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Your children are watching February 23, 2016

Filed under: parenting,Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 8:50 pm
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Quite frequently I will have parents contact me asking me to “fix “their teenage daughter They will then proceed to share with me why they want me to “fix” in their child. She never listens, she is spoiled, she is acting out, she is refusing to do her homework, she is brat, she is a liar, she is ungrateful and inconsiderate etc.

 

I attempt to explain to parents that while I empathize with their frustrations, labeling their child with negative connotations, screaming at them and sometimes trying to control their with behavior with physical actions can all to often lead to more acting out. At some point in their lives, all teenagers will act out, because research shows that they are biologically wired to do so.  However, this is not to say that the teenager has free rein to say and do what she pleases. While teens must learn to take responsibility and accountability for their behavior, parents must also learn to take accountability for their reactions and behavior.  What once worked when they were little is no longer working, yet parents all to often get stuck in a rut and refuse to change even when things are escalating.

So here are some tips to get your relationship back on the right track.

  1. STOP SHOUTING. I know, I know thats the only way she will listen to me. But ask yourself if that is true?  What happens when you start shouting? Does she shout back? Does it escalate? Or does she shut down?  If you truly want a teen to listen, lower your voice.  There really is no reason to shout other than it is a sign that you are losing control of the situation.
  2. You want to be respected, then teach respect.  Respect is not earned by bullying, demanding, shouting, hitting, calling names etc.  How does it feel when your teen calls you names and shouts at you? No one is going to win. it becomes a battle of the egos.
  3. Pay attention to your body.  Teenagers have a knack of finding your insecurities, so pay attention to your body.  If you notice that your heartbeat is increasing, gritting your teeth, sweaty palms. increased breathing etc, this is usually a sign that you have been activated. Take a breath, walk away because if you don’t it is about to get ugly. Remember your the adult
  4. Connect, Connect, Connect.  Connection is the key that can create many positive changes. Spend time getting to know your teen.  Know there will be times she will be silent and doesn’t want to connect.  Thats okay.  Keep trying. Listen to what she has to say. Does she have a point?  Again check in with your body to see if your reacting negatively because she disagrees.
  5. Catch them doing something positive.  I cannot stress this enough. Teenagers are often reminded of ALL the things that they are doing wrong. Imagine for a second how you would feel if your boss reminded you every day of the things that you were doing wrong. But how would it feel to be acknowledged for the things that you are doing right? You would probably be more likely to work harder.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t correct your teen or guide them to making the right decisions, but also learn to balance it with some positivity or they may look for that acknowledgement in not so favorable places.
  6. Your teenagers are watching.  Thats right just like you are watching their every move they are watching yours.  It is not what you say, its how you say it, it’s what you do.  So if your child is shouting, ask your-self if you shout. If they shut down, ask your-self if you run away from conflict.  They are always watching.  So be mindful!
 

Learning To take Care of My-Self February 4, 2016

Filed under: change,inspiration,Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 2:53 pm
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I am very blessed to work in the field that I do. They push me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. These women are my hero’s who have the courage to take back their own lives and do it with such class and passion. It takes a lot of strength to heal and move forward. 

One of the survivors has offered to share a glimpse into her journey of healing……

 

 

The funny thing about being an adult survivor of sexual, emotional and physical abuse is that you don’t see your-self as someone who is strong and powerful. Yet as a child I was fighting everyday of my life to survive. I had to be strong not only physically but also emotionally and mentally. I didn’t think about what was happening. I just did it. I was fearless. I learned to adapt to a plethora of situations or else I would never have survived. I just did what I needed to do to stay alive. I thought outside of the box. In a nutshell I was simply amazing, but I didn’t realize how strong and amazing I was, until much later.

 

So when did I change to someone who hated and despised herself? When did I learn that it was better to align my-self with the abuser then to be free? When did I allow my mind to turn against me?

