Covid19: I need control!

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It seems like with each passing day there is something new happening. Murder wasp, bats, toilet paper shortages, safer-at-home, mask wearing, sanitize groceries, home school your kids, restaurants opening up, and more. Life can feel so out of control when our comfort is taken away from us. We also feel out of sorts when our structure is turned upside down. In this time we have learned what is really important and we have to be with our families and our thoughts more than we ever had. For some this has been good, but unfortunately for others it has been a harrowing experience.
Some introverts are rejoicing while some extroverts are slowly slipping into a depression. The one thing that everyone has in common is that no matter your gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status, we all have been affected in some way. We all have had to learn to adjust to a new normal. Social distance, paranoia when someone coughs or sneezes, washing your hands for the 20th time today, waiting in a line to get into the grocery store and so on. All of these habits are everchanging and seem to be becoming our new normal. The thing about new normals is that we have to learn to adjust and adapt to them. Many people have a hard time with change and this change is a big one. To top it off if you already suffer from any kind of anxiety or depression it just feels like one more thing to have to fight through. Do not be alarmed if you are not adjusting well and you have started to feel anxious or depressed. This is a common adverse reaction to adjustment.
The biggest adjustment we all have to face is the future. To those who had a 5, and 10 year plan we have been stripped to the Biblical principal of leaving tomorrow for tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own. With everything so grey it is hard to see the future and fathom what that will look like. All I know is that today may look bleak but there is always hope in Jesus and His grace is new every morning. When everthing seems like it is slipping through your fingers we can rest assured that God has us in the palm of His hands and that is s a safe place to be. What is the purpose in this time for you?  Having things taken away helps to put into perspective what is really important. I pray in this time you can be able to journal your thoughts, let go of control, and surrender to Christ. Sometimes the greatest thing about being or feeling like you are at rock bottom is the only place you can look is up. I implore you to look up to your Heavenly Father in this time. Stop trying to do everything yourself, silence the noise around you, and listen to the still small voice that says, “I am with you”. I want to leave you with the lyrics to the popular Christian song Waymaker by Leeland.
“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working.”

“Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working.”
“You never stop, You never stop working.”                                                                                      “You never stop, You never stop working.”

How can you surrender control today?

 

20/20 vision: What’s your vision for 2020?

It is 2020! It is a new year as well as a new decade. I saw a slogan for the new year that had to do with having 20/20 vision that caught my eye (no pun intended). The meaning of vision is the clarity or sharpness of what you see. The caveat of having 20/20 vision is that it does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.

I think this description fits in greatly with the new year and new goals and visions that come along with the start of a new year. Something that a local Pastor says frequently is our aim should be, “progress not perfection.” We do not have to be perfect in our process. Do you find yourself getting caught in a constant loop of not feeling good enough or that you have failed in your vision? Take each step and acknowledge and be grateful for steps taken. If you hyperfocus so much on the end goal you lack the present mind for today. Be mindful each day by having a focus on the present without judgment. Take a moment each day to appreciate how far you have come. Make a commitment to achieve daily goals that will lead you to your vision coming to pass.

I love the metaphor of having 20/20 vision. However, today I am not going to speak on what you see because I am not an optometrist. My goal is to empower and inspire you for this new year. I what you to think of vision as what you see when you close your eyes rather than when your eyes are open. Close your eyes for a moment. What do you envision for your future? That is your vision.

That same local pastor I spoke of earlier taught on how vision is “what you see when your eyes are closed”. That struck me so powerfully. Our thoughts are so powerful. In vision you are not frustrated with how you see yourself now. You can see yourself for what you want to be in you future. What does that mean for you? Are you a more present father? A less resentful wife? Able to control your worry and frustration more effectively? For 2020 commit to seeing yourself more clearly this year. Commit to maintaining and meditating on positive thoughts about yourself. Commit to write down your vision and make it plain. Studies have shown that those who write down their vision are 1000x more likely to possess the vision. Make this year the year that you don’t let fear, excuses or the opinion of others get in your way.

