Blog

man holding cell phone

How to Respond to The Unreliable People In Your Life

If you love a person who is wish-washy, unreliable and commitment-phobic (WWUCP), I feel your pain. Many people feel your pain. The unreliable person is a far to common complaint.  We give a pass to serial no-shows, last minute change of plans, and an inability to make a commitment.  Because of the passive-aggressive nature of the WWCUP actions, we are made to feel unjustified in expressing our unhappiness with the constant disappointment.

We should recognize that trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship with unreliable people has a negative impact our mental health. It is not good for us. It is time to respond to the Wishy-Washy, Unreliable and Commitment-Phobic People (WWUCP) in your life.

Stop Feeling Guilty About Setting A Boundary.

If a friend or family member was stealing from you, you would set a boundary and put a stop to it. If you do not, you are enabling their behavior.

Unreliability and an inability to make a commitment is a passive-aggressive form of theft. It steals your time which is a precious commodity.

Time manipulation is often tolerated because of the passive-aggressive nature. We don’t see it as a form of disrespect and theft, but it is.

Stop Accepting The Never Ending Excuses

We all have busy lives. Your time is not more valuable than mine. Unreliable people cancel with weak excuses. Don’t accept them. Weak excuses include canceling plans at the last minute because “Something else came along” or “I changed my mind at the last minute” is more than inconsiderate, it is disrespectful.

lady sitting at river bank
Social isolation and loneliness are one of the effects of having unreliable people as friends.

Call Out Minimizing

WCCUPS friends and family members are great at minimizing their behaviors. “What is the big deal?” “You could have still gone without me.” “Why are you getting so upset?” are familiar justifications. Minimizing their inconsiderate behavior while attempting to shine a light of hard-to-please, demanding, and needy behavior on you.     

Opportunity Cost

Often used in business, an opportunity cost is defined as –  A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.

Your time is valuable, and when it is manipulated, unreliable people make you pay an opportunity cost.

Social Isolation

Loneliness and social isolation has been linked to depression, low-self esteem and shame. If you are experiencing lack of social contact because of WCCUPS’s manipulation of your time, you should understand these mental health implications. It is time for you to set a boundary.

Setting Boundaries with Inconsiderate People

Don’t Wait

You should feel confident and assured when setting a boundary. You are not being mean or inconsiderate by expressing your feelings and insisting on respect. The longer you tolerate the WCUUPS behavior the more resentful you will become. Inevitably this leads to you expressing how you feel when you are angry. Don’t wait.

Boundary Setting With WWUCP

If you do not know what to say, use this basic boundary setting format. It allows you to express how you feel while minimizing the risk of creating defensiveness.   

“I feel blank when you do blank.”

Examples:

I feel manipulated when you cancel our plans at the last minute.

I feel sad that I missed the opportunity to go out and have fun on my only day off.

Use Appropriate Levels of Firmness When Setting Boundaries

Start with a lower level of firmness and increase as necessary.

A lower level of firmness might include explaining your feelings of disappointment. Lifting the firmness level up a little would include an more assertive body language such as raising your voice slightly, changing the tone. Be mindful that when you set a boundary you never use an apologetic tone. Use a tone of voice which is confident and assured but kind. Give the WCUUP the benefit of the doubt that they do not understand the impact of their behaviors.

Ask for what you want and need in terms of commitment and reliability. For example, canceling plans at the last minute without a good reason is frustrating.    

Use Higher Levels of Firmness When Necessary

After determining your needs and asking for what wait to see how they respond. If your needs and desires continue to be ignored you have some tough decisions to make. This may include limiting contact and declining future invitations. The relationship may only be able to continue in a  superficial manner. You may need to face the fact that it is time to find new friends.

 

I hope this was helpful. Please leave a comment below and tell me how you are affected by WWUCP’s.    Be in peace – diane

Angry Incredible Hulk Figure with Authentic Life Counseling Logo

Anger Management Skills

Anger is a master that demands an outrageously high price. Anger destroys physical and mental health, relationships, self-esteem and dignity. There are many victims. The individual which feels angry, and the unfortunate target on the receiving end of the anger. Both pay a price. To manage anger, individuals often turn to counseling to learn Anger Management Skills. Effective anger management provides tools to address the many dimensions of anger, including the physical, emotional and the mental (cognitive or thinking) aspects.

