Depression: What It Is and What to Do about It (Part I)

This is the first of a two-part series on depression. In this issue, I will explore what depression is and what causes it. In the next issue, I will describe how depression is treated and prevented. If you or someone close to you suffers from depression, it is important to educate yourself about it and seek treatment from qualified mental health professionals.

 

Depression is a serious illness, not a harmless part of life. It is a complex disorder with a variety of causes. It is never caused by just one thing. It may be the result of a mix of factors, including genetic, chemical, physical, and sociological. It is also influenced by behavior patterns learned in the family and by cognitive distortions.

Depression affects millions of people in this country. It is always troubling, and for some people it can be disabling. Depression is more than just sadness or "the blues." It can have an impact on nearly every aspect of a person's life. People who suffer from depression may experience despair and worthlessness, and this can have an enormous impact on both personal and professional relationships. In this newsletter, I will describe many of the factors that may cause depression, and I will explore strategies for preventing it.

 

Depression Is Pervasive

 

When a person suffers from depression, it can affect every part of his or her life, including one's physical body, one's behavior, thought processes, mood, ability to relate to others, and general lifestyle.

 

Symptoms of Depression

 

People who are diagnosed with clinical depression have a combination of symptoms from the following list:

 

·    Feelings of hopelessness, even when there is reason to be hopeful

·    Fatigue or low energy

·    Much less interest or pleasure in most regular activities

·    Low self-esteem

·    Feeling worthless

·    Excessive or inappropriate guilt

·    Lessened ability to think or concentrate

·    Indecisiveness

·    Thinking distorted thoughts; having an unrealistic view of life

·    Weight loss or gain without dieting

·    Change in appetite

·    Change in sleeping patterns

·    Recurrent thoughts of death

·    Suicidal thoughts

·    A specific plan for committing suicide

·    A suicide attempt

·    Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down

 

When a person is suffering from depression, these symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. This means that the person's family and social relationships, as well as work life, are impaired.

When a person is suffering from depression, symptoms such as these are not the result of a chronic psychotic disorder, substance abuse, general medical condition, or bereavement.

 

Grief, Sadness, and Depression

 

Depression may include feelings of sadness, but it is not the same as sadness. Depression lasts much longer than sadness. While depression involves a loss of self-esteem, grief, disappointment and sadness do not. People who are depressed function less productively. People who are sad or disappointed continue to function.

 

Depression and Socioeconomic Factors

 

Depression does not seem to be related to ethnicity, education, income, or marital status. It strikes slightly more women than men. Some researchers believe that depression strikes more often in women who have a history of emotional and sexual abuse, economic deprivation, or are dependent on others. There seems to be a genetic link; depression is more common among parents, children, and siblings of people who are diagnosed with depression. The average age at the onset of a depressive episode is the mid-20s. People born more recently are being diagnosed at a younger age.

 

Physical Causes

 

Many physicians believe that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. They often prescribe antidepressant medication, and many people find relief as a result. However, there is no reliable test to identify such a chemical imbalance. It is unknown whether life experiences cause mood changes, which create changes in brain chemistry, or whether it works in reverse.

Depression may be associated with physical events such as other diseases, physical trauma, and hormonal changes. A person who is depressed should always have a physical examination as part of the assessment process to determine the role of physical causes.

 

Signs That Professional Treatment Is Needed

 

If you or someone you know is depressed and exhibits any of the following signs, it is extremely important to seek the assistance of a medical or mental health professional.

 

1.    Thinking about death or suicide. This is always dangerous and you should see a professional therapist immediately.

2.    When symptoms of depression continue for a long time, you may need professional help. Acute responses to events are normal, but they should not last beyond a reasonable time.

3.    Your ability to function is impaired by your depression. Seek help before your life situation deteriorates to a serious level.

 

4.    You have become so isolated that you have no one with whom to check reality. Seek out someone to share your thoughts and feelings with.

5.    Depressive symptoms have become severe.

 

In my next newsletter, I will discuss the treatment and prevention of depression.

Dealing With Midlife Issues

I would like to help explore the challenges and opportunities that come at midlife. Let’s take the opportunity to look at issues that are specific to the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X. We also have a chance to begin the process of your own midlife assessment with a list of questions presented at the end of this article. I call this assessment the Midlife Checkup.

Benefits of the Midlife Checkup

Taking the time to assess how your life is going at this point can result in benefits such as these:

·    It can help you identify and intensify your inner strengths.

·    You can find your own voice and express it your own way.

·    You can accept your changing physical self.

·    It is an opportunity to forgive those with whom you've been angry.

·    It can help you find ways to reduce stress.

·    You can learn to simplify your life.

·    You can reenergize yourself in preparation for the second half of your life.

Generation X or Gen X 

Generation X is the demographic cohort following the baby boomers and preceding the Millennials. There are no precise dates for when Generation X starts or ends. Demographers and researchers typically use birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

Members of Generation X were children during a time of shifting societal values and as children were sometimes called the "latchkey generation", due to reduced adult supervision as children compared to previous generations, a result of increasing divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce, prior to widespread availability of childcare options outside the home. As adolescents and young adults, they were dubbed the "MTV Generation" (a reference to the music video channel of the same name). In the 1990s they were sometimes characterized as slackers, cynical and disaffected. Some of the cultural influences on Gen X youth were the musical genres of punk music, heavy metal music, grunge and hip hop music, and indie films. In midlife, research describes them as active, happy, and achieving a work–life balance. The cohort has been credited with entrepreneurial tendencies.

As young adults

In the 1990s, media pundits and advertisers struggled to define the cohort, typically portraying them as "unfocused twentysomethings". A MetLife report noted: "media would portray them as the Friends generation: rather self-involved and perhaps aimless...but fun." In France, Gen Xers were sometimes referred to as 'Génération Bof' because of their tendency to use the word 'bof', which translated into English means 'whatever". Gen Xers were often portrayed as apathetic or as "slackers", a stereotype which was initially tied to Richard Linklater's comedic and essentially plotless 1991 film Slacker. After the film was released, "journalists and critics thought they put a finger on what was different about these young adults in that 'they were reluctant to grow up' and 'disdainful of earnest action'."

