Archive for the 'How To' Category

Feelings go Up and Down

This seems obvious, that feelings go Up and Down, but you would be surprised at how often people forget this.

The nature of feelings is that they’re sometimes intense. Sometimes you can anticipate them, sometimes not. Occasionally something catches you by surprise. When you can anticipate them, they’re easier to deal with, if you’ve anticipated them accurately, that is. But we as humans are really bad at that! We don’t anticipate how we’re going to feel very accurately at all.

We’re not very accurate predictors of feelings

I’m not going to hunt down a study and prove it to you at this moment. Instead think about the last time you thought you would feel a certain way when you knew some big event was coming up. Let’s take Graduation. We’re coming up on Graduation season. Most people anticipate feeling really, really happy, ecstatic even, giddy, joyful.

But most people will also say afterwards that it was a bit of a let down, or they expected to feel better than they did. That’s because they anticipated feeling a certain way and didn’t anticipate the mix of feelings that they may experience. So chances are they felt really, really happy but also nervous and perhaps a bit sad. Those last two brought down the happiness a bit.

Generally, Feelings go Up and Down.

Yep, so you’ll feel some happiness and then it will go down a bit and you feel more normal/neutral. And then you’ll feel happy again, etc, etc.

But this also applies to negative feelings. So when we’re sad, we’re bad at predicting that we’re going to feel better. We think we’re going to stay sad forever. But generally speaking, that’s rarely the case. We feel sad, then we feel closer to “normal.” Then sad again, then neutral, then maybe even a moment of happiness happens, then more neutral.

We go up and down and a bit around with our feelings. They key here is to talk to yourself about them. So when you’re in that sad state, tell yourself that you will feel happier again sometime soon. Sadness is not going to last forever. Just knowing that and reassuring yourself will help you feel better, less sad. Knowing that it will pass truly helps.

Talking to a counselor or psychologist or psychotherapist also helps. They help you figure things out. They help teach you strategies to deal with and handle sadness and other feelings. They help you notice what helps and what doesn’t.  And they help you talk about the feelings. If you’re in South Florida or Broward County and need a counselor, then feel free to contact me at 954-309-9071 or visit my Florida Psychotherapy website.

Fears about being a Good Parent

Most people with a baby on the way have fears about being a parent. There are those people who either had younger siblings (alot) or are teachers or work with kids all the time who seem to have less of them. But then there are the rest of us.

I see this come up in my Prenatal Yoga Classes allllll the time. Pregnancy is the time when those fears come to the surface and really rear their heads. Here’s the question . . .

“Will I be a good parent?”

Yes, big one –  big, giant question.

Most of us are decent parents most of the time. Most of us are great parents some of the time (think Christmas morning). And most of us are, well . . . not the best parents some of the time.

We get tired and snap at the kids. We get exhausted and just want to sleep. We run late and have to pick up dinner or throw something together. We get lonely and just want to talk to our friends. We get bored and feel like we’re going to die if we have to play that game or read that book even one more time.

So let’s reframe this question. Let’s ask it a different way.

How about “Can I be a good parent some of the time?”

The answer is probably Yes. Now let’s ask, “When I’m feeling less than about 75-80%, can I get some help, ask for support, take a break, take some time to myself to regenerate?” That’s the way you get back to “good” parenting. Not by pushing through it or working until you snap.

Hopefully your answer is Yes, yes, and yes again. In the meantime, give yourself a break. We’re not perfect all of the time. We’re human. Human parents.

Mama Madness

Here’s a quote about motherhood from “The Sunday List of Dreams” by Kris Rasdish. This is an experienced mom who is talking to one about the transformation that happens when you have children.

“First of all, you are scared shitless,” Connie tells Mattie. “Even if you’ve had other babies and can bounce one on your leg while you  write poetry and cook dinner and save the whales. Then, you look at them and see this wonderful pathway into the universe. This transforming tunnel that is like an electric charge that turns you into a raving maniac, a protective lioness, someone who could push over a car, rip off the face of a stranger, kick ass form one end of the world to another, to save your baby. You go mad. Mother mad.”

Yes, that’s Mother Mad! Mama Mad! Mommy Mad! And it does feel like a tunnel. Sometimes it’s immediate on the moment of birth, the tunnel being labor. Sometimes it’s gradual and happens over weeks and months. Sometimes it takes something like a car accident or an old lady at the grocery store reaching in to touch your baby (not!) or a doctor recommending something you know in your gut is not right for your baby. But eventually it kicks in for almost all moms. It’s what bonding truly is.

Most moms have moments where they feel like they could drop the baby off in the woods and never look back. But then their Mama Madness kicks in and the moment passes them by.

I also believe that the opportunity is always there for moms who have never felt Mama Madness. Yes, they’re out there, sometimes feeling like they’re keeping a dirty secret. Those secrets often come out in therapy. Once it’s told though, we have an opportunity to work with it. Not to judge it, but to work with it. To figure out how to get to that Mama Madness feeling. Yes, it can be created, even with a child who is 10 or 20 or 30. It takes work, but it’s work worth doing, and it’s possible.

Reactions to the eBook

Since launching my free eBook, some reactions from readers have come in. In sum, they like it! Several people have emailed me to say how much they enjoyed it and that the tips are relevant and practical.

As an author, that’s great to hear. Usually you write, pass it by several people to edit (that you trust to be brutally honest), then edit it again yourself. But you don’t really know how it’s going to strike people until you put it out there.