The Physical Response 

Anger triggers the fight/flight/freeze response in the body which signals an internal state of emergency, and subjects the body to a great deal of stress. To protect ourselves from the (perceived) threat our heart rate and blood pressure increase, breathing becomes faster and we suffer headaches and abdominal pain.

Self-Soothing Skills Young man with head bowed practicing self-soothing

Skillfully using self-soothing techniques is an essential anger management skill which should be practiced to calm the physical reactions of the body. Self-soothing skills regulates and retrains the Central Nervous System so that the relaxation response is strengthened and, the fight/flight/freeze response is weakened. Two easy self-soothing skills include:

Deep Breathing – Take slow, deep breaths. Practice counting as you breath to help anchor the mind and prevent racing thoughts. Notice the in/out – up/down rhythm of your breathing. Feel the sensations of your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

Visualization – Use the power of your imagination to experience being in a beautiful, peaceful relaxing place.  Bring in as many sensory details as possible as you practice visualization. See, hear, feel and smell details of your imagined experience. This exercise is best practiced when one is in a relatively calm state and will help regulate and normalize the responses of the Central Nervous System.

The Cognitive (Thought) Response

Understand the irrational and intrusive nature of your thoughts with a compassionate curiosity is the attitude to have when learning anger management skills. Be willing to question cognitive  anger traps such as mind-reading the intentions of others and the projecting unreasonable demands and expectations into the future.

Challenge Cognitions Young boy looking through binoculars with caption Look At Your Anger

Challenge your beliefs and assumptions with a compassionate curiosity. Anger is an emotion which sees the world through a lens of assumptions. An obvious fact to you may be a fairy-tale to me.

Just The Facts – What did you actually see or hear? When we are angry we tend to project beliefs, opinions and assumption on to the triggering event. Stick to the facts. Find a trusted friend or family member who witnessed the triggering event and ask them to help collaborate and distinguish facts from fiction.

What Are Your Assumptions? – You are likely assuming a rule been broken. The problem is that the rule may only be known to you. Or perhaps you are assuming that everyone should subscribe to your rules. Your rules are valid in your mind, but possibly not mine. Are you basing your assumptions on historical events, and assuming history will repeat itself? Do you mind read the intentions of the person you are mad at? Do you really have a working crystal ball? If the answer is no, stop mind reading. You are on you way to using anger management skills effectively when you begin to see your assumptions.

Response Control

Evaluate what your angry mind is telling you to do before acting in its behalf. When we speak, act or respond with anger, you are acting in behalf of your lower (or lowest) self. Things are broken when the “lowest self” is in control. Important things like our relationships, self-esteem, and dignity are diminished.

Change the Response – To change a conditioned response or behavior, we must be motivated and “buy-in” to the need for change. If we have buy-in, the cost of “doing the work” is worth the price of the effort and the discomfort we are surely going to face to change the pattern. Buy-in is fortified by recognizing the cost of our anger.

What Will Be Broken By Your Actions? – Your angry mind does not act on your behalf or on behalf of the future. Like a little child, your anger acts on behalf of immediate impulsive reactions. Responses are more extreme than they need to be when angry. They are over the top. If you act on the impulse to go over the top, what will your break? Your job, your wife, your child’s self-esteem. Evaluate the cost.

What Has Anger Broken In The Past – As a counselor, I am still touched and saddened to see the high price of anger. Investigate the cost you have paid. Look at the physical, emotional, relational, and financial cost with compassionate curiosity.

Evaluate Outcome of Your Efforts 

When anger becomes a problem, the emotional, behavioral and thinking patterns that have sustained it, have been reinforced for a period of time. Be patient, because it will take time and energy to learn new responses.

Recognize Successes – Be reasonable. Rage-alcoholics, by nature are not reasonable. See even slight changes as successes. Perhaps you remembered to practice self-soothing skills or asked for clarification before making an assumption. Know and feel these small wins.

Practice Strategies – Transforming anger takes time and patience. Anger management skills are effective in changing emotional, behavioral and cognitive patterns from one of anger and rage to peace and joy. But it does take practice. Be compassionate with yourself as you practice.

Be in peace – Diane

Santa Clause wearing boxing gloves

Surviving Christmas in a Dysfunctional Family

Visions of the perfect story-book holiday is a particularly difficult idea for many people.  Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires us to pull out all the tools we have learned in therapy so that we are not triggered by mal-adaptive thinking and emotional patterns.