Stereotypes of Gen X young adults also included that they were "bleak, cynical, and disaffected". Such stereotypes prompted sociological research at Stanford University to study the accuracy of the characterization of Gen X young adults as cynical and disaffected. Using the national General Social Survey, the researchers compared answers to identical survey questions asked of 18–29-year-olds in three different time periods. Additionally, they compared how older adults answered the same survey questions over time. The surveys showed 18–29-year-old Gen Xers did exhibit higher levels of cynicism and disaffection than previous cohorts of 18–29-year-olds surveyed; however, they also found that cynicism and disaffection had increased among all age groups surveyed over time, not just young adults, making this a period effect, not a cohort effect. In other words, adults of all ages were more cynical and disaffected in the 1990s, not just Generation X.

In 1990, Time magazine published an article titled "Living: Proceeding with Caution", which described those in their 20s as aimless and unfocused; however, in 1997, they published an article titled "Generation X Reconsidered", which retracted the previously reported negative stereotypes and reported positive accomplishments, citing Gen Xers' tendency to found technology start-ups and small businesses as well as Gen Xers' ambition, which research showed was higher among Gen X young adults than older generations. As the 1990s and 2000s progressed, Gen X gained a reputation for entrepreneurship. In 1999, The New York Times dubbed them "Generation 1099", describing them as the "once pitied but now envied group of self-employed workers whose income is reported to the Internal Revenue Service not on a W-2 form, but on Form 1099". In 2002, Time magazine published an article titled Gen Xers Aren't Slackers After All, reporting four out of five new businesses were the work of Gen Xers.

In 2001, sociologist Mike Males reported confidence and optimism common among the cohort saying "surveys consistently find 80% to 90% of Gen Xers self-confident and optimistic. In August 2001, Males wrote "these young Americans should finally get the recognition they deserve", praising the cohort and stating that "the permissively raised, universally deplored Generation X is the true 'great generation,' for it has braved a hostile social climate to reverse abysmal trends", describing them as the hardest-working group since the World War II generation, which was dubbed by Tom Brokaw as "The Greatest Generation". He reported Gen Xers' entrepreneurial tendencies helped create the high-tech industry that fueled the 1990s economic recovery.

In the US, Gen Xers were described as the major heroes of the September 11 terrorist attacks by demographer William Strauss. The firefighters and police responding to the attacks were predominantly Generation Xers. Additionally, the leaders of the passenger revolt on United Airlines Flight 93 were predominantly Gen Xers. Demographer Neil Howe reported survey data showed Gen Xers were cohabitating and getting married in increasing numbers following the terrorists attacks, with Gen X survey respondents reporting they no longer wanted to live alone. In October 2001, Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote of Generation Xers: "now they could be facing the most formative events of their lives and their generation". The Greensboro News & Record reported Gen Xers "felt a surge of patriotism since terrorists struck" reporting many were responding to the crisis of the terrorist attacks by giving blood, working for charities, donating to charities, and by joining the military to fight The War on Terror. The Jury Expert, a publication of The American Society of Trial Consultants, reported: "Gen X members responded to the terrorist attacks with bursts of patriotism and national fervor that surprised even themselves".

In midlife

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, speaking at a Web 2.0conference

Guides regarding managing multiple generations in the workforce describe Gen Xers as: independent, resourceful, self-managing, adaptable, cynical, pragmatic, skeptical of authority, and as seeking a work life balance. In a 2007 article published in the Harvard Business Review, demographers Strauss & Howe wrote of Generation X; "They are already the greatest entrepreneurial generation in U.S. history; their high-tech savvy and marketplace resilience have helped America prosper in the era of globalization.” In the 2008 book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking, author Jeff Gordinier describes Generation X as a "dark horse demographic" which "doesn't seek the limelight". Gordiner cited examples of Gen Xers' contributions to society such as: Google, Wikipedia, Amazon.com and YouTube, arguing if Boomers had created them, "we'd never hear the end of it". In the book, Gordinier contrasts Gen Xers to Baby Boomers, saying Boomers tend to trumpet their accomplishments more than Gen Xers do, creating what he describes as "elaborate mythologies" around their achievements. Gordiner cites Steve Jobs as an example, while Gen Xers, he argues, are more likely to "just quietly do their thing".

In 2011, survey analysis from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth found Gen Xers to be "balanced, active, and happy" in midlife (between ages of 30 and 50) and as achieving a work-life balance. The Longitudinal Study of Youth is an NIH-NIA funded study by the University of Michigan which has been studying Generation X since 1987. The study asked questions such as "Thinking about all aspects of your life, how happy are you? If zero means that you are very unhappy and 10 means that you are very happy, please rate your happiness." LSA reported that "mean level of happiness was 7.5 and the median (middle score) was 8. Only four percent of Generation X adults indicated a great deal of unhappiness (a score of three or lower). Twenty-nine percent of Generation X adults were very happy with a score of 9 or 10 on the scale."

The Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation is passing midlife (Give or take a few years) right now. This generation includes almost 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

The Boomers are the largest generation in U.S. history. They have had a major impact on American society as they have passed through every life stage. They are passing through midlife in their own unique way, differently from their parents and differently from Generation X, the group born in the years after 1964.

The first Boomer turned 50 at the beginning of 1996, and the remaining 78 million will observe this anniversary sometime between now and 2014.

Typical Feelings

According to Rocking the Ages authors J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman (researchers at Yankelovich Partners) and authors like Gail Sheehy, people passing through middle age typically experience the following kinds of feelings.

Great expectations: Most Boomers are beginning to recognize their own limitations. Growing up in the comfortable 1950's, the Boomers learned to expect unlimited growth and endless possibilities. They believed their good luck would never end. Now that they are turning 50, many are shocked to discover that there are limits to life's possibilities.

Regret: As people reach midlife, they must face up to the loss of some of their dreams and regret the mistakes they have made. It is not easy for anyone to face the person one will never be.

Loss: At midlife, everyone has to face the loss of youth, valued by our society. In her book New Passages, author Gail Sheehy calls this experience "The Body Blues" or "The Vanity Crisis."

Meaning: According to Sheehy, the "universal preoccupation" of the middle years is "the search for meaning in whatever we do." As they face the fact that time is limited, the Baby Boomers typically become even more intent on this need to analyze and search for significance.

