Time Travel is possible. We all do it occasionally, but some people do it more often than others. People who use time travel spend a large portion of each day thinking about all the things they should’ve done yesterday, all the things that went wrong in the past, and all the things they’re supposed to do tomorrow. As a result, that is where they live: in the past or in the future. The downside to time travel is we miss out on living in the present moment, the only true moment in which anyone can really live! And the only moment in which we have control over. Even worse, not living in the present moment can also make life more painful.
A few weeks ago, I gave a community presentation on body image, and many participants reported the following information was very helpful! There are 3 things that often contribute to how we perceive our physical self:
1-Early Environmental Issues
If you were praised based on appearance rather than internal performance, you are more at risk for thinking negatively about yourself. In addition, if you were raised in an environment where one or both parents were always “dieting,” you may also be at risk for developing a more negative perception of self.
People who see the proverbial “glass as half empty, rather than half full” are more likely to judge themselves negatively. Personalities who have a tendency to focus on flaws rather than strengths often have body image challenges.
Social media and even new phone apps (such as “Plump and Skinny Booth”) are altering our view of self more than ever. Cyberbullying seems to contribute to a negative body image, as well as performance pressures, say in sports, can lead to extreme measures to alter ones body, such as performance-enhancing drugs. New websites are popping up that even instruct the user “how to get an eating disorder” to control weight, which are a contributing risk factor as well.
The good news is all 3 of these factors can be managed or treated. A few useful tools can be found on websites (the positive side of technology!) such as centerforchange.com and thebodymovement.com. In addition, a Body Image Workbook by Thomas Cash PhD can be very useful, especially if used in conjunction with a trained therapist to address the above factors.
Last, learning facts about images we see are explored in a new documentary by Taryn Brumfitt called “Embrace.” This can help increase a more accurate view of ourselves an others. If you or a loved one struggle with negative body image, call Wasatch Family Therapy today to seek guidance from a body image professional and take charge of those negative self perceptions!
Does this title seem cheesy? Well, it is legit! Over the last 15 years the science of happiness is a serious area of study with validated research supporting it. Among the findings are:
1-The brain can be changed. The scientific term for this is “neuroplasticity” meaning you can teach the old brain new tricks.
2-We can train our brain like a muscle, by adopting new thought patterns that can rewire negative thoughts.
3-All of us are hard wired for negativity (blame evolution!) so we all need to learn new ways to react and deal with everyday stresses.
4-Re wiring the brain does not take a lot of effort! A few simple things will go a long way to change sadness into happiness.
As a therapist, I am always looking for new tools that support my 5 main treatment goals for clients:
1) Conquer negative thoughts, 2) Gain confidence, 3) Boost optimism, 4)Reduce Stress and last: Improve Relationships. Don’t these 5 ares cover most everything?
One tool I have discovered to be very helpful is the website happify.com. This website is amazing and has helped many of my clientele gain daily tools to manage stress as they sign up for daily happify, a video, quote, story or exercises that sets the mood for your entire day. What I love about this website is it is run by Positive Psychologists, Mindfulness coaches and other PHD level professionals that use research to instruct online users HOW to achieve overall balance and happiness. In addition, they offer ways to track your happiness but implementing a test every 2 weeks that measures your happiness. As a therapist, I endorse this fantastic website and find it to be a great supplement to weekly therapy. Most of the methods are based on DBT, (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) which is a evidence based therapy with practical methods that work fairly quickly. Check out happify.com today and understand how “Happiness is Winnable”. Best part is it is free!
To most, compassion is a commendable quality. But for some reason, this quality is limited to “others” in our culture, not often for “oneself.” Lets explore 3 possible false assumptions that may prevent us from applying compassion to oneself.
1-Self Compassion means weakness.