 Let This Dose of Encouragement Strengthen You

You have probably survived a lot already and will survive another Christmas too. Strengths, capabilities and wisdom are in you. Feel them and know that they are in you. Access your strengths now. In the words of the remarkable Louse Hayes:

“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we’re not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.”
― Louise L. Hay

 

  • Create Your Own Traditions – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families requires an authentic expression of new traditions. We do not have to engage in traditional rituals that do not work for us. If traditional family dinners or family visits create arguing and fighting, you might consider not participatichristmas tradition woman sitting in front of Christmas treeng. Emotions run high during Christmas and maladaptive patterns run rampant. If Christmas creates the perfect storm for family members to act at their worst, give yourself permission to not participate.

 

  • Be Aware of Your Expectations – For years I tried to create an ideal Christmas despite a great deal of dysfunction in my family. Of course, after the “big event” was over, I felt exhausted, anxious and sad. I had to accept that my expectations were irrational. An idyllic Christmas was not in my future. Once I accepted this reality, the holidays became much easier.

 

  • Set Boundaries – Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional families involves understanding your personal limits when you are exposed to mal-adaptive or abusive behaviors by family members. Perhaps that line in the sand is when too much alSleeping puppy with santa hatcohol is consumed, or passive aggressive actions are directed your way. Know what your limits are, and plan your escape strategy. Perhaps setting boundaries is limiting the time you spend with dysfunctional family members, or declining to participate in gift exchanges. Know your limits and protect your sanity.

 

  • Lean into Your Coping and Self-Care StrategiesIf you come from a dysfunctional family, hopefully you have developed coping skills and self-care strategies to get you through the holidays. Lean into them or develop new ones. Be creative and give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Practice self-compassion.

If you have established a new traditions or coping strategies that has helped you survive Christmas in your dysfunctional family, please share your wisdom. It may help those of us who are still trying to master the art of Surviving Christmas in a dysfunctional family.

Be in peace – diane

 

the word Anxiety in text

Anxiety Treatment

Top 5 Approaches

Although anxiety is classified as mood disorder, there are physical and cognitive (thinking) patterns that maintain the condition. Effective anxiety treatment not only addresses the anxious mood, but also the physical and cognitive aspects that support the anxiety.

At Authentic-Life Counseling, anxiety treatment utilizes traditional Western medicine and non-traditional Eastern healing techniques.  The top five anxiety treatment approaches include:

5. Anxiety treatment – Addressing the Physical Aspect

Woman lying down on bed.
Body relaxation techniques such as progressive body scans are effective in anxiety treatment. 

When our body relaxes our mind relaxes. Many techniques are effective in calming the body. Progressive body relaxation is an example of an anxiety treatment frequently used to relax the body. Many guided mediation apps and YouTube videos are available to teach and guide individuals in learning this technique. The important thing to remember is to practice.  The goal is to train the Central Nervous System to calm down so that the fight/flight/freeze response in the body is not so easily triggered.

4. Anxiety treatment – Life-Style Assessment and Changes

This may be a no-brainer but, anxiety treatment must include a thorough assessment of life style patterns. Poor sleep hygiene, exercise habits and diet contribute to the anxiety epidemic. Most people fail to honestly evaluate their life-style habits. Formulating a plan to make changes begins with setting small goals. Be mindful of realistic pacing to reach your goals. Ask for support from your family and friends. Be aware of your accomplishments and reinforce them in a meaningful way.

Woman doing yoga
Life-style habits including diet, exercise and sleep patterns are important considerations in anxiety treatment.

3. Anxiety treatment – The cognitive Aspect

Mindfulness.  Many anxiety producing thoughts project a fear into the future. Mindfulness practice anchors us in the here and now. We are not in the future, we are in the present.  The only place you can touch your life is in the present moment. In the present moment you can begin to notice the coming and going of sensory input. Your eyes, ears, and body are perceiving sights, sounds and physical sensations. Just let the sensations come and go.  Something in you is witnessing the sensations. This is your consciousness or observers mind. Try to be a mindful witness of the present moment. Do not add anything to the present moment.