Change: The midlife years can be a time of radical change for many people. This is the result of endless questioning and evaluation of how one has lived life thus far. Many midlife crises become mid-life meltdowns, says Sheehy, because some people react to feelings of emptiness or disillusionment by destroying everything they have built.

The Boomers developed a value system that is based on a sense of entitlement and which values individuality. Because they hold these values, Boomers respond differently to each life stage than do other generations. You can see these values reflected in scenes like those from television shows from the 1950s and early 60s.

According to Smith and Clurman, four important characteristics of the Baby Boomer value system are:

Self-absorption: The Boomers (once called the "Me" Generation) have the reputation of being more narcissistic than other generations. Because of the times they grew up in, they have always been fascinated with themselves. The indulgence they experienced at home in the 1950s and the world's seemingly limitless possibilities created a fascination with self and a feeling of specialness.

Sense of entitlement: As a generation, the Boomers see themselves as superior to others. They have always assumed that they could have life their way and that the rules were meant for others, but not for them. They feel entitled to rewards and view themselves as winners. They expect success and cannot accept failure.

Need for control: The Boomers need to feel certain and to sense that they are in control of life. They have a difficult time dealing with uncertainty.

Reflection: Baby Boomers have always valued introspection and take pleasure in asking questions.

For most people, life at age 45 or 50 doesn't match the dreams they had at age 20 or 30. When people reach age 45 or 50 and are even slightly disappointed by their achievements and experiences, their feelings are likely to be compounded by these factors of self-absorption, sense of entitlement, and a need for control. But there is also a positive side to this. The tendency to reflect and explore can help one look for new possibilities instead of being stuck with feelings of disappointment.

Keep all of this in mind as you complete the Midlife Checkup. It is a list of 29 unfinished sentences that will help you assess your life to date. The items on this list provide a framework for conducting your own assessment. Please add your own ideas that you think will help you reflect on your life's direction.

The Midlife Checkup

    1.    My most important accomplishments are...

    2.    I am disappointed about...

    3.    I would describe the person I turned out to be as...

    4.    I want to change the following things about my self and my life...

    5.    Things I want to do before I die...

    6.    If I knew I couldn't fail, I would...

    7.    Things I have mastered...

    8.    Things I want to keep...

    9.    I want to keep these relationships...

    10.    I want to let go of these relationships...

    11.    I want to keep these possessions...

    12.    I want to let go of these possessions...

    13.    I want to have these experiences...

    14.    I want to clean up these messes...

    15.    I want to celebrate...

    16.    I don't ever again want to...

    17.    My body is...

    18.    My children are...

    19.    My parents are...

    20.    My spouse is...

    21.    I want to remember...

    22.    I want to forget...

    23.    I must apologize to...

    24.    I must seek an apology from...

    25.    I am most proud of...

    26.    I wish I could forget about...

    27.    I wish I could do over...

    28.    I wish I had never...

    29.    I wish I had...

    30.    Add your own items:

Non Violent Communication

1. Nonviolent Communication®

Nonviolent Communication® was developed in the sixties of the twentieth century by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg – a student of Carl Rogers. Rosenberg, born in 1934 in the USA and of Jewish religion, grew up in an inner-city Detroit neighborhood where he was confronted with various forms of violence, including race riots with deaths. This triggered his desire to explore what exactly happens when people behave violently, and conversely, what allows some people to stay compassionate and human under even the most trying circumstances (Rosenberg 2000, pp. xi-3). He chose to study clinical psychology and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1961.

While studying the factors that affect our ability to stay compassionate, I was struck by the crucial role of language and our use of words’ (Rosenberg 2000, p. 2).

In the wake of these findings he developed an approach to communicating that enables people to connect with themselves and with others in a way that allows their natural compassion to flourish. He called his approach Nonviolent Communication®.

Nonviolent Communication® is based on the vision of a world in which everybody’s needs are taken into consideration and people give and take with joy. The primary goal of NVC® is to help people connect with themselves and others.

Nonviolent Communication® (shortened NVC®) is based on the assumption that…

  • Needs are the ‘motor’ of all human behavior, i.e. that all activities of people are attempts to meet needs.

  • All people have the same needs, e.g. autonomy, reliability, freedom, peace.

  • Violence (including verbal violence) is an expression of unmet needs.

  • Our feelings are signals whether needs are met or not.

  • All people have the potential (but in many cases not the knowledge and skills) to empathize with themselves and others.

(Richter-Kaupp, course notes, International Intensive Training with Marshall Rosenberg, August 2002, Switzerland)

For many people the NVC® communication model is easy to understand but difficult to put into action. It requires the following three core skills:

  1. Self-empathy: The ability to empathize with oneself.

  2. Sincerity: The ability to sincerely express oneself in a way that increases the willingness of the other person to listen and respond to what is said.

  3. Empathy: The ability to be present and empathize with the other person.

In order to facilitate these skills, the NVC® model suggests the following steps:

Needs are universal and enable people to connect with each other. They therefore play a central role in the NVC® model. Each and every person on earth – no matter what age, gender or cultural origin – at least at times wants to be heard, accepted, trusted, respected, to name just a few. Feelings act as a signaler, because they point us to those needs which are currently being met or unmet.

Learn more by watching this 12 Min. Video: Be CLEAR About What You WANT | Marshall Rosenberg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxiO4HnoiVQ

Why Am I So Anxious?

Why Am I So Anxious?

Fact: You Cannot Be Anxious and Relaxed At The Same Time! Therefore, the antidote to anxiety = relaxation...

Every human feels anxiety on occasion; it is a part of life. All of us know what it is like to feel worry, nervousness, fear, and concern. We feel nervous when we have to give a speech, go for a job interview, or walk into our boss's office for the annual performance appraisal. We know it's normal to feel a surge of fear when we unexpectedly see a photo of a snake or look down from the top of a tall building. Most of us manage these kinds of anxious feelings fairly well and are able to carry on with our lives without much difficulty. These feelings don't disrupt our lives.

But millions of people (an estimated 15% of the population) suffer from devastating and constant anxiety that severely affects their lives, sometimes resulting in living in highly restricted ways. These people experience panic attacks, phobias, extreme shyness, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. The feeling of anxiety is a constant and dominating force that disrupts their lives. Some become prisoners in their own homes, unable to leave to work, drive, or visit the grocery store. For these people, anxiety is much more than just an occasional wave of apprehension.

