imconfident

I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Do you have damaged emotions?

We have all been hurt at one time or another.  Being hurt is unavoidable and just a normal part of life.  The problem is, many of us have difficulty processing our hurts in a positive way and our emotions become badly damaged.  It is important that we address our hurts and deal with them so they can’t continue to cause pain in our lives.

Here are some steps we can take to heal any damaged emotions:

  1. Face your problems dead on.  If you try to avoid them, deny them or hide them, it won’t work.  Pushing the pain away may temporarily relieve the pain, but in the long run, the hurt will keep coming back.  Take an honest look at what happened and talk to someone you can trust.
  2. Take responsibility for what happened.  Be totally honest with yourself.  Did you play any part in what happened?  Most of the time, there can be blame placed on both sides.  How did you respond?  Did you show anger or did you try to understand the situation?
  3. Ask yourself if you really want your damaged emotions to heal.  Sometimes people use their problems to get attention and to make other people feel sorry for them.   They get stuck in a bad habit and become comfortable struggling with their problems.  This is really not a good way to live as it never allows any possibility of peace or happiness.
  4. In order to heal, you must be forgiving.  First you need to forgive the people who hurt you.  This does not mean that you are telling them it is okay for them to hurt you because it was certainly not okay at all, it means that you are giving up the hold they have on you.  As long as you have unforgiveness for a person, you are tied to them and they can continue to hurt you over and over again.   Tell the person you forgive them for hurting you and then forgive yourself and move on.
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I can’t help the way I feel!

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say this statement and I’ve said it myself more times that I can remember.  I used to firmly believe that I was unable to do anything about my emotions or change the way I felt and I’ve discovered this is totally wrong.  I was allowing my emotions to control me instead of taking control of my emotions.  It was time to make some changes!

Actually, you can’t really help the way you feel, but you CAN learn to manage your emotions and work hard to change the way you react.  When someone hurts you, you will likely feel angry or upset.  When something takes too long, you will likely feel agitated or impatient.  When you can’t do something easily, you will likely get frustrated.  It is normal to feel these emotions but it is not healthy to respond in a negative way that could be damaging to others and yourself.

When you feel any emotion, you have the choice to respond automatically or you can stop yourself for a few seconds and quickly process a more positive way of dealing with the situation.  This takes patience and practice but if you keep working at it, it will become a good habit.  Always be consciously aware of how you are feeling and make sure you think before you react.

  1. First stop, take a deep breath, and don’t react immediately.
  2. Then do something that will help you calm down.  Separate yourself from the person or situation as this will allow you to focus more clearly, take a walk, listen to some calming music or do an activity that you enjoy.  Don’t give in to your negative emotions.
  3. Talk it out with yourself.  Ask yourself why you are feeling this way.  Is there an underlying issue that needs to be addressed such as depression, anxiety, work-overload, too many pressures?
  4. Determine what changes need to be made so when difficult situations arise, you can manage your emotions more effectively.  How can you deal with things in a more positive way?  Write down your thoughts and create a plan of action.

You can’t help the way you feel but you CAN help the way you react.  React in positive way!

 

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Write an anger letter

When we are angry with someone, it is hard to express our emotions to them without making the situation worse.  Many times, we just hold our anger inside and try to ignore the situation/person.  This is not a positive way of dealing with anger.  It is important that we learn to manage our anger, understand why we are angry and make changes in the way we deal with difficult people and situations.

A good way to deal with anger is writing a letter.  Getting your thoughts and emotions out in the open will help you process them in a positive way.  Write a letter to someone who has hurt you.  Do this when you are alone and will have no interruptions.  If you have a close friend who is completely supportive and would benefit from their presence, explain what you are doing and allow them to be close by.  Turn off your phone, your computer and the TV.  Say whatever you need to say.  Write down any feelings of anger, hatred, disgust or despair that are causing you to be uncomfortable.  Then once the letter is done, sit back and take a deep breath.

When you are ready, read the letter out loud to yourself.  Hearing your own words will start the healing process.  Remember that I said you need to be alone or with a close, supportive friend.  When you have finished reading the letter, allow yourself to scream, cry, punch your pillow.  Just don’t do anything to hurt yourself or damage anything around you.  Allow yourself to be completely drained, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Now you should be ready to put this anger behind you.

Take the letter, rip it into pieces and throw it away.  Just don’t mail the letter as it would likely cause more pain.  The letter is strictly for your own eyes.

