You Must Keep Your Cool

Animal parents keeping their coolDo you remember the commercial many years ago for deodorant?  The motto was “never let them see you sweat.”  Up until recently that was my advice to parents.  Even if you are ready to pull your hair out, don’t let your kids see it.  That’s not bad advice, but it is not great advice either.  The best advice is not to sweat it at all.  Keep your cool.

What I generally see and hear are stories of parents who “lose it” with their kids and justify it that their kids pushed them to the limit.  “He made me so mad” they wail.  Well if parents can be pushed to that point, doesn’t it make sense that kids are pushed to that point to?  Will we listen to their justifications that “Amy made me so mad that I had to hit her?”  That’s the way kids think.  If we want our kids to respond intellectually and emotionally in more socially acceptable or more effective ways, then we have to act that way to.

This is not easy to do in a society that reacts instantly to almost everything. Video games keep our reaction times well-honed.  So does the breakneck speed of living and instant access to almost anything.  Parenting is not an instant activity.  From conception, there needs to be a plan.  What are you going to teach?  How are you going to teach it? How are you going to handle it when your children misbehave?”  (Please don’t kid yourself that they won’t).

Most often parents lose their cool when they feel their authority is being challenged, when their own lives have them overwhelmed, or when their plans fell apart because it wasn’t based on realistic expectations.  Once again we are faced with the reality that parents have to take care of their own issues in order to be effective with their children.

If you can’t yet claim that you can easily ride the tides of parenting – at the very least – control your behavior.  Keep your cool!

Worry Proofing Young Teens

Why do we need to worry proof young teens? What do they really have to worry about anyway?  Has it really been so long ago that we have forgotten what it feels like to be in middle school?  I think it is much worse now than it was when I was growing up. The pressure to fit in has always been there, but there are so many other demands on these middle school children that it is a wonder to me that any make it through unscathed.  Common worries for young teens include:

  • a parent dying
  • divorce
  • grades
  • bodily injury
  • the future
  • gender issues
  • race issues
  • social issues

That’s a heavy load of worry.  The increase in worry during this developmental period coincides with an increased awareness of the world and a decrease in egocentrism. While these processes are generally positive, they are not without consequences.

As a parent or teacher there are several things you can do to help worry proof them.  It is important to nurture their positive self-determination. Teach them how to acquire control over their own lives.  Steer them to rewarding friendships.  Model optimism for them, even in the face of challenge and adversity.

teen girlsWe all know that friends become very important for most preteens.  Having friends can be a direct measure of popularity and can provide a sense of security.  Getting with the wrong crowd can have devastating effects.  Each of these peer groups also have their own code of conduct. Teaching them to maneuver the intricacies of social responsibility with the expression of their own thoughts and values is very important.

This is not the time when being different is embraced except by a very few individuals. If they are going to be trying to mimic the mannerisms, speech, dress, behavior, consumerism, music, and fads of their peer group we need to make sure that their peer group is one we can tolerate.

Although they may be critical of everything you do, remember that they are watching closely.  This is a time where they will become very aware of any discrepancy between your words and your behavior. If you want them to be optimistic, you must be optimistic.  If you want them to stand up for themselves, you must stand up for yourself. If you want them to be kind, you must be kind.  Perhaps even more difficult, if you want them to be honest, you need to be honest.

Unfortunately, we can’t really take away all of the things that these young people worry about. These issues are real.  As parents and mentors, we need to remain open to hearing what they have to say on these issues, even when we don’t agree. When they ask your opinion, answer honestly.  If they don’t ask your opinion — say very little.

Remember what it felt like to be that age.  How did the adults in your life handle your concerns?  Which responses helped you to relax and enjoy life and which responses only increased your anxiety and worry?  Tell them to “ignore it” when it really bothers them is the same thing as telling them that their feelings are wrong.  Do you think they will tell you when something is bothering them again?  Probably not.

It can be very easy to get caught up in their drama and trauma.  Try to avoid jumping in too soon unless safety is really an issue.  Give them the chance to handle things if they can or talk them through solutions if there is one.  Be ready and available to listen and empathize.  If the worry seems to be interfering with friendships, academics, or other activities consider professional intervention.

Do I Have To Be Right?

