Trauma Recovery & Boundaries

When addressing a traumatic event in your life that has been a secret, avoided or too terrifying to confront, there are some essential elements to consider to help yourself feel safe. Vulnerability, boundaries, and empowerment are crucial when you have been abused. This posting relates to all person's that have been violated in some way. Sharon Martin, LCSW developed the list on the right to provide guidance for developing healthy boundaries. When sexual, physical or verbal abuse happens at an early age, there is no chance to protect yourself or even understand that it is a violation, which is NOT YOUR FAULT. Your recovery and sense of power to take control of yourself, relationships and emotions depends empowering your thoughts, actions and choices to protect yourself, create a sense of safety, and trust your instincts when your gut tells you "danger." As a child, you were violated, which made you confused, fearful and damaged your ability to trust, feel safe or protected. Taking your power back means saying no, recognizing your limits and dealing with personal safety. To survive any trauma, the mind has means to dissociate from the experience, however, this causes problems over time when you want to connect intimately with someone else. To recover from abuse, there are some essential elements to enhance resiliency:
  • Safety
  • Trust
  • Choice
  • Empowerment
  • Authenticity
  • Re-connection to your body, emotions, sexuality and physical touch
Psychotherapy helps make you feel whole again with intimate relationships. You don't have to live life avoiding your past and fears. Trauma recovery is possible with support, at a pace and place that is safe and manageable. Your instincts will guide you on who to trust and what is working to help free you up from fear and the past. Trauma Informed Care has a resource guide.  This is a trauma cycle showing an internal dialogue and feeling that accompany betrayal. 

This link will get you to it. Trauma Informed Care Resources

How to be happy.......

In a recent series of articles on happiness, I found a comfort in the profound simplicity to elevate and influence happiness in your life. Also noteworthy is that the first and foremost elements have to do with your thinking. Negative thinking to be precise. Being a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT) , I found the concepts to be helpful in demonstrating a methodology to combat negative thinking and how this influences your feelings and subsequent behavior. Tara Parker-Pope, the author was really on target with how to examine what you need to do or avoid to help your happiness.  A quote from her article: "Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life." Let's start with mind. 
  • Conquer negative thoughts--replace them with positive thoughts & images
  • Rescript your life--you can take time to rewrite your story focusing on gratitude
  • Work on optimism
  • Hang around positive people--who we associate with influences our mood
  • Play more
  • Create positive memories
  • Get active with your body
“Friends can exert a measurable and ongoing influence on your health behaviors in a way that a diet never can.”
Remember, challenge your negative thinking and replace it with positive, loving and kind thoughts.
(click on the link for the full article) NY Times Article 

Gaming Addicton Research Study: Are Video Games Addictive?


Concerned about your children's time playing video games? Do you ever have a concern they are becoming addicted to playing. Signs to look for to determine how serious their problem is characterized by the following: From Wikipedia: "suggested by some in the medical community as a distinct behavioral addiction characterized by excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games that interferes with a person's everyday life. Video game addiction may present itself as compulsive gaming, social isolation, mood swings, diminished imagination and hyper-focus on in-game achievements, to the exclusion of other events I life." Just as present in any other type of addiction including alcohol, tobacco, pain killers, cocaine, there are predictable problems with tolerance, withdrawal, and dependence. According to a study by Diane Kuss, with NIMH,
"neuroimaging studies indicate that Internet gaming addiction shares similarities with other addictions, including substance dependence, at the molecular, neurocircuitry, and behavioral levels." Link to study: NIMH Study on Gaming Addiction. If you are interested in completing an assessment, complete the form.Bottom line, the study says, about 6% of users become severely addicted. There is help available, but there will be withdrawal, emotional reactions and fears arise. Prepare by "detoxing" with a slow withdrawal with an end date in mind. Creating a host of alternative behaviors to replace the video-gaming time will be necessary. This should including re-establishing social connections and getting back into the world. Not an easy concept for someone who made be socially anxious, phobic or really, really shy. However, like any other addiction, there is help and there are ways to manage your life. All addictions change the brain. If you want to get some help for yourself or your child, call me. I will help you score and assess the seriousness of your time spent online with video-gaming to determine if you are addicted. 
Link to the actual article:   Internet Gaming Article

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WOW...…….I was so please to look at the analytics of my blog. Thank you all for reading it. My hope is you found concepts, strategies, tips, tools and techniques beneficial to  you with your life's journey. 

Negativity & Mood: "Avoid Debbie Downer"

Einstein has a pretty good point to stay away from negative people. Consider the following scenario; take a moment  you think about 2 people in your life. Imagine what you are like with a positive person and how you are with  a complainer that sucks your energy with negativity. It is likely that your mood and perspective immediately changes. Your mood can shift from positive to negative just considering history of your time and quality of the relationship. If the person in you mind is always  difficult, pessimistic, complainer or  gossip, your instincts are likely to shift to dread or avoidance. (At least mine does). Trust those instincts and reactions.
On the other hand, think of someone you adore, feel excited to spend time with, have positive feelings about past encounters, your mood elevates, you find reasons to want to call, spend time with and enjoy  mutual admiration and respect. You most likely feel lifted, happy and enjoy the entire experience from initial thought of spending time together  to post moment afterwards. When you can have this type of positive  experience  with a friend should be honored and developed. On the other hand, negative and unrewarding times with other should be limited or even eliminated. Pursue compassionate, thoughtful, empathetic relationships. Your instincts are your compass for how you spend your time and who you choose to be with in your life. Dump the Downers in you life and thoughts!!!! 

Mental Illness & Use of Social Media

In a recent article in the Economist regarding a study in Britons in a study by the Royal Academy of Public Health in 2017, there was a pretty disturbing review of what use of social media is doing to the brain, emotions contributing to mental illness from ages 14-24. The link below  will take you to the complete  article. The chart below clearly demonstrates how powerful social media is affecting the mental health of users. As you can see, the more obsessed you are with social media, the great the negative impact on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), anxiety, depression and sleep. The remedy is to become  more social, build self-esteem and real world relationships, garner emotional support, work on your physical health and self-awareness. Monitoring and limiting  your time on social  media may be the first step. The "problem" described in the study compares overuse of social media, Facebook, Instagram, Texting, Tinder, Redit, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, WhatApp, LinkedIn, email, and phone equivalent to addiction such as gambling or drug addicts. Basically, overuse  of social media has been demonstrated to be detrimental to your emotional well-being and mental health.  Of course, what is too much? Is there such a thing as moderation? Do a check-in with your own time on social media, check your mood afterward to determine if you feel better or worse emotionally. In general, the study indicated the following: "Nearly 63% of Instagram users reported being miserable, a higher share than for any other social network. They spend an average of nearly an hour per day on the  app. The 37% who are happy spend an average of just over half as long. The happiness rate is much higher for FaceTime (91%), a video-calling app, and phone calls (84%). When it comes to social networking, actual conversations are hard to beat."

Stress Busters Interview on Good Day Houston with Debora Duncan

Stress is inevitable. What we do with stress is perception, attitude, confidence, fear, worry and history of resilience all wrapped up into one package. Mainly, perhaps hard to believe, but how we view events determines their meaning. If we believe a person, situation, experience is dangerous, out of control, we will likely react with feeling and being stressed. We get stressed out when we become overwhelmed and our resources, sleep, rest, and social life is suffering. Can you prevent stress, not likely. Can you manage it better, very likely. This short interview video may provide some pointers. Take a look at this 2011 interview on Good Day Houston for some fun facts.