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.

 

Blame! December 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 4:54 pm
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How do you deal with your problems? Do you place blame on other people and find fault through criticism, humiliation and accusations? Or do you take accountability and responsibility for your actions?

Everyone in their lifetime will make a mistake, but it is how they handle their mistakes that will also help determine their success. According to Dr. Alasko the author of “Beyond Blame,” there are two functions of blame,

(1) finding fault with another person or group.

(2) transferring responsibility onto someone else.

Both of these functions use four components; criticism, accusation, punishment, and humiliation so they can .

1) change someone’s behavior;

2) to vent a feeling;

3) to escape personal responsibility; and

4) to protect ourselves.

But what frequently happens with blame is more conflict, anger, sadness and isolation. Blame takes you away from problem solving. Blame keeps you in the pattern of self destruction. Blame stunts your growth and success because it gives you immediate gratification.

Think about a time you blamed someone. Human beings do it all the time. I’m fat because I don’t have time to exercise. If johnny wasn’t so lazy he could be a star quarterback on the NFL team. If my child wasn’t so rude I wouldn’t lose my temper etc.  When you start to blame other people for your feelings ask your self the following questions;

What actions did you take to resolve the issue? Did it make you feel better in the long term.  Did it help you make constructive changes?  Did you become bitter and shut of from the world? Did it help you make you a better person?”

Eckhart Tolle said it best when he stated “Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it

In order to make changes, you must first take responsibility and accountability for your actions.  Ask yourself what role you  might have played to create this problem?  Do you tend to know everything? Are you judgmental? Do you shut down? Do you shout? Do you make excuses etc.

Try to look at the situation from a third party perspective.  What would this person say if they were on the outside?  What would they say to you?  What do you need to do differently?

Remember Blame has it purposes, but what are your intentions when you are blaming people and how is it helping you move forward and create a harmonious life?

 

Mother Daughter Relationships April 16, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:53 pm
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“Suddenly, through birthing a daughter, a woman finds herself face to face not only with an infant, a little girl, a woman-to-be, but also with her own unresolved conflicts from the past and her hopes and dreams for the future…. As though experiencing an earthquake, mothers of daughters may find their lives shifted, their deep feelings unearthed, the balance struck in all relationships once again off kilter.”

When I read this quote by Elizabeth Debold and Idelisse Malave, it sent a shiver of truth down my spine. A mother daughter relationship is unique and at times can be complicated one. It is said that a mother daughter relationship is more powerful and intimate than most relationships. .

So what is it about a mother daughter relationship that makes it so uniquely personal, powerful and sometimes has the ability to drive you to the edge of insanity? Conflicts are bound to happen in any relationships; after all, it is a part of being a human being. Could it be that females are genetically wired to be in a state of conflict and angst? Could it be that you have your own baggage from the past which gets triggered when your daughter(s) tell you about their issues with other females? Do you try to live vicariously through your daughters in the hopes of correcting your mistakes? Do you put unreasonable expectations on your daughters, stunting their independence and personalities? Are you trying to save your daughters from committing the same mistakes that you made? Or Is it because as a daughter you have felt unloved, criticized, misunderstood? Are you seeking to fulfill those unmet needs?

Yes, raising a tween girl can sometimes be a never ending ride of emotions that has on many occasions left you feeling dizzy and helpless. Girls (and indeed all females) have an innate need to bond with other females. Every nuance is monitored, analyzed and processed. There are days when your daughter will come home crying seeking solace and comfort in your arms because her “best friend” of the day spoke to someone else and not to her. Or she will be crying because she heard them saying mean things about her. Then there are days that just the way you breathe will annoy her and will create world war three. The truth is “Mothers and daughters are unintentionally critical of each other placing expectations on each other that are almost impossible to fulfill. Yet what I do know about these relationships is that both mother and daughter want the same things.

1. They want to be validated, respected and loved

2. Surprisingly they speak the same language but have difficulty communicating it correctly

When I have asked mothers what they wanted from their mothers, they come to realize that they were wanting and needing her to be someone that she was not. They realized that instead of loving their mother unconditionally, they were being critical of the way she was choosing to live her life. They felt that she was not making the right kind of choices with her life.” Sound familiar? SO the cycle continues because unintended messages are the result of the breakdown in communication that has gone awry.

So ask your-self what are your unresolved conflicts? What better way to face your conflicts than through honesty? Being honest with your-self allows you to mother from a whole new universe and not you’re your past. Being honest allows you to set the very important boundaries for your mother daughter relationship and allows your daughter to become the person she was meant to be and not what you want her to be.

 

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.

 

 

The true meaning of Dorothy Red shoes!! October 22, 2012

Filed under: personal stories of inspiration — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 9:29 pm
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This writer has asked to be kept anonymous, but felt very strongly to share her journey with the hopes that other women will find the strength and courage to find their true meaning in life.

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary and my 6 month anniversary of disappearing from my marriage. On November 6, 2011, I left my husband undercover, undetected and scared for my life. I am thousands of miles away now-safe and free for the first time in my life!!