 

When I think about it, it is astonishing how I learned to become abusive towards my-self. He taught me very well to hate my-self. I no longer needed him to be in person to abuse me. I just did it for my-self and I did it with such ease and simplicity. I was an expert on abuse and I knew instinctively what to do to continue this pain. All I had to do was look in the mirror and just like magic, words of hate and disgust would automatically appear in my mind. I would put my body through daily vigorous workouts to punish it for not looking good enough. Sometimes I would poison my body with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. I believed it was making me invincible, when instead it was making me weaker. As I allowed his voice to get stronger, my voice of strength was getting weaker. The weaker I got, the stronger he got.

 

I would surround my-self with people who would share the same beliefs of self-hate. I knew this language, I felt safe. Men who were kind and treated me with respect was seen as a threat, so I would label them as weak. I would seek out men who were unattainable, who treated me like shit because it would secretly confirm I was worthless and not worthy to be loved. This is all I knew. My destruction was my validation that I was worthless. Little did I know, I was slowly becoming a prisoner of my own mind, promising my-self that tomorrow would be different. But tomorrow would come and it was no different. I continued the abuse. I was helpless. I was scared of everything and everyone.

 

What happened to that person who survived? What happened to that person who fought everyday of her life? What happened to that strength? Where is that person?

 

I know that person is in there? I know she is scared but I know she is also strong. Most days I would hear this silent whisper, “You got this, I beg you, you deserve better.” I would scream back and shout that I didn’t deserve to be happy or loved.  All you have to do is look at my life. I have a history of broken relationships. Look no one likes me, but all I wanted was to be loved. What was I doing wrong?

 

Maybe, just maybe this other voice might be right. I slowly learned to listen to that other voice. Whose voice is that?  Yes I was scared to trust this voice, but there was something about this voice that kept willing me back.  It sounded familiar.  As I started to tune in I began to recognize this voice. This was the voice that woke me up every morning and helped me survive many years of abuse. This was the voice that kept me alive!!

 

This is my voice. I know that this is my voice and not the abuser, because I am kind, I am supportive and I push my-self to be strong. I tell my-self to go look in that mirror. I hear it immediately, “your ugly, you don’t deserve love, your fat, just lose some weight and then people will love you.” NOOOOOO! I know that voice. It’s not mine. I beg my mind not to listen to that voice, but its so easy. I know that voice. I can predict my day when I give into that voice. Learning to listen to my other voice is scary. This doesn’t feel normal, but I beg my-self to listen that voice. That voice, that kind voice is MINE. I will myself to take another look at my body. This body is MINE. My body is not weak. My body is not to be hated. This body is MINE. I own this body now. I am learning  to take back what was once mine.

 

 

…….Survivor of child sexual abuse and adult rape!

 

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.

 

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:-)

 

 

 

You have to acknowledge that there is a problem!! August 13, 2013

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It can be tempting and easy to ignore our fears and problems in the hopes that they will just disappear or miraculously solve them-selves. .   However, the truth is, problems rarely disappear on their own, and the longer you ignore them the bigger the problem can become. This can cause some women to use destructive and sabotaging coping mechanisms.  Thus, the earlier you acknowledge the problem, the quicker it is solved.

Avoidance
In many ways, this technique can create new problems  making the current situation worse.  Avoidance can help some women not deal with their pain.  There is a fear that acknowledging  that a problem exists may reveal deeper shame of not measuring up to what they think they should be. Acknowledging a problem is about a fear of change. A fear of success. A fear of failure.

Take for example Jane and Tom.  Jane and Tom have been married for 10 years raising two kids in small town suburbia.  Jane works part time and Tom runs his own business. Jane is starting to feel neglected and unloved because Tom is spending more hours at the office. Rather than Jane and Tom address their problems and talk about their feelings,  they create new problems. Jane actively avoids her husband by telling her-self that he is not in love with her, doesn’t find her attractive, or that he is selfish etc. She starts to spend more time with her girlfriends and starts to welcome the attention from strange men. Feeling the tension at home, Tom is reluctant to come to home and will sometimes waits till the kids and Jane are in bed.  Intimacy between them start to decrease, creating a bigger distance between them. Instead of acknowledging that there is a problem, they both chose to avoid talking about their feelings.

