Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every Hanukkah, and every New Year’s Day, smiling people sit surrounded by family, talking, watching football, or enjoying a big plate of holiday food.
But every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day, a surprising number of those smiling people are hiding how they really feel inside.
And inexplicably, alone.....
Feeling pressure to act like everything in your life is good, even when it’s not, is one of the clearest signs of emotional neglect in a family. Families that fail to ask you questions that matter with genuine interest; or those who ask, but convey through body language that the answer should be “everything is going great” are essentially squelching the emotions of it’s members.
In case you’re wondering if that’s really so bad, I want to tell you that it is. When your family squelches your emotions, they are squelching the most deeply personal, biological expression of who you are. And they are also sacrificing the most important opportunities to bond that a family can have: honest sharing of problems, heartfelt clearing of conflicts, and true exchanges of pain and joy, hurt and happiness, challenges, losses, struggles, failures and accomplishments.
Kathleen Notes: If this is you, you`re not alone. More than 40% of people report feeling this way. "Real" emotions (are there any other kind?)are complex and sometimes really uncomfortable, I get it. But they are an essential part of who you are. To be seen, heard and understood is a human need. Fortunately, our loving Heavenly Father does exactly that.
Do you ever notice that you are going about your day and you find yourself on a negative thought train? You keep repeating the same negative sentence over and over again.
As you stay on this negative thought train, you notice your body feeling tense and your overall enjoyment of the day going down. Research shows that obsessive thinking and rumination are associated with binge-eating, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem, and greater irritability and restlessness....more
Kathleen Notes: By sorting through our thoughts and feelings, we can begin to determine how accurate our assumptions really are.
Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is the silent scourge that hangs like a cloud over countless people’s lives, robbing them of the zest, the warmth, and the connection they should be feeling each and every day.
Childhood Emotional Neglect happens when your parents (perhaps unintentionally) fail to respond to your emotional needs enough when they are raising you.
Yes, that’s all it takes.
When your parents don’t respond to your emotions enough, they send you the powerful, subliminal message that your feelings don’t matter enough. This never-stated-out-loud message in your childhood has an incredible ability to disrupt your adult life in immeasurable ways....more
Kathleen Notes: When you feel that your emotions aren`t important, you begin to feel that YOU are not important, or worth it. And what we feel often becomes our truth.
What do you think of when you hear the word? Chances are it’s something negative, especially if you relate to the scenarios above. But, please know there can be healthy behaviors associated with perfectionism. It can lead to high levels of achievement, personal satisfaction, happiness and productivity. If you have a child with perfectionist tendencies, or if you’re a perfectionist yourself, those powers can be used for good.
Still, there’s no getting around the unhealthy, negative effects perfectionists often suffer: fear of failure; general anxiety; procrastination; anger; depression. These symptoms of unhealthy perfectionism can surface at very young ages, and research suggests that they become more severe with time. That makes it important for parents to have a positive influence on their children’s unhealthy tendencies at a very young age. There are things we can do to move our kids away from those unhealthy behaviors and channel their energy, their drive, into something really exciting. Here is a list of things you can start doing to help right now. Some of them might surprise you....more
Kathleen Notes: #9: Fail at something and let your children see you handle it with self acceptance and compassion. It helps if those emotions are genuine...
His wife knew she was making a bit of an unreasonable request, but he went anyway. And while he was gone, she praised him as “one of the best husbands in the world.”
There are husbands like this out there, and there are plenty of husbands who cherish and spoil their wives.
When wives praise their husbands like this, I often probe to find out what they think makes their husband so special. I’ve come up with three things in particular that most wives seem to praise. There are others, of course, and I’m asking married women to add to this list in the comments section below.
Single women: this is what you should look for, if you’re like most women. And husbands, these are the kinds of things we should aspire to if we want our wives to be thankful they married us....more
Kathleen Notes: Great article, check out the next article for the flip side.
When you read about gender stereotyping children, it`s usually about behaviours like girls opting to play with dolls and boys preferring trucks. But what about other differences?
Recent and past research sheds light on gender differences in the brain and its development, and it`s these studies we should be looking to when it comes to thinking about the kinds of emotional support we give our children, especially our boys.
