WHY ANGER IS NOT A “BAD” EMOTION

Contrary to popular belief anger is not a “bad” emotion and can help you learn about yourself, protect yourself and others, and mend relationships. If you’re human, you get angry; it’s unavoidable. What you can control is how you respond to your anger. You can let your anger control you, deny that your anger is even there, or accept your anger and let it do it’s job. 

Usually anger begins with a painful circumstance and has roots in hurt or fear. Our culture tells us that anger is a strong emotion and hurt and fear are weak emotions so some of us choose to only show anger. This can cause problems because the person you’re hurt by or scared of doesn’t know to respond to these emotions and responds to the anger instead, usually in defense.

If we choose to keep our anger to ourselves then we end up building a wall between us and others. If we don’t communicate that there is something wrong, the problem cannot be solved. We may think we can carry on as if everything is fine, but often bitterness or resentment start to build up and the relationship is impacted. 

There are, however, times when expressing anger is not helpful. Anger is meant to protect our personal worth but things can go south when we take it to another level and protect our sense of pride. We can also use it to make sure our essential needs are met, but can run into trouble when we use it to get things we want instead of things we need. Lastly, anger can be used to protect our basic convictions and help us stand up for what we believe in. We run into trouble when we set out to get everyone else to have the same basic convictions as us instead of simply making room for our own.

So many people have very negative memories when it comes to anger. After several experiences with expressing anger in a healthy way we can redefine what anger as a healthy tool instead of something to fear or avoid. 

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com

Helping your Child Through a Divorce

As we know, divorce impacts nearly 50% of families, which means many youth are growing up in two households.  Often times, the child is not part of the reason for divorce, but inevitably they are impacted significantly.  Here are some ways you can continue to support your child through this transition and after in order to minimize the impact the divorce may have on them.

1.     Make sure your child continues to be told and shown that they are loved, valuable, and important.

2.     Do not talk negatively about your ex-partner to your child.

3.     Do not put your child in the middle of it, making them choose who they want to spend their time with.

4.     Don’t sugarcoat the situation- be honest and direct, but feel free to withhold details that will not benefit the child

5.     Don’t brush it under the rug and pretend nothing is different

6.     Acknowledge the change, their feelings, and what they need

7.     Get the youth into see a counselor, even if it’s short term therapy for a few sessions to allow the child to express themselves

8.     Discuss logistics with the other parent without the child around

9.     Be flexible and willing to alter this visitation schedule when needed but again, do not make the child choose.

If you or your child are working through a divorce, don’t wait to get help.  There is hope for creating a new normal for your family and your child. 

Kimberly Presley, MSW, LCSW

To learn more about BLANK, visit the Taylor Counseling Group Blog.

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com

 

WHAT IS COUPLES COUNSELING AND WHO CAN BENEFIT?

Many couples wait up to six years before going to couples counseling to strengthen their marriage- why is this?! Who can benefit from it? And what even is it? Counseling in any form can be anxiety provoking, but what if you knew it wasn’t too scary after all?

Almost anyone can benefit from couples counseling: 

  • Couples who want to strengthen their marriage
  • Couples who feel that they are living with a stranger
  • Couples who want to prepare or process through an upcoming or past hardship together
  • Couples who want to learn communication techniques
  • Couples who have one or both parties living with mental illness, depression, anxiety, or past abuse
  • Couples who have broken trust because of an affair, addiction, or external factors
  • Couples who need to hit restart on their marriage

What is couples counseling anyways?

  • A safe place for both partners to voice their feelings, thoughts, hurts, and hopes.
  • The therapist will use more of a systems approach in couples counseling- where the family is looked at as a whole and all of our decisions have consequences, positive or negative, on the rest of the unit.
  • The therapist does not take sides in couples counseling- each person is valued and respected from their perspective. The hope is that the therapist can facilitate each partner to see the other person’s side.
  • Both partners are viewed as change agents and are encourage dot look at themselves as well, instead of placing blame on the other.

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com

Natural Vs. Manufactured Emotions

We all have emotions. Some of us feel emotions at a higher intensity or frequency but we all experience human emotion on a daily basis.  Most people don’t realize that there are two main categories of emotions: Natural Emotions and Manufactured Emotions

            Natural emotions are hard-wired, common, biologically driven emotions.  These emotions are those that come automatically, such as sadness, when a loved one passes away or lust when we see someone attractive.  Natural emotions need to be felt, run their course, and acknowledged.  They are like a fire, they burn strong and bright for a bit but without logs or lighter fluid, will eventually die down.  They will dissolve on their own when felt.

