How to Vent

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 Completely Different Approach to Venting

If you believe that screaming and punching a pillow will make you feel less angry, think again. Studies show that venting unpleasant emotions can reinforce those feelings. On the other hand, like Sigmund Freud said, bottling them up is usually even worse.

So, what can you do with your anger and anxiety? Try these tips for processing and expressing difficult feelings.

Preventing Unpleasant Feelings

  1. Take a deep breath. Tension builds up quickly. When another driver cuts you off, pause and pay attention to your breathing. Loosen up your shoulders and neck. Think about something that makes you laugh.

  2. Accept discomfort. Distracted drivers and earthquakes are part of life. Plan for delays and obstacles so they stop taking you by surprise.

  3. Care for yourself. Healthy lifestyle habits make you more resilient. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Maintain a consistent bedtime that allows for adequate sleep.

  4. Shift your attention. Stop feeding the flames. Catch yourself when you’re dwelling on last night’s argument with your teenage daughter or next month’s water bill. Lighten up by watching YouTube videos or meeting a friend for coffee.

Viewing Unpleasant Feelings Differently

  1. Question your assumptions. It’s difficult to resist blowing off steam if you still believe it will provide relief. Check in with yourself a half-hour later to see if your anger is gone. Read studies about how road rage can affect your heart.

  2. Set priorities. It’s worth fighting injustice if your child is being bullied at school. If another shopper wants to count four cans of cat food as one item, it makes more sense to be flexible.

  3. Assume responsibility. Indignation is less tempting when you face how you contributed to the situation. Did you criticize your daughter about her grades when you meant to discuss cleaning up her bedroom?

  4. Focus on solutions. Unpleasant feelings can be beneficial when they prompt you to take action. Acknowledge your anger, and then concentrate on fixing the situation.

Responding to Unpleasant Feelings Differently

  1. Seek validation. Talk with a friend or family member about your concerns. Receiving compassion and support will help you to cheer up and put things in perspective.

  2. Ask for feedback. Confidantes who have nothing at stake in the situation may also help you to clarify your perceptions and understand your options. Talk about how to deal with neighbors who throw noisy parties or keep borrowing your parking spot.

  3. Negotiate conflicts. When possible, approach the other party in a dispute directly. Work out compromises so you and your neighbors can be friends.

  4. Consider counseling. If you’re angry or upset more often than usual, there may be underlying causes that you need to explore. Therapy provides a safe forum for healing and developing new life skills.

  5. Write it out. Maybe a journal would help. Keep track of what is triggering your irritation or sadness. Are you working too much overtime or struggling with single parenting?

  6. Stay offline. You’ve probably read stories about employees who lost their jobs because they thought it was safe to complain about customers or their boss online. Even if you remain anonymous, prolonged griping is likely to leave you feeling more disgruntled.

  7. Create new patterns. The good news is that each time you decide to pursue constructive remedies instead of whining, you train yourself to become more calm and resourceful. Soon you’ll have little desire to vent.

It may feel gratifying to have a meltdown over your property taxes or snap back at a disruptive coworker, but indulging those impulses comes at a high price. Protect your physical health, relationships, and peace of mind by dealing with unpleasant emotions constructively.

You have the Power to heal your Shame

You Have the Power to Heal Your Shame

Shame is a complex human emotion that we all experience at one time or another. You might feel shame because of something about your appearance, events related to your family, or even a lack of education. You might feel you’re not worthy somehow. Shame shows itself in many forms.

Even if you struggle greatly with managing your shame, trust in the knowledge that you can heal it.

Consider the following methods to strengthen your emotional health and soothe your spirit:

  1. Identify shame’s presence. Because we tend to try to cover up that which embarrasses or demeans us, you’ll probably need to do some personal confrontation of your own emotions.

  2. Are there particular people in whose presence you feel embarrassed? If so, why?

  3. Perhaps when you’re in a specific type of situation, you notice that you tend to close down emotionally or feel numb.

  4. Begin to take note of when your emotions are either stirred up or flat (which means you feel nothing at all).

  5. Recognize you’re “only as sick as your secrets.” In the counseling profession, there is a saying: “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” This adage means that the things about ourselves that we keep to ourselves are the exact issues that we need to acknowledge and do something about.

