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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. 

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.

Are you a scaredy cat or do you have phobias?

"You're such a scaredy cat," they say. But what they don't know is that when you go to the beach, your heart races uncontrollably, your palms become sweaty, you become nauseous and all you want to do is get the heck out of there.

What they also don't know is that when you were 3 years old you almost drowned. After that you could no longer go to the beach, go on a cruise or be around large bodies of water. But no one has ever asked you why you're so scared, they just assume that you are being irrational.

Well, you my dear, might have a phobia. To the outside world the person with the phobia makes no sense. After all, all your friends go surfing and swimming at the beach, so they see no harm in large bodies of water. On the contrary, the beach is their happy place. But they don't understand that their happy place causes you terror. You have to summon up the courage to even drive past a beach.

People can have a phobic reaction to just about anything- thunder, lightning, elevators, white t-shirts, the park, the dentist, birds, snakes, strawberries and even good ol' pizza. It also does not matter where you're from, your gender, race or socioeconomic background. Phobias are equal opportunity bandits. They steal your joy, comfort and sometimes, it feels like they steal your sanity.

Simply put, a phobia is an unreasonable fear (which obviously seems very reasonable to you) which causes a person extreme fear and anxiety. You become so petrified that you instantly feel the need to run, hide or even cry. Even if you know that the object you fear is 'harmless,' it still does not reduce the amount of fear you feel around it. Sometimes a phobia will affect your social life or career. When you know your company is going on their annual beach trip, you call in sick and miss the opportunity to network with other professionals. Or you miss out on having fun with friends who want to lay around in the summer time.

So how are phobias treated? Well there are many different ways, but one of the most common is through a treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Your counselor or therapist will ask you a list of questions, to get to know your background and even your health history. He or she will sometimes also refer you to your primary care physician so that he or she can determine if your phobia is caused by a physical health condition or by some medications you're taking.

Do you have any phobias? Are you ready to stop feeling afraid? Reach out to a therapist or counselor today. It's important to ask them if they have experience treating phobias as well as how they actually go about the treatment. Help is out there. You don't have to suffer alone.