Resilience Answers

How can I better manage stress?

Something exists within you that tells you, you won't be or can't be happy until you...(fill in the gap of something your mind tells you is necessary).  If some deep belief lies inside you, you will live according to its demanding rules. You will be a slave to the belief that you won't be happy, can't be satisfied until... Honestly, ask yourself, why can I not be happy right now? What is the problem, right now, in this moment? Your mind will answer with something that must be done, accomplished, or overcome. You do realize that you are under the command of a mind that was formed in this world, and now you live according to the beliefs of others around you, right? You do realize that it burns us out to live according to a life we didn't even choose and find little value in, correct? We focus on what gets our attention. What gets our attention are things that are often negative or provide some threat to something we care about or could improve something we didn't even know we need to improve on until the fear ends up produced inside of us as a result of the show of better options from the world around us. Millions of stimuli cross your mind every day, yet not all get your attention like the pressures to perform. Why does it matter so much that you accomplish what you've been raised to believe is critical to your well-being? What happens if you let that belief go and start to live life for things you actually care about and find purpose in? Think about it. Watch a TV show, and there are underlying values pushed all the time that you may not be able to separate from because the image is so repetitive. Maybe the depiction on a show is a group of friends and the free time it takes to maintain them. Is this how we should live? Do I even value that much time with friends?  So, if you aren't doing what your mind tells you to, you could start to internalize a less than image of yourself, or a shameful, or guilty feeling that your mind says you must remedy. You have adopted a belief that you can't be happy until you fix everything you think is a problem. However, when you fix one problem, you are then stuck with ten more. Then you get better about seeing problems and never a solution because you are better at looking for problems than finding benefit in what you have.  You are not your thoughts, you have them, but they do not define you. Start to realize that you have thoughts, and they are allowed to exist and they come from some place of experience, and you can let them be without listening to them or trying to remedy them. This is how you manage life and stop the stress from seeping into your core being. You experience stuff you were meant to care about; now I ask you, is all this pain worth it? Find something that gives purpose to the pain, and you will reduce your suffering. 
Answered on 01/30/2023

what should i do if specific thoughts come up

Hello and I am glad that you posed this question. It can be quite distressing to be caught off guard with disappointing outcomes/news/feedback when you thought everything was sailing along and feeling good about your situation. There are many ways in the course of therapy that we can address these experiences both in how you think & feel about yourself and also in how you choose to manage these feelings. We can also support you to approach disappointments/failures as learning opportunities for growth. In this sense, we can make the negative experiences meaningful by using them to inform your future choices and actions. For example, if you felt you were doing pretty ok and were shocked to learn that wasn't the case as you wrote, I would support you to reflect and understand more about what informed your determination that you were doing pretty ok. Additionally, we would look at what was going on that brought you to the situation of not doing well with grades. In this process though sessions together, we would support you to look for evidence to inform your assessment of your performance and make a realistic evaluation of where you stand. This would help with the feeling of despair associated with failure and help you become more able to tolerate the distress as you get more comfortable with the understanding that failure is a part of life and it is actually the path to growth.  I support folks to see failure and mistakes as "growing pains" so that we expect it to feel uncomfortable while remaining focused on the learning opportunity to keep from making the same mistakes in the future. When we see failure as an expected part of the human experience, not something to be avoided or labeled as a deficit, it becomes easier to focus on what you want to do differently next time, rather than be stuck in the regret, shock, and shame of having the rug pulled out from under you when you thought things were going fine. It also helps to normalize this experience so that you feel less like a complete failure and gain the understanding that making a mistake or failing does not reduce your worth as a person. Helping you to have a balanced and informed way to measure your progress and effectiveness in tasks that are important will also assist in having appropriate and realistic expectations. If you expect to get grades that are "pretty ok" and you found out that wasn't the case, I would support you to adjust your expectations based on the latest information (I.e. I have at least a 70 average in all my classes and my assignments have been turned in = I feel pretty certain I am "doing pretty ok"). In therapy, I would support you to look for evidence in your environment to give you the appropriate expectations. If you start here, then you will likely be able to expect more positive outcomes and less surprises as you will be able to take action on things that could jeopardize your success before it becomes a failure (i.e. I am doing pretty ok but I have 2 outstanding assignments and a 65 in one subject so I will need a near perfect score on the final exam to come out with an average that is 70 or higher). Finally, I would support you to be kind to yourself and take action in the current moment as often as possible. I would support you to identify your goals and assess with you in therapy what you are doing to either get you close to your goals or further away; then we would work on generating options and choices based on your desired outcomes. Through this process, you will be able to achieve more postive outcomes and learn that you are able to achieve whatever you decide you want to with the abiility to critically assess your choices and actions in this way. This means that you will be able to tolerate failures with less distress overall. I would also give you real time tools to cope with intense emotions and improve your ability to self soothe in the moment. I hope this was helpful and I welcome the opportunity to connect for therapy if you desire. I appreciate the chance to be part of your journey in this way and wish you all the very best. 
Answered on 01/24/2023

I feel very stressed, specially during exam season and feel a lot of pressure to pass my exams.

Hello CT, thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding stress, time management, and trying to balance having a healthy social life. Wow! It sounds like you have so much going on! I know this is a tough time for you as you are adjusting to so much, but be proud of yourself for everything you have accomplished so far to get you to where you are. I would imagine that studying abroad is an exciting time, full of new challenges. As you know, being able to manage stress is crucial for not only your academic success but also your personal well-being and mental health. It sounds like you are trying to figure out the right balance between work, school, and friends. There are many ways you can manage your stress as a student. Just as everyone experiences stress in their own way, we all have our preferred methods of coping with it. It is crucial to learn how to cope with it productively. After all, you cannot control the stressors in your life (for the most part), but you can choose how to respond to them. When it comes to your social life (friends), I want to encourage you to make an effort to only befriend people whose company you enjoy. Your time studying abroad is too short to spend interacting with people who you don't get along with, so be selective about who you give extra energy to. The people you surround yourself with can either benefit your mental health or be destructive to it. When it comes to healthy ways to manage stress, I want to encourage you to take the necessary time to recharge. I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "you can't pour from an empty cup." That is so true! If you are spending all of your time studying and sitting through class lectures and not taking care of yourself, your cup will run empty. Do something you enjoy! Try journaling, meditating, or scheduling an afternoon where you don't have to do anything but read your favorite book or watch a movie. You may not be able to drop everything on your to-do list, because you have responsibilities of course, but don't hesitate to spend some time focusing and prioritizing yourself. Getting professional support can be beneficial when it comes to balance and stress management. Do your best to understand what kind of stress you are feeling and experiencing, what is causing it, and how you can respond to it productively. By addressing your stress in a healthy way, you are doing all that you can to make the most out of your experience.
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 01/24/2023

What is your initial perspective?