  6. Consider discussing your shame with someone you trust. Because shame can be a tough emotion to handle, it’s helpful to have someone you can talk to about it. Whether it’s a close friend, your partner, or a professional, it will free you to put words on those feelings.

  7. The more you talk about it, the better you’ll be able to gain some understanding about what triggers your feelings of shame. Not only that, but also talking about your shame de-mystifies it and makes it something real that you can resolve.

  8. A mental health or counseling professional is trained to facilitate people in identifying their troubling issues and learning to understand and manage challenging feelings. If you believe you could benefit from this type of assistance, by all means, avail yourself of it.

  9. Be brave. It requires courageto share your insecurities with another person. Your bravery reveals your passion, strength, and optimism.

  10. Learn to love yourself. No matter what your shortcomings, you deserve to experience the uplifting feelings you can get from self-love. Even though you think you have a lot of spiritual “blemishes,” you must allow yourself to see your real beauty within.

  11. Connect with your spiritual power. Whether it’s your religion, an interest in Eastern philosophy, or a strong belief in Mother Earth, establish a connection with whatever spiritual power you believe in.
  • When you have a spiritual power you can lean on, you’ll likely find solace and the strength to face and resolve your personal shame.

  • Have confidence that you’ll overcome. At some point in life, we all have our difficulties to deal with, our challenges to manage. Reach deep within yourself and you’ll find the confidence to persevere.
  • Remember that you’ve resolved challenges before and know that you can conquer this one, too.

Shame is a normal human emotion that we’ve all felt. If you’re willing to do the work, you can resolve the hurt and shame you feel inside. Use the methods outlined above to move forward toward a happier, more rewarding life. You do have the power to heal your shame.

7 Methods to Successfully Curb Your Frustration

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7 Methods to Successfully Curb Your Frustration

Regardless of how calm you are most of the time, you might still have those moments when your frustration level seems to go sky high. The challenging aspect of feeling frustrated is the urgency you feel to express those upsetting feelings.

However, you’ve no doubt learned you’ve got to “keep a lid on” your feelings in certain situations because, if you don’t, you only create more difficulties for yourself.

In such exasperating times, try these strategies to handle your frustrations:

  1. Take some deep breaths. Although this strategy sounds like it might not help at all, the fact is that breathing techniques really work. If you use the wellness guru, Andrew Weil’s, “4-7-8” technique for breathing, you’ll discover you can calm yourself down rather quickly. Here’s how it works:

  2. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.

  3. Then, hold in your breath to the count of 7.
     
  4. Finally, breathe out through your mouth to the count of 8. Focus on blowing out all of the air from your lungs in this step.

  5. If you take four 4-7-8 breaths in a row, your frustration will likely dissipate and you’ll feel better.

  6. Disengage. If you’re in a situation where you can briefly leave the room, excuse yourself to exit. Go to the restroom or for a quick walk in the building or around the parking lot. Physically disengaging from the frustrating event will nearly always help your frustration level to drop.

  7. Challenge yourself to say nothing. Probably the toughest suggestion on this list to actually do, saying nothing means you won’t compound any developing difficulty in the room. Although you have a right to your feelings, it’s not always wise to voice them, especially if you’re feeling quite frustrated at the time.

  8. Be proactive. Try to anticipate when you might feel frustrated so you can ponder how you’ll handle it if it happens.

  9. For example, maybe you’ve got a brother-in-law, Paul, who seems to always push your buttons and get you feeling pretty irritated. And you just happen to be going out to dinner with Paul and your sister this evening.

  10. Ask yourself, “How can I prepare now to keep my frustration at bay or to handle it if Paul triggers me?” Thinking about it ahead of time will help you tap in to your own strategies to keep a handle on your frustration.

  11. Learn to distinguish between things that really matter and the “small stuff.” Does the situation you’re getting so annoyed about really matter in the grand scheme of things? Save your emotional agitation for something that’s truly important. When you can establish these differences in your mind, you’ll be better able to ignore some of the small stuff.
  • Ask yourself, “Will this really make a difference a year from now? 5 years?” If not, you can usually put it in the category of the “small” stuff.

  • Another way of using this concept is to “pick your battles.” Save the battles for the big stuff.

  • Distract yourself. If you get irritated when only 2 or 3 people are present, it’s best to distract yourself with thoughts of things you have to do at home or looking for something in your briefcase or purse. Maybe you notice a lovely painting on the wall in the restaurant where you’re dining.