As you find yourself going to your vision board and contemplating what you are wanting for 2020 be sure to find your vision and define your goals to get to that vision. More often than not vision and goals are used interchangeably. Vision is what you see when you close your eyes, the end goal with an unknown path. Goals help you to put down a path that leads you to achieving your vision. These are milestones that help to quantify progress. In your process of goal setting remember the goal is not perfection but progress.

Make 2020 a year of mindfulness. Make the decade one of new vision, goals, and achievements. I pray that you have an immensely blessed 2020 and a wonderful start to this new decade. Be grateful of every step, encourage yourself, challenge yourself, and know that God created you with a purpose and on purpose!

What is your vision for 2020?

-Happy New Year!

I can’t control my emotions!

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Many people struggle with being to adequately manage their frustrations and negative emotions. In our society today we have been classified as having the most stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues than any other time period in history. There are more children being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and ADHD than ever before? With the increased pressure of social media and other inputs that have to battled that were not present before comes the need to be able to better cope. Having a toolkit of healthy coping skills and being able to regulate yourself are the highest predictor of success for fighting of mental health issues. 

Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control behavior, emotions, or thoughts; and alter them in accordance with the demands of the situation. This happens  when you can do three things: you are able to stop your first initial reaction and respond instead, persist during a task even if it is unenjoyable, and resist unnecessary stimuli. Consequently, self-regulation skills develop over time and can be inhibited based on life events. Trauma is a hinderance to self-regulation especially if occurs during childhood. When a traumatic experience happens, the natural response is to become more hypervigilant. When you are more hypervigilant it becomes more difficult to managing what is perceived to be a stressful stimulus. When stressful stimuli are present it is hard to process and engage with it appropriately due to the lack of emotional regulation skills. When you are hypervigilant you are more likely to have inappropriate emotional and behavioral reactions to external and internal stimuli.

Self-regulation is linked to social, sensory, and cognitive factors. We learn ways to act from our social environment, those around us. Our family of origin has a large role in the way we regulate our own emotions. If anger outburst are modeled the child will model back what they have seen. Furthermore, as an infant if the needs of a child are met by the caregiver, they are better able to learn how to soothe themselves. If the needs of an infant are neglected or chaotically attended to then the child learns the world is a scary place and due to age are unable to regulate themselves. The chaotic pattern leads to having more of a chaotic pattern of regulating themselves in adulthood. Our thoughts are high predictors if we are coping adequately or not. We must be able to think about what we are thinking about and rationalize if our thought is true helpful or suitable for the given situation.  This leads to being better equipped to respond appropriately to internal and external stimuli. When the caregiver tends to needs chaotically you have uncertainty about the reliability of others. When in a healthy environment a child can move from depending on other for emotional and behavioral regulation to being able to manage themselves.

The presentation of poor self-regulation can be characterized externally by outbursts of emotions such as anger, aggression, selfishness, and oppositional defiance. The internal expression of poor emotional regulation can come in the form of anxiety, codependency, depression, fear, isolation, and social withdrawal. Decision making and self-regulation can be clouded when certain variables are coupled together. The HALT acronym in helpful in discerning if you will have more issue in self-regulation. When you are hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired your emotional and behavior responses will be skewed. It will be harder to be in control of your responses and will lead to more reactions if you are experiencing one or more of the variables above. When you are hungry you do not have the nutritional needs for the brain to function and process at its highest potential.  When you become angry your brain starts to operate more from a fight or flight reaction that is dangerous when coupled with hypervigilance. When you are lonely you are more apt to feel vulnerable and needy and reach for things that may not be healthy in the moment. When you are feeling tired you have not been taking care of your body which means you can be drained physically, mentally, and emotionally. All these variable point to not being able to adequately regulate yourself. These are four emotional and physical states that if not coped with adequately can lead to discomfort and poor self-regulation. Hunger can be physical or emotional in nature so it is important to check in on which desire is to be fulfilled. Emotional hunger can be a need for a sense of companionship or community, comfort, understanding, or attention. Anger has to be expressed constructively instead of exploding or imploding. When anger is left undealt with it can take the form of bitterness and resentment which can lead to depression and other negative outcomes. When depressed comes more isolation and loneliness. When you are lonely it may be harder to reach out for others or feel easier to stay to yourself. When you are tired is becomes easier to become more emotionally flooded which leads to stonewalling. When you stonewall your body literally can take on no further stimuli so it shuts everything out which is detrimental to relationships and communication.

