Anxiety

5 Myths about anger that are keeping you angry

In my anger management class in Murrieta, I teach people how to become more in tune with their emotions, how to express themselves in an assertive way, and to learn how to communicate better with the people around them. I've noticed a common thread among clients who take my anger management class in Murrieta. They often believe some myths about anger. Here are the top 5 myths about anger that I'd like to dispel:

Anger is genetic

How many times have you heard someone say "I'm Italian, so I have a big personality!" or "I'm from New York, so I scream when I talk." Or my favorite: "I'm Nigerian so that's just how I behave." We sometimes falsely believe that we should be angry because our parents were angry people or people from our culture or our town are angry. Well, I'm happy to let you know that anger is in fact NOT genetic. Your angry father did not pass his anger gene down to you like he passed down his brown eyes.

An angry expression of emotions is actually a learned behavior. So when you were growing up, perhaps your dad would yell whenever he was irritated or your mom would hit you whenever you broke the rules. Watching them express themselves in this way shapes you to believe that this is the only way to express frustration.

What this means is that the angry expression of emotions can actually be unlearned. Just like you were taught to scream at people, throw things or punch walls, you can also be taught to speak assertively, communicate clearly and to express yourself in a different way. Isn't that nice?

Anger leads to aggression

Many people actually believe that anger naturally leads to aggression. They run away from the emotions because they fear that it will lead to hitting, getting into fights or doing something they will regret later. To be clear, aggression is any behavior with the intention of controlling the other person. So if you refuse to listen to other people's point of view, if you constantly talk over others and try to get your way all the time, you're acting aggressively. Few people will actually admit that they are aggressive.

Anger doesn't automatically lead to aggression. You are actually in control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Now when people are in the heat of anger, they might feel like they have no control over themselves. This is untrue. The problem is you might not have the necessary tools to know what to do when your anger is reaching its peak. That's why you might feel out of control. But once you've learned specific tools to manage your anger (HINT: Which I teach in my anger management class), you'll find that your level of aggression becomes less and less.

Angry people always get their way 

Some people actually use anger as a form of manipulation. They believe that if they lash out or yell, their partners or loved ones will have no choice but to comply. Well, I have to say that it works sometimes. Their children, spouses and friends become so afraid of them, that they just do whatever they want to avoid an argument.

However, this can only work for so long. After a while, children grow up and become adults with boundaries. They'll move out of your house and decide to cut you out of their lives. Spouses will begin to stand up for themselves and you'll realize that you cannot always get your way. The only thing anger does is it creates separation between you and the people you love.

Anger is bad

Many clients have come in to my anger management group with their heads hanging low. They have been told or they believe that people who experience anger are bad. Anger is simply an emotion. And I believe it's neutral. Uncontrolled anger on the other hand, can lead you into a hot mess. When you are angry, it's important to dig in and figure out why exactly you are angry. In my group, I teach my clients that anger is simply a secondary emotion. This means it's just a symptom of something else going on. So when someone yells at you in public, you probably feel embarrassed or disrespected, which then leads to anger. When your child isn't listening to you, you might feel frustrated, which leads to anger. When your partner breaks up with you, you feel hurt, which leads to anger. 

Do you get it? Your anger is like the check engine light of your car. The light is simply a warning sign. The light is neutral. What you need to do is open up the hood of your car. If you cover up the light or ignore it, the problem will persist, get worse and then your car will be in worse shape. 

You should get anger out by hitting

Often times people say to me, "I'll just go hit the punching bags when I'm angry." While this might be a great work out, hitting something (or someone) when you're angry doesn't resolve anything. All it teaches you is how to be a great hitter. In the moment it feels great, because it's a good way to distract yourself from everything going on in your head, but punching something when you're angry doesn't resolve your relationship or soothe your hurt feelings. 

Ready to work on your anger issues so that your anger is no longer in control of you? Great! Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call with me to see if my anger management group in Murrieta is right for you. You can also call me at 951-905-3181. Make anger a thing of the past. It's all up to you.

How to set goals you can actually accomplish in 2019

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's already 2019. It seems as if last year rolled by too fast. Now, if you're like most people, you probably have great dreams for this year. You want your life to be filled with joy, you want your family to be healthy, and you want to accomplish some great goals. The problem is you have a bad habit of setting New Year's resolutions and then forgetting all about them by February.