 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

 

An anxiety disorder affects a person's behavior, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. The most common anxiety disorders include the following:

Social anxiety or social phobia is a fear of being around other people. People who suffer from this disorder always feel self-conscious around others. They have the feeling that everyone is watching them and staring at them, being critical in some way. Because the anxiety is so painful, they learn to stay away from social situations and avoid other people. Some eventually need to be alone at all times, in a room with the door closed. The feeling is pervasive and constant and even happens with people they know.

People who have social anxiety know that their thoughts and fears are not rational. They are aware that others are not actually judging or evaluating them at every moment. But this knowledge does not make the feelings disappear.

Panic disorder is a condition where a person has panic attacks without warning. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, about 5% of the adult American population suffers from panic attacks. Some experts say that this number is actually higher, since many people experience panic attacks but never receive treatment.

Common symptoms of panic include:

 

·    Racing or pounding heart

·    Trembling

·    Sweaty palms

·    Feelings of terror

·    Chest pains or heaviness in the chest

·    Dizziness and lightheadedness

·    Fear of dying

·    Fear of going crazy

·    Fear of losing control

·    Feeling unable to catch one's breath

·    Tingling in the hands, feet, legs, or arms

 

A panic attack typically lasts several minutes and is extremely upsetting and frightening. In some cases, panic attacks last longer than a few minutes or strike several times in a short time period.

A panic attack is often followed by feelings of depression and helplessness. Most people who have experienced panic say that the greatest fear is that the panic attack will happen again.

Many times, the person who has a panic attack doesn't know what caused it. It seems to have come "out of the blue." At other times, people report that they were feeling extreme stress or had encountered difficult times and weren't surprised that they had a panic attack.

Generalized anxiety disorder is quite common, affecting an estimated 3 to 4% of the population. This disorder fills a person's life with worry, anxiety, and fear. People who have this disorder are always thinking and dwelling on the "what ifs" of every situation. It feels like there is no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry. The person often becomes depressed about life and their inability to stop worrying.

People who have generalized anxiety usually do not avoid situations, and they don't generally have panic attacks. They can become incapacitated by an inability to shut the mind off, and are overcome with feelings of worry, dread, fatigue, and a loss of interest in life. The person usually realizes these feelings are irrational, but the feelings are also very real. The person's mood can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. Feelings of anxiety and mood swings become a pattern that severely disrupts the quality of life.

People with generalized anxiety disorder often have physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, frustration, trembling, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbances. They may also have symptoms of social phobia and panic disorder.

Other types of anxiety disorders include:

 

Phobia, fearing a specific object or situation.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a system of ritualized behaviors or obsessions that are driven by anxious thoughts.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety that is triggered by memories of a past traumatic experience.

Agoraphobia, disabling fear that prevents one from leaving home or another safe place.

 

Treatment Options

 

Most people who suffer from anxiety disorders begin to feel better when they receive the proper treatment. It can be difficult to identify the correct treatment, however, because each person's anxiety is caused by a unique set of factors. It can be frustrating for the client when treatment is not immediately successful or takes longer than hoped for. Some clients feel better after a few weeks or months of treatment, while others may need a year or more. If a person has an anxiety disorder in combination with another disorder (such as alcoholism and depression), treatment is more complicated and takes longer.

 

While a treatment plan must be specifically designed for each individual, there are a number of standard approaches. Mental health professionals who specialize in treating anxiety most often use a combination of the following treatments. There is no single correct approach.

 

Cognitive Therapy

 

The client learns how to identify and change unproductive thought patterns by observing his or her feelings and learning to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts.

 

Behavior Therapy

 

This treatment helps the client alter and control unwanted behavior. Systematic desensitization, a type of behavior therapy, is often used to help people with phobias and OCD. The client is exposed to anxiety-producing stimuli one small step at a time, gradually increasing his or her tolerance to situations that have produced disabling anxiety.

 

Relaxation Training

 

Many people with anxiety disorders benefit from self-hypnosis, guided visualization, and biofeedback. Relaxation training is often part of psychotherapy.

 

Medication

 

Antidepressant and antianxiety medications can help restore chemical imbalances that cause symptoms of anxiety. This is an effective treatment for many people, especially in combination with psychotherapy.

The treatment for an anxiety disorder depends on the severity and length of the problem. The client's willingness to actively participate in treatment is also an important factor. When a person with panic is motivated to try new behaviors and practice new skills and techniques, he or she can learn to change the way the brain responds to familiar thoughts and feelings that have previously caused anxiety.

How Psychotherapy Retrains the Brain to Expect (and Feel) Better

People enter psychotherapy with the desire to feel better, but they are often unsure how therapy will help them accomplish this goal. A common refrain from people hesitant to enter therapy is, “How is talkinggoing to help?” People are used to talking to other people to get practical solutions to problems, and while problem-solving does have a place in therapy, change also occurs on a much deeper and unconscious level. This process has to do with the way the human brain is programmed and cannot easily be mimicked outside of a relationship with a psychotherapist.

Our brains are always evolving unconsciously through our relationships. People who experienced painful relationships growing up have been trained to expect hurtful experiences with others. It takes a new type of relationship—in particular, a therapeutic relationship—to retrain the brain to expect more positive experiences, which is a big part of ultimately feeling better. 

WHY CAN’T A THERAPIST JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO?

To understand why the therapeutic relationship can be so valuable and cannot be mimicked by, for example, advice in a self-help book, it is instructive to look at how the human brain has evolved. Broadly, there are three parts of the human brain that represent different phases of evolution: There is the reptilian brain, which evolved first and is responsible for the automatic control of vital bodily functions such as breathing; the limbic brain, which evolved second and is responsible for the regulation of emotion and behavior; and the neocortex, which evolved last and is responsible for higher-order functions such as symbolic thought, language, and reasoning.

When a person asks their therapist or a friend what they should do about something, they are essentially asking for a neocorticol solution—something that is rational and can be consciously implemented. Often, however, their problems are a result of hurtful experiences in their earlier relationships that have caused changes in their limbic brain, and only a new type of relationship can alter their limbic brain to produce fewer negativeemotionsand more positive ones.

