I don’t agree with every one of these items, but there are some good ideas here if kept in perspective. – BG

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YOU CAN TELL YOU’RE BEGINNING TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BOUNDARIES WHEN:

l. You act on feelings when you need to.

2. You can say no when you want to without experiencing tidal waves of guilt.

3. You generally do precisely what you want to do rather than depending on the suggestions of others.

4. You no longer blame yourself for everything that goes wrong in a relationship or friendship.

5. You no longer feel responsible for making a relationship work or making another person happy

6. You don’t take things personally. If a friend is inconsiderate or a partner has a wandering eye, you know the behaviour has to do with them and their history and has little or nothing to do with you.

7. You disagree with a friend and yet are able to maintain your friendship.

8. You realize you’re not responsible for the actions of another.

9. You become comfortable in receiving as well as giving.

TECHNIQUES FOR RECLAIMING YOUR SENSE OF IDENTITY

l. STAY WITH YOUR FEELING – Allow yourself to feel it fully. Remind yourself that it’s none of your business what the other person is feeling.

2. EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS – You have a right to express all your emotions. Say how you feel out loud. Share your feelings with others at every opportunity.

3. STATE YOUR PREFERENCES – “I’d rather eat at a different restaurant.” “I would prefer to take my own car.” This helps you to maintain clarity about your own choices and priorities.

4. SET LIMITS – “I can drive you to your class this week, but I can’t drive you every week.” “I love you, but I can’t come over tonight; I have to study.”

  • These limits will help you give to others within healthy boundaries, so that you don’t overextend yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree with someone. Acknowledge the other person’s opinion and restate your own. Don’t resort to pretending or accommodating in order to keep the peace.
  • Talk about your own experience, such as how you handled such an incident, rather than how the other person ought to do it.

5. HAND THE PROBLEM BACK TO ITS ORIGINATOR: That’s a tough decision, but I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out.

From the book: Don’t Fall Until You See The Whites of Their Lies by Cheryl Moore Barron

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Three strategies for dealing with useless worry
– a cognitive therapy approach.

Some people find the following strategies helpful for reducing pointless and upsetting worry.

1. Thought Stopping

Thought stopping is designed to be used when you find yourself worrying about the same issue again and again. It should only be used if the worry is pointless. If your worrying is actually giving you solutions to the problem, then you might want to keep doing it.  The technique takes a fair bit of practice to learn. Here’s the sequence:

a) Pick a time when you can be undisturbed at home for a couple of hours.

b) Sit down and deliberately start worrying. This may be harder than you think. You should choose an issue that bothers you but not one that will send you into deep depression or make you think about harming yourself.

c) Once you begin to feel worried do three things: stand up, clap your hands once and shout “stop!” you will feel quite silly doing this but do it anyway. You should notice that the worry stops for a bit.

d) The moment you notice yourself worrying again (probably only a few seconds later) stand, clap and shout “stop!” again. Keep repeating this. Eventually you should notice that the worry takes longer and longer to come back. At this point clap and shout without standing.   After a while stop clapping; just shout.

e) Finally stop shouting. Instead picture a large stop sign in your head and imagine yourself shouting “STOP”. Now you can have other people around again. Over the next few weeks make a point of imagining the sign and the shout whenever you catch yourself worrying about the topic. If you like you can wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it (gently) against the skin at the same time. Then shift your mind onto some other topic. With time you can become very effective at halting periods of pointless worry.

2. Worrying Time

Worrying time is designed to help you stop worrying about problems for most of the day by saving all of your worrying for a particular time. This can be easier than stopping the worrying altogether. As well you may have to think about some of your worries in order to decide what to do about them. Here’s the strategy;

a) Pick a time during the day or week when you will sit down and think about the things that have been worrying you. You probably don’t need to do this every day but more than once a week would be a good idea. Set aside a maximum of 30 minutes when you will not be distracted.

b) Carry a pen and paper (index cards work well) with you at all times. When you catch yourself worrying, make a note of the topic. Assure yourself that you will  think about the issue but not right now. Shift your mind onto something else.

c) When it is time to worry, take out your list of topics and consider each of them in turn. With some topics you may find that you can actually come up with a solution or a decision about how to handle them. Others you may just worry about.  This strategy may sound a bit odd but it is amazingly helpful if you are disciplined about carrying it out.

