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Anger Management Series – Part 3

Here are a few more tips for handling anger. As mentioned, process and handle your anger, don’t discount it and push it away.

Relaxation:

  • Try deep breathing exercises.
  • Repeat a phrase to relax your self like ‘take it easy’ or ‘you’re ok’ to calm yourself down.
  • Use imagery and go to your ‘happy or quiet place’
  • Exercise!

Cognitive Restructuring

  • Change the way you think.
  • Be more rational – “It’s the end of the world” can change to “It’s frustrating but understandable. It’s not the end of the world and overreacting never really fixes anything.”
  • Avoid phrases that start or end with never, always, or demand.
  • Logic can defeat your anger.

Problem Solving

  • Not all anger is displaced.
  • Don’t focus on the solution, focus on the process.

Improved Communication

  • Don’t act on your conclusions – they might be wrong. Clarify what’s going on by asking and using a conversation.
  • Listen to what’s going on.
  • Try not to fight back

Use Humor

  • Humor can diffuse rage quickly.

Change the Environment

  • Give yourself a break!
  • Don’t avoid confrontation but don’t put yourself in frustrating situations either.

Use Appropriate Timing for Conversations

  • Typically places like in front of the TV or when people are busy aren’t ideal conversation places.
  • If you have a confrontation situation then try planning a better place to talk where you can both focus on yourself.

Learn Assertiveness Training

  • Take a class on being more assertive rather than confrontational.
  • See a counselor for assertiveness training.

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Anger Management Series – Part 1

Many of us struggle with anger and the first thing everyone wants to do when they’re angry is to get rid of it. In all actuality anger is a completely acceptable feeling and not something that we need to run away from or even be ashamed about. Anger has a place and a purpose. When you’re feeling anger – don’t discount it! When you’re feeling angry then listen to it and explore it. Anger is meant to tell us that something is wrong and there is something that we need to take care of. (c) Can Stock Photo” src=”http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/angrycouple2-150×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ />

When you’re angry talk it through your mind and ask yourself what is really happening in that exact moment. Explore the root of your anger. What’s happening? What are your immediate thoughts? Are there some boundaries you should be aware of and possibly set? Also pay attention to the vulnerable and untouched emotions underneath. Anger hides our feelings of hurt, fear, worry, or sadness. When you are feeling angry – work though it and don’t shut it down. Explore it. Below are some extra do’s and don’ts of anger.

What not to do:

  1. Have you ever noticed when you get angry but don’t handle it makes you sick? Don’t hold anger in because internalizing can lead to sickness and even depression. Be able to diffuse your anger, not hold it in.
  2. Don’t blame when you’re angry. Blaming leads to defensive behavior, which can get out of hand.

What to do:

  1. Control your tone of voice. This is where many misconceptions of reality happen and things get out of control when they aren’t meant to.
  2. Learn to make compromises between yourself and angry parties. This may diffuse anger pretty quickly.
  3. Develop a sense of humor. Don’t make mountains out of molehills and pick your battles. Some things just aren’t worth fighting for.
  4. Reduce the amount of stress in your life. If you’re stressed out, a lot of your molehills may turn into mountains.

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Common Phrases Better Left Unsaid: Julie Hanks On Studio 5

Sometimes we say things to friends we don’t mean. Common phrases that come out during a conversation often come across wrong. Therapist Julie Hanks, shares a catch phrases to watch out for.
 

Close female friends are some of life’s greatest treasures. It’s comforting to know that you can count on another woman to understand what you’re going through, or to just vent and say whatever is on your mind. Just the other day someone pointed out that my friend and colleague Clair and I were finishing each other’s sentences during a work meeting. We didn’t even realize it because we were “in sync” and finishing each other’s sentences accurately.

Though we know our girlfriends so well, it can be helpful, at times, to take a step back and look at commonly used phrases and some of the hidden messages that might be hurting those we love.

 

 

1) You are so lucky!

When your friend enjoys a success in life, say finds an amazing man to marry, gets a promotion, or gets the top score on a college exam, do the words, “You’re so lucky!” come out of your mouth? This phrase might imply that women didn’t work for their success or accomplishment.

For example, a dear friend of mine works part-time a few evenings a week when her husband is home and makes really good money. It might be easy to say, “She’s so lucky,” because she has a good paying, flexible job. She didn’t feel so lucky during medical school and pediatric residency.