  • You can avoid simple frustrations by either thinking about or doing something to take your mind away from the frustrating topic.
     
  • Focus on another person in the room. If you’re in a group of people and someone says or does something that frustrates you, turn to the person next to you and ask how she’s doing. It’s fairly easy to disengage from the person who’s irritating you and talk to someone else whenever others are close by.

You have the power to curb your frustration. You can take deep breaths, disengage, avoid commenting, anticipate developing frustration, and learn to tell the difference between big things and the small stuff. You can also distract yourself or even focus on another person in the room.

These methods work! Try them the next time you’re feeling frustrated. You’ll feel so much better and your frustration will disappear!

Understanding and Managing Your Emotional Triggers

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Understanding and Managing Your Emotional Triggers

Maybe you wonder what’s really going on when you feel like certain events push your buttons. Take control of your emotional triggers by increasing your awareness and developing new ways of responding.

Understanding Your Emotional Triggers

  1. Learn the definition of triggers. A trigger is an experience that draws us back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to arise. An ice cream sandwich may remind you of summer vacations or gossiping coworkers could bring back images of high school cliques.

  2. Spot external prompts. Some triggers are situational and social. Many people tend to eat more at holiday gatherings. If your spouse is tense, it may affect your own mood.

  3. Identify internal causes. Over time, anything can be internalized. Even when you’re surrounded by your loved ones, you may be carrying around old conflicts that interfere with your ability to live in the present moment.

  4. Realize we all have triggers. Much of the literature about triggers focuses on addictions. It’s important to remember that memory plays a powerful role in all our lives.

  5. Accept individual differences. If you’re startled by loud noises that your spouse fails to notice, you’ve seen how differently people react to the same stimulus. Taking such variety into account improves communications and relationships.

Managing Your Emotional Triggers

  1. Keep a journal. Tracking your triggers is often the first step in mastering them. It might be helpful to keep a log of occasions when you experience intense emotions or engage in behavior you want to change. Note what’s going on in your head and in your surroundings at the time.

  2. Challenge yourself. The key to change is placing yourself in difficult positions and being open to doing something new and more constructive. If worrying about money is keeping you up at night, call your creditors to arrange payment plans.

  3. Know your capacity. Proceed at your own pace. Start out by being more assertive with your spouse and friends if you need to practice before talking with your boss.

  4. Come up with alternatives. Take advantage of quiet times to brainstorm new strategies you can use when you are under pressure. List productive and enjoyable activities you can substitute for gambling or other habits you want to break.

  5. Make time to relax. Reducing daily stress will make it easier to handle intense emotions. Begin a daily meditation practice or start out the day by listening to instrumental music during your drive to the office.

  6. Consider therapy. If you’re having trouble making progress on your own, professional help could make a big difference.

  7. Live healthy. One simple way to make yourself more resilient is to take good care of your body and mind. Eat right, sleep well and exercise regularly. You’ll be better prepared to bounce back from any obstacles that may arise.

  8. Develop a strong support network. Close family and friends are vital to feeling validated and nurtured. When you’re dealing with stubborn issues, it’s good to know you have people who care about you and want to help.

  9. Show compassion. The more you know about your own triggers, the more insight you can develop into what the people around you may be struggling with. Strive to be a little more patient and forgiving and people will be more likely to do the same for you.

We all have our own unique emotional triggers. Learning to handle them constructively enables us to fix the issues that get in our way and move ahead in life.

Take inventory of your emotional triggers throughout all next week and comment below about what you have discovered.

How to be Less Critical of Yourself and Others

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We all have our own set of values. While having values is very positive, there’s also a risk of getting over-enthusiastic and expecting others to behave a certain way. It’s important to realize that there’s no single way to live life or view the world. You’re limiting your personal growth and enjoyment when you expect others to live according to your rules.

Being critical of others has additional consequences. If you’re hard on others, you’re also hard on yourself. Your self-esteem and happiness suffer.

Life is simply more enjoyable when we accept others and ourselves.

Use these strategies to remove your expectations and be less critical:

  1. Be aware of critical thoughts. Everything has a beginning. Before you can make critical judgments and say critical things, there has to be a critical thought. This is your cue to change your thought process.
  • Monitor your thoughts and remind yourself to be more open-minded.

