therapist near Menifee

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 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.

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.