Throughout my childhood, I felt lonely and unloved. My father was a doctor, a workaholic who was only interested in himself and his status in the community. My sister, my mother and I were expected to worship him. Everyone told us constantly what a wonderful man he was, but the truth was just the opposite. My father did not love and nurture me or my sister. He did not keep us safe from our mother who raged and fought with us all day long. My mother was miserable being left at home with us and hated my father for being gone all the time. My sister and I were two little girls needing love and care. To my mother, we were a burden and a problem. I often wondered why my parents chose to adopt each of us at birth if they weren’t interested in having children around.

I now understand and accept that I was not responsible for being given up at birth or being unloved by my parents. However, both of these events helped me form the unconscious underlying belief that I was unlovable, unworthy and would be abandoned in all my intimate relationships.

The day I got married was shiny and beautiful. I felt absolutely assured of happily ever after. All I had ever wanted was my own family. I was determined that we would be loving and close, connected in every way. My husband would put fatherhood before anything else. He would love and nurture our children and keep all of us happy and safe. My family would be perfect

I picked the perfect man to create that reality for me. I chose a husband like both of my parents — a raging, self-absorbed man who blamed me and my children for anything and everything. My husband used and manipulated all of us for his own interests. He played on our love and trust to build us into a family that revolved around him. Due to my childhood, I felt very comfortable with that dynamic. Everything felt right and normal until it wasn’t. I had made my bed and I would lie in it for 30 hard, lonely years.

Raising my children, nurturing my marriage, connecting my family took center stage. What an apt phrase, “center stage”, because that was what my family was — a facade, a stage set, a replica of a real family with none of the connection, the intimacy, the love. I had exactly the family I grew up with, but I could not consciously see it or maybe I just didn’t want to see it. But I knew something wasn’t right, and just like I felt responsible for my family’s dysfunction as a child, I felt responsible for all my new family’s problems. The same thing was happening again in my own new family and I was the common denominator, so it must be my fault!!

Turns out that what else I could do was alternately binge and starve and numb out for hours with exercise, sleep and reading books about mass murderers. I hated myself outside and inside. The only way I could hide this secret and the ones about the state of my family was to isolate myself from the communities we lived in. Too busy to socialize, too busy to make friends, too busy to connect with anyone lest they find out about how horrible I was and what a miserable life I had. Isolating myself was my protection as a child, too.

As the years of our marriage doubled, my husband became more and more discontent with me. He saw me as the enemy, out to get him like everyone else, worthless, a bother, and wrong in every way. I bowed and scraped and made super human attempts at mending our frequent fights. It never dawned on me that I couldn’t fix this, that I couldn’t find a way to pretzel myself back into the woman he fell in love with. What had I done wrong? How unworthy and unlovable could I be that my parents had rejected me and now my husband found me disgusting too? I was a failure as a daughter, a wife, a woman, as a human being. I was going to be abandoned again and there was no way to stop it. The truth was, that no one was coming to save me. My marriage dynamic was toxic and unchangeable. My husband was pathological. I had to save myself, but I didn’t know if I could.

Another, more horrifying truth was that my marriage was violent. My husband had physically and verbally abused me many many times over the years. Talking to him about leaving could get me killed. I knew I had to disappear and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. For the first time in my life, I told my secrets to my children. My children validated me, acknowledging that things had been horrible in our family forever. They offered me a place to run to out of state and encouraged me to tell the few friends I had managed to connect with over the last couple of years. My friends were shocked and saddened, but offered their total love and support. I was so ashamed for revealing the nature of my marriage and the truth of my life. I was beyond grateful that my children and my friends would help me do this huge thing. No one in my life had ever helped me before. Maybe it was because I had never asked.

I plotted my leaving like a special ops mission. All the arrangements, phone calls and packing took place while my husband was at the golf course two hours a day. If it rained, I lost my chance. I had been living a double life for so long that by now it was second nature. Outside the house, I was open, happy and free. Inside the house I was wary, quiet and passive. I made sure not to argue, disagree with or anger my husband. I had subjugated myself for so long to keep the peace with him, that I knew exactly how to play it. Everything appeared as normal. He could not, must not get wind of my plans.

D-Day –Disappearing Day — was so unremarkable it was otherworldly. I had everything synchronized and rehearsed. The minute my husband pulled out of the garage to go to the golf course, I packed the last of my things, jumped in the car and left my home. My friends were there to take my precious plants, hide my car and drive me to the airport. Once I was safely inside the terminal I took off my wedding rings and felt instantly invisible. And, at the same time, horribly, hugely visible as a woman alone– not a partner, not a wife, an unwanted female.

Today, six months gone from my marriage, is my 30th wedding anniversary. I live in a sunny, little apartment with a bed, a couch and a kitchen table. I am 7 minutes walk from my girls and we spend beautiful, loving, quality time together every day. They have truly taught me how to love. I am working with a therapist and studying to be an integrative coach. I am healing.