2. Anxiety treatment – Meditation

woman meditating on bed
Regular meditation practice reduce the symptoms associated with many mental health disorders

I teach all clients how to meditate, because I believe that meditation improves mental health. The intensity of  racing thoughts determines how to begin your meditation practice. The easiest level of meditation is guided meditation. After learning to relax and concentrate during guided meditation, practice evolves into  sitting meditation with a mantra. The purpose of a mantra is to stabilize and concentrate the mind, and relax the body. More difficult still, is releasing the mantra and sitting in observer’s mind. In this meditation practice we let mental processes arise, with acceptance and observance. We do not let the content of the thoughts hi-jack our emotional reaction. The thoughts are simply mental processes.         

1 Anxiety treatment – The Subtle Energy System and Energy Psychology

These acupuncture points are often used in Energy Psychology treatments to reduce anxiety.

In the East, the subtle energy systems of the body are utilized to support healing. The subtle energy systems include the Chakra and Meridian Pathways. Energy Psychology is an evidenced based treatment which combines Eastern subtle energy healing with Western psychological modalities such as exposure therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are.  In the treatment of anxiety, the intensity of anxiety producing thoughts are reduced by moving the subtle energy associated with and maintaining the anxiety producing thought. Conversely, reinforcing belief systems to promote our strengths and capabilities are strengthened through the manipulation of the subtle energy systems.

be in peace – diane

Buddhist engaged in mindful consumption of meal

Mindful Consumption

I started my journey of mindful consumption almost 10 years ago after reading the following words by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

“When I drink my tea mindfully, I can see the universe in my tea.”

I had no understanding of what the words meant. At best, I was only able to sense a profoundly deep nature of such a practice. Although I did not understand the words, when I read them, something inside me woke up. I knew at a very deep level that I had found something I had been searching for.

The practice of mindful  consumption revolutionizes. It has the capacity to revolutionize you and it has the capacity to revolutionize our world. I drink my tea differently than I did 10 years ago. Before I practiced mindful consumption, I practiced mind-lessness and forgetfulness. I would drink my tea in the morning while checking my email, making a shopping list and watching the news all at the same time. I did not taste or enjoy my tea. In our fast-paced world, we proudly, call this “multi-tasking”.

Mindful consumption of tea
Consume in a manner that grows your capacity for love and peace.

Being proud of multi-tasking is ignorant. It is the same as being proud of not showing up to live your own life.

Where is your attention when you are multi-tasking? Scattered. Nowhere. Everywhere. My tea is gone and I have no recollection of drinking it. I never tasted it and did not enjoy the experience. When we live mindlessly, we grow a sense of boredom or dissatisfaction with our lives because we are only giving it half of our attention.  The act of mindlessness and forgetfulness then becomes habituated. After beginning my practice of mindfulness, and my awareness grew, I realized most of my consuming was mindless. I would look down at an empty bag of potato chips, and not remember eating one bite. Everything thing we do with mindlessness has a karmic effect. If I eat potato chips mindlessly, the consequences are not so big. Only my cholesterol level and my mass. I don’t feel well afterwards and I gain weight.

Other types of consumption done mindlessly have big karmic effects. I began to have a deeper awareness of all types of consumption. I realized my ears, eyes, mouth, and mind all consumed mindlessly.  What we watch on TV or read is consumption. The images your children see on video games is eye and mind consumption. Consumption of trashy and violent movies or video games desensitizes us to the images of violence which go into our consciousness.

When we are listening, we are consuming. When you are listening to resolve a misunderstanding with another, be mindful of how you are listening. If your listening has the qualities of impatience, anger and judgement, there will be karmic effects to the outcome of your conversation. If you can listen with patience, peace, and openness, there will be a different outcome.

Man and woman arguing. Mindful consumption includes mindful listening
Mindful listening changes the outcome of difficult relationships. It has the qualities of patience and openness.

We can either choose to consume in a manner that supports or un-supports our mindfulness practice. We can consume material that makes us smarter and refreshed or more ignorant and unconscious.

be in peace – diane

mindulness Christmas shopping

Mindful Christmas Shopping

Of all the clinical interventions that I might use, I find mindfulness to be one of the most effective for clients. Using Mindfulness vs. not, is akin to using a navigation system or not. Mindfulness is a constant gentle awareness of where we are and where we are going. It prevents us from getting lost. Even in situations like an overcrowded shopping mall.

