Increasing self-awareness and emotional-regulation skills so that you can experience a more connected, effective and joyful life.

Your Brain on Self-Compassion

You have been receiving a lot of information about self-compassion from me in recent emails. Today, I want to briefly explain what happens in your brain when you practice that skill. It's pretty fascinating! The two parts of the brain that are most involved are the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. (Photo courtesy of Albuquerque Journal) The amygdala is also known as the reptilian brain, and it is responsible for our fight or flight response, among other things. The prefrontal cortex is the more evolved part of our brain that helps us with rational thinking, self-control, planning, prioritizing, and organizing. However, the prefrontal cortex also plays another, less-known role. It has the ability to soothe the amygdala, or stop the "firing" of the fight or flight signals that are triggered in times of stress or perceived threat. You may be wondering how this concept pertains to self-compassion. When you are about to [...]

This Provides Me Comfort During Times of Uncertainty and Stress

We have all, collectively, been through an immense amount of uncertainty throughout the past nine months, and the impact of that is evident in our stress levels.  This week, I wanted to share a bit of information about what goes in the brain when we are faced with new experiences or uncertainty.  For me, having a deeper understanding of how the brain works gives me some comfort. I hope it will do the same for you. Top-down and bottom-up processing: Two of the ways our brain processes information are "top-down" and "bottom-up". Let's look at driving as an example to get an idea of the difference between the two. When you were first learning to drive, it likely took an incredible amount of focus and mental energy.  You were very aware of your surroundings, and put a lot of attention towards what you were doing at any given moment.  You [...]

The Power of the CHOICE POINT

(SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE SUPERPOWER OF SELF-AWARENESS GUIDE) Every. Single. Day.  Shoes, socks, and shirts are strewn around the living room, dropped at the very point where they were removed, which is no more than 20 feet from the shoe bin or laundry room.  I know you can relate to the frustration! Every day, I patiently remind him to pick up after himself. Well, most days. Some days, I get a little snippy and tell him his maid doesn’t live here.  I’m a work in progress. When I saw this scene this morning, I felt the rage rise up, and noticed the resulting thoughts: “Seriously!?! How many times will it take before he gets it? This kid drives me nuts!” I bet you wouldn't blame me if I lost it and actually shouted those thoughts at him. Sometimes, it feels like yelling is the only thing that gets [...]

Reducing the Power of Triggers

(SCROLL DOWN TO DOWNLOAD THE WORKSHEET AND WATCH THE VIDEOS) You might not be aware of this, but today is World Mental Health Day!  As a way of honoring the importance of mental health, I have created a gift for you. It is a printable worksheet that will guide you through your triggers in order to reduce the power they have over you. You can access it below, along with some videos that walk you through examples. The question I get the most from parents is "How do I stop yelling at my kids?!?" The short answer is this: pay attention to the situations that cause you to yell and reflect on why those situations trigger such intense emotions for you.  Reflection gives you insight about the reasons certain situations cause such intense emotions in you.  When you have that insight, or awareness, those situations don't have as much power over your emotions, [...]

5 Tips for Getting Through the Start of School at Home

Ready or not, here comes school! After months of global uncertainty, you’d think we would be pros at handling the unknown, right?! Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and many of us are feeling unsettled as we wait and see what this new school year brings. Before I share my 5 tips for getting through the start of school with you, ponder this: Research shows that uncertainty triggers severe anxiety in most people because the brain registers uncertainty as danger. In fact, one recent study showed that people who were told they would definitely receive a painful electric shock were calmer than those who were told there was a 50% chance they would receive one. When our brains know what is coming, they can plan for it. When they don’t, they overestimate the risk of a situation, and underestimate our ability to handle it. So, when you find yourself worried about [...]

Effects of Overfunctioning in Parenting

Like most of you, I am trying to figure out the juggle in this apparent "new normal" we call Covid, and find a balance that works. One of my challenges is that, right when I think I've found a good balance, something happens that knocks me off the beam and leaves me scrambling to adjust once again. Can you relate??? I know you can... For us, one benefit of quarantine has been our ability to focus on strengthening relationship and communication skills. All of this time spent together has certainly shown us where the cracks are! A relationship dynamic I recently read about, called overfunctioning and underfuctioning, has helped me to see where I have been doing more than my share for my kids, which has led to frustration and resentment on my part. Just having awareness of it has empowered me to release responsibility for some of the things [...]

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