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Author: lindalochridge

Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg is a licensed therapist in private practice. She is a published author and speaker. She lives with her husband their their Goldendoodle Emma in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She is mother and stepmother to five children, grandmother to ten, and great-grandmother to two (so far). You can also find Linda blogging in "Out of Her Mind," at www.lindahoenigsberg.com.
My Own Story of Hope Has Gone Viral!

My Own Story of Hope Has Gone Viral!

What-I-MightThis posts has gone viral…and you know why? Because people need hope. They need hope that they can get better, that they can improve their lives, that it’s never too late to start again. This blog, created by Peter Clemens, highlights the stories of folks who have faced the odds and gone on to beat them. Peter’s own story of change is fascinating as well. He is the author of The Possibility of Change series. Read my own story here:

http://www.thechangeblog.com/what-i-might-have-been/

Changing Your Brain Using Compassion-Based Mindfulness

Changing Your Brain Using Compassion-Based Mindfulness

Hi everybody!  I just wanted to pass this link along so you can read my latest article on Psychology Today and learn more about the blog, “Stop Walking on Eggshells,” by author Randi Kreger.  This website has wonderful information for those who have family members or loved-ones who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder as well as forums to join and support.  Click below to check it out! If the link doesn’t work, please copy and paste in your browser address bar…and accept my apologies. Weirder things have happened on the information superhighway.

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201311/changing-your-brain-using-compassion-based-mindfulness

Out of Control ~ Part 4

Out of Control ~ Part 4

Anger ~ When Doing the Opposite Can Help

 

In Out of Control Part 1, we talked about the brain, and how that non-thinking, emotional part of our brain, right smack in the middle of our heads, can hijack us, and cause us to react in ways that tend to hurt others or ourselves.

 

In Out of Control Part 2, we discussed thinking errors, and how our feelings in childhood can affect the way we think.  We also learned that the way we think can affect our feelings, and that our feelings can affect our behavior, and on and on!

 

In Out of Control Part 3, we discussed how learning to be mindful could help us, not only control our emotions, but also, in some ways, reshape how our brain works. It’s almost like a reboot.

 

So, in Out of Control Part 4, I want to leave you with a tool to help you when you feel one of the hardest to control emotions – anger. Anger is one of hardest emotions to control.

 

One of the skills in Marsha Linehan’s DBT Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder(1993) is the skill of Opposite Action. This skill can actually help slow down and even reverse an emotion if we know what we are doing and we are willing to do it. But being willing is key to any skill. And being willing with this skill is particularly relevant.

 

In the case of anger (and other emotions as well) the first step is to figure out if the anger is justified. Usually, when we become angry with someone, we have a reason for that stirring up in our bodies, that clenching of our hands, that tightening of our jaw. But sometimes, we get angry because we misunderstood something we thought someone said or did. Sometimes we get angry because we are experiencing “triggering” emotions. Our feeling arises because we were just reminded of something that happened in our past. But sometimes, it’s actually justified. What then?

 

We know that the first urge when angry is to “approach.” In other words, we want to defend. We want to strike out in words, or in a look, or even in a closed fist sort of way. The thing is, rarely do these actions help us in any way unless we are actually protecting ourselves from danger. Other times, we at least want to get the anger to come down a little bit before we decide our next move. So what can we do?

 

Opposite to Emotion ~ Anger

 

One of the first steps to changing the level of anger we are carrying is to “gently avoid” the person we are angry with. What does it mean to “gently” avoid? Let’s say you are in a heated discussion with someone and you know if you storm out and slam the door they will either follow you or at least become more angry, making the situation worse. To gently avoid, instead of storming out you simply excuse yourself and walk into another room. It can be the bathroom, or the kitchen, anywhere other than where the argument is taking place (this predisposes that the other party is a reasonable person). You can say something like, “Hold onto that thought,” and leave the room long enough for both of you to calm down.

 

By the way, while you are in the other room there’s a couple more opposite actions you can take. Try to avoid rethinking the argument, planning your latest comeback, or developing a case against the person you are angry with. Try to think about something else for a few minutes.

 

Try to put yourself, just for the moment, in the other person’s shoes. What could be triggering their response? Is it possible they are thinking of a past event? Are they having a particularly hard day? Are they defensive because their feelings are hurt?

 

Now this one is hard…but it works. Many times, we are reacting to the way someone is treating us. What if we were to do or say something just a little bit nice? Chances are, the other person would respond differently, which would calm our anger, which would cause us to act differently, which would then cause them to act differently, and the whole entire blow-up may be avoided all together.