I Believe... The initial phrase caught my attention the most. We act as though what we believe to be true. You are what you believe, and if you allow yourself to be defined by any one thing, you are holding yourself back from being another, greater thing.  Now, I know you might not have intended to say what was said here, but I think that it is as good a place to start as any. What do you believe about yourself? What we believe is where we make all of our decisions from and it alters our perspective of the world. You take two people and put them in the exact same situation; the only thing different is how each person views the situation. This is why it is important when we reveal our most broken parts as what define us. We have to start there with what to work on if we want to be more effective at getting our needs met.  Your abandonment issues, attachment difficulties, trauma, and what you are with people (as defined by your own mind that you just admitted is problematic) are not the problems you think they are. You defined them with clinical terms so I think you have done some research, but you stopped short of being effective. Your symptoms are just that, a result of your genetics placed in an environment where you formed the beliefs about yourself and the world around you. These symptoms then indicate clinical words such as "attachment." But, what is attachment to you? How do you see being attached as being affected by the way you think?  Do not go to therapy or start reading self-help books to remedy your symptoms. Instead, notice the underlying, more important issue here: your beliefs. As long as you believe that you are somehow broken in these various ways, even if all the problems were solved today, you would create more, because you believe you are broken. Accept that the way you think is the way you think. When something goes wrong in life, it is an easy and familiar thought process to beat yourself up and "oh, I should have done better." Notice what happens when you interact with life, and how you respond, in your head.  Once you notice the way you think, not what you think about, but the WAY, you can start to make changes where it matters. Do not try to remedy all the problems with the same mind that created them. Bypass the solving and go to the why is this a problem, and what does this situation trigger inside of me? Notice thoughts because your mind is trying to get you to react to life because that is the familiar narrative, to react, fix, solve.  You do not have to respond to what your mind says. If my mind says, "oh I messed this up because I have poor attachment," I can say, "oh, that is a part of me." You see here, I acknowledge this, "part," but it is not the whole. I have this, "part" inside of me, but if I give it too much attention, then what about the other, more effective parts? You get habitually trained to input one part when another part could be better.  Notice how you are choosing to define yourself and sit with it, asking what does this do to help me. Notice that life causes triggers to get you to respond and that you literally do not have to, even though your mind will scream, "do something!" Notice and separate from thoughts, and this will be the best starting point to change you have ever implemented. You have thoughts; you are not defined by them. 
Answered on 01/23/2023

Can you please guide me through life / work after reading my detailed situation down below?

Hello, Thank you for describing your concerns. Therapy is a great place to start. Therapy can help you work through and process your emotions. A therapist can offer support and validation, as well, as help you problem-solve or work on goals. Therapy can help you decrease stress and anxiety.  You have very reasonable goals. Being a teacher can be challenging. It's ok to lean on a support system. Perhaps getting to know your coworkers or engaging in activities outside of work may be helpful. Some ideas may be inviting a coworker to lunch or a happy hour. You may want to adopt a theme to make the work week more fun like having tacos on Tuesday or donuts on Fridays. Bonding with the coworkers may help you feel more connected. They can validate you as they are probably feeling some of the same stressors.  Instead of saying you are an imposter, you may want to think of yourself as a student. An imposter sounds like you are "faking" something. You are not faking. You are embracing your career. Try to see yourself as a student. You are learning. You aren't supposed to know everything in the beginning, but you are working hard and figuring it out as you go.  Avoid comparing yourself to others. Comparison sends a message to your brain that whatever you are doing is not good enough. The brain is easily influenced and will quit trying to find solutions. This may be why you are procrastinating. You have already convinced your brain that you are behind and your friends are way ahead. Instead of saying you are behind, tell yourself "They are on a different path. I'm working on my own path." What you say to yourself can affect how you feeling. Negative thoughts often lead to negative feelings. Try to counteract your negative thoughts with a positive mantra. Some examples are: "This is a new challenge, but I'll figure it out."  "I'm working at my own pace. I always find solutions."  "I'm a hard worker. I know I can do this."  "I'm gaining experience every day."  "I'm in the right place at the right time."  In order to stay focused, identify your peak performance time. Every person as a certain time of day where they feel more alert and productive. Some people are night owls and enjoy staying up late to get things done. Other people are more active in the morning. See when you feel the most alert and try to schedule time during this time frame to work on your goals and your side hustle. Schedule a designated work time for yourself without distractions. Decide to work for a solid 30 minutes without interruptions. Turn off alerts, notifications, etc. Put your phone away. Do not check emails or messages until your 30 minutes is up. When your time is up, take a break. During your break time, you can check your messages. Allow for a few minutes to do these things and them return to work for another 30 minutes. When doing chores, breaking tasks into smaller pieces. For example, if you want to clean the kitchen, break the tasks down. Start with one particular area or task, like doing the dishes. Focus on the dishes and complete this task before starting a new one. Next, work on a different task in the kitchen, like taking the trash out or wiping down the counters. Allow for breaks in between tasks if needed.  Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Be patient. Trust and believe in yourself. 
(M.Ed, L.P.C.)
Answered on 01/19/2023

How to deal with the stress of life?

Coping You are in an interesting spot. It's unfortunate that your circumstance has left you having to work so hard to accomplish what you want. It would be nice to have the safety and support of the child's father or the liquid assets of a better-paying job. It would be nice, I bet, if many things were different. Yet, here we are, in our situation, looking for help in what to do when we struggle with staying motivated, feeling good about ourselves, being supported, being able to rest, etc. Whatever we lack daily, we usually wish for that thing, thinking all would be so different if we had it.  Coping isn't always just a way to manage emotions, it can be found in how we view situations in our life. Coping is also choosing to see the gift we have in our struggles. It is a coping skill to be truly grateful for our situation, even if it was, at one point, something we thought was holding us back.  Here's an interesting thing about parenting. You prepare your children for the life they will have growing up. Parents are the elements of the environment where the mind is formed and will forever hold beliefs about self, others, environment, safety, healthy attachment, and the like. People seek therapy due to the failures, shortcomings, and effects of distractions from parents who were unable to give the kids what they needed to feel safe and thrive. We require a safe environment to grow into our personal, autonomous selves. Your hard work is worth it in more ways than you can imagine. You are not only trying to make a better life for yourself and your kids, but you are modeling something for your kids that they will also reproduce in a certain way in their life and later with their spouses. You have the opportunity to find ways to genuinely appreciate the pain and demonstrate gratitude around the kids, or you could complain and be angry. You could surround yourself with people that allow you to complain, and even fuel it. You could do that, but then the kids will do that too.  Your coping then is found in applying what you notice in situations to your choice in how you hold it. Your formation of grit in your current season will be unmatched in your career. Now, as long as you don't internalize being a victim and want the world to give you what you might feel entitled to, or form some greater thought because of what you went through, you will give all this energy someday to your career, and build your way into financial freedom and a better life for your kids, etc.  DO NOT look to coping as complaining. Look to coping as accepting and therefore empowering. The more you accept your life and the circumstances, find little pockets of joy, and stay mindful of the task at hand, you will gain confidence and won't have to scream from the rooftops so that everyone can validate you. Your determination, grit, and life experience will be obvious to those who meet you because you will become someone who lived through things coming out grateful for it.  Imagine that, this situation is something you are grateful for the experience. And your kids will be raised by a mom who modeled that you work for things you want in life and you earn what you take. You are giving your kids a lesson unlike any public or affluent school could provide. Practice finding areas you can be grateful for, which will stop your emotions from building up and overriding all your hard work. 
Answered on 01/18/2023

How can I deal with middle age, being a mom, and a high stress job?

