School Behaviors: What’s behind it?

Use a trauma-informed lens when dealing with school behaviors / Ron Huxley, LMFT

The school is back in full swing, and parents and teachers may be trying to manage misbehaviors. Don’t be too quick to assume that it is all about MOTIVATION and MANIPULATION. I call this the M and M misunderstanding. Take some time to look behind the behavior and answer the problem under the problem for greater school success.

Consult with Ron Huxley today for additional help…

5 Steps to Overcome Perfectionism

We all have moments where we fall into perfectionism. For some of us, this might happen kind of often. For others, it’s reserved for those special occasions where we have a project where we can’t rest until we get it right.

While occasional super-attention-to-detail is okay, it’s when we make perfectionism a way of life that it becomes a problem. Those are the times when we finally need to take charge of our lives and learn to let go.

Try this:

Start at the Core

Why are you so wrapped up in perfectionism? Are you genuinely trying to become a better person somehow, or are you just trying to impress someone else or meet expectations from those around you? Neither of these reasons is very healthy, and both need to be addressed.

Drop the “Should”

The moment you start using this word in a conversation, especially regarding your action, you’re already driving yourself crazy. Remind yourself you don’t need validation from anyone. You’re good just by being you.

Rewrite the Script

What are you telling yourself as you throw yourself into perfectionism? Do you think this is the path to success? Or do you have other unrealistic expectations of the outcome? Here’s where you switch up your self-talk to get out of any negative spaces and unrealistic outcomes.

Drop the Comparisons

Speaking of self-talk, just who are you holding up as role models? Has this, too, become unhealthy, going from “I want to be more like them” to “Why can’t I have everything they do?” Wouldn’t it feel better to celebrate where you are and all the effort you’ve been putting into things?

Show Some Mercy

Perfection never allows for excuses. If you can’t succeed, you’re automatically a failure. By chasing imperfection, you learn the value of self-forgiveness and the ability to let go of your mistakes in favor of embracing the lessons you can learn from them.

You wouldn’t think these steps are all so essential at first glance. After all, is chasing imperfection worthwhile?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Perfection pulls us away from others and gets us so tangled up inside with worry and stress about getting things right; that we negatively impact our mental and physical health. 

With this in mind, isn’t it time to let go and enjoy life once and for all?

Restart Your Life (Free Course)

Learn how to reboot and restart your life with a new course from Ron Huxley, LMFT, and Here’s what you will learn:

6 ways to deal with upheaval at work

Worry only 30 minutes a day

Be more supportive of your friends

Don’t let disagreements ruin your relationships

Defeat perfectionism!

How avoidance actually creates more stress

5 ways to get out of your own way

Create a plan for your family life

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What triggers your anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress. It can be characterized by feelings of tension and increased blood pressure in the body, worried thoughts in the mind, and a lack of hopefulness about the future.

Knowing what triggers your anxiety can help you address and accommodate your life through it. Notice I said “through it” and not “around it.” Trying to avoid or go around anxiety causes it to grow in strength. It is like feeding table scraps to the dog and then wonder why they come begging all the time.

A better way of managing anxiety is using the three-step method I am illustrating here… Aware, Address, and Accommodate. I am focusing only on the first step in this article.

On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate the triggers? Let the range of 0 to 2 be about “calmness,” 3 to 5 about “small amounts of anxiety,” 6 to 8 about “higher levels” of anxiety, and 9 and 10 listed as “extreme” anxiety.

Review each of the trigger situations below and rank them on this scale. It is ok to add trigger areas I didn’t cover.

___ Conflict or drama in my family, friendships, or relationships

___ Being in a large crowd of people

___ Meeting someone new or going to someplace I haven’t been before

___ Having to confront or approach someone

___ Trying to make other people happy

___ Having too much to get done

___ Making plans with other people

___ Being away from my parent/guardian or family members

___ Performing or presenting in front of others

___ Any kind of sudden change

___ Having too much time to think

___ Not knowing what will happen in the future

___ Grades or stress from schoolwork

___ Being away from home/family/loved ones

___ When I or my loved ones travel

___ Getting criticized for something I did wrong

___ Going anywhere or doing certain things by myself

___ Loud noises or raised voices

___ Being around certain people

___ Being in tight spaces or being in wide open spaces

___ Having conversations

___ Being unprepared

It is important to mention that past traumas can create triggers in present situations and relationships. These triggers may be false alarms designed by the body’s hypervigilant warning system. Recognize these alarms as friendly protectors and stop fighting them. When you are in the middle of a trigger, tell yourself that this is just anxiety and it is trying to protect me from harm from the past, and this is different. This feeling of anxiety will go away soon, and joyful feelings will return.

