Thursday, May 24, 2007

Paralyzed by Fear- Avoidance

Many of us have doubts that prevent us from considering all of life’s options.

We might stay in unhealthy situations because we fear the potential outcomes of doing something differently might be worse than doing nothing at all.

But then frustration, anger, anxiety or depression can build up to further complicate matters. Now we have the original concern and another emotional layer to deal with.

Avoidance of consequences is an understandable and common way of dealing with daily life. We have all gone out of our way at some time to avoid pain, humiliation, etc.

This can become a big problem if avoidance becomes our primary method of coping with our lives.

Avoidance can take many forms; substance abuse, running away, lying, sexual affairs, overeating, and numerous other behaviors. These can all serve the purpose of helping to distract ourselves from making difficult decisions and taking difficult actions.

If our use of avoidance prevents us from living the life we want, the way we want it to be, then we are maintaining a roadblock to our own happiness.

Like the kid most of us have seen at Big Mart, gripped by a parent, who dances around to avoid the discipline he knows will be painful, we too can bend over backwards to avoid taking an emotionally painful hit.

Our emotional contortions actually make things worse for ourselves.

We encourage and teach our clients to address problems directly, deal with the consequences effectively and then move on.

Think of coping as being like a ship cutting through a large wave.

Don’t try to outrun problems, hit them head on. This process builds our confidence and helps us move forward in our lives rather than remaining stuck on one problem indefinitely.
You can do it. Live Well.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thought-Stopping: Negative to Positive- Continued

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
-Norman Vincent Peale

We have looked at ways to limit negative thoughts (in the form of negative self-talk) by recognizing them and then consciously telling ourselves to stop. This process is appropriately called “thought stopping”.

The next step is to choose a positive self-statement that replaces the negative. We always have a variety of potential responses available to us. Making the most useful choice for ourselves and then repeating it can help make this process second nature.

This step-by-step process can be practiced at any time and can lead to a less negative outlook when used with other cognitive techniques in a coordinated manner.

It takes practice and it's only part of the change process. If you are having trouble using this technique, a coach or therapist can help. Take care of yourself and your thoughts.

Live Well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Your Good Relationship- Greetings

Greet you partner with a hug and a kiss whenever they leave home and upon their return. It doesn't need to be elaborate.

If your partner doesn't catch on quickly, you can still be the one who does this when you come or go.

Can you always do this; No. Is this sometimes inconvenient? Yes. But, try it for 2 months, at least.

Those couples who already do this hello/ goodbye greeting know that soon it becomes a habit that is missed if it doesn't happen. Have an open discussion about it or just start doing it.

It demonstrates that you both consider each other to be more important than anything else you might have been doing. It also helps to build trust, closeness and intimacy.

Lay down the newspaper, break away from the television for 15 seconds, to make your good relationship a priority.

Live Well.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Get What You Need

He must often change who would be constant in Happiness or Wisdom.
-Confucious

We all like a comfortable routine. The way we think and the way we live tend to remain consistent unless we actively try to change them. This can sometimes make it difficult to consider alternatives.

We carry our ideas and beliefs from the past. Many cliche's about perseverence are still common in our society. They were the best we had at one time. Now, with other options available to us, our attitudes need to catch up.

Some people might not want to talk about their feelings or concerns. Some might not want to ask others for help. Still others might not want to use a medication to help them cope, even temporarily.

The most unfortunate folks have all of these and their dissatisfaction, unhappiness or frustration continues to build.

Ask yourself what is it about your own ideas and beliefs that keep you from getting what you need. This is not the same thing as blaming yourself for your problems. Bad things do happen to good people, but we can still choose how we respond.

Not only can we choose, we have to choose. Why would we leave such things to chance or to others to decide?

You might also ask why you choose to struggle when you might not have to.

Waiting for anything is rarely the best choice. Actively going towards the life we want puts a measure of control in our hands.

This process of active participation in healing and enriching ourselves, gives us the best chance for a happy and satisfying life.

Live Well.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Talking to Myself

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
-William James

We are always talking to ourselves even if it is not spoken aloud. Our thoughts form a running dialogue that influences how we feel about our life experiences. Gaining some control over how we think, allows us to feel differently about our lives.

This self-talk comes in 2 basic forms; positive and negative, depending on whether they contribute to our feeling good or not.

For example, if we ask 2 people who are dealing with similar degrees of chronic pain to rate their levels of discomfort, the person with the more negative outlook will score higher. They feel more distressed by the pain than someone with a more positive outlook.

So how do we change these thoughts? As always it begins with recognition of how we think. We can learn to recognize when we experience thoughts that distress us.

Notice when you feel disturbed by something and ask yourself what you are thinking at that time. Most likely you will hear the thought that you had was a negative assessment of the experience.

If someone cuts you off on the highway, you might find yourself saying, “that guy did that to me on purpose!” If he did or not, is not important. What you say to yourself determines how you feel about that experience.

After recognition, try imagine a stop sign in your mind. This visualization serves as a mental turning point. It’s an opportunity to change direction and say something else to ourselves.

The final step is to replace the negative statement with an innocuous or even optimistic one. In our highway driving example, you would likely feel differently if you said to yourself, “that person must be dealing with an emergency of some kind.” You might even say to yourself, “maybe they are going to the hospital to have a baby!”

Some might find self-talk to be silly or even disingenuous to oneself. Try it anyway. Making the effort represents your ongoing desire to improve your life.

This exercise takes time to perfect and you can practice it whenever negative thoughts occur. Like any effort to change a habit, it can be an ongoing challenge that becomes more effective and easier over time.

Make the effort and don’t quit. You deserve to have peace of mind.

Live Well.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Lighten Up

Peoples of the world...Relax!
-Tom Robbins

Most people think that they relax from doing less. If you are only slightly stressed, this might work for you. But the more stressed you are, the more you must do to relax.

A surprising number of people have very few activities they use to relax. Watching television, managing the kids, running errands, are not usually relaxing despite what some report.

Most of us have some idea of what we would do to relax; hobbies, sports, reading, whatever. Yet most of us push them aside if there is work to be done.

So why is it so difficult for us to relax? Often, we don't relax frequently enough or long enough to recover from the stresses of daily life.

This can result in an accumulation of stress. If we don't counterbalance our stress with relaxation, we can become distressed.

Make relaxation a priority. Schedule time regularly for activities.

Develop your interests in hobbies or other activities you can just pick up and do when you have spare time.

Do something just for relaxation. Combining errands with relaxation is not as effective. We do this for convenience, rather than for ourselves.

Do different activities to fit your mood; vigorous activity if you are agitated; slower-paced activity to wind down.

Be with other people some of the time and alone some of the time. Relaxing activities with both, others and ourselves, are valuable in different ways.

Learn to say "no" to taking on too much work.

Don't let an accumulation of stress impair your ability to enjoy life. Schedule time to relax. Your good health deserves to be a priority.

Be Well.