While Christmas shopping is a buzz-kill for many of us, you can get transcend the manic energy of it all by practicing Mindful Christmas Shopping.

These tips are useful to strengthen a mindfulness practice during the holidays.

  • KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetie

The key to cultivating mindfulness is simply practice, practice, and more practice. When a person is learning mindfulness, they will often slip in and out of awareness frequently, especially in the beginning. The more they practice they longer they will stay in a state of mindfulness, and the deeper their practice will become.  It is that simple.

  • Practice mindfulness during daily activities such as eating, walking, or driving.

You do not have to be sitting in lotus position in an ashram to practice mindfulness. Try to practice regularly  throughout the day. And Yes, you can even practice Mindful Christmas shopping while you are at the mall

  • Come Back

Be present. The most valuable energy you can give to yourself, relationships, and your work, is your full presence. Multi-tasking does not bring right action or right effort to most situations. It does bring scattered-ness and impatience.

  • Follow your breath. Mindful Christmas Shopping Instruction

Unite your body with your mind. Through mindful breathing to return to the present moment.

  • Use a phone app.

Several mindfulness apps have been made available which can be quite helpful.  My favorite is a mindfulness bell which chimes at specified intervals  to remind me to come back to the present moment.

Mindfulness strategies could be useful to curb any compulsive or obsessive behavior. To apply mindfulness  to  curb compulsive spending an individual might find these strategies useful:

  • Know when you are in a trance.

Being unconsciousness or unaware lends itself to acting on urges in a trance-like state. To be fully in the present moment, one is aware of their actions, perceptions, and feelings.  Know when the energy of compulsive behaviors  rise up. A conscious awareness of the unwanted urges is a critical first step to change.

  • Are you a puppet and your emotions the puppeteer?

Identify the emotional levers manipulating the behavior. Compulsive behaviors often point to unpleasant feelings we are trying to deny or minimize. Feelings that could be a precursor to compulsive spending include boredom, anxiety, or sadness.

  • This too will pass

Realize the nature of Impermanence. Mindfulness points to the impermanent nature of all phenomena. For example, our likes become dislikes and our dislikes become likes. Realize the impermanent nature of desire and attachment. The next purchase that we think we have to have in just a matter of time will become the thing you no longer want.

  • Attaching ethical guidelines to your mindful life

Understand your consumption. Consumer spending is as much an expression of consumption as what you had for breakfast. Who or what are you supporting through your next purchase? Understand that our spending habits influence economics, the environment, and human rights. Consider passing on those purchases which have ridiculously wasteful packaging or limit spending with companies who have notoriously working conditions for their employees.

be in peace – diane

Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

Your Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

 The Connection Between Your Mental Health and the 2016 Presidential Election

There seems to be a new issue in the offices of many psychotherapist around the country.  People are coming to therapy to discuss the connection between their mental health and the 2017 Presidential election

People are reporting a mental health decline since the election, marked by intense sadness, fear, and anger.

Our relationships with family and friends are taking a hit as well.  The discord in inter-personal relationships make us feel more isolated, invisible and alone which intensifies these emotions.

These  “clinical issues” are certainly not new for therapist.  However, a collective emotional reaction being triggered by a presidential election is a new phenomenon.

If you feel as though your mental health has deteriorated since the presidential election, understanding your reaction, and knowing how to respond with right action and right effort, can help balance and equalize your well-being

Understand Your Emotional Response

If you have been a victim of, or witnessed acts of violence such as sexual assault, bullying or racial discrimination, re-exposure to a similar threat can trigger responses associated with the fight/flight/freeze response such as fear, anger, or sadness. For example, the sexual predatory language used by President Elect Donald Trump may trigger a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flavored reaction for women who have been sexually assaulted. The same is true for victims of racial discrimination and bulling. The exposure to the recent racially charged acts of violence can trigger a fight/flight/freeze response in those who have been a victim or or witnessed this type of violence.

Empowerment and Healing

If you have felt emotional upset by recent current affairs, this does not make you weak or thin-skinned. Don’t buy into this perspective which only re-victimizes the victim.

Although you may have been victimized, you are still responsible for your own actions, thinking processes and how you regulate your emotions.  

Victims have a responsibility to understand and take care of the part of themselves that is wounded.