Talk About It I think you are aware of what you need more of, but what you might need is an opportunity to talk about what can be changed to allow for more time to do the things that are meaningful in your life. Your question is a typical one and becomes a common theme in middle-age. It is with proper maturity and trying and failing that we can come to these conclusions that we aren't happy with the way things are. Though you mention "stress" there is definitely something that causes this stress to be different now than other times in life. Could you be burned out on previous expectations and not yet aware of how much you are holding on to? Talk therapy can be great for this sort of situation because it will help you get to the point of what matters and notice how much of your life you live for so much that doesn't. The areas of life you mention in your question, being a mother, high stress job, your age, one thing therapy can do is to help determine what about these areas of your life are problematic. There are many "high stress jobs" that can be quite fulfilling. It could very well not be the stress, but expectations or shame or some irrational fear. Sometimes our mind tells us one thing is wrong when in reality what is really the matter is something else. Going through and identifying what specifically about your job or being a mom or your age or any other element in life is interfering in what you want in life is worth the effort. The second step is to identify that you value some things in life very much and need to start living and making decisions towards those values. What you value in life is being missed here which I think is why you find yourself in this predicament. Lastly, being a people pleaser is actually a significant indicator of someone who struggles with their self-worth. Though you may be convinced that people-pleasing is all about others, it is actually about how these others perceive you, or that you have value to them if you satisfy their problems. Remember this, your job is not to take on other people's feelings and problems. Your job is to be a kind person to people, which does not mean solving any problems, but maybe listening or praying for them. People pleasing leaves little to no time for yourself because you will then surround yourself with people who have many needs. You will make your kids need you and fail to solve problems themselves. People pleasers have to realize that THEY are their biggest problem in life, not the outward demand of others, but their perception that they are the one called to make everyone's life better. You were put here to be you to be living amongst those you interact with. Sit with people when they choose to talk, stop yourself from taking their problems on or pleasing them. Sometimes, people are allowed to be unsatisfied or upset. That is not yours to take from them. It could be the life lesson some people need to mature in life. 
Answered on 12/26/2022

How do I gain self confidence and stop feeling sad?

Confidence?  Sadness is a part of life. Something about sadness that is difficult to accept is that it is inevitable, and we shouldn't judge the times we are sad as times when we are somehow "less than others." That said, it seems your sadness comes from a place lacking compared to others. You find yourself losing in the battle of life because other people live life better than you do. Maybe they make more money or have nicer things, better bodies, and more control over things. These are the arbitrary measurements you have perceived in others that you are losing to.  I will validate the difficulty in not comparing yourself to others. Many things in therapy are so easy to say but so difficult to do. Often therapy can be spent on figuring out what makes things so complicated, whereas others do those things without effort or consequence. Our mind plays tricks on us to make us get better than we are, and the comparison game is derived from a childhood of not meeting expectations and, therefore, not being enough. Thus our mind adopted beating ourselves up to try and make us better. It may have worked.  The "bad" parts of us aren't actually bad at all but misguided. Like any evil-doer in the movies, there is usually a backstory telling how this person became the way they are. Our mind is no different, and there are parts of us that must be utilized and depended on due to our environment. This doesn't mean that we get to blame mom and dad for everything, but we must start to understand that our minds and beliefs about ourselves and thoughts were all formed before our awareness, and now we are stuck with them. Radical acceptance is the skill that says, yes, I have this reaction to life, and when triggered, how do I move forward? Life is not about getting rid of the accumulation of experiences but learning to live with them.  So then, the first step to overcoming sadness is to be aware that you will be sad, love yourself, and take it easy on yourself when you are. This skill to sit with your thoughts and not let them control you will result in that confidence you desire. Give yourself room to be sad. If you don't, you will have problems. The types of issues you will have cannot all be discussed here, but trust me, let yourself feel sad when you experience them. Think of your thinking and think of your brain as the organ it is. Organs perform their function based on the information we give them. If we eat a lot of refined carbohydrates, the pancreas is left to pick up the tab, and insulin is released into the system. If our mind secretes "bad" and judgmental thoughts, that, too, is a product of the environment it was developed in, starting in the womb. So, you can begin to accept (acknowledge) thoughts as they are, secretions from your brain, and not let them dominate you. The judgment that sadness is wrong when it is necessary is one thought you can work on here.  This all comes down to your mind and how you perceive and interpret things. Confidence comes not with doing things right but with knowing how to adapt. Notice your thoughts, even when they are comparing you to others. Do not think confidence is not having those thoughts. Confidence is learning how to let those thoughts pass. Like leaves on a stream passing you by on an autumn day, the thoughts, too, will pass. This moment, "good" or "bad" will pass, do not hold too tightly onto anything because, in this world, it will pass. 
Answered on 12/18/2022

What can I do to start living happier and stress-free?

