October 20, 2016

Getting to Know Yourself

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:54 pm by kellyfdennis

img_0212When we are in the throes of our stuff, we tend to be on autopilot, not really paying much attention to the world around us, or ourselves, for that matter. We can find ourselves getting caught up in the stories in our own mind; ending up feeling disconnected, negative and unworthy. One of the (many) problems with getting caught up in the stories in our minds, is that we usually end up in a state of judging ourselves. Self-judgement is generally a form of control we engage in to get ourselves to do things “right” so others will validate and approve of us. While, this sometimes works and we may succeed in getting others to approve of us, as long as we’re still participating in the judgement of ourselves, we’ll continue to feel badly about ourselves.

Ugh! What a frustrating cycle. We need to move toward a thinking pattern that is more compassionate and validating of ourselves. Let’s move toward trusting our “inner knowing” and being the authority for ourselves, rather than relying solely on the validation and approval from others.When we chose to be kind to ourselves about our stories and value ourselves for that kindness, we can begin to allow ourselves to feel secure, loved and valued. However, I believe this can only happen when we get to know ourselves, our real selves, not the self we portray to others, or the “ideal” self we want to be. Scary, right?

Let’s start small, take baby steps and see how it goes. Begin by noticing your feelings, your “inner knowing”, and your acts of kindness toward others (and yourself, if you catch any), and consciously take time to value them. It’s ok to give yourself kudos for being a good mom even when the kid is whiney, for being a good wife at the end of a long hard day, for being a listening ear to a friend, even if you don’t agree with what she’s doing.

If you’re a person who journals, try some of these prompts to begin this process of getting to know yourself: 1) Describe one of the happiest moments in your life. Remember how you felt about yourself at the time and how you contributed to your happiness. 2) List 10 people you admire (5 you know personally and 5 from history). What attributes do they have that you admire? What attributes do you share with them? 3) Write about where you see yourself in 5 years. What will you be doing? Cross out any entries that have to do with the issue with which you are currently struggling. (Such as, if you struggle with binge eating don’t write down losing weight or eating healthy.) 4) Read a current news article and write your honest opinions about what you read.

Be curious and explore your thoughts and feelings. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you uncover!

 

 

October 4, 2016

The Relaxation Response

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:43 am by kellyfdennis

thumbs-up-kellyI do a lot of helping my clients (and myself) to learn how to counteract the effects of the stressful environment in which we live. I talk about and teach deep breathing, mindfulness, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, just to name a few. I think this is an important part of therapy because most of us are in a chronic state of hyper arousal. That is, our “fight or flight” response is being activated on a regular basis. According to Walther Cannon, MD, the fight or flight response is a “quick neurological response to a perceived threat that stimulates defensive behavior.” So, back in the day when man was confronted with a saber-toothed tiger, his fight or flight response kicked in  so he could run like the wind and get away from the tiger. Whew! It saved his life! But in modern day, most of our saber-toothed tigers come in the form of traffic jams, conflicts with spouses or children, or insufficient funds in our checking account. So we really can’t “fight or flee”, we just need to deal. However, the fight or flight response is automatic and unlearned, so sometimes it happens even when we don’t need it. It activates our negative internal dialogue and triggers the release of stress chemicals in our bodies.

The relaxation response, on the other hand, is a learned response that is stress relieving, quiets our negative internal dialogue, and helps us to cultivate an attitude of acceptance and positivity. According to Herbert Benson MD, the relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes our physical and emotional responses to stress. This means that if we consciously practice deep breathing, mindfulness, guided imagery, mediation and other relaxation techniques, we can reduce the amount of time we spend in the fight or flight response.

This sounds like a very good idea to me! I have uploaded various relaxation and mindfulness tools and techniques on my YouTube Channel. I hope you’ll check it out and benefit from stress relieving positivity!

stefdennis

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