Monthly Archives

March 2015

5 Tips for Being More Patient

By | Blog Post, Community Blog

Many of us have a problem with patience. That is, we lack it. We might be impatient in all areas of our lives. Or we might get impatient in certain situations.

We might get impatient while waiting in line at the store, or sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Or waiting for an email to arrive in our inbox. Or hearing back from a potential employer.

Of course, the pace of our world doesn’t help with cultivating patience. Our society’s tempo is rapid-fire. We press “send” on an email, and it works in seconds (and how annoyed do you get if it takes a few seconds longer to actually send?). Our food comes with a time guarantee, or it’s free.

We’re able to walk into a grocery store, walk through any aisle and grab exactly what we need (without waiting hours in line only to find that the item sold out hours ago).

You probably know that being impatient isn’t helpful or healthy. When we try to speed things up, we only get worked up and stress ourselves out. Which affects everything from ruining a good meal to pushing people away, said Casey Radle, LPC, a therapist who specializes in anxiety, depression and self-esteem at Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, Texas.

She shared this example: You text your partner, but don’t hear back right away. You start growing impatient, which triggers feelings of frustration and insecurity. You start sending more and more texts. As a result, your partner gets annoyed or upset. They ignore you or send a frustrated text back, which triggers a fight.

Thankfully, if patience isn’t one of your virtues, you can learn to change your ways. Below, Radle shared five strategies that can help — no matter what your triggers are.

  1. Adopt some relaxation tools. One valuable relaxation tool, which is always available to you, is deep breathing. Radle suggested taking deep, deliberate breaths. “Take approximately three to four seconds for each of these steps: inhale to fill up your lungs, hold, exhale slowly, and then pause before inhaling again.” Pair your deep breathing with a calming mantra, such as: “I am breathing in relaxation, and I am breathing out stress.”This helps you shift your attention from the source of your impatience to your breathing, slowing your heart rate and soothing your nervous system, she said.Other tools include meditation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and yoga, Radle said.
  2. Get curious. Curiosity “involves refraining from making assumptions and/or drawing conclusions based on limited information,” Radle said. She shared this example: If you haven’t heard back from a potential employer, don’t automatically assume they’re not interested in hiring you. Or don’t conclude they’re being rude or inconsiderate, she said.Instead, consider alternate explanations. Maybe the employer is out of the office. Maybe it’s taking longer than they expected to interview all the candidates. Maybe they’re negotiating with HR. Maybe they’re waiting for your references to return their calls.As Radle said, “Who knows for sure? Without all the facts, it’s not fair to you or to anyone else to make assumptions.”
  3. Dig deeper. Pinpoint which part of the situation is anxiety-provoking for you, Radle said. Then “focus on your own emotional needs instead of focusing on the irritation and frustration you’re experiencing.” She suggested asking ourselves these questions: “What do I need right now? What about this is so uncomfortable? What would help me tolerate the waiting? What might be a better, more productive focus of my emotional energy?”
  4. Accept the discomfort. According to Radle, “Acceptance involves recognizing that lots of aspects of our lives are beyond our scope of control and that not everyone in the world operates on our timelines.” She suggested accepting that waiting is uncomfortable, versus believing it’s intolerable.Even though it might seem counterintuitive, acceptance can be freeing and can bring calm. If you’re stuck in traffic, accepting that there’s nothing you can do helps you arrive at your destination a whole lot calmer than trying to exert control in an uncontrollable situation. Which, of course, is futile.(This is where practicing your relaxation techniques can really help, since it’s hard for us to remember this when we’re already triggered and fuming.)
  5. Use the word “yet.” Radle suggested “befriending the word ‘yet.’” “Those three little letters infuse a great deal of hope, optimism, and tolerance into our lives.” That is, you haven’t heard back from the employer yet. You haven’t gotten to the front of the line yet. You haven’t achieved your goals yet. You haven’t found the right job yet. You haven’t found your home yet.

Patience is a muscle we can strengthen. The key is to employ some relaxation strategies, avoid making assumptions and refocus on our emotional needs.

by MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.

via PsychCentral.com

Eating Disorder

What Self-Care Looks Like

By | Blog Post

Self-care has many faces. The definition really depends on who you ask. That’s because self-care is personal. But there is an overarching theme: Self-care is critical, for ourselves and others.