  • Pause for five seconds and take a deep breath. In most cases, you’re safe until you open your mouth. When you find yourself feeling judgmental, stop and take a short pause. You’ll interrupt your thought pattern and give yourself a chance to think before you say something you might regret.
  • How many times have you wished you could take back something you’ve said? That doesn’t have to happen again in the future.

  • Understand that people, including yourself, are doing the best they can. That’s not to say that everyone is living up to their potential. But everyone has their own unique past, tragedies, upbringing, health issues, and way of viewing the world. Faced with the same experiences, you can’t be certain you would do any better.
  • The person you’re judging might be doing a lot better than you think if only you knew the entire story.

  • Avoid stereotyping. There are CEOs with tattoos and wonderful parents that used to be exotic dancers. You’re only fooling yourself if you believe you can judge someone based on a couple of characteristics or facts. Are you strong and patient enough to determine the truth about the other person?

  • Find a role model. You know someone that’s very accepting of everyone. Sit down and speak with them. Ask them how they manage to be so non-critical of everyone. Ask them what they think when they see a Goth teenager covered in tattoos and piercings.
  • Their thoughts are the answer to your struggle.

  • The past doesn’t have to equal the future. Everyone makes mistakes. Those mistakes don’t have to be repeated. Understand that people can learn from their errors. You wouldn’t want to be judged by your greatest mistake, nor would it provide an accurate view of you. Give others the same consideration.

  • Respect the freedom of others. No one elected you to decide how others should live their lives. It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone. You have the option to live your life the way you choose. Provide the same freedom to others.

  • Let go of your expectations. Having expectations is a form of trying to control others. Become more flexible. When you have expectations, they’re sure to be violated. There’s only one way you can feel at that point: upset.
  • Let go of your expectations and accept the outcome without judgment.

If you have a habit of being critical, you’ll get more out of life if you reverse that tendency. This is a great opportunity to be patient and understanding with yourself. The people that annoy us are here to teach us about ourselves.

Make an effort to learn more about someone you don’t like. You might find that your first impression was incorrect!

Comment below and tell me if you “struggle” with criticism whether it is towards yourself or others, or both. How does that affect your relationships with yourself and the people around you?

Top Techniques to Help You Deal Successfully With Your Anger

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We all get angry. Anger occurs when someone behaves in a way that violates our ‘rules’ or standards. While anger is neither good nor bad, what you choose to do with that anger can make a huge difference in your life.

Anger can be a trigger to motivate you to resolve a troubling situation. Getting angry with your spouse can force issues to the surface so you can find a solution. Anger has led to the development of many charitable organizations. Anger isn’t always a bad thing. That extra energy and motivation can be put to good use.

But anger can also lead you to do something that creates an even greater challenge. Anger has the potential to create a tremendous amount of harm.

Learning new, more constructive ways to deal with your anger can improve your life tremendously.

The best way to handle your anger depends on how you deal with it now:

  1. If you suppress anger, try to recognize when you’re suppressing angry feelings. Burying your anger can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Venting your anger in private can help you feel a sense of control without harming anyone else. This should be considered a temporary solution, since you’re not addressing the situation that fueled your anger. You’re just defusing your anger so you don’t magnify the situation.

    • The most important skill to develop is assertiveness. It’s challenging to express your feelings if that isn’t normal for you. Learn to let others know in a constructive way when they’ve upset you. Start with smaller things, and the bigger things will become easier.

  • If you dump your anger aggressively, challenge your unrealistic thinking. Aggressive behavior is commonly fueled by unrealistic expectations. People aren’t going to treat you fairly 100% of the time.
  • Your children aren’t going to listen to you 100% of the time. Your spouse won’t always give you the attention you desire. Accept it and realize that you’re making assumptions when you have unrealistic expectations. The behavior of others isn’t always about you.

    • Replace your unreasonable expectations with different thoughts. Seek alternate explanations for someone’s actions when you find yourself becoming angry. What are some other possible reasons for the situation at hand?

    • Learn to pause and think before you act. If you’re a dumper, you’re probably like a bull in a china shop, wreaking havoc without any thought about what you’re doing. Count to ten, take a deep breath, and then speak carefully. There is nothing stronger than maintaining control over yourself.

You can often prevent situations that make you angry. Do what you can to avoid issues before they get started. If there are people, places, or situations that seem to trigger angry feelings, attempt to minimize your exposure to those triggers.