 

The skill of Opposite Action is not guaranteed to work in every situation with every person you get angry at. The more the anger is justified, the harder this may be to implement. But for someone who feels they have a “problem” with anger, a skill like this can be extremely helpful. Give it a try, and let me know in the comment box if it worked for you. Any questions? Give me a holler. Join the conversation.

 

 

Out of Control ~ Part 3

Out of Control ~ Part 3

mindfulness, control emotionsIn Out of Control Part 1, we talked about the brain, and how that non-thinking, emotional part of our brain, right smack in the middle of our heads, can hijack us, and cause us to react in ways that tend to hurt others or ourselves.

In Out of Control Part 2, we discussed thinking errors, and how our feelings in childhood can affect the way we think.  We also learned that the way we think can affect our feelings, and that our feelings can affect our behavior, and on and on!

In Out of Control Part 3, I want to discuss how learning to be mindful can help us, not only control our emotions, but also, in some ways, reshape how our brain works. It’s almost like a reboot.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Here’s an example to show how this can happen in real life.

Don’t Be A Jerk About It

You are waiting in line at the theatre. You are with friends. You are feeling happy and excited to see the movie. Suddenly, a young twenty-something comes walking up and takes his place in line two people ahead of you. You have two choices as to how you will react.

Our first tendency is to immediately judge that this guy’s motive is to take “cuts” and get into the movie before he would have had he just gotten in line behind the last person in line.

The very next thing that usually happens is that we take a shortcut and judge the person or event. We may say to ourselves, “What a jerk!” That is quick and easy. We have just labeled a person we have never met a “jerk,” which insinuates that he is not a nice person in any area of his life. We don’t stop to think about how we would feel if he were our brother, or a close friend.

Immediately, our upbeat mood takes a nosedive. We become irritated if not downright angry. The young man? He’s happy as a lark! He has no idea that some stranger he has never met has judged him to be a “jerk.”

Is that fair? No…we should not have to suffer emotionally and lose our good feelings because of the action of someone else. So what could we do instead?

2 Steps to Being Mindful

Be mindful. Two DBT skills of Core Mindfulness are called Observing and Describing. Simply observe that the guy got in front and describe to yourself what happened. Say to yourself something like, a young man just got in line two people in front of me. Then, if you have to think about it further, you can offer yourself alternative, more positive viewpoints, such as, maybe his friend was saving a place for him, or, maybe he didn’t realize that wasn’t the end of the line. At the very least remind yourself that one person ahead of you is not going to make or break the good time you are having.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to practice mindfulness.  Stay tuned for more ideas in how to stay present and lower those out of control emotions.

Have you ever had to fight judgmental thoughts? Has the action of a stranger ever ruined your good mood? Leave a comment below and be part of the conversation.

The Anytime Anywhere Mindfulness Tool Kit

10 Quick Ways to Reboot Your Brain on the Fly

Oh, and get a free copy of my latest eBook, The Mindfulness Tool Kit: 10 Quick Ways to Reboot Your Brain on the Fly. Just head back over to the home page, opt in with your email address, and it’s yours!

 

Out of Control ~ Part 2

Out of Control ~ Part 2

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It’s All In My Head?

Ever hear that one? It’s all in your head? Wow. If I had a dollar for every…well, never mind. Anyway, truth be told, I wish someone HAD told me that! I had my first full on panic attack when I was twenty-three years old. It was such a horrible feeling. I thought I was having a heart attack. I thought I would never be able to breathe again. I thought I was dying. In fact, it was so terrible, that I wanted to die, just to put an end to my suffering.

I went to several different therapists. In the early 1970’s, most therapists were using “talk” therapies to treat their clients. This can be very helpful to some, but not for me. In fact, as I talked about painful experiences over and over again, my anxiety and depressive symptoms skyrocketed. For a while there, I could not leave my own home. At that time, I thought a therapist was a therapist was a therapist. I didn’t know there were experts out there who knew how to help me.

Not one of the counselors I met with ever suggested that my feelings were partly the result of the ways that I thought about and experienced the world. I thought that this horror had descended from somewhere outside of myself. It literally entered my mind that maybe I was being inhabited by some dark force…something trying to destroy me. I thought, I’d rather have a terminal illness than live my life as a crazy person. And still I got worse and worse.

Librarian Rescues Woman From the Dark Force

One day I was perusing the self-help section of my local library when my eyes fell upon a book that I thought had one of the silliest titles I had ever seen. Author Dr. Claire Weekes called the book Hope And Help For Your Nerves. I picked it up anyway. I figured the book would be about as helpful as trying to put out a forest fire with a glass of water, but what the hey?  I was desperate.