Susan didn’t express any painful feelings while going through her divorce. She believed she had to be “strong for the kids” and power on no matter what. This meant putting herself last and ignoring any emotional or physical needs. When Susan fell apart 3 months after the divorce was final, she wondered why she was able to be “strong” in the beginning, but then suddenly became “weak and unable to handle even the smallest tasks”. What Susan didn’t realize is that instead of being a “weakness”,
researchers are now discovering that self-compassion is one of the most powerful influences of coping and resilience, that we have available to us. How one relates to themselves when the going gets tough- as an enemy or ally-is often what determines ones ability to cope successfully.
2- Self compassion is narcissistic.
High self esteem requires standing out in a crowd-or being “above average” in the American culture. The problem of course is that it is impossible for us to be outstanding, all of the time. When we compare ourselves to those “better” than us, we will always feel like failures. An example of
this is teen bullying. One teen told me “picking on wimpy nerds boosts my self esteem and makes me feel cool”. After many sessions he finally discovered he needed to focus on himself, and ways to feel more secure, rather than his demeaning behavior towards others. Narcissism usually results in exercising power over others; self compassion is the opposite-empowering oneself so there is no need to compare or put others down.
3- Self compassion is selfish.
Some confuse self care with selfishness and assume caring of oneself automatically means neglecting everyone else. As a therapist, I am always amazed when I meet people who consider themselves to be good, generous, altruistic souls, who are perfectly awful to themselves. Caring for oneself is actually the opposite: it’s one of the most important things you can do to have healthier relationships, and it does not mean you neglect loved ones! In reality, beating yourself up can be a paradoxical
form of self centeredness. When we can be kind and nurturing to ourselves, however, many of our emotional needs are met, leaving us in a better position to focus on others. Therefore, having self compassion equals the ability to have more to give others, not less to give others.
These 3 myths often stand in the way of caring for ourselves. More information and even classes on ways to improve self care can be found at www.mindfulnessprograms.com or web search (name of State) i.e.. “Utah msar”.
As a therapist, I am always happy to see social media bringing awareness to mental health issues, especially suicide. This month an army veteran in Michigan started it to get people talking about POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.
To accept the challenge, you do 22 push ups each day for 22 days to raise awareness and funds to show military men and women they are not alone. Every day, an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide because they cannot cope with what they’ve been through, CBS2s Emily Smith reported (newyork.cbslocal.com)
Former Navy SEAL Kevin Lacz portrayed himself in the film American Sniper alongside Bradley Cooper, who played Chris Kyle. Kyle became a mentor to Lacz in Iraq. Kyle is known as the man with the most sniper kills in U.S. history. He was murdered by a former marine suffering from PTSD after he was honorably discharged.
Its an issue thats alarming, stunning, striking and I think we need to pay more attention to it, Lacz said.
He worked up a sweat for the PTSD awareness challenge, but he said there is a stereotype that everyone who serves has the disorder.
They estimate 20 to 25 percent do. There’s another 75 percent who don’t and people are quick to put the label if you served overseas you have PTSD.”
But Lacz said the issue and experiences that cause it should be talked about by everyone including war veterans themselves.
There’s always that perception dont ask what someone did overseas, but I think people want to know, he said. Your experiences are powerful. You led squads while your buddies were playing video games in college.
Here at Wasatch Family Therapy, we are always trying to being awareness to suicide, a topic many do not like to talk about. Take this holiday to read up on the stats of suicide and take the Push Up Challenge, which shows war veterans they are not alone and have an army of their own to help empower them once again.
Does success lead to happiness or does happiness lead to success? According to author and Psychologist Shawn Achor, the latter is true. If you increase your level of positivity in the present, the brain will experience something termed “The Happiness Advantage”. Achor states most business models, education models and even parenting styles teach hard work leads to success which in turn leads to happiness. This formula is broken and backwards according to a 12 year of study at Harvard University. How does one achieve the Happiness Advantage?