Ali Miller, MFT, a therapist in private practice in Berkeley and San Francisco, Calif., likened self-care to putting on your oxygen mask before helping others on a plane.

“I see self-care as a way of … refueling and tending to my own needs because my needs matter, in and of themselves; and because I like how I show up for others better when I am coming from a resourced place.”

Aaron Karmin, MA, LCPC, a psychotherapist at Urban Balance, described self-care as self-preservation, and also used the oxygen mask analogy.

“A selfless person puts others’ masks on, while they choke. A selfish person puts their mask on and leaves everyone else to choke. A person practicing self-preservation puts their mask on first and then helps those around them.”

Self-care is key for clinicians. Karmin believes burnout is the most challenging part of being a therapist. “We are the tools of our trade and if we don’t attend to ourselves, our professional and personal lives suffer.”

Marriage and family therapist Elizabeth Sullivan believes that she’s a great mom, partner and therapist when she practices self-care. “When I am misattuned to myself, I am less alive and conscious.”

Self-care also gives Sullivan self-knowledge. “When I take care of myself I learn things I didn’t know. For instance, I like to have a coffee in bed for a few minutes one weekend day…it’s [a] symbol to me of not always striving and running.”

For clinical psychologist and ADHD expert Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, self-care is essential for achieving his goals. These include being present for his family, engaging fully and empathically with his clients and staying healthy.

“Lack of self-care threatens the things that are most important to me. I want to live a long, fully lived life.”

He also stressed the importance of parents not thinking of self-care as selfish. “It feels as if we have to put ourselves after everyone else. [But]if you burn out, you will have nothing to give to anyone else.”

Definitions of Self-Care

Again, because self-care is individual, there are many ways to define it. Miller defined self-care as “caring for my body, mind, and spirit [and] taking actions to tend to my overall well-being.”

For Olivardia, self-care is anything “that affirms and strengthens my physical, psychological, relational, emotional, and spiritual well-being.”

“It is about being in alignment with something bigger than just doing well at work or in relationships, making money or friends,” said Jeffrey Sumber, LCPC, a clinical psychotherapist, EFT couples counselor, life coach and author in Chicago, Ill.

“It is about establishing a sense of wellness and balance from top to bottom, inside and out.”

Susan Orenstein, Ph.D, a psychologist and relationship expert in Cary, N.C., defined self-care as nurturing herself in ways that feel good now and later. She distinguished self-care from self-harm, which “feels good now but causes damage down the road.”

She also makes sure she’s “responsible” about self-care. For instance, she wouldn’t plan a girls’ trip on her kids’ birthdays or take a spa day if her husband took the day off for “together time.”

Sullivan views self-care as being responsible to ourselves. “Our bodies and souls are our primary tool for being alive. I think of self-care as the responsible care and protection of our mechanism for life, giving us the capacity to work and to love … We were given this beautiful instrument, and we must care for it.”

She also believes there is a spiritual element to self-care: “devotion to our soul is holy attention to the unique gifts we bring to the world.” She believes in “attention, connection and ritual.”

Favorite Ways to Practice Self-Care

Olivardia’s favorite ways to practice self-care include playing with his kids, listening to music, attending concerts, praying, laughing and checking in with himself to see how he’s doing.

Karmin, who pens the Psych Central blog “Anger Management,” loves to play with his kids, practice yoga and walk his dog. He also loves to cook, listen to music, watch hockey, brew his own beer, journal and garden.

Orenstein loves attending group classes, such as Zumba, taking bubble baths and watching episodes of her favorite TV series, including “Sopranos,” “Enlightened” and “Transparent.”

For Sumber, travel tops the list. “I love to explore new places, eat new food and meet people. Getting completely out of my bubble at home is essential for this rejuvenation.”

His runner-up strategy is attending retreats. “I truly feel nurtured and stimulated when I go away to a beautiful, meditative, healing place and feed myself with the wisdom of other teachers, challenge my self on a deep level psychologically and spiritually, and meet other likeminded folks.”

Sullivan loves to write in her journal, get dressed up and go on dates with her partner and light candles and listen to music. She stressed the importance of listening to our inner voice to understand what renews each of us.

“That’s one of the things I pay attention to in therapy: what nourishes my client, what really gives them back to themselves.”