Getting to know your teen

Anyone with a teenager knows how challenging it can be to get them to share deeply. Part of the reason is that teens want to establish their own identity that is separate from you. Communicating on a deep level is connecting, not operating. The truth is that teens need and want both. You can use open questions to create dialogue and depth in your relationship.

Try these simple questions and see what happens:

How would your friends describe you?

What would you take if you were moving and could only take 3 things with you?

What age would you like to be if you could be any age and why?

What was the best day of last week and why?

What is it that you wish I understood better about you or your friends?

If you could be famous what would you like to be known for?

If you could take 3 people on a trip, who would you take and why?

What is something you wish you could change about yourself?

What is one of your or my greatest strengths and/or weaknesses?

What is the hardest thing about school for you?

Do you have a favorite teacher, or coach? What makes them your favorite?

Which feelings are the hardest for your to express? Anger? Sadness? Jealousy?

When asking these questions, don’t give advice or judgment. If you do, you will stop the flow of communication between you and your teen. Let them ask these questions of you or volunteer to answer them first to create more safety and openness. If your teen doesn’t want to answer them, don’t push. What they don’t say can be as informative of what they do say.

How do you feel today?

It’s a simple question. Not really complicated, right? Actually, it can be a tricky question to answer for some people. Many men and women who didn’t grow up with healthy examples of managing emotions or feelings were not valued or punished for expressing them. Anger is often an emotion that is used to cover up unpleasant feelings states, like sadness or fear. Anger has more energy and control but prevents us from knowing what is really underneath.

In couples, one person can be flooded with emotions and can shut down to control them. They might appear unemotional when in fact, they have too many emotions. A good therapist or life coach can help someone learn to be more aware of and address their feelings.

Try this simple exercise to know when you are feeling different types of emotions:

I feel happy when…

I feel sad when…

I feel excited when…

I feel angry when…

I feel safe when…

I feel scared when…

I feel invisible when…

I feel confident when…

Use the answers to these sentences to share with others close to you. Knowing what you feel may help you. Sharing them will help others. Practice noticing what you are feeling throughout the day. It is said that the only people who have no feelings are sociopaths and dead people. As stark a truth as that is, it means you have feelings, and you are able to be aware of, address them, and accommodate feelings in your relationship.

20 Ways to Forgive – Infographic

How to invite forgiveness to bless your life…

Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. Choose one of the ways listed in this infographic to implement in your life for one week. Assess how it has blessed you and then try a new way until you feel the weight of hurt and bitterness lessen.

Decision-Making: 9 Causes of Indecisiveness 

If you have trouble making final decisions, you may want to explore a few causes of your indecisiveness. Then, if you discover you’re doing these things, you can eliminate them and start making decisions much faster. 

  • Thinking Too Much – If you allow yourself unlimited time to make a choice, you may never make one. Sometimes that can lead to choices being made for you by default. This can make you feel a little out of control. Instead, set time limits on research and decision-making. 
  • Too Many Options – For some choices, there are simply too many options for you to choose from. If you keep looking at all the possibilities without narrowing them down, you must create better criteria to finalize your decisions. 
  • Listening to Others – While it’s fine to get opinions occasionally for some things, especially if the opinion is an expert one, such as contracting CPA services, for example, for the most part, if the choice only affects you listen to yourself more. 
  • You’re Allowing Guilt to Control you – When you first begin to live for yourself to reach your personal goals in life, some people will push back against you. This action can cause guilt on your part. The problem is guilt never helps you make good choices — only facts do. 
  • Not Listening to Yourself – You know much more than you give yourself credit. Therefore, you need to listen to your internal thoughts based on your knowledge. 
  • Seeking Perfection – Perfection simply does not exist. Therefore, it’s a fool’s game to keep trying to produce it. In fact, perfection-seeking can end up in no action being taken at all on your goals because it’s impossible. 
  • Lack of Self-Confidence – If you lack confidence in your choices, sometimes it’s due to a lack of education on the topic. In that case, educate yourself to make sound decisions, and your confidence level will grow as you make good choices. 
  • Fear Of Making the Wrong Choice – If you fear making the wrong choice about something, step back and ask yourself whether this will matter to anyone in 100 years. If you’re not changing the fabric of society with your choice, it probably isn’t going to change much. However, if it does matter that much, seeking expert advice may be necessary. 
  • You Forgot Your Overarching Goals – Each decision you make in life either keeps you the same takes you backward or advances you toward achieving your goals. It can be hard to match current choices with the right actions if you aren’t sure about your main goals. Get clear on your goals, and your choices will become easier. 