Poor self-regulation can lead to problems in multiple areas of your life such as maintaining positive relationships, understanding your own feelings or the feelings of others, poor impulse control, the completion of task, and activities of daily living. When behavioral and emotional difficulties are present for an extended period across multiple setting, mental health issues may be present. Having the ability to self-regulate helps to decrease the ongoing impact of stress. The inability to cope with stress is a contributing factor to mental health issues. If you find that you frequently have difficulties regulating yourself it may be necessary to seek out professional help to establish coping skills, problem solving tools, and healthy way to regulate behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Counseling is a great way to develop healthier relationships, coping skills, thoughts, and emotions. 

Does your relationship have a sound house?

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What is a sound relationship house you may ask? The sound relationship house is a picture of the qualities that encompass a healthy relationship. The main issue I see in couples is the blending of culture of origin. For example, one person was raised in an open family and the other was raised in a closed family. When the two come together the opposites attract, but eventually the differences can seem like they are attacking one another. In the sound relationship house, you will learn the keys to conflict management and a healthy relationship.

The sound relationship house was created by Dr. John Gottman to assist in counseling. Dr. John Gottman is a marriage scientist who has studied relationship patterns and can predict dissolution of a marriage with a high percentage of accuracy based off conflict style. Dr. John Gottman has a helpful tool called the sound relationship house that gives a picture of what a steady and healthy relationship looks like. The sound relationship house is a great metaphor because there are 7 levels that encompass the house that build off one another. If you have built a home before you know that the process takes time, is rewarding, but has some stress.

I use the sound marital house as a technique in my counseling practice. The basis of the sound relationship house is to explain the core foundation, walls, and levels that create a stable relationship. Dr. John Gottman made a visualization of the house by putting trust and commitment on the sides or the walls. Without trust and commitment, the house will fall. The main questions people ask in relationship are, “I am your number one priority” and “will you be there for me?” There are seven levels of the sound relationship house that I will expound upon today: build love maps, share fondness and admiration, turn towards instead of away, the positive perspective, manage conflict, make life dreams come true, create shared meaning.

  1. Build love maps- This step is the foundational step of building a friendship and knowing each other well. Love maps means that you are able to know what is going on in the others world, their likes, dislikes who their friends are, and more. This may sound very basic but some couples that I see cannot name their partners favorite movie, music, or two coworkers that they share space with. You may laugh, but it is a harsh reality. You do not want to feel like strangers in the same home. Thus, this is the first step in dating to get to know someone. Many times in marriage the spouses feel like they no longer need to try or get to know their spouse as they grown and find themselves in the proverbial roommate situation. This encompasses way more than love maps. However, being aware of the other person is essential in stopping the drift.
  2. Share fondness and admiration- Once you get to know the person the natural next step is to begin enjoying things together. You also affirm one another and are in tune to one another’s emotions and emotional needs. In a healthy relationship there should be a 5:1 ration to positive to negative interactions with one another. Conflict is inevitable but the positive should always far outweigh the negative.
  3. Turn towards instead of away. Dr. John Gottman states that everyone has “bids for attention”. Theses bids can be conscious or unconscious but are attempts to draw others around you into your inner world. For example, if I stub my toe I can exclaim, “Ouch!” Which would be my bid for attention, is left to be accepted or rejected? My husband can accept my bid by turning to me and asking, “Are you okay?” or he can reject it by saying nothing and not acknowledging what has happened.
  4. The positive perspective. Whenever you are a part of your significant others world and you feel that you can trust them it is easier to think and respond more positively in conflict. You view your relationship more positively and
  5. Manage conflict these three steps come directly from Dr. John Gottman: “Accept your partners’ influence, dialogue about problems. Practice self-soothing”
  6. Make life dreams come true. This step is possible when you are able to support one another’s dreams, goals, and aspirations. I have seen a multitude of couples who do not believe in the other partner’s dreams, lack support, and feel alone in the relationship. Whenever you are able to support each other you are more able to create a shared meaning in your life and