Remember that unused gym membership from 2018? Remember the time when you said you were going to write a book but you didn't? Well, today is your lucky day because I'm going to give you 6 tips to increase your chances of actually following through with your goal.

1) Make your goals SMART

We all set life goals, but the problem is that some of us have goals that are way too vague. 'Make more money,' 'Lose weight,' 'Be happier,' all sound like great goals on the surface, but they are way too broad. I like to break my goals up in a SMART way. Here are the steps:

Make sure your goal is Specific: Make sure your goal isn't too vague. You brain can't compute anything that's too vague and your heart won't become emotionally tied to a vague goal. If you are emotionally attached to your goal, you'll be more motivated to follow through. So, you could say something like "I want to make $1,000 more in January 2019." That's as specific as it gets. 

Make it Measurable: Quantify your goals. Make sure each goal either has a completion date or some type of number attached to it. So your money goal of making $1,000 in January 2019 is measurable. We know exactly how much money you're trying to make and we know the deadline for completing the goal. That way you can break it down further each week to know what targets you should be hitting to stay on track.

Make sure it's Achievable: It's always great to reach for the sky, but how many of us have actually ever touched the sky?  If your goal is unattainable, it has the opposite result. You'll get discouraged and stop trying to pursue it. If your goal is to make $1000 in January 2019 but you haven't held a job in the past 5 years, chances are you might not be able to achieve it. So set something attainable, then set another goal as soon as you reach that one. So if you haven't had a job in 5 years, perhaps your goal could be to make $100 extra in January 2019. After you've met that goal, set a goal to make $200. Be systematic.

Make sure it's Reasonable: Also pay attention to your abilities, the level of support you have in your life, and your resources. If your goal is to travel to 5 countries this year but you know that you work a regular 9 to 5 job and you don't have any time off, that's pretty unreasonable. Even though it's great to think outside the box, an unreasonable goal will discourage you. And a discouraged person most likely won't be motivated to complete a goal.

Make it Time Limited: Add a completion date to your goal. An open ended goal will kill your ambition and you'll lose steam fast. But when you know you're going to be working toward a goal for a limited amount of time, it's easier to maintain focus. It's helpful to set 3 month and 6 month goals to begin with. Then as you get good at maintaining your focus, you can stretch those goals into 1-year, 2-year and 3-year goals.

2) Get an accountability partner: When you have someone positive cheering you on, you are more likely to work tirelessly toward your goal because you know they're going to ask you about it. No one wants to deal with the embarrassment of letting their accountability partner down. Make sure you only pick someone who is positive and encouraging. A Debbie Downer will kill your mojo.

3) Post your goals somewhere visible: I like the added accountability of posting my goals on a mirror, a door, in my car or somewhere I cannot ignore it. Why? Because if you can't see your goals, you can easily ignore them. Out of sight, out of mind. But when you are greeted by your goals every single day, you'll be more motived to actually work towards them.

4) Plan out small steps towards your big goal: A 5 year goal can be very daunting. So after writing the long term goal, break it down further. If you want to accomplish something big like buying a house in 5 years, what would you need to do in 3 years to help you reach the goal? Break it down further. What would you need to do in 1 year to reach your goal? Break it down further! What would you need to do in 6 months to reach your goal? Even further. What would you need to do in 3 months, and then weekly to reach your goal?

5) Schedule everything: Once you've broken down your goal into smaller steps, it's time to schedule it out on your planner or phone. I love Google Calendar. It's free and it can also send you reminders. Spend 1 day planning out your tasks and setting them automatically on your phone. That way when the alert pops up, you remember to get right on it.

6) Give yourself a reward: Goal setting is difficult business. Set a benchmark for yourself and agree to give yourself a reward every time you hit that benchmark. So for example, if your goal is to make $1000 more in January, you can buy yourself a treat every time you make $250. If your goal is to buy a house, you can do something special every 3 months as you're on your way to rocking your goal.

There you have it- 6 easy ways to actually accomplish your goals this year. And if anxiety or insomnia are keeping you from accomplishing your goals, I'd love to chat with you for 15 minutes to see if I might be a good fit for you. I help anxious women, insomniacs and engaged couples in the Temecula/Murrieta feel calmer, sleep better and lay a solid foundation for their future. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call.

