Am I a Fraud? How To Stop Anxiety from Taking Over.

This Is What I Know

Episode 1 – DECEMBER 4, 2017

LOL… I sat down to express myself and stared at the laptop screen for… well… a while.  I’m calling this venture “This Is What I Know” and nothing was coming out!  Soooo… does that mean I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING?   What if that’s the case??  I REALLY don’t like the idea of disappointing, or coming up short, or screwing up, or bombing out, or flaking out, or COMING UP SHORT!  So… what if I AM EMPTY-HEADED and any second everyone in my world will find out that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING???  What if they realize that I’M A FRAUD, mutter to themselves about having wasted their time, TURN THEIR BACKS on me… and just walk away????  WHAT IF…  

STOP!!!! 

BREATH!!!

BREATH Again!!

Now… THINK IT THROUGH!

OMG!!! There IS something in my head after all.  I just had to stop, breath, think it through, and wadda-ya-know… what I needed came to me.  I am so GLAD because… well… you know why! But, hey, it turns out I wasn’t failing after all!  I just had to… you know…

STOP!!!!

BREATH!!!

BREATH AGAIN!!

THEN… THINK IT THROUGH!

 

Christopher Marsh, AMFT is a specialist in working with anxiety, children, and parents of special needs children. He has immediate openings in his schedule, to see Chris give us a call. (951-778-0230) or Email us to set up an appointment

© 2017-2018 Central Counseling Services

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For many people, the idea of meditation summons up images of robed nuns and monks sitting silently in exotic temples, far from the hectic activity of the daily world. But in reality, it is a practice accessible to anyone, anywhere. You don’t need to go to an expensive retreat or find a guru. Any quiet place will do, perhaps in your own living room or a favorite place in nature. Research being done at major universities, including UCLA, shows that meditation can help “rewire” the brain,  help a person be more focused, and strengthen resistance to stress

Famous Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced: tik nat han) wrote: “Sitting meditation is like returning home to give full attention to and care for our self . . . Sitting meditation is very healing. We realize we can just be with whatever is within us—our pain, anger, and irritation, or our joy, love, and peace. We are with whatever is there without being carried away by it. Let it come, let it stay, then let it go. No need to push, to oppress, or to pretend our thoughts are not there. Observe the thoughts and images of our mind with an accepting and loving eye. We are free to be still and calm despite the storms that might arise in us.”

The simplest form of meditation is to follow your breath. It is recommended to sit cross-legged on a firm cushion on the floor, or sit upright in a straight-back chair, not leaning against the back. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head, gently pulling upward to align your neck and spine as straight as possible without being uncomfortable. Let your chin drop a little so your neck is straight. You can close your eyes, or lower your eyelids a bit to help ignore distractions. You can focus on a candle flame or a calming object if you wish, but it isn’t required.

Next, breathe slowly and naturally through your nose. Focus on the sound, and on the feeling of air moving in and out of your nostrils. Now imagine that your windpipe goes all the way down to your belly, and there’s a balloon at the end of it you are trying to inflate with your gentle breathing. This is called belly breathing and is quite simple and beneficial once you get the hang of it. You can place a hand over your navel and feel if your belly is going in and out with your breath. Most people breathe into their chest, and that can hold tension. Once you master belly breathing, you may breathe like that all the time.

So, there you are, on your cushion, aware of your breath in your nostrils and the rise and fall ofyour belly. Next be aware of any tension in your body; for example, your shoulders. Imagine that you are directing your healing breath to those muscles, letting them grow relaxed and soft. You will probably feel them drop a little. Congratulations, you are meditating! From here you just sit quietly with your breathing—in, out, in out . . .  Distracting thoughts will come, I promise you, and it’s very natural. At this early stage of learning, you can just think, “Hello, thought. Good bye,” let it go, and return your focus to your breathing. There are a number of things you can do to help you focus. The first is to visualize still water or a cloudless sky. Relax your mind and stay with the image. You can also use a brief two-word verbal cue—some people might call it a mantra. For example, you could think “peace” on the in-breath and “love” on the out-breath. I like “Here. Now.”

