What is Your Reset Button?

what is your reset button?What is your reset button? 

 

You know – that one thing you can reliably turn to when you’re feeling off, and you know it will give a much needed mental shift or change in perspective? 

 

As I was hiking some trails near Point Mugu the other weekend, I was reminded just how much of a reset button nature is for me. Something about the smells, the views, the sounds…they allow me to see the bigger picture of life and help me to momentarily forget about my worries and to-do lists.

 

Who couldn’t use a momentary reprieve from their problems and anxiety these days?

The Power of Your Breath

The Power of Your Breath

Let’s start with a riddle. 

 

What is free, has life-sustaining powers, and is happening within your body at this very moment (likely without you even being aware of it)? 

 

You guessed it…the breath! 

 

The power of your breath to help regulate your mind and body is ever-present, but it is a tool most of us do not take full advantage of. Whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, or a myriad of other concerns, you can use your breath as a free and easy tool to help yourself heal. 

Why You Shouldn’t Believe Your Thoughts

why you shouldn't believe your thoughts

Last night I lay awake, staring at the ceiling of my bedroom with a hyperloop of worries and fears pumping through my mind. I’m generally a calm and laid-back person, but something about the sun going down seems to bring up all of my fears and anxieties. I would be willing to bet that some of you have experienced this hyperloop of thoughts as well, whether that be at night or another time of day. 

 

Why can it be so difficult to slow down our minds?

 

How do we get into these thought loops, and why are we so quick to believe these ideas as if they are fact rather than what they actually are…just thoughts?

 

As Tara Brach, Ph.D (one of my favorite psychologists, authors, and meditation teachers) explains, “when stressed, we often react with looping fear-thoughts, feelings and behaviors that cause harm to ourselves and/or others.”

 

As humans, we evolved to have a bias towards the negative in order to protect ourselves and survive, but in today’s modern society our stress levels tend to be high and our fear response is on overdrive as a result. It’s easy for us to get into the habit of fear or stress-driven thought patterns, and most of the time we aren’t even aware that it’s happening. 

 

Tara goes on to say, “When we’re living out stimulus-react looping…we’re believing something that’s not true. We’re living in a very confined reality of a separate and limited self. A reality that has us locked into a very small sense of who we are.” I know I don’t want to live in such a constricted state, and I’m sure you don’t either.

 

So…what can we do?

Navigating Family Gatherings When You’re in Pain

tips for navigating family gatherings when you're in painDuring my drinking days, there were holiday seasons when I was really struggling. I remember being so anxious about what was going on in my life and so ashamed about my drinking that I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

 

With the holiday season upon us, so are the joys unique to this time of year. But if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, if you’re reeling from an intimate betrayal, dealing with an addiction, or whatever, the holidays can be a tough time of year.

 

Family gatherings can present challenges. How do you deal with your family, who may have contributed to your pain in the first place? How much do you tell about what’s going on for you? Let’s take a walk through some ways of navigating family gatherings when you’re in pain that might help, no matter what’s going on in your life.

Minding Your Emotions: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 3)

minding our emotionsGetting to know and understanding ourselves, our stories, and our feelings is such an important part of personal growth. Learning to live with difficult feelings instead of self-medicating, numbing ourselves, or in some other way avoiding vulnerability is the stuff of life. Doing this hard work of being aware of and owning our “stuff” is key to living with meaning and fulfillment.

 

In part 1 of this series, I shared a personal experience to illustrate how important learning to deal with our most painful feelings is important. In part 2, I talked about why some people have trouble identifying and describing what they feel. In this post, I’d like to share with you some strategies for how you can learn to get to know yourself and your feelings a little better.

Why We Have Trouble Knowing Our Feelings: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 2)

why you have trouble knowing your feelingsRemember the last time you felt something so strongly that your emotions got the better of you? Maybe you did something you regret. Maybe you spoke words that you wish you could take back. Or maybe you just gritted your teeth, trying your best to hang in there while it felt like the world was falling apart. Because in moments when strong emotions have ensnared us, it really does feel like the sky is falling.

 

Most of us, in moments like this, have at least some idea that we’re caught up in powerful feelings. What we don’t always know is what we’re feeling and why. As we’ll see, being aware of what you’re feeling is the first step to taking the reins back from your strong emotions.

How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 1)

how to recognize and deal with your feelingsWe’ve all been there. We have an experience that causes intense feelings to rise up in us, drowning out all others. We become momentarily awash in that painful experience, whether it’s anger, shame, anxiety, fear, or all of the above all at once. We feel so much so quickly, often without fully understanding what’s going on with us.

 

I had an experience like that recently. Without getting into the gritty details, I stepped in it with a family member, someone I love and care for deeply. I didn’t communicate clearly about some of my plans, and she was hurt. Of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her, but that’s beside the point. That’s what I was telling myself in between my flashes of anger, which is always a sure sign that I feel shame.

Why You Don’t Take Better Care of Yourself When You’re Stressed

 

“You’ve got a lot going on.” Sound familiar? I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. The Missus and I were thrilled to welcome our first child into the world just over four months ago, and we couldn’t be happier. Of course, having a baby has been a significant and sometimes difficult adjustment for our family. I also recently began studying for the California MFT licensing exams, and I’m starting an intensive process to become trained in the treatment of sex addiction. Sometimes, seasons in life come along and create tornadoes of stress in our lives, and chances are you’ve experienced seasons like the one I’m going through now. So how might we respond to our stress in a helpful way?

On (Emotional) Shackles & Freedom

Today, of course, is the Fourth of July, the holiday during which America remembers its adoption of the Declaration of Independence on this day in 1776. We celebrate that after declaring our independence from Great Britain, we at last gained hard-won freedom after the long years of the Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Though that war is over, Americans still battle in many conflicts throughout the world.

 

A different kind of conflict, however, churns within each of us, regardless of nationality: Each of us fight for our innermost desires and longings to be recognized and understood in our most intimate relationships.