BRAIN WIRING IN OUR YOUTH: HOW EMOTIONAL ISSUES BEGIN

Our emotions are meant to help us survive in a world in which we need the help of others. Over time, our limbic brains evolved to automatically create emotions, such as anger and sadness, that are meant to help us navigate the social world. When someone mistreats us, evolution has programmed us to become angry to try and change their behavior. When someone rejects us, we feel sad so we can mourn the loss of what we wanted with them and move forward with our lives.

However, when we are young and particularly dependent on others for survival, whether our emotions actually help us navigate the world has a lot to do with how other people—our parents in particular—respond to them. A child who responds to unfair or disappointing experiences with anger and is further punished for doing so may, over time, come to unconsciously pair the expression of anger with pain. As this occurs, rather than directly experiencing anger at times of unfair treatment or disappointment, they may instead experience anxiety about having anger because their brain has been trained by their social environment to expect that anger will hurt rather than help. Their limbic system is in effect attempting to prevent further emotional pain in the form of being punished, but the cost is another type of emotional pain in the form of persistent anxiety. This can be particularly problematic when people enter into new relationships (friendships, romantic relationships) where there would not be the same costs associated with the open expression of an emotion like anger, but earlier experiences still create anxiety and inhibit its expression.

RETRAINING THE BRAIN WITH PSYCHOTHERAPY

A psychotherapy relationship allows a person to essentially retrain their limbic system to no longer expect negative reactions to the expression of certain emotional experiences, and in doing so can alleviate the anxiety and unconscious emotional suppression their earlier experiences programmed into them. The therapeutic relationship does this in part because the parameters of psychotherapy recreate the type of relationship in which a person was first forced to suppress their emotions: one where they are dependent on another person to meet their needs.

A successful course of therapy helps restore a person’s emotional flexibility and empowerment so they can have greater agency in their relationships.

Just as a parent has a daunting task in meeting all of a child’s needs, so too does a psychotherapist, especially since many people arrive to therapy wanting a conscious, rational solution to their problems when such a solution often does not exist. Therapy presents a unique opportunity to heal and feel better by the way the therapist solicits and responds to feelings such as disappointment, anger, and sadness that emerge over the course of treatment. Rather than punishing a person for having these emotional experiences in the same way that may have occurred when they were younger, a therapist can actively solicit, explore, and normalize their feelings. This helps to retrain a person’s limbic system to no longer pair the expression of those emotions with punishment. As this de-coupling unconsciously occurs, the person becomes more easily able to tolerate the experience and expression of emotions.

THRIVING IN ADULTHOOD

This shift in tolerance for emotions naturally causes a person’s anxiety level to diminish because their mind is no longer fighting to ward off their innate emotional impulses. In addition to symptom relief, the beautiful part of this process is it restores a person’s ability to constructively access their emotions for their original purpose—as a way of helping to navigate the social world. It is hard to thrive in relationships when we have been programmed to believe we must accept the mistreatment of others or that we cannot show others when we are hurting and in need of care. As adults, this is often no longer the case, but our early experiences may make such underlying beliefs unconsciously feel true.

A successful course of therapy helps restore a person’s emotional flexibility and empowerment so they can have greater agency in their relationships. The result can be genuinely transformative, and studies suggest people who have been through therapy show less activity in the areas of the brain responsible for creating negative emotions. Talking, it turns out, can help quite a bit when the person you are talking to is a skilled and compassionate therapist.

If you’re struggling, reach out to a therapist in your area for help.

References:

  1. Bowlby, J. (2005). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory (Vol. 393). UK: Taylor & Francis.
  2. Cozolino, L. (2010). The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
  3. Damasio, A. R. (2006). Descartes’ error. New York, NY: Random House.
  4. Grecucci, A., Theuninck, A., Frederickson, J., & Job, R. (2015). Mechanisms of social emotion regulation: From neuroscience to psychotherapy. In Emotion regulation: Processes, cognitive effects and social consequences, pp.57-84.
  5. Karlsson, H. (2011). How psychotherapy changes the brain: Understanding the mechanisms. Psychiatric Times, 21.
  6. Lewis, T., Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2007). A general theory of love. New York, NY: Vintage.
  7. MacLean, P. D. (1990). The triune brain in evolution: Role in paleocerebral functions. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.

How People Change

What Is Happiness?

 

If you are thinking about changing your life for the better, one way to start is by identifying your goals. You are probably hoping to find some version of happiness or emotional well-being. That might look like any combination of the following:

 

·    A sense of freedom

·    Self-esteem

·    Self-confidence

·    Happy to get up in the morning

·    Working toward goals

·    A sense of purpose in life

·    Satisfying relationships

 

What Is Unhappiness?

 

If you are thinking about changing your life, you may be experiencing some combination of the following elements:

 

·    Feeling sad, lethargic or depressed

·    Feeling afraid

·    Abusing or being addicted to alcohol or drugs

·    Feeling lonely

·    Anxiety

·    Problems with relationships

·    Not getting what you want in life; feeling frustrated in working toward goals

·    Not caring enough to have goals

 

How Will You Change?

 

When you decide to change your life, try the following ideas.

 

1.    Explore your feelings. Keep a journal, talk to a trusted friend, work with a professional counselor.

2.    Envision your future. Write in a journal, make a collage, do a guided visualization, talk to a friend or counselor, research the possibilities.

3.    Explore wishes and dreams. Keep a journal, talk to a trusted friend, work with a professional counselor.

4.    Be open to new ideas. Take a class, travel, say yes to things you may have avoided in the past.

5.    Look for kindred spirits. Avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself, seek out those who make you blossom, reach out to those with similar interests and dreams.

6.    Try something different. Deliberately buy new items, try different brands, shop at different stores, do the opposite of what you usually do, see different movies, read different kinds of books and magazines.

7.    Set goals and targets. Learn how to set useful goals, follow through, evaluate progress regularly, reward yourself for achievement.

8.    Take one step at a time. Divide your goals into tiny pieces and do one small new thing each day, starting now.

9.    Look for lessons. Remind yourself that experiences are not good or bad; they are simply lessons.

 

How to Overcome Your Resistance to Change

 

Have you ever noticed that when you think about changing your life, you feel resistant? Many people say that they not only feel resistant, but they actually do things to keep their lives familiar. They do things like start a diet and then eat a candy bar on the first day, or quit smoking and then sneak a puff.