One of Miller’s favorite ways to practice self-care is self-empathy. She described this as “connecting with what I’m feeling and needing when I’m experiencing something challenging, and then making a request of myself or someone else to help me meet whatever needs I become aware of through that process.”

She also gets enough rest, takes baths, practices yoga, meditates, takes fun exercise classes, spends time in nature, attends spiritual services and talks, gets massages, connects with people she loves and laughs as much as possible.

However, she underscored that self-care goes beyond a set of strategies. At its core, self-care is “an attitude toward yourself that you matter, that your needs matter,” Miller said.

“When we really believe in our own mattering, we want to take care of ourselves.” But if you don’t believe this just yet, practicing self-care can help you develop a relationship with yourself that’s more loving, kind and caring, she said.

We forget this but our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all relationships. Treating ourselves with compassion helps us treat others with compassion, too. Whether you’re feeling self-compassionate or not, taking good care of yourself is always a good place to start.

by MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S.
Associate Editor
via PsychCentral.com

10 Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Anger

By | Blog Post

Anger can be an emotion that is difficult for even some adults to manage in healthy ways. Therefore, it is reasonable that many children have a hard time knowing how to handle their anger, as well.

As children grow and mature, they learn about how to manage their feelings, how to act when they feel certain emotions, and what emotions are “acceptable” and which ones are not.

Many mental health professionals will claim that all emotions are acceptable or that all emotions are okay. This is true; However, it is no fun to live a life filled with negative emotions.

When your child’s anger seems more frequent than the average child his age, then you may want to consider being more active in trying to help him manage his anger which includes knowing how to behave when angry as well as not feeling as angry as often.

Note that if your efforts do not seem to be helping, you should consult with a professional therapist or doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

When helping your child overcome his anger, it can be helpful to understand the reasons for his anger. Kids really do have a strong need to feel understood and heard. You can find out a great deal from a child if you just let them talk without providing any of your own input. However, some kids don’t really know how to express themselves with words. Some may not even fully understand the source of their anger (sometimes adults do this, as well).

Although there are numerous reasons why a child might be angry, here is a sample of some possibilities.

Life changes, such as

  • Parents getting a divorce, a move, changing schools, or a new baby in the family
  • Being bullied
  • Not doing well in school
  • Low self-esteem or low self-confidence
  • Feeling like they don’t belong or don’t fit in (human beings have a need for belonging)Not feeling like they get enough attention
  • Not feeling understood
  • Having too many responsibilities and not enough down time
  • Living in an environment not in line with their temperament/personality (ex: living in a loud, unstructured home -which is a totally fine way of living; everyone and every family life is different – when their true self would thrive better in a calm, quiet, predictable environment)

Even if you can’t pinpoint the exact source of your child’s anger, you can still be helpful in aiding them to overcome their anger.

Help Your Child Overcome His Anger By:

  • Helping him understand what triggers his anger
  • Teaching him about symptoms of being angry (such as feeling tense in his body, having a fast heartbeat, thinking about wanting to hit a sibling, etc.)
  • Teaching your child to make healthy and appropriate choices as soon as possible when he becomes angry (such as walking away, taking deep breathes, etc.)
  • Creating a tool box with your child of ways he can calm himself down
  • Identifying his strengths and building on them
  • Rearranging the environment and/or restructuring his daily schedule to better suit his true self (such as by placing less demands on him after school if your child would do better by having a break after school, although this does not mean to let him get out of responsibilities)
  • Modeling healthy responses to anger
  • Identifying what makes your child calm, happy, and feeling great and then put more of those things into his life (be sure to have him be involved in the process as much as possible as well as take on ownership and control of implementing these strategies)
  • Work on problem-solving skills
  • Practice stress-management skills together (such as doing exercise, getting enough sleep, learning progressive muscle relaxation, doing hobbies, etc.)

These are some of the ways you can help your child overcome anger. Anger is okay. Everyone can feel angry sometimes, but when anger is experienced excessively, it can lead to some not so good outcomes. Plus, it just doesn’t feel good to live with anger all the time for the person experiencing the anger or the people around that person.

Helping your child overcome anger can help him to have a much brighter future.

By HEATHER GILMORE, LLMSW via PsychCentral.com

Anxiety

By | Blog Post

Anxiety, worry, and stress are all a part of most people’s life today. But simply experiencing anxiety or stress in and of itself does not mean you need to get professional help or you have an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety is a necessary warning signal of a dangerous or difficult situation. Without anxiety, we would have no way of anticipating difficulties ahead and preparing for them.

Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become chronic and interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function. People suffering from chronic anxiety often report the following symptoms:

  • Muscle tension
  • Physical weakness
  • Poor memory
  • Sweaty hands
  • Fear or confusion
  • Inability to relax
  • Constant worry
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Upset stomach
  • Poor concentration

These symptoms are severe and upsetting enough to make individuals feel extremely uncomfortable, out of control and helpless.

Anxiety disorders fall into a set of separate diagnoses, depending upon the symptoms and severity of the anxiety the person experiences. The anxiety disorders discussed in this series on anxiety are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Panic Disorder (including panic attacks)
Social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder)
Specific phobias (also known as simple phobias)

Via PsychCentral.com

5 Warning Signs of Manipulation in Relationships

By | Blog Post | No Comments

The worst part of being manipulated in a relationship is that quite often you don’t even know it’s happening. Manipulative people twist your thoughts, actions, wants and desires into something that better suits how they see the world and they mold you into someone that serves their own purposes. Scary, right?

Here are a few biggies to look out for to make sure it’s not happening to you:

1. He makes you feel guilty…for everything.

Manipulation always start with guilt. If he can convince you to feel guilty for your actions (even when you’ve done nothing wrong), then he knows you’ll be more willing to do what he says. “I mean sure, I guess dinner was OK. It wasn’t what I was hoping for and I would have rather done something different but I guess as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. I love you and it’s important to me that you are happy, even if that means setting aside what I want.”

See what he did there? How he turned that around you? On the surface, he makes it seem like he’s a loving boyfriend but spoiler alert: guilt is not love.

Manipulators also try and make you believe that they’re doing a better job of “loving you,” so that you’ll be more willing to set aside what you want in order to feel like you “love him just as much.” It’s a sick mind game.

2. He forces his insecurities on you.

Manipulators will often force their own insecurities on you in an effort to control how you react towards him. “I’ve been cheated on before and that’s why I don’t want you to have any male friends. You can understand that, right?” Yes, of course you can understand that (and you should be conscious of his insecurities), but his struggles should not define the functionality of your relationship.

“I’m sorry I acted that way but I’m just so scared that you will leave me!” is an excuse that’s often used by manipulators when you point out flaws in his actions. The sheer purpose of that excuse is to take the focus off of your worries and suck you back into this.

There’s a fine line between showing consideration for his feelings and being manipulated into feeling what he wants you to feel. Consideration is shown with love while manipulation is ruled by guilt.

3. He makes you doubt yourself.

Want to know why it’s so easy for him to be manipulated? Because he’s mind-f**ked you to the point where you no longer trust yourself. That’s right, manipulators take your insecurities and use them against you. They consistently point out what you’re doing “wrong” and how they could have done it better. They point out your weaknesses, then show you that with their help, you can do better, be better. They slowly convince you they have your best interests in mind…but they don’t.

They have their best interests in mind. And in order to keep their wants and needs at the forefront of your relationship, they gently twist your thinking until you look to him for guidance on everything. Once that happens, manipulators can make you basically do whatever they want you to because you now trust them more than you trust yourself.

4. He makes you responsible for his emotions.

Manipulators are ironic in the sense that they spend quite a bit of time making you feel as if you can’t think for yourself but then turn around and make you responsible for all of their emotions. If they feel sad, it’s probably because you made them feel that way. If they’re angry, well, you had better check yourself because you obviously did something wrong.

For as much as they take away from you and for as much as they make you believe that you’re totally incapable of controlling your own life, they expect you to be responsible for how they feel. INSANE.

5. He makes you believe that you want what he wants.

We all start out relationships with requirements and deal-breakers but it’s natural, as you start to blend two lives, that compromises are made. What’s NOT normal: When you have to completely set aside what you want and need in an effort to appease your partner. If you start to realize your partner’s needs are being met far more often than yours are, you might be married to a manipulator.

Are you giving in to what he wants out of feelings of guilt or because he has made you feel responsible for the way he feels? Have you given up what YOU want because he’s made you believe that you should want something else? If you have answered “yes” to any of those questions, you might want to reconsider the relationship.

By EDEN STRONG FOR YOURTANGO.COM via PsychCentral.com