3 Types of Grounding Techniques

The last session we discussed the benefit so of grounding. Here are specific techniques you can try to help when feeling overwhelmed.

Physicalinvolves becoming attuned to your senses. For example, noticing physical elements such as the position of the body (slouching, tense, etc.), the temperature of the environment or even our body temperature, the feeling of our toes in our shoes. Some people like to carry a grounding object to keep you as a way tofocus on the here and now; you can use whatever feels most comfortable to you.

Soothingor kind self-talk involving keeping your eyes open, scanning the room, staying neutral. Remember the focus is not on right or wrong, the most important things isfocusing on the various sensations. Additional ideas might include making a list of positive statements you can tell yourself, actively picture people that care about you (focus on as many details as you can get), describe what your safe space looks like in minute detail or even use words from a quote, a song or a poem.

Mentally would be repeating that you’re in a safe space, focus on as many facts as possible-where you are, the day of the week, place, etc. Try to create various lists of trivia facts you can run through: colors, names of cities, TV shows, names of schools, the sky is the limit.   

Key Factors inSuccessful Use Of Grounding Techniques

  1. Simple but frequent practice will help you get the most benefits
  2. Give it enough time (20-30 mins), on multiple occasions
  3. Track what type(s) you would respond to best
  4. Start as early as possible rather than letting it snowball out of control
  5. Make index cards or notes on your phone of the techniques you like best
  6. Enlist the help of your friends or family, if you find yourself struggling with the consistent use any of the methods.  

Most important: Don’t give up!

Grounding: Detaching from emotional pain 

Intensive psychological pain may actas an uncomfortable and aching feelingand often experienced physical form. What about is it about these negative feelings that lead usto we carry and reminisce aboutthem, or worse yet allow them to drifttoward grumpy, irritable moods? 

Someone feelingoverwhelmed due to his or hercurrent situation might describe the pain something like “everything is scrambled up; it feels like I’m out of control and it’s difficult if not impossible to concentrate on anything.” 

In situationslike this, grounding can be a useful tool to address the overwhelming feelings. First off grounding is not merelyignoring the intrusive thoughtsand feelings. Instead, it’s an active strategy to disrupt your focus while re-establishingyour connection to the external world.  In a way,it’s like changingthe channel from an extremely upsetting show to somethingmore pleasant. 

Grounding is not going remove the overwhelming thoughts and feelings entirely; however, it will help reduce it to a more tolerable level. When you consistently use grounding techniques, you are naming the problem(s) which allowsyou more clearlysee the scope of the issue and begin working to stop it from controllingyou. Given enough practice, you will find it easier to be able to acknowledgethe problem, identify your reasons for feeling this wayand address it in healthier ways. 

Do not try to ignore anxiety or pretend it will go away; it is futile to deny it.  In attempting to denying it,you can feel like a failure which doesn’t help anything. Instead, acknowledge it the presenceof the upsetting feeling(s) and work towards identifying reasons you might be feeling them.  

In the next blog, we’ll identifymore specific grounding techniques. 

Social Media ‘How To’ for Parents

Parenting in real world can be tough. Parenting in the virtual world can be even more difficult as the screen hides much of what your child may think or feel about themselves or the world around them. Engaging with your kids about healthy use of social media and online gaming may seem intimidating, but as with anything in parenting, openness follows connection. Here a few tips in helping you navigate parenting in the digital age. 

  • Foster interest in their online accounts. Let them teach you how to use them and ask non-invasive questions about their viewings and friends.
  • Encourage wisdom and thinking about the future when posting. Their digital footprint is available forever, so what is posted today could affect how they are perceived in the future. 
  • Set appropriate posting rules for maintaining autonomous accounts such as no vulgarity, must be fully clothed, no revealing of school or home address, asking permission before posting about anyone else, etc. 
  • Create and enforce healthy, age appropriate time limits for social media and gaming use. This is best enforced when you as the parent model healthy boundaries and on your devices and engage your kids face to face.

Below are links to the popular social media sites your child may be using. Click one each networking site to find helpful tips explaining the differences, uses, precautions, and privacy settings of the online forums. 