In a 2000 study entitled "The Fragile Male," Sebastian Kraemer states that baby boy brains are actually more fragile than baby girls`. Even in the womb, boy brains are more reactive to maternal depression and stress, while at birth, baby boy brains lag behind girls by a full six weeks....more
Kathleen Notes: In addition, males in our society are conditioned to express very few of their many emotions. I would like to change that...
Childhood vs. adulthood scenarios
With all of the possible ADHD deficits stemming from its different presentations and with different degrees of impairment, these symptoms can be expressed in adults in a variety of ways. The scenarios below showcase how ADHD symptoms might remain similar in adulthood as in childhood, or how the symptoms’ expressions can also change over time.
Kathleen Notes: ...and many more. The take away message? Adult ADHD is handled the same way childhood ADHD is...emotional regulation and strategies to manage symptoms.
What a joy to be married to a godly woman! A godly wife isn’t a possession, but she is a treasure.
On my Facebook personal page and author page, I asked men to brag about their wives, telling me the three things they most appreciate about their spouses. Four qualities clearly rose to the top.
This is in no way scientific. Most men following me on Facebook are Christians. But I love the way some stereotypes were obliterated. For example, not a single man chose as one of his favorite qualities his wife’s physical appearance. Only two out of about a hundred even mentioned “lover.” Guys are often characterized as focused primarily on sex, but the husbands who responded to my request clearly aren’t.
This post has a triple purpose: to thank you wives for being so wonderful; to encourage single men that, when looking for a future wife, you would do well to consider these qualities; and to encourage wives who want to grow in their husband’s affection with the knowledge that these are the things long-term husbands most admire. Your own husband may value different things, of course, but these are what men chose to publicly celebrate. At the very least, this post could spawn some enlightening conversation on a date night....more
Kathleen Notes: What`s good for the goose is good for the gander. Both of these articles can help us to be better spouses and how to appreciate the spouses God has given us!
Solid, healthy communication is essential in any relationship because it’s the pathway to intimacy. When we talk and share our feelings, we feel closer to others and often get our needs met.
However, talking is only half of the equation when it comes to good communication. The other half is listening.
Without the capacity for good listening, communication becomes irrelevant.
As a human being, you have a deep desire to be heard. It started when you were a baby and needed your caregiver to hear your cries for support. The important piece of this early dynamic is not what your caregiver did or said in response to your communication, but that you were heard, period....more
Kathleen Notes: Two ears but only one mouth is what God gave us to use. Do you think He wants us to listen twice as much as we speak?
Your marriage isn’t about you.
It’s not even about your marriage.
Ultimately, your marriage is about proclaiming the power and glory of Jesus Christ.
The problem for most of us is the bent of our lives. Christianity is an extreme religion, but we try to live it in the margins. Jesus said to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but we pass this off as hyperbole. We think, surely half is better than none....
.....Asking myself, do I view my wife as God’s daughter or as my servant is the same as asking myself, am I Christian or a spiritual narcissist? (I’m using the word narcissism not as a professional diagnosed mental illness leading to abusive behavior, but the way it has been used in literature for centuries, as a spiritual self-obsession, something we all fall prey to.) If I view my day primarily as an opportunity to be pleased and am happy when I’ve been pleased, I’m a narcissist. If I view my day as a season to serve, I’m thinking like a Christian....more
Kathleen Notes: How to find JOY in marriage (and other relationships)? Jesus, Others, Self...
OCD has two parts – obsessions (unwanted thoughts that cause distress) and compulsions (acts or behaviors that are meant to reduce the distress). Obsessive thoughts can be centered around safety or health – or it can be an unwanted, inappropriate thought that makes the child feel bad. OCD goes way beyond germs and hand washing – and that might be a big part of why parents miss these early signs.
OCD has many faces and at times it can disguise itself pretty well. I have picked out the most common types of OCD along with possible warning signs. This list is not exhaustive and it is meant to be a brief introduction to OCD in children. Typically children have symptoms in only one or two categories. Having some of these symptoms does not mean your child has OCD – but may indicate a need for further assessment by a pediatrician or child therapist.
