Do you get very upset or angry easily? Have you ever been accused of being hot-headed? If you respond with intensity and emotion that is disproportionate to the situation at hand, you are overreacting.
Julie Hanks recently had an article published in the August edition of Community Orange Magazine where she discussed strategies to keep calm and appropriately respond to stressful situations. Here are a few basic ways to keep from overreacting.
Click here to read the full article about ways to keep your cool.
Bethany Johnson*, a 25 year old young woman, sat in my office. Her presenting symptoms were near debilitating insomnia, hyper vigilance, hyperarousal, irritation, nightmares and flashbacks. This was classic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which was a bit surprising since Bethany wasn’t a soldier who had had come from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather had recently returned from teaching English as a second language in the Philippines. But the circumstances of her experience explained what was causing her PTSD: the school she was working at was in the eye of Hayian, the category 5 typhoon that struck the Philippine Islands in November 2013 and, according to a CNN report, “was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history.”
August is here! Most stores have shelves stocked full with back to school supplies and school employees are beginning to attend meetings and trainings to properly prepare for the 2014-2014 school year. Typically, teachers, parents, and (most) students are thinking ahead, using experiences from last school year in order to make the current school year even better. For most, the school year ended fairly well this year will likely be a relatively easy adjustment.
The following is a guest post by Dr. Traci Lowenthal of Creative Insights Counseling.
Having a child come out (reveal that he/she is gay/ lesbian/ transgender, etc.) can be extremely difficult for parents. For Christian families in particular, these words can create a flood of intense, painful emotions. It is possible, however, to navigate this part of your family’s journey in a healthy, positive way. Here are some ways to explore this stage of life for your family.
One of the first things I counsel families to do is slow down and breathe. The person who delivered this news is still your child, the same child you love and adore! And the fact that your child told you he/she is gay speaks volumes about your relationship. He/she trusted you enough to share this with you. Your child felt comfortable being open and honest, rather than keeping this from you. Also, recognize the courage it required to tell you. Can you imagine how afraid your child was? Honor his/her bravery by expressing your love and appreciation.
Allow Yourself to Feel what You Feel
It’s also important to own any discomfort you may have, rather than suppressing any negative feelings and trying to pretend everything is okay. Don’t be afraid to carefully let your child know that things are hard for you. You might say something like, “This is really new for me. I love you like I always have, but I need some time to think things through.” You can affirm your love for your child while still creating space for all the feelings that come with this new experience. Some of your emotions may include anger, grief, sadness, guilt, blame, fear, worry, disgust, shock, shame and many others. Whatever feelings come up, let them be present. Give yourself time to experience those feelings (rather than avoiding them).
While it is vital for you to process all your emotions concerning your child coming out to you, certain things are best processed away from your child. Realize that your child is already going through a lot, and you can work out your own feelings without compounding how difficult things are for him/her. Share your thoughts with a trusted friend or family member. For some parents, seeing a therapist or other counseling professional can be an effective way to process thoughts and reactions in a safe, supportive environment. It’s also helpful to educate yourself and connect with others that may be experiencing this same life transition. PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays) is an excellent resource. PFLAG’s website (PFLAG.org) has many opportunities for support and education as you move toward a greater understanding for your child.
As with any emotionally difficult experience, this is a time to really care for yourself and do things that help you feel nurtured. If prayer is something that brings you comfort, pray! If you’re an exercise enthusiast, get in a great workout several times over the next few months. Seek out activities that bring you enjoyment and a sense of peace. Gardening, yoga, meditation, dinner with close friends, and walks are all ways to create calmness in your life as you begin to understand that path that you and your loved one are on. Often, grief is a substantial part of learning that a loved one is gay. Grief stems from the loss of the future life you had imagined for your child. Reassure yourself, though, your child’s life may be just as full as love, purpose, and meaning as you’ve always dreamed, just in a different way than you expected.
When all else fails, reflect on your family’s past experiences. Chances are, you’ve traversed some pretty difficult circumstances and continued to thrive. This is no different! With education, compassion and thoughtful conversation, your family can become even closer than before. And remember, breathe.