Instagram

Facebook

Snapchat

Kik

Tumblr

Roblox

Reddit

Twitter

Youtube

Pheed

Vine (currently discontinued)

Creating Family Structure for Summer

Summertime can muster up mixed emotions. Most kids experience pure excitement with options of sleeping in, binging on Netflix, and more time with friends. Many parents dread the lack of school schedule predictability and feel inadequate to provide a healthy balance of growth and relaxation for their children.  Here are a few suggestions to help with creating a fun, learning centered summer for both parents and kids of all ages.

·      Schedule weekly family game nights –Daily socialization may be lower when out of school and some kids tend to find ways to get more attention using negative means. Kids long for positive attention from their parents, so knowing that there is a scheduled time for interaction and fun with the family will help funnel the energy! 

·     Create a summer bucket list – As a family, sit down and compose a list of fun activities and goals to accomplish before school starts back up. Let kids be creative and feel ownership in designing the timeline for completion. Marelisa Fabrega’s “Idea Book – 500 Ideas For Your Summer Bucket List” is a great resource. 

·      Construct a chore chart – Write out a list of household summer chores and let kids alternate picking a chore they would like to be responsible for until the list is fully covered. Decide which day each chore is to be done and allow them to earn privileges for going above and beyond or completing chores without prompting. 

 Teach money management and setting financial goals – Allow each kid to use their ingenuity and special gifting to find ways to make money. 

This link provides several ideas to get the entrepreneurial juices flowing: https://www.sixfiguresunder.com/ways-kids-can-earn-money/  

Anti-Thought

One of the things I enjoy most about meditation is the idea of anti-thought. When I first heard this phrase it struck me a little odd.  I’ve always heard and understood meditation to be this place of reflection, to organize thought or an Eastern approach to finding your Chi. As I began to embrace meditation as a form of anti-thought I found myself enjoying the process and looking forward to my next meditation session. 

The developers at Headspacehave created a wonderful app to help you explore the value of anti-thought.  A seemingly endless library of guided and unguided meditation sessions will help you to learn to allow thoughts to pass by as if they were cars whizzing by in traffic. The sessions focus on a variety of topics from stress and anxiety to grief and relationships teaching you to acknowledge your positive and negative thoughts experience their emotional connection and then allow them to pass by. 

If you have a busy life and find yourself feeling overwhelmed by tasks and thoughts try take a few minutes to find the right headspace.  

Let Them Fly or Clip Their Wings? 

Every baby is destined to be an adult, and the environment those first 18 years heavily impacts his or her ability to become a thriving, responsible, honorable adult. Beginning with this end in mind is an excellent starting point for creating structure, boundaries, rules and expectations for your home.

The first step to transferring responsibility to your future adult is clarity of rules and expectations. Begin by asking yourself, where would I like my child to be in regards to finances, relationships, emotional intelligence, work ethic, etc. when they leave my home? Once you figure out the goals and rules, communicate them clearly and often to your child as they needing structure and to thrive. If your kids are aware and respectful of those rules, then give them the space to make mistakes.

Do not be surprised when your child inevitably tests your rules and limits to “see for themselves” how far they can go. This is normal and not a reflection of you. What is a reflection of you is how well you uphold your end of the deal when they do challenge you. Lovingly allowing them to fail, suffer natural consequences, learn from their mistakes and be held accountable are some of the best lessons you can give your child while they are in your home. 

Parenting in the teen years is similar to having a safety net when learning to walk the tight rope. There is autonomy and support. If there is consistency and progress in your child making healthy decisions and learning from their mistakes, let them fly. They will thank you for it later, and you can sleep a little better at night when they are out of your house. However, If their decision making is revealing they cannot handle the responsibility that comes with more freedom, then tighten the reigns. This may require more concrete expectations, rules, consequences and rewards, so they can once again try taking flight again with more support. If ever there appears to be something bigger going on beyond the scope of your skills and understanding, schedule a family therapy appointment with a licensed professional for evaluation and regrouping. 

If you are wanting additional support as you work to create structure or implement change in your home, click here to find Developing Rules and Consequences by Mark Gregston of Heartlight Ministries. It is an excellent resource full of examples, worksheets and guidelines to help you thrive in parenting.