Try this phrase instead: “Congratulations! You’ve worked really hard.”

2) I know how you feel

When trying to empathize with a friend’s painful life event it’s easy to say, “I know just how you feel.” But do you really know? This phrase may feel minimizing of a friend’s unique experience and feelings.

I remember working with a client who was devastated by her mother’s passing. I remember her saying how she hated when people who’d also lost a parent would say, “I know how you feel. I lost my mom, too.” Her relationship with her mom wasn’t a typical nurturing relationship. It was fraught with conflict, and she had been the emotional caretaker of her mother.

Try this phrase instead: “Tell me more about what you’re feeling…”

3) Didn’t you realize…?

When your friend shares a decision that didn’t work out so well have you ever said “Didn’t you realize…?” Remember that hindsight is 20/20. You are stating the obvious with the benefit of hindsight and subtly saying maybe she’s not that bright.

Let’s say, for example, that your friend Leslie shared some of her marital struggles with another mutual friend Jen who didn’t keep her confidence and Leslie is telling you that she’s really upset about it. You say to Leslie, “Didn’t you realize that she’d blab your problems to the neighborhood?” In that phrase you’re implying that your friend  should have known better and isn’t very smart.

Try this phrase instead: “Oh, that’s tough!”

4) Don’t you think…?

When you start out a question by saying “Don’t you think…?” it’s usually a statement in disguise. It’s a way of saying what you think and feel without really saying it. This phrase implies that you’ve already made up your mind and that there is a right answer.

Say your friend is telling you that she’s taken away car privileges for a month from her 16 year old because he was 10 minutes late for curfew. And you say, “Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?” Obviously, your friend doesn’t think it’s extreme or she wouldn’t have done it. What you really mean is, “I think that consequence is a bit extreme for being a few minutes late.”

Try this phrase instead: “I think….”

5) If I were you I would…

This phrase assumes that you know what it’s like to be in your friend’s situation and that you know best what she should do.

I’ve worked with a woman in the process of a very complicated divorce whose well-meaning friends were constantly giving advice on the divorce process. Often the advice reflects their friend’s emotions and not what’s best for my client. “If I were you I’d never let him see those kids again until he pays you your share” or “If I were you I’d expose all of his indiscretions to the whole world.”

Try this phrase instead: “Have you thought about…?”

6) It’s not a big deal

While the phrase, “It’s not a big deal” is an honest attempt at comforting and cheering up your friend, it may also seem like she doesn’t have a right to her intense emotions.

I once worked with a woman who was in a leadership position at her church and felt hurt by the comments of others who compared her to the previous leader. When she shared her hurt with her closest friend, her friend responded, “Why are you making such a big deal about it?” My client told me that she felt misunderstood and that her friend minimized her emotions.

Try this phrase instead: “Help me understand why that was so upsetting to you.”

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Who’s Wearing The Pants Now? Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I spoke about how the male gender is struggling.  Men in the 21st century are expected to not only uphold the traditional masculine stereotypes of self-reliance, restricted emotionality, and toughness, but they are also being asked to “embrace there feminine side” and be sensitive and emotionally available.  In other words, guys today are not only expected to climb over the competition on their way up the corporate ladder, but they are also asked to enjoy taking the kids to play group and watching Pride and Prejudice for the tenth time with the wife.

To make matters worse, men are expected to keep these aspects of themselves separate, because if the guys find out that you enjoy Pride and Prejudice, you can expect to have your “maleness” seriously challenged.  As a result, I think men, though well intentioned, often feel frustrated and inadequate to meet the various, inherently conflicting demands placed upon them, which in turn can lead to disillusionment and disconnect.  What can we men do?   And, what can you do to help the men in your life?  Here are a few ideas.

1)  We need to redefine what it is to be man.

Back in 1963, it was said that “there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports.”[1]  I think the same could be said for today, some 50 years later.  And, that’s a problem.

