong etc.  How is this focus helping you achieve your dreams.  So y

2: Make a list of all of the things that make you happy.

All to often people focus on what doesn’t make them happy and spend a lot of time trying to avoid these things/feelings. In order to create the life you want, you have to know what makes you smile, gives you energy, motivates you etc..Do rainbows make you smile? Do you like to snuggle up in bed on a cold dreary day, does talking to a friend energize you?  how about when you put on make up?  Get to know your-self.  You are going to be surprised at how long that list is.
3: WRITE:

Ahh the power of writing is amazing.  Keep writing about you want.  It make take a couple of times to get clear about you want.  The writing will help you with this process.  Get very detailed about that would be like.  How will you feel?  How will you know that you are living that life? Who is in your life. What can you smell, feel and touch. Keep writing and readjusting until it feels right.

4:  Dedicate about 10-30 minutes a day to focusing on what you want?

So turn of your phones, email and any other distractions and dedicate 10-30 minutes of focusing on what you want.  When you learn to do this on a daily basis, your are strengthening the neural pathway in your brain to look for solutions to help you create your dream.

 

But most importantly “be kind to your-self during this process.”  You are learning something new, and this is probably the first time that you are learning to discover what makes you happy:-)

 

 

 

Emotions February 6, 2013

Filed under: trauma,Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 9:32 pm
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In order to change ones behavior, it is best to start by learning how to identify your emotions. Emotions are essentially, fundamentally adaptive. In other words, emotions tell you everything you need to know what is going on in your life. They are your little minions. Emotions help you understand whats going on in any given situation. Emotions can motivate you and help you communicate with other people.

So for example, suppose your friend said something sarcastic and hurt your feelings about the way you look. Your emotion might be sadness, anger or disgust. Then if you attack your friend verbally or stop talking to her, she may not understand or realize that her comments offended you, and may think that you are being mean or rude. But, if you tune into your emotions and let yourself feel the pain, then you are better able to express your feelings towards your friend..

Now answer the following questions

Anger has helped me to…..

destroy relationships: Describe

keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again: Describe

Shut down: Describe

Motivate me to change my life: Describe

Fight for a worthy cause: Describe

Love has helped me to:

Enhance relationships: Describe

Forgive someone: Describe:

Be present: Describe

Keep me in a dysfunctional relationship: Describe

Tell others how I feel about them: Describe

Fear has helped me to:

Avoid dangerous situations: Describe

Avoid doing something I am scared off: Describe

Allows me to play victim: Describe

Allows me to tune into my feelings: Describe

Guilt has helped me to...

Know when I have offended someone I care about: Describe

Keeps me in dysfunctional relationships: Describe

To make amends and repair a relationship: : Describe

To know when I am acting against my own values: Describe

To have weak boundaries: Describe

Emotions are a full body system response.  When your emotions are triggered, then so is your body.  Emotions involve your thinking, your facial affect and physiological responses.  So the first step in change is to start paying attention to the way you feel.  The next step will be about your thoughts.  Emotions used in the “right” way can be a powerful force in the right direction of true happiness.  Emotions used in the “wrong” can be used as a powerful force of sabatoge. and misery.

 

 

A Letter from a Daughter to a Mother September 10, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:20 pm
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As a mother it is normal to want a relationship with your teen daughter and to want her to come to you with her problems. However, this is usually the time the teenager is trying to separate and find her own identity. In my experience, mothers and daughters want the same thing, a close and loving relationship. Yet due to changes, communication gets lost in transit. Below is a letter from a teenage girl to her mother expressing her feelings. This letter eloquently depicts the struggle and turmoil of a teenage girl seeking her mothers validation, while trying to discover her own Identity.

My Mom angers me, frustrates me, and annoys me. But she also makes me feel happy and loved. She made me who I am, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Tomorrow I have an operation. I’m nervous. So throughout the day, my Mom kept telling me not to get my hopes up. I kept telling her that this person wouldn’t let me down, “it’s my operation tomorrow.” I believed that no matter what, he would come. I was wrong. I called my friend crying. Little did I know, my Mom heard me talking and crying to my friend via my baby brother’s intercom. When I finished my conversation, she entered my room with a cup of tea, Oreos, hugged me and then left again. I didn’t need to tell her what was wrong, she didn’t ask, she knew. It’s funny, but moms always know what’s going to happen, they always seem to be one step ahead.

As teenagers, we don’t always want to listen to what you have to say. We moan when you ask us about our life. We say “Stop being so nosey” or “I am allowed a private life.” Then when you don’t ask we say “You never ask about me,or you don’t care”. Truth is, you are never going to win, because even we never quite know what we want. We are indecisive, we are confusing and we are no angels – but the truth is, no child is an angel.

So please don’t be offended, when we don’t want to participate in the same boring talk everyday. You know the one, “how was college” “did you have a nice day,” “who did you hang out with,” etc. Yes we know you are trying to connect, but honestly it can be very boring. So try finding out something new about us every day, or tell us something new. I love being told weird facts like “a cucumber is 97% water” (I think that’s correct) My Mom has never done that, but if she did it would be amazing.

When my Mom is mad at me, I say “One day, you will tell this story to your grandchildren and you’ll be laughing about it” it’s true. Everyone gets mad and moody but as your child we don’t want to hear about our mistakes every day. We don’t always need a lecture!!! We just sometimes need you to listen. We know how tough it is out there. The silent treatment is HORRIBLE, honestly… I don’t think I could ever ignore my children (If I had any), no matter how mad I was at them so I don’t appreciate it when my parents do that to me.

Moms get offended easily, all the time (You’ll probably read that and say “no we don’t!) Haha I am here to say “yes you do.” We don’t mean to offend you, it just comes out or it comes out the wrong way. I have put my Mom through some stuff but honestly, she hasn’t put me through anything negative. I’m grateful for the chores I had to do because now I can look after children, cook and clean which all my other 18 year old friends can’t do. I’m grateful for the curfews because now I enjoy being able to come home whenever I want on a night out, if it was always like that it would just be “normal” not fun. At the time I wasn’t grateful for these curfews. The odd rule will be broken and the odd curfew will also be broken but like I said it’s not the end of the world. So please learn to take a breath. Chores and rules aren’t the end of the world, so don’t be mad if we want to lie in bed all day and only come downstairs for food and pop. We all need a time out. It is our chance to figure out who we are and what we like. We cant do that if we are constantly in motion 7 days a week from 7am in the morning to 10-11pm at night trying to be “perfect. Let us make mistakes.

All moms are different, different people, different out looks on life. One Mom may agree with one thing that you allow your child to do and another Mom may completely disagree with your style of parenting. But it doesn’t matter what other mothers do, because I would much rather my Mom do what she thinks is best for ME.

I think my Mom proved today that silence can speak louder than words, she didn’t have to say a single thing to me to know that she loves me more than anything in the world. Thank you. Moms make mistakes but so do we. Isn’t that how we learn about life?

What I want you to know is this…” knowing that you will be there on every path we take in life is comforting. So try not to worry too much, because in the end, we will eventually find our own way,”

And oh yea…We really, really hate the “I told you so“.