"They are so wrong, why can’t they just listen to me?” “I am so angry I might explode.” "Why do they always just do this? I’m so frustrated.” "I hate everything and everyone. If I just had 15 minutes, I would tell them off.” "I really just don’t even want to spend time with them anymore. They make everything miserable!”
Do any of these sound like you? We’ve all had these moments when we just want to explode. When our emotions get the best of us and we can’t even process the world around us.
It’s not your fault. It’s basic science. When something triggers us, we jump from our logical, thinking part of our brain to our emotional, reactive part. It happens in a millisecond.
Here is where it becomes our responsibility. While we want to yell or fight or maybe even just shut down and stonewall the enemy, this is not the best way to handle the situation. Believe it or not, while “this is just the way I am” is the easiest way to handle your emotions, it's not the most advantageous for you.
First, TAKE A BREAK! Seriously, excuse yourself for at least 20 minutes. That’s how long researchers suggest it will take your brain to move from that emotionally triggered place back to that logical thinking place. That doesn’t mean, sit somewhere brooding about what just happened. It means, take a break. Go do something that will take your mind off what just happened, like washing dishes or going for a walk or maybe read a book, even watching a funny tv show.
When you start to calm down, try writing about what happened. When you write about what happened try to stay in the “I feel…” perspective. Try to really grasp what it was that triggered you so much. Then explore what that means to you. Does it remind you of something else? How would you like to handle the situation in the future?
“I felt really hurt when Trish didn’t invite me to go get coffee. I feel like I always invite Trish with me. It makes me feel foolish for thinking we were closer friends than we were. I also feel forgotten about. I wonder if there was a reason Trish forgot to invite me. The story I tell myself is that Trish doesn’t like me as much as I thought. Maybe there is another story. Is there a way to ask Trish about this?”
“I’m feeling so frustrated by my partner because they didn’t put their dishes away. I cannot even count the number of times I have asked for this. I feel like it is so disrespectful because it does not take into consideration my time and my life. I feel less valued. I feel like my partner is saying that - he or she- is better than washing dishes, but I have to wash the dishes because my partner doesn’t. Therefore, I feel like my partner is saying that -he or she- is better than me.”
Great, we’ve written about how the situation makes us feel…Here’s the hard part -
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
Once the calm has returned to your mind, sometimes it just feels easier to try and forget the moment. Sure, maybe you’ve come to the realization that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. That’s great. But sometimes, we just want to avoid conflict and pretend something didn’t happen. Generally, this leads to resentment and more hurt and an even greater explosion later on.
Here are some pointers in talking about it.
Hopefully, this will be helpful during this stressful time. Always reach out for help or questions!
I'm very excited to announce I will be adding two new locations to my practice!
I will be adding offices in Moorpark and Agoura Hills under the supervision of Lital Diament, MA, LMFT (LMFT 96310).
I look forward to providing services in a new area. Thank you and hope to talk with you soon!
I first experienced Soul Collage® when I was 22 years old. I had graduated college and was working in a job I thought I wanted. Still, I felt unsure and was questioning the path I was on. That's when I realized that I wasn't really on a "path" at all--I was totally lost!
After leaving that job, I started interning at a great organization in Pasadena called the Institute for Girls’ Development. While there, I began attending and assisting in SoulCollage® workshops. I was so deeply moved by the experience of Soul Collage® and discovered very quickly that collage is much more than an art activity. I was--and continue to be--amazed at the process of self-discovery it opens up.
As I continued to work with Soul Collage®, I became very quickly aware that my confidence was growing and that I was finding my footing and strength. I was answering questions like “Where was I going?” and “Am I on the right path?” I was inspired to become a Soul Collage® facilitator, training with Seena Frost, the creator of SoulCollage®.
I am so happy and honored to be able to share Soul Collage® as both a workshop and a part of my therapy practice. I believe it builds confidence in yourself and allows you to begin to think more creatively in your approach to daily life. I definitely found that to be true for for me.
When people ask me what Soul Collage® is, I tell them it is a creative art process where NO ART EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED, that you are never going to be judged by what you make and that, as you'll very quickly come to understand, you are the expert. It's really easy-- just bring yourself and all the materials are provided. Using magazine images and scissors, you'll layer images onto cards that are slightly bigger than the typical smart phone. Through a guided process, you'll use the cards and follow prompts that will help in answering your questions. Questions can be specific as “How do I make the next move in my career?” or less so, like “Did I make the right choice?” or even more general, as in “What am I doing next?” Just bring your life experience and your desire to discover answers to your questions. I know, it's different, but once you get started, I'm confident you’ll understand what I mean.
Join me at Yoga House in Pasadena on Saturday, March 17 from 2-5pm for an intro to SoulCollage®!
Follow link or give them a call at 626-403-3961 to pre-register!
SoulCollage® for business
It’s date night again. Where are you going to go? What will you talk about? What happened that day at work? What happens the next day? The same old thing?
