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



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

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

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

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

Here are just a few of common cognitive distortions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Blame! December 29, 2013

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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?


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


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.

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.


Failure is the greatest tool to teach children to succeed!! June 6, 2013

Filed under: parenting — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:45 pm
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One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that there child is not motivated to do anything. With the exception of depression I have yet to meet a child who is not motivated.

In counseling the not so motivated child is usually the parents issues.  The child may lack the motivation that the parent wants, but they most certainly don’t lack the motivation of what they want to do.  Parents typically get in the way of their child’s own motivation because of their agenda which can then lead to a power struggle.  Now you will meet a very motivated child who refuses to do what the parents wants.

Parents typically want their child to try harder, to do better, to aim for something bigger than themselves, but when the parents are asked if they have ever allowed their child to fail in life so they can do better and aim for something bigger in life, I am instantly met with a barrage of reasons of why that is impossible.  Parents today are robbing their children of valuable coping skills, by swooping in and taking care of the problems. Not allowing a child to have a skinned knee, or protecting them from a break up or not allowing them to get anything below an A is incomprehensible.  Children have to learn to be prepared for a world that is not failure free.

 Allowing your child to fail is one of the greatest and valuable gifts that you can give your child in life.  Allowing a child to fail allows them to learn from their mistakes, to build valuable coping skills, find solutions to problems, self-respect, and a sense of self awareness.  

New research is showing that teenage brains are wired to take risks.  These risks allow them to find their own identity, their values, passions, and boundaries. They learn from experience. It is similar to a toddler learning to walk.  They learn from their falls on how to balance and within a few hours or days a toddler has mastered the art of walking from experience, risks and failure.

So how can a parent prepare their child to find their own inner drive and to succeed in a world that does not always guarantee success in life?

1.  Don’t reward basics that life requires. If your relationship is based on material rewards,  (ie if you get all A’s I will buy you an I phone). Children will not get to experience  intrinsic motivation that helps them understand the art of self-discipline,  gratification and achievement.  When a child is rewarded with extrinsic rewards it can rob them of their creativity, and ability to solve problems.

2.  Affirm smart risk-taking and hard work wisely. Help them see the advantage of both of these, and that stepping out a comfort zone usually pays off.

3.  Let your child make his own choices and face her own natural consequences: Allowing your child to face natural consequences such as going to the beach without sun cream will teach them the natural consequences of sun.

4.  Slow down on the praise: It might seem that praising your child’s intelligence or talent would boost her self-esteem and motivate her to do better.  But it appears that this sort of praise can actually backfire causing a drop in their self esteem.  So focus on what they can change like their effort or the strategies they use to solve their own problems.  Be especially sincere when praising teenagers and older adults as they become aware of your motives.

5.  Pay attention to what motivates your child.


A letter to my 16 year old self! April 2, 2013

Filed under: personal stories of inspiration — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 5:16 pm
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At some point in therapy I will typically ask my clients to write a letter to their 16 year old selves. At 16 we feel like we know everything and it is the time we will probably take some of our biggest risks, but along the way we end up loosing ourselves and become lost in our fears.  The point of the exercise is to remind you of what is important and why you are important.  Everybody was born for a reason!

Below is a letter from a client who did this exercise and graciously agreed to publish on this website.

A letter to my 16 year old self!

I just want you to know you have the world at your feet.

You have so many great qualities to share, don’t cut yourself short or think you that you don’t deserve to true friends or know what true love feels like. You have so much to offer, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to meet new people an do different things. Your life will be what you make it, enjoy every moment for what it is.

Please learn to trust yourself, listen to what your and your gut tell you. You will have so many great successes and failures in life, whether it be school, career, friends, relationships, learn from both!! They will make you a better person. Take away from success and failure what you can, chart your own path, don’t let others do it for you. You will meet many people along your journey, some well intentioned and true, some you need to let go of. Don’t be scared to let the bad ones go, you will be a stronger person and better person. Be strong and independent, face adversity head on even though you may be unsure or scared. Let yourself be vulnerable and let your friends see the true YOU!!! They will love you for who you are and will be there no matter what because they love you.

Your life is going to be an amazing journey with some bumps along the way. You will fall down, and sometimes be pushed down. But get up!! Brush yourself off and keep going because those things will not define your life, they will give it character and color. Nothing can break your spirit. You are a survivor and a fighter. Don’t let anyone take that away!

Please don’t give up on yourself, you can make your life everything you want it to be.


5 Ways you may be Sabotaging Your-self! January 16, 2013

Filed under: trauma — Positive Changes 4 Women, Inc @ 6:21 pm
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Self-Sabotage is probably the number one reason so many people fail. Self-sabotage is something that you do to yourself when you feel like or believe that you don’t deserve good things to happen to you. There is a sense of guilt or shame for succeeding. Some people are afraid of success. In some cases where people have experienced trauma, they may start to associate the physiological feelings of success to same feelings of trauma.
Here are 5 ways you may be sabotaging yourself:

1: Listening to the NATs (Negative Automatic Thoughts)
On an average day we have over 60,000 thoughts a day to which we are not even aware of the majority of them. What is shocking is that the majority of these thoughts is either negative, serve no purpose or is repetitive. We refer to these thoughts as Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs) So it should come to no surprise that these NATS control the majority of our behavior. For example; Thoughts leads to feelings. Feelings lead to Actions. Actions lead to Results. Results lead to Thoughts etc. So if I’m trying to lose 10lbs and in 3 weeks I have lost only 1lb, I may say, “this sucks, whats the point, I’m starving.” I may feel disgusted, frustrated and angry. This may lead me to eating junk food and not going to the gym that day. Which leads me to gain weight., and the results reinforce my NATs.

2: Little to no support system:
In the words of Hilary Clinton, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And if it takes a village to raise a child, how many people do you need to help you achieve your dreams? Think about it, success is rarely achieved alone. Olympic winners, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Beyoncé, Steve Jobs, etc have a support system they trust and go to.

3.: Surrounding your-self with the wrong people
How do you expect to achieve your goals if you surround your-self with the wrong kind of people. Would Donald Trump surround himself with procrastinators or negative people? Would Oprah Winfrey surround her-self with people who didn’t believe in her vision? Your only as good as the top five people you surround your-self with. Take a look at the people you choose to be with.

4: Letting Fears control your outcome:
Pay attention to your NATs. What are they telling you? Are you scared that if you succeed, life as you know it, may change? You may not be with the same friends, partner or spouse. You may not live in the same neighborhood. So ask your-self what is it about success that scares you?

5: Setting unrealistic goals
I see this many times in my office. People come in to my office wanting to lose weight, to better them-selves, to improve relationships etc. However, their goals are often unrealistic because their mindset is unrealistic. People often associate activity with success. But in order to set realistic goals you must have a clear vision of what you want which will allow you have to the right mindset. Looking for a quick fix such as loosing 20lbs in 20 days is unrealistic. Loosing 20lbs in 6 months may be more realistic. Change can be slow and difficult. In the world of instant gratification, it becomes more difficult to obtain the result’s you’re looking for. Ask yourself when you set up a goal if your setting your-self up for failure?