Acknowledging  your problems, requires understanding of when and why you are avoiding them.  Below are three tips to help guide you on whether you are actively avoiding your problems.

1.  Pay attention to your feelings!

If you find your-self feeling agitated or angry then you may be using avoidance. Check in with your-self. Ask how you feeling?  Where is the stress/

2. Pay attention to your thoughts.

Negative thinking can creep up on you unexpectedly, burying itself deep within your soul that it becomes a habit. When you have checked in with your feelings, ask your-self what your thinking?  Most common response is “i’m not thinking anything.” But that is a sign that you are not tuned in to your feelings and thoughts.  You are on auto pilot.  Your feelings will tell you what you are thinking.  Ask your-self if you believe something will go wrong, or that you will not be able to cope? Are you telling your-self that my husband doesn’t love me, or I’m not worthy, or there are no good men out there etc.

3.  Pay attention to your own Behavior!

Are you drinking more than usual. Are you taking pills to calm your-self down? Are you snapping at your children? Do you find your-self gossiping about other people? Are you avoiding intimacy?  Do you feel stuck? If you find your-self taking unnecessary precautions or building safety walls around you, then you may be avoiding that a problem exists.

Become your own investigator.  Learn to ask questions.  Feelings influence how you think, and thoughts affect how you feel, which will then lead to the way you behave.  Work on changing your-self and not others.  If Jane acknowledged her problem, she would recognize that she was fearful of her own feelings and was embarrassed to talk about them because she learned at an early age, that expressing your feelings was a sign of weakness.  Instead, she focused on Tom and blamed him for the way she was feeling.

While acknowledging that there is a problem can be scary, it can also be freeing and empowering .

Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” ~ Judy Blume

 

Beautiful Enemy June 17, 2013

Filed under: inspiration — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 7:50 pm
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I want to share some insight when it comes to dealing with your feelings and fears.

 

What I have had to learn and what I want you to know and understand is that deep within your own soul, that place that so many girls are afraid to trust, is the truth of who you really are. You have to know that you are a person of worth who is valuable and was put on this earth for a reason. When you listen to that truth you will begin to see that the negative words that have made you cry or made you feel bad about yourself will no longer have that power over you.

Most people are coming from a place of fear. Most people are attached to the outcome then it ends up paralyzing them.  You must learn to accept that failure is a part of success.  Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he said “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.” So get out there and dare greatly.

I know there may be times that you have been excluded, some mean things have been said about or to you and so you have every right to be upset and angry. The truth is, life can be painful, difficult, and confusing. But life can also be beautiful, fun, and amazing. So go out there and find your place in the world, because being a woman has so many advantages.

I want you to know that you need to love yourself. Follow your vision and not the crowd. Through this, you will find your passion. My passion is writing. It helps me reflect, process, and express. So if dancing, playing soccer, rollerblading, reading or writing  is your passion, then do it with an abundance of fun and love.

Learn to choose your friends wisely. Try not to befriend someone that might be considered ‘toxic’. They are the so-called friends who constantly bring you down with their own negativity, self-hate, and basic bullshit. You have to seek friends that challenge you, encourage you, make you happy and are genuinely happy for your success. But you must also check to see if you do the same for them.

So you must learn to become a ‘beautiful enemy’ and teach others to do the same for you. Tal Ben Shahar described a ‘beautiful enemy’ as someone who challenges you as a person and has the courage to be honest and forthright while also being emphatic and sensitive to your needs. It is about cultivating a true friendship by pushing each other to greater heights. It will also help you eliminate all the crazies and toxic friends. But you must learn to embrace that beautiful enemy for your-self or else you will drown in the sea of negativity.

NEVER EVER stop learning. Knowledge is power. If you stop learning, you will also stop growing as a person.

 

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?