relationship counseling Murrieta

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.