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The Anxiety Balance: Acceptance and Change

Anxiety vs. Fear

A lot of people confuse anxiety with fear. We use the words interchangeably without much thought about the difference. Understanding the definitions will help us find the anxiety balance between acceptance and change.

Imagine you are on a rollercoaster and as you start up the hill you are starting to get tense and gripping the rail in front of you in anticipation of the drop that will come on the other side. This is anxiety. As you make the sudden plunge downward you are screaming in joyful terror and feel out of control. This is fear.

Anxiety can be described as the “fear of the fear.” The experience of fear resides in your imagination about an event in the future. It could be a real event or it could be false. Fear is the experience of terror in the present as events are actually occurring. This is important because, in anxiety, the future has not happened yet. We are anticipating a stressful event and creating our own physiological symptoms, sweating, tension, heart palpitations, in our minds. The actual events, however, justified they appear to be, have not taken place. Knowing this would suggest that we can control what we think and imagine to manage anxiety.

This presents us with a key strategy used by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. in her program called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dialectical simply means “tension” between two equally valid concepts such as acceptance and change.

 

Acceptance & Change

While it appears that acceptance and change are opposing forces, they are actually compliments of one another in the process of managing our emotional states. Applying them together facilitates a greater sense of mastery in our lives.

For example, if we are scheduled to give a public presentation and feeling anxious about it, we simply accept that we have these feelings while also recognizing that we only have to speak for a few minutes and then it will be over. You also know there are supportive people in the audience who would never humiliate you and in fact, you are very well prepared.

You might worry about your health and while you accept that you may find out bad news and get a poor diagnosis, you also know that modern medicine has a lot of treatments, medications, and know that you trust.

This paradox creates space for skill building. If presentations are part of your work and can’t avoid doing them, you can build skills like getting a coach, go to Toastmasters, read books or watch Youtube videos to increase your confidence and abilities. If the idea of asking someone out on a date terrifies you, you can just hang out with your peers, go on group dates, find a matchmaker to help you find your true love. If you are worried about your health, because your family has bad genes, you can get a trainer, talk to doctors, develop a new eating routine, and so on. The more you build skills, the less anxious you feel about some bad event occurring in your future.

Get more information on this topic and how to build mind-full-ness into your life to balance anxiety by taking the complete “Freedom From Anxiety” program >> Click here!

A family is a group of power-full people…

Ron’s Reading: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

One of the most common aggravations experienced by parents is the “power struggle”. It usually happens when the parent has to get to work or needs to finish dinner or help the child with their homework. Right in the middle of this urgent time, the child decides to exercise their will and demand a treat or refuse to put on their shoes or wants to argue about some topic they really don’t know anything about. Regardless of the circumstances, the outcome is two yelling, arguing, snorting, bug-eyed people who just want the other person to do what they want them to do. No fun for anyone!

Why does this happen so often in families? Danny Silk is one of my favorite authors and I recommend his books to many of the parents I work within family therapy or parenting workshops. In his book: “Keeping Your Love On: Connections, Communication & Boundaries” he shares how a family is a group of powerful people who are trying to learn how to live in powerful ways. He writes: “If you heard someone described as a powerful person, you might assume he or she would be the loudest person in the room, the one telling everyone else what to do. But powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.”

The trick, for parents, is not to demand respect but to create a respectful environment where non-respect, talking back and control simply can’t exist. There just isn’t enough oxygen for those negative elements to survive. Learning how to be a powerful and responsible person is one of the most important tasks of parenting.

You can get more information (and read along with me) on Danny’s book here: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

 

Trauma Can Shock You to Your Core (video)

When you go through something really horrible, it can shock you to your core. Trauma can take many forms. All of them have one thing in common: Feelings of Helplessness, Anger, Fear, and being Overwhelmed.

Watch the complete video on how trauma affects our lives and how you CAN heal…

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> Take our FREE Parenting Course: The Full-Proof Family Meeting when you sign up to our Family Healer Newsletter…Click here now!

Your Body is a Brain…

Great writers and painters have known this fact for decades: The body acts like a brain…

Walt Whitman understood that the flesh was the source of meaning; Auguste Escoffier discovered that taste is actually a smell; Paul Cézanne realized that the brain can decipher an image from minimal brushstrokes.

Jonah Lehrer has written a book called Proust Was a Neuroscientist

In my own trauma-informed trainings I discuss how our central nervous system, specifically the nerves surrounding our “guts”, acts as a second brain.

Did you know that there are 43 different pairs of nerves which connect the nervous system to every part of our body. Twelve of these nerve pairs are connected to the brain, while the remaining 31 are connected to the spinal cord.

Did you know that the gut has 100 million nerve cells that make up it’s own nervous system separate from the brain!

Did you know that one of the major nerve pathways from the gut to the brain is called the Vagus Nerve. The brain interprets signals from the Vagus Nerve as actual emotional information. It really doesn’t know the difference. 