Kathleen Notes: I get a bit irked when people say things like "It`s just my/his/her OCD" because they haven`t a clue what it really is. OCD isn`t a joke and it can be treated successfully.
There are a few reasons we may feel afflicted with rather than responsible for our response and communication styles. First, it takes practice to respond differently in the moment than we have before. We typically speak to people without thinking twice, as if filtering our words is someone else’s responsibility and not our own. Second, it can be scary to explore a new way of handling a situation. We can feel particularly vulnerable if we perceive that the change compromises our value system. This is especially true when our reactions have been reinforced in some way.
The mother in the example above perceives herself as successful because of her anger, making anger seem beneficial to hold on to. It’s easy to minimize the negative effects of her anger by focusing on the positives. If the mother values “being authentic,” this might feel like an authentic reaction to her.Cognitive dissonance is the third idea that allows us hold on to our behavior patterns. Cognitive dissonance is essentially the brain’s way of eliminating discomfort by keeping its ideas consistent. ...more
Kathleen Notes: Absolutely true! It takes awareness and practice, plus a motivation to change. It also helps if you can let other people be responsible for their own responses.
You can be a good parent. Promise.
“Stop crying and put your shoes on like I told you to do ten minutes ago!” Will yelled at his 6-year-old son, Billy.
But as the words came out of his mouth, somewhere in the back of his mind he felt uneasy. Part of him heard his own father’s voice yelling those same words at him, three decades ago.
Whether we like it or not, we all carry the voices of our parents within us. The way our own fathers and mothers spoke to us when we were growing up has a way of embedding itself in our brains. We may talk to ourselves this way, inside our own heads, for decades, but never once hear ourselves speak it to another.
Until we become parents.
we find ourselves playing the part of our parents, while also feeling
the feelings our child. It can be a painful place to be — especially if
being a good parent is an important goal.
Kathleen Notes: "Get over it. Don’t be a baby. Stop crying. Go to your room until you can simmer down. You’re quite a drama queen. If you hear yourself ignoring or discounting the emotions of your child in this way, you are most likely repeating exactly what was done to you. We, as humans, do not know that our own feelings or the feelings of our children matter unless our parents taught us so." Learned behaviors CAN be unlearned!
As a parent, I have a mantra “emotions are simply energy.” They are neither good nor bad, even though our culture has labeled emotions as something to be suppressed and something to avoid.
As adults seeing all of that energy threatens to engage our stress-system. If another adult came at us with child-sized emotions, our bodies might be right to engage the stress response because most of us have learned to regulate our emotions.
Kids, however, haven’t yet learned how to regulate emotions well. And we can either try to shut-down all of the feels or we can embrace them and teach them about their feelings....more
Kathleen Notes: Good stuff...I think parents that are in tune with their own emotions are better able to help their children with theirs. If you need to, get some help with that, your children will thank you.
In order to feel more secure, we try to control life as much as we can, by constantly trying to fit the future to our expectations. Yet, the only thing we ultimately achieve by doing so is to put ourselves in a constant state of anxiety that prevents us from savoring the present moment.
Whether we like it or not, the truth is—and we better accept it—that we can’t predict what kind of fortune, good or ill, lies on our path. No matter how much we try to control life, it will inevitably disappoint us by taking its own course. ...more
Kathleen Notes: Life is an up and down process. There will always be problems in a sinful, broken world. Accepting that helps in placing control where it belongs: in God`s hand.
Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.
It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.
It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day....more
Kathleen Notes: What is self care is actually authentic living? "True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from."
Recognizing that you can have friends for different reasons is the first step towards bringing friendships back into your life. If you gravitate towards “all or nothing” thinking, it’s time to change your attitude. There are many types of friends and friends for different times and reasons.
You can have friendships based on activities you do together: sports, dancing, studying cooking, working out, etc. You can have friendships of different intensity levels: casual friendships for hanging out, friendships for fun activities, friendships of heart-felt talks, friendships with shared histories (even where lives have diverged), and so on....more
Kathleen Notes: This article is dedicated to my oldest an very dear Friend Peggy Carder. We`ve been friends for 55 years and although we live in different places she still knows my heart better than almost anyone.
