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Emotional Spring Cleaning: Studio 5

Emotional Spring Cleaning

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’s 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. The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.

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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.

Watch more advice segments here

The Sibling Shuffle: Studio 5

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

• That’s not fair!
• You like him/her better!
• How come you let him/her do _____________?
• Why do you baby him/her?
• 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:

• One child is dedicated to and involved in a sport, artistic, or academic area that is very time consuming and expensive.
• A child has an illness or disability and requires extra parental attention.
• Many years separate the ages of siblings so they are in different developmental stages.
• 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.”

Struggling with negative body image? Watch this!

Here’s yesterday’s KSL TV Segment “Love your body with out losing a pound”.


How are you doing with accepting your body just as it is? I welcome your thoughts and comments below (your email will not be published)

What to say when: Tips for surviving sticky social situations

If you ever find yourself at a loss for words in awkward social situations watch this segment. Here are some helpful phrases to add to your relationship repertoire!

 

 Sticky Social Situation  Example  Try Saying This
 You’re asked to do something you don’t want to do and it’s hard to say “no”.  An extended family member informs you that they are staying with you over Spring Break and you already have a full house.  “That’s just not going to work for me.” 
 You’re feeling pressured to answer on the spot.  A friend asks you about your recent marital separation in the company of others.  “Let me get back with you on that .” 
 You’re asked about someone else’s personal life  Your neighbor asks you about details of your best friend’s financial problems.  “That’s a good question to ask her/him.” 
 You’re in a heated debate or disagreement.  You and your spouse get in a no-win debate about whose fault that you were late for an important event.  “We can think different things and still be friends.” 
 Someone is expressing intense emotion about you directly to you.  Your toddler screams in the grocery store, “I hate you, mommy!”  “Wow! You’re really (feeling word) at me.” 
 You want to make a difficult request of someone else.  Your mother-in-law frequently gives unsolicited parenting, cooking, weight loss advice and you want her to only give advice when you ask for it.  “It would mean a lot to me if (your request).” 

Find the Voice to Say “No”: Studio 5

I recently surveyed more than 600 Utah women and found that 60 percent say they take on more commitments than they can handle, and 68 percent reported they don’t say “no” when asked to do something they don’t want to do. There are so many demands on your time and energy that saying “no” is crucial to your emotional well-being.

Why is it hard to say “no”?

In my therapy office and in my workshops I often hear women they don’t say “no” because:

 “I don’t want to disappoint others.”
“I should be able to do it all.”
“I want to help.”
“If I say ‘no’ I feel guilty.”
“I want to please others.”
“I feel pressured by others.”

“No” is an important boundary -It shows that you are a separate person with your own thoughts, feelings and desires. Saying “no” acknowledges that you are different from others and that your voice does matter.

“No” prevents burnout – Saying “no” and setting limits allows you to prevent feeling overwhelmed and becoming overcommitted. We have to pick and choose where to invest our time, energy and other resources. A wise workshop participant commented, “When I say ‘no’ I’m saying ‘yes’ to something more important.”

“No” helps you get what you want – It is an expression of your sense of self. If you know what you don’t want to do, you can identify what you do want.

Tips For Saying “No”

1) Accept that you have limitations
Everyone has limits to what they want to and can accomplish. It’s simply part of being human. Many women feel bad about having limitations of time, energy and prior commitments, just to name a few.2) “No” is an honorable response
Saying “no” means telling your truth. If you allow yourself to say “no” when you mean it, others will trust that when you say “yes” you also mean it and will follow through.3) You owe no one an explanation
If you give your week’s schedule, or the reasons why you are saying “no”, you open up the door for others to rearrange your schedule to accommodate their request, or to discount or argue with your reasoning. While I find it difficult to simply say “no” followed by an awkward silence, I really like the phrase “No, that’s just not going to work for me” because it softens the “no” without actually giving an explanation.

Click  HERE to read more about why “no” is important and for tips to help you say “no”

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