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Posts Tagged ‘CBT’

When your moodiness is beginning to affect your marriage and family, it’s time to do something about it.

Are you a moody person? Do you have to deal with someone who’s moody? A mate? A boss? A child? A co-worker?

In a marriage counseling session, a husband complained that the past weekend had not been good. His wife had been in one of her moods.

I asked the wife what the husband meant. She shrugged and looked at him. He said, “Just what she’s doing now. She won’t talk; she refuses to comment on what you say; she acts like the kids and I don’t exist. And it doesn’t matter what we do to try to be nice.” He explained that the family can clean the house, cook the meals, and buy her a present, and she still won’t snap out of it. In fact, last year their eleven-year-old gave her a coffee mug that said, “Snap Out of It.”

I asked Marilyn if what her husband was describing about her was accurate. She shrugged and said yes. Then she said, “It’s just the way I am.” When she gets in one of those moods, she said, she wants people to leave her alone. Not talk to her, not try to cheer her up.

I asked how often her moodiness struck. She said a few times a month. Her husband said about once a week.

How long do her moods last? They both agreed — two or three days.

I asked if she saw her moodiness as a problem. She was noncommittal but added that all her family was like this and her husband had known she was moody before he married her.

He said he had thought her moodiness was because of the stress of the wedding and her dad being sick at the time. He never dreamed it would be something he’d have to live with for the rest of their married life.

I asked if she saw her moodiness as something she wanted to work on to make things better at home with her husband and children.

She said, “Not particularly.”

I asked if she understood how destructive her moods were to her marriage, her children, and herself.

She wanted to know how.

I said that each time she gets in one of her moods, she emotionally leaves the family. She’s not available for anyone. She closes everyone out. She discounts everyone’s existence. She sucks up the family’s energy as all wait for her to be in a better mood. And I said I suspect during her moodiness she can’t possibly enjoy life or feel close to anyone.

She asked what she could do about her moods. I said she’d have to want to make a change. And I wasn’t so sure she was ready. She agreed.

I said my usual routine would be to quickly review her childhood and see who she learned this behavior from and how it served her as a child. This would take no more than a half session. I’d also send her to her doctor to make sure she was okay physically. I’d have her make a list of the advantages she saw in being moody.

She said, “Such as?”

I said, “Well, when you’re moody, everyone is watching you, trying to please you. Maybe you get out of cooking, doing housework. Maybe you get to take a nap, guilt free. People don’t keep a behavior around unless they get a payoff. Sometimes understanding the payoff helps people give up the behavior.”

Another thing — when a bad mood starts, I want her to do some things immediately to help herself shake it off. Research shows that if you get a project going such as cleaning the garage, or if you do something for someone else such as running an errand, your bad mood will dissipate. Also, no television or alcohol when she’s in a bad mood, as both of these things exacerbate the bad feelings.

She said, “You feel pretty strongly about getting me to be in a better mood.”

I said, “I do because it’s miserable for your family and ultimately miserable for you.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When you let little irritations become a big issue, best rethink how to deal with them.

Some years ago a woman came to me because of her mother-in-law. She and her husband had been married for four years and had two small babies. The problem was that when her mother-in-law came for a visit, she would go through her daughter-in-law’s dresser drawers and medicine cabinet.

When the woman talked with her husband about what to do, he had shrugged and said his mom was just nosy and because his wife had nothing to hide, what did it matter?

Instead of confronting the mother-in-law head on, the wife had a lock put on her bedroom door. When the mother-in-law came over on Sundays, as she often did, the wife would simply lock the door.

Recently this daughter-in-law contacted me to help her deal with one of her teenaged daughters. During the session I asked, “Whatever happened with you and your mother-in-law, who used to rummage through your drawers?” The woman was surprised I remembered. I said her story was a bit unusual. She laughed, shrugged, and said everything was fine. Over the years her mother- in-law turned out to be a big help to the family, and as far as she knew, she had stopped going through the woman’s dresser drawers. In fact, she hadn’t used the lock in years.

