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Pushing Buttons

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I recently took a trip and stayed in a hotel with many floors. Of course, many floors mean an elevator with many buttons! During one of my visits to the elevator stood a 4-year-old child and his mother, inside the door, discussing the “buttons,” and where they went. I entered and smiled at this toddler’s curiosity as two other individuals entered. As the door closed, the boy began pushing all of the buttons! I looked to see the responses of the other passengers: one man shrugged, while the other gave earnest looks of annoyance. The mother clearly was embarrassed, and she quickly moved the child  away from the buttons.

I couldn’t help but think about how this can be a metaphor of how people “push buttons” in relationships. “Pushing buttons” means to intentionally bring up topics that will leave an emotional sting and often brings about negative emotions of the receiver. This response happens almost instantly, and the intention may be the most irritating part.

I’m sure we can all think of moments that we have experienced where someone has “pushed our buttons.” What were the feelings you felt in that instant? Anger? Embarrassment? Disgust? Perhaps you had wished the floor had opened so you could jump in? It often takes a person who knows us well to be able to push our buttons with such preciseness. There’s no one that can do it quite like family; parents, siblings, children, and spouses are the best button-pushers!

In her book “Daring Greatly,” social researcher Brené Brown suggests that the reason these close relationships pack so much power is because of the attachments we have to one another. We know each other’s strengths and vulnerabilities. This dynamic of close relationships can get buttons pushed in ways that less intimate relationships can do.

The question that is often asked in therapy is: How do I avoid it? While there are people who are button pushers, there are ways to avoid having these annoyances grow and become destructive. There will always be someone standing nearby willing to embarrass, annoy, assume power over, or just be a mean tease. The antidote is perspective (which can be hard to do when someone has just taken a concerted stance against you!). Here are 10 tools to help you gain perspective and soothe your emotions in the moment:

  • Chew on a piece of ice
  • Take a time out
  • Talk to your Higher Power
  • Imagine a place of peace
  • Use powerful coping thoughts: “It’s OK to feel this way.” “So what?” “This sucks, but it will pass.”
  • Squeeze the handles of arm of the chair 5 times.
  • Count backwards from 100 by 7’s.
  • Write your name in cursive with your toe, while you’re seated with legs crossed. (Don’t laugh, it works!)
  • Count your breathes
  • Use your 5 senses: Notice what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.

For the mother in the elevator. . . good job taking 50 deep breathes, as the elevator stopped at each and every floor!

To schedule an appointment with Andrea, call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555

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A List of Surefire Ways to Feel Happier & Fight Depression

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A List of Surefire ways to Feel Happier and Fight Depression
Over the years depression has been steadily increasing in adults as well as children.  So how can we fight these feelings of sadness? How can we help our children?  I recently came across this website that discusses nature and our mood, and why it helps.  It is a very quick read and the website offers a list of ways that we can increase our happiness; each suggestion is backed by clinically proven research.  The source offers specific ideas and things to do for adults as well as for children.  It gives suggestions that can take as little as five minutes of your time, to more extended amounts of time.
Check out his link and get see if there is a something for you to get you feeling good:
http://my.happify.com/hd/nature-makes-us-happier-infographic/?srid=self
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Student Resiliency: 5 Skills Your Child Needs To Suceed This Year

SCHOOL KID ANXIETY

Over and over the term ‘resiliency’ is being used in conversations between teachers, parents, and in preparation for the upcoming school year.  Most of us use the term casually; of course, students who are ‘resilient’ will do better at school – both academically and socially – but what does resiliency really mean?  Can parents help develop these skills? Can resiliency ‘be taught?’ In one psychological study conducted by Brock (2002d), student resiliency was determined to include specific internal behavioral skills or traits and that yes, these traits could be improved or fostered. Using that study as a framework, positive student resiliency behaviors/skills include:

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Feelings Word List: FREE Download

Feelings Word List: FREE Download

An important first step in developing emotional health is becoming more aware of your internal emotional cues. Once you learned to recognize that you’re feeling something, the next step is to give a label to the emotion you’re experiencing. Interestingly, the very act of naming your feelings helps reduce the intensity of the feeling, making it more manageable.

Use this feelings word list to help you label your feelings and increase your feeling vocabulary.

Feeling word list (pdf download)

I you need additional support to manage your emotions, we can help. Get to know our therapists and their specialty areas.

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Does My Child Have an Anxiety Disorder?

SCHOOL KID ANXIETYAs a child, the world is full of fears and challenges, real and imaginary, that adults cannot recollect from their own childhood. Most of these childhood fears and challenges are temporary and eventually outgrown, but studies show that one in eight children suffer from an anxiety disorder and anxiety has become one of the most common mental health conditions in children. At some point in life, children will experience some form of anxiety, however, when the symptoms become distressing and interfere with normal living then the anxiety can be considered and classified as an anxiety disorder. The mind and emotions of a child are continuously changing and developing at different rates, so it may not always be easy to distinguish normal fears and challenges from those that may require additional attention. That is why it is important to important not only to assess the severity of the symptoms that obstruct daily living, but also be aware of the developmental progress of each individual child. Assessing if the fears and behaviors are appropriate on a developmental level is crucial for each child. Many situations will cause children to display anxiety; however, if they continue beyond reasonable age norms, or are intense and distressing, then it could likely be the beginning stage of an anxiety disorder. These intense or distressing anxieties can eventually cause more serious distress, destroy a family system, and interfere with a child’s development or education.
Anxiety disorders that your child could be experiencing are:

Generalized anxiety disorder. With this common anxiety disorder, children worry excessively about many things, such as school, the health or safety of family members, or the future in general. They may always think of the worst that could happen. Children with generalized anxiety tend to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. Children with this disorder are self-conscious, self-doubting, and excessively concerned about meeting other people’s expectations. Along with the worry and dread, kids may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or tiredness. With generalized anxiety, worries can feel like a burden, making life feel overwhelming or out of control.