 

How to deal with your difficult family this Christmas

Christmas time is here! Merry Christmas to all you folks out there in Murrieta, Temecula and the entire Inland Empire. I hope today will bring you lots of happiness, and all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

But for some people, Christmas time is not so warm and fuzzy. Christmas time brings painful memories of family woes. No matter what type of family you were raised in, understand that it is possible to still have a happy, healthy life-there are just a few boundaries you can set.

Here are some ways you can begin to manage a difficult family:

1) Decide what you want: If you have a toxic family, you'll know it. They leave your self esteem lower than ever, you don't want to open up to them about personal areas of your life, they're judgmental, your heart races every time you go to visit them, you hold back tears when you're in their presence, and you breathe a sigh of relief when the festivities are over. If you nodded your head to the above statements, chances are your family is either really difficult or toxic.

If majority of your holidays end in disappointment, you must decide if it's worth it to sacrifice your precious days off to be with your family. Perhaps you'd do better if you spend the holidays alone or with people who actually fill you with joy. Although it's a tough decision to make, decide what you want and stick to your decision. This is important for those days when you're feeling guilty for not spending all your time with them.

2) Challenge the overt or covert messages they've sent you: Many people who are in a dysfunctional family, have no clue how much their family has harmed them emotionally. Spend some time thinking about some of the negative things your family members have said and done. Once you've thought them out, write out about 5 of them. Next to each one, write out how that event has made you feel about yourself. For example, if every time you see your dad, he talks about how much weight you've gained, your dad's statements might have made you think to yourself, "I'm fat."

Now remember, because your family members say something doesn't mean it's true. If your dad talks about your weight all the time, you do not have to change the way you look just to suit him. If the message you've been telling yourself is "I'm fat," come up with another, more realistic message to counter it. Such as "I am beautiful just the way I am" or "I love the way my body looks." It'll take a while for your brain to catch up with your heart, but say these more realistic statements over and over again.

3) Create some space: Many of us were raised with the idea that every holiday must be spent with family. But what happens if your family holidays are perpetually sad or filled with arguments? Then it might be time to find someone new to spend the holiday with. A few weeks before the holidays, let your family know that you'll be going elsewhere to celebrate. Yes they might yell, they might be offended and they might clutch their pearls, but if you do this every year, they'll eventually get the message and get used to your new plan. You cannot please everyone.

You can also create space by limiting communication with them. Avoid contentious topics, reduce the number of calls you make to them, and just try to keep the conversation civil and light. The goal is to keep your mental space stress free and as positive as possible.

Another way to do it is to do a drive by Christmas with your family, and then spend a longer period of time with someone who brings you joy. So you could choose to spend an hour with your family, and then spend the rest of the day with more cheerful, positive people. That way you only have to take your family in small doses and your entire holiday isn't ruined.

4) Remind yourself why you're doing all this: When you start to create some space, the backlash will begin. Remind yourself why you have to do it. If you remain in the toxic environment, it WILL drag you down. But if you hold on to your boundaries, work on your mindset and surround yourself with positive people, your Christmas will go off without the usual frustration and tears.

Ready to learn how to maneuver a difficult or even toxic family? I love to help women and engaged couples in Murrieta figure out how to create lives that are anxiety free. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation. You could also call me at 951-905-3181.

 

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

You have always felt like you're different from other people. You get overwhelmed easily, you feel other people's emotions strongly, certain fabrics feel like sandpaper when they touch your skin, and you tend to get anxious a lot. You don't fit in in the world, your family thinks you're too sensitive, and your friends certainly don't get you. You were called "Weird" when you were growing up, but you've always hated that. You don't enjoy going to the club, other loud places, or being among a large crowd. You also tend to spend a great deal of time on your own. There's something about time alone that soothes you and makes you feel rejuvenated.

Maybe you're simply just unique.

You were created with certain unique gifts that set you apart from the people around you. Maybe that's why you never fit into a box. But let's face it, a part of you always wanted to be understood. A part of you wished others would understand you. But maybe you were never meant to fit in, maybe boxes weren't made for people like you.