3 . Worry Inflation

We frequently try to minimize our fears. Worry inflation uses the opposite approach: making the problems as big as possible. Why? Because if you exaggerate many fears they eventually become ridiculous. You find that you can’t really believe that things will get that bad, and the problem shrinks down to realistic proportions. Here’s the strategy:

a) First identify the disturbing thought you want to deal with.

b) Next decide whether inflating the worry will make it seem silly or will only make it seem worse.

c) If it looks like a good topic for worry inflation, exaggerate the disturbing thought out of all proportion. Imagine the most extreme consequences possible. For example: “If I phone my old friend she won’t remember me. She will tell the police she has had a nuisance caller. They will trace the call and arrest me. I’ll spend the rest of my life in jail”. The more extreme the worry gets; the less you may believe in it and the less that thought will be able to bother you in the future.

(Mar 2/09) *New York Times* includes an article: “The Muddled Tracks
of All Those Tears” by Benedict Carey.

Here’s an excerpt:

[begin excerpts]

Now, some researchers say that the common psychological wisdom about
crying — crying as a healthy catharsis — is incomplete and misleading.
Having a “good cry” can and usually does allow people to recover some
mental balance after a loss. But not always and not for everyone,
argues a review article in the current issue of the journal Current
Directions in Psychological Science.

This call for a more nuanced view of crying stems partly from a critique
of previous studies. Over the years, psychologists have confirmed many
common observations about crying. It is infectious. Women break down
more easily and more often than men, for reasons that are very likely
biochemical as well as cultural. And the physical experience mirrors
the psychological one: heart rate and breathing peak during the storm
and taper off as the sky clears.

When asked about tearful episodes, most people, as expected, insist that
the crying allowed them to absorb a blow, to feel better and even to
think more clearly about something or someone they had lost.

At least that’s the way they remember it — and that’s the rub, said
Jonathan Rottenberg, a psychologist at the University of South Florida
and a co-author of the review paper. “A lot of the data supporting the
conventional wisdom is based on people thinking back over time,” he
said, “and it’s contaminated by people’s beliefs about what crying should do.”

Just as researchers have found that people tend, with time, to
selectively remember the best parts of their vacations (the swim-up bars
and dancing) and forget the headaches, so crying may also appear
cathartic in retrospect. Memory tidies up the mixed episodes — the
times when tears brought more shame than relief, more misery than company.

In a study published in the December issue of The Journal of Social and
Clinical Psychology, Dr. Rottenberg, along with Lauren M. Bylsma of the
University of South Florida and Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University in
the Netherlands, asked 5,096 people in 35 countries to detail the
circumstances of their most recent crying episode. About 70 percent
said that others’ reactions to their breakdown were positive,
comforting. But about 16 percent cited nasty or angry reactions that,
no surprise, generally made them feel worse.

Given that the most obvious social function of crying is to rally
support and sympathy, the emotional impact of the tears depends partly
on who is around and what they do. The study found crying with just one
other person present was significantly more likely to produce a
cathartic effect than doing so in front of a larger group. “Almost all
emotions are, at some level, directed at others, so their response is
going to be very important,” said James J. Gross, a psychologist at Stanford.

The experience of crying also varies from person to person, and some are
more likely than others to find catharsis. In laboratory studies,
psychologists induce crying by showing participants short clips of very
sad movie scenes, like from “The Champ” or “Steel Magnolias.” Those who
break down — typically about 40 percent of women, very few men — then
report directly on the experience. These kinds of studies, though no
more than a simulation of lived experience, suggest that people with
symptoms of depression and anxiety do not get as worked up, nor recover
as fast, as most people do. In surveys, they are also less likely than
most to report psychological benefits from crying.

People who are confused about the sources of their own emotions — a
condition that in the extreme is called alexithymia — also tend to
report little benefit from a burst of tears, studies have found.

[end excerpt]

The article is online at:
<http://tinyurl.com/cs6uxo&gt;.

Putting pen to paper is said to help the brain “regulate emotion” and reduces feelings of anxiety, fear and sadness.