Several hours later I got a telephone call from a friend who had a question. Apparently his friend is ready to give up a job he likes because of the engineer in the next cubicle. It seems that this engineer has a rather tumultuous relationship with his wife and argues on and off with her throughout the day. This same engineer kicks his wastecan rhythmically all day long. His fights and repetitive tapping are so irritating that my friend’s friend is seriously thinking about throwing in the towel.

My friend wanted to know if I had any solutions besides talking to the man, who was impossible to talk to, and going to his boss, who would think the problem petty.

I said I thought the friend had gotten himself sensitized to the man’s noises and he was attending to them instead of ignoring them. What he could do was to decide to focus on his work and learn to ignore the man in the next cubicle. It would take about six weeks of determined concentration, but it was possible.

Another option was for him to buy a white noise machine or humming fan which would help dull the racket. A third option would be to get earbuds and start listening to music as he worked.

My friend thanked me for the advice and said he’d pass it on.

The session with the woman followed by my friend’s telephone call got me to thinking. There are so many nuisance problems that come into our lives. Instead of making a big deal out of a problem and rushing to confront someone, often an adjustment in our own behavior would solve the problem.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Take the following: Are You an Emotional Eater Quiz.

1. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
2. Do you eat or continue eating even if the food doesn’t taste good?
3. Do you eat when you can’t think of anything else to do?
4. Do you eat after an argument or stressful situation to calm yourself down?
5. Do you eat to reward yourself?
6. Do you keep eating even after you’re full?

Each “yes” indicates that you’re eating in response to your feelings. In other words, the primary reason you’re eating is because of your emotions. The key to getting emotional eating under control is awareness. Before you take a bite, ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Let yourself feel the feeling for five minutes without eating. Then figure out something else you can do to help relieve it instead of putting yet another bite in your mouth.

 

Visit Doris at www.doriswildhelmering.com.
Check out her middle grade book as well as her parent and teacher guide.

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I asked a friend who is an architect how business was going. He said it was fine except that he had a cash-flow problem because people weren’t paying him fast enough. Then he smiled boyishly and said, “of course, I don’t bill them right away either.”

“How long do you wait until you bill them?” I asked.
Now he laughed sheepishly and said, “oh, about three months after I’ve completed the work.”

“You do your clients no favors.” I said. “People who don’t get billed for three months have already forgotten about that debt because they are on to making new ones. And then when your bill comes, they have to stop and figure out how to make a payment to you.”

“So why do you think I procrastinate?” my friend asked.

“Maybe you have a problem with charging people for services,” I said, “and you don’t think you’re worthy of the money. You’d be surprised how many professionals grapple with this issue.”

“That’s interesting,” he replied. “Have you any other ideas as to why I procrastinate?”

“Maybe you like the stimulation that comes from living on the brink of financial trouble. Or you are testing people to see if they will call and ask about the bill.”

“Why else do you think I procrastinate?” urged my friend.

Not able to resist, I went on, for I like to play, “I’m only trying to help you.”

“Maybe you had a parent that procrastinated and modeled for you that way of behaving. You just never learned how to be a self-starter. Or you procrastinate because that’s the way you learned to express your anger. Procrastination is passive-aggressive behavior, you know.”

“But what do you think is the real, underlying reason for my procrastination?” my friend queried.
“Maybe you’re not supposed to be more successful than your father, so you procrastinate to keep yourself less successful. Or you’re afraid to fail, so you don’t complete a project.”

“Why else?” he demanded.
“Could it be,” I mused, “that always asking ‘why’ is in itself a form of procrastination?”

“Let’s change the subject,” laughed my good-natured friend.

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Take the following: Are You an Emotional Eater Quiz.

1. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
2. Do you eat or continue eating even if the food doesn’t taste good?
3. Do you eat when you can’t think of anything else to do?
4. Do you eat after an argument or stressful situation to calm yourself down?
5. Do you eat to reward yourself?
6. Do you keep eating even after you’re full?