First of all, I just want to normalize your feelings of stress.  People experience stress for all kinds of reasons. Some stress can actually be helpful, (positive stress can a big life change like getting married or starting a new job) but other types of stress due to negative stressors (financial troubles, legal issues, relationship stress) can lead to impacted quality of life. Writing out a list of the positive and negative stresses in your life can help clarify what all might be contributing to feelings of unhappiness.    The adult phase of life can sometimes feel like an unlearning and relearning of what we think and believe.  Working through and processing any past trauma from childhood can be very helpful in the adult growth process.  Sometimes that means doing the work on our own (reading self help books, stress reduction workbooks, journaling, mindfulness etc) and sometimes it can be helpful to seek professional help to work through things.  Finding a good fit with a therapist is key to establishing a helpful therapeutic relationship.   When clients are looking to lead a happier and less stressful life, I recommend a combination of mindfulness (breathing techniques and tools to apply in stressful moments) practicing gratitude, and journaling to get thoughts and emotions out.  There are a lot of things that you can do on your own but if you feel like you have already tried a lot and nothing has worked I would gently suggest thinking about talking to a mental health professional.  A therapist can help to lead and guide you toward your goals and also help to process any big or small traumas.  It can be very powerful to feel heard and seen and to have a safe space to talk. You are the expert of yourself and your own life so you probably know what is helpful and what isn't.  Some level of stress is just a part of life but severe stress and worrying can impact sleep, eating, relationships, health and day to day functioning.  Sometimes it can be easy to pinpoint where stress is coming from and sometimes the stress turns into symptoms of anxiety that doesn't always seem to have an origin.  Whether you navigate this on your own or reach out to a counselor, life coach etc. I wish you the very best of luck.  Taking time for self care can be a big part of stress reduction as can getting plenty of rest, water and good nutrients. We all deserve to live a content and meaningful life and wherever your journey takes you, I hope that you remember & believe that you deserve to be happy.  Your story doesn't have to end here and you can take the leap to create a new chapter at any point.  Life is short and we each have the ability to continue growing and learning & challenging any negative beliefs that we have.  Practicing self compassion can also be very helpful in reframing our outlook and seeing all of the good traits that we each possess.   Warm Regards, Elizabeth Gough, LCSW
Answered on 12/04/2022

How do I keep myself from wanting to give up because I’ve failed my family?

Hi Beau. It is nice to meet you.   I want to thank you so much for reaching out for some additional support during what sounds like a very difficult time without a doubt.  We are here to help and glad you asked this question.  Unfortunately there is not a single correct answer here, but more a combination of things that if applied consistently can certainly help you to feel better equipped to manage your situation.  As you are certainly aware the economy is challenged and many things are in transition.  It sounds as though you possibly got swept up in some of that current along the way and are now trying to find your footing once again.  Financial stress can be super tricky to navigate as well at times because it is quite directly tied to everything else we experience and have to manage in our busy lives.  This includes being directly tied to getting our own basic needs (such as food, shelter, transportation, healthcare etc) met.   This can leave us feeling unsettled and insecure about our circumstances and our future.   It is certainly understandable that in the midst of losing two good jobs and falling behind in your financial obligations, alongside becoming a new parent, could lead you to feel uncertain and perhaps anxious.  We often feel that way when we don't know what is ahead of us.  That is a very common response to the unknown.  There are a few things that may potentially assist you in improving your circumstances and ultimately your overall well being.  None of these are immediate "fast fixes" as this is just not possible in all reality, but certainly can help you in beginning to regain control over your circumstances and help you feel more in the driver's seat of your life.  You certainly don't have to do this all on your own! Initially, to best solve any problem, it is of the upmost importance that one be able to recognize our feelings and bring awareness to our experience as you have done and are currently in the process of doing for yourself.  So let's celebrate that!  Without awareness of a problem, it is hard to make any changes! You are well on your way in that regard, just by having done so.  You then reached out for additional support and guidance which is the second most important step.  The next step I would recommend typically is to accept that support and utilize tools to change your circumstances/experience.  This is where we are today.  Well done once again! At this point, I would recommend considering attending therapy going forward to assist with helping you break down the problem into more manageable "bite size" pieces with action steps which can be identified to help you take the necessary steps to gain some traction and therefore build momentum.  There are some approachable techniques to set and achieve goals and sometimes having another person hear those goals can help us with accountability and celebration in our achievements.  Therapists can be very good at helping us with these types of challenges in our lives.  Additionally therapy can aid you in helping you better manage the emotional responses you are having.  It can be a lot to become a new parent, feel the responsibility of supporting a family, and deal with losses including those of employment opportunities and stability.   By working with a therapist you may find you gain the support and guidance you need to better feel comfortable in your own skin and help you learn techniques to better understand and cope with difficult emotions and problematic thought patterns.  You may even learn some skills on how to better support your family in the process!  As I stated above, there is no short, one paragraph answer to this question.  However there is support and compassion that can help you through this in the meantime and when we come up with a plan to address our problems/situations, it can alleviate our anxiety and help us to feel better in control of our future.   I hope this has helped at least in some small way to get you started, in the meantime.  Stay strong and focused on what is ahead of you.  You sound very resilient and very capable.  I wish great things for you and hope your situation improves in the very near future! Until then, take care of yourself and keep moving forward.  J Alder, LMSW
Answered on 11/22/2022

How do I stop self sabotaging and what should I do in this work situation?

Hi Freddy! I appreciate you taking the time to provide some additional details about yourself, your experiences and your current situation. I hope that my response will be helpful in giving you guidance and some overall direction. First and foremost, I would like to encourage you to continue to acknowledge your positive qualities and strengths. It is really great to hear that you consider yourself to be a strong willed person with an entrepreneurial drive. I know that you also mentioned that you have a keen sense of duty and responsibility. In addition, it sounds like you are able to be successful in life when you put your mind to it. Those all sounds like really admirable and amazing qualities. What are some of your other qualities and strengths? Take some time to write a list of strengths that you are willing to build upon, discover and explore more about. I, too, am a military brat (navy branch) so I can totally relate to that childhood experience. Thank you for sharing that. It is a good sign that you are recognizing how your experiences as a youth may have some influence on your life today. I understand that being a brat in the armed forces can be challenging. Being a brat also provides a key element in establishing identity in childhood and adolescence. What was it like for you to grow up as an army brat? How would you describe your overall childhood experiences? What are some of your other life roles, personality traits and aspects of your identity that you respect, honor and value? How would you describe yourself and personality traits? You may want to answer these questions for yourself through therapeutic journaling and writing. I always recommend the writing process as a means to clarify and contain life's challenges and experiences. Check out the Therapeutic Writing Institute (TWI) if you would like more information on the therapeutic benefits of journaling. I realize that you really value your job and that you are feeling concerned that you may no longer have your job come Monday. Even the thought of your position with your employer being terminated would bring anyone a sense of heightened stress and anxiety. I can also see why finding out that your boss was fired would be concerning news for you to hear. It almost seems like your initial reaction and inner dialogue to this news is: "You're next." What can you do to comfort yourself and feel more in control over your stress and worry? I will share with you this article on the topic of stress management in case this will help you get some ideas on how to destress from this situation. Here is the link below: In addition, I realize that you have been avoiding going into work because of this situation as well as because of your workplace environment. My basic and general advice on the issue of avoidance and anxiety is this: Anytime that you notice experiencing feelings of anxiety from doing something and you avoid doing the thing that makes you feel anxious, this, in turn, makes the anxiety worse and reinforces avoidant behavior. Essentially, it is important to face situations head on and not rely on avoidant behavior to manage things. Avoidance ultimately increases anxiety. Simply put, I think that you should go back to work on Monday and attend the scheduled meeting with the president of the company. There is likely nothing you can do to change the outcome of the meeting. It sounds like the agenda for this meeting has already been planned. Make a plan for what you can do afterwards, no matter what the outcome. In addition, I would like to recommend trying some art therapy techniques. If you are willing, you can draw yourself connecting with your future self. In addition, I recommend taking some time to create a house, a tree and a person out of modeling clay or through drawing. This House Tree Person (HTP) directive is a traditional art therapy based assessment. You may learn more about your beliefs about yourself and your life through this process. In addition, the therapeutic aspects of clay can be beneficial in fostering self expression and an expressive way for you to safely regress.Lastly, it would be wonderful if you could draw, paint or sculpt anything that you would like to. Take some time to express yourself and cultivate your creativity. I know that you mentioned in your title that you are contemplating self sabotage. You can create a drawing or collage out of scrap paper, rip it up and turn it into something new. I think it would be worthwhile to explore more about what self sabotage means for you. I would be interested in hearing more about how your life had changed when you were very young. What changes had you endured that stand out to you as difficult? Utilize some time for reflection on your past. Also, what does that mean for you when you state that you were not the apple of your mother's eye? This could also be a wonderful journal prompt or art therapy directive. At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin to attend counseling sessions. I realize that you may also benefit from career counseling, as well. If you have time and are willing, you may also want to consider attending a group therapy session or a groupinar. It is ultimately up to you to decide how you would like to address your concerns in a therapeutic setting. Thank you again so much for your time reaching out for support and asking this vital question on the BetterHelp platform. I sincerely hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Have a great day!
Answered on 11/09/2022