When we begin to feel in control again, our sense of autonomy, confidence, and self-mastery is enhanced. Walking a path that empowers, although not easy, is the path which leads to healing.   

What You Can Do?

  • Engage in Self-Care – Do the things that make you feel cared for. Approach yourself with the nurturing love of a mother or father that protects, heals and soothes. Self-care does not mean you must spend a lot of money. Self-care might include  subtle actions such as speaking meaningful words of affirmation and encouragement to yourself.
  • Therapy – Release some of the pain by talking about it. Express your emotions. Therapist are trained to help us understand how we internalize emotions in a hurtful manner such as self-blame. If you cannot talk to a therapist consider a faith leader, a trusted friend or family member who will listen with compassion.
  • Master Yourself – Every long journey begins with the first step. Take the first small step to self-mastery. You do have the capacity to feel in control, safe and connected. Take risk and be willing to try new things. There are others out there who have suffered similar traumas, and like a phoenix, they have risen out of the ashes.
  • Unplug – Many of us have become obsessed with the latest political developments. If watching the news upsets you beyond what might feel like a normal response, take a break. Unplug. You don’t have to put your head in the sand or become uninformed, just take a little break. Instead, allow something uplifting to become the object of your mind such as spiritually uplifting material.

Be in peace – diane

What is the best time of day to meditate ?

As a psychotherapist, I offer clients skills which promote emotional and mental well-being.  If I could give my clients one gift, it would be that they learn to meditate . For new students, practical questions such as what is the best time to meditate are important.

“If I could give my clients one gift, it would be a regular meditation practice. ” 

Find a teacher:

When learning to meditate, having a teacher is important. Different types of meditation should be matched to fit the needs and personality of the student. Also, new students may experience periods of frustration as they begin to meditate.  Attempts to control a racing “monkey mind ” is difficult in the beginning. Individuals may experience difficulty sitting still.  Zen Meditation practice teaches to face your discomfort with the energy of a smile. In other words, you lovingly observe the discomfort without attaching to it.

As far as time –  there are specific times of day to meditate that are particularly conducive to a experiencing a deep meditative state.

“Rolling in or out of bed and directly into your meditation practice provides an obvious advantage. Your  brain is already humming at a frequency that is conducive to a meditative state”

There are two times of the day that are particularly advantageous, for meditation but any time of the day will be beneficial to your mental and emotional health. If you cannot accommodate these suggested “best” times it is better to practice when ever you have a chance. Be as diligent as possible with your practice.  Daily meditation is like a savings account. You are making deposits into the account of calmness, clarity and peace and you make withdrawals on those feelings when they are most needed such as during times of stress.

However, if possible the best times of the day to mediate are:

Women Meditate Sitting on Rock
Meditation during specific times might deepen the meditation experience because of corresponding brain wave frequencies.
  • First thing in the morning

  • Before bed time

These times periods are optimal because of corresponding brain wave activity. Meditative states have a corresponding brain wave frequency. The brain wave frequencies observed in meditation are the same frequencies experienced when we are coming in or out of sleep cycles.  Rolling in or out of bed directly into your meditation pillow provides an obvious advantage. Your brain is already humming at a frequency that is conducive to a deep meditative state.  Add a dose of focused awareness, and you have a deep meditation experience.

Why are these times of the day better?

Explanations of brain wave frequencies and brain functioning help us understand why meditation in the morning or at night has advantages.

Beta (14-40 Hz) – The waking consciousness and reasoning waves: Beta brain waves are associated with normal waking consciousness and heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. Beta waves are important for effective functioning throughout the day, they can also translate into stress anxiety and restlessness.

Alpha (7.5-14Hz) – The deep relaxation wave: Alpha waves are associated with deep relaxation. This usually occurs when you close your eyes, when you slip into a lovely daydream, or during light meditation. Alpha is responsible for heightening your imagination, visualization, learning and concentration. The voice of Alpha is your intuition which becomes clearer and more profound the closer you get to 7.5Hz.

Theta (4-7.5) – The deep meditation and sleep wave: Theta is present when sleeping, when in deep meditation and light sleep. It is the realm of your sub consciousness and only experienced momentarily as you drift off to sleep.   Research has shown that a sense of deep spiritual connection and unity with the universe can be experienced at Theta. Theta is where you experience vivid visualization, great inspiration profound creativity and exceptional insight. The voice of Theta is silent.