 

  1. Create shared meaning. Whenever you get to the roof of the house is when it is easier to pull your lives together through roles, rituals, and goals. The objectives and goals in the relationship line up and are not competing, threatening, or rejected. The couple is able to establish meaning that was never present before. A new chapter in the relationship can begin because communication, conflict resolution, and the alignment of being in a committed relationship where trust has been established. You have a higher sense of purpose and meaning in the relationship because of the pillars of trust and commitment solidifying hope for the future. It becomes easier to let down the guard let the person in and whole heartedly create meaning because there is trust in the future of the relationship.

When looking at the sound relationship house you can go back and forth in between levels. Once you have reached the top of the sound relationship house that does not mean that perfection has been reached. The process of maintaining a sound relationship house will take practice and engagement. You may believe you have arrived, but the levels are fluid and need repetition. Continually make it a point to have rituals of connection and prioritize the relationship. There is never a “stopping point”. When you have created a sound marital house you will be able to better cope with stress, issues as they arise, manage conflict, and dialogue about perpetual issues. When you believe and feel you are on the same page it is easier to resolve conflict and the air feels lighter between you.

The sound relationship house is helpful for couples who engage in arguments frequently, have perpetual issues, poor communication skills, infidelity, parenting and money issues, or one or both partners have emotionally withdrawn. The sound relationship house is helpful in giving you the practical tools to flow through the levels. If you are a visual learner, the house gives a great picture, goals, and a direction in which to go. The sound relationship house helps you to gauge where you are at and gives hope for the future. If you are needing marital or relationship help feel free to set up an appointment with me today by going online or giving me a call (918)970-0095.

Starting 2019 off right!

20190101_121315_0001Have a wonderful and blessed 2019! I am so thankful for all of the support this year! Every year to begin the year my husband and I choose a word that we are standing on for 12 months! Our word for this year is PURPOSE! We want to be led in every decision we make and have a specific trajectory that we are aiming for. Furthermore, at the beginning of every year we start a 21 day fast. We have done a complete Daniel’s fast before, but sometimes we fast specific things. We started our fast December 26th and will not indulge in sweets, drink pop, or go out to eat at all. If you know us personally you know we LOVE to go out to eat! I just want to encourage you for the 2019 year. Make plans to write out your goals and aim for progress and not perfection. Give yourself grace in this time! Instead of trying to eliminate things for 2019 simply add positives to your life. Two things I plan to do is add drinking water, and reading my Bible more throughout the day! Here are some tips for making goals that will stick:

  1. Have 3 goals or less. Do not self-sabotage progress or overwhelm yourself by not having targeted and fewer goals makes it easier to achieve your goals long term. Sometimes having to many goals makes things inconsistent and scattered. If you get easily overwhelmed set fewer goals so you can have laser focus.
  2. Be grateful. Make sure you take heart the “small victories”. You may sometimes  overlook your achievements if they are not the big knock em’ out of the park accomplishment.
  3. Write your goals down. The act of writing your goals down makes them more real and attainable. Use a sticky note to write your goals down where you can see them every day! I have my goals taped on the garage door entry so I can see them every morning when I leave.
  4. Overcome fear. Fear of failure is a strong force that will handicap your potential. Make 2019 the year you put away fear. Visualize obstacles as well as achievements so you feel better able to face challenges. Fear happens when we feel things are unknown or grey. If you visualize potential obstacles and overcoming them you will come out feeling more confident and prepared.