Phubbing is the practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones. We’ve all been there, as either victim or perpetrator. We may no longer even notice when we’ve been phubbed (or are phubbing), it has become such a normal part of life. However, research studies are revealing the profound impact phubbing can have on our relationships and well-being.
There’s an irony in phubbing. When we’re staring at our phones, we’re often connecting with someone on social media or through texting. Sometimes, we’re flipping through our pictures the way we once turned the pages of photo albums, remembering moments with people we love. Unfortunately, however, this can severely disrupt our actual, present-moment, in-person relationships, which also tend to be our most important ones.
The research shows that phubbing isn’t harmless—but the studies to date also point the way to a healthier relationship with our phones and with each other....more
Kathleen Notes:"Phubbing" is a new phrase and very descriptive! Phone-snubbing. Keep that word (and it`s meaning) in mind next time you pull out your phone.
Since mirror neurons are part of the brain’s social interaction system—involved with social cues, imitation, empathy, and the ability to decode intentions of others—some scientists have found that people on the autism spectrum have a dysfunctional mirror neuron system (University of California, San Diego, 2005). It appears mirror neurons also play a role in personality condition-related issues.
An emotionally neglectful childhood, involving parents who did not empathize, may result in narcissistic traits in adulthood. It has been suggested that this occurs because of under-utilized mirror neurons in childhood, which leads to dysfunctional mirror neurons in adulthood (Kellevision, 2015)....more
Kathleen Notes: I hear this question fairly often, so I`m glad to have found this article. It also gives ideas to cope in life with a person with either condition. Good stuff....
Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.
The Thanksgiving holiday began, as the name implies, when the colonists gave thanks for their survival and for a good harvest. So perhaps November is a good time to review the mental health benefits of gratitude — and to consider some advice about how to cultivate this state of mind....
....In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships....more
Kathleen Notes: Research affirms what scripture has always told us: being thankful, focusing on the good, positive and beautiful parts of life are great ways to cope and regulate emotions. Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
I fear that we are headed down a slippery slope when it comes to one aspect of parenting. And we at least need to start talking about it.
For some reason, we have this strange belief that it is our job to entertain our kids all. the. time....
Kathleen Notes: Yes!!
When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).
Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.
Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.
People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
Here’s the thing though, the vast majority of us fall within the bell curve. What’s happened as a result of our emphasis on specialness as the basis for why our experiences, feelings and/or thoughts are so rare and unlike what others think, feel, and experience is that our shared sense of humanity ends up being less accessible to us. We have ended up more isolated and alone in our experiences. Epic proportions of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection are reported in my office on a daily basis. This myth of specialness is the root cause of a lot of the clinical dynamics that unfold in my office, including entitlement, grandiosity, emotional disconnectedness, social isolation and alienation, nearly all the various forms of “isms” and many more.
Let’s start with the obvious expression of specialness, the one that everyone probably thinks about when they think about this dynamic.Entitlement. We all know these people. We watch them orbit in the world with a style of behavior that screams tend to me, look at me, treat me special because that is what I deserve. We see it in pop culture and on TV shows like TMZ and the fables and folklore of stars that wouldn’t let a waitress look them in the eye or required all the green M& M to be removed from the bag before consumption. These pop culture sound bites reflect the extreme expression of entitlement and a belief that he/she is so special, so uniquely rare that the typical rules of humanity do not apply. ...more
Kathleen Notes: I like this article in that it addresses a type of "cognitive distortion" we don`t often discuss. When we talk about the uniqueness of people, sometimes our inherited selfishness (i.e. sin) gets bottom shuffled.
Five characteristics can make our Little Leaders pretty tricky to parent (and by “pretty,” I mean exhaustingly, frustratingly, hair-pull-outingly, why-oh-why won’t you just do it-ingly!), but learning to channel their will rather than break their spirit will definitely be worth-while in the long-run. Extensive scientific research has shown that Strong-Willed Children are the ones who are going somewhere.
These are the kids who are going to make a real difference to the world. Why? Because of all those positive qualities hidden within the descriptions above – determination, integrity, inquisitiveness, passion, energy, persistence, commitment, independence and a strong sense of what’s right and wrong....more
Kathleen Notes: I have a special place in my heart for this kind of kiddo, probably because that was (and in many ways still is) me. Do you have one? Here`s some help...