            On the other hand, Manufactured emotions are emotions that are not hard-wired, biologically driven, or automatic.  They are created as a result of our thinking or how we view the world.  These emotions are like lighter fluid or logs, keeping the natural emotion burning.  For example, the sadness that you felt when your mother passed away- that’s natural.  The guilt and self-blame you feel as a result of not taking care of her well enough, or not building a stronger relationship with her before she died, those are manufactured emotions as a result of your thinking and what you are telling yourself about the situation. 

            As you can probably guess, the manufactured emotions keep the fire burning, keeps your anger bubbling, and keeps your sadness simmering.  When we work through our thoughts, and allow ourselves to truly feel the natural emotions, we will quit squirting lighter fluid on the natural emotions and allow ourselves to heal.

Kimberly Presley, MSW, LCSW

To learn more about Emotions, visit the Taylor Counseling Group Blog.

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com

 

Boundaries & Assertiveness

Tony Gaskins says it well with his quote, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”  Often times we feel powerless to change our interactions with others whether in intimate relationships or professional ones. We deal with unnecessary anxiety, worry and frustration from lack of communication about our feelings, needs and desires.

More often than not, this struggle is due to not feeling worthy enough or worrying too much about what others think of us. Either tendency needs a healthy realignment in understanding our needs are just as important as the needs of others. We need to heed the advice of the author of best selling Boundaries books Dr. Cloud, “We have our own thoughts, and if we want others to know them, we must tell them.” We cannot assume others can read our minds or “should” know how we feel based on our perception of the world. This is a false conjecture that can be remedied by standing up for self and assertively stating desires, boundaries and expectations.

Think about your latest conflict with your partner or feeling of inferiority.  Were you able to effectively communicate your needs? Did you share what you like or dislike? Do others respect your limits? What do you need to do in order to take care of yourself and regain control of how others treat you?    

Combatting Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating. We all do it.  It’s when we are feeling stressed after a hard exam, or angry at our spouse, or when that meeting went better than expected and we deserve the extra giant bowl of ice cream.  While coping with emotions through excessive eating or restricted eating is common in our society, it is not a healthy and effective coping skill to deal with our feelings and stressors. It sure is easy to agree with that when you are sitting there reading this, but a lot harder to remember when you are in the pantry fuming, I know. 

 

One of the first steps to acknowledging and combatting emotional eating is Mindfulness.  Practicing mindfulness when you are eating something enjoyable; truly tasting it, experiencing the texture of it, acknowledging the nourishment it gives your body, will help you practice mindful eating when you are hungry instead of scarfing down empty calories to aid your soul.  The next step when you are in that emotional state is to remember that Mindfulness and to Reflect on your thoughts and feelings in that moment.  Do you want that extra three slices of cake that you will hate yourself for eating after you do?  Stop and think for two minutes about it, if you still want it after that, go for it.  Thirdly, this takes practice, just like anything that involves thoughtfulness and self-control.  Start small and be patient with yourself.  There can be freedom in our eating choices, but it takes Mindfulness, Reflection, and Practice. 

 

Coping with Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree- it is simply the body’s reaction to perceived or real stress, danger, or unfamiliarity.  Anxiety is not always a bad thing and in doses can help us perform at our optimal, perceive threat or danger, and help us stay alert and engaged among multiple tasks.  On the flip side, too much anxiety can be debilitating and frustrating. The key is to find the balance. 

 

Here are 8 tips to cope with excess anxiety and find that balance:

 

1.    Exercise- exercise releases endorphins, which give us a natural high and an emotional element of contentment.

2.    Write a list down of what is true- what is real? What does the evidence point to?  Reviewing what we know is true often counters our unnecessary worry.

3.    Read this list 2-3 times a day and remember to focus on what you know is supported with evidence.

4.    Practice mindfulness- living in the present, rather than the future or past helps you focus with intentionality on what is going on now.

5.    Engage in Positive Self-Affirmations- Anxiety often creates negative pictures of our self as a result of worry and insecurity.  Practice telling yourself positive things about, who you are, what you’re  doing, and what your future holds.

6.    Routine- Create a routine of things you love to do that make you feel good as well as productive.

7.    Connect- spend time with loved ones who truly know you and accept you.

8.    Pinpoint stressful areas of your life and work through them- this could mean counseling, confiding in a good friend, journaling.  Surface your ‘stuff’ and get to the root of it.