Dealing with anger is a part of life.

Just because you might have learned unhealthy ways of dealing with your feelings of anger doesn’t preclude the possibility of learning new strategies.

If you’ve expressed your anger physically in the past, it would probably be a good idea to get professional help. You certainly don’t want someone to get hurt because you couldn’t control your anger. Consider what could happen to you, too.

Practice these strategies, get the help you need, and move forward with your life. You’ll be glad you did.

What triggers your anger and how do you deal with it? Please comment below.

Why You Procrastinate and How to Overcome It

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Procrastination…

You procrastinate because the thought of taking a certain action makes you feel bad. There are lots of actions that give us that “Ugh” feeling when we even think about doing them. The unpleasant action could be going to the gym, doing your taxes, making an unpleasant phone call, or scrubbing the toilet.

So, procrastination isn’t really an issue of laziness. It’s an emotional issue. Your brain predicts that you’re going to experience a negative emotion and does its best to help you avoid it.

However, you don’t have to allow your emotions to guide you. They’re merely suggestions you can choose to follow or reject. It’s not easy to take an action that feels uncomfortable, but it can be done.

Even if you procrastinate, you’ll eventually feel even worse about not taking the appropriate action! Why not save yourself some time and drama and just do it now?

Sometimes it’s okay to procrastinate, but there are other times that it would be best to take action immediately.

So, what can you do to mitigate procrastination?

Try these tips to overcome procrastination:

  1. Focus on the physical sensation. When you think about doing the thing you don’t want to do, it creates a feeling in your body. Notice where you feel that negative sensation. How would you describe it?

    1. Focus on the area of your body where you feel the sensation and see what happens to that physical sensation. See how long that feeling lasts.

    1. Once you see how this feeling dissipates in a short time, it will be easier to handle it or even disregard it in the future.

  2. Find an easier way to do the task. Maybe there’s a better or easier way to do what needs to be done. Some tasks are just so big they’re intimidating to even consider.

    Can you do a little each day until it’s done? Is there a special tool you can rent? Hire someone else to do it?

  1. Promise yourself a reward after the task is complete. Maybe all you need is an ice cream cone (pick your favorite fruit instead to feel even better!), a massage, or a new book to inspire you to get busy and take action. A reward can be a powerful motivator.

  2. Think of how great you’ll feel after completing the task. There are few feelings better than completing a dreaded task. It’s such a relief to put it behind you.

    Instead of focusing on how awful it will be to do it, focus on how awesome you’ll feel when it’s done.

  3. Start small. Plan to work on it for just five minutes. Promise yourself that’s all you have to do and then you’ll give yourself a break. You might find that it’s easy to continue after you get started.

    Getting started can be the most challenging part of accomplishing just about anything.

  1. Get help. Do you know someone that can help you? Having some company can make unpleasant tasks more tolerable. Find a friend to help, and you’ll get done twice as fast. Better yet, find five friends and make a party out of it! Unpleasant tasks are less miserable when you have company.

  2. Be tough. There are some tasks that simply have to be done even if you don’t want to do them. Summon your inner gladiator and overcome your resistance. Just get it done.

Everyone has the urge to procrastinate. One thing that separates successful people from the masses is the ability to overcome this urge.

We procrastinate because the thought of doing the task is unpleasant. There are ways to minimize the discomfort of performing a task. Seek out these ways.

Focus on the benefits of taking action, get your work done, and give yourself a little reward. You’ll feel great when it’s over.

9 Things Emotionally Healthy Parents Do

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You know a few emotionally healthy people. Their relationships seem to go smoothly. They get their work done on time. Happiness appears to be their most common emotional state. They don’t have financial challenges. They maintain a healthy bodyweight.

They don’t seem to any more talented or intelligent than you. What’s the difference? Why do they manage life more easily and effectively than you do?

Emotionally healthy people do things that others do not:

  1. Create healthy boundaries. Successful relationships require healthy boundaries. When boundaries are undefined or unhealthy, the relationship will eventually have a negative impact on your life. Consider where you’re vulnerable and create boundaries to protect yourself.