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is someone who processes stimuli a lot stronger than others. The term was actually coined by a researcher called Dr Elaine Aron. So you might hear a lot sharper than others, notice little nuances in the environment that others ignore, feel sensations stronger (hence the itchy fabric issue) and even feel emotions more strongly than others. You feelings might get hurt more easily. A HSP is often very empathetic. They might cry more when they watch a sad movie, or they might be completely horrified and might not be able to watch violent movies or play graphic video games. They often see the hurt and the pain that other people try to hide. Because they're so empathetic, others tend to gravitate towards them and pour out their hearts to them. But the problem with this is, a HSP often feels the need to help everyone- leaving her with no energy left for her own emotional needs. If you're curious to see if you're a HSP, take the test here.

Here are some traits of HSPs:

1) People think you're sensitive or shy.

2) You are bothered by loud noises and bright lights.

3) You get frazzled when there's too much going on in your life.

4) You enjoy structure.

5) You avoid violent movies and games.

6) You love spending time all by yourself.

7) You tend to soak up other people's emotions.

So if you take the HSP test and find out that you're a HSP, congrats!! You are one of the chosen few. Only 15% to 20% of people are HSP. This is why others find it difficult to understand you-it's because you're a rarity. So take off the stigma of being weird and different. You are indeed unique- not weird. I love helping HSP women learn how to care for themselves, learn how to maneuver their way in this loud world so that they can how harness their innate gifts and create meaningful relationships. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call, so I can help you move from emotionally exhausted woman to a master boundary setter. I also provide online counseling for women throughout CA.

This is why your life sometimes feels sucky

Thanksgiving is around the corner. The turkeys are in the freezer, pumpkins are everywhere, the leaves are looking colorful, and the air is crisp. But for some reason you are not feeling your best. All you want to do is stay in bed, be upset and not talk to people. You wonder if something is wrong with you- and maybe there is something wrong- but perhaps a few simple tweaks can turn the day around. Sometimes you feel like your life just sucks. You get trapped in an ugly black hole. The more you try to climb out, the deeper you seem to fall. 

But little do you know that there are some things you could do to possibly help you get out of the hole for good.

Start your day off right

Many people start their days off without any intentions. They spring out of bed in the morning, rush into the shower, make a cup of coffee, skip breakfast and hope for the best. If you want your days to consistently feel great, then plan them out. Now don't get it wrong, there are no quick fixes to give you a perfect life. However, people who have an intentional approach to their lives often end up enjoying their lives more than those who wake up, are unplanned and who just hope for the best.

Try to wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual. I know it sounds alarming, but trust me, your future self will thank you. When your alarm rings, slowly get out of bed, say one or two things you're grateful for (It'll even be better if you could get a notebook just for this), say a quick prayer, meditate on scripture, then reach for a glass of water to rehydrate your thirsty body. Once you're out of bed, spend about 5 minutes stretching your body. As you stretch, create a visual for how you would like your day to unfold. Imagine yourself walking to work with a smile on your face, or dropping the kids off while saying "Have a great day," or giving your spouse a hug before he or she runs out of the door. 

Intentional minds create much more positive results.

Bring the joy

Once you begin to dive into your usual tasks, do them with joy. Even if you're picking up dog poop or combing your screaming child's hair, remind yourself that you are actually lucky that you get to do these things. These subtle mindset shifts will help you move from disgruntled to appreciative. When you go to the store, greet the greeters with a smile. Smiles are free, and they bring joy to most people (ignore the perpetually grumpy folks). 

Before you begin your work day, take 30 seconds to breathe and tell yourself that today will be a great day. It'll be great, not because everything will be perfect, but it'll be great because you have decided to bring the joy with your wherever you go.

Pick the right people to do life with

Life can be so sweet- that is if you have the right people to do life with. When your friends and family members are negative, uninspiring or unsupportive, then it's time to do something different. Now of course you don't get to pick your family members, but when you notice that you are trapped in a toxic environment, perhaps it's time to put them at arms' length. I'm not saying to cut them off, but you get to decide how much time you can spend with them, and how much of yourself to share with them.

The same goes with friendships. If the top 5 people you hang out with aren't living the happy, balanced life you've always dreamed about, then it's time to evaluate your circle. You should only be hanging out with people who leave you feeling recharged, excited about life and feeling great. if your friends seem to be going nowhere fast, chances are your life will go nowhere fast. You are who you hang out with. So take a long, hard look around you.