Importance of Family Time on Child’s Mental Health

In a day and age where we are constantly moving, going, and doing, it’s important to remember to slow down and smell the roses, especially with our children.  There are a lot of great reasons why parents want to spend time with their children, but most of us would not immediately think of the positive benefit it has on their mental health.  Children from birth to adulthood need attention and validation from their parents, we know this, but this is so much deeper than just praising them and affirming them when they are “successful.”  Research now suggest that truly engaging with your child has a plethora of benefits on the child’s mental health development. 

 

Spending quality time with your child:

·      Helps the child feel loved, appreciated, important

·      Helps the child feel heard, truly understood, and listened to

·      Helps the parent intentionally observe the child’s areas of growth, strengths, and preferences

·      Creates a stronger attachment between parent-child

·      The child feels safe to voice their real emotions, leading to more developed emotional regulation skills

·      The child can see the parent model communication skills and other pro-social behavior

·      The child’s self-esteem has a chance to develop at an earlier age

 

Positively Impacting a child’s mental health is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, so don’t forget to slow down, turn off the TV, and engage with your child. 

 

Kimberly Presley, MSW, LCSW

To learn more about your child’s mental health development, visit the Taylor Counseling Group Blog.

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com

GRIDLOCK V. DIALOGUE

How many times have you started into a conversation with your spouse and thought, “Here we go again”?  It’s not an uncommon process and highlights a repetitive dynamic in communication. Every couple has a repetitive dynamic and repetitive conflicts. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Institute (www.gottman.com), reports in his research that every couple has conflict topics that never get resolved. Never! The “masters” of communication (Gottman’s phrase) find ways to successfully navigate these topics. They do so by having a dialogue, a discussion where both parties are understood.

It’s easy at this point to focus on being understood. This is where most couple’s go wrong. Each individual is so focused on communicating their perspective on the situation that they forget to understand. How clearly each person enunciates their words doesn’t mean much if the other isn’t focused on listening and offering understanding. The most important and most difficult aspect of a dialogue is to listen. Only through listening well can a couple navigate repetitive issues and avoid gridlock.

Common causes of gridlock:

  • formulating your own response in your head as the other is speaking
  • invalidation of the other’s perspective or feeling
  • assuming what the other will say or what the outcome of the conversation will be
  • negatively interpreting the meaning of the other person’s words
  • escalating the situation with the volume of your voice
  • trying to win the conversation
  • withdrawing physically or emotionally
  • dismissing the topic as unimportant

The masters of communication focus on listening because they know the impact their words andactions have on the other will determine how the conversation goes. Listening well doesn’t guarantee resolution (again, some conflict never gets resolved), nor does it mean the topic won’t resurface (again, some issues are repetitive). Listening well and offering understanding do provide an opportunity to make a positive impact on your spouse by communicating care and respect. That impact is a more significant predictor of marital success than coming away with a resolution to all of your differences.

The Neuroscience Behind Self-Injury

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve read the previous two posts regarding WHY one might self-injury and what you can do to help.  Perhaps you cognitively understand the reasons in the previous post, but can’t seem to wrap your mind around how someone could put themselves through this.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Self-Injury is often referred to as an addictive behavior because the brain responds the same way as it does when a drug enters the body.  The three main neurochemicals that are released when one uses substances, are the same neurochemicals released when one self-injures and in fact, they all serve a very real purpose in our bodies.  As you can see, this makes it very hard for someone to just quit self-injuring because they are getting a really impactful response from it that serves them in regulating their emotions, however unhealthy of emotional regulation it may be. 

The three main neurochemicals in the brain that are involved when someone self-injures include:

a.     Serotonin- Calms us down,  (calms anxiety and depression) calms impulsive behavior

b.     Endorphins-  Numbs us out, helps us not feel pain

c.     Dopamine- Feeling good, feeling pleasure

Therefore when someone self-injures they get a sense of calmness, numbing, and then pleasure. Furthermore, when people are abused or have heightened levels of anxiety, they typically develop dopamine receptive sensitivity which makes them more prone to impulsivity and anxiety which in turn, makes them more prone to self-injury to cope with those unwanted feelings.

 So, as you can see, telling someone who has regulated their emotions with self-injury to “just stop cutting yourself” is about as effective as telling someone who struggles with alcohol to stare at a bottle and not take a sip. 

*See previous post for strategies to help someone who is self-injuring*

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Kimberly Presley, MSW, LCSW

To learn more about the neuroscience behind self-harming, visit the Taylor Counseling Group Blog.

For Questions and Scheduling:

Please call 214-530-0021

Or email us at info@taylorcounselinggroup.com