 

There are some things you can do to make yourself less resistant. Here are six effective strategies:

 

1.    Eliminate clutter. Clutter can be viewed as a sign of uncertainty. Accumulating "stuff" might be stopping you from committing to an important thing. If you keep a lot of half-started projects around, it makes it difficult to zero in on the really important things.

2.    Start small. Thinking of your overall goal can be overwhelming. So manage your resistance by choosing one small part of it and attacking it today. Let's say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. That can certainly seem like an impossible thing to accomplish. It will seem more doable if you tell yourself, I'm going to lose five pounds by (date).

3.    Disprove your disempowering beliefs. In Reinventing Your Life, authors Young and Klosko suggest that you identify the beliefs that keep you from succeeding. They offer a way to dispute those beliefs by asking, "Is there really an evidence today that this belief is true?" They suggest making a list of the evidence.

4.    Remind yourself of all of your available options. You always have alternatives and the power to choose among them.

5.    Take responsibility for what you want. Look for signs that you are blaming

your situation on others or not admitting past mistakes. Acknowledge them and move on.

6.    Visualize the future. Author Barbara Sher suggests one way to do this: Write an imaginary press release about yourself. The date is today's date, two years in the future. The press release is announcing the most extraordinary event you can think of. It doesn't matter whether this event seems only vaguely possible to you. The important thing is that it is exciting to imagine.

 

When to Seek Professional Help

 

Sometimes it makes sense to find a professional counselor to work with as you work through the change process. Here are some ways to know when that would be appropriate:

 

1.    You've tried several things but you still have the problem.

2.    You want to find a solution sooner rather than later.

3.    You have thoughts of harming yourself or others.

4.    You have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another disorder that are significantly interfering with your daily functioning and the quality of your life. For example, you have lost time from work, your relationships have been harmed, your health is suffering. These are signs that you may need the help of a trained, licensed professional.

The Joys (and Tears) of Parenting My Adult Children


The Joys (and Tears) of Parenting My Adult Children

Shantel Patu //  October 16, 2018

4 min read 2,430

HOME » THE GOTTMAN RELATIONSHIP BLOG » THE JOYS (AND TEARS) OF PARENTING MY ADULT CHILDREN

I watched as she stormed into the house. Peril, sheer peril, if you let her tell it.

She hadn’t noticed me reading, quietly in the corner, so she went about, slamming cabinets and drawers, then finally ending her assault on the kitchen by opening and staring into the fridge. I heard her mumble something about hating her job, her co-workers, her commute, and of course, her meager paycheck that she waited for each week. She was adorable.

I peered over my book and examined her. She was considered an average-sized person, about 5’7”, which was a giant to my 5’1” frame. She had these amazing, almond-shaped, bright brown eyes, which she was constantly complaining about the size and the color of, but to me and her father, they were gorgeous. 

I looked at this amazing person that I had created, and the thing that stood out to me (besides her poked-out lip) was that she was now an adult. She looked over as if noticing me for the first time and asked, “What are you looking at, mom?” I couldn’t help but smile. All she needed to do next was stomp her left foot, and as if on command, she did. I chuckled as she morphed into my little girl. “Nothing,” I managed to say.

My adult daughter was now a 20-year-old college student. She drove herself everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. She bought her own food and was renting a small room from her best friend. She was by all accounts an adult. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but to still see her as my little girl.

Raising a child seems to be a lifetime psychological and physiological commitment that I signed in blood, the day she was born. I had no idea there would be so much obligation and yet I’ve gleefully devoted my life to this being. The ups and downs of parenting are definitely a challenge, but just wait until you get a load of the young adult shenanigans you get to parent through next.

Parenting has taught me and my husband a lot about ourselves, our relationship, and even about our ever-changing co-parenting styles. I remember when we first delved into the theatrical account of the Misadventures in Parenting, starring us. Our co-stars were two girls and two boys and we weren’t given a script, just pure improv. Our life featured an ambient abstract of “do’s and don’ts,” as we narrated through the whimsical and slightly wild adaptation of our own version of “This is Us,” not yet rated.

Over time, we discovered that our children were complex beings and that parenting is kind of like bartending: you add a lot of this, a bit of that, a touch of this, and eventually you find yourself drunk on the specialty of each of their individual brands. I can remember having to learn to understand my 5-year-old son’s Love Language and his different personality vices while woefully enjoying my 11-year-old’s new-found independence. It was a oxymoron of joys and tears. I can also remember saying prayers with my 4-year-old, then explaining God to my 6-year-old, while my 8-year-old listened and somehow empathized with Satan and felt he got a bad rap for getting kicked out of heaven, saying, “It’s too bad for him, mama, he doesn’t even say his prayers anymore.”

We, the parents, have so many roles that we didn’t know we were signing up for. So much was left out of the job description. And to do this job, with all of its expectations, we weren’t even given an Ikea-style instruction booklet. I have had to be a janitor and a maid (neither of which offers pay or benefits). Often times, I was called upon to be nurse, a surgeon (I am magical with tweezers) and my favorite, a therapist. Parents always need an open ear or two. One for listening to a variety of woes and the other for listening out for a variety of mischief.

We’ve been cheerleaders, pep squads, coaches, and teachers. We’ve shown great prowess as a lawyer, judge, jury, and sometimes even the proverbial executioner (metaphorically speaking, of course). There were also the joyful titles of superhero and GOAT, greatest (parent) of all time. Yet, with all of these moving parts of parenting, they somehow missed including any of it in the birthing orientation.

I find that I’m really enjoying watching my children grow into adults that I can be proud of. I don’t even mind the new roles of ATM, auto mechanic, co-signer, organizer, and their forever therapist (janitor and maid still somehow keep being requested).

As parents, we are hard on ourselves and even harder on our parenting, but in the end, all we can really only hope for is that our children become thoughtful, caring, and loving adults.

Everything else is up to them to figure out. That’s what parenting adult children is all about, learning to watch them figure it out, and of course, waiting in the wings to swoop down like the superheroes that we are. And I see that now.

So regardless of how daunting the tasks, time, and commitment of parenting may seem, we do it to the best of our abilities and with little acknowledgement or appreciation for our sacrifices. Our hopes and dreams lie simply in seeds we planted in their little hearts to grow.

And then it happens. They finally grow up. And hopefully, they are able to leave our loving arms, in search for the means to wrap their loving arms around someone else and become parents themselves.