To overcome these decision-making blockers, train your mind to think differently. Instead of thinking of any of these issues, think about what your goals are and whether this decision affects those goals at all or not. If they do, ensure they take you closer to achievement, but if they don’t, consider that your choice for this one thing may not even matter in the scheme of your life. 

The Self-Care, Self Assessment

Self-care is no longer a luxury for our busy, stressful lives. It is a necessity! Use this self-care self-assessment on how well you are taking care of yourself. The examples here can be used as ideas, but you are not limited to this list…work to be consistent with your self-care plan and/or add new ideas to keep things fresh.

Taking care of yourself better is not only important to you but also to everyone around you. When you aren’t practicing self-care daily, you are probably not as healthy as you could be. This means you aren’t at your best, and you aren’t able to help others much.

To help you optimize and/or increase your self-care, fill in each section of this self-care assessment sheet to give you an idea of what you need to work on to feel better yourself, and to be there for others. 

For each of the following, rate how well you rate each item. Use the number system with 1 being poor and 5 being the best. Write your score in the line by the item. Then total up the numbers in each section and put it on the total score line by the section title.

Physical Self-Care – Total Score ________

___ I exercise 3-5 times a week.

___ I eat 3 healthy meals daily.

___ I eat healthy snacks.

___ I follow a healthy sleep routine.

___ I avoid eating at fast food restaurants.

___ I visit my family doctor regularly.

___ I visit my dentist regularly.

___ I drink water for better hydration.

___ I incorporate weights in my exercises.

___ I take medications as prescribed.

I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:

Mental Self-Care – Total Score ________

___ I write in a journal regularly.

___ I keep up with current news & events.

___ I play cognitive games that challenge me.

___ I engage in at least one hobby a week.

___ I listen to relaxing music.

___ I call or write to keep in touch with people I care for.

___ I volunteer regularly.

___ I visit places that I enjoy at least twice a week.

___ I learn to do something new each week.

___ I practice self-compassion and acceptance.

I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:

Emotional Self-Care – Total Score ________

___ I journal about things that bother/worry me.

___ I talk about troubling thoughts with a trusted friend.

___ I make it a point to be kind to others.

___ I don’t take hurtful things to heart.

___ I listen to upbeat or sad music as needed.

___ I watch inspiring or funny movies/shows to cheer up.

___ I don’t allow my anger or frustration to affect others.

___ I read the news or books to keep my thoughts in perspective.

___ I tell people what I really think, in appropriate ways.

___ I effectively limit the time I spend with toxic people.

I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:

Social Self-Care – Total Score ________

___ I schedule one-on-one time each person in my immediate family. 

___ I participate in community events regularly.

___ I am part of several community groups.

___ I encourage my family and friends to try new things.

___ I check on my friends/family regularly.

___ I tell my friends and family why I appreciate them.

___ I effectively balance the time I need for myself and with others.

___ I ask for help when needed.

___ I offer help when I see another’s unfulfilled need.

___ I make new people feel welcome and valued.

I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:

Business Self-Care

___ I arrive/begin work on time.

___ I work with a peer-support group.

___ I work with others a team-player.

___ I compliment others on their work.

___ I follow the rules/instructions set for my job.

___ I read industry-related information regularly.

___ I regularly build and enhance my job skills. 

___ I keep my desk/office clean and organized.

___ I take time off only when needed.

___ I take 15-minute breaks as needed.

I want/need to build/enhance these qualities: