Feel your Feelings Friday 

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Get unstuffed and stop sticking.  Let’s take Friday to address our feelings and being mindful of our emotions. The goals is to notice and experience our emotions and allow them to come and go naturally. That means sometimes experiencing painful emotions without turning the pain into suffering. Emotional Suffering can be created by stuffing or sticking to our emotions, and that’s out of BALANCE.  

When Stuffing our emotions, we bottle up l, ignore and reject your emotions. Emotional Stuffers try to push their emotions away. Just because we stuff or ignore our emotions does make them go away. It causes emotional build up, leading to feeling overwhelm and possible breakdown.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum, is Sticking. When we stick to our feelings, we hold on to emotions and try to keep them around. When we emotional stick, we replay stressful situations and experience the emotions over and over again. Sticking prevent are emotions to natural come and go and never provide them with the opportunity to fade. Thus leading emotions to Stick around longer than hey natural would.  

Create Balance by actually feeling your Feelings. Feeling your feelings serves as a middle group between stuffing and sticking. Trying noticing your feelings without holding on to them. Observe and describe your emotions, your sensations, thoughts and urges. Take note of how intensity comes and go. When a new emotions is ready to come in, let the emotion go and notice the new feeling.  

I hope that you find Feel your Feelings Friday helpful and beneficial to creating a balance to kick off your weekend.  Send me note let me know how “Feeling Friday” balanced you. 

Unstuffed and Not sticking, 

Shayla Peterson, LCSW



Source: DBT skills training by Jean Eich, Psy, LP

8 minutes to Serenity, Courage & Wisdom in 8 Steps

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You can reduce feelings of anxiety by using serenity, courage and wisdom.  This quick blog will allow you to step back and evaulate your situation, determine he difference between the things you can and cannot change, and then act on your knowledge.  

Step 1) Describe a situation that you have been feeling anxious about in your own life lately. 

Step 2) Think about the situation careful and realistically, then list the things that you can actually change about the situation. 

Step 3) List the things that you really cannot change.  

Step 4) How will it affect your life if you accept the things you cannot change.  

Step 5) Are you able to feel serene about? Ask yourself, why or why not.

Step 6) Do you have the courage to change the things you can change? Tell why or why not. 

Step 7) What might help you feel more courageous? 

Step 8) WRITE and READ aloud : “I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

Balanced in Serenity, Courage & Wisdom,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW 
Source : The anxiety workbook by Lisa M. Schab, LCSW (2008)

5 More Myths about Emotions – Part 2

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I hope that you were able to start making some small changes after reading last week’s blog on 5 myths about emotions.  This week’s blog will reveal 5 more myths we have been told about our emotions.  It is my hope that we start to educate ourselves on our thoughts and feelings thus creating more of the actions that we would like to see in ourselves.

  1. If other don’t approve how you feel, you shouldn’t feel this way. As noted in myth number one, people will feel different about situation depending on their interpretation of the event and other factors. There is no right or wrong way to feel, ever. IF other seem to judge you for the feeling you are experiencing, remind yourself that the way you feel is just the way you feel, and it is okay.
  2. Painful emotions are bad and need to be fixed. Another myth. Painful emotions are painful, but that does not make them bad. Because all of our emotions serve a function, I could actually argue that all emotions are good. Granted, once you realize why emotion is there, you will likely don’t want that uncomfortable emotion hanging around. There are things you can do to help yourself with this but for now, simply recognized that no emotion needs to be fixed.
  3. Being emotional mean being out of control. Not necessarily true. Perhaps right nor, whenever you are emotional, you are out of control. We can learn to manage emotions more effectively so that we can remain in control even when you are experiencing strong emotions.
  4. It’s not healthy to express your emotions. Quite the opposite. It is not healthy if you do not express your emotions! Expressing your emotions in an assertive way is very healthy. Failing to express emotions, or expressing them in an aggressive or passive way is not effective and can even be harmful.
  5. Painful emotions will ever go away if you don’t act to make them go away. Another myth. The truth is that painful emotions often go away without us having to do anything about them. Trying to make them go away actually keeps them hanging around longer.

“Our Emotions need to be as educated as our intellect.  It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you.”

Balancing Emotions,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW

Reference: Van Dijk,S. (2012) Calming the Emotional Storm: using DBT skills to manage your emotion and balance your life.