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Turning Your Child’s Aggression into Healthy Expressions

MAD BOYFrustration and anger often marks itself as shoving, hitting, and other aggressive behaviors in children. Teaching children how to handle their feelings reduces aggressive behaviors by giving them alternative openings. Children who display aggressive behaviors need support and direction to help them manage their behaviors and responses in different situations and environments. Although many children have occasional outbursts of anger and aggression, the children who have the support of parents who moderate and channel their children’s aggression towards healthy development will be able to operate with the skills to express their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way.

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Ask a Therapist: I Feel Like a Failure As A Mom And Fiancee


I am a stay at home mom and lately I have been feeling like a failure. I feel like I can’t do anything right and that everything I do goes unnoticed. I have a wonderful fiance, who works hard to take care of our family and who loves me very much, but the problem lies with me. I can’t express my feelings to him. I have so much guilt inside of me. I feel guilty when I need money and my fiance gives it to me, I feel guilty if he comes home and the house isn’t spotless, even when the baby was a handful, I feel guilty if I take time for myself or if we go out without the baby. I feel guilty when the little one cries or throws tantrums when my fiance is at home, because I am supposed to be a good mother and a good housekeeper and a good fiancee, but I don’t feel like I am. I am a failure at everything and I am just so sick of crying everyday. How do I get past this? Please, please help me.

A: Thanks for your email. You sure put a lot of pressure on yourself! Who says you have to be a perfect fiancée, house keeper, or good at finances? It sounds like you want to be more than just good at those things, it sounds like you want to be perfect. I wonder if there’s something deeper going on, or how you learned to be so hard on yourself. Watch the video for the rest of this answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Talk Of Parents’ Divorce Causing Depression


Q: My life was fine until I was in seventh grade, my parents were alright and I had amazing friends, until one night my parents told me and my siblings that my mom was thinking about divorce and how they were constantly fighting that single night brought everything down since then my parents were fighting all the time, my father would get drunk and start talking without knowing he was hurting my feelings, one night he almost hit my sister and my mom that marked my whole life, I almost didn’t make it through eight grade because I would just think about my parents and how their marriage is gonna end. Is not very pleasant to see your mom and dad sad :( Now in my freshman year everything got worse I started to get sad, cry without a reason, I get stress more easy and stuff like that.

Also I’ve been distancing from my friends and I know many people but I’m just used to them being my friends, two of them have boyfriends and they just stick to them like glue and its kind of annoying because we made a promise that no boy will interfere with our friendship but I guess isn’t validate anymore, for them I don’t exist anymore because they also have new friends and they leave in a corner alone. I guess that is also part of my sadness I guess and I also lost interest in things I used to like for example writing, photography, fashion and reading plus I’ve been thing about self-harming but I know that isn’t gonna help. So please answer me. take care :)

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Ask A Therapist: I Get Serious Anxiety Before Therapy


I do therapy over the phone, and my stomach gets really hard and tight before I call my therapist. I get a ton of other physical symptoms, including muscle tension, diarrhea, tightness in my chest, shallow breathing, nausea, etc. I’ve talked it over with him, as I think it might be a transference thing, but it’s getting to the point of not being okay. I’ve had nervousness with other men, particularly doctors and people in an authoritative position, but I’ve never had it this bad. The kind of therapy I do is based on primal theory as well as other things, but it also makes it very hard for me to feel my feelings when I get so nervous around him. I don’t really want to switch therapists right now, but I would appreciate any suggestions!

A: Thank you for writing in with your question. What you’re describing sounds like a panic attack. Please talk to your therapist about possibly making some shifts in treatment, like meeting face to face instead of talking by phone, or getting a medication evaluation. While therapy is often uncomfortable, my concern is that your anxiety may be so overwhelming that it is getting in the way of your progress. Watch the video below for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Is This Depression, Personality Disorder, or Bipolar?


Well I’m 19, but I don’t feel 19. I have so many things going on in my life that it’s hard to keep up with everything. I’m a full time worker, a full time student and a part time gym rat. I’m also in a relationship. There is no time in the day for me to do anything and everything I do always feels rushed. Even though I’m interacting with my coworkers, friends, or girlfriend during the day, I feel empty and numb to it all, like everything is just an act. As far as feelings go, like I said, I’m numb. I feel as if my best friend or mother could die and I wouldn’t care, and I feel as though to a certain extent that I don’t care even for my girlfriend. But on the flip side, I don’t want to be alone. It scares me to think that me and my girlfriend would breakup. I laugh and joke but don’t know why I do.
I really want to know what’s wrong with me because I was never like this before. Or if I was, it was deep down and is now just surfacing and I can’t handle it. I WANT TO BE HAPPY AGAIN.

A: There are normal ups and downs that come along with adolescence, such as mood swings and hormonal changes. But what you’re describing sounds like a lot more than that. Please watch the video below for my complete response.

Take Good Care of Yourself,

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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