The four tips from above will help you formulate some goals that will stick in 2019. There is a stigma that has been attached to New Years resolution that they fall off quickly. Do not be apart of that statistic by making goals for 2019 that stick. For more information on how to make goals that stick feel free to message me or leave a comment! Have a Happy New Year!

What are your goals for 2019?

Do I have unhealthy boundaries?

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Having a fear of confrontation is a common theme I see in my office. I have seen people who would rather shove their own emotions down than express what they are feeling. They even go as far as to be passive even after a boundary has been clearly violated. The theme I get is that “I do not want to make waves”. Lacking the ability to be assertive will lead to reverting to passivity, passive-aggression, or aggression. When a boundary has been violated and it is not expressly stated a wide range of negative emotions can occur.  When these feelings are left unchecked you will get to one of two boiling points: imploding or exploding. Neither of these options is healthy and you will be left to pick up the pieces. The emotions of anger, resentment, and being overwhelmed are the primary emotions associated with not speaking up. The best way to deal with these emotions of is to become assertive and establish boundaries.

Many people do not have boundaries specifically for fear of them being rejected, invalidated, or not heard. It appears to be easier to throw up their hands and say that “everything is okay”. When in reality you know that it is anything but. You find yourself boiling on the inside. If you feel this is your story it is time to establish some boundaries with those around you. If you feel this is a pattern in your relationships it is time to make a step towards establishing a new dynamic with boundaries. How do you know if your boundaries are unhealthy? Answer the following True/False questions:

  1. Do you put the needs of others or their boundaries above your own?
  2. Are your relationships problematic because you have not established boundaries?
  3. Do you avoid conflict even if that means keeping your opinion to yourself?
  4. Do you make excuses for others problematic behaviors?
  5. Do you avoid being direct and clear?
  6. Do you overfunction for others?
  7. Do you insert yourself into problems without being asked (move into fixing, caretaking, problem solving)
  8. Do you give unsolicited advice?
  9. Are you overpromising or stretching yourself thin
  10. Is it hard for you to say no (feel guilty for saying no?)

If you have answered True to 5 or more of the following you may have unhealthy boundaries.

Do not be alarmed if you scored 5 or more true. You may ask where unhealthy boundaries come from. There can be multiple reasons as to why unhealthy boundaries form. First, boundaries are modeled to us in childhood. We pick up on social cues that are voices are meaningful or have no bearing at a young age. We pick up on the boundaries that our parents or guardians had with others.  Another cause to having poor boundaries is trauma or abuse in your childhood. If there has been abuse in your past your boundaries were violated and the concept of boundaries can become distorted from that point on.  Furthermore, not having adequate emotional support from your family of origin growing up is a catalyst to poor boundaries later in life. When emotional support is lacking from those who are supposed to care for you sometimes the roles can switch. When this happens the child become “parentified” and begins caring for the needs of the adult instead of the reverse.  If you were a caretaker for your parent or guardian the roles were reversed and it becomes engrained that you must meet the needs of others before your own. That mindset becomes problematic in adulthood relationship, but you are left uncertain how to deal with and break the unhealthy dynamic.

In the next article I will discuss ways in which to assert yourself and create healthier boundaries. One of the first steps to creating boundaries is to write them down. We teach others how to treat us. It is our responsibility to let others know when they have violated a boundary. If people are interacting with you in a way that you do not like a boundary has most likely not been expressly stated.

My goals are falling flat

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A Harvard study showed that roughly 83 percent of people living in the United States do not have goals. That is a statistic worth looking into! The purpose of a goal is to give you direction to reach the desired result. Without goals, you can find yourself in the proverbial “reaching for straws” mode. If you do not have something you are aim for you will get no return. With all the benefits of goal setting you may be wondering why so many people are not setting goals. There are a multitude of reasons why people do not set goals and one of the biggest ones is FEAR. The fear of failure is one of the main reasons why you may not want to set goals. Fear handicaps your potential especially if you tie your identity in what you do or accomplish. You have to separate “who” you are from what you “do”. A way to manage these feelings is to recognize that failure is an event and not a person. Once you can separate who you are from what you do it will become easier to set a goal. If your self-esteem is reflected in a goal it is harder to out yourself out there if there is a potential to be a “failure”. Another thing people may be afraid of is humiliation, rejection or how others may view them if the goal is not met. Let’s push fear aside with these 8 tips to help you make goals that stick.

