I responded to a reported request yesterday for an “expert” to comment on spoiled kids. When I got the questions it was about Suri Cruise’s being seen, at age 4 using an iPad and my comments ended up on E! Online article “She Has an iPad – So is Suri Cruise Spoiled?” Kinda fun.
Do you wish that you had more energy? I do. I often look at my three year old who jumps out of bed with boundless energy, excited to face the adventure of the day, with envy. Unlike my three-year-old daughter, who has relatively few worries and concerns, I have many potential concerns that can drain emotional energy. Life transitions, grief and loss, mental or physical illness, stress, and relationship distress can all take a toll on emotional energy.
Energy is defined as a usable power source. “E”motions are “energy in motion”, propelling us to move in certain directions. More than mere physical energy; emotions provide a deeper, internal energy source. We’re talking today about how to use emotional energy as a power source and how to boost our emotional energy. According to therapist and researcher Mira Kirshenbaum, emotional energy is, “an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope.”
Tips for boosting your emotional energy:
Pursue your passions
What gets you excited about life? What do you look forward to? What emotionally energizes you? Dream big! Passion is a life compass, pointing you to your unique strengths and life purpose. Being involved in your passions refuels your emotional energy. When my sister Rachel Coleman’s daughter was born profoundly deaf, Rachel, along with our sister Emilie Brown, started producing Signing Time! DVDs designed to improve the communication of all children by teaching American Sign Language. Their passion is infectious and has inspired many families throughout the world.
Live on purpose
What is your life about? What is your greater purpose? How are you making a difference for others? Having a purpose greater than your own life is energizing and can even transcend physical health problems and chronic illness. A wonderful example of this purpose is the well-known actor Christopher Reeves. After being thrown off of a horse, he became quadriplegic and he dedicated the remainder of his life to advocating for research and life enhancement for individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Just say “no”
Do I want to do this? Does this feel emotionally energizing or emotionally draining? What you want matters. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you find yourself doing things just to please others, to avoid guilt, or because you think you “should”, you may be unnecessarily draining your emotional reserves. Resentment is a helpful clue that you need to put “no” back into your vocabulary, and start being more selective about what you commit to. Distance from draining people
Guard your emotional reserves by being selective about who you spend time with and who you listen to. Just as joy can be contagious, negativity of others can seep into your emotional space and drain you. If you notice any of these chronic patterns, consider taking a step back and reflecting on your relationship. Complaining, blaming, belittling, gossiping, demanding, rigid rules, and excessive neediness are a few examples of draining relationship patterns.
Invest in important relationships
We are all born to connect with others. It’s necessary for our very survival. Close relationships can emotionally energize you like nothing else in the world. Prioritize the relationships that feed your soul, and take care of your intimate family relationships above all others. Take time to connect with your loved ones, and to let them know on a regular basis how much you value them.
Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. ~Swedish Proverb
It is in the shelter of each other that people live ~ Irish Proverb
Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit www.drjuliehanks.com for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
What do YOU do to boost your emotional energy? Comment below (your email will not be made public) 🙂
Divorce is a time of crisis: “a dangerous opportunity”. It is an opportunity to find out that you’re stronger than you think you are. Though individual circumstances vary greatly from one divorce situation to another, you have a choice in how you respond to divorce. As with all difficult and painful life transitions, this familiar adage applies to divorce “You can become bitter or you can become better.”
Finding Strength Through A Divorce:
Going through a divorce requires redefinition of yourself, your family, your relationships, your life. It’s a time for honest self-reflection: a time to look inside of yourself and shift your views to accommodate the many life changes you’re going through.
Who am I without the marriage and the role of “wife”?
What were my contributions to the demise of the marriage?
What can I learn from this experience that will make me a stronger person?
Divorce is a time to take inventory of what matters most to you. If you’re children have become less of a priority during the stress of the divorce process, recommit to investing more in your relationship with them. If you’ve given up a hobby or interest during your marriage, pick it up again. If spirituality is important to you, recommit to investing in your connection with God.
What aspects of life are most important to me?
What areas of life do I want to focus on now?
Am I investing my time and energy into who and what I value most?
The end of a relationship that one or both of you didn’t want will free up energy to invest in other parts of your life. Though it’s scary to explore the uncharted territory of life as a single person, try actively taking risks to get out or your comfort zone. A former therapy client decided to go back to school and get her MBA after she divorced, a dream that she’d put on hold when she married.
Who do I want to become?
What am I most passionate about?
What are some activities that will get me out of my comfort zone and expose me to new people and experiences?
How do you find strength through difficult times? Feel free to post your comment below.
The light of springtime often inspires the cleaning out of clutter in your home and yard, and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out your emotional space: your thoughts and feelings. Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, emotional spring cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So, put down your mop and storage bins because I’ve got a different kind of spring cleaning for you. Here’sÂ an emotional spring cleaning checklist to help you get started!
Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:
1. Cultivate quiet time
Ask yourself: Do I take time to reflect on my internal world? Am I able to identify how I am feeling and what I am thinking? What can I clear out of my internal home that will allow me to become a calmer, more centered person?
Plan some alone time to take an internal inventory and identify what has been cluttering your heart and mind. Meditation, prayer, hiking, and yoga are excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection. Spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.
2. Jot it in a journal
Ask yourself: What am I feeling and thinking? Is there anything that has been bothering me or weighing me down?
Putting pen to paper and identifying your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable, and gives you a different perspective. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them. Emotions (E-motions) are “energy in motion” and they are designed to move through you, not to stay stuck in your body. Next time you feel emotionally burdened write it down. In my therapy practice, I keep a stack of small notebooks to give away to clients as “homework” assignments in which they can practice identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings.
3. Give up a grudge
Ask yourself: Am I holding on to past hurt that I’d be willing to let go of? Why am I still holding on to this resentment?
Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive, areas of your life. I’ve heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. While having a range of emotions is normal, including anger and hurt, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you. A recent couple I worked with realized the power of giving up a grudge. The wife kept bringing up how angry she was when her husband was quiet and how he “froze” when she was upset. She was resentful and hopeless until she realized her husband’s silence stemmed from his fear of making things worse, not because he didn’t care about her.
4. Offer an apology
Ask yourself – Is there someone in my life that, when I see them, stirs up feelings or regret or awkwardness about something I’ve said or done? Do I know that I’ve made a mistake that has hurt someone that I haven’t “clean up”?
If you feel unsettled about something you’ve said or done to another person, offer a sincere apology to clear the air. Even if it was unintentional on your part, a generous and heartfelt apology can remove unnecessary discomfort inside of you and repair damaged connections with others. I can attest to the relief that comes from taking ownership of a mistake or misstep. A few months ago I spoke with a friend about a lingering misunderstanding between us and owned up to my insensitivity. Though it was a fairly minor incident, I didn’t realize until it was resolved how much space it was taking in my internal life.
5. Forgive your faults
Ask yourself: Is there something that I’ve said or done, or a trait that I don’t like about myself that seems to clutter my mind?
Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-evaluations like, “I am never good enough” or “I’m always putting my foot in my mouth” or “See! I’m not good at relationships”. Dwelling on your past mistakes or clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren’t inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism. How freeing it is to acknowledge that you will make mistakes and have weaknesses as a human, but that it is possible to learn from personal experiences and still maintain a sense of self-acceptance. When my therapy clients are able to achieve this self-acceptance in spite of their own weakness, I call this becoming an “emotional grown-up”.
6. Tell the truth
Ask yourself: When someone asks me how I’m doing, do I say that “I’m fine” even when I’m not?
A willingness to be emotionally honest with those we love can deepen our connections and allow our loved ones to offer support and encouragement to us. Recently, a young adult therapy client discovered when she “told the truth” to her parents she not only felt relieved but it also improved her relationships with them. If you are afraid that being more emotionally honest in your relationships will hurt them, think again. Not sharing your truth for long periods of time leads to emotional build up that eventually erupts, causing further breakdowns in communication and relationship break-ups.Â The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.
Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit http://www.drjuliehanks.comfor more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
May 2-8, 2010 is National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. Wasatch Family Therapy therapists are offering FREE screenings by appointment. Visit http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555 to schedule your screening.
The Sibling Shuffle: Solutions for parenting more than one child
As one of nine children in my family of origin, and as the mother of four in my current family, I know all about the pain and the joys of sibling relationships and of the parenting challenges that come along with raising children. Here are some common complaints and dilemmas, and tips for parenting more than one child.
Common Complaints From Children To Parents
â€¢ That’s not fair!
â€¢ You like him/her better!
â€¢ How come you let him/her do _____________?
â€¢ Why do you baby him/her?
â€¢ How come you’re harder on me than the other kids?
Common Parenting Dilemmas
Here are some common family situations that may leave parents wondering how to manage their children’s varying needs:
â€¢ One child is dedicated to and involved in a sport, artistic, or academic area that is very time consuming and expensive.
â€¢ A child has an illness or disability and requires extra parental attention.
â€¢ Many years separate the ages of siblings so they are in different developmental stages.
â€¢ Your personality just “clicks” with one child over the others.
Solutions for Parenting More Than One Child:
1 -Focus on meeting needs instead of on fairness
No matter how hard you try to be “fair” among siblings there is really no way to achieve equality. There will be times when parent’s attention will shift slightly toward one child or another depending on each child’s needs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an opportunity for the other children to learn life lessons, like empathy and patience. Rather than trying to be fair, focus on meeting each child’s needs at each stage of development.