Delta (0.5 – 4Hz) – The deep sleep wave: The delta frequency is the slowest. It is experienced in deep dreamless sleep. In this state, awareness is fully detached. It is the only brainwave that is important for the healing process. Not having enough Delta can be dangerous to health.

Gamma (above 4OHz) The insight wave: this brain wave is the most recently discovered. It is the fastest of all frequencies. It is associated with burst of insight and high level of information processing.

Please leave a comment below if you have any further questions about meditation or if there is an aspect of meditation you would be interested in seeing in a blog post.

Be in peace – diane

Ninja Ego

Ninga Ego 

The Ninja Ego

The ego. An elusive but dominating force. It sneaks up on us and takes control of our thoughts, words, and behaviors in a wink of an eye. I have had many discussions with clients, friends and family about the importance of understanding one’s ego.  I have been trying to understand mine for a long time.

The persona of my ego is a ninja. It is shadowy, elusive, potentially dangerous but never far away.

When the conditions are right my ego-ninja takes control of the wheel by hi-jacking perceptions, emotions, rational thinking and behaviors. Often the agenda of my ninja are at odds with my true objectives.

The Latest Coup Attempt 

Please let me provide a little background information for the recent conditions which made a coup attempt perfect for my ninja . My family, like many families, has suffered a great deal due to alcoholism and substance abuse. If you have or have had substance abuse in your family, you know that it is the bad gift that keeps on giving through the years and sometimes, sadly through generations.

Right Conditions

The conditions could not have been more perfect for my ninja ego. It’s summer and I’m at a pool party. An acquaintance, I will call Dean, is drinking shots of Jack Daniels. And…as people do when drinking Jack Daniels…. Dean is becoming obnoxious and loud. A group of vibrant 20 year old girls are at his table. Dean tries  to convince the young women to drink shots with him. None of them do thank goodness. However, Dean was perfectly modeling a crash course in Binge Drinking 101. Responsible Drinking 101 is the course that would benefit the young women. Not to mention Dean’s is breaking the law. And, not to mention, maybe the families of these young women would like to be the ones who introduce them to alcohol by modeling responsible drinking ie Now that you are legal drinking age, would you a glass of wine with dinner?

The Ninja Takes Control

After observing Dean’s actions, I was quite angry. After calming down, I decided to talk to Dean and explain why his actions were not OK on many levels. The discussion I planned to have with Dean began running through my head. It was only through a deep awareness that I understood what Ninja Ego truly wanted. My true objectives were to try and help Dean see how his actions encourage binge drinking of hard whisky to young women and why that is dangerous.   Ninja had a different agenda. Because of my past pain, Ninja Ego wanted to make Dean feel stupid and ashamed. Trying to shed some light on Dean’s behavior had taken back seat to Ninja Egos objectives. Ninja Ego wanted Dean to pay… a little. And at the end of the conversation, Ninja wanted to feel superior and smarter. Yes, Dean should be told that what he did was not smart and explain why. But Ninja wanted more

Surprise….You Too Have an Ninja Too

Your ego has ninja qualities too. Look for them. Understand them. What makes your ninja ego plan a coup? To answer this ask yourself, what do you defend? Is your existence or worth based on some idea of what it  is to be a good man/woman, Republican/Democrat, vegetarian/meat-eater, victim, Protector of Young Women?

When anger, frustration, judgement, intolerance arise, your ninja ego ninja is close by. She is elusive. She is in the shadows, but she is there. Before you know it your good intentions are vanquished.

The most interesting aspect of this experience was the subtle nature of ninja. I barely saw the true intentions, which were to make Dean feel bad, and for me to feel superior and smarter. It was if ninja ego was somewhere, very, very far  back in my subconscious mind.

I know you are there ninja ego. I am watching out for you.

be in peace – diane

Watching the news is stressing you out

Is Watching the News Stressing You Out?

Watching the news is stressing you out

Images in the news of  police violence, racial tension, domestic and international terrorist attacks, and a divisive Presidential Election are constantly streaming. These images become part of our conscious mind. The result is that 

Watching the news is having a negative affect on our mental health.

I have noticed relationships between family and friends straining and breaking  as we argue and disagree about the causes and solutions to our problems. What I know about problems and solutions is this: Creative and solutions focused thinking, deep listening and flexibility are the ingredients  needed to solve the complicated problems we face in our families and communities. Stress, worry, ego and anxiety will always prevent collaboration and understanding.