  2. Delay gratification. Whether you want to finish school, lose 20 pounds, or get your work done before 5:00pm, it’s necessary to delay gratification. For example, eating a cupcake now is more gratifying in the moment than declining. But in the long run, forgoing cupcakes will help you meet your goal of losing weight. Those that act impulsively and can’t delay gratification lack the ability to follow through with wise long-term decisions. If you make life easy on yourself in the short-term, you pay the price in the long-term.
  3. Emotionally healthy people can be by themselves. “By yourself” doesn’t mean sitting on the couch with a pizza and Netflix. You’re not alone. You actually have two companions with you. Can you sit quietly, by yourself, with nothing but your thoughts? Or does anxiety about your life create too much discomfort? How much time do you spend distracting yourself from reality?
  4. They are able to adapt to change. Do you go with the flow or does any change throw you for a loop? Emotionally healthy people are able to roll with the punches and maintain a positive attitude.

  5. Deal with discomfort effectively. Those that can’t deal with emotional discomfort lead chaotic lives. It’s only when the discomfort of not taking action becomes so great that they’re finally able to do something. By then, it might be too late. When you can take a deep breath and take effective action in the face of emotional discomfort, life is a snap.

  6. Love others. Only emotionally healthy people can truly love others in a positive way. To care, trust, and attach to another person honestly requires good mental health. Think about your kids…

  7. Take care of themselves physically. Do you only eat when you’re hungry? Do you make healthy food choices? Are you able to get yourself to exercise even if you don’t feel like it? Do you go to the doctor and dentist regularly? If your emotional health is up to par, you can do these things consistently.

  8. Emotionally healthy people are reliable. Can people count on you to keep your word? Fulfilling your promises and obligations is one sign of emotional health.

  9. Act proactively. Are you able to look ahead and see the potential sticking points and then avoid them? Or do you wait until the wheels are coming off before you take action? Living well isn’t just about skillfully dealing with challenges. Ideally, it’s about intelligently avoiding them when possible.

Are you emotionally healthy? Emotionally healthy people do things that unhealthy people do not. The ability to control impulses and deal with emotional discomfort effectively are two of the most important components of emotional health. Do you need to make a change? Work to create habits that support these areas. While it’s possible to make these changes by yourself, getting professional help can be even more effective.

Please share your thoughts. How do you make yourself feel better? Are you teaching your kids healthy emotion habits, or there is something you think you might need to work on?

Hold on to me, Papa!

Yes, this blog is about Motherhood. Why am writing about Papa? Because having Papa for our children and partner for ourselves is detrimental to our kids’ emotional development. Seeing my son, Noah, giving hugs and kisses to his Papa–my most amazing husband, Chris–and receiving love in return warms my heart so much that I decided to write about that.

Chris works 6 days a week, and he is usually exhausted by the time he gets home. He gets only evenings to relax and Sundays to do anything family related. Noah screams from joy when he sees Papa get home and wants to spend the rest of the evening watching The Jungle Book and The Lion King for the 100th time (lol). Sometimes I get really irritated that all they do is watch movies, but then when I look at them and see how close they are during those moments, it makes me realize how happy and emotionally satisfied my baby is just being close to his dad. That’s all that matters at the end of the day!

I grew up without a dad since I was one year old. My mom raised me on her own until I was about 10 years old. Then she started dating–not father figures. At 12, I met my stepdad who became my new dad, but a dad I would never wish on anyone. I write in detail about him in my memoir Rocky Road to Recovery so I won’t go into much detail here. Seeing my mom going downhill in every way possible, I was really afraid to lose her. She eventually abandoned me emotionally and was consumed by her relationship drama and thought I was old enough to raise myself. Unfortunately, for the longest time afterwards I didn’t know how to be a normal, loving relationship with a man. I just wanted to feel like I am needed and tried to hold on even it was clearly toxic. That was until I started my recovery 8 years ago. Up until this day I am reparenting myself and learning about what a great relationship should look like. Thankfully, my husband and I are very close, and now even closer after having Noah and expecting our baby girl Lydia. I’m truly blessed!

When I first got on a phone with my psychotherapist, and he found out I was raised by a single mom, he immediately said that there was a whole bouquet of emotional problems that typically comes with that. Interestingly enough, until that day, I was in complete denial that not having a dad affected me in any way. It was an eye opener. I yet have to do more research on this subject, and even watching my son loving his dad so much, I can’t emotionally relate because I never felt that way. Kind of sad…

It hurts my heart seeing kids hurting from parental absence or neglect. In one way or another, this affects them for the rest of their lives. Motherhood is tough, but single motherhood is even tougher. That’s exactly why my main mission is to encourage mothers, whether single or not, to take care of themselves and their emotional needs first so that they can raise emotionally healthy children. If we suffer through our healing process (I know no one likes the word suffer!), there will be a lot less suffering for our kids and ourselves in the long run.