How Do I Make A Decision?

Many people who come to my office say they have a difficult time making decisions. I have developed a process to help my clients master this skill. I recommend that people follow these four steps:

1.    Identify the real issue. For example, you are trying to decide which movie to see, but you are having a hard time agreeing. As you talk about it, you realize that the real issue is that you simply want some time to be together in a quiet place where you can talk. Going to a movie does not address this issue.

2.    Identify the available options. In the above example, the options might include going to a quiet restaurant, taking a drive, or walking on the beach.

3.    Evaluate the available options. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. Evaluate how well each option addresses the real issue.

4.    Implement the decision. Make a choice and carry it out.

Even though most people make dozens of important and complex judgments every day, few of us have actually been trained to make good decisions. We started making basic decisions when we were young children, and we continue to follow the same simple process as we get older, even though the issues have become much more complicated.

We learned to make decisions by watching our parents and learning in school. Mostly we learned by trial and error. Our first decisions were pretty simple-to choose pizza or hamburgers, to play softball or soccer, to wear the pink headband or the blue one. These decisions pretty much boiled down to choosing between X and Y.

According to the authors of Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions, most of us continue to choose between X and Y without making certain that we are addressing the real problem in the first place.

A second common mistake is rushing into a decision, hurrying to get it over with. We rarely step back from the decision and view it in a broader context. While it is more difficult and time-consuming, it is better to take your time and be sure you are seeing the big picture and the key issues.

Strategies for Making Better Decisions

Here are some decision-making tips:

1.    Take your time making important decisions. Some situations require a deliberate and careful decision-making process.

2.    Once the decision has been made, carry it out without hesitation.

3.    If you can, delegate decisions to those who will carry them out. Authors Heller and Hindle (Essential Manager's Man-ual) advise managers always to be on the lookout for ways to push the decision-making process down a level. If you are making decisions for your family, consider how you can involve your kids in the process.

4.    Making decisions requires both intuition and logic. It's important to trust your gut, but be sure you are thinking logically.

5.    Unless the situation is pretty straightforward, it is a good idea to generate as many ideas as you can. Learn the principles of brainstorming (see box) and throw lots of options into the hopper.

6.    Look at the issues from different points of view. How do they look to the different groups they might affect? For example, if a teacher asks his students to wear Native American clothing tomorrow, will the kids' parents have the time to help them prepare on such short notice?

7.    Consider the immediate and long-term implications of each solution, including its impact on other people.

8.    Consider the worst- and best-case scenarios, as well as the possibilities in between.

Deciding Yourself versus Involving Others

Involving others in your decision-making process helps you avoid the tendency to rush into a decision, hurrying to get it over with. When you take the time to consult others, you force yourself to step back from the situation and see it in a broader context. While it is more difficult and time-consuming, getting the advice and support of others can help you produce better decisions.

Consider these points when seeking advice:

1.    Determine whom to involve in the process. If it's a simple, low-risk decision, you may not need to involve any one else.

2.    If you do ask others for advice and suggestions, be prepared to respond to their input.

3.    Determine who will need to approve your decision, and get that approval.

Consider these points when seeking support:

1.    Think about who might resist your decision, and have a plan to manage that resistance. For example, you want to allow your daughter to have her friends sleep over on a weeknight during the summer, but you expect your husband will object because he has to get up for work the next day and doesn't want his sleep disturbed. Think about how you could plan the evening in a way to avoid disturbing your husband.

2.    Identify ways to increase the chances that your decision will be supported. In the sleepover example, you could ask the girls' friends to bring sleeping bags, and set up the basement for them to sleep in.

3.    If your decision presents any risks, look for ways to minimize them.

Make This Work for You

Rules of Brainstorming

    1.    Write down the question you are addressing. For example, "Where shall we go on vacation?"

    2.    Think of as many ideas as you can.

    3.    Write down every idea, no matter how wild it seems.

    4.    No one is allowed to judge or evaluate any of the ideas in any way. This includes making faces, rolling eyes, and sighing.

    5.    The goal is to think of as many ideas as you can. Quantity is more important than quality.

    6.    After everyone is finished suggesting ideas, take a break.

    7.    After the break, discuss the ideas and edit the list. A solution will emerge.

Identify a situation in your life right now. Be sure to choose something important and challenging. Apply the steps we have been exploring to this situation.

    1.    Describe the situation.

    2.    What is the real issue here?

    3.    List the pros and cons of each option.

    4.    What do you need to consider when seeking advice?

    5.    What do you need to consider when seeking support?

    6.    What are the best options?

    7.    Who needs to be involved?

    8.    What should be delegated? To whom?

    9.    What resources would need to be secured?

    10.    What steps need to be planned, and what is their timing?

 

 

 

Fine Tune Your Relationship

Why do some relationships last forever and others fall apart? Here are some ways you can make your partner feel appreciated again and prevent your relationship from becoming a casualty.

 

    1.    Treat your partner as you would your boss, best friend, or best customer.

 

    2.    Think about what your partner wants and give it to him or her.

 

    3.    Think of ways you can do the unexpected and be thoughtful. Remember how you acted when you wanted to win your partner over.

 

    4.    Pay attention to your appearance. Dress nicely; get into shape.

 

    5.    Express your thoughts carefully. Being married doesn't give anyone permission to let it all hang out.

 

    6.    Spend regular time together alone.

 

    7.    Look for ways to compliment your partner.

 

    8.    Hug when you say hello and goodbye. It feels good and it makes people feel loved.

 

    9.    Learn and practice communication skills. Relating successfully to another person requires a set of skills that can be learned.

 

    10.    Be polite. Just because you are married doesn't mean you can forget your manners.

 

    11.    When you want something, say please.

 

    12.    When your partner does something for you, say thank you.

 

    13.    When your partner comes home after a day at work, greet her at the door and say hello. Ask how her day went.

 

    14.    When your partner leaves for work in the morning, say goodbye and "I love you" or "Have a good day."

 

    15.    When your partner faces a challenge at work during the day, ask how it went when you get home.

 

    16.    During your evening meal together, avoid the temptation to watch television or read the paper or mail. Look at your partner and have a conversation.

 

    17.    If you want to make plans that affect how your partner will be spending time, check with him first and make sure it's convenient.

 

    18.    When you ask your partner a question, make eye contact and listen to the answer.

 

    19.    When you disagree with something your partner says, pay attention to your response. Do you express your opinion without putting her down? You can express your opinion assertively rather than aggressively. For example, you can say, "I have another opinion. I think we should wait until spring to have the walls painted," rather than, "That's silly! We should wait until spring."

 

    20.    Pay attention to how much of your side of the conversation is asking questions versus making statements. If you tend to be the dominant one, ask more questions.

 

    21.    Ask open-ended questions to encourage your partner to open up and talk. Open-ended questions begin like this:

    a.    Tell me about...

    b.    What do you think of...

    c.    What was it like when...

 

    22.    Have you become passive with your partner because that's the easiest way to avoid conflict? Over time, this is not a good idea. You will inevitably begin to build up feelings of resentment because you are stifling your feelings, thoughts, and opinions. If you think you are choosing passive behavior too often, think about discussing it with your partner and asking him to help you be more assertive.

 

    23.    Researchers have found that people whose marriages last the longest have learned to separate from their families of origin (their own parents and siblings) and have appropriate, healthy boundaries. They value and honor their own privacy and separateness as a couple. This means they have regular, appropriate contact with their extended family, but that it is not excessive or stifling. How do you compare?

 

    24.    Check your communication with your partner and beware of using "You" messages. These are statements that begin with you. For example:

You need to come home by 6:00 tonight.

You shouldn't do that.

You should call me from the office and tell me when you'll be home.

Here is what you ought to do.

"You" messages are damaging because they make the other person feel bad or disrespected. It feels like you are talking down to him or her.

 

    25.    If you want to demonstrate to your partner that you respect and esteem him or her, try speaking with "I" messages instead. When you start your statement with "I," you are taking responsibility for the statement. It is less blameful and less negative than the "you" message.

You can use this formula: Your feelings + Describe the behavior + Effect on you. This is how an "I" message sounds: When I heard that you'd planned a weekend up north, I was confused about why you hadn't asked me first, so I could be sure to get the time off. It takes some practice and you have to stop and think about what you are going to say, but your marriage deserves to be handled with care.

 

    26.    Make a list of your partner's positive qualities. Share them with him and tell her why you think each is true.

 

    27.    Ask your partner to do the same for you.

 

    28.    Respect each other's private space. Over time, many couples let this slide.

 

    29.    As the years pass, many couples begin to feel like they are living in the same house, but have parallel lives. Their paths cross in fewer places. What is the trend in your relationship and what do you want to do about it?

Check out: Connect With Your Partner: A Practical Activity Guide For Couples http://a.co/5t74ez6

Increase Self Esteem

What Is Self-Esteem?

 

Self-esteem literally means to esteem, or respect, yourself. Having high self-esteem means that you have a positive image of yourself. Let's look at where such a positive self-image comes from.

 

In her classic book Celebrate Yourself, Dorothy Corkville Briggs makes a distinction between the real you and your self-image. She says that the real you is unique and unchanging. Most of your self-image-what you think is true about yourself-is learned. It is not necessarily accurate at all!

 

Where are your beliefs about yourself drawn from? Where did you learn them? If you think about it, you'll see that they came from:

 

·    What others said about you

·    What others told you

·    What others did to you

 

Your self-image is the result of all the messages you heard about yourself as a child. These messages added up to a set of beliefs about who you are. It may have nothing to do with who you really are.

 

For example, you may believe things like:

 

·    I'm not very smart.

·    I'm naturally passive.

·    Girls aren't any good at math.

·    I'm too old to start over.

·    All of the women in the Breski family become doctors.

·    I'm painfully shy.

·    The Hurleys never lie.

 

In addition to learning to believe certain things during our early years, there are certain situations that make most people feel inferior or lacking in self-esteem.

 

Some examples are:

 

·    Being criticized

·    Not being loved

·    Being rejected

·    Experiencing failure

 

What Low Self-Esteem Feels Like

 

In situations like these above, it is not uncommon to feel emotions such as:

 

·    Sadness

·    Inferiority

·    Anger

·    Jealousy

·    Rejection

 

Cognitive Therapy

 

Cognitive therapy is one of the most successful methods for helping people feel better about themselves. Cognitive therapists help depressed and anxious people feel better by identifying how faulty ways of thinking are making them feel bad. They believe that faulty thoughts cause us to feel bad, which makes us feel bad about ourselves.

 

Cognitive therapists call these faulty ways of thinking "twisted thinking." Cognitive therapy is a process where the client analyzes his or her thoughts and beliefs, and learns to substitute more healthy ways of thinking and believing. These therapists help their clients feel better in four steps: First, identify the upsetting events that cause bad feelings; second, record your thoughts about the event; third, identify the distortions in your thinking process; and fourth, substitute rational responses. When the client successfully completes these four steps, the client usually feels better about him- or herself.

 

Thinking the right kinds of thoughts is one way to feel good about yourself. Now let's talk about a second way to increase your self-esteem: by taking a look at your life environment and seeing whether it supports you feeling good about yourself. You may find that some nourishing elements need to be replenished. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

 

Do you have people in your life who:

 

    1.    Treat you with love and respect?

    2.    Encourage you to do and be anything you want?

    3.    Help you find out what you want to do, and how to do it?

    4.    Encourage you to explore all of your talents and interests?

    5.    Are thrilled when you succeed?

    6.    Listen to you when you need to complain?

    7.    Help you bounce back from failure without making you feel bad?

 

Take a moment to think about each of the items on this list. Note where your environment is providing adequately for you, and where it is lacking. This can give you clues to how to build your own self-esteem.

 

 

 

Strategies for Esteem Building

 

1.    Pay attention to how you are feeling from moment to moment. Tune in to what your five senses are experiencing. Take it down to the most basic level of "I feel warm right now," "I feel light-headed," "I feel a tightness in my stomach."

   

2.    Revisit your interests and goals. Make a list of things you'd like to do and learn. Today, take one step toward learning more.

   

3.    Spend less time with critical people and more time with those who appreciate you.

   

4.    Spend some time with yourself at the end of each day. Review what happened and how you were feeling. Write about it in a private journal.

   

5.    If you are feeling bad about yourself, consider finding a therapist to help you get your life on a positive track.