Dr. Traci Lowenthal is the owner/operator of Creative Insights Counseling, a full service counseling agency in Redlands and Claremont, California, serving individuals, families, and couples. Explore more of Dr. Lowenthal’s work by visiting creativeinsightscounseling.com.
Empathy is the skill to understand the world from another person’s point of view and then to act based on that understanding. It may be hard to believe but empathy starts young. After experiencing a particularly trying day, tears ran down my cheeks. It did not take more than a minute for my 3-year old daughter to grab a towel and begin to wipe them away. This was her way of showing empathy for me, her mother. I was touched by her actions and hoped she would keep this sweet quality forever.
As parents we can assist our children in developing and fostering empathy. Below are six creative ways where you and your child can begin to take the risk together.
I’ll admit, I am a little bit contrarian by nature. If something is popular, trendy, and “hyped up,” I usually resist it. This may be why I don’t have a Facebook account, I refuse to love sushi, I haven’t read the Harry Potter series, I don’t watch American Idol or The Voice, (and I may or may not watch the Bachelor on occasion with my wife).
So, naturally, when all of my colleagues were raving about Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, I was just, plain, not interested: “Mike, you need to read her book.” “Mike, you need to watch her Ted Talk on Shame and Vulnerability.” It was like being told I need to try sushi for the millionth time. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am!”
Relationships can sometimes bring distress and for some, emotions feel like a Tsunami! An effective form of therapy can help reduces the size of emotional waves and find balance DURING the storm (not just AFTER the storm like most traditional therapies). Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapy that teaches both self-acceptance AND self-improvement. For example, Jan was in therapy to learn how to cope with her rebellious teen daughter. One statement she made over and over was, “I am a terrible mom!” She had a long list of reasons to support this belief and spent a great deal of time obsessing over why she was not a good mom. Jan reacted by yelling, criticizing, and using extreme forms of punishment which caused her daughter to become withdrawn and increased alienation. Using DBT, she was able to identify and accept her feelings of inadequacy as a mom, but then learned skills to regulate intense emotions, leading to a more effective way of communicating with her teen and ultimately, a loving relationship. DBT helped Jan move from her view of “what I am doing wrong” to “what I can do right”. Jan realized judging and criticizing herself actually kept her in pain and worsened her relationships.
I recently began reading a book by one of my favorite clinical Psychologists, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) founder, Dr. Sue Johnson. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love will give you greater insight into the defining principles of your relationship togetherness and can help you create an even deeper bond. In this book, Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy with the belief that motivated couples may be able to solve their own problems within their relationships once they understand the basic principles. The premise of Hold Me Tight is surprisingly simple: stop worrying about your past, or what you feel that your partner is lacking. Johnson states that the trick to a long lasting, healthy, committed relationship starts with understanding that codependency is a good thing, similarly to how a child relies on a parent for love and nurturing. Be open to your loved one’s needs, and you’ll reconnect naturally and lovingly. Hold Me Tight walks you through seven conversations that capture the defining moments in a love relationship and instructs how to shape these moments to create a secure and lasting bond.
I have been fascinated about the popularity of Disney’s new movie Frozen. What has led to its unprecedented success? Although the music, animation, and humor are excellent (and watching nieces and nephews sing along is priceless), I believe the core message of the film is what has resonated with so many people: Let it Go!
One of the most common phrases I hear from my clients is some variation of “I’m stuck,” “I don’t know what to do,” or “I am frozen.” This state comes from difficult past experiences or a fear of what may wait for us in the future. Whether it is a past hurt or a fear of something in the future, I have found that there are immense benefits that come from the process of letting go.
Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful has the potential to be one of the most devastating experiences a person can encounter in his/her life. A common and appropriate reaction, given the circumstances, is panic. There is generally nothing short of a roller coaster of emotions, and as a result, many couples do unintentional damage before they can seek help. This is to be expected as no one tells you what you should do in the immediate aftermath of an affair.
The main goal is to limit the destruction in the time between finding out and getting help. Here are some crisis control tips to follow until you can get some additional help: