Some tools that help some people get through the tough times more smoothly
Rules to Live By: Part 1
Esther Goldstein LCSW
“Esther, can you tell me some life secrets you’ve learned from over ten years of being a therapist? I know everyone’s life has ups and downs, but there have got to be some tools that help some people get through the tough times more smoothly. What are they?”
This was the intriguing question a friend asked me as we sipped our Sunday morning coffees. I shared with her some ideas I thought may be useful; it made me think about lessons I’ve learned and the lessons I’m still learning. Here are five of them:
1. Live by Your Values
We can feel lost in this busy world as so many voices, thoughts, and opinions swirl around us.
Define and clarify your values so that they can inform your behaviors and choices.
As Brené Brown writes: “If we do not have clarity of values, if we don’t have anywhere else to look or focus, if we don’t have that light up above to remind us why we’re there, the cynics and the critics can bring us to our knees.”
2. Live in the Imperfect Moment
Have you ever been at an event or in an experience but your mind was someplace else?
We often get pulled into thinking about the “not yets” while struggling to be in the “right now.”
As a fellow human, I fully understand the desire to keep improving life and planning for the future, as that’s what a life of growth is about — evolving and inviting more goodness. At the same time, the best way to invite goodness is to welcome what already exists and find a way to be at peace with it.
3. Release Emotions
Life brings lots of feelings along with it: happiness, laughter, pain, confusion, delight, hope, anger, and more. What differentiates emotionally regulated people from those who are less regulated, is their capacity to release emotions. This doesn’t mean that you need to express every fleeting sensation, but it does mean that it’s important for you to find your own way of releasing the emotions and sensations that come up so you don’t have trapped emotions piling up inside of you.
When we have strong feelings or thoughts that are ignored, shoved away, or belittled (in our own minds), we’ll often feel numb, angry, or sad. We may also feel alone because we’re holding in so many unspoken words. It’s important to find ways to release whatever you’re feeling — be it with words, writing, movement, music, or some other way. Let emotion move through you.
4. Move Your Body
Have you ever been in a funk or really anxious, and someone suggested you take a walk — and things shifted after you moved?
Movement helps our minds open up and our bodies feel stronger, enabling us to better face whatever it is we’re navigating in the moment. Get in some movement a few times a week — you’ll thank yourself!
5. Take Responsibility
We may find ourselves in less than ideal situations, family dynamics, or positions. It can be really difficult to always feel at ease with what life throws at us, but we always have the power of choice.
Take ownership of the part you play in your life, be it a relationship dynamic, a job choice, a coping skill, or the way that you respond to things. A quality life is one in which we take ownership. How can you do that right now in your life? And if you already are, please celebrate that!
Esther Goldstein LCSW is an anxiety and trauma specialist who runs a group practice called Integrative Psychotherapy & Trauma Treatment in the Fve Towns, Long Island, New York. Esther also has a trauma training program for therapists.
Cut the Cringe
You know how teenagers roll their eyes when you wear last season’s style? In their minds, if Mom or Dad does something cringeworthy (as defined by them, of course), it says something about them. Association by relation means that every move you make has teen embarrassment potential. If only teenagers could be secure enough to realize that Mom’s lack of savoir faire does not reflect on them!
It’s easy to see this in teenagers. It’s difficult to see in ourselves.
You’re in the supermarket, and your toddler throws a tantrum. Part of you is concerned about disturbing other shoppers; another part is embarrassed. But what if the tantruming child is nine years old? What are you afraid others think about you at that moment?
Your child’s haircut, shoes, way of speaking… children make many independent decisions. Sometimes, those decisions make us cringe, or even react in ways that can damage our relationship and create distance. Why?
Because you’re deeply connected to your child, you're linking his behavior with your identity. It’s humorous when teenagers cringe at our actions, but when the roles are reversed, it’s not so amusing.
All this cringing stems from unconscious interpretations. These can be conclusions about yourself (I’m a terrible mother), imagined judgments from others (she can’t control her child), or voices from your past (you’re such a loser).
You can train yourself to notice the cringe, pause, and ask yourself, “What does this seem to say about me?” By doing this often, especially if you record your observations, you’ll begin to see patterns and can address them.
When you disentangle concern for your children from concern for yourself, you’re far less likely to overcontrol or otherwise act out of self-interest. You’ll see your children’s actions more objectively and be in a better place to help them make healthy choices.
Shoshana Schwartz specializes in addiction and codependency. She gives in-person and online addiction prevention lectures and workshops to education and mental health professionals, community leaders, and parent groups, as well as 12-Step workshops for non-addicts.
Sara Glaz Aloni
Chip bag feeling lighter? Food carton seem smaller? Welcome to shrinkflation, a popular way for businesses to combat rising input prices while maintaining their own profits.
Don’t let your wallet fall victim. Make sure to compare not just prices but also the size/weight of the products (many grocery stores provide the per ounce price next to the price). And, in these times of higher prices, consider buying in bulk, check out off-brands, and, if time permits, shop around for the deals.
Sara Glaz Aloni is an investment advisor and financial planner at The Munk Wealth Management Group in Cedarhurst, New York.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 809)
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