 

  1. Overcome fear. Move fear out of the way. Fear tends to be the number one reason why people either do not have a goal or do not reach them. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown will paralyze you from reaching your goal. Visualize your fear, see yourself defeating it, and obtaining your goal. The more you let fear come to the forefront the less likely you are able to think rationally. Control fear before it controls you. Leaving fear left alone will bring you closer to fight or flight rather than rationality. In fight or flight you are more apt to make a kneejerk reaction rather than set realistic or rational goals. Furthermore, when filled with fear you will not be able to see the achievement of your goal in a realistic way. Fear skews everything so learn to cope with it and take it captive! Facing the fear is going to be a helpful force to move you forward.  Enlist the help of others or coping skills to be able to process what your fears are and where they are coming from.
  2. Write your goals out. The act of writing things down is very powerful. It is easier to rehearse a goal if you see it daily. Make your goals attainable and give a time frame for completion. You also want to write your goals out in a positive way. Instead of saying, “I will not lose any clients this quarter” Say “I will gain 5 clients per quarter”.
  3. Affirm yourself. Make daily affirmations and congratulate yourself for steps made along the way. Sometimes people are looking for the big win instead of looking at and celebrating over the smaller victories. Thinking positively helps get momentum rolling towards achievement.
  4. Challenge your negative beliefs. Many times we live with our thoughts instead of challenging them. We do not think about what we are thinking about. When you are able to rationalize your thoughts you are able to better challenge fear and other negative beliefs and emotions. Write out your beliefs ad challenge what makes them true and what makes them not true. Many times the negative thoughts we are thinking are not rationally based, but are based out of emotions.
  5. Make targeted goals. Have clear, direct, and concise goals to cut down on confusion or self-sabotage. Sometime we may set unrealistic goals which set you up for failure. Having a clear direction helps you more easily attain your goal because you know exactly what you are shooting for. If your goals are scattered your thoughts will be also.
  6. Have supportive people around you. Share your goals with people who will believe in you, affirm your goals, and cheer you on. If you feel lonely or isolated in your endeavors it can lead to anxiety depression or other negative effects. The people you share with should be positive and uplifting so as to not squelch your dream or confidence.
  7. Have an accountability partner. It is easy to follow through with a goal or objective if you feel someone is going to be checking in on your progress. Accountability is a huge motivating factor. Set up a consistent time to check in so it has another added level of accountability. Consistency and stability build trust and increase follow through.
  8. Visualization. Guided visualizations help you to foresee what could happen in the future. Athletes use this technique to visualize how they are going to perform. The mind is a powerful force. It is important to not only visualize finishing our goal but the potential obstacles and outcomes. Taking out the “grey” can help you to feel more comfortable and at ease. Some people do not want to think about the negative aspects. However, it is the visualization of the obstacle then overcoming it. Once you can play out differently scenarios where you win you will walk out feeling more empowered and equipped to achieve your goal regardless of what may try and get in the way.

 

The best way to accomplish your goals is to move them from your mind into paper. It is easier to solidify plans when you can see it right in front of you. It is empowering and you can take more ownership once you can see it, feel it, and believe it. It is important to make realistic objectives that have action steps to get to the end. Maintain a positive attitude and a positive group around you to help propel you to your goals end. You are the average of the people around you so take that into account. Ask yourself will the people around me help me reach my goal or block me from progress. The most influential things you can do to help attain  Visualizing what life will look like when you complete your goals is also a powerful motivator. Take time out today to visualize you on the other end of your goal. Share a goal that you are wanting obtain.