I'm dealing with a lot and need a counselor for my personal relationships.

Hello, It sounds like you are way past your stress limit.  Indeed, being a hairdresser, you are often like a therapist for many of your clients.  As therapists, we experience burnout if we don't learn how to set boundaries and not internalize our clients' issues.  With your plate being full due to your parents and not receiving support from your sister, you are overloaded.  Adding in the breakup takes it to another level.  You need some social support, and if you can't find it in your social circle, therapy is a great option.  Also, having to carry a facade is indeed exhausting. You don't have to carry the burden alone. Also, if you have not discovered it yet, mindfulness is a great option.  There are many options to help keep you grounded and in a healthy place.  Guided meditations are an excellent option.  Some people choose adult coloring, listening to music, or a mindful walk.  Yoga is always an option too.  Using simple breathing exercises are helpful too.  The 5 + 3 = 8, is the easiest exercise.  You inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.  Using breathing exercises is convenient because you always have your breath handy. No need to go searching for any items, such as a stress ball or other items used for calming.   A regular mindfulness practice is scientifically proven to help repair neural pathways to improve depression, anxiety, addictions, and overall emotional regulation.  With practicing only 20 minutes a day, you can literally improve neural pathways in your brain.  Changes can occur in as little as two weeks. So, making sure you find social support, and giving yourself an opportunity to "be yourself," and letting go of some of your stress could definitely improve your current mental health.  Also, you have probably been helping your sister in addition to all of these stressors.  Remember, you can not pour from an empty pitcher.  It is time to replenish.  If you do not get help, and take a break from your stress, eventually your body will force a break in the stress.  This can come in a variety of health problems such as headaches, ulcers, weakened immune system, and increases achiness.   Best of luck, and take care.
Answered on 11/09/2022

How do you heal from past hurt? Relationship wise & non relationship wise.

Hi, and thanks for your question. I'm sorry to hear you've been through such a difficult series of experiences, and "difficult" seems like an insufficient descriptor. What you've briefly described is life-changing to say the least, and it's great that you're at a point where you're considering reaching out for help. The short answer to your question of "how do you heal from past hurt" is gradually, methodically, over time, with self-compassion and non-judgment, and with an eye toward growing through the experience and incorporating that personal growth into your life's story of who you are, how you came to be where you are, at any given point in time, and where you want to be going forward (i.e, your hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations). The first step in all of that would be developing the ability to be with your feelings about these situations non-judgmentally, and with compassion for yourself. Many times, it's (initially) hard for people to be that for themselves, so it can be especially helpful to have a trusted therapist to not only provide that sense of non-judgment and compassion, but to help you learn to provide it to yourself, as well. From this grows the ability to be patient with oneself throughout the healing process, and the ability to learn how to sit with those feelings of pain in order to gather information from them about what's important to you, and to learn to give what's important to you the attention and care it deserves. Along the way in that aspect of the process is possibly gently confronting the parts of you that may not feel worthy of such attention and care, and learning the true depth of your worth. As a person learns (and deeply internalizes) their sense of self-worth, they naturally discover the need for the development and maintenance of personal boundaries in various aspects of their life. This too, doesn't often come naturally, and it's often beneficial to have a trusted therapist to guide you through the inevitable sorting process one goes through when learning (and again, internalizing) that they have a right to boundaries, and even that they're absolutely necessary for living a healthy life and having healthy relationships. Most people don't like experiencing the boundaries of others, so it's helpful to have someone guide you through what to expect when "pushback" is received, and encouragement of your ability to stay true to yourself. This is a natural segue into additional stages of self-acceptance, compassion and non-judgment as one begins to get to know oneself more deeply and thoroughly, while hope, trust-of-self and a new stronger identity begins to firmly take root. Here, the person learns to dream and consider fresh new possibilities for their life, and has a strong sense of what's right for them, and what isn't, which can be quite liberating and empowering. And last (but certainly no least) is the point at which the person can "make sense" of all that they've been through in that they've accepted what happened as a part of their life story (which should not be confused with believing that what happened is acceptable, which it was most certainly not); that what happened has not held them back; and that they've become stronger despite it, as a result of their own hard work, perseverance and resilience in the face of That Which Should Never Have Happened. I wish you the best of luck on your healing journey, and again, thank you for reaching out for help along the way.
(M.A., LMFT)
Answered on 10/29/2022