Researchers claim the act of writing about personal experiences has a cathartic effect because it inhibits parts of the brain linked to emotional turmoil, and increases activity in the region to do with self-control.

Now they hope to develop therapies based on their findings that could be used to ease social fears and phobias.

Dr Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist at the University of California, outlined his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in a lecture called Putting Feelings Into Words.

He said that expressing yourself in print was “a sort of unintentional emotion regulation”.

“It seems to regulate our distress,” he added. “I don’t think that people sit down in order to regulate their emotions but there is a benefit.

“I think it could play a role in why many people write diaries or write bad lyrics to songs – the kind that should never be played on the radio.”

Dr Lieberman proved the therapeutic power of writing by scanning the brains of 30 individuals while they described distressing pictures.

He found that the act tended to reduce activity in the amygala, a part of the brain connected with emotion and fear and increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex, the mind’s regulator.

This suggests that the mere action of writing about an emotion was a way of calming down the brain and re-establishing mental balance.

Often the author is unaware of the therapeutic effect of the task, it was claimed.

“If you ask people then they don’t think that it serves an emotion regulation but when you look at the brain that looks like what is going on,” he added.

“The more frontal activity we see, the less amydala response. There seems to be a see-saw affect.”

In another trial, writing was used in conjunction with exposure therapy for people who had a phobia of spiders.

It was discovered that writing about their fears actually boosted the effect of the therapy compared with people who did not put pen to paper.

“We do think that it has clinical applications,” Dr Lieberman said.

“People expressing negative emotional responses in words while being exposed gave them greater attenuation (reduction) of fear.”

Dr Lieberman said that the effect was negated if the writing was too vivid or descriptive because it led to people reliving their trauma. Also, typing was not as good as writing long-hand.

“You have to write about it in a detached way,” he said.

Asked why writers were often troubled souls, he said that the writing itself may be a reaction to severe emotional problems.

“I am sure that it is one of their motivators to write,” he said. “You have to ask yourself what they would be like without the writing.”

The War on Pain — by Scott Fishman Very helpful in understanding the many biological/medical sides of pain better. Fishman is Chief of Medicine somewhere and has done/seen it all. Embedded throughout are helpful suggestions for coping. Gives a picture of what is “normal” regarding chronic pain.

Based on interviews with pain patients and pain healthcare professionals:

Pain. The Science and Culture of Why We Hurt by Marni Jackson

The Truth about Chronic Pain by Arthur Rosenfeld. In both, there are plenty of sketches of what the typical chronic pain experience is like.

Managing Pain Before It Manages You by Margaret Caudill. Provides practical suggestions for managing many of the common issues confronting people living with pain.

The new issue of the American Medical Association’s *American Medical
News* includes an article: “Steps to a nimble mind: Physical and mental
exercise help keep the brain fit; Neuroscience is uncovering techniques
to prevent cognitive decline” by Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli.

Some key points: life-long learning, trying new things, a healthy diet, social interactions, sleep and physical activity keep the brain fit

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

The brain — containing 100 billion neurons, 900 billion glial cells,
100 trillion branches and 1,000 trillion receptors — reacts to stimuli
in a series of electrical bursts, spanning a complex map of
connections. Whether calculating an algorithmic equation or learning
the tango, our brain continuously changes in response to our ideas,
actions and activities.

Each time a dance step is learned, for instance, new pathways are
formed. “Dancing is excellent for the brain and body,” says Vincent
Fortanasce, MD, clinical professor of neurology at the University of
Southern California in Los Angeles. He wrote the Anti-Alzheimer’s
Prescription. “Not only are you moving around more, your brain is in
constant motion as it recalls steps and movements.”

It’s an example that highlights a wave of new thinking about the
importance of brain fitness.

(more…)

The University of Michigan released the following announcement:

Step Back To Move Forward Emotionally, Study Suggests

When you’re upset or depressed, should you analyze your feelings to
figure out what’s wrong? Or should you just forget about it and move on?

New research suggests a solution to these questions and to a related
psychological paradox: Pocessing emotions is supposed to facilitate
coping, but attempts to understand painful feelings often backfire and
perpetuate or strengthen negative moods and emotions. The studies were
supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health.

(more…)