Now, take some time to relax.  This exercise will have taken a lot out of you.  A lot of pressure has been released.  Listen to some soothing music, read an inspirational book, take a nap.

If you have more anger to deal with, write more letters until you are feeling lighter.  Carrying anger with you is a heavy load.  Release your anger in a positive way.

 

 

 

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Fight or flight?

In the 1920’s an American physiologist called Walter Cannon came up with a term to describe the chain of reactions in our bodies that help us deal with threatening circumstances.  The term he used was the ‘fight-or-flight response‘ which appropriately explained the need for us to stay and deal with a conflict or run away to safety.  When we are feeling stressed, our nervous system automatically reacts so we are ready to deal with the problem, however, many times this automatic response doesn’t help us resolve the problem and can actually make it worse.

When someone has hurt us we need to stop and look at the situation realistically and reasonably.  Instead of just getting angry and fighting with the person or getting upset and running away, there is a way that might possibly resolve the situation and have a positive outcome.  Really?  We don’t have to let ourselves be controlled by our emotions.  We can stop ourselves from reacting automatically.

In the past, whenever I faced a conflict, I would just allow the ‘fight-or-flight response‘ to kick in.  Did it resolve the conflict?  Of course not.  I decided that resolution would be much better than reaction, so I started to use a different approach.  When a situation arose, I would try to look at things from a different perspective and understand what was causing the problem.  In order to do this I had to face the person, communicate my feelings with them and then forgive them for hurting me.  I call this a face and forgive response’.  It certainly worked a lot better than fighting or running away.  It actually resolved the problem most of the time.

How does it work?  First, stop yourself from reacting immediately – count to 10, take a deep breath.

  • FACE the person by CALMLY starting a conversation that might bring out the reason for their actions
    • ask them if they are having a bad day and why they said or did what they did
    • ask if they are going through something difficult themselves
    • ask if they are under some kind of stress
    • is there anything you can do to help them
    • Tell them that their words or actions hurt you
  • Then FORGIVE them either mentally (to yourself) or verbally tell them if possible

If you can’t remain calm or the other person can’t control their emotions, then walk away and go somewhere until you are both able to carry on a quiet conversation.  NEVER stay in a stressful situation when your emotions are out of control because the result will never be good.

Fighting or running away will never resolve a problem, it will just keep you holding onto it.  Wouldn’t it be better to try to resolve things and have a positive outcome?  Don’t just let your automatic response kick in when you are facing difficulty.  Don’t fight or flee, instead FACE and FORGIVE!

 

 

 

 

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How do you manage your emotions?

The way we manage our emotions affects the way we live.  If we allow our emotions to control us or just ignore them, they will create chaos in our lives.  However, if we learn how to control our emotions, we will have less stress and more peace in our lives.

Emotions are important.  They can tell us that something wonderful is happening and provide us with much pleasure and happiness or they can be a warning sign that something is wrong and needs to be addressed.  Think about the warning lights on the dashboard of a car.  When you see a red light flashing, what action do you take?  You can do one of three things:

  1. ignore it or even cover it up so you can’t see it flashing
  2. smash the light with a hammer and stop it from flashing
  3. take it to a mechanic and find out what the problem is

What would the first two actions accomplish?  Ignoring the problem or breaking the flashing light won’t make the problem go away and it won’t fix anything.  Your vehicle will eventually be damaged and stop running altogether.  The last action is the only way you will discover what the problem is and how to correct it.

If you handle your negative emotions by ignoring them or allowing them to explode, this will certainly not fix anything.  You will damage your relationships and your own health.  The best way to take care of your emotions is to deal with them and learn how to control them.  It isn’t always easy but if you pay attention to your emotions and consciously try to calm yourself, it can be done.  Here are some ideas:

  • try to avoid situations that cause your emotions to get out of control
  • never react immediately – practice taking a deep breath and count to 10 before having an out-of-control emotional reaction
  • try to focus on something positive
  • pray for guidance
  • leave the situation if you are struggling to maintain control and come back when you have calmed down
  • practice using positive self-talk and looking at things from a different perspective
  • vent your emotions in a positive way –  write them down on paper or talk to someone you can trust
  • examine your feelings and make positive changes in your life

It takes a lot of practice to manage your emotions but if you are consciously aware of your thoughts and work hard to stop yourself from reacting immediately, you will soon develop a habit of self-control.  How do you manage your emotions?