This might sound harsh, but I've seen too many people be sucked into negative spirals by friends who are no good for them.

Put the phone down

This last one sounds strange. What does a phone have to do with a sucky life? Well too many people spend entirely too much time scrolling mindlessly on social media. They could be working out, networking, taking naps, eating, and enjoying the world, but they spend all the time on social media. Make an effort not to pick up your phone right when you wake up and right before you go to bed.

Give your thumbs, your eyes, your posture and your mind a break. When you feel the urge to post all of your feelings to complete strangers, perhaps think of a friend you could share those feelings with. Create real connections. When you are at work, try to plow away at your actual work tasks and resist the urge to use your phone as a crutch. 

Another problem with too much phone use is that it creates the green grass syndrome. You begin to imagine that everyone is living their best lives except you. You look at their flashy cars, their 6-pack abs, their amazing executive offices, and you begin to feel self pity. Truth is, social media only highlights the best of the best. very few people chronicle their journey to the top. Most people only show themselves on their best days-with great hair, great makeup and their best outfits.

So before you get sucked in, put the phone in a drawer, or in another room. Put your head up, and enjoy the life you actually have. Remember, the grass isn't greener on the other side. It's actually greener where you water it.

And if you are feeling like you just can't take these steps on your own. Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to determine if I'm the therapist to move you from sucky life to happy life. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I help women who are overwhelmed and anxious, create boundaries, find their strengths and live calm lives.

 

How can a therapist help you?

So you've been struggling with anxiety for a while but you just try to brush it away. Everyone knows you are a strong woman, so you know you will get through this. However, some days, you don't know if you can handle everything that's going on- the constant worry, the heart palpitations, the tightness in your shoulders, the thoughts that just won't stop. Will you be okay? You know one or two friends who have gone to therapy, but you think therapy is for weak people or rich people.

You cannot separate your physical health and your mental health. They work hand in hand.

Trust me, I've heard it all before. I grew up in a culture where there was actually no such thing as therapy and mental health was not discussed when I was a child. We just thought we should pray it away. But as I got older, I realized that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You see, your mind and your body are connected. That's why if you're feeling sad you might find yourself eating too much or sometimes not eating enough. Or if you're feeling super anxious, you might feel your heart beating faster. You can't ignore one without negatively affecting the other. Think of it this way, if you broke your arm, would you just pray that your bones would heal themselves? I guess not. You would pray as you were on your way to the doctor.

How to select a therapist

The first step is to find a therapist who you feel will understand you. I always suggest you do a phone consultation to see if you even like the therapist before actually taking a trip to his or her office. You do not want to waste your time with a therapist who is not a good fit for you. Decide what gender you want your therapist to be, what race and what background you're comfortable with. Some people prefer a therapist who looks like them, and others don't really mind if their therapist looks different. Either way, it's just okay. Some will choose a therapist of their same religious background and others don't really mind about the therapist's beliefs. Also, do you want a therapist that practices online therapy or counseling as an option in case you have to be away on business? These are all important things to think about.

How can a therapist help you?

So after deciding what type of therapist you want and talking with him or her over the phone to decide if both of you will be a good fit, it's now time to think about what you want help with.

1) Set clear goals for your therapy sessions.

For a therapist to help you, he or she cannot read your mind. You should have clear goals. I always ask my clients, "When therapy is over in say 6 months, how will your life be different?" This gives me a clear idea of your goals and expectations. Once you pick your goals, then I can write out a treatment plan- a summary of 2 or 3 goals you want to accomplish and how we are going to get you there. So you interview potential therapists, talk to them on the phone to see if you like them, then decide with them what you want to achieve while in therapy.

2) Understand that therapists are neutral.

Therapists are neutral parties who do not have any emotional investment in you. Well of course my wish for all my clients is that they reach their goals and thrive, but because I'm not your friend, I can view your situation with great clarity. This is also why I hand select every client before I work with them. I only make sure I take you on if I can actually get you results. If I think I can't get you results, I'll refer you to someone who I think might be a better fit for you. No harm. No foul. I'm pretty straightforward with my process.

3) Therapists look at you from the outside in.