5 Myths about Emotions – Part 1 

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The roles of our emotions serve an important function and are necessary; even they are painful at times. Emotions help with motivation, information, and communication. If the way we look at emotions are faulty, it will continue to make it difficult to manage our emotions effectively. Read below for the 5 of the ten common myths that people believe about their emotions. Allow this article to challenge your beliefs to make the necessary adjustment:

1. There is a right way and wrong way to feel in every situation. This is untrue. Everyone experiences different emotions about the same event because their interpretation of that event will vary. Your emotional response will also depend on many factors, such as your involvement in the situation, your relationship to others involved your state of mind before the event took place and so on. It is important to remember that emotions are not good or bad, right or wrong; however you feel in a situation is the way you should feel.

2. It’s not good or healthy to feel angry. Myth. Anger is a natural human emotion. It serves a purpose; therefore, it is good, and it is healthy. What may not be positive or healthy is the ways that you are expressing it.

3. Happy or emotionally healthy people don’t experience painful emotions. This is not true! Even the happiest people have pain in their lives sometimes. Life is about the good and bad, pain and joy. Life is naturally going to have painful moments, regardless of how happy or well-adjusted the person is.

4. Feeling sad is weak. Again this is another myth. Emotions arise for a reason, to motivate you to change something, to help you communicate and so on. The emotion is normal and healthy. You response to the emotion might be health and if this is the case, that is what you need to focus on. What would be the healthier course of action that could help you cope with this intense emotion?

5. Painful emotions are destructive. False. It is not the emotion that is destructive. It is how you chose to act because of the emotion. For example, feeling anger does physical hurt you or anyone else, it is when you choose to act in a violent physical way because of the anger that people get hurt.

Were you able to identify any faulty beliefs that may be causing difficulties in your life? If so, I hope that you can feel empowered to start making small changes. If you found these top 5 myths helpful, don’t forget to check back in with Balancing the Circus next week for myth about emotions 6-10.

Balancing emotions,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW

Reference: Van Dijk, S. (2012). Calming the Emotional Storm:using DBT skills to manage your emotions and balance your life.

The beauty of creating boundaries 

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Why  are boundaries necessary?

  • For protection and personal security
  • To create order
  • To define ourselves clearly
  • To gain a clearer sense of ourselves in relation to others
  • To empower us to determine how we will be treated by others

Maintaining boundaries allows us to gain trust in ourselves to take care of ourselves. It results in a healthy sense of control and overall well-being. How do you plan on creating boundaries in your life today?

Shayla Peterson, LCSW

6 Myths about Self-Injurious Behaviors

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The two most common reasons for self-injuring are 1) to control the extremely painful and frightening experiences of overwhelming emotions, and/or 2) escape from awful feelings of being numb and empty. Self-injury is not a cry for attention, it a way to regain emotional balance, it is a solution to the extremely disturbing emotional problem of feeling out of control, and it works. It can be considered an effective coping skill, just not a healthy coping skill. March 1 was Self-injurious Awareness Day, so let’s address the myths behind self-injurious behaviors according to the book, “Helping Teens who Cut: Understanding and Ending Self-Injury” by Dr. Michael Hollander, Ph.D.

MYTH 1 -They do it to get attention. According to some researcher, less than 4% of adolescents deliberating hurt themselves to get attention. It is the most common reason that parent and some therapy give account for the behavior despite the fact that often an adolescent is self-injurious for months before an adult even notice. The misconception of this kind derails treatment and prolongs both the adolescent’s and the parents’ distress.

MYTH 2 – Everyone is doing it. Deliberate self-injury has been part of the adolescent scene for many years. Many therapists suggest that self-injurious behaviors are on the rise. These are three possible reasons why self-harm is the rise a) deliberate self-injurious has often been mistakenly documented as a suicide attempt, b) no firm criteria due to the narrow to board view of what of what constitutes non-suicidal self-injury and c) Adolescences seem less secretive about it.

MYTH 3 – PEER PRESSURE is the Main Culprit. While those who cut themselves are often friends with others who do the same, peer pressure probably has little effect on keeping the behavior going. People use their peer groups to air their problems. People and Adolescent, in particular, don’t start injuring themselves because of the influences of friends; they are more likely to choose friends who share their behaviors. Therefore, it is not unusual for one teen to tell another about her personal experience with self-injury or to let on that another friend has tried it. Preliminary research suggests that 52% of adolescents learn about self-injuries from a friend or media.