Verse 2: Tao Te Ching

Everyone recognizes beauty only because of ugliness

Everyone recognizes virtue only because of sin

Life and death are born together

Difficult and easy

Long and short

High and low — all these exist together and arrive together

Sound and silence blend together

Before and after

 

The Sage acts without action and teaches without talking

All things flourish around him and he does not refuse any one of them

He gives but not to receive

He works but not for reward

He completes but not for results

He does nothing for himself in this passing world so nothing he does ever passes

In this passage I was made to consider the duality of existence.  The dichotomy that sprang to mind for me was right vs wrong.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point): I don’t always have to be right. I don’t really believe that.  Of course I always have to be right.  There may be more to this.  I am open to looking at how my need to always be right might be hurting myself in other ways.  There are two sides to everything.  I suspect this verse may be telling me that there are some things that may be more important than being right.  I choose to consider each situation independently and consider prayerfully how important being right is.  I deeply and completely accept myself, even in my stubborn need to always be right.

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I always need to be right

Side of Eye…That has been a major force in my life

Under the Eye…Being right feels good

Under the Nose…I’m becoming aware that the cost may sometimes be too high

Chin…I choose to consider that I WANT to be right but I may not always NEED to be right

Collarbone…I am open to experiencing the difference

Under the Arm…Meditations on the Tao suggest that my need to be right drives my judgments that others are wrong

Top of Head…The Tao also suggests that accepting right and wrong as coexisting together rather than being separate is another option

Eyebrow…I sometimes get glimpses of that but certainly don’t live it

Side of Eye…I MUST be right all of the time

Under the Eye…No I don’t

Under the Nose…Sometimes relationships may be more important than proving I’m right

Chin…Taking action based on reasonable information may be preferable to researching to prove that I’m right before acting

Collarbone…I need to learn when enough is enough

Under the Arm…Being right can sometimes hurt other people

Top of Head…Obviously being right can sometimes hurt me too

Eyebrow…I choose to be open to learning a new way

Side of Eye…I choose to be open to practicing a new way

Under the Eye…I choose to be open to experiencing a new way

Under the Nose…Being right feels good

Chin…I hope to learn how to also accept not being right

Collarbone…It may not be as much tied to who I am as I previously thought

Under the Arm…Not proving that I’m right may not really be a life-ending disaster

Top of Head…I guess that is up to me

Eyebrow…I always have to be right

Side of Eye…That doesn’t feel as true for me as it did before

Under the Eye…One day at a time

Under the Nose…I am open to experiencing life as it comes

Chin…It is not about right or wrong

Collarbone…I think I’ll start by not needing to prove that others are wrong so that I can be right

Under the Arm…I choose to continue growing so that I don’t need others to be wrong

Top of Head…I choose to love and accept myself along this journey

My Cravings Always Win

cravings always win when faced with donutsAlthough this is not as true as it used to be, I do sometimes feel my cravings always win.  Some days are definitely worse than others.  What follows is a tapping exercise for those rough days.  One way to make this even more effective is to have the item you are craving right there where you can see it and smell it.  If you choose that option please be sure to rate the intensity of your craving on the 0-10 scale (10 is severe) before you get started.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point):  Even thought it seems like my cravings always win, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.  Even though it seems like my cravings always win, I choose to continue to try.  My cravings are part of me, and I accept myself.

 

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…My cravings always win

Side of Eye…So it doesn’t seem worth it to even try to resist

Under the Eye…I might as well just go ahead and eat it

Under the Nose…If I fight it and then lose, I just end up feeling worse

Chin…Even though it seems that my cravings always win

Collarbone…I know that it isn’t really true

Under the Arm…Sometimes I am able to resist

Top of Head…I am open to learning about what makes me more successful

Eyebrow…At one time and less successful at another

Side of Eye…My cravings don’t always win

Under the Eye…My cravings sometimes win

Under the Nose…In reality, my cravings aren’t against me

Chin…They are part of me

Collarbone…My cravings are a signal that something needs my attention

Under the Arm…I can choose to deal with it with or without food

Top of Head…I can choose to continue toward my goals

 

Take a deep breath and let it out.  Now say the statement aloud “My cravings always win” and re-rate the intensity.  What do you notice now?  Did anything shift?  Once the intensity is at or below a 3, consider tapping on what your cravings might be signaling for you.