Let me offer a fun suggestion. Learn the Love Language of your partner. Love Languages are the way in which someone understands and absorbs love. Gary Chapman wrote about five different Love Language: Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. For example, if quality time is your Love Language, you feel loved when your partner spends time with you going out somewhere or even just sitting on the couch.
More than just a casual date night once every week or so, understanding a Love Language allows you to learn more about your partner and how to honor him or her.
Often people find themselves frustrated that they aren’t connecting or that they aren’t loved. Gary Chapman explains that love can be kinda like a car. When someone communicates in your Love Language, your gas tank gets full. Visa Vera, when you have not experienced your love language, you feel empty.
Try out this quiz and find your love language.
Maybe you’ve felt your relationship has hit rock bottom or there is no love left. Give this book a try. It’s really easy and fun to read. It provides tips on how to respond to each love language. Create a simple a practice of participating in each other’s love language and revolutionize your relationship.
It’s a great way to explore each other, whether you’ve known someone for one month to ten years. Try it out on your next date night and make a fun game out of it. You won’t be disappointed by the results.
Let me tell you, lots of people are undecided about it. Maybe you don't know what therapy has to offer--or maybe you're concerned that once it begins, will it ever end? Maybe it just doesn’t make sense, what do you even do in therapy, isn’t it just talking?
Let me just quell a few of these concerns...
1. Therapy ends when you decide therapy ends.
You should never be afraid to end therapy...when you're feeling that it's time. In fact, it is very exciting for me when someone tells me they are ready to end therapy. It means I have done my job successfully. Set up a check-in every month to see how the process is going. If you feel that you aren’t moving forward anymore, then let’s figure it out. You are the decider of when therapy begins and when it ends. And the door's always open if you feel the need to come back.
2. So what does therapy have to offer?
I can offer a number of considerations, always depending upon what you are looking for:
- I’m an impartial listener. I will hear your story without bias. I LISTEN. How many people in your life just listen? I’m not listening with the intention of giving you my opinion. I just listen and together we hear what you are saying.
- I offer some life skills to help you deal with emotions when they feel overwhelming--like how to manage depression or anxiety or even just anger and sadness when they enter the story.
- I offer art therapy as a creative outlet and a different way to explore what's going on.
- We can explore mindfulness and what that means in your life.
- I also just get to be a support so you are not alone. That’s right. You do not have to do it alone.
3. The plain truth is that therapy is what you make it.
I am here to serve your needs. As an impartial listener, I get to hear the words you say and develop a thicker story and meaning with you. Together, we find the deeper voice and the resolution you are looking for. You have the answers. I just get to be a witness to your authentic truth.
Therapy is a place to explore your story. Yes, we talk. Unlike the movies, I do more than just ask “and how did that make you feel?”
It is a place to just be you. How many places in the world do you get to do that?
In my practice, you get to choose if we do traditional talk therapy or if we explore more creative avenues. The best thing to do is just give me a call and we can figure out if you’d like to come see me.
"Take a quick break! Take a breath!" I tell myself. It feels like it's already been a long day that will never end. I feel totally drained. "I'll just check Facebook really fast," I think. All of a sudden, thirty minutes is gone. Guess what? I don't feel any better and I'm not rested. I'm still just as drained as I was thirty minutes before! Oh, and by the way, I'm still scrolling through Facebook!
The biggest time wasters--Facebook, Netflix or whatever it may be--drain my motivation to do almost anything. I don't feel better having scrolled through page after page of, well, nothing. Yet, somehow, I go back to it all the time. Like so many others around me, I'm staring at a hand-held technology trap, moving my thumbs at blinding speed across a digital screen. Why?
This last week, I decided to change this pattern. Instead of turning to Facebook for my breaks, I turned to my practice of mindfulness. Granted, I did not totally cut out Facebook, but instead of instantly turning there, I paused, caught myself, and practiced mindfulness. Facebook will always be there.
Buzzfeed created this really cool blog post with all these visual animations designed to help practice focusing on your breath! It can be challenging to just breath and count. At first, I found it difficult to hone in on an abstract thing, like breath, and not let my mind wander! These animations make it easier. It is fun to watch the ball wander up as I inhale and down as I exhale. Eventually, I could just imagine the ball as I practice. Then, it became even easier to focus without the animations! Before I knew it, I could practice mindful breath no matter where I was. It's as if I'd turned the table on digital brain traps!
I love keeping this blog post somewhere always accessible (like on my phone), which also really helps with mindfulness. I recommend giving it a try for a few minutes a day. And see if you can try practicing mindful breath for 30 seconds to a minute every day for 30 days! Let me know how it goes!
Are you ready to say good-bye to therapy? How do you know? When is it time for therapy to end?
As a therapist, I always want to help my client achieve their goals. When I was in therapy, before I became a therapist, I always felt awkward trying to say good bye to my therapist. Sometimes, it just felt easier to ghost my therapist. Believe it or not, that is not the best way to go.
Staying in therapy is not about how much time you have been there. Some people stay in therapy for years, while others find therapy is only needed for a few months. There is no correct time to be in therapy.