Each “yes” indicates that you’re eating in response to you’re feelings. In other words, the primary reason you’re eating is because of your emotions. The key to getting emotional eating under control is awareness.
Before you take a bite, ask yourself:
“What am I feeling?” Let yourself feel the feeling for five minutes without eating. Then figure out something else you can do to help relieve it instead of putting yet another bite in your mouth.

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Do you realize that your thoughts determine how you behave? If you learn to harness and control your thoughts, you’ll change your behavior. You can change what, when, where, how often and how much you eat, and you will lose weight. And it all starts with harnessing your thoughts. In other words, it’s mind over matter.

One thing you can do is to become an “Impartial Observer” of yourself.

Every time you start to put something in your mouth say, “I am aware.”
For example, I’m aware that I’m eating the rest of my son’s peanut butter sandwich.
I’m aware that I’m going to the freezer for my third bowl of ice cream.
I’m aware that I’m walking down the hall to buy a candy bar from the vending machine.

Becoming aware of your eating is one of the most important ways to stop overeating and get into control of your weight.

Another way to change your brain is to change the way the way you talk to yourself in your head.
For example, instead of saying, “I can’t lose weight.” Say, “I won’t lose weight.” If you say I can’t, you’re putting yourself in a victim position. And you’ll definitely feel helpless to do anything about your weight. If you say I won’t lose weight, you’re now in control. You’re in the driver’s seat. You’re making the decision and at any point you can decide to start working out, watch your food intake and lose weight.

Another change you can make — don’t say, “I’m fat” or “I’m so overweight.” Because if you do, you are defining yourself as a fat person. Say instead, “I carry too much weight on my body.” Now you’ve distanced yourself from your weight. You’ve put it out there and you can do something about it.

Another neuro-linguistic, mind-over-matter technique is to use picture words when you talk to yourself. Instead of saying, “I’m going to be careful at lunch today”, say instead, “I’m going to order a salad with grilled chicken strips. I’ll have the dressing on the side. And I’ll order an espresso for my dessert”.

By using picture words, you can see that lunch sitting there on the table. Right?

Or instead of saying “I’m going to exercise today”, say instead, “I’m going to put on my red tennis shoes, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and listen to some rock n’ roll”. Now you’ve painted a picture in your head. You can see yourself on the treadmill listening to the radio. And because of this picture, you’re more likely to follow through and do it.

Mental pictures trigger electrochemical changes in your brain that turn your thoughts into action.

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Why do you procrastinate and how to stop procrastinating…

I asked a friend who is an architect how business was going. He said it was fine except that he had a cash-flow problem because people weren’t paying him fast enough. Then he smiled boyishly and said, “Of course, I don’t bill them right away either.”

“How long do you wait until you bill them?” I asked.
Now he laughed sheepishly and said, “Oh, about three months after I’ve completed the work.”

“You do your clients no favors.” I said. “People who don’t get billed for three months have already forgotten about that debt because they are on to making new ones. And then when your bill comes, they have to stop and figure out how to make a payment to you.”

“So why do you think I procrastinate?” my friend asked.

“Maybe you have a problem with charging people for services,” I said,” and you don’t think you’re worthy of the money. You’d be surprised how many professionals grapple with this issue.”

“That’s interesting,”he replied. “Have you any other ideas as to why I procrastinate?”

“Maybe you like the stimulation that comes from living on the brink of financial trouble. Or you are testing people to see if they will call and ask about the bill.”

“Why else do you think I procrastinate?” urged my friend.

Not able to resist, I went on, for I like to play, “I’m only trying to help you.”

“Maybe you had a parent that procrastinated and modeled for you that way of behaving. You just never learned how to be a self-starter. Or you procrastinate because that’s the way you learned to express your anger. Procrastination is passive-aggressive behavior, you know.”

“But what do you think is the real, underlying reason for my procrastination?” my friend queried.
“Maybe you’re not supposed to be more successful than your father, so you procrastinate to keep yourself less successful. Or you’re afraid to fail, so you don’t complete a project.”

“Why else?” he demanded.
“Could it be,” I mused,” that always asking why is in itself a form of procrastination?”
“Let’s change the subject,” laughed my good-natured friend.

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