Because I am not your friend or family member, I can give you a bird's eye view of things. When you are in the eye of the storm, you can't see clearly- all you notice is harsh winds and debris flowing around. My goal is to help you look at obstacles and barriers that have led you to where you are today. When you are so overwhelmed by all the daily hustle and bustle, you miss the small details. It's my job to catch those details and make you aware of them.

4) Therapists help you get in tune with emotions you've stuffed down.

So most of us don't grow up talking about feelings and thinking about how the world has affected us. We just grow up in auto pilot and try to survive. I work from a cognitive behavioral stand point. What this means is I help you figure out how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are linked. If you change one, you automatically change the other two. I help you figure out how issues from your past and issues in your present make you feel, so you can address them, validate yourself and learn to have more compassion for yourself. Self compassion opens so many doors and unlocks your hidden potential.

5) Therapists help you uncover patterns that have kept you stuck.

So we are all products of our environment. So yes you are different from your family of origin, but we learn different things from them. Some people say to me-my mom was very anxious, so I became an anxious woman. And of course, some of our behavior is learned, so I help you figure out why you do certain things the way you do, so you can continue to hold on to what works and get rid of what isn't working well for you. So if you grew up on a harsh environment, anger probably served you well, because it kept you safe. But once you are out of the environment, you don't have need for that level of anger anymore. And my job is to not only see you, but help you figure out how to change what needs changing.

So there you have it. These are some of the ways that a counselor or therapist can help you. If you are a woman in the Murrieta/Temecula area who struggles with anxiety and you are ready to lift your self esteem and do the work, click here to schedule a 15 minute phone consultation so we can move you from anxious and overwhelmed to calm and in control. I also provide online counseling sessions for women who live in other parts of California.

Could gratitude help your anxiety?

One of my favorite sayings is "When you focus on the past, you get depressed. When you focus on the future, you feel anxious. But when you focus on the present, you will be okay." And it really is true. If you have anxiety, you probably spend a good amount of time thinking about the things that could go wrong with your day or worrying about how you are going to handle different situations. In some cases, the worry becomes so awful that it weighs you down and your thoughts just don't stop. Anxiety could also trigger muscle aches and tightness in your neck, shoulders and back. Some people worry so much that they end up with ulcers.

But what if I told you that focusing on the things you're grateful for could probably reduce your anxiety a little bit? You see, when your mind is filled with worry, it can quickly spiral into anxiety, and full blown anxiety can be tough to kick.

The first step is to get yourself a little notebook. Just something light that you can keep by your bed side or carry around with you. Some people like notebooks with encouraging quotes on them or pictures of peaceful scenes. Those are fine too. Each day, when you wake up, think about one thing that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as the trees in your yard, clean, running water, or the yummy sandwich you ate for dinner the night before. I'm sure you're thinking "This sounds too easy." Well it's not super easy if you're used to worrying about everything that could go wrong and beating yourself up for the things you messed up on. But gratitude is truly a practice that gets easier with time. I call it a practice because it takes works. Naturally, most of us would rather focus on the bad-like a glass half empty kind of situation. But make yourself think up something different each day.

Does this mean that you should never think about the things that are going wrong in your life? No. But honestly how many problems have you fixed by thinking about them 100 times a day? What you should focus on is what you can do in the moment to make the problem better, rather than just reminding yourself that you have a problem. The truth is that majority of the fears you have will never come true. So don't bother spending all of your energy wondering if something bad will happen to you. 

Use your energy wisely. Use it for gratitude and use it to actually solve a problem. If you cannot solve the problem, then use your resources. Find someone who can either help you or introduce you to somehow who will help. Try using gratitude for 30 days and you'll see how different your life will be after a month.

And if you are a woman who still struggles with anxiety, but you just don't know how to manage it on your own, consider seeking therapy. Sometimes a trained, neutral party is who you need to get you from anxious to calm. If you are near the Temecula/Murrieta area, you can click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call. We will talk about your struggles and how we can work together to get you from anxious to calm and in control. I also provide online therapy within California if you live too far away from my office or you would just rather be in the comfort of your own home when we work together.

This is how your friends are increasing your anxiety

You love your friends. They have been with you through thick and thin. They are always there when you need them. You trust them with all of your secrets and you can't imagine a life without them. But is it actually possible that they are a trigger for your anxiety? As the old saying goes- "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are."