I turned the book over and began to read the back cover. The author seemed to be talking to me personally! How could this Dr. Weekes person know so much about every symptom I had been experiencing when not one, not two, not even three of my therapists seemed to know a thing about it? For the first time I read the words “panic” and “anxiety” in relation to my symptoms. I read about the causes, and the cure. I wasn’t suffering from something that came down from outer space to inhabit my mind after all. I immediately got to work…on myself.

It Was All In My Head…Well, Kinda, Sorta

To me, it was like a miracle had taken place. Someone had finally turned on the light for me. How could it be that this was so simple? Well, it wasn’t that simple. Honestly, identifying my own erroneous way of thinking and changing it took a lot of work. But all that work? Well, long story short, it was priceless. That work and many skills I learned in the next few years made my life worth living again. I found peace in my mind and in my relationships. I began to experience joy.

Would you like to discover how your own way of thinking might be working against you? Just type “thinking errors” into a Google search box and you will get a list of the most well-known causes of distorted thinking out there. You’ll read about things like “filtering,” and “overgeneralizing,” a “belief in the ‘shoulds,’” and “catastrophizing.” Oh, and don’t beat yourself up to much when you recognize them in yourself. Most of us can identify three, or five, or ten of them. But telling yourself the truth is the first step to emotional freedom. Learning about my thinking errors and beginning to tell myself the truth was part of the answer for me.

And I also learned a lot of other skills over the years that, with time and practice completely changed my life. To find out what they were, come back soon for Part 3 of this series, “Out of Control: A 4 Part Series on Feelings.”

To receive the rest of the series automatically in your inbox, just add your name to the box on the right and receive automatic updates. Otherwise, just check back. In the meantime, let’s start a conversation. Do you suffer from emotions that seem out of control to you? Which ones are cause you the most suffering? How has this affected your life…your relationships? Please feel free to comment in the area below. I’ll be jumping back in to answer as many as I can. Or meet me over at my Facebook page, “Change Your Emotions.” I would very much appreciate a “Like.”

Out Of Control ~ Part 1

Out Of Control ~ Part 1

 

Why Feelings Can Be A Force To Be Reckoned With

Have you ever wondered why it seems some people react quicker than other people? Maybe you recognize that this is a problem for you. Or have you ever noticed it seems to take longer to calm back down than you have seen others do? Have you struggled with anger, or even rage? Are you more fearful than others around you or do you feel sad much of the time? Have you used unhealthy methods of coping with your feelings, such as substance abuse, self-harm (like cutting or burning) or other addictive behavior? Have you thought, “I just want to be normal?” Do you just want to enjoy life again?

Get Me Off This Ride!

Well, that is exactly the way I used to think. My emotions seemed to go up and down like a roller coaster, and whoever seemed to be at the controls (because I certainly didn’t think it was me!) didn’t seem to care what I wanted to feel like. Thankfully, I figured out where the handbrake was located and started using it (Hint: It was in my brain). In this four-part series, I’ll talk about what makes those of us with feelings that seem “over the top” feel and act the way we do. In this first post, let’s talk a little bit about the brain.

What Does My Brain Have To Do With Anything?

Some individuals are born with highly reactive emotional brains. Because of genetics or something that happens in the womb during pregnancy, we may be born as highly sensitive children.

I was one of those kids. Shy, fearful…I wouldn’t even venture out to play with my classmates. I hung on my kindergarten teacher’s skirts as if my life depended on it. For some reason, my brain was always telling me that I was in a dangerous situation. I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of resiliency.

Once that fear response was activated in my brain, it took a long time to calm down again. Someone else may calm as soon as they see there is no danger but I walked around in a state of high arousal for much of the time. Saber-toothed tigers lurked around every corner.

Due to neglect and traumatic events in my own life, my emotional responses quickly spiraled out of control. What has happened in your life? Genetics? A difficult childhood? Both? If so, can we do anything to change the way we react to our own emotions? Can we build a life worth living?

 So Can We Reckon With Our Own Brains?

Yes! Science now tells us that the brain can be changed.  Through something called neuroplasticity, we can actually cooperate with our brain to increase resiliency and stop playing second fiddle to our own emotions. According to authors Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley, using meditation or mindfulness, and cognitive behavior therapy can improve positive emotions and build greater resiliency. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, with its focus on mindfulness and becoming more aware of connections between thoughts and emotions, may be just the ticket to help bring about a greater control of out of control feelings. We can build skills and feel better.

This site is dedicated to providing you with information and tools to help you do just that. Stay tuned as I turn our attention to the areas in our lives that out of control emotions can affect, and how DBT can target each area.

To read the complete article by Davidson and Begley in Newsweek Magazine, go to The Daily Beast online at (Click here).