I'm questioning if i should get back into therapy

Hello Liv, Making the choice to reach out and speak, even briefly, with a therapist is an important first step in determining where your own mind is at regarding the situations you are going through.  In general, I will say that if you are questioning if you need therapy, you would benefit from talking to a therapist if even just for a brief period of time to work things out.  What I often share is that a therapist is not an expert on you, they simply have education/training/skills that can help you work out what is going on and see if from a better perspective than where you are at right now.   The most important part to remember is that the therapist has to be the right 'fit' for you.  It is not as simple as being 'assigned' to someone and *bam* they help you work through what is concerning you.  You need to allow time and space to build a relationship and trust with the therapist (and this process can help you identify and work through some of the 'toxic' relationship habits you mentioned).  While we will hold space in the first one or two sessions for everything that you want to let 'spill out' of your mind, to put all your information out there...a healthy relationship with a therapist will help you set some of those things aside (I call it 'putting things in a sealed box off to the side) until you have build trust together to open the boxes in a safe way.  I've included a link to in my opinion, very important things to keep in mind/ask when choosing a therapist: Learning how to break the hold past relationships have on you (for instance, the way you may worry over a new partners words because they happened to say or do something similar to your last partner when they were mad at you) takes time and compassion.  Being open with your new partner about moments when the 'storm clouds of the past' show up, so that they too can help you remember they are not the past partner, that you are here and this is safe, is a big part of the process.  We work to reduce embarrassment and shame around the process, create space for you to openly question yourself and the situation in ways that help you find compassion and kindness.  Therapy can help you identify and connect with friends, family, spiritual leaders, community members or groups, that will help increase your ability to find this compassion for your past self who is growing and changing.   Therapy is not a 100% perfect fix. It can be messy and even painful at times, to work through the things that creates the responses we have.  Therapists do not do the work for you or have a magic wand🪄 (how I wish we did!) to to erase all that has happened...but the right connection and bond with a therapist can create the safe space for you to do this work. I wish you all the best, and hope that you do decide to seek a therapist of your own.  I suggest to all clients that we give 3-5 sessions, to see if this bond becomes evident.  ❣️Your therapist should demonstrate respect for you and your time (arrive within 2-5 minutes of the scheduled session) as you should do for them. ❣️You should feel some small measure of relief from any anxious or depressing feelings within a couple sessions (not that they are gone, just that you feel relieved having a place to talk about them)  ❣️You should feel comfortable correcting a therapist who forgets or gets something wrong (because, we do, we are human too 😊) ❣️You should feel you begin to look forward to sessions, even if you know that what you want to talk about may be hurtful or uncomfortable.   Best wishes in your beginning steps towards healing 💙
Answered on 10/27/2022

How do I calm myself down when something bad has happened? I've tried prayer, meditation & exercise.

When something bad happens we can struggle with understanding why it happened to us, how someone could do something like that to us, and then with how to move forward.  In order to move forward from a situation we have to process it.  To process it we have to identify our feelings and thoughts related to what happened, feel those feelings, understand those thoughts, identify whether or not those thoughts are rational or irrational, and then challenge any thoughts that may not be rational so we can correct them and change them.    So some thoughts could be - "this shouldn't have happened to me", "I didn't deserve this", "why would this person do this to me", "what did I do to deserve this", while some feelings may be, "I'm angry", "I'm frustrated", "I'm confused", "I'm hurt".  Now that you know those are the thoughts: are those thoughts valid, was this personal, do you know the person's intent, does the person's intent matter? The reason those questions are asked is because sometimes people's actions say more about them than you, and are personal to them - not you, they could be jealous and frustrated with their own situation. Either way, when people antagonize people they don't know, it is typically because of something that is going on with them and tends to have nothing to do with the person they antagonize.     Then when you examine your feelings, you look at the validity of those feelings. Are you angry that this happened to you or angry that someone questioned your personal integrity and antagonized your character? Are you hurt because this person didn't know you or hurt because this person criticized your image and made others question who you were as a professional? What is the actual feeling you are feeling and why?   Once you identify those thoughts and feelings then you can begin to look at how do you move forward. And moving forward requires identifying statements that remind you of the facts but allow you to move past the situation. For example, "I didn't know this person and they didn't know me and I know that I am a professional and the situation was resolved so neither them nor the situation require anymore of my attention". In order to move forward, you have to process what happened.
Answered on 10/26/2022

How do I get past flight mode?

Thank you for reaching out to us with this question! The first step and the step that you are taking now is important which is seeking help and asking questions. I want to start by first addressing what childhood trauma is. Childhood trauma is an event experienced by a child that evokes fear and can be violent, dangerous, or life-threatening. It does not have to be life threatening but sometimes it is. It is also sometimes referred to as adverse childhood experiences and there are many different experiences that can lead to trauma. On going stress, such as living in a dangerous neighborhood or being the target of bullying, can also be traumatic for a child—even if it just feels like daily life to an adult. Childhood trauma does not have to involve experiences that occur directly to the child. Watching a loved one endure a major health issue, for instance, can be extremely traumatic for children. Violent media can have this effect too. Traumatic events can affect how a child’s brain develops, which can have lifelong consequences for them physically, mentally, and socially. It can impair their physical development. The stress can impair the development of their immune and central nervous systems, making it harder to achieve their full potential. The piece I want to focus on is how Children exposed to complex traumas may even become disassociated. Dissociation involves separating themselves from the experience mentally. They might imagine that they are outside of their bodies and watching it from somewhere else or they may lose memory of the experience, resulting in memory gaps. Dissociation is the brain’s way of protecting itself from traumatic emotional experiences and allows a person to override their emotions to survive the perceived threats around them. Without this coping mechanism, some people may not be able to perform the necessary functions of daily life without becoming overwhelmed. Dissociation tendencies may go away with time but can become debilitating if left untreated. Children experiencing dissociation may not be aware of what is happening and there are some warning signs that may happen: Loss of memory of important or traumatic events known to have occurred Frequent dazed or trance-like states Perplexing forgetfulness Rapid, profound age regression Difficulties seeing cause-and-effect consequences from life experiences Lying or denying responsibility for misbehavior despite obvious evidence to the contrary Repeatedly referring to themselves in the third person Unexplained injuries or recurrent self-injurious behavior Auditory and visual hallucinations   Now, knowing all of this, it is possible to examine your triggers and think more deeply about how to stop lying as lies can have serious consequences. If lying’s become a more regular habit in your life, try not to be too hard on yourself. After all, most people do lie, even if they do not admit it. Instead, ask yourself how you can break this pattern and be more truthful going forward. The next time you find yourself in a lie, stop and pay attention to what’s going on inside. Ask yourself: Where are you? Who are you with? How do you feel? Are you lying to make yourself feel better or avoid making someone feel bad? Answering these questions can help you pinpoint which scenarios, emotions, or other factors trigger you to lie. Once you have identified some triggers, take a mindful look at them and think about some new ways to respond to them. For example, if you tend to lie when you are put on the spot, try planning out possible responses before going into situations where you know you might get in trouble with the people around you. What types of lies do you often tell? Types of lies  white lies lies by omission  exaggerations “gray” or subtle lies complete untruths Many of us want to seek approval and avoid rejection. Lying addiction is a defense mechanism to protect your self image against a number of things. Being addicted to lying may be the result of: Shame: John Bradshaw, a leading authority on addiction, believes that shame is the driving force behind addiction. Shame is recognition of wrongdoing, but without a separation of one’s self from the wrongful act. Shame processes mentally as “ I made a mistake and I cannot recover. I am a failure. I am defective,” rather than “I made a bad choice and acted badly. I need to change and make up for my mistake.” Negative Consequences: People with addictions hope that things will work themselves out without them having to take any action. So they convince themselves that they can avoid the consequences associated with their bad choices. This avoidant coping style is common in addiction. Criticism and Confrontation: Intense shame often makes it difficult for addicts to handle criticism, so they lie to avoid confrontation or other circumstances where criticism of them may arise. Fear of Repercussions: Addicts at some level know that sooner or later they will have to change if they are to survive. But fear of the repercussions of returning to a state of honesty (shame, guilt, possible additional damage to relationships) makes it difficult to commit to this path until all possible options for avoidance have been exhausted. One of the first steps toward recovery is to recognize that shame and guilt and other negative character traits are not qualities that are unique to addicts. Such obstacles are in all of us, and it is simply the job of adulthood to address them and – rather than try to eliminate them – to integrate them into our larger personalities. There may come a time when pathological liar treatment is necessary. This is where Liars Anonymous or a 12 step program for lying can help. Step 1 is about recognizing the need to align with, and ask for assistance from, something higher than the personality part that you are currently aligned with. If you want to know how to stop lying compulsively there are a few steps you should take to hold yourself accountable. If you are wondering how to help a compulsive liar in your life it would also be beneficial to encourage them to work through these actions: Admit that you have a problem with lying. As long as you are in denial, you won’t stop lying. Be accountable to someone. Talk to a friend, a counselor, or a 12-step sponsor and commit to being completely truthful with them. Consider the consequences. Sooner or later, your lies will be exposed, and you risk losing people’s trust and friendship. But by admitting your lies and committing to positive change, it is more likely that you will be given a second chance to repair broken trusts. Journal. When you lie, reflect on the reasons for your lies. Become aware of automatic, habituated, irrational thoughts. Then consider alternate, more positive choices that will help you meet your emotional needs with honesty and honor. Set positive, life-enhancing goals and make concrete plans to work toward these. Give yourself something to be genuinely proud of yourself about, so that lies and deceptive, pretentious ego-boosts are no longer necessary in your life. I hope this helps even a little bit, best of luck!
Answered on 10/10/2022