My Brain is Lying To Me Right Now

woman sleepingDid you know that your brain can tell lies?  Perhaps it would be more kind to say that it misinterprets information.  The end result is the same. There have been multiple times when I have thought that I was hungry but my brain is lying.

 

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping your karate chop point): Even though my brain is lying to me right now and telling me I am hungry, I choose to remember that I ate a short while ago and this is just a misperception.  Even though my brain is lying to me right now and telling me that I should eat, I choose to remember my health goals. Even though my brain is telling me I am hungry, I know that this cannot be the truth and I choose not to eat based on a lie.

Eyebrow…I can’t sleep because I’m hungry

diagram of the tapping pointsSide of Eye…I want to get up out of bed and get a snack

Under the Eye…That will help me sleep

Under the Nose…No one can fall asleep when they are hungry

Chin…Certainly not me

Collarbone…But I know I’m not really hungry

Under the Arm…I ate a healthy meal just a few hours ago

Top of Head…My body got everything it needed

Eyebrow…What I’m feeling right now isn’t really hungry

Side of Eye…That is just what my brain is calling it

Under the Eye…I am probably tired, frustrated, angry, lonely, sad, or uncomfortable

Under the Nose…Food won’t fix any of those things

Chin…In fact, eating more food than my body needs will only make them worse

Collarbone…I choose to eat based on facts, not lies, misinterpretations, or misperceptions

Under the Arm…Even though I am convinced that I am hungry right now

Top of Head…I choose to love and accept myself just as I am.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder in WinterSimply put – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a reaction to the changing season that causes problems with mood and behavior.  These mood and behavior changes tend to start around September and may last until April.  According to S.A. Saeed in the March 1998 issue of American Family Physician, 4-6% of the general population experiences winter depression and an additional 10-20% have low-level features of the disorder. In the Journal for the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (February 1998) J. Giedd reported that 3-5% of students in the 4th through 6th grade meet the criteria for SAD.  Women are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with SAD and the average age of onset is 23.  Giedd reported that 9% of adults with SAD had an onset prior to 11 and 33% reported an onset prior to age 19.

The symptoms of SAD include sleep problems, overeating, depressed mood, family problems, lethargy, physical complaints, and behavioral problems.  Individuals experiencing sleep problems associated with SAD are most likely to report oversleeping, but not feeling refreshed when they awaken.  Then may report difficulty getting out of bed, or the need for frequent naps in the after.  (Think hibernation)

Overeating tends to be a problem in several ways.  First, people with SAD often crave and eat carbohydrates.  This generally leads to weight gain.  (Again, think hibernation).  Weight gain then contributes to depression.  In addition, ingestion of carbohydrates can cause rapid blood sugar fluctuations when also impact mood.

Persons with SAD typically aren’t much fun to be around.  They will often avoid company or when they are with other people they may be highly irritable.  Loss of sexual interest is also common.  In general, folks with SAD feel too tired to cope with daily living.  Everything feels like a tremendous effort.  Normal tasks become difficult.  Joint pain and stomach problems become more frequent and they may have lowered resistance to infection.  As if that isn’t enough, people with SAD are depressed.  They may use words like despair, misery, guilt, anxiety, or hopelessness to describe their mood.

By this time you may be wondering what causes this disorder.  My witty reply would be “living in Ohio.”  Actually, where you live can be part of the problem.  There is a structure in the brain called the pineal gland, and during night/darkness, this gland produces melatonin that makes us drowsy.  Bright light is the off switch for the melatonin production.  On dull winter days (there are a lot of those in Dayton) there is not enough light to trigger the pineal gland.  Bright light has also been associated with another brain chemical – serotonin.  You know about that one because it is associated with depression.

Using sunshine to treat seasonal affective disorderBoth the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association recommend light therapy as the primary treatment strategy for SAD.  This isn’t ordinary reading light.  For this type of treatment the light must be at least 2500 lux.  That’s five times brighter than the well-lit office.  Believe it or not, light therapy does have some side effects for a few people including a jittery feeling, excitability, mild nausea, or burning of the eyes.

What can you do if you are one of the mild, moderate, or severe sufferers of SAD?