MYTH 4 – Drugs and Alcohol Increase the likelihood of self-injury. Self-injury soothes emotional distress, just as drugs and alcohol do. So the behavior, especially in a person who self-injures as a way to regulate emotions, would rarely be triggered by drug or alcohol use.

MYTH 5 – Certain Kids Manage Physical Pain More Easily than Emotional Pain. When adolescents are asked about the self-injurious behaviors shared that it is easier for them to bear physical pain than emotional pain. However, when you ask an adolescent does their self –injurious behavior hurt, the typical answer is NO. How can it be easier to manage physical pain than emotional pain if there is no physical pain? When the mechanism that provides the relief for this teen has to do with the neuropsychological effect of self-injury some people experience when they are in an intense emotional state. This sense of soothing is the most common experience during the moment of self-injury. It seems that when emotional revved up, there is a sense of calmness and relief when skin tissue is damaged.

MYTH 6 – It’s a Failed Suicide Attempt. More often than not, deliberate self-harm is not a failed or half-hearted suicide attempt. Those people who self-injure themselves may do so as a type of suicide prevention. Most therapists are better able to differentiate self-injury from self-harm with the intent to die. It is critical that any person who is self-injuring undergo a thorough suicidal assessment by a qualified professional.
March 1 was Self Injury Awareness Day and I hope that this brief article shed light on the myths bout Self-injury. For additional information regarding assessments and treatment, please contact a qualified mental health professional in your area.

Check out these resources for further education:

S.A.F.E. Alternative – www.selfinjury.com
Adolescent Self-Injury Foundation (ASIF) – www.adolescentselfinjuryfoundation.com

References:

Hollander, Micheal. Helping teens who cut: understanding and ending self-injury. (2008)
Shapiro, Lawrence. Stopping the Pain: a workbook for teens who cut & self-injure. (2008)

By Shayla Peterson, LCSW

I declare today to be STRESS FREE, join me

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There is so much to be stressed about, but there’s so many other things I rather fill my mind with today.  I understand that stress is a normal response to a state of unbalance.  Signs that I look for when my stress is unbalanced are in the areas of cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral.  Our brains may react by experiencing increased forgetfulness, poor concentration, increased worrying, poor judgement and seeing only the negative.  The emotional aspect of stress may present with moodiness,  feelings of being overwhelmed, isolation, difficult to relax and increased irritability.   Physical signs of stress may include aches & pains, nausea, easily catches colds, decreased sex drive and increased heart rate.  Behavioral signs may appear in the form of less/more eating, too much/too little sleep, isolation, neglecting responsibilities and using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to relax.   These various symptoms if not addressed can lead to increased mental health concerns as the majority of these symptoms parallel with depression and anxiety.  In efforts to increase mental wellness and prevent further stress, make an active effort to reduce stress today to improve overall mental health.   These are the ten things I chose to use today to support my mission towards eliminating stress:

  1. I will participate in some form of meditation or relaxation (4-square breathing, progressive relaxation, visualization and/or stretching)
  2. I will eat balanced meal (at least 5 servings of fruits, veggies and 8 glasses of water)
  3. I review how I typically think about stress.  Explore my “what ifs”? catastrophic thoughts? discounting the positives?
  4. I will take a break when I need one (I will leave the office for lunch).
  5. I will manage my time by planning my day so that it doesn’t run me.
  6. I will take about my troubles with close friend and end the conversation with a positive story.
  7. I will live a balanced life today.  After work, I will make time for my hobby, me-time, a social event or watch a movie with the family.
  8. I will develop a realistic goal and break it up into smaller realistic goals and then break them up into even smaller realistic goals.
  9. I will evaluate possible future stress and identify what can I do to reduce it.
  10. I will ask for help.  I will get in touch with my therapist if I’m having difficulties getting through my STRESS-FREE day.

Feel Free to use these ten ways to have a STRESS FREE day.  Note: Please do not feel disappointed if your day is not completely stress-free by using these tips, if you reduced one of your signs or decreased your symptoms of stress, you have made strides.  Let’s Celebrate our progress!!!

Balancing the Stress,

Shayla Peterson, LCSW