What are some healthy ways I can learn to express what I'm feeling and how I can stay in the moment?

Hello Hiccups! Thank you for your question.  You indicated that you are autistic, and have ADHD and anxiety. My first question would be "do you have a psychiatrist, a psychiatric APRN, or any other kind of doctor who has made these diagnoses and/or treats you for these conditions?" If you and I were working together, I would consider this important information to ensure that your provider and I do not provide you with conflicting information. And also, if you did have a provider, I would want to know what, if anything, that person has suggested that you try to help with your symptoms. So that would be first on the list. Then you said that you become unaware and sort of freeze up when you experience high anxiety and stress. This would suggest that your body is interpreting various situations as "threats" and is automatically going into the "fight/flight/freeze" mode. Our nervous system tends to respond to perceived threats even before we are able to process the situation with our logical brain. Probably the most common suggestion that you would likely hear (although this would not be the only one) would be to learn mindfulness practices. This would involve learning to take note of what your body is telling you on a pretty regular basis. Awareness of thoughts and feelings (both emotional and physical) are important aspects of mindfulness. What am I thinking? What am I feeling? The purpose of this is to be able to notice if/when we are starting to escalate so that we can take some action before it gets any worse. There are many mindfulness practices that help calm the nervous system. The most common -- the easiest technique -- is intentional breathing -- deep breathing. Deep breathing helps to calm down the nervous system. There is a therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT for short) that is essentially a curriculum of skills that help people learn how to manage strong emotions. If we were working together, I would provide you with DBT information. These skills would be very helpful not only to avoid emotional dysregulation but also to manage it if it has already started. There are certainly other skills that would help with both the ADHD and the anxiety. For example, having a fairly organized schedule written on a calendar will help keep you on task. Creating a "to do" list helps people manage their time better so they don't become overwhelmed and stressed. Learning boundary skills such as saying "no" to things you just don't have time to do (or don't want to do) also helps with stress and anxiety. Keeping an organized home and work space helps with stress, anxiety, and the symptoms of ADHD. So all of this could probably be summed up under the heading of "planning and organizing." These  skills are very helpful in maintaining a sense of calm. Many people like to use meditation techniques to help with their strong feelings. Meditation does not have to be difficult. It can be a traditional approach or it can be as simple as taking a walk among the trees and just noticing the features of the trees. Self care is also important on a regular daily basis. I call this taking care of your emotional bank account. Your EBA is like a regular bank account -- money in, money out. No money in, no way to pay bills. Same with your EBA. Every day that you get out of bed and do whatever you do during the day you are making withdrawals from your EBA. You have to make regular deposits to have a reserve to draw from. When a person does not have anything in their EBA, the withdrawals tend to feel something like stress, anger, frustration, depression and anxiety. So taking care of yourself very regularly is important to managing these strong emotions. Many people do not have a good understanding of autism, anxiety, ADHD, and the fight/flight/freeze response. So, helping the people who are in your environment to understand these conditions and symptoms would be helpful to you as well. You could educate them as to what would be most helpful to you in certain situations. And then you also want to be able to express what you are feeling. Learning a "feelings vocabulary" along with healthy assertiveness skills (which is part of the DBT curriculum) would help you identify and express to others what you are feeling and what you need or want from them. One other skill that is worth mentioning is called exposure therapy. It just means that you expose yourself little by little in small increments to situations that cause you high anxiety. You start out very small and work your way up every so slightly each time -- like going up the steps of a ladder -- until you get to a place where you can tolerate the situation that you fear or makes you anxious. Another skill would be to examine your thinking patterns to see where you can reframe your thoughts about a situation so that the situation is not quite so frightening or anxiety provoking.    These are many, but not all, of the techniques that you could use to help manage your symptoms. There certainly are others. I hope you have found this overview helpful. Judi
Answered on 10/07/2022

How can I help myself cope with stress, while also ensuring I can enjoy the things I should?

