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.

 

I know it doesn’t look like it but I’m on your side!! January 28, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:13 pm
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I love working with people and I especially love working with parents and children. I love watching the transformation that take place as their relationships become stronger due to better communication and wanting to become a better version of them-selves. However, sometimes it can take a lot of work before that transformation takes place. Typically parents come in wanting me to fix “their kids,” and the kids want me to fix “their parents.” Both of them on opposites sides huffing and puffing about how mean or frustrating the other person is, yet simultaneously wanting the same thing, “a peaceful loving relationship.”

Here are a few suggestions that you can do to help connect with your child.

1: 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.

2: Ask yourself the opposite of what or expect them to do. Think about it. 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.” Ask your-self all the reasons why, your daughter “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen, I get angry when she interrupts, I think she is manipulative so I am immediately defensive, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.

3: 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. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are not 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 shouldn’t she not do her homework?”
Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture

4: Find a connection with your kid: All to often I will hear parents complain they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the shows they watch or even there after school activities. Then why should your child listen to you if you don’t take the time to get to know who they are. This is a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. I am not a big fan of Hip hop in fact I can’t stand it. However, I will go out of my way to keep up on the latest songs and artists. This allows me to have my input and to steer them away from songs that are truly derogatory. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person

5: It is not about competition: I will often hear parents say something like, “well I stopped nagging but she still won’t pick up her clothes, so why should I change?” “See I was right, she didn’t like that sport.” In order to change your child’s behavior you must change your own first. Okay so she is still not picking up her clothes, does that mean you must resort back to your old behavior to prove a point? This is not about tit for tat. A child needs a leader. They need to know that you are willing to change, to compromise, to be consistent, stable and reliable. They need to see that you as a parent  are on their side and not against them!!!

 

Want to decrease parental conflict and nagging? Then read these tips from your parents point of view. December 13, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:12 pm
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10: Stop leaving trails around the house like Hansel and Gretel: At this point your parents don’t care if they can’t find you because they are on the verge of shoving you in the oven and cooking you themselves. So you see that dirty plate still left from dinner time, or the wet towel on the floor of the bathroom, or the candy wrapper stuffed in the sofa, please just pick it up. I guarantee 100% that there will be less shouting and nagging.

9: Saying I love you other than when you want something: Parents love hearing the words “I love you,”  especially when it doesn’t involve that expensive cell phone or the sleep over, or the expensive designer outfit.

8: Manners, Manners, Manners:   You think we are embarrassing? Well take a look at how eat your food and greet our friends, now that is embarrassing. So next time, use your utensils, close your mouth, smile, make eye contact and for god sake say “hello, please thank you and goodbye.”

7: Stop talking smack about us to your friends: You don’t want us sharing your gory details to our friends then don’t share our gory details with yours. In the words of Taylor Swift, “your friends talk to my friends and my friends talk to me.” It would be really nice if you could brag about us in front of your friends. But it would be even better if you could do it while we are there to witness it. “Hooray my kids appreciate me.”

6.  Silent treatment, one word answers and isolation. Nothing pushes our buttons more then when you shut down and go into silent mode. We don’t know what to do. We feel frustrated because as parents we want to fix the situation.  Please help us understand.  I know we shout, but be patient we are learning.  Maybe send us a letter about you feel.

5: Give us some space: We don’t mean this to sound contradictory. Of course we want to be involved in your lives (we are after all we have been accused of being the helicopter-parent population). Of course we want to talk to you and hear about your day, we want to know your hopes your dreams, your fears….But not while I am on the  telephone or (conveniently) when it is time for you to go to bed. It is annoying irony when we are  all geared up to talk and ask how was your day and get and all we get is  “good,” and nothing more, but if we say go to bed,  well look out her,e come the verbal avalanche.

4: Stop interrupting.  We understand you all think you were born with the gift of clairvoyance because we raised you to believe in your own opinion, but the truth is you don’t know it all. So it would be nice if you could clamp down on that mouth when we are talking and let us finish our sentence before you interrupt us with a “I know, or eye rolling”

3. Turn the volume down: Want to know why us parents shout, just listen to the volume of the TV. All that noise makes our brain turn to jello and short circuit. We just can’t think!!!  We are getting older!!

2: Just do your chores without asking. Does their really need to be an explanation to this one? No, it is not child labor, it’s just helping out.

1. Praise us: It would be nice from time to time if you could praise us on a job well done. Just like you, we are going to make mistakes, but we are trying our best. SO giving us a compliment from time to time or sending us on a treasure hunt, motivates us to do better as parents. We aim to please.

While this is the top 10…I believe that this point deserves a place all by it-self.

1. Listen. If you don’t want us to constantly repeat or nag, then listen. Nothing is worse and more stressful for us as parents then to repeat ourselves a thousand times and then to watch you guys have the audacity to huff, roll your eyes, and act like we are being a pain. Do you think we enjoy repeating this stuff over and over again? I think not! So the next time your parents are talking to you, put down your cell phone, turn off the computer, turn the volume down on your ipod and LISTEN.

 

The Race to Nowhere!! November 1, 2012

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 9:03 pm
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“Race to Nowhere” is a documentary about the stresses that American children and families face on a daily basis regarding education and being the best. It begs the questions is American education helping our children to be better learners or helping them be better memorizers? The documentary challenges current assumptions on how best to prepare our kids for a better, brighter future.

As a parent of a teen and a tween, I find that I often struggle balancing my child’s needs and the needs that I feel society is placing on them to succeed. As parents, we want what we think is best for our children. So I have often asked my-self are we doing a better job than our parents generation? Yes, we are more educated, but are we more knowledgeable?

There is so much focus on getting “A,s” in school and being the “best” in their sport that there is almost no room to make mistakes, let alone discover who they truly are. I am often met with blank stares from other parents when I tell them that I am okay with my children getting “c,s.” This doesn’t mean I am advocating “laziness,” It just means I want them to know their own self worth. And getting a “c” versus an “A” doesn’t mean they are “stupid or lazy.” Teens not only feel the pressure to be the “best” from their parents but they have also have an inner drive within them-selves to be the “best.”

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”

What I have learned from my work and my research is that teens who are constantly focused on extrinsic goals such as grades, being the best of the best in their sport, being popular, having the best house, car or hoping to be discovered by a talent scout etc; are more prone to being estranged from their inner selves. Even teens who are driven to achieve 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.

However, if a teen is allowed to be given the chance to relax and discover their own interests, and get to know them selves, as well as have some control over their fate, then these teens are usually more resilient, confident and have better coping skills. But the truth is; Teens today feel like they have less control over their lives and destiny thanks to the generation of helicopter parents.

As a parent I have had to fight the urge of wanting my children to be perfect. But what is perfect? And what are these kids really learning.? Are they learning that anything below an “A” means that they are a failure.? If they don’t win every time in their sport, then they are no good? If they don’t make it into a top university, then there world will fall apart because they can’t think past the rejection letter. If they are not constantly busy, then they are lazy? If they get anything lower than an “A” in a subject, a tutor will be hired to reinforce that the teen is not smart enough. With these kind of messages, how can we expect our children to live up to their potential?

Graduating from a top college and being employed in an elite company is not going to matter in the long run if a teen feel stressed out, insecure or resentful. So as parents we still have a chance to teach our kids about the important things in life, like better coping skills, failure, perseverance, self awareness and setting goals for themselves.

The “race to nowhere” could be the “race to somewhere” if we will just allow our kids to discover their true goals in life.