Goal setting

I find that most people don’t consciously have goals. Have you ever walked into an interview and the one of the questions they ask you is, “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Most of us don’t have answers. We sort of have to make one up on the spot. 

As a therapist, knowing my client’s goals are very important to me. However, more often than not, and just like the scenario above, most of my clients doesn’t have goals. None that they have placed any conscious thought on anyway. So I have to help them come up with one.

Do you want me to help you come up with a goal?  You’re probably groaning at the thought. It’s okay. I promise, it’s not as hard as you may think. You only need to answer one question: What is it in your life you are currently unhappy about? 

The beauty of knowing what you are currently unhappy about is that it can guide you towards what you do want in life.  Are you unhappy about your marriage? Then your goal is to be in a happy relationship. Are you unhappy about the way you see yourself? Then your goal is to see yourself in the opposite manner. When one gets in touch with what’s really causing unhappiness in their life, then one can target and transform it. Obviously, we still have to carefully explore and expand on the goal. But, it gives us a starting point and a direction. Once we can identify a goal, all we need to do to is get you there. 

This is Us - Trauma

Season 2 Episode 5, Brothers gave us a lot of information about the Pearson family that we didn’t have before. We learn that Jack had a brother named Nick, Deja has had quite the experience in foster care, and Rebecca and Jack’s dad meet for the first time. The strong impacts of trauma stood out in this episode both with Deja’s story and Jack’s. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD shows up in people’s lives when they have lived through a life threatening situation (or witnessed someone in a life threatening situation) and their minds don’t know how to file the incident away. Our brains are constantly trying to make sense of what we are experiencing and usually trauma doesn’t fit into the boxes we already have laid out. If before trauma we believe that the world a generally good place then trauma throws us for a loop. If we believe the world is a dangerous place trauma more deeply confirms that this is true. At this point it is common for people to start believing that the trauma was their fault or they in some way deserved the trauma. In the moment its the only way the brain is able to make sense of what happened. 

Dealing with all of these thoughts takes a tole on the body and mind. People dealing with trauma usually have trouble keeping memories of the trauma at bay either through thoughts, nightmares, of flashbacks. There is also something (a place, person, event, item) that they avoid to keep from thinking about the trauma. Lastly they have negative thoughts or feelings that started or got worse after the trauma. Having all of these things going on in their minds at once can be very distracting. Often this causes people dealing with trauma to react strangely to their environment or have trouble keeping friendships alive. In order to protect themselves from potential threat they often react in anger or isolation. 

I think we see slight signs of this in both Jack and Deja. Jack avoids talking about his brother. There are hints of thoughts he may have about his brother’s death being his fault. He responds to Kevin and Randall’s disagreements with a little more force due to this topic sitting heavy with him. Deja is the same way. When Randall tries to keep her from eating the shrimp tail she responds in a way that most people would think doesn’t match the situation. Deja is hypervigalent to any harm that might come her way. This keeps her from being able to connect with the Pearsons like she might want to. 

Even if the diagnosis of PTSD isn’t met, those who have experienced trauma might have some of the symptoms discussed above. It can mean a world of difference to have someone offer them a second chance and understand why they might respond in a strange way. It’s important to support those you know who have experienced trauma so they have the opportunity to heal. Predictability is key. If you have influence over someone’s life who has experienced trauma try to make a schedule they can count on. It is also very important that they feel safe in their home. These symptoms don’t have to last forever. With proper attention, and the chance to view the trauma accurately, these memories are able to be filed away in a way that no longer disturbs the person. 

Some Things to Consider:

1. Have you experienced some type of trauma in your life that keeps you avoiding certain thoughts, memories, or emotions? Who could you reach out to in order to start sharing your story?

2. Is there someone in your life that shows signs of struggling with PTSD or symptoms of trauma? How might you create a sense of safety when you are around them in order to help them heal? 

Can’t Sleep?  

Whether it is tossing and turning all night, not being able to quiet your thoughts before bed or waking up in the middle of the night-everyone has been there at some point. Here are two words you are probably not very familiar with that will help you get a good night’s sleep: sleep hygiene.  Sleep hygiene involves habits and practices you can use to help improve the quality of your sleep on a regular basis. Here are threeways to improve your sleep hygieneyou might not have considered.