Did you know that there is more and more research on how the gut and gastrointestinal conditions are linked to depression, anxiety, autism, and ADHD. What we are talking about here is nutrition and not just medication can change our mental health.

And did you know that there is a reason we call certain kinds of food “comfort food”? Comfort foods affect our moods. Can someone say chocolate please?

Understanding the brain/body connection can help us overcome trauma in ways that traditional talk therapy cannot. This is because a lot of times there are no words to express what trauma is doing in our lives or the trauma is so far back in infancy and during pregnancy that there was no ability to form words.

This will require a new approach to doing therapy that involves movement, sensory processing, art therapy and my own NeuroResilience Play Therapy Approach. Click here for more info.

What is your body telling you?  Perhaps its time to follow your “gut” instincts today and find the help you need. Hey, writers and artists have been telling us for years this truth about our body acting like a brain. Let’s listen to what it is saying!

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Art and Trauma: An Altered DSM by Ron Huxley, LMFT

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Art can be a way for us to heal from intense grief and trauma. Some things can’t be expressed complete in words and require the aid of images and sensory expressed movements.

It can help us transcend our emotional pain and find ways to regulate our nervous systems that encode trauma in our memories. Even when our minds cannot remember our traumatic pasts, our body still remembers.

The french painter, Charles Braque, stated that “art is a wound turned to light.” Art takes many forms. One contemporary form of art is called Altered Books. an Altered book is a form of mixed media artwork that changes a book from its original form into a different form, altering its appearance and meaning.

Ron Huxley, a family art therapist, altered a diagnostic and statistical manual along with a group of therapists to demonstrate how therapists can overuse labels to diagnose mental disorders and risk losing the essence of humanity each client brings to therapy. Therapists can take themselves too seriously and transforming a dry clinical manual with fresh artistic insights can make them better healers.

Click here to view the Altered DSM Book. 

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Faith-In-Motion Training Series: “Healing The Hurt Child” May 20, 2017

Adoptive and foster care children that have suffered trauma have lost their “first love”. This loss creates pain in their hearts that make it difficult to love new people, in particular new mom’s and dad’s. Every time they open up to love or be loved the pain comes up as well. This can create some very interesting reactions in the child, often seen in reactive attachment disordered children (RAD) like lying, stealing, hoarding, urinating in their rooms, hurting self and others, destroying property and a host of other emotional and social dysfunctions. The answer to this problem is to remove the pain…

Come to the free training series “Healing The Hurt Child” sponsored by San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services’ Faith-In-Motion Program, Cuesta College and Grace Slo Church. This is a full day training from 9 am to 4 pm on May 20th. Lunch is on your own but child care is provided and the training is free. Parents and professionals who work with traumatized children are welcome to attend. See the training flyer below for registration details:

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How To Be A Worry Warrior And A Fear Fighter!

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about “what if” instead of enjoying the moment of “what is” right now? This is what happens when we worry about being hurt by other people if we get too close to them. It is also what happens when we fear something dangerous might occur, in the future, to us or someone we care about.

The emotional result of living in the “what if’s” is often anxiety and panic. I have worked with individuals who worry that they will have a car accident, choke on food, be publicly humiliated, or that someone will enter their house and hurt them or their family members. The list of possible “what if’s” could go on and on…

This worry prevents people from enjoying life in the moment. They are unable to go to parties or attend weddings and they avoid certain foods and even check doors repeatedly every night before going to sleep (if they are able to go to sleep). Their fear robs them of self-confidence and security.  In order to cope, they  avoid any potentially uncomfortable,  painful situation.

Often these “what if’s” situations come into our lives because of traumatic events in the past. Maybe we did get sick from expired milk and threw up in the cafeteria in front of all our friends. Perhaps we did have a tragic car accident that resulted in a terrible loss! Perhaps we have had our home invaded or someone assault us. While there may be many realities to our anxieties, we don’t have to let them continue to control our lives.

We can become worry warriors and fear fighters!

The secret to making this change is to understand the true nature of emotions. Anxiety is an emotion as is anger or excitement or happiness. All emotions are “energy in motion” or e-motions.

The word “motion”, in Latin, means “to move” as in “it’s time to move out” on a trip or journey. It also means “to excite” or take action.

Additionally, e-motions are temporary. They come without warning and they will leave just as quickly, if we let them. They will stay longer if we complicate their “movement” by holding on to them with our beliefs about ourselves and the world. If our experiences are negative and our beliefs follow with more negativity, then our e-motions stop their normal movement and become frozen in our psyches.

Typical negative beliefs that can result in anxiety include:

I am a failure.

I have to be perfect.

I should have done something.

I am not good enough.

I am not safe.

I am stupid.

I am bad.

I am not lovable.

I can’t bear the pain of _____.

I am not in control.

I am weak.

I am fake.

I am ugly.

It is my fault.

There may be more but that is enough to make you feel anxious! Imagine what it must be like to live with those negative beliefs all the time. Underneath all of those negative beliefs is the idea that they cannot change and we are destined to suffer under them forever. That is not true. You can fight back!