Emotions may arise, or perhaps you are meditating to deal with a strong emotion or painful situation. I’ll use anger as an example. As you maintain your posture and breathing, you can greet the emotion: “Hello, Anger. I know you’re there,” let it go, and keep breathing. You can also devote a whole session to being with an emotion if you need to. Rather than pushing it away, you allow it to flow through you. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches a method in which you imagine the strong emotion as a baby wrapped in a blanket. You cradle it in your arms and think, “I see you, my Anger. What do you need from me?” Very often this will start a train of insight that helps you process that emotion or come up with a plan to resolve things with the person or situation that made you angry. You can do this with positive emotions, as well.

Learning to meditate is like beginning to exercise; go slow and build up. Be gentle with yourself and don’t judge your progress. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes and see how you do. If it’s too long, shorten the time next time; if it’s not long enough, sit as long as you like! But try to set aside time each day to meditate and build up the habit. There are a number of meditation timers that have soft chimes, rather than a harsh ding or buzz. (I use an inexpensive app on my iPhone called Peace Alarm Clock which I like very much.)

Wishing you peace and insight,

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Valentine’s Day When Your Valentine Died

It’s almost February 14th. How can you tell? Well, since December 10th every store you’ve entered has had an aisle of red hearts, weird looking cupids, and frogs holding hearts in their hands. I’m not entirely sure when frogs and SpongeBob entered the world of romance, but now they have. V Day is unavoidable in our culture. FB is beginning to explode. Pinterest is out of control. You suddenly can’t buy bakery goods without red sparkles. The message is “Be happy! Love is yours!”

Except the love of your life died recently. Or your mom, or dad, or child. Maybe your child’s kitty. You try to avoid the red heart craziness, and the rip it adds to your heart every time you see it. You’re not going to go out to eat this Sunday, and you may skip church because there will inevitably be mention of the day. Your Valentine’s Day may be a trip to the cemetery, or to a place where you can remember previous days with happiness attached.

You may need a card for someone else in your village, and that requires that you brave the Hallmark aisle. You know that means seeing all those people who still have their Valentine or loved one picking out a card you will never get to buy again. I still have the anniversary card and Valentine’s cards I bought ahead for my parents and my dad. I can’t throw them away- but they will never be used by me.

How do we all get past a “holiday” that’s not a holiday, where the focus is on loving couples, smiling children, even Grumpy Cat not wishing you a happy day? How many times can your heart hurt this week because of the greeting card industry?

As a twice widowed person, I’ve found it’s helpful to plan ahead for “big” days. We never spent much on this particular day, but it was fun to buy a card and remember those we loved simply because we loved them. Now I am mindful of those who will be facing a different reality than the movies portray. I prepare those who are facing this the first time, because it seems so minor until it’s not, and catches you off guard. As a therapist and grief expert I want clients to know they will get through this if they plan, and find their village and their place for the day. So what do we do?

  • Journal ahead of time- where do you want to be to feel as okay as possible? Is there a place you can feel at peace even in sadness?
  • Envision that day. You wake up- what do you want to do? Mark the day? Avoid it entirely? Avoid the people you know simply can’t not be the Pinterest poster people?
  • Inventory your village. Is there someone or are there people you know will not have plans and might enjoy a different kind of day?
  • Remember past days and what they meant and involved. Do you want to do some of that to honor those memories, or are they too painful still to touch?
  • Make a plan for the day after the day- the day you know you got through it and are still coping. That’s a day you can celebrate.
  • Journal the day after. How did you feel your loved one’s memory and how did it help get through it all?
  • Remember you have total permission to not engage in anything you aren’t comfortable with then you are grieving. This is your time, your path, your process. My day at the beach may be your day to bake heart cupcakes with kids and to invest your energy there. Grief is personal. Nobody gets a vote but you.

So go be Grumpy Cat, or head to the archery range with a heart target. Make it a day to start a heart healthy routine, or a day to plan how to buy all the leftover chocolate on Monday.  Maybe that will be your Pinterest revenge- repurposed chocolate hearts and red gummy worms. And remember that if you need to talk we are here.