1. Establish a bedtime routine

Adults can benefit from bedtime routine justas much as small kids, if not more. Bedtime routines help kids mentally and physically wind down for the evening. Creating your own version of a bedtime routine will help signal to your body itis time to wind down and go to sleep.

2. Find and maintain your ideal sleep environment

A few things to monitor in your bedroom: temperature, amount of light and noise level. Try playing around with the temperature of your bedroom to find the right fit for you. Sometimes dropping the temperature a few degrees and adding a blanket is all you need to send you off to a deep slumber. 

The amount of light in a bedroom can play havoc withyour ability to sleep. Too much light from a streetlight, for example, might mean you never fall asleep. On the flip side, keeping a room too dark might make waking up in the morning problematic. Ideally, you should have some access to natural morning light. 

Last, consider the noise level that is best for you. Inthe dark, we become more aware of noises we might typically ignore. You might not notice how busy your street is until you turn off the lights. Sound machines can be great for creating white noise to lull you off to sleep. 

3. Get out of bed

If you find yourself tossing and turning after 30 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room. This might seem counterintuitive but staying in bed when you cannot sleep continues to reinforce the idea that you cannot sleep. Keep in mind when you get out of bed, don’t turn on every light or start something mentally stimulating. If you get out of bed to read the next chapter of that new thriller you started, you are just rewarding yourself for getting out of bed. Once you find yourself getting drowsy, try going back to bed.

 

 

 

 

This is Us: Shame the Bully

In This is Us Season 2 Episode 8: One, we get to see more of Kevin's backstory as he spirals downward in present day. Seeing more of what Kevin went through helps us understand why he was so moody but that doesn’t change how difficult it was to watch him treat Jack and Rebecca so poorly. 

This episode highlights the impacts of shame. At its best shame tells us where our boundaries are. It tells us what we are okay doing and being and what we aren’t. The problem is, shame has a toxic side as well. At it’s worst, shame tells us to be enough in life we must be super human, perfect, perform the best. If not, we are at risk for being less than, unworthy, unloveable. It’s all on the line. We must do whatever it takes to protect our sense of perfection to keep from being seen as less than. 

Teenage Kevin is trying so hard to be seen as perfect. He wants to go to the school that will make him look a certain way. He needs the recognition he gets in football to tell him he is worth something. He thinks he has it all together because he sees himself as superhuman - he’s winning. This status is so fragile though, that it is worth it to him to attack and belittle the ones he loves to keep things steady. Jack’s struggle with alcohol, his weakness, threatens Kevin’s sense of control. He fears the way his dad’s lack of perfection with taint Kevin’s believed perfection. His need to keep himself at the top allows him to see his family as less than and Pittsburgh’s coach as less than, in order to keep seeing himself at the top.

Because we can’t keep up the facade of perfection for long there is a natural flip where shame starts to tell us we are subhuman. There are a few times in life that Kevin makes this dip. He doesn’t know what to do with his life when he hurts his leg, when he dad dies, when he throws away his job as the Manny, and now while he is struggling with addiction. Each time he before he figured out a way to pull himself up by the boot straps and convince himself and others that he was perfect. This time he seems a little more stuck. We see him struggle to see his worth at all when he visits his highschool. He tells everyone that he actually doesn’t deserve the honor at all. He sees himself as a fake. He knows he hasn’t actually been perfect all this time so he must have been worthless. 

The problem with toxic shame is, it doesn’t give us permission to be human. Humans make mistakes, they fail sometimes, they have needs and emotions. Kevin doesn’t give himself permission to have any of these things. With recognition of his shame - all the things he is disappointed in himself about, the times that he thinks he didn’t measure up, the times he thinks he fell short of perfection - he will be able to heal from this wound and start living as a human instead of expecting superhuman things of himself or the opposite - treating himself as subhuman. 

Some Things to Consider:

1. Shame gets in the way of how we treat not only ourselves but others. Are there people you see as less than in order to elevate yourself to super human status?

2. How might you give yourself permission to be human this week. How can you allow for mistakes, needs, and emotions? 

3. One of the ways to heal from shame is to expose it. Who might be a safe person in your life who you could be honest with about your mistakes, needs, and emotions?