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You can control the stress in your life

Stress has become a normal way of life for many people and sometimes it can be good for us.  It can provide us with the energy to overcome obstacles but too much stress can cause life-threatening health issues.  Everyday people die from stress-related illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

It isn’t possible to eliminate all stress from our lives, however we can learn how to control it.  We need to determine what is causing the stress in our lives and learn how to minimize or eliminate it.

When you feel stressed, try using the following STRESS method to analyze what is happening.

S – Stop what you are doing.  Don’t allow your emotions to control you.

T – Take note of the situation in your journal or notebook if possible and outline what is causing the stress.  If you aren’t able to write it down, keep a mental picture of the situation and write it down as soon as you can.

R – Review your notes.  Do this later on in the day when you are not so emotional or you won’t see the situation clearly.

E – Evaluate your reaction.  Was it proper, logical, realistic?  Was it necessary?  Did it help or hinder the situation?

S – Situation – can it be changed, minimized or eliminated.   YES___  NO___   HOW? _______________________

S – Set-up a plan of action for the next time this situation comes up.  Write it down to help you remember it.

Every day, write down your stressful situations in your journal or notebook using the STRESS method.   Seeing these situations written down will help you see any patterns and understand where the problem areas are.

Determine what situation causes the most stress in your life, how you normally react and what the outcome is.  Then you can consider ways to make positive changes so you can feel less stressed the next time it happens.

You CAN control the stress in your lives!

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Sad, mad or glad?

Every day we are faced with choices.  In every situation, we have to decide what our reaction will be.  We can be sad; we can be mad; or we can be glad.

I’m sure we would all choose to be glad so why do we keep making bad choices that cause unhappiness or anger?  Often it is because we have developed a habit of looking at things from a negative perspective.  We may be so stuck in a negative rut that we don’t even know we can change how we feel.    The truth is, we can’t control our feelings but we can control how we react.   We need to be aware of our feelings and learn to manage them.

When a difficult situation arises, we need to stop for a few seconds and think before we just react.  The key is thinking and being aware of how we feel.  If we suddenly feel unhappy or angry, we can stop ourselves and think about the situation in a positive way.  This could prevent us from reacting badly and causing harm to ourselves and those around us.

So what choice will you make?  Will you choose to be sad, mad or glad?

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Do you hide behind a wall of pain?

When someone asks how you are doing, what is your answer?  Fine, okay, doing good?  Or do you really tell them how you feel?

Many people are good at putting on a happy face and telling others that everything is okay, when really they are falling apart inside.   They hide behind a wall that covers up their emotional pain and don’t allow anyone to know how they are feeling.  They isolate themselves to avoid the risk of getting hurt again.

Emotional pain comes from having negative beliefs about ourselves.  We can feel worthless, rejected, abandoned, misunderstood, unloved, disrespected, inadequate, stupid and unappreciated.   These negative beliefs can cause us to have insecurities, fears, lack of trust, resentment, bitterness, relationship issues and a general inability to cope with life.

Instead of hiding behind a wall of pain, we need to try to understand why we allow others to hurt us and change the way we look at life.  Most people are not ‘out to get us’ or cause pain in our lives.  They have likely been hurt themselves and are just passing on their pain.  We do NOT have to allow them to treat us badly.   We need to express how we feel and ask for respect.  Hiding behind a wall WILL keep others out but it is also keeping us trapped inside our self-imposed prison of pain and stopping us from having any good relationships.

We allow others to hurt us but we don’t have to.  This is a decision we make.  We can run from our feelings, hide our feelings or deny our feelings but this will never give us freedom.  We need to face our pain and work through it so we can tear down any walls we have made.

There is no way we can avoid pain in our lives.   People will always hurt us with their words and actions because we are all different.  Try to be understanding of what other people are going through.   We have to be confident and learn to look at life with a positive perspective.

Do you hide behind a wall of pain?

 

 

 

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Listen to your children and acknowledge their feelings

Youth today want to be heard.  They want to know that others understand them and that they have something important to offer in life.  They need their parents and other significant people around them to indicate their value by listening and acknowledging their feelings.  When they feel like someone is really listening to them and really cares about how they feel, they will experience love and grow into mature, responsible adults.

Parents want the best for their children but too often we believe that what we say to them is more important than what they say to us.  We tell them how to feel, how to act and how to think.  Then when they don’t listen or do things the way we think they should, we show our disapproval through correction and punishment.  This just tells them that their thinking is not right and they shouldn’t feel the way they do.  They will believe that something is wrong with them and their esteem will become greatly damaged.