There are many gifts I got from my my parents and my husband. From my parents I got my mental and emotional toughness, my ideas about the kind of parent I wanted to be and the huge need to be seen and heard. Giving the gift of acknowledgement and appreciation to everyone in my life is my passion and purpose today. Thanks mom and dad.

From my husband, I got my two amazing, brilliant, beautiful daughters, the strength to speak my truth and the determination to stand in my power. These things I would never had accomplished without him. He honed me. Thank you. My life’s recipe made me into the spirited, vibrant, loving woman that I am today and I am so thankful for the ingredients, even if, by most people’s standards, they were horrendous. I guess that is what I needed to get here and become the woman I was meant to be.

At the time that I left my husband, I felt that I was losing everything. The truth is that I was gaining everything –my freedom, my peace, my joy, my life, myself. Finally.

I had chosen the passive, submissive path all my life in all my relationships, believing that no conflict meant I would never be alone again. I made my unconscious childhood underlying commitment of being unlovable and abandoned into a reality. Had I not woken up, my life would have played out as planned. I spent my whole 57 years trying to fix, save and love everyone but myself, believing that this would keep me safe, but I had done myself the ultimate injustice. Instead of being rejected and abandoned by everyone else, I had been the rejector and the abandoner- of me. By trying to create the “perfect,” image, I denied myself the opportunity to gain insight and to grow. But now I Finally know, I am the only person I can fix, save and love.

I was afraid for my whole life. I was afraid that I would be abandoned if I let people see the real ME and my needs, wants and feelings. I was afraid that I could not depend on myself. Truly what I know is that I was afraid to step into my own power, to speak my truth, to put myself out there. I was afraid to be my authentic amazing self because I believed I was not worthy. I believed sacrificing myself, would make everyone love and need me. That never worked. No matter how hard I tried to give everyone every last piece of me, they just wanted more and cared less.

Today I ask for what I need, show my emotions, confide in the people in my life and speak my truth, even when it is difficult. I know that not only is it possible to grow and change no matter how old or how far down the road you are, but it is more joyful and more wonderful than I ever thought it could be

I call this piece Dorothy’s Red Shoes because throughout the Wizard of OZ, Dorothy looked for everyone and everything to save her and take her home where she longed to be. The red shoes, that ultimately carried her back, were on her feet the whole time. She always had the power to save herself. .She always had everything she needed inside. We all have everything we need inside.and we have on those red shoes.so we can save ourselves We all look for answers outside, but the truth is that we HAVE all we need. We ARE all we need.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!!

 

I’m Sorry……not really October 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 2:37 pm
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“I’m sorry.  These two simple words have the power to change the dynamics of a relationship within a matter of seconds. But if used incorrectly these words also have the power to destroy that relationship.  It’s also funny how these two words can be the most difficult words to say.  Why can saying “I’m sorry,” be so difficult?  Is it the fear of admitting that you really screwed up which means you are going to have to look into that mirror of shame? Or is it the fear that it would be a sign of weakness?  Or that it makes you more vulnerable?

SO how does one apologize? Well we could start by looking at the  worst possible ways one can apologize.  Be honest and ask yourself if you have ever used one of these ways to apologize?

Technology Apology (aka John Mayer, Kayne West): No matter how many times you apologize via email, text, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram, it is still NOT an apology. Face it, you’re looking for the easy escape route. With today’s technology, even a monkey could apologize and that is not saying much!

The BUT Apology:  I am sorry I was nasty to you on face book, BUT that is not what I really meant. You misunderstood me. Or “I’m sorry I was late but my life is crazier than yours.”I’m sorry I lost my temper with you and said some horrible things but my mom was never nice to me growing up.  I’m sorry BUT..fill in the blank

The Cosmo with a hint of BUT Apology. OMG I am so sorry, but it was that fifth cosmo that made me say those embarrassing things to your new date.

The Blame Shift Apology  This is right up there with the technology apology “I am sorry you feel that way.” This is them saying they are sorry your sad but not for what they did. It is much easier than admitting “I’m sorry I was such a snotty human being to you yesterday.”

The Clinton Apology:  Pretend it never happened: “Yes I was in the bar dancing with you. I didn’t pull up your dress in a bar full of men”

The Smarmy Gossipy Apology. “ I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, I didn’t mean to do that”…..PAUSE….”Look I just want you to know that some other people feel this way about you…it’s not me that feels this way…I just wanted you to know.”  Wow not only did I get no apology, but I also find out you have been gossiping about me!

The Jokey Apology:  “I’m sorry, I was just joking when I said you was stupid.”  You can be so sensitive, just lighten up. I said I was sorry.

Blame it on the Family Apology:  I’m sorry, it my genetics, I have a difficulty time controlling my rudeness

So in a nutshell, “own it,  do it and mean it” Put yourself in the other persons shoes and ask how you would want that apology and if you get even a hint of wanting to smack them in the face, then my guess is, that is not the right apology.