Temecula counseling

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.

Confessions of a therapist- everything you don't know about your therapist

Most therapists go into the mental health field because we either have a burning desire to help people live great lives, or we have experienced hurt and pain, which creates a need to walk people out of the pain they are currently experiencing. It is a great responsibility to walk side by side with you as you are on your journey of healing. Now there are many misconceptions about therapists and counselors. Many people view us as mysterious people- but what you don't know is that we are quite easy to crack. Here are some secrets you should know about your local therapist.

I'm a regular person-just like you: Even though I'm a therapist, it's important to know that I'm a regular person just like you. I have hopes and dreams- to be healthy and happy. The only difference between me and you is that I have dedicated my life to helping people become unstuck so they can move on to brighter futures. Many therapists have families, we live in homes, some have spouses and kids. Some of us create art, sing, dance (even though I might have two left feet), watch movies, and travel. We have hobbies and do regular people things. It really is the only way we can take care of ourselves so that we can give you the care you need. If you're local in the Murrieta/Temecula area, you might even catch me around town just living life. If you've worked with me before, then you've probably heard my really loud laugh, my animated jokes and all the craziness that comes out of my mouth.

I sometimes nap on my couch: Now this is one of my deepest, darkest secrets as a therapist or counselor. Sometimes the days can be long, and when I find myself lucky enough to have a long break between sessions, I sometimes take a cat nap on my lovely couch. You see the couch isn't just for you to feel comfortable, it's also a great napping spot for me (Shh! Don't tell anyone).

I believe in you before you can even believe in yourself:  So often clients come to me broken, disillusioned and feeling lonely. Life feels so horrible that they just can't bear it. The moment you walk in to see me- sometimes with tears in your eyes-I usually can tell that you will be just fine. Because I've worked with so many women over the years, and I take great care to only take clients whom I believe I can help in some capacity. I have high hopes for you when you come to see me. I believe it is my job to hold the hope for you until you believe that you deserve to hold the hope for yourself.

I don't place judgement on you: It usually takes a while before a new client can trust me. But eventually, all my clients learn to trust me. I completely understand why many take a while to trust- after living a life of brokenness, trust is difficult to come by and must be earned. Sometimes clients are not completely truthful with me- because of guilt and shame. It is important to know that when you walk into my office, all you will receive is kindness, empathy and understanding. You can trust me with your emotions, but it is important to be truthful so I can help walk you out of the stuck, dark place.

I also have struggles of my own: I'm a therapist, not a robot. I have struggles, emotions and hard days. I have learned how to schedule my time appropriately so that I can take care of my own needs. I practice what I teach my clients. You see, self care helps me do my job effectively. But if I didn't have struggles or difficult days, I wouldn't be able to walk with you in the dark places. It is my humanity that helps me better understand my clients.

I've been in therapy before: Now I'm sure this confession will make you gasp. But there's no scandal here. Sometimes we also need our own therapists to help us see our blind spots. You see, the reason why therapy works so well, is that the therapist is able to view your situation from the outside looking in. When you're trapped in your struggle, all you can see is the struggle. It takes someone who isn't emotionally attached to you to help guide you out of your troubles. And yes, I've been in therapy before. It was one of the greatest blessings. My therapist was awesome and she helped guide me out of some of my blind spots. She was honest, capable and so very kind.

I don't walk around "Therapizing" people all day: People often ask me, "Ibi, are you analyzing me right now?" The answer is no. When I'm out and about, I take my therapist hat off and put my human hat on. I don't walk around watching parents interact with their kids or sniffing out anxious women in Murrieta. Nope. I live my life. So you don't have to run away from me if you catch me at a mental heath fair or at a pumpkin patch. But if you're my client, I'll let you say hi to me first to protect your confidentiality. 

So if you're a woman in the Murrieta/Temecula area who struggles with anxiety, and you are looking for a human therapist who can lead you from frazzled to calm, click here to schedule a free consultation call. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I also provide online therapy for women throughout California. 

Types of anxiety disorders

You've heard the word anxiety over and over again. Maybe you've even felt that feeling in the pit of your stomach, or thoughts that move so fast that you can barely focus. Or maybe you've felt the room spinning and you couldn't catch your breath. Sometimes it shows up as an overwhelming feeling that stops you in your tracks. Or you wake up and instantly burst into tears. Well, did you know that there are many different types of anxiety disorders?

 Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting about each main category, but today let's just talk about the main categories. Before we dive in, I'll give you a brief overview of how I got the information. You see every therapist has a great huge manual from which we diagnose (yes, we can diagnose). Every few years, this manual is updated by tons of professionals in the mental health field. The most current version is called the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5 or DSM V). This manual contains every single mental health disorder known to man. You can check it out here.

 Okay so on to the good stuff. Here are the main categories of anxiety disorders:

1) Separation Anxiety Disorder: This occurs when a person experiences a heightened sense of anxiety when they have to be away from someone whom they are very attached to. In many cases, children often feel this when they have to be away from a parent, guardian or loved one. Adults can also experience this. The person has a huge fear of being away from the person, they might scream and shout when the person has to leave, they avoid leaving the person and they might even have nightmares about leaving. This isn't just an ordinary feeling of "I'll miss you." It's a tense, anxiety provoking angst when you think about being separated from your loved one.

 2) Selective Mutism: This is also more common in children. This occurs when the person can speak, but he or she chooses not to speak in certain social situations such as at school or in a public place. This could be because the person feels very anxious or unsure. If the child does not speak due to a hearing or speech problem, or because they don't understand the language, then they probably don't meet the criteria for this disorder. My advice would be to first take the child to his or her pediatrician to get checked first, before going to a therapist.

 3) Specific Phobia: Did you know phobias are a real thing? A phobia is a serious fear about an object or situation which causes the person very serious distress. You could have a phobia about anything-water, trees, certain foods, mascots, feathers-anything. Phobias are not something to laugh about because they can intense emotional pain and fear. Luckily they are treatable.

 4) Social Anxiety Disorder: Serious fear or anxiety about being in a social situation where the person can be scrutinized by others. This isn't just a case of butterflies or a little shyness, in this situation the person has a serious fear. Because of this people often avoid such social situations.

 5) Panic Disorder: This is a case of getting various unexpected panic attacks. Some symptoms of a panic attack are shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, difficulty breathing, hot flashes, numbness and even fear of dying. After the panic attack subsides, people who get them often have anxiety about getting more attacks-which could then cause them to have panic attacks. It's a vicious cycle.

 6) Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is the diagnosis I see the most in my practice. It's basically excessive worry that is difficult to control, which occurs more days than not. Worry happens all the time even though you can't figure out why. Sometimes you experience tension in your neck and shoulders, difficulty sleeping, bad dreams, crankiness and tiredness.

 7) Agoraphobia: A serious fear about being in open spaces, being in enclosed places, going into  public transportation, being outside of your home alone and/or being in a crowd. Sometimes these situations could also trigger a panic attack. People with agoraphobia often feel most comfortable when they are in the comfort of their own homes.

 So you see, anxiety is real and it is often very complex. But the truth is we have all felt anxious to one degree or the other. Anxiety is treatable and mental health therapists and counselors are trained to help you reduce your anxiety.

 If you've been struggling with any of these situations, contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from sinking to thriving. Click here to email me.