I recently spoke with Ethan Millard and Alex Kirry of KSL’s NewsRadio Nightside Project about what parents can do if they discover that their child is viewing porn.
Pornography is a loaded topic: the easy accessibility of it combined with a curiosity about and interest in bodies and sexuality that children naturally have can lead to problems and questions. We’ve all heard the horror stories of how porn addiction can lead to broken families and destroyed lives. It’s quite a task to speak to your children about these issues and can be even more emotionally daunting if they’re already involved in it in some way. Here are some strategies for how to handle a situation in which your son or daughter is viewing pornography:
Have you ever looked around in a public place to see how many people were using their phones (texting, surfing the web, etc.)? It’s usually a lot, and truthfully it can be a little discouraging to witness individuals staring at their screens instead of talking to one another. Please don’t misunderstand, I am a huge advocate of technology; it’s profoundly changed my life and career for the better! Still, we all know that things can get out of hand if we let them. Digital overload affects our ability to process information cognitively, to be mindful of our own experience, and to be present with other people. Here are some ways to help you manage your technology use (instead of letting it control you):
Master Your Device Settings
One of the first ways to get a grip is to utilize your settings. We often think of parental controls as a way to filter out inappropriate content for our kids, but many devices have settings to help us limit the time we’re able to spend on them as well. For example, a specific feature may be set that means the computer cannot be used after 11 pm. Do some research, and take advantage of these types of settings to help you create boundaries.
I love stories, and I feel connected to many people through the stories they share. One of my favorite things about being a therapist
is the exchange of stories that I’m invited into each day. Story telling is such a rich part of our culture, and in fact culture itself can be passed on through stories.
When I think about local dating culture I picture couples going out for dinner and then going to the movies. Movies are merely big budget stories and sometimes, like in my own life, a date to a movie turns into a story of marriage.
In studying couples we have come to understand that the way in which partners describe their past predicts the future of the marriage. That’s some powerful storytelling! I recall the first time I heard this idea when I was in my undergraduate studies and it boggled my mind to think that the way in which a couple tells “their story” can lead a specialist to predict their stability or divorce with a 94% success rate. In my practice I have seen partners develop such animosity toward their spouse that they get to a point where they only remember the negative aspects of their marriage. In a way they are rewriting their history, and only including the bad parts. This often acts as a catalyst that activates divorce.
Happy couples, in contrast, highlight their good memories. This is significant because they are not hiding the bad, they are simply
emphasizing the positive moments. This method of story telling helps the couple maintain closeness and encourages positive regard for each other. Happy couples have an ability to look back over the years with affection and even when happily married couples experience hardships, they focus on their strength and their “we-ness” rather than focusing on specific struggles.
I enjoy helping couples rewrite their past and embrace a new narrative that empowers their partnership. If you would like help creating a new narrative for your marriage I invite you to start rewriting today.
To schedule a session with Tyler Stark ACMHC please call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.
In online discussions about my article “30 Questions Nobody Has Asked My Husband” I noticed a theme in many of the comments: the phrase “you’re choosing to be offended” (or some variation of it) emerged over and over again in response to the article. I found this fascinating because I am not personally offended by the questions; I am, however, very curious about underlying gender assumptions, concerned about the impact of our unexamined perceptions, and I believe that we, as a culture, could greatly benefit from more self-reflection and thoughtful dialogue.
Mindfulness is becoming somewhat of a movement; mental health professionals and wellness advocates are singing its praises as a way to become more in touch with ourselves in the present moment. And it’s not just talk, either. There’s a lot of research to back up the idea that mindfulness can lead to greater happiness.
So what is mindfulness exactly? Some may think of practicing yoga or chanting mantras of peace and calmness. And while mindfulness may include meditation or have a spiritual component, at its core it simply refers to paying attention to ourselves on purpose. What clues is your body telling you? What emotions are you experiencing? What does your breathing sound like? We are such a distracted generation, and sometimes we need to slow down and tune in. The RAIN strategy is a simple technique to help you practice mindfulness:
I frequently ask my clients this question, “What is the difference between guilt and shame.” Most clients reply that they aren’t really sure. The reason I ask this question so frequently, is because a lot of people I work with get swallowed up in these emotions from time to time. These are pretty common and even normal emotions to have in certain circumstances, yet most people have a hard time articulating what the difference is, or identifying them in themselves. I thought it would be useful to get to know each of these a little better.
GUILT- “I did bad, so I feel bad.”