If you are stressed out, understanding the root cause is critical, and will dictate the best course of treatment. The root causes of anxiety vary a great deal from one person to the next. Some of us are predisposed to anxiety because of heredity factors.   

We inherit personality types from our parents which make us susceptible to becoming  easily excited, aroused or threatened.

Anxiety might also be sustained through our beliefs, behaviors, or emotions. When we sustain anxiety we are often engaged in anxious self-talk, irrational beliefs, or disassociating from feelings.

Irrational beliefs often have their genesis in childhood. We inherit them from our family of origin.

For example, if the unspoken family rule was “We don’t talk about feelings”, we may assume this behavior. Irrational beliefs further support the behavior. We may subconsciously  think “I am weak when I talk about feelings”. As the cycle continues as we begin to disassociate. We try not to feel anything when in reality, anger, worry and fear is marinating somewhere deep inside, waiting for the right conditions to erupt. The final nail in the coffin occurs when we begin to only pay attention to the stimulus that supports our entrenched beliefs and perceptions. We see what we want to see. We only tune in to the news or radio shows which will support our pre-existing beliefs.

Short-term causes of anxiety are driven by experiences we have in the world. A personal experience with a traumatic event is the hallmark experience which leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Witnessing a traumatic event in which we feel threatened or in danger can create PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is particularly relevant  concern today. When we turn on the news we risk witnessing a traumatic event in which we feel personally threatened.

Here are a few solutions to reduce anxiety, stress and worry.

  • A healthy mind must be supported by a healthy life style.

    If your lifestyle lacks exercise, a healthy diet or adequate rest, try to address these issues first. Begin with small changes. If a gym membership makes you feel overwhelmed, begin with a 15 minute walk.

  • Minimize the personality traits that feed anxiety.

    If you are a glass half-empty personality, try to see the glass  half-full. Don’t expect changes to come all at once. This will be a gradual process.  Start with a paradigm changes few times during the day.  I like the book Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson which provides great exercises for changing how we internalize environmental stimulus from a half-empty to a half-full paradigm.

  • Find a therapist.

    Maintaining causes or short term causes of anxiety, are often sustained through a complex interplay of cognition, behaviors, perceptions, and emoting. It is very helpful to have an objective person to help you figure it out, provide support, and offer specific treatments. Use list services  such as Psychologytoday.com or Networktherapy.com to find therapist in your area. These websites also allow for searching by criteria such as areas of specialty, treatment options, gender and religion

  • Practice mindfulness.

    Breathe and be in the present moment. Learn to turn down the racing thoughts. Stop right now and practice. Find something in the present moment that is beautiful, graceful, calming. Often we over-look stimulus in the present moment that will bring us peace, joy, or calm. There are many options for learning mindfulness. Meetup typically offers local groups that provide instruction and support for learning and practicing.  I learned a great deal about mindfulness from reading books. You A. re Here by Zen Master Tich Nhat Hanh is beautifully written, simple and easy to apply. If you are new to meditation, begin with guided meditations which can be found on-line for free.

  • Use a comprehensive treatment approach.

    .We are holistic beings. A change in our physical behavior can change our attitude and vice versa. Do not limit your treatment to one area. If you take up exercise, that will likely reduce anxiety or other psychological symptoms. Try to expand your consciousness and be willing to try changing your behaviors, thinking patterns and how you emote. You can then learn to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

I often tell clients to try and be the best version of you. This best version is not a version that is hyper-vigilant, afraid, or worried. The best version is flexible, expressive, authentic, happy and calm. Be this. The world needs you at your best.

be well, diane

man holding cell phone

How to Respond to The Unreliable People In Your Life

If you love a person who is wish-washy, unreliable and commitment-phobic (WWUCP), I feel your pain. Many people feel your …

Angry Incredible Hulk Figure with Authentic Life Counseling Logo

Anger Management Skills

Anger is a master that demands an outrageously high price. Anger destroys physical and mental health, relationships, self-esteem …

Santa Clause wearing boxing gloves

Surviving Christmas in a Dysfunctional Family

Visions of the perfect story-book holiday is a particularly difficult idea for many people.  Surviving Christmas in dysfunctional …