We need a clear and achievable definition of masculinity that provides the necessary flexibility for men to meet the demands of the 21st century.  Sure it’s ok to have any or all of the attributes listed above, but is should also be ok for men to be different…to lack confidence from time to time, to feel sadness or shame, to experience unemployment or find out they are impotent.  A man should not blush if he is NOT white, heterosexual, married, young, athletic, well educated, etc.  There has to be a way to keep what is good about being a man and add the attributes we need to adapt and achieve success in our lives.  Speaking of this…

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Empathy In Action – How To Be A Reflective Listener

What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s feelings and take their perspective. Empathy in action is the ability to be with someone, listen to what they say, feel it with them, and be able to reflect it back. This is an important skill that can be applied to any and all relationships such as romantic relationships, friendships, or even work relationships. Here are some steps to become a reflective listener:

 Step 1 – Be Present

By this I mean be involved in the conversation and not distracted by something else. At times important conversations at home might take place in front of the television which may not be the best place to really grasp what each other is saying. By being free from distractions it helps you to listen and it helps the other person to feel like you are actively listening to them.

 Step 2 – Listen

Let the sender send their message.

Step 3 – Reflect Back

Reflecting back is essentially restating what they have just said using different words. The word reflect sounds like a mirror which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Mirror the words back and paraphrase what they said. An example of a reflection is below.

Sender: Work really gets me frustrated sometimes. It’s like they don’t even care about my potential. All I do is listen to everyone else’s orders. I could do well if they just gave me the opportunity!

Receiver: You feel like the little guy at work. You want to be more independent and have more opportunities.

 Step 4 – Listen Again

Let the message sender keep going. They probably have more to say than what they have just said.

 Step 5 – Continue to Reflect

Reflect back again. It lets the person know that you heard what they just said. The way you speak and reflect also lets them know you empathize with them. If you have questions this would be the time for you to ask questions and clarify anything that you need to understand better. Feeling words are also great to add into your reflections. It lets the sender know you are really feeling this with them and fully understand what they have to say. A second example of a reflection with a feeling word is below.

Sender: Exactly! I mean I like my job it’s just I’d like the chance for growth. It gets old doing the same thing day in and day out.

Receiver: It sounds like you’re really frustrated by this.

A lot of times people just need us to listen instead of impart our opinions and thoughts on them. By just using those simple reflection tools you can have much more meaningful conversations with people. It helps us be able to understand better if we can take others perspectives and become less judgmental in our discussions.

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Clair Mellenthin Featured On “A Woman’s View” and Deseretnews.com

Clair Mellenthin, clinical director,  joined Amanda Dickson on “A Woman’s View” to discuss the
deeper meaning of texting. Why do some people prefer to text instead of talk? It seems that some may prefer the added layer of distance that this method of communication allows for.

“It’s all about perception,” Clair Mellenthin, clinical director for Wasatch Family Therapy, explained. “Kids think, ‘Mom, if you call me, that’s going to take all my time. Just text me.’ When in reality, it’s about the same.”

“It may be dehumanizing our relationships,” Mellenthin opined. “It puts distance in our relationships. People break up. They get together. They do it all on text and on Facebook.”

Read the full Deseretnews.com article.

Click arrow below to listen to the podcast of “A Woman’s View” [powerpress]

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Dealing With Diabolical Teens

Having a defiant teenager is a particularly difficult stressor on a family.  A lot of parents get Wasatch Family Therapy Teensfrustrated and hopeless, wanting to give up altogether.  This stressor can also affect the couple relationship significantly.  So, what is the best thing to do with a defiant adolescent?

When addressing the issue of “diabolical teens,” one of my colleagues jested, “you just praise the hell out of them!”  This may seem counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that praise and positive reinforcement are the most effective tools for long-term changes with adolescents.  Understandably, the natural tendency of parents is to be stricter, yell, and demand compliance.  Sometimes this will work in the short-term, but will likely further damage the relationship and will make teaching your teen less effective.  Dale Carnegie suggested that “a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”  We can catch some of those pesky teenage behaviors more effectively through praise than with criticism.

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Dealing With Whiners: Julie Hanks quoted in Wall Street Journal

That woman in the center looks vaguely familiar…Only day of my life that I’ll buy 5 Wall Street Journal newspapers.

Read article “Nation of Whiners, Therapists Try Tough Love” online
Read the WSJ dealing with a whiner chat transcript

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Telling Your Friend Her Child Has Issues: Studio 5


What should you do if you suspect a friend’s child has a problem? Here are my tips for when to step in and when to step back. Ask yourself these 5 questions:

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What Your Mother In Law Is REALLY Trying To Tell You: Studio 5

Mothers in law and daughters in law don’t always speak the same language. But, there are ways to prevent miscommunication and avoid misunderstandings. Therapist, Julie Hanks, explains what those mixed messages really mean.

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