Mamas, let’s get out of our comfort zone mentality! Stop reaching for that glass of wine, cigarette, or a piece of cake. Let’s look into what it is that we are really looking for emotionally and find ways to take care of ourselves.. We are worth it, and our children worth it. Hold on to your kids (in a healthy, not possessive way:))!

Love, Ksenia K.

Wake Up, Mama!

So I’m sitting here with my morning coffee and thinking, What a day I had yesterday

My son, Noah, had at least 10 tantrums, which was unusual, and at one point, I was just ready to flip out and had to just walk away, except he followed me to the kitchen, bawling his eyes out, and grabbing my leg. I looked down at him and his little face, and my heart just melted. Must be tough to be in a bad mood all day and not knowing how to deal with those emotions. So I picked him up, told him I loved him, walked around with him for about 3 minutes, just giving him kisses and hugs, and he fell asleep with his little angelic smile on. I laid down next to him and nothing else mattered. He just wanted to be loved on all day by his mama…

I spent the rest of the day thinking about how irritated I was because of his constant wining that day, but then I thought of myself having those days occasionally when nothing just seems right. We get so upset at our children for being extra needy sometimes that we turn to some unhealthy stress relievers like sweets, cigarettes, alcohol, or binge shopping–just to make ourselves feel better. Or we snap or yell at our kids, or even spank them in the heat of the moment. Or we do both. Afterwards, we feel guilty about eating that extra piece of cake and gaining that extra pound, in addition to feeling guilty about snapping at the child. So it goes… that vicious cycle that repeats itself. And no one is truly happy, and no one’s need is met.

What if there was a better way? What would it look like?

I remember my mom beating me up just this one time when I was fairly young because I was refusing to leave the house when it was time to go. That was the only, and the most memorable time that got imprinted in my memory from that age. After that, I was always an obedient girl. It wasn’t typical behavior for mom, so I wasn’t used to that. It hurt deeply though. I learned my lesson quickly and never did that again. What if my mom just sat down with me, hugged me tight and talked to me for a couple of minutes instead? Maybe she would be a few minutes late wherever she was supposed to be, but we would have preserved the same sweet relationship as before. Wouldn’t that be worth it?

By refusing our kids love (at any age) at their ugliest or neediest moments, we show them that they are only valued when they act like good little boys and girls, and that their negative feelings are not acceptable, and that their need for our attention is not ok. They look at how we deal with stressful situations, and they learn from us, which then causes all kinds of havoc in their lives when they grow up. For example, they can become too controlling in their relationships, or angry and lash out at others, or turn to self-destructive behaviors because they don’t know how to accept and validate their own feelings when life gets hard, so they go numb.

What if I am having a bad day and complain to my husband and just act needy, but what he does is reject my “wining”, not pay any attention to me, or raise his voice to “stop being a baby” and goes out with his buddies to a local bar? Is our relationship going to grow stronger? Am I going to feel better? Or, what if he just hugged me for a few minutes and said, “Sorry, baby, your day is not going so well. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” How would that change the whole situation. Just having your loved one acknowledge your feeling can make a whole world of difference. Maybe, you will forget all about having a bad day, but smile and say, “Let’s do something fun together! It’s really not that bad anymore.”

Now, of course, wining and tantrums shouldn’t become such a habit that we just get manipulated on a regular basis. There should be certain limits, but my belief is that as mothers, we should really take care of our own emotional health first, so that we learn better, healthier ways to manage stressful situations and not be left feeling guilty afterwards. Our children will learn from us and then teach the same habits, whether good or bad, their own children.

So wake up, mamas! Let’s take care of ourselves and love and nurture our children, whether they behave or not. They will remember love and hurt forever…

Please comment. What are the different ways that you deal with stressful situations when it comes to your little ones? If unhealthy, how does this make you feel afterwards? What do you wish you could do differently?

#motherhood, #habits, #stressmanagement, #love, #nurturing, #emotionalhealth, #relationships, #childrenneedlove