Loss and grief are some of the most powerful emotions we can experience and during the holiday season, symptoms of grief that have previously relented, might suddenly return. Such is the case with many clients I treat. For some, grief is new, for some their loss has occurred years earlier. Either way, the truth of loss is that we are never truly finished with grieving when someone significant to us dies. However, (and my clients challenge this!) there are many ways to live with the loss without suffering from it. Here are some suggestions to manage grief during the holidays:
1 – Create rituals and memorials of your loved one. It is helpful to draw on your personal spiritual and cultural beliefs to guide you in the creation of a meaningful remembrance. For example, one client put up a “Chicago Bulls” tree in honor of her son, who was an avid fan.
2 – Meditate by intentionally remembering both the happy and sad memories. Avoidance rarely works and leads to more suffering. Set aside time and space to do this meditation-either journaling, listening to calming music or looking at fun pictures shared with your loved one.
3 – Draw on your support system. Reach out to friends or others who share your grief and let them know this is a difficult time for you. Attend an event with them or just spend time with friends as a diversion. Isolation creates more suffering.
4 – Reconnect with a therapist or former grief group. Re-entering therapy for a session or two can aid in reminding yourself of tools used in grieving. Or just simply processing what you are experiencing with a professional can be helpful. Attending a grief group often helps as well.
5 – Change holiday gatherings to limit painful reminders. Maybe it’s time to gather for a breakfast instead of a traditional dinner that your loved one was the focus of. Having gift exchanges on a new day or omitting them and volunteering for a charity in behalf of your loved one can be very healing.
Using the above suggesting can decrease suffering. Of course there will always be a void when someone you have loved so much is no longer seen on
a daily basis, but many have found every year hurts a little less than the year before, and as one client stated ” I try not to focus on my own individual pain and try to focus more on the fact that those I have lost are no longer hurting”. Thinking about it that way can bring more comfort and solace.
We can pretend our painful feelings don’t exist. We can ignore them. And so many of us do, because we think that this will soften the blow. This will help us bypass the discomfort of our hurt, sorrow, agony, anger, anxiety. We assume the feelings will just go away (and they might, but only temporarily).
Click the link below to read what Monette Cash, LCSW has to say about handling painful emotions.
Women’s DBT Skills Group is a 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills
such as how to manage your emotions so they dont control your life-how
to cope effectively with difficult relationships- and learning how to
react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy
escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success.
A few months ago I attended a presentation with my teenage son at Canyons School District titled “Fight the New Drug”. As a therapist, I was expecting the typical “why porn is bad” -type of platform. What I found was a fresh approach that was all-inclusive, carrying out an anti-pornography message across borders of religious beliefs, political agenda and social backgrounds by presenting it as a public health issue, rather than as a moral, political or religious argument. Historically, pornography used to be a matter of personal opinion. Some people felt it was natural, normal, even expected to be consumed. Others felt it was “bad” or “wrong” due to their personal religious beliefs or political views. However, few people, if any, seemed to have concrete evidence to support their view. FTND’s mission exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
Teens learn how they are impacted on 3 levels: Personally, (recent finding in neuroscience), relationally (personal stories) and socially, (connecting the link to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation), in a delivery using multiple creative mediums that captivate youth! Founded locally here in Salt Lake City, Utah as a non profit organization campaign in 2009, they have carried their message to over 300 schools and colleges in North America, reaching thousands of teens (it’s target population). They also deliver through social media and have a massive following that has created a powerful social movement online. Their slogans can be seen on T shirts worn by Hollywood stars like “Porn Kills Love”, “Fight for Love” or “Stop the Demand”.
What impressed me most about this presentation I attended and what I find sets it apart from any others I’ve seen, is their online recovery program, “Fortify”: A Step Toward Recovery”, free to anyone under age 20. Most young people (I never see in therapy), suffer silently, already deeply trenched in a porn addiction, too embarrassed or ashamed to reach out and ask for help. Fight the New Drug offers anonymity where teens (and adults for a nominal fee) can finally seek help NOT just feel guilty. The website also offers a free book “Parents guide to addressing pornography with children” to assist families. FTND encompasses 4 programs: Media, Mobilization, Protection AND Recovery, a solid, comprehensive non profit that few others offer.