It is important that we take the time to listen to our children and try to understand their feelings.  This doesn’t mean we have to approve of everything they say and do or allow them to do something that will harm them in any way.  We just have to let them know that it is okay to be different and build a close, trusting relationship with them by loving and supporting them.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Your 6-year-old likes to climb up on the furniture and you are afraid they are going to get hurt so you keep warning him to stay down.  However, one day, he climbs on a chair and it tips over, throwing him on the floor and hurting his arm.  He cries out in pain and you say, “I don’t feel sorry for you.  I’ve told you to stay off the furniture.  Now go play and stop crying.”  What does this tell your child?  Does it tell him that you love him and don’t want him to get hurt?  No, it tells him that he is stupid and you don’t care about his feelings.  Instead, you should empathize by saying, “Oh no, you must have hurt your arm.”  Give your child a hug and then talk to him about why he shouldn’t climb on the furniture.   This will help build his confidence.
  • Your parents are coming to visit and you don’t have a guest bedroom, so you tell your teenage daughter that she will have to give up her room and sleep on the living room sofa.  Your daughter is very angry with you and becomes withdrawn.  What message have you given your daughter?  That you have total control over everything she owns and her feelings don’t matter at all.  Instead, you should talk about how difficult it is for her to share her room for a few days and tell her how sorry you are that you don’t have another option.  Then offer to help clean up her room and maybe sit and chat with a glass of hot chocolate.  This will show her the importance of doing something nice for another person.
  • You come home from work and find a big hole in your dining room window.  On the floor lies a baseball that looks a lot like one your 12-year-old son plays with.  You know that he walks home with some friends that like to meet and play baseball after school.  When your son walks in the door carrying his baseball bat, you confront him loudly with, “What did you do to our window?”  Your son was going to tell you what happened but your angry words communicated to him that you have already found him guilty and that you don’t trust him.  He yells back, “Nothing, I don’t know what you are talking about”, then goes into his room and shuts the door.  Your outburst has turned off any communication and tore down his esteem.  You should have calmly asked what happened and given him the chance to respond.   You don’t really know if he was guilty of doing the damage or it was one of his friends.

Many problems could be avoided by showing our children that we care about their thoughts and feelings.  If we keep open the lines of communication for all the small things in life, they will talk to us about the important things.  This also works in all our relationships, so make sure you are listening to people and acknowledging their feelings.  We all need to be heard and cared about!

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Home alone

Will you be spending home alone for Christmas?  Sadly there are millions of people around the world who spend the holiday season feeling alone amidst the hustle and bustle going on around them.  Some of us have recently lost a loved one or maybe Christmas is a reminder of something unpleasant that happened in the past.  Others are struggling with depression or feeling that nobody cares about them.   We may attend festive parties and sing cheery songs but inside we may be crying out in pain.

There are so many families that don’t even spend time together at Christmas because of distance, being too busy or just because they just don’t want to.  This is a shame because Christmas is such  a wonderful time to share traditions and create memories.

Take some time to consider your friends, neighbours and co-workers and determine if they are receiving any love during the Christmas season.  If you are fortunate enough to be spending Christmas with your loved ones, why not consider doing something special for someone who may be feeling alone:

  • invite them to spend some time with your family
  • stop in for a visit
  • buy a Christmas gift
  • call them on the phone
  • send a cheery Christmas card

If you are spending Christmas alone, don’t allow any negative thoughts to bring you down.  We are conditioned by society to believe the lie that there is something wrong with us if we don’t spend Christmas with family and friends.   In reality, there is nothing wrong with spending any day alone.  Being alone can be very peaceful if we have a positive perspective on life and realize our true worth and value.   Solitude can be a wonderful break from our lives of constant pressure and stress.   There are lots of things that you can do to enjoy spending time alone:

  • watch a Christmas movie
  • listen to some music
  • read a good book
  • take a walk
  • nap
  • meditate
  • do some puzzles
  • organize closets

If you really don’t want to be alone at Christmas you can:

  • attend a Christmas church service
  • feed the homeless at a local shelter
  • go to a park and say hello to anyone you meet
  • pick up some Christmas cards, sign them ‘from a friend’ and deliver them to the mailboxes around your neighbourhood
  • call people you know and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’
  • try inviting some friends over to watch TV – you might find someone who is just as lonely as you are and wants companionship

Whatever your situation, try to have a good Christmas and spread some love around!

 

 

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