One might ask why in the world were we created with this emotion. It is awful to feel! It certainly does not make the top ten lists of people’s favorite emotions to feel. Guilt can actually be a very useful emotion. Somewhere, deep down inside guilt, is a little seed of empathy, or concern for others and how they feel. Guilt helps us distinguish the difference between right and wrong, and works as little bumper lanes on a bowling ally do. Guilt keeps us pointed in the right direction. Now, People feel guilt for different things. What you feel guilt about depends on what you deem right or wrong. This is where I see people get in trouble with guilt. Many times, people who feel overwhelmed by guilt have attached it to things that have no moral implications of wrong, or are completely out of their control. You can see how guilt in these situations, is unnecessary, and frankly really ineffective. Remember, guilt is supposed to motivate me for positive change. So, feeling guilty that my child got an F in math is completely useless. First of all, getting an F in math isn’t morally wrong, and most importantly, I am not in control of my child’s behavior.
SHAME- “I did bad, so I am bad.”
Unlike guilt, shame is not motivating at all. In fact, for most people, shame is paralyzing. The big difference with shame is that you see yourself as the problem, not your behavior. One that is engulfed in shame, typically feels hopeless because you cannot escape yourself, and if you see your inherent nature or character as the problem, that feels pretty powerless. In the basement of shame is the belief that because I’m bad, people won’t love, accept, or value me. Typically, those swallowed up in shame have a hard time forgiving themselves, seeing their good intentions, or focusing on efforts rather than results.
Hopefully, you can now understand the difference between shame and guilt. If you find yourself feeling shame, you may be struggling with depression or anxiety. If you find yourself feeling guilt for many things that don’t have any moral implications, you may also be struggling with depression or anxiety. The good news is, there are proven ways to dispel shame and guilt, and to see the value in yourself again. If you are interested in learning how, schedule an appointment today.
If you feel stressed and anxious more often than not then welcome to the club. In our ever increasingly busy world of information overload, these two unwanted companions can seem to take up permanent residency in our lives. Having to maintain the work/life balance while simultaneously multitasking endless to do lists can get to be quite overwhelming which creates the perfect storm of unwanted feels. How does one navigate these storms of certain woe? It may be more simple than you think and doesn’t take much time from your busy day. When you begin to feel these pesky squatters start to take up space in your mind, use these two following steps:
1. With either your eyes open or closed, begin to count your breaths (without changing your normal breathing patterns) from 1 to 10 with 1 being your inhaling breath and 2 being your exhaling breath up to 10.
2. Focus only on the counting (if you find yourself thinking random thoughts as you count – that’s totally fine, observe them, dismiss them, and refocus on the counting)
Unlike having to create addition time like most activities designed to get you to a place of calm, this can be done on your way to whatever demands of the day require. The best part is it can be as little as a minute or up to an hour, YOU pick the amount of time you need to get to your happy place. Now doesn’t that amount of control make you feel devilishly good inside? It’s okay to admit it because YOU ROCK! Now go forward and continue to conquer all of life’s demands you busy go-getters!
We get a lot from our parents. Bone structure, our first car, eye color, money habits, etc. It’s well-known that we can inherit certain health conditions from them as well (you’re 50% more likely to develop migraines if either of your parents experiences them) Recently, evidence has emerged that suggests anxiety may be one more thing that we can get from our parents (and this is clinical anxiety, which is much more than ordinary nervousness that we all experience). d Quit Monkeying Around! d Dr. Ned Kalin and a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed brain scans of rhesus monkeys and found that the ones that displayed signs of anxiety had a family history showing stress-related symptoms in their brain wave patterns. While the study was complex, the takeaway is that anxious thought patterns may not be merely adult occurrences but can have their roots in one’s genes. This is groundbreaking, as the cause of anxiety had previously been largely unknown. More
Think of the last time you felt insecure. Ideally, we want to have good confidence, but all of us, men and women, experience insecurity in some form or another; those nagging uncertainties that can leave us feeling vulnerable and make us doubt ourselves. Sadly, our weaknesses and flaws (perceived or real) can make us feel like we’re not “good enough” or worthy of receiving love in our relationships. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to reframe out mindset and expectations so that we can overcome insecurities and choose confidence. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you get started:
Did you see today’s Studio 5 on Overcoming Insecurities? We all have at least a few areas where we feel less than confident. Here’s the free worksheet I mentioned that walks you through the 5 questions to help you overcome an insecurity.