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Month: January 2014

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

The other day I pulled out of my driveway and onto the main thoroughfare leading downtown in Helena, Montana. It had lightly snowed a few days before and then warmed up considerably, so the streets were slushy and slippery. Luckily, I only have about a three minute commute to my office.

A half a block later, I glanced into my rear-view mirror and saw that there was someone right behind me. I mean right behind me. I couldn’t tell how close he actually was, but I felt my hackles go up. Hey! Get off my butt!

As he continued to tail me I felt that adrenaline that comes right before anger begins to flow through my veins. As I passed through the neighborhood, I felt my temper climb. I began to imagine myself doing all sorts of things…tapping my breaks…slowing down to 10 miles an hour to make him late…pulling over,  rolling down my window and giving him that old universal sign language for…well…you know.

I turned left at the street where my office is located and looked to see if he was still behind me. He wasn’t. A couple of expletives entered my mind.

I began to reflect on the thoughts that had gone through my mind while we were both tooling down the street. A main one was, I can’t get hurt again! I broke my neck by falling down the stairs at my house in the year 2000 and I have an issue with chronic pain. Early on in the process healing, I was in so much pain that I seriously did not want to live much longer. Thank God I found a wonderful chiropractor who put me back together enough that I now enjoy my life very much.

Well, I knew that I always feel fear when I get into situations like this. I am worried I will get injured again somehow; get a whiplash if someone hits me from behind. But I also knew my anger level was over the top for the situation, so I kept thinking about it. Another block went by…and then it came to me.

I had been very worried about my dog. I have a golden doodle named Emma. She one of the great blessings of my life. She is smart and hilarious and affectionate…a mass of joyful auburn curls. A few years ago she was diagnosed with diabetes and we give her two shots of insulin a day to keep her pancreas working. The day before we had gotten a call from our vet and she was worried Emma now had Cushings disease. I had read about this early on in her treatment and although I couldn’t remember exactly what it was, I knew it wasn’t good.

The vet was still testing, so I purposefully didn’t go back online and look it up. I told myself not to feed my fears that way, and we didn’t know yet if she actually had it or not (she didn’t, thank God).

But in the middle of the night, and again that morning, I had been really worried about her. I hadn’t been in a great frame of mind when I said goodbye to her and got into my car.

I then I realized that my quick rocket flight into anger stemmed from my fear that I was going to lose Emma.

Just realizing that didn’t take my anger down to zero as fast as it had climbed to sixty, but by the time I got to my office, I had forgotten all about it. And all that in less than 3 minutes.

Mindfulness Skill ~ The Body Scan

Have you ever taken a moment to notice if your anger is actually stemming from something other than what is presented to you in that moment? A DBT Skill called Body Scan can help. The next time you feel your anger go up in a flash, stop and do the scan. Ask yourself, what is happening in my body? What is happening in my thoughts? What is happening in my environment? Am I feeling “over the top?” Does the situation really warrant it? Give yourself some moments to reflect on what is going on before you react. You will calm down much quicker and not do something that may ruin your own day.

Have you ever gotten really angry and then realized your emotions went way beyond what triggered them? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s talk about it! There’s a lot we can do about the problem of too much anger.

4 (highly researched) New Years Resolutions for 2014

4 (highly researched) New Years Resolutions for 2014

New Years List2If you are a fan of Facebook, then it may seem to you as if everyone starts out the new year with one or two resolutions. A lot of folks seem to be talking about what they want to do differently starting January 1. But, according to time management firm Franklin Covey, statistics show that most people do not carry out their resolutions. In fact, one third of those who start out strong will have stopped this new activity by February.

One reason for this is that most people are not explicit about their goals. They haven’t verbalized them to family or friends, and they have not written them down. It’s just too easy to forget. I’m wondering too if the goal just wasn’t the kind that would make any real change in their life, so they gave up.

My own resolutions for 2014 didn’t include adding something; they included letting go of some things. You see I had been pushing myself so hard (and if you read my last post, you know exactly what I mean by that), that I had to resolve to stop some of my activities, or at least slow them down.

But that’s all right. I am still moving forward. I accept where I am at while continuing to move towards change (that’s called a dialectic). No judgment allowed.

All this talk about resolutions got me thinking about you, and whether or not you have added any New Years resolutions to what may already be a full plate.

If not, I’ve got a suggestion for you. I am going to offer four resolutions that, according to decades of research, will help you build a life worth living. That’s certainly more intriguing than just having a better year in 2014 than you did in 2013! Here they are:

  •  1. Gaining more control over your thought life.
  • 2. Not being as impulsive when you are feeling like you’re having a crisis.
  • 3. Gaining more control over your emotions.
  • 4. Developing healthier relationships with others.

Wow…those seem like very overwhelming resolutions, don’t they? How would one even start working on any of that?

That’s where I come in. These goals are part of a system of skills called Dialectical Behavior Skills (DBT Skills). They have been highly researched and are effective for those of us unfortunate enough to be a) born with a highly reactive brain b) suffered trauma and neglect in childhood c) both a and b and maybe much more.

The skills are simple, but they need to be exercised as if you are building up your muscles at the gym. The more you work out, the better you get. The better you get, the brighter your life becomes.

I am going to be writing about these skills here on the blog in all of 2014 and beyond. Check back often, or better yet, sign up for automatic updates. An online course that helps you systematically learn the skills as well as interact with others in a private Facebook group page is coming soon (hey, we’re all in this together). I’ll let you know as soon as that’s available. I’m working hard to make it very special and fun.

Marsha Linehan, researcher and developer of dialectical behavior therapy, would say these skills help you “build a life worth living.” I happen to agree, and again, if you’ve read my last blog post, you know why (wink).

In the meantime, take good care of you!

Linda

Did you make any New Years resolutions? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s be part of the conversation!