Thank you for reaching our with your question. It is understandable that you might be feeling overwhelmed as I think most of us go through that. There can be a lot of stressors and overwhelming situations that we encounter. I am not sure about your exact situation, but some of those things may include relationships, work, parenting, the pandemic, etc. I would take time to think about what are your current stressors. This can help you to see and understand where you are expending your energy and if there is any place that you can make any modifications.  Stress can be overwhelming and can impede our lives everyday. It is important to see how we are letting stress impact us and how we can work to mitigate any negative impacts. How do you currently cope with stress? Do you ignore it or work to confront it head on?  You mention that you do not have much motivation currently. How long have you noticed this? Are there times where you are more motivated? What are some things that might be motivating to you? (For example, reading a good book, going for a walk alone, eating a delicious meal, etc.) Sometimes we can neglect ourselves and put others first. You may want to prioritize even 5 minutes a day to dedicate to nurturing yourself. It sounds like you may be focused on things that have happened in the past and that is taking you away from the present moment. One simple way to check in the present moment is to take a deep breath, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale for 3 seconds. It seems quite simple yet can allow you to check in physically and notice any areas of tension. Some helpful coping strategies may include: Keep a positive attitude – sometimes the way you think about things can make all of the difference. Your attitude can help offset difficult situations. Accept that there are events you cannot control – when you know there are times when you have given all that you can to a situation, it allows you to expend energy where it can be more effective. It can be important to identify what is within your control and what is not to be able to let go of those things. Learn to relax – purposeful relaxation, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation is essential in training your body to relax. Relaxation should be a part of your daily regimen. Be active regularly – being active also helps your body more easily fight stress because it is fit. This may involve a short walk or doing a dance video game. Eat well-balanced meals – staying on track with healthy eating habits is a great way to manage stress. Cooking can also be a way to engage in the present moment. Rest and sleep - your body needs time to recover from stressful events, so sleep is an important part of caring for yourself. You may want to look into developing a sleep routine if you do not already have one, that may involve winding down before going to sleep. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to you. It can be challenging to change your way of thinking or your current habits, but it can be very powerful in helping you to live a more fulfilling, joyful life.
Answered on 09/14/2022

What is best way to move forward from your past trauma?

Hello Blackjack,   I am glad you have reached out for some help with managing your past trauma.  I can see that it is negatively affecting your life and your relationships.   People who experience trauma will very often turn to alcohol and other substances to help manage or dull the powerful flood of any emotion and traumatic prompts and pokes. You may be also using alcohol to try to numb out your feelings. Drugs and alcohol may indeed initially dull out those trauma memories and help manage connected suffering and stress, but what can happen is that a dangerous sequence can often begin.   It is not unusual for me to hear that you participate in drinking alcohol to deal with anxiety, depression, and any irritability or anger.  I hear often that typically, alcohol initially seems to relieve these symptoms for people who have gone through traumatic life events. When you experience a traumatic event, the brain releases a chemical called endorphins that may be helping you to numb any physical and emotional pain of your trauma event/s.   This is your body naturally helping you cope with the pain caused by your trauma.   However, this intrudes with the natural shielding purpose the body was already doing. As a result, we produce a type of emotional withdrawal that can set us up to deal with increased and lengthy suffering and stress that can often lead to the advance of a posttraumatic stress situation. It is important for you to know that drinking alcohol may have been your “solution or strategy” you turned to, but it seems that this is now making things worse for you in your life.   So it will be necessary to work towards reducing your alcohol use and find more effective solutions that do not damage your relationships and your life overall. Drinking alcohol can sometimes contribute to PTSD indicators and thus increase irritability, depression, and feeling off guard. Some people will drink to deal with insomnia that comes from anxiety, anticipating any nightmares/flashbacks, and overthinking. Drinking alcohol actually weakens the quality of your sleep, however, even setting you up for a damaging and unhelpful cycle. Trying to dodge memories of trauma can make them emerge in your sleep. Drinking alcohol also can often make therapy less effective because you are not permitting yourself to successfully deal with trauma in a safe, strong setting with a qualified professional. People who use substances may be less able to cope with a traumatic event. They may have increased difficulty with emotional and behavioral regulation. When chemical use starts, development gets significantly impaired. As an outcome, you may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors that can lead to further trauma. The mixture of trauma and drinking alcohol can increase challenges related to getting close to people and having struggles with the people you do have a relationship with. Weighty drinking can often lead to a confused and messy life. The very thing you need is that support and connection, yet as you are now experiencing is damaged as a result of your drinking and the consequential behaviors. A specialist therapist knows drinking is generally not actually THE problem. It is usually a symptom of another problem.  And for you, as you already have identified that the problem is trauma. In such cases, drinking alcohol is not generally about having fun. It is about managing your pain of the trauma you are dealing with. Just so you know effective handling of trauma does not mean you have to talk about what has happened in your life. A therapist does not need you to reexperience your trauma. That probably happens enough for you too often!  A specialized trauma therapist will focus more on how it is affecting you today and how it is impacting your life now. Drinking alcohol may have been your “solution” that you turned to, but it seems that it is really making things worse in your life. There are many other, more effective ways to deal with the past other than drinking.  It is difficult to do this on your own so I would strongly suggest you reach out for specialized help to find better coping strategies for you.  Skills that your close loved ones will see are making a difference in your life and in theirs too! I hope you take the next step and reach out for some help with what you have gone through in your life.  There is hope and there is help available for you.   BetterHelp has specialized licensed professional therapists to help you navigate your trauma in a safe and effective way. With the right support and your willingness to put in the hard work and remain committed to your recovery you can make progress and create the changes in your life that you desire. The online platform may be a good option for you to feel safer in your own environment.  I hope you are able to reach out for the help you need and deserve so that you can enjoy a happy and healthy future.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
Answered on 07/27/2022

I am able to remove myself from situations that trigger me as a mom, but no idea how to cope?

Being a mom is one of the most rewarding and difficult jobs out there. The stimulation is constant especially with 3 kiddos under 5. I think it is great that you are reaching out for other supports. It is great you're aware of your triggers and when to step away. That is a huge first step! It sounds like cultivating some other coping skills to utilize when you walk away would help with the feelings remaining the same. I also think that utilizing different mindfulness skills that can be implemented into your daily life easily would be helpful. Mindfulness is simply the act of being present. These skills help ground in the moment without fear or worry of the past or future. There are many simple ways to utilize mindfulness many of which use your 5 senses to bring calming. Mindfulness is a broad, umbrella term with many books, videos, and teachings available. It is a practice that can be implemented in activities of daily living that your already do.  5,4,3,2,1 sense mindfulness is not only a favorite of mine but also many of my clients. To do this take 3 deep breaths, identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 you can smell and 1 thing you can taste, ending with 3 deep breaths. Mindful eating and drinking is something that can easily be done during a break. To do this, pay extra attention to the textures and feelings you're experiencing. There are also many guided mindfulness meditations on youtube. You're a mom and super busy! Thankfully the tools available on youtube or other sites can be a few minutes or longer if you have time. There are also many amazing mindfulness exercises for families and kiddos including youtube videos. This is something not only you could utilize for yourself but do with your kids as well. I have experience working with children and families. Oftentimes coping skills for the whole family are beneficial since it is very hard (as you know) for moms to get a lot of time alone to practice coping and self-care. I leave you with this, you are a wonderful mom and showing a great example to your kids reaching out for help to learn more coping skills. Please reach out with any further questions. 
Answered on 06/24/2022