A wise friend and mother of four, Cori Connors, shared this helpful idea when it comes to parenting many children, “I always told my children they were soup…some need an onion, some need more bullion, some need more salt or a little pepper. If I didn’t taste and adjust according to what was needed it would be yucky soup. You can’t just presume that fine cuisine follows one recipe.”
2-Celebrate each child’s unique qualities
Each child has different talents and strengths that can and should be celebrated. For example, if your family is big on sports and one child is more gifted in art than athletics, be sure to attend his or her art shows and encourage siblings to show their support. If you have a child that is more challenging for you to understand or celebrate, it’s even more important to actively find strengths to celebrate. Be careful not to compare children to their siblings.
3-Avoid labeling your children
While it’s natural for parents to categorize (i.e. the baby, the quiet one, the smart one, the dumb one, the helpful one, the pretty one, the loud one) but keep in mind that labels, even when positive, can hinder your child’s self-expression and development especially when they are rigid and enduring. It may be more helpful to acknowledge each child’s efforts instead of using a general label. For example, instead of saying, “You’re so smart” try, “You work hard and really seem to care about doing well in school.”
4-Listen to each child’s underlying emotions & desires
Underscoring children’s complaints to parents about unfair treatment are often requests for their needs to be met and for their underlying emotions to be heard. As the parent, you have the honor of helping your child learn to identify their deeper emotions and to help them say what they want and need from you. For example, if a child says, “You love him more than me!” he may be trying to say “Mom, I’m sad that I’m not spending more time with you.” Put your own defensiveness on hold and try to hear the meaning behind the complaint.
5-Encourage cooperation instead of competition
Since most siblings seem to be competitive by nature, it’s easy as a parent to use this competition to motivate our children to do what we want them to do. Instead, Use phrases that encourage win-win situations and helping each other. Instead of saying, “Let’s see who can get their teeth brushed first” try “Let’s all get teeth brushed and read a book together.”
As I sat this evening on the sidelines watching my daughter’s lacrosse game, I was exhausted and looking forward to sitting down, unwinding, and watching the game.Â Quickly, my expectations for an hour of relaxationÂ were dashed when my hungry and thirsty and energetic 3 year old daughter MacyÂ began climbing on me, asking for food, refusing to wear her jacket, and sprinting across the long stretch of grass in the opposite direction.Â I didnâ€™t have the energy to chase her. I didnâ€™t even want to move.Â
I made a fewÂ idle threats like “You need to stay by me or you’ll have to go to the car” as I wondered, “How long do I have to stay and watch the game so my older daughter feelsÂ supported before I can leaveÂ to go home, eat, put my feet up and put this little one to bed?” I was emotionally and physically drained (for a variety of reasons and I will spare you the details).
As I was planning my exit strategyÂ IÂ noticed Macy,Â with her fair skin, yellow pigtails, and no jacket grinning with delight as she ran. HerÂ boundless energy stirredÂ a twinge of jealousy in me, as if somehow her glee was a threat.
Feeling a bit winded Macy sat downÂ on my lapÂ me and noticed that the family sitting next to usÂ had fruit snacks. She asked if she could have one and theyÂ gladly shared.Â Macy danced and made silly faces while eating it.Â I thought to myself, “I wish I could be so joyful aboutÂ small things.”Â
AsÂ she savored her fruit snack I noticed her slowly moving toward the little girl sitting next to us, tryingÂ to get her attention.Â Within a few minutesÂ Macy had made a new friend and was nestled up in the same chair while the older girl read a book to her.
Over the next 45 minutesÂ these two littleÂ girlsÂ chased each other, rolled around in the grass, and made a tent with the blanket and chairs, and pretended they were puppies. I marveled at how openÂ Macy was to reaching out and connecting to this girl without fear, and how easily delighted she was by the attention and the playful interaction. It dawned on me that the game was almost over.
During the final few minutes of the game I realized that whileÂ Macy was frolicking with her new friend,Â I had been sitting by this little girl’s momÂ and we hadn’tÂ exchangedÂ more than a fewÂ words. Taking the lead from my 3 year old, I turned to this lovely womanÂ and introduced myself, and began to askÂ about her andÂ her family. As the finalÂ whistle blew, we continued chatting and gathered our chairs and blankets, and mentioned that weâ€™ll likely be seeing a lot more of each other throughout the season. As we walked to the parking lot I felt energized, thanks to my 3 year old.
Ninety percent of couples improve with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy! That’s an unparalleled success rate and last year I had the privilege of interviewingÂ Scott Wooley, PhD, one of the worldwide EFT trainers.Â Since then I have been training in EFT so I can more effectively help couples! To find an EFT therapist in your area visit ICEEFT.com