Let’s start with what brought you to therapy to begin with? Look at the goals you created for yourself. Who were you when you began therapy? Are you living in the preferred version of your life? How have you changed?
Talk with your therapist. It is ok to check in regularly about your goals and intentions for therapy. If there is something that is in the preferred version of your life that you are not living, tell your therapist! In fact, set a regular time frame to check in with your therapist on your goals. Goals change as does the preferred version of your life. Perhaps set a plan to audit your work together every 3 months.
When you are ready, ask your therapist to meet every other week. On your week off, experience what it is like to not have therapy. Then, do a once a month check-in or consultation.
Leaving your therapist on a good note helps you practice saying good bye and also leaves the door open to return to that therapist if you need consultation in the future.
Remember, therapy is your time to get what you need. You decide when it begins and when it ends.
As I sit here recovering from the last argument with my husband, I'm reminded that fights are inevitable. I love my husband dearly and sometimes we just can't agree. That's ok! Before we got married we worked through The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver to "divorce-proof" our relationship.
Their work, in something they call "the marriage lab," discusses "four horsemen" that lead to the demise of relationships. They do not come in any particular order and just because these exist in your relationship right now does not mean that you will break up. The point is to become aware of their existence and shift the power of each horseman.
1. Criticism - Do you know the difference between a complaint and a criticism? How do you voice what you need from your partner? A complaint addresses a singular event or action with which you have a problem, as in "I'm really upset you didn't use a coaster because now there is a ring on our wood table." A criticism, however, attacks the core being of another person, even in something that may seem trivial and suddenly gains more significance than it deserves, as in "I'm really upset that you did not use a coaster. You are always so lazy! Now we have a ring on the wood table forever. Why don't you care? You never care about my things! We can never get nice things?"
2. Contempt - Contempt includes sarcasm, name calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, hostile humor, and cynicism. Contempt does not include repairs. Repairs occur in the middle of an argument when one partner tries to make the other laugh to relieve some of the stress of the situation. Contempt, on the other hand, tells your partner that you are disgusted with him or her, ultimately leading to more conflict rather than the possibility of resolution.
3. Defensiveness - Defensiveness usually arrives in response to an attacking partner. However, it does not achieve the desired effect since it unintentionally blames the partner for the problem--it doesn't end the conflict, it only increases it.
4. Stonewalling - When the listener tunes out and shuts down when the speaker is talking. In any conversation, the listener gives the cues on whether they were listening or paying attention. Usually, this horseman arrives after the other three become too overwhelming. When the listener starts stonewalling, not listening and not interested, leading to more conflict. Ultimately, it leads to more conflict.
When identifying the horsemen in your relationship, make it a game rather than an accusatory experience. Helping yourself notice these moments as much as you help your partner. Make a chart that helps both partners in the relationship identify when each of you let the horseman take over. Make sure you allow each partner to identify their own moments and honor them for making this acknowledgement.
I thoroughly recommend reading this book as it has helpful tips to promote and strengthen any relationship.
After getting married, I had a ton of thank you cards to send out! It really made me think about what "thank you" and "gratitude" mean to me. Sitting there writing "Thank you" notes, thinking of all the times I heard from my parents "Make sure you say 'thank you' or 'Did you write a thank you note yet?'" It's become part of my own process of gaining a new understanding of gratitude. What does it really mean to give thanks to someone else? When do I make time to thank myself for what I do? When do I feel appreciation for my life?
According to positive psychology research, engaging with gratitude will promote a healthier and happier life. Who knew those “thank you's" were more than just social niceties! Here are some activities to try out to increase the influence of gratitude in your life:
1. Gratitude Journal - Make it a part of your morning ritual. I know every morning is a rush to get out of the house. Take time for yourself! For one minute every morning for 30 days, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for that day. If your list makes it longer than 3-5 things, awesome! Take notes of how you feel at the end of the 30 days.
2. Gratitude Letter - Is there someone in your life who deserves thanks and appreciation, maybe even someone from your past? Write them a letter thanking them for their support, influence or whatever it may be. Make it heart-felt, genuine and honest. Here’s the hard part: set up a time to meet with this person - maybe over coffee - and read it out loud to them. Notice what it is like for you after you finish reading the letter to them.
3. Gratitude Walk - Take a walk. Notice what is around you. Use your five senses. What does it smell like? What does the air feel like? What does the ground feel like beneath your feet? Any time a thought comes to your mind, acknowledge that it is a thought and return to noticing what is around you. As an art therapist, one thing I’ve done is to take one picture of something that symbolizes that walk. At the end of the month, I collect all these pictures together and create a gratitude collage of what I've especially appreciated from my walks. "Picturing gratitude" really helps me recall what happened during that last month and helps me strengthen my appreciation.
The post-wedding time really left space for me to remind myself to build this as a habit. It may take time to build gratitude as a habit. Leave a note at your door or set an alarm on your phone that reminds you it is a gratitude moment time.
Thank you…and have some good walks!