No matter how much you love your friends, it's important to pay good attention to their words and actions. Sometimes your friends are toxic, other times, they're just Debbie downers. But you would never actually notice their effect on you until you pay attention.

Here are some steps to determine if your friends are triggering your anxiety:

1) Are they negative? When you have a typical conversation with your friends, are their words more negative than positive? Let's say you talk about the news or the weather, are your comments met with optimism or is there an underlying negativity in their words? Pay attention to see if your friends spend more time talking about others and putting you down than actually discussing ideas that will build you and them up. If they are not spending more time asking you how you're doing, encouraging you and making sure they are helping you get to a better place in your life, then you're in big trouble.  The more time you spend around Debbie downers, the higher your chances of feeling bad about yourself and the world around you.

If you'd like to take it a step further, just casually go through your closest friends' social media posts. Are they spending most of their time complaining about the world around them or are they posting about finding solutions to problems around them? There's a clear difference between the two. If you're always reading and listening to complainers, pretty soon, you'll become one yourself. 

2) Are they a source of encouragement to you? Are you able to talk to your friends candidly about your hopes and dreams? A good friend should be able to provide empathy and support even when she does not quite understand your process or situation. So for example, if you say to your friend that you're going to follow your dreams and start a real estate business, will she help you feel more confident or will she actually make you feel like you will fail? If your friends are not on the encouragement train, maybe you should get off on the next stop.

3) How do you feel when you're with them? Sometimes you intuitively know that certain friends have too much drama or are no good for you, but you feel a sense of obligation towards them and you keep them around because you think you have to. Do your friends fill you with joy and confidence or are you left feeling jealous, small and inconsequential when you are with them? When you are hanging out, ask yourself if you feel truly comfortable or if you have to put up a show or a front around them. After the interaction is over, is your self esteem increased or do you feel less than? That's a tell tale sign that those friends are not your people. And trust me, everyone is NOT your person.

4) Can you truly be yourself when you are with them? Like I said previously, sometimes you have to put up a front when you are with certain friends. Maybe you're actually an intellectual nerdy type, but many of your friends prefer superficial conversations. Do they give you the space to express yourself or are you forced to conform to their values? Do you find that you dress, speak and act differently around certain friends? Are you concerned about being judged? A true friend accepts you for who your truly are and doesn't make you become a clone of herself.

And if you find that your friends are a trigger for your anxiety and insecurity, all you have to do is accept this as the truth, then try to talk to them about it. Watch your tone. Don't be mean or shouty. Take responsibility for going along with this type of friendship. Then also tell them what you need emotionally from them. If you don't know what you need, take a moment to reflect and write it out. People really will treat you how you allow them to treat you. So if you are not letting them know your boundaries, they will walk all over you.

What happens if a certain friend isn't willing to change the friendship dynamic? Well then it's time to reevaluate your friendship. 

Are you ready to start setting clear boundaries with the people in your life so that you can build your self esteem back up and stop feeling so anxious and worthless? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from hiding in the shadows to standing boldly in who you really are. You deserve great quality friends that build you up.

How your thoughts are making you anxious

You spend a lot of time trying to keep the butterflies in your tummy at bay. You've tried breathing, yoga and reading every self help book out there, but nothing is working out for you. Your anxiety is off the rails. You wonder if you are broken, because every day is a challenge. You think to yourself, "Why am I the only one who struggles so much?"

Well, maybe your thoughts are holding you back. There is a belief among therapists that your thoughts, your feelings and your behavior are all linked. If you change one, you can change the others. Let's say you really want to begin a new, exciting career. If you say to yourself, "I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to succeed in this new career," those thoughts would lead to feelings of frustration, sadness and maybe even insecurity. In essence, you've defeated yourself before the battle has even begun. The feelings of frustration, sadness and insecurity would lead to procrastinating on filling out applications, staying up late while worrying about your future, and just generally feeling sorry for yourself. And even if you're able to break into that new career, when you have a defeatist attitude, you will not be bold enough to pursue your career fully and put in all your effort.

You get it? Your sucky thoughts might be dragging you down.

So how do you begin to change this downward spiral?