  1. See your primary care physician.  The diagnosis deserves careful attention since the symptoms overlap with other disorders.
  2. Increase your exposure to natural sunlight, if not medically contraindicated.
  3. Decrease consumption of carbohydrates.  Again, check this out with your physician before making a big dietary change.
  4. Ask your physician about light therapy.

I’ve used it.   And it works!

Stress Headache

man with stress headacheHave you ever had a stress headache?  I don’t get headaches very often, but I’ve had quite a few of them recently.  News Flash: I don’t like them.  When stress is involved, I usually try to tap on the root issue – the stress itself.  Sometimes, particularly when you need some quick relief, it can be effective to tap on the physical symptom first.

In the video that follows you will see an example of symptom tapping.  First we will get a clearer picture of the symptom, then begin the tapping.  There is also an example of two-handed tapping.  Comments or questions?  Let me know.

 

 

 

Just Because Its There

Eating Food Just Because It Is ThereI confess.  Sometimes I eat food just because it is there.  I don’t think it really is  out of boredom because I’m almost never bored.  I have lots of things that I want to do and enjoy doing.  Perhaps it is just habit.

In the tapping example below I have added a tapping point that isn’t part of my regular tapping routine.  It is labeled wrists.  At the point turn the underside of your wrists toward each other and tap them together.

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping karate chop point): Even though I have a tendency to eat food just because it is there, I love and accept myself, even though I have unhealthy behaviors.  Even though I eat food without any real good reason, I am learning to love and accept myself anyway.  Even though I eat food, and I don’t even know why, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.

 

diagram of the tapping pointsEyebrow…I seem to eat food for no good reason

Side of Eye…If it is there — I eat it

Under the Eye…I eat food even when I’m not hungry

Under the Nose…Heck, sometimes I eat food that I don’t particularly like

Chin…My tendency to eat food just because it is available

Collarbone…Is not good for my body

Under the Arm…And when I notice what I am doing

Wrists…I feel like a failure

Top of Head…This tendency to constantly eat is not a behavior that I want to continue

Eyebrow…I’ve tried to manage it by not having food around

Side of Eye…But that isn’t realistic

Under the Eye…I can limit the choices, but it won’t stop my overeating

Under the Nose…I don’t really believe that I eat food just because it is there

Chin…I believe there is another reason. One I am not yet aware of

Collarbone…When I catch myself eating I choose to stop and consider why

Under the Arm…There is a reason behind everything I do

Wrists…It is up to me to figure out why

Top of Head…Then I can change my behavior more easily.

I Plan to Follow the Diet Plan Perfectly

weight loss This tapping includes a tapping point that I don’t always include.  At the spot labeled “wrist”, tap your wrists together so that the underside of one wrist taps on the inside of the other wrist.

 

illustration for karate chop pointSetup (while tapping the karate chop point):  I always plan to follow the diet perfectly.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out.  I can usually maintain it for a few hours, days, or weeks, but then I always fail.  Maybe the problem is my need to be perfect.  Since I can’t be perfect, I end up back where I started, or never get started.  This pattern isn’t working for me anymore.  I choose to try a different way.

Eyebrow…I always plan to diet perfectly

diagram of the tapping pointsSide of Eye…I always fail

Under the Eye…I am so tired of that failure

Under the Nose…I am so discouraged

Chin…Instead of following a diet plan perfectly

Collarbone…Maybe I can try a new way

Under the Arm…Those diets are someone else’s plan

Top of Head…I know a lot about diet, health, and nutrition

Eyebrow…I could make my own plan

Side of Eye…And follow it closely

Under the Eye…I could allow for some variation and change

Nose…Then there would be no real failure

Chin…Better yet, I could listen to my body

Collarbone…I usually listen to my emotions

Wrist…But my body knows what it needs and what is bad for it

Under the Arm…It gives me clear signals

Top of Head…I’m not perfect, so I might not always understand what my body wants and needs

Eyebrow…But I’ll probably get it right most of the time

Side of  Eye…And that would be much better than what I’m doing to myself right now

Under the Eye…I could view this as an experiment or an adventure

Under the Nose…That might help me to stop thinking in terms of perfection

Chin…Even though I’ve always tried to follow the plan perfectly

Collarbone…I haven’t had a perfect plan

Under the Arm…My new plan won’t be perfect either and I won’t follow it perfectly.

Top of Head…I choose to love and accept myself anyway and feel proud of whatever successes I have.