I’ll be honest. The fight can be hard but the prize (YOU) is worth it. This the only way to deal with anxiety. You can’t continue to avoid it and hope it goes away and you can fight it directly.

That’s right, you are NOT fighting anxiety head on. You are fighting your beliefs about anxiety and how you view yourself/your world. That is what keeps it frozen and stops it natural movement away from us. Another problem with fighting anxiety is that people try to measure success based on whether they FEEL anxious or not instead of whether they are able to LIVE productively or not. You will always feel anxious from time to time. It is a natural e-motion that wants to move on. Focusing on living life is a much better measuring stick.

Use these positive thoughts instead:

I deserve to be happy.

I am great just as I am.

I am in control now.

I can do the best I can.

I am good.

I am smart.

I am beautiful inside and out.

I can make mistakes.

I am lovable.

I am strong.

It is not my fault.

I can succeed.

I am safe now.

Just like any good fighter, you have to take care of yourself. Regular exercise, good nutrition, relaxation and rest are important strategies to winning the worry war.

To help you visualize yourself as a worry warrior or a fear fighter, imagine wearing the following pieces of armor as you go into the battle:

Helmet of happy thoughts.

Breastplate of perfect love (that protects against fear).

Shield of self-confidence.

Boots (to stay grounded and moved you through the fight).

Sword of truth (that breaks irrational lies).

Chainmail of support (from family and friends).

Make up your own ideas with the following image as you become a worry warrior and a fear fighter:

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2017 Child Abuse Prevention Academy

Please join us for the 9th Annual Child Abuse Prevention Academy, a training for students, professionals, and community members.

Participants will:

  • learn how to report incidents of suspected child abuse,
  • understand what occurs after a report,
  • understand the role and funtion of the brain in Trauma-Informed Care
  • learn to recognize the effects of trauma on the brain, behavior and development
  • explore primary strategies for healing trauma in the lives of children and adults.

Presenter: Lisa Fraser, Executive Director, Center for Family Strengthening, the San Luis Obispo County Child Abuse Prevention Council

Guest Speaker: Ron Huxley, LMFT will share,
The Beautiful, Wonderful, Broken Brain: Understanding Trauma-Informed Care.

Noted child and family therapist, speaker, and blogger Ron Huxley has worked in several systems of care, including community-based mental health, child therapy clinics, wraparound, County mental health, private psychotherapy practice, and faith-based counseling/coaching services. He has certifications in various clinical evidence-based and promising practices: EMDR, Incredible Years, Family Wellness, Love & Logic, S.T.E.P. (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), TheraPlay, Love After Marriage, and Developmental Dyadic Psychotherapy (attachment-focused family therapy).

Student participants are urged to attend and will receive a Certificate of Participation. 

The training is free, but preregistration is required.

register now

When

Friday April 28, 2017. 9:00am – 12pm
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Where

Cuesta College Student Auditorium – #5401
 CA-1, San Luis Obispo, CA, CA 93403

Free Parking  Lot #2

Contact

Center for Family Strengthening
805-543-6216
support@cfsslo.org  

  Brought to you in partnership with Center for Family Strengthening and Cuesta College        

   

 

Click here to Register Now!

 

Discovering your love road map and dealing with conflict

road map

How do you get from point A to point B? You can put in your own destinations for each point… The answer is simple. Look at a road map or in our modern technological society, tell your phone to pull up the map.

The “point” is that if you want to get anywhere you have to have a road map (or in the case of our phone, a GPS). In relationships, we need a love road map. When it all hits the fan, and it will sooner or latter, we need to know how to get back to a place of love and trust.

The research of John Gottman, PhD, shows us that the road to relational stability requires this type of emotional guidance system. In order to be a master of relationships and not experience the disaster of it, you can start building this map today. According to Dr. Gottman, you have to know a lot about your partner or child to navigate through difficult times and moments of disagreement. The process to build this map is asking a lot of questions that search the soul of the other person. Questions like what do you think about injustice or what countries you would like to visit or how do you feel about your career in life? These are open ended questions that go deeper than did you do your homework or pay the electrical bill?

How does your partner feel about their role as a mother or father? Does your child enjoy his or her friendships? After these heart-probing questions are asked, you have to remember the answer because this is what you will use to work through conflicts. The intensity of our fights with our most intimate companions aren’t really about an “F” on a test or dishes in the sink. They are really about our hopes and dreams and desires. They can also be about our disappointments, fears and losses. The more deeply connected you are with the former, the better you will find your way through the latter.

When people ask you these questions they show their interest in you. It makes you feel valuable. Conversely, scanning for mistakes, even with the motivation to help the other person be better in life, destroys intimacy and trust.

It has been said that a joyful life is created in the little details, conversations and moment to moment interactions. This is exactly how you build a love road map that will help you deal with conflict. Conflict is part of the human relationships and can’t be avoided so be prepared and get to know the inner world of others.

Action plan: Ask some deep questions of people who are closest to you in the next 7 days. Take notes of their answers. There will be a test!