Start by challenging your thoughts. First figure out if indeed your thoughts are true. If they aren't, figure out what the truth is. So if you're saying to yourself, "I won't succeed in my new career," what is the proof that this is actually true? Have you ever tried that career? Have you ever succeeded at a career or job in the past? Do you have skills that could help you succeed? Is it really truly that you won't succeed? How do you know that you won't succeed? Where's the logical proof? You see most of us think irrational unhelpful thoughts but we convince ourselves that these thoughts are true.

Next, what is the proof that your thoughts are false? Think of the reasons why your thoughts are false. Think of all the times you've succeeded at a job. Actually write them down so that you can remind yourself that you do well at some tasks. It might be helpful to write your thought at the top of a piece of paper, then draw a line right down the middle of the paper. On the left write out 'Why my thoughts are true.' Then on the right, write out 'Why my thoughts are false.'

Once you're done with both columns, come up with other thoughts to support your conclusion. So if you realize that you do have what it takes to break through in a new career, you can tell yourself, "Even though this career change will be difficult, I have succeeded in other things before and I have a great chance of succeeding now." Say this to yourself as often as possible. This will help you feel more motivated to take action. So do not discount the fact that you will face difficulties. Acknowledge that and then include your reason why you will be okay. 

Don't get it wrong. Positive thoughts alone will not get you anywhere-you must also take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. In our example above, if you're not trying to learn about the new career, you definitely will fail.

So try this out and let me know how it goes. You can comment below. If you have been struggling with anxious thoughts and you're sick and tired of feeling like the world is about to crumble around you, now's the time to get help. I help anxious women regain their sense of self esteem and live boldly. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation. Let's get you from frazzled to calm.

The benefits of online therapy

You've been struggling with anxiety for a while. You feel very unsure of yourself and you're becoming someone you don't recognize.  Maybe you're crying all the time or your anger is off the charts. It's affecting your work, your relationships, your kids,  and you're sick and tired of it. You know one or two friends who have seen a therapist before and the idea of going to see one has popped in your head, but you just aren't sure you're ready to go to see someone. You imagine sitting in the waiting room. What if someone you know sees you? What will the waiting room look like? Would it be cold and sterile? What if I told you that you could actually see a therapist without ever visiting her office?

Did you know that in the state of California you can actually see a mental health therapist or counselor online? That's right. As long as you are physically located within California's boundaries, you have access to a licensed therapist. Think about it- there are thousands of mental health professionals just waiting to serve you. It doesn't matter if you're in Murrieta or Temecula or Beverly Hills or Los Angeles, all you need is a computer, a webcam and internet connection. Just like that.

How is online therapy different?

When I conduct online sessions, I use the same specialized knowledge and skills that I use in regular in person therapy sessions. You fill out the same paperwork that you would if you were to see me in my office in Murrieta and I still provide you with individualized service that caters to your needs. It's the difference between a face to face conversation and a Skype or FaceTime call. And we all know there's very little difference between the two.

Is online therapy cheaper?

Well that depends on the therapist. Some therapists charge a little less for online sessions, but others charge the same. Think about it this way, when you are talking to someone on Skype, are you using less energy or fewer brain cells? Probably not. You get the exact same service and probably very similar results. But the benefit of online therapy for you is that you do not have to drive to my office, park your car, then drive back to your next destination. You can sit in the comfort of your home or office and have your session. Some people schedule their sessions during their breaks. Some people who travel for work regularly like to schedule online sessions so they don't lose the progress they've made in therapy. But remember, you have to be physically located in California to see me.

 Can I get good results from online counseling?

Yes you can get the same results from an online session as you would from an in person session. Actually you can have an online couples therapy session as well as an online individual therapy session. Like I said previously, when I conduct online sessions, I'm still using the same resources and skills that I would use with you if you were sitting across from me in my office.

 Are online counseling or therapy sessions confidential?

When I conduct online sessions, I use a secure platform called Vsee. Think of it like Skype, but more secure. The reason why I don't do Skype is because it can easily be hacked and your identity is not protected. But Vsee was created for professionals, so you can rest assured. And when I'm in an online session, I'm sitting in a room with the door shut. I'll never be at a coffee shop or at the mall. I treat the online session the same way I'd treat an in person session.

So, do you think you'd ever try online sessions?  If you are interested in scheduling a free 15 minute consultation to talk about how to get you from anxious to calm and confident, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. You don't have to be stuck forever. I'm just a click away.