When Dr. David Olson and I did research for our book, The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, we found that many couples struggle to keep alive what we have called the fun factor. For example, blended family couples tend to date each other without the children present; they engage in leisurely activities that facilitate emotional bonding. But after the wedding, when the demands of parenting and work take over, half of these couples struggle to find enough leisure time together.
That’s a real shame. Especially since a regular dose of fun, relaxing time together predicts with 86 percent accuracy whether couples have a dynamic, fulfilling relationship or a dissatisfied one. How much better instead to keep the fun factor working on your behalf....more
Kathleen Notes: Remember your dating years? You had fun while getting to know each other. It`s especially important to find some fun in all of the day to day life you share with your spouse. It helps you to keep getting to know each other.
Kathleen Notes: Love the description here: an adult "time out". This article comes with a quick 3 minute video to help you learn this form of simple mindfulness. Worth checking out!!
This means that my biggest, ongoing problem as a dad is not my children, it’s me. My children don’t cause me to do and say what I do and say. No, the cause of my actions is found inside my own heart. My children are simply the occasion where my heart reveals itself in words and actions.
So I need much more than just rescue and relief from my children; I need rescue from me. This is why Jesus came, to provide us with the rescue that we all need but that we cannot provide for ourselves....more
Kathleen Notes: This article kind of hits between the eyes...
While you can`t change the weather seasons, you can change the emotional climate of your marriage with some intentional effort.
No matter if you`re in a season you don`t enjoy, I have hope to offer. You don`t have to remain stuck. If we wives intentionally pursue our husband, the emotional climate of our marriage can change quickly, especially if we keep the following principles in mind....more
Kathleen Notes: What is in your control? How you respond to your spouse (that goes for both wives and husbands)can make all of the difference. Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
Children live in the present moment more than adults. Especially young children are much more process-oriented than goal-oriented. They have a very different perception of time so it may be very difficult for them to understand our goal orientation. From their perspective, it may feel that we don’t care about their needs when we brush them off.
When our students or children express the need to communicate, they are expressing a need to be heard, a need to connect. It’s not necessarily the content but the process that’s important. It only takes a moment to communicate that you are truly listening but it involves bringing our wholehearted attention to the child. Being fully present, in the moment, with an open heart and an open mind communicates the message, “I am here for you.”...more
Kathleen Notes: This approach may seem time consuming, but in the long run you will save time, energy and most of all, your relationships with your kiddos. BTW, this works on people...all kinds of people.
At just the right moment, Kristin Souers` and Pete Hall`s Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom came across my desk. The authors discussed the importance of creating trauma-sensitive classrooms and helping students become resilient learners. Whereas many schools follow a discipline plan in lockstep fashion regardless of extenuating circumstances, a trauma-informed care approach can dramatically reduce the recurrence of difficult behaviors while creating meaningful relationships with students.
Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to children of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. At the heart of trauma-informed care is sensitivity to students` past and current adverse experiences and a deeper understanding of why they may be acting out. Instead of negatively reinforcing students` external behavior through punishment, educators can support students through providing methods of self-regulation, emotional coping skills, and asking questions like "How can I help you?" rather than "What`s wrong with you?"...more
Kathleen Notes: Children find it difficult to learn while in the midst of "fight, flight or freeze." How can we help them?
Each week I will collect and reflect on 5 to 10 relevant articles about important topics like parenting, marriage, relationships, and families. Within these topics I will address the challenges and joys, struggles and solutions from a Positive and Strengths-based approach. I am a strong believer in the power of relationships to grow, nurture and heal the human mind and spirit. I hope you find one or two of these articles useful for your practice, classroom or household. My opinions are open to discussion and even disagreement, as they are intended to facilitate the sharing of multiple thoughts and ideas! This publication is offered by In the Moment Child and Family Therapy, LLC, a Ministry of Resurrection Lutheran Church (WELS) in Verona, Wisconsin.
I would really enjoy hearing your feedback if you care to give it at Kathleen@inthemomenttherapy.com
Sharing of this publication is encouraged so if you have a friend/relative/coworker who might enjoy it, feel free to forward them or encourage them to subscribe!