If you haven’t read it . . . here are Warning Signs of a Marriage in Trouble:

• Ridicule
• Eye Rolling
• Name calling
• Hurtful comments
• Sarcasm that is hurtful
• No sex or happens infrequently
• No or very little attraction
• None or very little affection
• Either partner avoiding phone calls or emails
• Refusing to discuss things in the relationship
• Not wanting to talk to you, cutting conversations off
• Defensiveness – not being able to talk about most things
without one or both of you becoming defensive about it
• Constantly working, to the point where you never talk or
spend time together
• Criticism – being truly critical of your partner. Criticism is
sometimes disguised as helpfulness or “honesty.” It feels
good when your partner is truly trying to help you.
Criticism makes you feel defeated, like something is wrong
with you.

The eBook goes into what to do about those if they’re going on in your marriage. It’s Free, so Download a Copy if you want to improve your marriage.

Lonliness Relief

Motherhood can often be very lonely, particularly in the early days of motherhood. Everyone says to get out of the house (ideas for that are below), but sometimes that’s truly not possible. Either the baby is napping or it’s raining or snowing or it’s too hot or maybe you just don’t have the energy to actually leave the house. So what can you do?

Get Creative.

For some reason, creativity feeds your soul in a way that soothes lonliness. You don’t have to be Picasso. Put the “critical-artist” in the closet and make some art that you don’t have to show to anyone. Here are a few ideas:

  • Simply cut up some magazines to make a vision board.
  • Make birth art. Make something that reflects the feelings you had when you gave birth or something to remember it by. You can paint, draw, crayon, sculpt – use any medium that speaks to you.
  • Fingerpaint
  • Sketch out a new “something” (quilt, art project, teenager room!) that someday you’ll have time to make.

If you can get out of the house, there are a couple of things can help with lonliness:

  • Try to form mama friendships before you have the baby. Take prenatal yoga or a pregnancy fitness class. Reach out to other moms in the class and get their emails/phone numbers, etc. These moms will be a life-saver in the newborn days!
  • Go grocery shopping, to the mall, sit at the park. Try to do anything where you can be around people some.
  • Take a mom & baby class. These are where new moms congregate! Go and make friendships! An added benefit is that you’ll get mom ideas. Yes, you can read a million books about what to do when your baby won’t sleep. But there is nothing like being able to talk to other moms about it and get in person “expert” advice. The teachers of mom & baby classes have heard it all and usually have very good ideas to help you.

Parxting

Parxting texting at the park; also known as a way to stay sane as a mom or dad; yours truly coined this one while “parxting” my friend in Seattle, Jill Gross. She’s a great psychotherapist  in Seattle if you ever need one, btw!

I used to complain about “cell phone moms.” How they never paid attention, never played with their kids, were always on the phone at the park. Then my kids passed the age where I needed to be hands on. They were happy playing and making their own friends at the park. I was (and am) still available should they need me but alot of the time I found myself just sitting around. Can anyone say boredom? So that’s why all those moms were on the phone!

The ideal is to have a friend (or lots of friends) join you. But what do you do sitting at the park if you’re alone? Here are some ideas for you.

  • Read a book
  • Drag your quilting or knitting with you
  • Take a notebook and write in it (yep, like actual hand writing . . .). Plan your world domination or at least how to escape the kiddos for a night to yourself.
  • Call a friend (yep, on that cell phone I used to complain about!)
  • Call their dad for some uninterrupted chat time.
  • Exercise! You can do some laps around the park or do lots of exercises with the actual playground equipment.
  • Do some Yoga
  • As long as we’re talking about activity, play chase with your kids. That burns off some calories.
  • Or . . . the ultimate entertainment . . . parxting :)!

New Mom Self-Esteem

A new mother’s self-esteem goes through radical changes after she has a baby. A friend recently gave me Virginia Satir’s poem, My Declaration of Self-Esteem (below). Print it out, paste it on your fridge, the back of the stroller, wherever you need it to be so that you see it regularly.

Remember that you do own everything about you, including your body. It may not feel like it when you’re giving it over to a child month after month, so you need the reminder.

Remember to be friendly and loving to yourself. You would want that for your child, right? So model it for them by giving it to yourself as well.

Here it is:

I am me.

In all the world
there is no-one else exactly like me.

There are persons who have parts like me,
but no one adds up exactly like me.

Therefore, everything that comes from me
is authentically mine
because I choose it.

I own everything about me
My body,
including everything it does;
My mind,
including all its throughts and ideas;
My eyes,
including the images of all they behold;
My feelings, whatever they may be . . .
Anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement;
My mouth,
and all the words that come out of it,
Polite,
sweet or rough, correct or incorrect;
My voice, loud or soft;
and all of my actions,
whether they be to others or to myself.

I own my own fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.

I own all my triumphs and, successes, (all my failures and mistakes.)

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know.

But as long as I am friendly
and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully
look for the solutions to the puzzles and
for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound,
whatever I say and do,
and whatever I think and feel at a given moment
in time is me.
This is authentic and represents
where I am at that moment in time.

When I review later how I looked and sounded,
what I said and did,
and how I thought and felt,
some parts may turn out to be unfitting.
I can discard that which is unfitting,
and keep that which proved fitting,
and invent something new
for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do.
I have tools to survive,
to be close to others, to be productive.
and to make sense and order
out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me,
and therefore,
I can engineer me.

I am me and I am okay.